Missing email

Hi, all. I wanted to let you know that I just last night discovered the existence of a web-based spam filter on my email. Because I never use web-based email, I had no idea that my ISP had it in place. The filter was deleting mail every month, and when I discovered it yesterday, there were four valid emails in it, which is vastly frustrating. I have no idea how many emails I may have lost over the last few years.

If you have tried to contact me in the last few years and have received no reply or acknowledgment, please accept my apologies. I believe I have the filter turned off now, and I will try to be very proactive about replying to any email I get so that you will know you’re getting through.

I hope you’re all doing well.

Fake Facebook profiles (featuring China Miéville)

EDIT: Facebook has now removed the fake profiles. Really, this was a ridiculous amount of trouble for China to have to go through, though, and he reports that he has still never heard from Facebook about it.

Hello, all. I realize I haven’t been blogging much lately. Truthfully, I’ve found myself hanging out more on Twitter and Facebook these days, though I miss the depth blogging offers. Facebook’s privacy issues will almost certainly drive me away eventually, and perhaps I’ll come back to blogging regularly then.

We probably all have friends who’ve never been drawn to social media in the first place, though, and we’re pretty much aware of who they are. What do you do, then, when such a friend–especially if they’re well-known–shows up as a “Suggested Friend” in your Facebook feed? Well, if you’re me, you write to ask if it’s really them before you add them to your list. This exact scenario happened to me a few months ago with what turned out to be a fake Facebook profile claiming to be China Miéville. I’ve copyedited China for close to a decade now, and I was able to verify in short order that he was not actually on Facebook.

Now Twitter has “Verified Accounts,” but Facebook does not. (A glance through the friend list of the fake China profile reveals several other accounts that are known or likely fakes, and it’s not improbable to suppose that the same person is running them all.) The lack of verification in itself is a problem, but it is compounded by the fact that the strategies Facebook offers to people who are being impersonated are ineffective, at best. In order to report that a profile is fake, for instance, the person being impersonated has to have a real profile on Facebook, which seems utterly ludicrous; and for those who are opposed to having Facebook profiles for any reason, it is obviously a problem. [EDIT: Facebook is now giving the option to report a profile even if the person being impersonated does not have a Facebook account. This is a positive change.] China reported the fake profile to the extent that he was able, but it remained unchanged.

In the meantime, another not-China profile with China’s name popped up, and he finally took the step of writing a letter to Facebook, which he has given me permission to reprint below. He would like this information to be disseminated as widely as possible so that people know he does not have a Facebook profile.

1601 S. California Avenue
Palo Alto
CA 94304
6 October 2010

Dear Facebook People,


1) The short version:

At least one person, if not more, is/are impersonating me on Facebook, with (a) fake profile(s) claiming my identity. Despite me repeatedly bringing this to your attention, you have taken no action to remedy the situation. And I’m getting very annoyed.

2) The full version:

This thing you hold is called a letter. This is the third time I’ve contacted you, and I’m doing so by this antiquated method because, and I realise this may shock you so brace yourself, I have no Facebook account. Which means it is nigh-on impossible for me to get in touch with you. Kudos for your Ninja avoidance strategies.

Back when you had a button allowing me to alert you to a fake profile despite not having an account myself, I contacted you that way. I was answered with a resonant silence. Subsequently, when the problem persisted, I hunted lengthily for, found and left a message on the phone number you go out of your way to hide. Absolutely nothing happened. So here we go again: third time’s a charm.

I am being imitated on Facebook. I believe the only reason anyone is bothering to do this is because I’m a novelist (published by Macmillan and Random House), a writer and broadcaster, with a minor public profile. I think there are one or two community pages about my stuff on Facebook – that of course is very flattering and nice of people to bother. The problem is that there is or are also pages by someone(s) purporting to be me. This is weird and creepy. What’s worse is I know for a fact that some readers, friends and colleagues are friending ‘China Miéville’ under the impression that it is me, and that others are wondering why ‘China Miéville’ refuses to respond to them. And I have no idea what dreadful things or ‘likes’ or ‘dislikes’ are being claimed as mine, nor what ‘I’ am saying.

I know lots of people enjoy being on Facebook. Great. More power to them. Vaya con Dios. Me, though: not my thing. I have absolutely no interest in it. I am not now nor have I ever been a Facebook member. Short of some weird Damascene moment, I will not ever join Facebook – and if that unlikely event occurs, I promise I’ll tell you immediately. In the meantime, though, as a matter of urgency, as a matter of courtesy, as a matter of decency, please respond to my repeated requests:

Please delete all profiles claiming to be me (with or without the accent on the ‘é’ – last time I looked, I found one ‘China Mieville’, and one more accurately rendered).
Please do not allow anyone else to impersonate me. I have neither time nor inclination to trawl your listings regularly to see if another bizarre liar has sprung up.
• And while you’re at it, please institute a system whereby those of us with the temerity not to sign up to your service can still contact you on these matters and actually get a [insert cuss-word] answer.

I appeal to you to honour your commitments to security and integrity. Of course as a multi-gajillion-dollar company I have absolutely no meaningful leverage over you at all. If David Fincher’s film doesn’t embarrass you, you’re hardly going to notice the plaintive whining of a geek like me. All I can do is go public. Which is my next plan.

I’m allowing a week for this letter to reach you by airmail, then three days for you to respond to me by phone or the email address provided. Then, if I’ve heard nothing, on 16 October 2010, I’ll send copies of this message to all the literary organizations and publications with which I have connections

some of the many books bloggers I know; and anyone else I can think of. I’ll encourage them all to publicise the matter. I’m tired of being impersonated, and I’m sick of you refusing to answer me.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,
China Miéville

Now I have a question for you. After the first China impersonator popped up, I posted on Facebook and Tweeted that the profile was a fake. In some cases, with people I knew, I even went so far as to contact them directly, because I already had many mutual friends with the profile at that point. Most of those I contacted unfriended the fake profile, but not all of them did, and I have to say that I just do not understand the mentality. Why would you want an impersonator having access to information about you and your friends? Are you thinking? I unfriended all the “mutual friends” who remained.
Please do let others know about this issue. China wants people to know that he is not and never intends to be on Facebook, and I’m sure he is not the only person affected.

Nebulas ballot

SFWA just released the final ballot for the 2009 Nebula Awards, and there is an enormous amount of good fiction on it. I was lucky enough to get to copyedit three of the nominees this year: two of the novels (China Miéville’s The City & The City and Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker) and a novelette (Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Gambler,” from Pyr’s Fast Forward 2 anthology, edited by Lou Anders).

And I have many friends I didn’t copyedit who have novels and stories on the ballot as well. I’m excited for all of them. :)

I was telling China Miéville teasingly that I felt like “the pipeline of awesome” with this year’s Nebula ballot (which phrase I stole from author Blake Charlton, who described me that way earlier this month when I told him what all I’d been working on), and he responded, “You totally are! You’re the funnel that en-awesomes the merely good!” China’s just being sweet–the books are awesome when I see them, and I just make sure they’re polished to their most beautiful before they head out to the world–but it was fun to hear anyway. :)

One more week to nominate for the Nebulas

The deadline for nominating for the Nebula Awards (which will be held about 15 minutes away from me this year, in Cocoa Beach–I hope to see you there!) is next Monday, February 15. If you are a SFWA member and haven’t already done so, sign in to and fill out your Nebula Nomination Ballot.

I see several of the books I’ve copyedited on the informal preliminary ballot already, which is exciting. My first short story, “The Robidermist’s Steed,” (published in The Anthology of Dark Wisdom in October 2009) is eligible for nomination as well. If you would like to take a look at it for consideration, you can find it in the SFWA Fiction 2009 Short Story forum, or drop me a note. :-)

Super Bowl 44

So I really don’t watch sports, but I have been glancing over at the Super Bowl now and then. I have to say, and this is my only comment on it, that from a copyeditor’s perspective, that commercial with Chevy Chase and the “It’s complementary with an ‘e’; it’s not free” line is absolutely freaking hilarious.

Yes, I realize what a geek that makes me. Really, if you read here you already knew that.

Here’s a pic of my daughter and our sweet but almost too-smart ridgeback, Valentine, enjoying the game together.

Hope your team won! ;-)

The Anthology of Dark Wisdom and the Stoker

William Jones, the editor of The Anthology of Dark Wisdom, in which my first story, “The Robidermist’s Steed,” appears, has posted that the anthology has been recommended for a Bram Stoker Award. He notes that a recommendation does not mean the anthology has a full nomination yet, but it is still exciting news. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for it and hope that it does well.

Nebula Awards Weekend!

If you haven’t seen already, the Nebula Awards Weekend will be in Cocoa Beach, May 13-16, scheduled over a shuttle launch weekend. The hotel is actually only twenty minutes from my home, so I’ve been helping SFWA with some of the planning.

If you’re an industry pro, you really should think about coming out for the Nebulas. You get Cocoa Beach in May (the hotel is actually right on the beach), the camaraderie of your fellow industry folk, and the chance to see a shuttle launch all in one tax-deductible package. It’s hard to get much better than that. :)

I’ll continue to help SFWA with any local concerns here, and if any of you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I hope to see some of you here!

Healthy Dietary Habits

We’re coming to the end of January, and a lot of my friends have made resolutions to lose weight in the coming year. I had started a blog post a long while ago about how to maintain a healthy weight, but I never put it up for a variety of reasons, primarily because I’m not a dietician or nutritionist and so was skeptical that people would find value in what I have to say. What I am, however, is a logic-based research nut who’s managed to maintain a very nice body at the age of 43, even after giving birth to two healthy-sized babies who are now seven and eleven, and I’ve decided (with the encouragement of John Scalzi–thanks, John) to post this anyway. I hope that people find it useful.

These aren’t rules about calories or about what you can’t eat. This is not a diet. (And it’s not about exercise, which is also important but would be a whole different blog post.) It’s nothing more than a set of healthy dietary habits to help you listen to your body but avoid being ruled by it. I could probably go on about any one of these habits for pages, but I’ll try to keep my comments about them brief for now.

My first bits of advice are especially applicable to anyone who works at home or sits at a desk all day.

Never bring more than a handful of food to your desk.
This is really a very big deal, and it’s not hard to implement. You should never keep food at your desk, and you should not bring more than a single handful of food to your desk at once to eat immediately. Even if you are certain you’re going to eat three handfuls of food, bring only one to your desk. If you want another, get up and get it. Even if the food is only a few steps away, the act of having to get up will help you realize whether you’re truly hungry, because at some point you’re going to decide that you’re just not hungry enough to get up and get yet another handful. If you have an entire bowl or bag of food in front of you, you can eat unthinkingly, and in order to maintain a healthy weight, you must eliminate unthinking eating.

Always keep a large glass of water at your desk.
Even if you are fond of zero-calorie sodas, you need to focus on drinking water instead. Artificial sweeteners have been proven to promote weight gain by making you more hungry, and your body needs water. The way to increase your water intake is not to make yourself force it down as though it were medicine, but to make water the most convenient drink available. Just as you should have no food at your desk, the only beverage at your desk should be a large glass of water. This does not preclude you from getting up and having a small glass of something else if you prefer; just be careful with liquids, because there’s evidence that your body doesn’t achieve satiety from the calories in them in the same way that it does calories from food.

Exercise restraint at the grocery store, where it’s easiest.
Junk food should be something you buy occasionally, as a treat, and not every time you visit the grocery store. Once it’s in the house, it is far too easy to eat, and much harder to say no to. Neither you nor your kids nor your significant other need junk food in order to make you healthy or happy. If a significant other insists on keeping junk in the house, they need to buy it on their own, and you need to treat it as theirs only: a roommate’s food that you don’t touch.

Buy healthy snacks and make sure they are convenient to eat.
Part of the problem with junk food is that it is so damned handy–it’s very little work to grab a bag of chips if you’re hungry. You have to make sure that the healthy foods you buy can compete with junk food for convenience, whether through choosing convenient items like cheese sticks and yogurt and easy-to-peel tangerines or by taking the time to put the food in easy-access form when you get home from shopping. If you like melons, for instance, be sure to peel them and cut them up into cubes when you get home, so that they’re ready to eat when you are. The most convenient snacks in your home should also be the healthiest.

Junk food you do have in the house should be out of sight, and any food in plain view should be healthy.
If you see a food you like, you are likely to want to eat it, even when you’re not particularly hungry. Having your favorite but unhealthy snacks is plain view is going to cause you to eat more of them: You see it; it looks good; you want it. Keep junk food out of sight, and any food that you see as you walk into your kitchen should be good for you.

If you eat dinner at a restaurant, save enough for your lunch the next day.
It’s a rare American restaurant that doesn’t serve dinner portions large enough to get both a lunch and dinner from. When you eat dinner out, you should save enough food on your plate to take home for your lunch the next day, thereby extending the enjoyable meal. If you are still hungry when you’ve eaten your dinner portion, get a dessert to share with the table!

Learn to listen to your body.
Eat when you are hungry, and stop eating when you are not hungry anymore. This sounds so simple, and it’s so important, and yet it is the one issue that people have the most trouble with. You should not let yourself be hungry, but you should also not try to get “full”–the goal is simply to not be hungry anymore. If you eat a few handfuls of food and find that you’re hungry again half an hour later, then eat another handful of food, keeping in mind that your food choices can be balanced through the day and don’t have to be balanced all in a single big meal. If you eat so much that you have the physical sensation that you shouldn’t eat anymore, then you’ve overeaten. Eating small, nutritious meals or snacks keeps your metabolism revved up, and you’ll feel better keeping yourself on an even keel.

Get over the notion that not finishing food means you’re wasting it.

When you learn to listen to your body about when it’s had enough, you will find that you are often leaving food on your plate. Resist eating that last bit of food, whether it’s one bite or twenty. If you can’t save the food in the fridge for later, you absolutely must realize that putting it into your body when you don’t need it is far more of a waste than throwing it down the garbage disposal. Putting excess food in the disposal doesn’t hurt anything, but putting it into your body causes it to turn into fat and does not in any way accomplish anything positive. The money has already been spent; putting the food to a negative use is worse than throwing it away, and even the calories in that one extra bite add up over years.

I hope this is helpful. In essence, you can still have food that you love; just form habits that help you not eat too much of it.

Author thanks

I just got a thank-you note from Matt Sturges for the copyediting I did on his wonderful book Office of Shadow, forthcoming from Pyr, and thought I’d share:

Just finished reviewing your edit and wanted to tell you thanks for doing such a fine job. You made some really clever catches there, such as noticing that Silverdun’s alias changed from one place to the next. I never would have caught that in a million years. Great work. Thanks!

Matt’s was one of my first copyedits of 2010, and this is a lovely way to start the year. :)