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Saturday, December 29, 2012

About strangers...

"I don't know why I'm saying this to you."

"It's sometimes a good idea to say things like that to strangers.  They make uncomplicated confidants."

From Scales of Justice by Ngaio Marsh.

I really liked this exchange, and as it's not a spoiler in any way, I thought I'd put it here. I wanted to write about it, but I won't tonight.  Maybe later.

I haven't posted in weeks, so I hope you all had a lovely holiday this past week.

Happy New 2013!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

November links. :)

Interesting things I found while researching.  Most of these are death, destruction, weapons, and guns.  I found some of them more fun than others, but hey, I like learning things, including weird things that are theoretical.

A shot to the head.  This is about death, yes; don't think it's something else, because it really isn't.  (Yes, I was looking up injuries and deaths, not planning on killing anyone; sorry!)  The internal links are brilliant!

Two angles, one on choosing handguns and the other about large caliber handguns and women.

How does it feel to receive a bullet?  Authors at the Absolute Write Watercooler.

And because should have the last word whenever possible -- okay, maybe not!  5 Weapon Myths You Probably Believe (Thanks to Movies).

Pretty sure I found that last link when I was searching submarines, but I could be wrong.  :D

Bonus link:  Confusing Words.  It hasn't got them all, certainly, but there are some that this is invaluable for.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

You came here...

"I demand an explanation.  I intend to hold you to account for alienating the affection of my wife."

"Affections," Wolfe said.


"Affections.  In that context the plural is used."

"I didn't come here," he said, "to have my grammar corrected."

"Not grammar.  Diction."

That's Nero Wolfe.  Sound familiar?

If that's not where the inspiration came for Mark Gatiss to write the opening scene of The Great Game, I'd be amazed.  (No, actually, I'd be curious to find out what his inspiration was, but I digress.)  But Mark's a fan of the Golden Age of Detection, and Nero Wolfe is one of the more famous detectives to follow Sherlock Holmes...

You can find the above scene, uncut, in Three at Wolfe's Door.  :D

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Taking WFC off.

Cancelled my trip to WFC in Toronto for this weekend.

October was a really chaotic month -- family in hospital, one critically, and lots of other things going on.  Including a lot of sleep troubles.

I finally realized on 30-October that if that wasn't a case of Life causing con burnout, then something was.

So I'm home, and resting.  Finally got a good night's sleep.  Feels like I haven't slept well all week... possibly because I haven't.  (:/)

Even the neighbors hammering away didn't trouble me for quite some time (or they started later, hard to say).

Happy All Saints Day!  Try not to eat all your candy in one sitting, eh?  ;)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Almost to World Fantasy!

I'm anticipating the con.  The schedule's come.

Packing, arranging, and so on will be keeping me busy.  :D

Expect some quiet from me a weekend hence, from 1-Nov. through 4-Nov.  Probably major quiet.  Radio silence sort of quiet.

Unless I use Twitter.  Odds for that are not strong, even though this con is rather different than Chicon 7.  It being in Toronto will give me some challenges that no American con ever has, for one thing!

WFC will be interesting.  Some people who do Michigan cons are part of WFC 2012 staff.  

I'll work at the con, not sure where yet.  Possibly registration, possibly ops.  Don't know.

Cons tend to overset some of your plans... a bit like Pennsic War does.  8)

Anyway, I expect to Do Stuff, visit with friends, meet people, and come back both wired and exhausted.

Whatever happens for you, have a Happy Halloween!  I know I will.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A favorite anthology: 100 Great Fantasy Short-Short Stories.

Talking to a friend on Twitter... I remembered this book, the anthology 100 Great Fantasy Short-Short Stories.

Edited by Isaac Asimov, Terry Carr, and Martin Greenberg.  I miss you all, guys.  Thanks for collecting so many stories for us all!

I love this antho.  Here's the TOC.

Some of my very favorites:

  • "Angelica" by Jane Yolen
  • "Apocryphal Fragment" by Edward Wellen
  • "But Not the Herald" by Roger Zelazny
  • "Controlled Experiment" by Rick Conley
  • "Deadline" by Mel Gilden
  • "Final Version" by John Morressy
  • "Pharaoh's Revenge" by C. Bruce Hunter
  • "Some Days Are Like That" by Bruce J. Balfour

I'm fond of an awful lot of them -- my copy pops open to certain pages from frequent reading.  But the book's in storage, so I had to recollect titles from memory.  Some are dark, some are funny, some are wicked, some are clever...

I'd recommend any of these to you.  If you can read the rest, do.  :D  They're like potato chips -- can you just have one??

Thanks to Robert Sawyer for kindly having the TOC on hand!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Voting: Dirty Tricks Dept.

So, is this a triumph of OCD, or something else?

Something came in the mail marked as Absent Voter Ballot.

My family's all applied for our absentee voter ballots.  My mother was going to give this ballot application to a friend of hers...

I said she should make sure this ballot was valid first.

She called the township clerk and discovered that  it was NOT valid.  Any ballot application must say Absentee Voter Ballot.

FYI:  Both my parents work local elections.

This application claimed to be from the MEA, and it could not have been, the real MEA would have offered a valid absentee ballot application to its members.  How  do I know that?  Well, to start with, the MEA is for educators.

Welcome to defrauding the voters of America, 2012 edition.

Make sure you check when your ballot has to be in this year!  Call your township clerk, ask friends, hit Google -- do whatever you need to do.

If you haven't registered to vote, please PLEASE go do it.  Don't let yourself get cheated out of your vote.  Voting is your right; exercise it!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Some Buried Caesar

Some Buried Caesar is one of my very favorite Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout.

I am very fond of a great deal of Caesar, but I had several spots marked in the library book as I read along. Here's three direct snippets... so you can see why! :D

Nero Wolfe
Come and help me admire stupidity.

Archie Goodwin
... whereupon I informed her that it was now working hours and that I would be moving through the throngs too energetically for pleasant companionship.  She stated that up to date she had failed to detect any taint of pleasantness in my make-up...

The throngs
They looked excited and purposeful, as if they had just had news of some prey that might be pounced on for dinner.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My fifth year.

Countering Bad Advice to Aspiring Writers.

Which I discovered through Justine, who wrote On the Differences Between Publishing Houses.

Interesting post about losing faith in creative staffing agencies from 2009.  My last temp assignment was in 2008.  Temp work is something I definitely don't miss.

This is my fifth anniversary as a freelancer.  Some days I look around and am amazed that somehow I did become an editor.

Other days I look at the stack I have to work on, and pry myself off Twitter.  :D

Thank you, as always, to all the people who helped me get here and who help me all the time:  my friends, my family, my authors, my editors and my publishers, and everyone else I may have missed here.

Happy September to you!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Nifty things I just learned about. :D

Interesting things I learned during recent research:

Exurbs.  About wind -- the Beaufort scale.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

PR at OU and Van Halen: Balderdash!

There is a line.

It is fascinating that people who cry out "You are oppressing me!" often do not ever notice that they are the ones doing the oppressing. Or abusing.

Case in point: This guy.

Go ahead and quote Van Halen. But when you write an alleged "journal" of your thoughts like this, that is sexual predation. He knew it. When Corlett imagined a fictional warning from his instructor, he knew it was because he was being inappropriate and that he did this, knowing full well she would read it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Some tidbits from Twitter, and Worldcon.

I'm back from Worldcon/Chicon 7!  Had such a fantastic, brilliant, amazing and lovely time.

No InterWeb (even Twitter!) was harmed by me during the convention either.  Amtrak did not purchase wifi for Michigan trains; so I couldn't Tweet, which is likely a good thing, as I had a comfortable coze on Thursday with friends en route, and rested a bit on my Monday train returning. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Quickly... the next 12 days.

Am going to Worldcon 2012 / Chicon 7 a week hence.  Expect disruption in service.  ;d

Might get another post in before then, might not.  

Internet access still missing from my own desktop PC.  Something broke its connexion.  Possibly the Trojan that this machine [not mine] discovered today.  Still unknown.  :c

Will attempt to Tweet during Amtrak 30-Aug and possibly 3-Sept during my travel to and from Chicon 7.  Tweets will also be irregular, as I did NOT get a phone with 'Net service deliberately, but have another device for those.  :D

Texts welcome during con.  Got unlimited texting.  :)


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Readercon and sexual predators and life.

There's been a lot said lately about Readercon 2012, the bad stuff that happened there with sexual predators, and the InterWeb has kept the discussion going.

Particularly as the entire Readercon board quit.

Some important things to help you understand that situation, and any similar predator incidents:

Gaslighting -- thanks to ashbet! 

About truth -- thanks to fallconsmate!

Why it's important to cut that creeper guy from your social group.

When you want to help someone get out of an abusive situation

I managed to escape a BF who chose to stalk me online.  He thought that since I was isolated and without income that I could not leave.  He was wrong.  If I'd needed to hitchhike, I would have, but I didn't. 

I had friends who offered to help me leave, so I packed my things and left.  I did end up getting wooed to "try again" but after some time I realized he didn't want me, he wanted a doll that looked like me and that did what he wanted. 

If he'd given me the six months I said I wanted to settle my affairs, maybe we could have worked things out; but he didn't.  He wanted control too badly.  Instead, six months after I initially left, I moved back to Michigan. 

If you haven't read The Gift of Fear, you should.  Be aware that if you have been harassed or raped or stalked, that the book will give you both hope and stress from your memories. 

If you just want to understand how NOT to hurt others, it's worth it for that alone.  But to anyone who has been hurt, chased, raped, preyed on, stalked, in any flavor of those assorted torments -- and no, I am not joking -- this read will be worth it. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A handful of links and a review.

Getting ideas for writing: Confession of a Museum Bunny

Guest post: deportment at panels.

The Inkpunks have a forum! Go check it out. :)

And because you could all use a laugh, here's one from Twitter.  If that wasn't enough, there's those times when the customer is not always right.  :D

Everything is fodder for the writer.

Speaking of that, I have got the best book about that very subject and many others.  From Apex Books, Nick Mamatas's Starve Better:  Surviving the Endless Horror of the Writing Life

Nick's book is brilliant.  You should read it.  Then pass it on to all your friends who write also. 

I mean that.  I love his book. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Zero tolerance should be ZERO.

Readerconfail is what people are calling it.  I wonder why??

Genevieve Valentine on the verdict. Her friend's report from 2008.  Ekaterina Sedia's thoughts

Note that I tagged this under "rape" because sexual predation includes rape, just as sexual harassment is included in sexual predation.  I've had experiences along the whole damned spectrum -- which I'm stating as a fact.

It is not because I wanted any of them. 

This makes me wonder about Readercon.  I've been harassed at local cons.  I wouldn't know as many people if I needed help -- not people I know well, that is, who've known me for years.  So... they're still on my cons I'd like to attend.  But this has raised reservations.  :(

ETA 3.05pm:  Genevieve's other post about this matter.  [Update 18-Feb-2017: CRAP.  She doesn't have that account anymore, so that great post is gone.]

Seriously, for any guy who may think he is "just apologizing" or "she made me do this" or ANY of that unacceptable crapola -- read that post.  If someone's ever done this to you, read it.   If you wonder what we're talking about, read it.  If someone's said to you, "This guy..." then definitely read that post.  It is about boundaries and smashing them and tolerating rapists, predators, and all their ilk.

And as The Gift of Fear would rightly point out, those are indicators.

ETA 31-July-12 12.36am:  Ann Leckie, bless her, also brought up some other important things, like the problem with people who say "Oh no! You will outlaw flirting!" when that is not what this is about.  Do read her post.

Thanks to Aliette de Bodard, who posted this on Twitter.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Variety pack of links.

Nifty links found during research:

Forbes on leadership.  Fascinating.  Do note the bits about hubris!

Two cool links about Bangkok:  24 Hours in Bangkok and, from the Sydney Morning Herald's Traveller section

The Online Etymology Dictionary on [executive] washrooms... and tasers.  It was the taser bit that drew me, although I really was looking up "washroom" right then.

How Stuff Works explains biometrics

Other links of interest:

Carol Pearson, author of The Hero Within, a favorite nonfiction book of mine, and her website

A collection of Firefly links sent to me on Twitter. 

Related to Worldcon, for Chicon 7 is nigh:

Their writing workshop is taking reservations

Also, if you need a cheap ride from the airport to the con hotel, the Hyatt, check out Groupon.  Groupon's last deal ended two days ago, but you never know.

Yes, I'm all Worldcon-is-coming now, of course.  Aren't you?  :D

Friday, July 20, 2012

A break for links.

Since I haven't done links in a while... have a short variety pack.  First, a funny from the ever-lovely, who have helped me with work research many times.

Really, they have.  You would be amazed at the serious links inside some of their funny essays.  Particularly for Hollywood physics.  

6 Classic Movies (That Narrowly Avoided Disaster)

Working on the Death Star

Antisocial Networking

Like Charlie, I managed to resist SNS for quite a while.  Then I got on Twitter.  I still complained about Twitter -- until I couldn't Tweet for a time, about a year ago.  And I realized that I missed Tweeting with my friends so much!

Because Twitter had become something that replaced the newsgroups and Mucks and BBSes.  The virtual hangout that filled a need in me.  :)

Friendship: a gift.

I have the coolest friends all over.  I really do.  Twitter friends last night hugged me because I mentioned Arnie's loss...

Arnie himself would be pleased because his line about being a "frail delicate flower" was well received.  That would tickle him, I think.

I know so many awesome people.  Everywhere.  Thank you all.  For being my friends.  I mean that.  When I was a lonely teenager I wanted heaps of friends.  Legions.

And I have them now.  Life is good.  There are tears in it, and laughter, as always.  That's life.  It shapechanges, always. 

But the friendships... those are some of the very best things offered to you by Life.  They're gifts.   

I never imagined then that I would know people all over the world.  I never imagined a lot of things.  Sometimes being open to surprises is the very best thing.  Then along comes another surprise.  <3

Love you.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Straight from my heart: goodbye, Arnie.

Today I found out a good friend of mine passed away Sunday.

Arnie, you are a brightness, and the world is lesser for losing you. Those words just don't seem enough, but words are all I have. 

In the SCA, you were Arnolde "Slyme" Fredrickson.  I have so many memories of you, my friend.  Little moments.  Life is all those little moments.

Arnie saying, with delight:  "Oh, you're a left-handed fencer!"

Friday, July 13, 2012

Speech tags: volume 2

So why don't action tags replace speech tags?

Because what you do isn't what you say.  Plus, action can happen at the same time as dialog, and frequently does.  Just to make things more exciting.  :)

When I'm working, or even talking about them, I tend to divide books into two categories of What Characters Do.  This might be a holdover from reading lots of dramas, possibly -- but if you think about it, that's how plays are.  Action or dialog.  Doing or speaking.

There's actually more categories, but as I haven't got OSC's writing book handy, you're stuck with my categories today.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Two differences in today's world.

Or, if you like, Things We Really Maybe Didn't Expect.  YMMV, of course.

There's Klout, which I'd heard of, but saw featured on tv yesterday.  Mom opined that I must have ninety-something as my Klout score.  I don't, but it's not bad for someone who mostly Tweets for my SNS.  :)  Rather higher than I should've expected.  

How to Increase Your Klout Score

Active Twitter Users Have Shorter Relationships [STATS]

Then there's Twitter.  Upon which I tend to be, well, very talkative.  Twitter really was made for the chatterbugs, I feel.  ;)

Twitter's well named. 

I'm curious if OkCupid will do -- or has done -- a survey on how many nonsexual relationships Tweeps have and how often those go pear-shaped... 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Wishing tonight without a star.

I just spent my supper watching two baby [teenage?] raccoons. 

They were adorable. 

But they shouldn't have been out then, not underneath the bird feeder so early, far too early in that I could see them easily -- and what if I'd been dangerous to them?  Most humans are.  They're too small to compete with any grown coons.  :(  Probably not more than three months old, easy.  

No pictures, no.  Not my division.

And they were past the deck railings, so what I could see would make a difficult picture, even if I'd been so inclined.

Too oblivious, though, these two; I know something will eat them, probably quite soon.  It wasn't until more people went outdoors that the little coons even noticed a thing, they were too busy eating -- for over a half hour.  They either lost their mother, or she sent them packing.

I wanted very much to feed them.  They were cute, too cute.  I felt for them, little lost things hunting food.  Poor little ones. 

I don't want something to eat them.  Wish I had a choice in that.  Good luck, little darlings.  May the Great Maker watch over you, so I can watch you wrestle in future nights over fallen seeds.  I won't know you then, not when you're grown up.  But I can hope, can't I?  Live, little ones, live and grow up.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Update: Blocking off the Twitter.

This will delight everyone I know who has been watching me on Twitter lately.

Today I installed LeechBlock.  I wanted to have a wall between me and my addiction.  I've been using the 'Net for decades.  I'm fine with identifying this as obsession and addiction, I am. 

Hell, when I bought my first computer, I got a loan to buy the complete system.  I did need it for college, mind you.

But what I didn't tell the nice loan officers who were so impressed with a young woman being fiscally responsible... was that I also meant to check my email regularly on the BBSes.  (This was before 'Net email was common.)  My brother ended up playing more video games on my Amiga 1000 than I did, and I fought my dad off when he wanted to write papers and I needed to.

Still, the twin needs of communication and creation were what I required back then.  That hasn't changed.

So last night when the first program suggested to me still only seemed to exist for Macs, I found Leechblock, an external form of self-control.  :) Yay Firefox!

Another one, Freedom, has also been suggested to me by John Klima if I find LeechBlock insufficient.  We'll see. 

I haven't Tweeted in hours.  No, don't ask if I'm mourning or rejoicing.  It's too soon.  =chuckle=

Pronouncing English... a poem.

One of my friends on Twitter sent me this poem.  It is so neat.  So if you need a moment to just breathe, take a moment and see if you can say all the words correctly... and more, she asked me if I knew all the words.

I guessed one in particular -- and checking it, found I had the who part correct, if not the entire identity.  So I struck out on 3-4 words in total.  :) Try yourself!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Read this book!!

There's a book coming out in early 2013 that I want you to read.

Here's the key words you need to consider:

Blade Runner
Minority Report
Tom Clancy
The White Plague by Frank Herbert
The X Files
"We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick
Shade's Children by Garth Nix

Think these are spoilers or teasers?  Ideally, they should operate as both.   :)

This is the book:  Nexus by Ramez NaamIt's brilliant.

You want to read Nexus.  Really you do.  Trust me on this.  It's about today and about tomorrow and about things you hate and about things you love.  About potential and people and who we all are... and who we could be.

Have some Nexus, do. You know you want to, you want it so very much for all sorts of reasons.  Because Homo sapiens is that way.

-- Thanks to NYRSF for the subject line, which I might pinch in future for other book recs.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Three bits of news, including guest blog. :)

Amazon buying Dorchester and A Willingness to Learn from the lovely Inkpunks.

And news: my first guest blog will be posted Monday morning, 2-July-2012, over at Angry Robot!

ETA: Here's the direct link for my guest blog post.  :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Michigan and GOPFail

I didn't read this in the news. It's something I know.

The State of Michigan decided a bit ago to use an online system instead of paper notices about things like food stamps and low-income medical benefits.

Okay. Because employing postal workers is that liberal thing, something about JOBS, and who needs that?

That way someone's benefits could be quietly cut. No muss, no fuss, just one day the dollar amount changes to zero.

Those people might be working multiple jobs, not have computers, not be able to get online -- maybe no car, disabled, or simply unable to get to their local libraries. Which are also having to cut hours.

Again, that job thing. They aren't job creators, those people have no impact on the economy; more of that tired old spin. The pretense that their kids shouldn't be fed; they had to be born, and once that happened, all bets were off.

I know it's extremely dystopian to think that the people who aren't worrying about jobs now want the "not like us" people to die off.

Like liberals are something you can outlive. Like people who are in unions don't matter. Like people oughtn't have health care unless they're quite rich. Like infrastructure isn't important.

Because y'know, only those poor people and middle class people use roads. Yeah, AS IF. Food comes on roads and bridges; all goods travel. FedEx ships by road and air, you know. Then the post office delivers to everyone that FedEx doesn't. Funny about that.

As if society, our shared community, does not matter.

This... this is bull.

You don't have to agree with who I vote for. That's not what's important. But I'm angry. I'm angry for people I've met and those I know, people who needed that money. What if my great-uncle needed food stamps?? He doesn't have a computer and he's past ninety. What about the people I know who've suffered bankruptcy for medical bills? Foreclosed because they lost jobs...

The list goes on and on.

This is a shared construct, society. It's how we humans survived so many things.

Food doesn't teleport to you. Water doesn't get to your house by magic. You do not live without a huge interconnected network of people, goods, services, infrastructure. People made your car, the bus, that truck your food comes on.

I love reading about dystopias. I hate living in them. I'm living in one now. Our world keeps getting closer to madness every fool day. Who put these people in charge?? I swear that it's like the Arab spring taught many politicos nothing.

Is that the world they want? Revolution? Or do they really think that people will roll over? Did they not notice the Occupy movement?

I don't recommend us reliving the French Revolution on a worldwide basis either.

And I wept a bit last night when I saw how my legislature treated two female Michigan lawmakers. I am deeply ashamed. I know the Michigan Republicans have been on this insane anti-democracy kick. But--! This is not the world I signed up for.

This is wrong. This skewed world needs to be fixed, changed, corrected, made better. Let's do it: Time to change things for the better.

Because I want the kids I know to be proud of us and to be glad for their world -- our world. Not ashamed. None of us should have to suffer this madness; and since I've been mad, I have some cause to say that.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Freelance tips.

Not So Elementary.

Posting this useful link over here because a] it's quite clever and b] it's about freelancing. The blogger used Sherlock as an example of what not to do in business.

Very well done!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Taking the day.

Every so often, once a week, sometimes twice, I'm not online at all. At times this random break is more like ten days from the last.

(I'm a somewhat random person, y'see.)

Usually, but not always, I get twitchy after the day's gone by. It feels a lot like I do if a day's passed and I haven't read a book AT ALL.

I might be a con all weekend and not feel the need the entire time for being online. It depends on what I do that day. Some days after being with my niece and nephew, I come home and want a book -- I might read an entire book then, rather than do email or get on Twitter.

The interesting thing is the difference. Twenty years ago, I didn't have that withdrawal twitch. Ten years ago, I was online quite infrequently. I could read email once a week or even less, and it didn't trouble me.

I had a hard time persuading others of this. That my jobs then -- I was a temp -- didn't involve computers, and I didn't have 'Net access reliably, so that they'd just have to wait on when I got online.

Most other people found that incredibly hard. Email is instant! How could it be that I wasn't responding right when the message popped into my inbox???

So I've been on/off addicted to email and the 'Net for years now. That doesn't trouble me.

Two years ago, I'd been online a great deal, something which really began in 2005. That's probably why I resist texting so much. Boring: been there, done that, sold the t-shirt on eBay, made a profit.

But one needs breaks; *I* need breaks. Still, last night, I had to keep rolling my saves versus "get online" because by midnight, I could feel the 'Net calling.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A few links of fun and fandom &c.

I popped onto LinkedIn and found this fascinating link: Amazon's markup of digital delivery to indie authors is ~129,000%


The Clarion Write-a-Thon began. You can join, or pledge [or both!]; my friend Daniel J. Hogan is taking part.

A great post
from Mary Robinette Kowal about traveling with Scalzi [and his travel karma].

Did you ever read the Evil Overlord plot generator? No? Someone decided to see what the costs were for being an unbeatable Evil Overlord...

The very nice Saladin Ahmed, a Michigan author/editor I met at Penguicon, has requested aid -- and 24 hours later, gotten it! See Pulp Pastiche and a Plea for Patrons.

Erika Holt writes The Deep End: My Plunge Into the SFF Community over at Inkpunks. :)

The "lesser known editing marks" image, courtesy of the very fine Jeff Faria.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

John Carter was like an audio book

John Carter was like an audio book, too long.

Too many characters. Took too long to get to the story. It should've been a miniseries, and if they'd contained themselves -- meaning, if they'd compressed things better -- and not gone for the Huge Panoramas everywhere, that would have been better.

The graphics were nifty, though. :) I have a feeling that if you watched it with the sound off, that might help.

Also, I can appreciate fans making stories; that's how we got Sherlock and Peter Jackson's LOTR cycle. The problem is when the movie makers go overboard because of enthusiasm. So much stuff not to leave out, you can just feel them cry... no, no, you must leave things out.

That's what makes the others good. Knowing what to leave out as well as what to put in.


I loved the Tharks. Except they were too skinny, so half the time I was thinking "Anorexic Tharks!" and the rest I was being all delighted at them. Whoever did the Tharks is full of win, and I salute you most happily.

My favorite part was the arena. :) But overall it dragged. I kept pausing it to see just how long I'd been watching, which is never a good sign.

Dad watched the beginning with me, and we discussed [and he critiqued] how long it was taking them to get to the story. He complained -- rightly, I thought -- about the actor cast as John Carter. They really needed someone built like the young Schwarzenegger. Every time the camera came back to Carter, I got a bit more twitchy. :/

I did like how Deja Thoris wasn't all wimpy. I don't remember what she was like, but that was a pleasant difference. The different frame story had its moments, particularly the end, but... sigh.

I read the John Carter books in my teens. They were just like Tarzan in many ways, unsurprisingly. That's not a complaint, it's just an observation. They went in two-book cycles.

So I kept saying, "Why aren't they getting to the cave?" and similar comments. Now I understand why some fans watching Spiderman got upset about the webshooters Peter made. They didn't upset me, but the gizmo instead of John Carter's teleporting, arghhh!!

I could see how they'd been seduced by movies past: Dune, Flash Gordon, the original Star Wars trio, Tron.

So, yeah. See the arena scene, that's really good. The dog, I want a Martian dog a bit, he was great. :) I know he was a plot point, but a very skillfully used one.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Change the world yourself.

There was a great discussion that Scalzi brought up: SWM Setting in the Game of Life. Jim Hines has written about this as well. So has Michelle Sagara: Please don’t tell me how I should feel oppressed, thanks.

Does this all matter? Absolutely. I remember one of the first times I looked at a guy and realized he'd just discounted me because I was female.

I was disappointed in him. I'd thought him better than that. I don't think I've slammed into race -- for myself -- as a problem very much; I only remember it happening once, at a job.

Getting eaten by the rape culture

Why do these things matter? Buying into oppression by gender or race, perpetuating abuse and the rape culture -- makes you a smaller person. It means you'll hurt someone else. Domino effect.

Once I managed to stop a sexual predator from preying on someone else I knew. I'd do it again.

I don't want to live in a dystopia. Do I have a choice? Sure. You and I and everyone can change the world.

Plus I'm all pleased about a friend of mine, author Sarah Frost. :) She sold her first story to Analog, she's sold more stories, and I noticed a link to her work blog about her sold work. So proud!!

(Yes, it is my own fault for not knowing Sarah has a work blog. I am very erratic about noticing things online. Nor do I get on G+ very often.)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A quick primer on Ellery Queen.

I've been suggesting other Golden Age detectives lately on Twitter; but not because I dislike Arthur Conan Doyle. Some readers may, like me, find that ACD isn't enough for a year or more.

I'm quite fond of GAD mysteries. :)

Ellery Queen was several things. The pseudonym of a writing team, two cousins, who I tend to call the Queen cousins. A gentleman detective who writes detective novels. A detective character in novels. And, not least, the name of a man whose true name we never know: Ellery Queen is not his name.

Plus the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine still going strong. "And there's EQMM, bless its bloody heart" Ellery writes to Tony Boucher [paraphrased].

This is not counting the Ellery Queen house novels -- contracted out to ghostwriters, see Wikipedia -- nor the Barnaby Ross novels.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Golden Age of Detection.

Skating past That Show, I was thinking of some other famous detectives. JDCarr is a forum for mystery fans who love that era.

I found it after I got addicted to Ellery Queen.

It's John Dickson Carr I was thinking of, though. Not because he's the best writer -- no, alas, he's not. For bizarre puzzles that were locked-room mysteries, Carr was the very king.

Some I'd recommend:

The Arabian Nights Murder
The Case of the Constant Suicides
He Who Whispers

Patrick Butler for the Defence

(one of my very favorite Carr characters, Patrick is)

The Problem of the Wire Cage
The Burning Court
The Crooked Hinge
The Hollow Man

Note that I do NOT recommend Carr's historical novels. They make me crazy in a bad way. I struggled through The Devil in Velvet and that's not something I'd wish on anyone. Oy. I know I read some Merrivale, but he's an exceedingly annoying character; as bad as Poirot used to be. I can read Poirot now, he hasn't the power to frustrate or annoy me any more. :D

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sherlock links today.

I can foresee that I may need another place to store my BBC Sherlock links. Hmmm.

Maybe this is why people get Tumblr accounts! :)

ETA: Following that plan: The rest of this post moved to Ariel's Miscellany.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Sherlock candy &c.

This post now lives at Ariel's Miscellany...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Speech tags: volume 1

I'll be typing up a short series of posts about speech tags. I want to lay down what speech tags are -- and why action tags don't replace speech tags -- and where you really deeply need to use them. What the point of having speech tags is. All that good stuff.

I'm going to pretend for this that exceptions don't exist until I'm done with these posts.

Let's start with my best worst example, Ellery Queen.

"That's it!" cried Ellery.

"Well, if that's what you think," laughed Ellery.

"Not again," Ellery muttered to himself.

Only one of these is a speech tag. One is almost a speech tag.

The first two are action tags. If Ellery 'cried out' then it would be a real speech tag. Crying is an action; laughing is an action.

A speech tag is what you use with dialog -- he said/she said, or asked, or any of a number of words that mean you spoke. Exclaimed is a speech tag. Whimpered, giggled, gasped, smiled, frowned, sighed... are all action tags. They're actions. Hissed is an action, even though it's often used [without sibilants!] as a speech tag.

Speech tags are important. Readers need them. I'll be saying that frequently, or variants on that theme. I'm not there, I can't see your characters; I'm not on the phone, I can't hear them. Make them clear to me when they speak!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Still here in the rain.

Been a little crazy-busy. Also began watching the new PBS Sherlock from BBC1 as season 2 just kicked off last weekend here. Wicked good, as a friend says. Addictive, clever, brilliant... :D

Will post a bit more a week hence. Some about Penguicon, most likely.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

More on 2012 cons, etc.

I met a lot of folks over the weekend, some I knew, some I didn't. I also passed out my card a lot.

Many thanks to Saladin Ahmed, Scalzi, Jim Hines, Daniel Hogan, Daniel Pipe II, Dave Klecha, and everyone else who I met over the weekend for bending my ear (and letting me bend yours as well).

Monday, April 30, 2012

Catching up: links.

I went to Penguicon over the weekend. Had fun. Went to a lot of panels, missed some I hoped to attend.

But cons are like that. You see someone, you get distracted, you know how it is. :)

And because I was looking at before con, I got to mention Jo Walton's first style of book series to several people who quite liked it. :D

Some links I've been looking at today:

Stephen King, bless him, has said something I've been thinking lately [a lot] about Marie Antoinette (Stephen King: Tax Me...)

Amazon was deleting ebooks before Neal Stephenson's Reamde

This last comment at Writer Beware sums up my thoughts on the DOJ versus publishers & Apple case:

"A couple of take-aways for me. The individual with finite financial resources is not equipped to take the company with less finite resources to court. It is so sad and discouraging to see it come to this."

Previous link found through the importance of reversion clauses in book contracts.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Converting to ebook.

Lots of people have talked about making a book, book publishing, and making ebooks.  I like to reread some of my favorites on this:  Tobias Buckell, Charlie Stross, Cat Valente... I'm missing Kris Rusch here.

Let's talk about what happens to those old books, the back list.  Made way back in the day when computers weren't so common.  Yeah, those books. 

First, to create computer files, a small press might have Kinko's chop the spine off a paperback edition.  Then the loose pages get scanned. 

Second, someone goes through the file and fixes as many really egregious errors as possible.  Things they know the scanner screws up.  Like words the scanner didn't understand. 

A lot of what slips past then gets fixed during proofreading.

Back in 1989, when I worked for a research consortium, the scanner had two languages and whenever it got confused, it liked Greek best.  So I'd have to go through and fix every triangle starting a sentence and make it into a capital A.  (But I'd keep the Greek inside formulas.)  And so on.

After the book is scanned, then it goes to a proofreader.  She's going to compare the files to the original manuscript. 

I know because I've done this often. I watch for letters run together, or dropped off, for altered words and punctuation...

You might not think proofreading is important.  It is very important.  Say you loved Dune.  Every ebook version of Dune will want proofreading.  Because that book was definitely not written on a computer. 

Every time ANY book has to be converted into a file, it has got to be proofread.  Remember, spellcheckers don't notice altered words -- how could they? -- as long as it's a real word.

This is also why even though you might have books in print, those titles don't immediately become ebooks.  Ebook conversion isn't a magic process.  It takes time. [Read Toby's link at the top for details.]

Charlie sums it up:
"There is no topic in the publishing industry this decade that is the source of as many misconceptions, superstitions, lies, plausible untruths, and idiocies as ebooks."

Postscript:  I don't understand readers who think "it's not physical" means it must be cheaper.  They pay for cellphones and cable.  They can look at their devices that provide these services, but they pay for those services as if the Thing-in-hand equals the Service. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cons 2013-2014

I'm thinking of doing Readercon in 2013...  I'd rather travel to that. England is, alas, not practical. Even though WFC 2013 definitely appeals to me.

And 2014 gives the two choices of London's Worldcon or Phoenix's NASFiC.

Given that I haven't yet attended my first Worldcon, Chicon 7, you might think I'm thinking too far ahead.

I don't.  You see, I tend to plan out these things.  That way I know what monies and resources [and time] I'll need.

Of course, back when I used to attend Pennsic War, I'd plan ahead for that too. 

This is, I am given to understand, the sign of a control freak. But an editor friend pointed out to me that some obsessiveness is a good thing in editors...

Not streamlined.

Wow... Google's mad dash to make everything "more streamlined" seems to be  a rush towards ugly.  I'm not sure what made them think that cold starkness was streamlined.

Depressing, though.  I had other things I was thinking about -- but having Blogger change along with Gmail [what an unsurprise!] is exceedingly depressing.

It does make me see why folks get into Wordpress.  Maybe they can make the interface less repellent.  I don't know.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Some Easter eggs.

I really was doing research for work when I found this Firefly website. I can't remember what keyword I was using to somehow pull up -- wait, it must have been gridlines.

I do remember how I got this map of Earth, however. It's so cool. The sunlight's moving.

(Here's the xkcd about Cadbury eggs... :) I wasn't looking that up for work, though. I wonder if Randall cooks with Kinder eggs, it'd have some potential for worse things than Cadbury.)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Warped, no foolin'.

Today it took me about 4 tries to open a Word file successfully. That is becoming standard with this file. It is very tiresome. I don't know if Classic Menu doesn't work well with docx files, or what. That's my guess, but... I don't think so. I think it's something peculiar about this file. :/

But I could swear I had a docx file in February, or maybe January, and this didn't happen then.

I wish this were a joke -- lots of good ones today. Alas, this... isn't. I'll snag some of the good jokes I saw off Twitter later. Off to dig back into That File.

The way I know there's a problem with the docx file? Whenever I open it every day, the right margin grows from normal -- quarter of the screen -- to enormous. Every Comment goes off into the far distance, stretching abnormally.

That's the first two or three times I open it. Every time. Without fail.

Doesn't matter what way I open it, either. Going through the file tree, from the Windows button, from the pinned recent files...

You know, it'd be nice to blame this on Cthulhu. I'm just sayin'.

I hope you're having a Happy Facepalm Sunday. :)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Just musing.

[Mostly written 15-March-2012.]

I have a really cool job.

I get to look up all sorts of weird things, neat things, things I probably never would have stumbled into on my own. There's also trying to figure out how to phrase something so the Web will like it, or understand -- or not give me really peculiar and/or unhelpful and/or frustrating answers.

Someone said to me once, "You get to read everything before it comes out!" and that threw me. I don't. I mean, not everything. If I worked on every book I read, I might not love reading quite so much.

No, scratch that. It'd be tiring. I could never work on as many books as I've read. Working on books involves a lot more than just reading.

I've been grateful, rereading a Patricia McKillip book, that I didn't work on it. I get to see all the pretty parts flow by. Fool's Run is a great book. I didn't know how to copy edit when I first read it years ago. Many years ago.

I know that... because I remember quoting it on newsgroups in the 90s. :)

But I love my job.

This week. :) When I get to the stage where I pull out my hair, that's another kettle of fish entirely. I don't think I'll be pulling out hair with this book... ETA: Famous last words, eh?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Defining history...

Just watched Game Change. [Warning: Link has spoilers if you haven't seen it yet.]

It was riveting. Just as The Social Network was.

I suspect it'll have a similar impact; even though it's a movie, it -- like any movie -- is a work of fiction. I'm not slamming HBO's work. Far from it.

But even though when you see a movie you know it's not real, you've seen it. On some level, it becomes real for you. It's defined events whether you saw them or not.

This isn't like The King's Speech in that there's considerable decades from 2008. Putting the three together, Game Change, The Social Network, and The King's Speech... it's pretty safe to say that for many viewers, that is how those stories will be perceived.

I don't necessarily feel the same way for all three, though; only two have characters I really care about. I think Bertie and Lowe are marvelous people, and probably always will.

And that applies to the sympathetic figures of Game Change too: Steve Schmidt, Nicole Wallace, and yes, even Sarah Palin some of the time.

Game Change was brilliant. Wow.

ETA: When Nicole cries, I nearly cried myself. How shattering it must have been, to be a political operative, and to make that choice on Election Day.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Last night, we were watching Bill Maher... and heard this awful noise, somewhere between an explosion and a gunshot.

The wind picked up in a big way.

And that's how we found out about the windstorm. It was a doozy. Outside the house -- which we couldn't see before 11pm, naturally -- two trees have fallen. Matchsticks is the word that comes to mind. I'm certain at least four fell within our hearing last night.

The storm's not gone, as the wind still rises every so often. I stayed up last night because it was too loud to sleep. Mind you, I wanted to be asleep.

No tornadoes here. Chainsaws, yes. A neighbor or two are buzzing away merrily.

[Maybe that's not how they see it, but when you've listened to the monthly tornado siren test, and heard it end quite gratefully, then chainsaws are not what you want to hear. Not when the winds were still loud past 7:30am!]

Okay, now I'm rambling. I'm considerably less awake than I'd prefer to be. :/

On the plus side, several times after midnight, I thought the winds had died down. Or stopped. They were considerably muffled from where I sit now. :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Anyone out there?

My friend Adam Israel wrote about the importance of keeping records today.

It is important. As a self-employed person, running a small business requires records. Check in with Nolo Books if you don't believe me... or the IRS.

Even in SCA, I kept track of things -- what I bought, what I bartered. I wasn't doing that for anyone but myself. It was fun at Pennsic War to find that I'd bought something, traded it for other things, and still had money [or trade goods] for shopping the next day. I loved seeing what could become something else: "That dagger I had yesterday? It's this pouch!"

I track who I've queried for work. What they reply, if I should try again, and when. I don't have to track stories -- their genres, editorial comments, suggestions for revisions -- but I track where editors are, of course.

This makes me sound tremendously organized. Like Adam, I've had problems sorting my data. I have spreadsheets, along with some other docs. It's something that -- if there's someone out there doing this as an app for writers and editors -- it'd be a great resource to have.

Anyone know of such a thing? Considering all the creative types out there, seems amazing to me if no one HAS created some tracking apps.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

"Our only hope."

What happens when bookstores close? What about when brick-and-mortar bookstores just don't choose to stock your book?

How do readers find books in those cases?

Jim Hines has a guest blog by fellow author Joshua Palmatier/Ben Tate on The Importance of Shelf Space.

Here's author J.F. Lewis on why you should support your favorite writers by buying their books... concluding:

But spread the word or the words you crave may stop flowing.

(Also from Jim Hines, his annual writing income post. Check 'em all out; Jim's 2007 money post has the link to Scalzi's writing advice post about finances.)

Remember, if you just figure that "lots of people buy books" or that you don't need to speak up about the books you love -- you lose. No more future books. Maybe you think that books cost too much or that electrons [and electronic books] should be free.

Air is free.

Every book is a chain of people working to make that manuscript into a book. Unseen. Many people assume a book came out of nothing. As if it's a direct route from author to editor, which goes kazam! And lo, a book.

Just as another process is taken for granted, how cars are made -- with a great deal of effort by many (unseen) people. Books have a long production process. The only human face the average reader knows is the author.

Don't forget your authors create the words you crave. Feed them. Buy their books.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

MY post office.

I was following links about #LetterMo today, and then read more about the post office closures.

I haven't owned a car since July 2005. I've lived in Las Vegas, in rural Ohio, and in Michigan since then.

No car makes life especially exciting in the Midwest, where nearly everyone is used to having a car -- me included.

I could walk to a UPS store in Vegas, so I could send things in a pinch when no car was about -- but the post office was a few miles away. In Ohio I could walk to the post office if I was careful (windy country road). When I lived in Center Line, Michigan, I could walk to that post office.

I mailed a proofreading test in 2008 from the CL post office. Two, actually. :D

Now I'm in rural Michigan, and the post office is too far to walk to safely. If I depended on the post office for work instead of my computer, I'd be sunk.

But I still need the post office. I mail things, people mail me things. I ordered a new desktop when mine died. What if I'd had to go to a city to fetch it? I don't live in a city or a town, I live in a village.

Rural America will lose its post offices soon. My great-uncle doesn't use a computer. He's not required to, either; the post office is infrastructure. It's to bind us together, not rip us apart.

Sure, I can work from home because of the Internet. That's a great gift. Still, not everyone has regular 'Net access!

I run a small business. If I had to travel far every time I needed ink, or a new printer -- think of how that'd add up. (Trust me, I can imagine it vividly.) If I had to pay FedEx or UPS extra for delivery, when they don't always come out here, while USPS always does...

The Founding Fathers created the post office for us all. It serves many purposes. Anyone who thinks it's only about paper letters isn't paying attention. Anyone who ignores the lives and jobs and businesses who depend on USPS is a blamed fool.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Warning: dark & personal.

I started this out saying, "No one did anything bad to me today." That's true.

Then I was going to say, "No one did anything bad to me this weekend." But that's not true.

At a con in the past, someone did. Someone I didn't know tried to force me, to rape me.

And someone reminded me of that over this past weekend. So when I stopped and listened to myself -- to my inner self, to what my heart and mind was saying behind "No one did" then I heard that, that echo, that "No one yet had the chance to go further" because I know someone who probably would.

I realized it because even when you don't get forced, the attempt is a violation. Just as Scarleteen says. To anyone who has never been forced, never been raped, never found that "No" is ignored... that's a concept he -- or she -- doesn't get.

There is no words.

Years ago, I fled where I lived because I'd been raped. Again, it's something people who haven't been raped or forced or victimized DO NOT understand. I've listened to them trying to grasp it, when I explain, and saying, "But why didn't you...?" as if that would help.

When I found out my rapist planned to move to my new region, I fled again. Each time, my fleeing coincided with other things happening in my life. The second time, however, I was aware that the flight was motivated first by my rapist and second by the other things. I've never fled -- as in packed up everything and moved away -- like that again.

Except for that weekend a few years ago. At a con. I got help from friends and fled him.

Years ago, I didn't try to explain this to anyone, not the rapist, nor the flight. This isn't to make you think I expect bad things at cons. I don't.

(The boyfriend who stalked me was not from fandom, for example. He didn't try to rape me, but stalking is another victimization.)

This whole topic is just something dark that I've been thinking about. I talk about a lot of things in my life. The predators... take me time to recover from. Just like they do for anyone else who survives the predators.

I am not prey. I am a person. I know teaching people to NOT be rapists is the first and best solution. But there is a dark part of me that wishes to make them feel exactly what it's like -- something that Mercedes Lackey did to a rapist in one of her books. I've never forgotten that.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Epic ConFusion

Short version: Went to con, had fun, saw friends, met new people. Did panels... but not as a panelist. Came home underslept and with my brain buzzing.

Longer version:

I'd told the good Jeff Beeler that I wasn't going to be there Sunday, and expected to attend only Saturday afternoon. So he knew I wouldn't be able to manage a Sunday panel.

When I showed up, several people asked me why I hadn't been at my Grammar Police panel... for Saturday morning. My what?? Including Christian Klaver, who had been one of the panelists!

InFusion, Fusion's daily broadsheet, had listed that "Anne Zanoni will not be here Sunday." I felt very flattered and somewhat awed. It was really nice to know that my updating Jeff meant that people cared to let attendees know a panelist would be missing.

When I got home, last night I saw that Jason Sanford had Tweeted

We're waiting for before starting the Grammar Police panel b/c she's the grammar expert! Anne, we need you ASAP!

Um. Maybe I shouldn't have been Tweeting before con... it does make people think I Tweet when I'm not in the house [like most people]. Pity I can't put up a Twitter away message... but that would be really annoying on Twitter!

Christian said that despite Grammar Police being a morning panel, there was a good turnout. Huzzah!! So I'm glad the topic worked. I'd hoped that would help writers.

I managed to attend four panels. I learned more about how PDFs flow (or don't!) in ebooks, heard about crowdsourcing, Worldcon bids, saw the Sony ereaders that Kathy Becker has, and divers things...

I really enjoyed the panel about anachronisms.

I wish I had managed my time better on Toby's panel; I hate it when I'm meeting people and have to duck in and out of panels. OTOH, I didn't interrupt with a ringing phone either, so that was a win.

I also pushed folks to attend Chicon 7 and WFC 2012. Truly, the more the merrier, and hey, we're helping the economy too! =twinkle=

I found out where friends had moved, saw the kidlets of Ken Strong and Chad Childers, heard about the best place to hold a kid's birthday party -- Jim Hoxsie's place, of course! -- and other stuff. I've missed people.

I also got to meet the author (Brent Weeks) who blurbed a book for Douglas Hulick, a SCAdian, who I also met this weekend. See, Doug's book was compared to my friend Dave's book, Giant Thief -- isn't it a small world? :D

Got to spend a little time with a lot of people. The cocktail party had lovely toffee. Most interesting costume of the weekend was a Clone Wars trooper.

Friday, January 13, 2012



A few days ago, I was scribbling in Blogger... and didn't realize that I was writing my thoughts out in public. Bad move.

Stress doesn't excuse it, even if that was a factor.

Back in high school, the teacher got mad at the class for not understanding her, and I watched one student look around, and decide to do something for everyone.

He got her mad at him.

I observed, but I didn't really put the pieces together then. I wish I had. I wish I'd told him it was a great gift. I wish I'd been articulate then, instead of just talkative.

Thank you for that gift, Chris Carrick. I hope you're well wherever you are, and that your choices and intelligence are rewarded.

I've been thinking about that day, lately. Maybe because of gifts -- thanks, Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan! -- maybe not.

Happy 2012. If you'll be at Epic ConFusion in a week, hope to see you there... Be well.