July 23rd, 2011

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For all that water ...

... someone would surely attempt to mine it, and a quasar is a dangerous place to go mining for precious materials.  And it's water, so you just sort of have to  wonder if anything lives in it.  Hmm, could be a story in this.


Astronomers Find Largest, Most Distant Reservoir of Water

Two teams of astronomers have discovered the largest and farthest reservoir of water ever detected in the universe. The water, equivalent to 140 trillion times all the water in the world's ocean, surrounds a huge, feeding black hole, called a quasar, more than 12 billion light-years away.

"The environment around this quasar is very unique in that it's producing this huge mass of water," said Matt Bradford, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "It's another demonstration that water is pervasive throughout the universe, even at the very earliest times." Bradford leads one of the teams that made the discovery. His team's research is partially funded by NASA and appears in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
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Gender Roles

Here is an excellent essay about gender roles in fantasy, especially female characters.  It talks about limitations and shifting tropes over the decades.

(My characters pretty much looked at each other and went, "There are limitations?"  And Lian went, "Yeah, they're like undergrowth.  If they get thick enough to notice, just whip out your machete and hack your way through them.")

I particularly like this bit:

Some of the commenters were unhappy with books where the female character can't sew and 'thinks she's better" than other women because of it. Couldn't this character be a role model for those who can't sew and were continually put down because of their lack of this so-called essential female skill?

... because all of my characters tend to be balanced.  Each has a unique combination of strengths and weaknesses.  You can really see this in the Torn World characters I design.  Fala, the consummate wilderness guide, is adequate at her best domestic skills and abysmal at many.  She refers to her efforts at crafting as "tormenting yarn" and "bending some sticks."  Tekura, who started as a ranger before settling as a raiser, is a brilliant trapper but not so good with a sling because he's skittish.  Vlaran is an awesome fisher, but hates snow-unicorns and is lousy at handling them.  Nrath, a boy with a precocious knack for healing, has so little navigation sense that he ropes himself to someone else when they leave the village.  Nleimen, a Southern girl, is only so-so at most homemaking skills and largely indifferent to romance, but keen on art and science.

Nobody gets to be Mary Sue and save ALL the days.  Everyone has a weakness, even the heroic characters.  Everyone has something they are good at, even characters who would be throwaways in most stories.  Rai, a blind shopkeeper, is very observant and deft at putting details together.  Ularki, who is mentally slow, is Itrelir's best ratter.  Marai, who is deaf, is a beloved raiser in Itadesh.  If you look in the character sheets, you can see mentions of when they did something exciting and memorable, and often times when something went horribly wrong for them.  That's life.  And it brings your characters to life, if you let them.
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That Thing I Give You Has a Name

I've been talking with stonetalker about ideas for the ceramic business that she wants to do, and how crowdfunding might work with that.  She mentioned the idea of showing pieces to her donors before posting them for sale on Etsy, "giving them right of first refusal."

And the penny dropped: that's what I'm giving you, my Poetry Fishbowl audience.  You all get right of first refusal on all the poems produced in each month's fishbowl.  I knew the phrase from my work in conventional publishing; I simply hadn't thought of it in this context before.  It's actually a valuable right.  People argue over it in contracts.  It means you get to cream off whatever you want before anyone else even gets to hear  about it.

I've been thinking more consciously about crowdfunding and how I do it, this week, because of the Spotlight over in crowdfunding.  I talked a little about how my business breaks down: the biggest market is writing for the Llewellyn annuals.  The second is the Poetry Fishbowl as a whole.  That puts you folks ahead of all the magazines and other places where I sell my work.  Yes, a few times I've sold a story or poem to a magazine that gave me a bigger bundle of money -- one time -- but you folks are here every month.  The exact amount fluctuates but the market  is regular.  I customarily give more influence and priority to my better markets.  So, you're it.  You're buying about 8-9 poems for every 1 that a conventional editor buys.  That's why you get goodies like "right of first refusal."  You provide regular support, so that puts you in my regular business plan.

Thank you all very much.  I just wanted you to know that you're special.
Tekura

Character Images Gallery

I have updated the "Character Images" gallery in my LiveJournal Scrapbook.  You can now see "Icons by Djinni" and "Scenes by Meeks."  These are two crowdfunded projects that I support as a fan/patron.

djinni does Icon Day sessions about once every 4-6 weeks.  You can request an icon of yourself, a character, a pet, etc.  Tipping gets cool perks; for instance, if tips reach a certain threshold then donors get a second icon.  djinni has illustrated several of my Torn World characters as well as characters from some of my poetic series.

meeksp does Story Sketches in which she illustrates scenes from other people's writing.  (See the call for prompts.)  This is cool because it draws on the extant fan base of the literature; if a sketch gets enough comments and/or donations, it gets refined further.  She has illustrated a number of popular webserials.  For me, she has illustrated a Torn World story and two of my poetic series.  You can see before-and-after sketches of three different scenes, and the "Unfolding Wings" sketch also has a detail image.