Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Updates

Support indy comics - check out this website: www.JOHNNYJAYE.WORDPRESS.COM. I might be involved in his 'Gods & Cattle' anthology. We need artists!

I posted a guest review post on - of an awesome web comic by a great creator. Check it out here:

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Sometimes people say the most ridiculous things. Often, they say them because they don't have direct experience with the issue.

The latest example that came up is sexual harassment. Somebody tried to tell me sexual harassment was not 'damaging' to a person, whilst physical violence was.

As somebody who has been sexually harassed although never, thankfully, sexually assaulted, I know which one makes me start to tremble in fear. You can get over a black eye or a broken nose. You never quite get over being sexually humiliated. It sticks around.

Thinking about this makes me finally understand why people are less worried about violence than about sex in their media. Violence may do more damage than a bit of fun in bed, but sexual violence is worse than 'regular' violence.

As writers, we can't hope to avoid everything that makes somebody uncomfortable. One person might shudder to read about a character trapped in a cave-in, another might not be able to keep reading if giant spiders show up. You can't legislate for that.

But you can show respect for the fact that what is 'not damaging' to one person might be deeply so to another. That one person's 'just a kiss' might be somebody else's flashback central. That some people really are terrified of spiders, or snakes, or hornets, to the point where they can't read about them. And that this means there will be people who will not be able to read and enjoy a certain piece...or your entire body of work. Accept it and respect it. If you use rape as a plot device, some people will not be able to handle that. (If you glorify rape, then I don't have much respect for you).

Respecting your reader does not mean taming everything down to what will offend nobody. It means not getting upset when somebody gets offended.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Projects, projects...

How did I end up with seven short stories that I want to write? Oh, right, because I insist on spending time looking for markets and keep finding these wonderful theme anthologies.

Part of the business is that not every story I write will be bought by the market I write it for. Most, in fact, won't. A lot of writers don't like to talk about rejection. Personally, I don't like to hype stories until I know when and whether and where they will be published. (Sometimes I get wary even then, having had more than one project fall apart between acceptance and publication, which is also part of the business).

I keep my Friday updates to things I'm comfortable about hyping. (Hoping to add a little something to the list soon). But I actually have around 30 projects that are in the queue...either being worked on or planned for. More projects than time, in fact.

Which is also part of the business. People worry about other writers stealing their ideas, to which my response is: 'I already have too many. Why would I want yours?'

I think that's the same for all of us. Now, excuse me, I have a script to edit, a short story to edit, another short story to write...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Misuse of Passive Income

I'm kind of tired of this.

People...usually about 'passive income' all of the time. They claim income from their blog is 'passive income'. Or royalty income from a book they've written or contributed to, or income from article sites.


'Passive income' is money that comes in without you doing anything at all to earn it. If you write a book, you have to keep telling people about it or it won't sell (marketing). If you write a blog, you need to update it at least a couple of times a week, same with article sites. It's not passive at all.

The correct term for income that comes from doing work once and then selling it multiple times is 'residual income'. In the movie industry this is often shortened to 'residuals'. (My husband is still owed $10 from an indie movie company that was supposed to come out of residuals that never materialized). Comic publishers and creators talk about 'back end pay', to mean the same thing.

Residual income can keep trickling in years after you actually do the work, but it is not passive and you aren't doing nothing to earn it.

It's writers who make this mistake - and shouldn't we all know better? I think it's in danger of turning into one of those misused terms that eventually takes on the incorrect meaning. However, in this case, the wrong meaning is very misleading and gets people to assume they can just post their book on Amazon and forget about it.

That is not, remotely, true.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Just a mini-vent...

That dang Thoroughbred is lame again. Same leg. Once more, we can't find anything wrong with the leg.

So, now, he has a chiropractic appointment scheduled. Rather glad it's not my horse and I don't have to pay for it. My theory, based off of the fact that he's started going for me when saddled again (just as he did right before the last time this happened) is that the poor guy has a wither spine misaligned. (Yes, they do have spines under there...what creates the wither 'bump' is spines that come up from the vertebrae). The shoulder muscles are anchored to the withers, which means a misalignment there could cause the intermittent high leg lameness we can't find...can't find a problem with the leg because there's nothing actually wrong with his leg.

Hopefully I'm right and we can get the problem *fixed* this time. Horses. And I'm still crazy enough to want my own...

Friday, November 23, 2012


Still in holiday mode here, so no updates until at least next week. I ate far, far too much yesterday anyway.

Yeah, even after telling everyone else not to.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Don't eat too much turkey.

Oh...who am I kidding. Eat too much turkey.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Supporting Writers and Artists

Right now, there's a lot of buzz about supporting writers, artists and creatives. Especially those who don't work for big publishers and other companies. I can only really speak from the writing side, but here are a few things you can do if you want to support somebody.

1. Buy direct from the publisher or writer if possible. True, many self published writers only sell through Amazon. If the publisher or writer has an e-store on their website, however, they get a lot more of the cover price of the book if you buy from them. (Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to buy ebooks from a device-specific store for them to work on your device). Also, Smashwords is better than Amazon. And if you do buy from Amazon and the writer has links on their website, use those links. They likely have them set up for Amazon Associates, which gives the writer a little more.

2. Leave reader reviews, Goodreads reviews, or reviews on social media. Reviews make a huge difference to sales. Even bad reviews can actually help. In general, try to avoid leaving five star or one star reviews as those are the ones that tend to be scrutinized...people tend to assume five star reviews come from friends and one star reviews from enemies.

3. Follow your favorite writers and artists on your preferred social media, letting them know you're a fan. Believe me, we appreciate it. Or comment on their blogs. Writing in particular is a lonely profession and it helps to know you connected with somebody out there.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


It's officially fall. Thanksgiving is this week (and sadly, that also means the closing of the seasonal farmer's market. I really wish this neighborhood had a good specialty butcher and a good specialty baker...and this is a wealthy neighborhood).

Oddly, our landlords haven't emptied the pool yet. Which is weird...and not smart as its now full of dead leaves.

In truth. I'm a spring and fall person. I used to be a summer person then I moved here...and summer is just a few degrees colder than hell here, and even worse in the true south. Fall is a soft falling off of things. This year has been quiet. Next going to be another matter (I may have as many as three major projects come to fruition). I'm nervous about it, to be honest.

Actually, I sort of like winter too. My husband keeps threatening to haul me up to Minnesota in the dark middle of winter so I can learn what winter is really like. Several feet of snow. Shiver.

The seasons define our life in a way, outside the tropics. One has to wonder how lives might be defined on other worlds. What sort of culture, for example, would develop on a world with no axial tilt, and thus no seasons?

Brian Aldiss' Helliconia addresses life on a world where each season lasts several human lifetimes. And, of course, winter IS coming in A Song of Ice and Fire, where the world has variable-length summers and winters, but each lasts a few years. (Of course, ASOIAF is fantasy, so Martin can get away with never really explaining how this comes to be, but one has to guess it's related to the magical disasters of the past).

What kind of seasons do your fantasy worlds have?

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Guilty Secret

We all have our entertainment 'guilty secrets'. Things we love even though everything about them says we shouldn't. Or things we don't want to admit to loving because of society's stereotypes and ideals (when was the last time you heard a straight man admit to reading traditional romance novels?).

Well. Mine is...Bond, James Bond.

Because, really, should a progressive, feminist and definitely female science fiction author go for a testosterone-fest like that? Besides, the movies are all the same and run together. They're one trope after another.

When you watch a Bond movie and see a walkway over a pit or a tank containing some kind of carnivorous animal, you know that at least one minion of the villain is going to be eaten by said it a crocodile, a shark, a shoal of piranahs...

When Bond meets a young, attractive woman who is either A. The girlfriend and essentially the property of the supervillain, B. An agent of another country or C. Out for revenge against the supervillain because he killed her father...Bond will sleep with her at the first opportunity.

Oh, and Bond never gets any older. Or he does, and it's forgotten...along with most of the rest of movie. No continuity, no realism. Strict rules, yes, but not ones that make sense in the real world.

So, what is it that makes this woman incapable of resisting the appeal? Maybe it's because I was watching them before I was old enough to get the bad pickup lines and sexual puns ('I thought Christmas only came once per year' stands out the most). Maybe it's because you really do always know what to expect. Maybe it's even because Bond is a British institution.

I personally think there's something purely addictive about a more or less mindless thriller that does stick to its own rules, as strange and quirky as they are.

And if you have been a Bond fan since your father's knee (literally, I remember watching them when I still fit on his lap), and you haven't watched Skyfall yet...get to the nearest theater.

I'm not going to say any more because judging by the crowds, there are still crowd-dodgers who haven't seen it. (I almost wish I'd waited another week myself). But Skyfall manages to both tug at the heartstrings of long-term fans and set everything up beautifully for new ones.

And judging by its $518.6 million worldwide haul since it opened in late October (US opening weekend was $87.8 million, the highest for any Bond movie), the old dog still has plenty of new tricks in him.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Weekly Updates

Everything's plodding along. I do have a new project, but I'm keeping it under wraps until it's closer to completion. It's a lot of fun, though.

If all goes well, Transpecial will be released in the spring of 2013.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Planetary Disruptions

Pay attention to science news and you might have come across a couple of interesting titbits.

First, and being well reported, is the isolation of a 'rogue planet' as part of a group of young stars. Given its location and the fact that it is a gas giant a few times bigger than Jupiter, it's probably a very small failed star.

Far more intriguing is the idea that a rogue planet forms around a star and then, well, leaves. Another group may have found as many as ten Jupiter-sized rogues. That seems unlikely for the 'nomad planet' theory, and I suspect many of these wandering gas giants are failed stars.

What could, though, cause a planet to be ejected from its home solar system? The answer lies in planetary formation.

Planets form when matter around a star coalesces, thanks to gravity, into lumps of varying sizes. These lumps tend to attract other lumps during the early 'bombardment' phase, when objects are whizzing around all over the place. If two big lumps come too close to each other late in this era, one or both may be gravitationally ejected, sailing out into interstellar space. If the system is in a cluster with other systems, the rogue planet may be captured by another star, resulting in weirdness such as orbits that don't match the plane of the rest of the system, planets orbiting in the wrong direction, etc. A lot of rogue planets, however, will simply vanish into the darkness.

Could a well-developed world end up as a rogue? Do we have to worry about being knocked out of orbit as a possible end of the world scenario?

The answer is...possible but very unlikely. The most likely cause of 'late' rogues would be an encounter with an extremely massive object as the solar system orbits the galactic center. There's some evidence that if a double star system gets too close to the black hole that acts as our galaxy's gravitic 'anchor', one of the stars might slingshot off at massive speed. Planets in the system might also be ejected.

One possible scenario would be a collision between two solar systems. Two stars that passed too close to each other could 'trade' planets and planets could easily be ejected...or destroyed. Isaac Asimov's classic late novel 'Nemesis' deals with this idea. Another idea for a good story might be a less close passage...the two systems not actually colliding, but a habitable planet temporarily coming close enough to be reached without FTL. Would you colonize it or not?

The chances of such a collision are currently low. However, they might increase as we pass through a major spiral arm in the course of our orbit around the galaxy. How often does this happen? About every 100 million years, with a transit time of 10 million. Probably not anything to worry about.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mini Vent

Every time my landlords fix the leaks in the rains again and they find more.

Seriously. They've now been fixing the roof, on and off, for about two months. This is really tiring...some days it's been so loud it's given me a headache. I'm not one of those people who can write with a lot of ambient noise, so I've been working on stuff that requires less thought.

Here's hoping they get it all fixed soon.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Following instructions

I had an interesting one today - a new ezine asked for a picture of me with the submission. This is pretty unusual. Usually, editors only ask for pictures, if they plan on using them, at signing.

Truth is, they're probably trying to save time later by not having to ask for pictures. Or perhaps eliminate writers who are uncomfortable with providing them.

Many editors, however, include things in the submissions guidelines that seem strange initially to see if writers will follow instructions. They don't want to sign the writer from hell (although I speak from experience when I say that you can't predict a personality clash between writer and editor by any means), so they do a little might be an unusual font, or a specific requirement for scene breaks.

It's always best to follow instructions, even if they initially seem silly. And it's not like anyone on social media can't find a picture of me anyway.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Red Poppies...

Red poppies for those who stand in the path of tyranny.

Red poppies for those who fight for what they believe in.

Red poppies for those who protect our freedom.

For some reason, though, this Veterans Day (or Remembrance Day, as I still think of it, having spent my formative years in England) I am thinking about Malala Yousefzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head for sticking up for her right to get an education. Amazingly, she survived and recovered.

We tend to think about the soldiers at this time, and believe me, I support soldiers. I support what they go through, I try my best to understand. But sometimes it's also worth giving remembrance to those who are not soldiers but who, nonetheless, risk...and sometimes give...their lives for freedom.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Updates

The Skeptic - galleys have been checked and sent back. I can't confirm which issue it will be in yet, but am told we're most likely looking at April.

Hoping to have more soon - keep an eye on G+ and twitter feeds.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Some cool stuff.

Let's start with the best candidate yet for a habitable exoplanet. It's in the life zone, orbiting a very stable star, not tidally locked and 'only' seven times larger than Earth. That means it could even have a gravity humans could stand with training...or at least with technological assistance. And it's 'only' 42 (where have we heard that number before?) light years away.

Geek points to the paleontologists who found a new T-rex sized dinosaur and named it Sauroniops pachytholus. Why, yes, the first part of the name does mean 'eye of sauron'. Because its known only by its eye socket, of course.

And, apparently, the ancient opposition of cats and dogs isn't exactly absolute.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hope and change

So, it's over for another four years...the campaigning, the craziness, and then the nailbiter well into the night. And we have four more years of Barack Obama. Who spent his first campaign talking about hope and change.

From the headline you might think I'm about to talk about Obama. I'm not. I'm personally glad Romney did not win - his economic policies resembled ones that have demonstrably failed in Europe, his social policies were borderline Dominionist and I personally think he would have been a foreign policy disaster. But I'm not talking about that.

I'm talking about my hopes for change in this country. I've been worried for a while about the state of this country. We have the Tea Party, which went from a movement to limit government to, as far as I can tell, a movement to limit other people's voting rights. Occupy put people on the streets. It's never a good sign when people take to the streets.

Yesterday people took to the streets again. Bizarrely, some media outlets are insisting turnout was down from 2008. I have no clue where they got their figures. Early voting in Florida saw lines of four to five days. In one precinct in New Jersey, where one would think turnout would have been slammed from the storm, they had more voters in the first hour than they had in the last primary...altogether. One county in Iowa recorded over 80% turnout.

As for me. In 2008, when everyone was going on about record turnout, I went to the polls at 10:30am and there were four people in line ahead of me.

Yesterday I went to the polls at about the same time. I got there at about 10:15am. I cast my ballot at about 1:15pm. Somebody, perhaps because of Sandy, had prepped paper ballots as a backup, or I would have been there even longer. (Thank you to the unknown people wearing no identifying buttons or clothing who were handing out water and chips. I have no clue who you are, but believe me, it was appreciated). There was almost no complaining and many loud statements about it all being worth it.

Americans. Not complaining about standing in line for hours to vote. Okay, some people were reading books or messing with their smartphones and one was working on a laptop. But nobody saw the lines and left...and if they did, I bet they came back later.

What happened to our famed voter apathy? I think something started, perhaps with Occupy. People are waking up and realizing that they do have some power in this country. That they do live in a democracy. That voting is an immense privilege...and a heavy responsibility. I am a lot more proud to live in America and carry a United States passport than I was on Monday.

A lot more.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I'd say I'm glad the election is over, except it isn't. What I'm glad is that voting is over.

Turnout in my area was so high that the precinct pulled out paper ballots to supplement the machines...and I still had to wait three hours to vote. I'm happy that turnout was so good, but...three hours. Yeah. (Note that I chose the paper ballot - there are multiple reports of voting machines glitching and flipping votes, so if you can get a paper ballot, take it).

Ah well. I decided that as I've always said if I employed anyone they'd get the day off on election day that I'm not going to worry about getting actual work done today.

If you haven't already - vote.

Monday, November 5, 2012

So, Life on Mars?

Curiosity's inability to find methane might be a blow to the idea that there is any life on Mars. (It might also mean that the gas is trapped underground and/or only in the atmosphere very locally before boiling off into space).

I think that we keep clinging to the idea of life on Mars because of the romantic image of the canals, even though there are many places in the solar system far more likely to harbor it (Titan, Io, even Venus is more likely than Mars). Mars has always been the place the 'other people' live...malevolent in War of the Worlds, benevolent and strange in Stranger In A Strange Land and Out of the Silent Planet and, of course, just like us on John Carter's Barsoom, with all of the same problems and conflicts.

We want there to be life on Mars so badly that we ignore any and all evidence...and if we can't find it, then we have a strong desire to put it there. Perhaps even to put ourselves there - and it's true that Mars would be the easiest place to plant a colony.

Even I can't quite let go of the hope that we'll find something, even if it's only bacteria. Mars is simply part of the common imagination of western culture. We want that planet to live.

Friday, November 2, 2012

I have returned.

The storm knocked out my power for 30 hours, by far the longest outage we've ever had here.

Then it set up a cascade failure that knocked out my internet for 48 hours...oddly, starting 24 hours after the END of the storm.

I'm back. I have learned a few things. Such as, if you have digital voice and are reporting outages, use your cell. Otherwise they may knock you off the line trying to fix things...oops.

And no damage otherwise. No updates other than Stripped still being in production. I should have more soon, though.