The More Things Change…

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

First, some rumor control. There has been a rash of stories about border guards detaining people for no good reason, and as much as I would like to attribute that to the Trumpster – this is not new. [Watts ended up convicted of a felony, is barred from traveling in or though the US and paid a fine.]

My wife has given notice at Rhino, and I will miss working with her very much, not only because I (obviously) enjoy her company, but because she was also good at her job.I don’t get into Rhino politics online, but from my perspective – which is abnormally well informed – this situation was 100% avoidable had anyone in charge been inclined to take action.

This is neither the first nor last good employee who has had this experience.

March 7th is her last day at Rhino. She took a new job which starts March 8th.

I have started going back to writer’s groups. I go to Central Phoenix one on Monday nights at Grand Central Coffee Company (where I’m work-shopping the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond). and an independent one on Thursday Night at the Armadillo Grill – which seems really familiar.  (My old group met there for years, on Thursday night). Join us if your are inclined, and I will try not to spill beer on my copy of your first or second draft. [Links above are to the Meet-up sites which may require registration]

At Are We Lost Yet?  I report on outdoor retailers vs the Utah GOP.

The twice annual Outdoor Retailers Show has announced that it will pull out of its long time home in Salt Lake City Utah in protest of Utah officials support of eliminating federal lands by transferring them to the states.

At Fantastical History, we continue on with giants, exploring my strange (made-up) theory about the Muans and how they became Asuras.

Muans ( a term made up well after the fact) are a race of supernatural immortals native to southeast Asia. Their lost history informs the legends and myths behind the Asura and Devas and Jinn and Oni of more recent human cultures.

At Curious Continuity, I report both facts and wild conjecture about TRAPPIST-1 and its seven dwarves.

Unless we are captured by alien slavers and dragged there, we are not going to be around when (if) human starships reach the seven rocky dwarf planets orbiting tightly around TRAPPIST-1.  Why wait for that – when we can just make stuff up. Come on – NASA wants you to!

And I updated my writer’s resume to try and land a gig writing for Outer Places. So if they made it this far down checking me out – hi guys! The links were sparse because a lot of what I’ve written for the web has since evaporated in 404 unknown host country.

The more things stay the same, the more they change.

Now you know.

 

MORE ON PETER WATTS:

http://io9.gizmodo.com/5497556/sf-author-peter-watts-found-guilty-of-felony-resistance-against-border-guardhttp://io9.gizmodo.com/5497556/sf-author-peter-watts-found-guilty-of-felony-resistance-against-border-guard

https://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/2009/12/12/us_border_guards_arrest_author_peter_watts.html

http://www.tor.com/2010/04/27/sometimes-we-win/

 

 

A return to Thursday night writer’s group notes

In the distant past, when this was a more regular blog, I used to note things I learned at my weekly writer’s group. Currently, we meet on Thursday night at Armadillo Grill at 7pm. We’re supposed to go about two hours, but we’ve been going 2.5 hours. I choose to interpret that as a good sign.

The group is organized through MeetUp.com, but we welcome any interested writer.

First though, from IO9, and Tumblr, my new favorite blog: “Things I learned as a Field Biologist

Ok, last night we learned – in no particular order:

In China, red envelopes traditionally contain good news (or what the sender supposes to be good news). Red is lucky.

Mexico has 68+ separate languages. Purepechan isn’t related to any of them. But their culture still exists – after a fashion, throughout Michoacan. More from the Mexican Guru.

It’s nearly impossible to research Japanese actors on the interweb if you don’t have the correct spelling of their name.  If Toshiro Wantanabe (how I wrote it down) is an actual Japanese actor, he has been totally eclipsed by a physics professor of a similar name.  So here’s a good summary of Japanese movies about WWII – the reason we cared about this actor at all.

The Wright Brothers have an official website.  So does the cartoonist Rube Goldberg.

The trouble in researching the Druids of ancient history is that they didn’t write much down, and they didn’t feel like explaining themselves to outsiders. Any useful common knowledge about the religion was essentially wiped out by the Christianization process. This is what Father Oak says about human sacrifice

There is far enough evidence to substantiate the claim that the ancient Celts practiced and performed some form of human sacrifice. There is a great deal of evidence that these sacrifices were, however, voluntary in nature and that the sacrificed served as intermediaries, who took the petitions of their people directly before the God(s) of their clan.

There. We’re moving on now. (That’s an inside joke)

Pope Pius XI would have been the See through most of the 1920’s and 1930’s. As much as I hate to violate my wikipedia rule, they have a fairly balanced and thorough account of his life. All the other bio’s I found were either from the church, or from its sworn enemies.

You can still find druids in Florida.

 

Everything you would want to know about Epsilon Eridani.

 

Tesseracts are a real thing and will hurt your head.

 

Perhaps Carl Sagan can help you out with that.

 

Now you know

Accumulated Writer’s Group Notes

First, Palo Verde Pages, the Central Phoenix Writer’s Workshop’s very own quarterly anthology, is available as a PDF on Amazon, and will be available in print any moment now.

Hurray. There will soon be a dedicated blog to that project.

Submission deadline for issue #2 (July) is May 6th. 3000 word limit, any genre, no particular themes BUT it must be workshopped in one of our groups. So mention you have a PVP piece, and you go to the front of the line.

Back when David Mamet was exec producer on The Unit, he wrote a memo to the writing staff that, now that it has surfaced, is a classic primer on dramatic screenwriting and by extension, dramatic writing in general. Apparently his CAP LOCK KEY had seized.

YES BUT YES BUT YES BUT, YOU SAY: WHAT ABOUT THE NECESSITY OF WRITING IN ALL THAT “INFORMATION?”

AND I RESPOND “FIGURE IT OUT” ANY DICKHEAD WITH A BLUESUIT CAN BE (AND IS) TAUGHT TO SAY “MAKE IT CLEARER”, AND “I WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HIM”.

WHEN YOU’VE MADE IT SO CLEAR THAT EVEN THIS BLUESUITED PENGUIN IS HAPPY, BOTH YOU AND HE OR SHE WILL BE OUT OF A JOB.

Read this, my friends. Read it many times.

Related, Script-Frenzy guest-poster Xander Bennet on Kick-ass protagonists

Xander has his own blog on screenwriting: Screenwriting Tips … You hack – which is very addicting.

One more good site to follow: Make a Living Writing

More soon, I trust.

Now you know.

About damn time…

I promised some notes for the Thursday night folks, and they’re here, and you don’t have to skip down that far…

2nd edition AD&D came out when Excel was still almost strictly an accountants tool. By the time the RPG community discovred it, we had all collectively (and pretty much at the insistence of Wizards of the Coast) moved on to 3rd edition+. Consequently, there are no good Excel character sheets out there for ADD2. I spent longer researching this than any other item below (except the car keys).

The correct tire size for a 2006 Chevy Equinox 2WD LT with 16″ rims is: P23565R16 – which is the size of the tires in the front. It was not the size of the tires in the back which were both smaller and (consequently) balder than the front.  Or they were. $230 later and all the tires match – two of which are new. Related: 20 minutes on the internet saved me $30. Not a bad return.

The keys for that Equinox are either:

  • Within 100 feet of N33d 35.478   W 110d 36.618 (the campsite where I lost my keys) OR
  • Somewhere within the Equinox that can only be reached by tools.

Leaving an extra set of keys with your loving spouse will save you several hundred dolllars. The tank of gas and dinner for the in-laws involved in having them delivered was, then, pennies on the dollar.

2006 Chevy Equinox is the most frequent search term that leads to this site. But let’s talk about writing.

I have already written a little primer on how to seek and query literary agents: Quick & Dirty guide to finding agents

Writer’s Market and/or WritersMarket.com is the industry standard for finding an outlet for non-fiction articles and/pr short fiction (and basically anything else that’s not a book. The physical book is more complete, but tends to get out of date by the end of the year. The website (which requires subscription) has gotten mixed reviews for functionality. I’m about to subscribe myself – I’ll let you know.

[The book I linked to includes a free sub to the website.]

Meanwhile, freelancewriting.com has a less exhaustive but free listing of writer’s guidelines for various publications

Nerd-pron: Attack Vector Tactical

William Gibson’s Neuromancer

Allen Ginsberg’s Howl

Looking for Thai-American magazine markets leads you to Writer’s Market or site in Thai.

If you can re-map you keyboard from Windows – I dunno how. (And I looked). So there’s I failed to learn. Sigh.

I’ve been traveling, which is always full of lessons, but that will wait for next post – which will be sooner than 9 days.

Now You Know

Notes from the 1/14/10 Writer’s Group

Big group (11 writers at our peak). I would’ve have split into two groups if more people had brought work to read. As it was, you had two choices, read loudly, or bring a lot of copies. We had examples of both approaches.

Here are some relevant links:

Pine Ridge Reservation is a real place.

Em’s island is fictional, but based on the real Sandwich Archipelago in the south Atlantic/North Antarctic ocean.

www.ipulpfiction.com has some sort of Quicktime thing that locks up my browser. They have a $10 reading fee, which violates the Harlen Ellison Rule that money should always flow towards the writer, but they are up-front with the terms, and your odds are better than contest writing. Besides, some of that reading fee goes to one of our own.

An after-hours conversation brought up some interesting things:

That “long vowel sound” that your teachers beat into your head no longer exists. Its a relic from middle English (and several other languages) where a long vowel was just that – a vowel you held for multiple beats. It was abandoned in English around the 15th century, but its legacy still complicates our spelling. More on that here and here.

Finally, James Merill – poet – a brief bio from poets.org.

Now you know.

Writer’s Group notes 3 December 2009

If you trust the reader to keep track of information, you can avoid a lot of repetition in your manuscript.

No matter how well you summarize the map with written description, you are still better off showing the map.

A quick summary of Stargate Atlantis episodes with Todd. (because nerds keep count…)

Now for links:

Jeanne Cavelos on searching for reputable agents

Developing writers often have a very hard time finding a competent, reputable literary agent.

Info on the Flat Man Crooked poetry contest

Info on submitting to Glimmer Train

Word Count tackles the business and politics of working for content mills aggregators such as Demand Studios.

I’ve called it the race to the bottom, and maintain there are better ways to break into the freelance business, and better business models for building a successful freelance writing career.

Genreality discloses the true financial numbers behind a NYT bestseller.

And forwarded from our siblings in the North Phoenix Writer’s Group,

In his book Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, Vonnegut listed eight rules for writing a short story:

  • Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  • Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  • Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  • Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  • Start as close to the end as possible.
  • Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  • Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  • Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

[Thanks to organizer Dharma Kelleher ]

Now You Know

Notes from the 10/8/09 writer’s meet-up

If I were to post the Amazon link for The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (as I have just done) after December 1st, I could wind up in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission. According to Slate:

In new guidelines (PDF) released Oct. 5, the FTC put bloggers on notice that they could incur an $11,000 fine if they receive free goods, free services, or money and write about the goods or services without conspicuously disclosing their “material connection” to the provider. The FTC guidelines extend even to Facebook and Twitter posters.

Even though I’m not reviewing the book (I haven’t read it – it just came up at the meeting) a link to a vendor could be considered advertising on behalf of the product. I’m in no real danger here because nobody sponsors me for anything, nor do I get anything for free. But if one of the group members gave me one of their books to review, and I did so anywhere on the internet, I would be obligated to disclose our relationship prominently within the review.

Which is crap for a lot of reasons, mainly because it does not apply t “legitimate media”. So I could plug whatever I pleased at my Examiner site (though it would violate my terms with Examiner) without fear of the FTC. Some Examiners do this anyway.

A round-up of reviews for Wind-up Bird

I tried to find a picture of a jahkey – but there is an artist called Jahkey B who promotes himself well on the internet.

CIA Factbook on Thailand

Ganymede info

C-span on William Faulkner (may need a plug-in)

Should be more, but I gotta go.

Now you know.