Oh Happy Day!

There is a lot of music in my head. I always have a song playing in the background of my mind and I ALWAYS wake up hearing a song on Radio Laurie. That song often reflects my mood. This makes it easy to figure out what I’m feeling.

Yeah, weird. I know. But it is the only brain I have.

The selection of songs makes things stranger. I grew up on a college campus in the 60s, fell in love with "classic rock" in the 70s, survived disco (barely – polyesther still makes me break out in hives), and became a fan of hip-hop, indie rock, and country. The only music I don’t enjoy is opera and I’m sure one of these days I’ll get around to it.

Oh, and I’m a preacher’s kid who sang in a gospel chorus. So the playlist on Radio Laurie is rather…. eclectic.

I have more thoughts to add to our ongoing discussion about the suckitude of book pirates. (You really should read through the comments posted on Tuesday and Wednesday – totally fascinating. Thank you to everyone who posted!) But not today.

Today I woke up with this song in my head:

(Much love to our Canadian sisters and brothers a snowball’s throw away from the Forest!)

Today is a happy day for MANY of reasons. Play the music clip above while you read through them.

    1. CHAINS (paperback) has made the New York Times Bestseller List!!!! (The list of February 7th.)

2. AND, CHAINS (paperback) made the Top Ten list of the National Association of Independent Booksellers.

    3. AND, WINTERGIRLS was honored with spots on the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list AND the Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers list!

4. But wait! There’s more! WINTERGIRLS earned an Honorable Mention Cuffie from America’s booksellers. (LOVE this award – best sure to read the entire list.)

5. Still not dancing? There’s MORE. Amazon.com named me to their list of the 8 most influential YA authors of the past decade. Was flabbergasted by that one.

Whew! All this joy is balancing out my book pirate frustration rather nicely, I must say.

I am off to the Kindling Words writer’s retreat today. Not sure if I’ll be blogging there or not, but I’ll come home with lots of pictures, I promise.

I’ll leave you with another version of this song, just to keep your toes tapping all day. (It is from Sister Act 2. The lead singer is Ryan Toby.)

More Thoughts on Why Book Pirates Suck


That hit a nerve, didn’t it?

My dog listened to all of yesterday’s comments carefully.

If you want to read some fascinating stuff, scroll through the comments to yesterday’s original "Book Pirates Suck" post. I really appreciate everyone who took the time to comment. Your thoughts helped me clarify my position.

Several readers tried to justify book pirating. Here are their arguments (paraphrased in bold face) and my responses.

1. Publishers make too much money and charge too much for books, so it is fair to steal from them.

::busts into uncontrollable laughter::

Publishing is NOT the music industry. No, no, no, no! It is a hide-bound inefficient industry that is trying (veeery slooooowly) to reconfigure itself for the modern age. Publishing has a notoriously low profit margin – on the order of 2% is the number I’ve heard, though I don’t have any stats to back that up. Most people in publishing – including and especially authors – earn very little money. That’s why book piracy could have such devasting effects. Do you really want to read books that were only written by people from rich families?

NOTE: American publishers have been loathe to give up their hardcover sales even though authors (including me) have begged them to. Maybe this piracy will help them see the light. I would love it if all of my books were simultaneously released hardcover and paperback. Do you think that is coming?

2. I just download illegally so I can preview a book. That is different from downloading a book so I can steal it.

No, it’s not. Whenever you download a book illegally (also known as stealing) you are encouraging the person who uploaded it to keep being a pirate. You have countless legal ways to review a book. I offer free chapters on my website. Publishers offer free chapters. You can read reviews all over the Internet. You can borrow it from the library.

3. You are being silly because research has shown that when musicians offer their work for free, or say, post a couple of songs from an album, their sales go up.

A musician offering a song for free is exactly the same thing as a writer offering a chapter or two for free. And I think it is fantastic when an author puts her book on the internet for free downloads. Maureen Johnson is doing that right now. The critical difference is that the writer (and her publisher) is the one making the call. Don’t you think it is fair that an artist gets to control how her work is offered to the public? What if a person snuck into an artist’s gallery, stole copies of an image, then put them all over the net. Is that OK, too?

4. People who download a book for free will then go out and buy it if they like it.

I am sure some will. I am also sure many more won’t. And since when has our economy been constructed on a "pay if you like it" model? If you don’t like a book, you can return it. If a book is not selling in a store, the bookstore can return it to the publisher.

5. But I don’t have the money to buy the book!

I so completely sympathize with that position!!!! I have not been able to buy books for most of my life! (Including right now!) That’s why I am such a fan of libraries. If you don’t have the money to buy books, stealing them is not the answer.


I think the biggest problem here is that the generation that is currently 12 – 26 have grown up with free content on the Internet. They expect things to be free. Is that their fault? Well, maybe the 26-year-olds should be wise enough to have a clue. But we need to do a better job educating teens about economics and the consequences and larger ramifications of stealing. (I get a sense that we’re about to see more people charging for Internet content – do you have an opinion about that?)


If you want to buy a pair of pants, you go to the store. Try them on. Buy them. Take them home. Return them if you don’t like them.

You do not steal the pants, wear them for a while, then throw them out them if you don’t like them. (If you are a pants-stealer, there is a court date in your future.)

AND you do not sneak into the store at night, steal 100 cartons of pants, then distribute them for free on the street the next morning. (This is what the person who uploads the book is doing.)

The same rule applies to books.

Readers have many different ways to test-drive a book: reviews, blog comments, read sample chapters posted online. Heck – go to the library and read the whole thing. If you want to read the whole book, you buy it.


I hope we can develop the technology to catch book pirates. I’m not going to hold my breath.

I hope that book piracy will be a wake-up call to publishers to make paperbacks available faster.

I hope this generation will be kinder than the ones who have come before them and not treat artists like dirt.

Book pirates suck.

The Creature With Fangs wants to know what you think about all of this.

Book Pirates Suck

The book pirates have arrived.

What is a book pirate?

Someone who illegally downloads a book. It’s happening to me and lots of other authors. Same thing as the music industry.

NOT COOL, book pirates. NOT COOL AT ALL.

I can hear a few voices in the back of the room shouting, "But I can’t afford books! And it’s the publishers that get all the money anyway. Why do you care if I steal your book on the internet? Don’t you want me to read it?"

Dude. I know where you can read all the books you want – for free. It’s called "a library." Check it out. Free books! Amazing!

I am a full-time writer. All of my bills are paid for by the money I earn from my books. (I earn enough to get by, but am not rich, not by a long shot.) If you steal my book, I can’t buy groceries or take my dog to the vet. If this keeps up, I’ll have to quit writing, because I enjoy eating and my dog is a high-maintenance nutbag who needs to go to the vet constantly.

This is my dog taking a nap. Isn’t she the sweetest thing ever? You wouldn’t do anything to hurt her, right?

Aside from book pirating being lame and possibly forcing your favorite writers to stop writing, it is ILLEGAL. As in, cops and handcuffs and courtrooms and lawsuits that will force you or your family to sell the house. If I got to pick the punishment for book piraters, I would make them pull rocks from my back meadow so I could expand the vegetable garden this year. But I don’t get to choose. The publishers are the ones with the army of scary zombie-lawyers who want your flesh. 

And trust me, they are hungry.

A typical zombie lawyer preparing to ruin a book pirate’s life.

Book pirates beware. They are coming for you. They will sue you up, down, and sideways. Your grandmother will pretend she doesn’t know you because she doesn’t want them coming after her. And she will be ashamed of you because book pirates suck.

You want a free book? Go to the library.

You want your favorite authors to keep writing? Buy their books.

Any questions?

In which I relive Valley Forge – briefly!

I am just about finished with FORGE (well, this draft, at least). A small part of my lifestyle already mimics the late 18th century: heating my cottage (and our house) with wood instead of electricity or fossil fuel. I grow a lot of food in the garden. I have been known to scratch out pages of notes with a quill and ink. (However I am not crazy enough to give up my computer for writing.)

Last fall I cooked a squash over an open fire for a scene in my book that is based on one of the experiences of Private Joseph Plumb Martin. Performing the task as he did was really important for getting the scene right. I’ve tried to do that with a number of scenes in the book.

(Remind me, please, to write a book about an upper glass girl who lives in Paris in 1910. No risk of frostbite researching that one!)

Most of FORGE takes place in Valley Forge; my story does not shy away from the physical challenges of that encampment. That winter (1777-1778) was not the coldest winter of the war, not at all. But the department of the Commissary was in total disarray, the supply lines were nonexistent, and the Congress – which had been formed to fight a war which everyone thought would take a few months at best – was unprepared to coordinate the purchase and delivery of food, clothing, blankets, soap, and medical supplies for 11,000 soldiers.

Which is why Valley Forge was hell. The soldiers went through several periods of having little or nothing to eat. Many of them were wearing rags. Some lacked shirts. Others lacked jackets. Some had to wear blankets because their pants had fallen apart. Many had no shoes or boots.

Which brings me to this morning’s experiment. It was 13 degrees outside. We had a fresh couple of inches of snow two days ago. It was time for me to step back into time.

 I am wearing garb that is as close to Rev War-era as my closet would allow: a linen shirt that I wear to Renaissance Faires, my husband’s Renn Faire britches, hand-knit wool stockings, a scarf, knit cap, knit gloves and a thin wool blanket. No boots. The fact that my clothing was not torn, muddied, or crawling with various insect life, makes this barely authentic, but I didn’t want anyone calling the authorities because a half-dressed crazy woman was walking in the snow.

It sure felt authentic to my feet. I walked up to the cottage to get my hatchet. I planned on then walking to the mailbox (a little more than a tenth of a mile), get the mail, head back to the house and split some wood (with an axe, not the hatchet) because I needed the wood anyway.

Ha. I am a weenie. I have cowardly feet.

After fetching the hatchet, I managed a couple hundred paces and then my feet quit in protest. At first they went numb, which wasn’t so bad, but then they were in wicked pain. I knew if I kept going they would go numb again, which made the prospect tempting, but I figured my health insurance company would deny my claim for frostbite treatment on account of stupidity. We bagged the mailbox walk and the wood chopping and settled for a few paces in the snow for the benefit of the camera.

I am typing this an hour and a half after I came back inside. My feet still hurt.

I continue to be in awe of the soldiers and the women (and children) who survived that winter at Valley Forge.

Off to heap more wood on the fire now!