Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Some of you might remember that I had considered Buddhism as my other primary religion for my SF project, which got backburnered when my library never delivered the book. (At this point, I can only assume whoever had it checked out simply stole it.) Well, today I went to a Borders on closeout - forty percent off everything - and on a whim, went looking for the Dumbie's Guide. Sure enough, they had it, and at such a discount ... why not?

So research resumes, though worldwork does not cease.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Good Ol' Days

In a surge of nostalgia, I've been writing up a plot summary for my old Starshine Weyr (a Pern fandom, where you roleplay original characters in that world) storylines. For some idea of the timeline, the first scenes were in 1997 and I think it started petering out in 2001.

There's a lot that's rough around the edges, soap opera quality and sometimes just embarrassing - but I was young. (I also realize that I spent way too much time roleplaying with myself and making other people watch, a tendency which I think I've (mostly) grown out of.) Still, that notwithstanding, the depth, complexity and yeah, insanity of events leaves me boggled.

In some ways, my plots are stronger while playing with others, helped by the kind of extended time and thought this entails. In others ... sometimes I worry I've put on filters that - while they've made my writing more mature - has also taken some of the zing out of it.

In general, I get really gnawy with the worry that I can't come up with things as developed when I'm doing it on my own. Is this true? Is it nonsense? I don't know ...

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Past Imperfect

Rather than a blow-by-blow account of the stories, just a brief general commentary about the Past Imperfect anthology of time travel stories - a DAW anthology from Greenberg and Segriff.

Ironically, for a time travel anthology, most of these stories had a significant problem with pacing. An intriguing set-up and slow build fizzled out or was short-changed; or there was too much moderately dull information before the pay-off.

Two stories stood out as genuinely enjoyable. The first was from Jody Lynn Nye - Theory of Relativity. Close second was The Gift of a Dream from Dean Wesley Smith.

One of the stories was about a character looping back on himself, and reminded me of a story I wrote - Transient - where the non-POV main character lived each day out of sequence. Really should go back to that and see if I can make it flow through ...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Character Blip

Ignoring the bits that are fairly specific to the "Wicked" story (... and that this is from the POV of the Wicked Witch of the West), and this is a pretty good character-song for Anaea, the MC from my Scylla-and-Charybdis storyline:

(To quote:

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules
Of someone else's game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap ... )

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Game Nostalgia

I am one of those people who plunks shameful amounts of time into computer games. I've been out of the game-buying circuit for 2-3 years due to the age of my computer, but I find that I tend to prefer older games. There's simply more content and frequently, they just seem better constructed. Also, the RPGs tend more towards turn-based, which is a heavy preference of mine. I do not care for real time. False turn-based where you can pause and queue up actions does not count, in my mind.

Despite that, Morrowind is still one of the best new games I've ever played. I ripped through the new Bard's Tale game, Knights of the Old Republic and even Neverwinter Nights in a disappointing amount of time. Contrast with Wizardry 8, which took me months - but that game, though more recent, is a past-blast to the previous seven Wizardries. What have I spent much of my recent time on? Might and Magic ... VI and VII. What do I still consider the best RPG I've ever played? An obscure little game called Betrayal in Antara. Though set in a different locale, its engine is sandwiched between Betrayal in Krondor (which was fun enough, but Antara's storyline takes cake and platter) and Return To Krondor - which was another game that sacrificed graphics for content.

Running close second is the more recent Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magick Obscura. I love games with side-quests that you can totally miss and discover the next time 'round. Also, again, I loved the plot.

Strategy games I've had more luck with because they tend to be more exclusively TB and content lends itself more to each game being different: Civ 4, Galactic Civilizations, etc. (The Movies is a dud.) However, I still have original Colonization (yes, the version that was released a year or two after Civilization NO NUMBERS!), I enjoy playing Zeus, and I recently had a hankering after Castles and ... probably the best older strategy game I can remember playing... Master of Magic. Honestly, pound for pound, MoM blew original-Civilization out of the water for me.

All this came up because someone I know online has been trying to convince me to pick up Fallout and Fallout 2. I have seen a few new games that I would be interested in (my computer can't handle them, so it's moot), but the truth is, I could happily keep myself busy on games released before 2000. Indefinitely.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I just finished this book - I ended up skimming a lot of it because it dealt with the kind of exotic environments I know I won't be building. However, it was in parts very helpful, and in parts reminded me how much I know about basic climate effects, volcanism, greenhouse effect, etc from my coursework. I'm not as badly prepared as I think I am!

I am tentatively thinking Tau Ceti's satellite planet will be Solomon; I also want one named after the Welsh underworld, but undecided whether I'll leave it authentic or anglicize it. I am also toying with the idea of using either a double planet or an inhabitable moon. I believe I understand the basics well enough to work it.

But with no Buddhism book in hand, this actually means that - starting tomorrow - I'm going to start putting some of this worldbuilding into print. Fear me.

Monday, December 08, 2008


I just tackled "The Complete Idiot's Guide To Understanding Judaism" because I'd been planning on using that background in my story ... not as a major thematic element, but as a component of the world. Having finished the book, I am confirmed in my desire, though I see I'm going to have to do some thinking about the Tau Ceti lunar cycle and how to work into a Jewish calendar without making it too convenient.

I realize I haven't talked much about my characters or the plot - this is largely because most of this was defined in the original "Scylla and Charybdis" short story. I am realizing now that my main male character (who catalyzes the POV character's discovery, plays tour guide, becomes a friend and eventually a romantic interest) is almost certainly going to be fairly devout ... which may involve some further research on my part.

The nice thing about moving a few hundred years in the future is I can deal with theory-versus-reality faith issues as having changed in the intervening centuries ... still nervous, though. May want to get someone with first-hand knowledge to read just those bits that directly relate.

I have one more book that hasn't come in yet - whoever has the Buddhism book is not giving it up - and unless it shows up before I finish my other worldbuilding book, this means I'll finally start working. Whoo.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

If These Walls Could Speak ...

... they'd say I just made a short fiction sale! That's also the title of the story, basically a romance about a matchmaking house.

Yeah, it's a cute little story and I had a blast writing it.

Was just accepted by Allegory. I've reached their "hold round" a few times before, so great to finally make it through. Hurrah!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

You Just Don't Understand

Despite this book being the bestseller and the previous gender-speak book being - arguably - the knock-off, I am much less impressed with the content and the apparent scientific basis of the information here. I felt as if the book was a combination anecdotal case study and whine-fest with plausible deniability (it's linguistics!). Though I suppose it was educational on the front of showing me some assumptions I don't want to make.

Also, this is my themesong for this project, tongue happily and firmly in cheek:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Writer's Guide To ...

... Creating a Science Fiction Universe -- George Ochoa and Jeffrey Osier

This is a fairly old book and shows it in places (I particularly liked the "newfangled" references to dialup modems), but in others it is absolutely essential. It covers similar ground to the other two SF-writer books I've read, but provided me with some key information that I can use to concretely build my planets. The nice thing is, outside of the first non-Terran colony, I am completely flexible with both year-and-day length, general temperature, magnitude of stars ... having read some cool things, I really want a K star.

This book finally tossed me into the uncharted waters of my basic problem: I wanted a year length close enough to Earth's that Tau Ceti years / days / months could be "galactic time" without having to explain to people that characters are only 2/3rds as old in years, or 6/5ths, or ... unfortunately, while Sol is a G2 star, Tau Ceti is a G8 star. Several orders of magnitude lower. This means that ... well ... even accounting for changes in orbit speed, if the year is about the same length that's going to be one cold planet, baby.

I finally managed to solve it by dividing the year in half. Tau Ceti now has two year-pairs in a standard year; this is kind of nice because I'm going for a duality effect in the whole setting. However, this means that it receives about twenty-five percent more insolation. I can increase the ozone layer, interpolate heavier layers of galactic debris, increase ocean levels (which moderates temperature) and decrease axial tilt to cool it off, making it hotter than earth but still within the liveable paradise parameters I was seeking.

The sad part? It is highly unlikely any of my characters will set foot on this planet. It's backdrop.

Now if anyone actually read this here post of mine, I'll be impressed.

Back to gender speak! Then ... Judaism.

You read that right.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I just finished reading "45 Master Characters" -- the archetype book. I decided fairly early into reading that I wasn't going to be able to use this. I already know who Anaea (my MC) is with some certainty, and she didn't fit cleanly into any of the types the author posited ... at least, not in a way that takes the story where I want it to go. I'm not really willing to alter my underlying plot to follow a prescribed journey. That's not the point of the book, anyhow.

I found it interesting, but fairly basic, and I thought the types were rather limited. The most valuable part of the book is the discussion of the feminine journey and its contrast with the masculine journey. I was highly amused by the fact that the author's example of a gender-bend for the latter (ie, a female undertaking the masculine journey) is The Long Kiss Goodnight, a movie I've always had a soft spot for.

If anything, this got me thinking very strongly about another plot that's decided to kick around in my brain uninvited. I have a couple PCs who I think could work together in a novel. They both have storyline support structures that would combine well for a compelling tale ... and I realize it's very archetypal.

There are two obvious reasons I'm not writing this now. First of all, I want to do this project, I've been doing this research, darned if I'm going to be derailed, especially for something that ... second of all ... I fear may be rather cliche in setting. It's the combination of characters that would blast it to life, and I feel very strongly I know their core already, but ...

Well, for future reference. Who knows, maybe I'll end up doing this instead of the mystery. If I could think of a reasonable way to tackle this without taking time out from my other writing, I would. It's calling to me in a really strong way, and even knowing it's a "bad idea" for reasons mentioned above, it's hard to silence the voices.

But onwards! The Writer's Guide to Creating a Science Fiction Universe by George Ochoa and Jeffery Osier.

I really have to get to the end of my research jag soon. I want to have my worldbuilding work done before I have to return Borderlands of Science ... ahem.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Almost done with this book, and noticing an interesting feature: a lot of "gender dialogue" is more based in "dominance dialogue." Women are still traditionally in subordinate positions, and those who aren't are often viewed as "speaking like men." So it's food for thought what would happen if the natural trends in society were reversed. Would a hundred years be enough to change this perception?

I am beginning to worry that a hundred years isn't long enough for the societal changes I'm trying to create, but I have two points in mind. Firstly - look at everything that has happened since 1910 or so, including events that could have created other, sweeping changes, but didn't happen. Secondly - I need to have the disease strike be close enough that the ladies of my isolated space station still believe it might be a plausible threat. If I move any further out, I start to lose immediacy.

To help accelerate my divided society, I've had the disease unleashed unevenly. This fouls my balanced dynamic a bit, but it has a rational reason. What I'm hoping is to establish top-down change: the leading elements change very quickly, and that filters down through society within 20 - 30 years. Understand that you've got worlds in chaos and the necessity of survival and this kind of swift lockdown ... well, hopefully it will make sense.

Ow, my head.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Reading on ...

Finished reading through "Aliens and Alien Societies" though ... it has become a zero-sum game, as I put two more SF writer worldbuilding books on reserve. Would have reserved more, but the other resources I was looking for were not in my library. Really, it's about time some insane, ridiculous book I was looking for wasn't. ;-)

I have taken some notes; I have a clearer idea how I want the Derithe to work. To the point where, if this were somehow to get published and I were going to write a sequel, I'd want to crack the mystery of my little alien deus ex machinae ... (machinas?) I also got a good grasp that building earthlike planets for my people to inhabit is actually going to be easier than I thought.

Gee, that's a nice feeling.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Nothing Lasts

Surprisingly, the only thing I had to cut from the last CD was the Selena song ...

I always seem to repeat a song when I do these CDs, which is reasonable enough - I don't have a good enough memory to keep track of over a hundred songs. It's never an absolute favorite song, though always one I like a lot; in this case, it's "The West Wind Circus."

This is my "Nothing Lasts" collection, songs of fleeting circumstances. Again, I'm fairly surprised by the variety here - a fair number of songs that are either new or I don't listen to often.

1. Don't Let This Moment End -- Gloria Estefan
2. What's Forever For -- Anne Murray
3. If You Go -- Sophie Ellis-Bextor
4. The West Wind Circus -- Helen Reddy
5. What Do Pretty Girls Do? -- Kirsty MacColl
6. Life Goes On -- Leann Rimes
7. Blue Black -- Heather Nova
8. Can't Go Back -- Sissel
9. Long Way Down -- Laura Powers
10. Things Happen -- Kirsty MacColl
11. You'll See - Madonna
12. One Night Only -- Dreamgirls Soundtrack
13. One of These Days -- Michelle Branch
14. X-Girlfriend -- Mariah Carey
15. Goodbye, My Friend -- Linda Ronstadt
16. Suddenly -- Leann Rimes
17. Fifteen Minutes -- Kirsty MacColl
18. The Last Words You Said -- Sarah Brightman
19. Fade Away -- Celine Dion
20. As Long As You're Mine -- Idina Menzel; Norbert Leo Butz (Wicked Soundtrack)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Added to Reading List

While I don't really expect to be dealing with religious matters in my SF outing, I do expect it to be a backdrop. I've created a sort of loose deist religion for my space-amazons (... err ...) but decided for the main civs, I wanted to have the most prevalent religions be Judaism and Buddhism. I've come up with an explanation for the former's population surge; yet to ponder the latter. I've ordered a couple of basic books just to ground myself. It may be after reading them that I change my mind ...


Exhibit A for the prosecution in the case: I am neurotic.

I've been following a new series of articles about varying flash fiction forms - ways of creating a story by imposing artifical structure on a piece.

Well, I ran out. So I came up with my own form.

I decided to use words per sentence. Alternating paragraphs of the following two patterns:

2 / 4 / 6 / 8 / 22
1 / 3 / 5 / 7 / 9 / 11

This is all to do with numerology: these are the significant numbers in the system. 11 and 22 are reduced to 2 and 4, respectively, but they indicate a higher destiny, so they're always notated.

In my defense, I only decided I would have nine paragraphs (equivalent to the nine main numbers) when I was about halfway through and trying to figure out how I wanted to end it.

Furthermore, the name I chose for the main character is an imperfect anagram of eleven and adds up to twenty-two.

The story does involve numerology, but the musical side - the music of the spheres.

I had *fun* doing this.

... I think my brain is diseased.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No Good Deed

Another day, another themed CD collection. This one (like the first) is also directly inspired by a song title, the first one here: "No Good Deed" (goes unpunished). So here's to misbehaving ...

1. No Good Deed - Idina Menzel (Wicked soundtrack)
2. Rush - Cherie
3. You Can't Treat The Wrong Man Right - Linda Ronstadt
4. Treat Her Like A Lady - Celine Dion
5. Devil In A Fast Car - Sheena Easton
6. This Masquerade - Helen Reddy
7. Play The Field - Debbie Gibson
8. Damn - Leann Rimes
9. Steal Your Heart - Gloria Estefan
10. Worst Best Friend - Cupboard
11. Hotel Paper - Michelle Branch
12. A Boy Like That - Selena
13. Can't Stop Killing You - Kirsty MacColl
14. Cuts Both Ways - Gloria Estefan
15. When The Wrong One Loves You Right - Celine Dion
16. My Affair - Kirsty MacColl
17. Dear Life - Chantal Kreviazuk
18. Murder in Mairyland Park - Sarah Brightman
19. Love Me Like That - Michelle Branch
20. Lover's Knot - Anne Murray
21. Bad - Kirsty MacColl

I'm sure I cut a couple of these - not sure which yet, and I didn't save it when I made the decisions. (I think the Selena song was one of them.) But this was the original concept.

What does it say about me that this is the long list? Right then.

I also note that it's probably the most varied of them thus far, artist-wise.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Put The Kettle On ...

I've been reading "Borderlands of Science" to get some basic grounding for my SF novel, and have come up with some basic ideas how I want the history to go. I've decided I'm using hyper-space corridors - that is, you can't go everywhere with them, but there are specific "lines" typically between gravity wells. I've figured out what techno-babble to use to refer to non-hyperspace travel ... and that I can use a slower-than-light vehicle to get around the interior of a solar system.

I'm primarily defining my technology by what it can't do, and running into some snags with things I just can't plausibly say are impossible. The big one is cloning. My history is inching up on a reason why it might be banned for moral reasons, but I need to ask a "techie" I know whether the form of quantum teleportation I'm pondering is even possible.

I've also figured out how psionics got into the culture and why they're fairly well accepted.

I haven't written much of this down yet because I want to finish my reading. Any of this might change if I encounter a scientific / social point in another book.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Anatomy of an Idea: Mirror, Mirror ...

I've tried to keep this one spoiler-free, but really, you should buy the issue of Speculative Mystery Iconoclast and read it first - just to be safe!

The idea for Mirror, Mirror ... came during a period when I wanted to write a pseudo-Victorian piece. I don't remember what sparked this, but I purchased the Writers' Digest "Everyday Life In ..." book on the topic. The result of this research ...

... was not Mirror, Mirror .... At least, not at first.

It was another story, entitled The Changeling Letter, which is still looking for publication. In working on this tale, I came up with a setting that would later be reused in M,M: the kingdom of Gloriann. (I also used Gloriann and its neighbor, Tarmaria, in a story set at the beginning of the queen's rein. It's also a mystery story; however, I retired it because I just couldn't find a way to cut down the complexity or the cast without compromising the story. Editors thought it was too much; they were right.)

In writing TCL, I had a weird out-of-body sensation. Lines came out of me where I had no ideas of their origin. It wasn't my style, but it flowed perfectly. This was to happen again as I wrote M,M.

In doing my research for TCL, I made notes on some things that interested me. Two that applied directly to the story was the idea that people used to cover mirrors while in mourning, for fear the soul would otherwise become trapped inside it; and the concept of the first interior decorators. I also was tickled to death by descriptions of period bathrooms, so one appears in M,M as well.

These concepts collided to form the concept of a murder mystery where the consequences of death were so much more than merely departing from this life. I knew I wanted to use the same setting, but I wanted a sort of psychic detective, so I had to set the story later than TCL, where magic is forbidden to women. Things have loosened up a little in M,M, but my main character still has to pretend to use devices to guise her own powers.

I chose the name Graeme because I saw it on a book cover (GURPS Faerie, actually) and thought it was fantastic. Much later, I learned that it's probably a Celtic variant of Graham, but that's all right - the awkward "outsider" moment my narrator has with another female character in the story makes the choice of a masculine name apropos.

Mirror, Mirror ...

Speculative Mystery Iconoclast is now online at

Their first issue includes my story "Mirror, Mirror ..." - check it out!

More about it in a bit.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Flying Higher

Another day, another collection of songs. I've listened through a little under half of these and been surprised by some of my choices. Theme here is Flying High: flight, flying, weightlessness, celestial, etc.

1. I'm Gonna Fly (Amy Grant)
2. How Can Heaven Love Me (Sarah Brightman)
3. Heaven's What I Feel (Gloria Estefan)
4. Weightless (Sissel)
5. Weight of the World (Chantal Kreviazuk)
6. Why (Sarah Brightman - both these songs are from her "Fly" album, too)
7. Innocence (Kirsty MacColl)
8. In The Arms of the Milky Way (Laura Powers)
9. Dust in the Wind (Sarah Brightman)
10. The West Wind Circus (Helen Reddy - possibly one of the best ballad songs in modern music)
11. Roots and Wings (Anne Murray)
12. I Ain't Going Down (Shania Twain)
13. If You're Gonna Fly Away (Faith Hill)
14. No Angel (Dido)
15. Drops of Jupiter (Train)
16. Sign of Life (Leann Rimes)
17. She's a Butterfly (Martina McBride)
18. Higher (Gloria Estefan)

This sort of appears to be my country mix - Murray, Twain, Hill, McBridge, and "Innocence" (the entirety of Kite, the album from which it comes, in fact - more flying references!) is very country in sound. Which is funny, 'cause I don't usually think of myself as a country listener ...

For those of you not familiar with Laura Powers, it's best described as very trope-ish neo-Celtic pagan goddess fluff-music, but some of the songs are really pretty.

Surprisingly enough, I cut Enya's Carribean Blue when I went to burn this one because I didn't have quite enough time - so it's not on the list, but it was in my original mix.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Queen of Pointless

I sit in Minneapolis now, my shoes almost worn through to the socks, my voice still completely gone (which makes the urge to sing "Popular" from Wicked rather awkward), waiting to shut down and board. When I arrived in Minny, I discovered that my gate was on the other end of the airport ... literally. Two thirds of the way there, assuming that there would be multiple currency exchanges, I asked at a help desk and was referred ... halfway BACK the way I had come. All this to get rid of twenty bucks CAD.

Had a decent dinner and a dessert from Caribou coffee: pumpkin cooler and a cookie. Guy at the counter asked if he could have my Kennedy silver dollar. I think I accidentally made him guilty when I said no, it was a keepsake from late grandfather's collection. (Like my two dollar bills, I carry it around because I like to have the reminder when I go digging.)

Gave the lady at the currency exchange all my Canadian pennies 'cause heck, what'm I going to do with five cents CAD?

Flight is due in at 11:59 EST. This means it'll be tomorrow by the time I get home. But wait!

... it's not tomorrow 'til you sleep, I've always said.

Must vote tomorrow.

I vote for more airline flights so we don't have four hr layovers.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

WFC 2008: Day Four -- End of Days

Today, I had my last two sessions for the WFC. Hard to believe it's over already! I've got the rest of today in Calgary and I leave tomorrow - flight departs 1:55pm local.

Panel: Genre Hopping (Barbara Hambly, Jo Beverley, Karen Dudley (no show), Jean Marie Ward (moderator))

A really fun panel about writers who use different genres - more than crossing them in the same work, though that as well. I had not been aware of Beverley before and am eager to check out her cross-genre work. The prime wisdom I took away was this: Let the book be what it wants to be, categorize it later.

Beverley said she had the following conversation with a fan once: "I don't write dark books." "Have you looked at your body count?" So it's always hard for an author to look at themselves from the inside.

Reading: Patricia McKillip

As I've said before, McKillip is a sweet lady. I ended up on the shuttle with her when coming home from my first WFC, didn't realize who she was, and started rambling about worldbuilding. Then she introduced herself and I was sitting there thinking: "Shut up Lindsey just shut up!" I don't think she has the greatest reading voice or presence, but dang, I couldn't get up and do that for an hour. The piece she read from is a brand new novel, purchased but not finished, with a really deep sense of place. I definitely want to read it when it comes out.

Because I wanted to know if I needed to mail some books home rather than pack them in my luggage, I tried to find a scale. The concierge referred me ... to the fitness room. With the help of a kind gentleman who had been exercising when I came up, I ... weighed my packed bag. I'm not sure I trust it, because it came out in the mid-thirties, but he seemed to know how to work it and he said his weight was accurate, so ...

Doing the math, I see no conceivable way my bag is going to be more than seventy lbs. There's just no way. I looked at the weight of the Erikson book, which is the biggest of the hardcovers, and that's only 1.8 lbs. My clothes + the bag itself would need to weigh about fifty lbs to break 70. Also let's note that I can lift the bag in one hand, and while I am strong from harp-caravaning ... I am not THAT strong.

I am still nervous, though.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

WFC 2008: Day Three -- The Reading

This deserves a post all to itself.

I arrived about twenty minutes early to the Broad Universe reading room and introduced myself. I confessed I was nervous and found the readers to be lovely ladies ... and then the other people streamed in. I think, including readers, there must have been thirty to forty people - which for me was a massive crowd. I'm used to speaking for a maximum of thirty seconds and then ducking behind a five foot tall instrument.

I was fourth in, which was fortunate - gave me less time to sweat. I couldn't tell you much about the readings of the people before me, though ... everything was a blur until I got up.

I was grateful that I had my reading well on the way to memorization; it meant I could keep my face into the mic. And I do know how to keep my face into a mic, at least, from performing. Only had to stop and swallow once. Got to make a joke about possibly having the plague that made everyone laugh.

I don't think I had one of the best readings; I don't think I had one of the worst. It had half-niggled at me before, but I don't think I chose the best section for a reading - the section has intriguing information, but it's not necessarily high action or high stakes. My reading voice was pretty strong, hoarseness notwithstanding, and I tried to emphasize key words. I think it worked, because someone complimented me on the voice afterward.

(Now if only I could not put my foot in my mouth by asking someone if their reading was the whole story and finding out that yes, it was. Whoops.)

I'll know more for next time, and I think I did very well for a newbie showing. ;-)

A lot of great sections shared 'round in various tones ... what a varied and talented group of ladies. Also wonderful that so many people (so it seemed) showed up to listen against two other panels, another reading, and certainly parties.

Funny thing - one of the other readers was excerpting a story from Speculative Mystery Iconoclast. *And* I got a button for the magazine. Hee!

Tomorrow I am going to test pack, though I'm not leaving 'til Monday.

Cause seriously, I'm not sure all these books are going to FIT.

WFC: Day Three -- Now Waiting

Panel: David Morrell Interview (Stephen Jones, David Morrell)

I decided to attend this on a whim, just because Morrell's had some interesting things to say. And he did again, one of which I'm still thinking about: the idea that we (at least successful writers) focus on our dominant emotion. I wonder what mine is. It's probably depressing. (... maybe it IS depression.)

Panel: 2008 Awards Year Recommendations (David Hartwell, Charles N. Brown, Ellen Datlow, Jonathan Strahan, Alan Beatts (moderator))

I came out, not only with a Locus list of the best books in the genre, but with a number of other selections, and one thought that heartened me from Strahan: he thinks that the genre has been short on, and needs more of, "pure fantasy" short stories. (As opposed to urban / slipstream / magical realism, one assumes.)

But thinking about this scares me, too. I can feel my mental bar shifting. I don't want to just be published; will I feel like a failure if I don't make a best-first list out of the gate? Don't I already feel like one for still not having my name on the cover of a book? How idiotic is it that I feel like I should-ought-must slam into the top bar, or I might as well not try?

WFC 2008: Day Three -- Food For ...

This morning, breakfast consisted of ... a single donut from hospitality. Lunch is ... a hot dog and a bag of chips. I'm ordering room service for dinner, though, so I can chill out (err ... freak out?) before my reading tonight.

Really, I'm a cheap date.

Panel: Fantasy 'Zines Online (Jennifer Dawson, Sean Wallace, Wendy S. Delmater, John Klima (moderator))

Some good insights into the process of these online zine editors. I hadn't realized that Flash Me (Dawson) was entirely funded from her own pocketbook. Clarkesworld has swapped to a new form-only system, and I was relieved to hear that I wasn't the only one who was scorched by Nick Matamas during his stint there ... well, I'd heard it before, but there's something great about an entire room of people laughing when Klima said, "Well, Nick's not the most ... diplomatic ..."

Delmater was a little late - and I was nervous about this, because it was my only guaranteed way of meeting her before the reading. Since I'm reading a story from her mag / antho, I wanted to let her know. I introduced myself afterwards ("Lindsey with an e" - I swear that's my name) and she kindly lent me a copy to show off.

Panel: Haunted Houses and Cultic Crypts - Use of Setting to Create Atmosphere (David Morrell, Barbara Hambly, Emily Gee (no show), Lawrence C. Connolly (moderator))

Morrell had this great story about abandoning buildings with all the furniture left in situ ... it's an interesting thought. This whole panel isn't usually in my vein - I don't try to creep readers out - but I found it worthwhile.

Panel: Defining The Next Paranormal Detective (A.B. Goelman, Gayleen Froese, Justin Gustainis, Jay Caselberg, Laura Anne Gilman, Devon Monk (moderator))

Myself, I'm wanting to get away from the paranormal detective - I'm more looking at putting the detective into fantasy than putting the fantasy into a detective - but I loved this panel. I definitely have to check out Goelman's story where his detective is essentially a Barbie doll ... but there's a lot of opportunity here, it seems, as the gap between magic and science seems to narrow and the average person is less and less able to explain how technology works.

I have a note in my book about doing an Asrai detective story in my Flow setting. Not sure I can - in that setting, fairies are by intrinsic nature amoral beings - but it's worth a look.

... one of the panelists fell off the stage as it was breaking up and broke his ankle. :-(

Panel: What A Good Anthology Does & Why It Matters (Kathryn Cramer, Gary A. Braunbeck, John Joseph Adams, Darrell Schweitzer (moderator))

Discussion from the point of view of an editor. I'm not sure this was helpful to me in any way, but it was interesting ... though very frustrating to hear they were almost universally against any kind of open call. I was amused by the publisher / editor wrangle between marketing, who wants to know before one word has been said to authors who will be in the book ...

Skipped the 2 o'clock slot to eat and take a breather. Still debating about the 3 o'clock slot. Definitely want to hit the Awards recommendations at 4 ...

Then it's back here at 5ish to eat, shower, do one last run-through, and hope like anything the mic's on 'cause my voice is GONE baby.

Friday, October 31, 2008

WFC 2008: Day Two -- It's Elementary

I sit here, laxing out until the autograph session later tonight. It was definitely a busy afternoon.

Panel: Tom Doherty Interview (Tom Doherty, David Hartwell)

The founder of Tor talked about his early experiences in the publishing business ... right up to about the founding of the company, in fact, with a brief touch upon some upcoming Tor works that he thought were exciting. The man is hilarious, truly, and what a convoluted road! He also cited a major problem with the current book business in that we used to have hundreds of small wholesale distributors with drivers who knew the area and had some idea of the demographic. Now with everything being nationalized, it's impossible to know what to sell to where. It's a problem being worked on, but not fixed yet.

Panel: Side-Kicks Who Try To Steal The Show (Dave Duncan, J.R. Campbell, Charles Prepolec, Barbara Roden (moderator))

Oh, there were some grins and giggles here - but also some genuinely interesting observations about the sidekick as the reader stand-in, protagonist mirror, unruly takeovers ...

Panel: Is Fantasy An Inherently Violent Genre? (David Morrell, Stephen R. Donaldson (no show), David Drake, Scott Lynch (moderator, no show))

Difficult to say how this panel would have gone if it had been more than half populated. A lot of talk about real world violence instead, specifically as relates to Vietman. I did take away a few valuable points, but felt kind of uncomfortable with the whole thing.

Panel: Medieval Mysteries (Barbara Hambly, Patricia McKillip, Irene Radford, David Keck (moderator))

A really interesting panel, despite the fact that I'm not sure there was enough communication between the program directors and the authors to know why they were on it. (I put that on the program folks, not the authors, but I'm sure they were juggling a ton.) Covered a variety of topics, some related, some a little tangential.

I must read some of David Keck's stuff. The man is hilarious. I was also interested enough in what Barbara Hambly had to say that I am willing to give her works another try. (The last book I read - ironically, picked up at a prior World Fantasy Convention - did not leave me with a favorable impression.)

That completes the panel part of today. I went out after to find takeout food, walked down the wrong way, ended up in the Calgary Tower which was NOT a shopping mall (... well!) and finally backtracked to a Quiznos. Sort of luckily, another conference member happened in and we walked back to the hotel together, 'cause it was starting to get ... weird ... on the streets of Calgary. Did not know Quiznos had flatbread pizzas! Sort of disappointing, though.

Also got my hands on pineapple juice. Well, apple-pineapple juice, anyhow.

WFC 2008: Day Two -- Good Morning Sunshine

So although I stole the shampoo and soap from the last hotel, I do not care for this one's white ginger kick.

Anyyyyhow ...

Rise and shine! Day two is afoot and the panels are heating up.

Panel: Real Life Villains (David Morrell, Anita Siraki, Mark Van Name, Janine Young (moderator))

This was a really interesting, thoughtful discussion about constructing realistic villains and how to take inspiration from real life. I've always subscribed to the school that (with the exception of the utterly crazy) villains think they are doing the right thing - they've just dehumanized their opponents to the point that their actions are "excusable." It was definitely supported here.

Panel: Adding Mystery To Your Fiction (Sean Williams (no show), Laurel Anne Hill, Jana Oliver, Daryl Gregory (moderator))

I got some good recommendations out of this and actually purchased one of Oliver's books later. Some interesting points: to some extent, all fantasies are mysteries, where the mystery (for the reader) is, "How does the world work? A lot of good tips for masking clues and bringing out red herrings that believe me, I will keep in mind. The irony is I'm not planning to write my mystery yet ...

Though I was sitting feeling all stupidly smug as they were talking about how hard it is to write fantasy-mystery short stories. I've written five, sold three, two of which are in print (one being reprinted in the Best Of anthology I mentioned) and one of which will come out any day now, and am working on one more.

Dealer's Room: Made an idiot of myself with Oliver. Same with Patrick Swenson, trying to explain that I'd loved the issue I read of Talebones. Kinda glad I didn't introduce myself.

I am not sure I am capable of conference networking. Had a second of wondering if I'm ever going to make it if I can't approach people socially. And that sucks, because I know I have the talent. (Maybe not the discipline to beat the talent into the right form yet - I've acknowledged my editing has flaws and am working on them hard.)

Still not sure how to find or get my hands on the Abyss and Apex anthology. Know where I can find the editor tomorrow, though ...

WFC 2008: Day One -- The Main Event

I won't try and reproduce all my notes here, but here are some thoughts about my first day of the convention itself:

Panel: Are Appendices Needed? (Tad Williams, L.E. Modesitt Jr., Julianne Lee, Susan Forest, Barb Galler-Smith (moderator)

In which we find out that if you need the appendix to follow the book, there's something wrong with it, and that Williams and Modesitt ought to be on the road as a comedy team.

In which I also consider that I need to make a map for Journal of the Dead as I'm editing, and hope like heck I don't have to change it because then I potentially have to re-date 40+ entries. In which I also consider that I really need to look up how long (and exactly when) the annual flooding of the Nile was as that's what I based my society on.

Awesome point made - boundaries are usually at natural barriers. If they're arbitrary lines, then those are the work of surveyors and not terribly plausible in a lot of fantasy.

Panel: Where Have All The Magical Creatures Gone? (Patricia McKillip, Dennis L. McKiernan, Robert Vardeman (moderator))

In which we find out ... primarily a long list of books to check out. But I think McKillip is a sweet lady.

Dinner break! In which I find out the smoothie place closes before I get off for said. And that I have a light in my closet.

Also have tremendous trouble working thermostat until I realize that the arcane numbers I am staring at are temperature ranges. Oh right. In Celsius.

Panel: Argh! My Alien is an Elf! (Robert J. Sawyer, Joe Haldeman, Stephen Stirling, Walter Jon Williams (moderator))

In which we find out that there really is an awful lot of this going on. (George R.R. Martin, of all people, apparently has a scientific vampire novel.) Cross-genre pollination - fantasy and horror tropes in scifi - that is.

These people were hysterical. I haven't laughed this much in ages. There were wild topic diversions (a long dialogue about whether to use pop references in SF, for instance), but it was all in good fun. Another long list of books. Two quotes of note, not precisely recorded but close enough:

"The creature in Alien is basically Cthulhu in a spacesuit." --Joe Haldeman
"We don't have holy missions, we just have fun!" -- Stephen Stirling

Panel: Small Press Roundtable (Jeremy Lassen, Jacob Weisman, Brian Hades, Victoria Blake, Patrick Swenson (moderator))

In which we find out that Lindsey despairs of getting anywhere because of the emphasis on networking. Also that Zelazny had a previously unpublished mystery novel coming out in January. Must check this out!

Did not know Swenson (who did not actually moderate - I think Hades did) had a press as well as a magazine. Groovy.

I have produced much doodling and almost as much coughing. I will now contrive to see if I can get snacks.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

WFC 2008: Day One -- Preparations

It's like the world decided, "Okay, after yesterday, let's be nice to Lindsey."

I woke up at 8am, but quasi-passed back out until 9, giving me about ten and a half hours of sleep. Most of it pretty decent - I never sleep THAT well in hotel rooms, but I only remember waking up a couple of times. I checked out, hit the streets, and trundled my way down to the Hyatt, where I stowed my luggage and went to register and pick up my book packet.

Twelve beautiful books (one of which I exchanged because I'm not into horror), including a couple of anthologies ...

... a hardbound copy of Mother of Lies. AUUUUUGH!

I am going to take it to Duncan (no relation) to be signed on Friday eve, which is the autograph reception.

I tried to find Buzzard's Cowboy Grill (hey, that's the local specialty) to eat, but misinterpreted the clerk's direction and went the wrong way. I found a little cafe with good food (though I couldn't finish it - my stomach's just not wanting to eat) ... and a shopping mall.

Sadly, though they had a music store, they did not have Shoot From The Hip. What they did have was a little bakery. Am making plans for breakfast. This center is close enough for easy eating. If it doesn't get dark early, I think I'm set for the week.

Got back, found out that, since the hotel is fully booked, they were offering parlor rooms with a roll-in bed at a reduced rate WITH internet included.

Me: ... is there a question?

It is a gorgeous conference-style room with a living area, a one-wall full window, a kitchen with fridge / freezer, and a bathroom the size of some rooms I have stayed in. With ... a phone in it. What? Who makes phonecalls from their bathroom?

The coughing is now accompanied by sniffling. I'm hoping this is due to a change in allergy zones - my medication is frequently ineffective the first 3-4 days I'm in a new region. If not, I know what I'll be drinking ...

... pineapple juice!

Seriously, it has all the vitamins of orange juice, but doesn't mess up your vocal chords. Learned this on a reading website.

My shoes are falling apart.

First session in under an hour!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Taking Flight

Today started at 4am. The following is not for those who have a low tolerance for kvetchery. ;-)

My flight to Calgary (through Northwest) for the World Fantasy Convention was supposed to leave Dayton at 7am, connect (with a long layover) in Minneapolis, and then get me into the city at around 1pm local time. Perfect, says I: plenty of time to sleep it off.

Even the best plans do not survive encounters with the airline industry.

Plane boarded on time, everything normal ... but then we sat. Captain announced that they had called maintenance to check something with the navigation computer. Took them forever to arrive. Then they ... turned out the lights briefly. Finally, they deplaned everyone, stating that they needed to fully shut down the plane and restart it.

(So I'm thinking: planes = computers?)

They offered to reschedule people who had close connections. I had a three hr layover, but I was concerned about the international part of it, so I got in line to at least ask my questions. Good thing - when I was three people from the front, they announced it had been outright canceled.

So I'm not leaving until 10:10. (I coulda slept in!) I'm going ... through O'Hare, via United. Aaaaack. The first connection to Calgary is overbooked, so instead of roughly the same layover, it is about four and a half hours.

Note also that I've had a nasty cough since Monday. I am ninety percent sure it is allergies because it has not evolved, but I can just see people looking at me thinking, "Plague carrier!"

So finally boarding the plane to O'Hare, there's a slight delay. (... oh what are the odds it happens twice? I'm thinking.) The captain explains that the plane is something like a teeter-totter and they need to balance out the weight in the back.

The usages for your planes are limited only by your imagination.

Note that by this time I've already read a hundred pages of Monstrous Regiment and none of the planes has taken off yet. I have been awake six hours.

Hurrah! Finally take off. Arrive in O'Hare ... early. Discover my departure gate is directly next to my arrival gate. (That it later moved sadly lessens the irony.) The less said about trying to eat at Johnny Rockets there, the better.

Had some random conversations with people, including a woman who had just come from Calgary and told me it was balmy. Oops, says I with the heavy winter wardrobe.

Sidebar: Sprite Zero on first plane, milkshake and pink lemonade in O'Hare, ginger ale on second plane, pom-e-berry smoothie in Calgary ... I am a drinking fiend.

Upside: I was in an exit seat on the first flight and economy plus on the second, so did have a little more room.

Flight is almost forty-five minutes late departing. I have now passed the twelve hour mark. The guy next to me is a little too big for the seat. (I am ashamed to say that I was maybe a little too obvious trying to squeeze into the corner.) Meant to sleep on this flight, but there were a pair of babies on board.

Now, I do not have mixed feelings about crying children on planes insofar as I hate them. What I have yet to decide is whether the restaurant rule should apply - if they can't behave, don't make the other fifty people around you miserable by eating there (or taking the plane). But taking a plane isn't always a luxury, so maybe that's not fair. I blame my crabbiness.

Silver lining: by the time I reached Calgary, it was sunset. Some really ethereal views - mist pouring down the mountains struck with sunset, and then bleeding down into a landscape that looked as if it had been airbrushed in pastels.

Turbulent descent. The route to customs apparently circles four times around the exterior of the airport and is designed to make dirty foreigners work for their vacation. By now I am so tired that I can barely talk. Customs agent does a double-take when I say I am a professional harp player. I am vaguely gleeful.

Arrival - hurrah! I wait on pins and needles to see if my luggage somehow made it off the Northwest flight. There it is, neat as a pin. I do a little dance. No, seriously. I did.

I get to the shuttle service and find out I can't get a return ticket (oh well) and that I have yet another 45 mins before I can board said shuttle. I flop around the terminal.

... bizarreness highlight of the trip, a very old Irish traveller noticed I was sitting in my uncomfortable-looking cross-kneed position and stopped to ask me how I did it.

At this point, I forget I stuck my shuttle ticket in the pocket and flip out, run to the lady to explain ... and then find it again. Boy, am I glad I am not going to see these people again.

Shuttle-ride was interminable. I swear the guy drove around the same blocks sixty times, stopping every two feet for lights. Finally tumbled into my hotel, eighteen hours portal to portal, 4:30am (EST) to 8:30pm (MST).

... okay. Sleep now.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


CD collection #3, involving songs with a fantasy element, whether it be in mood, word choice or the events of the song. There are some ballads I chose not to use because they were just too darned long, and they're also not very good car-listening - but honestly, I was leaning less towards the literal and more towards an impression. And, also, songs where it's not meant to be taken literally, but oh, it's amusing if you do ...

1. Do You Believe In Magic? (The Lovin' Spoonful)
2. The Power (Amy Grant)
3. Marrakesh Night Market (Loreena McKennit)
4. The Simple Joys of Maidenhood (Camelot soundtrack)
5. Anywhere Is (Enya)
6. Maybe an Angel (Heather Nova)
7. I Love You (Amy Grant)
8. The Old Ways (Loreena McKennit)
9. Pot of Gold (Dian Diaz)
10. Eve (Chantal Kreviazuk)
11. Tir Na Nog (Laura Powers)
12. It's Raining Men (Geri Halliwell)
13. King Kong (Kirsty MacColl)
14. Song of the Swan Maiden (Golden Bough)
15. Us Amazonians (Kirsty MacColl)
16. Fallen Angel (Debbie Gibson)
17. Halloween (Kirsty MacColl) --- yes, yes, Lindsey, we get it, you have a lot MacColl songs
18. A Whiter Shade of Pale (Sarah Brightman)
19. So Magical (Martina McBride)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Augh! Auuuugh!

... I'm doing a reading. At the World Fantasy Convention.

Five minutes during a Rapidfire with the ladies of Broad Universe. Of course, I chose the story that's being released at the event and also happens to be a fantasy mystery ...

... I just found out for sure today, which means I am running madly looking up reading tips and planning to rehearse.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Went through most of the first CD on the to-and-fro to harp gathering on Saturday. Augh, what a day. CD mix #2 in my car, based on emotions and feelings - "mere" love not enough for inclusion, of course.

1. What Is This Feeling? ("Wicked" soundtrack - Idina Menzel, Kristen Chenoweth)
2. Are You Happy Now? (Michelle Branch)
3. I'm Not In The Mood (To Say No) (Shania Twain)
4. With One Look ("Sunset Boulevard" - Mary Carewe)
5. Heaven's What I Feel (Gloria Estefan)
6. Sorry For Love (Celine Dion)
7. All I Care About ("Chicago" soundtrack - Richard Gere)
8. Evacuee (Enya)
9. Just Ain't Feeling It (Dian Diaz)
10. You're So Vain (Carly Simon)
11. Treachery (Kirsty MacColl)
12. Shattered (Linda Ronstadt)
13. Mysterious Days (Sarah Brightman)
14. Peaceful (Helen Reddy)
15. Happy (Kirsty MacColl)
16. Wintery Feeling (Anne Murray)
17. I See Hope (Midge Ure)
18. Faith (Celine Dion)
19. I Don't Feel So Well (Vienna Teng)
20. Emotion (Helen Reddy)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Reading List

I've put together the following "reading list" in preparation for my novel project. I'm beginning to think that maybe I should write the other one instead whilst I'm doing science fiction preparation ... but I'm not really in a rush. Anyhow:

Aliens and Alien Societies by Stanley Schmidt
The Cartoon Guide to Genetics by Larry Gonick and Mark Wheelis
The Cartoon Guide to Physics by Gonick and Huffman
(these two are science-for-dumbies books on a couple of topics that I might need to have a better grasp on. Depending on how much I get from this, it's likely I'll look for more.)
45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt
Borderlands of Science by Charles Sheffield (on order)
Genderspeak: Men, Women and the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense by Suzette Hadin Elgin
Possibly "How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy" by Orson Scott Card. I've read this book before, but a refresher wouldn't hurt.

So midway between research, looking for further inspiration, and sounding out where I have weak spots.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Any Part of Your ...

I've been scarce because I've been taking an online writing workshop which is more or less swallowing all my free time. It's a one week course that started Monday, and it is definitely getting me in the mood for the WFC! But I'm going to have a fair bit of mundane work to get done next week so I can prepare to leave ... *pant*

I also am cycling my car CDs again. First CD is "Any Part of Your ..." which refers to a specific line in one of the songs ("If I Can't Dance"). It ends that specific phrase: "If I can't dance, then I don't want any part of your revolution ..." So these are all songs about rebellion and kicking up one's heels and such.

You might notice some new names on here: I finally went through some of my unlistened CDs and cherry-picked.

1. If I Can't Dance (Sophie Ellis-Bextor)
2. I Am Woman (Helen Reddy)
3. Free World (Kirsty MacColl)
4. Refuse To Dance (Celine Dion)
5. Waiting For The Healing (Amy Grant)
6. Dangerous Game (Gloria Estefan)
7. Something To Believe In (Sarah Brightman)
8. Us Amazonians (Kirsty MacColl)
9. Free (Faith Hill)
10. Seal Our Fate (Gloria Estefan)
11. Runaway (Anna Sahlene)
12. Whatever You Want (Vienna Teng)
13. Libre (Paulina Rubio)
14. This Time (Celine Dion)
15. Fight (Amy Grant)
16. White Flag (Dido)
17. Troublemaker (Anna Sahlene)
18. Defying Gravity ("Wicked" soundtrack - Idina Menzel, Kristen Chenoweth)
19. Children of the Revolution (Kirsty MacColl)

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I finally did decide my project - the last one, with the possibility that, after a few months, I might go back and start the first one. I know, wild, but I've always done better with multiple things on my plate. It allows me to shift gears and incubate on the project I'm not doing.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The ... Seven

Depending on how charitible towards myself I'm feeling, that ... might be Significant, might be Startling, but also could be Silly or, more drastically, Stupid.

Regardless, that Seven refers to my current crop of ideas for my next novel project. Because I'm taking an online writers' workshop next week (this is NOT the WFC; a whole different deal), I'd ideally like to have one chosen by that time so I can use the worldbuilding exercises to specifically work on said novel. (... does that make any sense at all?) Right now, I'm just letting the choices percolate on my brain.

Anyhow, here for amusement are rough summaries, with a few scattered thoughts as to pros, cons and other. I am actually leaning (though not strongly leaning) towards one in particular.

Throw an ice-queen song-sorceress and a dissolute prince-heir together into a faux marriage that to everyone else has to look perfectly genuine, add an unfriendly kingdom, its sundry spies and one honest general, and stir in a vicious sect of mage-assassins … oh, and a song-mage named Staven who seems to continually get tasked with the impossible job of keeping the quarreling couple down to earth. Give them a few nasty secrets to spice up the pot and – stir.
Thoughts: This is a rewrite of serial stories I did about a decade ago. I’d say I got between half and two thirds through the overarching plot in my serial, so I have a pretty solid idea of what the plot does. It will require a lot of reading and thought to decide what elements to keep, what to revise, and what to completely toss.

A prominent mage dies under mysterious circumstances after petitioning for the rights of familiars, and her own familiar takes on the case with the mage's former apprentice at her side. Unfortunately, the suspect list is long and tangled, and the authorities are in no mood either to see the answer found, or to cooperate with a lesser being.
Thoughts: I’ve attempted a few fantasy mysteries; this would be my first attempt at novel length.

A world where the progression of seasons determines politics, individual alignment – everything. Absentminded mage-scholar Evairyn Malkor and hard-bitten archer Keldrys Whitehand are thrown together when a king demands that the two infiltrate the Sunburst Empire (summer) to retrieve the emperor’s secret weapon. Unfortunately, the mysterious Raven Queen also has her interests in this weapon – which will turn out to be, not an item, but Evairyn’s daughter, who she believed had been stillborn.
Thoughts: I have to admit, this is sort of stock fantasy, and I just got done writing a novel where the character’s interaction with her child was a driving force. But on the other hand, I really know Evvie, and it would be fun to work with her. Also, it’s a really neat, overarching world concept.

A story of a shapeshifter who is trying to find a new home for her people – they sleep dormant in a necklace she wears around her neck. She and a poet travel through Ovid’s Metamorphoses, narrowly avoiding zealots who believe her an abomination and scientists who want to put her in a zoo. Lots of mini-romantic subplots, though at the end we find out that the best of the menfolk were the same one, pursuing her as a shapeshifter himself. Hit upon the most interesting transformations (to me); do the others in passing.
Thoughts: I adore Greek mythology. It is one of my unholy obsessions. This would take a lot of research and some thoughtful outlining to pull off.

It used to be a common occurrence that criminals would steal corpses and hold them for ransom. A cross between Egyptian and Grecian world and mythos, where losing the coin under the tongue before the underworld journey dooms one to the far side of the river Styx. The (late) heroine tries to find a way to escape, aided by others who have been trapped in this limbo but only need a motivating leader to try again. Meanwhile, her corpse is abducted by three graverobbers, and upset little sister Meritaen commits suicide and takes the perilous journey to the underworld to plead her case … while her former SO, a secretary of some kind who was later engaged to marry a high-ranking noble, put his position in jeopardy trying to rescue her corpse.
Thought: I have to admit, a story focused on manuevering around the afterlife – it appeals.

A young woman is left the old, enchanted family house and a mountain of debts. Desperate for money, she must accept rent from her uncles, four cantankerous old sorcerers. Enter: one angry apprentice jipped by the men, a sultry and seductive sorceress, the MC’s literary agent, and a town full of cheerfully superstitious folk who feed the fairies with regularity. MC writes greeting cards and romance novels, but accidentally finds herself contracted for a fanasy novel when she shows up late to a pitch and tries to explain what her uncles have just put her through.Thoughts: This one really needs a plot, but I’m going for “comedy of errors” here.
Title: An Inundation of Uncles

Anaea Carlisle has lived her entire life on an isolated space station. She has been told it is a refuge from civilization in ruins, destroyed when the Derithe attacked humanity with a disease known as Y-Poisoning. Because it affects only males, the station’s entire population is female. On salvage, a young man is rescued who seems to know things that contradict what Anaea has always been told. Fascinated, she follows his story and flees the station to find that some alternatives are worse than the secret kept. Humanity has fractured into two civilizations, one where survivors of Y-Poisoning – only the most testosterone-ridden men – took over; another where men too marginal to be affected have been shoved aside into a political female world.
Thoughts: This is actually an extrapolation of a short story I wrote. I was told multiple times when I had it critiqued and by at least two editors when I submitted that it would make an excellent premise for a novel. If I did this, the 6,700 word short story would probably be lengthened and expanded into the first 20,000 words or so of the novel. After that I have NO idea what happens.

Maybe ...

Maybe it's just the day. Maybe it's my mood - I've been fighting malaise the past few days again.

But it's kind of sad that I've reached the place where finishing a novel draft is, "Okay, right, whatever."

Ironically, looking ahead to my next plans does perk me up a bit ... but come on. I should be celebrating.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Boot Camp!

My third boot camp - working through Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood - was just completed. Probable next step is to choose one of the exercises to expand into a story, but I am so bursting with things I want to do and experiment with and ... I haven't had this much juice in a while.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

In Need of Storage

This "inspired by true events" (sorta) story has gone to press with Tales of the Talisman:

One of my "other jobs" is I do evaluations of phone calls made to storage facilities. After having done a few too many of these, this story came to me.

Okay, so what if you had to store something REALLY unusual ...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Logorrhea: Good Words Make Good Stories

I borrowed this anthology from my library with high hopes: it has been nominated for a World Fantasy award for best anthology, as well as two nominations for individual short stories. I thought about posting my story-by-story impression of the anthology, but that got inconceivably blathery, so let's boil it down ...

The basic concept of Logorrhea is stories inspired by winning words from the Scripps National Spelling Bee. There were some excellent speculative stories, both in our contemporary world and others, that used their word to good effect. Overall ... I was disappointed that the great majority of the stories were modern earth in setting. This is a matter of personal taste, but one of my favorite things about speculative fiction is the worldbuilding. There were also only two science fiction stories in the anthology (both were fantastic,though).

This brings me to the more troubling point: several of the stories simply weren't speculative fiction. A few of them might be taken as slipstream, but the element seemed token to me, added just so it could be sold to a speculative anthology. A couple other stories didn't really use their word. This gets me wondering - is this the future of speculative fiction? Broadening the horizon is one thing, normalizing it is another.

Be that as may, some of the stories were excellent, much of the writing was superb, and I fully agree with the two award nominations. Points of note:

Highlights: Lyceum by Liz Williams (one of the aforementioned SF stories); The Cambist and Lord Iron by David Abraham (award nominee #1); From Around Here by Tim Pratt (autochthonous); Crossing The Seven by Jay Lake (transept - though I am not sure this is a "legal" use of the word); The Euonymist by Neil Williamson (the other SF story); Singing of Mount Abora by Theodora Goss (dulcimer; award nominee #2).
... since when is dulcimer hard to spell? Maybe I need to get out of the folk music world.
Low Points: A Portrait in Ivory by Michael Moorcook (insouciant); Logorrhea by Michelle Richmond (the irony abounds, I know); Vignette by Elizabeth Hand; The Last Elegy by Michael Cheney (elegiacal); Tsuris by Leslie What (psoriasis).
(Shoulda Been) Disqualified: Semaphore by Alex Irvine (not spec); A Portrait in Ivory by Michael Moorcook (bad use of word); Vignette by Elizabeth Hand (not spec); The Last Elegy by Michael Cheney (elegiacal - not spec); Softer by Paolo Baciagalupi (marcerate - not spec, tenuous use of word); Tsuris by Leslie What (psoriasis - not spec, bad use of word).

I note that I did enjoy both Semaphore and Softer in their own right, just didn't think they belonged in a speculative fiction anthology. If it were billed as a general anthology, that would be another thing.

Overall, I thought the anthology was a bit too heavy on style and the substance suffered, but there were also beautiful moments and stories that balanced the two perfectly. If you want to cherry-pick, I recommend skipping the low points and disqualifieds, with the possible exception of the two in the above paragraph. The rest of the anthology has something for every palette.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I've been listening to some new CDs to try and increase my music stash, and the most recent one I ripped songs from was "Wicked," a musical adaptation of the novel. In doing so, I smacked straight into the reason why I so much enjoy rhymed poetry: what I've grown up with, loved, and clung to in my musical listening is songs that play cleverly with meter and rhyme, most particularly musicals (1776, Kiss Me Kate, Camelot), but also individual artists (Kirsty MacColl is big on this; some of Gloria Estefan's lyrics from "Wrapped" in particular are amazing). So of course this internal musical voice is what I look for when I try to write poetry.

Also, I missed my exercise again yesterday. Wow, I am just off my game.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I completely forgot about my boot camp, missing two days - this would the third. Rather than do three exercises in a chunk or ignore the skip, I'm doing two today and two tomorrow to "catch up."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dreams of Unicorns

Yesterday, I saw Bladerunner for the first time. Yes, despite my interest in the genre, I'd never seen the movie before, and I quickly realized that I'd had some skewed ideas about the movie's subject. Before seeing it, I'd vaguely thought that the Deckard character was a fugitive ... and no, not just because he was being played by Harrison Ford.

The world in the movie really shines, or maybe "shines" is a bad word, given its character: dark, decaying, and jackdaw assembled from the remnants of humanity. The ambivalence under the storyline - do replicants have humanity? What are they rights? - are blurred and left quiet, to good effect. These individuals have killed twenty-three people and even if you believe they are fully human, yeah, they likely deserve to be shot on sight, and yet you come to feel for them.

Rutger Hauer is fantastic. The man is a hell of an actor. Why he seems to have done this movie and then Ladyhawke and dropped into mediocre-to-bad movie obscurity passes my understanding. Harrison Ford is average(sorry!), and both Sean Young (Rachael) and Daryl Hannah (Pris) are mesmerizing in completely different ways. Then again, Ford is our point of view character, and the eyes we look through need to be fairly normal ... so the rest of the world can be as strange as it needs to be.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Halfway through my Boot Camp (working through "Creating Character Emotions" by Ann Hood), and I've covered Anger, Anxiety, Apathy, Confusion, Contentment, Curiosity, Desire, Despair, Excitement, Fear, Fondness, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Grief, Guilt, Happiness, Hate and Hope.

As usual, my exercises run the gamut of completely new world/character concepts, familiar worlds with new characters, different time periods and/or locations, and occasionally, an extension from a current story.

The exercise for Hope involved writing a paragraph depicting hope, contrasted by a second after that hope has failed - despair. The exercise called for three Hope/Despair pairings. It also suggested trying other opposed emotions to show an arc of character growth. This was my third; here there is an implied time-lapse between the first and second paragraph:

Sedra held her arms in an awkward circle, holding her daughter in that mental grip. It did nothing to diminish the distance between them, and so she dropped them, laying her head against the stone wall. Rain drummed against the window, drummed with her heart, drummed with the sound of a messenger who was still – she knew – out of sight. Reports from the front, where her daughter had been badly injured … she closed her eyes, wet her lips, and pictured his face, the casual monotone – how many mothers had he given bad news? But not this time, she prayed, not to any of the gods but to the steady thrum of numbers rushing past. They were on her side. One in five didn’t survive the surgery, but she had only one daughter, not five …

Again, the awkward circle, this time convulsed, tightened, even shaking, though she fancied she jarred her daughter within the circumference. She pictured the face – not the captain she was now, but the child who had come to her side at night and keened for attention – screwed up with protest, batting her away … so far away that Sedra flew, out of the house, across the yard, through the shadow of the trees into some unknown, as if she were the one who had died. On the thought of death, she crumpled, broken of the fancy and tasting its ashes.