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l33tminion July 29 2014, 04:42

Storm and Sunshine

Today started with torrential rain. A tornado in Everett and flooding in parts of the Boston area. By 10 or so, the weather turned beautiful again.


At work, moved desks to be closer to teammates on (somewhat) newly reorganized teams. My new office is an interior one, and still looks a bit bare. Maybe I can add a poster or something.


Spent a lot of time today fixing a test I'd thought already worked. Still, wasn't a bad day.

inverarity July 29 2014, 01:39

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, by Jeff VanderMeer

A writers' workshop in a book and a glorious kaleidoscopic work of art.

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction

Harry N. Abrams, 2013, 332 pages

This all-new definitive guide to writing imaginative fiction takes a completely novel approach and fully exploits the visual nature of fantasy through original drawings, maps, renderings, and exercises to create a spectacularly beautiful and inspiring object. Employing an accessible, example-rich approach, Wonderbook energizes and motivates while also providing practical, nuts-and-bolts information needed to improve as a writer. Aimed at aspiring and intermediate-level writers, Wonderbook includes helpful sidebars and essays from some of the biggest names in fantasy today, such as George R. R. Martin, Lev Grossman, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Catherynne M. Valente, and Karen Joy Fowler, to name a few.

Advice from a Who's Who of SF and fantasy authors, lavishly illustrated.Collapse )

Verdict: A fantastic workshop for would-be writers, a masterwork in visual and literary mediums, a huge collection of advice and exercises, recognizable Names galore, and a pretty good coffee table book. Highly recommended.

My complete list of book reviews.
siderea July 28 2014, 19:34

[meteo, MA] Tornado hits Revere

For locals, subject says it all. Coverage, media roundup at Universal Hub. ETA: Video.

Non-locals: 0) This is about three towns (about 7 miles) east of where I live . I'm fine. 1) This is unheard of. There was a funnel cloud spotted a couple weeks ago over the next town west of Revere (Everett), and that was mindblowing, and of course the one in Springfield (western part of the state) in 2011. But no tornado has ever hit within Rt 128 or so close to the shore, within recorded history. (Closest was Canton, in 1989.)
radiantfracture July 28 2014, 16:51

book stacks

I hear about books on podcasts, or I think about them in passing, or suddenly stop dead on the sidewalk remembering how compelled I felt by the very idea of them: then I put these books on hold at the library. The books arrive, and either I have forgotten why I wanted to read them, or I've lost the urge, or -- if it really is something I definitely want to read or to have read -- I'm too intimidated to begin*. They sit on my counter for three weeks; I renew them; three weeks later I renew them again; then I return them, usually a day or two late, having read a couple of pages on the way to the library and thought some variant of "Hey, this is kind of interesting." Sometimes I put them on hold again.

I've been through this cycle with Infinite Jest once before. This time, when the book came in (I forget what inspired the hold), I thought I'd actually have a go at it, since it is certainly a Want to Have Read. So I am now approximately 7% of the way through IJ, though if I want to read it all before the hold runs out, I'll have to consume a cramming-level number of pages per day (ppd).

It helps that I'm already three books deep in the stack of butterflied current reading, meaning that starting IJ is a kind of special procrastination, though not of anything imposed on me from outside, except maybe that I'm joining the classics reading group in August and am supposed to have finished The Guermantes Way by then and instead of beginning with GW since I have audiobooked both Swann's Way and In a Budding Grove, I am re-reading (or anyway re-consuming) IaBG on paper, and I'm only 33% through Part I.

I may yet close the circuit. I hope so. Some of the books are short and it would really take only an afternoon's push to finish each one.

Reading for school choked my external reading urge -- I felt too much anxiety to read anything for pleasure when I could/should be running over once again the thought-loops in my head that I was trying to translate into a readable master's paper -- and too anxious to do that either. Now I can read what I like, and I miss having an external force determining my path through language. I mean, an additional external force. Or maybe I mean externalized.

Anyway. Infinite Jest: so far pretty good. There's a story I want to tell about it and podcasts, later.


*I've only heard one writer talk about this kind of reading anxiety, on the BBC, and I've forgotten her name, though she's the only person who ever expressed this kind of secret shame-thing of mine, that sometimes I am too anxious even to read the thing I want to read, although I have been supposed, on various occasions by various people, to be Clever.

Although, or you know, perhaps because: but that seems facile. It seems like there has to be More to It than that, though the More is maybe just chronic anxiety about everything ever, or else deep-seated issues that can't be resolved except with more therapy than I can currently afford. If therapy is even still a thing people do.
bubblesbrnaid July 28 2014, 16:04

My tweets

  • Sun, 13:14: Wake me up when we go to a real racetrack.
  • Sun, 13:20: RT @maveness: @bubblesbrnaid and I just freaked out because there was a question from Curtis from Franklinville, NC. Small town represent!
  • Sun, 13:37: To have enhanced race action, wouldn't we first need action?
  • Sun, 14:57: Hey, look, something happened!
  • Sun, 15:39: Have they quit playing the boom confetti commercial? I protest, if so.
  • Sun, 15:39: Lemme say it before anybody else does: This changes everything.
  • Sun, 15:55: RT @nascarcasm: Tell you what - @JeffGordonWeb is getting some serious love from this kinda-sorta-maybe-not-really-but-whatever-hometown cr…
  • Sun, 16:01: All the fans there--that'd be what, 20, 30?
  • Sun, 16:03: Nice catch, Alan, since this track isn't really part of the history of OUR sport.
  • Sun, 16:04: Yeah, he's gonna be awhile, you might wanna give up on that Rick Hendrick interview.
Read more...Collapse )
rolanni July 28 2014, 15:44

Auctorial Warning Labels, and the Rule of the Internet

You may not know this, but authors come with warning labels, just like non-author people.  In Real Life, we usually scope out the warning labels attached to our friends and colleagues through a series of interactions.  After a while, you know that Jilly's warning is Contents Under Pressure; Gabe's is Runs with Scissors; and Lynn's warning is Sees No Evil.

On the internet, it's a little harder to figure out warning labels; and especially the warning labels for authors, because there's this free-floating cloud of Assumption regarding How Authors Are that kind of fogs up perceptions.

That being the case, I'm going to make it easy for everyone and throw my warning label right out there where everybody can see it.


Here it is; Sharon Lee's warning label:

Sharp edges; handle with care

Please commit this to memory; it's not long; it's not hard, and it can quite possibly save a life.  Or, at least, hurt feelings.

Among other things, the above means that I don't tend to respond. . .well. . .to people who insist that I must fit into their box, or Do It (whatever It may be) in Some Way That They Personally Prefer, rather than the Way I Personally Prefer.  I especially don't respond well to Rule-Giving regarding stuff that I happen to be doing mostly for myself.

Allow me to provide context.

Over the last. . .week?  I've been on the receiving end of an email scolding me for wasting time writing blog posts, and hanging on social media, when I ought (Note:  Please don't use the word OUGHT to me when critiquing my life.  Unless you're my spouse, or a close personal friend who has earned the right, you have no business critiquing my life, and OUGHT is not yours to throw around like confetti.  Thank you.) to be writing more Liaden books.  The letter-writer then wanted me to answer a question, though they were decent enough to acknowledge the irony of that.  And, no, I haven't answered, because there was nothing civil I could think of to say.

Also, recently, I posted a snippet in a blog post.  Someone in another part of the internet, having this brought to their attention, gave as the Rule that the snippet was too short, that real snippets followed the form used by Author X.

Now. . .here's the thing.  I share what I'm writing with y'all because I want to.  In fact, let's back up a couple steps. . .

I write because I want to.

I don't write For You.

No, really, that's the truth.  I don't write For You.

I write, first, and foremost, For Me. I write because writing (for the most part) gives me pleasure.

I do realize that we are extremely fortunate to have a publisher who backs our work.  And I do realize that there are people Out There who buy our books and read our stories, and we're all thereby embarked on a similar -- but not an identical -- journey.  We know the same people, though not in the same way; we've been to the same places, though we noticed different things.  We can talk about our shared experiences, and learn from, and entertain, each other.  And all of that is Incredibly Cool.

But, the fact remains, that I write For Me.  During our years Wandering the Literary Desert, I still wrote stories and novels, though it took me a while to dare again, after being cut loose from our first publisher.  I'm guessing, based on my established behavior, that I'm going to continue to write, for me.

You, my fellow travelers, are certainly free to critique the story; to argue the route; and even to get off the train.

But you are not allowed to dictate Rules,  and OUGHTs to me on any subject I can bring to mind.

Everybody clear on this?

Thank you.

Now! Fans of Dragon in Exile will be pleased to know that work continues apace.  It's all bridge-building and braiding and pointing up characterization, and thus not quantifiable by word counts.  We will, therefore, have to go with the Authors' Gut Feeling Index, which is that we're doing some good stuff, here.

I am now going to post what I call "a snippet."  It is short. If short offends you, or if snippets in general offend you, please, please, for the love of ghod, I beg of you -- don't read it.

* * *

Progress on Dragon in Exile:  GOOD/Author Satisfied

At this hour, the shadows sheltered only one habitant -- another shadow, slightly darker than themselves. It had for some while stood motionless, listening to the sounds of the sleeping nursery. Now, it moved, black against black, resolving briefly into a gray silhouette as he crossed lighted path, melting once more into the darkness beyond.

shinga July 28 2014, 13:22

No subject

Too much going on. Had only a vague idea of "family is visiting soon-ish" in my head up until like two or three days ago when it was "wait no family is visiting NOW"... so uh mid-afternoon FAMILY WILL BE HERE and I'm really out of it right now. It's been a ROUGH few days... I'm hoping the worst is past and I can function today enough to clean up the house at least a little bit. Not that family will care much (at least not to my face) but still.

Dinner plans were made as of like fifteen minutes ago.

In unrelated news Will got his Austria dates, he'll be gone 4 weeks instead of 5... so that's something. I look forward to actual plane tickets being bought and me getting to see an actual itinerary with my own eyes... until I see those things I'm still kind of holding my breath here. Last time he was "going to Austria" on a week's notice those plans changed like five times before they were like "or, stay home actually", so... once I see the tickets and details it'll start to feel like a solid plan.

In yet more unrelated news I should have my art computer set up within the next couple of days. Which is good, I have a deadline coming up pretty fucking quickly and I'm stressed about that.

So many things to do, so many things I wish I'd had the ability/energy to already have done. I'm frustrated with myself even though it's all said and done and I need to not sit here dwelling on my own shortcomings. Move forward, do better next time, etc.

Okay... I have until 3pm to do the dishes, straighten up the livingroom and office, maybe throw in some laundry, and shower. Family will be here around 3, obviously. We'll... IDK, hang out and chat for three hours or so before we go meet people for dinner. Mom leaves tomorrow morning back to SA because of work but other family stays here for... a time. I'm not sure how long. Should be an interesting time.
janewilliams20 July 28 2014, 11:02

My tweets

  • Sun, 19:11: 3 positive things #1: first time running a scenario I'd written worked, though I need to add more plot or have less intelligent players
  • Sun, 19:13: 3 positive things #2: friends who know exactly what to feed me when I'm been *too* good about a low-carb breakfast
  • Sun, 19:14: Positive things #3: great game of GURPS Discworld, and Ankh Morpork is now safe from imaginary albino alligators
andrewducker July 28 2014, 11:00

Interesting Links for 28-07-2014

bubblesbrnaid July 28 2014, 08:17

That worked well

So, there I was, with this perfect little plan. Go to bed early, sleep until I wake up, do some errands.

Which was fine and dandy until the freakin' windstorm showed up right after I dozed off. One of the louder panels in the roof--one that ripples noisily whenever there's a medium-strong breeze--is right over my bed. I'm guessing this is something left over from the tree that hit the house.

Anyway. I am now awake, which irks me, because I had a shot at getting back on schedule and now I'm not. This is going to wind up with me sleeping till 1600 and not getting back to bed until after daylight tomorrow and in general I'm screwed.
radiantfracture July 28 2014, 05:03

readings and writings

I read at the local open mic Friday, and then that night I dreamed an urban portal fantasy -- a gate between two worlds that weren't very different from one another, except that the new world had fewer people. Things took an uncomfortable turn when, as I sat in his lap, my friend's husband wanted to demonstrate to me how someone could be strangled, so I elected to return across the portal.

At intervals I become addicted to games on my iPod -- chasing the dopamine hit. Eventually I remove them, until another game captures me. I can proof myself against the previous game, but somehow I can never prevent the new hook. It's like falling in love without the meaningful connection (or fantasy thereof).

The game I've been hooked on for the last -- year or so? -- really hooked on, in that way where you quit and go back, quit and go back -- is the app version of the tabletop game Agricola. I've actually pretty much cracked how to beat the AI every time, which is unprecedented for me and any game. It works for me because it's turn-based, founded on hoarding, and has incredibly low stakes (you're a subsistence farmer and if you get a cow you are SO HAPPY.)

I have a lot of jouissance locked in this game, and I need to release it so that I can have it back in my life. I know I should come up with writing exercises that have elements of the strategy, iteration, and structure of the game -- as someone said in a podcast today, "What is a sonnet but a game you're trying to win?"

I am pants at sonnets, though, so I... am writing haiku. About the game. To keep from playing the game.

Do not play your phone
app. Write a haiku instead.
One for every* round.

Golden grain: so hard
to turn into food, yet with
oven: abundance.

Vegetables, you
are less nutritious, except
with expansion packs.

Market woman, your
generosity is huge
but late in the game.


*Or I guess that should be "ev'ry." I have a BC Interior accent, which tends to drop out whole syllables as a waste of breath. We definitely say "pome" rather than "po-ehm." I've let "vegetables" scan with four syllables, but I always say "vejt'bls."
l33tminion July 28 2014, 04:06

Catching Up at End of Weekend

Cooking successes from the past weeks:
  • Kale with beet, pinto beans, and water chestnut seasoned with coriander, anise, and garam masala
  • Basil-lemon pickles (which made for amazing tuna salad)
  • Salad with red lettuce, mozzarella, heirloom tomato, and maxixe (a spiny cucumber)
  • Chicken, carrot, and onion glazed with Carr's Cider Syrup
Work was very full of busy-work last week, but reasonably productive.

Last Friday, I went to the release party for Amazon's new phone. Very interesting to see another company's effort at creating a full-fledged mobile ecosystem based on Android. The key features they add to Android: Firefly (image/audio-recognition camera app with an API, kind of like Google Goggles but recognizes more things and other developers can create plugins to recognize and react to more stuff), Dynamic Perspective (head-tracking simulated parallax 3D), and Mayday (live video customer-service). On the other hand, the disconnect from Google Play surely has some drawbacks, the maps app looks nice but I don't know if the navigation is good enough, and it's pretty expensive at $650 unlocked. They've definitely got my attention, though. There's some real UI and features innovation going on, which is cool to see.

Seems all the tech companies are expanding in Kendall Square.

Today, I climbed a bit at Brooklyn Bolders a rock-climbing gym that's only a few blocks from my house. I really should have gone sooner, they've been open for almost a year now. The location is really convenient for me, and I want to get back to climbing, I hadn't been for ages. Their setup seems pretty cool. Tons of bouldering courses, plenty of top-rope, and a fully equipped gym with weights and cardio equipment.

The week was tiring and this weekend is over far too soon.
inverarity July 28 2014, 01:34

Book Review: Warbound, by Larry Correia

Contains (a partial list): 1930s noir superheroes, samurai battle armor, magical ninjas, Lovecraftian monsters, and zeppelin pirates


Baen, 2013, 448 pages

Only a handful of people in the world know that mankind's magic comes from a living creature, and it is a refugee from another universe. The Power showed up here in the 1850s because it was running from something. Now it is 1933, and the Power's hiding place has been discovered by a killer. It is a predator that eats magic and leaves destroyed worlds in its wake. Earth is next.

Former private eye Jake Sullivan knows the score. The problem is, hardly anyone believes him. The world's most capable Active, Faye Vierra, could back him up, but she is hiding from forces that think she is too dangerous to live. So Jake has put together a ragtag crew of airship pirates and Grimnoir knights - and set out on a suicide mission to stop the predator before it is too late.

It is what it is, and it's kind of awesome.Collapse )

Verdict: This book is cheesy big guns blazing noir superhero action, and I loved it. The author is doing nothing more and nothing less than entertaining his audience. Is it deep? Is it literary? Is it a classic of the genre? No. But would I read another Grimnoir series? Absolutely.

Also by Larry Correia: My reviews of Hard Magic and Spellbound.

My complete list of book reviews.
shinga July 28 2014, 01:23

No subject

One of my more frustrating and confusing flaws is that I hate being new at things... or at least obviously new. If I'm trying something and some one can look at it and say "You're new at this, aren't you?" I feel humiliated and ashamed and angry. For MOST things I can work around this by practicing alone, but for some things that's just not feasible. I either have to learn from some one (and therefore being open and honest with another human being about my inexperience) or take a class or it's just a rather social skill that REQUIRES working with people in order to get better at it (learning a language, as an example)... most of the time when I realize I'll have to be openly new at something I just sort of... avoid it. I convince myself that it's not a big deal and I don't actually need or even want to learn it and I can just find something else. This is... unacceptable. I've made it work for my entire life and the more I look back the more missed opportunities I'm seeing because of this humiliation and prideful need to be perfect at everything all the time. It's something I need to work on, and I'm not even sure how to start... outside of opening up to people with requests like "please don't laugh at me" or "just be patient", things like that. Maybe after a while I'll start to see that there's nothing to be so afraid of.

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