February 3rd, 2011


Call for Submissions: Lost Woods Books

This call perked my ears today:

Sword & Saga Press has launched an imprint called Lost Woods Books that will specialize in genre fiction books dealing with the environment.

Lost Woods Books
At Lost Woods Books we're dedicated to bringing together the best in environmental fiction with a twist--genre fiction. For years science fiction and fantasy writers have been writing, predicting, recreating, and exploring the environmental world, whether it be on Earth or in an imaginary landscape. Now, we're seeking to bring those voices together in one package.
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Finished: Draft of "Squiggles and Squares"

Today I finished a rough draft of "Squiggles and Squares" (@ 13,250 words).  This is long for me; I've only written a handful of stories in the 10,000+ range.  Partly that's because I have difficulty finishing lengthy projects, but also because it's darn near impossible to sell anything between 9,999 and 50,000 words.  Fortunately webfic and ebooks are gradually filling in what is not-so-affectionately known as "the gutter" to many people in the publishing world.

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First Contact

 [personal profile] jude_rook talks about first contact and the extrapolation thereof.  

I'm looking at that exercise and thinking, "What, and then they just STOP?"  I'd get whiplash.  That's how I start stories.  Build a setting, build a species, and bang them against an interesting conflict.  The thought of stopping at that point makes my brain hurt.  If I went to that conference, I'd be scribbling in a notebook all the way home.

Poetry Fishbowl set for Tuesday, February 8

Okay, let's try this again.  The February Poetry Fishbowl has been rescheduled for Tuesday 8.  Please help me spread the word so that participation will be decent.  I'll repeat the news again on Monday.

Despite low temperatures, the sun is subliming and melting some of the ice off the trees.  It's gloriously beautiful outside today.  I'm hoping to take some more photos.  Hopefully shedding the ice will help our trees survive intact, and reduce the chance of other weather-related service interruptions.  Witch me luck for the 8th, eh?

Read about "Poetry in the Empire"

My article "Poetry in the Empire" is now posted in Torn World.  This is what I call "demi-fiction" -- nonfiction about a fictional setting.  The article describes different customs and concepts regarding Southern poetry.  If you are a registered member, you'll be able to see the first paragraph, which includes some of the vocabulary in Torn Tongue.  If you're a contributor, then you can see the whole article, with explanations and more vocabulary.

If you like this article and want to see more like it, please consider sending me credits or karma through Torn World's crowdfunding options.  Same goes if you like the art; tip the artist. Not a Torn World member, but still want to support the work? I have a permanent PayPal button on my LJ profile page.

More About Earthlike Planets

wcg thoughtfully pointed me to another article about the Kepler telescope's planetary discoveries.  Wahoo, look at all those pale blue dots!  Five of them are in the "habitable zone" where we might anticipate liquid water and life as we know it.

But folks, I study Earth's extremophiles and have an abiding faith in the rule the Life Finds A Way.  I suspect we'll discover "life NOT as we know it" first, because there are a lot more opportunities for that.

*chuckle*  Of course, by the time we get out there, everybody and his chimp will have written science fiction set on those planets.

Another Goal Met

I just sold my poem "Just like..." to Star*Line for 2011.  At 9 lines, this poem will be eligible for the Dwarf Stars Award.

Sell at least one poem of 10 or fewer lines, eligible for the Dwarf Stars Award.
*ptink* *fwip*  Another target goes down!  I'm making good progress with my goals so far this year.

Marge says that she's done buying for the 2011 issues, and is just wrapping up the notifications.  This closes the current reading period.  Next one opens in July for the 2012 issues.

Update: Rose & Bay Awards

Some of the other voting posts are now up in crowdfunding for the 2011 Rose & Bay Awards honoring excellence in cyberfunded creativity.

I've posted the Webcomic poll

eseme has the Fiction poll posted, divided in half to accommodate the number of nominees; there will need to be a runoff for this. 

xjenavivex is having technical difficulties getting polls to post, but has made a list of the Poetry nominees for voting.

I'll keep you posted on details as more emerge.  Please be patient while I sneak backstage to threaten technology with a crowbar in hopes of getting all the voting pages neatly presented soon.

The Dunes of Mars

Apparently the Martian surface is more malleable than expected.

Northern Mars Landscape Actively Changing

Sand dunes in a vast area of northern Mars long thought to be frozen in time are changing with both sudden and gradual motions, according to research using images from a NASA orbiter.

These dune fields cover an area the size of Texas in a band around the planet at the edge of Mars' north polar cap. The new findings suggest they are among the most active landscapes on Mars. However, few changes in these dark-toned dunes had been detected before a campaign of repeated imaging by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which reached Mars five years ago next month.
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Yog's Law in a Changing Field

I have long been a supporter of Yog's Law ("Money flows TOWARD the writer.") in publishing.  It's a good general guideline that protects writers from many scams and sub-professional rackets.  However ... it's becoming somewhat less relevant over time, due to a combination of factors.

1) Yog's Law presupposes that everyone will, or at least should, be doing their job.  This is ceasing to be the case at landslide speed.  For instance, publishers used to do a substantial amount of publicity that used to be more widely (though never evenly) spread among their authors.  Now a book might get nothing more than an entry in the publisher's catalog and a page on Amazon.  Various other things that a publisher, agent, or other party used to do may also fall out of practice in some instances.

Well, not all authors are content with this shrinking service, and some of them have both the determination and the money to do something about it.  They either do it themselves, or hire it done, or frequently some combination of both.  This means that a prudent author, who wishes their work to reach an audience effectively, will keep an eye on anyone handling said work to make sure that necessary jobs do, in fact, get done adequately.  And if not, the author should consider whether it is feasible to pick up the slack in case of letdowns.

2) The publishing bottleneck is breaking up.  More authors (and readers!) are turning to alternatives such as micropresses, self-publishing, crowdfunding, etc.  So instead of a Big Name Publisher with hundreds of employees to do (hopefully) all the large and small tasks of putting a book into print -- we have tiny teams of a few people, or individuals, trying to produce the same end results.  Therefore, the supply and demand for freelance services is rising.  Popular services include proofreading, editing, cover art or other illustration, layout/design, printing, promotion, webcoding, and so forth.

A writer, or a writer and the owner of a micropress, will typically look at the available skill set and compare that to the needs of a given project.  There is often at least one gap.  So, a freelancer will be hired to take care of that task for that project.  Next time, somebody else might be hired, or the project head might have developed that particular skill.  Or the next project could have a different gap.  Instead of a semi-permanent employee pool at a publishing house, there is a much wider pool of people who know (or know of) each other and their various skills, joining and parting based on the needs of the project of the moment.  They may work for cash, or decide to trade skill-for-skill ("I'll write some content for your new art portfolio website in exchange for a cover picture of my new manuscript."), or some combination.

I think that Yog's Law makes sense in regards to the publishing world it was originally meant to cover.  But writers are no longer stuck with that as their only option, and outside of it, other approaches may work better.  How to determine the appropriate direction, then?  In general, if someone demands money from you, that's a bad sign.  If all  you do is write, then money should indeed flow toward you.  If you decide that you want  to buy something or hire someone, that's different -- just make sure that when you spend money, you do so prudently.  Do you research ahead of time, including at least a rough cost-benefit analysis.  Make sure you know what you're getting in exchange for your money or barterworth.  If a publisher shortchanges you on services, that's a bad sign; you might consider dealing with somebody else next time.  If you decide that assembling your own project via freelancers is a more efficient or effective business model ... well, then, you've basically declared yourself a micropress, so go for it.  Do your homework.  The risk is real, but so is the chance of reward.