alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Mascot)
Over at Book View Cafe, writer Sherwood Smith talks about participating on a convention panel where everyone wrote up their top three problems/"don't do this" things, and then discussed them. My title is slightly different because some of us have blind spots and old tracks we follow, and we often remove the same things from our first stream-of-consciousness drafts. So these are beginner errors, but things like favorite words or images can creep into any writer's manuscript. Making a pass and just correcting these things will make a huge difference in the quality and readability of your manuscript.

One of my own personal favorites--always try to read the work aloud. Your ear will tell you when something isn't working, or a bad rhythm is developing.

"I think these lists interesting mostly because they reveal writerly process at least as much as they do beginner errors. Some of the best discussion arose out of what some considered no error at all, and others considered advice for revision, not for first draft errors, and what the difference was.

"For pants writers (those who sit down and let the tale spin out through their fingers before going back to see what they have) one set of rules might be helpful and another useless; for plotters and planners, a completely different set."
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Mascot)
Writers and writing instructors constantly try to figure out rules for writing. The truth is, there are few rules, and most good writing advice repeats those few worthwhile comments. Recently Ilona Andrews pulled together some basics on her blog.

For me, her conclusion was the most valuable, because it is easy to get swept away in studying the market and screw with your writing.

The bottom line is,

Focus on writing the story you want to tell. Don’t worry about how many words, what genre, and especially about people who tell you that you will never make it. They’re not important. Finish the thing and try to do your story justice.

Follow the link to see how she got there.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Red Cascade)
My mind is so jumbled after reading just this excerpt that I need to get my hands on Le Guin's collection The Wave in the Mind and read the entire essay "Introducing Myself." In it Le Guin examines self, gender, and announces that she's a man. She must be, as she was born before women were invented...or reinvented.

I admit it, I am actually a very poor imitation or substitute man, and you could see it when I tried to wear those army surplus clothes with ammunition pockets that were trendy and I looked like a hen in a pillowcase. I am shaped wrong. People are supposed to be lean. You can’t be too thin, everybody says so, especially anorexics. People are supposed to be lean and taut, because that’s how men generally are, lean and taut, or anyhow that’s how a lot of men start out and some of them even stay that way. And men are people, people are men, that has been well established, and so people, real people, the right kind of people, are lean. But I’m really lousy at being people, because I’m not lean at all but sort of podgy, with actual fat places. I am untaut.

Go forth and help invent women...
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Polar Lights)
I remember both cutting down trees and buying pre-cut trees. But we bought from local businesses who offered trees as part of their seasonal service. It was nothing like the industry of today. Huge swathes of Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, and smaller competitors are out there investing in the boom or bust business of tree farms. I remember seeing more than one dead tree farm, especially in Texas. You have to keep watering those baby trees, or they can burn slightly, ruining the tree. You have to harvest them carefully, wrap them so you can get them to their destination intact--and you need to keep the mountain in one piece as you do it. It takes about eight years to grow a Christmas tree.

Trees are now harvested with helicopters and it's a fast, risky business. A tree farm has 35 days, period, to make all the income for their year. Everything else is expense.

Read on and see how the business works.
alfreda89: (Winter_Mette's Glogg)
I did a post a few months back for Stephanie Osborn's Comet Tales blog, and today it is reprinted over at Book View Cafe. If you missed it, we'll be talking about what makes a riveting character. And yes, this is a question for both readers and writers!

If you are writing character and plot-driven fiction, “what happens” should be important. This is not “if I don’t get the soufflé to rise, dinner is ruined” plotting. This is “If dinner doesn’t gel, the Venusian Ambassador may eat his attaché, thus an interstellar incident erupts in my home” territory. And the ambassador eating his attaché should be only the beginning. When the ambassador later gives birth to a spanking new baby Venusian born with the memories of the eaten attaché, and people start plotting to place that infant in a position of power, you’ll know you’re not in Kansas anymore.
alfreda89: (Books and lovers)
There's a great column over at Dear Author today by writer Michelle Sagara.  She talks about the trope, the fantasy, of the alpha male hero.  And does her best to explain what she thinks the attraction of him is in romantic literature. Done well?  He's what a lot of us would love to find, but don't ever expect to come our way.

Hence, fantasy in novels.  I'd love to be able to write a romance, but I scarcely know where to begin.  My experiences with men are so remote from what I want that I can't even fantasize.  But I'm working on it.

Don't ever apologize for your fantasy reading.  If it hurts no one and gives you pleasure, then it's yours.  Go for it.

Readers give consent to the relationship not because the hero is an asshat, but because the hero is an idealized grown-up. His ego does not require bolstering: he could not care less what other people think of him. What he needs, undiluted, is the heroine.

Let me go one step further. He is not looking for love to define his life and give it meaning. He has a life. He has a life he’s in control of. Men who read romances looking for clues on how to approach women are taking the wrong things out of the reading if they’re focused on out-of-context behaviours. The alpha has confidence in himself. He is not looking at love as a way of bolstering a (non-existent) confidence. He has proven that he can, thank you very much, be strong without a relationship to define him. But…he is aware that something is missing.

If you’re male and reading romance to try to understand what women want, that’s what you should take out of these books: that you need to be confident, and to have a life of your own, interests of your own, direction and motivation of your own; that you can, in fact, take care of yourself and all of the details of life and living, before you look for your life-mate. You cannot expect that these things are donated simply by having a girlfriend/wife, etc. They’re not.

As I said: the alpha male is idealized.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Mascot)
I went to Mount Vernon and Monticello, long ago.  My parents took us there in our youth, when it was easier to take us out of school.  Apparently I was the one who soaked up the most information (see the Night Calls novels, set in the early 1800s.)

Jefferson's French-style soup and stew stove was commonplace in Europe, rare in the United States.  There was a lot of reverse snobbery about French cooking.  But Jefferson loved it and made sure his household staff knew how to cook in the French manner.

Describing enough of the kitchen to make sense is a trick, however.  Cousin Esme has a stew stove in her kitchen, supporting copper saucepans and fish kettles.  And has on staff a European-trained chef, the formidable Mrs. Gardener.  This figures into one of the unique ways the Livingston school instills respect for people who have different skills than you do.

I hope to go back someday.  Things have changed, as restoration continues.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Katy Rose Pink)
...we knew this was an approaching event horizon. Will there be light beyond this darkness? But seriously, this could be a fascinating exhibit, and that is what modern art is about. Each artist will address her subjects in a different style, and no--no faces.

Four artists interested in feminism, the internet, sex, porn, and power have decided that the dick pics they've gathered are important enough to share with the public. Over 300 men who have engaged in a little harmless online exhibitionism sending this summer may be surprised to learn that their members will mounted, framed, and put on display on August 23 at a Brooklyn gallery space by an artist collective known as Future Femme. The group is hoping to turn the tables on this mind-boggling male habit.

Oh, and the quickest way to get deleted from my life is to send me a crotch shot. From either sex.

Just sayin'....

BTW, this article is marginally SFW. Underwear shots. The side panels may contain women in pasties. The site is Vice Canada.
alfreda89: (Winter)
Greenland icebergs may have triggered "big freeze."

From the article:

In a warming world, what could cause temperatures to suddenly plummet across the Northern Hemisphere? Scientists have tried to answer this question for decades, ever since they discovered geological and biological evidence for the "Big Freeze."

Now, a new study points to an armada of icebergs or meltwater from Greenland as a possible cause for the sudden climate change called the Younger Dryas, or the Big Freeze. The findings were published online July 10 in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
alfreda89: (commonly called Lyme)
A big study (40 years, 1.2 million patients and their relatives) shows certain mental illnesses are more common among artists and scientists. The study also indicates that these illnesses can run in families.

Not a big surprise, eh? Rather confirming casual suspicion.

[Edit: I marked these articles so I could read them later, as I'm in grant deadline hell right now. A respected LJ friend reports back below that these aren't very well written articles. So -- when I have time, I'll be looking for more on this study. Think of this as a place marker -- that we want more info later.]

CBS News introduces the topic, with links to several Live Science articles on the study, creative people, and how some feel bipolar condition does have some positive effects.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
Well, cannot find my Japanese-English dictionary, and went to see what Babel fish would do with what I wanted. A Chinese translation would be acceptable, too.

Babel fish is now the Bing translator.

I got tiles. I know this is probably much more accurate for someone who is a native speaker trying to write an English concept, but I was kinda hoping for an actual word/metaphor I could use in a story.

Must find dictionary. Or perhaps use Sanskrit.

For now, I will stick with "reader of time."
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
Writer David Farland has another interesting post on understanding the structure of your work, and of successful work. I thought this blog post well work my time. Recommended!
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (A light in dark places)
You've probably heard this happen to someone, if you haven't experienced it yourself. Emotional manipulation and undercutting the people in your life, especially the women in your life.

alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Polar Lights)
Writer Martha Wells found this crazy Paris nightclub, which went up in the late 19th century and was operating until the mid-20th century. Take a look at the details! This is very strange and wondrous -- and clearly belongs in a fantasy novel. Check out Martha's work to see Ile-Rien, a place this nightclub might feel right at home.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
And if you do -- do you have a moment to send me the ToC? I need it for an essay I'm writing for tomorrow. And of course all I can find is fiction boxes and nonfiction over-sized hardbacks. But more boxes have been unpacked. I only lost 2.5 hours to a novel, which is pretty good. 2.5 in a month. Trust me, this is good.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Chai anime)
This is an adult topic, but here it's not anything that the average teenager has probably not thought about. Except for a 6% increase in number of piglets produced by a sow. If you'd told me that sow orgasm insured higher piglet production, I would have said: "And you know this how and why?"

Interesting with several good LOLs.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
Some of the earliest photos done in color -- stunning color. Better color than some 20 year old portraits I have -- Look for the cloth merchant!
alfreda89: (Peppermint Peach Tree)
My youngest sister loves ghost stories. She picks up all the "Haunted Houses of America" and that sort of thing. Not very well-written, she'll say, but the kernels of the tales are fascinating. Well -- here's a gang of ghost towns. I've seen an extended photo shoot of the one near the Russian reactor, but the rest are new to me.

Did you know there used to be (very recently, historically speaking) a town between Hong Kong and China that neither side claimed? Take a look -- fascinating stuff.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)

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