Writer’s Cramp is the blog and site for B. Jenne’ Hall, writer, genius, and pathological optimist. She’s written her first book, is working on her second, and she’s trying to get published. Which from all accounts seems to be as approximately attainable as the gift of flight, but who doesn’t love a challenge?


I need new copper plumbing

I’ve spent the better part of the weekend working on Book 2*. I have about 60 pages so far, about half of which is the first four(ish) consecutive chapters, the rest being scenes or snippets of scenes that will/probably/might appear later on, depending.

And I realized in the last hour or so that I need to completely scrap most of what I wrote this weekend because I’m headed in the wrong direction from where I want to be in the story.


This is part of the process. When you’re struggling to get everything on the page, you have to push, push, push to keep at it, knowing the whole time that everything you’re pushing to put on that page is going to be utter crap. Well, perhaps not crap, but not something that you’ll keep. It’s like running water to clear rusty pipes:  it’s undrinkable until it runs clear, but you have to run the water nonetheless.


*An unfortunately large proportion of which was actually time spent being delinquent from writing, because the internet is evil and enticing and riddled with temptation.


Making a literary life

my writing tools: laptop, headphones (off frame), inspirational space, awesome new Night Owl mug from my husband full to the brim with expensive hot chocolate, and my story journal with notes for Books 1 & 2Writing is a mostly solitary pursuit. It suits me well in that way, but there’s a part of me that craves interaction with other writers, a writer’s circle, people who know and understand what it’s like to wrestle with plot and character, to beat your head against the wall during revision after revision, to lose yourself in the high of a writing groove and know how precious those times are. It’s an aspect of literary life I want for my own.

Tonight was the first step in that direction. For a birthday gift this year, my husband bought me a spot in Prompt, the 10 week writers’ workshop hosted by Write Around Portland. I’ve never participated in a writers’ workshop before so I didn’t know what to expect.

A corner room high up in Powell’s, reached through a secret door up two extra staircases no one but employees ever see. Two walls of tall mullioned windows with an invigorating view of the city. An oval table with mismatched chairs. Twelve strangers, a notebook, a pen. Terrifying. Exciting. Full of possibility.

a new journal bought just for this purpose, with the expensive pen that was a gift from my thoughtful brother-in-law and sister-in-law a few years agoWe didn’t go around the table and introduce ourselves or talk about why we were there or what we do for a living or what kind of books we read. Our facilitator, Robyn, introduced herself and talked a little about philosophy behind the workshop. On a large sheet of paper taped to one of those tall windows, she wrote the rules we decided on as a group: “Listen.” “Give constructive feedback.” “Turn off cell phones.” “Read your words with the conviction that you have a right to write.” “What’s read here, stays here.” A few more.

We did four exercises tonight. We introduced ourselves through our writing in ways that going around the table and giving superficial answers to icebreaker questions can never do. We were entertained and amused and moved and intrigued and blown away. It will be a couple more weeks before we know each other’s names without asking.

We started forming a writer’s circle.


Reading recommendations

I don’t review books much even though I read a lot. I don’t know why, it’s just never been something I’ve been compelled to do, I guess? There’s a certain skill to reviewing things, especially books, and it’s not one of my strengths. Or I’m just too lazy, that could be the reason.

Anyway, I received several books for my birthday, two of which I was excited to read right away, despite my tottering To Be Read pile that they really ought to have been queued to instead. But you know how it is, when you’re in the mood for something and it grabs you just right? That’s when you say defiantly to your TBR pile that it’s not the boss of you and you can read whatever you damn well feel like.

I may be somewhat henpecked by my TBR pile.

I enjoyed these two books quite a bit so thought maybe instead of a review, I’d give a couple of recommends instead. In case you, like me, are in the mood to read something but nothing in your TBR pile is immediately compelling you to pick it up. These are both quick and diverting reads, suspenseful enough to keep you entertained but won’t sit heavily with you for weeks afterward.

John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it.

He’s spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential.

He’s obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn’t want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he’s written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation.

Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don’t demand or expect the empathy he’s unable to offer. Perhaps that’s what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there’s something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat—-and to appreciate what that difference means.

Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.

An interesting premise coupled with a compelling protagonist kept me turning the pages fast and furious. A little bit Dexter, a little bit Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a whole lot of something else entirely. Even though the story’s POV character is a sociopath, it’s not hard to empathize with him. Which is ironic, since he can’t empathize at all.

Also, even though it’s about a potential serial killer and an actual serial killer, it’s not as gruesome as you might imagine. Sure, there’s some blood and guts, but this is as much a character-driven story as a plot-driven one, and there wasn’t anything in the story that gave me nightmares. (Which should say something, since I have a legendarily vivid imagination and can freak myself out pretty easily.)

She says she’s a member of a secret organization devoted to fighting evil. She says she’s working with the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons — aka “Bad Monkeys.”

Her confession lands her in the jail’s psychiatric wing and earns her countless hours of poking, probing, and questioning by a professional. But is Jane crazy or lying?

Or is she playing a whole different game altogether?

I could not turn the pages fast enough for this one. The story wastes no time immersing you in the world of the Bad Monkeys and its witty, imaginative world coupled with non-stop twists and turns had me saying out loud, “HOLY CRAP WHAT” multiple times throughout. And who doesn’t love an unreliable narrator? It also reminded me somewhat of The Subheroes, an online serial story by Sarah Bunting that she posted years ago on her website, Tomato Nation. I loved, loved, loved The Subheroes, so it’s perhaps not surprising that this book scratched that itch for me.

The weakest part of Bad Monkeys is the ending — or more accurately, the last 30 or so pages just before the end — which felt somewhat unearned. But the actual ending itself was satisfying and the rest of the read more than made up for the weaker part.


The myth of balance

I have to agree with Kameron Hurley about the realities of finding balance as a writer:

“I spend my time like a person who knows there isn’t a whole lot of it, I suppose. I enjoy what I can, when I can, and carve out pieces for one to give to the other when necessary. Maybe there’s some cosmic overall life balance to be had, but if that’s so, it’s something only other people will be able to see when they look at the long, crazy arc of my life, long after I’m all gone to dust.”

True not just for writers, really. Anyone who spends their days juggling multiple responsibilities — most of us, I suspect — knows it’s a delicate act that depends on a combination of sacrifice, timing, organization, and no little amount of luck. It’s so delicate, in fact, that there are days when the slightest disruption can send the whole chaotic affair crashing down on our heads.

In a typical day, I spend 10 to 14 hours at my day job, which almost always includes at least a meeting or teleconference (often two, three, four, or more), receiving at least several dozen emails and replying to all but a few of them, overseeing two departments, and meeting at least two daily deadlines. None of that includes my actual work, that’s just the typical topography of my day. I fit what work I can in the valleys between the mountains and hills of that topography. I eat my lunch at my desk most of the time and my two work-from-home days are reserved for focusing on as much work as I can get done without the interruptions of being in the office. Although it doesn’t always work out that way; there are often teleconferences on those days, as well, and the email barrage can sometimes be as bad or worse. I’m fortunate to enjoy a great deal of flexibility and autonomy in my job, but its demands nonetheless make it a pretty rigid aspect of my life.

I get home between 6:30 and 9:00 unless I have an outside commitment or obligation thatcuts my day shorter. Dinner is generally dependent on how late I get home. If I can manage to get home by 7:30 or earlier, I will make some attempt at making a meal that requires some form of cooking. The later it gets, the simpler my meal plans become: a single pan entree, something I made ahead and stocked in the freezer, a sandwich, leftovers, cheese and crackers and veggies…toast. I feed the cats, eat, and put together my lunch for the next day. Since I also post on my website about my lunches, I write up the post about it during this time so that all I’ll have to do the next day is snap a pic of my lunch, insert it in the post, and publish it to the site.

After that, I try to do at least some nominal housekeeping chore. Dishes, usually, since not having a dishwasher means they pile up quickly. Some (most?) days, nothing gets done and we just have to live with a messy house until the weekend. Other days, the tottering piles of dishes are a safety hazard and must be bumped up the priority list. The housekeeping is dependent on how late it is, how tired I am, how behind it is, and how motivated I am to be doing something else. Which I generally am.

Then it’s writing time, which includes not just the actual act of writing, but revisions, noting story ideas, story research, industry research, etc. If I’m not in the mood and feel like pushing myself is going to be detrimental instead of helpful, I try to spend at least some time doing something creative or otherwise creatively rejuvenating — working in my art journal, reading for pleasure, or watching a favorite show or movie while I catch up online.

How long I do that is somewhat dependent on when the Prince is headed home. He gets home anywhere between 9 PM and 1 AM, depending on what subject his class is covering that day and whether or not he rode his bike to work. I stop what I’m doing to spend time with him and give the poor kitties some undivided attention.

Somewhere in there, I try to catch up on my various social accounts — LJ, twitter, Tumblr, DreamWidth — some number of the ridiculous number of blogs I follow, comments, and email replies. (This part of my day is important for two reasons: 1) to keep up with people I care about, as much as I can; and 2) as part of the increasing requirement that writers who wish to be published must have an established online presence in all these forms and others.) This is also the time when I try to post to any of those sites or this one if I have something to post about. These things may be bumped up the priority list if I’ve neglected them for a few days or they may take a backseat when I just can’t fit everything in and need to drop something from my task list.

This is also when I get ready for the next day to minimize how much time it takes to get ready in the morning (and thus, allowing me to sleep later): laying out my clothes, taking a bath (since we don’t have a shower), packing my work bag, preparing lists for any errands I need to run during lunch or on the way home. And Eru bless the miracle of online shopping, automatic bill pays, and grocery delivery because this is the only time of our day that we can fit any of these tasks in.

Oh, and if I need to do any work for my website clients (about four to seven evenings every month), then pretty much everything except the basic functions are put on hold until that’s done.

The Prince works a similarly long day (or longer!) on a schedule shifted from mine, which means that we only see each other for a few hours (at most) in the evening, and very briefly in the morning before I leave for work. I stay up late so we can maximize our time together on weekdays, which means going to bed between 1:30 AM and 2 AM and getting up at 7 AM. If I’ve really hit a writing groove, the Prince goes to bed without me and I stay up until I can’t keep my eyes open so I don’t waste that opportunity to make progress on the story.

Most people are doing a similar juggling act, whether it’s trying to incorporate a similar artistic pursuit into their daily life or something equally demanding like raising kids or starting a new business. Sometimes, we benefit from the help and support of people who love us*, but one way or another, we find a way to fit in the things that are most important. That includes being willing to redefine “most important” every day, and living with the fact it will only rarely all be in balance. Rarely, if ever.


*I am incredibly fortunate in this department. The Prince does as much or more than I do to keep the household functioning and still manages to fit in the occasional thoughtful things that can make all the difference on a challenging day. Like the morning I’m running late for work, remember just as I’m starting the car that the needle was well past ‘E’ when I coasted to a stop the night before, and realize that he somehow found time to fill the gas tank. I have no interest in diamonds — things like this are a billion times more priceless.


On talent, and the subjectiveness thereof

Have you ever read a well-regarded book with slight bafflement as to what all the fuss is about? I don’t mean a popular book that takes the reading public by storm but proves to be embarrassingly hacktastic (I’m looking at you, Bridges of Madision County), but one which wins a respectable award or three, is highly-rated on Amazon, GoodReads, etc., and you see or hear recommended from multiple sources. Not even necessarily a “best of the year” sort of book, nothing that’s going to win a Pulitizer, but just, you know, a well-recommended-by-those-whose-opinions-on-such-things-you-trust sort of book?

Yeah, I’m reading one of those right now. It’s genre fic*, has won a notable genre award or three, and I’ve seen it on many recommended lists, everything from The Onion A.V. Club to the people on my f-list who have a good record of interests that dovetail with mine. I read the author’s blog regularly and admire his/her boggling prolificacy. I in fact had sort of started to develop a complex as this author has continued to churn out one book after another, posting daily word counts that simply exhaust me, and announcing new deals and short story submission acceptances that make me suspect this person is either superhuman or has access to some sort of time suspension device. (To keep myself from getting too discouraged and developing a full-blown complex over it, I just remind myself that every writer is different, and we all have our different paths. Different, not better, not worse. I am not prolific. My stories take a long time to develop, are complicated and require much research, planning, and layering, and are subject to competition with the fifty trillion other demands on my time. I am not this author, and that’s okay — the world doesn’t need two of us.)

*I make the distinction not because it matters to me, but simply to differentiate that no, this is not the sort of book written by an MFA blowhard and lauded by a bunch literary critics at The New Yorker who pride themselves on recommending shit that’s not in any way an enjoyable read. Lit fic gets caught up in its own importance as often as not, too busy shoving its intellectual whatever in your face to get on with the business of the story or the characters or both. I’m all for the transcendental story that transforms us, but those stories are rare, lit fic or otherwise. There’s plenty of good, terrific, and even life-changing lit fic out there, and plenty of it that emphatically isn’t, and the only bad thing about it is that it’s championed over genre fic as if it’s somehow better. Oh, how greatly I beg to differ with that opinion. I’ve read my share of just about everything you want to throw at me, lit fic or otherwise, and let me tell you, there are just as many good, terrific, and yes, even life-changing stories told under the genre umbrella as under the literary one, and the entire publishing world would be well-served if they would stop with the haughty disdain for all things mystery, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, or romance.

ANYWAY. I’m enjoying this story, don’t get me wrong, and it has many things to recommend it. It deserves to be on those recommended lists for being an engaging, interesting, and imaginative read (I think — I haven’t finished it yet). But there are plenty of things about it, particularly about the writing, that I find mediocre. It’s chock full of exposition, for one thing, and only thinly-disguised (or not disguised at all) “as you know, Bob” exposition at times. There’s a dismaying amount of telling rather than showing, and far, far, FAR too much description of mundane action that’s utterly irrelevant. Doors closing, putting on seatbelts, taking a drink, whatever. You put some of those details in to enhance the story, provide detail or color (or even to drop in as throwaways that become important later), but I don’t need to know that a character opened the door, walked through it, and shut it. Most of the time, I don’t really give a shit that the character went through a door at all. As a reader, it does nothing but pull me out of the story or bore me or both. Unless it’s important to the story or the character, it’s a distraction. Make the action count, make the dialogue count, make the scene count.

That’s not to say I’m not guilty of these sins. I totally am. (Oh my god, my verbosity, let me show you it.) Even good, well-respected writers are guilty of them. But it’s the kind of thing that you fix during revisions. You need to be one ruthless SOB in revisions, and you hunt those weaknesses down and kill those suckers dead, dead, dead. I’m no paragon of writing ability, and obviously, I haven’t been published, so I don’t claim to have all the answers. But at the very least, you’d think this kind of stuff would’ve been tightened during the editorial stage. (The editor in this case being a good one with a sound reputation.) So I’m left scratching my head saying to myself, “Really? Nobody redlined this in a draft somewhere?”

It’s not a dealbreaker for the story. I am, as I mentioned, still enjoying it. But it’s disappointing and instructive that even the stamp of approval that publishing gives you doesn’t mean that you don’t have a lot of room to improve. And it’s a reminder that even for an author who’s getting a lot of buzz and generally making it big may not be as big of a talent as you let yourself believe.


Ideas and inspiration

Those who’ve read my stories will sometimes ask me where I got the idea for something in the story. The details of the answer vary, but the answer itself is the same: “all over the place”. It’s as Neil Gaiman once put it: “You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.”

Case in point: this morning, I was sitting in the hygienist’s chair this morning for my biannual teeth cleaning, listening somewhat absently to her make small talk. She was telling me about her kids and the challenges of paying for all the costs that compound when they participate in a sport like basketball or baseball — the gear, the uniforms, the registration fees, the shoes. She makes use of hand-me-downs and secondhand stores, but the shoes are the hardest, she says, because getting the right size in hand-me-downs at the time when her sons need them is tricky, and they’re one of the hottest items at Goodwill. Which means new shoes for her boys, more often than not, and even a relatively inexpensive pair is $80. “And he’s only ten years old!” she says. “He has no concept of eighty dollars.”

I was listening, but I was also thinking about my current story, because it’s what I do. All the time, pretty much. What she was saying wasn’t a new thought to me, but for whatever reason, it sparked a quick sequence of thought that led to a flash of inspiration and then an idea explosion, all in the space of 10 to 15 seconds.

Thinking about how to explain the concept of eighty dollars to a ten year-old led me to think about how a parent of modest but comfortable means, say, 100 years ago, might’ve provided things like shoes for their children and in turn, how those children would’ve understood the difference between needs and wants. Which led to a similar scenario in earlier times (way earlier times) when humanity as a whole was significantly more agrarian and how our ideas of needs shift as humanity progresses.

From there, I imagined a never-actually-existed-but-nice-to-imagine bucolic scene of village life reminiscent of fairy tales, all stucco cottages with thatched rooves and simple, contented folk who work hard and always have enough to eat, children and adults engaged in activities of a bucolic village variety. (I know, I know…me and Walt Disney.)

And that led directly to another scene which I can’t describe because it’s spoilery, but which solved a plot issue I’ve been struggling with in Book 2 AND gave me an idea how to solve a larger problem of character perspective I’ve been at a loss to deal with until now. I was so excited to finally have a breakthrough on this part of the story that I actually clenched the arms of the dental chair to keep myself from leaping out of it to grab my writer’s journal out of my purse, which the hygienist mistook for pain and asked me worriedly if she’d hurt me. I reassured her she hadn’t, grinning like a maniac the whole time. I may have freaked her out a little.

I have work to do today, an appointment this afternoon, and dinner and tomorrow’s lunch to make this evening, so I’m just going to have to contain myself until later tonight. It’ll be harder than waiting for Santa.


A peek at what's to come

My characters live inside me, playing out their story like a movie on a screen that never stops. I dream of them all, and what is to become of them and the tale they have to tell. I’m excited about where the next installment of their story is taking them — and me and you, by extension — and excited to be immersed in their world as deeply as ever. Which means I’m currently thinking of…

…girls wielding swords and outsmarting nasty beasties and evil men who underestimate them. One who is growing into her destiny as the savior of the world, another who is free spirit and assassin both, and perhaps a reader of the future, too.

…warrior princes who know great works of poetry by heart and need a bit of rescuing from time to time. One a brooding son of royalty with a price on his head and a determination to thwart Fate itself, another whose country has not existed for three thousand years and who knows full well that Fate always wins in the end.

…a healer and a scholar whose gentle hands must learn the ways of the sword as he seeks the cure for a wound that even his skill cannot heal. He is blind, but must learn to see if he is to recognize the cure when it comes to him.

…a mother whose plotting and scheming to change the course of a nation’s history changes her far more than her kingdom’s destiny. Without even realizing it, what used to be important to her ceases to matter, and when she finally notices the change she’s undergone, she starts to understand that love is trickier than she ever imagined.

…a young beggar thief who steals a bag of apples and gets more than he ever bargained for in the process. It’s a big day, a day of firsts: his first bath, his first hot meal in an upscale inn, his first pair of boots…the same day he helps topple a tyrant and install a new ruler. And that’s all before bedtime.

Excited yet?


Living creatively

I’m bursting with creativity lately. The prospect of my creative room has me thrumming like a live wire, waiting impatiently at the starting line to start the race. A sprint or a marathon, which will it be? Will I be in a frenzy of creation that flares like a supernova, then collapses inward to a black hole? A secret fear, but I don’t think it’s going to happen like that. I think this burn has only just begun.

As the creative room takes shape — or the preparation for it, anyway — the creative life I’ve long dreamed of is taking shape, too. Not fully, as I’ve always dreamed of being able to quit my job to work on writing and art full-time, and that’s just not going to happen any time soon, unfortunately. I work a lot, so my creative endeavors have to be squeezed into the slivers of time left over, and those slivers, they are often miniscule. (But this is not the time to be unappreciative of a job that pays my bills and makes those wonderful extras like a creative room possible. I’ll juggle and focus on the fact that I at least have this much available to me.)

Writing is going to occupy most of those miniscule slivers, but I’ve got years of backlogged art jammed up inside that are going to need a release, too, and perhaps in the beginning, they’ll be the bigger part of that river flowing outward until the pressure is released. But it’s an embarrassment of riches, a veritable downpour of expression through pen and brush, and this, this, is what I want my life to be. There’s more still to come, but it’s taking shape, becoming something I recognize from my long-held dreams.


Making space

If you’ve been following my adventures on my regular blog, you know that my husband and I are planning to turn our guest room into a creative room in a few weeks, and that I’ve been as giddy as an untrained puppy about it. There’s a lot wrapped up in this room for me beyond the excitement of getting to do another project — and one that’s almost completely decorating, with little of that boring “preparation” nonsense — that is complicated and too personal to go into here. But suffice to say, my wheels have been spinning for a month or so since I decided I wanted to do this project. Or perhaps more correctly, the poor little hamsters that run my wheels have been spinning their poor little hamster hearts out.

I’ve been on a creative high for weeks now but haven’t written much, nor even edited much since my big push before and immediately after my pitch critique. Previously, that would have sent me into a negative feedback loop of anxiety, frustration, desperation, and shame; when I’m “normal”, I cannot function if I go for more than a few days without writing, so to not be writing for lengths of time makes me a basketcase.

Unfortunately, this last couple of years have been a series of long stretches of not-writing, and that hasn’t been a good thing. I’ve mentioned it before so I won’t go into it again here, but suffice to say, it’s been a real struggle to deal with not writing as a regular state of affairs for myself. And to secretly fear that it was going away. A writer’s worst fear.

But no, I can feel it there, waiting. I can feel that story percolating inside me like it always has, evolving and coalescing. Plot points, character developments, scenes and narratives and setting possibilities, oh my!

So when this sudden urge to do the creative room struck, I decided to let myself take this little intermission from that familiar writing flow that I’d been feeling during the editing/pitch process. To trust that it would still be there, waiting for me. Trust my instincts, trust that taking the time out to concentrate on the creative room, to enjoy all the excitement I get from thinking about it and planning it and making my vision a reality.

I’m happy to report that letting myself take this detour was the right thing. I’m so excited to get it done I can hardly contain myself! And in the meantime, I’ve been focusing on my other creative pursuits, namely collaging and art journaling. All that energy of waiting to start the creative room needed an outlet, and although it’ll be so much easier and more fun to collage and art journal in my creative room, I’m not holding off doing either of them until then, something my Practical Self probably would have. After all, not having a dedicated space for such activities didn’t stop me from doing them before I decided to do this makeover, so why should it stop me now? That’s my Creative Self giving my Practical Self the finger.

Soon, the creative room will be ready for me to create all the live long day (and night, knowing me). I’ll have a lovely space to write in, with a different view than I have now and a door I can shut while I’m tussling with a particularly thorny plot issue. (Or, more likely, getting myself out of a plot corner.) That same space can be used for playing with paints and making messes with glitter and scribbling angry screeds in red crayon across a crudely painted background. There’ll be space for my husband to create, too, and for us to spend entire Saturdays being arty together while we listen to our usual NPR Saturday schedule. Space, too, for my dear friends to do the same, and for us to make crazy art and laugh and exclaim about each others’ talents and become closer than ever.

I’m excited for what’s ahead once this room is done, and for the possibilities it holds for me and my writing. I’m not one to believe that you need everything just so before you can start writing — I wrote my first book in all kinds of places, and in all kinds of circumstances, whether they were conducive to writing or not — but it feels luxurious to have a space for it. It feels like a tremendous privilege, and one that I earned.


If it's on the internet, you will be found out

If you’ve missed the copyright follies kerfuffle that blew up a few days ago, the basic facts of the case are these:

  1. an author is alerted by a friend that an article she wrote some time back about medieval apple pie recipes had appeared in a magazine called Cook’s Source;
  2. author had never heard of the magazine, nor authorized the article to be used;
  3. investigates and discovers her article was lifted almost wholesale and reprinted (without permission or payment);
  4. contacts the editor for (very humble) redress…
  5. and gets the most jaw-dropping response basically ever.
  6. Including be told she should be grateful that the editor stole her words and used them without permission. I am totally not kidding. You really need to read the editor’s email for yourself to get the full effect of unintentional hilarity.

I’ve been following this saga for a couple of days now and I’m still gobsmacked by the idiocy on display. I especially love the lecturing, finger-shaking tone of the so-called editor’s reply to the author. What cheek! Not to mention her “editing” of recipes that used their medieval spellings, since that time period was, you know, the point of the article she stole them from. Nevermind the whole “anything on the internet is public domain” headdeskery. (Oh yes, the editor really said that.) Holy ignorance of copyright, Batman!

So I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that this isn’t some rogue editor who’s off the reservation — this magazine has been lifting articles right and left from pretty much the entire internet and publishing it all as their own content. And they shot for the moon, too — Food Network, Martha Stewart, Disney…. Whooo boy. Clearly someone has never heard of corporate lawyers and the scariness thereof.

They’re getting the High Holy Hammer of all Smackdowns, though. Thanks to Neil GaimanSmart Bitches, Trashy Books, Boing Boing, Reddit, and Gawker, the can of worms they opened up for themselves is going to eat them alive. Seriously, when there’s a Facebook page dedicated to listing all the entities you’ve plagiarized from, and the entire internet has gleefully piled on? Life as you know it is over, Red Rover.

What kills me about this whole thing is how completely people still underestimate the power of the internet. The operators of this magazine have obviously been getting away with this unethical behavior for years, but it takes hubris the size of Everest to think you can get away with such shenanigans indefinitely when it’s all online. And then to have such a jaw dropping response from the magazine’s editor…surely they weren’t surprised when basically the entire internet said OH HELL NO in reply. I mean in the age of Twitter, who can possibly still think that something like this won’t explode faster than you can say “Iranian election protests”?

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