Microbes Fri, 4:00–5:15 pm Senate B
Microbes play crucial ecological roles. Many are directly or indirectly required for human health. They form a large part of the earth's total biomass. They can perform some amazing metabolic tricks, yet all too often science fiction has ignored microbes, or has focused on their role as human pathogens. But not this panel! We have plentiful fare for discussion: microbial ecology, biofilms and microbial mats, microbiomes, microbial genomics, microbial diversity, antibiotic resistance, horizontal gene transfer, microbial evolution, microbial exobiology and the role of microbes in human health.
Social Justice Themes in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Sat, 8:30–9:45 am Senate B
January marked the 20 year anniversary of Deep Space Nine entering the Star Trek franchise. Often held up as the most cerebral and socially conscious of the TNG-era Star Trek series, the show explored issues ranging from colonialism and occupation, race and class, and the tension between religion and science. Let's talk about how DS9 explored these themes and how well it holds up in light of the social justice issues and conversations happening inside fandom now.
Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading Sat, 9:00–10:15 pm Conference 2
Members of Broad Universe will read from their current science fiction and speculative fiction.
See you there!
The Awesome: West King Street is so terrific. It’s like having all the awesome of Commercial Drive stretching endlessly in just about every direction, and then you slam into downtown.
The Problematic: So our building is under construction. Okay, noise and dust, who cares. But, actually, our suite’s not quite finished either! We had guys in today replastering the ceiling. During the one stretch of time when I actually had to be home to make important phone calls and send important e-mails, I did it closed up in the bathroom, with le Throne as my office chair and somebody’s sandbox as my desk.
The rest of the period of plaster-guy exile I spent, with K, at the Art Gallery of Ontario. About which, OMG. It deserves its own entry in the category of Awesome.
The Ugly: The bed that was supposed to be delivered on the 16th? Well, it just wasn’t. It looks as though the situation’s gonna be resolved as of tomorrow–so I won’t say much about it–and we have a temporary workaround to sleep on in the meantime. But we have suffered an epic, faith-in-humanity-shattering customer service fail.
Also, here's my Twitter feed. I link it here, because the odds are very high that I won't be doing any blogging - just snapping selfies and other assorted shenanigans, and uploading it all for your amusement.
So! Tune in, show up, be amused. That's my suggestion.
And for now ... I'm outta here!
[:: zoosh ::]
Want to be part of the planning for Cascade Writers? If you have organizational, communication or social media skills, or if you are simply friendly and want to help—we have a job for you!
Cascade Writers would love to have you on our team. We’re looking for someone to fill the following positions: Workshop Vice-Chair; Hotel Liaison; Fundraising/Promotion Chair; Outreach Chair—and committee members for these subcommittees.
Email Karen at writersweekend AT hotmail DOT com if you are interested, or attend the Board meeting during the workshop on Saturday, July 27 at 3:30.
There was one event in particular which was completely surprising, yet meticulously set up over ten books. There was another, also surprising yet completely set up, which caused me to email Buymeaclue a message whose non-spoilery text consisted of "OH MY GOD!!!!! Also, just opened the part where it shifts POVs and OH MY GOD I KNOW WHERE HE IS."
Now I want to read the whole thing over from the beginning. Due to the unusual structure, it will probably feel like an entirely new experience.
You can buy the whole shebang on e-book at a discount ($30 for the equivalent of four books), or in paper. However, the paper editions are in four volumes, and only two are out. You will probably end up with a mutant half-paper, half-e-book set if you attempt the latter.
I mentioned before that the series reminded me of P. C. Hodgell. By the end, it also reminded me of the Fullmetal Alchemist anime (first series.) In both, nearly all the seemingly unrelated side stories and apparently unimportant minor characters turn out to be integral to the story as a whole. Also the unusual mix of a dark world with a magic system involving some major body horror, with funny moments and a lot of very likable and even idealistic characters who don’t (necessarily) get crushed under the author’s boot.
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These books just kept getting better and better, from an intrigueing but somewhat rough start. I’m sure they will reward re-reading.
Crossposted to http://rachelmanija.dreamwidth.org/1109
I’ll be doing a rare afternoon tour appearance tomorrow in Madison because at 6pm, A Room of One’s Own welcomes the Guests of Honor at Wiscon, the (completely fantastic) science fiction and fantasy convention. So if you’re coming at 4 o’clock to Room of One’s Own to see me, stick around afterward for the GoHs, which include last year’s Nebula and Hugo Award winner, Jo Walton. And if you’re coming at 6pm to see the guests of honor, why not come out a little bit early to see me? It’ll be more speculative fiction writers than you can shake the proverbial stick at.
So remember, Madison: Tomorrow (Thursday, May 23), A Room Of One’s Own, 4pm. Don’t be late! See you there.
Congrats to all the Finalists!
Awards will be given in seven categories. Finalists are announced today for all categories except Bisexual Book Publisher of the Year, which will be kept secret until the awards ceremony. The awards are open to people of all orientations, except the Bi Writer Award, which goes to the best bi author of the year, from all the categories combined.
Books were nominated by the Bi Writers Association and allowed to be nominated to any category they fit. No limits were set on number of finalists, but were narrowed down to the best in each category by the judges. Bisexual Fiction had the most nominees, and therefore, the most finalists. The judges are a combination of award-winning writers, respected bi writers and passionate bi book readers.
Bisexual Book Awards Finalists List:
1. Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction, Edited by Brit Mandelo, Lethe Press
2. History of a Pleasure Seeker, Richard Mason, Random House / Knopf
3. In One Person, John Irving, Simon & Schuster
4. The Last Nude, Ellis Avery, Riverhead Books
5. Mount Royal, There’s nothing harder than love, Basil Papademos, Tightrope Books
6. Silver Moon, Catherine Lundoff, Lethe Press
7. Whitetail Shooting Gallery, Annette Lapointe, Anvil Press Publishers
1. Girlfag: A Life Told In Sex and Musicals, Janet W. Hardy, Beyond Binary Books
2. My Awesome Place: The Autobiography of Cheryl B, Cheryl Burke, Topside Signature
1. Fireflies at Absolute Zero, Erynn Rowan Laurie, Hiraeth Press
2. Love Without Limits: The Bi-Laws of Love, Yazmin Monet Watkins, Red Journal Publications
3. Shine, Donnelle McGee, Sibling Rivalry Press
Bisexual Erotic Fiction/Erotica
1. Mount Royal, There’s nothing harder than love, Basil Papademos,
2. The Poet and the Prophecy: Magic University Book Four, Cecilia Tan, Ravenous Romance
3. Times Square Queer: Tales of Bad Boys in the Big Apple, Mykola Dementiuk, Renaissance eBooks
Bisexual Speculative Fiction [Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror]
1. Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction, Brit Mandelo, Lethe Press
2. Gleams of a Remoter World, Fiona Glass, Riptide Publishing
3. The Poet and the Prophecy: Magic University Book Four, Cecilia Tan, Ravenous Romance
4. Silver Moon, Catherine Lundoff, Lethe Press
Bi Writer Award
1. Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction, Brit Mandelo, Lethe Press
2. Fireflies at Absolute Zero, Erynn Rowan Laurie, Hiraeth Press
3. Girlfag: A Life Told In Sex and Musicals, Janet W. Hardy, Beyond Binary Books
4. My Awesome Place: The Autobiography of Cheryl B, Cheryl Burke, Topside Signature
5. Mount Royal, There’s nothing harder than love, Basil Papademos, Tightrope Books Inc.
6. The Poet and the Prophecy: Magic University Book Four, Cecilia Tan, Ravenous Romance
7. Silver Moon, Catherine Lundoff, Lethe Press
8. Times Square Queer: Tales of Bad Boys in the Big Apple, Mykola Dementiuk, Renaissance eBooks
9. Whitetail Shooting Gallery, Annette Lapointe, Anvil Press Publishers
Bi Book Publisher of the Year -Winner will be announced at the Bisexual Book Awards, June 2nd in New York City.
Bi Lines VI: A Multi-Arts Celebration of Bisexual Writing & Bisexual Book Awards June 2nd NYC!
Advance Tickets: Nuyorican Poets Cafe website
So excited to see Mark and Tom, Karin and good chunk of the HRB crew--and especially Eric. NOT excited to get on a plane. Thankfully, it will be full daylight, it's a small plane, and I don't have to be on it all that long. A layover in Chicago will give me a chance to stretch out, de-stress, and BREATHE! I am hoping Mark doesn't have to text me naughty limmericks and beautiful poetry on the way home this year. Whew--still don't know how I'd have made it without him!
BUT! I did write this week! Not much, but something HUGE fell into place. The Shadows One Walks is now at 66,664 words. Here is the weekly snippet...
( If you are interested...Collapse )
See you after ConQuest!
2. Yes, I'm very sorry to hear that Christopher Eccleston will not be part of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special. The Constant Reader will recall that Nine is MY Doctor. But to these people who are acting pissy about Eccleston's declining to take part in the special I say fuck off. To paraphrase Neil, Christopher Eccleston is not your bitch. So, get over it. Also, he's still the coolest Doctor ever (I give Ten second place, and Benedict Cumberbatch is the best Doctor Who Never Was).
3. On Monday, I wrote 1,594 words on Alabaster: Boxcar Tales #12 and finished it. Today, I begin the thirteenth and final installment of Boxcar Tales. I may actually try to write the whole eight pages today.
4. There have been a lot a movies and TV lately. I get into these "watching moods." I finally saw Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty (2012). It was sort of like being hit in the face with a brick. An astounding, unrelentingly brutal film. It has surely deserved every awards nomination it received. Jessica Chastain's performance was especially impressive (also, the parallels between Maya and Claire Danes' Carrie Mathison are somewhat eerie).
And as it happens, the night before we saw Zero Dark Thirty, we'd seen Andrés Muschietti's Mama (2013), which also features Jessica Chastain – though you can hardly recognize her, her appearance is so different in the two films. Mama is one of those very, very rare dark fantasy films that gets everything right. A faerie tale for adults (the film begins with "One Upon a Time..."). Angela Carter meets Guillermo del Toro (who was an executive producer on the film). I've seen a lot of kvetching about the ending, and all I can say is that many people don't actually understand that when one enters the realm of the faerie tale – even when it's dressed up as a ghost story – one must, generally, play by the rules of Faerie. I thought at once of Tolkien's "On Fairy-Stories" (1939, 1947), in which he wrote:
It is at any rate essential to a genuine fairy-story...that it should be presented as "true."...But since the fairy-story deals with "marvels," it cannot tolerate any frame or machinery suggesting that the whole framework in which they occur is a figment or illusion.
Now, true, Mama does not strictly adhere to this rule. It does begin with doubters. But the film opens with two children – the central characters – existing completely within the realm of the genuine fairy-story, and, before the story's done, the adults have followed them irrevocably down the same path. We are left in the end with no possible conclusion except that "the whole framework" of the film was, of course, true. Hence, the ending, with it's complete absence of the sort of "resolution" that would violate the rules. Here, the faerie tale is a transgressive force, chewing up the delusion of a world not subject to the laws of Faerie, and the only resolution is that of a ghostly, changeling reunion. What happens to those who are left behind is irrelevant. Okay, I could also get started on Bruno Bettelheim, but I have gone on far too long about this film. Just see it!
As I said, we saw Star Trek: Into Darkness. There's nothing about this film I didn't love. Even the gimmick shots that were obviously placed there for 3D didn't distract from my enjoyment, and I strongly recommend a 2D viewing. 3D not only destroys cinematography, it's also – especially – anathema to story and character. I'm going to avoid all spoilers (which is more than I can say for a lot of people online), but I will say that Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch continue to amaze me and make me smile. Also, the continued exploration of events familiar to Star Trek fans is handled brilliantly, truly going where we haven't gone before. And....okay, little spoilers...KLINGONS! I grew up on Star Trek, even seeing the original series' in syndication only a year or two after its cancellation. And Star Trek: Into Darkness is true to the spirit, moreso than some of the non-Abrams films with the original cast and...okay, let's not even talk about the abominations that were Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise. Anyway, collectively, Spooky and I give it four thumbs up.
We continue to follow SyFy's Defiance, which is, honestly, like the Second Coming of Farscape. If you're not watching it, you're missing out. I'm especially impressed by its use of "old world" music (id est, music predating the post-apocalyptic events of the series). Also, Spooky saw the Netflix original series Hemlock Grove and convinced me to watch it. It's something else brilliant that I highly recommend. Another dark fantasy that gives "pararom" and "shifter" pr0n the middle finger (Brian McGreevy, who wrote the novel on which the series is based, and who is a co-writer, producer, and developer on the series, has said as much).
Finally, we've made it through Season Three of True Blood, and you won't believe what I have to say about the series. You may want to brace yourselves. But it's gonna have to wait for another entry. Time to write, says Das Schnabeltier. Oh, the weather finally got sort of warm in Providence (83˚F yesterday). There was a beautiful thunderstorm last night.
Note: I've just learned of a "racefail" (hate that phrase) controversy associated with the film. Not gonna go into spoiler specifics. But the people claiming racism in casting are...I'll be polite, and I'll just say they're wrongheaded.
That's 5 months +. No need to get lathered up about it yet.
But I've recently noted some things on my preorder pages that sent me into momentary panic. My prices went up! And my ranking went down! And I don't even have time to run around tearing out my hair over this because I'm in the midst of copyedit for Book 1.
Deep Breath. Deep Breath.
OK, I'm calmer now. Yes, my B&N price and my Amazon price both went up, and my ranking went down. I don't know which happened first, or if a cause-and-effect relationship exists at all. I also noted that I now have a Nook version on offer at B&N. That's new since the last time I popped over there.
But life and promotion goes on. I've got a Tumbler now (jkathleencheney), but very little on that page so far. I'm also working on an interview with another writer. I'm being a good girl.
And I'm through the first pass of my copy edits. I hope that I learned something. I have some quibbles. I don't know that I'll remember all the little rules I've broken, but I'm going to try to be better about them next time. And while I clearly need to work on 'awaken/woken', I'm very proud that they didn't find a single 'lie/lay' mistake! Victory!
Anyhow, I'm still here, plugging away at Book 1 and Book 3, and expecting to get the first round of edits for Book 2 any day now. Such is a writer's glamourous life ;o)
Laura Anne Gilman's post on C. E. Murphy's "Financial Reality Check"
Catherine Schaffer's post on "Convention Success for Shy Writers"
Our Nixon is a documentary made entirely out of archival footage from news broadcasts and home movies taken by John Erlichman, H.R. Haldeman, and Dwight Chapin, and VO from the Nixon tapes. The film is fascinating, an examination of the Nixon era from an entirely different perspective. It is sometimes funny and remarkably timely. I found myself watching these men doing what they did, and thinking how young, how good looking, how optimistic, how committed they were to what they were doing. And then, like music in a major key slowly sliding to a minor key, events just go awry. Who knew what, when, and how? It's like their entire world warped. Listening to excerpts from the Nixon tapes, the disconnect from reality is, frankly, kind of astonishing. I have to believe that this film will either get wide distribution or turn up on PBS or HBO. It must be seen. It's a remarkable film.
The documentary Out of Print was touted as "an in-depth look at the turbulent, exciting journey from the printed book through the digital revolution and modern information age." It turned out to be more of a survey of the subject than any kind of a discussion. While the filmmaker, based on her post-film talk, had some very specific thoughts and positions on the subject, the film was pretty neutral over all. It didn't get into some of the more contentious issues surrounding the evolution (or lack of same) that publishing is going through. I don't think the publisher position was well-represented, and I feel like the self-publishing situation was represented in a kind of lopsided way. Overall, I walked away feeling rather disappointed in it. Best part about it was hooking up with ironymaiden and varina8 to see it.
Populaire is a French romantic comedy set in 1959 about a girl from a small town who goes to the big city (a little city in Normandy, actually) to become--how exciting!--a secretary. Turns out she's a terrible secretary but a prodigy typist. Her boss decides that, to keep her job, she has to participate in the regional and national typing competition to become the fastest typist in the country. He becomes her coach and trainer, and thus begins the comedy and the romance. It's a delightful little film. Deborah Francois, who plays Rose the secretary, has a refreshing, Debbie Reynolds quality about her. She's charming. Romain Duris, who plays Louis, her boss and coach, has the sort of dark-haired, dark-eyed looks I always swoon for. As a World War II vet and last survivor of his French Resistance cohort, he's appropriately sexy and tortured. The film is clearly modern but imitates the sensibilities of the time very well. The clothes are to die for. It's all made with this Technicolor look and feel that is delicious to the eye. I had a great time with it and very much recommend it.
The Twitters are abuzz today about Amazon’s new “Kindle Worlds” program, in which people are allowed to write and then sell through Amazon their fan fiction for certain properties owned by Alloy Entertainment, including Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars, with more licenses expected soon. I’ve had a quick look at the program on Amazon’s site, and I have a couple of immediate thoughts on it. Be aware that these thoughts are very preliminary, i.e., I reserve the right to have possibly contradictory thoughts about the program later, when I think (and read) about it more. Also note that these are my personal thoughts and do not reflect the positions or policies of SFWA, of which I am (still but not for much longer) president.
1. The main knock on fan fiction from the rights-holders point of view — i.e., people are using their characters and situations in ways that probably violate copyright — is apparently not at all a problem here, since Alloy Entertainment is on board for allowing people to write what they want (within specific guidelines — more on that in a bit). Since that’s the case, there’s probably a technical argument here about whether this is precisely “fan fiction” or if it’s actually media tie-in writing done with intentionally low bars to participation (the true answer, I suspect, is that it’s both). Either way, if Alloy Entertainment’s on board, everything’s on the level, so why not.
2. So, on one hand it offers people who write fan fiction a chance to get paid for their writing in a way that doesn’t make the rightsholders angry, which is nice for the fan ficcers. On the other hand, as a writer, there are a number of things about the deal Amazon/Alloy are offering that raise red flags for me. Number one among these is this bit:
“We will also give the World Licensor a license to use your new elements and incorporate them into other works without further compensation to you.”
i.e., that really cool creative idea you put in your story, or that awesome new character you made? If Alloy Entertainment likes it, they can take it and use it for their own purposes without paying you — which is to say they make money off your idea, lots of money, even, and all you get is the knowledge they liked your idea.
Essentially, this means that all the work in the Kindle Worlds arena is a work for hire that Alloy (and whomever else signs on) can mine with impunity. This is a very good deal for Alloy, et al — they’re getting story ideas! Free! — and less of a good deal for the actual writers themselves. I mean, the official media tie-in writers and script writers are doing work for hire, too, but they get advances and\or at least WGA minimum scale for their work.
Another red flag:
“Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright.”
Which is to say, once Amazon has it, they have the right to do anything they want with it, including possibly using it in anthologies or selling it other languages, etc, without paying the author anything else for it, ever. Again, an excellent deal for Amazon; a less than excellent deal for the actual writer.
Note that on its page Amazon makes a show of saying that the writer owns the copyright on the original things that are copyrightable, but inasmuch as Amazon also acquires all rights for the length of the copyright and Alloy is given the right to exploit the new elements without further compensation, this show about you keeping your copyright appears to be just that: show.
The argument here could be, well, you know, people who were writing fan fiction weren’t getting paid or had rights to these characters and worlds anyway, so only getting paid for their work once is still better than what they would have gotten before. And that’s not an entirely bad argument on one level. But on another level, there’s a difference between writing fan fiction because you love the world and the characters on a personal level, and Amazon and Alloy actively exploiting that love for their corporate gain and throwing you a few coins for your trouble. So this should be an interesting argument for people to have in the real world.
3. If this sort of thing takes off, I’m interested to see what effect it will have on the media tie-in market, and on the professional writers who work in it. Obviously it has the potential to greatly shift how things are done. If you are a corporate rights holder, for example, would you bother with seeking out pro writers any more, and paying them advances and royalties and all of that business? Or would you just open up the gates to paid fan fiction, which you don’t have to pay anything for and yet still have total control over the commercial exploitation thereof? Again, this is interesting stuff to consider, and if I were a pro writer who primarily worked in media tie-in markets, I would have some real concerns.
4. This won’t spell the end of unauthorized fan fic, and I’m very sure of that. For one thing, the Kindle Worlds program says it won’t accept “pornography” which means all that slash out there will still be on the outside of the program (Edit: to note not all slash is porn, although I wonder if Amazon won’t simply default it as such); likewise crossover fan fic, so those “Vampire Diaries meet Dr Who” stories will be left out in the cold. And besides that, there will be people who a) have no interest in making money and/or b) don’t write well enough to be accepted into the Kindle Worlds program (there does seem that there will be some attempt at quality control, or at least, someone has to go through the stuff to make sure there’s nothing that’s contractually forbidden). So if this was an attempt to squash fan fic through other means, it’s doomed to failure. But I don’t suspect that’s the point.
5. Speaking as a writer, I wouldn’t do something like this; I don’t generally like writing in other people’s worlds in any event (and when I do, I go public domain — see Fuzzy Nation) and I don’t like the terms that are on offer here. And of course I have my own things to write. Likewise, I would caution anyone looking at this to be aware that overall this is not anywhere close to what I would call a good deal. Finally, on a philosophical level, I suspect this is yet another attempt in a series of long-term attempts to fundamentally change the landscape for purchasing and controlling the work of writers in such a manner that ultimately limits how writers are compensated for their work, which ultimately is not to the benefit of the writer. This will have far-reaching consequences that none of us really understand yet.
The thing that can be said for it is that it’s a better deal than you would otherwise get for writing fan fiction, i.e., no deal at all and possibly having to deal with a cranky rightsholder angry that you kids are playing in their yard. Is that enough for you? That’s on you to decide.
Readers often have default expectations when it comes to their reading — default expectations that we call “tropes.” But where do you go as a writer when the tropes don’t take you where your characters need to be? It’s a question that Rhiannon Held explores today as she writes about her new novel, Tarnished.
Tarnished is the second book in my series, and if I had to articulate an over-arcing big idea for the whole series, it’s that I love to explore emotional truths tied to situations that don’t come up in typical urban fantasy tropes. In the first book, Silver, those non-trope situations were born from the religion and culture that I created for my werewolves. In Tarnished, I decided I wanted to find the emotional resonance in non-trope leadership strategies, and romantic relationships.
At the end of Silver my two main characters, Andrew and Silver, were poised to challenge for leadership of the largest werewolf pack in North America. In the typical urban fantasy trope as I’ve encountered it, usually the protagonist’s resistance to being Grand Supernatural Poobah begins as internal: she wouldn’t be any good at it! No one would accept her! Then, when she agrees, the resistance switches to being external: the rock golems won’t listen to a meat bag! The shapeshifters won’t listen to anyone banging a golem!
But once they’ve set aside their initial internal objections, would protagonists really automatically be totally committed to leading? Obviously they have to learn how to win everyone over, but would the protagonists really be completely awesome at leading once everyone’s behind them? Book 1 ended with Andrew and Silver’s decision to try to lead, and I decided that Book 2 needed to explore exactly what it would take to get there. Do they have the self-confidence to do it? Is that self-confidence strong enough to withstand everyone else’s doubt? Can they make hard decisions and keep their cool when people question those decisions? Can they admit they were wrong when they make mistakes? Can they delegate and trust others to get things done?
And can they lead, as opposed to just shouting louder than everyone else? Often werewolf alphas are portrayed as being all about physical strength, or if not physical strength, at least strength of emotional bullying. Andrew is somewhat slight in stature and slow from previous injuries; Silver can’t shift and can’t use her left arm. If they want to win the alphaship, they have do something other than shout loudest and punch hardest: they have to court allies, they have to coax people, they have to lead by example. I really wanted to showcase different leadership strategies, because while stories are often about the underdog beating the muscle-bound alpha, the underdog too often uses mystical punching powers that beat the alpha’s physical punching abilities. Why does punching have to be the measure of success?
Tarnished also introduces a new POV: Susan. She’s human and has a child with John, the Seattle alpha. She also has her moments of going toe-to-toe in fights with stronger, faster werewolves, but with her I also wanted to explore a different kind of romantic relationship. In Book 1, Andrew and Silver were somewhat typical of urban fantasies: they met, they were attracted to each other, obstacles kept them apart, but they got together in the end. In Book 2, I show them working as a functioning, loving team, so the romantic tension switches over to Susan and John.
Whether in books, movies, or television, I’ve always wanted more opportunities to cheer a couple on to working out their problems. That’s what gets you through life, after all—not giving up after the first big fight. Work through the fight and the relationship often ends up stronger on the other side. Of course, that’s not to say that life isn’t also filled with truly irreconcilable differences or people who are assholes. Staying to try desperately to change things in those situations can make everyone miserable. The way I think of it is that you want to preserve and care for a precious connection between two people, rather than upholding some ideal of not splitting up for moral reasons even if you have no connection left at all.
The trouble is that in fiction, the relationships being “worked on” are usually only based on irreconcilable differences or assholery. In that case, of course you’re cheering for the couple to break up! That way, one can get with the other hot, passionate love interest introduced in this book who is clearly so much better for him or her. Or else you’re rolling your eyes while waiting for the couple who’s off-again every book to provide cheap romantic tension to get their laughable miscommunication straightened out so they can be on-again.
Susan and John are already together. They have a child. They love each other, but their relationship is on the rocks because John lets himself be ashamed of her and misguidedly tries to protect her by keeping her out of the werewolf world. That’s something that can be worked out—I hope it’s something the readers want to see worked out!—because why should love be sacrificed to social expectations? But reconciliation is something they both have to work hard to achieve.
Hopefully playing with non-trope situations can help knock aside a few of the most annoying tropes as well. If my characters can remind readers that natural charisma doesn’t mean you’re born knowing exactly how to lead; people who aren’t hot, single twenty-somethings fall in love; and protecting your love by keeping them in ignorance of the supernatural world is forgetting they’re a consenting adult… so much the better!
Poor lad. He looked so sad, with his little face staring out from inside the stretchy head bandage they used to hold the icepacks to his cheeks. I just don’t have the heart to post the picture I took.
|Amazon Publishing Introduces “Kindle Worlds,” a New Publishing Model for Authors Inspired to Write Fan Fiction—Launching with an Initial License of Popular Titles from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment|
Like Kindle Singles and Kindle Serials, Kindle Worlds Adds a New Approach to
Amazon announced Kindle Worlds today, describing it as “the first commercial publishing platform that will enable any writer to create fan fiction based on a range of original stories and characters and earn royalties for doing so.”
I didn’t know this was coming, but I’m not surprised, exactly. Amazon has been a very successful business, and if they see a potentially profitable area they can branch out into, they’re gonna do it.
I found out about this through Chuck Wendig’s post here, wherein he talks about the press release and proceeds to fragment his own brain into tiny, shiny pieces.
I’m still digesting and processing this, and I suspect some of it will boil down to having to wait to see how it all plays out. But some of my initial reactions are…
- This isn’t a free-for-all. Amazon has licensed these rights from the rights-holders, and it’s for a specific and limited list of properties.
- But wait, if they’ve licensed the rights, is it really fanfiction or is it an open call for licensed tie-in work?
- They’ve got a no porn rule. Fair enough. If anyone’s going to write 50 Shades of Blue: A Goblin’s Erotic Awakening, I think it should be me.
- My understanding of the fanfiction community is that there’s a strong value on not profiting from your work. This seems like a potential culture war between Amazon and the community they’re trying to court.
- That said, no community is perfectly homogenous, and as a writer, I have nothing against getting paid for your work, so long as it’s done legally, which this would be.
- Also, as someone who isn’t a part of that community, I could be TOTALLY AND EMBARRASSINGLY WRONG ABOUT THIS PIECE.
- Who decides whether to license a work, the publisher or the author? Can DAW license Libriomancer fanfic without my approval? Can I do it without theirs?
- Amazon takes all rights to your fanfiction story. Which isn’t entirely unreasonable in a work-for-hire situation, but will make a lot of folks uncomfortable.
- Why would people pay for fanfiction when so much is available online for free?
- Then again, why would people pay for licensed tie-in work when so much fanfiction is available online for free…
- Should prolific fanfic writers look into getting agents? I’m not sure the benefit of an agent in this situation, but I also cringe at the idea of writers who aren’t very, very business-savvy signing contracts without someone else looking it over.
- Does this mean fanfic could now qualify for SFWA membership?
- Waiting for various heads to explode at that question…
- Finally, Amazon is not pro-author, nor are they pro-reader. They’re pro-Amazon. (This doesn’t make them any worse or better than most businesses, by the way.) When Amazon’s interests overlap with those of readers or writers, great. But don’t lose sight of their bottom line, because I guarantee that’s what they’re watching.
I’m sure there will be many, many discussions and arguments about this, and I have no idea how it will all play out or whether or not it will work. But I do think it’s a fascinating step in the ongoing evolution of the industry.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
I think of myself as a quiet and reserved person and an introvert, so it was a little startling to be called a “social butterfly” as one acquaintance did in San Jose over the weekend. “You know absolutely everybody!” he said.
Well, it’s a fair cop. I’ve been in this business for sixteen years, and the set of pro sf writers in the field is basically a small town. There are several thousand of us, and of those a group of maybe 500 who are frequent or regular convention-attenders. After a while, you get to the point where you either know everybody, or are connected to everybody. I happen to think that this particular rotating group of connections and acquaintances are some of the best people in the world. If you parachute into the middle of an average, mid-sized midwestern city, you could spend all day wandering around looking for people as fascinating, smart, motivated, and dynamic as those who are just literally lying in your path at a well-attended SF lit convention. Why not enjoy it and make the most of it?
Why attend conventions at all? First of all, convention attendance is totally optional. You can be a successful writer without ever setting foot in one, and if you don’t like it, that’s well and good. You don’t have to attend. And it’s important to know this, because if you do go to a convention, it’s good to go with the attitude that it’s all optional and anything good that comes from it is just gravy.
That said, there are some very good reasons to go to conventions. Human interactions are crucial in any business, it doesn’t matter what kind. If you are someone who makes and sells shrubberies, you may be very successful as the only shrubber in your local market, but it’s still very nice to get together with other shrubbers to share experiences, seek support, and get new ideas. You might even find ways to work with other shrubbers to enhance your own business and make a little extra money together. Who knows? Anything can happen.
It can be paralyzing to go into a convention with the idea that you’re there to “do business.” Forget the elevator pitch. Don’t even think of it. Instead of worrying about making a good impression on people that will be useful in your career, form an expectation that you are just there to look around, and be curious about everyone who crosses your path. That person might be a famous writer or editor, but they might also be a radically cool fan. It doesn’t matter. Whatever serendipitous meetings occur, that is what is meant to be. Have fun, talk about your kids and pets and the weather and favorite movies, and let the business happen organically. And it will. Because trust is a basis of business interactions, and showing people pictures of your cat on your cell phone is how you build trust. Just do it.
Adjust your expectations. You are not going to go to a convention and walk out with a huge novel contract. Don’t even think about it. Put it out of your mind. You are just there to make friends. Do you like having friends in your day-to-day life? Friends are good. Humans need friends. You are just there to meet some people.
Also, if you are new to the scene and don’t know very many people, prepare yourself to spend some time alone. Bring books to read. Plan one or two solo sightseeing outings. If the hotel has a spa, make an appointment. Get comfortable with the idea of eating alone in a restaurant or bar. Bring a spouse or a partner if it makes you more comfortable, but don’t let that close you off to hanging out with new friends. If you and your companion form too tight a knot, no one else can get in.
Your goal should be to make one or two new friends at each convention. You can’t spend all of your time with that one new person, but over time things will snowball.
Sign up for things. If the convention offers any tours or workshops you can sign up for in advance, do it. You will meet people, and those people will be well-disposed to making new friends because of the situation. In a writing-oriented convention, whatever you’ve signed up for may have a pro running it, so you get to meet at least one professional in your field.
Volunteer for panels. If you have some professional credits, let the convention know you’re coming ahead of time and are willing to help out on programming. They are often very happy to have you, and may offer you free membership. Panels are also a good way to get used to public speaking, since the burden isn’t on one person to carry the entire show.
Connect with online friends. Look for opportunities to meet up with online friends. Check out parties, mixers, tweetups, and other organized get-togethers. Again, these are situations where people will be very open to meeting you and it will help you overcome your natural reserve.
Make plans in advance. If you do have someone you know will be at the con, make plans ahead of time. People have a way of getting busy, or getting tired, and you might miss them otherwise.
Bring a book. This is a trick I learned a number of years ago. I carry a book around at conventions. If I go to the hotel lobby looking for friends or new, interesting people to meet, and there’s no one I can immediately approach and begin chatting with, I’ll park myself at a table or the bar and read my book. The book itself is a conversation-starter, and at a science fiction convention, most people share your love of book-reading. You won’t get very many pages read before someone comes along and interrupts you.
Ask questions. Never have an awkward conversation again in your life. When pauses emerge, throw out a question. Where are you from? Have you seen the new Star Trek movie? Do you like cats? Don’t fill every silence. Let your new friend ask you some questions, too.
Fans are cool, too. As writers, we naturally gravitate to other writers. These people instantly get us. But don’t overlook the fans. Science fiction fans are very often extremely smart, successful, interesting people. And fans also have their own brand of power in the business. It’s fans who make decisions about programming and inviting guests of honor, etc., etc. If you make a good impression on the fans, you will definitely have a better time at conventions. BE NICE TO THE FANS.
Cut your losses. Everyone knows that conventions also attract…well…weirdos. People you don’t want to know or spend time with. In fact, this is one thing that tends to scare writers away from conventions, because if there are one or two of these types in a room, it can give you a bad impression of fandom in general. Practice some conversational dismounts to get you out of conversations you don’t want to be in. They can vary from, “Excuse me I need to visit the ladies’ room,” to “You are making me uncomfortable please leave me alone.” (And please carefully tune your dismount to the audience. No need to be cruel.) I’m sorry about this. I apologize on behalf of the whole genre. The important thing to remember is you don’t have to let someone monopolize your time if you don’t enjoy their company. You are at the convention to have fun!
You are not there to get laid. I mean, if you do get laid while you’re there, it’s great. But don’t treat the convention like a singles bar. This is a bit of a tough transition sometimes for writers who started as fans, because there is an element of con culture that is all about hooking up. And that’s great. But the writers by and large are NOT there to hook up. So what I’m saying is assess your social environment very carefully and only hit on people who are clearly available.
Allow extra days for travel, if you can. Arriving a day early and leaving a day late will make things much less stressful. Much. I particularly recommend the leaving a day late strategy. That last night at the con can be the very best, especially for shy folks, as you’ve had a day or two to gradually relax and start feeling comfortable with new people.
Schedule some downtime. I often treat myself to room service one night, which not only gives me some time to recharge, but takes the pressure off for one meal. No need to find dinner companions, choose a cuisine and restaurant, make an expedition, make scintillating conversation, etc.
Comfortable shoes. Need I say more?
Buy a banquet ticket. At some conventions, like Nebula weekend, you’ll have a chance for a sit-down meal with strangers. Go for it, even if it’s expensive. I met my friend Jay Lake that way. Every time I’ve done this it’s worked out great. Again, this is a situation where you’re automatically placed in a group, so no need to approach anyone or find a good opening line. You can just ask a question and you’re good to go.
Don’t get too wrapped up in status. If there’s one thing I’ve seen in sixteen years, it’s the coming and going of hot new writers. Trust me. Slow and steady wins the race. So there are hot new writers getting a lot of attention, collecting awards. They are just as anxious and insecure as you are, and often they sort of stop writing and disappear a few years later. Some of this year’s batch of superstars had me thinking of meteors from years past, wondering where they are, what they’re doing, are they still writing? Don’t sweat it. Honors, awards, accolades–all very capricious. Do you have some cat pictures on your phone? Whip them out. Cat pics are eternal.
Don’t be an asshole. You know how they say some people can do it and get away with it? They are not getting away with it. Trust me. Those people have lost friends and opportunities. It only looks like it doesn’t stick. Don’t be that person. It’s not worth it.
Don’t cart the internet around with you. If you’ve encountered someone on the internet and you’re meeting them for the first time in person, it is largely best to simply start over. If you’ve had extensive conversations online, then of course acknowledge it. But most people don’t have a perfect memory for every discussion or flame war, and, more importantly, if you set aside any charged interactions you may have had online, you may find the person is actually really cool.
Be authentic, be genuine, be sincere, be yourself. Have some faith that you are an interesting person and others want to know you. Wear what you want that makes you feel awesome. Be a good listener. Be forgiving of yourself and others. You’re not always going to say the right thing. You might make a faux pas, or someone around you might. Laugh it off. Let it go. Be gentle. Be kind. Make jokes. Buy drinks for people. Find ways to help.
Once again, we come to a rushed day where I cannot churn out a full blog entry. And yet I feel like interacting! And so I return to the gift that keeps on giving:
Ask me one question, on any topic. I shall answer truthfully.
(Please. No woodchuck questions. Someone always asks, and it’s never gotten a good response.)
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/304147.h
I've spoken to the specialty pharmacy, and my Regorafenib should be arriving in Portland today. To my mild surprise, they are treating this as a pharmaceutical co-pay in line with the insurance company formulary. This is often not the case with specialty pharmacy prescriptions, I'm told. I'll start the medication next Monday when I'm back in Portland. Apparently, the side effects are a real treat.
The Nebula Awards Weekend
I'm still parsing the Nebula Awards Weekend from an emotional perspective. I'm not hung up on losing the Best Novella Nebula — that's just the way the game is played. Rather, as I said the other day, I'm struggling with my sense of being on a farewell tour. It really was a terrific weekend in a number of ways, but the reality of my foreshortened mortality is starting to grind me down.
That same reality of foreshortened mortality is grinding down the people around me as well. This is creating drama among my immediate circle of family and friends. I am very ill-equipped to handle that sort of drama. I dislike it in general, and right now my reserves are stretched so thin that dealing with such things is a profound distraction. There will only be more of this down the road as well all respond to my deepening illness.
Those aforementioned reserves really are an issue. I have no depth these days. Anything small can upset me. I don't have the bandwidth to do everything I want. I frustrate easily, and have trouble tracking and staying with both emotional issues and projects. Right now I cannot tell if this is stress from the new diagnosis, which at some point I'll integrate, or if this is my new reality. I resent every step of loss.
My METAtropolis: Green Space novella "Rock of Ages" is being critiqued tomorrow. This means I don't have to do any critical reading today, so I'm cooking momos [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ] for tonight's dinner.
Still struggling a bit with the altitude. Had a terrible night's sleep last night. I did okay the night before, thanks to my friend Lorazepam, and will probably have to do that again tonight. And I regret not being able to go out hiking here during the day, as my UV issues from Vectibix linger on.
All that being said, I am very glad to be here.
mizkit posted about writerly income at a momentary reality check and I'm reposting here because, well, WHAT SHE'S SAYING. Never mind Rowling, King, Brown, etc. Ain't nobody 'cept those very few getting rich at this job. Damned few of us are earning above the poverty line (Federal standards: $12-15k per household of 1, $23-25k for a family of 3).
Catie and I are on a similar track (well, substitute two needy felines for a kid, and remove the spouse), and we are among the fortunate ones, at this point in time, in that we can say that we make an actual living out of this gig.
Averaging the past five years, I'm making around $45k/year, after my agency's 15% commission but before taxes. After-taxes would make you cry, no lie. Freelancer taxes are hell. I write more slowly than Catie does, which means I have fewer opportunities to sell, but I have my editorial sideline (5-10k of that pre-tax 45) which is why I can (almost) afford to live in NYC.*
(EtA: I also have multiple streams of writing income, between NYC, BookViewCafe, and direct-to-market)
As a point of comparison, the median family income in 2011 (most recent official numbers) was $61,455. There are benefits to this gig, but a fat paycheck is rarely one of them.
Keep in mind that writers (all freelancers) are not eligible for unemployment insurance if we lose our job, and every year that's a very real risk. So every year you're also (hopefully, ideally) squirreling away for the inevitable Really Bad Year(s). As they say in the financials, past performance is no guarantee of future results.
(everything that follows beneath the cut is Catie's original post. or you can go read it here directly.)
*and before anyone says "oh but why do you live in NYC if it's so expensive?"... because this is my home, and where my family lives.
Here's a post from the last time I was there which contains beautiful photos of a snow covered landscape.
If you want to follow along, I'll be updating the blog as wireless allows (who knows when that'll be) but also I'll be tweeding with the hashtag #OilCampsND
Here's me in NoDak during our last trip in February. I'm packing lighter this time.
Clickenzee to Embiggen!
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[Roller Derby Portraits]
- Current Mood: accomplished
- Current Music:Alcest: Les Voyages de l'ame
Washington state woods. Photo © 2008, 2013, Joseph E. Lake, Jr.
This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
The Phosphorous Atom Quantum Computing Machine — An Australian team unveils the fundamental building block of a scalable quantum computer that could be embedded in today’s silicon chips.
New Efforts to Overhaul Psychiatric Diagnoses Spurred by DSM Turmoil — (Via Marta Murvosh.)
If the Earth had rings — (Via Lisa Costello.)
Red Sprite Lightning with Aurora — A strange photo from APOD. Well worth reading the write-up.
Had the Cookie Crumbled Differently: East and West Dakota
Pat Robertson shrugs off adultery, CBN regrets the misunderstanding — Robertson said the “secret” was to “stop talking about the cheating. He cheated on you. Well, he’s a man. OK.” So glad religious conservatives had this viewpoint during the Clinton years. Imagine the political circus if they'd taken adultery seriously back then.
Asked by Wolf Blitzer if She Thanked God for Surviving the Tornado, Oklahoma Woman Responds: ‘I’m Actually An Atheist’ — Heh. It's a stupid question on the face of things. If we're supposed to thank God for surviving such an event, aren't we equally blaming God for the lives lost? (Via
Anti-Sandy-relief Oklahoma Senator: Aid for Oklahoma is “totally different” than Sandy — The only difference is that the tornado victims vote in Oklahoma. Just like government support for hard working farmers is totally different from food stamps for the lazy urban poor. Ah, that justly famed conservative intellectual consistency.
Oklahoma GOP Sen. Tom Coburn Will Seek To Offset Tornado Aid — At least he's being intellectually consistent in his conservative cruelty, unlike Senator Inhofe cited above. Unusual for a Republican, that.
Fisheries could be in hot water due to climate change — Warming waters are altering the distribution and abundance of fish species. Amazing, the lengths liberals will go to for their global warming hoax. Even to warming entire oceans. Thank god for Rush Limbaugh and the Republican party, otherwise we might have to do something about this.
Will Republicans Screw Up Again? Some Are Already Overreaching — Republicans allowed themselves to look as if they were primarily interested in scoring political points and overturning the results of the 1996 election, even if it meant paralyzing the government. That same danger exists once again for the GOP. "Look as if…" That's remarkably kind to a party whose top legislative priority was ensuring that Obama was a one-term president. Not jobs. Not the economy. Not healthcare. Not our foreign wars. No, overturning the results of the 2008 election. And now, the 2012. They're practically built their entire brand and message around it.
QotD?: What did you read yesterday?
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (workshop)
Hours slept: 5.5 hours (fitful)
Body movement: n/a
Number of FEMA troops on my block scamming disaster aid slush funds: 0
Currently reading: Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
We’re looking for somewhere new to rent, and I mumbled about a lovely place that costs an impractical, um, *checks conversion rate*, $2350 a month. This caused someone (that I have known since childhood, so while it was cheeky, well, actually, total strangers ask these questions too, so) to ask the following question, and since I wrote out the answer anyway, I thought I might as well post it.
“I thought successful authors like yourself made a lot of money? Am I way off base?”
Here. I’ll talk some real numbers.
For example: my most recent 3 year average income is about $47K gross, which sounds pretty good. However, that’s with my best *ever* year of writing income as part of the average. If I take that year away and factor in something more normal, my 3 year average is more like $34K, which still isn’t half bad, but it’s not stupendous amounts of money.
But that’s gross. Before I ever even see that, 15% goes to my agent’s commission, which brings a more normal average year down to about $29K. Then you convert it to euros, which on average takes about 30% away from the take-home, which puts it at about €20K. It’s a living, but it’s not what most people would call a lot of money.
Furthermore, I write fast. Less fast now that I’ve had a kid, but I still write fast, around 300,000 words/3 books a year. So if you pretend the money you’re getting paid is for the book you’re working on right now (which is really not how it works, but that’s a different long story) that’s about $10K (or €6.7K) per book. And again, I write fast, so a 100K book (an average Walker Papers novel, for example) takes me 100 hours.
That makes my hourly rate look really good, even if you add another 50 hours on top of that for revision and editing and everything. But I rarely get to write a book in a straight shot, so it’s usually more like 6-12 weeks of work. I mean, I can and have and no doubt will again do 10-12 hour writing days for several days on end, but a more normal (pre-child) writing schedule was about 4-5 hours a day. Which is not, I realize, something to cry in one’s beer about. :) But the point is a great hourly rate doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of cash, because of how the system works.
The people you hear about who make a lot of money? JK Rowling, Stephen King, Stephanie Meyer, Michael Connolly? They’re the outliers. Writers’ lives and incomes are not like they’re portrayed in the media or movies. They’re the rock stars compared to the garage bands.
(x-posted from The Essential Kit)
Well. Instead, I eventually got up, got breakfast, and spent a long time cuddling Maya. It's worked for me so far. In 20 minutes, I'll go wake up MrD and get him ready for school, but in the meantime...
Here's a list of things that have made me happy in the past few days, because honestly, I'm still feeling jittery from that nightmare (oh, how I hate the vivid dreams of pregnancy!), plus I've been pretty stressed-out over my freelance deadline and all our practical house-moving issues, and I really need this reminder right now:
1. Watching MrD in his nursery school's spring show yesterday. Possibly the most adorable sight ever (in my clearly unbiased and objective opinion)! And ohhhh, was I proud of him.
2. Eating gorgeous strawberry-cream cake at my favorite cake-café in town afterwards, with friends, while MrD and his own friends quickly devoured their own cakes and then just played and played together.
3. Knitting - possibly the most relaxing and de-stressing occupation I've ever found (and also the one gesture I can make to appease my frustrated nesting instincts right now, while our house situation is still undecided - I may not know where we're going to live with our new baby, but at least he/she will have a handknitted blanket!) - while watching MrD build enormous structures out of lego or play-dough, at various points over the last few days.
4. Re-reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time in 7 years, and sinking into it with total delight and wonder all over again at just how good it really is. Re-reading it is a process of re-discovery - oh! I'd forgotten how much I love the writing! - and also pure comfort - because I absorbed this book into my bones as a kid, and almost every scene resonates with memory, for me.
What about you guys? What have been the brightest spots in your week so far?
On a more personal note, I've been out of writing for a little while. Came close on a story to Tesseracts, but am planning for much writing during my summer break. It's high time I started putting together some new stories. I'm hoping my few years of absence will result in an explosion of a few years worth of writing ideas. In any case, it will feel good to be back at it again. :-)
In equally annoying health news, I went to an allergist today and described my reactions to perfumes and flavorings. Her conclusion is that I'm essentially getting contact dermatitis on my tongue and throat when I inhale/ingest things I'm sensitive to. I noted that the problem had gotten a lot worse since I started taking the Zoloft; at first I thought it was related to the Zoloft-induced dry mouth, but that side effect has mostly gone away. However, upon Googling "contact dermatitis artificial flavor", I find this note in a case study of a woman who developed an allergic reaction to artificial cinnamon:
Contact allergies are common in the skin but rare in the mouth due to the protective role of saliva against the accumulation of allergens
It's true that my mouth is still dry; it's just not dry enough to really bother me most of the time. In addition, the Zoloft continues to cause a bit of acid reflux, which is probably making my throat more sensitive to other irritants. Hooray! Bodies are fun.
Conclusion: once Readercon is over, plus a week to make sure there's no post-Readercon fuckery this year, I'm going to get my doctor and therapist's approval to go off the Zoloft. It's definitely been helpful, but I'm feeling a lot more settled, and most of my anxiety these days is related to--surprise!--being scared of food because I don't know when it's going to make my throat feel like it's swelling up. I keep being glad to have the Zoloft to help me deal with that, but it would be even better to not need to deal with it. In the meantime, lots and lots of peppermint candy (and a search for lemon or other citrus candies that have no artificial flavors or sweeteners, since citrus is naturally mouthwatering), and probably going back to taking Pepcid with the Zoloft.
Also conclusion: the allergist was not entirely useless, but pretty nearly. I mentioned the Zoloft dry mouth and she didn't say "It might be worth taking a closer look at that". She expressed surprise that Claritin appeared to help with the reaction but offered no suggestions for alternatives. Bah.
You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
- Current Mood:annoyed
I’ve been sort of puttering in the same chapter of Hobgoblin for a few days now–mostly thinking about it, making a few notes–because I knew there was a problem and I didn’t know how to fix it. In fact I hadn’t quite defined the problem…I was getting closer, but it was remaining elusive.But then this morning it all fell together. In my mind, that is; I still have to go back in and apply all this to the book. Which will mean changing a few things in an earlier chapter–moving something back there from a later chapter, and adding a short scene–and then bringing the solution forward into this chapter.
Basically, I realized I hadn’t fully nailed down Who Knows What, and When; and the related issue of Who Believes What, and When. So I had characters sort of dancing around issues, going first one way and then the other from scene to scene, making no overall sense. But now I’ve worked that all out–I know where everybody stands on The Thing; now I just have to go, you know, write it.
Which I didn’t do today because I worked on editing anthology stories all day, which is a joy and a delight, but it still does take time.
And I didn’t work on Hobgoblin this evening either, because I drove to Beaverton to see John Scalzi enjoy a box of donuts.
Oh and also read and sign, and be his generally delightful and fabulous self. He is truly one of the good guys. I’m glad I went.
- Current Location:Witchnest Manor
- Current Mood: accomplished
There are a few projects I'm backing right now which are trending towards a bit below their minimum goals. (If they don't meet their target, none of the backers pay, and they get nothing. Kind of a bummer.) So I figured I'd give them a bit of a plug.
First, Start Here, vol. 2 is a collection of 25 essays introducing you to various authors, telling you which books to start with. Sounds like a worthwhile project, and $5 is a reasonable price for the e-book.
Second, America's Forgotten Organizer: Fred Ross is a biography of a labor organizer, the man who (among other things) recruited Cesar Chavez into the labor movement. I'm a sucker for a good lefty memoir, but the cost of researching a book like this is well above what an author can expect to get back in royalties. I'm glad to throw a little money into the pot to make this a bit more likely to happen.
And third, a Tomárâho dictionary, to preserve an endangered Paraguayan language. Only 160 native speakers remain, which means it will almost certainly vanish as a living language within a generation or two. But the researchers who have been working with the Tomárâho tribe have done valuable work in documenting the language for posterity, and I want to reward that.
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 126
What kind of tiger?
|Tigers on Vaseline|
|Eye of the Tiger|
|Cats Eat Birds|
|The Mouse Police Never Sleeps|
|Cece n'est pas une tiki.|
Queen Elizabeth had died and a young princess was being crowned Queen Anne. She was certainly not a princess that actually exists in real life. Long, lovely black hair that she wore down for the occasion, swept over her shoulder and flowing down the front of her white dress, obscuring all the medals and sash. She had thin silver crown.
I was a flutist playing in the orchestra for the coronation. Anne started crying in the middle of her coronation speech. A crowd of ministers with pelican heads rushed to console her and guide her away from the crowds. We had to stop playing and wait for her to return. But she didn't.
Ages went by. We finally started playing just to entertain everyone, anything we could think of. Then no one could think of another song and we all got up and started dancing with our instruments and each other on the floor of Westminster Cathedral until the flute section all turned into crows and flew up to roost on the buttresses. Anne was hiding up there, too. Her black hair flowed under her gown to become big black wings.
And then: alarm clock.
A dream from last night ever-so-slightly too long for Twitter:
Queen Elizabeth had died and a young princess was being crowned Queen Anne. She was certainly not a princess that actually exists in real life. Long, lovely black hair that she wore down for the occasion, swept over her shoulder and flowing down the front of her white dress, obscuring all the medals and sash. She had thin silver crown. I was a flutist playing in the orchestra for the coronation.
Anne started crying in the middle of her coronation speech. A crowd of ministers with pelican heads rushed to console her and guide her away from the crowds. We had to stop playing and wait for her to return. But she didn’t.
Ages went by. We finally started playing just to entertain everyone, anything we could think of. Then no one could think of another song and we all got up and started dancing with our instruments and each other on the floor of Westminster Cathedral until the flute section all turned into crows and flew up to roost on the buttresses. Anne was hiding up there, too. Her black hair flowed under her gown to become big black wings.
And then: alarm clock.
This is a unique collection--while Ventriloquism was a general collection of everything ever, Mechagirl brings together all my Japanese-themed short fiction. That turns out to be rather a lot. Some, or perhaps even most of you, know that I lived in Japan for several years and the experience had a profound effect on my work. I'm very excited to have all of it in one place, and with such an amazing cover and team behind it. I mean seriously, just look at that cover!
It'll be out in July and is available for pre-order now. There's also a brand new novelette called Ink, Water, Milk in it, along with some other rare, out of print, or new pieces. It'll also be simultaneously published in Japanese, which is very exciting for me.
Now, there's an elephant in the room, and even if you don't see it, I do, so I'm going to go poke it in the trunk.
Yes, this is a collection of fiction about Japan written by a white woman. Yes, that white woman lived in Japan because of the US Navy and her ex-husband being an officer in said organization and that is not a value-free situation. Culturally, it is quite, quite fraught. And when VIZ first approached me concerning this project, their first from a non-Japanese author, I didn't know what to think, whether it was the right thing to do. I have always tried (and it's not even close to my place to say if I've succeeded) to write about Japan with respect and quality and sensitivity to the fact that I am obviously and forever an outsider. Nevertheless, it was a period in my life that had a profound and indelible effect on me, and in writing about it I have always been trying to integrate and interrogate my own experience, both from within and without, without being overly kind to myself and my culpability or overly romantic or unforgivably ignorant or bullheaded concerning Japanese culture. That is always an iterative process. You circle the thing itself endlessly and never quite arrive at it. I could not have helped writing about Japan, it was always only a question of how I wrote about it, and I hope, I hope I have done well.
And ultimately, what decided me was that a Japanese publisher thought I did at least well enough to ask for this collection and put their weight behind it. And if I wrote these stories to begin with, I should be willing to stand by them as a body of work. This is a very personal book, full of feels, as the kids say these days. It is not a book that purports to speak for Japanese culture in any way, but one which speaks for its author, for a span of ten years of circling Japan and never reaching it, and a single woman's relationship with a nation not her own, but one which, very occasionally, sat down to tea with her.
Here's hoping you enjoy it. (And stay tuned for another collection post shortly! My new general collection, The Bread We Eat in Dreams, is coming out in December!)
Long story short, when all the extra layers of shingles were pulled away for the roof work, rotting trim and siding were revealed around the attic windows. No water is getting inside or anything, and really, it's to be expected; the house is over a hundred years old, and this looks like original material. It wasn't managed well over the years, and it should've been removed/restored with the rest of the exterior restoration before we moved in, but I will save that rant.
I resolve instead to quit being aggravated at the half-ass repairs and dumbass remodeling performed on this place over the years, and instead I shall be pleased that THIS MUCH, at least, will be done correctly - and by professionals this time, goddammit.
Anyway. Dude will be here tomorrow to give us a quote. Let's knock this out while we can afford to, and then not worry about it anymore - that's what I say.
In other news, this afternoon a freaked-out skittering noise gave me a heart attack, for it was coming from our living room fireplace. At first I figured, "Squirrel." Then maybe, when I thought I heard feathers ... "Baby bird." We have had chimney swifts in the past, and 'tis the season, eh? Maybe some tiny not-quite-a-fledgling fell from a nest.
I summoned the husband. We conferred. We booted the dog out into the back yard, made sure the cat was secure in the back room, found a stray pillowcase, and counted to three before removing the cast-iron summer cover.
At first we saw nothing but darkness and old soot. Then a pair of small, panicky eyes looked up from the gloom beneath the old coal basket.* I almost had time to get, "Awwwww!" out of my mouth, but then the tiny jerk made a beeline for my forehead.
It was indeed a chimney swift. Juvenile, and fledged - barely. Freaked out of its wee birdie mind. It bypassed the pillowcase entirely and bolted for the nearest window, where it left a sooty bird-print. Unharmed and undaunted, it set off around the house, leaving bird-prints all over the ceiling and walls until we finally managed to get the front door open and usher it back outside.
Godspeed, you fluffy little bastard.
(Last I saw, it was sitting on roof across the street, so I choose to believe that all is well, and our brief guest will live happily ever after.)
And that's all I've got today.
Tomorrow: Laundry, packing, printing up useful documents and instructions, and running last-minute errands. (I mean, in addition to the construction dude's visit.) I'll be gone from Thursday morning to Monday evening, and while I'm there you can find me at the following locations and times.
All the usual rules apply - come up and introduce yourself, say hello, hand me stuff to sign ... I'm happy to be of service! Just as long as I'm not eating, drinking, or in the bathroom. If you catch me running to or from a panel, you may have to run alongside me - but you're welcome to do so.
And now. Deep breath. Maybe a drink. Must settle in and let my heart calm down from the Surprise! baby bird incident. Good evening, everyone. Thanks for reading, and be well.
* It's a very narrow, long chimney - a set-up for burning coal, not wood. An adult bird might be able to navigate back out again, but not a baby.