Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What I Saw At The Revolution

This ties in with Kate Paulk’s post on Thursday. I’ve been giving it some serious thought which was deepened and made more serious by discussions at Cosine in Colorado Springs last weekend.

When it comes to publishing, everyone can agree that the times they are achanging. How they are achanging and where the change is going, though, seems different for every person who looks at it.

A long established, very smart author on one of my panels told us the reading population is simply declining, and that there will be no book readers in the future. He might be right. On the other hand, I know that people who read for fun in current times are the same percentage of people who read for fun in Shakespeare’s time. And, looking back, we consider that time a wonderful revolution, a flourishing of culture. Now you’ll say there are for more writers today than then. This is true, but I doubt the percentage of writers trying to make a living from this is any greater than in that day.
Oh, yeah, and as in Shakespeare's day more people are learning to read well because of the new technology used in jobs -- in his time printing, in ours computers. Until that talking computer is invented, our kids will have to be literate.

As in Shakespeare’s day, copyright is in flux. We won’t go there. Not this time.

Instead, let’s look at part of what’s causing the confusion. Ebooks. We’re told ebooks are selling very well indeed. Perhaps they are. No author I know sees this in his statements, but then the only reason that Mark Twain didn’t say "There are lies, damn lies, and publisher’s sales statements" is that things were done differently in his days. Let’s assume that ebooks and esales and the proliferation of electronic – much of it unbranded – material is what is making paper books not sell. (We’ll forget other reasons, such as laws that cause publishers not to keep books in inventory. Such as the fact that chain bookstores set what will be in stores over a tri-state area, regardless of what people in each city want to read. Such as... many other things that will make me reach for the Scotch if I start thinking about them.)

So, ebook sales – great, right? Anyone can publish him or herself. Amazon will soon be offering a 70% for the author deal, thereby beating anything any other house has ever done. Joy and dancing on the streets, right? Authors can publish themselves, or come out with small presses, or anything they want to. They can form cooperatives, perhaps, as has been aired in this forum, and so propagate their names and their readers....

Maybe. Before I go into it, let me give you full disclosure of what I know of this matter.
I will grant you I’ve never epublished – or epublished exclusively. However, I’ve been surfing the world of blogs, observing, since almost the very beginning. In 1998 I started writing Jane Austen fan fiction and posting it for free. Perhaps it’s being married to a techie or perhaps it is that I have a fascination with the future, but I’m very much a creature of the internet. And I’ve deduced certain things, which I’m about to pass onto you, right or wrong.

The Austen fandom experience is probably the most relevant to e publishing. As I said I started in 1998, at two places. and,/ in its Derbyshire writers league.

These two places were very different. Being a purist, I was was at first fonder of ROP simply because it tended to publish more traditional stories. Its idea was to publish only stories in period, no fantasy, no modern day stories with Jane Austen characters. I liked that, because it gave me security. I knew what I would find. ROP had editing and quality control. It had a "brand assurance."

However, when I tried to write a funny/silly story – very popular with the readership, btw – that implied but didn’t show some strange – but not out of question for the time – sexual practices, I got banned. I got banned without explanation and without so much as a by your leave.

That left me with the Derbyshire writers league, which is the best example of an "open environment." You can post anything – even though you might get yelled at for it. When I started posting there, you often got ten/twenty post installments per day.
And I discovered several heartening things.

a) Even though there was no editor, cream tended to rise. Cream being defined, at least, as those things that interested the audience. Meaning, you could have horrible melodrama, but it would be popular, if well written enough and hitting the right buttons. People consistently asked for the stories I also considered "best."

b) People were willing to sift through a lot of crud. Read a few lines, move on. Till something caught. The function of the editor would seem to be usurped that way.

c) People were willing – even eager – to give money for this supposedly free material. When five friends and I started our own just-for-fun website with our fan fiction, people kept emailing to ask HOW they could donate.

Okay, that’s the good side. Then there’s the bad side.

a) Over time there is fatigue. Unless there is a serial I’m following, and unless I’m in a cheerful, enthusiastic mood, I don’t wade into the board because it’s too much trouble to read a bunch of beginnings.

b) It’s not just me. People seem to burn out on the board in two to three years.

c) I don’t know what the money situation is. This was the early days of the internet. Since then, both competition and the sheer volume of free and easily accessible fiction has increased. Why should people troll the board when there’s free romances for the kindle every day at Amazon?

So, that’s for fan fic. But what about those free books on Amazon?

Well... I’ve been downloading them for a while too. Let’s just say that – so far – I have yet to buy a single second book in a series where the first book is small press or self-published. In fact, after looking through... oh, a dozen small press or self published books where the beginning was FRIGHTENINGLY bad, at this point I hesitate to download small press or self-published. In fact, in this medium, my experience has correlated with that of reading small press or self-published paper books. They tend to be what couldn’t cut it with big publishers.

Oh, there might be a few gems in the dreck, but after a while you despair of finding them.
By the way, the experience of friends who have fallen off publishers’ lists and gone to self published or e-published seems to corroborate this. Their downloads and sales immediately become too small to count. Satisfying if you’re retired, the kids are out of the house and you have no other hobbies. But as a job? No.

Are there exceptions? Sure there are. The romance market seems to be better and the erotica market even better, in e publishing. I think – I could be wrong – that anything whose covers might embarrass you in public or at your place of work will do better on e-readers. Thus, romance, which smart women have been afraid of reading in public for years because there’s such a prejudice against it; erotica because it’s best enjoyed privately; and possibly religious books, because they too invoke prejudice. From what I understand you can make a living in epublishing in all of those. But I haven’t tried, and I’m not a great reader of any of those genres.

So it’s all hearsay.

So... what did I see at the revolution? Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss. Your best bet for a successful and long publishing career is STILL traditional publishers, no matter how addled.

If we’re lucky, they’ll get a clue and get it soon enough. If we’re lucky, they’ll realize the way of the future is for them to become sort of imprimaturs of quality. Branding companies, if you wish. "So and so stands behind this book." Kind of like the funny labels on Port Wine bottles saying "Purveyor of Port to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II" yeah, like that.

If we’re lucky, a few celebrities – oh, I don’t know, Bill Gates? Stephen King? With culture-wide recognition will start their own brands.

Publicity should be part of the publisher’s job in the future. Easy enough. They won’t be PRINTING books, or not many of them.

I’m not reassured by the fact most big houses are offloading publicity to the author. Frankly, it would make more sense for them to offload paper-printing.

And what happens if they don’t get a clue soon? Well... we’ll all be writing the romance between two very religious people who like to have explicit sex...
UPDATE -- I wrote this last week but after the whole Macmillan/Amazon Kerfuffle, I have come to the conclusion this is not a rooster fight over two companies -- it's a rooster fight between two business models -- ebook and paper book, bottom up pull and top down push. And I've decided to add some thoughts to this:
First, Baen has it largely together on the ebook model. (The publisher has been heard to say "We sell stories. The physical means of delivering them is irrelevant." A button on Amazon and other esellers for the Baen ebooks would help. OTOH I have no clue how that works money wise, so I'm NOT sticking my big nose in.)

Second, I’m a Kindle owner/reader. I am NOT going to pay hard cover prices for an ebook. Not a DRMed, already out one at any rate (earcs are different). Frankly, though, I'm not paying hardcover prices for hardcovers these days. I'm either not buying them, buying them used or waiting for the paperback. Things are tough all over. And when I buy hardcovers, I do so because I already read and love the e-version. (Sigh. Unfortunately for my budget this happens far more than it should. Then I get the hc signed and have to buy a pback for the boys to maltreat.)

Third, yeah, yeah, paper books will be with us forever. In SOME form. (Just like snail mail is still with us, but most of us don’t use it that much anymore.) The question is... what form? Books have quite outstripped the reasonable price (defined as a chicken or a six pack of beer. Heck, some DVDs are cheaper.) I buy hard cover only when I like the ebook, and only for "love and cherish" purposes. This -- I think -- will continue to happen at least for a while. But our kids are comfortable with e-only. And the kindle is easier on my eyes than real books (or glowing screens which for me personally is the ipad’s downfall.) And I don't read many books with illustrations. And I read not just books but news on my kindle while traveling.

Fourth - Overall, the important thing to remember is that you can't put the genie of tech back in bottle once you take it out. History is littered with the corpses of industries that tried. Right now most publishers -- Baen excepted -- are busy trying to corral the genie and or throwing away the baby and rocking the bath water to sleep. So much the worse for readers and writers because for now we still need publishers as "brand guarantee." As noted above most – not all, and there are specific exceptions – self published ebooks are at the same level as most self published books. Not very good. But if publishers keep thinking their importance lies with printed pages and not the branding/publicity (both of which they seem to be cutting back on from already really low levels) this will change. Companies that adopt a model of branding/publicizing and keep the print only as "on demand" (or perhaps leather-tooled really prestige editions) will make it. Again, you can’t un-invent and un-disseminate tech. Coulda shoulda wouldluvta is great, but it’s not realistic. If wishes were horses, we’d be up to our necks in manure.

If I had to guess, some big publicity agency or even literary agency will get the idea of what’s needed sooner or later, and get HUGE by filling a vacant niche that fits with the "way of things to come." (Heck, Baen might do it. If I had a million bucks lying around right now I'd stake them and try to convince Baen to do it) The traditional publishers (Baen excepted) will be left to jump on the bandwagon or flail around helplessly till they die (and some will do one, some the other.)

[Oh, and on Amazon controlling distribution and this being a downside for epublishing. Oh, my stars and garters. Right now, this function is being filled by distributors and big store managers and (to an extent) by publisher "push" -- i.e. how many books they are willing to print and PUSH onto store shelves by a variety of means. (Hint, have you noticed there aren’t many "surprise bestsellers" anymore? They used to happen all the time. Not so much now.) Many, many reputable, big-publisher-accepted and printed books get almost no distribution. The distributor not thinking it will sell is the main and most frequent reason but accidental skipping happens too. (The month my first Baen book came out, the entire line of Baen books was accidentally "skipped" by a major distributor.) One man’s decision. (And I'm not saying it's a wrong decision, btw. Distributors and big traditional publishers need economies of scale. They need to think x amount of widgets will sell. Of course, in the normal course of things, they would be wrong, some times.) One accident. A whole set of books that never sells because it’s not on the shelves to sell. Right now we have one of the most top-down distribution models ever for books in possibly the most "taste and style" fragmented society in human history. Which is why we’re ripe for epublishing. That and because it's easier to make money on "small printruns" with epublishing. So if you and a thousand of your closest friends want to read about zombie vampires with an udder fetish there's a chance a writer can make decent amount writing those (not me, please. Ew.) Also, ask some author about tax laws on inventories that result in books being pulled out of print before they have time to catch via word of mouth. You’ll get an earful. If ebooks did nothing else, they would circumvent that and give the "surprise bestseller" a chance. (Perhaps vampire zombies with udder fetishes -- ew ew ew ew ew ew -- is an idea whose time has come.) So you see, sometimes it’s a good thing that the genie can’t be put back.]

Thoughts? Opinions? Rotten tomatos? Greasy cloaks? Orange peels? Don't just sit there.


Darwin said...

Agreed that publishers function essentially as shiite filters whether for paper or e-books.

Still wondering about building readership in the e-book age.

Anonymous said...


Yes. If only Baen owned a third of Tor, instead of the other way around.

Or just was independent enough to start expanding into other genres. The publishing version of the von neumann machine . . .

Sarah, that three year burnout for slush slogging, yeah. I've seen lots of that. Got a bad case myself.

Hadn't thought of it in terms of destroying readership, but you are right.

Some sites might use a grading system. Readers rate each book they read, and must read at least a few pages of two ungraded books before advancing to the fancy bookshelves where 75% of readers liked the books well enough to read the whole thing.

Otherwise, sites can't simply be open to all writers. They just _can't_.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Wow, Sarah.

I feel like you should get 10 out of 10 for length alone on your essay. Lots of work and thought gone into that post.

Way over here in Australia, very few people have bothered with e-book readers. On the Vision list (a spec fic writer's group) there are a few, but the list is very techy. So I can't comment on the viability of various e-book readers.

That means I have to read on my computer screen and, by the time I'm ready to curl up with a book, it is bed time, and cuddling up with a lap top is just not the same as cuddling up with a paperback.

Again, here in Australia, there isn't the prestige attached to hardcovers. They are heavy and cumbersome and not bed-reader friendly. I'd buy a paperback over a hardcover any day.

Having done manuscript assessments and run workshops for many years, I'm aware of the level of the majority of unpublished writers. So I know the slush pile burn out. Finding a gem in the slush is such a thrill!

From your post I gather you see a role for publishers more as filterers of cream, and then promoters of cream products, rather than trying to keep a strangle hold on the book trade.

You only have to look at what happened with the Harlequin self-publishing debacle to see how out of touch business is with publishing and the love of a good story.

I don't have any gems to put forward on this topic. As someone who is struggling to run a family, work part time, do volunteer work for national writers organisations (why did I do this? Because I think it is worthwhile) and still be creative, I don't have energy to trying to work out what will happen in the publishing industry.

I'm just going to sit back and wait for the dust to settle. Meanwhile I have three books coming out this year and I hope someone will notice my babies and take them home and love them.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...


Probably the same way you built it in past ages: Publicity, publicity, publicity. At a guess, word of mouth helps too...

Sarah A. Hoyt said...


Idiotic lottery drawers keep from drawing my number everytime.

And heck, even Tor is not independent to do as it wishes because it's part of a much larger conglomerate. I'm the last person to rage against corporations, but that is part of what makes the "baen difference" I think. It's more independent and therefore more personal than the others. I'm not saying they're perfect. Businesses respond to pressures I don't understand since I work at both other ends of it. BUT as a writer they're better to work for and they seem more rational. And I think it has to do with more "close to the consumer" (and the producer) decision making.

I don't think that graded system would work myself, Pam. I think people would just not go there, because it's like volunteering to work for free. A "rating" system not unlike Amazon might work, provided there were some sort of system that allows you to go "Oh, this comment is stupid" and downrate it. As a customer, I mean.
Another thing that might help is the same as Amazon. "People who liked this, also liked."

But really, if I were a millionaire or multi millionaire right now what I'd do is start an e-only publisher, get a page with killer art and all sorts of techno "bling." Put out all formats at a reasonable price. Then hire the best publicity outfit in the business to tell everyone how wonderful I was. And then sit back and wait. (And it WOULD take some years.)

Of course, Baen has the next best thing to a publicity machine. Every place on the web I've seen this topic weighed in on, there's at least one, and often more, Baen fans extolling Baen's virtues. ;) But the other genres... it would be so nice. (Says the woman who can't keep from writing them.)

Sarah A. Hoyt said...


No, of course it hasn't penetrated in OZ to the same level. Actually, I suspect absent the current economic crisis it wouldn't have penetrated to the same level here.

What ya'll have to remember is that the US is a very large country and that geographically the population is very mobile particularly in hard times. (I think the publishers should remember this, too, but again, it's not even the publishers, it's the big "media moguls" at the top.) What this means is that if -- G-d forbid -- my husband were to lose his job, we might have to move across the country. Most of our furniture is of the sort we can discard and pick up again. I don't think we could move in a car, but we might be able to move in a rented truck. HOWEVER we could never move all our books. Moving across town with 250 boxes of them was enough. In hard times, that many books also dictate a minimum size house for us. An e-reader solves this problem. Also, while traveling, keeps my luggage small. It is still a little on the pricey side, but worth it for me.

I suspect -- absent major global crisis -- that OZ and the other anglophone countries will start getting e readers in significant quantities in the next three to five years.

Oh, also I suspect -- though I have no proof of this -- we're on the verge of a great overturning in THIS country, where ebooks become far primary over paperbooks. Again, mostly the convenience, and perhaps the price. (The thing I've been trying to say, that big publishers need to get, is that there will always be someone who undercuts them. Small publishers and such.)

Anonymous said...

Sarah, your multi-millionaire still has to high grade the offerings.

DYI, if the requirements were low, (look at two in the pile around the door, then come into the store and buy all you want)might work.

Other e-book sellers will need to either do it themselves or hire people they trust to do it. Readers won't come back to "Filthy Rich Guy's Bookstore" if they don't find mostly high quality books, some of which they really like.

Guess we'll see what happens. If all else fails, I've got a spot for a cross-country tag-team orgy in the latest opus . . .

Anonymous said...

Great article, Sarah!

Let me start by saying I don't own an iKindle or whatever....

But I've owned Palm Pilots for years whose only function in life was for me to be able to read books on them.

First: They backlight, so I don't have to turn a lamp on in the middle of the night when something keeps me from falling back asleep.

Second: They're *very* small and light. About the size of a Pinocle deck of cards, so I can read in bed without worrying about dozing and having the thing crush the skull of my Beloved.

Third: They go in my pocket. I've spent years being the 'caregiver' to aging, infirm parents. At times, this means 3 and 4 trips to the Emergency Room *a* *week*, especially if their meds are being mucked with. Having a book to read while the parent dozes is a life saver. And I have a Bible on there, too...because I have been asked to read from it to one or the other of them.

So, I find that the books I read most are published by Baen, because I can download them or copy them from CDs in the hardback books.

But, saving the most important part til the end, Baen cares about *readers* - *fans*! There's the Bar, where a several of the authors interact with their fans. There's the free library, where I can sample an author's style, on my Palm Pilot, for free. And, from hanging around the Bar for a few months, it seems to me that, as Sarah put it so succintly, Baen sells stories to people who enjoy them. Period.

What does this mean for publishing? Hey, I'm a housemom in Longmont, I know nothing about publishing. It just makes sense to me, though, that you got with the folks who have their eye on the important part of the business.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...


well... yeah. One of the other things that makes Baen Baen is "taste". Ie the offerings have a personality and Toni's is remarkably consistent with Jim's. There used to be a "personality" at Del Rey too, but these days not so much. And the rest of the houses seem to me not so well "branded." Though Bantam at least has been described to me as "the Godiva chocolates of SF" and maybe it is (confess I haven't paid much attention to the name on the spine, lately, what with writing a zillion books a year.)
And how come no one is ironing for me, so I can finish the dang proposal?

Kate said...

Zombies with udder fetishes? Sarah, you've been looking at the original DOITD cover again, haven't you?

Seriously, it's the vampire penguins you want to watch out for ( for the origin of this piece of advice). They'll get you every time, and suck your knees dry.

Okay, okay. I think I need to go to bed.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...


My fear is that these people who think they can lock the genie back up again are going to distort the market so much they will kill books. Apparently Steve Jobs ACTUALLY said no one reads books with no pictures anymore. Sometimes I wonder about people.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...


exactly that cover...

Mike said...

Just because...

Mandrake the Pungent
by Mike Barker

Zardle shrugged. "So, show me this great magical breakthrough of yours, and I'll see if I can figure out what's wrong with it." He sat down in Mandrake's workroom.

Mandrake grabbed the materials and started to work. It didn't take long, he had grown quite adept at the process.

Mandrake waved his hands through the smoke again, and peered at his latest attempt. He thought this time it might work...

The vampire was thoroughly dead. Stake firmly implanted in its heart, head separated by at least two inches from its neck, yes, it was dead. But the zombie processing that Mandrake had then performed, sewing its lips shut, embalming it with certain rare fluids, and a rather elaborate magical ceremony, had given it a certain third life. And now, as he raised his hands, its eyes opened. It glared at him.

And the zombie vampire stood up. It grabbed its head and held it in front of its chest, rolling its eyes around.

Mandrake licked his lips. "I, your master, command you to answer me. What are you looking for?"

The zombie pulled its lips apart a little, then the stitches caught. It winked at him, raised one eyebrow, and the hands gently tilted the head a bit to the right.

Mandrake shook his head. "Okay, that was a mistake. Is it animal?"

The zombie hands nodded the head.

Mandrake bit his lip. "Uh, you're looking for an animal? Okay, let's see. Dog?"

The zombie shook his head.



Zardle shifted in his chair. "How about a rabbit?"

The zombie winced. No.

Mandrake said, "Cow?"

The zombie nodded, energetically.

Mandrake wrinkled his forehead. "You want a cow?"

The zombie took his head in one hand, and gesticulated with his other hand. He was yanking down, yanking down.

Mandrake hit his forehead with his hand. "Udders? You want to milk a cow?"

The zombie head smiled, and his hands juggled the head.

Mandrake threw his hands up. "Why me? I've managed one of the great magical feats of our century, bringing vampires to life as zombies, and what do I get? An udder fixation every time."

Zardle stood up. "Well, it's pretty clear to me."

Mandrake closed his eyes, tight, then opened them and looked at Zardle. "All right. What is it?"

Zardle walked over to the door, opened it, and looked back at Mandrake. "Clearly, udderly ridiculous."

He stepped out the door and shut it before the explosion.

The End

Chris McMahon said...

I can see why you used to be a marathon runner. That was an awesome post.

It will be interesting to see where things develop.

Dave Freer said...

It still comes down to two things - gatekeeping, and bringing reader and author together. Agree that most publishers are so generic (Barring Baen) that few if any readers know who publishes their fave author, and that the aspects that publishers are better suited to than writers are being passed on to the author(guess what -if I work at my publicity and have an audience of 50 000 I won't bother to get a publisher to publish my e-book. I'll hire an editor, a proof reader, subcontract the repackaging into formats, and pay the artist and webmaster a percentage. And get 70% + of retail, tax deductible expenses, and not 20% royalties). If I HAVEN'T got an audience of 50 000 THEN I want the publisher and will accept 20%. Or is this just too obvious to be noticed by the highly trained minds in publishing's boardrooms?)

As to where it will go and if the old boss is the same as the new one... I don't know. Not if the old boss (in the generic sense - not Baen, who are breaking ranks and IMO being punished fr it (and thank heavens they do) continues down the same path. By failing to get their brand recognized by readers, they're devaluing their brands fairly rapidly IMO. The mathematics of e-books for an established midlist author are fairly simple and clear - if you can sell x number at Y price you can live, and write. If you go through a publisher x number needs to be multiplied by the reduction in money the author gets. So the publisher has to be able to deliver that multiplicand or more. For me at Y= $3.50 a book x is around 5K and two books a year (which without the waste of time on proposals and worry would be something I would exceed comfortably). I'd then be looking for 5 times that x to even consider a publisher. But I don't think I can sell 5K of an e-book. We'll see though. I didn't think Save the Dragons had a chance of getting to $10K. It didn't stop me trying and I am very grateful for its success and to people who supported my mutts and moggies. I don't think they'd do it for my stories though. Still, going to try.

John Lambshead said...

Good publishers also develop the careers of their writers, to every one's benefit. One of the secrets of Baen's success is that they have been very effective in that role.

Anonymous said...

I think the slogging through crap may be helped with technology. Not simple "other people who liked that also like this" but more advanced baysian algorithms. of course all such predictions depend on a critical mass of people participating and ranking and reviewing products. But then, if they (and you) do participate enough, eventually programs could reach the point where they make recommendations for you: basically advanced "shop bots".

On another note, Do you get a better deal depending on which electronic book we buy?
I just bought one of your books from Baen because Amazon didn't have the Kindle version, and I had it delivered to my Kindle.

If Authors get a better deal from them, I would endeavor to make them my first choice, since the price is also better anyway! :)


EvMick said...

Just a thought.

David Weber writes (or used to) for Baen. At one time I had read everything he'd published.

Then he wrote some stuff for another publisher. (Tor?Bantam?Harlequin? I don't even know)

Needless to say I didn't follow him. I guess I have "brand" loyalty.???

Sarah A. Hoyt said...


That calculus is being done here too. Particularly with one of my orphaned names and series. Face it, musketeers was NEVER in the stores, which means it had to sell mostly Amazon. Sarah D'Almeida has enough pull to sell 5 to 7k books, with NO store presence. Will all of these people follow me to ebook? Probalby not. But I'm betting some of them will, and I'll pick up some others who hear about it for the first time. I think 5k is achievable with a little work, and if I'm selling well in ebooks... well...
Revolutions aren't just in politics. I once said and I repeat, I'll work for Baen as long as they'll have me. They picked me up when no one else would touch me and there are debts you can't pay. But my orphaned series with other houses... well, I aim to see what's happening on the other side of the revolution.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...


When my books are available through Baen, please get them there. It just saves everyone money. For the rest, Amazon is fine. :) If it's one of my series with other houses, it pays to ask me if they're still in print. Just holler here or on facebook or twitter, where I'm cleverly disguised as Sarah A Hoyt or sarahahoyt. It's just they have a nasty habit of keeping them on for sale when they're out of print and I don't even get statements, much less a cut. Out of sheer orneriness in those cases, I prefer to send fans free eversions. At least until I can set up my own selling scheme.


Sarah A. Hoyt said...


I need -- physically and mentally -- to get back into running. It's just the only logical time to do it is early am, and I'm afraid to do it alone (liberation and all that, but I'm still a middle aged woman.) If i could find someone to run with me... particularly someone who would go easy on the very out of shape Sarah initially...

As for articles -- the reason I normally don't write this kind of stuff is that I tend to go into ramifications and implications and I think I put people to sleep halfway through...