Friday, June 16, 2017

Flower Rainbow

After checking my Google album, I realized I had collected over 1000 flower pictures for my #floweraday posts on G+. So in celebration of exceeding 1k flowers, here's a flower rainbow!

May your day be colorful, and touched by joy and beauty.  

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.