Friday, March 30, 2012

Strong Women and Combat

"Why do you write strong female characters?  Because you're still asking me that question." - Joss Whedon

As I was considering the various topics on which I could blog today, the post of a friend, fellow Richmond writer, and fellow U.S. Army officer Kevin Hanrahan slid across my browser.  It was titled "Reasons Why Women Shouldn't Be In Combat Units," and nothing gets my blood movin' in the morning quite like really strong coffee or a topic I feel strongly about. 

I clicked over to his actual post and--whew--he's on my side of the issue.  He does what I consider a very effective job debunking the reasons he mentions, so I won't repeat all that here.  Now, I do think that, from a sociological perspective, the American public isn't quite ready to deal with having women in roles that are specified for combat.  But that's our fault, not the women's.  As Joss Whedon pointed out, people still ask the question about strong women. 

Two examples from my own West Point experience, just real quick.  First, it rained on our graduation.  Not the light spring drizzle type of thing, but a full-on, dime-sized-drops downpour.  Traditionally, that means the graduating class will see combat.  After, of course, we saw each others' underwear choices through the thin white linen heavily-starched pants that were part of our formal summer uniforms and that became see-through when wet.  I don't remember the name of the guy who stood in front of me, but big blue polka dots = bad choice, dude.  He shook the hand of the Vice President of the United States wearing blue polka-dotted boxers, I kid you not. 

Anyway--see combat, we did, and several times at that.  But the talk going around was that many women saw it first.  Not long after we graduated, took the massive blocks of leave that we'd all accumulated, and then went off to officer trainings in our various branches, the action in Panama broke out.  Called Operation Just Cause by some, and by others Operation Just Because, the U.S. military went into Panama to rid the world of an evil dictator named Noriega.  And to 'borrow' a few million dollars worth of Panama civilians' automobiles, but that didn't make as much of the news.  Apparently while the good combat arms graduates of my class, including me, were still in training at branch-specific basic courses and at Ranger School (or failing out of Ranger School, in my own case), others including some women I know and respect were already serving the nation in defense of the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.  The battlefield ain't what it used to be with nice clean lines drawn on a map. 

An example that hits closer to home was a short Survival course we took during our second summer in which we were given a class on preparing wild game and then we were given farm-raised chickens and rabbits to kill, cook, and eat.  Hey, I didn't name the course.  But each squad received two chickens and a rabbit, and the cadre, being cadre ('cadre' comes from the ancient Greek for 'spawn of Satan' or something like that), gave the rabbits to the girls on each squad while warning them that if they didn't make a clean kill the cute little bunnies would scream like human babies.  As I recall, they handed the bunny and the stick to the shortest blonde-haired girl in our squad of eleven and stood back and watched. 

She beheaded it.  With a stick.  Kinda scared me, that did.  I took care not to piss her off through the remainder of our time at Hudson High, at least never when a stick-shaped object was available.  But this was the same "little girl," as I recall, who later marched the seven miles back to Camp Buckner with a loaded rucksack and a stress-fractured foot. 

Tell me again that women can't be strong?

So yeah, I write strong women, in part because I've known some.  But it's not like I set out to do so.  I didn't sit down to plot out Cataclysm to write about a strong woman.  I sat down, actually, to write about the God of War.  Who, incidentally, lives a very long time and only marries human women when they really, really impress him.  The first time, that wife became the Goddess of Love.  Crystal, meanwhile, is going to--no, no spoilers on the eve of Ascension's release.  Sorry.  (no, I'm really not, but it seemed like the thing to say)  But she's tough, and she shows it several times in the book.  She's got her foibles, to be certain, but at one point she even goes toe-to-toe against Thor.  You know--THE Thor. 

(Try saying "THE Thor" out loud a few times quickly.  And by yourself.  Trust me, it's fun.)

Once you're done with that incredibly useful exercise, then--yes, fictional women can be strong and tough and smart, no matter what Robert Jordan's work tries to tell us.  But that's because real women can be strong and tough and smart.  If I'm ever called to raise a rifle in defense of the nation again (God help us all...) then I really don't care whether the person standing beside me has breasts or not. 


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nine months

"In working on a poem, I love to revise.  Lots of younger poets don't enjoy this, but in the process of revision I discover things." - Rita Dove

Recently I mentioned that the idea that indie-pubbed authors could get their stuff to the market faster than trad-pubbed authors was a myth.  At least, it is when evidence from my own work is considered.  My first book took 9 months to get to the market, and 11 months to get there in its current shape, and the second book will have taken 11 when I finally have it done.  So, why so long?

The biggest part of that time, really, is revision.  It's funny; somebody responded to my comment in a different forum by saying that after writing and revisions, it only took him five months to get to published.  That, though, adds up to more time than it took me, not less.  I'm putting revisions into the time-to-market, and he's not.  And trust me, revisioning takes a long time. 

Let me get more specific. In general, I wait several days between writing "The End" the first time and picking it back up to revise.  That wait is purposeful.  It's like back in college, the few times I actually revised a paper I'd written, when I'd wait 24 hours before beginning the rework.  My brain needs the temporal distance from the first writing in order to "forget" what's there, so that I don't read right over an error thinking about what should have been there. 

In terms of specifics--I finished Cataclysm on March 20, 2011.  I created the file Cataclysm v2 on March 24, 2011, in order to preserve some of the what I was changing.  Then, while I was writing Ascension, I was also slowly going back through Cata v2, finishing that revision nearly three weeks later on April 7.  Then--I started over.  I created Cataclysm v3 on April 9 and finally finished that significant revision on June 1 (but keep in mind that I was still writing Ascension during that time).  June 1, I created Cataclysm v4 and finished that revision just after the Independence Day holiday on July 5. 

For a while, then, the timing was out of my hands.  I sent the manuscript over to the editor, who promised to get it back to me in a month.  She actually returned it faster than that, on July 30.  That day, Cataclysm v5 was born, and it took me till September 11 to finish that major revision and shuffle.  Whew.

Between then and October 2, I worked on Cataclysm v6.  Then I went off to the James River Writers Conference.  Immediately after the conference, on October 7, I rushed back home with fresh ideas and began work on Cataclysm v7, which was finally done on October 23.  That was when the publisher fiasco began, and Cataclysm was finally published about a month after.  The book was unpublished a bit over a month after that, and then republished about a month after that (because it took me a while to figure out how to use GIMP to do a book cover, honestly). 

What's inside has come a long way, too.  It's gone from 68,000 words to nearly 93,000.  Two scenes were removed entirely.  One was shrunk and moved from the beginning to the middle of the book.  Several were added.  The scene at the college was revised in a big way, and the cataclysm scene was heightened greatly. 

In short, the book I wrote "The End" in last March is nowhere near the book that I published in February. 

Hope that clears up the timing a bit! 


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Indie publishing takes time too

"Perseverance is not a long race.  It is many short races one after another." - Walter Elliott

"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish." - John Quincy Adams

Lots of quotes are out there on the matter of perseverance.  Most folks, I think, view the characteristic as I often do, as a single-word descriptor for the act of bravely pressing on against tidal wave-sized forces--painful, gritty determination glowing in a nearly-beaten face as the one who is persevering strives toward his impossible goal against all odds.  But it's simpler than that most of the time, I would suggest.  Perseverance can also be shown through a series of smaller battles against less fearsome odds, each one toward a smaller goal or no particular goal at all. 

That, of course, brings me to--well, me.  I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.  I'm still writing.  I've already discussed ad nauseum the stuff life's tossed at me that keeps me from being as effective at the keyboard as I'd like to be.  You know, illness, day job stress, that sort of thing.  Hasn't really changed.  But I'm keepin' on keepin' on.  It seems to go a bit more slowly than it did last year, but I think that's just because I'm doing more.  Last year I was writing books and blogging about it.  This year I'm writing books and blogging about it and trying to sell ebooks and blogging about it and trying to sell paper books and, well, you get the idea.  There's more to it once you get stuff out there, is all. 

It's interesting, actually, how much effort it takes to get a written novel out to the market.  I'd been going with the wisdom that one advantage of self-publishing is that you can bring your writing to market faster than the 9-18 month window traditional publishers require between the date the author writes "The End" at the end of the novel and the date the work is available to purchase.  Now I'm realizing that wisdom isn't particularly accurate.  Go figure; as I recall, I picked it up from a literary agent who'd never self-published.  But seriously, I wrote "The End" in Cataclysm on March 20th, 2011.  It first came to market in early December 2011.  That's--well, give or take a few days, that's nine months.  Ascension, which I used to call Part II, was completed on May 31, 2011.  I want to say I'm really, really close to publishing it, but I refuse to send a book out into the public's grasp without reading it aloud to my wife first, and I'm only halfway done with that.  So, early April pub date on Ascension it is.  That's.... *counting fingers, and then one toe* eleven months. 

I'll explore the time frame further in a later blog post, because I'm sure those of you who haven't done this are wondering what takes so long.  Till then, though--off I go to put on my Dean's costume of Doom! 

Have a great day!


Monday, March 19, 2012

A Revised Introduction

"If a teacher told me to revise, I thought that meant my writing was a broken-down car that needed to go to the repair shop. I felt insulted. I didn't realize the teacher was saying, "Make it shine. It's worth it." Now I see revision as a beautiful word of hope. It's a new vision of something. It means you don't have to be perfect the first time. What a relief!" - Naomi Shihab Nye

As I mentioned in my previous post, I made some changes to Cataclysm in order to make the beginning shine, as Ms. Nye describes.  It took a few days to get it just right, but now I'm ready to release it, both in the 2nd edition of my novel, and right here for those of you who've already purchased a copy.  Please, enjoy.

CATACLYSM: Return of the Gods
Crystal braved a glance at the chaos that surrounded her.  She was past the initial we’re all going to die panic and was now curious to see if the others were experiencing the same wondrous and terrifying sensations that filled her. 
To either side, and facing north also, stood John and Birch, both good friends but from different places in her life.  Birch, the druidic practitioner and expert on all things mythological, she’d known for years, while John was a new acquaintance.  Both men, though, appeared as she thought she must, enraptured expressions molding their faces as magical powers they’d never felt before coursed through their bodies and minds. 
Crystal could barely hear the incantation the twelve people recited in unison over the wind that whipped both inside and outside the protective bubble they had created with the new-found power they wielded.  The words were being supplied telepathically somehow by Matthew, in a language that had started as English but now seemed to be Latin—“seemed to be” because the conjugations and sentence structures didn’t fit with what Crystal had learned in the one Latin class she’d taken.  She doubted they had any meaning at all, in fact, in part because she could see that the multi-colored energy flows that melded into the protective hemisphere weren’t affected at all by the chanting.  Mostly, though, she knew her husband well enough to sense the ironic lilt in his telepathic compulsion. 
Matt was playing with them.
While, that is, he was saving their lives, a conflict that she put aside to worry through later.  For the time being, she continued wrestling with magical forces and participating mindlessly in the chant, whatever it was, while she watched the cataclysm in the form of plunging temperatures and a great tidal wave slam across the world she had known, turning structures both man-made and natural into shredded mockeries of what they had been.  The raw power of the earth’s forces—wave, wind, and temperature—crushed and dominated, destroying everything the people in the circle had ever known. 
Everything was gone, or would be very soon.
But they were all going to live.  It seemed.
It had taken so little time to upend Crystal’s world.  She’d been sitting calmly in her craft room just minutes ago when the lights had gone out and it had become strangely dark for the middle of a pleasant spring day.  Suddenly a light, round and brilliant, had shown through a portal that opened in the center of the room.  Her husband’s voice called to her through it, inviting her to come to the light. 
Weird, that.  And it just got weirder after.
The day had started so—so normally. 
* * *

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Revisioning done for now

"I've got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom." - Thomas Carlyle

One of my favorite bloggers, Rachelle Gardner, published a post today--unusual for her, in fact, it being a weekend post--issuing a mea culpa for misspelling the short version of Saint Patrick's Day.  Personally, I was glad to read it, because I didn't know it was supposed to be St. Paddy's Day, either.  You know--Patrick -> Patty, Padrick -> Paddy.  Silly me, though--and silly Rachelle--that's not how it is.  Oops. 

In her St. Pat--er, Paddy's--Day post earlier this week, she went even further and invited us to write a haiku honoring the event.  Personally, I found this quite clever.  Those of you who've read much of what I write will know that I cherish irony in all forms, and to me crafting verse in honor of an Irish holiday using an Asian meme is just frickin' awesome with a capital Ah. 

According to her post, though, (you can find it here: that was a mistake brought on by fatigue.  If she had it to do over again, she'd've asked for limericks. 

Ah, well.  I still think the idea of haiku for St. Paddy's is Awesome. 

Anyway, her chief defense was exhaustion.  "Do you ever have those moments have no business doing anything except getting horizontal and allowing yourself to sleep?" she asked.  Um, yep.  This whole month, so far, other than a couple of weekend days, has been like that.  If you follow my blog, all three or four posts that I've managed to make recently anyway, you'll know that I've spent much of my time working on dissertation as well as prepping for accreditation visits, which are thankfully past now (the visits, not the dissertation).  I slept in both yesterday and today, and I'm glad to say I'm approaching next week with a lot more energy than I had available last week. 

I've accomplished some writing, too.  I'm glad to say that I've completed the final revision of Ascension, which is Book 2 of Return of the Gods.  Jessa has completed the cover art, but she left her tablet at school so I can't see it till tomorrow.  If all goes well, I'll get it published for Kindle by next weekend and in paperback by the end of March.  I'm so excited!  My readers will, I think and hope and pray, absolutely love the story. 

I also responded to some concerns regarding Cataclysm, which you'll probably notice isn't available for sale at the moment.  It is, some readers opined, a little hard to get into because though it claims to be about a CATACLYSM!!! (c'mon, you know you wanna say it with a booming voice) it starts off in the dang kitchen.  Cataclysm--meet kitchen and egg salad sammiches.  Sammiches, meet--well, yeah. 

Boring, I think, isn't the right word to use.  But it doesn't have the in-your-face excitement of some of what I've read.  Like, ferinstance, the first book in the Elf Queen series, which I can't wait to finish.  But that said, this book just sort of fizzles to a start and then gets rolling. 

Or it used to.

I've now written a page (on 8 1/2 x 11) or two and a half pages (on 6 x 9) worth of Cataclysm-worthy beginning prose and slipped that into the front.  I had to change the opening line just a skosh to accommodate the addition, but otherwise the rest of the book is still the same.  I like it.  Heide likes it.  I hope you'll like it, too.

While I was at it, I fixed the pagination issues with the first print edition.  The Createspace template wants each chapter to begin on an odd-numbered page, which is certainly one approach to book printing.  Unfortunately the page breaks in Word get funky when translated into PDF, and so in the first print edition (which will, I'm sure, some day be collector's items!) there were occasions of strange blank pages where there shouldn't have been.  Oops. 

By the way--Createspace charges me per page, whether there's text on it or not.  Go figure.

Now there shouldn't be any blank pages.  I did decide to stay with the each-chapter-starts-a-new-page idea, which is actually less common in paperbacks than I thought before I started paying attention, but I like it better.  Thus, the book has gone from 322 pages to 311, which dropped the cost to me by a few pennies.

Oh, and I raised the price.  Go figure.  Not much, really; I got tired of saying "eleven ninety-nine" and "twelve dollars" as though they were synonymous, so I bumped the actual price up a penny to match what I was saying.  Now it's twelve dollars.  No, really.  Twelve.  Even. 

That said, I'm not going to make those of you who've bought the e-book buy another copy just to get the initial text.  What I plan to do is upload that additional prose into a PDF on my site, and also post it onto my blog this week.  If you've already read the book, this is kinda like getting the bowl of oranges and various types of nuts after you've already opened all your presents on Christmas morning, I know, but hopefully it's a fun read and will help those who haven't read it yet enjoy the book more.

Till then--hope you had a great St. Paddy's Day! 


Friday, March 9, 2012

Tee Gee Aye Eff

Weekends don’t count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless.
~ Bill Waterson

Weekends are a bit like rainbows; they look good from a distance but disappear when you get up close to them.
~John Shirley

Ahh, Friday.  A wonderful day, full of hope and promise and joy and fluffy tribbles, right?  What other day gets its own saying, thanking God or Goodness, or whatever other "G" word you wish to smack in there, for its very existence?

Fridays are a mixed bag for me.  The day always involves, at some point, me looking at the upcoming two days during which I technically don't have to go in to work and performing a schedule-check.  Last Friday, the schedule-check revealed: "Saturday: go in to work all day.  Sunday: go in to work all day, sucker."  Next week is--or was--supposed to be an accreditation visit, so if you'd asked me yesterday what this weekend looked like, it was the same.  But yesterday afternoon we got a reprieve.  The accreditation folks decided that it didn't make sense to visit us now, and come back in a year to look at the same things, when we really don't have any indicators saying that kind of repetitive (and expensively so) oversight is needed.  Next year is the big biggie visit, when we're applying to renew our accreditation, so I have to say that I agree with them.  Whew.

Still, there's lots of work left to be done this weekend.  There's schedules to write, reports to create, contracts to initiate--all stuff that having lots of people around who want to talk to me makes difficult.

That said, I'm looking forward to lunch tomorrow with the RavenCon folks.  They're having a planning meeting for the April event, and I'm dragging Heide along to it to see if we can help out.  That, and I'm looking forward to continuing to get some writing done.  The second book's final revision is coming along both well and quickly, and I'm hoping that soon I can establish a date--hopefully late March or early April--for its release.

In the meantime, then--happy Friday!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mmm, coffee

"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons." - T.S. Eliot

To repeat: mmm, coffee.

A long day yesterday kept me at work way too late.  That's just part of the job, but I found myself still singing with my inner muse when I got home at 11:00 pm.  Off I went, then, to revise, revise, revise. 

This morning, my alarm clock had a different chorus to sing.  "Stupid, stupid, stupid" it seemed to say.  Darn thing.  I'd toss it against the wall except that it's my cell phone too, and a darned expensive one at that.  Instead of violence, then, I greeted its insults with muffled curses and my old friend and reinforcement, coffee. 

I have to admit, I hit the snooze a few too many times, so I only have a couple of minutes to write.  Still, it's good to get even that short amount of time to sit and think and sip what I'm believing must be the most wondrous substance in the world.

Mmm, coffee.

I can't help but wonder how many of the great works have been written while their authors sipped on coffee. 

No matter.  I have my own efforts to get to.  It's time to spring up and get started starting. 

Have a great day!


Monday, March 5, 2012

Marketing Oops

"I always thought marketing in general was an interesting kind of thing. I always liked commercials and billboards." - Carrot Top

Everybody knows marketing is more than commercials and billboards.

There are, in fact, a lot of things that everybody knows.  Everybody knows them, clearly, because I know them.  I just wish sometimes that I would actually follow the rules that "everybody" already knows.

In this case--well, hell, I knew better but I did it anyway.

Coupons and sales and stuff are effective when they convince the buyer to GET ONE NOW!!!  HURRY!  GOING FAST!   Super sale, but you gotta CALL RIGHT NOW!  Operators standing by!

What am I talking about?  Well, I tried my grand experiment.  I had made 3,000 bookmarks that also serve as coupons to get a free copy of my ebook.  I had distributed about 900 at SheVaCon in the convention welcome bags.  I actually gave them 1,000, mind you, and I have no idea where the other 100 went--hopefully it was into peoples' hands rather than a garbage bin.  I mean, I paid less than three cents each for the things, but that's still three cents each.

My thoughts were pretty simple, honestly: first, if I can't give a book away, I have no business selling it.  Second, the more people who have enjoyed the first book, the greater my sales will likely be for the second one that's coming soon.

There are all sorts of reasons, of course, for why someone might not have taken me up on the deal.  First, the book may not be in their genre.  They were all sci fi and fantasy fans, of course, but once I got there I noticed that many leaned more toward techno-fantasy and steampunk than mythic fantasy with gods and dragons and--stuff.  Maybe some of them crossed over, but I suspect after being there that I kinda missed my target market on that one.  Second, it was only an ebook, and many people really do prefer physical books.  All of the authors who were there, officially in attendance, had print books to sell.  I didn't, though I do now.

So, okay.  Take 900 and split off the people out of that who would never read a mythic fantasy, and then split off the set of those who aren't really into ebooks.  The result?

Dunno. But I was sure it would be greater than five, which is the number of downloads I have seen.

I mean, there are other factors as well.  For example, there's a strong likelihood that some attendees didn't even really look into the bags, and many of those who did may not have bothered reading what appeared to be a normal bookmark.  But I checked around and didn't see many bookmarks left laying in "trashy" spots, which left me with a generally positive hopeful glowy type of feeling. 

One significant factor I suspect is that I failed to create that sense of urgency.  Nothing on the bookmark mentions a termination date for the offer.  Nor did I intend for there to be one.  By ordering 3000 I saved a lot of money per bookmark (like, more than half of the price, each), but I also committed to using the same one at a couple of conventions, which are necessarily spread out through the year.  Thus, I didn't put an expiration date on the bookmark, and I left the expiration date on the Smashwords coupon quite far in the future.

Silly me.  I know better.

Ah, well--like Konrath says, a large part of this business is experimenting to find out what doesn't work.

Now, off to find things that do work. Like getting a cover built for Book 2.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fifteen minutes redux - on Grammar

(continued from last post)

I was excited when my latest book order came in, and so when I put Hominids in the "I'm done enough" stack I picked up How I Live Now.  This complete switch in my normal genre came about because I follow Bookends Literary Agency's blog (, and for Valentine's Day they ran what was basically a circular reading group.  Each poster suggested a book he loved that the previous poster then promised to read, and we'll re-convene sometime in March (I forget when) to discuss our reading experiences.  It's kind of a clever idea, this introduction to new titles and genres, but....

It didn't work for me.  The poster after me named How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff.  This book, just like Hominids, has won awards.  It's critically acclaimed.  People love it.

I hate it.

I didn't get to the point in it where the characters would've made me care (or not). About five pages in was as far as I could go. In this case, it was the writing style that just did absolutely nothing for me. No, wait, that's wrong. It did something for me. But what it did was the opposite of what a book should do.

Look, I get that Rosoff was trying to write like a young teenage girl. If the critics' acclamations are to be believed, she succeeded. In my new series, I'm trying to write like an older teenage girl, so I get how challenging that can be.  I just hope to God my voice doesn't sound like--as irritating as--Rosoff's.
Looking over reviews from (admittedly after I'd already decided on my own that I hated the book) I had some validation.  Others disliked it as much as I, and for the same reason.  One review started like this:

I admit, the first third or so of this book was hard to get through.  There were several reasons for that: a story told by a 15-year-old girl, written the way a 15-year-old girl might write it, is all very good for realism, but it also means having to read a story that sounds like it's written by a 15-year-old. This is hard if you're not fifteen yourself.

It's usually tough to quantify what it is about a voice that either endears or irritates me. In this case, though, it's not hard at all. Yes, she's only fifteen, but I generally like talking to high schoolers. Rosoff's teenage girl, though, don't know no grammar, and she fails at punctuation. Yeah, I know--not every character in every book can be an English teacher, or even a competent grammarian at the very least. That's fine. But most books assume that the narrator, at least, can speak the language well.

  • Harry Potter knew grammar. He'd somehow learned it while living underneath a set of stairs in the home of relatives who hated his very presence.
  • Frodo and the other members of the Fellowship knew grammar, and they'd grown up on opposite sides of--well, the mountains.
  • Tom Sawyer--well, Tom talked with kind of an accent, but when he did something, he did it with mostly-proper grammar.
  • Even Eragon whined with good grammar, despite his being raised on a farm in the middle of a castaway valley.
Nobody questions when a character is written in a narrative voice that follows the rules of the language. But when they're not: "I'm coming off this plane, and I'll tell you why that is later, and landing at London airport and I'm looking around for a middle-aged kind of woman who I've seen in pictures who's my Aunt Penn." Run-on that is, and right at the top of page 2. "Anyway, I'm looking and looking and everyone's leaving and there's no signal on my phone and I'm thinking Oh great, I'm going to be abandoned at the airport so that's two countries they don't want me in, when I notice everyone's gone except this kid who comes up to me and says You must be Daisy." Arrgh. Book, meet wall.

Again, I get the whole YA voice thing. But does the main character have to be ignorant of quotation marks?

So, ignoring the new book-sized dent in the bathroom wall, I switched my fifteen minutes back to non-fiction.  I'm still not done yet with Terry Brooks's Sometimes the Magic Works, so I picked that back up and found him discussing--characterization.  Heh.  I wonder what Brooks would think of Hominids and How I Live Now.