Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Anniversary Contest

Torquere has been around for seven years in September, which is, like, practically pre-Gutenberg for a small e-press. :) They're having a contest to celebrate -- a scavenger hunt, with a Nook as the major prize, plus a bunch of smaller prizes. Check out the contest page (the last link below, at the bottom) each day in September to participate in the anniversary celebration and try for some great free stuff. :)


Torquere Press Celebrates 7th Anniversary!

Seven years?! No, we can hardly believe it either. Seven years of bringing readers the best, the sexiest, the most romantic GLBT fiction. And to celebrate, we're giving away prizes -- great themed gift baskets, gift certificates for free books every day, and a scavenger hunt that will give readers a chance to collect a deck of cards that will win big -- a Nook from Barnes & Noble!

Readers will get the chance to "collect cards" by visiting each participating author's website, blog, or Facebook page. By collecting all the cards and filling in the form, players have the chance to win free books daily, a gift basket once each week, (including BDSM, werewolf and ménage themed baskets), and be entered in the grand prize drawing for the Nook.

We'll also be having random sales via our blog GLBT Romance, Facebook, and Twitter

With bestselling GLBT romance authors like Chris Owen, Tory Temple, Kiernan Kelly, P.D. Singer, Sean Michael, and B.A. Tortuga, you'll have a blast playing along. Just log onto Torquere Press's website, check out the contest page, and start hunting!

So, ya feel lucky, dude? Let's play!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Review of A Hidden Magic

Aurora over at Boylove Addict posted a great review of A Hidden Magic, with a nice mention of "Unfinished Business" as well. She seems to have enjoyed it quite a lot, and her review is pretty awesome. :)


"A Hidden Magic" is the first book in the "Sentinels" series, a wonderful story set in a fantasy world were magic and the fey are real. The main characters are varied, engaging and well developed. I love the sentinels and their interactions. What a wonderful band of anti-heroes! The fabulous cast of supporting characters is large but meaningful, well worth the word count. The plot is fast paced, with enough action and humor to keep the reader turning pages non stop with a smile. All in all, score top marks for storytelling!

The world building truly stands out in this story. Everything comes to life in great detail and with fabulous descriptions guaranteed to become a full color mental movie. From downright gross to charming and cute, Ms.Benedetti's magical creatures are imaginative and engaging. In this regard, the book far surpassed my expectations.

Like most first installments in a fantasy romance series, this story carries the burden of developing a complex world, introducing a large cast of characters and telling the story of the romance. So, while the romance well done and certainly plays a key role in the story, it is a relatively smaller portion of the story. This in no way detracts from the enjoyment of the story. It is just something to keep in mind before picking up the book.

All in all, this is a great book that opens the door to a world that I can't wait to visit again. Great story, great world, great characters, excellent writing, Ms. Benedetti surely penned a winner!

PS: After reading "A Hidden Magic" you won't want to miss "Unfinished Business", a short story that relates the events following one of the funniest scenes in the book. Very good for a laugh!


Thanks and hugs to Aurora! :D


Friday, August 27, 2010

What's Talent Got To Do With It?

Charles has a thought-provoking post over at Novel Spaces today, entitled "Two Kinds of Writers." For those who don't know him, Charles Gramlich is a psychology professor. His department had a speaker at their first faculty meeting of the school year, a social psychologist named Jeff Howard. To give you the gist:

First, Howard suggested that there are two kinds of people in the world: "Performance Oriented" and "Learning Oriented." Performance Oriented (PO) folks come into every new situation looking to "prove" something to themselves and others. Generally, that means 'proving' that they are smart and capable. Thus, PO writers want to show others and themselves how smart they are in their work. PO individuals also tend to believe that writing is a "talent" rather than a learned craft, and PO folks tend to believe that if something requires a lot of "effort," then that reveals less "talent."

Learning Oriented (LO) folks come into new situations looking to improve themselves. Their main goal is to learn "how" to do a particular thing, and they don’t doubt their ability to learn that material. LO folks believe that "effort" controls outcome and is the key to success. They don’t equate less effort with a sign of greater talent.

There's more, but that's enough for my own jumping off point. I recommend clicking through and reading Charles's whole post, though.

I left a brief comment, but I didn't want to spend however many hundred words talking about my own experiences on someone else's blog. The PO vs. LO dichotomy resonated with me, though.

I'm really smart, for whatever good it's done me. I have a low-genius level IQ, and I was in enrichment programs for gifted children ever since I was tested, during the summer between first and second grades. I was in the highest level groups for things like math and reading, and I'm usually pretty quick on the uptake in general. Despite all this, though, I didn't learn all my multiplication tables until seventh grade. For reference, when I was a kid -- and possibly still today, although I don't know for sure -- multiplication was introduced (if the class or group got that far in the book) toward the end of second grade. Kids were expected to learn the multiplication tables up through twelves in third grade. After that, they just assume you knew it and moved on. So it took me an extra four or five years to cram this stuff into my head.

My childhood was all about how smart I was. I was so intelligent, so gifted! School would be so easy for me if I'd only try! Which leads to the next conclusion -- if you're smart (or talented) and you try something and fail, then obviously you're lazy. You're not really trying. Why don't you want to do this? Why aren't you trying?

When I was in fourth grade, my mom tried to "help" me learn my multiplication tables. She made me a set of flashcards and said that I'd study them -- doing nothing else with my free time -- until I had them down. I had to learn 1-3 the first day, 4-6 the second day, etc. Anything I failed to learn one day would be tacked on to the next day. She was convinced that if I'd just buckle down and concentrate, this would be quick and easy and I'd have all the tables learned within four days. There you go, problem solved.

What actually happened was that I got good at hiding from my mom, until she finally gave up. I did work with the cards for the first two or three days, but results were neither quick nor easy, and by the third day I had so much piled up it was ridiculous. Aside from the fact that long, drawn-out memorization sessions don't work, this really wasn't the way to convince a frustrated nine-year-old that school was supposed to be fun. I eventually realized, some time in seventh grade, that I hadn't had to look up or work out a multiplication fact in a while, probably a couple of months. I'd finally learned them through mental osmosis, just by using them in math classes over and over for years; use and repetition finally did what deliberate effort had failed to do.

I had more and more trouble in school as time went on. I got a 1420 on my SAT (well before they made the test easier) but graduated high school with a 2.65 GPA, which was pretty disgraceful for someone with my IQ and test scores.

I finally figured out many years later, about five years into a two-year associate degree, that I have a learning disability. I realized what all the hard stuff had in common, and what was different about the easy stuff, and realized the difference was rote memorization. If the point of a lesson is concepts -- what happened and why and what the results were, how something came about, how things hang together, what's related and what's different and why -- I can listen to a lecture or read a book, and that's it, I know it, hand me the exam. Information on a conceptual level, where everything hangs together in a logical framework, makes instinctive sense to me, and sticks easily in my brain. If the point is memorization, though -- names and dates and figures, mathematical and scientific formulas, foreign language vocabulary, all the little bits and pieces you have to Just Memorize -- then forget it, no more than a tiny fraction is going to stick.

As an example, I was taking Analytical Geometry in college, and we were doing a chapter on conic sections. I'd studied conic sections at least five or six times before, in other math classes, but except for the line and the parabola (which were introduced the earliest, in 7th and 8th grade in my case) I'd never managed to memorize the formulas. I knew the definitions, though. So I was sitting there staring at an exam where we were given certain data -- say, the center of a circle and the slope of a line tangent to it -- and had to figure out certain other data -- say, the circumference of the circle. If you know the formulas, it's easy; you plug the givens in and the answers come out. If you don't know the formulas, you either give up or you do it the hard way. I did it the hard way. I didn't remember the formulas, but I did remember the definitions of the sections. A circle is defined by its center and radius. Stick a pin in your paper at the center. Tie a string to the pin. Tie a pencil to the string such that the length between the pin and the pencil is the length of the radius. Everywhere the pencil can touch (while held vertically) is your circle. A line tangent to the circle is always going to be perpendicular to the radius between the center and that point on the circle, so knowing that tangent line and the center gives you the point on the circle. With the center and that point, the you have the length of the radius. The circumference is 2*pi*r. I did basically that for all the problems about circles, ellipses and hyperbolas, essentially re-deriving all the equations on my scratch paper, based on the definitions of the sections. I got a hundred percent on the exam, but I was also the last person to turn in my paper.

I had horrible study habits because of my memory issues, although I didn't know why I was developing them while it happened. If something made sense to me, though, then listening to the teacher explain it was enough. I got it right then, and doing homework, working exercises, whatever, was a pointless waste of time. But if I didn't get it, if I needed to memorize things, including formulas or a sequence of problem solving steps which didn't fall into logical place in my head, then doing the homework wouldn't help. I'd be just as clueless after I finished the exercises as I'd been before, so again, it was a pointless waste of time.

It took until I was in my twenties, though, to figure this out. I'd never thought about it before; I'd bought into the idea that there was something wrong with me, that I was lazy. I knew I was trying hard, but I still didn't get the results my mom and my teachers expected. I was frustrated and angry; there was something wrong but I didn't know what. It wasn't until I took a mental step back and sorted out classes I got easy As in from classes where I barely passed, that I saw it.

No one else did. No one, not my mother nor any of my teachers -- one of whom had me in both third and fifth grade -- figured out what the problem was, where the dividing line ran. Everyone was so caught up in "Angela is so smart!" "It'd be so easy if she'd only try!" that it never occurred to them to look for an actual problem. My third/fifth grade teacher actually called me "the absent-minded professor" but it still didn't click for her. They were so invested in the talent idea that an actual learning issue was unthinkable. The test scores said I had the talent to do well in school, therefore I should, and if I didn't it was my own fault. The concept that I might have a high IQ and a learning disability never occurred to any of them. Nope, much easier to just assume the whole problem was me being lazy.

Charles again:

A key difference between PO and LO folks shows up when a "failure" occurs. Say the writer approaches a major magazine publisher with a story and gets rejected out of hand. PO individuals take the failure as a sign of lack of talent, and often develop a sense of helplessness, which leads them to either quit writing or to lower their sights.

Yep, that's me. My entire identity when I was young centered on being a smart kid. It was essentially the only thing I was ever praised for, so that's what I focused on. And as a smart person, obviously things should be easy. If I tried something and failed, I turned away from it and tried something else, because failure is particularly shameful when you're supposed to be smart. Anything I couldn't get right off, I just didn't do. Except for school, because I was told over and over and over that I should be good at it, that I should love it, that it should be easy for me. It was always assumed that I'd go to college and do something intellectual because that's where my talent was, so I kept beating my head against that particular wall, long after I'd have given up on anything else. It was all just supposed to click for me, and I kept trying, and waiting for that click.

I've always been interested in writing, and I've scribbled stories (or more often, fragments of stories) since I was six or seven. When I was fifteen I submitted a story to Family Circle magazine. It was a horrible, treacly piece of garbage, and the editors quite rightly rejected it with a fifth-generation xeroxed form. It was seventeen years before I submitted anything else.

I had the drive to write and didn't quit, although I had long periods of hiatus when I was doing other things -- things I was more successful at right off. I've always come back to writing, but it took a very long time before I finally realized and accepted that I wasn't very good at it yet (there being a huge difference between being better than most of my peers and being good), but that I could study and learn and get better. It seems obvious now, and I'm sure any number of readers are eyerolling and thinking what an idiot I was, but if you're raised on the theory of talent, the idea of needing to work and study and learn and do a lot of failing while you slowly improve isn't at all obvious.

We've all heard about the "overnight sensations" who actually worked for ten or twenty years to get there, about the bestselling "first novels" that were actually tenth novels with the previous nine unsold in the trunk, but we still praise people for their talent. Maybe it's ego protection, the thought that if someone who's successful is talented -- and therefore their success came easily to them -- if we're not similarly successful then it's because we don't have that talent, that advantage. And that's not our fault, right? In that situation, talent almost feels like a cheat, something to resent as much as envy.

Whatever it is, our culture idolizes talent, assuming it trumps everything else, including work, study, perseverance and even luck. "You're so talented!" is thought to be praise, even if it comes with a bit of envy or resentment. Emphasizing talent denies the work, though, the determination and study and slow improvement everyone needs in order to succeed, no matter how talented they might be. Assuming "talent" actually exists. In my case, the emphasis on talent when I was young was certainly damaging, more than cancelling out any advantage that talent -- the "smart kid" factor -- might have given me.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Review of A Hidden Magic

Dawn over at Love Romances and More posted a great review of A Hidden Magic:

A HIDDEN MAGIC is a story that sucked me in from the beginning. I love fantasy books and this had everything I enjoy-devious elves, goblins, magic and more all wrapped up with a bow. I loved the writing in A HIDDEN MAGIC. It had a fast paced storyline, simmering sexual tension and characters that really intrigued me. Ms. Benedetti is a new to me author and one I plan to read more of in the future.

Meet Paul MacAllister, a sentinel who is trying to figure out why the fey are making more excursions into the mortal world and what the local elven king is up to because his gut is telling him it isn’t pretty. Rory Ellison thinks he is nuts and when he is caught in a goblin attack, he finds himself in disbelief when Paul and his fellow sentinels come to rescue him then turn around and tell him he isn’t nuts at all. The things he was told that he saw are actually real and if Rory wants to stay alive, then he needs to trust Paul and his friends to keep him safe because the alternative is something far worse-death. I loved Paul, his fellow sentinels and Rory. Lots of laughter, smart comments and action keep the story flowing smoothly. I enjoyed how Paul and Rory danced around their attraction while fighting the bad guys. It made me sigh at times while rooting for them to finally give into their desires. The secondary characters kept the story flowing smoothly and I found some light hearted moments that had me laughing at times.

A HIDDEN MAGIC is one action packed ride that will leave you eager for more. I enjoyed the way this author created her world building and hope to see more of the Sentinels in the future. If you enjoy a manlove fantasy romance that is full of action, adventure and more within its pages, then grab A HIDDEN MAGIC and settle in for a wild ride.

This is an excellent review; I'm glad Dawn enjoyed the book. :D


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Reason #829 Why Ian McKellan Rocks

I just found LGBT Laughs through someone else's blog, and found this pic, which I had to share:


Woot! :D May it be prophetic, all the way to the Supremes.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Anthology Markets

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.

Non-erotica/romance writers: check out Tattered Souls, Panverse, and Horror Library.


15 September 2010 -- Pine Switches -- Torquere Press

Three-story mini-anthology of short, sexy m/m stories on the theme, 3-7K words, 35%/25% of cover price from publisher's site/vendors, divided among the three authors. Please put "Toy Boxes (title)" in the subject line of all emails.


15 September 2010 -- Cthulhurotica -- ed. Carrie Cuinn

[This one only pays a penny a word (although that might go up when they find a publisher, IF they find a publisher) so I'd usually skip over it, but I thought a few people here might get a kick out of the concept. :D ]

Fiction Submission Guidelines: Cthulhurotica is looking for short stories of Lovecraft-insprired erotica, between 1,500 and 3,000 words. Originals only, no reprints. Multiple submissions are ok, but we will only print the one we think suits us the best. Stories do not need to contain elements of horror, though it's definitely encouraged. Cthulhu does not need to specifically appear in the story, as long as it contains recognizable elements from Lovecraft - Shoggoths, Deep Ones, Nyarlathotep, cultists, mythos characters like William Dyer, Danforth, or Dr. Allen Halsey.

What that means:

H.P. Lovecraft wrote smart, surreal, supernatural horror stories in the early 20th century. We're looking for stories that are smart, surreal, supernatural and seductive (adding an element of horror is up to you). They can be set in any time, but need to feature some aspect of the Cthulhu mythos. Think old school pulp romances, but with a Shoggoth on the cover.

What we'd like to see:

* Minor characters from the Cthulhu mythos. The strange little man who sold a copy of that ancient tome must go home sometime (or not; bookshops can be sexy). The bespectacled young grad student might have a roommate, and a bottle of good wine. The man who sold the mountaineering equipment might know more than one use for a strong rope. The possibilities are endless.

* Love, romance, and first dates. Preferably with a Deep One.

* GLBT characters. We can have a schoolteacher slipping into her chalk room for a quick tryst with a tentacled monster; we can't have a story where the only surreal element is that two men end up in bed together (unless one of them was reanimated by Herbert West - that could be strange enough). Gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered characters aren't "weird" and a character shouldn't be considered unusual just because of their sexuality or gender.

* Cthulhu is generally considered to be male, particularly because his sacrifices are young, beautiful, and virginal young women. Give us a story where that isn't the case.

* Stories that are uniquely yours. Don't try to copy Lovecraft's writing style, or anyone else's. Instead, picture his writing style like a language that you're learning so you can have a conversation with him, and us. Maybe you speak it fluently, maybe you don't, but whatever you say needs to come from you.


1 October 2010 -- Pain/Pleasure Anthology -- ed. Jane Litte, Berkley

I am looking for stories of 5,000 word length (you can go slightly over but you won’t be paid more) about the concept of the twin emotions of pain and pleasure. The submissions must be full (the story complete) and turned in to me litte. jane at gmail dot com by October 1 as an MS Word Attachment with the subject line: Pain/Pleasure Anthology Submission.

The submission can be, generally, anything with a strong erotic content. There is no limitation on genre. I definitely want a lot of variety such as m/m, femdom, diversity in characters. The work can have been published on your website but it cannot have been sold in publication.

I will be paying $500 for each contracted submission with .25% royalty in exchange for world digital, audio and print rights.

[The royalty is kind of ridiculous, but for a $500 up-front payment, they can send me all the three-dollar checks they want later on. :)]


31 October 2010 -- Tattered Souls 2 -- Cutting Block Press

For TS2, we’ll be reading original, unpublished stories of between 6,000 and 25,000 words in length, though we’re willing to go beyond that length for works of special merit and if you’ve one of those you should submit it. No simultaneous submissions. No multiple submissions. Each work must be accompanied by a separate synopsis, describing the story in full. All submissions will be reviewed by at least one editor, but a Senior Editor will read every synopsis. Only submissions e-mailed to the address below will be considered. Failure to follow guidelines may result in a submission being rejected without being read.

Submissions deadline is October 31 2010, with publication scheduled during the 1st half of 2011. A provisional response to your submission should be expected from us within 90 days of receipt.

Buying 1st worldwide anthology rights for print, and electronic rights to publish TS2 on Kindle. We accept no reprints. Paying 1.5 cents per word, plus one contributor’s copy. For established authors, rates are negotiable. Final response time: six months or sooner.

Manuscript format: 12 point courier font, standard margins, left side of header: name, contact info, right side of header: word count, top of first page: title, author

Variances from traditional manuscript format: single space, NO INDENTS, ONE EXTRA space between paragraphs (Use the return/enter key for this space, use bold, italics and underline as they are to appear in story (No html tags, please).

Send your submission to tatteredsubs@yahoo.com.

[See web page for a special offer for authors who want a copy of the first Tattered Souls for research purposes.]


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 17,500 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.]


UNTIL FILLED -- Horror Library, Vol. 5 -- Cutting Block Press

Cutting Block Press is pleased to announce an open submissions period for the 4th Volume of its Horror Anthology Series, +Horror Library+, to be published in trade paperback during 2009.

We're looking for the highest quality examples of all forms of Dark Fiction, running the gamut from traditional horror, supernatural, speculative, psychological thriller, dark satire, including every point between and especially beyond. No Fantasy or Sci-fi unless the horror elements are dominant. Read +Horror Library+ Volumes 1-3 to see what's already pleased us. Special consideration will be given those pieces that we find profoundly disturbing, though blood and violence on their own won't cut it. While we will consider tales of vampires, ghosts and zombies, we tend to roll our eyes at ordinary ones. They're just too plentiful. Your best bet is to surprise us with something that is different, while well conceived and tightly executed.

Guidelines: Stories will range between 1,000 and 6,000 words, though we'll look at longer works of exceptional merit. In that case, query before submission. Buying 1st worldwide anthology rights. No reprints. Paying 1.5 cents per word, plus one contributors copy. For established authors, rates may be negotiable. Response time: six months or sooner. Deadline: We will accept submissions until filled. All Queries to horrorlibrarysubs@yahoo.com.

Manuscript format: 12 point courier font, standard margins, left side of header: name, contact info, right side of header: word count, top of first page: title, author

Variances from traditional manuscript format: single space, NO INDENTS, ONE EXTRA space between paragraphs, use bold, italics and underline as they are to appear in story

Subject box: Short Story submission - title of story

Attach story in MS Word Document or RTF (only). Please paste your cover letter in the body of the e-mail. Send submissions to horrorlibrarysubs@yahoo.com.

[See the web page for a special offer on copies of Horror Library Vol. 1 for writers doing market research.]

Monday, August 9, 2010

Working Edits

This came up in a discussion on my publisher's author list, and someone asked if I'd blog about it so they could point newer writers to it. I'm always happy to share, so here it is.

On scheduling, for short stories, it's usually not that big a deal, time-wise. For longer stories (or short stories with a tight deadline) I recommend at least reading through all the comments as soon as you can, to get an idea of what's there and what it'll take to work them all off. Some editors (particularly one person I've worked with, but I'm sure there are others) have this habit of giving you these short little comments that ripple through the whole manuscript, so getting through the edits can end up taking a LOT longer than you thought after just a quick skim.

After that, I mentally sort the comments into types; each type takes a different amount of time and/or thought to work off.

There are the facepalm types, the obvious mistakes that you have no idea how they got into the manuscript, the ones you want to hug the editor for catching 'cause it saved you from looking like an idiot. These are easy, usually just a quick accept and you're on to the next one.

Next are the quick fixes, the ones it's not tough to do but you have to make the change yourself rather than accepting an editor's change. Still easy, almost as fast as the above.

Sometimes a suggested fix is completely off because you miscommunicated so badly in the original text that the editor got the completely wrong idea of what you were trying to do. (This is often traceable to CUT/PASTE errors, although sometimes it's just raw talent. [cough]) In this case, it's great to have the problem pointed out, but the actual fix will be something totally different. This one usually takes some time to figure out, and requires a fix AND a note, to explain what was up and why you rewrote those three paragraphs on page 28 instead of the marked line on page 91.

Then there are the things that make you go "Huh?" If you don't understand why something was changed, and you can't figure it out (style guides come in handy here, as does Google), don't be afraid to ask. You might learn something new about grammar or punctuation or whatever, or you might find that it's a miscommunication, as above. Note that having time for a few back-and-forth conversations like this is another reason to start working on your edits well before their due date.

Note that some things are just house style. Every publisher has their own weirdnesses; you can't really argue, much as you might want to sometimes. Grit your teeth and deal, and keep in mind that it's no better anywhere else -- at best it'll be a different flavor of weirdness.

There'll probably be some times when you just plain disagree with your editor about how something should be written, and this is where it gets delicate and takes some consideration. There's a balance here between being a prima donna who's a pain to work with, and being a conscientious pro who wants your story to be the best it can be. As with the "Huh?" items, be ready to discuss these with your editor. Explain what you're trying to do and why you think your way is the best way to do it, and listen to their side. If your editor has a better idea, great; it might turn out to be a case of miscommunication again. If not, you're entitled to argue against a change if you're sure about it, but be SURE you're sure. If you're new to this, you're probably better off going along, but if you've been writing and studying writing for a while (like several years at the very least; more is better) there'll be times when you're really sure. Bottom line, it comes down to what the publisher as represented by your editor is willing to agree to, but don't be afraid to make your case if you feel strongly about something.

Since Shawn mentioned regionalisms and specialized knowledge, that's another kind of fix that maybe shouldn't be fixed. I remember having to explain to an editor what "teabagging" was once; obviously she didn't hang out with any gamers :) but it was a term my character would have used. If specialized dialect or terminology gets flagged, consider whether it's clear in context what you mean, and whether it needs to be perfectly clear; sometimes it doesn't. If your SF characters on a starship about to blow up are running around in a panic, blarking the frammistats and clearing the ion squoozers and rebooting the hadron dingusizers, it's probably obvious to the reader that they're trying to fix a technical problem, even if each exact word isn't clearly defined. :) Too much of this sort of thing is a bug rather than a feature, but a little can add flavor without actually losing the reader. But as Shawn also mentioned, if the editor and both proofers are all going "Huh?" then it probably needs to be reworked.

Re: disputing changes, how much is too much? The way I look at it is that we each have a kind of bank account where we deposit good will. Whenever you want to buck someone else, you're spending out of your good will account with that person. (This is true for every relationship you have, not just publisher edits.) If you spend until your good will is gone, you might find that person doesn't want to interact with you anymore, whether it's a lover who disappears, a friend who backs off, an employer who fires you or a publisher who decides it's too much trouble to contract your fiction anymore. Before you squawk a change, think about how much good will is likely in your account, and how much of it you'll need to spend on this change. Being professional in how you approach the situation will spend less good will than being indignant or snarky or whiny; being able to explain clearly what you want and exactly why will spend less good will than some vague, hand-wavy artiste type rant.

Make sure you always have a positive good will balance. And yes, I know this isn't exact -- it never is when you're dealing with other people. What it comes down to is making absolutely sure you feel strongly enough about a change to want to argue against it, absolutely sure you're right that your way is better (better for the story, not just for your ego), and that you're direct, polite and professional in how you handle the discussion. If there's any doubt in your mind about it, don't; save that good will for when you feel like you'll have to change your pseud and switch over to another genre if the book goes out as it is with your name on it. [wry smile]

And make your deadlines. Turning things in late spends good will too; save it for the important stuff.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Few Things

You'd think that by now people -- especially people involved with publishing -- would know better than to razz on writers. We can razz back with a vengeance, and we have a significant audience to do it for, or we know people who have significant audiences.

Arlene Harris started using iUniverse's services back when they were actually kind of reasonable. Their prices have gone up considerably, however, with no significant increase in services, so she's decided to take her business elsewhere. She wrote to them to terminate their business relationship, and got a snarky reply from some self-righteous marketing weasel, which begins, "Hello Ms. Harris, I wish there was something I could say to pacify your hurt feelings," and goes downhill from there.

Arlene happens to be friends with Colleen Doran, a very successful comic artist and writer. Colleen has been successful both through large publishing houses and on the self-publishing side. As she puts it herself: Unlike most of the people reading this, I have been a successful self publisher and have sold over 300,000 copies of my works via self publishing, not to mention all the books my name is on that I didn’t self publish. So Colleen knows whereof she speaks. Colleen has a huge blog audience, and decided to point out to iUniverse, line-item by line-item, exactly why any writer with a brain in his or her head would decide to forego their services. It's great -- read it here.


From the Department of Wasn't This SF a Few Years Ago? -- a Chinese company has plans for a humongous kind of bus, two lanes wide, that runs on tracks and is hollow on the bottom so cars can run under it. It's kind of like a big mobile tunnel with a passenger cabin on top. Check it out. Thanks to Tobias Buckell for the link.

It's worth watching the video, even if most of it is just some guy speaking Mandarin. (Of course, if you understand Mandarin, I'm assuming it's geometrically cooler.) There are bits in the video-within-a-video, though, showing how cars go under the bus, how the bus goes over stationary cars, how people get on and off, how they prevent trucks and cetera that are too big from running in the bus lanes, and what they'll do to get the passengers off in case there's some kind of wreck anyway. The last bit is almost at the end of the video. Cool stuff -- definitely a good idea for adding really big busses to city streets without adding to traffic congestion. From an SF writer's POV, though, it's necessary to keep up with this sort of thing. It'll let your near-future Chinese story sound a bit more realistic, and will prevent you from having your 24th century civil engineer dramatically unveil his Brand New and Original Mobile Tunnel-Bus idea. [wry smile]


Kristine Kathryn Rusch's Freelancer's Survival Guide is done. If anyone was waiting for the whole thing before reading, the whole thing is now there. She's working on getting both an e-book and POD print version up and ready to go. I'm getting the paperback, myself. I've been reading along and there's a ton of excellent info here -- more than most publishers would be willing to stuff into one volume, so rather than let the publisher decide what to cut, she's putting it out herself, complete and entire. This is a great resource, whether you're a writer or any other kind of freelancer, which includes anyone who owns a business or otherwise works for themself. Highly recommended.


One experiment has shown that snails might have a homing instinct. Ruth Brooks had snails in her garden, as many of us do, and since she'd rather not hurt them, she tried collecting them and taking them over to (waste land? sounds like a vacant lot, maybe?) and leaving them there. But they kept coming back, which was rather boggling, since scientists had thought the snails didn't have enough brain to manage something like a homing instinct.

This was only based on Ruth's own findings, though, which really isn't enough data. So Ruth is organizing a larger-scale experiment. They're in England, and they're only looking for a particular kind of snail, but it looks interesting anyway; I hope they get a lot of participants.

Speaking for myself, back when I did a lot of gardening, there was an alley behind our back yard, and on the other side of the alley were a bunch of front yards of houses facing the alley. I'd go out at night hunting snails and slugs; I'd pick up the snails and pitch them over the back fence. Every now and then I'd pick up a snail with a crunchy shell; he apparently hadn't learned his lesson and had come back. I'd pitch him again. The thing is, I had a decent arm, and after the snail landed, there would've usually been plant life (on the other side of the alley) closer than our back yard. But a lot of the snails came back anyway. Which is all completely unscientific, but I'm tending toward agreement on the whole snail-homing thing. Also, on the belief that snails are really stupid.

This is another data point for SF writers, though. You might well not need to invent a creature with a brain the size of a pigeon's to have something that'll find its way home.

Although I still think butterflies are the most amazing homers. I got this from a thing the spousal unit and I saw on TV (Life? Planet Earth? something like that) so I don't have any links, but butterflies -- Monarchs, IIRC -- actually migrate in three generations. They start out at one end of the migration path, fly to a waypoint and reproduce, then die. The next generation is born, pupates, flies on to the next waypoint and reproduces, then dies. The third generation is born, pupates, flies back to the starting point, reproduces, then dies. The thing is, none of the butterflies who are migrating have ever been where they're going before. Migratory yak and whales and swallows and salmon are born, then migrate somewhere else, then go back to where they were born, so they've been there before. Most of them will even have older members of their herd/pod/flock to show them the way. But butterflies keep flying between the same waypoints when none of them have ever been there before. That's freaky, in a pretty neat way. :)


The Fourth Vine over on Dreamwidth gave several Good Reasons for a Professional Fiction Writer to Fear Fan Fiction. This is an issue which pops up periodically and gets completely rehashed, with the usual griping, snarking, whining, and hystrionics. Fourth Vine summarizes the logical arguments neatly, and lets you know which arguments are not at all logical and will get you mocked. My favorite is the last one, but they're all excellent, as is the accompanying commentary. This isn't a brand new post, but it'll be a fresh issue soon enough, and then again, and again after that; classics are always relevant.


I'm up in Reno visiting my mom and my brother this week. The third was my birthday, although we're going to dinner tonight; this is my brother's first day off. I'm spending a lot of time on the laptop, as usual, but if I take a while to get around to various blogs, or don't comment as often as I usually do, that's why. [wave]


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Prop 8 Ruled Unconstitutional

A federal judge in California has ruled that Proposition 8, which amended California's constitution to ban same-sex marriage, violates the US constitution. This is wonderful news, although it's only the first step; further appeals are likely to go all the way to the Supreme Court.

"After hearing extensive evidence in support of marriage equality, and essentially no defense of the discrimination wrought by Prop 8, Judge Walker reached the same conclusion we have always known to be true – the Constitution’s protections are for all Americans, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "We thank the courageous plaintiff couples, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies for their tremendous efforts leading to today’s decision and their ongoing commitment as the case moves forward on appeal. The battle for marriage equality continues, and we must all continue our work – in courthouses and statehouses, in church pews and living rooms – until equality is reality for LGBT people and our families everywhere."

This is wonderful. If the Supreme Court rules the same way, that should effectively grant marriage equality throughout the country, if I'm not missing something. (If I am, someone please point it out in comments.) But we could be just a few years from having this mess completely behind us.

Thanks to James Buchanan for the link.


Review of A Hidden Magic

Elisa Rolle posted a great review of A Hidden Magic yesterday, which was a pretty excellent birthday present. :)

I was really interested in reading this novel, Angela Benedetti is one of my oldest online friends and many time we shared our preferences in old fashioned romances, and often we agreed on them. So yes, I knew even before reading it, that the romance part of this story would have been good, and it was. What probably I was also expecting is for the book to be clever. I wasn’t probably expecting for it to be funny.

Let be sincere, when speaking of alien invasion, even if the “aliens” are not from a far away galaxy, but from the fey world, well, funny is not the exact term to describe a story. Especially if the fey creatures, trolls, fairies, incubi and a lot more of other mythical creatures, feed on humans killing them.

But this group of fighting hero is not exactly your special squad: Aubrey, apparently the boss since he is the strongest and oldest, looks like a barely legal pretty boy; his boyfriend Cal is a restaurant owner; Manny is a bookstore owner and former nurse and Paul, the baddest of the all, is a paranormal romance writer! Not exactly the men you are expecting to save the world, right? But they are doing their job fairly, and are not against the idea to include someone else in their group.

I didn’t understand if Manny was inviting Rory to lunch with them since he understood he was a possible candidate or if he was only gentle; in any case, Rory is a “blaze”, basically an huge reserve of magical power fey people want for themselves. All his life Rory believed to be psychopathic since he was seeing “things”, things other people were not able to see; he spent most of his life taking drugs to dull down his sight and now, suddenly, he is not alone in seeing those things. Problem is that now the things are after him and the only shelter against them is Paul.

Paul, the paranormal romance writer, is also a big man with too much piercing and with a passion for the hard rock style. All the opposite of Rory, who, for all his life, has tried to avoid stimulation, like strong colour, strong emotions and strong passions… Near Paul he is having an over flooding of them, and he is not able to stop it. Even if outside there are bad things waiting and hunting for Rory, inside Rory’s house, Paul and him are playing “boyfriends”, sharing a coach, a passion for sci-fic movies and pizzas; the sex is something both of them want, but like two good teenagers at their first experience with passion, they are willing to wait and know each other better.

This is another aspect of the book I liked; aside from a scene almost at the beginning of the book, when an incubus attacked Rory, sex is always there, simmering underneath, but not the main dish; sex here is more like a dessert you need to wait to fully favour it.

I'm glad she enjoyed it, and particularly happy that she liked the "simmering" sex. I don't write cover-to-cover sex even in my shorter pieces, and the longer the story, the less verbage the sex seems to take up, proportionally. I can't help it; I'm more of a plot person. There are so many novels around that are the opposite, it's great to run into other people who like sex as one of many plot devices rather than as the reason for the entire book.

I hadn't really thought of how mundane all the guys' occupations were, either, until she mentioned it. I was trying to create ordinary people whose one really special characteristic was the magic. Also, there are enough private investigators and Navy SEALs and dukes and princes and billionaire tycoons running around romance; maybe I was unconsciously trying to subvert that cliche a bit? [ponder]

That's the best part of getting feedback -- when someone reads your story and makes you think about it or look at it a bit differently. :)