A New Writer Story

I know I still need to post March Stuff, but this is too good to wait on. [facepalm] Anyone else ever have this happen…?

I sent a story via Post Office to an SF magazine yesterday, 31 March (yes, there are still SF markets that haven’t dragged their butts into the 21st century), and today I got my empty, unsealed SASE back in the mail. o_O I can only assume that my envelope came open (unstuck or torn or whatever) and scattered its contents all over the sorting room. Just as well they sent me my SASE back, or I’d never have known and would’ve been waiting to hear back from the editor for quite a while; even assuming they get the whole story, which is kind of unlikely, they wouldn’t respond without a SASE. So thanks to the PO for delivering an empty, open envelope and clueing me in.

I’ll admit this is a new one on me. I remember back when paper mail was the only way to send stories in. Heck, I remember when your SASE was the 9×12 and the larger envelope was a 10×13, because you were hand-typing your manuscripts and if it was rejected, you wanted that sucker back, rather than just the slip. I never had the whole thing fall apart, or be torn apart, or whatever happened yesterday.

The Post Office is closed for today, but I have a new package done up and will try again tomorrow. Hopefully it’ll get through unscathed.

Angie, crossing a set of virtual fingers

Seasick Fish?

There’s got to be a story seed in here somewhere, seriously. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m reading Packing for Mars by Mary Roach, who’s a wonderfully funny science writer. The book is about the space program (American, Russian, Japanese, whatever) and she’s talking about space sickness, which it seems most astronauts do suffer from at least sometimes, whether or not they’re willing to admit it to the media or even each other. She’s looking at motion sickness in general, what causes it and what kinds of animals can get it, etc.

One Canadian researcher recalls a story told to him by the owner of a codfish hatchery. The fishmonger had call to transport some of his tank-raised charges by sea. “After the boat had been under way for some time, all the feed they had eaten was seen to be on the bottom of the tank.”

If even fish can get seasick, the rest of us are doomed! LOL!

This is a great book, with a lot of information, data, anecdotes, experiments and experiences Mary had while researching it, told in her usual smooth-flowing style salted with lots of funny bits. (The footnotes are usually good for a snicker.) I’m almost a third of the way through and I know already this one’s going to get a high rating on Goodreads. ๐Ÿ™‚


November Stuff

This is going to be really short, ’cause I have two pressing deadlines and I’m actually late on one of them. [flail]

First, this is a great video of Ian McKellan talking to a film festival audience about filming the balrog sequence in Rings. It’s very short — a minute and a bit — and funny. Check it out. ๐Ÿ™‚

Second, NaNo pretty much fizzled halfway through, but I got almost 20K words on the book, which is a great jumpstart. The Goodreads M/M Romance group is doing a holiday promo where writers write a story based on a photo and a request posted by a reader. One of the photos spawned a plot-bunny, so I volunteered. It’s taking a lot longer than I thought to write it (so what else is new?) but I like the story, and it’ll eventually be a stand-alone free read for my web site, which I’ve needed for a while. Also, for doing this I get a book-of-the-month promo slot in the group later in 2011, for a book of my choice, which I’ll admit was attractive. I decided it was worth setting Emerging Magic aside for a bit to do this. I’ll post here with a link when the story goes up.

Oh, I had a new story released and didn’t even post about it! Gotta love the holidays…. [facepalm] Hell Is in the Details is a funny short story (okay, it’s kind of long for a short, but it’s a short on a technicality) about Benioth, the Demon of Laziness, who hasn’t read his memos for a while — like, decades. He’s missed a few changes in policy and is in trouble with his boss. ๐Ÿ™‚

November stats:

Writing 21,562 words — 9 pts.
Editing 17,106 words — 3 pts.
Wrote 1 synopsis — 1 pt.
TOTAL = 13 pts, woot!

Koala Challenge 9

A Wonderful Play on Language

How I Met My Wife — This is today’s Jumbo Joke, but it’s not really a joke per se. It’s a wonderful play on language, originally published in the New Yorker, according to a note on the site. It begins:

It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I was very chalant, despite my efforts to appear gruntled and consolate.

I was furling my wieldy umbrella for the coat check when I saw her standing alone in a corner. She was a descript person, a woman in a state of total array. Her hair was kempt, her clothing shevelled, and she moved in a gainly way.

Definitely read the rest. ๐Ÿ™‚


Free Cornwall!

I have to share this ’cause it’s too much fun to keep to myself. Chris Dolley blogs at the Book View Cafe — a collective of SF/F authors both blogging and publishing together, worth reading — and for the last month has been relating the story of how he, as a university student, conspired with a number of his fellows to stage a revolution to free Cornwall from the shackles of the English. No, really! ๐Ÿ™‚

It was a prank to raise money for charity, but it’s something that never would’ve gone over in the hyper-paranoid atmosphere today. It’s a great story, though, and well worth reading. Check it out. The link goes to Part Five, but Parts One through Four are linked in the first paragraph.

Today he posted about what they did the following year, which was bury a body in a flowerbed for charity. It’s not quite as giggle-worthy as the Cornish Revolution, but it’s short and fun and definitely worth reading.



A Few Things

You’d think that by now people — especially people involved with publishing — would know better than to razz on writers. We can razz back with a vengeance, and we have a significant audience to do it for, or we know people who have significant audiences.

Arlene Harris started using iUniverse’s services back when they were actually kind of reasonable. Their prices have gone up considerably, however, with no significant increase in services, so she’s decided to take her business elsewhere. She wrote to them to terminate their business relationship, and got a snarky reply from some self-righteous marketing weasel, which begins, “Hello Ms. Harris, I wish there was something I could say to pacify your hurt feelings,” and goes downhill from there.

Arlene happens to be friends with Colleen Doran, a very successful comic artist and writer. Colleen has been successful both through large publishing houses and on the self-publishing side. As she puts it herself: Unlike most of the people reading this, I have been a successful self publisher and have sold over 300,000 copies of my works via self publishing, not to mention all the books my name is on that I didnรขโ‚ฌโ„ขt self publish. So Colleen knows whereof she speaks. Colleen has a huge blog audience, and decided to point out to iUniverse, line-item by line-item, exactly why any writer with a brain in his or her head would decide to forego their services. It’s great — read it here.


From the Department of Wasn’t This SF a Few Years Ago? — a Chinese company has plans for a humongous kind of bus, two lanes wide, that runs on tracks and is hollow on the bottom so cars can run under it. It’s kind of like a big mobile tunnel with a passenger cabin on top. Check it out. Thanks to Tobias Buckell for the link.

It’s worth watching the video, even if most of it is just some guy speaking Mandarin. (Of course, if you understand Mandarin, I’m assuming it’s geometrically cooler.) There are bits in the video-within-a-video, though, showing how cars go under the bus, how the bus goes over stationary cars, how people get on and off, how they prevent trucks and cetera that are too big from running in the bus lanes, and what they’ll do to get the passengers off in case there’s some kind of wreck anyway. The last bit is almost at the end of the video. Cool stuff — definitely a good idea for adding really big busses to city streets without adding to traffic congestion. From an SF writer’s POV, though, it’s necessary to keep up with this sort of thing. It’ll let your near-future Chinese story sound a bit more realistic, and will prevent you from having your 24th century civil engineer dramatically unveil his Brand New and Original Mobile Tunnel-Bus idea. [wry smile]


Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Freelancer’s Survival Guide is done. If anyone was waiting for the whole thing before reading, the whole thing is now there. She’s working on getting both an e-book and POD print version up and ready to go. I’m getting the paperback, myself. I’ve been reading along and there’s a ton of excellent info here — more than most publishers would be willing to stuff into one volume, so rather than let the publisher decide what to cut, she’s putting it out herself, complete and entire. This is a great resource, whether you’re a writer or any other kind of freelancer, which includes anyone who owns a business or otherwise works for themself. Highly recommended.


One experiment has shown that snails might have a homing instinct. Ruth Brooks had snails in her garden, as many of us do, and since she’d rather not hurt them, she tried collecting them and taking them over to (waste land? sounds like a vacant lot, maybe?) and leaving them there. But they kept coming back, which was rather boggling, since scientists had thought the snails didn’t have enough brain to manage something like a homing instinct.

This was only based on Ruth’s own findings, though, which really isn’t enough data. So Ruth is organizing a larger-scale experiment. They’re in England, and they’re only looking for a particular kind of snail, but it looks interesting anyway; I hope they get a lot of participants.

Speaking for myself, back when I did a lot of gardening, there was an alley behind our back yard, and on the other side of the alley were a bunch of front yards of houses facing the alley. I’d go out at night hunting snails and slugs; I’d pick up the snails and pitch them over the back fence. Every now and then I’d pick up a snail with a crunchy shell; he apparently hadn’t learned his lesson and had come back. I’d pitch him again. The thing is, I had a decent arm, and after the snail landed, there would’ve usually been plant life (on the other side of the alley) closer than our back yard. But a lot of the snails came back anyway. Which is all completely unscientific, but I’m tending toward agreement on the whole snail-homing thing. Also, on the belief that snails are really stupid.

This is another data point for SF writers, though. You might well not need to invent a creature with a brain the size of a pigeon’s to have something that’ll find its way home.

Although I still think butterflies are the most amazing homers. I got this from a thing the spousal unit and I saw on TV (Life? Planet Earth? something like that) so I don’t have any links, but butterflies — Monarchs, IIRC — actually migrate in three generations. They start out at one end of the migration path, fly to a waypoint and reproduce, then die. The next generation is born, pupates, flies on to the next waypoint and reproduces, then dies. The third generation is born, pupates, flies back to the starting point, reproduces, then dies. The thing is, none of the butterflies who are migrating have ever been where they’re going before. Migratory yak and whales and swallows and salmon are born, then migrate somewhere else, then go back to where they were born, so they’ve been there before. Most of them will even have older members of their herd/pod/flock to show them the way. But butterflies keep flying between the same waypoints when none of them have ever been there before. That’s freaky, in a pretty neat way. ๐Ÿ™‚


The Fourth Vine over on Dreamwidth gave several Good Reasons for a Professional Fiction Writer to Fear Fan Fiction. This is an issue which pops up periodically and gets completely rehashed, with the usual griping, snarking, whining, and hystrionics. Fourth Vine summarizes the logical arguments neatly, and lets you know which arguments are not at all logical and will get you mocked. My favorite is the last one, but they’re all excellent, as is the accompanying commentary. This isn’t a brand new post, but it’ll be a fresh issue soon enough, and then again, and again after that; classics are always relevant.


I’m up in Reno visiting my mom and my brother this week. The third was my birthday, although we’re going to dinner tonight; this is my brother’s first day off. I’m spending a lot of time on the laptop, as usual, but if I take a while to get around to various blogs, or don’t comment as often as I usually do, that’s why. [wave]


Some Links

Federal judge says you can break DRM if you’re not doing so to infringe copyright — this is excellent news, in my opinion. DRM is a pointless annoyance anyway, and courts ruled many years ago that someone who bought a piece of software was allowed to make backup copies for personal use, so it only makes sense that we should be allowed to break the DRM on a movie, and e-book, a game, or whatever that we’ve legally purchased if it’s become a pain in the butt, or if we want to make a backup of that for our own personal use. Of course, some of the publishers would love to force us to re-purchase our entire electronic libraries every time a hard drive crashes or a book reader is stolen, but it seems there’s a judge who disagrees. Good to know at least one circuit court is on the consumer’s side.

Funny, smart commentary about burqa bans — the idea of a government body dictating what people can wear, short of the really riciculous exception examples cited in this piece, is ludicrous. If Moslem women want to wear a burqa then they should be able to. Anyone who wants to wear a burqua, or a veil, or a T-shirt saying “Our Government Is Full of Idiots!” should be able to do so. Banning a traditional item of clothing which causes no harm to anyone is an outrageous infringement of freedom, and racist to boot.

Period Speech — this xkcd comic pretty much says it all about various writers’ attempts at period speech. (It also applies to various kinds of accents and dialects used by writers who apparently have never been exposed to same.) It’s easy to see how silly it looks when our era is one of the ones being mangled, but plenty of writers trying to write “medieval” or “Southern” or whatever sound pretty much like this.

Jane Austen’s Fight Club — this is a really wonderful video. ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m not usually one for videos, but my husband e-mailed me this one and I was LOLing. Watch and enjoy. ๐Ÿ˜€

Great Comic About the Creative Process

Thanks to Nagasvoice over on LJ for linking to THIS COMIC. You’ll probably want to blow up your browser window to take up your whole screen; I did and still had to scroll a bit, but it’s worth it.

I have to admit I recognize far too much of this. [wry smile] The tangled loops of overthinking, for example. And I wish there were a handly station for filling up on motivation and ambition. I think I have enough pride, thanks anyway; the trick is producing enough output to be proud of. [laugh/flail]

Where do you get stuck along the route…?