Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Into the Tides Book Bonus: Magic Licenses

In the Broken Powers world, people with magic--Powered--have licenses describing what kind of magic they have, and how strong in it they are. But how does this work?

First- and second-class Powers, the strongest, are required to be licensed and certified. They must at all times carry their licenses with them, if there's even a chance of them actually using their magic. It's a misdemeanor if they don't, with a small fine ($100-$250 depending on the magic); but those working for the government may face employment repercussions such as training courses, write-ups, and endless reminders from higher-ups.

The reason for this is to build trust between government employees and the general public. Because first- and second-class Powers have abilities that can be possibly dangerous, and most are employed by the government (internationally this is true as well), showing the license to people who ask proves that the Power is operating under knowledge of the government and therefore will be held accountable. Although Powers in government positions are no less prone to corruption than their unPowered counterparts, they are scrutinized more closely than ordinary citizens, and are required to participate in more ethics-building exercises such as additional training and charity work. The few who are privately employed, or those who are working off-the-official-clock, must still meet continual re-certification and re-licensing standards, and those found violating the official ethics of the licensing program are arrested and prosecuted. Therefore, those possessing licenses are often considered "safe."

Sixth-class through third-class Powers are required to be licensed, but not certified. They do not need to carry their licenses around at all times, but third- and fourth-class Powers are supposed to hold them when performing magic in the line of work, regardless if the work is in private sector or at government levels. Fifth- and sixth-class Powers are considered insufficiently powerful to do serious damage and are not required to carry their licenses with them. All Powers are held accountable if found using their magic for unethical purposes, and using magic without a valid license (that is, the license has been revoked, never issued, or expired) is a felony.

Licenses must be renewed once every three years, with the completion of an ethics class. Certifications must be renewed yearly. This may be accomplished at the nearest Powers office, which in small towns is often located in the Town Hall or the Post Office. Major cities have larger, separate offices. There are no fees associated with keeping a license up-to-date, although replacing a lost one comes with a minimal $5 fee.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Kittens

Certified kitten cuddlers: It's a "tough" job, but someone has to do it. 

My roommate's bed has started mewing.

She rescued a feral cat who had just given birth at a shelter with a high kill rate, bringing the mama cat and her kittens to a nice quiet apartment (at least, compared to a shelter). So we've been hosting 5 newborn kittens and a feral cat who hisses every time we get too close.

At closing in on 3 weeks old, all their eyes are open (they started on day 10 and were mostly open by day 12). Two of them don't seem to mind being cuddled, especially now that their eyes are open.

Sparrow: Both eyes did finally open, but I'll always
remember her as the smaller-than-a-tulip pirate.
At first, one of the babies I dubbed "KISS" due to her hardcore mew-screams every time she was lifted up. Now that her eyes are open, she's more calm about it, especially if her feet aren't fully supported, but still vocal. I expect she'll always be talkative. Her twin--we spent a few minutes comparing them and couldn't find any visible differences yet--is another tortiseshell whom I called Sparrow after she spent a full day with one eye open and the other still closed. She looked a bit pirate-like, and we weren't sure which were boys or girls yet, so I went with the gender-neutral "Sparrow" from "Jack Sparrow."

Another baby has a stumpy, problematic tail. The vet thinks it may be congenital, but no matter if it was pre-rescue injury or completely natural, first order of business as soon as that sweetheart is big enough for treatment is to remove the tip of the tail, since it might otherwise become a source for infection, and also probably hurts a bit. He's such a sweet kitten and one of the more active ones, so we can't wait to get him cared for, but he's too small for most care and also can't really be separated from his mother for that long yet. But soon.

They're all cute and crawly and are now mostly able to walk. Their eyes may all be fully open, but they can't  quite focus yet; still, I've caught them beginning to bat at one another as they start to figure out playing. They've outgrown their cage, so my roommate is letting them wander around in her room freely now; mama (who still hisses at us if we get too close, but only half-heartedly, and doesn't seem to mind when we take a baby as long as we don't too close to her) has taken them under the bed, but they keep wobble-crawling out to explore.

In another week or two we'll have bouncy babies who are steadier on their feet. They'll start weaning soon, and once they're weaned, mama will be spayed, her ear nicked, and released back to where she came from (this is common in catch-and-release programs for healthy ferals who can't be rehabilitated). We'll continue to cuddle the babies and make them people-friendly, and my roommate will take them to make sure they're healthy, get them their first vaccines, and treat that tail.

Your heart is in my tiny, tiny paws--
and mine is in your hands.
Then it's time to start finding them homes and say good-bye. Right now they still fit in the palm of my hand, tiny and cute; and every day they look a little bigger and stronger and closer to the string-chasing and bug-pouncing adorableness we know kittens for. But I know they need forever homes, and we're at our permanent-pet limit. I think one of the boys has wrapped his tiny paws around someone's heart. Don't worry, loving future-home: I'll make sure he knows people will love him and care for him, that people have nice hands and are good to be around. Just promise me you'll do the same as he grows, and give him the home full of warmth, happiness, and kitty joy.

Kitten cuddling might be a tough job, but I'm up for the challenge. Are you?
Hi!
(Edit:) New pictures for just shy of 3 weeks old:






(You can e-mail my roommate at nyssamehana@att.net if you want to know more about adopting a kitten-baby.)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Pitching and Querying

I've gathered up some of the resources I've come across in the past couple of years about constructing pitches and queries.

The difference between a pitch and a query, as told by agent Kristen Nelson.

Pitches

Author Jami Gold's Guide to Pitching.

Agent Rachelle Gardner on what she, as an agent, looks for in a pitch and the secrets of a great pitch.

Best-selling author Virginia Kantra on pitching in person at conferences.

Author Stina Lindenblatt on writing killer loglines (which can also be used as pitches).

Agent Suzie Townsend on how to choose comparable titles for your pitch.

Pitch contest host Sharon Johnson on refining your pitch.


Queries

Hint: Your query shouldn't
put the agent to sleep.
You might want to start with a post of my own about the elements of writing a good query letter, info I've gathered through my own research through links such as those below. But mine's just a summary, and it's a good idea to get the full picture, so here's a list of resources to get you going:


Author Jane Lebak on the true purpose of query letters.

Author Tracey Lyons on how to write a query letter.

Author Angela Quarles on how to write a good query letter, when to start, and other things to keep in mind, Part 1 and Part 2.

The Editors' Blog on how to write a query letter.

QueryShark: read it. Seriously, read the archives (not just the most recent letter); and then avoid making the same mistakes the writers of these queries made.

Agent Suzie Townsend's advice on making your query stand out.

Agent Janet Reid on writing a query for nonfiction  and why you need to include relevance.

Agent Jessica Faust's advice on query letters. Includes some queries that worked.

Example query letters as posted by author Carolyn Jewel.

On GalleyCat, 23 query letters that worked.

Publishing industry expert Jane Friedman's guide to writing queries that get requests.

How long you should expect to wait to hear back (or not) about a query.

Agent Kristen Nelson makes a vlog on using plot catalysts to write the perfect query.


Mistakes to avoid in queries:

Agent Rachelle Gardner on the top 10 mistakes she sees in queries.

Jane Lebak on QueryTracker on why you shouldn't write a first-person query.

6 common query problems by author Janice Hardy.

Author Chuck Sambuchino interviews agents about their query pet peeves.

4 mistakes agent Janet Reid finds that make you look unprofessional.

QueryTracker with  5 mistakes that make you look like an amateur.


(Also--How to choose agents to query/pitch to:)

Victoria Strauss's guide to finding the right agents to query without getting scammed.

Science Fiction Writers Association's post "How to find a (REAL) Literary Agent!" by A.C. Crispin (Includes how to know when you're ready to query, how to find a reputable agent, query writing advice, and how to know the agent is a good match.)

(updated 7/15/2014)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Into the Tides book bonus: The Lost and the Mad

Into the Tides got its first photoshoot the other day! Well, all right. The photoshoot was originally for the kittens my roommate is fostering, but the set was staged, so I figured, why not?

Today's book bonus is an inside-look at the Lost and the Mad.

As you may have noticed from reading the book, the animal type Powered people become after being hit by magic is determined by several factors, including the location they're in.

In a water-based ecology such as a lake, for example, a person might become an otter, a turtle, a duck, a crane, or another animal commonly found in that environment. All Lost, even those in marine environments, become animal times that can survive even temporarily out of the water, and will exit the water as soon as possible if it is steeped in magic, such as most permanent bodies of water within the Tide Zone. The magic will sustain them indefinitely out of water.

In the woods, people might become songbirds, deer, squirrels, or rodents. This also applies to people who live in wooded areas, especially if they were outside their homes at the time, although they could also become a common domesticated animal for the area, such as a goat or a cat.

Meanwhile, city-dwellers might become ants, dogs or cats, or raccoons.

Animals that were once native to an area are also on possibilities. For example, a wetland converted into house-friendly territory may have once hosted a type of frog that has become locally (or even globally) extinct. If a housing developer added a lake or a pond to the area later, a person standing on the shores may have become a frog of that particular type.

In general, the animal body assumed will be one that is generally considered not dangerous to humans, except for Hunters, who are charged with being custodians and guardians for the Lost. Once an animal body is assumed, if people are returned to human form, they will always re-emerge as the same animal they first became, no matter their locations or emotions during subsequent exposures. There is, however, one exception to this rule: the Mad.

The only way a person can change animal type is by going insane. Insanity scrambles the subconscious, and causes the mind--and if in the Tides, the local magic--to go haywire. The magic then creates a feedback loop that drives the mind towards aggressive behavior. Those within the Tides are driven out and take another form upon exiting; those in the Tide Zone physically transform by absorbing the magic from the local area. The form assumed is one of the largest and most dangerous native to the local area, such as a bear, bobcat, aggressive large turtle or waterfowl, eagle, or alligator. The body is almost always large; the animal is almost always a predator. Even if it animal type would not typically attack a human,

The Mad are driven to immediately attack anything living and mobile within their immediate area, human or Lost alike, with no care for their own safety or even for strategy. The only creatures they will not attack are other Mad, which emanate the same magical disruption. The Mad will continue attacking until they are killed or rendered immobile; the latter will cause them to fight until they are freed and then resume attacking. They cannot sleep, do not need to eat, quickly regain consciousness if knocked unconscious, will heal from paralysis given enough time, and cannot feel pain except from being taken too far from the source of magic. If trapped without anything to attack, they will prowl the area; they will not, however, cross territory the animal type they are would not willingly cross, except in pursuit of prey (a mountain lion, for example, would not enter a city if there was nothing moving to be seen). Hunters usually track them down and kill them for the safety of everything in the area, unless they are so trapped.

 Areas in the Tide Zone where a Lost has become Mad are marked by normal-looking foliage in a sea of brightly-colored unnatural flora, until Tides re-covers the area. It's also possible for a Lost caught close enough to the transformation (within 5 feet) to be returned to human form, but the Mad attack immediately, while those returned to human would be stunned from change. On the other hand, nearby Lost (within 15 feet) face 10% chance of being driven insane by the transformation, due to local magic going haywire; in which case, there would be more Mad to deal with. Most Lost instinctively flee from a person who is about to transform, as in the minute or two leading up to the transformation, the soon-to-be Mad "muddies" the nearby magic (within 30 feet), causing a sensation akin to the hair standing up on the back of your neck.

All Lost possess the physical abilities of their animal type, including enhanced senses. They can speak only with Lost of the same animal type (cats can speak with cats and dogs may speak with dogs regardless of breed, but cats cannot speak with dogs, or dogs with foxes). 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tea Review: Osmanthus Chin Hsuan Oolong Tea




Osmanthus Chin Hsuan Tea
(Osmanthus Jin Xuan)


Reviewed by: Rebekkah
Type of tea

Oolong, loose-leaf
Aroma

Floral, as deep earthy flower scent (think mums, not roses) with oolong underneath the flower--if you've had milk oolongs before, "milky" is a good descriptor (smooth and rich)
Where I got it

Taiwan, but you can find it online here:
TenRen's Tea site
Cost

$10 for about 3.5 oz (100g),
not including shipping
How I brewed it

Water from a coffee machine (about 190 F) over 1 rounded teaspoon (sometimes 1.5 flat teaspoon) in a 12 oz mug, steeped for about 3 minutes
Rebrewing notes

Holds up for at least 3 rebrews; haven't tried more than that, but good oolong is supposed to be rebrewed several times. Flavor slightly lighter second brew, with harsher notes faded, but still strong and complex
Review

I would go to Taiwan just to get more of this tea.

Okay, that's a hyperbole, especially since it's available online. But if it wasn't, and I was going to Taiwan, getting more would be on the list of things to do, because for its price it's exceptional. Note that some of the other places that sell it online, such as Amazon, charge $20 for the tin, so I suggest buying through the main site.


The small is engaging and at least half, if not 75%, of the attraction. It's a balance between the earthy, fermented oolong and flowers--think peat moss and osmanthus (a Chinese flower that reminds me of the American mums that come out every fall, or even a bit of heavy sunflower). It's very relaxing, and something about it makes me feel connected to nature and/or anyone I've roped into drinking it with me.

This is the tea strainer I use, FYI.
I estimate it's about 3-3.5" tall, with
the diameter of the bottom
around 1.5-2" wide.
As far as taste goes, it's light, and if prepared with a short brew and water under 190, just a bit sweet. Even fully steeped the color is a light gold. It's not heavy on flavor; if you want it strong (admittedly, I usually do myself), bump up the tea by an extra half-teaspoon or so. A little goes a long way, though, and 1.5 tsp usually fills my tea strainer 3/4 full by the time the tea has fully expanded. I'd say it tastes good, but on par with a good tea for its price range, so if you drink more for flavor than aroma, you'll probably still like it, but be less in love with it.

Like most teas, steeping too hot or too long can make it bitter; it's fairly resilient but not exceptionally so. On a scale of 1 (brew it perfect or hate it) to 10 (throw in the tea and some boiling water and then go do the laundry; it'll be fine!), I'd give it about a 6, with most teas falling in the 3-5 range. 

If you like oolongs, I'd recommend this tea. If you've never tried oolong before, it's not a terrible place to start, so long as you enjoy floral teas (if you like both green tea and black tea, there's a good chance you'll like oolongs, since it's a light flavor but a strong aroma; if you don't like both, it's a 50-50); be prepared for a different scent than you're used to, since oolong teas are fermented. If there's a tea store near you that offers sampling, or one of your friends has some, I suggest doing a couple of tastings. Try it twice before you make up your mind, because it's kind of unexpected the first time you try it, so it helps to have a second tasting knowing what to expect.

This is the container I have.
Image from TenRen's site.





(Learning to Like Tea Part 1Part 2Part 3, Guest Post: Types of Tea, Guest post: Getting the Best Cup of Tea)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Publishing Industry News

This week's publishing news and industry blogs covers 4/4-4/18.


Publishing News

The Authors Guild files an appeal for the Google book-scanning case, in which Google was allowed to continue scanning books from libraries.

In the Apple vs the States case, Apple has requested a stay against the damages until it's had the chance to appeal. The damages trial has been set for July. Apple's motion that the states should not be able to form a class for a class-action suit was also denied.

Environmental reports looking at publishing in 2012 show improvement when compared to 2007.

Jeff Bezos writes a long letter to Amazon shareholders, looking at where Amazon is now and his philosophies on running the company.

Goodreads will soon allow users to add Amazon book purchases to their bookshelves.

Some indie bookstores try out "one book, one store" marketing, where they pick a single book to push to see if it significantly improves sales.


Industry Blogs

QueryTracker's Publishing Pulse for 4/4 and 4/11.

Nathan Bransford's The Past Few Weeks in Books.

Nathan Bransford also talks about how to know if you have a good agent or not, and invites guest blogger and author Natalie Whipple to talk about the differences between self-publishing and legacy publishing and how to decide which is best for you.

On QueryTracker, Stina Lindenblatt talks about what Frozen can teach us about writing. Rosie Genova explains why including someone who did you wrong in a manuscript is a bad idea. Sarah Pinneo shares her favorite books on writing.

On Writer Beware, Victoria Strauss raises her eyebrow at a company that apparently allows people to buy story plots and self-publish them as their own after a little tweaking. Okaaaaaaay. Also, a three-year-old publisher, Silver Publishing, falls apart, and the info available to authors is mostly sordid rumors.

Agent Janet Reid answers questions and gives advice. Is it okay to lie or stretch the truth when describing the plot in a query? (No.) Do you need an agent if a university press is going to publish you? (Reid's an agent, so of course she says yes. But it's also possible to go it on your own, if you're careful to watch the contract and make sure the copyright doesn't go to the university.) Can you write a query in the protagonist's voice? (No, that's not what's meant by voice in a query. Never write a 1st person POV query blurb.)

Reid also explains why agents might sometimes go missing/off the rails/run away to foreign countries never to be heard from again. Mostly stress. And how to tell if your agent is in danger of this (keep an eye on communication). Can you use a TV show as a comp title? (She dislikes it, but there's no universal rule.) If you've won a contest not well known in the States, should you link to it, or just list the award? (She suggest list; agents will google it if they've not heard of it and they're interested enough for it to make a difference.) If your comp is a major, best-seller name, and there's no other good comparison, is it okay to use it as a comp? (Make sure the comp is recent. If you're jumping on last decade's bandwagon, maybe think about self-publishing.)

Agent Suzie Townsend answers questions on her own blog. If you've received an offer of publication, but want an agent, what sort of subject line should you use? (For an agent you've not yet spoken to, "QUERY--OFFER OF PUBLICATION" works.) Is 225K words the kiss of death for an epic fantasy? (Usually, especially for a first book. Unless it's so outstanding the agent has to find the socks you just knocked off. Even then it'll be cut.) Should I write a book in a dead genre? (In her opinion, if it's what you're passionate about, then write it. And then write something else.)

Author Kristine Kathryn Rusch advises authors to stand up for themselves if agents, editors, or others are in the wrong, and to do so through education and documentation, and always making sure there's an escape clause. She also talks about how on-demand attitudes of the current generation are shifting book culture.

On the Futuristic, Fantasy, and Paranormal blog, author Laura Drake talks about keeping expenses in line to earn overall profit on books. Barb Drozdowich and Babs Hightower explain what kinds of goals are realistic for blog tours--not selling books, but reaching new people. Dawn Hamilton explains Goodreads for new authors and what to do to best utilize the site.

Hybrid author Elizabeth Craig asks if you must be hybrid to earn the most, and stay hybrid, and shares her own experiences. She concludes that after you've been published by the Big Five, and gotten the traditional publishing benefits, then it's perfectly possible to only self-publish from then on and still be successful.

A few posts with hundreds of writing resources on tumblr (not new to the past couple of weeks--about a year old-- but I found it only this week).

Author Angela Quarles describes the purpose of a query, when to start writing one, and when to start sending them.

The Editor's Blog offers an in-depth post on adjectives, from the types of adjectives and how to know what order to put them in, to how to punctuate.

Digital textbooks save a lot of money. But a study by West Chester University suggests print textbooks may enhance reading comprehension.

An infographic from Marketing Charts on what influences readers' decisions to buy books.

Yasiv.com is a visual recommendation image that shows you covers of books you might like after you type in the name of a book you do like. (If you don't see me for a week or so, I'm probably playing around with this.)

For one week, all products by the Oxford University Press site will be free, starting April 20.

What publishing news have you encountered in the past two weeks?


-----------------------
Rebekkah is the author of Into the Tides, a contemporary fantasy:

Tone-deaf Kelly lost nearly everyone she loved when tides of magic drowned the South. With the help of the inborn music magic she long thought useless, she may be able to save them--but doing so could cost her everyone she has left.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Into the Tides book bonus: Dream Powers

Today is a little book-bonus! In posts such as these, I'll give you extra information from my novel that you won't find in the book itself.
The people who know what you're dreaming
(painting by Franz Schrotzberg)

In Into the Tides, people who have magic are called "Powers." Each type of magic has a different set of capabilities, which is based on genetics. And for each Power type, there are 6 different levels of ability, called classes, with 6th class being the weakest and 1st class having the most magic. How a person's class is determined is based on what they can do.

I've been working on creating descriptions that explain what each Power type can do, by class. If you're reading the book and wondering what the characters are capable of, and what they would be capable of if they were higher in class, you can find out!

Today I'm looking at dream powers.

A non-exhaustive list of some

Magic Types

Power

 Class*

 Capabilities/Limitations

Dream 6-
  •  Sense when someone within 20 feet is sleeping
  • See flashes of what a touched person is dreaming
5
  • Sense when someone within 20 feet is sleeping, and the location of sleeper(s);  see flashes of what touched person is dreaming 
  • Speak into a touched person's dreams without awareness (they hear the dream Power's voice but may or may not be able to recognize as not being part of the dream, depending on dream and dreamer)
4
  • Passive: Sense when people within 40 feet are sleeping, location of sleepers, and if the people are well-known the identity of sleepers; see flashes of dreams from person dreaming within 10 feet; accidentally (occurs randomly and without focusing) share dreams if touching another person when sleeping; perfect dream memory (always remembers own dreams)
  • Active: speak into a touched person's dreams with selective awareness (dream Power chooses if the person knows that the voice is not part of the dream); view full dream of a touched sleeper
 3
  • Passive: Sense when people within 60 feet are sleeping, location of sleepers, and if the people are well-known the identity of sleepers; see flashes of dreams from person dreaming within 20 feet; accidentally (occurs randomly and without focusing) share dreams if touching another person when sleeping; perfect dream memory (always remembers own dreams); view full dream of a touched sleeping person
  • Active: speak into a touched person's dreams with selective awareness (dream Power chooses if the person knows that the voice is not part of the dream); visually input images into dream (dreamer sees chosen image) with selective awareness
2
  • Passive: Sense when people within 80 feet are sleeping, location of sleepers, and if the people are well-known the identity of sleepers; see flashes of dreams from person dreaming within 40 feet; share dreams if touching another person when sleeping OR choose to block dreams (choose before going to sleep; sees no dreams while sleeping if this choice is made); perfect dream memory (always remembers own dreams); view full dream of a touched sleeping person
  • Active: speak into a person's dreams with selective awareness within 10 feet; visually input images into dream with selective awareness; remake dream (dreamer sees and hears exactly what dream Power chooses)
1+
  • Passive: Sense when people within 100 feet are sleeping, location of sleepers, and if the people are well-known the identity of sleepers; see flashes of dreams from person dreaming within 75 feet; share dreams with up to 2 people within 20 feet when sleeping OR choose to block dreams; share dreams with up to 5 people if all are touching; perfect dream memory (always remembers own dreams); view full dream of a person within 20 feet
  • Active: speak into up to 3 peoples' dreams with selective awareness within 10 feet; visually input images into dreams with selective awareness; remake dreams (dreamers see exactly what dream Power chooses); combine dreams so that all people are sharing a dream

Dream Powers are considered a somewhat military magic. Typically they're used as scouts or for infiltration, because knowing that someone is sleeping nearby can determine the presence of others. Furthermore, a well-disguised dream Power can harass enemies by preventing them from gaining a good night's sleep, disrupting them with nightmares. However, sharing the actual details of another person's dream (enemy or ally), except in the cases of shared dreams or with special consent forms, is considered a war crime.

Dream Powers may also be useful for communication purposes, being able to talk to sleepers, but the distance limits prevent them from being extremely effective, and unless the dreamer has a way of verifying that the speaker wasn't a product of their own mind, relying on communication via dreams can be unreliable. There have, in fact, been cases of armed forces attacking at the wrong time due to commanders assuming their own natural dreams were communication by dreamers, or thinking an actual communication by a dreamer was a dream. Therefore, dreamers have been pretty much historically removed from the lines of communication. The exception is controlled shared dreaming, which is used when overworked allies need time to both communicate and rest. Because a dream Power's shared dream does not disrupt normal rest, and the dreamer can fully remember everything that occurs or is decided in the dream, trusted first class dream Powers may sometimes be used to help leaders maintain full sleep cycles and plan strategy.

Out of combat, dream Powers often work as psychologists, helping war veterans regain a sense of stability and enabling them to deal with nightmares. They can also redirect or even prevent bad dreams via strategic uses of their Powers. As such, hospitals, mental wards, and trauma centers staff themselves with dream Powers as much as possible; and most city headquarters for Power registration host regular clinics for dealing with night terrors. Dream Powers who choose to take the occasional side job, with proper paperwork, occasionally hire themselves out to private individuals plagued by normal nightmares, or those who desire something unique and fun.

Because of privacy laws and the nature of the subconscious, what a dream Power sees in a dream is inadmissible in courts, and is considered private property of the dreamer except during exceptional circumstances. Dream Powers are required to take yearly courses in maintaining confidentiality, and those found to have improperly revealed the contents of a dream are prosecuted by laws and fines. Dream Powers are forbidden from publishing or most forms of art, both by law and by practicality, which protects them from lawsuits and prosecution. However, storytelling is a common hobby during private social gatherings, so long as no exact source may be pinpointed, and roleplaying games are quite popular.

Shared dreaming is typically as random as normal dreaming and is usually outside the dream Power's control. Unlike dream viewing, the Power is asleep, and wakes fully rested from the shared dream. High level Powers (third class and up) may be able to influence the dream, especially if they are trained in lucid dreaming (and most are), but on the whole the dream is fully at the control of the dreamer. They may appear either as themselves or as a random character in the dream; lucid dreamers usually maintain a sense of self and the understanding that the actions they take are under the command of the dreamer. Since fighting the will of the dreamer rarely yields results, the most common quote dream Powers use is "Just go with it."

Dream Powers do not typically suffer mental scarring from even the most disturbing shared dreams; it is thought that their magic buffers against negative psychological experiences. In fact, they are typically considered more mentally stable than most other people, and those with family histories of schizophrenia or other psychological illness are virtually immune themselves. They also have high resistance to mind-altering drugs. Several schools of thought hold that the ability to see worst and most embarrassing parts of peoples' subconscious thoughts enables them to better deal with the dark sides of their own mind, and also helps them distinguish between reality and hallucination.

That said, dream Powers usually have difficulty being accepted by those who are not dream Powers, as many people are uncomfortable with the idea of their dreams being "overheard" by others. In various cultures throughout history, they have been consulted as visionaries, wisdoms, or oracles; yet even when revered they were often isolated.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Books I grew up with

Every fan has one: the book that drove them into fantasy, the book that first addicted them to the genre.

Today I thought I'd share some of the books that first got me reading sci-fi and fantasy. Because I was a slow reader to begin with, I didn't really explore the genre until late elementary and early middle school
Junior Jedi Knights
On Goodreads

Late elementary:

  • The Animorphs. Yep, I read each of these up until... I think about book 30. I think I aged out of the target range about then, because they started losing their appeal. 
  • Star Wars: Junior Jedi Knights. I'm surprised how few people heard of these, but they were my gateway into the Star Wars extended universe. 

On the whole I mostly missed the fantasy boat in elementary school. I have a bunch of friends who read Tolkien in 3rd grade, but nope, not me. I was still in Boxcar Children and Sweet Valley at that point. What can I say? My middle school years were pretty great, because I got to catch up on the good books all my friends had enjoyed before me.

Middle School:
Probably better
than Galaxy of Fear,
but I'll never know.

  • Dragonsong, by Anne McCaffrey, and the sequels. Menolly's series captured my heart, and I must have read and re-read this trilogy a dozen times or more. 
  • Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights. I moved straight from the juniors, featuring young Anakin and Tahiri, into the stories of their older siblings Jacen and Jaina. 
  • Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness quartet. Finding a fantasy book with a female hero just plain rocked. The fact that Pierce is an amazing writer helped, too. These I've re-read many times and always enjoyed.
  • Everything else by Anne McCaffrey. I dipped my feet into the waters of Pern and came back addicted, so I started reading the rest of her series. Didn't finish until high school, but hey. I gave it my all.
  • Best thing EVER.
    Young Jedi Knights
  • The Star Wars Galaxy of Fear books. Really, you don't know what you're missing. And chances are, you missed these. They were THE BEST THING EVER.* (*Warning: may be better in my memory than in real life. I refuse to re-read them and shatter my illusions, because I have... suspicions about whether or not they'd stand the test of adulthood reading.)






High School:
On Goodreads.

  • The Star Wars extended universe (yes, you know it was leading here). The Corellian trilogy was the most re-read set; loved them and read them until they all but fell apart. 
  • The Belgariad by David Eddings. I re-read these recently. Should never have done that; my happy childhood is now dead. They're not bad; they're just... Let's just say some books can't possibly live up to their memories.
  • Everything else by Tamora Pierce. And I still read anything new she puts out, too. (Anyone who touches my signed copy of The Will of the Empress will die a thousand deaths. No, really; MINE.**)
  • Jody Lynn Nye's Waking in Dreamland and The Magic Touch, and then anything else she touched, because I loved her voice.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Owl Knight series, set in Valdemar. Then her other series. Every. Single. One. (You'll pry my signed 500 Kingdoms books out of my cold, dead hands. Never mind; I'm taking them with me.**)
    The cover of
    my edition.
  • Patricia Wrede's Dealing with Dragons series. Everyone else read them in middle or even elementary school. I won't lie; I envy them those extra years of knowing this quartet.
  • Robert Asprin, whom I first discovered through books he co-wrote with Nye. It's a good choice.
  • Terry Brooks' Shannara books. I started with the WishStones, three books I found at a reseller, and binged my way through everything else that was out at the time. They started getting depressing, though, so I slipped out of them for lighter and easier reads. 
  • Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown. I fell in love with these and have stayed in love them ever since, no matter how many times I re-read them. If anything, they've improved with time.
  • Elizabeth Kerner's The Song in the Silence. Loved this book. Loved it so much I listed it as my absolute favorite for the next ten years or so. The sequels, when I found them, did not quite live up to the first book, though. Good but not lifetime-favorite good.
  • Well, I loved it.
  • Rosemary Edgehill's The Sword of Maiden's Tears. I got this as a gift one Christmas the year it came out. Didn't think I'd like it. Then I read it. Unfortunately, the series was left discontinued; after years of searching I finally found the next two, but that's all that were ever printed. (sniffle)

After Pern, I pretty much started working my way through the Sci-fi/Fantasy section of the library, so there's a lot of books I've missed on this list. But these were the major staples of my reading youth, the best memories and the ones I've kept with me longest. With these under my belt I've never doubted that fantasy and science fiction are my genre of choice. Of course, there are a lot of sub-par books that I came across, books that made me gag and want to throw out the genre as a whole. But then I just picked up one of my favorites and was hooked all over again.


What are some of your old favorites, the books that helped hook you into your favorite genre?

(**Note: author has been known to show signs of dragon-like tendencies over signed books in the past.)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Different views on how much writers make

How much will you make from writing?

There are many different studies at what authors are earning right now. I thought, for convenience's sake, I'd put the ones I've seen recently together, so you can get a look at different perspectives. Note that many of these surveys have wildly different results, and even similar ones have different conclusions.

Brenda Hiatt's Show Me the Money (last updated 7/13)--shows the advances and royaty rates paid from various YA and romance publishers, including the big 5, from a voluntary, anonymous survey. Edit: Also, her Show Me the Money for indie authors (last updated 7/14).

Beverly Kendall's self-publishing survey (covering 2013; posted 1/14)--looks at income of authors, analyzing in a number of ways, including by number of books, by cover/editing (pro vs nonpro), traditional vs small pub hybrid vs big pub hybrid, and more

Hugh Howey's 7k Report (published 2/14; covers and analyzes the earnings from Amazon's top 7000 earning authors of all types, from a single day); his 50k Report (published 2/2014; covers and analyzes earnings from Amazon's top 50,000 authors, from a single day); and his Barnes and Noble Report (published 2/2014; covers and analyzes earnings from 5400 B&N's top authors). Edit: His July 2014 report and B&N report; his January 2015 report. The October 2015 report looks at a variety of markets. And a report looking at debut vs tenured author incomes. For simplicity's sake: the Author Earning's website. There are a lot more reports posted than I've listed here.

Digital Book World's paper, which stated most self-published authors earned less than $1000 a year, and GalleyCat's breakdown of the data (actual survey requires purchase and costs $295). Data analyst Beth Weinberg from Digital Book World analyzes the survey (posted on 2/14).
Added 1/29/15: Digital Book World posts another report, covering 2014, stating that most indie authors (percentage-wise) earn very little (but there's a huge data spread).

Traditionally published author Jim Hines publishes his own income for 2014 (posted 1/2015), 2013 (posted 1/2014) and for 2012 (posted on 1/2013). Author Mark Lawrence posts on Reddit about what he makes (posted early 2013). Author Brian Keene writes a blog about what his own income is and advice on what writers can expect to earn (posted 1/2013) (All three authors are traditionally published fantasy authors.)

Edit 5/1/2014: Author Patrick Wensink shares his income from his best-seller.

The RWA does an annual report on how much romance, and other genres, earn as a whole.

Edit 7/10/2014: The Authors Licensing and Collecting Society, a United Kingdom-based association, publishes an article on the decline of professional authors' incomes as compared to 2005. However, as with all articles posted, this article has critics.



To be fair, all the links have critics. This may be at least partially explained by the fact that the reports contradict even one another, all have different viewpoints and therefore different biases, and focus on different segments of the publishing population. In short--analyze and weigh the evidence with a critical eye, and be prepared to make your own judgment. 

But there is one thing they all agree on: Writing isn't lucrative for every author. It's only your chances of making good money and your maximum potential earnings that vary among the reports.

Last update to this post: 11/9/2015

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Into the Tides book bonus: Interview with Michael Holskerski on strength Powers and eating disorders

In Into the Tides, one of the main characters, Derik, is a six-class strength Power. In the Broken Powers world, strength magic is accompanied by an increased metabolism. 

Three years before Into the Tides began, magic poured over the American South, and everyone in the area was lost, including most of Derik's family. His uncle, living in Boston as a gym owner, survived. Together they worked to live with the grief of losing their family members.

Derik, in the book, talks about some of the health problems strength Powers face, including what happens when a strength Power develops an eating disorder. While Into the Tides is a fantasy world, eating disorders are a real problem, and have the highest mortality rates of any mental health problem. In the past decade, the rate of eating disorder diagnoses has increased in both men and women.

For more information about eating disorders in men, and where to find help if you or a man you know may be dealing with an eating disorder, check out the National Eating Disorders Association's page for men; to find more information for both men and women, check out the main page.

-------------------------


Local Madison resident Derik Holskerski
(sixth class strength Power)
Boston gym owner Michael Holskerski,  personal trainer and a sixth class strength Power, joins The Daily News reporter Sandra Collins to talk about the underlying health problems strength Powers face.

COLLINS: Sometimes we all wonder what it would be like to be just a little bit magical. But as great as it may sound to be able to life a couch by yourself, being a strength Power--the most prevalent magic type--may be a mixed blessing.

Joining me today is Michael Holskerski, a sixth-class strength Power taking a day off from helping his nephew open a gym in the city. He'll talk about the downside of his magic. Michael, what's the first thing that stands out to you about strength magic?

HOLSKERSKI: Hello, Sandra. Thanks for having me in today.

I think the first thing that comes to mind for most people is, of course, what's usually hailed as the major limiting factor in the spread of the genes for strength magic. I come from a family with a range of classes; my parents were second class and fourth class. Three guesses which is which.

COLLINS: Well obviously, your mother must be the fourth-class.

HOLSKERSKI: Exactly. Strength magic is tightly linked to our extremely high metabolisms, and the stronger the magic, the higher the metabolism. Therefore, maintaining high enough levels of body fat to bear a child is difficult for women with higher levels of strength magic. Of course it's not impossible, with women with a long family history of high but healthy slenderness having the best chances; but the risks are higher and complications are frequent. These days it's generally advised for women with higher classes who want children to use surrogates. But historically that wasn't a choice, and since most high-class female strength Powers run around 12-16% body fat if they eat enough, childbearing usually wasn't an option. Strength-Powered bodies tend to keep just enough essential fat to survive, but not much more.

COLLINS: Women aren't the only ones who face problems, though.

HOLSKERSKI: Not by a long shot. Men are also less fertile, producing nearly a third fewer children on average than unPowered men. Plus, later in life they have a higher than normal chance of developing testicular cancer, which is why doctors recommend they begin regular exams at age thirty.

COLLINS: You say gender-specific; does that mean there are troubles that affect both genders equally?

HOLSKERSKI: Here's a factoid for you: being underweight is, pound for pound, at least as dangerous as being overweight. Forget the warrior stereotype of dying in battle. Heart disease and organ failure are, and have always been, the leading causes of death in strength Powers. Again, this goes back to metabolism: you can feed a person and half on what a sixth-class Power eats; but you can feed eight people off what a first class eats. So when food became tight or prices rose, often strength Powers felt the pinch the most; and in times of starvation, often only a very small percent of strength Powers were kept at full rations.

Even beyond that, we're also highly susceptible to osteoporosis in older age, since fat plays a role in keeping bones strong. Our magic does help prevent early-onset osteoporosis, since it strengthens the bones to support muscle development; but that advantage is lost in the 60s. Immune problems are also a life-long issue, and plagues often hit strength Power populations hard. Our magic doesn't actually mean we need less fat than other people; it just means we have less.

COLLINS: So let's talk eating disorders. While those have been a deadly factor for a long time, since the Tides hit two and half years ago, they've been on the rise--well, even more so. Are strength Powers less likely to be affected, given the information that's out there on how dangerous not eating is?

HOLSKERSKI: (throat clears) If anything, it's worse than ever. (Pause.) You'll have to forgive me; most of my family was stationed at Fort Bragg, in North Carolina.

COLLINS: I'm sorry for your loss.

HOLSKERSKI: Yes, thank you. (throat clears again) Depression is always a factor in personal loss. It's no secret that most of the fifth-class and higher strength Powers are in the armed forces; and that some of the largest bases were located in the South. So of those who are left, most of us are dealing with the loss of our families.

Eating disorders are one of the many ways people act out in grief or as symptom of depression. While for the unPowered it's a serious problem, for a strength Power the time table towards fatality is accelerated enormously. You know how, when the body doesn't have enough fat to burn, it burns muscle?

COLLINS: Yes.

HOLSKERSKI: For a strength Power, the body prioritizes voluntary muscle much more than it should. So it turns to organ cannibalization very quickly. A low-class strength Power can, without exercise and by maintaining a high-calorie diet, conceivably build up stores of fat. However, even a sixth class is likely to have low body fat, because they build muscle more quickly, which increases metabolism on its own. That's in addition to the magically fast metabolism.

COLLINS: So in other words, the more a strength Power works out, the faster their already accelerated metabolism burns fat. And the less fat a person has, the quicker the body begins eating muscle, including vital organs.

HOLSKERSKI: Yes. So you see, it's a very deadly disease.

COLLINS: Is there a cure?

HOLSKERSKI: Therapy and physical treatment together can put a person on the road to recovery. There's no magic wand for eating disorders that makes them go away overnight, though. No pill, either.  Magic may fix some of the physical symptoms, but continuing treatment and support is vital. That's for anyone with an eating disorder, mind you, and not just someone with magic.

COLLINS: Thank you for your frankness with this serious issue. And thank you for joining us today.

HOLSKERSKI: My pleasure. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday morning mobility mire

This morning I laid in bed for nearly an hour after the alarm went off, staring at the ceiling and cursing the big windows I usually love, because they kept letting in the cold air. With two kitties snuggled up against me, demanding I stay still and continue to warm their bed, and 4 blankets keeping me comfy, I wasn't eager to rise.

Finally I dragged myself out into the chill, quickly threw on clothes and forced myself through the morning routine. Went downstairs and found my roommate on the sofa, snuggled up with her troll-dog.
He's a good snuggler. And equally un-enamored by
Monday mornings.

"I had to take a morning nap," she said.

Apparently, it's just one of those Mondays.

Clearly, I need some motivation to get myself moving.

Therefore, I plan to try out some Sencha Jade Reserve this morning, a new tea I got over the weekend from Teavana. No time before I leave the house, though, so I'll have to do my first brewing of it at work. Rather excited to try this one.

What are you looking forward to this Monday morning?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Publishing Industry News

This week's publishing news and industry blogs covers 3/22-4/4.


Publishing News

The Vatican plans to digitize 82,000 rare manuscripts from their library and make them available online. (Sorry, that might have been my geek-girl squee of delight you just heard.)

(US public domain image)
While in the US, the DOJ has slammed down agency pricing, in Canada Kobo has asked for and been granted a temporary stay that would allow publishers to continue using agency pricing based on the fact that Kobo can't afford to bear the costs of trying to compete with Amazon's ability to absorb the cost of steep discounts.

The Authors Guild legal counsel testifies before the House subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet that perhaps the solution to digitalization of orphan works is a collective licensing agreement; and also that orphan books are rare and it's actually usually easy to find authors.

Judge Cote approves class status and also denies two of Apple's expert witnesses for the upcoming consumers vs Apple damages trial. The damages from the DOJ vs publishers have now been released to consumers. Meanwhile, retailers begin to another class-action suit, under claims that Apple's agency pricing hurt them.

Barnes and Noble discloses that, as part of its agreement with Microsoft, it now has the option to not develop the Nook but rather to allow Microsoft to support the device through Microsoft-branded readers, apps, etc.

The New York Public Library has released a book recommendation engine to help readers find new books they'd probably like.

In the UK, book donations to prisons have been banned except by public libraries. Authors fight the ban.

Dropbox has acquired social reading site Readmill and has shut down the site, incorporating the Readmill staff into the Dropbox team.

In an April Fools hijink, Reddit decided to "ban discussions" on certain books--of course, this was complete baloney, because it was an April Fools joke.

The publisher Verso begins to sell books directly to consumers.

(Not exactly publishing, but may have an affect due to the number and breadth of companies involved:Major Silicon Valley companies have been caught in a no-employee-poaching agreement that's been keeping wages down for tech workers. Now they're facing a class-action suit.


Industry Blogs


QueryTracker's Publishing Pulse for 3/28.

Rosie Genova from QueryTracker offers the down-low on what some agents are currently looking for.

Are you a poet? Has someone offered to be your agent? Victoria Strauss on why you should run away screaming (and clutching your wallet). Also on Writer Beware, Entranced Publishing popped up, had trouble paying its authors, sold itself, and decided it didn't want to do publishing anymore and so closed down and gave the rights back to authors. And if you hear about WordWorks Publishing Consultants, and any of their pretty wide-ranging lists of endorsements... er, those "endorsements" were outright plagiarized from other, more reputable agencies, organizations, and not-WordWorks groups.

Author Nathan Bransford offers analysis of his recent sales. Amazon dominated the e-book market, but the print has been outselling the e-book.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch posts more in her Discoverability series: Part 14 (When you should promote/how to decide which work to promote); Part Surprise (be surprising and don't be surprised when you attempts to copy someone else's unique tactic don't produce the same results); and Part END (Measuring the results of your promotions).

Agent Janet Reid answers questions and gives advice. I have a piece pending publication; how do I mention it in my query? (I'm publishing x in x magazine, which will come out in date, plus what not to say). I live in another country; should I mention this in the query? (Nope. It'll come out eventually, but at the digital query stage, the agent doesn't need to know where you are.) Do I really need to aim for no more than 250 words in a query? (Yes, that rule still applies.)

And more advice and answers from Reid: Don't query several books at once for the same agent. Do you need to call non-YA/MG/Children's/NA Sci-fi "adult sci-fi"? (No, unless specified otherwise, the default is adult.) Do non-AAR agents always mean trouble? (Some good agents are not members of the organization, but be sure to do your research.) I had last-minute inspiration and rewrote after sending the query. Should I withdraw it? (No. If you get a request, then inform the agent.) If I have two manuscripts in different genres, can I go with two agents at the same time? (No; the agent who reps one will want to see the other.) If you're an older writer, should you just not bother with agents? (If you want an agent, then query agents. Just don't mention your age in queries; what matters is if you can write, not how old you are.)

A reader and a writer, Pippa Jay talks about 5 things she looks for in a science fiction romance on the Futuristic, Fantasy, and Paranormal blog. And author Sharon Kay talks about using minor characters to bring life to your story.

GalleyCat shares InkHouse's infographic "How Americans View and Share News."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Into the Tides book bonus: Illusion Powers

Today is a little book-bonus! In posts such as these, I'll give you extra information from my novel that you won't find in the book itself.
The magic that can make pretty,
trippy images for everyone--
but only off the clock. On the clock,
they tell you when someone else is
seeing things.
(image from here)

In Into the Tides, people who have magic are called "Powers." Each type of magic has a different set of capabilities, which is based on genetics. And for each Power type, there are 6 different levels of ability, called classes, with 6th class being the weakest and 1st class having the most magic. How a person's class is determined is based on what they can do.

I've been working on creating descriptions that explain what each Power type can do, by class. If you're reading the book and wondering what the characters are capable of, and what they would be capable of if they were higher in class, you can find out!

Here's more about illusion Powers, which are referenced in Into the Tides but never really make a full appearance. Illusion is a fully mental Power, unlike any of the previously listed magic types.

A non-exhaustive list of some

Magic Types

Illusion 6-
  • Passive: Vague feeling when someone sees something differently (frequently acts up for things such as colorblindness, looking in a different direction, finding something accidentally lost, etc)
  • Active: Shift own perception of color [see a different color] or sound [hear sounds in a different tone or at a different decibel level]; shift 1 person's perception of the color of a small object with awareness (they know the color is incorrect; effective regardless of willing or not. Does not affect technology.)
5
  • Passive: sense if someone else nearby is seeing something differently (a 'feeling,' often described as a tickling in the gut, that a person within 10 feet is seeing the same things you are but in a different color or shape, or sees something hidden. Does not reveal what, but gut feeling gets stronger closer to the person who is seeing the thing differently. Only occurs for magic or when viewer believes something has been deliberately camouflaged)
  •  Active: shift own perception of color and sound; shift another willing person's perception of color and sound to the same degree; distortion on small objects with awareness (shift the color of an object or sound; slightly shift the shape of the small  [1 inch or less] object)
4
  • Passive: gut feeling if another person within 10 feet sees something different; ability to see through a willing person's eyes when touching them
  • Active: shift own perception of color and sound; shift up to 4 willing people's perception of color and sound to match (people must be within 20 feet); distortion on medium-sized objects with awareness for up to 3 people; shift universal color of small object with awareness (anyone looking at it will see a different color as long as illusion Power focuses, but will know the color has been altered); create small images on a blank surface for people within 10 feet of Power; remove a willing person's ability to see (until the illusion Power stops focusing)
 3
  • Passive: gut feeling if another person within 10 feet sees something different; ability to see through a willing person's eyes when touching them (must close own eyes)
  • Active: distortion for self; distortion for up to 10 willing people (people must be within 30 feet); distortion on medium-sized (up to 5 inches diameter) objects with awareness for up to 8 people; universal color or shape shift of an object up to 5" with awareness; create sound and images on blank surfaces for up to 10 willing people within 10 feet; remove another person's ability to see (duration: as long as focus if willing; usually around 2 minutes if they're unwilling); remove 3 willing peoples' abilities to see
2
  • Passive: gut feeling if another person within 10 feet sees something different; ability to discern approximately what is different (the area that looks different, but not what is different about it); ability to see through a willing person's eyes (distance limit 1 mile) without losing own vision
  • Active: distortion for self; distortion for up to 10 willing people (people must be within 30 feet); distortion on medium-sized (up to 5 inches diameter) objects with awareness for up to 8 people; universal color or shape shift of an object up to 5" with awareness; create detailed sound and images on blank surfaces (images are translucent) for up to 20 willing people within 50 feet; create detailed sound and images for 1 person within 10 feet without awareness, willing or unwilling; remove sight for up to 10 willing people or 5 unwilling (apprx. 10 minutes)
1+
  • Passive: gut feeling if another person within 100 feet sees something different; knowledge of what looks different and how; ability to see through another willing person's eyes regardless of distance
  • Active: distortion for self; distortion for up to 100 willing people (people must be within 100 feet); distortion on objects up to 5 inches diameter without awareness for people within 40 feet of illusion Power (viewer is not aware that anything is different about object); universal distortion on objects up to 4 feet across with awareness; create detailed sound and images (images are opaque; with awareness; willing or not) on any surface for up to 40 people within 100 feet; create detailed sound and images for up to four people within 20 feet without awareness, willing or unwilling; remove sight from up to 40 willing people or up to 10 unwilling (average duration: apprx 1 hr); extended hallucination (willing person may continue to see/hear hallucination for approximately double the length of time that illusion Power was focusing)

Illusion Powers, like music Powers, are often employed in investigations, and are also used in intelligence operations. While higher class illusion Powers could conceivably play movies for their friends (and occasionally do in their down-time), the rarity of high class Powers means they don't do so professionally. However, they have been known to occasionally moonlight during vacations for extremely wealthy clients who are willing to pay outrageously for the experience of a 3-D movie. Such things require official approval (with lots of paperwork) and the government usually takes a cut through a high tax on the experience, but those illusion Powers who do so have been known to make a good vacation/retirement off the deal.

Technology, it is important to note, is not affected by illusion Powers. Because this is a mental Power, it affects the brain's interpretation of input; thus, brainless organisms are unaffected. More intelligent organisms with sophisticated brain structure are usually equally affected as humans, including most mammals and lizards; but those with less sophisticated structure or more alien metal structure, such as squid, insects, and plants, are not affected at all.