Watch Wednesday: “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”

I thought about following the Wordless Wednesday blog tradition, but I just can’t resist adding commentary when I post a photo. So I’m going to do Watch Wednesdays instead. We’ll see how it goes.

Thought I’d start with a winner–an Oscar winner! The film below took Best Animated Short Film at the Academy Awards this past Sunday.

“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” is the brainchild of ex-Pixar designer and illustrator William Joyce (you may have seen his New Yorker covers). Joyce partnered with Moonbot Studios to create both the standalone short film and a delightful interactive book-app for kids (available in the iTunes store).

I know it’s long for a blog clip at 15 minutes, but it’s worth a watch. I promise. So go grab a coffee or a shot of whiskey, or whatever wets your whistle, and settle in.

Joyce’s next project will be Rise of the Guardians, a feature-length animated film featuring Santa Claus, Jack Frost, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. Joyce contributed to the screenplay and is executive producer on the film, which is based on his forthcoming Guardians of Childhood book series.

Watch for it in November 2012.

PayPal passes the buck on censorship

Did you see yesterday’s news release from Smashwords founder Mark Coker? Smashwords continues negotiations with PayPal and has extended the deadline for authors/publishers/agents to voluntarily remove the books PayPal has deemed objectionable and obscene.

Coker says there’s a “glimmer of hope” and PayPal may allow certain themes as long as they are incidental to the plot and not major themes. O-kay. And who’s going to judge that? PayPal?

According to Coker, “PayPal is trying to implement the requirements of credit card companies, banks and credit unions. This is where it’s all originating. These same requirements will eventually rain down upon every other payment processor.”

Who knows what to believe. I think we’ve all received enough porn spam to know there is any manner of adult content out there – DVDs, toys, bondage gear and much more – that is readily available to anyone with a credit card. Google “barely-legal” and you’ll come up with all sorts of sites willing to take your money and hook you up with a DVD or even an online “chat.” With a REAL GIRL. But FICTION along the same lines is not going to be allowed. WTF?

This smacks to me of passing the buck and obfuscating the truth.

Coker does encourage everyone to keep blogging and tweeting and drawing attention to this issue—as long as you’re not pointing fingers at Smashwords and the other retailers that are caving to PayPal’s pressure. (Bookstrand has already pulled ALL indie published titles, not just erotica, rather than fight this battle.)

Here’s what he says—this at least I agree with:

“Even if you don’t publish in the categories directly impacted by this crackdown, this campaign matters to you. What can you do to move things forward? First, direct your attention where it matters most. Contact your credit card company or congressperson and tell them you want financial services companies out of the business of censoring what writers and readers are free to imagine with fiction. Blog about it. Tweet about it. Contact your favorite blogger and encourage them to raise awareness. Start petitions and tell financial institutions you want their censors out of your head. Contact the media. The media, with your urging, has the power to shine a bright light on the dangerous slippery slope of censorship by financial institutions.”

Still bugs me that it’s always sex in everyone’s cross-hairs. Meanwhile I can read or view any manner of content that showcases sadistic violence. Dexter anyone?

This post by Raymond Frazee is another great argument against PayPal’s censorship efforts. Check out all the great novels cited by Raymond and his commenters that would never pass PayPal’s morality test.

Wide Awake But Dreaming

First off, just to let you know, I’m going to get rude.  I’m going to use bad language.  You know what that means:  if you don’t want to see the nastiness that’s coming, then you don’t want to go beyond this paragraph.  But, hey . . . before you leave, here’s something on Lauren Faust’s Super Best Friends Forever!  It’s really cute–trust me!



That said, onward . . .

I gotta tell you, the thing with PayPal getting all medieval on some of the ebook publishers, in particular Smashwords.  I don’t know if I should say “medieval”, because this is the 21st Century, and you’d think by now people would actually be intelligent enough not to keep bringing up things like birth control, women’s sexuality, and erotica as things in need of control by others . . . oh, what?  Sorry, I must have set the controls to the…

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Authors raise voices against PayPal censorship

Poster by Andréia (

I’m glad to see more authors speaking out against PayPal’s attempts at censorship. Erotica writer Remittance Girl had this to say today on Dear Author’s PayPal Fiction Crackdown Roundup:

You need to grasp this, all of you. Fictional representations of crimes are NOT illegal. The only possible exception to this are fictional representations of underage sex. And even THIS is not illegal in as much as there is no law on the books that includes textual depictions. Otherwise, there goes Lolita and The Tin Drum, and The Lover, by Marguerite Duras.

This is about a plutocracy who have decided that they have the power to impose their moral code onto the literature sold under their purview. If they could refuse to process sales of Lolita, or The Lover or Equus, they would. But those texts are sold under Classic or literary fiction. And that would make them look like philistines; the press would screech about it.

But they know that no one is going to stand up in defense of ‘Debbie Does Daddy’. This is not about the law. It is about a moral agenda and the people with the money and the power to push it through.

Hear, hear, Remittance Girl. Read what else she has to say on her own blog.

Will you add your voice to the chorus?

Speak up against PayPal’s censorship

Have you been following PayPal’s attempted crackdown on e-book retailers that they have deemed to be selling obscene and objectionable content?

Writer J.S. Wayne has a great post on his blog about why all of us should care about these censorship efforts, even if we’re not writing the type of erotica that is currently in PayPal’s cross-hairs.  Jane at Dear Author has another good overview here, along with a letter from Smashwords founder Mark Coker, who is bowing to PayPal’s strong arm efforts to avoid serious disruption to his business. (You’ll have to scroll past the depressing news about author Kay Manning’s plagiarism of her fellow romance authors.)

Here’s an excerpt from Coker’s letter to Smashwords erotica authors advising them of PayPal’s demands:

Like many writers, censorship of any form greatly concerns me . . . [redacted] it’s a slippery slope when we allow others to control what we think and write. Fiction is fantasy. It’s not real. It unfolds in our imagination. I’ve always believed fiction writers and readers should have the freedom to explore diverse topics and situations in the privacy of their own mind. From an imagination perspective, erotica is little different from a literary novel that puts us inside the mind of farm animals (1984), or a thriller novel that puts us inside the mind of a terrorist, or a horror novel that puts us inside the mind of an axe-murderer or their victim. All fiction takes us somewhere. We read fiction to be moved, and to feel. Sometimes we want to feel touched, moved, or disturbed. A reader should have the right to feel moved however they desire to be moved.

I’m tired of corporations trying to impose their moral values on me. Susan G. Komen anyone? In the case of PayPal’s objection to “pseudo-incest” (consensual sex between step-sister and step-brother, for example) PayPal is attempting to censor an act that is not even illegal.

If you’re as outraged as I am by this, please sign the petition to protest PayPal’s censorship efforts, and consider canceling your PayPal account if you have one.

This concerns all of us because we don’t know what’s next on PayPal’s list of objectionable material.


The world outside my window

This is what I’m seeing outside my window today. A shock, although a lovely one, after the balmy weather we’ve been enjoying the last few days. Already, the snow has painted the trees in the ravine next to our house in thick brushstrokes of white.

The dawn viburnum (Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn' for fellow garden geeks) I planted last spring looked like this yesterday.

 I’m enjoying the view, but fretting over the burgeoning life in the garden.

Today it looks like this. Hang in there little shrub!

This has nothing whatsoever to do with writing. But at the very least it proves I am still here, though the blog has been sadly neglected.

December was a write-off, and not in a good way. My output was zero pages. I’m blaming it on being burnt out after a crazy nano, and the rush of holidays, but we all know that’s just an excuse.

I had every intention of revising the nano book once I settled into the new year, but a new story was niggling at me. I decided to get it down on paper and return to the nano book, but I ended up banging out 20,000 or so words, some of which might actually be salvageable.

Then demands with the day job forced me to put everything aside for a couple of weeks. Met my last deadline yesterday, and I’m ready to get back to it.  My DH will be back at work after a few weeks between contracts so I’ll have the house to myself again for a blessed five and a half hours a day.

No more excuses!


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