Monday, May 23, 2016

Fangirl subjects

Most people have a fangirl or fanboy subject: something they'll at least try to read or watch just because it's about that subject, regardless of how cheesy it looks or how mediocre the reviews.

Me? I'll usually try just where the dragon is on the hero's side.

What's yours?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Keeping the Mind Occupied

Where do you go when you're doing something tedious? Not literally; I mean, where do you go in your mind?

The benefit of two monitors at the day job is that when a task requires some less-than-inspiring work before the fun, challenging parts begin, I can put up pictures of vacations or places I'd like to go. I'm a traveler, so the pictures change frequently. In the morning I might be in Greece, in the afternoon, Taiwan.

The view from Taipei 101
Our office is super-quiet, so chatting with the coworkers isn't much of an option. Making up stories about what I'm doing on vacation, on the other hand, is perfectly allowable and keeps my mind occupied, and at least gives my imagination some exercise. (Which may or may not be related to how I wound up writer, actually...)

So how do you cope when you have similar work to do?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Old-fashioned manners

Formality seems to mean "old style" these days. I never realized how old-fashioned formal events were until addressing wedding invitations, and realizing etiquette apparently requires hearkening back to the "Mr. and Mrs. Man's Name" style. Even if the gentleman in question is the spouse of the longtime friend, and it's really the lady who is the primary invitee (of course the gentleman is also a lovely person, but still, he's not the one getting shoved into a particular dress or anything).

It just feels weird.

Most people unconsciously pick up on this, and in courts and other depictions of fancy events, the characters tend to speak and act in styles that feel more 'old-fashioned' than the rest of the time. It sets the tone (formal situation) and gives an air of gravity to the scene. In stories that are set in archair tone anyway, rituals or ritualistic speeches, some of which may have lost meaning to the characters, help provide this same function.

It's also a way of letting a reader know when a character is old-fashioned in thoughts themselves. If they speak in older styles, they're out of place, or stuck in the past. It's a useful tool for characterization, and can be used both positively--someone who still believes in kindness, who believes in heroes, who stands up for what is right. like Captain America--or negatively--someone who is hidebound and unwilling to change, who holds on to old stereotypes and prejudices despite the moving world, like Lucius Malfoy. (As always, context is everything!)

What are some other purposes for old-fashioned manners and settings in fiction? What characters can you think of, both good and bad, whose old-fashioned mannerisms really define them?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Publishing Industry News

This week's publishing news and industry blogs post covers 4/15-5/15.

I missed the last post, so this post will be not as in-depth on the blogs as usual. Just the highlights, because we only have so much reading time in a day!

Publishing News

The Supreme Court has decided not to take the Authors Guild vs Google case, aka the Google book-scanning case. (Publisher Weekly also publishes an analysis on what this means.)

In the Georgia State e-reserves case, GSU requests recompense for fees and costs. The publishers who originally sued GSU have meanwhile renewed their request for new evidence. Also, the ruling judge further clarifies her ruling.

Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, releases the 2015 statistical analysis of e-book sales.

CEO and founder of Barnes and Noble, Leo Riggio, will be retiring in September.

Wattpad goes Hollywood.

Industry Blogs

On Writer Beware,  Victoria Strauss warns authors away from Pegasus Books of California (not of New York), Realmwalker Publishing Group, Spectral Press, and Tickety Boo Press for an assortment of issues. She also warns authors to ignore the spam from Inkitt.

Agent Nephele Tempest offers some Friday links for 5/6.

There was talk among publishers at Book Expo America about the possibility of introducing a single author royalty rate across all book formats.

Agent Kristen Nelson reminds writers most authors don't publish the first book they write.

Agent Jessica Faust notes that "Two different genres" might not always be so different after all.

Agent Janet Reid offers advice. She talks about what to do after the offer and before accepting the offer. And how to handle it if, after getting an offer that you eventually rejected, you want to put yourself back in the running with other agents. In fact, in almost all awkward multi-agent interactions, your best bet is to be polite and honest. She also provides a list of what goes into author-agency agreements.

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

Monday, May 9, 2016

Spirit of Adventure

Seriously, coated in flowers. It used to be a sand dune,
but sand dunes aren't stable enough for memorials, so they
planted stuff to make sturdy enough to build a monument.

Spent a long weekend in the Kitty Hawk area, including a visit to the Wright Brothers National Memorial, which this time of year is coated in flowers.

The "First in Flight" monument is dedicated to the Orville brothers' first successful controlled flights. Which leads me to think about just how cool, how fascinating, how terrifying it must have been. Lots of people died trying out inventions, but so many were so dedicated to things like "humans surely can fly" that they kept trying anyway.

I think that's part of what I like about steampunk stories. It has that can-do spirit, that determination to succeed even if it involves risking your own neck, that high-stakes adventure... and also, since it's fiction, the surety that no one real gets harmed. Yeah, that last part is pretty nice.

The spirit of adventure is one of the driving forces behind my love of fiction. It's also a fundamental plot: the hero sets off in search of adventure! (and also some other driving force, like discovering herself, or finding her real parents, or saving her family from crazy magic).

Do you ever imagine yourself in a steampunk world, on the edge of some amazing discovery? What "crazy" invention would you be working on?

Monday, May 2, 2016

What to do with strawberries...

It's strawberry season here in NC.

U-pick farms offer all-you-can-carry treasure-hunting magic. Sure, it's weighed per pound, but it's cheaper than store berries. The main danger is trying to resist picking just one more ripe, sweet, perfect ruby.

Remade this recipe.
Which is how I wound up making pie this weekend.

And some of my friends wound up making jam.

'Tis the season!