The final piece

I have had a plan to replace the bookshelves in the living room— now, if you’ll recall, in the room that used to be the dining room– with higher-quality, real wood, 7 foot bookshelves for literally as long as I’ve lived in this house, and 2022 has been the first year in a long time that wasn’t utter shit, so we finally have the money to invest in something that’s going to last: thus these four new shelves, which magically match the paint in the living room perfectly and are finally going to give my books some breathing room.

Goal for 2023: write shorter fucking sentences. Christ. At any rate in the last couple of months we’ve recarpeted, bought a new sectional, and now put in the new shelves, so the living room looks completely different. And much awesomer.

I’m not close to being done to shelving these– that’ll take a day or two at least, and there’s a bunch of books I need to find, as the old shelves didn’t exactly get moved in careful order– but that can be my project for the next couple of days. I’ll post again when they’re done.

That Lego set on the second shelf was one of my son’s gifts and it’s there because we’re guarding it from the cats until he’s done building it. I’m going to need to find cool bookends in the meantime; I don’t want these to end up covered in knickknacks but I also want to leave some space on all of them. That’ll be a fun Amazon/Etsy search, I think.

The typical assortment of end-of-year posts will start soon; I think the book I just finished is going to make it to the best-of list, though, so that one probably won’t be for a while. I find myself in the odd position of having not hit my reading goal for the year, so I need to finish two books at least before I can write anything about what I read this year. I’ll find something else to talk about in the meantime.

REVIEW: The Weight of Ink, by Rachel Kadish

Every so often, a book scratches an itch that you didn’t even know was there, and Rachel Kadish’s The Weight of Ink is such a book. Those of you who have either been around for a minute or know me in the real world are aware that an earlier version of me wanted to be a college professor. I triple majored at IU, in Religious Studies, Jewish Studies, and Psychology, and then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Biblical studies, which is where I hit a wall when I realized that I liked being in class a hell of a lot more than I liked independent research. But I still have a couple of bookshelves about religion, and along with that is a fair number of volumes about Jewish history.

The Weight of Ink tells two parallel stories about two women scholars, a young, unmarried Jewish woman in the mid-1600s, when women knowing how to read and write much less participate at the highest levels of scholarship was forbidden, and a modern-day scholar of seventeenth-century Judaism, suffering from Parkinson’s and nearing retirement. A cache of documents is found in a seventeenth-century home, and the owner calls his former professor in to look at them, and the book takes off from there. Ester and Helen’s stories are interwoven throughout the book, along with Helen’s assistant Aaron, a postgraduate who she more or less grabs at random because he is able to read the right languages to help her with her research.

Mix in some Shakespeare, some Spinoza, a blind rabbi, the Inquisition, Sabbatai Zevi, and a little bit of fire and plague and you’ve got yourself a hell of a book. I’m making this sound a bit more like a detective novel than I probably should; this is indisputably capital-F Fiction, and may indeed be a litratcher, as (I hope) Hilary Custance Greene described it when she recommended it to me. But … yeah, if you’re going to drag me away from nonfiction and genre fiction, writing a book about seventeenth-century Jewry, making translation a bigger part of the action than one might expect, and making the two modern-day figures scholars is a key with a very specific shape that nonetheless opens one of my locks.

Or something; that may be too overwrought of a figure of speech, I’m not sure. At any rate, while it’s a bit slow-moving, which may not be surprising to those of you who just read the description, and it’s a bit on the dense side– it took me over a week to read, which is really rare for a 560-page book– I loved this book a whole lot. Kadish writes about seventeenth-century London like she lived there, and everything about this really worked for me. I hope to hell it actually was Hilary who recommended I read it, because I can’t find the comment anywhere, but I owe her one.

In which I ask the hivemind

I need some more conventions, y’all.  Right now I think the next con I’m actually signed up to attend is the next Indy Pop Con in June.  I’m registered for Kokomo-Con again.  And … I think that’s it?  I’ve had a little bit of a run of being turned down by juried cons (I tried to get into both ConFusion in Detroit this January and a February comic convention) and I’ve decided to not apply to the Fort Wayne PopCon in between Christmas and New Year’s, mostly because … well, it’s between Christmas and New Year’s, and it’s a first-year con, and that strikes me as vaguely insane.  I hope they’re successful, don’t get me wrong, and if they are I’ll be there next year, but they’re charging PopCon prices for what I’m pretty certain isn’t gonna be close to PopCon attendance and right now it’s not worth the risk.  

Plus, well, check the posts at the end of December around here for any of the last six years.  The weather tends to not lend itself to long road trips.

So.  Anyway.  If you happen to know of any science fiction conventions, comic book shows, or genre/author events in the next six months within, say, a three- or four- hour drive of northern Indiana, let me know.  I’m looking at one in Louisville over Easter weekend, too, but it’s over Easter, which has its own set of complications to it.  


I’ve finished a story over at Patreon, called The Caretaker, and I’m really fond of it.  The story is posted in five parts and in first-draft form (I literally wrote it straight into the Patreon website; it’s not copy-pasted) and it will be posted again in .mobi and .epub form once it’s cleaned up a touch, but I like it and I think you will too.  Just $1 a month gets you access to a bunch of microfictions and three or four short stories, and $2 a month gets you an entire exclusive novel.  Next Patron is #15!  That’s a great number!  Join us!


Two weeks to winter break, y’all.  There will be Christmas shopping this weekend.  I can do this.  

New short story at Patreon!

There’s a new downloadable short story, The Forgotten One’s Prayer, over at my Patreon! Those of you who are already Patrons should click here, and those of you who are not Patrons should also click here and become one!  Access to an ever-growing group of new stories, for as little as $1 a month!

On Patreon

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BEFORE WE GET STARTED: I’m taking a shot at Audible and audiobooks again at the moment; Skylights is currently open for auditions over there.  Are you an audiobook narrator?  Do you want to share revenue 50/50 with me on audio?  Go audition!

I got asked in comments a few days ago if I’d ever considered launching a Patreon.  And the answer is yeah, I have, and until really recently all such considerations were brief and unsystematic at best. I’ve been thinking about the idea a little harder lately and …

… well, I’m probably still not doing a Patreon, but I’m thinking about it a little bit harder.

Here’s the thing, right?  My books sell for crap.  It is true that there are a lot of other books out there that sell even worse than mine, but they sell for crap.  Balremesh and other stories and Tales: The Benevolence Archives, Vol. 3 have been out for months and probably haven’t sold fifty copies yet between the two of them.  A month with a half-dozen digital sales is a good month.  I do okay when I’m selling physical copies to people who are right in front of me, but the fact is the books aren’t moving online.

Well, okay, you say, but there are people who have bought all of those books and don’t have any more to buy right now.  Maybe they might like to have a way to support you in the meantime?

Well, okay.  First, being completely honest (none of this is to elicit sympathy,) I’m not convinced there are all that many of those people, and a lot of them are relatives, and a good chunk of those who aren’t are not, shall we say, Patreon’s typical demographic.

The other problem, of course, is what I can do for my Patrons, were I to actually acquire any.  To wit: in case it’s not clear, I write fiction sporadically at best, and I write slow.  I’m working on a short story right now for an open submissions window that is going to close for good in two weeks.  I have been working on that five thousand word story, a story that essentially sprung into my head fully written from the moment I had the idea, for something like six weeks.  I might get another 400-500 words of it written today.  I might not.  And I know which way I’d bet, were I betting.  It’s an open question as to whether I’ll get it done in time.  I have two more weeks for three thousand words more.

Most authors I’m aware of don’t use a monthly auto-pay model, they use a send me money when I create something and then you can have it sort of model.  But I sell entire books online for a damn dollar; are there people who will send me a dollar every time I send them a 5000 word short story?  Okay, what if it was a 500 word microfiction?  What if it was shorter than that?  How many of those might I be able to crank out in a month?

So, yeah, let’s try an experiment: Would you be willing to support me, at whatever minimal level you want, were I to create a Patreon?  What sorts of reward tiers might be interesting?

I mean, if I don’t get any comments here, before I’ve even created the thing, it sort of answers my question, right?