swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower

How often is the thing that brings a story to life a question of grammar? And yet, I know exactly what Linda Nagata means. Here she is, explaining how verb tenses turned out to be the key:

***

cover for THE LAST GOOD MAN by Linda NagataIf there ever was one bright spark, one bit of insight, one unexpected plot twist that brought The Last Good Man to life, I don’t remember it. What I do remember was how flat and uninteresting the manuscript felt to me in the earliest days.

This wasn’t an unusual situation for me. Beginnings are hard and it can take time to work out a tone and style that feels right. So I kept pushing forward, telling myself that if I kept going, the essential spark that every novel needs would eventually ignite.

It didn’t happen. Not for over 30,000 hard-fought words. Sure, the story was advancing but I wasn’t happy with the tone or with the way it was being told—and I didn’t know why.

I’d done my preliminary work—a lot of preliminary work. I’d been tossing ideas into the literary stew pot for months, revising my synopsis again and again. This was a very near-future story centered on a small private military company—contract soldiers of the sort hired by corporations, NGOs, and the US government. These were “white hat” mercenaries, choosy about their clients, working only for the good guys, and though they were a small force, that force was amplified by the autonomous robotic weaponry they could deploy. And I had an unusual protagonist in True Brighton.

Middle-aged women are not generally considered cool enough to serve as the lead in a techno-thriller, but I wanted to give it a shot—I wanted the challenge—so I made True forty-nine years old, a retired US Army veteran and mother of three who is still fit, strong, and agile enough to qualify for field missions.

All the pieces seemed right. For months I’d sensed the potential in this story, but still somehow the spark was missing.

Up to this point I’d been writing in third person, past tense. Then—30,000 words in and on the verge of despair—I chanced to read a novel written in third person, present tense and I was intrigued. Could I write The Last Good Man in third person present?

Present tense is commonly used with first person, where the narrator relates the story using “I” or “we.” I’d done a whole trilogy in first-person present. But I’d never written in third-person present. Inspired by the novel I was reading, I decided to try it.

And I liked the energy of it! It was just a technical change, but at last the tone of the story felt right. I continued to move ahead, writing additional pages every day in present tense, and at the end of the day I would revise my past work, gradually shifting it from past tense to present, adding detail as I did.

I was far, far happier with the feel of the story. The change in tense had given it the spark it needed—or maybe it had given me the spark I needed. Whichever it was, I never considered shifting back.

***

From the cover copy:

Scarred by war. In pursuit of truth.

Army veteran True Brighton left the service when the development of robotic helicopters made her training as a pilot obsolete. Now she works at Requisite Operations, a private military company established by friend and former Special Ops soldier Lincoln Han. ReqOp has embraced the new technologies. Robotics, big data, and artificial intelligence are all tools used to augment the skills of veteran warfighters-for-hire. But the tragedy of war is still measured in human casualties, and when True makes a chance discovery during a rescue mission, old wounds are ripped open. She’s left questioning what she knows of the past, and resolves to pursue the truth, whatever the cost.

“…a thrilling novel that lays bare the imminent future of warfare.” —Publishers Weekly starred review

Linda is a Nebula and Locus-award-winning writer, best known for her high-tech science fiction, including the Red trilogy, a series of near-future military thrillers. The first book in the trilogy, The Red: First Light, was a Nebula and John W. Campbell Memorial-award finalist, and named as a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2015. Her short fiction has appeared in Analog, Asimov’s, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Lightspeed, Nightmare, and several anthologies.

Linda has lived most of her life in Hawaii, where she’s been a writer, a mom, a programmer of database-driven websites, and an independent publisher. She lives with her husband in their long-time home on the island of Maui.

Website | Twitter

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

(no subject)

Jun. 27th, 2017 10:47 am
yhlee: two voidmoths at war (hxx Raven Stratagem)
[personal profile] yhlee
An interview [Lightspeed Magazine] by Christian A. Coleman. Note that the interview mainly discusses Raven Stratagem, so there are spoilers for Ninefox Gambit. I also hint at what's coming in the third book, Revenant Gun.

Book Recs and News

Jun. 27th, 2017 09:49 am
marthawells: (Reading)
[personal profile] marthawells
News: If you missed it yesterday, there are going to be two more Murderbot novellas for a total of four, and 2, 3, and 4 are all coming out next year.


***

(If you've been following my book rec and new book listing posts for a while, you may have noticed this already, but while most book lists emphasize books by popular straight white men, this one emphasizes everybody else. I include books by straight white men, but in about the same percentage that other book lists include everybody else. I also try to highlight books that are less well known.)

(I only link to one retail outlet in the book's listing, but most books are available at multiple outlets, like Kobo, iBooks, international Amazons, Barnes & Noble, etc. The short stories are usually on free online magazines.)


Short story: The White-throated Transmigrant by E. Lily Yu


* Miles Morales - A Spider Man Novel by Jason Reynolds
Miles Morales is just your average teenager. Dinner every Sunday with his parents, chilling out playing old-school video games with his best friend, Ganke, crushing on brainy, beautiful poet Alicia. He's even got a scholarship spot at the prestigious Brooklyn Visions Academy. Oh yeah, and he's Spider Man.


* Bright Thrones by Kate Elliott
An exciting e-novella set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Court of Fives, from World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott!


* Drawing Dead by SM Reine
The vampire slayer is turning into a vampire? Over her dead body. Dana McIntyre has been bitten by a master vampire. She's infected with the venom. And after killing hundreds of vampires to keep Las Vegas safe, she'd rather die than turn.


* Kangaroo Too by Curtis C. Chen
On the way home from his latest mission, secret agent Kangaroo’s spacecraft is wrecked by a rogue mining robot. The agency tracks the bot back to the Moon, where a retired asteroid miner—code named “Clementine” —might have information about who’s behind the sabotage. Clementine will only deal with Jessica Chu, Kangaroo’s personal physician and a former military doctor once deployed in the asteroid belt. Kangaroo accompanies Jessica as a courier, smuggling Clementine’s payment of solid gold in the pocket universe that only he can use.


* The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss
Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture...a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes. But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.


* Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones
Blackfeet author Stephen Graham Jones brings readers a spine-tingling Native American horror novella. Walking through his own house at night, a fifteen-year-old thinks he sees another person stepping through a doorway. Instead of the people who could be there, his mother or his brother, the figure reminds him of his long-gone father, who died mysteriously before his family left the reservation. When he follows it he discovers his house is bigger and deeper than he knew.


* Shattered Minds by Laura Lam
Carina used to be one of the best biohackers in Pacifica. But when she worked for Sudice and saw what the company's experiments on brain recording were doing to their subjects, it disturbed her—especially because she found herself enjoying giving pain and contemplating murder. She quit and soon grew addicted to the drug Zeal, spending most of her waking moments in a horror-filled dream world where she could act out her depraved fantasies without actually hurting anyone.


* The Last Good Man by Linda Nagata
carred by war, in pursuit of truth: Army veteran True Brighton left the service when the development of robotic helicopters made her training as a pilot obsolete. Now she works at Requisite Operations, a private military company established by friend and former Special Ops soldier Lincoln Han. ReqOp has embraced the new technologies. Robotics, big data, and artificial intelligence are all tools used to augment the skills of veteran warfighters-for-hire. But the tragedy of war is still measured in human casualties, and when True makes a chance discovery during a rescue mission, old wounds are ripped open. She’s left questioning what she knows of the past, and resolves to pursue the truth, whatever the cost.


* Mars Girls by Mary Turzillo
What Nanoannie and Kapera find at the Smythe’s Pharm is more than the girls bargained for. The hab has been trashed and there are dead bodies buried in the backyard! If that wasn’t bad enough, the girls crash the rover and Kapera gets kidnapped by Facers who claim her parents are murderers! Between Renegade Nuns, Facers, and corp geeks, Nanoannie and Kapera don’t know who to trust or where to go. Kapera only wants to find her parents so they can get to Earth Orbitals and she can be treated for her leukemia. Nanoannie wants to help her friend and experience a little bit of Mars before selling her contract to the first corp that offers to buy it.

[story] The Ghost and Its House

Jun. 27th, 2017 10:04 am
yhlee: sleepy kitty (Cloud)
[personal profile] yhlee
For P.H.
Prompt: "ghost consciousness."

The house had lain ruined for decades upon decades, quiescent at the edge of the town. Once, it was said, a fine family had dwelled there, wealthy at first, much given to parties and entertainments. The oldest people in the town still remembered the parties: the music of string quartets, and cakes decorated with spun-sugar ornaments, and couples dancing gaily through the night. But now none of the windows had glass in them anymore, save for a few sharded teeth, and the wind blew freely through the rooms where people had once gathered to gossip.

Nevertheless, the house was not entirely uninhabited. A ghost remained attached to the house, and it murmured to itself during the long winter nights, singing tuneless ghost-songs of the shapes that shadows make in the dark, and the sounds that mirrors make when no one is around to hear them, and footsteps in the distant wood. The ghost did not remember the name of the person it had been, once upon a time, but neither did this make it unhappy.

In time a pregnant cat moved into the house for the shelter it offered. The ghost did not remember much about cats, except that they liked cream, and it had no such thing to give the cat. But it had other things to offer. It encouraged the old closets to throw their doors open and disgorge their rotted linens so that the cat would have something to nest in, and it offered all house's hiding places, as well as the lullaby of the crooning wind.

For her part, the cat was a pragmatist. She did not share human prejudices against ghosts, and a ruined house was as good as any other place for her to raise kittens. She merely made sure that there were no raccoons or the like already occupying the place, and then she set to building her nest in earnest.

Cats are not the most talkative of folk, but this cat was friendlier than most. She asked the ghost why it lingered in the house, instead of going to its rest the way humans usually did. While she didn't always put credence in human stories, she had heard that ghosts usually stayed in the realm of the living because they had left some task unfinished.

The ghost said to the cat, "The only task is the task of the house itself. It was my home when I lived, and it remains my home in death."

"Then I am sorry I cannot help you," the cat said, dismayed in spite of the very pressing matter of the kittens she expected to arrive in a matter of days. "A human could help you restore the house, but I am a cat. I may have clever paws and whiskers, but they are no good for building."

The ghost's laughter gusted through the house, although it tried to keep the worst of the cold from the cat. "What do I care about restoration?" it said. "Perhaps once, when I had flesh, it would have mattered to me. But now I am a creature of shadows and dust and ash, and this house suits what I am now. I can keep it safe for you and your kittens. They can play in the house's halls and grow to adulthood without fear of being chased out by human owners; is that not enough?"

"If that is the case," the cat replied, "I shall gratefully accept your hospitality, and my kittens and I will keep your house free of mice."

"It is a very old bargain," the ghost said, "and if it suits you, it suits me."

Two days later, the kittens were born without fuss, or more fuss than the usual, anyway, and in the years to come, generations of cats made their home in the house. They probably live there still. As for the ghost, it has been busy adding the songs of cats to its repertoire. The result is noisy, but none of them mind.

Invisible 3 Release Day

Jun. 27th, 2017 10:49 am
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Invisible 3 CoverINVISIBLE 3, a collection of 18 essays and poems about representation in SF/F, is out today! The ebook is edited by myself and Mary Anne Mohanraj, and is available at:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Smashwords | Google Play

As with the first two volumes in this series, all profits go to benefit Con or Bust.

Here’s the full table of contents:

  • Introduction by K. Tempest Bradford
  • Heroes and Monsters, by T. S. Bazelli
  • Notes from the Meat Cage, by Fran Wilde
  • What Color Are My Heroes? by Mari Kurisato
  • The Zeroth Law Of Sex in Science Fiction, by Jennifer Cross
  • Our Hyperdimensional Mesh of Identities, by Alliah
  • Erasing Athena, Effacing Hestia, by Alex Conall
  • Not So Divergent After All, by Alyssa Hillary
  • Skins, by Chelsea Alejandro
  • The Doctor and I, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
  • My Family Isn’t Built By Blood, by Jaime O. Mayer
  • Lost in Space: A Messy Voyage Through Fictional Universes, by Carrie Sessarego
  • Decolonise The Future, by Brandon O’Brien
  • Natives in Space, by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • I Would Fly With Dragons, by Sean Robinson
  • Adventures in Online Dating, by Jeremy Sim
  • Of Asian-Americans and Bellydancing Wookiees, by Dawn Xiana Moon
  • Shard of a Mirage, by MT O’Shaughnessy
  • Unseen, Unheard, by Jo Gerrard

Huge thanks to the contributors for sharing their stories and experiences. I’ve learned so much from earlier volumes in this series, and this one was no different.

And hey, if you haven’t seen the previous volumes…

INVISIBLE: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Smashwords | Google Play

INVISIBLE 2: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Smashwords | Google Play

If you’re a reviewer and would like a copy, please contact me and let me know your preferred format and where your reviews are published.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Meanwhile...

Jun. 26th, 2017 11:44 pm
owlmoose: (ffix - garnet)
[personal profile] owlmoose
This past weekend was super and fabulous. I was fortunate enough to be able to snag four tickets to Hamilton for this past Friday, and I invited [personal profile] justira and [twitter.com profile] kaytaylorrea to join me. They both came into town, [personal profile] justira with their partner in tow, and the four of us had a great time not just at the show, but hanging out in SF.

Friday's show was a matinee, so we grabbed a quick lunch beforehand, then an early dinner after. The show was just as wonderful the second time, and in some ways I feel like it was better -- when I went in April, this particular troupe had been together for less than a month. Now that they've had two more months to work together, the ensemble gelled more, and I saw more nuances in some of the performances. I also saw a couple of different actors, in particular a different Angelica, and although her voice wasn't quite as powerful, I loved the acting choices she brought to the role. Another thing I noticed overall is just how funny this performance was -- this particular cast plays up the humorous moments in the songs and the choreography in a way I found really effective.

All three of my co-attendees loved the show as well, despite bringing very different levels of familiarity with it (one who has listened to the album a million times, one who'd never heard the music but read all the lyrics in advance, and one coming in almost completely cold), and it was fun to talk about how their various expectations colored their watching experience.

On Saturday, [personal profile] justira and I met up with [personal profile] forestofglory to wander the Ferry Building and Farmers Market. We noshed our way through, one of my favorite ways to eat breakfast in the city, including some breakfast ice cream at Humphry Slocombe (taking advantage of the lack of line). After that I met Kay for a Giants game; our boys lost (not unsurprisingly; the team is TERRIBLE this year), but we still had fun. Then we all (minus [personal profile] forestofglory, who had a prior engagement) gathered at my place for more chatting and hanging out until far too late, chattering about fandom and everything else under the sun, driving poor T to distraction I'm sure. I was particularly happy to see how well everyone clicked, considering that my two guests didn't really know each other before the weekend. There's nothing better than introducing two friends and watching them develop a quick rapport. :)

As Kay said a couple of times over the weekend, our parents were wrong: always make friends with strangers on the Internet. Sure, there's a risk, as people are always a risk, but the rewards are one thousand percent worth it.

Replica

Jun. 26th, 2017 08:40 pm
yhlee: Shuos Jedao (Hellspin Fortress) (hxx Jedao 1x10^6)
[personal profile] yhlee
Jenna Black's Replica is a YA sf novel that I picked up from the library one-cent-a-book discard sale along with its sequel Resistance. I have just finished Replica and have not yet read Resistance, although I plan on getting to it soon. My verdict is that this is a good novel, but it could have been so much better.

I was attracted to Replica because clones and faux!amnesia are bulletproof narrative kinks for me. You have to work to foul those up for me. Here's the back cover copy:
Sixteen-year-old Nadia Lake's marriage has been arranged with the most powerful family in the Corporate States. She lives a life of privilege, even if she has to put up with paparazzi tracking her every move, every detail of her private life tabloid fodder. But her future is assured, as long as she can maintain her flawless public image--no easy feat when your betrothed is a notorious playboy.

Nathaniel Hayes is the heir to the company that pioneered human replication: a technology that every state and every country in the world would kill to have. Except he's more interested in sneaking around the seedy underbelly of the state formerly known as New York than he is in learning to run his future company or courting his bride-to-be. She's not exactly his type...not that he can tell anyone that.

But then Nate turns up dead, and Nadia was the last person to see him alive.

When the new Nate wakes up in the replication tanks, he knows he must have died, but with a memory that only reaches to his last memory backup, he doesn't know what--or rather, who--killed him.

Together, Nadia and Nate must discover what really happened without revealing the secrets that those who run their world would kill to protect.

What's good: there's a lot packed into the premise. Nadia is genteelly raised, but far from spineless, and easy to sympathize with. Nate is a closeted gay man in a social class of a future society that strongly discourages homosexuality, and one of his major motivations is to protect his lower-class lover. And Nadia and Nate's friendship with its ups and downs is believable.

Neutral: the Executive class of elites allows women to inherit, but there's a behavioral double standard as to what men and women can get away with, which is why Nadia has to watch her every move so she doesn't cause scandals while Nate can act out all he wants. The narrative states that this is some kind of throwback to the nineteenth century (Western, presumably?). There isn't much explanation given for how this developed, but I've seen sillier setups in sf so I was willing to go along with it.

What's less good, without going into spoilers: As far as I can tell, the entire named cast minus one character (Chloe, a friend of Nadia's) is white. There is lip-service paid to Chloe feeling like an outcast because she's black, and then Chloe is very rapidly shuffled off-stage and we never hear from her again.

That's not actually my biggest complaint about the novel. My biggest complaint about the novel is that it has a lot of tense action and still never manages to punch hard enough. And I don't mean this in the social justice sense of punching down or sideways or diagonally or whateverthehell. I mean this in terms of narrative impact on the reader.

I can't discuss further without spoiling the whole thing, and I am really frustrated by the fact that this fairly good novel could have taken my favorite tropes and done them even better, so let's have a spoiler cut: Read more... )
owlmoose: (Obamoose '08)
[personal profile] owlmoose
This is it folks, this is the big one. I don't need to tell you that, I suppose, but here we are. Even in California, where my Senators are firmly No-votes and leaders in the resistance, there are things we can do to stand up and fight -- here's a short to-do list for anyone who lives in a state with two Democratic Senators.

A few links on healthcare:

And other things:
  • The Brookings Institution put out a scathing editorial on voter suppression in the United States, a good overview of recent court decisions with some damning statistics.

  • The Associated Press published a report on the effects of gerrymandering, and it's not pretty.

  • It probably shouldn't come as a surprise that the Democrats lost the special election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, and in fact the narrow loss continues the trend of being competitive in districts that ought to be safe GOP, but given how much effort and money we poured into that district, it's also understandable that people were disappointed. But the rush of pundits and BernieBots to blame Nancy Pelosi for the loss is both a headscratcher, and almost unbearably stupid. Charles Pierce explains why.

  • And maybe before you get too invested in demonizing one of the most powerful women in the Democratic party, maybe you should consider who is in the trenches, doing the actual work in places like the Georgia 6th.

  • Meanwhile, another Congressional special election flew completely under the radar: the South Carolina 5th. The Republican won that seat as well, but by an even smaller margin. This is not a seat that any polls suggested ought to be competitive, and the Democrats spent almost no money here. This ought to scare the GOP; we'll see if they heed the warning.

  • Maryland and the District of Columbia have sued Donald Trump for violations of the emoluments clause and other conflict of interest laws.

Escape from Triassic Park

Jun. 26th, 2017 07:03 pm
fadeaccompli: (roles)
[personal profile] fadeaccompli
So, a few weeks back I ran into this one-page RPG on Tumblr. It's called "Escape from Triassic Park", and it's basically "Jurassic Park from the dinosaur perspective," with very fast and silly rules for maximum mayhem. This afternoon, I decided to try it out, and run a very short, very fast game of it for anyone who wanted to play.

(N.B.: The RPG was created by these folks based on the RPGs done by this guy and seems most like this RPG of his about criminal bears. Note has been also made of its similarity to Lasers & Feelings (PDF link), so, credit where it is variously due!)

The obstacles in their path were "all the males are in cryo storage" and "the guards are spliced with dino DNA"; they started "in their own enclosures"; and these are the stories of the Dinosaurs On The Run.

(Most of the OOC comments have been taken out of the log except for clarity, amusement, and where I forgot to do otherwise. One typo has been corrected, and two misordered poses have been put back into order. Otherwise this is exactly as it happened. Based on a true story, etc.)

Session Log )

*facepalm*

Jun. 26th, 2017 03:00 pm
yhlee: recreational (peaceful) tank (recreational tank)
[personal profile] yhlee
The moment where you see Microsoft Word's wordcount for the current story in progress saying "1701 Words" and think, Why is it 5:01 p.m.? I thought it was only 3 p.m.

Ballet Shoes

Jun. 26th, 2017 02:49 pm
sputnikhearts: girl walking in fog. from amelie maybe? (girl in fog)
[personal profile] sputnikhearts
Ballet shoes

Probably the biggest new happiness multiplier in recent memory: I (re)started taking ballet at local studio. Although I am a complete beginner, I grew up on a steady diet of ballet books at varying qualities. I don't remember when I first saw the photos but I remember being completely entranced by the unparalleled beauty of the form. Lessons were not possible, so I read books, which is always the next best thing. I read all the Noel Streatfeild books, random teen serials where no book is complete without someone bursting into tears mid-dress rehearsal, and of course I read Jill Krementz's "A Very Young Dancer" so many times that it's burned into my mind. I also read all kinds of books about technique, and pored over photographs of classical ballets. Thanks, well-stocked childhood library!

One of the really flattering things that a teacher said at my very first lesson was "I can't believe you've never taken ballet before." And no matter how failhard I am at every lesson, I definitely laid up that comment to live by whenever I feel discouraged (the adagios in center practice, they slay me). And I do fail pretty hard, even for a beginner. My hips are stiff, I can barely follow simple choreography, and my placement is a mess. But I flatter myself that I have been mentally dancing for a very long time. So even when my feet are not right, I do know exactly what I am supposed to have done, and that sometimes--somehow--just a bit--shines through the mess of bad posture and worse turnout.

The other thing I love about ballet is that ... I am a fairly competitive and perfectionist person in most areas of my life, but dancing shuts down that part of my brain. That makes it freeing and meditative--I suspect that ballet is to me as yoga is to a lot of people. If my steps are not perfect, that's just my version of it and it's as valid as anyone else's, and I am shockingly content with that.

Which is the complete opposite of how I feel about writing! I submit my stories for publication, and I love it when people read and hopefully enjoy my stories. Part of me feels that a story is not real until it is shared--that it's just a hallucination in my brain until someone else confirms that they heard those voices too.

In ballet, I do not feel that way. I am overjoyed just to be in the studio. I could do endless tendus alone save for the accompanying music on my phone. I feel absolutely no need to be on a stage.

I wonder if I would be a better writer, if I also felt that way about my writing?

Anyway, this was a rambling post. If you want to read a serious post about taking ballet as an adult, I wholeheartedly recommend the excellent essay "Swan, Late: The unexpected joys of adult beginner ballet."

The Intolerable Clock

Jun. 26th, 2017 12:58 pm
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
Because there is not enough roleplaying in my life, and it's been entirely too long since I GM'd (The Black Wall, Shazrad: City of Veils, The Hidden General, etc.), I am opening The Intolerable Clock ([community profile] hexarchate_rpg), a non-canon freeform multiverse hexarchate RPG.

The hexarchate is a star-spanning polity of monstrosities small and great, where consensus reality is enforced not just by a rigid police state but by the ritual torture of "heretics" on state holidays. Lately it is not just wracked by internal dissent but by the discovery of rifts in time and space through which people from other worlds appear.

You are one of a hardy group of people--whether from the hexarchate (or heptarchate) itself, a foreign state, or another world in the multiverse entirely--who have gathered with the explicit goal of destroying the hexarchate by going back in time and preventing its creation, or otherwise seeding its destruction.

The question is, can you succeed before the hexarchate's agents catch on and eliminate you?

Interested? See the write-up for the guidelines and the character application! Hope to see some of y'all.

(no subject)

Jun. 26th, 2017 12:30 pm
fadeaccompli: (risky)
[personal profile] fadeaccompli
Finally turned off the crossposting to LJ; it's been failing ever since the new TOS went up over there, anyway.

Alas, alas, for Livejournal of old. Long live the Dreamdwidth!

(no subject)

Jun. 26th, 2017 11:14 am
fadeaccompli: (determination)
[personal profile] fadeaccompli
I'm never quite sure how to treat my DW account, especially with how silent the place is compared to LJ of old. Not quite a ghost town, but certainly not the neighborhood coffee shop either. A suburb sidewalk, perhaps? We wave to people we pass when we see them outside, watering the lawn or checking the mail. Sometimes we wave from a window as they pass our house, walking the dog. It's quiet. Fairly amiable. Such is.

Well, since my day-to-day chatter is on Twitter, I suppose I treat this as a very broad kind of diary. Thus, recently:

1) I became less sick. Go me. Very much appreciated.

2) I went to Minneapolis for a week, where I:

2a) Met up with professors, picked up a lot of books from the library, saw some classmates (coworkers? what do you call fellow grad students in your department?), and figured out a better direction for the Catullus paper;

2b) Went to Fourth Street Fantasy, as I have apparently been doing for six years now, and had a marvelous time, especially because I was on anti-anxiety meds and carefully using my time, which meant I didn't get to everything I wanted, but I was able to really enjoy all the things I went to, and;

2c) not only enjoyed the panels I attended immensely, but ended up on the traditional impromptu But That's Another Panel at the end of the con, which was on happy endings, wherein I got to argue with people I like and have a great time;

2d) and then headed back home, as it's pretty eerie to be in Minneapolis over the summer, with the office empty and my dog somewhere else;

3) I've been picking up on German on Duolingo again, which is reassuring, in that I still have the basic syntactical structure and simple forms down, even if my vocab is lousy and thus I need Google Translate to get through an academic paper in German, yeesh;

4) I am working valiantly on my Social Services of the Damned project, and finally making the progress I've been wanting;

5) I'm mulling over the Catullus stuff, and about to go to UT and turn my TexShare Card (derived from my Austin City Library card) into a UT Some Title Here Card that will let me check out academic books I need from them, which, y'know, will be helpful, because JSTOR will only get you so far in the research grind, especially in classics, since JSTOR doesn't really do much in the way of non-English resources and I damn well need to pick up some stuff from other languages;

6) ...shit. I need to learn Italian. Should be easy, right? I've got Spanish, I've got Latin, I've got the French basics, how hard could it be?

7) Back to Duolingo it is.

8) Also I've read all the (modern) Squirrel Girl I can find and you guys, it's GREAT, it is ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC, I'm turning into an evangelist for it, and you should read it. The graphic novel collections, the YA novel, anything you can find that's from the last few years. (Prior to that is...iffy.) Seriously. It's great.

[hxx] [story] Hunting Trip

Jun. 26th, 2017 10:00 am
yhlee: fox with nine tails with eyes (hxx emblem Shuos)
[personal profile] yhlee
For [personal profile] metaphormorphosis.
Prompt: hexarchate, "red pandas."

(NOTE: I promise this has a happy ending for the red panda.)

"Zoo?" High General Garit said. "Really, Jedao?"

Jedao, who was driving the car, glanced sideways to assess Garit's expression, even though the high general's tone of voice told him everything he needed to know. Garit had invited him along on this damned trip to a hunting preserve because Garit was desperate to bag a gray tiger, and alongside his record with firearms, Jedao had made the mistake of letting drop that he had grown up hunting. Jedao had tried to point out that going after pesky deer and jackalopes was not the same as gray tigers. Garit had merely clapped him on the back and told him not to be so modest. Modesty had nothing to do with it. On top of the stupid expense per round, the recoil on the ammo that Jedao was going to have to use was proportionate to something with its stopping power, and he wasn't looking forward to the ache in his shoulder.

"Just for an hour or two," Jedao said coaxingly. "My mom and my siblings wanted me to send home some vacation photos. And I promised my nieces that I would bring them back some souvenirs, and maybe the zoo's shop will have some mounted skeletons or the like."

"You spoil those kids rotten," Garit said with a snort.

"What are uncles for?" Jedao said. One of the great regrets of his life was that his job kept him away from his family for long periods of time. The girls grew so fast. "Besides, the folks down at the shop might have some tips for hunters."

Garit shook his head, amused. "You're transparent, but all right."

The zoo was not particularly busy. The two of them were off-duty, and the young woman who told them about the zoo regulations either didn't recognize them or didn't care, which Jedao found congenial. Jedao persuaded Garit to come into the zoo proper so Jedao could snap some photos.

Jedao fiddled with the manual exposure, trying to get the black panther to show up in its cave. The camera had been a gift from his brother, and was practically an antique. Jedao was not especially gifted at taking pictures that pleased his family ("These look like reconnaissance photos, who cares about all this kill zone stuff when you're snapping pics of an engagement party?" his sister had once complained) so he had resolved to do better.

"That's the oddest damned fox I've ever seen," Garit said, pointing.

Jedao gave up on the exposure and settled for a muddled silhouette in the shadows. "Beg pardon?" he asked.

They strolled closer to the enclosure Garit had indicated to have a look. A reddish, bushy-tailed creature was taking a nap in the branches of a tree. Bamboo shoots sprouted not far away. Some of them looked like they'd been gnawed on.

"That's not a fox," Jedao said, reading the enclosure's label. "Red panda. Apparently they eat bamboo. And sometimes birds and things."

"It's kind of cute," Garit said grudgingly. "Doesn't look like much of a challenge, though."

Jedao thought that coddled zoo creatures were generally unlikely to be much challenge, but he didn't say anything that would give Garit the idea of adding another kind of animal to his wishlist for this trip. "My nieces will like it," he said, and raised his camera.

"We should catch you one to take home to them," Garit said.

Jedao made a face. "Have you ever looked at the customs forms for importing wildlife? I'm pretty sure these critters don't exist on my homeworld."

"Well, I'll look into expediting it as a favor to you if you can help me with my tiger problem," Garit said.

"That's very kind of you," Jedao said, as diplomatically as he could, "but my nieces are notoriously good at killing goldfish. Let's just leave the red pandas alone and go hit up the shop so I can buy bat skeletons or fox-eared hats or something, and we can head to the hunting grounds."

Raksura and Other Stuff

Jun. 26th, 2017 07:15 am
marthawells: (The Serpent Sea)
[personal profile] marthawells
Yesterday was the anniversary of the day I found out The Cloud Roads sold to Night Shade, after two years of visiting and being rejected by various publishers.

So I posted: https://marthawells.tumblr.com/post/162255829557/something-else-ive-been-meaning-to-post-the The entry on the Three Worlds from Worlds Imagined: The Maps of Imaginary Places Collection for the Cushing Library exhibit.

I got my author's copies of the trade paperback of The Harbors of the Sun on Friday, so it should start showing up soon. The hardcover will probably be a week or so later, and the ebook will drop on July 4.


***


Murderbot got a really nice review on The Verge: https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/25/15837368/all-systems-red-murderbot-chronicles-martha-wells-book-review

Our protagonist got its name after killing a bunch of company employees on another planet a couple of years ago, but while it has a bit of a bloodstained history, this isn’t Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s a dour security bot that likes to watch steamy soap operas, and would rather be left alone. After its murderous rampage, it hacked its own governor module, not wanting to fall victim once again to hardware manufactured by a company that cuts corners to save a buck.


Ann Leckie also liked Murderbot:

http://www.annleckie.com/2017/06/23/recent-reading/

I’m not kidding, I can almost guarantee that my readers will enjoy this. I have already pre-ordered volume 2, which is out in January.


***


The Authors Auction for the victims of Grenfell Tower is going until June 27. My item is https://authorsforgrenfelltower.com/2017/06/23/signed-copy-of-the-murderbot-diaries-all-systems-red-by-martha-wells/

and the whole list of items is

https://authorsforgrenfelltower.com/items-for-auction-2/


***


If you need a quick break today, "Night at the Opera" is still free at Podcastle in text and audio:

http://podcastle.org/index.php?s=night+at+the+opera

It's a prequel to The Death of the Necromancer


***


I'm doing a signing with Rachel Caine at Murder By The Book in Houston, TX, on Saturday, July 15, at 4:30, and you can order our books and get them signed and personalized and shipped to you: http://www.murderbooks.com/event/wells-caine

fiber monday

Jun. 25th, 2017 09:08 pm
thistleingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] thistleingrey
The most recent office project (easy, very slow, for meetings in which I needn't speak) is finished. It's a narrow, single-skein shawl called See the Sea, and it's too small to stay on my damnable shoulders---not enough overlap, at 60" along the upper edge. Thus Sea is reassigned me --> Reason, and Dovana is reassigned Reason --> tiny relative when latter isn't tiny. *dusts hands* (What is this, though. I'm, like, the thinnest big-boned person of average height you'll (n)ever meet? Extra wool not only for cardigans but for shawls, pfui.) I don't block finished objects with pins, but because I can't wash this without Reason's notice, there won't be a photo till I've presented it, then taken it back for washing.

The prior office project is also finished now :P and won't look good till my hair is more heavily salted: undyed wool/alpaca grey-browns in a nifty gradient + chestnut with red tones = boring. *shrugs* The pattern is great, however: a shallow, asymmetrical shawl knitted in short diagonals. Unlike most of these yarn-club single-skein exercises, A+, would knit again.

My #SummerOfBasics idle daydream list, without buying yarn:
* Little Wave cardigan in progress
* ___Sand cardigan in progress (mine's not blue)
* Lena in "nutmeg"-colored yarn reclaimed from a failed shawl and/or Tegna in a lightweight green-grey
* Leigh in the repurposed purple wool/silk blend long allotted to it, though I see now that it'd be good only for chilly layering
...and then for next year, perhaps Summer in the "blue pine" Hempathy that never became something for Reason after her 3yo self snapped the yarn twice, and Noro Y839 skirt in yarn picked up when a shop closed a few years ago.

That said, I hope to finish the two cardigans and Reason's orange one, plus make my mother's gift by mid-fall. It'd be plenty.

Status: ___Sand's hem continues with pauses; now that those office projects have been polished off, the ghost shawl catches the pauses while my finger heals yet again. Here's ghost shawl in someone else's photo---blues are past, with the light/dark brown segment plus edging remaining. Baby hat is paused till my shoulder and wrist feel less aggrieved. Lately, joint woe tracks general inflammation evident in other ways, which still surprises me. I gather it's usual, generally.
catherineldf: (Default)
[personal profile] catherineldf
Queen of Swords Press will be tabling at the first ever Queer Voices Pride Book Fair at the Minneapolis Central Library on Tuesday 6/27, from 5:30-6:30. Then Catherine Lundoff will be one of a group of writers who'll be reading short excerpts of their work from 6:30-8:30ish. Come down, say hi and perhaps, pick up a book or two! We'll have copies of Out of This World and Silver Moon, as well as Queen of Swords Press mugs and some other fun things.

(no subject)

Jun. 25th, 2017 02:15 pm
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (cosmia)
[personal profile] skygiants
I have never read Dhalgren or indeed any Samuel R. Delaney. However, as of yesterday I have at least had a Dhalgren Experience, thanks to [personal profile] aamcnamara, who turned up a local theatrical-dance-music-light-'architectural puppetry' performance of something called Dhalgren: Sunrise this weekend.

Dhalgren: Sunrise is comprised of bits of text from what I assume is Dhalgren the book, accompanied by dance, light, and music, almost all of it improvised. Also, some of the music was performed on imaginary instruments. "That must be a theremin!" I thought brightly to myself on seeing one of the instruments, mostly because I don't know what a theremin looks like and therefore I assume that any instrument I don't recognize is a theremin. But it turns out it was not a theremin, because there was a credit in the program for 'invented instruments,' though I don't know whether the one I saw was the Diddly Bow, the Bass Llamelophone, or the Autospring.

Anyway, so my new understanding of Dhalgren is that it is about a city in which Weird, Fraught and Inexplicable Things Are Happening. This is not a very thorough understanding, but it's still more of an understanding than I had before. The show is composed of seven scene-vignettes:

Prelude: A brief reading of [what I assume to be] the book's introduction.

Orchid: Three women dance on a bridge and a man acquires a prosthetic hand-weapon-implement. The director at the end gave special thanks to the dude who made it, understandably so, because it very effectively exuded Aura of Sinister!

Scorpions: Gang members dance and fight in front of a building? Alien gang members? Just aliens? Anyway, some entities wrapped in glowing lights have a dance fight in front of a building; the text is from the point of view of a worried inhabitant of the building who Has Concerns.

Moons: The moon has a new secondary moon friend named George. The dancing in this section was one of my favorite bits -- the Moon did some amazing things with her light-strung hula hoop. [personal profile] aamcnamara pointed out later that the narration in this bit, which featured a wry and dubious radio announcer, seemed like a perhaps-intentional echo of Welcome to Night Vale. I have never actually listened to Welcome to Night Vale, but from my cultural osmosis knowledge this seems about right.

Fire: The light show took front and center in this bit about everything being on fire and also, simultaneously, not on fire. The maintenance man doing the narration is very plaintive about all of this. There may also have been dancing in this bit but I don't remember what anyone was doing.

Sex: The guy with the sinister prosthesis has an intimate encounter with two other people inside a blanket fort. I always like the blanket-fort method of showing sex onstage, it hints appropriately while allowing actors not to have to do anything they're uncomfortable with. At some point in this process the sinister prosthesis is removed for the first time, which I expect symbolizes something about human connection.

Sunrise: The characters who have previously just had sex emerge from the building and now seem to have a difference of opinion about whether the sunrise is just normal, or whether the earth is actually falling into the sun. Eventually all the characters are onstage being distressed, along with the music and the lighting -- again, really cool light effects here, especially the final overwhelming projection of light followed by and darkness.

It's a one-hour show without intermission, which we all agreed afterwards was for the best; the deeply weird mood and atmosphere would have been difficult to slip back into if one could get up in the middle to go to the bathroom. For those of you who have actually read Dhalgren, I will leave you with [personal profile] aamcnamara's sum-up: "It was a strange experience, but honestly could have been stranger."
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

A friend asked me for this blog post, and I really haven’t been feeling the blogging lately, so here we go, a way into it by talking to a specific person.

A lot of people do pacing instinctively, sometimes synaesthetically. This is why you’ll hear metaphors like an unbalanced washing machine, a car with a flat tire–things where the rhythm is off, things where the story is going THUMPa THUMPa THUMPa. If you have that feeling for it, if you have that instinct, hurrah! Lucky you. If not, here are some other ways to spot broken pacing.

Ask an external reader. If they are bored in some sections, the pacing is probably breaking down. (Also boredom, who wants it.) Also, if they can spot the scenes that are the most important to the writer, that’s no good–obviously there will be things like the climax of the piece that are important scenes, but you don’t want to have a lot of scenes that are obviously un-important. If the reader feels like a scene doesn’t matter to you and they’re right, take it out and find another way to do the thing it’s doing. If they’re wrong and it really is important to you? Probably a pacing problem.

Track things! Track all the things. Okay, not all. But any of the things. Figure out what elements are showing up in each scene, what each scene is doing. You can do this with characters. You can do it with things like description/action/dialog balance. You can do it with objects that are touchstones to your plot. You can do it with locations. Anything you are wanting to pull through the book and balance, you can track, sometimes with color. Put it on notecards, print it out in tiny font and highlight it, just do a chapter list in a different file: who is in Chapter 1 with the protag(s). Who is in Chapter 2. Or: where does the Axe of Awesomeness show up first, where does it show up again, how long is it between spottings of the Major Macguffin. Has the reader had time to forget about it or think it is no longer important or get distracted by the Minor Macguffin. Has the Shiny Red Herring come up often enough? Track it in red to see where it is swimming. Is there a love story? If there is supposed to be a love story but you are not seeing Captain Swoonypants between Chapter 2 and Chapter 13, the pants: they will not be swooning. That is what we call a major sag in the pacing. (And/or in the pants.) Negative relationship stuff, too: that distance between a fight and the next appearance of the person fought with will mean that that relationship is not carrying a lot of tension. The pacing on it will sag. The reader will forget that they are supposed to care.

A thing that I said in the previous paragraph: figure out what each scene is doing. Not just one thing. If it’s just one thing, the pacing will sag and fall over. Do more. But also: when you revise, sometimes one of the things a scene used to be doing will change. If you rip out a subplot, remember to look at the scenes around the stuff you removed. It’s not just that you have to check to get the information redistributed. It’s that the beats also have to be redistributed. If that subplot contained the moments to breathe, your new pacing will be too frenetic. If that subplot contained mostly action and excitement, a hint of that needs to creep back into the new pacing. Pacing, sadly, is not just something you can do once and be done.

Stylistic and length changes. Word length, sentence length, paragraph length, chapter length. You can change these deliberately if you want to, but if you find you have subconsciously changed them without meaning to, you may be rushing a section or meandering through a section that will not feel integrated with the rest of the book and will nag at the reader–sometimes without them being able to spot why.

Note that you do not have to do length analysis on every element of every book every time. This is more a diagnostic for when something seems to not be working or if you consistently have problems than something every writer should do at every moment. In fact, all of this is in that category. If you’re finding that people are saying things you don’t really get about pacing, that something is not working and you don’t understand why, you can poke at these things (or at ideas people will offer in the comments, maybe!). But no writing tool is universal, this is not universal, and you should feel utterly free to not do any of this if you don’t need to and don’t feel like it.

I feel like I can’t stress enough in process posts that everybody works differently, because I hear enough conversation about “I heard one piece of advice and I thought I had to,” and seriously, no, you do not have to, you never have to. Do what works for you. Discard things that sound horrifying until/unless nothing else is working and you feel like it’s worth a shot. Try things that are exciting or weird, try things that feel like they’re fixing the problems you actually have, and don’t listen to me when you don’t feel like it. Okay? Okay.

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