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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, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

I've been following this storm since she was south of Jamaica.  Tonight's news is so sad.  The NHC (National Hurricane Center) did a phenomenal job of forecasting the path and danger from the storm surge.  Too many people were complacent and ignored the warnings. 

(Photo from NASA GOES satellite)

When the sun comes up we'll see pictures and videos of the damage, the displaced people, etc. 

Please donate whatever you can to organizations that can help.  One I favor is Portlight.  They focus on aiding disabled victims and those otherwise underserved by some of the larger organizations. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

NaNoWriMo Prep

What little planning I’m doing for NaNo is moving along.  I have more than fifty prompts for stories but only hazy ideas for characters.  That bit’s a little worrisome.  Back when I wrote lit fic short stories, I could start with anything.  Over the last four years or so - when I’ve focused on novels - it seems I need a character before I can start writing.  I’d love to get back to starting with anything.  Maybe that ability will return in November. 

My daughter is doing NaNo this year.  She’s far more organized than I am, with pages of notes.  She writes faster, too.  Good writing, let me tell you, and that’s not just because I’m her mom! 

Elizabeth Bear’s new short story collection, Shoggoths In Bloom, arrived at my door Wednesday.  I plan to devour it.  Several of the stories included are among my favorites (“Tideline” and “Cryptic Coloration”) and I’m sure I’ll have a few more favorites by the time I finish the book. 

I’m also half way through another anthology, Dragon Lords and Warrior Women, edited by Phyllis Irene Radford.  Maybe I’ll get that one done before November 1 as well. 

See, it’s all part of the NaNo prep.  If I want to write short stories, I need to read them!

Happy reading, everyone!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

First Line Meme

Sometimes ideas converge in a way that amazes me.  I'm planning on being a rebel this year for National Novel Writing Month.  Not doing a novel; hoping to get 50K of short stories. 

Our homework for November in the Library Writing Group I attend is to make a list of all our unfinished writing projects. 

This reminded me of the first line meme I'd seen on some author blogs.  Quoting Elizabeth Bear: "For those who haven't encountered this before, the idea is that somehow magically listing all projects under construction will alert the brain to finish a few of them.  Sometimes, it even works."

I've already done my homework, guys!  (This makes two months in a row.  I think that's unprecedented.)  Some of the short stories on this list were written more than a decade ago.  They were the best I could do then.  Because of my plans for NaNoWriMo, I figured I'd list them and maybe the characters will reemerge during November with bright, shiny new stories.


“Are they dead?”  I swirled the flask, hoping to see some cloudiness in the pale media.
On a Rising Tide

Rahila strode comfortably along the animal track winding through waist-high turkey grass, her soft deerskin wrap pale against her bronze skin, thick brown sun-bleached braids swaying on either side of her bearskin pack. 
Shadows Dancing With the Wind

The passageway that led down to the dragon’s lair erupted with smoke and an acrid smell.
Affairs of Dragons

Short Stories

Orchid sat cross-legged on the oak storage chest under her open window trimming her nails.
“The Weavings of Orchid”

Amanda found the black carnival mask propped between boxed incense and a vase of peacock feathers in a tiny shop on Montegut Street twenty-five years ago.

The indigo flashes darting to sudden stops, hovering, then zooming off toward the vegetation reminded Martin of hummingbirds back home.
"Mr Exobiologist" (working title; probably won't last long)

“Hey, what’cha drinking?  Latte?  Espresso?”  Brewster shouted across the parking lot.
“Otter and Brewster”

Uncle Biggie brought home a camel.
“Uncle Biggie and the Camel”

According to the NIMBY orthodoxy, the townspeople should have loudly and repeatedly objected to the county placing a landfill here.  We didn’t.
“The Trout”

I woke up when Mom came in from the bar.

The naked philologist felt he would come unhinged because of the outlandish itch.
“Nigel and Lady Ashton”

I collect hats.  They hang on a wall in my living room with scarves, bead necklaces, and silk flowers as filler.
“Dreams of the Past”

Most dragons preferred gold.  This one wanted electronics.
“The Electronic Dragon”

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Some Critters I Like

One of my biology professors always said "critters" instead of "animals."  Other profs used it sometimes, so I view it as a scientific term.  ;-)

Critter One:  Yeti crab (Kiwa hirsuta)

Discovered in 2005 along the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge at a depth of 2200 meters by scientists in the submarine DSV Alvin. 

They live near hydrothermal vents and are about 15 cm long.   Here's a video of one made by folks from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, again in Alvin.  

This critter will end up in a story or novel of mine some day.  May get modified (thinking larger, but can't get too much bigger or those 'arms' will be a problem). 

Critter Two:  Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris)

Here’s a mom and babies who live at the Belfast Zoo.   

Capybaras are native to South America and are the world’s largest rodents.  Adults are about 1 to 1.3 meters (3 to 4 feet) long and can weigh 35 to 65 kg (75 to 150 lb).  They always live near water.

I have these in my prehistoric fantasy novel. 

Critter Three:  Salties  (Crocodylus porosus)

The largest living reptile, salt water crocodiles make it unsafe to go in the water from northern Australia up through western India.

Mature males can exceed 6 meters (18 feet) in length, females are around 4 meters (12 feet).  Weights range from 400 to 1000 kg (900 to 2200 lb).  For perspective, average horses are around 1000 to 1200 pounds.

Not sure if this critter will be in a story of mine someday or not.  Maybe after I get over being too nice to my characters...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Link Gumbo - Writing

Every now and then I like to step back from the actual writing to read what authors have to say about the process.  I decided to share some of what I've found. 

The links are arranged from shortest read (NeilHimself’s advice) to longest (Seanan’s epic essays) mostly.  Not going to quibble over whether Ms Bear’s or Ms Darwin’s post is longer.  I’ve included a quote from each as a tease. 

To start, writerly advice from Neil Gaiman:  “2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.”

Vonda N McIntyre has long been a favorite author of mine (Read Dreamsnake!  Also The Moon and the Sun!)  McIntyre’s First Law:  “Under the right circumstances, anything I tell you could be wrong.”  “His heart beat in his chest.  Where else, ordinarily, would your heart beat?”

Carol Lanham on revision - that’s when you add the bling.  “This is the moment where I get to sew little weird pieces of me into the mix.”

Elizabeth Bear on The Expert Problem.  “This is kind of a running joke among writers--never talk about firearms, motor vehicles, or horses, because somebody will give you hell about it--no matter what you say.”

Emma Darwin (my favorite explainer of How Writing Works) on “where the narrative (and therefore the reader) stands, relative to a character.”

And to wrap it all up, here’s Seanan McGuire’s Fifty Thoughts on Writing.  “3. Putting fifty thousand words on paper does not make you a novelist.”  (No, she is not against NaNoWriMo.  She makes important points here.)
First she made the list of thoughts.  Then wrote essays!  Includes links to her essays for Thoughts 1 through 47.  (The essays for #48-50 weren’t yet posted as of today.)  All The Things!

There you have it:  a mini writing course by professional, award-winning authors in the trenches.  Apply liberally!  Use wisely.

And remember McIntyre’s First Law.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Thoughts Prompted by Alaska Trip

The last few weeks I've taken an introspective meander down Memory Lane.  It's full of potholes.  Some large enough to swallow a lime green, peace-and-love-symbols-covered VW bus.

Back in the time before dirt, when I graduated from what was then called Palm Beach Junior College [who came up with junior college???] and was applying to universities, I was accepted at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  I lived in south Florida (Palm Beach county!) at the time, but grew up in a Chicago suburb.  I had a realistic sense of "winter." 

My reaction to Alaska now that I've finally visited?  If I had gone there for school, I wouldn't have left the state willingly!

So why didn't I go?