Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

There’s no “What I’m Reading” section for this week as I haven’t finished either reading the book or listening to the audio book. That said, both will be coming with me on my next trip, along with at least one other.

More assumptions about ancient South American vanishing under new evidence: (more…)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Most Lamentable Comedy by Janet Mullany

I signed up for and won A Most Lamentable Comedy on Lucienne Diver’s blog despite studiously not entering book contests to preserve my sanity…and the foundation of my house which is groaning under the weight of my to-be-read pile. That said, I couldn’t pass this book up. A Regency novel, which is a favorite era of mine, with scoundrels for protagonists? I was sold on the description alone. (more…)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

What I’ve Been Reading

I’m currently 3/4ths of the way through Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan as an audio book, and have to figure out how to work the rest with no long road trips planned, and I’m reading Dragonfly by Fredric S. Durbin. I’m enjoying both books, though they are very different in voice and approach.

However, I did, in fact, finish a book this week. I took time I rarely manage to do a marathon read and finish up Crystal Healer by S.L. Viehl. Now I know I’m way behind in reading it, but there are now three people in my household who are into this series and one, who shall remain nameless, “lost” the book in the midst of desk papers. (more…)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Snowmageddon, or A True Life Adventure

It’s been a while since I posted a canary post, but it seems the universe isn’t done making my everyday life interesting.

I went down to the Bay Area (a drive of 4 hours in good weather and about 6 in bad) to go to my parents’ caroling party. Great fun was had by all and many songs were sung. The trip was totally worth it.

That said, the way back became a little more interesting than expected.

I knew a snow storm was coming in the evening, so I said I had to leave by 10am the latest…and I did leave by 10 exactly. As we were packing my car with leftovers my parents were happy for my family to consume instead of them, my father made a complete groaner. He said, “Well, if you get stuck at Donner, feel free to eat our party.” I hadn’t expected it to be quite so prophetic. (more…)

Friday, December 04, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

Notice: I have been getting up-to-date market news from for years, and so know that the information is kept up and accurate. That’s where I point people first. With the proliferation of searchable databases, apparently is slipping out of the public eye despite reliability being key. Ralan has asked, if you benefit from his efforts, that you tell Writer’s Digest, using the information below:

* Send an e-mail to writersdig (at) fwpubs (dot) com with the Subject line: “101 Websites”

* Write a short note asking them to check out the site for possible inclusion

* Specify the name and URL: Ralan’s SpecFic & Humor Webstravaganza,

* Mention why you think the site should be included

What I Am Reading

I’m in the middle of enjoying Crystal Healer by S.L. Viehl, but I wanted to, oddly, mention something I haven’t read yet. I got my first issue of Weird Tales in the mail the other day (I have been an on-and-off subscriber), and I left it in a prominent place, pointing it out to both my sons without a lot of expectation. They’re avid readers, but not particularly interested in short fiction. However, the youngest (15) picked it up on his own, and made a point of telling everyone how much he enjoyed the story he read (which of course I can’t remember the title of). Still, it’s a worthwhile recommendation because both of them have good taste when it comes to speculative fiction. (more…)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Hawkspar: A Novel of Korre by Holly Lisle

Hawkspar shares the fascinating world Holly created for Talyn, but is not dependent on the early book except for a small bit of crossover. While Talyn focused in on the Tonk and their culture, Hawkspar takes us much further, both in physical movement and in broadening our knowledge of the world itself.

The story begins with a young woman who was captured into slavery at a young age. She was bought by a rigid monastery culture where she has endured years of training designed to strip her of individuality and absorb her into traditions that include feeding those who disobey to starving rats while the rest of the monastery watches, a warning as to their own future. (more…)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links...on Saturday

What I’m Reading:

I just finished Soulless by Gail Carriger. It’s the first of her Alexia Tarabotti series and combines supernatural romance with Victorian England and a touch of steampunk. I’m planning a more lengthy review, but let me just say that I lost a few good work hours to this novel because I didn’t want to put it down. Delightful in all the right ways with enough interpersonal conflict to keep me reading and a big enough external plot to set the characters up royally. I highly recommend Soulless to anyone with a taste for adventure and love in Victorian times.


The link pickings are a little spare this week, largely because I’ve been NaNo focused and Thanksgiving distracted, but I hope you find something of interest below.

Publishing (more…)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stages of Readers: A Manifesto

Last night I went to see a high school performance of a play that I have now seen three times, A Servant of Two Masters. This is not a major play like Cats, and I hadn't sought it out, but coincidence or what have you led me to seeing this same play multiple times. The first time was at a community theater in Alameda, California, enough years ago that I didn't remember having seen it until the events in the play the second time were too familiar to be dismissed. The second performance was last year on a school trip (you bet I volunteered :)) to Ashland, Oregon to see a portion of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival that is ongoing there. And the third, as I mentioned, was a local high school. (to read more)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

What I’m reading

Fast Ships, Black Sails is, as I mentioned last week, a pirate-focused anthology that has some wonderful tales in it. This anthology spans the gambit of the past, future, and even pirates with fur over more than their chins. I could not name a favorite as I almost always found the next story as captivating as the previous, and only one story did not resonate with me at all, but it may very well be the favorite for someone else. The stories were sweet, creepy, thoughtful, and just down right strange, held together by a love of the nautical and the mystery of the pirate life. At first I thought these yarns focused only on the pirates, but there are a few, later in the book, that take the perspective of those hunting the pirates. All in all, it’s a good, broad look at different perspectives on pirates, contained in a series of fun stories by talented authors.



Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

What I’m reading

NaNo has started and I’ve got a lot going on so my reading has slowed down. That said, I’m currently taking in Fast Ships, Black Sails, a pirate-focused anthology that has some wonderful tales in it so far, some quite creepy, but still wonderful.


I’ve varied between calling myself an optimistic realist and a realistic optimist most of my life with few segues into pessimism. Personally, this works for me. (more…)

Check out the additional posts over at Tales to Tide You Over as well.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday Interesting Links times two

Oops. I forgot to cross-post last week's Interesting Links, so those of you who missed the notice about my new blog may not have seen them.

For October 31st:
It must still be Friday because I haven’t been to sleep yet, right? World Fantasy is a wonderful experience, with interesting panels, enjoyable readings, and fascinating people to talk to (including a discussion on overuse of adjectives ). Anyway, I haven’t had much time to read email, even less time to read online materials, so the showings are a little sparse, but I think some are worth it.


You don’t have to be Superman anymore to have X-Ray vision:

To read more, click:

November 6th:
It’s Friday, which means it’s time to post interesting links. However, I have not had the chance for much web reading, so the pickings are extremely slim. All right, one. I have one interesting link for you, but it’s very interesting.


Native language is something absorbed before even birth, according to this study:

That said, I did finish reading Escapement by Jay Lake...
To read more, click:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links, and on the move

There's no reading section this week, because I'm not done with the book I am reading, and you'll find the selection on links is a little sparse. I've had an incredibly productive week, but it took me a bit to get back into the swing of things on the Web after the Muse Online Conference, so I didn't have time to read as many links as I usually do. You might also notice that my interesting links have a new home, along with all my posts from both my Thinking and Writing blogs. I've been planning to consolidate onto my website for a while, but I was having some difficulty getting Blogger to give up the old material. As you can see, that is no longer a problem.

So, if you're reading this on Stray Thoughts, please click over to Tales to Tide You Over and visit my home. For those of you already here, welcome. I hope you enjoy your stay and check back frequently. If you haven't been here before, please click the HOME link at the top of the page to see the rest of my site.


A good reminder about sanity in this gig:

YES! We are artists making point by point decisions, not computers churning out results to specification, and I'm a programmer so actually understand the work that getting those results take. It sounds very hoity-toity, and I don't mean it in the way that avoids editing, but applying a "rule" blindly can weaken the text more than using all the tools in the chest as they were intended.

Fun comic about plot twists:

A thought on the meta message being sent by YA fiction:

Because we all need the reminder that our carefully edited and polished manuscripts will be edited again after acceptance:


An approach to synopsis writing with potential:

Some agents want to see how you found them, some want to see who you think you write like, and others want the exact opposite. It only goes to show just how different agents can be.

Proof that publishing runs in cycles. The "standalone" label has become powerful again. A lowdown on the state of series:

A peek into "almost there":


Robots are cool, but that this is a local discovery is even better :).

And on the other end of the spectrum, a Bronze Age town:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

What I'm Reading

Drowned Wednesday by Garth Nix - This reads like Alice in Wonderland for a younger audience. Crazy things happen in an unreal world all tied to a human boy who has been chosen as the one to fix everything. It's fast-paced, full of reluctant choices, and holds together well. Though I enjoyed Nix's YA voice in Abhorsen, I think his MG voice is actually more my style in this particular moment because there's a true feeling of the fantastical, more so than in a constructed fantasy world where everything has a logical basis. This novel is crazy, wild, and random...and yet is not so random that I was ever lost. It's just a fun read.

Veniss Underground by Jeff Vandermeer - This book was written just for me, or so it seems, combining a mystical, philosophical cyberpunk world with a touch of the sapience question and what it means when genetic manipulation removes humanity. These are all elements that have spoken to me a time or two, or three or four. The tone of the novel is surreal, the information offered through a mist where the POV characters can only see as far as they can stretch their hands and yet still strike out as best they can to change what they don't want to admit is true. Powerful writing that's very evocative. I don't think this book is everyone's cup of tea, and there are many moods when it wouldn't have called so strongly, but if you're interested in the test of human psyche, in the way people react when thrust into extreme conditions of civilization, this is a solid contender. The novel itself becomes Living Art, something you'll understand when you read it.


Author Sally MacKenzie describes her agent quest:

Tips for live pitching:

This may be an old article, but Ethan Ellenberg's advice on finding the right agent still seems true based on my experience so it's worth checking out:


What authors can expect from their publishers for marketing:

The last two weeks before publication:


Another older article from 2002 on the publishing industry and poor choices. The sad part of it is that the contents are still true today as far as I can tell, except for the reading percentage which is heading up.

Measuring a career:


The agent/author relationship demystified:

A follow up on the concept that there's more to being a writer than just words:

This truly belongs in science by content, but is most interesting for character creation in my mind. How about those psychopaths?

A take on backstory--how, why, and when to use it.

The cold hard truth about writing for kids:


Human/robot weirdness is not limited to humans. And they are looking at using this research to help treat autism.

A new pterosaur!

Imagine having one of these appear next to you:

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

What I'm Reading

I'm going to the World Fantasy convention at the end of this month so I thought that I'd take a peek at books by those I know will be there. So far, I've finished Abhorsen by Garth Nix and Vamped by Lucienne Diver, and enjoyed both.

Abhorsen is the third book in a series, and it says something about the author's skill that when I opened my mind to his world, I had no trouble at all following what was going on. (Admittedly, that's a skill of mine, but if the author hasn't put the hooks in place, I'm just as lost as someone who can't do that.) The story is an end of the world/good vs. evil tale with likeable characters who are struggling to handle what they've been given. Both of the main characters, Lirael and Sam, grew up expecting one thing only to have another thrust upon them. They have to figure out what to do without help from their parents or anyone with knowledge, though they do have the somewhat mysterious support of the Disreputable Dog and Mogget, a talking cat. This story is told in a complex world at the border between what we'd consider normal, and a land where magic is alive and powerful. The culture clash doesn't get a lot of play in this book (though the implication is that more was in the earlier books), but the crafting of magic and how it works is beautifully creative. I already started another book of his, and will probably be picking up more.

Vamped is an interesting choice to read because Lucienne Diver is one of the agents I would love to have. I picked up her book in part to see what attracts her, but that dual purpose was lost after about chapter two. Everyone is clear that chicklit is dead, but me, I see chicklit is actually undead :). I first ran across this in Michelle Rowen's fun vampire novels, and Vamped is another along these lines, if aimed at a younger crowd. The main character, Gina, is an unrepentant popular girl with her attention fixed firmly on clothes and shoes, only she wakes up in a hideous dress her parents forced her to have...oh, and she's dead. While part of me doesn't understand the appeal of the popular girl when so many readers don't fit that profile, it doesn't stop Vamped from working, even with me. Gina is quickly forced to accept a much more complex reality, and watching her struggle with no longer being the top dog, the choices she makes, and how she matures makes for a wonderful read. Now I have to track down Revamped next year, not because I want to understand Diver, but because I can't wait to see what Gina will be up to next. I've already passed the book on to a friend because it's too fun not to share. Almost makes me regret not having a girl child :).


Forget about the guilt. Think about what you are writing for in more than monetary terms.

Exploring a definition for YA:

I like this post because it contradicts a "should." I have problems with "should." All writers have one thing in common...we write. How we write, how we function creatively, though, is pretty unique from writer to writer, so how could there be a one solution for everything?

Don't know whether to put this in writing or social, but it's an interesting look at positive and negative space:

An excellent blog post on staying true to yourself as a writer:

I like the balance in this view of writers' required tasks:

Dialogue tips:


A breakdown of promoting your novel:

A peek into the editing process post acceptance:

One writer's perspective on social networking online:

A breakdown of expectations, suggestions, and costs for self-promotion:

An agent's perspective on unrealistic expectations from authors:

Tips on making a successful author event from the perspective of an indie bookstore owner:

An editor's perspective on what authors should expect of editors:

A very straightforward look at author websites:

How to get an agent:

Solid in-person pitching techniques and suggestions:

Agent Query's list of publishing blogs to follow:


Interesting list of environmentally friendly options coming in the future:

The Mayan die-out interpreted thanks to space-based observations:


A wonderful breakdown of what YA is, and what it isn't:


I couldn't pass this up. A while back, I adopted the tagline of Tales to Tide You Over for my business cards with the visual of a message in a bottle, so a list of real stories with the same theme is perfect to share:

Friday, October 02, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

Books I Recommend

Walking Dead by C.E. Murphy

The fourth in her Walker Papers urban fantasy series, Walking Dead offers a wonderful look into how Joanne is maturing into her shamanistic powers, though she still has doubts. I must admit, when I saw zombies, I was curious how she'd tackle one of the popular genre tropes in a way that is unique. Let's just say that while her zombies are traditional, everything surrounding them is not, from what brings them to life to Joanne's reaction and solution. Even if you haven't been following the series, this one is a fun read. And when you're done, go back and read the rest of them :).


Some thoughts and examples of bad and good author websites.

A look at author promotion successes:

A look at what a publicist can and cannot do:

Dealing with rejection letters:

Tips on researching agents:

Editorial acquisitions process explained:

A solid examination of copyright infringement's costs and excuses.

Questions to ask interested agents:

The ten commandments of blogging. I'm still working on this one.

Tips on oral performance of written work

I've included links to instances when authors fail to respond appropriately. How fun to have one that is the reverse:


The nuts and bolts of creating sympathetic characters.

Techniques for overcoming procrastination:

When an editor requests a rewrite...

Some good observations about querying:

Suggestions for managing writing projects:

On writing characters that are different from you:

A great evaluation of the value in a crit and how to find that value:


Mastering Twitter:

Handling anxiety:


A manifesto against censorship:


A look at a 4.4 million-year-old ancestor:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

Books I Recommend
(I only finished the one.)

Stakes & Stilettos by Michelle Rowen - How she manages to pull off a flippant, largely cowardly, main character, I don't know, but I love seeing what Sarah gets into. This novel largely resolves the relationship with her boyfriend Thierry (an ongoing thread of the series), and opens up a new plot to carry into the next book or two.


How to work with your local bookstores:

True Originality Is Overrated:

New Scientist flash contest:

Tips on synopsis writing

Tips on crafting a good hook:


A solid list of what to look at with revisions:

And a list of danger words. Remember that these are ones to pay attention to, not to eliminate out of hand. Even in the examples, there are cases to be made for the "bad" version in context as it changes the emphasis.

A look at what makes up good writing:

This is an interesting concept and of use, I think, to people who are struggling with the concept of plotting. It seems to provide a solid base for an outline:

Tips on ferreting out over writing, but also how to define over writing for that specific work.

Quick review of show vs. tell:

Goal setting and management for writing. What's interesting about this one is the wide variety of approaches represented in the author quotes:

A group of quick tips for things to look at to strengthen your novel:

Nice list of what being a writer means:


SF flash:

Harlequin free online reads. For those who want a taste of Harlequin, they post both shorter and full-length novels. Here is one example.


Weeblies wobble but they don't fall down...and now they scope out unknown territory:

This comic illustrates my concerns with some of our assumptions so perfectly I think it belongs under science:

And dinosaur news...I couldn't pass it up :).

For a road-trip junkie like myself, this comes as no surprise, but it's an interesting look at the US roadmap:

Possibility of new answers in Mayan Ruins:


An interesting look at depression from another direction

Why Twitter for writers:

Balancing life and work at home:


Quick and easy tied-quilt. Though I like piecing and quilting mine, I'm thinking of adopting the edging suggestion for sure.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

Books I Recommend

Trying something new since I'm so slow in writing up book reviews. The books/magazines I list here may show up in a more complete review later, but I want to share the ones I really enjoyed.

ShadowLight by Lynn Viehl - I've already reviewed this, but it still deserves a mention. This wonderful dark fantasy is coming out in October and is worth the trip to get it :).

Hawkspar by Holly Lisle. My life has been complex enough in the past few months that I let this gem slip into my to-be-read pile and get buried. Where I think Holly stretched and grew with Talyn, Hawkspar shows the maturity of that development. It's political, philosophical, sociological, and romantic all mixed into a grand, nail-biting adventure...with ships! Seriously, I started reading and got so sucked in that I came up with excuses to read just a little longer.

A Most Lamentable Comedy
by Janet Mullany. I won this book in a blog contest that I joined because I had to know how a romance centered around scoundrels would turn out. The answer is a lovely, funny, poignant Regency romance that is not what you'd expect at all, and yet it just works. I'll be seeking out more of Janet's writing for sure.


If all the different "punk" genres have gotten confusing, here's a clarification:


Guess I should be focusing on the Urban Fantasy I wrote, eh?

An in-depth look at digital publishing:

A look at young adult literature:

And a behind the scenes look at the printing press process:

Information on Creative Commons

Explanation of book sales numbers by Noah Lukeman:
Link to his newsletter

Just what is women's literature as opposed to romance novels?

Lucienne Diver's take on the state of publishing:


Colleen Lindsay breaks down query letter failures:

A look at what the issues around an author blog are:

Why you should promote your book:

A look at how to choose your genre when starting out:

Clear breakdown of how to write a great query letter from agent Noah Lukeman


A good, quick list of making description character focused (highlight to avoid the black background):

A series of posts about writing for the Harlequin Presents line:

While I don't believe in the write every day rule, this analysis of writer's block is solid to my experience:

I believe passive voice has its place, even in fiction writing, but this post makes a good case for why it should be least most of the time.

Writing dialogue (note that I think people talk to themselves more than most people admit to, but besides that, solid advice :D).

Good breakdown of basic story structure and plot:

Three breakable grammar rules, along with why. And yes, I agree with all of them :D.

This article segues nicely sums up something I told another writer recently. It's important to remember why you write:


How to protect your valuables:


Apparently they have found the part of the brain that contains the "what if?" ;). Actually I'm kidding, but it's an interesting study still, though would have been more compelling with very young children.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

Time Management

I did something similar to this with an older version of my weekly to do list, but it's an interesting way to control over-commitment.


I've been teaching a class on my outlining method and I keep emphasizing meaning, purpose, and focus. So when I saw this, I just had to share it. This is WHY your story has to have a reason. We're not talking about conversion, or preaching, we're talking about, to quote the post, "And fiction is antithetical to arbitrariness." Read the rest. It's worth it.

Luck has only a little to do with success in writing. And we make our own luck. For example:

A list of blogs that are worth checking out both for non-fiction and fiction writers:

Working with editors:

A neat concept for idea generation:


I've always been a big advocate of personal responsibility. I've also been concerned by the perceptions about education and learning I see and hear around me, about how the US has been changing from an education leader to something a lot less appealing. Whatever you might think about our president, in this speech he sums up hope and responsibility not just for who you are but for who you can become:


An interesting look at piracy:

Tips on how to interact with agents at conferences from Lucienne Diver of The Knight Agency.

While I normally put author promotion ideas here, where else would a suggestion to re-image reading itself belong?

A glimpse into an agent's perspectives on authors.


Why nothing can be set in stone: We're always finding new information, even on our past:

And dinosaurs are up for revision again as facts start to outweigh instinctual reactions to big claws:


A new angle to the Google Settlement that may shake things up a lot:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shadowlight by Lynn Viehl

Today you get a two-fer. First the post I just wrote after stalling on the other post (you'll understand as you read it, Lynn's just too good :)), and then I managed to get my first post to a pseudo end point, so I hope you enjoy both. They take different approaches to the same book.

I finished Shadowlight a decent number of days ago. Long enough that I should have had something to post by now. The trouble is that I liked the dark fantasy novel too much. I know, that sounds stupid, but here it is.

I wanted to write a review that gave a fair assessment of how you'd like the book, that gave enough of a teaser without revealing anything important, and that didn't sound like I was gushing because that sounds fake.

I can't manage it.

Lynn Viehl writes the equivalent of action thrillers with paranormal romance tied in. Her books are candy, or supposed to be. They're easy reads that don't ask anything more than that you are open to the possibility of things unknown and accept the answers she provides. Answers that are all too plausible if you ask me :).

In return, she gives an edge-of-the-seat tale with trouble at every turn and people who learn that everything they thought true just isn't. Oh, and along with this, she gives characters that are three-dimensional to the extreme so you can simultaneously see the story from more than one angle, and understand and sympathize with all the heroes, even when some of them think others are the villains. Lynn doesn't deny you a true villain though. The Kyndred have forces arrayed against them that offer both immediate danger and hint at a greater scenario that will become clear as the series develops.

Shadowlight is a complex layering of characters all with different goals and beliefs that reads as easily as any novel there for pure entertainment but sticks with you afterwards. Whether it's Jessa trying so hard to do the right thing even as she knows she's risking everything, Matthias whose approach is foreign enough to keep everyone guessing, or Lawson's belief in what's due him, there's never any question about depth. This novel builds on the Darkyn world, and even offers cameo appearances (yay!), but the important information is layered in smoothly so new readers should not have difficulty enjoying.

Seriously, if you haven't checked out Lynn Viehl (or S.L. Viehl which is her science fiction pseudonym), you're missing out. Her early books show talent and skill that grows with each one. Shadowlight is even better than the last Darkyn novel, though I no longer think it's a culmination, as that would mean she's stopped improving, which hasn't happened yet. I don't know what else to say. I feel like Sam in Green Eggs and Ham. "Try it, try it and you may, try it and you may, I say :)." It's short and sweet. If you don't like Shadowlight, you haven't lost much in time and energy. However, the more likely scenario is that you will discover a world, a series, and an author who will be delighting you for years to come.


Today I reached the part of Shadowlight that Lynn Viehl includes in every one of her novels...the part I hate. It has something to do with two little words, and a lot of not-so-patient waiting.

Yes, that's right. I have reached "The End."

The bad news is that I now have to wait until the next one (though Lynn did sweetly include a teaser in the ARC), but the good news is that I get to tell you all about it so that you're perched on the edge of your seat, just waiting for release day.

I'm starting to sound like a broken record in this, but with each of her novels, Lynn seems to grow as a writer. The mechanics of this book, especially the beginning, are wonderful, but it's the story that really absorbs me. For those of you who are Darkyn fans, don't despair. You won't feel left out. I think newcomers will have to go in with an open mind, but isn't that always the case? Things in Lynn's world, though they cross over with the traditional, are unique enough that suspension of disbelief is necessary, and worth it.

Shadowlight begins the Kyndred series, focused on a group of people gifted with special strengths. They were mentioned in the Darkyn series, were somewhat crucial to it, but this is not just a continuation of the Darkyn books. Where those books focused on an ancient war between Darkyn and their enemies at the same time as exploring the strife within the Darkyn population, Shadowlight starts out in a place of isolation. The Kyndred are not some secret society that both supports and fights among itself. The Kyndred are an experiment gone wrong and scattered to the winds only to recreate faulty memories bit by bit.

And that's not the only difference. There is no ancient evil here. If this book is characteristic of the new series, the dangers are much more immediate and driven by modern aims rather than hatred. Here you have kidnappings, corporate espionage, and the FBI rather than grudges held over the centuries. It's a fresh start in a familiar world for Darkyn fans.

Go on. Check Shadowlight out. You'll meet a new cast of characters who I hope will continue to show up in the rest of the series, because I'm not ready to break the acquaintance.

Now tell me which you found more useful, please. I'd like to post one in a couple other places too.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Friday Interesting Links


Interesting map of mythical animals:

Why are you writing? This article talks about choices and not driving yourself into a hole economically just to write. Seeing as I'm a stay at home writer, reading these kinds of assessments helps me evaluate and confirm.

A look at character development:

A tight look at the alpha hero:

Five "easy" steps to being a writer:

And because you should be interested in life after that first sale, whether or not you're already there, here's a sobering note about deadlines:


Evaluation of book trailers for marketing:

And a step by step on making a book trailer:

Warning plus suggestions for self-promotion:

Interesting perspective on series potential mentioned in queries followed by a rebuttal to some of the assumptions within

Looking at how people find agents

Personalizing your queries:

Fascinating analysis of the cover art for the top 5 Amazon books:


How to use Twitter:

How to network and have fun as an introvert:


Handy guide, especially since I don't know most of the basic stitches by name, though I came up with a very useful variation once when I tried to understand a friend's directions over the phone ;).


An interesting look at the history of a "good" novel and why that seems to be drawing adult readers to YA now.

An author's take on the full costs of publishing piracy:


This could just as well as be considered social, but this article raises an interesting, and potentially traumatic, question. And the implications of the conclusion are huge if you consider whether political appearance should be held above the wishes of those who volunteer. I know I'm being obscure, but read it and you'll understand why. I don't want you to prejudge the question.

Don't you hate the thought of knowing when you're going to die? This galaxy has only 2 billion years left if the model is correct:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links


Interesting perspective on the "write what you know" advice:

Five things about writing as a career:

Tips for planning your interaction with an agent at a conference:

Decent dialogue tips. I'd also add that using voice recognition can improve your overall dialogue.

This is the start of a series on how to cut your novel by 20%. So far, the advice is solid and I agree with it. Often I find the "cut by" articles too simplistic, so I will be watching this series.

And more tips on what to look for when shortening:

10 things to know about being a professional writer:

Some suggestions on how to make traditional openings in romance unique.

I like this philosophy regarding pantsing and outlining. It has a lot in common with my approach:


This fascinates me because I have an innate compass, but even so, I navigate by triangulation. At a certain point instinct tells me I've gone too far. In contrast, my youngest hates cities because he gets disoriented without being able to see the big landscapes.


When is a publicist a good idea?

Rachelle Gardner's take on publishing in the current economy:

I've been going back and forth on the Google Settlement, trying to understand it, but today I signed up only to discover I've already got something listed. It's worth doing just to check:

With the caveat that a brilliant story can overcome almost anything, here's a list of agents' dislikes for opening chapters.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

A little bit late in the day, but here are your interesting links. A lot of fun stuff in writing, especially for YA and Middle Grade for some reason.


How to get going when you don't feel like writing, because "in the mood" gets old when it's your job.

A quick demonstration of writing emotion so the reader can feel it:

Some pitfalls in writing YA/Middle Grade:

Categories of YA/Teen novel segments:

If you're interested in writing for the middle-grade market, this article offers a good overview, including everything from how to structure the novel and how long the chapters should be, to how to market it once you're done:

A solid breakdown of what royalties mean and what authors should expect of those royalty statements.

An interesting approach to deciding whether to rewrite a story on request:

This blog post was written for me. I can tell. And what it tells me is to get cracking on one of my titles that belongs in one of the bigger market segments :).


History told in a unique, changing, sand painting. Incredible and moving:

How to be politically active in an effective manner:


Tips on how to give public speeches:

A good reminder to read contracts closely, in general as well as when making donations. Odds are these are just poorly written contracts, but...

Building an author platform.

Problems with pitches and author expectation:

The story of an author's agent search with some good suggestions:


I had to include this article for those who have critiqued Shadows of the Sun for me. Though it would have been more fun if it had sold already, I put this method of translation (alien language not ancient) in my novel well before they came up with it.

This belongs as much under writing as here. An analysis of facial expression interpretation reveals cultural differences in something previously believed to be universal:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

I was gone most of this week, so I'm posting the links late to give me time to gather up something fascinating. Hope you enjoy or learn something...or both.


Analysis of the impact of ebooks and ereaders, something of interest even more now that I buckled down and got a Sony ereader.


Just what is author branding? Here are some answers.

Some tips about writing a bio whether for your publications, your social sites, or the "about me" page of your website. It's a little more oriented to business than writing, but still it's a good start:

This has a lot more to it than just promoting, but I had to file it somewhere. Top 10 mistakes of solo businesses:


What interests me in this article is not so much the discovery as the methodology for making it. But fun reading anyway:


I've put up publishing terms dictionaries before, but this is a solid, clear one that even included a couple terms I didn't know.

On the OWW listserv we've been discussing how much you can get away with that's pure fiction without grounding. This is a good breakdown for science fiction in specific. In my mind, as long as it doesn't feel like a new, unexplained gadget/culture/natural phenomena shows up every time the characters are stuck, I'll keep reading.

A solid approach to emotional writer's block.

And that's it folks. Maybe I'll get around to writing up some book reviews for next week.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Zombie Realms of Fantasy

I have been an on and off subscriber to Realms of Fantasy for years, often picking up a newsstand copy when I didn't have a subscription. When I saw that Realms had been cancelled, I spread the news with tears in my eyes. Realms of Fantasy is an icon. It is one of the few long-standing pro markets for short fiction, and it's one of the few markets that offer fantasy short stories in printed form.

I couldn't quite let go of the dream, though, and hoped and wished for a good samaritan to come out of the woodwork and rescue Realms. Then what happened but Warren Lapine stepped up to the plate and took it on. I, for one, cheered, but at the same time, there's always questions. Just what would change? Just how different will the new incarnation be? Will it retain the character that made me interested?

Well, having read what editor Shawna McCarthy characterizes as the Zombie Realms of Fantasy (August 2009--the first issue under new management), I can say without a doubt that Realms is alive and kicking. It's certainly not resurrected with an arm torn off or an unquenchable desire for brains. This issue is so much like the last one I read, that I forgot until I got to the editorials on the very last page that Realms had even been buried six-feet under.

It's funny, but I always think of Realms as a fiction magazine (you might have noticed that above). However, this issue, like all the others on my shelf, has more non-fiction content than fiction, a combination of essays, reviews, and the afore mentioned editorials all speaking to an audience of readers, movie goers, and gamers who come together in their love of fantasy.

The main article reads as a dissertation on the mystical aspects of music, and the social and political consequences that stemmed from this fact. It offered a glimpse into cultures ranging from Europe to the Middle East and China as well as more modern musical forms. Though a bit of a dense read, it was very informative and interesting.

The four short stories (one at flash length) varied among the possible subgenres, including one involving time travel cloaked in a magical framework and another set in modern day to balance the one in plague-ridden Europe and another in Medieval times. Though I rarely like all the stories in any particular issue of a magazine, I'd be hard-pressed to state a favorite.

Each of the four had a strength, whether it was Tanith Lee's skilled conveyance of her character's arrogance turned to desperation, Dennis Danvers' exploration of the costs and consequences of power, the implications that expanded Bruce Holland Rogers' flash well beyond its short word count, or the neat twist that ends Ian Creasey's story. They were not without weakness, but none of the weaknesses overwhelmed the strengths, and in many were quite minor. I would have appreciated another pass through the copyeditor's hands for Tanith Lee's tale, but I did not notice a significant number of typos or editing errors in the other stories, or indeed, in any other material.

Those interested in Harry Potter would find much to capture their attention in the movie article. It explores the movie not so much, rather delving into the lives, motivations, and processes of the folks involved in bringing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to life on the movie screen. A combination of commentary and quotes, the text makes the people involved become three dimensional.

The game reviews, of both video and pen-and-paper offerings, provide clear details on the value of each. A couple of them go so far as to include an analysis that looks beyond the game itself, while the rest appear to contain just what the players of those specific games need to decide whether to purchase a particular supplement.

And finally, the bulk of the non-fiction content is book reviews, a category that contains fiction for adult readers, young adult novels, and graphic novels. The reviews are largely written by staff writers, and contain both pros and cons about the various pieces...or at least where the reviewer felt it necessary. The specifics, though, are presented in a compelling way, enough that I've added a couple of the books to my list, and would have added more if I didn't have such a reading backlog.

Though there's been a lot of uproar about the possibility of advertising in books (as if the ads for other novels in the back or the middle insert in romances is not advertising...), Realms proudly displays its advertisements interlaced with the content and just as targeted. This issue contains ads for books, games, conventions, and other objects of interest to the fantasy/gaming crowd. Only the actual insert (a packet of information cards) bothered me, and that because it was too heavy so tore the page when I tried to remove it. To give an idea of how useful the advertising is, I had somehow missed the announcement that one of my favorite authors was releasing a new book in one of her ongoing series, but the advertisement clued me in.

The magazine is also heavily illustrated with both photographs and full-color drawings that ranged from realism to abstract as they captured the mood of the stories and articles they supported. The article about artist Michael Hague was full of his artwork, some whimsical and others with a darker ambiance.

So, having gone through practically every possible aspect of Realms, I have to applaud the clear effort to keep continuity in content and quality. Leading short story magazines in SF/F have shifted into other hands before, but in this case, the editorial staff remains the same, along with (if this issue is any guide) the publication philosophy.

At a time when short story magazines are struggling, as shown by the recent closure of Jim Baen's Universe, Warren Lapine's move to step in is appreciated, as is the decision of Shawna McCarthy, Douglas Cohen, and the returning contributors to stick it out. I, for one, plan to put my money where my mouth is and restore my subscription. I look forward to seeing what interesting stories, articles, and other information will appear between the covers of the resurrected Realms of Fantasy.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Friday Interesting Links

Quite a few links this week. Hope you find one or two that resonates.


Plans for a permanent full-service space:

Archeology has had some interesting breakthroughs, the first two technological and the third happenstance:

We've come a long way from interpretation ultrasounds..."is that a foot?"

Zombie Ants?

Interesting breakdown of why whales have lungs not gills:


An interesting twist on the Amazon-Orwell uproar. A case where a student lost real work (annotated notes) because of the deletion without notice.

That cover art blowup I mentioned earlier? The effort has borne fruit:


Agent Janet Reid weighs in on the issue of submission exclusives:

Some good tips on writing strong sentences:

Writing your author biography:

Nice guidelines for catching pacing issues:

Quick lesson on novel pitches for conferences.

Explanation of 10 myths about copyright (+1)

Keeping your focus on what's important in writing:

An agent's perspective on manuscripts that don't sell:

Agent Jenny Bent is doing a series on understanding publishing contracts, starting here:

And another change to the publishing arena: meet deadlines or else. On the other hand, I know of at least one midlist author who got opportunities she might not have had otherwise because she had a reputation for coming in on time.


Interesting experiment in kindness and the nature of it.

There's been a time or two when I could have used one of these: (I used to wake up on the other side of the San Mateo Bridge during my commute several times a week...not a problem except that I was the driver :P.)

This could go in a number of categories, but it's a good breakdown of the issues we have with motivation by an old college friend I just rediscovered on the web.


An excellent take on author blurbs. How to approach authors so that it's a good experience for everyone.

Step-by-Step directions on creating an author podcast:

Friday, July 31, 2009

Interesting Links

As some of you already know, I back my files up nightly. Now before you suspect a huge calamity, I didn't lose anything exactly, but I thought I'd give you another example of the benefit to sending a Zip file to your Gmail account each night. I'm on the road. I thought I put my latest version of the interesting links file on my laptop mini, but I'd copied an older (and empty) file. So I just downloaded my last incremental backup and found that I'd made additions to the interesting links (because otherwise I would have had to move back a day to find it). Otherwise, you would have been out an interesting links for this week since I'm not at home. And I learned something else...I need to add a copy of the contents doc too because downloading and opening each one in hopes of finding a specific doc is a pain :).


An interesting follow up on the cover controversy I mentioned last week, with some more reactions from a broader audience and a fascinating comment from within the publisher's ranks.

An insightful look at the impact of Amazon's influence on the online book marketplace. Some things to think about.,0,6189272.story


Lucienne Diver breaks down query letter do's and don'ts.

An excellent breakdown of the lessons fairytales offer to writers:

Grammar humor. Gotta love it.

And now vocabulary. I had to include this one if for nothing else but the Princess Bride reference. However, I only quibbled about one (I think) of his "absolutes," and overall the advice is solid.

When I started out, I was determined to be a science fiction writer/reader. I've mentioned on my blog before why that is, but also that fantasy as a genre has matured into something that captures my interest and even my heart. So when I see something like this, discrimination for the sake of making other people feel small, I just want to scream. But she said it much better than I would:


Tips on what to include on your author website

Tips on how to promote a novel


And hope for a little yellow dog named Pluto. Umm, that would be a distant solar object of the same name ;).

Algae as the newest source of crude oil?

New information on how the "hands" that stir the pot of the ocean.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

From Ideas to Outlines (a writing workshop)

I posted this over at my writing blog, but I'm reposting here in case there are some of you who are interested in writing but do not follow the other blog. (BTW, if you do not, I would recommend checking my writing blog out ( for a close look at how I do things, along with more general writing posts.)

This six-week workshop is outlining for organic thinkers, though the methodology works on both inspired and crafted works (as not all my ideas come dressed for the party).

From Ideas to Outline will introduce a series of techniques to convert an idea into a workable, non-constricting outline. Come prepared to work hard as you will be asked to perform each technique yourself so that you can judge whether it works for you or not.
Begins Monday, August Third. Facilitator: Margaret McGaffey Fisk

Note that theses workshops are free but do require that you become a Forward Motion member (which is also free). Once you are logged in, click the below link to go straight to the right section (note the Learning Center 2009 link is available from the header on any forum page):

Hope to see some of you there.