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Date: Saturday, 26 Jul 2014 05:57

I found this beer bottle mockup last night, and thought I’d have fun with it.

Catch is, this particular product would probably be better vended in something stranger—like a Klein bottle. Oh well.

Click for full size:

Bottle-Beer-Mockups

It’s an homage to a Tom Smith song of the same title:

There’s many drinks you’ll drink, me lads, but this one beats them all.
One hundred fifty-three and one-half percent alcohol,
A beer brewed in a tesseract, it’ll shoot you through the roof,
And if you don’t believe me, I’ve got lots and lots of proof.

Graphic Element Credits

Font: Veneer by Yellow Design Studio I love this font, use it all the time.

Logo font: Trend Handmade by LatinoType

(Both of the above via Design Cuts, as usual.)

Beer Mockup: Original Mockups

Logo: 12 Sci-Fi Badges from VoxelFlux

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Graphic Design, Music, fanart, graphic-d..."
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Date: Saturday, 26 Jul 2014 02:00

Note: topic is child sexual assault.

Another piece of Walter Breen/Marion Zimmer Bradley history came via snail mail today.

The events recounted weren’t given a time, but checking against the Breendoggle suggests that it’s of the same era as the Breendoggle (1964). I can’t tell if it’s before or after the Breendoggle was published, but very close in time.

I’m paraphrasing here, but the parents of one kid went to the Alameda County DA (which is the county Berkeley is in) and tried to press charges, but the specific case, penetration had not occurred, and thus the DA wasn’t able to prosecute the case. The parents of that same kid tried to get the Contra Costa DA involved, who was eager to take the case, but wanted other parents to also testify.

Because there were no rape shield laws at the time, the parents of other victims were rightly concerned that this would follow their children around in perpetuity and they thus refused to press charges.

This was 1964. I saw at least one note that Walter was arrested in 1964, perhaps this was what that was concerning.

There are also apparently earlier dox. More news when and if they become available.

I’m just very glad that rape shield laws started becoming the law in the 70s. Sadly, this was before laws protected rape victims, especially the children.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Marion Zimmer Bradley, breendoggle, dark..."
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Date: Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 23:16

Tim Grahl of Outthink, and Michael Bunker, one of his clients, are giving a three-hour training session next month.

Tim’s had five authors on the New York Times Bestseller list simultaneously, and indie author Hugh Howey is one of his clients.

However, for this particular workshop, he’s using another, lesser-known author who still has unarguable success as an indie. Michael Bunker writes Amish science fiction, which you could argue is a limited market. It’s the kind of specificity that indie was designed for.

Michael’s latest book Pennsylvania Omnibus sold 4183 copies in 48 hours.

Michael’s latest book Pennsylvania Omnibus has sold 13,000+ copies since its launch in January 2014.

$4.49 * 70% * 13,000 = $40,859 (assuming the price has stayed constant)

Not shabby at all, especially for a single title.

If that’s not for you, Tim’s got a ton of free resources on his site for both indie and traditionally-published writers (and aspiring writers).

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Publishing, indie-publishing, self-publi..."
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Date: Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 04:23

There was a time when I was so starved for any writing advice, I’d take whatever crap would fall in. Granted, I was a Scientologist at the time, so you could say I was particularly primed for not only sources of bad advice, but also the unquestioned acceptance of same.

Over the years, I found that my brain became so constrained by all the bullshit I’d accepted that I found it impossible to write at all. I was bound by the red tape.

If You Want to Sell a Novel, Sell Short Stories First

Look, having any kind of respectable publishing credits helps. No question.

But not all novelists can write short. Even if they can write short, they may be nowhere near as good a short story writer as they are a novelist.

So here’s my revised answer to that: Write short stories because you want to. Submit them because you want to.

If they don’t speak to you, there are plenty of other, better ways to spend that time.

You’re Never Going to Make a Lot of Money as a Short Story Writer

I heard this last weekend. Verbatim.

Do I believe it’s true? No, I do not. Edward D. Hoch made a living as a short story writer.

Do I believe the odds are against you?

Sure, if you insist on thinking of it in terms of odds, which I don’t think is helpful.

Rather, I prefer to think of it this way: if you want to make a lot of money as a short story writer, you’d likely need to have a large number of relatively uncomplicated (in the sense that it’s a “short story” idea rather than a “novel” idea) ideas that you can write and polish to professional levels.

I know me: I have a smaller number of ideas but they’re more complex, and thus I’m a novella or novel kind of writer.

There’s also the issue that how much you make from short fiction depends on what venues are available for you to sell it, including film and television. Excluding self publishing at the moment, I’d argue that novella length has new life in the digital first markets.

Case in point:

We both have short stories and novellas, which frequently don’t make it into print except in collections or magazines. Those collections and magazines tend to pay token amounts if at all — contributor’s copies are common — whereas I’ve made over $8,000 from a novella published in 2011. Aleks and I co-wrote a short story that was released last year and has made each of us just under $2,000.

(Quoted from here.)

I’d say that most people would think $8,000 was “a lot of money.” Somewhat fewer would consider $4,000 ($2,000 x 2 writers) “a lot of money.”

But $10,000? For two pieces of short fiction? That’s a lot of money.

Ahh, but she writes male/male romance, you say.

I say that’s not the point. The point is that this construction, “You’re never going to make a lot of money as a short story writer,” assumes things one cannot possibly know about me and my future. It’s a prediction that my future will suck because someone else’s past (e.g., the speaker’s) has sucked.

Besides, Clive Barker did pretty well with this one novella. There are other examples, too.

Rather, it’s more helpful to know what kind of writer you are and whether or not that road would be easier or harder for you. If you’ve got a background writing short non-fiction, then writing short fiction may be easier for you.

Just because it’s a hard road isn’t a reason not to do it. A hard road is still a path, just a difficult one.

There are plenty of kinds of writing, if writing is what you want to do. If it’s not, there are plenty of things to do in almost any field. I really wish I’d understood this early on, because I felt roles were far more rigid when I was in high school. Maybe that was my mistake.

You Should Write in Third Person Because It’s Easier to Sell

To which I respond: my favorite novel’s in second person.

You’re four hours into your shift, decompressing from two weeks of working nights supervising clean-up after drunken fights on Lothian Road and domestics in Craiglockhart. Daylight work on the other side of the capital city comes as a big relief, bringing with it business of a different, and mostly less violent, sort. This morning you dealt with: two shoplifting call-outs, getting your team to chase up a bunch of littering offences, a couple of community liaison visits, and you’re due down the station in two hours to record your testimony for the plead-by-email hearing on a serial B&E case you’ve been working on. You’re also baby-sitting Bob—probationary constable Robert Lockhart—who is ever so slightly fresh out of police college and about as probationary as a very probationary thing indeed. So it’s not like you’re not busy or anything, but at least it’s low-stress stuff for the most part.

Second is very voicey, and it’s both a boon and a bane because of that.

Write in whatever viewpoint you feel happens to fit the story best, including second if you’re so inclined. If you’ve never tried it before, consider rewriting a scene in second person. See how it feels. Try the same scene in first and third emphasizing different viewpoint characters.

There’s no single right answer, but some genres are more frequently in one or the other.

I’ll give an example, though, of where I think first person really hurt the book.

Twilight.

Edward hovered over Bella at night in part because he was protecting her against rogue vampires that she didn’t know existed. Because the book was written in first person, it made Edward look more manipulative and controlling (and for worse reasons) than was actually true. because the book’s POV only showed things that Bella knew, and she didn’t know the whole story.

Read the partial of Midnight Sun (Twilight told from Edward’s POV) alongside Twilight. The two taken together, plus the movie, are a rare opportunity to learn from POV choices and mistakes.

So, if the motivations of another character are important to understanding the piece as sympathetically as possible, consider writing in third. Or, you know, some other POV that’s not a single first person POV.

That Odds Matter

I know a lot of heartbreaking stories in publishing. People having solicited manuscripts lost in piles in a publisher’s office for years. People having their novel abandoned when an editor goes on maternity leave and the replacement editor quits to go into the food business.

There are all kinds of narratives about publishing, and one of the ones I want to address is this: that there is such a thing as odds that determine whether or not you’ll sell a story or whether it’ll do well.

When I receive, say, 100 submissions for BayCon, the odds that I accept your story is not 1 in 100. I don’t roll any dice. Did you write the best story I received? Does your story mesh with my taste? Does it fit the theme better than other stories? (We don’t require that it fit the theme, but it doesn’t hurt.) That’s not a matter of odds.

More than half the time, I reject a story on the first page. I’m sure every writer did the best they could on their first page. Sometimes, it’s a matter of fit. I’ve said that the story we buy has to be family friendly, so “fuck” on the first (or any) page is a non-starter. And yes, I’ve rejected more than one story for exactly that reason.

It’s entirely random that I once, back in the Abyss & Apex days, received two short stories in a row with first sentences that had unintended flying trees. Yay misplaced modifiers. (Both of those were rejected on the first sentence.)

So you’ve survived the first page. Does your piece plunge immediately into backstory on page 2 or 3? That’s probably the single most common reason I reject stories on pages 2 or 3. And yes, this can be done right, and it so frequently isn’t. I’ve done it badly myself. Recently. (First draft, so there’s that.)

Let’s say I get to the end. More than half the time, I’ll still reject the story. Most frequently, it’s one of: the story you started isn’t the story you finished, or you didn’t nail the ending.

Another common failure is what I call the “this feels like a novel chapter” problem. I didn’t really understand this phrase until I saw it a few times as an editor. If you’ve raised more interesting questions/problems/plot points that are referred to in the narrative but don’t happen in the narrative present, it’ll feel like it’s a piece of a longer work. The only way I know of to fix one of these babies is to trim off the glittery parts that point out to other plot lines and story arcs until it feels like the story is resolved in the short form.

But selling a story? That’s not a matter of odds.

Let’s say the first page is solid and interesting, and pages 2 and 3 are strong enough to keep me going, and I finish the piece, and you have a great ending. You’ll likely wind up on the short list.

If anything in the process involves odds, then it’s what happens on the short list, because generally there are more pieces than there are slots we can publish. Since we’re picking newer writers, name isn’t a consideration. It’s just which stories the various people like the best. (I pick the short list, but that’s winnowed down by a small group.)

If I Had to Give Advice…

Three little things.

  1. Is this beginning actually the best entry point for your story for a reader? Not just where you started writing.

  2. Love your piece for what it is. Every piece has issues. Do what you can, then move on. I remember going over another author’s piece in a critique session. The author was worried about how it would be received because of a structure issue. I thought it was fabulous as it stood. It was later nominated for a major award, pretty much as I read it.

  3. Don’t overwork a piece in response to critiques. One of the death knells of an opening is often over-response to a critique like: “I wanted to know more about X in the beginning.” Then the writer edits it in, destroying the opening. Someone wants to know more about the character? Good. Read on.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Conventions, Publishing, Writing, bad-wr..."
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Date: Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 03:26

Several times over the last month-ish, I’ve been told or heard some variant of: “If you want to do X, you need to [do it this way that I'm not].”

I call bullshit.

I don’t write longhand on top of a refrigerator, write with a fountain pen using an oil lamp for illumination, or other variations on the extreme no-computer end of things, but those are valid processes for those writers.

As is wherever you happen to fall on the plotter vs. pantser spectrum of pre-writing organization.

Every writing process has flaws. Every. Single. One.

Many of us have had the outline where the book takes a sudden hard turn into unexpected territory. I’ve heard the writer whose shorts I love but whose novels always seemed flat to me say that she makes her characters adhere to the outline.

Many of us who write without an outline have had the book proceed neatly into no-story land, never to return. Or veer off onto story B, leaving us with half of story A and half of story B.

I was told over the weekend that I needed to decide in advance how long a story would be, then write that.

I’m sure that does work for some people, but I generally only have a vague sense of how long something will be when I start. Basically, I know how complex the idea I have is, and I write it to what I think is the natural length. Sometimes, it winds up being several orders of magnitude more complex, sometimes less complex.

I underwrite the first draft (I think overwriting is more common). In part, that’s because I have open questions that I haven’t resolved yet, so don’t have those details to fill in during the first draft until toward the end of the draft.

Karen Joy Fowler on Her Process

I went to the Maui Writer’s Conference in 2007, and went to this lecture by Karen (who was one of my Clarion instructors in 2002). I bought the CD for the lecture also, so I’ve transcribed the first few minutes for you.

If you haven’t heard of Karen Joy Fowler, she’s a New York Times bestselling author, and most famous for her book The Jane Austen Book Club. She recently won the PEN/Faulkner award for her most recent book, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. My personal favorite of her books, though, is Wit’s End.

The page one that I start with, when I’m first beginning to start writing the novel, is rarely the page one that I have when the novel is finished.

I think that you come to conferences like this, and you hear a lot of writers talk, and you hear a lot of writers explain their own methods, and how they create the books that they create. It sounds often like things that you should be doing.

You’re told to outline, you’re told to not outline…that’s probably the major one.

What I have come to believe, after several years of taking classes, and several years of teaching classes, is that your own working method is your own working method. In fact, I don’t think that you can alter it greatly. Or I worry if you try to alter it greatly. I think that we all start this enterprise because we love to write. Because there’s something about the process of writing that is actually fun for us, and something that at least has parts that we very much look forward to doing. And if you make your method something more efficient, something more reasonable, something smarter—what I worry is that what you edit out of the process is the thing that you loved. So that you’ll be working in a much more streamlined, much more reasonable way, but you won’t be having fun with it any more.

I’m going to talk to you about my working method, therefore. In no way is this meant to suggest that this should be your working method. In point of fact, my working method is a very silly, an inefficient, and stupid one, but it is mine. And I do have fun doing it.

So, I am not a writer who outlines. I am not a writer often who knows much about the book I’m going to write when I start writing the book. The whole process of writing the book is a process of making decisions, and hopefully finding different things that will surprise me as the writer—as well as the reader of the book.

This means that the first draft is kind of an intensely painful one step forward, two steps back sort of process for a long, long time until decisions are made. I probably spend half the time I spend on a book writing the first fifty pages as I am just feeling my way into the book, making the decisions that seem best, then questioning those decisions, and going back and making other decisions, getting to know my characters.

So, just as you often have a working title for a book, I have a working first page. When I am first starting, I do not know where the book is going to go. All I want is a page I can proceed from. Something that, for me, has enough energy, and enough pleasure in it as a writer that I want to write the next page.

I spend a lot of time rewriting—experimenting—with writing the first page. Trying it one way, trying it another way.

When I have actually finished the book, and I know how it ends, is the only time that I confidently know what the first page should be, because you always want to finish the same story that you started.

Here’s My Process

I’m a pantser. I don’t just write without an outline, I write out of order, too.

For books, I write in order until I get stuck. If I have a part later in the novel that’s clearer, I’ll write that because it gives me something to work toward. If not, then I look at the decisions I’ve made recently, because I’ve possibly worked my way into a corner.

If that doesn’t unstick the writing, then I ask myself three things I’d like to have in the book. Maybe I want a big set piece wedding that goes horribly wrong. I keep a running list of these things in the front of my working document. The first section will have a list of those things where I have an order to them. Like: I know they’re going to do A before B. Then I keep a second list for unordered items. Like: I want someone to order a frou-frou coffee drink with whipped cream at the worst possible time.

At any point during the book, I can use an unordered item if it makes sense. (Sometimes I’ll use one even if it doesn’t. Writing should be fun.)

When my writing unsticks, I generally go back to the main working narrative, continuing forward.

One book I did write almost completely out of order, and it’s fascinating to see what sections I completely managed to skip over. (It doesn’t help that I have this sinking feeling that I’m missing one of the notebooks for that book, either.) But it’s largely a first draft that, save for a few gaps, is a mostly complete first draft I wrote when I was having a really horrible few months and needed to write something.

So I mostly organize my book as I write it, and I write mostly in order except when it helps to do it otherwise.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Writing, writing"
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Date: Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 02:15

I wound up having a discussion about making printed t-shirts last longer over the weekend, so I thought I’d discuss a few techniques.

  1. Wash and dry inside out. Less abrasion.

  2. On delicate cycle.

  3. Line dry your shirts. The dryer takes quite the toll on printed shirts. For those of you who aren’t savvy with the home stuff, that means hanging them up on hangars to dry and not using a dryer.

  4. If you’re hardcore, you can always hand wash and line dry.

I prefer machine drying because I have problems with dust and lint, but air drying really does make t-shirts (and underwear) last a lot longer.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Around the House, home"
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Date: Monday, 21 Jul 2014 22:21

Natalie Luhrs has the linkfest about the fallout from Jim Frenkel’s appearance at this year’s Wiscon after last year’s harassment complaints that went, well, apparently nowhere.

I know a lot of bay area locals go to Wiscon, and that’s had quite the ironic problem set, recently. I typically haven’t gone because I’d rather go to a local con and spend my travel $ elsewhere.

Here’s a review of this year’s BayCon by Carrie Sessarego of SBTB. I was delighted to be on panels with her. She’s thoughtful and smart, and extremely well-read.

So, just a thought: come to BayCon next year. The theme is Women of Wonder.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Conventions, Sexism, conventions, sexism"
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Date: Tuesday, 15 Jul 2014 06:53

One of the first questions I get asked when I mentioned that I was going was, “What’s the World Domination Summit?”

Fair question. And, to be honest, I didn’t know when I first heard about it either.

The goal is to help get people who want to do something different with their lives to take that leap, to find other people who also want to do different and remarkable things—and to help each other do them.

The speakers come from a variety of different fields, including Shannon Galpin, the only woman to mountain bike in Afghanistan, and who teaches street art to Afghani girls. Shannon linked to teafly’s amazing My Body Is Not a Democracy.

Another speaker, Saki Mafundikwa, a graphic designer teaching in Africa, is making a film about people dislocated due to a dam. He’s previously published a book on African writing systems.

Gavin Aung Than talked about giving up his graphic design job to start zenpencils, his cartoon and poster site.

Quite a few attendees got to stand up and give a short version of their own stories.

A woman had come to run the New York Marathon that was canceled due to Hurricane Sandy. She was disappointed, but understood. She had a trip coming up to London, so she thought: why not run the London Marathon?

Five months early.

She wound up getting on the front page of one BBC site, and had people run with her the entire way.

One of the reasons I love the science fiction community is that it’s a really broad spectrum of educated people (and not always in the traditional sense) who are interested in a wide variety of topics.

WDS is like that—squared, with the addition of more hopefulness.

I’ll end with this quote from speaker Michael Hyatt:

all-the-important-stuff

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Conventions, wds, world-domination-summi..."
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Date: Tuesday, 15 Jul 2014 05:31

Elizabeth Spiers’s article about the magazine and its founder Shanley Kane has a great quote relevant to the art vs. artist debate of yore:

But important work gets done every day by flawed people, sometimes even by assholes. No one should be more aware of that than people who work in the tech industry, where many of the vaunted innovators and revolutionaries were not warm, fuzzy people. Ultimately, they’re judged by their work.

If you’re in tech—or interested in tech or diversity issues in tech—Model View Culture is a superb magazine that has no analog.

  1. It talks about how perks can divide people. Been there, done that. Especially when you’re at some doughnut event and they’ve forgotten to cater to the vegan and the celiac. Again.

  2. It talks about acquaintance rape by a coworker.

  3. It has great pieces like this one by Rachel Chalmers on why not to raise venture capital.

Going Beyond Assholes

When I made the Traitor to the Mens t-shirts, I got a note about American Apparel. I’d known about the sexist advertising, but not about how awful the CEO was (he’s still awful, he’s just gotten resigned). Their shirts being produced in the US was important to me for various reasons, including knowing that labor standards and business practices were, at least in theory, up to US standards.

This human slavery story comes out of Thailand’s shrimp industry.

And this story about Scientology’s drydock bill also has, at its heart, human slavery. In short, Curaçao’s drydock was using slave labor from Cuba, people Cuba sent over to do work to pay down Cuba’s drydock bill. They worked under horrific conditions. (The electrocution story reminds me of the tale of Kendrick Moxon, one of Scientology’s attorneys, and his Sea Org daughter who died of electrocution.)

One of my concerns is knowing that I’m doing less harm, and that means knowing more about where things come from and how they’re produced/delivered. And sometimes, there’s a bunch of crappy choices.

You might think that t-shirt made in Nicaragua or Honduras is better because it’s not made by American Apparel.

You know what? Nicaragua has an appalling lack of infrastructure. Many Nicaraguans work part of the year in Costa Rica due to lack of opportunity. As our tour guide said:

We cannot even bag plantains.

So imagine, if you will, given that they don’t have the factory capability to bag plantains, how it is that they’re able to make t-shirts for shirt.woot (among others) but can’t even bag plantains, one of their major crops.

Nicaragua’s the only country I’ve been to where the TV’s world weather pointedly excludes the US and Canada from its list of world cities. They are angry with us and, frankly, they have good reason to be.

It’s not that I don’t want to do business with Nicaragua. To the contrary. I’ve been there twice (short trips, granted). It’s just that, given what I know, I don’t inherently trust that any business has manufacturing in Nicaragua has Nicaraguan infrastructure interests as a design goal.

As Rick has pointed out more than once, “How do you know the company you’re not boycotting isn’t worse?”

Like, you know, Nestlé, and its chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, who doesn’t believe human beings have a right to water. Corporations buying up water rights in poor countries is an enormous global human rights issue.

Here, have a list of Nestlé brands for your boycott needs. I’m happy to say that none of my regular brands are on that list. \o/

Sometimes, I think we lose sight of the bigger picture because some bad things in front of us seem like the “worst thing ever.” They’re bad, but there are worse things, and I think we need to keep perspective on that.

The Response on the Delany/NAMBLA Stuff Wasn’t What I Expected

No comments on my post, and few on Will’s. None on the LJ repost. None on Tumblr.

Apart from a few people, mostly not in sf/f, being horrified, mostly on facebook.

I get this tweet:

…which leads to a long conversation ending in…

Hobby. Horse.

Let me pull a quote out from Samuel Delany’s writing about sex with children:

Finally a composite score is reached, and the “seriousness” of the infraction judged accordingly. The consent of a seven-, eight-, or nine-year old is not the same thing as the consent of a seventeen- or eighteen-year old. And the “consent” of a three, four, and five year old means much less—especially if it’s negative. But it must count for something, otherwise you are just saying the child is not human and has no feelings or agency whatsoever—which, in itself, is abusive and counter-intuitive. And, I would maintain, immoral when another possibility presents itself.

Delany’s commented on Will’s post. He stands by what he wrote.

Is that really okay with everyone?

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Important Things, Sexism, Software, Work..."
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Date: Monday, 14 Jul 2014 06:54

In viewing my map statistics for who’s visited my site, the single largest block of land on the planet from which I’ve had no visitors is Greenland.

Sure, it’s sparsely populated. I don’t think that’s a good reason.

I’ve pondered the flight schedules of Air Greenland, wondering if there were any way to make a trip work for me. So far, not yet. Alas.

Also, no joy with the various cruise companies that come during summer. Much as I’d love to, they just haven’t been in the budget.

Anyhow, if you visit my website from Greenland, and it shows up in my web logs that you have, AND you drop me an email (I’ve placed a handy contact form below), I’ll send you a signed copy of an anthology I was in to your mailing address in Greenland. I’ll also give you electronic copies of my two current releases (one of which is in the book I’ll mail).

It’s not the same as me visiting Greenland, but a girl can hope.

[contact-form]
Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Announcements, greenland"
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Date: Sunday, 13 Jul 2014 17:11

C.A. Starfire has an interview with Mark Greyland, the son of Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen.

I thought everyone knew and that I was such a bad person no one would speak to me.

And, later, addressing the inheritance issue:

I was disinherited by language that sounded so unlike my mother that I knew she never wrote it, as was my sister and my half-brother who is now deceased.

The money went to the opera and to her lover.

Heartbreaking stuff.

In addition to the links C.A. Starfire provided, Mark previously permitted me to share two of his Zazzle links: Stringbreaker and Geofractal.

I bought the Space Kitten! t-shirt (partly from the proceeds of Scalzi t-shirts, so thank you for your support).

Space Kitten!

It doesn’t make up for the hurt I inadvertently caused Mark, but I really do love that piece.

New Post Category

In other news, given a significant number of my website hits are about Marion Zimmer Bradley and are likely to continue to be, I’ve added that as a category. Previously, it was just a tag. So I’m going back and re-categorizing older posts on this matter.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Marion Zimmer Bradley, breendoggle, dark..."
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Date: Saturday, 12 Jul 2014 06:02

Friday morning was The Great Namaste, an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the number of people simultaneously doing yoga.

Can you spot me in the pic? (I can, but I know where I was sitting. Hint: I’m on a green mat.)

the-great-namaste

Early results say that we broke the record by more than 100 people. Woohoo! I’d like to thank everyone who helped.

One of the volunteers came up to me later saying she was really happy to see me there and, “you go, girl.” Let’s just say that I’m not typical in anything I do, yoga included. It was very difficult for me, and I had to manage my energy and pain levels very carefully so I didn’t flare.

Sadly, SPF 70 was not enough. Oh well, I got my Vitamin D quota. :)

Other News

In other news, I keep being reminded of Kij Johnson’s “Ponies.” I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite story, exactly, but uncomfortably true in its own way.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Conventions, Travel, conventions, travel..."
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Date: Friday, 11 Jul 2014 14:25

Will Shetterly takes on the hard questions.

It was posted on my birthday, and I didn’t read it in full then, and I’m not going to tonight. Maybe after my edits are done, but that’ll be a few weeks.

This is long (~8,000 words).

My initial take, without reading for nuance or depth:

  1. There are some hard issues explored (and it needs all the trigger warnings).

  2. Delany’s got some good points—except that I’d argue that rehabilitation is only possible if someone genuinely wants rehabilitation. If you read, for example, MZB’s own deposition where she refuses to answer questions about whether a child (of unknown age) was old enough to consent—it’s clear that she had her answer and would stick with it even if it cost her more in the civil suit. That’s not the kind of person who would be rehabilitated. (I agree with Chip in that I’m anti-death penalty, except possibly in cases where murders are committed on multiple occasions. I believe anyone can be pushed past their breaking point once; it’s the people who went there more than once that I feel differently about.)

  3. I tend to look at childhood trauma on a logarithmic scale. I’m going to abstract here. Let’s say someone had as similar background to my own: being battered a lot as a child and teen (and more than once having bruises because of same), gaslighted when the stepmother came into the picture, difficult family relations. Let’s call that an 8 on a 1-10 scale of childhood badness. Let’s say that said person had a similar young experience to Delany’s with the super. Because the home situation is so bad, a relatively positive contact wouldn’t register as negative (because, for that kid, it might be a 5 on that scale), where if one had a normal (1 on 1-10) background, it might feel like the most traumatic thing ever.

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t harmful.

On the other hand, I tend to take at face value what people say about their own perceptions of their own experiences, so long as it’s not something that’s scientifically disprovable.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Writing"
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Date: Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 22:09

I loved this article about names four years ago, and it continues to be relevant.

There are entire novels in the comments.

As someone whose name is frequently misparsed (my name is “Saoirse Moen, Deirdre” not “Moen,Deirdre,Saoirse”), I feel their pain.

Yes, the article is written for programmers, but it’s still useful for writers. We all carry assumptions about names.

Offhand, I can’t remember what language it was that someone filed a bug about where they had to use a non-Unicode font. Even Dhivehi/Thaana was added to Unicode in 1999, and that’s a pretty obscure script. (pic) I just remember being pretty impressed that there were still living languages where that was the case.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Software, Writing, software, writing"
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Date: Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 05:40

I thought I’d go over some of the things I’ve discovered or loved in the last year, in no particular order.

  1. Johnny B. Truant’s essay, The universe doesn’t give a flying fuck about you. It’s an interesting head trip: by making everything you could possibly do look small, it help reduces fear for the consequences of what you do. Interesting NLP technique there.

    If you want to be awesome in this life, do awesome things.

  2. Bats hangin’ out on a tree. bats-on-tree-edited-sm

  3. Milford. Northern Wales and an amazing workshop. 03-wales-sm

  4. My whirlwind round-the-world tour featuring a visit with friends in New Zealand, more friends in Australia, even more friends in South Africa, and a play with an actor I like in London. 10-table-mountain-sm

  5. Overwerk. Especially when used in the Air Tahiti Nui video.

  6. Tim Grahl and his tips on book and author marketing.

  7. Tiffany Reisz. Bookalicious Pam listed The Siren as one of her favorite novels of the past year. On her recommendation, I inhaled the first four books between Christmas and New Year’s. I think her new book, The Saint, is even better.

  8. James Mickens’s “The Slow Winter” is one of the few short stories ever where Rick and I have quoted random lines to each other. Most frequently, “This does not lead to rising property values in Tokyo!”

  9. Hard-hat behind-the-scenes tour of the newly-opened part of SFO’s Terminal 3. That was pretty sweet, especially the ability to go onto the roof and watch the planes land.

  10. The number of people who search my site for the mongoose joke. (two today!)

  11. All the fun I’ve been having with Society6, Redbubble, and Zazzle. Thanks, everyone.

Here’s a Dihydrogen Monoxide Containment Shield shower curtain.

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And, you know, related stuff….. (same link set as above)

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Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Graphic Design, Important Things, Societ..."
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Date: Wednesday, 09 Jul 2014 14:20

Behold, there it is. Available in EPUB formats (for iPad/iBooks, Nook, Kobo, and most other devices) and Kindle (MOBI) format.

It’s been uploaded to other vendors, but isn’t live at any of them yet. I’ll update the book’s page when it is.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Announcements, announcements, books"
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Date: Monday, 07 Jul 2014 07:31

My birthday’s on Wednesday the 9th, and I’m going to celebrate by doing two things.

  1. I’m going to release an old short story that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. More about that in a minute.

  2. I’m going to discount the pair of short stories I currently have on my site if you buy both directly from me. For a month, so July 9th to August 9th. Yes, the story will also be available through other outlets, including iBooks, Amazon, Nook, and Kobo, though it may take a couple of days to wind up there.

I’ve been thinking about the story because it is the only story I ever submitted to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, and it received a personal rejection that said it had “no sense of wonder.” This was back before the myriad of forms Marion started sending in lieu of personal rejections.

My writing teacher said, “That’s her problem, not yours.” Yay writing teacher.

More stories of MZB’s infamous rejection letters here.

That particular rejection smarted. Did I think it was the best story ever? No, but it has some interesting stuff in it, and it remains a sentimental favorite of mine.

There are some structural issues in the story that aren’t solvable without killing everything I happen to like about the story.

I no longer read medieval fantasy, nor do I write it, which has left this story in limbo for many years. It was an offshoot of a fantasy trilogy that I never revised, instead writing a tangential book that fundamentally changed the nature of the world. The seer of this story also appears in that book in that new world—which still needs to shift again, orphaning this story even further. It can’t bend that far.

I wrote the first draft in 1992, then revised it lightly when I was in grad school (2001-2004), trying to keep up with at least some of the world’s changes.

Duchess-Cover-700

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Announcements, Publishing, Writing, mari..."
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Date: Sunday, 06 Jul 2014 11:44

This is a saying of mine. I remember talking to a woman who wanted to go into technology, but felt she had little to offer because there were people with more expertise already. This is what I said to her. I hope it helped.

Sum-Total-700

Credits

Main font: Brave by Nicky Laatz, purchased as part of the current Design Cuts font bundle. I also used the stone texture from the bonuses.

Monster font: Monstrinhos by Pintassilgo Prints, also in the same Design Cuts font bundle.

Background textures: Effervescent 16 and 17, by 2 Lil Owls from a previous Design Cuts bundle.

Ubergrunge background texture from Joyful Heart Designs.

Brave font was post-processed with Ian Barnard’s Inkwell.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Graphic Design, Redbubble, forsale, grap..."
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Date: Saturday, 05 Jul 2014 05:29

Where people have read my blog from in the last 30 days.

posts-read-around-the-world

…better known as: “more places in the world than I’ve been.” Humbling.

Every country in the Americas except Suriname. Ten more than I’ve visited.

Twenty-two countries in Africa (assuming I counted correctly), which would be nineteen more than I’ve visited (Egypt, Morocco, and South Africa).

Greenland, we’ve gotta talk.

Full list of countries and territories who stopped by in the last 30 days, with ones I’ve been to in italics:

Afghanistan
Albania
Algeria
Angola
Argentina
Australia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Bahamas
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Barbados
Belgium
Belize
Bermuda
Bhutan
Bolivia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Botswana
Brazil
Brunei Darussalam
Bulgaria
Burundi
Cambodia
Cameroon
Canada
Cape Verde
Cayman Islands
Chile
China
Colombia
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Côte d’Ivoire
Denmark
Dominica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Estonia
Ethiopia
Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
Faroe Islands
Fiji
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Greece
Guam
Guatemala
Guernsey
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
Hong Kong
Hungary
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Iraq
Ireland
Isle of Man
Israel
Italy
Jamaica
Japan
Jersey
Jordan
Kazakhstan
Kenya
Korea, Republic of
Kuwait
Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Latvia
Lebanon
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Macao
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of
Madagascar
Malawi
Malaysia
Maldives
Mali
Malta
Marshall Islands
Mauritius
Mexico
Moldova, Republic of
Monaco
Mongolia
Montenegro
Morocco
Mozambique
Myanmar
Namibia
Nepal
Netherlands
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Nigeria
Norway
Oman
Pakistan
Palestinian Territory, Occupied
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Puerto Rico
Qatar
Romania
Russian Federation
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Serbia
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sudan
Suriname
Sweden
Switzerland
Taiwan
Thailand
Togo
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
Turkey
Turks and Caicos Islands
Uganda
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Venezuela
Viet Nam
Virgin Islands, U.S.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Publicity, Travel, Writing, travel, writ..."
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Date: Friday, 04 Jul 2014 17:13

Bora Bora 1200

Now on Society6, products including:

  • Prints
  • T-shirts (including v-neck), Tank Tops (including biker tanks), and Hoodies
  • Clocks
  • Rugs
  • Shower Curtains
  • Stationery Cards
  • Phone, Tablet, and Laptop Covers and Skins
  • Tote Bags
  • Throw Pillows
Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Photography, Society6, Travel, forsale, ..."
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