Hopefully this will not blow the comments to Kingdom Come.
Wave of the Google Wand:
I e-mailed to bitch -- twice -- at the Powers That Be -- and suddenly I have BloggerPro again. Nice. The new layout still sucks, but I'll adjust. Just don't deprive me of my spell check, the consequences could be really ugly.
And Where the Hell is my Spell Check?
Blogger's Google switch over happened, I guess -- I had to relogin, then plow through some silly page of new "Guess What We're Doing" stuff -- which had no link to my blog -- then sign in a second time before it brought me here, to the newly revised and extremely unattractive Blogger editing screen.
Okay, the About Us sidebar is the first thing that has to go -- I am not
dealing with that much yellow every morning.
Just In Case:
You've invited the United States of America to your house to dinner, here
are how many place settings you'll need.
The writing clan over at FM has kindly made some reading recommendations (thank you, Gerri, for starting the discussion) so I'm putting together a new list of SF books to read. It's interesting to see that of the dozens of books recommended I've only read two and a half; loathed one, liked one, and was unable to finish the third. I have to double check and see if "Hunting the Corrigan's Blood" by Holly Lisle is mentioned; that one I loved.
Some of the titles conjure associations that I wish I wouldn't make. Yet SF authors seem determined to title their books and series with words that are silly, unpleasant, obscure or just...(wordless shudder.) Nancy Kress's "Beggers in Spain" will be hard for me to pick up; the title reminds me of the beggers I've seen in Mexico; in particular one who had a maggot-infested eye socket. Still, I was able to make some humorous associations and idle predictions from a few others:
"Doomsday Book" -- Four horsemen, the moon turns to blood, God gets pissed, and a really bad ending, am I right?
"Lensman" -- the exciting, action-packed adventures of an optometrist to the stars!
"Cyteen" -- (Georgia farmer to his wife) "Wall, Martha, thar's been another cy-teen of them thar flying saucers, out yonder by the pig pen...."
"Merlin's Disease" -- hey, that one sounds promising...unless it's a blood disorder...
"Carrion Comfort" -- (one hyena to another) "I say, old chap, would you care for a bit of gazelle? You're looking rather peaked."
"The Mote in God's Eye" -- (God, with one hand clapped over His eye) "See, Moses? This
is precisely why I told
you not to run around Heaven with that staff."
And before anyone yells, yes,
I know I'm being disrespectful and please
don't take any of this seriously -- I certainly can't or I'll never make it past #1 on the SF TBR list.
On the Auction Block:
You book lovers out there might want to jaunt over to London; the personal library of novelist Iris Murdoch is up
for auction. The 1,070 books, described as "ranging from the works of Plato to a book on the effects of LSD" were shown at the Antiquarian Book Fair in London, and are being sold as a set with a starting price tag of L150,000. The most valuable aspect of the collection are Murdoch's extensive margin notes and personal notebooks.
I zeroed in on the fact that it's her ex-husband who's selling the library. That sucks, he should have donated it to a museum or something**. Just in case any of my former spouses get a similar idea in their tiny heads, forget about it -- I've got an iron-clad will, and the kids are the only ones who will profit from it.
I have to apologize for this remark; it turns out Dame Iris's ex is selling the books to help fund a building project at St Anne's College, where Murdoch used to teach and live (see comments.) I am sorry for making an erroneous assumption. Thanks to glovefox for letting me know. Now, to get this foot surgically removed from my mouth...
I'm trying to do a little weblog maintenance this week; the sidebar is therefore undergoing rearrangement/reconstruction as I delete/add/alphabetize. I still like the colors and setup of the page so I won't be changing it. Anything more sophisticated would require me to learn more techno babble (and we all know how cranky I get about that) but I would like to set up a section of direct links to the writer stuff in the archives. And Lord, when did my archives get so huge?
Time flies when you're having fun blogging, I guess.
I waded through being garbledeesnooked -- see, I am being a good girl and trying very hard to read more SF -- and promptly got:
: [from the colloquial Kelly, testosterone + gonged - one
] Idiot authorial intrusion; the deliberate patronizing or maligning of women via ludicrous fictional representation; the abrupt discovery that a male author has a misogynist axe to grind and the female reader's face is his whetstone of choice.
Okay. (Book flies across the room, barely misses trash can, lands in the Friends of the Library donation box.) So much for that
Is that a word? Can I make it one?
Garbledeesnooked: [from the colloquial Kelly, garbled + de + snooked
] The sensation of a reader subjected to opening chapters written by important authors with no dialogue or action; feeling as if one is being choked by a large, dead fish.
Now This is Neat:
I was hunting for some new story generators when I came across this one
offered by the Northern Colorado Writers' Workshop. You cut and paste up to 6K of text from your story (they recommend 1K for it to work best), click the button and it rearranges what you've written into what they call "new story starter" sentences. Here are some examples of what it did to my prose:
(from the prologue of White Nights)
I don’t like a banshee.
A spray of their knots like blow torches, dripping red wax out at her neck, gurgling on the knife.
Off with their knots like a banshee.
A long, dark Unexpected light hair billowing out the lighting arrangements.
The fussy little and hectic color flushed her cheeks a jerky nod.
“With what?” Given the girl, saw gray ash inside.
Complete with absolutely no bottom I was standing in a dark wet patch covered the wool loops sizzled and bits of the hall.
Tonight’s monster: The fussy little steps.
“Hey.” I landed, if a grungy Mary Poppins would hold together long pale tongue.
Then rage, agony, defeat.
I wanted this “Gaaa ..."
(from the opening scene of Gamers)
The ship clusters of the impact.
Not that had been completely wiped out.
Her claws dug into the arena, and forced her “Shall I activate the scout than listen since he’d gone down to the droplift.
The fact that were still working on them almost as always – survival.
“Access vessel Yet he’d done Blood and her many escape attempts, had begun firing on an envirosuit.
Feeling a lover.
It shouldn’t be only a button.
Her hand dropped, and her many during her eyes.
She thought of her skull.
“Are we there"
one she could steal and finally, free.
After thirty years of death and focused the back of her eyes.
She pressed her nature to the viewer and focused the end, time had been completely wiped out.
Her hand dropped, and scrolled as she battled in the arena, and wiped the scarred bulge at the base of a button.
Her kind were only concerned with their own lines.
No one click of death and smoke blinded Tya as she crawled out from under the tightest security measures.
The scout was gone; her And he had lied.
She hadn’t seen him just another humanoid fool when she punched them, and smoke blinded Tya popped the arena, but if that were still working on the Falkertek.
She’d thought He’s dead.
He’s dead and it’s over.
(from Chapter One of Castling)
She slapped the high, carved board.
She yanked, then yelped.
Not the feel of soft Her skin None of supports above the strange images and tell me!”
In the meantime, she moved – a jack in words I am.
Tell me who I – I be Dochek, my lady.
Your body Who would care what Another female The old woman’s funny-looking dress.
“Tell me She approached the meantime, she breathed in front of urine, spattering the huge pallet
There she was.
Another female murmured something soft and more colorful.
Doesn’t make up for her mouth, it on her no mind.” The odd garment she was.
Another female spoke.
“Sciona, please.” Sciona?
She felt her She’d been cut, without a jack in a low, hesitant way.
“Nijoc be the Sciona Thienne.” “What is this place?
G?” She’d never went by without a square arrangement of them from Rasty.
The front part wrinkled as she moved – a beating from the bed and further excuses will only displease the pallet, and the weird way the ground.
Shiny brown hair someone had done that?
I know a lot of them don't make sense but some of them are pretty startling. Fun to play with, and quite possibly a great jump start for the stalled muse. :)
This isn't Monday. Oh, the calendar may say it is, but it doesn't feel like one. Too many nice things happened this morning:
-- Praise from the FM clan, posted under sneakily-worded headers so I didn't know going in to read that the threads were about my books. Still flustered over that.
-- A call to my agent expressing serious interest in "White Nights" the proposal for which said caller only received a week ago (more on this as things develop, or don't.) Not excited yet, but flattered by the turn around time.
-- An e-mail from my editor, who is presently on maternity leave and due to deliver her next child in 48 hours, with a last minute editorial thought. Said thought nicely filled up a gaping plot hole I missed (utterly beyond the call of duty.) Some editors are just pure jewels.
-- A box of fabric arrived, repayment for vintage material swap, and among many interesting fat quarters, ten yards of flawless vintage silk, deep emerald green, with this note attached: "I'm too afraid to cut it, it's all yours." I'm not sure but I think it's French, and now I'm afraid to cut it. :)
When I was a little girl (back around the time we discovered fire) my grandmother used to take me with her when she went department-store shopping. The lingerie department was my favorite place in the store, because there were so many strange and exotic-looking things: garter belts, girdles, strapless bras, all in white or pastel colors, many in neatly-stacked boxes. Short, decently-cut cotton print nightgowns were hung on the outer display racks; silky negligees were hung low on the wall behind the customer service counter. There was a faint smell of sizing and (I think) lemon in the air, and even though my brothers would giggle to see all the underpants hung from little hangers I loved walking around and looking at everything. There was infinite mystery and future promise in women's lingerie -- I'd stand next to a 48D strapless satin bra, look down at my flat little chest and wonder if I'd be that big (never happened.)
Wherever we went in those stores, the sales clerks came right up to grandma the moment they spotted her. They were all nice, well-dressed middle aged people who always called her "ma'am" and admired me (I wasn't much in the chassis department and my haircut was inevitably tragic, but I had pretty eyes and was generally well-behaved.) The clerks would fall over themselves to help grandma find something, even if it took them an hour and three trips to the stock room. They always offered to gift box her purchase and would do so at the register. Everything else was meticulously folded and gently placed in a perfectly-sized bag.
Fast forward thirty-odd years to the present: I recently took my daughter with me to a department store to buy more socks for both of us and a wedding gift for a friend. The lingerie department looked like a small cyclone had gone through it; everywhere there were items ripped from the hangers, yanked out of boxes and packages and thrown on the floor. About a quarter of the stock looked damaged or soiled. No clerks in sight. Kathy picked up this thing -- not sure what the hell it was, but it looked like it came straight out of a BDSM catalog -- and asked me what it was. With a completely straight face I said "extra straps for bathing suits."
After much rummaging through the undeclared disaster area, I found two unopened packages of appropriately-sized socks and a pretty chemise set for my friend. No price tag on the chemise, though, and it was the last one. Still no clerks, so I walked over to the next department, which was men's ties or something. The young man behind the counter was nicely dressed but he regarded me and my daughter like we were coughing Chinese immigrants. I set the stuff down, explained that there were no clerks in the lingerie department and warned him the chemise set had no price tag.
Department store price checking is, undeniably, a nightmare for all parties concerned. I think that clerk would have vastly preferred me to subject him to what Thomas Jane did to Angelina Jolie before he kissed her during the stairway scene in "Original Sin."
I was not called ma'am or treated with anything remotely resembling courtesy, but I'm used to that now. Basically I spent the next forty-five minutes standing to one side, watching other customers being checked out, and keeping Kath occupied by playing "I Spy" and chuckling over the uglier tie displays. The clerk eventually made up a price for the chemise, rang my stuff up, shoved it into a bag the size of Nebraska and did not respond to my thank-you.
I know I rant a lot about customer service, especially in stores, and I know a lot of of this is in response to overwhelming numbers of nasty, uncaring customers. It's why I don't bitch and complain when I'm treated like garbage in a store; I have complete sympathy for the clerks. The thing is, I come from a gentler time, and I can't shake my memories of how nice it was (once) to be appreciated for your business. I really wish we could go back to those days.
Free Online Writer's Guide:
I stumbled across the Paradigm Writer's Assistant
website, which offers a variety of writer how-to and help stuff. I checked out a couple of areas and, while the Forum appears to be full of SPAM and the site hasn't been updated in six months, some of the articles could prove helpful to kickstarting the muse or getting more organized. They sell copies of their content, but also claim they have everything posted on the site, so if you can't afford the $7 you should be able to browse to what you want to read.