a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
other gardeners 
27 March 2015 21:27 - Relistening to X Minus One
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
The PSAs about polio vaccines aren't as outdated as I would like them to be.
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

Cat Rambo, in addition to having the coolest name ever, has been an active part of SF/F for about as long as I can remember. She’s served in SFWA, and is currently running for president of the organization. She edited Fantasy Magazine. She’s a prolific author. And she has the best hair! I’m happy to welcome her to the blog to talk about her experiences as an “older” female writer in the genre.

You can check out her new book Beasts of Tabat on Amazon or Wordfire, or read more about it on her website.

A year or so ago, I celebrated my 50th birthday. I did it wonderfully, with food and friends and all sorts of festivities, but at the same time, my inner teen kept eying that number and going OMGWTFBBQ.

If you are beyond your teenage years, you know what I mean, because all of us are, to one extent or another, significantly younger in our heads than our exteriors may indicate. My mother confirms that it’s just as true in one’s 70s.

I do find my reading habits changed a little. My stance on romance nowadays has shifted. It sometimes makes me a little impatient, a little get-on-with-it when it’s not interesting, and when it is badly written. I find simplistic stuff unsatisfying unless it is absolutely, beautifully wrought. I don’t mind unhappy endings as long as they resonate and I can tell.

But it’s when I write that I sometimes feel my age, not in a bad way. Not in a bad way at all. But rather I understand things better than I used to. I have more grasp of how to flip oneself into the opposing perspective, so I can better understand what’s on the other side of a debate. I hate to call it wisdom, but yes, I have learned a few things, and because I’ve read deeply and also worked in some people-skills-intensive position, I’ve got enough of it to know I am not wise at all, and that’s farther along than some people have gotten.

Beasts of TabatI’ve come to the point where I understand something of why I write, and a little of what I want to say. I like that. And I know people better now, and that helps me create interesting characters. The novel that’s coming out, Beasts of Tabat, features a middle-aged female gladiator and a teenage shapeshifter. That’s a pair of protagonists a bit outside the norm, and I think that it’s experience that let me come up with Bella Kanto and Teo.

At the same time, as an older female writer, I’m also conscious that I’m part of a demographic traditionally dismissed, particularly in writing. I am one of that mob of dammed scribbling women that Nathaniel Hawthorne deplored. And I am aware that much of that mob has been allowed to fade from historical memory, something I see happening to some of the women in the speculative field before me right now. Something that I worry will happen to me.

There’s been lots of sturm und drang about an idea Tempest Bradford proposed, that people try one year of reading outside the standard category, and I will take it one step further: if you are an adventurous reader who likes challenging yourself, spend a year reading from outside that category, but only books that are 30+ years old, preferably even older. You’ll find the chase illuminating. You’ll find influences. You’ll find writers talking to each other, an endless call and answer throughout literature that every writer takes part in, and sometimes those conversations will startle you in their modernity. You’ll find people that maybe other people tried to erase, or maybe the hegemony just wasn’t set up to perpetuate their name — it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the renewal of energy in their names. Read in other cultures, other times.

Younger writers will find inspiration there, older writers comfort as well. And the fuel to keep going — at least that’s one of the ways I feed my own fires.

I do hope you’ll read my own new novel before embarking on the course I advise :-)

Good writing/reading to you all.

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and Tor.com as well as three collections and her latest work, the novel Beasts of Tabat. Her short story, “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain,” from her story collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current Vice President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. For more about her, as well as links to her fiction, see http://www.kittywumpus.net.

Cat Rambo

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

27 March 2015 07:33 - Party like it's 1999
coffeeandink: yuuko and watanuki (xxxholic (yuuko + watanuki))
I feel I should outsource all my media reactions to Vonnie. X Files revival! Already I know it will be terrible and already I know I won't be able to resist watching.

(Chris Carter: still pretending the mythology makes sense. GIVE IT UP, CHRIS. EVERYONE KNOWS.)

I am actually feeling all warm and fuzzy even though I am sure the series will be a disaster. You guys! I met so many of you guys through The X Files! I got into online fandom through The X Files! I got into LJ through The X Files! I want to throw my arms around you like Muppet Angel.
yhlee: (FMA:B Mustang Hellbound)
I have two books on perspective, which I'll discuss together because they differ in interesting ways: Perspective! for Comic Book Artists by David Chelsea and Vanishing Point: Perspective for Comics From the Ground Up by Jason Cheeseman-Meyer.

The Chelsea is first notable for treating its subject matter in comic form, which makes it fun to read--I was reminded of Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics and Making Comics (indeed, the author cites McCloud as an influence). The introduction rather brilliantly introduces the question of why one would care about perspective in the first place, by showing a representation of the author himself being called up by an imaginary friend named "Mugg" (his head is shaped like a mug with a face on it, complete with a disconcerting handle sticking out the side) who is trying to draw a comic but running into perspective problems. Right away I could feel Mugg's pain, because I basically can't do anything but one-point perspective, and even then I struggle with knowing where to put the lines to make the heights of things look reasonable, ditto angles. I technically know how two- and three-point work, but I've never been able to use them in practice to make a picture that doesn't look weirdly distorted. (Exception: I can work from photographic or diagram reference, but in that case it's basically a cheat.) Anyway, in the comic narrative, the author walks to visit Mugg and passes by any number of beautifully rendered items (architecture, benches, even railroad tracks--there are always railroad tracks in these things) to illustrate perspective, and then we reach Mugg in his art studio and see his superhero comic sketches where the perspective is all wrong to the point where even I can tell.

Chapter two covers depth cues, including optical illusions and foreshortening. I think I should reread this in depth, in fact. Foreshortening the human figure, especially the arms, completely bollixes me up every time. :(

Chapter three discusses the picture plane, which I think is talking about projective geometry. (Sorry, I donated that book on the mathematics of perspective because I couldn't get through it, but the material is out there for those who want to approach it from that angle.) Chapter four discusses the horizon and the vanishing point. The next chapters introduce one-, two-, and three-point perspective, followed by a special discussion of circles in perspective. The last two chapters deal with the human figure and with shortcuts.

Here's an example from a discussion of two-point perspective and floor plans:

Jason Cheeseman-Meyer's Vanishing Point has a more conventional presentation from an instructional viewpoint. To my fascination, it describes not three types of perspective (one-, two-, and three-point, which I had learned about in 9th grade art class) but five. Apparently there are also four- and five-point curvilinear perspectives! I find them very mysterious and have never attempted them, considering that I find regular perspective confusing enough, but it looks like you could get incredibly cool "fisheye" type effects with them.

Cheeseman-Meyer's book is well-organized into how-to pages, e.g. "draw a box in one-point perspective" or "the 90 degree cone of vision." There are apparently things called diagonal vanishing points (yeah, you can tell how long it's been since I last read this) that you can use to make your drawings more accurate for one-point. Tutorials give examples of using the material to produce a finished work. The one-point homework alone makes me quail:
To really grasp the lessons of one-point perspective, find a room that has good rectangular shapes in it (beds, dressers, coffee tables, etc.). Sit centered ot hte wall, and face the room flat-on. Draw what you see! (25)

I should do this sometime because it'd be good for me, but man, it'll take hours.

There's an extremely helpful section on drawing items rotated with respect to each other (answer: multiple grids, which admittedly gets visually confusing but I presume things like Photoshop have ways of dealing with this). Also a whole bunch on ellipses, circles, and cylinders, which can then form the foundation of things like human figures in perspective. Cheese-

Here's a very useful tip on drawing foreshortened limbs in perspective, plus observations on cross sections and ground planes (67):

(Sorry--the book's pages are larger than my scanner's scanning area, so there's some truncation.)

I also liked the tutorial on how to draw a car--a nontrivial endeavor, considering the number of curves involved.

Cheeseman-Meyer then moves on to curvilinear perspectives with five-point, introduced first because it is (weirdly) the curvilinear equivalent of one-point. (I have no idea how the math works, by the way, so please don't ask me! Although if you want to explain it to me, I'm all ears. I have yet to find an explanation of perspective that makes it feel really intuitive to me.) Four-point is apparently the two-point equivalent. And then there is something called infinite-point perspective, but at that point my brain breaks.

The last part of the book is devoted to such topics as where to put the horizon line for different kinds of perspective, using floor plans (I desperately need to study this section), using thumbnails, and various tricks and shortcuts.

The short version of this post is that these are both great books, but they take different approaches. There's something appealing to the Chelsea's thoroughness with more basic topics (which I need), but it doesn't discuss curvilinear perspective at all, so if you need that, the Cheeseman-Meyer is worth picking up. I like having both on my shelf and I should probably actually draw a picture someday that requires me to use perspective so I start getting practice.
26 March 2015 10:00 - Ghost Town
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

The way big tours are arranged you very rarely play three nights in a row. To hear Waldo gripe about it, it’s logistically difficult, it’s hard on everyone including crew and performers, a bitch to schedule, etc. But sometimes three places are close enough together to make it work or it’s the only way to work it out with all three venues. So you do it sometimes.

Read the rest of this entry » )
26 March 2015 10:08 - The Advice Checklist
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)


This rant list has been brought to you by a few comments on this blog post, and by observations about the internet in general. Before jumping in to immediately offer advice on all the things, please consider asking yourself the following questions. Thank you.

And yeah, I get the potential irony of giving advice about asking questions before giving advice. I also think there’s a huge difference between sharing my thoughts in a blog post and jumping into other conversations to tell an individual what you think they should do.

Did this person ask for advice?

Hint: Posting about something on the internet is not the same as asking for advice. Requests for advice usually involve phrases like “What do you think I should do?” or “I need advice.”

Do you think your advice is something this person hasn’t already heard?

Hint: I’ve been diabetic for 16 years. If you’re neither diabetic nor a doctor, I probably know more about my disease than you do. I’ve read the books, heard the advice, followed the online discussions, talked to the doctors, and so on. On a similar note, someone who’s overweight has probably already heard your advice to exercise more. Someone with depression has already heard your advice to “just think positive!”

Do you know enough about this person’s situation to give useful advice?

Hint: Telling someone with financial problems to get rid of their credit cards isn’t going to cut it if they’re currently paying legal fees following a divorce, are underwater in their mortgage, and just got laid off from work.

Are you more concerned with helping or with fixing the person so they’ll stop making you uncomfortable?

Hint: People talk about their problems for a range of reasons. To vent, to process their own feelings, to connect with others and know they’re not alone… If you genuinely want to help, great—but in many cases, giving advice isn’t the way to do that.

Are you more concerned with helping or with looking clever? Are you willing to be told your advice is unwanted?

Hint: If the person in question says they’re not interested in your advice and you respond by getting huffy or defensive or going Full Asshole, then this isn’t about the other person. This is about you and your ego. Take your ego out for ice cream, and stop adding to other people’s problems.

Are you sharing what worked for you or telling the person what they should do?

Hint: There’s a difference between “This is something that helped me,” “This is something you might try,” and “This is what you should do.” For me personally, the first option is easier to hear than the second, and the third usually just pisses me off. But also be prepared to hear that the person doesn’t want your advice, no matter how you phrase it.

Do you know what “giving advice” looks like?

Hint: I wouldn’t have thought this one was necessary. Then I got the commenter responding to one of my posts on depression by telling me, “Listen to your inner self and make it your outer self” and insisting he wasn’t giving me advice. He was just “stating an opinion.” Dude, if you’re telling someone what to do, you’re giving advice. If you’re getting huffy about it just being your opinion, you may also be acting like an asshole.

Have you asked whether the person wants your advice?

Hint: If you’re not sure what someone wants, asking is a pretty safe way to go.


I’m not saying you should never offer advice. A few days ago, I left a comment on someone’s Facebook post where she was questioning whether she should bother trying to get her book published. I offered my experience, disagreed with a writing-related myth she referenced, pointed to several options that had worked for myself or other writers, and acknowledged that my advice might or might not be helpful for her particular situation.

But I have zero patience these days for the useless, knee-jerk advice that comes from a place of ego and cluelessnes.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

xtina: A spiral going downward. (anxiety)

I have such massive amounts of anxiety around individual people. I can tweet to folk, and I can comment with folk on other blogs, but responding to comments? Replying to email? Being on chat? Fuck, may as well get me to do public speaking.

This makes it so I don't really interact with people much outside of work. (And the cyborg collective at home, of course.) I possibly could be closer with people at work, except anxiety. I possibly could reconnect with folk in Boston, in Portland, in wherever the hell I've lived, except anxiety. What if I'm too intense? Or too standoffish? Or I'm boring and no one will tell me? Or I miss social cues and then I'm weird in that avoiding kind of way? Or I am actively on fire and setting fire to their furniture and they're too polite to tell me? Or I can't escape?

I had two friends reach out to me at the beginning of this year, and it was lovely chatting with them, and now it's my turn to initiate contact with them to show that I care, and... I do, I really do, I just don't know what the hell I'm doing. And what if my clumsiness ruins everything. I would apparently rather hide in a hole than keep up with people I care about because what if I hurt them by me being me?

(Shit, I can't even respond to direct requests for information from random people on Wikia. I do not exaggerate.)

So instead, I sit at home with a full inbox and not-replied-to comments, and I work, and I plan for future!Kid, and I do what I do. Maybe later I'll try that whole Being Brave thing and try reaching out.
26 March 2015 08:38 - Aftermath of a Kindle Daily Deal
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

Earlier this month, Libriomancer [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] was a Kindle Daily Deal, meaning Amazon was selling the e-book for a mere $1.99. This was the first time one of my books had been selected for the KDD program, and I have to say, it was pretty sweet. But how much of an impact does that $1.99 day really have?

I’ll probably never have exact numbers. These sales will show up on my next royalty statement, which covers January – June of this year, but doesn’t break things down by day or week.

Here’s what I do know…

1. Once Amazon drops the price, most other online retailers follow suit. Soon after I posted about the Kindle Daily Deal, I realized the book was also on sale at Barnes & Noble. Then people mentioned Google Play and iBooks. They all seem to monitor and price-match, which means the book was on sale pretty much across the board…at least in the U.S. Alas, Europe and most other non-U.S. ebook sellers didn’t get in on the action.

2. Libriomancer was, at least for one day, outselling Fifty Shades of Grey.

Libriomancer vs. Shades of Grey

3. We probably sold >1000 ebooks on Amazon alone. But wait, didn’t I just say I wouldn’t get numbers until my next royalty statement? Well, yes. But I do have the ability to pull up my Amazon affiliate account and see how many copies sold through that link. About 350 or so people bought Libriomancer through my site and links. My friend Howard Tayler (of Schlock Mercenary fame) was kind enough not only to mention the sale, but also to email me afterward and let me know he’d had close to 400 sales through his post. Given that Amazon was also marketing the book, and other folks were signal-boosting, I think 1000+ is a reasonable guess.

4. Apparently Libriomancer is a Sword & Sorcery book. This was news to me. But who am I to argue with this screencap?

Libriomancer #1

5. I have absolutely wonderful friends and fans. I was blown away by how many people signal-boosted the sale. Thank you all so much for the support and word-of-mouth.

6. I’m still addicted to checking my Amazon rankings. Most days, I’ve gotten to where I don’t need to check in to see if my sales rank has gone up or down, or if anyone’s left a new review, or whatever. But I was clicking Refresh all day to see what kind of impact the sale would have. At one point, Libriomancer was #1 in two different categories, and #16 among all paid Kindle books, which is pretty sweet.

Libriomancer Rank

This also put the book near the top of Amazon’s “Movers and Shakers” for the day:

Movers and Shakers

7. It boosts sales of other books in the series, too. Neither Codex Born nor Unbound saw the same level of sales, but the Amazon rank for both of those books ended up in the four-digit range, meaning sales were above-average for them as well. Probably not a huge number of sales, but definitely better than nothing! Hopefully there will be some longer-term sales too as people finish reading Libriomancer.

8. A few weeks later, I’ve got 24 new Amazon reviews for Libriomancer. I don’t know if those extra reviews will help to sell more books, but it’s nice to see, and it means at least some of the people who picked up the book also read and enjoyed it. Yay!

9. Amazon pushes and markets its KDD books. As one of my fellow authors put it, this is a situation where the author gets the benefits of Amazon’s market and advertising power. They promote their Kindle Daily Deals, and while I don’t know how much that helps, it’s certainly a significant boost.


Thanks again to everyone who signal-boosted, and to all of the readers who shelled out $2 to try the book. I hope you enjoy it!

I’ll probably check back in later this year once I’ve seen royalty statements, and can compare this six-month window to prior royalty periods. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from other authors who’ve done the KDD thing. How did your experience compare to mine? Any additional insight or information you can share?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
Today was very long, very medical, and very expensive. (These last two items are unrelated.) I was operating on a grand total of two and a half hours of sleep, thanks to the little cat who decided to pounce on my head at five-thirty in the morning and coax me out to play by repeatedly biting my wrist. After dinner, [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel very kindly accompanied me to the MFA so that I could decompress surrounded by cylinder seals and black-figure pottery and antique coinage of America. I am re-reading Mary Renault's The King Must Die (1958) for the first time in several years. It is even more difficult for me now to ignore the novel's at best ambivalent attitude toward women, even or especially the powerful ones, but it formed so many of my ideas about ritual and sacrifice and when there was still a potentially inauthentic snake goddess on display in the classical wing of the MFA, I could not look at her without thinking of the Bull Court, earthquakes, darkness and fires, the sea-surge speaking for the god. I think I shall start a program of handing the book to readers who have enjoyed The Hunger Games.

Someday I would like to be able to own some classical jewelry. Probably what I will be able to afford are potsherds. They will be very old and I will cherish them.

My poem "Foxstory" is now online at Through the Gate. It is a splendid issue—M Sereno, Bogi Takács, Lisa M. Bradley, among others. Despite their strong childhood importance to me, I believe the poem to be my first published foray into foxes; then again, I've never successfully written that much about trees, either. It was directly inspired by Jenn Grunigen's Storyfox: A Database of Vulpine Science Fiction and Fantasy.

It turns out that I will actually take a dress home from a vintage store if it is from the 1950's (as far as can be determined from the materials, the style, the label, and the internet), black and sewn all over with glass beads and artificial pearls, and has a geometric look like fashions from the '30's. If I succeed in wearing it out anywhere, I will make sure there are pictures. I am as surprised as anyone. The last dress I actually agreed to wear was for my wedding and I didn't buy it for the occasion. Anyway, that's what was notable about yesterday.
25 March 2015 15:06 - what order
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Butler's Mind of my Mind, Bester's Starlight and Bova's Colony are likely to feature in upcoming Tears reviews but which should I do first?
rosefox: A man's head with a panel open to show gears, and another man looking inside. (examined head)
Just briefly making links between my recent post on the joys of not being necessary and a 2012 post about falling asleep at parties and in 2004 about "the lovely shock of being reminded that there are tremendous parts of the world that do exactly as they please without depending on me in the least" and also in 2004 about singing in choruses (literally and metaphorically). I assume there are others between 2004 and 2012 on the same topic, in one way or another, but those are the links that came to hand today.

I also note that the flip side of those posts is the dreadful weight of feeling responsible for making the sun rise.

I have always been me, apparently.
25 March 2015 10:40 - Still Here
pantryslut: (Default)
I just don't have a lot to say these days. I'm not sure why. All the ephemeral stuff is going over on FB, for sure, and it's easier to load and display pictures there too, so there's that. But that's not all of it. I'm not worrying about it, I'm trying to go with the flow. (Honestly, I think part of it is that I used to use LJ as a procrastinatory distraction from my desk job, and now I don't have a desk job and haven't for a while. Now when I procrastinate, I'm somewhere else.)


I was going to write up a weekend update in which I regaled you with tales of the Oakland Running Festival; I'm only running a few days late. April ran her first 5K and came in third among 6-year-old girls. Then she went into the bouncy house for a while, and then she ran her second race, the "fun run" for kids. Simone ran with her and so did G.

As I am really quite seriously not a morning person and weekdays are hard enough on me, I slept through the start of the 5K at 7-mumble in the morning and walked down the hill to join my family at the end of the fun run instead, around 9 am. I passed a Gatorade station set up for the marathoners. There was a DJ and a handful of volunteers, all full of smiles and dancing on the sidewalk. We got to see the first few marathoners come in to the downtown area. There were tons of people in Snow Park (a small little hill of grass with some lovely shade trees right by Lake Merritt), but at no point did it feel too crowded, and the side streets were all pretty quiet.

There were some food trucks, and I bought April some chicken chunks by request because it is difficult to resist reasonable requests from children who have just run their first 5K. She didn't like them so I ate them for her. I think she thought the truck -- WhipOut!, with a whippet dog theme -- would have hot dogs, to be honest.

Our friend Eli, who is/was on LJ but I've forgotten his handle, accompanied April for her race because it turns out it's hard to find someone who can keep up with a small determined running child for 5 kilometers (thus eliminating her parents) but who isn't competitive enough to want to run their *own* race. The latter was the hitch for the kids' classmate Anna, whose father came in third in the 5K. Nice trophy. Anna ran the fun run instead.

All in all, it was a very pleasant day that filled me with the warmth of civic pride. Here's to many similar weekends to come.
pantryslut: (Default)
Mostly I have been reading "There and Back Again" to the kids at bedtime, and wishing that there was a lot more *smart* kid-friendly space opera out there to read to them. Because seriously, they love the astrophysics portions of the book, the galactic geography. It's dense, and we read slowly, but they are completely into it. (The adventure and shipboard life portions are also appreciated and go faster.)

I might have some other things going on too, but nothing of consequence.
25 March 2015 13:09 - List of adjustments
ailbhe: (Default)
Kettle I don't have to lift (Breville hotcup)
Second kettle in my bedroom so I can have drinks when I can't manage stairs
Second, smaller, fridge so I can have (and give children) breakfast and snacks when ditto
Walking stick
Shower stool
Cleaning service, 4 woman-hours a week at present, hoping to reduce
Budgeting for café time in every single outing, thank goodness for babycinos.
No gluten, dairy or soy
Often only drinking hot water as cold water makes me FREEZING and tea can make me sick

I might remember more later.
25 March 2015 12:38 - Making the right decisions
ailbhe: (Default)
Well, cleaners was the right way to go, because now I'm able to get dressed every day and the children have even done some painting and other art stuff because I have the oomph to help.

Terry Pratchett is still dead, because that's how dead works. I don't approve.

I've taken steps to have a gardener come and help us dewinter the back garden so it's a good summer space. I usually do this myself but it's not worth the loss of energy. I *like* getting dressed every day.

I take the kids to Brownies now but I have to have a rest in the cafe after the walk there so that I can walk back, and the cafe closes just as Brownies starts, so I have to rest before Brownies, so I have to buy 3 kids drinks so we can all sit in the cafe. The good thing is that babycinos exist.

All my triumphs and achievements are so minor, so small, so trivial-seeming, but they are a big deal to me. I can shower standing up sometimes. I can walk around the block without crutches (it's a small block). I have been painting a little again.

I think I would like my world to be larger, and with more people in it. But it really depends on people coming to me, because I cannot go anywhere without a huge cost.
24 March 2015 23:50 - First outing of the spring!
ceciliatan: (default)

Mirrored from Why I Like Baseball.

Well, that was fun.

I just took in my first baseball game of the spring. I’m not exaggerating when I say it has been a tough winter. It has been, in fact, the worst winter in the history of weather records in the city of Boston. We had both the most snow and the coldest temperatures. The result was snow banks six and seven feet high lining my street for months, as well as transit shutdowns and a lot of general hibernation.

So here I am in Tampa–where my parents retired to some years ago–to see baseball and thaw out. The weather was a mere 66 degrees this morning and that felt so warm by comparison to me that I had no hesitation to get in the swimming pool with my mother, who teaches a water aerobics exercise class here for other retirees. (The pool is heated. Oh bliss.)

This evening’s entertainment though, was provided by the Tigers and Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Read the rest of this entry »

24 March 2015 11:56 - Finished copies are heeeeeeeere!
swan_tower: cover detail from Voyage of the Basilisk (Voyage of the Basilisk)

So these showed up at my house last night . . .

finished copies of Voyage of the Basilisk

The production folks at Tor continue to knock it out of the park: deckled edges, three-piece case (in this instance, lavender and deep violet), even dark blue ink for the text. I think my other novels are starting to get an inferiority complex, sitting on the shelf next to these beauties. :-D

One week to street date — I can’t wait!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

24 March 2015 10:00 - For No One
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

There were two more “warmup” dates after Atlanta, one in Chapel Hill and one in Charlotte, and I know I should know which one was which. But I have to apologize to the people of North Carolina for getting the names mixed up enough times that now I don’t know which was which. In my defense, in both places all I saw was the inside of a basketball arena.

Read the rest of this entry » )
24 March 2015 08:49 - Depression
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
  • Depression lurks in the corner.
  • Depression waits for an opening.
  • Depression is exhausting.
  • Depression has little patience for others, and even less for you.
  • Depression remembers every mistake, real and imagined.
  • Depression is afraid of change.
  • Depression is “fine.”
  • Depression teaches you to lie.
  • Depression is ashamed of you.
  • Depression is forgetful.
  • Depression doesn’t want you to go out tonight.
  • Depression thinks you deserve it.
  • Depression tells you not to talk about it.
  • Depression is abusive.
  • Depression is seductive.
  • Depression disguises itself.
  • Depression is always tired.
  • Depression thinks you’re weak.
  • Depression wants you to read the comments.
  • Depression doesn’t care about the good things that happened yesterday.
  • Depression expects you to fail.
  • Depression doesn’t believe things will get better.
  • Depression is overwhelmed.
  • Depression wants you to think you’re the only one.
  • Depression knows you more intimately than any lover.
  • Depression is a glutton, and depression can’t stand the thought of food.
  • Depression demands perfection.
  • Depression undermines success, and magnifies failure.
  • Depression is comfortable.
  • Depression is a bully.
  • Depression lies.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
My flash "The Choices of Foxes" has been accepted by Alexandra Erin for Angels of the Meanwhile: Poetry & Prose in Support of Pope Lizbet. It was written in December for [personal profile] yhlee; it's a courtship story. There's blood in it.

The full table of contents has yet to be announced, but I am very happy to be in company with some of its contributors already. If you want a copy, order one now. Due to the nature of the fundraiser, only as many copies of the e-book will be produced as are preordered. It's for a medical-bills cause, which I have a lot of sympathy with.

Pretty much as soon as I walked through their door, [livejournal.com profile] gaudior played me a parody of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe." As narrated by Friedrich Nietzsche. "Thus Spake Carly Rae." It's actually great.

Today has been mostly quiet. I think that's all right.
23 March 2015 16:28 - something I just noticed
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Think Spider Robinson read Nourse's 'The Coffin Cure' before coming up with the backstory for Telempath?
23 March 2015 10:00 - A Year in Pictures: The Photo Set
swan_tower: (Default)

It took me a while, but I finally have all the photos from A Year in Pictures up in a set on Flickr. Complete with tags! So if you want an easier way to browse through them all than paging back through my blog archives, now you have it.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

ceciliatan: (default)

I just spent the past five days soaking up the Florida sun soaking up the intellectual stimulation of the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (aka as ICFA, pronounced “ick-fah”). This is an academic conference that also invites writers and editors in the field of science fiction, fantasy, and horror to be in the mix. It’s a–dare I say–fantastic opportunity to get away from the frozen snowy north be deeply intellectually stimulated. The research papers being read range from close textual readings of fantastic literature to sociopolitical analyses of films, to Marxist deconstruction of video game music, to fan studies and transformative works.

With such a panoply of choices before me, and no particular agenda, I sampled from many different tracks and topics, and I find myself unable to write one coherent narrative recap. Instead, I’ll resort to that tried and true staple of our age, the Top Ten List.

I learned:
1. Elves Must Die
2. Sexism is Lazy
3. Magic is Privilege
4. Cyberpunk is Dated
5. Shopping is Work
6. Personal Growth is not Activism
7. Sidekicks are Oppression
8. Anthropomorphising is Oppression
9. Improbable Sexuality is Ironic
10. God is a Pantser

Details under the cut:

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

sovay: (I Claudius)
Signal-boost for [livejournal.com profile] lesser_celery: Not One of Us is still alive!

Good things about yesterday: started the second season of Twin Peaks with [livejournal.com profile] gaudior and [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks and made dandelion greens for dinner, sautéed with capers and garlic and lemon juice and vermouth (and cooked to death so that I could chew them) and served over wild garlic pasta. Received a care package of CDs and dried fish from [personal profile] yhlee. Watched Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935) with [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel. Someday we are going to program a Busby Berkeley marathon and everyone is going to stagger out of the theater seeing kaleidoscopic reflections of the sexiest pianos in the world.

Good things about today: walked into Harvard Square and back despite the blasting cold (bright-skied, sidewalks full of pigeons; I need to start carrying a camera) and spent the afternoon with my father at the Harvard Semitic Museum, which I had never properly visited before. It's free to the public. The first floor has a cutaway reconstruction of an Iron Age Israelite house—complete with sheep penned on the lower level; the family sleeps above where there is a niche in the wall for the household shrine, a meal is laid out and the loom stands ready for weaving—with accompanying descriptions of royal palaces and a painted reconstruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem. A retrospective of archaeological excavations at Giza is arrayed up the walls of the stairwell. We went straight to the third floor, because it's where the casts of Mesopotamian monuments are on display along with a selection of pottery, glassware, and metalworking from Cyprus. (As a direct result, I have just lent my father a book on ancient Cyprus. I thought I had another, but couldn't find it; my mother thinks I lent it to him years ago.) There is a wall-to-wall mural reproducing the decoration of the archaic bichrome jug where two sailors are depicted transporting a cargo of amphorae and a third is depicted taking a dump on a fish. Please remember at all times that the ancient world was so much more dignified than our own. The second floor features a new exhibit dedicated to the creation of the museum itself, starting with the private collections of the museum's founder David Gordon Lyon. I'm sorry not to have seen Nuzi and the Hurrians, but I suppose this is what happens when you live in a city for decades and completely miss that a museum exists. I had a lot of soup dumplings for dinner and just finished making a very fluffy bread pudding with Boston brown bread. I now own a 1946 system route map for the Boston Elevated Railway.

Richard III is being reburied in Leicester. Whatever the disagreements over his resting place, it sounds as though the ceremony was done well. It is making my mother happy; she has always cared about him.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
I accept they fill a role in household ecology and leave them alone; in turn they do not run up my pants leg.

Today, this pact was unilaterally broken.
rosefox: A severed head saying "Thanks.. I needed that". (relief)
(Quote source because I can't put the entire song in a subject line.)

I used to get a huge ego thrill out of giving people useful, wanted advice or help. And I still do, occasionally... but I like it even better when someone else gets there first so I don't have to. I mean, I never have to, at least in the sense of outside obligation, but in the past I've been in situations where I felt like I was the only one who could help--because I had unique knowledge or insights or there was no one else around--and it's just so incredibly refreshing when someone else steps up with their own unique knowledge or insights, or in any way at all that relieves me from being on point. I was going to say "refreshing when I can delegate" but that implies authority I don't have. I get the same sense of relief when I delegate a task to someone who I have faith in, though, or when a partner seeks support from one of their other partners. It's a thing that's off my plate, off my mind. I feel freed to deal with other things where I am actually the only person who can do it.

Sometimes I open up the recent posts list on FOCA, pick some threads where I think I might be able to help, read them, nod along with the other advice people have given and admire the things they thought of that I didn't, and then close the tab with a sense of pure contentment. I rarely even feel the urge to chime in, and I never feel an obligation. It's not because everyone else there thinks the way I do; I have apparently moved past the notion that My Way Is the Right Way and Other Ways Are Wrong. It's because everyone else there offers advice and support in ways that strike me as entirely sufficient. I have apparently also moved past the notion that sufficiency lies only in perfection--meaning My Right Way, of course. Hooray, evidence of gradual maturity.

I keep using and deleting "have to" phrases. The obligation is so clearly internal, coming from the same place as the OCD feeling that I am the only one who can do a thing correctly and no one else can be trusted. It feels so good to prove that feeling wrong. I really dislike its desperate urgency. The further I can get from that, the better.

I recently reread this very emotionally raw post from May 2001 where I pondered the perils of being necessary. At the time I wanted to be needed but was pretty sure it was bad for me. Now I have a slightly more nuanced view: I like being valued and important in situations I choose, like my job or being someone's partner, but I don't like being valued and important in ways that I didn't choose, and I really don't like being necessary in the sense of there being no backup plan or safety net if I want or need to step away. The OCD positioning of my obsessive self as the guardian of perfection quickly transmutes into pure stress and anxiety as I try to do everything while regarding everyone else with suspicion. I can't really turn off the part of me that's constantly checking whether I need to be doing or fixing something, but how lovely it is to look around and be reasonably confident that everyone else is doing a perfectly fine job and I don't actually need to do anything at all.
21 March 2015 22:09 - email outage
yhlee: soulless (orb) (AtS soulless (credit: mango_icons on LJ))
I appear to be having an ongoing (or possibly intermittent, impossible to tell) email outage. Please use requiescat at gmail dot com if you need to reach me for the foreseeable future. So sorry! My webmaster has been notified and we're looking into it.

([personal profile] ahasvers, I got your art-related email, still thinking.)
21 March 2015 21:08 - and now
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
I can say I own a lot more Leigh Brackett books than I did ten minutes ago.
21 March 2015 11:05 - Resources: Timeline maker?
zandperl: Picture of the front cover of Robert's Rules of Order (Robert's Rules of Order)
I’m looking for a free web or program service that’ll let me make a timeline. I will want a simple image out of it in the end, not a fancy interactive thing. Anyone got suggestions?
yhlee: Fall-From-Grace from Planescape: Torment (PST FFG (art: maga))
Art-related book: The Animator's Workbook

I had a diletantte's interest in traditional 2D animation at one point, although I have never animated anything using that method. (I've animated one thing in Flash, and I've animated a walk cycle in LivingCels, although that almost shouldn't count because the peculiarities of LivingCels made the cycle unusually easy. I miss it terribly and really should teach myself Synfig one of these days.) I bought a modest number of animation texts, however, and dreamed about doing an animation project (I don't draw well enough to do this).

Tony White's The Animation Workbook is a nuts-and-bolts introduction to the basics, all the way from tools such as cels and peg bars to dealing with dialogue and backgrounds. But what I found most fascinating was the very basic material on inbetweens and anticipation. Animation forces you to think about motion, not just static material, which is a very easy trap to fall into when you (where by "you" I mean me) tend to draw from photographic reference. (It's also why life drawing is so salutary--I have never managed to draw from photographs a sketch that captures the fluidity of even my lesser efforts at Joe- or lizard-sketching, or for that matter sketching carefully-faceless people at the library.)

Here's an example on inbetweens that wouldn't have occurred to me as a nonanimator without thinking about it:

I suck at scanning, but basically, what happens if you animate as per the above inbetweens is that the eyes appear to "slide" across the face. (If you visualize this like a flipbook you can imagine what happens.) Instead, you want to animate on an arc as per the below:

Another thing White touches on briefly is how actions are preceded by opposing action--think Newton's Third Law. So if someone is going to run forward, this is usually preceded by anticipation of the motion in question. And of course there's a great deal of attention paid to walk and run cycles, and how people run or walk differently.

I am never going to be an animator except with that ridiculous Android app I downloaded (which uses stick figures and things, and automatically generates tweens from keyframes, although as far as I can tell you can't control things like slow-ins and slow-outs except by manually setting them up). However, thinking about animation helps me remember that the human figure (and it's mostly with the human figure that this has helped me) is dynamic.

Oh, and as a bonus, there's a flip-book animation printed in the margins. (I think I've seen this trick in at least one other animation book--it's probably very common.)
20 March 2015 23:58 - We're not so starry-eyed anymore
sovay: (Morell: quizzical)
Apparently today was the vernal equinox.

That must explain why it snowed this afternoon.
yhlee: wax seal (Default)

I'm not convinced this one worked and may do it over at some later point, but it was educational. Note to self: do a color test before committing, yikes.

On the other hand, I am moderately pleased with how the rose turned out (I used MorgueFile for photo reference) given how difficult I've found roses in the past.
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