Links to Get You Thru the Midweek Slump

I’ve got a few links to fun, informative, or otherwise interesting things to help tide you over ’til the warmth returns (it got *cold,* darn it!) and the weekend rolls near.

Let’s start with fun. Do you like webcams? Do you like wildlife? Then check out the bald eagle nest camera, complete with baby eaglet. Be forewarned: this one can be habit forming! (can you believe the beak on that baby! ouch!)

It’s the final seven days of the Fantasy Scroll Magazine Kickstarter, and the goal is within reach! Check out the Kickstarter and the rewards here. Also, a teaser Issue 0 with 2 stories is up on the website. Good reading!

Writing advice on the internet is everywhere, but good advice–especially written in an engaging fashion–may be more hard to come by. These posts by Charlie Jane Anders on iO9 are fun, engaging, and might just improve your writing game.

Are you looking for ways to connect with people with your writing? Are you wondering why it matters if your characters are all male, or all European, or all-whatever? Just want to learn more what it feels like to be excluded, or to suddenly find a sense of belonging in the media? Then head over to the Jim C. Hines-edited collection of essays, titled “Invisible,” for a look inside the lives of folks of many stripes of exclusion, how their lives were impacted by that exclusion, and how you as a writer can make a difference.

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Writer’s Desk, 4/15

What’s happening at my computer desk? Glad you asked:

Out the window: Gray skies, gusting winds, rain and scudding clouds. Falling temperatures. A good day to stay inside. And write about stuff going on in a warm place.

On the desktop: Hold onto your chair, dear reader! The desktop is…relatively clean. (gasps of shock and wonder) Yes, I know–amazing. A couple notebooks hold…duh…notes. A pen and a few 3″ x 5″ cards are in a growing stack as I attempt to figure out the plotting/outline of the novel-in-progress. The computer, keyboard and mouse. And that’s it! Yay for clean!

Today’s Work-in-Progess: Make more 3″ x 5″ cards! I will transfer these to Scrivener when I’m done, but right now the thought of making them electronically and not being able to see them all at once just makes me antsy. That might make me a control-freak (or maybe not) but I’m not getting stopped by a lack of “visual stimulus” at this point, you know? Another good thing? They’re easy to move from the clean desk, to the living room floor, to the kitchen table. Well, so is the laptop, I guess–but that hardly seems like “vacation,” while this does, you know?

At this point, just getting ahead of “planning paralysis” is a step in the right direction. My cat vacuuming tendencies run rampant at this time; after all, I’m not involved in a daily word count kind of place, so who’s to say whether I met my daily goal or not. That’s how my wily procrastinator-brain likes to try derailing me. Watch me get those cards done today!

And Another Thing: Yesterday it was about 74°F, sweetly humid and breezy. I took a NJsnakewalk in that absolutely lovely weather, in the shady, boggy woods where I like to go. And I saw my first local snake! I can’t tell you how thrilled this made me. I’ve been missing snakes (yes, I’m strange, I know that and accept it), you see, so this felt like a little jolt of “home.” I didn’t get close enough to identify it (didn’t want to scare it away from good hunting grounds), and I’m unfamiliar with NJ snakes, so I don’t know what kind it was, but seeing this good-sized snake just made me smile.

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Thinking Spring

daffies

The weather is glorious, and so is my mood. Last week I walked in the woods and found skunk cabbages just beginning to unfurl their leaves, and their “flowers” open wide in the swampy areas. Tiny frogs, midway between tadpole and frog form, cree-ed and splashed away, and an eagle whirled overhead on the thermals. Today, as the photo beside shows, the daffodils are blooming in the continued warmth.

skunk2

Skunk cabbage leaves glowing in the afternoon sunlight.

skunk1

Skunk cabbage flower on the eroded stream bank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things are progressing in my writing world, as well. I’ve gotten well into the heads of my two protagonists, and have fleshed out the secondary characters pretty well (I hope; we’ll soon find out!). Next comes the final pass on the plot before I start outlining the novel, trying to flesh out the form before I start writing those terrible/wonderful words: Chapter One.

It’s a confusing time, as one minute I’m thrilled that things seem to be progressing so smoothly. In the next minute, I’m terrified that it’s all about to explode all over me in a mess of words so ridiculous that I’ll never be able to lift my head again for the shame of it all. All in all, about normal (I’m guessing), for the beginning novelist.

 
How goes it with you?

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“Geek Theater” Signal Boosting

Today’s quick post is signal boosting for another VP graduate’s latest project. Erin Underwood is co-editing an anthology of of science fiction and fantasy stage plays from current SFF authors and playwrights. It’s to be called “Geek Theater,” and it seems pretty unique. I mean, you see SFF novels, short stories, and movies–but plays? Really? How cool is that? So if you love SFF, or theater, or both, consider dropping a buck in their Kickstarter.

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My Fish has had Babies…Again?

I think I brought home the piscine goddess of fertility. For the third time, my female swordtail–formerly named Pearl, now known as Ms Fertility–has dotted the fish tank with babies! Which she and her consort Earl then chase and eat (eww).

On the plus side, the new babies gave me a scale to see just how much those first babies have grown. I hadn’t thought they were very large, that their growth had leveled off since they still aren’t big enough for the main tank. But wow, was I wrong! By the time the fifth spawn arrives, I’m sure the original batch will be big enough to send to new homes :-/

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Orchid Alert

orchidSo I was cleaning up the plants 3 weeks ago, and what did I find? The tiny orchid I bought just before leaving Cleveland, and which I’d transplanted into a larger pot late last summer, had grown not one but two new flower stalks which were covered with fat buds. Here is the orchid now!

Honestly, I don’t know what I did to merit this kind of floral appreciation from the plant, but whatever it was, I’m glad I did it.  FYI, I bought it in a 2″ pot and moved it into a 4″ pot, so it’s still pretty small. But I gotta admit, this is making me look at those “other” orchids in a new light; I’d always considered orchids to be touchy and temperamental, but this one has thrived on my neglect. Now I may think about adding another one to my rag-tag houseplant collection.

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Need A Little Something to Read?

Here’s a write-up from NPR on the Campbell Award and the authors eligible for it, highlighting the 2014 Campbellian Anthology. As the story states, this is a really long work, so you’ll have both plenty to keep you reading, and plenty of reading that you’ll like. You can find the anthology here, free to download and to read.

Why else should you read this, except for the joy of it (since initial voting for the Campbell Award is over)? Well, as K. Tempest Bradford suggests, its a good way to see what editors are publishing from the “young up-and-comers,” and how those stories compare to what you may be writing. Not to copy them, but to try judging your work’s quality, side by side, against a wide variety of “competition.”

And also to see who you may be reading more of in the near future! Good luck and best wishes to all those eligible for the Campbell Award this year. And for the rest of us, happy (and free!) reading.

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Today’s Desk, 3/28

Another thrilling glimpse into the glamour of my writing life:

Out the window: High clouds shading from a cold gray, into the bluish Payne’s gray (one of my favorite colors!), into paler shades of off-white and gravel. Strong winds toss the shrubs and trees, so they dance and sway. But the temps are far nicer than expected–the low 60′s, I think. It actually feels like spring, for a change. And so far, the rain has gone around us.

On the desktop: Maps! Two at the moment, but I think I need to create another one. These are the maps I’ve made of the land, and the world, of my novel-in-progress. I started with the area, then spread to the country that the story will operate within. Then I expanded that to the populated world. I didn’t include the poles, since no one lives there, or the uninhabited islands near the equator, or a few other such things…but maybe I should? After all, while my characters will never leave their country, the greater world (though cut off now for nearly 20 years by an apocalyptic event) still exists and is referred to. Looks like I have work to do.

Also on the desk are a couple different notebooks, holding paper notes from when turning on the computer is likely to have me surfing instead of writing (sigh, yes: distractions R me).

Today’s Work-in-Progess: Well, obviously it seems, I need another quick, large-scale map. And then I get to turn my attention to further world building. Today’s topic to adequately explain to myself:  How does religion evolve in a world where magic is real, and practiced by humans (with training, but still) for profit? I can already feel the headache coming on as I wrestle with this one. I’d better schedule a couple days for this, I think.

And Another Thing: Remember that Coursera class I’m taking? I expected it to help with my SF short stories, but it’s helped in this fantasy story, as well. I needed a plausible reason why people wouldn’t live on the shore of the oceans, or close to the oceans on navigable rivers. You can only make so many coasts “dangerous cliffs” before it becomes a bit of a stretch, you know? So I pondered this, and it came to me–that lecture in the class, the one on moons? The instructor mentioned that multiple moons would make tides more erratic, and more likely to be huge, like Earth’s Bay of Fundy. Tah-dah!!! Perfect reason not to live near the very dangerous shorelines. My world now has three moons. Which also affected holidays, and their mythology, etc.

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