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.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links


I normally display the links in the order that I discover them (though once a category is made, I put them in chronological order under that). Why is this relevant? Because I'm breaking that pattern to bump this link to the very top. I don't care whether you are a creative type, a conservative type, a free-thinker, or a true believer. Read this link. Seriously. It doesn't matter what you're conforming to; it matters that you know who you really are. You don't have to be wild to be non-conformist; you don't have to be edgy or out there. To be non-conformist, you need to figure out how you want to live and live that way. It's hard, really. Everything pushes us to conform. Aid organizations want us to conform to their ideals of helping, radicals want us to conform to their ideas of what's wrong, conservatives want us to conform to their ideas of what's right, and so on. And each of these groups, regardless of where they fall on the social spectrum, have members who are being who they are, who they want to be. One friend of mine is breaking with tradition by becoming a gentlewoman farmer. Another is both a slum lord ;), and advocate for those without a roof over their heads. I have religious friends, and friends who do not think any belief system has value. Still more... I could go on. I have friends from all walks of life who have made all sorts of choices. The ones that are happy (which is not the same thing as secure, balanced, or comfortable) are the ones that have chosen to follow their hearts instead of becoming what everyone expects us to be, whatever that expectation may be. Me, I'm still struggling with the whole secure, balanced, and comfortable side, but when I ask myself if I'm happy with the choices I've made? Yeah, I am :).


This had to be listed if only for the last line of the article. A cautionary tale for people all thrilled about web-enabled ereaders. The fallout from this is still ongoing, no surprise to most of us, so search for more if you're interested.

And for those just starting out with ebooks, here's some to tempt you:


A solid list of ways to gain name recognition on the web:

Odd marketing choice here, but it has a long-standing tradition in another form, where the book appears to be co-authored but really the "headline" author barely gave the book a blessing. The difference being that readers know they've been taken in? Not sure about this because I discovered a lot of writers I now love because they "wrote" with MZB.

I'm including this article not because I've read the book or know the author (not that I wouldn't but that it hasn't crossed my radar yet), but because this is a scary bit of info. I need to pay more attention when I'm in the bookstore next time. I spend most of my time in the spec fic sections where people are blue and green even, but in the general sections, this is one more sign that we haven't grown up as a people. One more reason that recognition of people as people keeps showing up as a theme in my writing :p.


Contracts can be confusing and weighty. This article highlights the critical ones to look for:

State of the Nation...of Romance Publishing:

The secret to getting published:

A solid list of things to look at when revising:


People have laughed at me for reading romances going back as far as when I was 14 or so, but I've held out for the concept of the happy ending...and found it in my own life. However, my relationship had nothing like the barriers depicted here...and this is truth, not fiction:


A vision of the future of space flight from those who have actually been there. I can't see much to disagree with here, and I love the footprints to stepping stone progression of the moon.

Most alien landscapes on Earth. Some of these photos are incredible.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Anyone Can Become a Reader...

I had a fascinating encounter with a fellow in the neighborhood park last week.

Like me, he came to kill time, though I'd brought my mini computer with the intention of getting some novel critting done. He had nothing but a basic cell phone (his contact point with his employer). He looked to the gathering of baseball players in the hopes of something to entertain him, but instead, we got talking about books.

It started with my new mini as I explained what I use it for, but when he asked me what I wrote, after I told him, he said he wasn't much of a reader. He mentioned a foray into fiction (he does read non-fiction) and why it didn't work for him.

I talked to him about some of the novels that had captured my attention in my childhood, and about Lion's Blood which I'm reading now. I talked about my difficulties getting into it until I realized what type of book it was--an epic rather than plot-driven story where the focus is absorbing the reader in the society and relationships so that when the cracks appear in the social structure the reader understands the significance more completely. I compared it to Clan of the Cave Bear, mentioned Tale of Two Cities (and noted that I'd read it as a tragic romance so didn't have the problems other readers seemed to), and both how I had read romance novels since high school and how they'd changed from simple candy to books with more depth. For his part, he talked about how a coworker encouraged him to read Animal Farm and how he'd been given Steinbeck in high school.

I can't remember the last time I had such an open discussion with a non-reader. He never let the conversation fall flat just because he hadn't found much of value in the fiction world. We talked a bit about his venture into beer-making and finally whiskey because he found a how-to book at a yard sale, but mostly we talked about fiction.

So on a whim, using the example of my childhood library exploration that ranged from romances, to literary fiction, to philosophy, to anthropology, to whatever, I suggested he give himself the chance to find something he wants to read. I suggested he go to the library and choose five books from different sections. Take those home and try them out. If they don't appeal, he didn't have to read them, but if he did this enough times, likely he'd find something to enjoy. I also suggested Cyberpunk when he said Louis Lamour wasn't gritty enough for him.

These are random conversations. I don't expect people to break through their habits. I certainly don't make life changes every time I meet someone who thinks differently than I do.

But here's the thing. His employer called to be picked up, and as we said our goodbyes, he asked for my website so he could check out my writing. I gave him a business card, but still without much expectation. Then as he was walking away, he turned back and said that he planned to give fiction another try, that I had made it sound so interesting just talking about my favorite books that he wanted to see what he was missing.

Wow! That's so cool. And it says something. It says that it's never too late to catch the fiction bug as long as you're open to it.

People talk about meeting someone at a convention and just talking to them as people, at which point they can become interested in reading what you write, not because you "pitched" it, but because they can see from your enthusiasm that you really believe in it. I guess I just did that with the whole of fiction reading, and I hope he does find something to appeal.

So many potential readers are lost because they never see the whole of what's out there, and it's wonderful that I may have helped some stranger discover the world of reading. When I was a kid, I got it into my head that what I'd been doing before first grade wasn't reading (the teacher didn't believe I could read), and so the world of reading was contained within Dick and Jane. That was such a horrifying thought that I stopped reading all together. My report cards are full of worries about my lack of reading.

My sister broke me of that by forcing Narnia, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Anne McCaffrey on me. I've never looked back.

It seems somehow poetic that I might have had a chance to pass that favor along to someone who had given up on fiction for many more years than my sister would have tolerated. Though I have no expectation of such, I think it would be wonderful if, presuming he does find something interesting to read and checks out my site, he leaves me a note to tell me the end of this part of his story :).

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Interesting Links


Will our hearts require us to invent artificial gravity before expanding much further?

My cats aren't this subtle. They cry when they want attention, but then they have an always-filled bowl too. Still, it just proves what cat owners have always known...and hey, multilevel vocalization. That's cool :D.

A little bit of space history and a reminder of where we've been:


The comments make it into a divisive issue, but at the heart, I think this suggestion has a point. Writers of all genres don't do it for the money. Unless I become the next J.K. Rowling, I'd have made more sticking with computers. What is the financial incentive for the small-time writers, those still scrambling for a foothold? And would that picture change if the publishers had an incentive to invest in the new ones. Maybe limited to a number of books and royalty amount, or something, but a tax incentive to support young (in terms of reputation) writers so they have the chance to establish themselves seems a big improvement on this "you better make big or we drop you like a hot potato" approach we've got going now.

I really like this analogy for writers on the Internet:

I always knew writers were a bit off, myself included, but now it's been nailed down :D. A percentage of creative folks have the same genetic mutation as schizophrenics. So when asked if you hear voices, do you answer yes?


Words added to Merriam-Webster in 2009. It's an interesting list. Some I can't believe weren't there, others... Well, just see for yourself.

A good breakdown of the different types of editors who will work on your manuscript.

A solid take on the problems with using rhetorical questions in your query letter.

Why agents might reject a good book by Anne Hawkins of John Hawkins & Associates with the wonderful ending line: "If a book is truly outstanding, it’s only a matter of time until the right agent steps up to the plate and offers to represent it. Don’t give up too soon!" It's worth reading whether you're just starting out or have a book or two doing the submission round.

Apparently I am potentially part of the Google Settlement for my works appearing in anthologies. This is a solid breakdown of some of the issues with the settlement and it explains who is affected and how:

This is a great post about Angela James of Samhain in specific, and editing tips in general:


This article offers a roundup of sites where you can find photographs free for use on commercial sites so websites and book trailers and the like. Do read the rules for each because you may or may not have to attribute.

Book people are nice people, according to this article, and respond to nice authors. Tips on what not to do in a public appearance:


I have a basic contract set out for my programming freelancing and it was a real pain to get it together. We ended up going the email route, but it's worth having expectations established. This article lists useful resources for those who do freelance writing or programming.


I generally avoid politics and religion on my blog for anything beyond a personal level just because there's nothing more divisive, but as a woman in computers who was actively discriminated against with the support of upper management, I can't help but say Huzzah! to Jimmy Carter for this clear and simple statement:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Quick request for your opinion

I did a complete redo of my website, and I'm still playing around with the header image. I have two options currently on the table and would be interested in your opinion. The full post is on Live Journal, on my Novel Blog, but feel free to put your comment here or there.

Thanks for looking it over.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

In contrast to last week, this week was full of interesting things that came my way. Hope you all find something to enjoy.


A moment of cute. Baby hedgehog pictures:

A nice summation on how to be human on Twitter and the like:


Jessica Faust of BookEnds talks about what "different" means to an agent and why so many times the author and agent miss on the definition:

An article on the point of killing off characters. I feel for this commentary because I had a story surprise me with a death and it almost killed me to write it. But ultimately, the death was necessary for a host of good reasons, if nothing else to reveal that no one was invulnerable. That doesn't make it any easier to take, or to do.

A solid look at the costs of returnability versus the benefits with an example of how the reverse can work:

Reading this kind of article makes me even more grateful for finding Forward Motion and the dares it offers. Though I've been having a rough two years and haven't been keeping up on the deadlines stuff as much as I have in the past, I still know that I could push myself to do it. Now, with examples like this published author, it makes me even more determined to get back on track.

A step-by-step presentation of what happens from the offer through to the bookshelf for novels based on Shannon Hale's own experiences.

The author/editor relationship from the perspective of several published authors:

Tips on following up with agents after a query is sent:

Unconscious plagiarism is not an excuse according to these studies:

What hooks a reader from the perspective of agent Nephele Tempest:


A wonderful take on romance novels and the growing respectability of same. I've had a romance novel habit since I was 12 or so and went through all the appropriate phases of hiding the covers, reading late at night, etc. Now, I review them on my blog, I talk about them openly, and heck, I've even written one or two. Times have changed :).


I find this article on birth order interesting, but perhaps for different reasons than most. I read research on issues like how siblings are different and part of me (okay, a lot of me) is screaming, "Can't you see the social aspects of this? Can't you see how your research is relevant only to the group of people who grew up in the social conditions where the aspects you're touting exist?" Simple example: firstborns are supposed to be more intelligent, high-achievers who are out to take risks. Later children are supposed to be less intelligent and less likely to take risks. But if you go back in time a bit and hop over to merry England, you had the firstborns constrained to a rigid order of inheritance, the secondborns were the priests, those highly educated influencers of both social and spiritual life, and the thirdborns were soldiers who went out to conquer the world. Seems to me it's a nurture argument, not a nature one, which they make stabs at, but with the assumption that everyone is nurtured the same.

Interesting look at the origins of suffixes and prefixes by seeing how monkeys respond to grammar patterns:

Another reason to have coffee every day:


Of course I run across these articles after I just redesigned my site, but they have good tips on what to include...and what not to...on your author website. Some of them I'm not far enough along to manage, but others I'm going to have to schedule time to add.



Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Ruby Key by Holly Lisle

I know it's been a while since I posted anything besides Interesting Links, but summer up ends my busy life and puts the kids at the top of the scale (or rather, no school time to free up my writing time). That doesn't mean I'm not thinking about things to talk about :). So I hope you enjoy this bit in my words rather than having other people speaking through the links.

I blush to say that I've been planning to read The Ruby Key for quite some time, but just haven't been reading much at all. I read everything by Holly, and I can't remember a single time she's disappointed. However, this is a young adult book, on the young end of the YA scale, so I'm not really the audience, right? Well, now, having enjoyed it, I laugh at my delaying tactics.

The Ruby Key starts a new series and a new genre for Holly. It opens us to a new world where magic is commonplace, humans are not the dominant species, and the balance between day and night is a shaky one. This novel takes a young human girl and demands great things from her for a simple reason--to save the last parent she has left when her whole village is slowly falling ill or vanishing.

The story quickly becomes much more complicated than its beginnings, but throughout the theme is to be true to yourself and your goals.

Genna and Dan set out to save their family, and end up entangled in a war between day and night, human goodness, and human greed. They're joined by a nightwing, the dominant species, and a cat who is not a cat in their quest to meet the terms of a deal designed to be almost impossible, but not completely because that would be cheating (yes, interesting rule set :)).

I enjoyed the story as I've said, but then I gave it to my 14-year-old son. He, who has been annoyed by the predominance of female YA fiction, apparently found enough to like in Genna and Dan because he has demanded the second book in the series.

So, we will be getting the second book soon, but I won't get to read it first. Still, it'll be fun to see what happens next especially since I saw some of the behind the scenes info through Holly's How to Think Sideways course so I know it'll be interesting, but not how she'll bring it to life.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Interesting Links


I'll admit that I'm still on the periphery of the romance industry, so maybe everyone else already knows this, but I found the following blog post an eye opener to how Romance Writers of America runs their conference and the potential issues/gains of a larger electronic publishing presence:

A description of how not to respond to a review, and a reminder that the Internet is a public space:

And for those who might not know about it, I work on a free ezine for writers that has a lot of useful articles. Even more, Zette is doing a series on how writers thing about various things that has garnered responses from an interesting mix of authors:

A little writing fun with an edge:

And another that should least with me.

For those still under the delusion that writing is all about a wooden desk and a sniffer full of brandy...

Another round of publishing definitions. Each one seems to bring another word to the table or slightly different definitions. I find the variations interestings, but this is aimed at beginning writers who may not know the basic terms:


I'm not a Californian anymore, but I have friends and family down here. That's not why I'm linking to the following video though. I think there's a bigger implication here, and it's a wonderful one. Maybe through tools like YouTube, Twitter, etc., the American public will start to wake up more to what it means to be in a democracy (okay a republic :p), and step up in the political arena so that we/they are less stepped on. Our representatives can only represent what they know.

Fun coupon offers for those who live in big cities:


What happened to familiarity breeds contempt? Or is that only in the human animal? Ants, it seems, think in different ways.

Interesting come

I'm on the wrong computer and besides it's after midnight. I spent the day enjoying a county fair, not on the computer, so I'll be late. That said, here's a link for you that seems appropriate :).