Sunday, February 28, 2010

Month-End Wrap

Well, February was another awful month for writing. :/ My brain seemed to be buzzing around between dozens of topics, half of them stories and half not, and never lighting on any one thing long enough to concentrate on much. I'm blaming the Olympics (hey, it's only two weeks every other year!) and the general upheaval that life has been.

The Olympics is over now, though, and the upheaval is being fixed tomorrow, with one last upheave. We're moving into the townhouse at an ungodly hour of the morning; we need to check out of the hotel at about 7:30 to take a cab over to the house to meet the movers. The're supposed to be there with our stuff between 8 and 10, which means they'll actually be there at 10:30, unless of course we're late getting there ourselves, in which case they'll be there at 7:45. Such is the way of appointments with service people.

The new TV and couch are supposed to be delivered tomorrow too, and the phones/internet hooked up. If something goes wrong with the latter, I guess I can trek over to the bookstore with my laptop every day or two and at least get e-mail until everything is hooked up and settled. Virtual crossed fingers for everything going well are greatly appreciated. :)

Unfortunately, I just squeaked by with a bit over 4K words written this month, and didn't submit anything. With one point in McKoala's challenge, I'm just barely safe from getting torn to shreds, woe. Hey, I have nowhere to go from here but up, right...? :D

Koala Challenge 1

Friday, February 26, 2010

Readers and Writers and Fads

A discussion that's been going around lately is about what writers like in fiction, and what writers think readers like versus what readers actually like. The latest post on the topic was by Charles Gramlich. He's specifically talking about infodumps here, but I extrapolated a bit and my comment got way too long to be a comment, so I'm posting separately.

I think what readers look for in fiction is very different from what writers look for, and from what writers think readers should look for. The fact that so many writers whom other writers consider to be hacks with no skill or craftsmanship are nonetheless runaway bestsellers pretty much proves it.

If you think about it, this is true in every field of endeavor; the aficionados are always blathering away about details and fine points of their favorite topic which the rest of the population doesn't know anything about and doesn't want to know anything about, no matter how strongly the dedicated few think they should.

Wander around the internet and lurk in any specialty blog or forum where there's a lot of discussion between people who are intensely interested in the subject. Audiophiles flame each other over tiny variables your average person can't even hear and doesn't want to learn to hear. The deeply religious throw around shorthand notations for scriptural texts and everyone nods, while quoting theologians from Augustine on. Hardcore gamers will shred a new game for a dozen reasons, usually couched in acronyms and shorthand and in-references, while someone who only plays games a dozen hours a month might just shrug and think, Well, I liked it. People discussing any of the social justice -isms throw around arguments and principles and debate in terms more usually heard in graduate seminars on race theory or feminist theory or queer theory, to the bewilderment of anyone who's not up to speed. People who are intensely interested in something study it, debate it, work out definitions and principles so they can communicate with one another without reinventing all the wheels and redefining all their terms every time.

The trick here is that someone with a casual, shallow interest doesn't want to learn all the esoterica. Someone who just likes listening to the radio sometimes doesn't want to take five years of music appreciation and theory; they already know what they like and that's enough for them. Someone who already knows what their favorite dishes are and how to prepare them doesn't know or care what the nation's top foodies think is good or bad or fabulous, and doesn't want to hear about why their favorite mac and cheese out of a box is really horrible stuff. People with only a casual interest, people who want to consume and enjoy, don't care and don't want to learn all the graduate-level theories and arguments and trends.

It's like the difference between a connoisseur critiquing a piece of art, maybe getting a whole article out of why it's an inferior, derivative example of the Whatever School of Yadda, and someone else looking for a painting for the living room and liking that same piece because it has her favorite flowers and the colors match the couch. She doesn't care what the critics think, or what other artists think, and doesn't want to hear why it's such an awful painting. She likes it and that's all that matters.

I think most readers are the same way -- they know what they like and don't care to hear about why they shouldn't. As writers, we've spent some significant chunk of our lives studying "writing appreciation and theory," essentially, and we've learned to pick up on dozens of fine points and subtle features someone who reads for pleasure has never heard of and doesn't want to bother with. New theories ebb and flow through the writing community -- frex. always use "said," use any speaking verb but said, don't use any speaking verbs at all, now we're back to using "said" again -- and there are people willing to post (or publish) many thousands of words explaining why this iteration is the one real and true one that every writer should follow. It's all faddy, though, whether we want to admit it or not.

It's like the old chestnut about some smart-ass journalist or unpublished writer who types up some literary classic and submits it to fifty agents or publishers, then crows in public when it's rejected by all. Even assuming nobody recognized the text and just refused to play the game, literary tastes and fads change, and most classics from fifty or a hundred or two hundred years ago would be unpublishable today, because they were written to meet different rules, different expectations, to follow different fads.

So no, I'm not terribly surprised by Charles's observation that there are a lot of readers around who like reading interesting infodumps, despite infodumps being anathema to the current cutting-edge writing world. There've been times when they were in, there'll be more times when they're out, and they'll never be either complete must-haves or complete must-avoids, no matter what the writing pundits of any given year or decade or century might say. It all comes down to writing an interesting story which carries the reader along. If your infodumps are interesting and carry the readers along -- ignoring the fact that every other writer out there is most likely sneering at them -- then readers will probably like them, and the book they're in, and won't want to hear about why they shouldn't.

And the infodump author (like Dan Brown) can laugh all the way to the bank.

Which isn't to say that I'm going to stop trying to write stories I personally think are good, by my own standards. I've been hanging around with other writers long enough now that I'm firmly immersed in the whole Writing Appreciation and Theory environment, and unfortunately that's not something you can just walk away from. You can't erase stuff like that from your brain once you've learned it, or at least I can't; I'll always see the things I've been taught are rough spots and jagged edges and dangling threads and weak foundations. I might scoff at some things (like that stupid dialogue tag debate, which cycles through pretty regularly) but I have no doubt I'm firmly stapled to other vital points of minutiae which are just as arbitrary and just as faddy. I'm the product of my experiences, what I've heard and read, what I've been taught and what I've figured out, and that's the only frame of reference I have to work with.

I think it's worthwhile, though, to keep in mind that everyone who makes an intense study of anything is an aficionado, and we as writers do have a viewpoint skewed by our years (or decades) of study and debate and development of ever more finely detailed theory. We're all grognards, to use a gaming term, and no matter how firmly we believe in what we know, our POV and standards and opinions don't reflect those of the reading population in general. Keeping that in mind just might prevent us from trapping ourselves in ever-tinier boxes bounded by ever-tighter rules, which no one cares about but us.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Photoshopped Cookies

This is a great video, showing what it'd be like if you could use Adobe Photoshop in your kitchen to bake cookies. :D

Check it out!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Writing Advice

A lot of bloggers are commenting on the collections of Rules for Writing the Guardian UK posted.

My favorites are the first one by AL Kennedy:

1 Have humility. Older/more ­experienced/more convincing writers may offer rules and varieties of advice. ­Consider what they say. However, don't automatically give them charge of your brain, or anything else – they might be bitter, twisted, burned-out, manipulative, or just not very like you.

and the tenth by Michael Moorcock:

10 Ignore all proferred rules and create your own, suitable for what you want to say.

I think that's what it comes down to, especially with all the many "don't" rules which pepper the lists. Don't use adverbs, ever. Don't use any speaking verb but "said" and even that one sucks. Using similes or metaphors, ever, is so bad you should be embarassed. Don't this, that or the other thing, ever-ever! Obviously some successful writers subscribe to these rules, and find them useful, but if everyone followed them, everyone's work would look and sound exactly alike.

Kudos to the writers who acknowledged that there are exceptions, and that different writers are different, and that that's okay.

My first rule: Anyone who says they have an unbreakable writing rule, or a method or approach which Every Real Writer must follow for success, is full of shit.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Olympic-Sized Glitch

Massive glitch with the Biathlon, in the men's pursuit. The guys have a staggered start, with the delay based on their result with the earlier sprint event. They had several starting chutes, with officials up at the front with, like, a hand on the athlete's middle or something, watching the clock and letting them go when they were supposed to. (Multiple chutes because there are some people starting like a second apart, so you need people able to start almost simultaneously.)

Which is all fine and they've been running the sport like this for ages, but today someone's messing up royally. There was a little ?? at first, with people sort of squinting and going, "Wait, what...?" Then one competitor, Leguellec of Canada, was supposed to start 41 seconds after the person in front of him, but at the first time check he was right up there with the pack. Unless he had a jet assist, that's impossible, so clearly he was let go way too early. Teela of the US was also let go at the wrong time, and they just mentioned Ferry of Sweden.

The best fix at this point seems to be to figure out how early (or late, if there was any of that) each person went, and then add or subtract time at the end. But that doesn't completely fix things; the way you ski, how you push, depends on where you are in the race, who's around you, when you approach someone ahead of you or are approached by someone behind. Where you are makes a difference, and that's all different now. Also, the athletes are used to being able to judge where they are in the race, but now Leguellec doesn't know; he can cross the finish line first and still not get the gold, or get any medal at all perhaps, after his time's adjusted. Maybe he'd have made it up if he'd had the press of being another 41 seconds back and maybe not, but we don't know.

This is a really awful error. Maybe not quite as bad as the vaulting fiasco at Sydney, but it seems to be in the same ballpark. :/

ADDED: they're adjusting the timing on the standings graphics now, but the competitors are still out on the course in the wrong places. The timing might be correct now, but the dynamics of the race are still out of whack.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

How We Got the Townhouse

So we wanted this townhouse. Nice, brand new, decent square footage, tiny bit of yard. Not perfect, but within our price range, and in an unbeatable location, which is important for two people who don't drive.

We put in an offer, were accepted, were all ready to go about a week and a half ago when four creditors popped up and reminded the builder that he owed them a lot of money. They activated liens and everything ground to a halt. With that many corporations and lawyers involved, and a builder who seemed to be completely broke (even selling the townhouse wasn't going to make him any money -- our understanding is that he owed every cent to the bank already) the chances of our getting the place seemed slim to nil. Sure, maybe if we could wait around for a few weeks or months while everyone fought and haggled, but we don't have that much per diem left, and don't particularly want to start throwing money down the rental-pit while we wait for them to straighten things out, on the possibility that we might be allowed to buy it whenever they get around to figuring out who gets to sell it.

So we looked around, found a house in the same neighborhood, a couple of blocks from the shopping center which was across the street from the townhouse. The place was old and it'd need a lot of work, but it had good bones and it was a lot cheaper, so we could afford to upgrade the wiring and the pipes and put insulation and wallboard in the "finished" basement, replace the ancient windows with something energy efficient, fence the yard, and cetera. When that was done, we'd have a lot more space and a huge yard. I was actually enthusiastic about this; it'd be more work and hassle, but less money in the long run for a bigger place.

We put an offer on the house, a good one, and since our condo was near to closing we had cash on the way and could put up a full down payment with no sales contingency, whereas the other party competing with us wasn't in as good a position. We were pretty sure we'd get the house, and that was cool. Jim was still a little iffy about all the work needed, but had satisfied himself that we could afford to do it, and that we'd have a lot more in the end, for less than the townhouse would've cost us.

In the background, our finance guy (Derek) and the builder's real estate guy (Tom) were working frantically trying to get the townhouse deal to go through. I didn't think it was going to happen in any reasonable time frame, and neither did our real estate guy (Scott). Jim stayed hopeful, but I basically wrote the townhouse off and concentrated my hopes and plans on the house, and that deal proceeded apace.

Then we got word that Derek and Tom had pulled off a miracle and gotten the four creditors to all sign releases on the liens. The one minor creditor, who was only owed a thousand dollars, wanted $750; the builder (I think) paid a few hundred, Tom paid a few hundred out of his commission, and we wrote a check for a few hundred. Fine, the guy'll agree to go away, we've got the townhouse and can move in in less than a week, yay!

We were still a bit wary, and Scott still wasn't believing that the miracle would hold, so he told the sellers of the house that we had some concerns about previous water issues in the basement, which had come up during disclosure. It was true so far as it went, and it'd buy us some time.

With Plan B still in place, we went through the rest of the purchase process on the townhouse. A notary came to the hotel and we signed and initialed the usual bazillion papers, Jim wired the down payment to the escrow company, and we were all ready to go. The deed would be recorded on Friday, or maybe late Thursday, depending on how things came together, and we'd be homeowners again. I was still a bit disappointed about the house, but happy the process was almost over with; I'm really sick of living out of suitcases at a hotel.

Thursday Jim came home and said, "Guess what." :/

A fifth creditor had turned up, someone owed more money than any of the previous four. (The largest amount from the first group was $50K; this creditor was owed about $80K.) And he hadn't just popped up out of the woodwork, either -- he had a judgement dated the fourth, so he'd been pursuing his claim for a while. The deed hadn't been recorded in our names yet, so everything screeched to a halt.

Now, the first question to ask is why the bleep the title company didn't find this? That's what they do, after all, and if there was a court judgement, it's not like the creditor was hiding or anything. The next question to ask is whether there are any more creditors waiting in the wings, and why the builder didn't disclose all of this up front; if there are financial issues which might prevent a sale, you're supposed to let potential buyers know, so they can decide whether they feel like diving into your mess.

Jim and I were both fed up with the on/off/on/off crap, so we gave them (pretty much everyone working the deal) until close of business Friday to straighten it out. If it wasn't ready to go through by then, deed recorded, the property ours, everything done and finished, then we were washing our hands of it, demanding our down payment back, and going for the house. Again, I thought that was the end of it.

Turns out Derek and Tom had another miracle in their pockets; they got everything straightened out by Friday evening. Tom persuaded the fifth creditor to take a thousand dollars, which he'd pay himself, and we agreed that after closing we'd give him a check for half of it. (I have no clue why they bothered when they were willing to settle for that little; it must've cost them more than a thousand to file the papers and go through the court process, no? [blinkblink]) So it's all over and done with, the deed is registered, the place is ours. We now own a townhouse in West Seattle. :) And if any more creditors pop up, it's too late to fight over the townhouse; they can go argue over the builder's pocket lint or whatever; we're out of it.

I think I'm going to feel a bit of regret for the house with its the enormous yard, and the huge downstairs room (half the house's footprint) that was going to be the office/library (mostly mine), for quite a while. On the other hand, we won't have to either pay for a hotel for another month or three while we fix the place up, or deal with workers coming in and out around us for however many months, while the sixty-year-old place gets brought up to 21st century standards. And Jim's promised me a house house when he retires, which is only a few years away.

Next step is to buy a dozen or twenty bookcases. :) We had books stacked and piled and back-filled in corners and covering every bare patch of floor for years in the condo, and the few bookcases we had were over-filled with extra books on top of the properly shelved ones, and piled up in front of them. It was all but impossible to find anything we'd bought within the last half dozen years, unless it was purchased recent enough that it was up on the top of the strata. It'll be great to be able to actually shelve all the books and have everything in order, to say nothing of Jim's CDs and our DVDs. I hate clutter to that extent, but we didn't have any place to put stuff away, and no place to put bookcases or whatever. By the time we moved out, most rooms in our place (and it was a three-bedroom, mind you) had only traffic paths between key locations. Being able to spread out some will be pretty awesome.

I also have to go back to an electric stove. [grumble] I suppose I'll get used to it. The next place will have gas.

I'm glad it all worked out. I could've done without the back-and-forthing, and on-again-off-again deals. All that's over now, though, and I'm just as happy to have it so.


Friday, February 12, 2010


The Olympics is on and my productivity is going to plunge way down toward zero for the next couple of weeks. It's funny, I'm not usually into sports -- I don't watch the World Series, I couldn't care less about the Superbowl -- but the Olympics always puts stars in my eyes. I've loved the games since I was a kid, and I'm going to be glued to the TV whenever it's on. :)

Oh, we got the townhouse, woot! There's more to the story there -- it was completely insane for a while, ups and downs and giving up and reviving and whatever all else -- but I'll post more about that later, when the Olympics are taking a break. ;D

Angie, trying to figure out how to postpone moving till after the Games are over

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Anthology Markets

I've been getting a lot of hits on these posts, so if you've just wandered in off the internet, hi and welcome. :) I do these posts every month, so if this post isn't dated in the same month you're in, click here to make sure you're seeing the most recent one.

Markets with specific deadlines are listed first, "Until Filled" markets are at the bottom. There are usually more details on the original site; always click through and read the full guidelines before submitting. Note that some publishers list multiple antho guildelines on one page, so after you click through you might have to scroll a bit.

Note that Drollerie has reorganized its submission pages. I found while re-checking entries that the links from last month now take you to a general "All Our Antho Submissions" page, from which you have to click on the separate line links to the left; links from here this month go to the correct pages. Also, the Ghost Stories deadline is 31 March, where I had it as 5 March before. I don't know whether the deadline was pushed back or whether I misread it the first time, but since the new deadline is later than the old one, no harm no foul either way. :)

The Baconology antho has been filled. [sad sigh]

Non-erotica/romance writers: again, half the anthos here are neither erotic nor romantic, so definitely browse.


28 February 2010 -- Quest for Atlantis -- Pill Hill Press

Email submissions to:

Please put SUBMISSION, followed by the title of the story, in the subject line of your email. Thanks!

We are looking for a good variety of unique short stories that celebrate the legend of The Lost Continent of Atlantis. Most genres, including, but not limited to, fantasy, science fiction, horror, suspense, mystery, romance, humor, etc., are welcome as long as they fit the theme of the anthology (Atlantis).

Stories can take place at any time (past, present, future, alternate), and should be written in the third person.

Stories should be approximately 1,000-10,000 words in length.

Payment is 1 cent per word (up to 5,000 words or a $50.00 cap), plus 1 contributor's copy upon publication.


28 February 2010 (Extended Deadline) -- Greek Myth/Urban Fantasy -- Drollerie Press

Drollerie Press is seeking short stories for an anthology retelling Greek myth re-set as urban fantasy. The stories should be between 5 and 20k in length, and should be YA friendly, that is, appropriate to a sophisticated YA reader and to adults as well. The protagonist(s), therefore, should be wrestling with issues of young adulthood, and should be between the ages of 17 and 25. This is a general fantasy anthology, so stories may contain cross-genre elements, such as love, science, or horror, but should not be specifically written to that genre. In particular, however, the stories should be creative and intelligent, and show knowledge of the source material and skill at reweaving it for a new audience. How veiled the original story remains up to the author.

Submissions for this anthology should be uploaded on our submissions page, and should contain “GREEK” in the file name.


28 February 2010 (Extended Deadline) -- Trafficking in Magic/Magicking in Traffic -- Drollerie Press

Trafficking in Magic deals with the sale and transport of magical goods and services, including magical beings, artifacts, fortune telling, communing with the dead, and other spells for hire, or the sale of magical energy itself;

Magicking in Traffic deals with magic in the flow of traffic–which could be street traffic, commerce, the flow of energies, or something else entirely–whether to aid, block, or manipulate the flow of traffic, or simply to play in it.

Creative interpretations of the title(s) are also encouraged.

Contributors are encouraged to send 1 short story per anthology or up to 3 poems total. Query first if sending fiction over 12,000 words or poetry over 100 lines. Compensation is an equitable distribution of royalties based on word count. Publication will be in ebook, with trade paperback to follow if warranted by sales.

Send submissions for this anthology only to


15 March 2010 -- Barbed Wire and Bootheels -- Torquere Press

Cowboys, drovers, rodeo riders, ranchhands. Three-story mini-anthology of short, sexy stories on the theme, 3-8K words, 35%/25% of cover price from publisher's site/vendors, divided among the three authors.


15 March 2010 -- Knives -- Torquere Press

Three-story mini-anthology of short, sexy stories on the theme, 3-8K words, 35%/25% of cover price from publisher's site/vendors, divided among the three authors.


31 March 2010 -- The Way of the Wizard -- Prime Books

(a) The story should be about a wizard, witch, sorcerer, sorceress, of some kind (basically, any sort of user of magic).

(b) The fact that the story has wizards in it should be vital to the story, i.e., magic should be an important factor in the resolution of the plot.

(c) The wizards should be literal, in that they do actual magic, not like a pinball wizard or something like that.

(d) I’m interested in all types of wizard tales, but am especially interested in seeing some stories that explore the idea of wizardry from a non-traditional viewpoint–i.e., something based on the Chilean Kalku or on the supernatural practices of other cultures.

(e) The story may be set in a secondary world, the real world, the present, or in a historical time period…let your imagination run wild.
Genres: Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror. Obviously wizard stories tend to be fantasy, but some sort of SFnal take on the theme would be acceptable.

Payment: 5 cents per word ($250 max), plus a pro-rata share of 50% of the anthology’s earnings and 1 contributor copy.

Word limit: 5000 words. (Stories may exceed 5000 words, but $250 is the maximum payment per story, and stories 5000 words or less are strongly preferred.)

Rights: First world English rights, non-exclusive world anthology rights, and non-exclusive audio anthology rights. See my boilerplate author-anthologist contract, which spells out the rights in detail.


31 March 2010 -- Ghost Stories -- Drollerie Press

Who doesn’t love a good ghost? Drollerie Press is seeking short stories and poetry for an anthology of ghost stories. They may be set in any location and at any time. The stories should be between 5 and 20k in length, but longer or shorter may be considered. Poetry should not be longer than three pages, double-spaced.

Your story may contain cross-genre elements, such as romance, or science, but should definitely include strong horror elements. This is an anthology intended for an adult audience, but each work will be chosen based on its own merit and how well it will fit with the rest. In other words, avoid extremely violent and/or erotic or gentle and/or sweetly romantic tales.

Each author may submit up to 3 stories, but only one will be accepted per author. In this anthology, as in all Drollerie Press works, inclusive representation is important to us. Authors may be from, and stories may be set, anywhere in the world. Characters of any race, creed, or sexual orientation are encouraged.

Compensation is an equitable distribution of royalties based on word count. Publication will be in ebook, with trade paperback to follow if warranted by sales.

Submissions for this anthology may be sent by email to submissions @ and should contain “GHOST” in the subject line. Review and response will occur after submissions are closed.


31 March 2010 -- Triangulation: End of the Rainbow -- PARSEC Ink

We define "short fiction" as "up to about 5,000 words or so." If you have an awesome story that exceeds 5K then by all means send it; but be warned that we have yet to accept anything for publication much longer than 5000 words.

We dig flash; there is no minimum word count.

We have no interest in getting more specific about the term "speculative fiction." Science fiction, horror, fantasy, magic realism, alternate history, whatever -- if there's a speculative element vital to your story, we'll gladly give it a read.

We love creative interpretations of our theme, "End of the Rainbow". Don't ask us what it means -- tell us what it means with a story that convinces us you're right.

We will run mature content if we like the story. So make sure there's an actual story in that mature content.

We will gladly consider reprints. If the story ran someplace obscure, then it's probably new to our readers; and if it ran someplace high-profile, it's probably really good. Either way, we win!

Compensation: We pay two cents per word (USA funds, rounded to the nearest 100 words, US$10 minimum payment) on publication and one contributor's copy. The anthology will be published in late July of 2010. We purchase North American Serial Rights, and Electronic Rights for the PDF downloadable version; since we're cool with reprints, we really don't care whether we have firsties. All subsidiary rights released upon publication. Contributors will also have the option of purchasing additional copies of the anthology at-cost, exact price TBD.

How To Submit: Electronic submissions make our lives easier. Please send your story to Please put your subject line in the format of "SUBMISSION: Story Title" so we can tell you apart from the spam.

We'll consider stories ONLY in the following formats:

* .odt (OpenDocument Text -- format used by the suite) -- preferred format
* .rtf (Rich Text Format -- generic document format that most word processors can create)
* .doc or .docx (MS Word -- we're not crazy about it, but let's face it, it's the one most people actually use)

[This has been ruthlessly edited for space, but there's a lot more; definitely check their web page for more details.]


1 April 2010 -- Not My First Rodeo -- Torquere Press
[No link -- this was announced on the Yahoo list, but isn't posted on the web site yet.]

Two guys, one girl, and a western theme. Cowgirls, cowboys, ranches and rodeos and maybe a little history. That's the idea behind Not My First Rodeo. We want loving relationships and happy endings, though all sensual heat levels are welcome. Preferred length is 8,000 to 12,000 words. Payment is a flat fee of $75.00 for first time print and electronic rights. Deadline for submission is April 1, 2010. Please submit the story, along with a synopsis, your contact information, and author biography to with "Not My First Rodeo" in the subject line.


15 April 2010 -- Cock Cage -- Torquere Press

Three-story mini-anthology of short, sexy stories on the theme, 3-8K words, 35%/25% of cover price from publisher's site/vendors, divided among the three authors.


30 April 2010 -- Steampunk Romance Anthology -- Samhain Press

Welcome to the world of clockwork pendants and steam locomotives, corsets and lace, dirigibles and difference engines. Yes, we’re talking about steampunk, where fantasy, history, technology and romance mix to create a glorious genre that looks at Victorian and Edwardian Era England and the American wild west through brass goggles.

I’m open to M/F, M/M, or multiples thereof, any sexual heat level, and the romance must end happily ever after or happy for now.

The novellas must range between 25,000 to 30,000 words in length, no more, no less—please note, only manuscripts that fall in this word count will be considered for this anthology—and will be released individually as ebooks in November 2010.

To submit a manuscript for consideration, please include:

The full manuscript (of 25,000 to 30,000 words) with a comprehensive 2-5 page synopsis. Please include a letter of introduction/query letter. Full manuscripts are required for this as it is a special project.

As well, when you send your manuscript, please be sure to use the naming convention Steampunk_Title_MS and Steampunk_Title_Synopsis. This will ensure that your submission doesn’t get missed in the many submissions we receive, and makes it easy for me to find in my ebook reader.


30 April 2010 -- Music for Another World -- Mark Harding

I'm looking for Fantasy and Science Fiction Stories. I am quite broad with definitions, but a fantasy story must have an element of fantasy, and a science fiction story must contain an element of science/technology and speculation about science. I like merged-genre stories, but be warned that I don't want the anthology dominated by 'slipstream' stories.

Story length is ideally between 2000 and 6000 words. However, I will consider stories outside of this range.

The unique points:
Music must be integral to the story: for example, the story might be about music, or the life of musicians, or the effect of a musical instrument, or perhaps a piece of music -- or anything else that I haven't thought of!

This next requirement is equally important. I'm not only looking for great characters, great plot, great entertainment and great prose, but I'm also looking for stories that are intellectually exciting. This is something Science Fiction and Fantasy is best equipped to deliver, so I am going to be explicit about wanting this in the anthology.

What I'm NOT looking for:
A story where the author has changed the lead character from a schoolteacher to a musician, or where the magical object has been changed from a cursed handbag to a cursed violin. Music MUST be integral to the story. If the musical element can obviously be exchanged for something or someone else -- brilliant though the story may be -- it won't fit my anthology.

I'm also NOT looking for:
Sword and Sorcery
Fan fiction
Mozart fighting zombies

Electronic submissions only. In RTF format. Email to mark.musicanthology'@'

Payment: One free copy of the paperback plus £80 per author selected. Payment by Paypal only.


UNTIL FILLED -- MM and Menage Steampunk Antho -- Phaze


Call: M/M and Menage Steampunk Anthology, Title TBA
Edited by: Leigh Ellwood
Projected release date: late 2010
Format: eBook (with possible print release)
Publisher: Phaze Books
Payment: $50 for one-time electronic and print rights, plus copies

Hey, all you steampunk enthusiasts, grab your goggles and get to writing! Phaze Books is planning an M/M (and bi-M menage) steampunk collection for eBook publication in 2010. If you have a yen for 19th century history with a touch of good humor and technological innovation (and a whole lot of manlove!), we hope you’ll send us your hottest steampunk erotic romance of 10K - 20K words. If you’re not sure about the genre, check out this Wikipedia entry for steampunk ( to get an idea of the style of stories we’re looking for. Think H.G. Wells or Wild Wild West, then turn up the steam factor with an incredible M/M or MMF/MMM match-up!

This call is open indefinitely until the spots are filled. Contributors will offer one-time electronic and print rights to their works and receive a one-time payment of $50 and contributors copies (eBook and/or print, if the book goes to print).

To submit to this anthology, please follow the Phaze Books structural guidelines at and attach your RTF submission to Leigh Ellwood, c/o Phaze Books at submissions @ phaze (dot) com. Please use STEAMPUNK ANTHOLOGY is your subject header.


UNTIL FILLED -- Panverse Three -- Ed. Dario Ciriello, Panverse Publishing

The anthology will be open to submissions until we have enough good stories.

Looking for pro-level novellas of between 15,000 and 40,000 words. Stories should be Science Fiction (except Military) or Fantasy (except Heroic/High/Superhero/S&S). We'll also look at Magic Realism, Alternate History, and Slipstream (whatever that is). The story should be original and unpublished in any medium (this includes web publication).

Depth of characterization will count for a lot – however clever the idea, if we don't care for the protagonist, we'll bounce it. We like stories that instill wonder. Subject matter is pretty wide open. If we care, can't put the story down, and find no big holes in the plot or worldbuilding, you've got a good shot.

What we don't want:

Military SF, High Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, Horror, RPG, superhero, or shared-universe stuff, etc. Vampires and Cthulhu-mythos stories are strongly discouraged unless you've done something absolutely original with either theme. No gratuitous or wildly excessive sex or violence: what this means is that sex or violence which serves the plot is okay, within limits; the same goes for language. Think R-rated rather than XXX-rated.

NOTE: there are some unusual bits in their formatting and cover letter requirements. Nothing ridiculous, but definitely click the link and read the full guidelines before submitting.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Geeking Out

You know you're a geek when you're living out of suitcases for possibly a couple of months, and have ONE box of books and stuff that you shipped up to your hotel, and in that one really-too-small box of books you included a Latin dictionary.

Bonus points if you used it within the first week of receiving the box. [cough]


Friday, February 5, 2010

A Funny

St. Stephen of Jobs introduces the iCodex. :D


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Moving Update

We got word that the builder from whom we're in the process of buying a townhouse is having some legal/financial problems. Apparently he owes a number of people money and they've decided patience isn't working anymore; they're activating the liens on his property, and that includes the townhouse we want.

At first we were hoping that the creditors might let the sale go through, on the grounds that letting the builder come into a nice pile of cash would mean he's more likely to be able to pay them at least something, rather than taking the property, having to go through the seizure procedure for however many months, and then sell it themselves. But our realty guy found out that the builder owes the bank too, and that the sale of the townhouse will only pay them off; he wasn't going to make any actual profit on the townhouse sale. If that's accurate, then the creditors have every reason to want the townhouse itself, and no motivation at all to let him sell it. :/

Our finance guy is still looking into things; he knows some people at the builder's bank and is trying to see if there's a way through the mess. I'm not holding my breath, though, and we pretty much expect to activate the recision (a document which basically says, "Sorry, not interested in diving into your mess," and lets us get our earnest money back) by Monday latest.

Jim's been looking through the real estate listings for the last couple of days, and our real estate guy's been running around screening properties for us. We went and looked at a couple today. One's a big house (almost 2500 square feet) just a block and a half from that cool shopping center near the townhouse; it's not quite as convenient as the townhouse would've been, but it's still a great location. It's also a lot larger, and has a big backyard, which pleases me very much. The downside is that it's almost sixty years old. The wiring is ancient -- only five circuits for the whole house, and none of the outlets are grounded. We'd have to upgrade the wiring to handle computers and associated gear, plus the usual living room and kitchen electronics a 21st century family has these days. The finished basement also needs work; it doesn't suck, and we've seen a lot worse, but it needs insulation and new wallboard at least, and the whole place could use new windows to help keep the weather out and our energy bills down. There are some issues with the siding, and something weird about the downspout drains, plus if we want a dog we'd need to refence the yard.

The wiring and insulation/walls downstairs will be the big ticket items, though, unless a home inspector trips over something major. Depending on how much it'd realistically cost to upgrade the place, we might or might not be able to afford it.

We also looked at another townhouse. It's nice, about 100 square feet smaller than the other townhouse, but with a little fenced yardlet like the other one. The grounds aren't as nice -- the builder packed as many units as physically possible on to the lot, with most of them very skinny and one model four stories to get a reasonable amount of space onto the footprint, and standing outside one gets the impression of an asphalt canyon. There's no open ground, not a bush or a blade of grass to be seen. It's kind of depressing. The units are nice on the inside, but the environment leaves a bit to be desired. It's also at least a mile to the nearest shopping.

We have a few other places we want to look at this weekend, and our real estate guy's hunting for more. I'm sure we'll find something that'll work for us, even if the house we saw today turns out to be unworkable. It's just a bummer to have to start over at this point. :/


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Moving and Writing and Stuff

Hey, all! [wave] We're up in Seattle, at the same hotel we were at in December for the house-hunting trip. It's been interesting, in the ancient Chinese sense.

Southern California had record rainfall the week we were packing and moving, and our garage flooded again, twice, once really bad and the second time just enough to send us into a panic of wondering how high the water would come that time. We actually came out of it relatively well; there were streets that were flooded above the wheelwells on parked cars, and I saw a few minutes of TV coverage of people being evacuated from their houses, so just losing some stuff wasn't too bad on that scale. Still, it's something I could've done without.

So we're back at the Alexis, and Jim had his first day of work at the new office yesterday. The bosses were gone and it took a while to find someone who knew what to do with him. His job title includes the word "officer" this time, for whatever reason; he gets a badge and will be getting fitted for body armor -- in case the viruses start shooting back, I guess. [wry smile] I was actually thinking they might be taking him along on search warrants, which was something he did occasionally before the big reorganization when they set up Homeland Security (although he didn't have body armor back then; they just kept him a couple of miles back from the site until it was secured) but apparently not. The guy who was getting him settled in yesterday has been there for however many years and said they all have body armor but they've never used it; his is stashed behind a door or something. Your tax dollars at work again. At least Jim's enjoying the two-block commute. :D

I've been very pleased that it hasn't been as cold as it was in December! Seattle did a bit of record-setting itself that week, for which I'm grateful. Jim likes the cold, but I'm cursed with a very narrow comfort zone, temperature-wise, and am just as happy it doesn't get below freezing in the daytime here all winter, or even every winter. [shiver]

Let's see, what else? I heard from the person assigned as my editor for A Hidden Magic and at this point the book's scheduled for release on 25 May, whee! I should get edits by early March, which is fine; hopefully we'll be moved in and reasonably settled by then so I can focus on work. If not, I'll manage.

January was pretty much a loss, writing-wise. :/ I signed up for McKoala's 2010 Challenge (thanks to Writtenwyrdd for the link last month) and barely scraped out two points, one for that antho submission I did in early January, and one for managing to write a whole 5K words and change last month. Almost enough for a second wordcount point, but not quite. [hides under keyboard] I think the upheaval of moving is a semi-acceptable reason for falling off on the verbage, but only semi. I'm determined to do better this month.

Angie, hiding from the Koala :D

Koala Challenge 2