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 The physical book is more complete, but tends to get out of date by the end of the year.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.

Notes from the Thurs Writer’s Group 10/1/09

I miss my dot-matrix printer. I pushed “print” and it printed. If it didn’t, it was out of ink. That was it. It probably still works – though I gave it away. Windows XP won’t support it.

It supports the Kodak AiO ESP3, which will print a variety of diagnostic test pages, but not the document I want to print. I bought it bexcause I grew weary of arguing with my HP printer.

What does it take to just get a printer to print documents?

So, I didn’t have copies for the meeting, even though I had new material.

Other notes from the October 1 writer’s meet-up:

http://www.freecomputerworld.org/ In hopes of finding inexpensive computer hardware that works.

“TK” in addition to being copy-editor shorthand for “To Come” is also the postal code for Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand located in the South Pacific, the stock symbol for Teekay Corporation, an oil shipping company, and an anaocronym for the Tool Kit GUI library for the TCL programming language.

Your resource for playing the concertina.

A steam-punk flavored automatic Genre Fiction Generator

Some alternate views on writer’s groups:

Steven Harper Piziks at Book-view cafe with the very basics of how they can be helpful.

And Dean Wesley Smith with why they are dangerous.

Homepage for the Desert Dreams Writer’s Conference , sponsored by the Desert Rose chapter of Romance Writers of America – which tells a lot about what sort of agents and editors are likely to attend. $218-248 for non-member registration depending on when you sign up, and how many extras you want.

And the difference between sketches of intelligent alien species, and sketches that resemble monsters from an RPG supplement is that aliens wear clothes. I have some examples, but my scanner is also my printer.

So we leave with a song:

Now You know.

Notes from the Writer’s Group 9/17/09

This is late, of course. I had day job obligations starting literally hours after the meeting which extended virtually non-stop until Saturday afternoon. Then I had a backlog of contest stories to plow through.;

The deadline for contest stories was (is) today – and my scores are submitted – thank you very much. Without going into inappropriate detail, of the 14 stories that were submitted, 12 were good reads.

Among the stories I judged (I skipped the one I wrote) I scored the top eight within two points of each other.

Some really good stories (including, I fear, my own) probably lost solely because they did not directly address the contest theme.

On that subject – a far more organized contest: Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Contest. We promise to have our results before their Nov 2nd deadline.

We are lurching towards a coherent business plan with the anthology, but not quite so that I feel comfortable sharing details just yet. Besides, the official organ for such information would be our Meet-up website.

A good site for info on Morrigan and all her Celtic friends (as well as a host of other pantheons) Encyclopedia Mythica. On that subject, a report on the possible eruption of Mt Rainier.

The Universe, which runs on the History Channel, has a whole episode dedicated to how to destroy the world. Is Morrigan watching?

For a completely non-romantic, true life account of dysfunctional DEA operations in Mexico, read Deep Cover, by Michael Levine.

And another loong screed [5 parts] on the wisdom and future of e-books.

There’s got to be a way to create a “substantial publishing record” with self-published e-books. In the next post, I’m going to talk about possible ways to do this and why they could be methods for obtaining “legitimacy.” I’ll also include opinions from a self-publishing author, a traditional author, and input from a traditional publisher. Stay tuned!

Now You Know.

Writer’s Group Notes for 9/10/09

The last time I posted I got 52 hits within 24 hours. My normal rate is like six. There are two possibilities: a particular phrase ranked high in a search engine, or the link I left on the meet-up site got clicked – a lot. The only way to test this is two seperate entries (though they both share this paragraph).

This entry tests the writer’s Meet-up link hypothesis. That would be the Central Phoenix Writer’s Meet-up on whose behalf I “organize” the Thursday night splinter cell.

I don’t have a whole lot of notes from that meeting. I was somewhat distracted by my beloved children doing homework/fighting at the table behind me. I do have some links – and we’ll get to those presently.

My son learned some things about writing:

* Copy down the actual writing prompt – that is how you stay on topic.

* Research first, then write.

* The advantage of a word processor is that you can move text around. The advantage of a draft on paper is that you can’t accidentally obliterate 100 words in two keystrokes.

* Writing well means ignoring whatever silly thing your sister is doing to distract you.

* The sooner you get down to writing, the sooner you’re done, and you can let your beloved Father, who has been glowering at you on and off for several hours, have his precious laptop back.

We all had to learn those lessons as young writers (swap “laptop” for “electric typewriter”). Most of us, like my son, learned them the hard way.

He didn’t finish the essay at the coffee shop. We didn’t print out a final copy until midnight. One of many reasons this blog is 24 hours “late”.

LINKS:

Galaxy Express on digital SF Romance sales

YA author Mary Pearson discusses what YA lit is and isn’t.

Aussie scribe Lee Masterson on word count categories

Writer’s Digest interviews Anne Tyler about flawed characters among other things.

And from way back in WD’s backlog, a subject constantly bouncing around in my mind: Too Many Ideas Syndrome:

Cynthia Whitcomb, who has sold 70 screenplays and seen 29 come to the screen, puts on a chef’s hat instead. Her advice: “Think of your ideas like pots on the stove in the kitchen of your creative mind. Lift the lids and look inside. One of them is always closest to being soup. Write that one first.”

My son could use that advice.

Lookee there, it’s past midnight.

Now You Know.