Archive for January, 2013

The Search for Authenticity…

Have I suggested lately why you should be following Mary Robinette Kowal? Let me give you a couple more reasons… and they revolve around authenticity.

She’s written before on her blog about aspects of her writing process, and how – regarding her Glamorist  novels, at least – she writes the story then checks for anachronisms. While I have not (yet) tried writing any kind of historical story, it’s one of those things that I can appreciate for sheer craft: being ultimately faithful to the story’s world, and doing the best to keep readers there. (I have recently been rereading The Hobbit, and was jarred by the mention of “how golf was invented” in chapter one.)

The latest example comes from something she’s mentioned before but just struck me at her latest request for help. Using her theater and performance background, she does a lot of voice work recording audiobook version of texts – including her own. Her latest recording project will involve some dialect work, and she wants to make sure she does them right. Readers being the freaks that we are will often “hear” the dialogue in the movie we make in our heads, using whatever context we have experienced. Audiobooks are… special. If those voices don’t come close to what we imagined then we aren’t likely to keep listening.

So, she wants to make sure that the experience of the story being delivered is as accurate as she can make it.

And that’s awesome, both as a member of the receiving audience as well as a professional model for developing writers.

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New Merchant Princes… sort of…

My friend Chris got me started on Charles Stross’s work almost five years ago. The gateway drugs? Atrocity Archives and The Family Trade. Each of them the first book in a series (Archives is his open-ended Laundry series, while Trade opened a six-book closed story arc called The Merchant Princes).

Yesterday, however, I saw this on his blog, and this over at Tor… Stross will be writing a new trilogy in the Merchant Princes universe. He indicates it will be set about fifteen years after the events of the last book (Trade of Queens).

The new series isn’t listed to land until 2015 or so (hence the “sort of”)… the deal’s made, though, so I know what I’ll be looking forward to in a couple of years.

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Feelin’ Good on MVM

It was the 80’s… Height of the big hair era… Much like last week’s selection (Poison), Motley Crüe was another of the major acts that kept the likes of Aquanet in solid business. Like most hair bands (and hard rockers in general), the lyrical content tends towards the trifecta of sex, drugs and rock & roll.  Crüe was no exception, especially with this week’s selection.

When this song came out I was in the midst of middle school, and the video was on regular rotation on MTV (back when they, you know, actually played music). While I know they had been around for several years before this song was released, this was actually the track that led me into an awareness of their back catalog.

Now… the Dr. is in…


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Why I like and follow some of the writers that I do…

Like ScalziStross, Rothfuss, and Kowal.

They are willing to do somewhat goofy things in the name of charity (and come cultural awareness). Of the persons pictures, Jim Hines is the only one I haven’t been regularly following for at least a few years (and he was the mastermind behind this).

Specifically, this bit of… well… you decide what to call it.

For those that are just looking at the picture, there is a point behind it (the hyper-sexualization of cover art for some genres).

The fact that they don’t take themselves so seriously that they can poke this kind of fun. And do it for a good cause.

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Tis the Season for Workshop Applications…

The early months of the year are not only prime time for graduate school applications to be finalized, but it is also peak time for something else near to my heart: writing workshops.

While I am (obviously) a bit partial towards Viable Paradise (which is open for applications until June – for an October workshop), there are two other monster workshops that I have seriously considered: Clarion and Clarion West.

Both of the Clarions are an intense six week experience (a diffrerent instructor each week, with a new story written for each instructor, as I understand it). They are both accepting applications until 1 March (for residencies starting 23 June to early August). While I have, in the past,  considered applying to both, I have been more impressed over the last couple of years with the instructor lineup for Clarion West (on tap for 2013: Neil Gaiman, Joe HillSamuel R. Delany and Ellen Datlow are the names I best recognize;  2012 saw Connie Willis, George R. R. Martin, Chuck Palahniuk and Kelly Link/Gavin Grant as the major recognized names from then).

So, herein lies my plug: If you are interested in writing, interested in an immersive environment to study and improve your craft, to work with professionals passionate about storytelling (and you have the available time to attend), check them out.

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SHU WPF: 2013 Jan Residency (Day 5)

The final day…

Like last time, with the graduation  scheduled for the afternoon the educational modules were flipped to the morning slot. On this day, it was the last of the required, pre-assigned, modules: Revision (run by Lawrence Connolly).

Personally, I think this one (at my stage) was worth the mileage. It helped to actually see the honing/tightening process and get a better understanding for how to edit my own pages (or ways to look deeper at someone else’s), especially where the exposition is concerned.

After lunch, it was time for a short workshop session (only two stories, instead of three), a brief break then graduations. Many of us planned a bit more conservatively this time (staying an extra night instead of having travel plans soon after graduation… planning for weather may have been a factor). Many members of the program (staff and students) went out to various places after the reception for a proper dinner (I was with one of two groups that went to the Olive Garden).

Then it was time to away to the hotel, pack, and prepare to leave the next morning.

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Swimming Lessons or Wh-Otter Play

I am a flounder, not a fish. I did not grow up with regular access to a pool, and even summertime access was sporadic at best. I have become decent enough for regular pools, but competition for Michael Phelps I am not.

Our son, however, is much more aquaticly inclined. MC signed up for a “Mommy & Me” swim class at a local fitness center. Sessions are twice a week for four weeks, and the label is a misnomer – MC is the only “Mommy” that has been in regular attendance, ther other kids just have their dads. (Yes, I have been going as well, but we are the only full couple that has been in the water for most of the sessions.)

Since most of the children are so young (we are near the youngest end, although there is also an 8-month old in the class), they have several toys available: watering cans, little sailboats, plastic balls (like from a jump-pit).

His favorite? The jump-pit balls.

And when he has hold of one, when he be on his back, he looks like a human baby version of this:

or this:

Otherwise, he seems to be enjoying his time in the water, even though he’s not quite at the “stretch the arms to paddle” point, but he has the frog-kick going pretty well. And frogs aren’t that far from dragons, right?

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SHU WPF: 2013 Jan Residency (Day 4)

Another day, another round of workshops first thing in the morning. (My selections this day: mixed genre pieces.)

After lunch, it was time for the first (“program students only”) session with Kevin Hearne, our guest speaker. I don’t have my notes in front of me, so I can’t really go into the meat of his talk (which lasted three hours, and he broke down his agenda early – three different topics at an hour each, with a pause between topics for questions), but I can say this with full ease: he was engaging, entertaining, and provided good enough information that it didn’t really feel like three hours had flown by.

From the afternoon session it was time for dinner – and this time it was the Mystery dinner which turned into a small affair.

Then it was time for Hearne’s evening session, which was an even open to the public. Followed by a book signing. Where he sold out. Sold. Out. He was signing for over an hour (and I was near the end of the line…)… then it was back to the hotel.

Now, a few thoughts about Kevin Hearne. I may have heard of him before he was slated as the guest for the residency – from browsing stacks at the local B&N – but I can’t say for certain. His book series sounds interesting (Celtic mythology? Sure!), and is something I’d be willing to give a shot. Eventually, under normal circumstances. After this experience, though, much like some of the other people I have had good Con experiences with, I am more inclined to move his books higher on my list. Definietly worth checking out his website.

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The Rush Induction… preview

Last month, as a fan, I was thrilled to discover that not only was Rush a) finally up for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but b) they were inducted! (As a fan, the induction is a no brainer, but considering how anti-traditional-establishment their career has been, I must admit I was a little nervous, considering how long after they first became eligibile before finally getting nominated).

According to recent news, itlooks like they will be inducted by Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters – a band that I think comes from a similar “on our own terms” mold.

Happy day!

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A few updates…

I have been doing some behind the scenes stuff recently, so here’s a little bit to catch you up:

I’ve finished prepping the Music Video Monday entries through April… some good stuff, and plenty of throwbacks peppered with some newer music.

I’ve started trying to make a serious push to clear my “drafts” queue, which is going to explain a few of the “old news” pieces that will be popping up in the next couple of days…

Yes, one of those entries includes thoughts on Lance’s admissions from last week. Those thoughts are more complex than just a knee-jerk brush off, which is part of why it’;s taken a little time to put them in order.

In the academic arena, I regret to inform you, dear readers, that I have not made it through the first round of screening for a Fulbright grant. (If you recall from here, the goal for the scholarship would have been for funding the first year in Scotland for the PhD. I can’t say I’m not surprised, I sent in what I had but was still missing a couple of reference letters that hadn’t arrived by the time I had to finalize the application.)

In other academic news, my contractual commitment for pages this term runs around 80 – around 20k words for those wanting to run numbers (assuming 250 words per page). Personally, I am aiming to finish a draft of the novel by June (when the assigned mentor is slated to change), even if I only share the first 100-ish of those pages with my critique group. More on the novel later…

But, that’s it… still here, still working, and trying to bring you more stuff.

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