Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Writing Resolutions

This year having weekly goals worked out well for me. I like the flexibility of being able to double up one day, or write a good deal more on weekends than I do on weekdays and still be keeping the same numbers I would if I set a goal for every day. This year I'm adding monthly goals as well.

Daily Goal:
1000 words

Weekly Goals:
7500 words written or edited
1 short story or novel chapter critiqued
1 writing exercise
2 fiction or poetry submissions
1 story submitted for peer review
1 story read out loud

Monthly Goals:
3 short stories or chapters revised to submission quality
2 short story or chapter rough drafts
2 additional short story or novel chapters critiqued
2 poems
1 story, article, or poem translated from Spanish to English
1 novel read, at least, no excuses

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Yes, but When Will She Get Raped?

Seanan McGuire recounts an instance of being asked kind of a strange question, and reflects a bit on sexual violence and female characters. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

15 Highest Earning Authors of 2012

Normally I hate these things where they only show you one name per click through to maximize advertisement views, but this set of data's worth the hassle. Also I'm pleased that there's only one (arguably) non-fiction author on the list. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Authors Responses to Banning of their Books

Mostly just quick snippets, but they're kind of fun. Ray Bradbury's is kind of confusing. Mark Twain is adorable. But that's pretty much always true. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Year in Rejections 2012

So, yeah.

People often say one of the most important things you can develop as a writer is a thick skin. I know a lot of new writers fret about rejection, but really, it's not so bad.

I've taken the identifying information off of these because it's not per se about me, or the stories, or the editors. Most of these are form letters, some of them are provide exceptional personal feedback. All of them are very nice, and I wrote most of them back to thank them afterwards (where it was not requested I did not, and certainly in every instance where they wrote me personally).

Anyway, here are my rejections from 2012.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Podgasm

Here are some new podcasts I love and recommend:

Starship Sofa. Yes. I know. I'm stupidly late to the party on this one. It's won a hugo, there's like a bazillion back episodes. I know. But it's awesome, even from day one. The production values are high and beautiful, the stories, while often older, have been really top notch so far, and the host seems like a sweet, charming guy. So, yeah, very recommended.

Speculate! The formula for Speculate! is as follows: the hosts will talk about a set of speculative stories, discussing what they think was good about them and why they think the stories work; then they interview the author and have them talk about why they made specific choices. I love not only the picking apart of stories (though I found myself really wanting to argue back with the podcast on the discussion of "Spar"), but also the director's commentary style stuff with the authors. It's super fun, and both the hosts are charming, well-spoken gentlemen.

Roundtable Podcast. Another sort of behind the scenes podcast, Roundtable brings on a different professional writer or editor each week as a guest host, then has amateur writers approach the roundtable with their book ideas. The round table will then ask pointed questions and probe the story for ways to make it stronger.

K.M. Weiland's Word Play Podcast. These are super short and very focused. About eight minutes each. Weiland is a historical fictioneer, but the advice is very generalized.

Nightmare Magazine. It was kind of a given, wasn't it? I love Lightspeed, and this is the same editor and sound company but with horror.

Odyssey Writing Workshop- like it sounds, it's excepts from the lectures given at the Odyssey writing camp. They're all good, but the Bruce Holland Rogers one is my favorite so far.

Outer Alliance. An extension of the Outer Alliance group for Queer Undetermined Intersexed Lesbian Transgender Bisexual Asexual Gay science fiction writers and fans, this podcast can get a little bit self-congratulatory, but it's got some great interviews with writers, some really fun discussions, an awful lot of Australian science fiction, and some liberal use of my new favorite acronym for this sort of thing: QUILTBAG. Very much worth a listen if you're even marginally interested in the subject.

Small Beer Press Podcast. Fantastic mix of stories, theory, interviews, and homebrewing, from the company that puts out Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, among other things.

SFSqueecast- Catherynne Valente, Elizabeth Bear, Lynne Thomas, Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire, and a guest all bring to the table something speculative that made them go "squee". Great for recommendations, and because of this podcast, I was finally able to find the book Seaward by Susan Cooper, which I'd read in my middle school library, loved, and then forgotten the name of. I could recognize the picture on the front, but I didn't remember the name of the author or the book. So, yeah, that's awesome.

Stuff You Missed In History Class- From the same folks that brought you Stuff You Should Know. These are bite sized chunks of themed history that include stuff like The Most Horrific Storms In History, or The Most Extravagant Historical Weddings, or Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean. Sometimes they'll just profile one neglected historical figure. They're just fantastic for tidbits, trivia, and stealables for fiction.

Also, it hasn't started yet, but Strange Horizons, which is a fantastic magazine, is also going to be doing a podcast, so of course I look forward to that.

And per the usual, here are the previous list of podcasts I love:



Fiction
Escape Pod - science fiction
Pseudopod - horror
Podcastle- fantasy
Drabblecast- weird short fiction
Clarkesworld- science fiction/fantasy
Beneath Ceaseless Skies- fantasy adventure
Tor.com- fantasy, seems defunct now
The New Yorker- literary fiction with commentary
Bound Off- literary
Cast Macabre- dark, on hiatus
Lightspeed Magazine- science fiction and fantasy (now incorporates what was Fantasy Magazine)
Dark Fiction Magazine- dark, british
Cast of Wonders- young adult, fantasy
Hooting Yard on The Air-  All Frank Key all the Time.
Toasted Cake- weird, flash
Flash Fiction Online- general, flash
Dread Central Station Dreadtime Stories- horror, camp


Writing/Craft:
 Writing Excuses- fifteen minute topic specific advice
I Should Be Writing- inspiration, interviews, feedback, market analysis. The Good Cop/Bad Cop is a personal favorite.
Locus Roundtable- roundtable discussions

General:
Stuff You Should Know- trivia, various topics

Monday, December 17, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Mo Gender Mo Problems

I worry a bit that I have a confirmation bias toward the findings of this study, but what can you do? 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

False Positive

You guys know I love webcomics, and False Positive is something very special- rather than a gag strip or a soap opera, it's straight up horror vignettes. The art is wonderful and absolutely perfect for a horror comic. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On Arguing

I moved a couple of months ago, very several time zones away from my friends and family. The foreseeable result of this is that significantly more of my communication goes on through the internet. What I didn't anticipate was how much higher this would render the percentage of my interactions with people that ended up hostile and defensive.

That sounds naive to anybody who's been on the internet more than a few minutes, I'm sure, but I just didn't realize how skewed this was going to be.

For example, before I moved, here is a random sampling of conversations I might have with my stepmother in a face to face interaction:

"Hey, how's the baby doing?"
"What have you cooked recently?"
"Omg republicans are lying liars whose flaming pants could be used to heat the entire northern hemisphere, they're so on fire."
(half hour conversation about a book we've both recently read)
"That Stephen Colbert's a really funny guy, isn't he?"
"Hey, don't forget it's your sister's birthday soon."
"You know, you really should call and thank them for that."
"Hey, I've lost my shirt with the marxist marx brothers joke on it, have you seen it around your place?"
"Let me tell you about my day..."

If it's a day where the main interaction I get with her is on facebook, I get the following:

(Pictures of the baby)
"Omg republicans are lying liars whose flaming pants could be used to heat the entire northern hemisphere, they're so on fire."

Which... I mean, I love pictures of the baby, but even the people I agree with, it's either this constant stream of meaningless noise, or it's a constant agitation, either offensive (here's how republicans are always lying and oppressing women) or defensive (Omg, chill the fuck out christians, I just said happy holidays, don't turn me being nice into an excuse to get all pissy (incidentally, as an aside, isn't it funny how we've flipped dialogues on these? You keep hearing straight white men talking about how they're victims whose unique natures have to be respected, and politically correct people telling conservative folk to chill out on their particularness about language.)).

It makes me tired, and it's worse with the folks I don't agree with.

One of my favorite guys to ride out with when I was with the ambulance company was a dyed in the wool fox news listening conservative. We spent about half our time geeking out about science fiction and video games, and the other half having relatively reasoned discussions about taxes, labor rights, and gun control, and I loved both of those. We both had a couple of points where we would sloganeer to our respective sides, but we listened to the other enough that you could go "Now, really, Ed, is Obama actually the most radically liberal president in the last fifty years?" or "What about sarbanes oxley regulations, those are nothing but a stranglehold on business, and you have to admit it". And we'd grumble, but we'd concede reasonable points.

I hate the thought of turning people off in my feed because I don't agree with them politically or religiously. I genuinely believe the majority of people, if they make an effort not to be dicks, can get along with a wide range of people, and some of my very dearest friends have never shared a ballot choice with me in our lives.

But then you get into this venue where everything is graphics and 200 words or less, and everything gets ugly and reductionist.

I try, or at least I feel like I try, to respect the people with different opinions in my circle of friends by not wasting their time and not putting up stuff that's stringent, especially in a way that would be disrespectful or in poor taste. I make sure I don't post anything I can't source. I don't post things that call people evil or stupid. I do post political stuff, but I tend to think of it as very mild like "Yay! I really love being an atheist" or "I don't understand why the church of England is okay with women vicars but not women bishops" or "here's a link to a study about how women who seek abortions but are denied them have measurably worse economic and lifestyle outcomes than women who seek abortions and receive them" or "hey, if you don't like billionaires X and Y, here is a list of products that are linked to their industries that you can boycott if you want".

I say I try to be respectful. That's part of it. Part of it is that I don't like fighting with people and I try not to go out of my way to poke them.

Lately the internet, the main way I communicate with people currently, has been stressing me the fuck out, for all of the reasons listed above. All these "you're a moron if you don't believe this" and "this single, conceivably fictional individual is why massive government programs are evil" or shit that celebrates people getting shot. I've been arguing more on the internet. I've been up past midnight reading statistics because damnit, I'm not going to just argue on gut and hypotheticals. I've been offering critiques of people's graphics. I've been typing out my experience under these awful "please read this" posts that I suspect are made up. I've been coming here and doing stuff like that feminism list because I had been reading up on an awful lot of hateful shit of the type you get on the internet and I wanted to be positive.

Here's the thing about arguing- the thing I hate when someone pulls it on me, and the thing I hate when I catch myself doing it to other people:

I can guarantee you, you're almost never arguing with what the other person actually said.

Everyone does this. We do shit like assume that if we oppose abortion because it kills babies, obviously people who are pro abortion have feelings which are equally rooted in the deaths of unborn fetuses, as opposed to, say, the health and well being of the mother. We carry around a dozen previous conversations that have pissed us the fuck off with people who made ludicrous points and refused to concede when we were goddamn right, and without even thinking about it we treat people who share that position as if they also said every backwards ass thing the people before them did. We're deliberately obtuse and we seek refuge in ridiculous hyperbole.

And of course on the net this is all magnified by the fact that it's not just you, it's everyone you know as well.

I know some people who seem to thrive on strong negative emotion. It motivates and animates them. They're used to it. It almost seems nourishing. That's not me. I like quiet, I like peace. I like intellectual discussion, and I don't mind not winning if all parties come out of it with a better understanding of things. Getting all worked up is generally the opposite of helpful. It makes you say stupid shit you're going to regret. It makes you make emotional arguments and stupid, irrational appeals.

Arguing, when it really gets going, makes me a person I neither like nor respect.

I've stopped following some very nice people. I just couldn't deal with the negativity and the misinformation (that's not political: genuinely and demonstrably false statements. I don't believe they passed them on maliciously, but they were ready to go to the mat for them when challenged). If that was all I was getting from them, I just couldn't do it. I don't like fighting with people, and honestly, I've operated most of my life on the policy that I'd rather just not be around specific people if being around them makes me feel worse than being alone.

And the other problem is that this makes me feel like a coward.

Because the other thing I get in my feed is people pointing out injustice, and ways that the world is hurting the people least able to fight back, while I sit here comfy on my couch and don't even raise my metaphorical voice.

I try to be positive. I try to give a little money, link people here to ways they can help if it has to do with writing. Where I know someone who could help with a thing, or someone who might be interested, I try to bring their attention to it directly. When I can actually have a conversation with one person where we can listen and exchange ideas, I try to do that. I'm aware this is not much. I'm not doing near what I should.

There's so much I don't know how to fix, and it's overwhelming. And I don't feel like just taking care of my own is good enough.

So, yeah, that's that. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Homicide Statistics

Because I love statistics. 

Some highlights:

Between 1980 and 2008
About 50% of homicide offenders were under 24. Also, a little under a third of victims.
The early eighties and early nineties were terrible times if you didn't want to get murdered.
This report contains some unpleasant breakdowns of who kills small children.
By gender: men killing men 67.8% of homicides. Men killing women: 21%. Women killing men 9%. Women killing women 2.2%. Hooray for female solidarity, I guess.
Least likely killers, per the FBI: white women over 25.
2 out of 5 women killed are killed by boyfriends or husbands.

Also, for what it's worth, here's a Texas A&M paper that concludes rates of burglary and theft are not affected by castle doctrine laws, but the laws do correlate to an increase in homicide rates.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

This Article is Mostly About Erections

More specifically Ta-nehisi Coates is talking about the place of sexual attraction in a mythology of masculinity that is intensely focused on control. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Last Free Days of Duotrope

If you haven't heard yet, Duotrope.com, which has been an exceptional free service for writers, is moving to a paid subscription model, which is a shame. I've donated for a couple years now, and urged people to donate when they could, because, frankly, it's not a service these people could do indefinitely for free.

A bunch of people have been expressing concern about how $50 a year is an unthinkable number for them to pay, and I would be sliiiiightly more sympathetic if I hadn't seen some of the same people drooling over $300 clothing items, or talking about how they love their morning Starbucks.

I'd rather give duotrope $25 a year instead of $50, but I really like duotrope. We did all have the chance to pay less per year for the last seven years, but most of us didn't take it because free was an option.

Honestly, I'd like for free to still be an option for people who have trouble paying for it. I think it would be lovely if we all got together and kicked in like five bucks each toward buying duotrope submissions for people who legitimately couldn't afford them. How nice a thing would that be? We should all do that- buy somebody duotrope for christmas.

Yeah.