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“Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science.” - Girl Genius, by Kaja & Phil Foglio

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke

Perspective, it's all about perspective ...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sound Tracks for Writing

Not everyone listens to music while they write, and I don’t all the time, but some scenes and characters are easier to get on the page with the right sound track. 

For Shadows, my prehistoric novel, I listen to Alice Gomez and recordings of nature (songbirds, thunderstorms, the ocean, wolves). 

Celtic and traditional-type folk songs work best for my short story “Orchid”  -  Heather Dale, Enya, Fairport Convention. 

Serge likes jazz (Brubeck, Marsalis, Hancock) or rock (Santana, Richard Thompson, Zeevon, Men at Work, Susanne Vega). 

On the other hand, Dragons and Tide don’t seem to need soundtracks.

For me, knowing what kind of music my characters prefer gives added insight into their lives, whether music references appear on the page or not. 

Do you use music to help set a mood or connect with characters when you write?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Book Cover Art

I have three novels in various stages of revision.  Maybe someday one of them will be published and there will be cover art.  I hope I get something that not only is related to the story inside but depicts my character(s) in natural-looking poses.  Recently several authors have tried to reproduce the positions women are put into on some covers:

Jim concedes he may have had issues with some of these because, well, he's a guy and his hips don't move in the same way as a woman's would.  Jim has 'reproduced' only covers with women in his post.

Anna says several of the poses were painful for her and she's been a dancer!  Anna does some of the same covers Jim did, with the addition of similar covers with men on them.  Her conclusion is that the men are depicted in natural positions of strength and capability while the women are in awkward to painful positions that emphasize sexy over competence.

I admire both Jim and Anna for doing this.  Reading their posts and seeing their pictures is a lot of fun.  But what those covers say about our society - men are strong and women are sexy - is disturbing.  Women's lib and a sense of equality haven't reached this area. 

I won't select or reject a book strictly based on the cover art (especially since few authors have any say about what's on the cover of their books put out by the publishing houses), but I'm going to be looking at them in a different way now.  And I'll favor the one's with more realistically depicted women!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Forecasting - Writer Style

Pick up the nearest book to you.
Turn to page 45.
The first sentence describes your sex life in 2012.

(via Matociquala.  Since she used one published book and her current WIP, so did I.)

"Aren't you going to talk to the men?"  --  Jingo, by Terry Pratchett

"That's surprising knowledge coming from a non-scientist."  --  On a Rising Tide, by me! 

I like the second one better.

Have fun, and please share!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Here, have a Trio of Tiger Cubs!

Four-month-old Sumatran tiger cubs at Syndey's Taronga Zoo:

There are very few Sumatran tigers in the wild, so the addition of these three healthy youngsters to the world's total is very welcome.

Climate change is looming large for me at the moment.  I live in the US Midwest.  It's January and the grass still has a greenish tinge.  We've only had a dusting of snow so far.  Several days ago I heard thunder during a rainstorm.  It's January!!!  Year-end summaries are popping up detailing the extreme weather events of 2011.  I look at them, with my hand figuratively covering my eyes and peeking through spread fingers.  If you want the details, check out Jeff Masters' recent blogs - there's a link to the right. 

{Insert rant here about protecting the environment because this Earth is the only home we have.  I don't need to really say all that, do I?  Everyone's familiar with the drill.  Consider it, with the backdrop of cavorting tiger cubs.}

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 Bookkeeping - The Final Entry

I set out at the beginning of the year to read more in 2011 than I had in 2010.  I made the list public as a way to encourage myself to do the reading.  It worked.  I don’t think I read more than a dozen books in 2010, and completed thirty-one in 2011.  Here’s the entire list.  It’s heavy on science fiction and fantasy, but that’s what I enjoy reading and writing.

(1) Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay.  Satirical fantasy/mystery set in Discworld’s largest city, Ankh-Morpork.
(2) John Scalzi, Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded.  A collection of selected blog entries covering a decade by an award-winning science fiction writer.

(3) Neil Gaiman, fragile things, short fictions and wonders.
(4) Elizabeth Bear, The White City.  Book 3 in the New Amsterdam series, about a woman forensic sorcerer and man amateur detective who happens to be a vampire, set in a turn of the century contrafactual history.
(5) Lois McMaster Bujold, Shards of Honor. Science fiction (SF) adventure romance.
(6) Lois McMaster Bujold, Barrayar. SF adventure romance, continuation of Shards of Honor.  This one won a Hugo Award.  Note:  (5) + (6) have been published as Cordelia’s Honor

(7) Terry Pratchett, Interesting Times.  Satirical fantasy set in the Discworld’s Aurient.

(8) Neil Gaiman, Smoke and Mirrors.  Short pieces by a master.  Finished on April First.  So many potential overtones and undertones to that!
(9) Louise Erdrich, shadow tag.  Well done literary story of the breakup of a marriage.
(10) Damon Knight, Creating Short Fiction.  An old stand-by of writing advice;  my copy was published in 1981.  It was good to be reminded of some of the basic mechanics. 
(11) Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois, Eds, Wizards.  A collection of short stories about this fantasy archetype by some of the best fantasists (Peter S. Beagle, Kage Baker, Elizabeth Hand, and others).
(12) Karen Armstrong, A Short History of Myth.  Truly short; a two and a half hour read including note taking!
(13) Vonda N. McIntyre, Dreamsnake.  SF classic.  It’s been years since I read this, and it feels good to know I still love it.  Came away with good structural examples to help with my novels, too.  Lagniappe.
(14) Lois McMaster Bujold, Young Miles.  SF space opera; won Hugo and Nebula awards.  Miles is Cordelia’s son (Aral’s son, too, but he didn’t get his name in any of the titles) (see books 5 & 6 above).

MAY:  None

(15) Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight.   Latest book in the YA Tiffany series.
(16) Ursula K. Le Guin, The Word for World is Forest.  SF classic, one of her earlier published works.
(17) Emma Bull, War for the Oaks.  Urban fantasy classic.  Wonderful.  I’ve been running across references to this book for several years, and finally read it.
(18) Lois McMaster Bujold, The Sharing Knife, Volume One: Beguilement.  Fantasy adventure romance.
(19) Lois McMaster Bujold, The Sharing Knife, Volume Two: Legacy
(20) Lois McMaster Bujold, The Sharing Knife, Volume Three: Passage.  
(21) Lois McMaster Bujold, The Sharing Knife, Volume Four: Horizon

(22) Elizabeth Bear, Bone and Jewel Creatures.  Short fantasy of wonderfulness.
(23) Phil and Kaja Foglio, Girl Genius.  On-line steam punk graphic novels.  I started re-reading in May from the very first entry of November 4, 2002, and read it all, right up to the current entry.  This year they won their third Hugo Award.  It updates on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  Here’s where to find the beginning of the story:
(24) Emma Bull, Territory.  Fantasy set in the American West.  Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday and magic for the win.

(25) Lois McMaster Bujold, The Curse of Chalion.  Fantasy.  Another good one.

(26) Irene Radford, Thistle Down.  Fantasy.  Fun, fluffy; good summer read.
(27) N.K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Fantasy.  Very good.
(28) N.K. Jemisin, The Broken Kingdoms.  Fantasy. Another really good one.
(29) Tiffany Trent & Phyllis Irene Radford, eds.  Breaking Waves.  A collection of short pieces of many genres to benefit The Gulf Oil Spill Relief Fund.


(30) Terry Pratchett, Snuff.  Newest Guards book in Discworld.
(31) Anne McCaffrey, Dragonflight.  Ms McCaffrey passed away in November and I decided it was time to re-read some of her work.  This was the first book of hers I ever read, I think back in the ‘70s.

I enjoyed reading all the books on this list - I don’t complete books I’m not enjoying!  Choosing a favorite is impossible.  The one’s I liked the best, that stuck with me long after I finished:

Bone and Jewel Creatures - #22
Cordelia’s Honor - #5 & 6
Dreamsnake - #13
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms - #27
War for the Oaks - #17

I'll keep a list again in 2012, but I don't know if I'll post it every month.

Thanks for reading; comment if you've got one!