Friday, July 29, 2011

Heading out...

I fly out tomorrow. I won't be posting until at least Monday, August 15 (maybe longer, depends on how long it takes me to get through thousands of email messages).

However, I will have *pictures*. I promise.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thoughts on cultural interactions...

This weekend, I went to one day of the Living Earth Festival, held by the Smithsonian at the National Museum of the American Indian.

In the central atrium a man named Gregg Analla was performing. I'm usually bad at names, but I wasn't about to forget this guy. Long hair, about the color of steel, and a voice...well, let's just say he wasn't using a mike, and had no need for one. Clearly a very talented individual. He was singing traditional songs with the accompaniment of a skin-bound drum.

The place was packed with people listening to this wonderful music. Then...

Mr. Analla put down his drum, picked up an acoustic guitar and switched to rock.

Everybody left.

Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, I think about 8 or so people remained to listen, but the room emptied as soon as he switched.

Most people would probably dismiss this as coincidence. It was about lunch time. But it made me think. There has to be a chance that at least some of these people who chose to leave did so for one of two reasons:

1. I didn't come here to listen to rock music.
2. That old Indian guy can't *possibly* be a good rock singer.

Two is, of course, the openly insulting one, but I'm almost more concerned about one.

When the white man came to these shores, he came as a teacher, refusing to acknowledge that those already here had any knowledge he wanted except where to find the good grazing (or, further south, the gold). Because of that, atrocities were committed, cultures were destroyed...although disease played an equally important role.

Now, we are, as a society, convinced we are going down the road of ecological catastrophe. And somehow, the American Indian has become a symbol of a more sustainable life, of a culture that treads lightly on the Earth. We come to him now as students...

...and neither is right. Romanticizing the Indian and insisting that he is going to be our savior is *no more right* and *no more healthy* than setting out to civilize him. Instead, we have to approach other cultures as teachers and students, at the same time, acknowledging that both our knowledge may be of value to them and the converse.

An 'old Indian' singing rock is a symbol of both cultures coming together...and nobody wanted to see it. They wanted to see the 'noble primitive', the 'savior'.


(Gregg Analla's wonderful music can be found on iTunes under the bands Slaviour and Twothirtyseven).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Busy, busy, busy...

Trying to get as caught up as possible *before* my two week vacation. I really need the break, but am kinda dreading coming back...

Working on 'Third Princess' edits right now.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Prologues. Hrm...

I'm looking at the first draft of a novel I haven't touched in a while, and it has a prologue. I can't decide whether to kill it (the normal advice) or let it live.

Might need to find some readers to advise on this one. I think it probably should go away, but I'm going to get some opinions first. Prologues are tricky...

Monday, July 25, 2011

In my grabby hands...

...the PRINT edition of Big Pulp, 2011. This is huge...this is the first print edition of the magazine that has been produced. You can order a copy here. The print edition is $12 (currently reduced to $10.50)...but the ebook is only $2.99. It contains 23 stories and poems and is a multi-genre collection. I'm really liking the cover art.

Oh, and it's in three bookstores in Maryland and Philadelphia...well, one bookstore and two comic stores. I wonder if the future of independent bookselling might well lie in the hands of the surviving comic stores. Having seen so many go by the wayside, those that remain have to know something about staying alive in this world.

Friday, July 22, 2011

It lies...

My desktop weather app is stuck. It claims it is 91 outside.

It's 102. I was GOING to go to Borders to claim cheap books, but I don't think it's worth the potential health risk of walking seven blocks. Yes, I'm fit and healthy and consider it a health risk to walk seven blocks in this weather. That is how insane it is.

In fact, I just checked the heat index.



Just shoot me now. Maybe I should just give up and go jump in the pool.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Insect wings

This has apparently been circulating for a while, but I just had it brought to my attention today.

It seems that insect wings did not start their evolution as limbs at all. In fact, it appears that they evolved from...gills. To me, that makes far more sense, given their shape and overall design. Where did the veins come from if they were legs?

Thinking about repurposing body parts is always good when worldbuilding and designing your aliens. So, this is a good one to consider.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How steampunk failed...

Read down to just below the first picture. The first technical disqualification in motor racing...

...of a steam car.

...for requiring a stoker.

I love steampunk, but this is exactly why internal combustion won.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Well. I am about to lose the only brick and mortar book store that's remotely convenient. Yeah. It's a Borders.

I really tried to support it more, but most of my book purchases over the last few years other than comics have been...from Barnes & Noble gift cards. And I buy my comics from, currently and I hope for many years to come, the wonderful Fantom Comics store in Union Station. (I hope for many years to come as I've had two comic stores, one of them the absolutely fantastic Crystal City Geppi's outlet that was THE best comic store, close out from under me).

What's the big deal? We can buy books online. And that's exactly it. Borders is going down the tube because it was 'a place to buy books'. Sure, the local one had a cafe...a small one with absolutely no atmosphere. This was not helped, of course, by the store's location in a particularly boring and architecturally uninteresting (at best) mall. That was the only place in the store to sit and read and while I never tried it, I'm sure that they glared people into purchasing coffee whether they wanted it or not.

Now, I have to trek a mile and a half to the Barnes & Noble. Is it any better? Slightly. Better decorated, and the back room is a children's area with seating. But it's still a place to buy books.

I'm going to stick my neck out here.

We do not need places to buy books.

Amazon has that covered. Barnes & Noble is primarily doing better than Borders because their web site can almost compete with Amazon.

We need places to experience books.

A bookstore in the 21st century can't just offer racks of books.

There has to be a real reading space, comfortable and well lit. Obviously, it has to offer wi-fi internet. Coffee and tea? Sure. In fact, some bookstores in major cities have found they got a lot of benefit from acquiring a liquor license. And that tea had better include caffeine free herbal teas and tisanes.

How about a children's reading room with bean bags and toys as well as books?

*Regular* events. Signings and readings, lots of them. And not enough has been done with the facility to get a book printed up for you right there, on the spot. Wouldn't a copy of a book with the person's name already in it make a great gift?

Knowledgeable staff who read the stock and can make recommendations. Perhaps it is time to forget about the big box book store that sells everything. When I go to a decent comic store, I expect the employees to read the stock. I expect them to remember my tastes and make recommendations. It's harder for bookstores, because they don't have customers coming back every single week for new releases. I get that. But why not make it easier by specializing? Don't be a bookstore. Be an X bookstore.

Above all, people need to experience books. Or they...we...really will just buy everything from There needs to be a value added. Music stores are already gone. So are video stores. Maybe we can save bookstores, maybe not, but there are certainly ways we can try.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pure humans...

This fascinated me when it first broke, but now it seems to have been more solidly confirmed.

All non-African humans have Neanderthal DNA.

It's funny. I have always believed that the two species interbred, even when it had been discredited, disproved and tossed on the scrap heap. On the face...or actually the skull...of it, my reasoning might seem rather strange.

My grandmother was an Ashkenazic Jew. This is about to become relevant. Most Europeans have very upright skulls, with the back of the head looking almost straight up and down. I first became aware that mine was different when I had to try several horse riding helmets before finding one that fit. I still have problems with helmets, especially in America...they all seem designed for the 'straight up' skull. My skull, in fact, protrudes approximately three inches backwards from the back of my neck. When I asked my parents, I was told it was a 'semitic' skull shape. I've since learned that this skull shape is also seen around the Mediterranean in general...and is actually closer to the African skull shape (but without the slightly jutting jaw seen in Africans) than the Caucasian (If anyone accuses me of being racist, I would simply point out that a short, round skull holds heat and a long thin skull loses it...these skull shapes are simple adaptations to latitude and temperature).

Yet for some reason I became utterly convinced that I had a 'Neanderthal' back of my skull. Children think the weirdest things, of course, and my childhood conviction that there was a Neanderthal somewhere in my ancestry was just that...the weird thoughts of a child.

Funny how now, though, we have proof of interbreeding. Interbreeding that likely took place primarily in the Middle East...

Food for thought.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Today's status report... absolutely nothing. Not because I didn't write but because I'm buried in Stealing The Sun and really, there are no milestones to report.

It's a lot easier to have news when I'm in short story writing mode, believe me. Still, hoping to have something to announce very soon. Which is all I'm going to say, in case it ends up not happening.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Gravity pills...

Most science fiction writers have taken to heart the fact that the human body deteriorates rapidly without gravity. Spider and Jeanne Robinson postulate permanent adaptation to weightlessness in the Stardancer trilogy (Although they call it a good thing). C.J. Cherryh bases an entire novel around people needing to spend periodic times in gravity in Heavy Time.

They could all be wrong.

Bear with me here. Fish exist in a buoyant environment. Water tanks are used by NASA to simulate zero gravity. They do have to work against resistance, but not against gravity the way we do. Same goes for whales and dolphins. This implies that it is possible for the cells of an earth-based being to 'permanently adapt to weightlessness'...but what if it is possible for them to fully and reversibly adapt to microgravity?

What if we could switch our cells into a 'buoyancy mode' where they can function without gravity when we went into space, and then back when we land on Earth. No deterioration. No need to be incredibly fit to go into space, no need for exercise up there beyond normal maintenance (if you're a couch potato, you're not going to get fit without a bit of work). No re-adaptation when returning to Earth. What a beautiful pipe dream...

...and it could be within reach. French researchers took a sample of lab rats and...poor rats...suspended them by their tails to simulate the effects of weightlessness. Half of them were given a specific substance. The other half were not.

The untreated rats showed bone loss, muscle atrophy and the beginnings of insulin resistance. The treated rats? Remained perfectly healthy.

Furthermore, the specific substance they used is one that has been consumed, albeit in far lower doses than needed for protection from gravity effects, by humans for centuries. All testing has indicated that this substance helps lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Of course, in the doses required, side effects might show up.

But it does seem as if gravity pills (or patches, or shots) might be possible, thanks to this 'miracle substance'.

What it is might be guessed by the fact that this research happened in France. It is, in fact, resveratol. That's the stuff that makes red wine good for you. And it appears as if it may be practically tailor made to make long distance space travel no longer bad for you.

Think I'll go raise a glass to Bacchus now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Thoughts on editors.

I was talking the other day to a fellow writer who is terrified of the process of having a book edited. Particularly, she has a (quite legitimate, sadly, in today's market) fear that a publisher will label her book YA because the protagonist is under 18.

However, I'm going to set the YA thing aside for now and just say a few things about the editing process:

1. The publisher would not have accepted the book if they did not like it. Publishers get thousands of manuscripts and accept the tiniest fraction of them. They can afford to be extremely picky. So, you know they like it.

2. You and the editor have the same goal: Sell as many of the book as possible. Any change an editor suggests is designed to increase sales.

3. You can always walk away. If, for example, an editor demands you change something in a manner that you feel is censorship (like saying your bad guys can't make a racist comment in order to highlight that they're bad guys), you CAN get out of most contracts. If there's no clause to allow you to escape, try to negotiate one. It can be worth it with a novel (although generally not so much with short fiction...but the vast majority of short fiction editors demand the rewrites before sending the contract, in my experience, making it even easier to walk away).

But before you walk away, sleep on it. Talk about it with your best friend. Think about it carefully...because that contract might be the start of a beautiful career and while the editor is not always right, they often are.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Some experiments...

From now on I'm moving any further book reviews (unless writing related), movie analysis and comments on comics and entertainment news to a new blog. I want to keep this one more focused on the craft of writing and on personal news.

We'll see if it works.

In the mean time, my latest first draft, 'Stealing The Sun', just hit the official 50,000 word mark, although it's coming up short. I think I need to go back and fill out the world some. Or I have another thought, but that would place it in a format probably too experimental for somebody who hasn't managed to sell a novel yet.

Finally, I am now on Google + as Jennifer R. Povey. I'm liking it so far, although I don't plan on ditching Facebook. It strikes me as if both will have their place.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Things that make me go squee...

...even though I'm not that good at writing them.




At Origins, the hotel we were staying in was also hosting a meeting salesmen.

Stereotypical insurance salesman in suit gets on elevator.

Two slightly overweight men in gamer chic get on elevator. He kinda looks at them.

Guy in white lab coat gets on elevator. He stares.

Woman in full pirate garb, head to toe, including dagger gets on elevator. His jaw drops and he turns pale.

I. Win. (No, it was not sharp and yes, it was peace bonded. I need my own pirate gear. Or steampunk gear. Or, you know, steampunk pirate gear).

So, I will stop squeeing about steampunk pirates now and go back to work. The latest novel is almost officially a novel...

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Copyright Stick...

So, here's the latest on copyright:

Now. Here is the thing. First of all, what is the 'evidence of piracy'? Many years ago I caught my ISP (long gone out of business) reading my email. They, in fact, admitted to it. Given I routinely send MY IP over email, I don't want my ISP reading my email. I can't encrypt it because publishers don't accept it that way. I want them to keep their nose out.

Personally, I don't use peer to peer downloads. I don't trust them. But what is the next start searching people's computers to make sure every MP3 on them came from a legal download service? (as opposed to copied from CDs in order to save wear on the discs, something I am pretty sure *everyone* does). Checking for multiple copies of single license software on the same IP? These things are technically feasible now.

And while with this program the stick is 'internet throttling', it's still a stick. Where is the positive incentive for people to spend money on content they can get for free? Especially as many, many people who do download pirated material do so because they *don't have the money*. That's not lost sales for the content provider. It's only a lost sale if the person would have bought it...which makes a lot of the 'cost of piracy' figures off base. In fact, the biggest loss many companies experience is the cost of trying to stop piracy.

Accepting that piracy will happen is important in this day and age. And sure, educating people is fine, but that college student who's living on ramen noodles? You can educate them all you like, they aren't going to miss a meal to buy a CD and they aren't going to go without music either. This is simple human nature we're dealing with. Furthermore, many people see nothing wrong with piracy. It's not viewed as the same as theft because the person does not lose anything tangible.

The only answer I can see is to make piracy not 'cool' and not 'done'. Furthermore, to come up with some incentive for legal purchases. Unfortunately, I don't see a way to do it. It's the same as people grumbling about taxes whilst taking advantage of what their taxes pay for. Also seems to be human nature.

Maybe we need to make sending money to an artist a tax deductible donation.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


...this template is not showing links properly. I'm going to look into it over the weekend, and in the interim post links visible.

Sorry about that, people.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In Brightest Day...

Finally getting around to posting this.

I (finally) saw the Green Lantern movie on an almost empty theater. Although the movie did make number one on its opening weekend, it was a weak number one. It is not doing nearly as well as Transformers or Thor.

Which is undeserved. The storyline actually has distinct similarities to Thor, but Hal's transformation and maturation makes sense. The romance...makes sense. On top of that, the special effects are fantastic (worth paying a little extra to see the 3D print, IMO). Mark Strong was a great Sinestro. Loved their Carol Ferris (check the dogfight near the start for a nice nod to canon). They did use synthespians, but unlike a recent Sanctuary episode, they didn't 'show'. (And Smallville, the finale of which I also finally got to watch, can't even properly hide their orange screen...but that's another rant). And while I was unsure of Ryan Reynolds, who didn't look much like my personal image of Jordan, he definitely had the role down.

So. Why didn't it do as well as it deserved?

One possible reason is that Green Lantern, although popular amongst comic fans, has never attained much fame outside the community...but then, neither has Thor. One reviewer went as far as to call him a 'third string' character. And, perhaps, DC made a mistake going with Hal Jordan rather than the younger Kyle Rayner. Then again, they undoubtedly wanted to tie in with the fall relaunch, which will see Hal in the ringwielding seat once more from what I know.

Sadly, though, I think the reason is much more basic. Genre. Is it a space opera...or a comic book? Green Lantern, ever since the introduction of Abin Sur and the Green Lantern Corps, has been both. (The original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, was quite a different character). Mainstream audiences do not like genre crossing. It makes people, I think, uncomfortable and uncertain of what to expect. In fact, the motley bag of previews shown with the movie showed that distributors had no clue what to do with it at all (Cowboys and Aliens being the only one remotely relevant, and I'll believe that movie's release when I see it).

It's a sad sign for those who like to bend the 'rules' of genre and play with concepts taken from different worlds and realms, I think. Hopefully it still did well enough for the planned sequel to be released.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


...I was focused on book releases and forgot.

Happy Fireworks Day everyone.

That includes the young women doing cheerleader moves with sparklers outside...I hope you weren't as drunk as you looked.

Monday, July 4, 2011

A little late...

The print version of Digital Science Fiction 1: First Contact is now available through Amazon.

First Contact - Digital Science Fiction Anthology 1.

Love the cover art.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Shameless link sharing...

This article is absolutely fantastic and hits several writing nails on the head.

Truth is, humans are human in reality, and in matter how fantastic.