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james_nicoll
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Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.
shunn
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Just a quick reminder about tonight's Boundless Tales reading in Queens. The listed time is 7:30 pm, but if you're making the trip out I happen to know that the event won't actually start until 8:00 pm, and that I'm the last of the five readers in the lineup. That's not to give you an excuse for showing up late, but, you know, it's a bit of a trek from the city so you don't have to kill yourself to make it there on the dot.

Thursday, April 17th, 7:30pm
Boundless Tales
@ Waltz-Astoria
23-14 Ditmars Blvd.
Astoria, Queens, NY 11105

(N/Q train at Astoria-Ditmars Blvd)
Boundless Tales features themed personal essays, the theme this month being "I Dominated/I Was Dominated." My fellow readers include Michelle Augello-Page, Sarah Bonifacio, Danny Herrera and Joan Willette. See you there!


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill

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time_shark
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I’m pleased to be able share three stories from our anthology Clockwork Phoenix 3: New Tales of Beauty and Strangeness.
 
Marie Brennan re-imagines the story of the expulsion from Eden in “The Gospel of Nachash.”
 
C.S.E. Cooney shares a dark and bittersweet tale of love, transgressions and vengeful spirits in her novelette “Braiding the Ghosts.”
 
Cat Rambo offers a hallucinatory future vision in “Surrogates.”
 
I hope you enjoy these. Come back for more!
 
#SFWApro

Originally published at Mythic Delirium Books. You can comment here or there.

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sleigh
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Morning bird pic: For this one, I'm turning to the Great Hive Mind. I can't seem to accurately identify the mostly-black- and-white bird to the right in the first picture (there's a second picture of just that bird). It would seem to be some species of sparrow, but neither my Bird ID app nor my "Birds of Ohio" book appear to show me exactly which one. So... someone out there know?

For what it's worth, the cap on the bird's head looks to be not black but a rusty brown, even though the rest of it is really grayish, not brownish like a house sparrow.

I have the suspicion that someone's going to say "You idjit, that's obviously a _____________."

??Sparrow

?Sparrow
j_cheney
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Sometimes an author’s plans go awry, and things don’t turned out the way we planned. This is a new feature, dedicated to how our plans twist and turn in our hands. Today my guest, Author Suzanne Warr, talks about how things didn’t go exactly how she thought they would…

The Bump in the Road


Rain-and-Flowers-blog-head-shot As writers, we love to tell stories and listen to them, too. Daydreaming of my agent story was one way I kept myself going when my chocolate ran out but my rejection letters didn’t. In the end, none of the stories I dreamed up could compare to the story as it actually unfolded—which story of how I signed my amazing dream agent you can read here.

But today I want to share a different tale. One that I was sure would lead to my magical signing moment…but in the end took a bit of a turn. It came about when I went to the fall 2011 SCBWI conference determined to find out if I’d only deluded myself, and my writing was really the stuff a skunk would sneer at, or if I just needed to try a new book and see if it could find it a niche. I’d been getting so many full requests which turned to regretful passes, that my heart felt it was being used as a roller coaster crash dummy, and I just wanted to know what was wrong.

As you can guess, that’s not an easy thing to divine, and I found no fortune tellers hiding amongst the conference guests. But, as we neared the end of the last panel I found myself sitting near a certain reputable agent, whom I’ll call Gwen. She’d delivered a keynote earlier in the conference, and I’d had the opportunity to wish with all my heart that she hadn’t already passed on my manuscript. So, sitting in that chair one row back and two seats over, I decided that I’d approach Gwen and spread my dilemma at her feet. Paying no attention to the panel, I watched my target and groaned inside when she slipped out before the end. But as I gathered my things when it was time to leave, joy of all joys, she came back!

I talked to her, and tried to be fun and friendly—but not scary-stalker friendly—while she was warm and kind. We chatted for a minute or two, then I took a deep breath, and asked her if she remembered my book and could suggest any pointers as to what I could change? Despite being intrigued by the premise, she had to shake hear head that she didn’t remember. However, hooray! She said she’d be willing to look at the first ten again, so long as it was clearly understood that she’d just be looking in order to give me her thoughts. I thanked her, managing to keep some sense of calm as I did, and scurried off to logon to my computer and send her the pages. Then I waited.

A short eon later I opened her reply email with butterflies, hoping against hope that the answer wasn’t the one about the skunk with the snotty nose, but the other one where I wrote a brilliant book and the industry took to it like peanut butter to jelly. What I found instead was a kind note thanking me for this chance to take a second look, then telling me how much Gwen was enjoying the pages I’d sent, and could I please send along the full manuscript?

Well, we all know how easy it is for story tellers to exaggerate, but you couldn’t find words too ecstatic for how I felt. I was convinced—all the way to my little gnome-writer core—that this would be my story. Gwen would love my book, I’d have an agent in no time, and a big sparkly contract weeks after that. And wow! What a story it would make. The kind to rock the blogosphere.

Except for the teensy issue where my agent-signing-story didn’t end there. Not even one exciting chapter. Instead, it turned out that Gwen’s first impression had been right all along, and even after taking a long second look she still had to pass. Rather than a big beautiful glowing tale with glitter and rainbow colored confetti, I ended up with one sweet little foot note that might make up an almost-was blog post. But, the thing is, I still learned what I needed to learn from that conference and found my way out of my dilemma. My writing wasn’t skunky, and my book had merit, but it was time to move on and throw my whole self into writing a brilliant new book. So, I did.

Well, alright. I ate some super dark chocolate and washed it all down with eggnog. But then I wrote my brilliant new book! And two years later I was back at that conference, this time to pick up an award for the manuscript I’d written, and accept the happy hugs from my friends on having signed my dream agent, Christa Heschke, that summer. So, what’s the moral of the story? Is there a moral? Or is that the stuff we put in pretty fiction, while in real life we muddle along as best we can? Yeah, that might be true, but it’s also true that our lives are epic in scale. The stuff of hero’s tales. Stories like that can’t be written in one flash of inspiration—they take perseverance, and plot twists, and crazy character arcs that dive down a dark hole in the hopes that they’ll come out above a sunny green meadow on the other side of the galaxy. We’re writing our story, but we’re living it, too. So hang in there, it’s going to be a bumpy ride, but if you’ll give your story a chance to grow you’ll find it comes with happiest of all happy endings.

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kateelliott
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Justine Larbalestier and I have started a book club to talk about bestselling women’s fiction of the 20th century. We’re both curious about the whole idea of the publishing category of “women’s fiction,” particularly how and when that label started. And, of course, we also wanted to see how well the bestselling and most long lasting of the books with that label stand up. Because usually books like Valley of the Dolls (1966) and Rona Jaffe’s The Best of Everything (1958) and Grace Metalious’s Peyton Place (1958) are considered to be, at best, middle brow. Yet now some of these books are being taught in university and they’re all back in print or have remained in print.

Last month we started with Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls. You can find the post and the discussion on Justine’s blog.

This month we’ll be reading The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe, which happens to have been published the year I was born! Bonus excitement!

The Best of Everything (1958) is Rona Jaffe‘s first novel. It is the story of five young employees of a New York publishing company.

PLEASE JOIN US on April 28/29 (that pesky international date line): in the evening on Monday April 28 in the USA and Tuesday April 29 in the Oz/NZ; morning April 29 in the UK/Europe.

The primary focus of the discussion will be here, on my blog, but there may be some spillover onto Twitter.

 

Mirrored from I Make Up Worlds.

james_nicoll
james_nicoll
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Poll #1964868
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 65

What's the minimum necessary number of dead innocent bystanders needed for a proper adventure film?

View Answers
1
5 (6.4%)
10
6 (7.7%)
100
4 (5.1%)
1,000
0 (0.0%)
10,000
5 (6.4%)
100,000
1 (1.3%)
1,000,000
1 (1.3%)
10,000,000
1 (1.3%)
100,000,000
0 (0.0%)
Gonna need a bigger pile of corpses
11 (14.1%)
Some other answer
31 (39.7%)
I would like to complain about this poll
13 (16.7%)
james_nicoll
james_nicoll
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Woman writes an article about a lousy cover, gets rape threats.

On an issue raised in the original article, why are so many comic book artists so terrible at drawing human breasts? Don't we live in a research-friendly environment these days, what with the interwebs?

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.
editormum
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jimhines
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I will be totally, absolutely honest with you here. I wasn’t really expecting to like Mary Robinette Kowal‘s Shades of Milk and Honey [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy].

It’s nothing to do with Kowal or her writing. I’ve adored other things I’ve read by her. I’ve nominated and voted for some of her work for various awards. She’s a good writer. But this one just didn’t look or sound like my kind of book. The description, “Like Jane Austen wrote a fantasy novel” didn’t hit any of my buttons, and I’m afraid the cover art didn’t help. (The newer editions of this series have different and much improved artwork, in my opinion.)

I tend to prefer more action in my plots, more humor and fun in my fiction … which I’m sure comes as a tremendous shock to anyone who’s read my stuff. So it took me a while to pull this one off of Mount ToBeRead…

…at which point I devoured the story, finishing the book in three days, and sacrificing a bit of sleep in the process.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

…an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men.

Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right—and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

There are a few action-type scenes toward the end, but for the most part, this is a relatively quiet book. And I loved it. I loved the characters. I loved the relationships between them, and the way Jane’s insecurities crashed into those of her sister, and the conflicts that ensued. I loved the language, which was careful and formal without ever feeling stilted or stuffy.

The magic was particularly enjoyable. In a genre that includes Gandalf and Dumbledore, the glamours of Kowal’s world are relatively limited in scope: the manipulation of light and sound to craft illusions. It’s seen as a lady’s skill, like painting watercolors or playing a musical instrument. But Jane is very skilled and passionate about her art, and it draws you in until a scene about crafting an illusory birch grove is as thrilling as any battle between heroes and goblins.

Certain elements and twists in the story felt a little predictable, but I wasn’t reading for the plot twists. I was reading for the sheer enjoyment. And I was kicking myself for not reading it sooner.

You can read the first two chapters at Kowal’s website, and I strongly encourage you to do so.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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