About Jim Hines

http://www.jimchines.com

Posts by Jim Hines:

Audio Goblins!

Goblin Tales: CoverGraphic Audio has just released the audio book of my short collection Goblin Tales, which includes five goblin-related short stories as well as “Mightier than the Sword,” the short story (with Smudge!) that eventually became the Magic ex Libris series.

If you order today (2/26), you’ll be automatically entered to win a Prize Pack featuring a GraphicAudio beanie, keychain and a Smudge plush!

To celebrate, they’re also offering 30% off the Goblin Trilogy set if you use code GOBLIN30

Happy goblin day, everybody!

Black Panther Discussion Links

We saw Black Panther on Monday. The final panther fight was a little too CGI for me, but that’s a minor flaw in an overall amazing movie.

Rather than talk about it myself, I wanted to link to some reaction pieces.

There’s so much more great discussion out there. Feel free to share links in the comments.

And then, of course, there’s this…

If I fits…

#MeToo, Denial, and Backlash

Last month, Drew Himmelstein published an article called Children’s Publishing Reckons with Sexual Harassment in Its Ranks. The conversation and discussion will be familiar to many. When I checked, there were 475 comments, many of which named and talked about known harassers in children’s publishing and elsewhere.

Last week, author Anne Ursu published the results of a survey she’d done, along with a great deal of discussion and analysis, in Sexual Harassment in the Children’s Book Industry.

We’ve had similar conversations in the SF/F genre, and we’re seeing it in society in general. Sexual harassment isn’t limited to any one region or profession. If you think your field is immune, you should probably brace yourself for an unpleasant reality check coming your way soon.

As always, there’s been backlash. People — mostly men, from what I’ve observed — protest that #MeToo is turning into a witch hunt. “We all want to support real victims and punish real harassers, but what about all the innocent people whose lives and reputations are being ruined?”

Others worry about due process and false accusations. (Pathetically, the most recent false accusations I’ve seen came from trolls who complained about how easy it is to make a false accusation, and tried to prove it by making false accusations. Which…WTF, dude?)

Then there’s that sense of overwhelming disbelief. “I know harassment happens, but it can’t possibly be this big a problem, can it?”

Yeah, it can.

Statistics

Study after study shows that sexual harassment, particularly (but not exclusively) of women, is common. Millions of victims in the U.S. alone. And for so damned long, companies have swept these incidents under the rug and created ridiculous hoops to discourage victims from reporting.

These two factors — the frequency of harassment and the backlog of unreported or silenced incidences going back longer than we’ve been alive — explain why we’re now seeing so many people coming forward. We’re dealing with one hell of a backlog. It’s why we’re going to see a hell of a lot more of these stories, now that the dam is beginning to crack.

It is overwhelming, especially if you’ve had the luxury of not seeing it. As a guy, I’ve rarely been directly affected by sexual harassment. I had the ability to close my eyes and get on with my life. Not anymore. And that’s a good thing. It means everyone has to face the facts — facts we’ve known about from study after study after study.

This flood is what the data has been telling us all along.

What About False Accusations and Due Process?

Employers, conventions, and other organizations need to have good harassment policies in place, and they need to follow those policies.

An individual who chooses to speak out about being harassed is not a company. They aren’t the judicial system. They’re an individual who has every right to disclose what a predator did to them.

We know false accusations of sexual assault or domestic violence are rare — just like false accusations of other crimes. I’ve not found reliable research on false accusations of sexual harassment, specifically. But in general, hysteria over the idea of women destroying men’s lives with false accusations has drastically overshadowed the reality.

There’s a proven epidemic of sexual harassment. There is absolutely no evidence for an epidemic of false accusations.

Yes, it happens. We had the false accuser of Roy Moore last year who inadvertently proved how good the Washington Post was at investigating and substantiating such accusations. There’s a notorious SF/F troll who likes to accuse a bestselling author of being a rapist, based on the troll’s inability to understand satire. There’s the case of Jemma Beale, who was jailed for 10 years for making false accusations of rape. And one individual in the comments of the Himmelstein article has said they made up an accusation about two men. (As of 2/14 at 5 p.m., the admins have not verified this is the same commenter who made the accusation.)

It’s not that false accusations never happen. It’s that they’re rare. But time and again, the overblown hysteria over false accusations is used to derail and drown out discussion of the demonstrably real flood of sexual assault and harassment.

Does “Believe women” mean women never ever lie and there’s no such thing as a false accusation? Of course not. What it means is that if someone says they were sexually harassed, the odds are extremely good that they’re telling the truth. (And those odds increase exponentially when multiple victims come forward.)

If a sexual harassment case goes to human resources or the judicial system, there should be a process to be followed. (Preferably a process that doesn’t actively punish victims for reporting.) I haven’t seen anyone suggest otherwise.

I’m neither a business nor a court. And I believe the victims.

But That Person Has Always Been Cool Around Me!

It’s hard to see someone you know named as a harasser. I’ve been there. I felt the instinctive shock and denial. I automatically thought back to my own interactions with the person, and I couldn’t remember anything inappropriate.

I had a similar reaction when I learned a friend at the crisis center where I volunteered had embezzled roughly $13,000 from the organization. I couldn’t believe it. He’d always been a kind, friendly, generally awesome guy. I’d never seen anything to suggest he was a thief.

But maybe that was because he didn’t march around stealing money in front of me!

It’s the same damn thing with harassers. They’re not running around harassing everyone who crosses their path. Predators choose and isolate their targets. They test boundaries. They use guilt and manipulation, and they make you question yourself. They get their victims into a situation where they can harass them without witnesses.

They also build relationships with people who’ll vouch for them. They don’t just groom potential victims; they also groom potential character witnesses. Harassers and abusers can be incredibly charming. They can do genuinely good things in other areas. You might like and trust them.

But saying, “All of my interactions with Bob have been great!” does nothing to address the accusation that Bob sexually harassed people. All you’re doing is saying he didn’t sexually harass you. Which is great, but not really relevant.

Let’s see how that conversation would look in a different context.

  • Jill: “Fred murdered my grandfather.”
  • Jack: “Well, Fred never murdered either of my grandfathers!”
  • Jill: “WTF is wrong with you, Jack?”

It’s a little exaggerated, I know, but hopefully you get the point?

This Is Only the Beginning

Sexual harassment is built on generations of inequity. It’s been going on for centuries. It’s not going to go away overnight. This is a long-term, systemic problem, and it’s going to need long-term work to try to fix it.

I get how disheartening it is. I’ve hated seeing people I respected and admired outed as serial harassers or worse. (I’m still pissed and grieving over Bill Cosby.)

You know what I hate even more? That their behavior was allowed to continue for so long. That so many women and men suffered because the rest of us looked away or refused to listen. That the careers and lives of so many victims were derailed.

However painful it might be to me to read these stories, it’s nothing compared to the pain of everyone who lived them. However tired I might feel, it’s nothing compared to the exhaustion of those on the front lines, fighting — demanding to be heard. Demanding change.

It takes tremendous courage to speak out about being sexually harassed. The least the rest of us can do is find the courage to listen, and to accept the reality of a problem we might not want to face.

Imprinted: One Month Update

Imprinted Cover Art“Imprinted,” my Magic ex Libris novelette, has been out for about a month. This was something of an experiment — my first original self-published tie-in title. Thus far, I think the experiment has been going well. Reviews are pretty positive, and the first month’s sales have been good enough to make me think I should to this again.

I figured people would primarily buy the ebook, and the numbers bear that out with a total of 775 sales so far. But to my surprise and delight, 101 people opted for the print version. That’s much more than I expected, and tells me it’s worth taking the time to create a print edition to go with the ebook.

My only frustration on the print side was that CreateSpace couldn’t get me copies in time for me to take them to ConFusion.

Almost all of the sales have come from Amazon, which was pretty much what I expected. Here’s the breakdown on sales channels. (iBooks is bundled into the Smashwords sales.)

Imprinted Sales Pie Chart

  • Kindle: 714
  • Nook: 26
  • Kobo: 17
  • Smashwords: 5
  • Google Play: 4
  • Direct Sales: 9

Total income, before taxes, is just over $1,800.

Back when I started this project, I was torn between pricing the ebook at $2.99 or $1.99. The big difference is in how royalties are calculated. Years ago, Amazon began offering 70% royalties if your ebook was priced between $2.99 and $9.99. Everyone else more or less followed suit.

What this means is that the current price of $2.99 earns me roughly two bucks per sale. Pricing the same ebook at $1.99 means the royalties drop to 35%, or roughly seventy cents per sale. In other words, cutting the price by 1/3 would cut my royalties by 2/3. A lot of people said they’d happily pay the higher price to support me. (THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!)

I decided I’d start with $2.99, and after a month or so, I’d drop the price to $1.99. I’ll be making that price cut early next week. So if you’re feeling generous and want to give me that larger royalty bump, you’ve got a few more days. If you prefer to save a buck — which I totally understand and respect — check back next week.

Here are the sales links:

This has been Five Minutes of Self-Publishing Business Navel-Gazing. (Not to be confused with Naval-Glazing.)

Recent Reads: Dawson, Chu, and Schaff-Stump

Catching up on some of my recent reading…

Cover: PhasmaFirst up is Phasma [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound], by Delilah Dawson. I wanted this book for two reasons. The first is that Phasma has been criminally underutilized in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. So much wasted potential, and I wanted more about her character.

The second is because this is the first Star Wars book with my name in it. Sure, it’s in small print on the back book flap (author photo credit), but it’s a start!

From the publisher:

Deep inside the Battlecruiser Absolution, a captured Resistance spy endures brutal interrogation at the hands of a crimson-armored stormtrooper—Cardinal. But the information he desires has nothing to do with the Resistance or its covert operations against the First Order.

What the mysterious stormtrooper wants is Phasma’s past—and with it whatever long-buried scandal, treachery, or private demons he can wield against the hated rival who threatens his own power and privilege in the ranks of the First Order. His prisoner has what Cardinal so desperately seeks, but she won’t surrender it easily. As she wages a painstaking war of wills with her captor, bargaining for her life in exchange for every precious revelation, the spellbinding chronicle of the inscrutable Phasma unfolds. But this knowledge may prove more than just dangerous once Cardinal possesses it—and once his adversary unleashes the full measure of her fury.

What impressed me most about this one was the frame story, which was used to talk about Phasma’s background and history. We know Phasma ends up as a high-level villain, which means her story isn’t likely to be a happy one. How do you tell her story without getting overwhelmed by the darkness and the hopelessness?

You bring in an awesome Resistance spy named Vi. As interesting as it was to learn Phasma’s story, Vi and Cardinal ended up being my favorite characters. Cardinal is a nice contrast with Phasma, being of equal rank and genuinely believing in the purpose and ideas of the First Order.

It’s still a dark story, but there’s hope as well. Well done, Dawson!

Read an excerpt at Starwars.com.

#

Cover: The Vessel of RaNext up is The Vessel of Ra [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound], by Catherine Schaff-Stump.

This is one of the twistier books I’ve read in a while, about magical families and their secrets and conflicts. Lucy Klaereon is bound to the demon Ra, destined to battle him for control. If she wins, she gains his service power. If she loses, she is to be killed. But Lucy’s family see her as weak, and nobody believes she’ll be able to win.

From the publisher:

While traveling in Venice in 1837, Lucy Klaereon, in order to save her family’s honor and her immortal soul, decides to commit suicide by drowning herself in the Grand Canal. Unfortunately for Lucy, she is rescued. Her rescuers believe they can separate her from the demon Ra, whom she is destined to fight because of an ancient family pact.

What Lucy does not know is that her rescuers have their own agenda. Paolo Borgia, head of a deposed magical family, wants to use Ra for his own purposes. Lucy is given an alternative, to separate herself from her demon and family, which she gladly welcomes. When she finds out the truth about Ra, Lucy’s purpose changes from not only freedom, but to righting an ancient wrong.

Octavia, Lucy’s older sister, is in pursuit. She has been trained since birth to kill Lucy when Lucy loses her battle with Ra.. At the ritual to free Ra, the two sisters clash with surprising results. Octavia is possessed by Ra and Lucy is determined to free her sister and keep Ra from reshaping the world in his image.

There is one small problem. Lucy has been murdered. However, she’s not about to let a small detail like that keep her from correcting her mistakes. Lucy will save Octavia, even if it kills her again.

There’s a lot going on in this book. Secrets and betrayals and love and death and more betrayals and several very power-hungry characters willing to do whatever it takes to increase their magic. There’s also courage and decency and hope. Every character comes with their own background and conflicts and stories. It makes for a very good and complex story.

Here’s an interview and excerpt where you can read more.

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The Rise of IO: CoverFinally, I read The Rise of IO [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound], by Wesley Chu.

This is a great follow-up to Chu’s books about Tao. (I reviewed The Lives of Tao here.) Whereas Tao was a highly skilled Quasing who had changed the course of human history through his hosts. the central Quasing in this book is…well, pretty much the anti-Tao. For example, one of IO’s more notable hosts was a general by the name of George Custer.

From the publisher:

Ella Patel – thief, con-artist and smuggler – is in the wrong place at the wrong time. One night, on the border of a demilitarized zone run by the body-swapping alien invaders, she happens upon a man and woman being chased by a group of assailants. The man freezes, leaving the woman to fight off five attackers at once, before succumbing. As she dies, to both Ella and the man’s surprise, the sparkling light that rises from the woman enters Ella, instead of the man. She soon realizes she’s been inhabited by Io, a low-ranking Quasing who was involved in some of the worst decisions in history. Now Ella must now help the alien presence to complete her mission and investigate a rash of murders in the border states that maintain the frail peace.

With the Prophus assigned to help her seemingly wanting to stab her in the back, and the enemy Genjix hunting her, Ella must also deal with Io’s annoying inferiority complex. To top it all off, Ella thinks the damn alien voice in her head is trying to get her killed. And if you can’t trust the voices in your head, who can you trust?

Like the earlier books, this is a fast-paced SF thriller with plenty of action, and I really enjoyed it. It’s nice to see women taking more of the stage in this one, and Ella is a great character: smart, streetwise, and practical.

There’s a pretty big plot thread left hanging at the end, so I assume (and hope) we’ll be getting more of IO soon. In the meantime, you can read the first chapter over at Tor.com.

Jim C. Hines