Archive for January, 2011

Friday Round-up

Thank Landsquid it’s Friday, amirite?

Space/Science
Extreme Planet Makeover (Might be fun for world-building scifi/off-world fantasy)
Some confusion over the existence of the Triceratops
First One-Fingered Dinosaur Found (It is apparently Dinosaur Week.  But that’s okay, because dinosaurs are awesome.)
Picture of how deep into the universe we can see versus time

Scifi/Fantasy
Thundercats Cartoon Network Redesign  (Whhhhhhy leave my childhood alone)
Excerpt from The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham
5 Astronomical Goofs in Scifi Movies

Writing
Outlining
Find and Replace (Sweet!)
Best Tweets from WDC11
Query Vocab Lesson
Being a good critique partner

Miscellaneous
Today is the 25th anniversary of the Challenger Disaster. :\

Of Sleep Deprivation and Haiku

I have gotten a total of 7.5 hours of sleep over the past two nights.  As such, I am admittedly a little, um, what’s the term – punch-drunk?  What does that even mean? 

Also, wordpress informs me that I have misspelled my title and now I must fix that.

My friends, landsquid love them, have come up Sky Turtles and Sky Sharks and Land Piranhas.  JOY.  Uh, I mean, what, I don’t have an obsession with fictional animals.

Right, focus.  I had planned a nice writing post for you all today, but seeing how I’m having issues staying awake and coherent and how everything is funny, we are going to leave that for another time and instead communicate in haiku.

Now you may ask why
The answer is quite clear
Because I said so.

Come, haiku with me
Perhaps we’ll tell a story
Possibly about squid.

The Squid Majestic
Ruler of the Deep Waters
Except the Landsquid

ABNA Musings

I had a friend say that whenever she saw “ABNA” she thought “ABBA” and that it’s been a very strange week.

So the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award submission opened last night.  For those of you who don’t stalk the internet like I do, Amazon accepts 10,000 entries (5000 general, 5000 young adult) and through an elimination process ends up with one in each category that gets a publishing contract with Penguin and $15000. (Your advance.  Pretty generous from what I hear.)  They do accept self-published novels (Hidden Worlds is too short, for those wondering why I didn’t do anything with it) and any single-author novel that has never had a traditional publishing contract as long as it’s between 50 and 150K words and meets a variety of other requirements.

I first heard of the ABNAs last year.  I watched a couple of friends go through the process of entering and decided I would enter this year with WLBtB.  It’s probably my favorite of my own novels – I adore the characters – but I haven’t gotten around to doing an in-depth edit.  I’m still working on getting BM out to agents, so I’ve been putting WLBtB on a back-burner as kind of a “if this never gets published, this is my back-up plan” sort of thing.

I still didn’t really edit it beyond fixing typos and grammar and clarifying some scenes.

Here’s the thing – I don’t really think I want to win.

First of all, the ABNAs seem kind of random.  From my friends’ experiences last year, it seems like your chances of moving forward to the next round really depend on who’s assigned to read your entry.  It’s not really a commentary on the quality of your writing or your book as much as whether the reader you get is a good match for your topic/genre.  (Well, I take that back.  I’m sure some of it depends on writing quality.)

Secondly, let’s assume I somehow manage to win this, and Amazon says “here is your $15000 and your publishing deal.”  I wouldn’t know what to do with either.  I would want an agent to look at things.  I’ve read places that if you have a publishing deal, you can contact agents and ask if they’ll take you on, but man, pressure and streeeessssss.

One would wonder why I even bothered entering if it makes me nervous and I’m not even sure I want to win.  Well, a couple of reasons.  It’s practice.  I’m trying to get more things out there.  I can’t hoard my stories forever.  I would like them to be read, and the more I practice and the more I get out there, the more likely it is that some of them will escape and prosper.  The story I submitted isn’t my most polished piece of work – after I rewrite the first chapter (again) I’m going to continue submitting that and I didn’t want it tied up in this contest for however many months it takes before I get knocked out.  I’m kind of interested in seeing how far I can go on a first draft.  I am a masochist.  Things like that.

Did you enter ABNA?  Why?  What do you hope to get out the contest?

Friday Round-up

Space/Science
Discovery Astronaut Hurt in Bike Accident (Poor shuttle astronauts.  They are having a bad month.)
Darkness on the Edge of the Universe
First Mammoth Cloning Experiment Officially Underway (Poor mammoths.  They are going to look around and wish they’d just been left alone to stay extinct.)
Dark Matter Galaxy Detected (bonus gorgeous picture of the Milky Way)
NASA’s Kepler Discovers First Rocky Exoplanet (Video)
How Deep the Universe
Business Case for Mining Asteroids

Scifi/Fantasy
Fantasy and Steampunk Debuts for 2011
Excerpt: Among Others by Jo Walton
Interview with Gene Wolfe
Science Fiction Musicals (Personally, I rather liked the Simpsons’ parody of Planet of the Apes)
What Apocalyse Scenario are You Best Cut Out For? (Terminator for meeee)
Vader vs. Voldemort

Misc Books
11 Books That Take Place in a Single Day
Babysitter’s Club: Where Are They Now?

Writing
Head-Hopping

Whatever Floats My Boat
Fractal!
You have an accent on Twitter

Twitter friends, don’t forget to track hashtag #wdc11 to keep track of the Writer’s Digest conference this weekend.

Writing with a Partner – Collaborative Editing

To continue our discussion from last week (tl;dr – writing with a partner is awesome, assuming you find the right partner), this week I am going to discuss the theory of editing collaboratively.

I say theory because I have not done this.  Sure, I’ve edited anthologies and other group projects, but that’s still very much an individual sort of thing – at least in my experience, you’re assigned a story, you edit it, you send it back to the author or some central person – not a lot of interaction.

But this is different.  This is something that we have equal shares in.  You can’t really break up a novel and say “okay, you edit this part and I’ll edit this part.”  All that will get you is incoherence and discord.

By myself, I edit like so (note: this only works for books with chapters – books without chapters like Hidden Worlds tend to involve more re-reading and a ridiculous amount of post-it notes).  However, here’s how I imagine a dual editing process would go (my lovely partner Sarah is welcome to tell me I am crazy.  I do not know what her usual editing process is).

I imagine first off we’d both do an overall read through to determine overarching plot issues.  And then I imagine we would discuss our findings and determine a path forward.  We are nothing if not cooperative.

From there, I see things getting tricky.  We switch off, scene by scene, between our characters.  What if some scenes need to be cut out?  It will ruin our back and forth.  There will be CHAOS and DESTRUCTION.

I just like capital letters.

Where to go from there?  I imagine we might divvy up the parts that need to be fixed based on which character’s viewpoint it fits best in and then go through an iterative process of rewriting and discussing until we’re happy with how things have turned out.

And then we can re-read it again and repeat the whole process.

I wonder if it’ll be more or less frustrating working on something together as opposed to going it alone.

Anyone ever edited a collaborative story?  How’d you do it?  How’d it go?

Of Turtleducks and Self-Folding Plesiosaurs

To continue our series on strange fictional animals, today I bring you turtleducks and self-folding plesiosaurs.  (As evidenced by the title.)

Isn’t it interesting how the oddest things catch on?  As an example, I like terrible jokes.  Jokes like “A man walked into a bar.  Ow.”  or “Why did the monkey fall out of the tree?  Because it was dead.”  or “If it’s a thousand miles to Kansas, how many flapjacks does it take to cover a doghouse?  Purple, because ice cream doesn’t have any bones.”  (Re: that last one – one of the contractors at my last job asked me it and was outright flabbergasted when I knew the answer.  I was his favorite person forever.)

One of my very favorites is “What’s big, green, has four legs, and if it falls out of a tree onto you will kill you?”

The answer is “a pool table” but once, several years ago, I had a friend immediately reply, “An alligator!  But why is the alligator in the tree?”

I shared that answer with my writing group and it spawned a running in-joke, a short story anthology, and continues to be a question posed to new members. 

That may have seemed like an unrelated tangent (down the bunny trail, as my HS physics teacher used to say) but this brings us back around to Turtleducks.  Many years ago, a writing friend of mine was having a bad day, and I decided I would cheer her up, and that the best way to do so would be yell gibberish at her.  (My mind is a strange place sometimes.)  It did, however, work, and she (and others) latched on to the concept of the turtleduck and they continue to be randomly sprung on people.  (Usually at full volume.)

Years later, the turtleduck would be chosen to represent our publishing label at Turtleduck Press.  (The alligator in the tree was actually our first choice, but it was too close to already existing publishing labels.  I am still slightly in awe that I am responsible for both these phenomena.)

Now the self-folding plesiosaurs are something that seem to amuse mostly me (like Mad Tea Parties and eeevil robots) but I like to bring them back up every now and again.  They spawned during a conversation where I insisted everyone talk in haiku.  (See above about my brain.)  For some reason or other, someone sent me a picture of a plesiosaur (specifically of the Elasmosauridae family) in a living room, and we had a long discussion on how it had gotten in, and somehow decided that it had been folded up to accomplish the feat, and perhaps it had even folded itself.

Someday I will figure out how to sell self-folding plesiosaurs and all my money woes will be a thing of the past.

Anyway, on that note – know any good jokes?

Friday Round-Up

I’m moving the round-up to Friday this month as I’m trying out a new posting schedule.  Let me know if you prefer Thursday or Friday.  I work on the round-ups all week long, so it doesn’t much matter to me what day they go up on.

Science/Space
Zambia’s Forgotten Space Program
Last week’s solar eclipse from space
Creation of Hanny’s Voorwerp
Problem with Discovery’s External Tank Determined

There’s a Delta Heavy rocket launch scheduled for next Wednesday from SLC-6 (pronounced Slick-6 by those of us in the industry) at Vandenburg Air Force Base in California.  SLC-6 is interesting because it was intended for West Coast space shuttle launches but was never used for such, though the link above has pictures of the only time a shuttle ever stood on the pad.  (Interesting to note is that the shuttle is the Enterprise, which was purely a mock-up and was never intended for actual spaceflight.)

I am a space neeeerd.

Scifi/Fantasy
Science Fiction Novels to look forward to in 2011
Be a character in John Scalzi’s new book
World-building

Misc Books
Most Literate US Cities

Writing
Lyrical Press is looking for editors (I thought about it, but I don’t have the time)
Suturing Readers into your Characters
5 Situations Where it’s Better to Tell Than Show
Are you using “there” as a crutch?
Naked Writers
Query Letters – Hooks
Steampunk Writing Contest – Fairy Tales