Monday, December 5, 2016

Memorials at the National Mall

I visited DC recently, and got a chance to see the memorials on the mall. I found the quotes on the Roosevelt Memorial particularly meaningful. Some wisdom from the past that we should continue to keep in mind:

"In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of
social justice... the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.

"We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all citizens, whatever their
background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred,
is a wedge designed to attack our civilization."
I also checked out the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. I'd not had the chance to see it before, and it is very impressive.

You can find out more about the
symbolism of the memorial here.
 And of course, while I was there, also saw the World War II memorial, the Washington monument, and the Lincoln memorial.

I notice that our memorials of the past all have some things in common: embrace equality and love of mankind regardless of borders or origin, seek freedom for all, cast aside prejudice and hatred, and remember the high cost of war and social oppression.

So. There is the hard-earned wisdom of the past. If you ever get the chance, take a walk around the National Mall. And make sure to read the writings on the walls. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Publishing Industry News

This week's publishing news and industry blogs post covers 11/11-12/1/16.

Publishing News

The European Union rules that for the purposes of library use, print and digital books should be treated the same, in terms of copyright. This has raised issue with publishers, who point out that digital copies do not degrade at the same rate as physical books, as well as the strikedown of a ruling that prevented libraries from lending more than one copy of an e-book at a time.

Barnes and Noble opens a "concept' bookstore that has a full restaurant, unveils and experiments with new technology to help readers, and looks really pretty. It also releases a new Nook Tablet.

Penguin Random House offers to pay half the price of membership for any of its authors joining the free speech organization PEN America.

International Digital Publishing Foundation members vote approval on the merger with the World Wide Web Consortium. Among the issues for discussion on the vote, should the deal go through, this will put the ePub format under W3C's control, as well as the rest of IDFP's assets. The terms of the deal are still not decided.

Industry Blogs

On Writer Beware, Victoria Strauss warns authors of three presses currently being reported for nonpayment of authors and staff--presses worth avoiding. All three are still soliciting new submissions.

Agent Jessica Faust answers the question of why an agent might know you have an offer, and then not respond or finish reading the full. She also updates her Publishing Dictionary, for all the terms  you need to know in the industry (or at least a lot of them). And she explains what agents mean when they respond to a query with "I didn't know where it was going" (did you establish your genre tone right away?)

Suffering a sales slump this year? At least, until mid-November? Kristine Kathryn Rusch shares some research she found that gives you good news: trendwise, sales usually slump before the election and then pick up enormously after. Plan to make it through the slump and then things may hopefully return to normal.

A new service, BookStackk, helps readers connect and discuss books.

What other major industry news have you encountered in past three weeks?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Happy post-Thanksgiving

Generic fall picture for color.
Happy post-Thanksgiving! May you have had a delicious holiday meal (if you're an American; may the rest of you had good food anyway) and good savings if you decided to shop.

And most importantly of all, may you have managed to avoid family arguments.

I managed to pick up more family stories over my holiday. This is always delightful, especially since as an adult I now know my mother was quite the mischief maker in her youth... things that were never revealed to me as a kid but have come out over the years.

I learned about my recently buried uncle, whom I'd never known had wanted to be a "mountain man" in his youth. One of the best people I've ever known, kind of heart and strong of spirit, adventurous but with a strong sense of home.

I learned that my own name was an old family spelling... which my mother had not (consciously) known when she named me!

I watched my parents and aunt and relatives solve a Sherlock Holmes mystery in half the time me, my husband, and my brother solved it. They have sharp deduction senses, and also picked up on clues we'd have never noticed... though I think our exchanged looks and suppressed laughter every time we remembered some rabbit hole we'd gone down didn't help. (In our defense, we did do much better on the second mystery, knowing how the system worked.)

And I met cousins I hadn't met before, spent time with relatives I rarely get to see, barely missed others I haven't seen in a while, and enjoyed way too much pie.

So it was a very good holiday for me.

Monday, November 21, 2016

End of November

Most caught since above level 20.
The only one over 1000
was hatched. The rest were wild.
So... how's your Pokemon hunting going?  Mine's slowing down as throwing is getting harder with numb fingers, but it's still a way to convince myself to get outside when I'm tempted to be lazy and not get fresh air and exercise.

But for everyone who isn't playing, or who isn't still playing, or who's playing but done talking about it, it's almost the end of November and the cold is settling in. NaNoWriMo-ers keep it up and go write something! You're almost there!

How are you preparing for the end of warm weather? And what kinds of things are you NaNoWriMo writers doing to prepare for the end of your story? Have you already gotten it plotted out, or are you anticipating discovering the story and learning how it really ends?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Goofy Pathfinder

My husband and I discovered HarmonQuest this week.

We're both roleplayers, him with mostly Pathfinder, and me with a wide mix of d20 systems. So we were highly amused at the show, which includes live-action animation of what the players' characters are doing.

Of course, our games usually wind up taking much longer, and we spend much longer in combat--some points of the game seem to have been abbreviated for viewing ease for the show.

A piece of me would love to see an animated version of some of my games in the past. Another piece of me is thinking of the games and the plot devices like they guy who found the cursed intelligent armor that turns into a towel when it's mad, or the baby evil dragon we found and decided to try to raise into being good but then abandoned by virtue of accidental time travel, or the undead puppies, or the escapade in the elven spa, or the... ya know, let's not go there.

All I'm saying is, some things are best left to the imagination, which can be blocked and distracted when need be.

Would you like your quests to be animated? Do they go anything like the show's, or do you somehow manage to keep your adventures serious and non-goofy (you weirdos, you)?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Museums of the World

Statue from outside the
National Palace Museum in
Taiwan, outside Taipei.
I have a fondness for museums, though I don't get around to visiting them very often.

When I was young, I wasn't too interested in them, unless they were interactive and kid-themed. But as I've gotten older, I have come to appreciate the wealth of history and culture, and the beauty of what can be found.

Illuminated Tao Te Ching from National Palace Museum
It's not always possible to work in a museum visit, but when it is, I enjoy the experience. I'm no art major, nor a historian, but it's still intriguing. On my recent trip to visit my in-laws in Taiwan, I had the chance to visit the National Palace Museum and the Jade and Coral museum in Taipei 101. The ancient ceramics and artworks at the National Palace museum were a huge highlight for me, and I was stunned by the artistry at the (admittedly far more commercial) Taipei 101 collection.

I once had a chance to explore the Louvre, but I hadn't nearly enough time to really get a sense of it. I think I would have been in love if I'd had more time to explore. Meanwhile, the Museum of Modern Art in New York was pretty cool, especially seeing Starry Night in person, but honestly I think I had more fun overall at the Museum of Life and Science closer to home in NC, because of the beautiful butterfly house. Of course, that's a lot easier to visit, and has a giant tree fort, so maybe that plays a part in my preference.

When you travel, do you take the time to visit museums? What are some of the favorite museums you've been to?

Jade sculpture from jade and coral museum
at Taipei 101

Friday, November 11, 2016

Publishing Industry News

Between travel and illness it's been over a month since my last publishing news post. Yikes! But time for another publishing news and industry blogs post, this one covering 10/6-11/11/16--I'll try to stick to the highlights so it's not too overwhelming.

Publishing News

It's NaNoWriMo time again.

The Authors Guild introduces a new level of membership for writers actively pursuing publication. It's a non-voting membership but offers resources to writers following non-traditional publishing paths or still in the earliest stages of their careers.

The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) has voted in approval to combine with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). IDPF would no longer be a standalone organization, and its intellectual property, including ePUB file format standard, would become W3C's, which is causing some controversy. At this point, it is still possible for the merger to be rejected if the terms are not favorable.

The new Librarian of Congress has started making staffing changes at the Copyright Office.

Back in August, a major shipping company filed for bankruptcy, and the fallout is interfering with book shipping (and other shipping) as dozens of ships are stranded at sea or in the hands of creditors.

Most authors in the UK earn less than minimum wage, according to a study by the European Commission. has been purchased by NetGalley.

Amazon Prime membership now includes access to a number of e-books.

Industry Blogs

Information about metadata by Rick Beardsley. What is it, how is it used, and how does it affect you?

GalleyCat brings you what you need to know about using Patreon to fund your long-term writing project.

Researchers have created a program that judges books by their cover.

On the Futuristic, Fantasy, and Paranormal blog, advice for writing villains we love to hate.

On QueryTracker, how to pick a good title.

Jessica Faust at Bookends suggests authors give their agents a chance to contemplate covers before sending an "I love it!" to the publisher or artist.

Janet Reid explains that multi-book deals pay the money as an advance, and why single-book deals aren't better. And why, with market saturations, agents still look for new clients--you have to write something fresh. She also explains that yes, publishers will see sales numbers, but there's a lot of sales that aren't in the sales numbers. She answers a question--if you turned down agent B to go with agent A but the book didn't sell and you broke it off with A, is it okay to go back to agent B? (Yes, but with a new book, and only if you didn't burn bridges.)

What other major publishing news have you encountered in the past month?