Friday, May 26, 2017

Beautiful places

 Publishing news will be late this week.

I find myself thinking about beautiful mosaics this week, such as this one in Praiano, Italy:


Don't know why that's on my mind, just a piece of interesting artistry seen on my honeymoon that has stuck with me.  

Of course, the natural artistry of the town (i.e. its view) is also spectacular.



Speaking of gorgeous natural and man-made scenery, there's a place much closer to home with a view, in Edenton, NC.


It's a lovely little town, full of kind people (who are willing to help a bride and groom on the way to their wedding with a broken-down car!), and has a beautiful salt marsh lighthouse. If you ever go through there near sunset, head out onto the boardwalk and see the lighthouse lit gold under an umber sky. If you're early, check out the Soda Shoppe and get yourself some ice cream.

What's something beautiful you've seen, or always wanted to see?

Hope you have a good Friday! 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Publishing Industry News

This week's publishing news covers 4/28-5/11/17.

Publishing News

 The new Amazon "feature" that allows third parties to "win" the buy box draws ire from publishers, booksellers, authors, and more. Parties who "win" the box become the default purchase option (the books must be offered in "new condition" to qualify, and usually are lower prices than the publishers retail); other sellers are still present but get pushed further down the list, sometimes not automatically shown without clicking for more options. 

The Authors Guild and the Independent Book Publishers Association issue statements against the new Buy-Box policy, pointing out that as customers become by default more likely to buy from third-party sources, authors and publishers lose revenue if the books are obtained from suspect sources (and many parties worry this is likely the case). There are worries that the move also cuts deeply into authors' backlist profits, and the AG and the IBPA speculate (albeit without evidence) about possible future preferential treatment for Amazon's print-on-demand services.

A bookseller sues the state of California over a new law that requires all autographed items sold and valued over $5 to have a certificate of authenticity, with the paperwork backing it, or face liability of substantial penalties, on the grounds that the law makes selling autographed books a substantial burden and violates the First Amendment.

The European Commission introduces new laws on e-book sales in the EU. Amazon must drop its "most favored nation" clause from European contracts; countries can set VAT for e-books to lower levels; geo-blocking is banned (which prevented a customer from buying an e-book from another country to get around licensing restrictions). The first two are lauded by booksellers, while the latter is being considered a matter of concern.

The latest proposed U.S. budget includes increases in the budgets for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities--a complete reversal of the previous proposed budget to eliminate them.


Industry Blogs

More coverage, analysis, speculation, and reactions about the Amazon Buy-Box policy from Huffington PostPublishing Perspectives, Books & Such,(which all decry the move as being bad for authors and worse), and the Digital Reader (which blasts the other articles and offers a counter perspective that the move is pro-consumer and pro-competition).

On Writer Beware, Strauss covers the felony charges brought against the CEO and founder of Tate Publishing & Enterprises, a known vanity publisher, for fraud, extortion, and more. Authors who have complaints with Tate who have not been contacted yet or submitted complaints can still do so.

Agent Nephele Tempest posts writing links for 4/28 and 5/5. Of particular suggestion is Aerogramme Writers' Studio opportunities for writers for May and June. Oh, and a reminder that writers write, but published authors finish.

Author Nathan Bransford posts a This Week in Books for 4/30 and 5/5. He also posts some interesting analysis of query acceptance stats.

Agent Jessica Faust defines synopses and blurbs. She also asks if you really need that prologue--and why there are books still get sold with prologues, even though agents all claim to hate them (hint: it's because yes, they really needed the prologue; and also the prologue really worked).

Agent Janet Reid answers questions and gives advice. If an agent requests a pitch for a book they've previously turned down, should you send it? (Yes.) You've got an offer and you're at the point of asking clients about the agent to see if you'd get along--what do you ask and how do you ask it? (Ask agent for best contact info, but probably e-mail; and how agent is to work with.)

Author Kristine Kathryn Rusch talks branding.

On QueryTracker, the difference between "And then!" plots and "And therefore" plots, and why to avoid the first.

Writing a medical romance (or a novel of any genre in a medical setting)? On the FF&P, suggestions for getting your details right and writing a hospital setting correctly.

Publishers Weekly looks at the success of women in the indie publishing industry, compared to traditional publishing.

What other major publishing news have you encountered in the past couple of weeks?

Friday, May 5, 2017

Busy, Vibrant Spring

Something about May calls busy-ness and calendar claustrophobia, the sensation in which one looks at the calendar and sees so many of the dates filled that it brings a sense of time closing in like falling cavern walls.

But after the cold has locked away the winter, and drudging through the early spring rains has left everyone locking themselves away to avoid the damp, the warm flowery touch of spring evokes a socializing frenzy. People burst free of their isolation and want to greet and play. And of course spring comes with bittersweet goodbyes as the end of a college year leads to masses of motion, followed by joyful hellos at returning friends.

It's meet-and-greet-and-farewell strawberry season, with sweet sunshine lingering through the evening, making days seem longer and giving the illusion that time is eternal. Stagnated bikes and hiking boots see new light and winter weight gets thrashed by the energy of 9 o'clock sunsets. Bright sundresses one would not dare expose in harsh cold get donned again, and cute outfits beg for the see-and-be-seen, bright colors and cheerful fabrics echoing the cheer of flower-strewn sidewalks and trees and cracks in the pavement. Everyone has more verve and more vibrancy, and not using it would be like encouraging stale cheesecake and rotten mangoes, curdled milk and moldy filet mignon.

Spring is a march of hectic energy, a wild free-for-all of things that suddenly can be done again. And yet, it's also the lashing storms and winds of too-much, the deluge of things-to-do. It's vibrant celebration dogged by exhausted collapse, wild flowing rivers a little too close to the banks of human limit for comfort.

Some people thrive on it, and others enjoy it but yearn for the slower pace of sedate summer. Do your springs tremble on the edge of too much, or is it just right, the perfect soil to bring out your best blooms?

Friday, April 28, 2017

Publishing Industry News

This week's publishing news and industry blogs post covers 4/14-4/27/17.


Publishing News

The Register of Copyrights bill passes in the House, and heads to the Senate. This bill, if passed, would allow the president to appoint the next Register of Copyrights, with Senate confirmation, instead of the current structure of the Librarian of Congress appointing the Register; and would enact a 10 year term on the office.


Industry Blogs

Agent Rachelle Gardner explains what's in a publishing contract, and points out the clauses she usually negotiates

Got an offer from one agent, and need to let another know? Agent Jessica Faust explains good and bad ways to phrase your notice-of-offer letter. If an agent hasn't responded to a notification of offer with yea or nay or maybe, should you resend? (Probably; it might have gotten eaten). If you're about to face a time crunch, is okay to shop your novel? (Only if you're really, really good at time management and life juggling; otherwise you're asking to bit off more than you could chew, b/c publishing is a time suck.)

 Agent Kristin Nelson offers Story Openings to Avoid (part 7).

Agent Janet Reid answers questions and gives advice. Don't drive yourself nuts over rejection letters. 

Author Nathan Bransford gives advice on how to set your price when self-publishing. He also offers a This Week in Books for 4/21/17.

On the Editor's Blog, an explanation of using quotes within quotes.

On Publishers Weekly, Laura Dawson talks metadata keywords.

What other major publishing news have you encountered in the past couple of weeks?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Intergalactic Turtles

I thought it was long past time to add a new tidbit. So here's a story of intergalactic turtles:

-----------



Intergalactic turtles breed rarely. The eggs must survive black holes, cosmic radiation, and boundless cold. Best strategy? Find a planet.

The planet did not want to be found. It eschewed regular orbits already, wandering rogue between galaxies. But the turtle knew, when she saw it, that it would host her eggs. It had no atmosphere, no liquid water, no magnetic sphere to protect them. But it had crystals, and those were all she needed, anyway.

Intergalactic turtle eggs are sturdy, after all.

It spun to the left. She spun to the right and expelled air from her flippers until she came just within distance. Gravity did what it does, and while she orbited the rogue now orbiting her, she sought.

Then it was a but a exhalation of reserved gases, and she was upon it, cracking the crystals with a diamond beak, laying her eggs, reassembling the nest.

And then she was gone, for intergalactic turtles have better things to do than to wait for eggs to hatch.

Millennia later, the planet dropped into the range of a warm sun’s gravitational field. It thrashed against the bonds, weaving in and out of planet’s paths, dislodging an ancient orbit older than it, sending a moon into the embrace of a gas giant, disrupting an asteroid field long enough that a new moon grabbed onto a fourth planet. While volcanoes raged at the push-and-pull of the new moon’s settling in, the rogue planet and its precious burden swerved out to nearly the edge of the system, and then paused at a distance just on the edge of the solar system, almost far enough, before the acceleration began the other way.

Plunging closer and closer to the red sun, its crystals turned to rods of destruction, hotter than hot. But the eggs knew, as somehow eggs do, that this was their calling, their moment. And as the planet shot itself past a flare, the eggs began to move, and rock, and hatch.

Creatures as vast as intergalactic turtles do not hatch with the rise and fall of day, but rather the rise and fall of light-years. Only when gravity barely claimed their grounds did they emerge, into a universe cold and empty, light of their new sun nearly invisible at this distance. Their kickoff gave the rogue the final push over the gravity edge, sending it back into the freedom it craved; they, meanwhile, turned their noses toward their star, their very own star, and began a long swim home.

They paused in the asteroids to break their fast, and snacked up space rocks until their shells strained with weight. Then they found the rings of a giant, and slurped up the rainbows that spun around now-moonless gas planet, and thus most were content to continue the journey, except the largest.

She eyed the giant with consideration, and found it pleasing; in the rings was food and in the gases below spun patterns and songs that would light up her existence for eternity. This artist stayed, and the moonless planet had again a moon, for she withdrew into her shell, until ice came around her, and spinning and spinning and spinning she carved it into a sphere, which would draw to her surface any further meals she might need through gravity and time.

Her siblings, meanwhile, swam inward farther. Two parked themselves around the volcanic planet, and tore to shreds the new moon their birthing had unleashed. This filled them enough that they took its place, and so they, too, withdrew to watch, their weights pulling fire into the skies below.

One turtle, last, the smallest, drew herself inward still. There she found a body of frozen water and dust and minerals, the corpse of a planet that once could had been, until the volcano planet settled in to the out, and a water planet settled in to the in. Their bodies pushed and pulled the loosely cohered dust and rock and water until it decided to give up its own existence; and thus the planet that had never been born was reduced to rubble, gradually losing pieces to one or the other of its tormentors.

But the smallest sister devoured the pieces that remained, until she grew fat and heavy in the sky, and then, no longer the smallest, she moved upon the inward planet. This one, heavy with gases and rich with sloshing waters, was too sedate in its orbit to dodge the now-giant. Unlike her sibs she chose, not to watch, but to feast; and so, she drank up the atmosphere, and then to break up her meal, she let herself fall.

The dance of gravity and the anger of acceleration threw the rock into a molten orbit of devastation, splintering it into pieces. But laden with the soul of an unborn planet, she called the pieces back upon her. And gravity and time pulled and shaped and framed her meal around her, an endless buffet that would feed her as she fed from it. When the forces settled she pushed out her head and released her gases, a slow breath out that sent her into a gentle spin.

Her gases did not flee, as she had expected, but instead settled around her, warming and comforting, cradling her ices into melting and running along the channels on her surface. And so she lay her head down to sleep, the intergalactic turtle, munching ever contentedly on the plates that sunk into her jaw, feeding in turn new rock to the lands around her.

There on the surface the shell bloomed a new life, not an egg but a wish of space, a dream of eternity. And the dreamer, as she spun through space, dreamed of the many lives dancing upon her, watched the many songs roll over her, was transfixed by the changes they wrought. She spun a field of magnetism around herself, so that the sun might not harm them; and as they grew more varied and intricate, she stirred her waters and airs to keep things fresh. Occasionally she shifted things around, just a bit, just slowly, to see what they would do and where they go.

Eventually, a time would come for the intergalactic turtles to breed. She might dislodge her entertainment to join them. She would--

She would wave goodbye as her shell-dwellers abandoned her, and flew to find new shells to dance upon. She would delight in the tales they brought back of her siblings and whatever sky cousins they found, as they shared news of life brought forth from other shells across the universe, those lucky turtles who had dared to find just the right spot at just the right distance from just the right sun. She would hide those who remained from the depredations of the spawn of other turtle shells, and hold precious her children to her, for they were hers, and they were beautiful.

She would cherish what she had bourn already, for this was her bounty, and intergalactic turtles did not bear fruit often, even when they left their orbits to mingle among one another.

One day there would be none left upon her shell. If she lived yet, she would mate then. For now, what she had was enough.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Summer approaches

It was a beautiful weekend in our neck of the woods. Warm, sunny, just a touch of lingering coolness before summer moves in with relentless heat. In short, perfect weather for a lovely Easter weekend.

Which is funny, because that's May weather, not April weather. We've had warmer than usual weather this spring, and fewer storms, so I wouldn't be surprised if this summer becomes another drought.

Summer flowers are the upside. And nice beach weather.
Not that I didn't enjoy a perfect weekend. A lady takes full advantage of such things for hikes and bikes and all those outdoors activities.

Still, maybe it's time to start planning to use less water this summer. And make sure there's plenty of sunscreen and the water bottles are in good shape. If you have a magical solution to keeping cool, this would be a good time to break it out.

As long as we head north to Tortall and get ourselves out of the Great Southern Desert... no, wait, Song of the Lioness series. We'll need to send for the Bowl of Winds... no, wait Wheel of Time. Ask Corlath to use his kelar to... The Blue Sword, right. The Spice will flow, and maybe we can use the profit to hire some terraforming. Wait, no, that's Dune.

Looks like there's no magical or available sci-fi solution to this one; guess we'll have to ride it out, turn to long-term science-based solutions, and hope for better next decade. Until then, summer is coming, so prepare yourselves.

And if you're like me and enjoy summer weather, there's no point in not enjoying it while you start cutting back on water waste.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Publishing Industry News

This week's publishing news and industry blogs post covers 3/23-4/13/17.

Publishing News

Amazon will be opening another brick and mortar store, this next one in New York. And it has plans for more. Amazon also gains a foothold in the Middle East.

There is currently a bill in Congress to allow the President to be in charge of selecting the next Register of Copyrights, from a select of 3 candidates chosen by panel populated by 3 members of Congress and the Librarian of Congress. Historically the selection of a Register of Copyright has been performed by the Librarian of Congress. The bill has stalled following a report from the Library of Congress about mismanagement at the Copyright Office.



Industry Blogs

Agent Nephele Tempest posts Friday writing links for 3/24, 3/31, and 4/7.

Agent Jessica Faust posts about her agency's experience with QueryManager. She also offers the Top 10 Reasons Your Query Was Rejected, and also the Top 10 Reasons Your Submission Was Rejected.

Agent Janet Reid answers questions and offers advice. She explains what questions to ask when you get an offer from an agent. Is it okay for an agent to have no social media presence, or is that a red flag? (It's fine, and not a red flag.) If you're offered a chance with a new agent but have doubts, then you're best off admitting that to yourself, and not signing, before you undermine both you and the new agent. Reid also explains about subsidiary rights.

Reid answers more questions and offers more advice. If you get a nice offer, are you expected to quit your dayjob and work fulltime on being an author? (NO, don't quit the dayjob!) She explains what a hands on agent looks like and what a hands off agent looks like. She also explain whats to do if you haven't seen a check from your publisher yet, though you suspect you should have.

Editor Beth Hill explains the use of and and how it affects--and does not affect--temporal relationships. And does not always imply simultaneous action. 

Author Nathan Bransford explains (with links!) what literary agents actually do. He also posts This Week in Books for 4/7/17.

Author Kristine Kathryn Rusch talks about the problem with chasing bestseller lists.

Publishers Weekly tracks how literary nonprofits have responded to cuts in the national budget and to protect free speech and support the arts.

Monday, April 10, 2017

NC Botanical Gardens

It was a busy weekend, a good weekend, a fun weekend. And also it was a weekend in which not all things I had planned got accomplished, including Publishing News. Oops.

But, thanks to the lovely weather, I was able to stock up on springtime flower pictures at the NC Botanical Gardens. I love the gardens (and not just because they don't have limitations on photography beyond "don't squish stuff"), with a beautiful assortment of flowers. Something different is always blooming.

One particularly nice pick this time was the Eastern paintbrush. Most of the paintbrush species is gone in the eastern US, but apparently there was a plant surviving off the side of the road in Orange county, and the employees collected it for "local flowers" area of the gardens. It also has to grow in conjunction with a certain type of grass, so they had to collect that, too. I know my readers out west probably won't think it's anything special, but around here? First time I've ever seen this plant in person.


The columbine is back again, too. I loved this flower before I knew what it was called, because it has a shape that allows light to pass just right, so when the sun hits it, it seems to glow from the inside.

Are there any gardens you go to on a regular basis? Any gardens you particularly love? Where are they, and what are the highlights that really stick out to you?

Friday, April 7, 2017

March Mammal Madness

Publishing news will be late (probably Monday) due to a preponderance of things to do. In the meantime, here's something interesting: March Mammal Madness.

If you're like me and pretty meh about sports, but love science, this is a bracket you'll be all for. I'm just sad I only found it after the official tournament ended. And here's hoping I remember it for next year in time to catch it live.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Mornings and Sleep in Fiction

A dragon's perfect morning.
There are few things more pleasing than passing a quiet morning by sitting in a sunny window with a cup of tea, a cat in the lap, and a book in the hand. Rare treats such as these are the things of weekends and retirement, and I'm nowhere near the latter yet, so I'm afraid most days it's more of a rush.

One thing that always amazes me in fiction is that the characters are usually morning people. They all have the lovely combination of genes that allows them to not feel weighed down and sluggish, still heavy under the weight of melatonin and circadian rhythms that demand the day not start for another hour, not until there's some real sunshine in the atmosphere. Of course, people in fiction are usually immune to sleepiness anyway, so perhaps there's no surprise there.

What it does mean is that when characters are tired, it usually has a purpose. In The Blue Sword, it's when she's half-drowsing that Harry has visions of Aerin. And that's not the only one--dreams, visions, prophecies all seem to swarm around sleep scenes.

Where does sleep fit into stories you read? What notable characters are not morning people? And what's your idea of the perfect morning?

Friday, March 31, 2017

Dragon Hoards

It almost looks like an impressive pile... until you realize
that's the window sill and get a sense of scale.
It probably comes as no surprise, if you've been following my blog for a while, that I enjoy shiny things like gemstones. If I were a dragon, my cave would be filled with jewels, art, tea, and books. Oh, and obviously, friends to help enjoy all of these things.

As it is, my apartment is full of books, tea, art prints, and a couple of handfuls of flawed crystals that glitter in the sun. Hey, citrine, amethyst, and smoky quartz are all both pretty and affordable!

What would be in your hoard, if you were a dragon with a large cave and could hoard anything?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Scene Breaks and Audiobooks

Scene break transitions are portals to a new scene,
but if you don't see the door, how do you know you're
in a new room?
One thing I've found about audiobooks is that not all of them have smooth transitions. I'm talking problems with scene breaks, where a half-breath extra pause doesn't seem enough to put you in a new scene.

I never really thought about auditory transitions in a book before listening to audiobooks, because it's pretty obvious when you're reading.

But a visual scene change is entirely different from an auditory one. It makes me wonder how many writers have a plan for scene transitions when they write. Chapter breaks are usually announced by a tone, but scene changes?

Of course, the voice artist plays a big part in this. A really skilled actor or actress can pause just right to cue a switch to a new time or location. But it seems like this is the sort of a thing a writer can work ask for, and maybe help plan for.

Have you listened to any audiobook that does in-chapter scene breaks well? What did they do?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Publishing Industry News

This week's publishing news and industry blogs post covers 3/9-3/23/17.


Publishing News

Educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt begins restructuring.

The proposed presidential budget for 2018 eliminates funding to the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, as well as the Institutes of Museum and Library Services. Small publishers express concern, especially over the NEA cuts.

Wattpad partners with Hachette to poduce Wattpad-book audiobooks.


Industry Blogs

 Agent Jessica Faust has suggestions for making the most of publishing networking events, even if you're a nervous introvert. She also explains--sort of--why books can be hard to get and more expensive due to foreign rights.

Agent Janet Reid gives advice and answer questions. Must it be called a manuscript instead of a novel? (No, novel is fine.) Is it okay to send thank-yous for rejections? (Yes, but not required or expected, especially for form rejections.) If your agent sends you a copy of the pitch letter they'll be using, should you critique it? (No.) If you get a response on a project while another is read by another agent, what do you do? (Inform the first agent that second project is being looked at.) How do you stay published with lackluster sales?

Reid gives more advice. If you can't intern at an agency, or network with the publishing world, you should not become an agent until you can--the background and network are part of the job. How well can a pen name protect your anonymity? (Not all that well from serious, technologically proficient people, but decently for most purposes.) She also shares 6 reasons agents say no. Do agents care if you don't live in the US? (No; they care about the writing.)

Agent Nephele Tempest posts writing links for 3/10, which include a searchable database for writing contests for 2017.

Agent Kristen Nelson talks about what to do when your books are translated and sold in a country that does not uphold copyright laws.

Author Nathan Bransford talks about what makes a good editor.

At the Books and Such Literary Agency blog, some tips on secondary characters.

What other major publishing news have you encountered the past two weeks?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Pi and Pie

How many of you celebrated pi day last week, on March 14? It's the math holiday that's delicious, and if you're like me, you're just waiting for the Supernatural episode where Dean pulls out his geek and demands he and Sam celebrate pi day the traditional way, with as much pie as possible.

Also, whoops, I was perhaps still distracted by thinking about how to up my strawberry-banana crisp recipe to remember Friday's post! Sorry! (I'm thinking I'll do half the filling sugar as brown sugar and add a touch of cornstarch, in case you're wondering.) And take two of the spinach-gruyere quiche turned out just as delicious, even though we forgot shallots and added broccoli, and used frozen spinach instead of fresh (sauted with habanero salt and pepper), and obviously used a store-bought crust (because who's got time for making it yourself?). But yeah, not writing blog posts, that's what I was forgetting. Oops.

Any round dessert will do, really.
What's your favorite pie? (Including "pie" for things that aren't technically pie, but close enough for Pi Day purposes.) Do you celebrate any other math or science holidays, like Mole Day?

And if you missed Pi Day, don't worry. You can always celebrate Pi + 1, on April 14. After all, there's no rule that says you surrender your love of pie just because it's not on a mathematically approved dessert day. Plus there's always Pythagorean Day, coming up in August this year... How about a little triangular cake for that one?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Daylight Saving Zombism-Fighting Tips

Chances are, if you're in a country that observes Daylight Saving Time, you're groggy this morning.

Fight the zombism with some interesting info:

A list of scientists born on March 13, and a few inventions/discoveries
Read up on the latest science news at Science News.
Myths and Truths about Daylight Savings Time from CNN (if you don't have AdBlock, this link makes noise)

Get some random facts at the Random Fact Site.
Or join me in pretending to be on the beaches
in Capri today, eating delicious Italian food.

And if you're not happy to be at work today, pretend you're somewhere else by browsing amazing travel adventures at places like G-Adventures or National Geographic Adventures. (Sure, I'm totally in shape enough to go sea kayaking, hiking, biking, and horseback riding in New Zealand, or climb Mount Kilimanjaro... And if you believe that, I'll pretend I can afford to do it, too.)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Publishing Industry News

This week's publishing news and industry blogs post covers 2/19-3/9/17.  It's been a bit slow these past three weeks, so a nice short reading list this time around.

Publishing News

Amazon opens its first brick and mortar store on the East Coast, in Massachusetts.



Industry Blogs

Author Nathan Bransford posts a The Last Few Weeks in Publishing for 2/17.

At Books and Such Literary Agency blog, an explanation of what an Editorial Style Sheet is, and why it's important.

Agent Kristen Nelson has her first reader, Jamie Persichetti, pipe in on why the phrase "has diverse characters" in your query letter is not really a selling point (even though diverse characters are).

Editor Beth Hill on the Editor's Blog talks about picking the right words for character's regional dialect--diction, not accent.

Author Janet Reid gives advice and answer questions. Don't pay an agent to edit a query letter.  How much should you pay to hire a publicist if you do? (Consider how effective they are and what your goals are.) If an agent requested a revise & resubmit, but changed agencies, what should you do? (E-mail to the direct e-mail if you have it; but also continue querying other agents as the agent may be looking for new things now.)

Author Kristine Kathryn Rusch talks about how she manages a writing career while dealing with chronic health problems. She also discusses money management as an indie author.

A defense of the IDFP-W3C merger as a positive move, by a writer at Publishers Weekly.

What other major publishing industry news have you encountered in the past couple of weeks?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Breath of the Wild, again

Zelda evaluation, after a weekend: Still wow.

Official website here
Once you get out of the starter area, it's really open world. There's a suggested "where to go," but I ran around and completed the quest in another part of the world instead. Since you scrounge for your weapons, you aren't limited by having to get special quest items before taking on each major area. Though the first few battles fought with boko clubs are pretty rough... Well, let's just say goofing off and exploring are good ways to get skilled at dodging and shield using.

Which is indeed the good side of the weapons setup. It has indeed grown on me, because it wouldn't be possible to do this game so very open-world style if you had the traditional "complete quest, gain next item, which is the only way to advance to the next region" weapon-obtainment style. This way you can upgrade your items to suit your area. I mean, sometimes you'll inconveniently run out of weapons, or find yourself facing off with a creature too strong to defeat with your current clubs and swords and axes and bows, but you can always run away from those.

The limited weapons cache is the biggest hurdle to this method of play. Luckily, there is a way to increase it... if you can find him. Look for Hestu, is what I'm saying. And don't bother with increasing shield space. Of all the things I go through, shields last the longest and are easiest to replace. I do pretty well on bows, too; it's not a bad idea to increase that, but my experience says the best choice is melee weapon space.

Also, horses. You can ride horses. Not just an assigned Epona, but any horse you can catch! And tame. That's also important. Yup, I got bucked off a few times. Word of warning, if you leave your horse behind, it does not have super hearing, so if you're too far away when you call for it, it will not come. This means my Link has done quite a bit of running, because I keep flying away... Oops! Save some of those apples, because you can feed them to your ride as an apology for abandoning it to the wolves.

The dungeons and mini-dungeons (shrines) in this game are less combat-focused than other versions of Zelda I've played. They're almost exclusively puzzles, or with a single combat thrown in, and so far even the major dungeon had just the one boss fight. The puzzles are cute, and I'm enjoying them greatly; I think this is my favorite take on dungeons yet.

On the whole, the more I play, the more I love the game. I die a lot (a LOT), but the auto-save is good, so I don't get set back far. This is shaping up to be one of the best of the series. Can't wait to see where it goes next!

Friday, March 3, 2017

First thoughts of Breath of the Wild

If you're a Zelda fan, it's no surprise to you that Breath of the Wild is pretty.

My husband was not willing to forgo this toy. I have
no complaints.
My husband and I set up two TVs side by side, so we've been able to compare the Wii U version with the Switch version. There is a noticeable difference. The Switch version is better textured, and the graphics just a bit cleaner and sharper, so if you're looking for pretty, go for that one.

That said, if you have a Wii U and don't feel like going in for a Switch, and your spouse is willing to forgo the pretty, bad-tasting toy, it's the same game, and the controls are similar enough that you won't miss out. So far the graphics are the only difference.

It's pretty open world in the beginning, more so than a lot of the other games in the series. Yes, there's a person pointing which way you should go, and there are defined limits to where you can go, but these limits are much broader than most of the series. And nobody's forcing you to get on with the plot. You want to go run around the forest cooking? Go for it!

That said, if you don't at least start the plot, disembodied voices do try to usher in that direction. Once you've gotten the first plot point down, you're free to explore. Your first four mini-dungeons are basically your freebies to learning the world. (I can't tell you what happens after that, since I've only finished three...)

Also, hunting. You get to hunt down your own pigs and birds and turn them into steaks and drumsticks. And then cook with them. Link's cooking song is adorable. And since you won't find hearts lying around, you really should cook, because that's the only way to heal (so far).

You can also climb, and climb anything, which is honestly a bit freaky when Link starts scaling ice... You don't need vines or anything that looks like a "climb here" format. You're in control of your jumping with a button instead of an auto jump, which is bit different from the other games in the series, because really, no auto jump at all.

Equipping is an interesting affair because you have a lot of options (nothing beats killing an enemy with its own weapon, or better yet, the wriggling arm of a skeleton). But I'm not fond of the weapons breaking, which can be inconvenient in battle. I think I prefer having a little less choice in the weapons department, to be honest, and not having to deal with weapon after weapon flying into shards mid-battle. Still, it is fun and an interesting style of play, so once I'm used to it, I may warm up to it.

On the whole, after 5 hours, it's beautiful, it's fun, and I'm going to go back to playing until I can't keep my eyes open any more.

Which, honestly, won't be much longer... G'night, folks!

Late post

Today's post will be coming later tonight, and will probably be ravings about the new Zelda game. Breath of the Wild, eagerly awaited...

Monday, February 27, 2017

Colorful Nature

Feeling a bit dreary? How about some color?

Everyone expects pansies to be colorful. Rivers and
mountains? Not so much.
As in, check out the rainbow mountains of China's Danxia Landform Geological Park.

Have you ever seen a rainbow tree? There are eucalyptus trees that naturally grow in rainbow colors.

Or how about some rainbow animals?

And let's not forget the "River of Five Colors" in Columbia.

As weird and fantastic as fantasy is, sometimes the real world creates color so vibrant we'd never believe it in a movie. But it's fun to imagine putting some of these colorful plants, animals, and minerals into a book or a video game anyway.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Things learned from bread baking

Things learned from bread-baking adventures:

Friday night's failed-to-rise bread and Saturday morning's second attempt:

Saturday morning's attempt post-taste-test (verdict: success!). Looked up what to do with failed-to-rise bread; discovered a new recipe. Ingredients for Sunday evening's apple bread pudding:





Sunday evening's apple bread pudding:
Success! And very delicious.



Moral of the story: Failure might be demoralizing in the short term, but it's part of the learning process, and can become an ingredient to achieving a later success. Sometimes you wind up with something you never expected, and find out it's delicious and wonderful, and yet it would have never happened if you hadn't made an error in the first place.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Publishing Industry News

This week's publishing news and industry blogs post covers 2/3-2/19/17.

Publishing News

Romance publisher Samhain Publishing will be officially shutting down on February 28.

The Authors Guild issues a statement promising to maintain vigilance during the current political climate, condemning the executive order banning refugees from seven predominately Muslim countries and the rumored possibility of the dissolution of several federal arts agencies.


Industry Blogs

On Writer Beware, Victoria Strauss posts warnings about Loiacono Literary Agency, Swetky Literary Agency, and Warner Literary Group.

Agent Nephele Tempest posts Friday links for 2/10 and 2/17.

Agent Jessica Faust at BookEnds chastises writers for not sending submissions when they get a request on a query. She also shares her manuscript wish list for 2017.

Author Kristine Kathryn Rusch reminds writers the problem with turning for help to someone whose career and voice doesn't match yours, and to remember to look at the big picture.

Agent Janet Reid answers questions and offers advice. She explains why "I never give up" may not be a good thing from an agent. Is it rude to hire an outside publicist? (Communicate early and you'll be fine; it's your career so worry more about success.)

An article on Publishers Weekly as to how indie bookstores use backlist, and how they balance those older books with newly published sellers.

What other major publishing news have you encountered in the past couple of weeks?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Fish market

Publishing news will be up this weekend.

Until then, enjoy a visual tour of a Taiwanese fish market.


Fresh fish--really fresh!



Just steam and eat.



Or have some dried fish.










Does this make any other sushi lovers hungry?


Upstairs is a restaurant where they'll cook some
of the bounty up and serve it to you.