Thursday, July 7, 2011

On the Fourth of July and how dirty rotten piraters stole my air conditioning. . .

July 4 is my favorite holiday of the year, for a number of reasons:

1) parades. I dig parades.

Me waiting for the parade, in my riduculous hat, which proves that you can take the hick out of Idaho, but you can't take Idaho out of the hick.

2) dressing up in fun-but-casual red, white and blue clothes

My DD is her 4th outfit, which even she thought was pretty fun. . .
3) good food, but not the kind where you have to slave all day in the kitchen to prepare

DS getting ready to chow down on corn. We also had BBQd ribs and homemade potato salad
4) summer--nice weather and crickets singing and cool breezes blowing and starry nights

5) fireworks. I REALLY dig fireworks, and I also love sparklers!

6) the movie 1776, which I endeavor to watch every year on the fouth of July. I always get a chill at the end where they are all signing the Declaration and then step into their place in the painting. . .

(this clip is not the signing part, but this really funny song about how the national bird was chosen).

And finally, reason 7) because it's an exciting day that you get to spend with family. Some years it's more exciting than others--just ask my Uncle Kim about the time my dad pointed one of those firecracker cannons at him. (On second thought, don't ask him--sorry about your pants, Uncle Kim. . .), some years somebody gets lit on fire or eats WAAAAAAY too much watermelon, but there's always togetherness, as a country and as a family. I like that. And there's always a moment of beauty.

This year my moment of beauty was sitting in my backyard in a lawn chair, my dear little baby snuggled up into my chest, seeing her wide, wide eyes as she watched her very first fireworks.

Le sigh. LOVE the 4th of July.

This year it was also slightly problematic that the 4th was on a Monday, and I had my very last round of revisions for Hallowed due on Tuesday at like 6am. So I had to fit all my parading and dressing up and cooking into much smaller time slots, and then ended up staying up until 2am revising like a madwoman, up again at 4:30 with the baby and right back to revising until 6. I had that "Idiot. I can't believe you did that" message from my body all the next day, but it was worth it. I got to have my Independence Day, and now HALLOWED IS OFFICIALLY IN PRODUCTION. Which means:

FREEEEEEEEEEDOMMMMMM!!!!  I am done (okay, there will be copy edits, but that's not real hard) with Book 2. Finally! And now I am free to work on Book 3. (doing the dance of joy!)

Ahem. Anyway. How lucky am I that I get to do what I love, which is to write new books. I love my job.

There's a roadblock to all my creativity, however. It's called July. In Southern California. In a house with no air conditioner. Yesterday it was 87 degrees in the house when I sat down to write. Under these conditions, what typically comes off my fingertips is: Wow. Hot. So unbelievably hot. I need a cool drink. I need a cool shower. I need to drive to the store to buy something bogus so I can be in the cool car and the cool store. Bleh. I'M MELTING, what a world, what a world. . .

Yeah, it's not that productive.

But Cynthia, you say, weren't you complaining about this last year? Aren't you some hot-shot author now, with your book selling like hotcakes? Why haven't you bought an air conditioner?

Well, see. That's a funny story. Part of it is California's fault. That's right, CA, I'm looking at you. What it costs to buy a house in you is simply ludicrous. I could have 2 nice brand-new houses in Idaho for what we are paying for a almost-completely-unrenovated-since-1961 house in southern California. Pbbt, California. But I'm not complaining too much, since me selling Unearthly is what gave our family the ability to buy a home here. Otherwise, even though my husband has a great job, even though I teach to supplement our income, we simply could not have afforded to buy a house. And I love our house. But it doesn't have the frills. Like AC.

Shame on you, California. Shame. But I do love your beaches.

The other part of the blame lies with piraters.

Now, I say "piraters," as opposed to "pirates," because as the mother of a four-year-old boy I am obligated to think that pirates, the type with the eye patch and the shoulder parrot and the black flag with the skull and crossbones are awesome. I play the role of Captain Hook at least once a day, and my son is of course Mister Smee, and I've found that he listens to what I tell him to do way better if I phrase it like, "ARGHH, matey, methinks you should eat up all your waffle, otherwise I'll be forced to plunder it. . ."

Piraters are people who download free (illegal) copies of my book.

So not awesome.

Now, if you are one of those people who thinks it's okay to steal books, I will refer to you to Lilith Saintcrow's blog post on this subject. It has some spicy language, so be warned.

Right here.

I adore Lilith Saintcrow. Strange Angels kicks butt. And her blog is hi-larious. I am regularly stricken with writerly envy over her copious and amusing blog posts.

And on the subject of piracy, I agree with her one hundred percent.

I never thought so much about piracy until I became a published author. Sure, I'd heard of it. It wasn't something I'd ever dream of doing any more than I'd try to slip in the back door of a movie theater for a free movie or pocket a candy bar in a convenience store. My momma done taught me that's WRONG. But it really came to my attention when my own book started to be pirated.

The first time, it was a question on one of those question-and-answer websites, some girl asking where she could find my book for free. I felt obligated to respond. I said that I hoped that no one would help her to steal my book, but if she would provide the name of her local library, I would gladly send them a copy. She, of course, didn't reply.

Then I signed up for Google Alerts. Every morning I get a nice email from Google that tells me what Unearthly-related stuff has popped up on the web. Most of the time it comes up with reviews, and most of the time the reviews are nice (there's a blog post coming about why I should stop reading the reviews, and possibly why I should stop with the Google alerts--that's another day), but every now and then up pops a site that offers my book for free.

One such site, a few days ago, claimed that my book had been downloaded over 7,000 times.

7,000 times???!!! I thought. Holy crapzol.


Here's where the math comes in. I have had numerous estimates done on installing central air conditioning in our house. The lowest is 12,000 (yes, 12,000 US dollars, darn you California) and that was a rather seedy guy who, when I asked if that included the price for permits was like, "permits? you sure you want permits?" The highest was upwards of 20,000. Yes, 20,000 smackers. I know. Crazy.

I'm planning on 14,000-15,000.

You see where I'm going with this. On the hard copy of my book, I make about $2 for every book sold. If everyone who illegally downloaded a copy of my book actually bought a hard copy, I would make $14,000. (Of course, my agent gets 15% and I save about half of what I earn for taxes, but let's say for argument's sake that I just make that money.) That's 14,000 US dollars, people.

That's my air conditioner.

Pirating is not cool.

Now, before I get flooded with indignant emails/comments telling me how I've over-simplified this scenario on a massive scale, or how I shouldn't be writing for money but out of the sheer bliss of being a writer, or any of the other dumb-but-persistent things people say to justify themselves in this situation, I will simply say this: I don't write for the money. I write because I love it. But I also believe that I deserve to get paid for what I do, and I believe that pirating is STEALING. And my point in all of this is that, so often, people think that the little bad things they do, like slipping in the back of a movie theater or swiping a candy bar from a convenience store, don't really hurt anybody. It's not going to bring down Universal Pictures or Hershey, right?

Pirating my book is not going to bring down HarperCollins. But it does, in a very real way, hurt me.

I'll get my air conditioner someday. I'm thinking it will probably be next spring before I have enough money to fork over that much for an air conditioner. But for now, today, as I sit down to start work on Book 3, I will merely say, "curse those dirty rotten piraters!!!"

I need a popsicle.


Nancy J. Parra said...

Love this!!
I agree 110% on piraters - :P

no said...

Stupid pirates. You deserve every dollar you get from real, non stolen copies. Its not fair to you and it disappoints me that people stoop so low as to download someone's work that has been stolen. Good luck on that air conditioner! :)

Lou said...

This post really made me laugh =)
Using Captain Hook to make the kids listen...brilliant idea!
And your little girl in her outfit is adorable, she's such a cutie!

I can't wait for Hallowed, and have fun writing book 3 =D

And of course...DARN THOSE PIRATERS!!!

Gabi said...

Ah! But I have to say, I loved your caption about the hat. I'm an Idaho hick myself. :]

Sandy said...

This Idaho-farm-girl-turned-Cali-transplant loves your cowboy hat!

Booo on piraters! Just buy the book and support the creative genius of the authors we love.

(And geez, folks, there's always the library.)

rissa roo said...

i cant believe the piraters. I mean really? It's so much better having the book in your hand that way you can re-read it anytime without having to turn on your comp. Wait you only get $2 for every book sold?? That's totally unfair!! You should be getting more than that for this brilliant fantastic amazing book!! You should be getting at least 5 or 8..heck id say more but I don't know much about how publishing works.

Natalee Cherie said...

I have to admit, I've pirated a book online before, because I haven't had the money to buy the actual book when it was released... BUUUTTT, when I did have the money, I went out and bought it straight away!!! So I completely agree with what you're saying. I mean, if someone just pirates a book or a movie because they're too lazy to go out and buy it, and not because they're super excited to read it and they can't wait any longer but they don't have the money (ahem, me.) so go out and buy it. Then that's completely wrong.