Gray Down's Feathers

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24th July 2011

7:20pm: Looking for a good home
I'm trying to get rid of Rachel's old cage before I move:
http://lawrence.craigslist.org/fuo/2511072892.html

It's really a very nice cage, with a veranda and a porch and plenty of space. I'm willing to negotiate the price, but I probably can't deliver it anywhere too far away.

6th June 2011

3:06pm: Buy My Book
Ok, party people, I have a request for you all. Go to this link:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1409417917/parsec-inks-triangulation-last-contact-anthology

That's the anthology that my story, "Lord God Bird," will be appearing in. IF they get enough pledges to actually go to press. You're basically just signing up to buy a copy of the book (or copies of all five of the Triangulation anthologies, depending on how much you want to pay). If you can't donate, then spread the link around.

Thank you all!
Current Mood: cheerful

29th March 2011

5:35pm: Surgeon General's Warning
Maybe I just missed it, but I don't recall any of you warning me that this Tamora Pierce stuff was habit-forming.

I started First Test on Saturday. Now I'm halfway through Page.

29th January 2011

1:20pm: Public Service Announcement
Hey party people -- I'm doing most of my blogging over at www.sarah-frost.com these days. There is a way to crosspost those entries here, but it involves turning this into a paid account, which I can't afford. (This account is one of the old ones that is both free and ad-free.)

My new blog is supposed to be more professional. YMMV. I will probably still post here now and then.

5th January 2011

11:04pm: The Good Kind of Hugo
The Hugo nomination ballots are out! I've been asked for recommendations, so here's a list of my picks. I could also use some advice on some of these categories -- Novella and Novelette, for example. I mean, there's The Life-Cycle of Software Objects, but it's hardly Ted Chiang's best work... anyway. My picks.

Novel:
Gaslight Dogs, by Karin Lowachee. I thought this one would be steampunk, but no. It's a really hard book to describe. Sort of... an alternate-world redo of the Indian Wars with a hyper-narrow focus centering on a battle of wills between three people, in which a young girl from the Arctic tribes is brought to a Victorian-style city and told to teach a young soldier how to use magic. Only it's more complicated than that. Beautifully written, it ends on a very strange note that I think will leave some people unsatisfied. I loved it.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N. K. Jemisin. Just go read all the other nice things people have said about this book. The bit about the spots still makes me laugh.

Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal. Regency romance with magic isn't my genre of book at all. Not even close. I'm just desperately jealous of her words -- how she always has exactly the right words. This might actually be too short for the novel category, though.

Who Fears Death, by Nnedi Okorafor. I didn't think I could read this one. It was intense. Dr. Okorafor assured me that it ended well, and... it did. Somehow. I wept for these characters. Aside from Dr. Okorafor's books, I haven't read anything set in this part of Africa and written from inside the cultures. This is also one of those books that mocks the line between science fiction and fantasy. I love it for that, too.

Habitation of the Blessed, by Catherynne M. Valente. If you only read one of these books, let it be this one. It's Cat Valente wondering what would happen if the legend of Prester John had been real -- if all the wondrous places and people in the medieval bestiaries were real -- and how do you rule a nation where everyone can drink from the Fountain of Youth? I wouldn't have stopped reading this book if I hadn't run out of pages.

Novella & Novelette...? No idea. I need to figure out what I've read that actually qualifies.

Short Story:

Seeing, by Genevieve Valentine. Hard science fiction written like poetry. This is the kind of story that demands that the rest of the genre live up to its standards.

Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain, by Yoon Ha Lee. A story about the most terrible weapon ever created, and the woman who wields it. Yoon Ha Lee doesn't get half the love she deserves. I don't think I've ever caught all the details of one of her stories on my first reading.

Futures in the Memories Market, by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. An old question in science fiction is: what is a person if not the sum of their memories? In this case, add love and corporate greed... Rarely have I seen men written this well, in science fiction or out of it.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time, by Catherynne M. Valente. A deeply personal story with the sweep of legends and the scientific precision of the hardest SF. Also, gorgeous prose. It doesn't have a whelk's chance in a supernova, but I don't care.

Beach Blanket Spaceship, by Sandra McDonald. Included because it made me cry, like a really good Twilight Zone episode. This is my iffiest short story pick -- I might sub it out for Names of Water by Kij Johnson.

Best Related Work -- Adventures in SciFi Publishing? Geek's Guide to the Galaxy? Radio Free Skaro? I have no idea.

Best Graphic Story. Not sure about this one. I picked out the most recent volumes of Ooku: The Inner Chamber, Digger, and Girl Genius. I don't read much in the way of graphic stories.

Dramatic Presentations... I think the last movie I saw in the theater was Sherlock Holmes, and I don't really watch TV anymore. I certainly don't watch Films. ;)

Best Editor, Short Form.
So apparently Sheila Williams has never won a Hugo? We should fix that. The things she edits keep winning Hugos, after all. My other picks for this category at the moment are Catherynne M. Valente and Cat Rambo.

Best Pro Artist
Mark Evans, of course; he did the art for my story! ;) But also Ursula Vernon, whose appearance in Spectrum 17 I believe qualifies her for this category. She is brilliant.

Semiprozine
I actually care about this one, for all that I only have two nominees. First is Escape Pod, otherwise known as the podcast that got me back into short fiction. They play the best stuff, and have for years. They pay their authors pro rates, they have a PDF version with stories, reviews, and fact articles.

My other choice in this category is Clarkesworld. See how many of my favorite short stories are from Clarkesworld? That's why.

Fanzine
Who else? StarShipSofa. Because WE ARE ALL TONY C. SMITH!

... no, I'm not sleep deprived. Why? I wish we could give Kate Baker an award for her readings on the Clarkesworld podcast. Best Dramatic Presentation, maybe? Only it's not drama, it's a reading... I don't know. Your thoughts? Picks?
Current Mood: excited

16th November 2010

5:10pm: What I Do
I have not posted on LJ for a while because

1) I'm writing, dammit.
2) Baen put the entire career of Miles Vorkosigan on the internet. I haven't jonesed this hard for a character since Harry Dresden.
3) I'm blogging at Escape Pod now. I'm trying to get a backlog going, but they post my reviews as fast as I can send them. Eep.
4) My podcast, the Voice of the Vortex, takes up a lot of the stuff I'd otherwise blog about.
5) WRITING, DAMMIT.
6) and by "writing" I mean "reading blogs and/or Miles Vorkosigan"

8th November 2010

9:34pm: Japan is All Animated Anyway
I was sympathetic to the whole Avatar: The Last Airbender racefail, but it was never my show so I didn't have the... visceral reaction that a lot of people did.

Only now apparently some white guy is being considered for the role of Kaneda in a live-action Akira. And it kind of breaks my brain. Are there NO Japanese actors in California? Really? Really?

Oh, and it's being moved to New York. Because the whole atomic bomb thing wasn't that important, right?

Gr. May this movie die swiftly, before anything unfortunate gets filmed.
Current Mood: annoyed

6th November 2010

1:07pm: Eyes in their Chest
I just finished "Warrior's Apprentice." Miles is awesome, so long as he's not moping about how he can't get girls (by which he doesn't mean he can't get any girls, just that he can't get the ones he wants). I kind of want to throw my half-written novel aside and write a space opera.

I'm working on the next episode of Voice of the Vortex. Talking at a microphone is more fun than I'd imagined, once I get going and my voice smooths out. By then I've run out of things to talk about. It's standing at 11 minutes right now -- I always lose some time in the editing process, because I cut the silence at the beginning and end of each segment out. Next episode will have flash fiction. Jamie Lackey has given me permission to use some of her stuff -- she's the woman who wrote "Toast".

2nd November 2010

10:42pm: Barnacle Geese
The barnacle is named for the barnacle goose. No one in medieval Europe had ever seen a baby barnacle goose (because these geese migrate to the Arctic to breed), but they had found strange looking crustaceans clinging to driftwood. Being medieval scholars, they concluded that barnacles were a kind of fruit that grew into barnacle geese.

In other news, I'm trying to read Young Miles. Bothari should have been taken out and shot. That Miles tolerates his presence speaks to his character.

1st November 2010

3:41pm: I don't see how this could possibly go wrong
I'm back from World Fantasy Con! That was intense. I decided to go as A Professional Author, and I'm very glad I did. I think I met one person who was not involved with the publishing industry somehow -- most of the people I met were professional writers.

It was intense. I was evangelized by Clarion graduates (which descended into an internecine struggle between Clarion vs. Clarion West). I promised John Scalzi that I'd join SFWA. I met Cat Valente after her reading and found myself speechless. Genevieve Valentine turned out to be the most talented giver of readings that I have ever had the pleasure to listen to -- I must have her book, Mechanique, when it comes out next year. And on, and on. I met Elizabeth Bear and Mary Robinette Kowal and Ted Chiang signed his novella, "The Lifecycle of Software Objects," for me. I went to the Tor party and talked to Paolo again and he told me where they were hiding the good cider.

I came home with... books. You walk in to World Fantasy and they hand you your badge in a badge holder, your water bottle in its tote, your paperwork, and a sack of books. TEN books. I only brought twelve books home, which I consider a victory. My luggage weighed exactly 50 lbs.

The one book I intended to buy no matter what was Habitation of the Blessed by Cat Valente. It's about a character named Prester John -- a man who didn't exist, despite five hundred years of belief in him. I am in awe of Cat Valente's writing. I don't have words. She does. All the best words. I haven't cracked this book yet -- the last novel I finished was a slog, and I wasn't up for anything challenging -- but it's next on my list.

The novel I am currently reading is Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal. I was afraid that I would not like this book. I started it when I got to the airport this morning. Now I am almost finished because I cannot tear myself away.

I shall write more later. Other things happened. I've been up since 4 am and I am not totally coherent yet.
Current Mood: groggy

25th October 2010

8:27pm: Never Learn
Today, I confronted a package of mushrooms, two small bell peppers, and some unidentified leafy green thing ('asian stir-fry greens'). And we needed dinner, so...

Risotto. And it was actually pretty good. The weird greens are weirdly sweet and bitter at the same time.

--

My novel doesn't have enough words. I am working on that, but it is going slowly. I finished the rough draft of chapter ten today. I estimate that I have about 16,000 words. That is not enough.

No, I'm not doing Nanorimo.

--

Got my flu vaccine last week. It's the only decent thing to do. Even if they guess wrong on the virus this year, odds are good that I'll have some measure of immunity to it. Cross-reactions can be your friend. Besides, I'm flying to Columbus soon. It's one less thing to worry about in the germ zoo -- I mean airport.

--

World Fantasy Convention, OMG yay!

--

I got the best rejection letter from Realms of Fantasy. It's a xerox of a handwritten note thanking me for my interest and telling me that they are ceasing operations and that I should consider my manuscript released.

The editor signed it by hand. I'm definitely keeping this one.

18th October 2010

8:32pm: The Beam
So who here has heard of the North American Discworld Convention?

... thought so. Well, the woman who helped found it is going blind. And she needs to have some experimental surgery done to keep her eyes from getting worse. Trouble is, she's poor, so she can't pay for it. She's going to have the surgery anyway -- anything is better than blind, if she wants to keep writing.

Here's Cleo with the details, and paypal accounts, if you're so inclined
Current Mood: weird

9th October 2010

11:24pm: Indigo
I sometimes fear that I may not be an artist.

I've been reading William Gibson's new book. It's weird, reading books at this point in my own training as a writer. I flash in and out of them, seeing the author's technique in one paragraph and hoping that Milgrim isn't going to screw up the bit with the taser in the next. It's a bit like looking at one of those magic eye pictures, where there's a palm tree floating in the page one second, and colorful visual noise the next.

But anyway. Gibson writes about artists. Mad artists. Secretive artists. Brilliant, beautiful artists. And I go to my computer thinking, "yes, I can be one of them. I will take my rather pedestrian science fiction and spin away into the ether. I shall do art."

And then I remember that I still haven't swept this latest draft for barnyard metaphors. And I need to look up whether NASA uses you-me or me-you on the radio. (You-me, as it turns out, despite insisting that they're civilians.)

Anyway. Time to get back to it.
Current Mood: working

8th October 2010

9:42pm: Out of Cake
The blinking question mark inside the folder icon is the Macintosh way of giving you the middle finger. My Mac is therefore in the shop waiting for a brain transplant. We cannot permit this sort of disobedience from our precious objects.

I have complete backups. I do not make these mistakes twice. Nevertheless, it will be hard to be without my two big screens and my endless entertainment for what might end up being and entire weekend. The Voice of the Vortex will be late. I shall record an apology to podcast in its place.

Naturally I'm full of inspiration tonight, when all my files are temporarily unavailable (NOT gone). It is time for the fourth draft of Space Whale (which won't be called that when it goes to print). Part of that is reading that apparently some dumbshits don't think Cat Valente writes science fiction. No, I'm not going to be nice about this.

1) It was about Mars
2) It was published in Lightspeed Magazine
3) Science fiction is what science fiction writers write.

So far all my (one) published work is hard science fiction. It's a difficult genre, but I feel like I have to succeed there in order to be taken seriously anywhere else. Growing up on a diet of Clarke and Asimov has certain effects.

Another thing I'm not going to be nice about? Insults to my choice of computer. This? Is not the nineties. Insulting someone's prized possessions? Makes you an asshole. All it does is reveal how little the would-be bully knows about the following:

a) me
b) computers

I have complete backups. This is an inconvenience, not a disaster. I may have strategically placed my chair in front of my desk to conceal the gaping hole where my glorious screen used to be. It might be back as early as tomorrow. I hope.
Current Mood: anxious

2nd October 2010

11:00pm: Frames
The trouble with writing aliens is that I inevitably come to a point where the aliens have to react to something -- and I have no frame of reference to tell me how they're going to react. They're not human, nor base on anything with terrestrial biology, so how they react is entirely up to me. Whatever I choose will be one of the only data points my readers have to use when figuring out my aliens.

My protagonist is shouting at them, demanding that they do something which they know, not only with religious fervor, but with generations' worth of experience, will lead them to a slow and horrible death. So... what do they do?

A predator race might kill her.
A fearful race might kill her, too.
They could restrain her. Silence her. Try to reeducate her.

With a human, I could say, "what have other humans done in this circumstance?"

With aliens, it's a bit more complicated.
Current Mood: creative

12th September 2010

8:18pm: One Half of a Conversation
At some point I will post a long post about what I did this weekend. In the meantime, I will post a conversation.

"Have you see the new album cover from Die Antwald?"

"No, I..."

"I'm not sure they're a real band. They might be a hoax that BoingBoing made up."

"Well, I..."

"She's wearing a weasel bra."

28th August 2010

11:20am: Butterflies
So, Genevieve Valentine. She has a story up at Strange Horizons, called Bespoke, which is about costuming, time travel, and historical accuracy. I do recommend it. The audio version is up at Podcastle. Also her blog is kind of awesome.
Current Mood: cheerful

19th August 2010

5:22pm: So Wrong
In a very special episode of "That Bucket of Sand Won't Save You Now," watch as all sorts of things burn in a stream of cold fluorine. My favorite is the sulfur -- not only are the flames an exciting and eerie color, but molten sulfur is cherry-red and oozes like sugar syrup.

Smells rather worse, though.

And now, the video!

Did I mention that he puts fluorine in a clear tube so you can see it?
Current Mood: cheerful

18th August 2010

8:54pm: Doctor!
My computer is having Issues. The problem is, I can't get enough stuff shut down at once to do a proper disk-doctoring. In the interests of moving towards that goal, here are a few things I promised to link to.

Heralds of Valdemar dress whites
Dress whites v. 2
Field whites

And the blog that was making me giggle like a small crazy thing at dinner:
Hyperbole and a Half
Home of the Alot.
Current Mood: silly

11th August 2010

4:35pm: Internet Famous
My podcast is live!

It's called "The Voice of the Vortex" and it's available on iTunes and through PodBean.com. I'm podcasting about science, speculative fiction, and what us Midwesterners are up to that relate to science and SF. Yes! No more relying on New Englanders for our SF news!

I'm going to have info about KaCSFFS and Naka-kon and all sorts of good things. Maybe do a field trip to the Cosmosphere. Oh yes. This will be mighty.

That's Voice of the Vortex, available now on iTunes! Go and listen to my Announcer Voice! It only sounds a little bit like John Hodgman on helium!
Current Mood: ecstatic

6th August 2010

12:29am: To Read List
You need to go read Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time over at Clarkesworld. Seriously, just go.

Or listen to the podcast. It's a damned good podcast.
Current Mood: restless

3rd August 2010

10:08pm: Ooh, Burn
Hastings doesn't have any Mythbusters videos for rent, alas.

Dave and I did have our own little Mythbusters moment in the parking lot, though. As we arrived, huge clouds of white something were rising out of a sad little car. Dave insisted that it was steam until we got close enough to see the flames. The source of the fire was under the hood, but molten plastic was dripping off the front of the car and burning happily on the pavement. Dave told me to call 911, and then went to supervise.

I wasn't the only one with a phone out. The on-fire car was parked just outside Freddy's dog foodBurgers & Frozen Custard, so it wasn't long before there was a crowd gawping at the poor guy trying to put his car out with his bare hands. I was a bit worried when he got inside the car. A few seconds later, a Freddy's employee arrived with a fire extinguisher.

A few minutes later, the cops arrived. The first one parked in the street, popped his trunk, and sauntered over to the now-merely-smoldering car with a little handheld extinguisher. He left his trunk open -- I've heard that the local PD keeps a machine gun in the trunk of every patrol car, and I was sorely tempted to see for myself. But I figured he'd be disappointed to find the fire already out, and I didn't want to give him something more interesting to do.

Dave finally came back, smelling of burning plastic, when the fire engine arrived. They did their hazmat thing and talked to the poor schmuck with the burned-out Caprice. I wish I knew what kind of malfunction could make a car go up like that -- it looked like he'd turned it off and walked away before the fire really got going.

In other news, X/1999 is now on a four-DVD box set for $30. And I own one. CLAMP addiction goes into remission -- it doesn't go away.
Current Mood: cranky

1st August 2010

6:06pm: Safety Concerns
I've been reading some discussions over at The Daily Kos. One gun-control advocate brought up the danger of having guns around children, and the likelihood of fatal accidents. I think this is a wise point.

Accordingly, I will not allow children in my house.
Current Mood: amused

22nd July 2010

9:53pm: Linky
I feel like I should post something...

So, first, how your credit score can keep you from getting a job, even if you've always paid your bills on time:

"Say you're unemployed and you decide to work your tail off to land a new job, so you send out 40 résumés a week. Half of the companies might decide to do a credit-check before getting back to you. This sets off alarm-bells at the credit-rating agencies. Twenty credit-checks in one week? There goes your credit score. And there goes your hope of landing a new job."

Then, a moment of fangirl squee:
All the Doctor Who themes, all in one lovely video

And now, I'm off to edit stories. No, really. I really mean it this time.
Current Mood: amused

8th July 2010

10:51pm: Words
Nine hundred words isn't that much more than eight hundred words.

I can't cut a hundred words, but I can take out this paragraph.

Eight hundred and forty-six? Might as well go for a round eight-forty.

Or eight-thirty.

I could cut that word.

Eight-twenty-five is a good round number.

Or eight-twenty.

Twenty words. I can cut twenty words.

Or twelve. Twelve words is easy.

Hell, I don't need that sentence.
Current Mood: determined
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