anghara: (book and glasses) seen in [ profile] intertext and [ profile] oursin - think of it as a mini interview if you like, for those who are interested in that sort of thing.

Under cut to spare your bandwidth if you don't care for Q&A... )
anghara: (springtime)
We just planted out stuff into hanging baskets and plant pots on the deck.

Everything else is starting to hit full bloom. In my own garden, lily of the valley shoots are taking over the flowerbed like a little green army of spears, I have lilac buds coming up, and I can see that I will be having peonies this summer. There are daffodils in the garden now, and hyacinth. Elsewhere around town, the cherry trees (see icon pic) are in full glory and the magnolia tree which we pass every time we drive to town is a billowing white extravaganza of flowers.

The temperatures hit the sixties today, with lovely sunshine all day. All right, so it's still cold at night - but we can, I think, officially and finally haz spring now, kthx.

Oh, and right now...? One of those deer which were fawns last year is right now lying curled up right outside my office door, drowsing in the gathering twilight.

Life is good.
anghara: (New Worldweavers Icon courtesy of Jim Hi)
Announcing the Polish edition of Worldweavers #1: Gift of the Unmage!

Here's a glimpse of the cover:

Haven't had an actual author's copy yet, but this is kind of cool...
anghara: (coffee LOLcat from icanhascheeseburger)
...this video might weird you out. Just a little.

But just so as you know, horoscopes undermine what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross.

They are evil forbidden knowledge, and they should be shunned.

We should all have blind faith, like a child, and basically... oh... I don't know.

You listen. You figure it out.

Look, I don't live my life according to the Sunday papers' horoscope section. I take it as seriously as it should be taken, under those circumstances. Sometimes it makes me laugh. Sometimes circumstances conspire so that it's eerily accurate. But dear God, SEVEN MINUTES OF TWITTERING ABOUT WHY THE ONLY TRUE SUPERSTITION IS JESUS CHRIST?!? And with a subtext that makes me want to snarl - does Christianity REALLY mean that knowledge, ANY knowledge, is to be abandoned by the wayside while you wander down the road with your arms raised and a blank beatific smile on your face singing hallelujah (and I don't mean the Leonard Cohen version)?

I have no problem with faith. There are certain things that certain people want to, and need to, believe in, in order to make their lives on this earth more bearable or easier to (at least apparently) understand, in order to find meaning in a meaningless world, in order to have someone to praise or to blame if things go spectacularly well or ill. That's all between the faithful and their deity of choice.

It's when the religion goes all out to advocate ignorance as the only true state of bliss, and is put out thereas the Only True Way, and, well, I am probably going to Hell just for saying ANY of this out loud...

Zealotry of any stripe makes me uneasy. And this... this is zealotry.

Live and let live, people. If someone wants to read what Cancer or Capricorn should do this weekend, it's no skin of a Christian's nose. Really.


(and yes, I'm ALMOST done with the Big Edit. Why do you ask...?)
anghara: (Default)
It'll have to be fairly quick and dirty because I'm doing six other things at once (not least the tax returns which are still with the accountant and which I probably am going to end up filing with an extension...)

We drove down to Seattle rather than our usual method of taking the Airporter bus - I have a new toy from under the Christmas tree, a baby GPS, and, really, the reason we drove up was because I wanted to play with it. I've named it Hal - as in, the occasional "I can't DO that, Alma..." seems to be par for the course [grin] - but this time Hal seemed to perform on spec (the trouble is that it performs best when you already have some idea about where you're going...)We got to the Doubletree on Thursday in good time, got my registration materials, and then had to stand in line for an hour to get [ profile] rdeck squared away - but we finally did all this, and then I had a panel. Right from the word go. Hit the ground running and don't stop don't stop don't stop.

The panel, "Story crafting from your subconscious", was a surprisingly good one, and with a surprisingly healthy audience for a panel this early in the proceedings. We had a range of writers from those who outline everything to an inch of its life before they start working on anything to those who run from outlines screaming in pain and either write the STORY or don't write anything at all. Turns out novels can grow from all kinds of seeds... but it was fun discussing seed placement anyway. Then I had an appallingly badly scheduled reading - I had a small audience, but apparently the person who was scheduled right after me had nobody turn up at all - it was a THURSDAY, before half the people got to the con at all and half of the other half were still trying to register. But, eh, them's the breaks. The people scheduled for their own readings on Sunday afternoon, when most of the con attendees were either gone or scrambling to be, probably have the same kvetches, from the other end. We showed our faces at the Small Press party that night, but the level of noise in the party suite quickly got to beyond casual conversation decibellage and I still had a LOT of talking to do that weekend so instead of shouting at people for the next couple of hours we decided to call it a night and retire relatively early.

Friday kicked off with one of the best panels that the con threw at me - a 10 AM panel with standing-room-only audience, "Creating Emotion-driven SF/F". Two of the panelists self-identified as "new" or as too afraid of tackling the emotional aspect of the craft to do it justice, and frankly said that they were on the panel to learn how to do it - but I think we all learned something, and there were plenty of insights being supplied by our "newbies", too. I think it was a great panel, it opened up a lot of areas of discussion, and audience participation was fantastic. From that, straight onto panel#2, "Writing Magic 101", the rules of magic and what they need to be for the story to succeed. It was in a bigger room and the audience seemed sparser but that might have just been the fact that they were scattered so much more freely in far more space - still, some good questions were asked, and (I thought) some fabulous answers given by the panelists. Then I had a break, during which I attended at least one other panel as an audience member ("Writing YA Books") and had things to say from THIS side of the panel table, and then there was the other fabulous panel of the con, "Plot, Setting and Character: Who's on First?" The panelists included [ profile] wolflahti (who is my soul-twin when it comes to writing method, and who growls at outlines with just as much gusto as I do), my friend and colleague [ profile] kenscholes, and the amazingly talented Kevin Radthorne (whom I discovered, at this convention, to be an accomplished artist as well as a writer) - and things got fast and furious very quickly. I was describing what my research notebooks wound up looking like at the conclusion of a spirited bout of book research - scribbled all over, in increasingly crabby handwriting, with stuff underlined or highlighted in different shades of fluorescent, multi-coloured post-its fluttering from it at every angle, and I said that I was sometimes astonished that something as coherent as a novel ever comes out of what I described as "a dog's breakfast of monumental proportions". [ profile] kenscholes promptly whipped out a pen and wrote that phrase on the back of his name tent so that it did not get lost or forgotten. I am now famous.

We adjourned for dinner with [ profile] jpsorrow, and then eventually meandered off to the pro party where we hobnobbed with the likes of [ profile] cscole and [ profile] mkhobson and others too numerous to mention, and yet again withdrew before the witching hour and retired to bed... because I had another panel in the morning.


It was a surprisingly well-attended panel for an early Saturday morning ("How do you name your characters?") and although it wasn't one of the best panels of the con it was interesting and a few important points were made. But the prize of the day was the next panel, "Writing the young female protagonist", where one of the panelists, um, actually WAS one. She was an articulate, well-spoken, well-read teen with opinions she could ably communicate and defend, and I was highly impressed with her - so much so that you might well see her guest blog in this space very soon. Watch this space, a star is being born - this young lady has the presence and the mind and the spirit to do great things with her life.

The first autographing session started in the room across the hallway straight after this panel, and we had to fight the hordes of fans who were already starting to queue up to have their books (a lot of them freebies supplied by the publisher at the con) signed by GoH author R A Salvatore - let me just say that this line was STILL merrily winding its way across the room by the time I was winding up my OWN autographing session, two hours later. As for me, I signed a couple of books and a HEAP of con souvenir programs and talked to a gaggle of both friends and strangers who wandered by and expressed an interest in the books - many of the latter got signed bookplates and are likely to meander into a bookstore and recognise the name and buy the books to go with them. So it was all good. We had a very pleasant dinner with [ profile] radconbob, and indeed found ourselves at the Radcon party not too long after that. [ profile] radconbob was in fine fettle throughout. There. Are. Pictures. From. That. Party.

Ask him.

I also had the first of the two writers' workshops critiques on Saturday afternoon, and that one went better than I expected, actually, seeing as all three of the critiquers had quite a lot to say to the writer - but he took it well, and wrote copious notes, and perhaps all will still end well there. My second crit session, and my last official responsibility of the con, was on Sunday morning at 10 AM, and once that was done we packed up our bags and fired up Hal and drove off to visit with family for a couple of hours. Driving home was a nightmare of hard driving rain and copious spray from the drenched roads and miserable visibility - but we made it home well before dark, the cats were happy to see us, and, well, there was a to-do list waiting for me in the office.

Consider this con report one of the things I just scratched off it as DONE.

I have a busy few months ahead - going back to my edits now - and that was Norwescon for another year.

See you all at the next con.
anghara: (Default) weird.

I woke from mine this morning with just streamers and snatches, nothing coherent that I could remember at all, except... the light

You know the kind of light I mean, even though I will be completely inarticulate in describing it. The kind of heavy golden yellow light that weighs on everything, and the sky behind it is black with storm clouds, and everything pops against that dark background bathed in this light of angry angels. All I really remember from the dream is that I was at a lake's edge, and this light was spilling on the water and the trees. And there were critters in the lake and on the shore - things that looked like mallards (but were weirdly coloured because of the odd light) and... and a slew of beavers. Don't ask. It was a dream.

But the light - the light was with me when I woke.

I typed "Storm light" into Google with no real idea of what I would find, and indeed there is a lot of stuff that is irrelevant, but a few of the images Google produced came reasonably close. Here's a couple:

And now I must put aside dream-stuff, and bury my hands up to the elbows in reality. I have QUITE a bit of work to do today.
anghara: (coffee LOLcat from icanhascheeseburger)
The blogosphere is abuzz with the Amazon Agenda. Someone, somewhere, appointed themselves NetNanny and decided to "protect" their "customer base" against oogy oogy things they really ought not to know about. Amazon has since been quoted as saying several things in response to their stripping the ranking - and therefore search visibility - from books with GLBT themes, none of which really hold water. One response apparently really did haul out the "protecting the poor innocent gullible public from themselves" card. Another blamed it all on a "computer glitch" (a damned specific one, if you ask me, since someone pointed out that you COULD get a book on homosexuality if you searched on the term... a how-to book for parents on how to prevent same in their kids... pretty amazing targeted glitch, that...)

Thanks, Amazon. As a member of that public, and one who has spent a considerable amount of money at your website, may I just say that I am a grown-up who is capable of filtering my own searches. If I find something offensive, I am generally not found typing that term into search engines, and I suspect that applies to most normal sane adults. If someone actively goes seeking something they find offensive, well, it's THEIR problem, not yours. And protecting kids - from any material deemed not suitable for them - is, frankly, the responsibility of those children's parents, and not that of a public-access bookstore.

Nobody appointed you net-cop for public morality, Amazon. And the fact that you have now cut a swathe across the board - from luminous writers who happen to be gay like Nicola Griffith to classics in the genre whose only connection to GBLT themes is tenuous at best - and left behind for free oogling anything from bestiality (so long as it's heterosexual, I assume) to collections of centerfold pics of Playmates Past to stuff that typifies political movements which have been the basis for large-scale global wars... well, that's not a glitch by any kind of definition that I know of. It smacks of deliberate action. They also (I haven't looked, but I assume) left up Harry Potter. Hey, Amazon, DUMBLEDORE WAS GAY. The author said so. Strip those books of their rankings forthwith, right now, or stand revealed as an utter hypocrite.

What does it feel like, oh great liberal bastion of Amazon, to have IOWA be more progressive than you are?... Think about that one, do. Think about the image you are projecting here. Also think about the sort of image you would be projecting if you allowed some peon who doesn't happen to believe in the Holocaust to strip the rankings of anything and everything to do with Judaica because of, er, I don't know, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Or someone who thinks that the institution of slavery is just fine and dandy, and strips the rankings of anything that touches on the opposite idea... including such stuff as books by Mark Twain.

It's Easter weekend, and it's entirely possible that someone somewhere was using an opportunity here to push something through that the higher-ups would not have wanted or sanctioned. I will hold that opinion until the first actual business day following this mess, i.e. tomorrow - I would like to give Amazon, as a whole, a chance to deal with the fallout; at the very least, a restitution of the status quo and a seriously abject apology is in order. I will be keeping an eye on Amazon for this. But if I see no signs of life by Wednesday morning - well - Amazon, you will have "protected" at least this member of the public out of your customer pool. I am not precisely the "target audience" for this, but if I know that at least one class of books is being hidden from me because someone else thinks I ought not to know about their existence how do I trust that other classes are not likewise concealed and that my choice of reading matter is not being censored by the place I am buying books from? If I do not trust you to let me choose my own books, Amazon, why would I trust you with my dollars?

Get it right. MAKE it right. Or face the consequences.

There is a report of an explanation and an apology.

The apology )

The explanation )

The conclusions )
anghara: (Default)
You think I'm kidding?

Here's a direct quote:

"...a specialized squad of mercenary sniper rabbits duking it out in the desert with turban-clad camels. Don’t be fooled by the cute-and-fluffy tail action—these bunnies are killing machines."

Here's the trailer for the animated series (it's Japanese, of course) complete with English subtitles:

Warning: put away liquid beverages BEFORE you really find out the name of the series...
anghara: (Default)
If you mouse over the SFnal "headlines" on this site it will give you what the original headline was. It's pretty damned cool!
anghara: (Default)
I was invited to join six other authors, including S.A. Bodeen, Janet Lee Carey, Arthur T. Lee, Maureen McQuerry, Renee Riva and Hugo-winner Timothy Zahn (whom I managed to flummox ever so slightly by bringing a damn-near-thirty-year-old edition of one of his books for him to sign [grin]), in an event dubbed The Cavalcade of Authors organized by the extraordinary librarian at the Enterprise Middle School in Richland. I had been fortunate enough to fall into her hands on my first EVER school visit, and it was a really great experience - I went back to her school this year during Radcon, having instigated and judged a short-story competition for the kids at the school, and it was just as great - and then, when she conceived of this multi-author extravaganza, she emailed me and asked if I'd want to take part. Of course I jumped at the opportunity - and I had an absolute ball this last weekend.

I had a volunteer mom come pick up at the airport when I flew up to Pasco on Sunday afternoon, and she took me to my hotel and then straight to the signing at Barnes and Noble which had been set up for that evening. Five of us were there, sitting around our tables, chatting with the occasional visitors, when this group of teenagers exploded into the place and got all worked up and excited about the whole idea - "Duuuuude! You're all writers? You've written all these books? And you're ALL HERE right now?" I honestly couldn't give you an accurate estimate of age - they looked anything from twelve to twenty, but the energy in the room went up a couple of notches just from them breathing the same air as us. One of them, a tall slender blond with a baseball cap jammed down low over spiky-cut yellow hair and a pair of "I'm ready for my close-up now Mr De Mille" sunglasses told of us about the novel that he himself was writing - and the word for it is "intense"; I seriously hope it's the product of a highly active imagination and not personal experience...

I promised the winner of that February story contest that I would give a one-on-one crit of some of his work, so he and his mother turned up at the B&N towards the end of the signing, and they gave me a lift back to the hotel where Budding Writer and I went at it with his MS pages. He's so keen I can see the light of it in him like a phosphorus flame; he is full of ideas, and he has some utterly unexpected and beautiful turns of phrase even in casual conversation, never mind in his fiction. I have high hopes for this young writer. (I told him if he wanted bonus points from his buds the next day at the event at the school he was welcome to come up and give me a "how's-it-going" high-five - and of course, he did, grinning from ear to ear...)

They picked us up at 7 AM from the hotel the next day (we grabbed breakfast by the light of the dawn breaking over the river just outside our hotel...) We were taken to the school, deposited in the classrooms where we would be presenting, and the fun began. We did FIVE 40-MINUTE SESSIONS that morning, with a break for coffee and donuts after the first two - with different groups of kids rotating between the authors. In order to qualify for being there they had to swear to the fact that they had read (from cover to cover!) at least four of the seven visiting authors' books - and it was amazing how much difference the familiarity actually made with the kids' interactions with the presenting authors. They weren't looking at us blankly and with incomprehension. They *knew who we were*.

I got the "Time Out" room, but the kids who came in kept on saying, "I've never BEEN in here before" so my theory is that kids with imaginations who want to write hardly ever end up in detention for bad behaviour [grin]. We're the Virtuous People...

My presentation involved Heroes and Villains and what makes them different from one another... and what makes them alike. I did a bit of a spiel and then I split them up into groups and told them to give me a story - got them to ask the Holy Journalistic Questions of Who/What/When/Where/Why/How - and then figure out who would be in opposition to that story, i.e. the story's villain - and then turn the whole thing 180 degrees and tell me the same story but with the VILLAIN now the HERO and the original hero somehow in the wrong. The immense importance of POV was thus borne in upon them - but quite aside from that, they had fun with this, and I had fun right along with them. We had stories involving evil nuns at strict boarding schools, weasels used in cancer-curing research, an albino squirrel who was out to save the penguins while WOrld War Three was going on, a guy who was bent on stealing ice from glaciers and dumping it on the North Pole to "stop global warming" (I was informed by one of the sixth-graders involved with this particular tale that the guy in question was 22 years old and single [grin] I think she had high hopes of meeting him some day...) - and more, oh, so much more. The recurring pattern for the day (must have been something in the water) was the reappearance in practically every group of a character named Bob (the one time that didn't happen we had a Bubba, which was close enough...)

Then we went back to the library for a signing session, and bunches of kids came scurrying in with bulging book bags... and everyone wanted their program books signed... and then some genius decided that he or she wanted the white t-shirt that they all got signed, too, so they ALL had to have that done immediately... one of the kids wanted me to sign my initials on her wrist like a tattoo, which of course had her best friend instantly offering her arm, too, and another girl plucked a stray long white hair off my sleeve and was all set to tape it into her program book next to my signature...

Then we were released for lunch ("Thank you for coming!" one of the kids said to me in passing as I waited in the lunch queue, his priorities obviously affected by his environment and the rumbling of his stomach. "The food is SO much better than usual today!") and after that they had an author panel with all seven of us where the kids got to fire questions at us - they had them lined up to the side and they could come up to the stage and get the mike and ask their question and then we'd all answer it - but there were LOTS of kids and seven of us and it was all starting to take a huge amount of time so they first got the remaining kids to address their question to individual authors rather than all seven of us, and finally released them to just come up and ask what they wanted, and it was like a dam breaking, a wash of children pouring across the steps to the stage and accreting before individual authors on the dais, some with t-shirts they had yet to get signed by everyone...

Back to the hotel, and then, later that afternoon, there was an event at the local Library - an evening talk by myself and another one of the authors at one library and two of the other authors at another. The day had been a perfect spring day, and the librarians warned us that this meant, after a week of solid rain, that attendance would likely be low because people would be out there enjoying the sunlight - but that was okay, we got to talk to a bunch of folks who were interested in hearing what we had to say, and then the librarian who had charge of me and who turned out to be a fan (she had read "Jin Shei" and loved it) called up her daughter and the three of us went out to dinner which was very pleasant and spent in great company.

The next day I had one more school visit to do - to a middle school named after Ellen Ochoa, a NASA astronaut and mission specialist of Hispanic heritage whose name had been given to a middle school with a similar demographic and I would be speaking to a group of some 30 or so kids selected from the general school population for their writing proclivities or for being avid readers. The school was apparently some 96% or 97% Spanish-speaking, with many of the kids speaking English as a second language, so there was a certain amount of challenge there - but it went really well, a couple of live-wires at the front table asking all the questions, of course, but that's par for the course - and one curly-haired, round-cheeked young man earnestly informed me that he had read the first Worldweavers book and that "it was the BEST book, EVER." WHich was pretty cool [big grin]

Back to the hotel again, swift packing up of belongings, and it was off to the airport, and then home.

A fairly intense couple of days, but man, was it fun.

And hey, we not only made the local newspapers, we made the local TV news! (keep an eye out for Yours Truly at around the 0.11 mark...)

So. Off to Norwescon tomorrow.

As [ profile] jaylake likes to put it, see some, all, or none of you there...
anghara: (Default)
Okay, so there's this Library Challenge going on. Read more about it right here, and there's a lot of fine folks taking part, and Good Things Are Happening.

So here's the local challenge, right here at this here blog.

I'll put 50c in the kitty for every comment attached to this post which has a story in it about what libraries have meant to you in your life. If we hit 50 comments REALLY quickly, I'll extend the cap to a hundred - but for now I'd like to aim for 50 comments... but wait, there's more. If you're commenter number 25, you may also do one other thing. You may nominate a library of your choice - school library, or a general library - and I will send them a set of the Worldweavers books. Signed. With a commemoration certificate as to why they got them, and who made sure that they did.

You want to play?... have at it. Comments are open... NOW.
anghara: (Default)
Quoth the subject line of a spam email that managed to squirm into my inbox today, "If you are not a chicken, go get this magic pill right now."

Er, yes. Of course. At once.
anghara: (stars)
...or at the very least, in a jar...

(elsewhere on the main page there's meteorite jewellery. I'm practically drooling. If only I had the $$$ to spare for things I REALLY don't need but wantwantwantwantwant...)
anghara: (Default)
...ladies and gentlemen, I give you seasteading.

It's not that I'm cynical, *really*, but I look at huge landfills on terra firma... I look at our polluted rivers and lakes... and I can't help wondering how long it would take for the easiest path to be followed, for the sea-stead waste to be left to the ocean to "clean up". How long it would take for the last pristine corner of our planet to be infested with humankind and the detritus they bring with them.

It's not that I am cynical. But let's face it, our track record as a species... isn't great. Do we want to let ourselves loose on the oceans...?

May 2009

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