AROW80 Check-In for 1/14/2015

I’ve started doing some typing! And I’ve been reading up on writing short stories, focusing mainly on structuring shorter fiction since for the last few years I’ve been working on writing longer works.  And…I’m not sure if this is a revision to my goals or a logical continuation from them but, well, here goes:

In the course of my readings, I stumbled across an article at Karen Woodward’s blog: How To Publish 52 Short Stories And 10 Collections Per Year, which outlines a plan devised by  Dean Wesley Smith in a post at his blog, called The New World of Publishing: Helping Readers Find Your Work.  The plan is based on making your stories more visible by publishing one short story per week (approximately 5,000 words) to Amazon.com. Then, bundling five weeks’ worth of stories into a collection for a slightly higher price point. The idea being that then, you have 52 stories and 10 collections in a year. And, if all goes well, by having a goodly number of works out on the market, you’ll be earning a tidy sum and building name recognition.

Granted, there are some givens here — you need to be writing good stories, plus you need to be able to produce professional looking books that are properly described and keyworded, etc.

I’ve been mulling this article around and around in my head for the last few days, ever since I originally read the article and…I think I would like to try it. Not immediately, since I don’t have any stories ready for sale, but I think this is something I would like to work toward. But, it brings up a question that I would like to put forward to the group: would it be better for a first-time writer, such as myself, to attempt to go the self-publishing route or to try for traditional publishing or would a combination of the two be better?  

I realize, this question/these questions are of a highly subjective nature but any and all thoughts and advice would be appreciated.

If I do attempt self-publishing, particularly along the lines of Dean Wesley Smith, I want to start off with a backlog of stories (my magic number is at least 13 — i.e. a quarter of a year). Of course, this would probably *also* be a goodly number of stories to have for sending out to traditional markets too, And, writing 13 stories should be a good, concrete way to build up the writing habit.

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Reblogging: Confirmation bias, epic fantasy, and you by N.K. Jemisin

Confirmation bias, epic fantasy, and you.  by N.K. Jemisin.

Confirmation bias doesn’t cause the phenomenon of Mysteriously Whitewashed Medieval Europe. (Or Peculiarly Denuded of Women Europe, or Puzzlingly Focused On The Nobility Europe, or any of the other bizarre things we tend to see in medieval Europe-flavored fantasy.) Confirmation bias causes the freakouts that occur whenever somebody points out these phenomena, and names them as inaccuracies.

 

For a variety of reasons, this is relevant to my interests since post-apocalyptic stories in general and the post-apocalyptic men’s adventures I’m trying to riff on with Defcon are loaded with their own confirmation biases that I want to poke many, many holes in.

 

GOAAAAAL!

As of 4:50 am local time this morning (March 30th, 2014), I reached 100,000 words on Defcon: Fade Out!  The 100,000 word was ‘with’ from the sentence, “Considering she threatened to break my jaw with a tire iron if I ever contacted her again, yes, I do remember her vividly.” 

Tonight and tomorrow, I’m going to write a bit more, to finish up the scene that sentence is in and work on a possible ending for the book.  The novel isn’t quite as finished as I’d wanted it to be, but I am a lot closer to a cohesive draft than I was when I started back on November 1st.  And I feel a lot more secure about taking April off to knock out some much needed worldbuilding.

Though, because the book as it is is almost entirely located in a pair of notebooks and some loose-leaf pages, I’m going to take advantage of the free scanning available at my local library to make an electronic copy of everything I’ve done so that I don’t spend the month of April wearing my manuscript around in some kind of writer’s version of a Baby Bjorn.   (Or at least, if I do, it’ll be in a flash drive that’s going to be a lot easier to carry around).

Spaaaace!

I’m watching the original Cosmos with the girlfriend and WOW did this series hold up well! The effects — so far — don’t have much of a dated feel to them and it’s just awesome getting to listen to Carl Sagan talk about space and science.

I’ve got the new Cosmos taped and will hopefully be watching it while I’m off work this week.  I’m expecting my reaction will be similar to this little lady’s:

Source: SHUT DOWN EVERYTHING: SOMEBODY FILMED THEIR DAUGHTER REACTING TO COSMOS @ the Mary Sue. 

 

The Liebster Award

 

liebster-2-212x207

Tonette dela Luna was kind enough to give me a Liebster Award for my “sheer magnitude of awesymmetry” and I am now getting around to posting about this award with all do apologies to her for taking this long to get around to doing so. I do appreciate it

The rules for the award — or at least this iteration of it — are thus:

  1. Link back to the person who nominated you. — so, thank you to Tonette dela Luna
  2.  Answer the ten questions asked by aforementioned lovely person. — See below!
  3.  Nominate ten other awesome and lovely people. — Not done yet, but will get on it as soon as I finish #4
  4.  Send off ten questions you’d like them to ask you. — need to come up with some questions
  5. Let the nominees know how awesome they are by popping by their blog to inform them of their greatness. — To be completed!

TEN QUESTIONS BY ME (well, by Tonette dela Luna):

1) You. Dinner. Plus five guests. Alive or dead, real or fictional. Name them. Oh, and as a bonus, what’s on the menu?

The dinner would be at the Olives restaurant at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. I’ve actually eaten there once and it was the most amazing experience ever and if I’m going to have a once in a lifetime meal, I’m having it there! Not sure what anyone else would be having, but I’ll be having a steak and their tempura green beans.

As for the guests, hooo…ok, my girlfriend is a given so I’m coming up with five other people in addition to her: Stanislav Petrov – because the guy saved the world and the least I can do is buy him a great dinner; Harriet Tubman – because she has been a hero of mine since I was a child; Bill Mauldin – because his Willie and Joe cartoons helped to teach me about the realities of war; Carol Burnett — because her variety show taught me so much about humor  and, to be utterly, utterly sappy, my dad who died when I was five and who I never got the chance to know.

2) You just won $1,000,000.00, tax free. First off, congrats. Question: what plans do you have for the money?

First and foremost, I’d pay off my debts which luckily would still leave a nice chunk of change left over, so I’d set up some savings for me and the girlfriend. Sadly, I don’t think a million would be enough for me to quit working but it might be enough for me to cut back some of my hours and would definitely be enough to build a cushion for the two of us.

I’d help out some friends of mine and set up a fund for my younger relatives (the ones who are basically under 21) to help them with their future plans – college, trade schools, etc.

Then, once that’s squared away, I’d make some donations to charities – Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross, some local homeless shelters and to my hometown school district among others. Most likely in that case, I’d call up the school librarians and ask about their wishlists. And I’d likely make a nice dent in my wishlists as well.

3) Ever feel you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time? Pick any point in history you feel you’d most likely fit in the best.

Oddly enough, not really? I like this time about the best – okay, so I don’t really have much in the way of experience with other times – but if I could go back to any one point in time, it’d probably be back to the Early Cambrian period to see trilobites.  Or go back to the Library of Alexandria with a wand scanner.

Oooh! Or, there was apparently this one battle during the Crusades where the European knights were mounted on stallions and the Arab/Muslim knights were mounted on mares and I once heard someone speculate that at least some of those mares were probably in heat and I think that would be a thing to see.

Ok, last choice: the day the Berlin Wall came down. I’d love to be in Berlin for that.

4) Do you believe in the paranormal? Care to share any inexplicable stories with the rest of us?

I’m a skeptic, so I think that what we call paranormal experiences can often be rationally explained…but I am also more than mildly superstitious about things.  For example, I knock on wood a lot – and I’ve even justified knocking on plastic because the oil that’s used to make plastic used to be trees and therefore is a kind of wood.

Though when I was in elementary school, my aunt and I did once see a UFO – as an adult, I think what we saw was a collection of several swarms of bees or other insects, which, while it isn’t aliens from outer space, is still pretty freaking awesome if you think about it.

5) Do you believe in fate, love at first sight, or coincidences? If yes, why? If no, why not?

Not sure about fate or love at first sight – I think they can happen but it’s probably pretty rare – but coincidences? Oh yeah, those happen all the time. They’re part of the weirdness that is our universe.

6) Do you believe we’re alone (or not alone) in the universe?

It depends – do I think that there is life in some form somewhere else out there in the infinite vastness that is the universe, then yes. There are too many planets out there that are similar enough to Earth — not to mention, the discovery of extremophiles here on Earth tells us that Jurassic Park did get one thing right — Life Will Find A Way.

Now, do I think that they are buzzing our planet and that they made a secret deal with Eisenhower back in the 1950s or that we have their technology hidden away in Area 51, no. Mainly because I don’t think that the US government could keep something that huge a secret.

7) If you were offered a seat on one of the first spacecraft excursions they’ve got planned, would you go? Why or why not?

Ooooh…I don’t know. I’d want to go, god knows I’d want to go. I mean, it’s space! Bit I have a bad feeling that I wouldn’t do so well in space.

8) Have you ever done or said something you regret, only to take it back and make things worse? (Uh, no. I’m not asking leading questions that might potentially albeit anonymously find their way into one of my books because, really, that would be wrong, but seriously, inquiring minds want to know, right?)

Oh yes, yes I have.  And that’s all I’ll say on the subject, oh questing author!

9) What is one thing you regret NOT doing or saying, and to whom?

I regret not calling my maternal grandmother more before she passed away.

10) What did you have for breakfast this morning (or the morning you read this question)?

Chinese food! Egg drop soup, General Tso’s chicken, sesame balls and crab Rangoon (I work late 2nd/early 3rd shift, so I’m usually waking up around 3 in the afternoon and therefore breakfast is often made up of lunch foods).

 

Relogging: The cost of reading every book: We know their names

The cost of reading every book: We know their names.  — this article by slacktivist is about the founding of the Library of Congress and the origins of the books that helped begin that library and the all too real cost in human lives paid for those books.

From the article itself:

Elsewhere, I’ve seen it said that the last people who might have read everything were probably Thomas Jefferson (d. 1826) and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (d. 1832). Whether that’s true of either I don’t know, but Jefferson certainly tried. Jefferson’s problem was that Virginia did not have a library that held every English book, so to read them all, he had to buy them all. That was expensive. It took more money than Jefferson had, so the acquisition of his vast personal library put him deep into debt.

That debt was part of the reason, or the excuse, Jefferson gave for never being able to afford the emancipation of his slaves — something he always said he wanted to do, yet somehow never quite got around to doing.

About That Coke Ad

Whatever

Dear every conservative getting his underwear in a twist about that Coca Cola Super Bowl commerical in which not only was the “deeply Christian patriotic anthem” sung in something other than the English that Jesus spoke, but also featured a gay couple being happy with their kid:

Dudes, you’re aware that Katharine Lee Bates, the writer of the song, was almost certainly a lesbian, right? And while undoubtedly Christian, Bates used her faith as a foundation for progressive social activism that would have given the conservatives of her time, and possibly some conservatives now, the shudders and shakes (she also nearly resigned her professorship at Wellesley when the school thought to force its faculty to profess their fealty to the Christian faith).

Bates was a pacifist with the dream of uniting people “from the Pacific to the Atlantic, around the other way… and that will include all the…

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Supernatural: Bloodlust

Since we finished Rosemary and Thyme, we’re back to rewatching Supernatural episodes in order to catch up with the seasons we’ve missed (like, everything after 3, I think…) and we just got to one of my favorite lines in the whole series:

Dean and Sam have been asking a local sheriff about some cattle mutilations and their possible connection to weird satanic ritual stuff.  The sheriff’s response makes me dance in my seat, in part because it’s just so delightfully sarcastic:

Sheriff: Because there’s no such thing as cattle mutilation. Cow drops, leave it in the sun, within forty eight hours the bloat will split it open so clean it’s just about surgical. The bodily fluids fall down into the ground and get soaked up because that’s what gravity does. But, hey, it could be Satan. What newspaper did you say you work for?

Rosemary and Thyme

I’ve been watching this mystery series on Netflix for the last couple days and on the one hand, I like it a lot. I’ve got a soft spot for mystery TV series in general and British mystery TV series in particular. It’s also nice to see a show about older female characters and the mix of characters’ personalities and backgrounds as well as the way gardening and gardening related themes are folded into the stories makes for a very enjoyable experience.

That said, ladies, you’ve been finding dead bodies for three seasons now, you really shouldn’t be so blasted surprised by it anymore. Also, for crying out loud will you STOP confronting murderers when you are alone with them? Especially when gardening tools are within arms’ reach! Sheesh…

Character creation questionnaires and Worldbuilding checklists

A bunch of checklists I found here, there and everywhere posted for my and others future reference:

A gift of some code

Here is a bit of code for people who want to be able to share spoilers or triggery topics/words in a way that will let folks who want to avoid such things avoid them. I did not create this code. I found it on a Dreamwidth blog back a few years ago. The original blog post is located here: http://amadi.dreamwidth.org/40143.html?format=light

If you do use the code, please provide a link back to amadi, giving her credit as the source.

Here’s an example of what it looks like:

Summary/Warning: A story about the movie Titanic that takes place after the end of the movie. Summary contains spoilers, highlight to read. (skip) Contains a boat striking an iceberg, death, and the drowning death of some dude. Also, in Citizen Kane? Rosebud is a sled! Vader is Luke’s father! The dinosaurs were killed by a comet!

Links! So Many Links!

Links from io9.com:

10 Genres that Superheroes Have Swallowed Up

10 Essential Elements of a Great Escapist Hero

What superpower would you want to abuse for personal enjoyment?

The 10 Totally Awesome Rules of Evolution in Science Fiction

7 Bad Storytelling Habits That We All Learned from Superhero Comics

We who spoke LOLcat now speak Doge — not superhero related, but much relevant

Why Americans Became Obsessed with Ninjas

Other Links:

Welcome to the Real World By Iain Jackson — Part One: Location, Location, Location, and the High Cost of Heroes (and Villains) and Part Two: Crime and Punishment, Law and Disorder

Superhero Law

I don’t wanna go to work!

Which pretty much means this is a day ending in ‘y’ in which I am scheduled to work.  The snow is still on the ground, but the roads are passable, which is good because I don’t want to get stir crazy.

Just wanted to leave a quick note that I’m really enjoying checking the stats and seeing where people who post/visit this blog come from. Every time a new country pops up, I make a gleeful report to the girlfriend about it.  For someone who’s never been out of the contiguous United States, it’s exciting to me to be able to interact with people from around the world. So, thank you!

Snow Days….

Snow days are a lot less fun as an adult. At least, when you’re an adult who is home alone while her girlfriend is at work.  I’m in one of those contrarian moods that says, “I want to go out and do stuff — despite the fact I’m staying home because I didn’t want to drive into work because it is a white fluffy hell outside.”

(The reason the GF is at work and I am at home is because her work is literally a two minute drive from our house so I was able to drop her off without having to go very far.  And she was nice enough to tell me that I should stay home because well, see the ‘white fluffy hell’ comment.)

It doesn’t help that the graphic novel I was reading is currently stuck in the dang car because I am too lazy to go out and get it.  Also, it is too cold. And there’s snow. Lots of snow. Multiple inches of it! Auugh!   Then again, being home alone might not be the best time to be reading the third Hack/Slash omnibus about the famous slasher slayer Cassie Hack and her buddy Vlad.

I read the 2-4th graphic novels in the Irredeemable/Incorruptible series yesterday at work. The library is, of course, closed today so I cannot get my fix for tonight but hopefully tomorrow I can pick up the rest of both series.  I read the books in alternating order — #1 of Irredeemable followed by #1 of Incorruptible and then #2 of Irredeemable and so forth.

On the plus side, I do still have episodes of Human Target to watch and I stocked up on food last night on the way home from work, just in case the both of us were stuck here tonight.

Otherwise, I’m being lazy tonight, noodling some back-story stuff for Gem City and watching a documentary about DC comics villains (Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics).   They’re talking about Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery of villains at the moment and how characters like Bane and the Riddler came to Gotham City to challenge Batman, to see if he was something that could stand up to them and give them something interesting to do.  Which makes me wonder if a lot of villains aren’t like evil versions of Phineas and Ferb, looking for something to do to keep them occupied during summer vacation.

The other point the documentary has brought up is the idea that the villains are the ones who DO things while the heroes are the ones who react to the things that the villains do. You don’t just see this in villain/hero dichotomies either; in comedy there’s the concept of the Straight Man — i.e. the guy/gal/robotic shrimp who sets up the joke for the Funny Man — think Bud Abbot of Abbot and Costello or Jerry Seinfeld on Seinfeld.  In the cartoons of my childhood, you had leader characters like Optimus Prime or Duke of GI Joe who were essentially the Straight Man of their team — they existed to be the calm moral center of the team and to allow everybody else to run around and be weird and/or quirky.

Documentary just talked about the idea that ‘everyone is the hero in their own story’ — the idea that, if we looked at the story from the villain’s point of view, they would be the hero and the hero would be the villain.  I can remember being about 12 or 13 and watching the original A-Team on tv and realizing, to my utter amazement, that the guys who we were being shown were the heroes of the piece were really a pack of criminals running from a legitimate agent of the law.   It didn’t stop me from rooting for the A-Team (I had such a crush on Murdock…), but it did add a layer of grey to what was essentially a live action comic book.

Ooog…there are more thinky thoughts coming to me, but I am too tired in the brain to be coherent about them. I think I need to chew on them a bit.

You know you’re a writer when….

You find yourself wondering about the inconsistencies in the backstory presented for a group of animated singing potatoes.

I mean, why would Idaho potatoes have British accents? And what kind of sadistic potato parent names their kid Chip?? Does he have a sister named Julienne? An uncle who is loaded? If he entered a monestary would he be a monk or a friar?

This is what happens when I work so late I’m still up when Disney Jr comes on. Time for sleep!