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Fundraising for Rape Crisis Centers

Welcome to my not-a-raffle to raise money for rape crisis centers.

April is sexual assault awareness month. I had planned to raffle off an autographed advance review copy of Red Hood’s Revenge [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon] with the only requirement being a donation to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network. As it turns out, Michigan law may or may not make that illegal. (I’ve been told both, and the office stopped answering my e-mails.)

So I’m doing things a little differently. I am asking you to make a donation, either to RAINN or to your local rape crisis center. Many places will allow you to donate online. But donations are not required. (You hear that, Michigan Charitable Gaming Office?) Anyone can enter to win the book by e-mailing me at endrape@jimchines.com.

If you do make a donation, please mention that in the e-mail and let me know how much you gave. I don’t care if it’s $1 or $1000, and it makes no difference to the drawing, but I’d like to be able to post a running tally of how much money we’ve raised.

The winner will be drawn at random from all entries on April 16. One e-mail per person, please.

If you’d like to spread the word, you can copy and paste the following into your blog. Feel free to modify as needed.

If you prefer a smaller version of the graphic, replace 1-in-4.jpg with 1-in-4-Sm.jpg for a 175 x 243 copy.

A few statistics:

The Sexual Victimization of College Women, Page 10: “Over the course of a college career — which now lasts an average of 5 years — the percentage of completed or attempted rape victimization among women in higher educational institutions might climb to between one-fifth and one-quarter.”

World Health Organization report on Violence Against Women: “In a random sample of 420 women in Toronto, Canada, 40% reported at least one episode of forced sexual intercourse since the age of 16.”

Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey, page 3: “1 of 6 U.S. women … experienced an attempted or completed rape.” (14.8% reported completed, 2.8% reported attempted only.)

Taking a Breather

I’ve seen a lot of Internet “discussions” go down in flaming, twisted wrecks over the years.  I want to thank everyone who commented on the blog this week.  I love that people are able to disagree, but are still willing to listen to what others are saying.  I love that while these are things people feel passionately about, I never once had to bring out the Moderator Hammer of Doom.  I love that I came away from the discussions with a lot more to think about.  Thank you all for that.

I had planned to write more today, but I’ve got nothing.  I haven’t even caught up on all the comments from yesterday (and I doubt I’m going to be able to respond to everything).  So instead, I figured I’d post something fun.  Something with ten times the recommended daily allowance of awesomeness.

Something like a ninja, who also happens to be a doctor, riding a raptor into battle.

(This is from The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, a silly and thoroughly entertaining web comic which, as far as I can tell, was created mostly for the excuse to draw scenes of ridiculous awesomeness.)

Writing the Other

Last weekend, I moderated a panel on “Writing the Other,” whether that Other meant someone of another race, another gender, another sexual orientation, or another species entirely.  The panel description asked “Can a man write from a woman’s viewpoint?  A woman from a man’s? Should they try?”

The consensus among panelists and audience was that these were very silly questions, and we weren’t going to waste time on them.  Given the size and general wackiness of the Internet, I suspect that someone out there is probably trying to say that white writers shouldn’t be allowed to write nonwhite characters, that straight writers shouldn’t try to write LGBT characters, and so on.

There are also people on the Internet saying they’re actually Na’vi (from Avatar), or that the world ended a while back and our ghosts just haven’t noticed yet, or that Publish America is a really good publisher.  As it turns out, saying something doesn’t make it true.

Most of the time though, when I hear “We’re not allowed to write _____ characters,” it’s an author talking.  Upon investigation, it usually turns out that nobody told our author friend that he or she wasn’t allowed to write these characters; instead, someone criticized him for doing it badly.

Well … yeah.  If you write flat, unrealistic, or just plain bad characters, you’re going to get called on that.  If all your women exist only to swoon and get naked for your hero (*cough* Heinlein *cough*), then people might complain.  They’re not saying you aren’t allowed to write women characters.  They’re saying please stop sucking at it.

The panel mainly focused on how to do that.  Things like making your characters well-rounded human beings instead of “The Black Character” and “The Gay Character” and “The Christian Character” and so on.  Like learning to listen.  Like going beyond a single token “other”.

As an author, I do believe I need to be careful about issues of cultural appropriation.  Nisi Shawl has written about this far better than I could, and I recommend reading her piece.  But I think there’s a huge difference between “Authors should be aware of cultural appropriation issues” and “Authors aren’t allowed to write characters from other cultures.”

Discussion welcome, as always.

Friday Updates

Sunday (3/28) at 2:00, I’ll be speaking at the Portage District Library.  There will be a public interview with John Wenger of Kazoo Books, some reading, some open Q&A, and some book selling/signing.  So a little bit of everything.  Stop by and say hi if you’re in the neighborhood.

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The full results from my novel survey are now posted at my web site.  This write-up includes a link to the raw data (third paragraph), for those who wanted to check it out.  I’m delighted with the number of people who participated, and with the results of the study … but I’m also glad to be done with it for now.

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Author Steven Saus, my roommate at Millennicon, took my data and ran it through some heavy-duty stats software and has started posting his own results (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), including this nifty graph showing the changing trend over time from submitting-to-the-publisher to submitting-to-the-agent.

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Thanks to everyone who offered their thoughts on the raffle vs. auction discussion.  Those who raised the legal issues were right to do so.  Michigan requires a permit to run a raffle, and as an individual I’m not allowed to apply for that permit.  However, it doesn’t sound like what I want to do actually qualifies as a raffle, though I’m not 100% sure — I’ve received different answers depending on who I talk to.

I think I know how I’m going to do this, and I’m hopeful it will work out well.  Will post the details next week.

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And because it’s Friday, have a LEGO shot.  This is the entrance to a dwarven mine, built by Tom Snellen.  Click the pic for the full gallery and close-ups, including a shot of that wizard and what looks like a goblin helper.  (Okay, it’s an orc, but only because LEGO hasn’t gotten around to making goblin minifigs yet.  A real goblin would already be back in his lair enjoying a bowl of wizard stew.)

Novel Survey Results, Part III

Update: The full survey results and the raw data are now posted at http://www.jimchines.com/2010/03/survey-results/

Last month I collected information from 246 professionally published novelists on how they made their first pro novel sale.  This was rough, Mythbusters-style science.  It’s not a perfectly controlled study, but it provided much more data than I usually see when we talk about these things.

I’m wrapping up my results, and will be working on compiling everything into a single essay, to be posted on my web site along with the raw (anonymized) data.  Today I’ll also be examining the weaknesses of my survey, as well as other data sources for those looking to learn more.

Can You Boost Your Odds?
Survey Flaws
Other Resources
Final Thoughts

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Welcome and a Fundraising Question

I see some new readers out there, I’m guessing mostly as a result of the First Novel Survey.  Welcome, all!  The fridge is to your right; snacks are in the cupboard.  Make yourselves at home.  Please feel free to say hello and introduce yourselves, or to lurk if you prefer.  It’s all good.

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I’m working on Part III of the novel survey results.  My friend Steve Saus has also been putting the data through some serious statistical software, and is coming up with some interesting results as well.  I’m hoping to have my update by Wednesday or so, and I’ll link to Steve’s when that goes up.

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I arrived home from Millennicon to find advance review copies of Red Hood’s Revenge [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon] waiting for me.

For Stepsister Scheme and Mermaid’s Madness, I auctioned off an autographed ARC to raise money for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  With Red Hood, I’m planning to fundraise yet again, but this time for the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN).

I’m torn between two models.  In the past, the ARC has gone to the highest bidder, and we’ve raised a little over $100 each time.  But I’m thinking about changing over to a raffle model.  Donate a certain amount — either $1, $2, or $5 — and forward the e-mail receipt to me, and you’re entered to win.  Donate more to get extra chances.  I’ll pull one name at the end, and there you go.

My guess is that the raffle model will be a more effective fundraiser, but I wanted to toss both ideas out there to see what you all thought, and whether you had preference one way or the other.

BFA Award Longlist and Facebook Silliness

Why is it that the cheaper hotels like Holiday Inn here offer free in-room wireless, but the ones that cost more make you pay for it?

Well, I’m just glad this hotel has it.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been poking around online last night to discover that The Mermaid’s Madness [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] made the longlist for the British Fantasy Award.  It is, as the name implies, a long list, but I’m quite pleased to be on it.

So you want to know what my brain does on a six-hour drive?  Here’s a taste.

Enjoying Millennicon so far.  It’s a small con, but I got to hang out with Guest of Honor Stephen Leigh (and musical guest of honor S. L. Farrell) and Laura Resnick, did a reading that went over pretty well (even if it I had to rush), and my roomate Steve Saus bought me cookies.  So far, so good!

I’m off to start getting ready for my panel this morning.  Have a great weekend, all!

Novel Survey Results, Part II

Update: The full survey results and the raw data are now posted at http://www.jimchines.com/2010/03/survey-results/

For those of you just tuning in, last month I collected information from 246 professionally published novelists on how they made that first pro novel sale.  This is rough, Mythbusters-style science.  It’s not a perfectly controlled study, but it provides a lot more data than I usually see when we talk about these things.

Today I’m looking at two more myths about the writing process:

The Overnight Success
You Have to Know Somebody

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Novel Survey Results, Part I

Update: The full survey results and the raw data are now posted at http://www.jimchines.com/2010/03/survey-results/

Last month, I began collecting information from professionally published novelists.  The goal of the survey was to learn how writers broke in, and to use actual data to confirm or bust some of the myths about making it as a novelist.

My thanks to everyone who participated, as well as the folks at Smart Bitches Trashy Books, Book View Cafe, SFWA, SF Novelists, Absolute Write, and everyone else who helped to spread the word.

The survey closed on March 15, 2010 with 247 responses.  There’s a great deal of information here, so I’ll be breaking the results into several blog posts.  At the end, I’ll combine everything into one big write-up and post it on the web site for future reference.

So let’s bust some writing myths.  Today I’ll be looking at:

The Raw Data
Short Story Path to Publication
Self-Publishing Your Breakout Novel

The Raw Data:

For this study, I was looking for authors who had published at least one professional novel, where “professional” was defined as earning an advance of $2000 or more.  This is an arbitrary amount based on SFWA’s criteria for professional publishers.  No judgment is implied toward authors who self-publish or work with smaller presses, but for this study, I wanted data on breaking in with the larger publishers.

247 authors from a range of genres responded.  One was eliminated because the book didn’t fit the criteria (it was for a nonfiction title).  A random audit found no other problems.  The results were heavily weighted toward SF/F, which is no surprise, given that it was a fantasy author doing the study.  But I think we’ve got a respectable range here:

The year in which authors made their first sale covered a range of more than 30 years, with the earliest being 1974.  The data is heavily weighted toward the past decade.

When I do the final write-up, I’ll also include a spreadsheet of the raw data (with all identifying information stripped out).

So there’s the background information in a nutshell.  With that out of the way, let’s get to the first myth…

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Cats vs. Dogs: The Results

Last week, I posted the ultimate test of which is better: cats or dogs.  I posed my cat Flit with a copy of Goblin Quest [Mysterious Galaxy | B&N | Amazon] and our new dog Casey with The Stepsister Scheme [Mysterious Galaxy | B&N | Amazon].

Well, the Bookscan results are in, and they’re a bit of a surprise.  Sales of Goblin Quest were exactly the same as in the previous week.  The cuteness that is Flit made absolutely no difference!  I’m thinking perhaps an alternate picture might have worked better.  (And no, that photo is not retouched in any way, except for the caption.)

So then I compared the numbers for Stepsister Scheme.  Comparing last week (with Casey) to the week before (no animals at all), I found that Casey’s photo led to a 10.5% decrease in sales.

There you have it.  Indisputable scientific proof that you people hate dogs!  What’s wrong with you?

For such heartless cruelty, I can think of no more suitable fate than to let you dog-haters suffer at the hands of LEGO Cthulhu — with lasers! This was built by Flickr user ((Primus)).  Click here or on the picture below for the full six-pic story.

Jim C. Hines