ashnistrike: (lightning)
There is still no inspiration quite as inspiring as a story request from an actual person.  In related news, I'd be grateful for suggestions about any of the following:

1) Sources on Japanese American food just post World War II--either descriptive or actual recipes.  So far I've got this NPR piece on Weenie Royale, which is pretty cool even if it doesn't sound particularly tasty.  Cookbooks for modern Japanese American food are easy to find--anything prior to the general introduction of sushi in the US, not so much.

2) Sources, either fiction or non-fiction, for mood in the US in response to the start of the Cold War.  I have a pretty good handle on what it felt like after everyone got used to it (as much as one can get used to the looming shadow of nuclear war), but could use a better idea of the balance between post-war techno-optimism and oh-god-what's-that-thing-on-the-horizon in the late 40s.

3) When did commercial cross-continent air travel actually start to be a thing?  That is, at one point did it switch from one-offs for ridiculously rich people to regular flight schedules available to the merely well-to-do? Thank you, Wikipedia--looking up the actual airports I want to use gives me the information I need.  (As opposed to searching for general histories of air travel, which did not.)
ashnistrike: (lightning)
Hello, and welcome.  You've reached my irregularly updated Livejournal.  A sampling of reasons why it is irregular:

1) I write fiction: you can find some of it online at Strange Horizons and Drabblecast--and on this journal, where I reprinted a story from Analog for Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day.  My most recent stories, The Litany of Earth and Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land and The Deepest Rift, are available at Tor.com. Winter Tide, a novel following Aphra Marsh's story after "Litany of Earth," will be out from Macmillan's Tor.com imprint on April 4, 2017.

2) I write non-fiction: you can find some of it at Green Minds, my old blog on the psychology of sustainability.  With Anne M. Pillsworth, I co-write a Tor.com series on rereading Lovecraft.

3) I have a large, complicated family.  They're hard to count because they move so quickly, but I'm fairly certain there are at least 3 children, at least some of the time.  I definitely have a wife, who is wonderful and the main reason I ever have time for all this other stuff.
ashnistrike: (lightning)
Elizabeth Bear ([livejournal.com profile] matociquala) has an excellent guest post on SF Signal, about disability in science fiction--why it's worth including, how to do it right, and how to do it wrong.  I read it with interest, both because it's a topic that interests me in general and because it's a topic that shows up in my own stories.  I like playing with how deficits get defined, and by who, and how much trouble comes from an actual physical or mental issue versus how much comes from the way society handles it.

But, so, anyway.  The first comment--actually, the first 3 or 4 comments--is S.M.Stirling "pointing out" that within a hundred years we'll have a perfect understanding of biology, and therefore we won't have disabilities, so why should we write about them.

Obviously one could argue with every assumption in that very weird statement.  From a purely scientific standpoint, for a start... since we've never reached a perfect understanding of any other field of inquiry, we have no data points to infer how long it will take in biology.  Nor do we have any reason to suppose that perfect understanding equals perfect control.  We understand computer programs pretty well, after all, having created them.

Also, I just went to a seminar on neuroscience data, and we were all really excited by a database that mapped the physical shape of 13 neurons in the hippocampus.  They had 2000 human neurons total.  Not all from the same human, you understand, or connected to each other.  I'm sure we'll get better at this over the next few years, but from a Bayesian standpoint I would bet a fair amount that perfection will take longer than a century.

But, so anyway.  Circumstances did not permit me to get in a neuroscience slapfight on Tuesday merely because someone was wrong on the internet, and by the time I got back someone else had done it.  Instead, I decided to take Stirling's scientific postulates for granted--we will have a perfect understanding of biology, and perfect understanding allows perfect control--and asked what disability would look like under those circumstances.
Read more... )

ETA: S.M. Stirling, not Steve Brust. Apologies to Brust, whose name was in my head because I just got excited about the publication date for Hawk.
ashnistrike: (lightning)
Lethe Press is seeking short stories and novelettes for Daughters of Frankenstein: Lesbian Mad Scientists.  Pro rates.  You know you want to.

The original deadline was January 31st.  Melissa Scott says they're extending to July 31st, though there's nothing up on the official site yet.

In other news, I appear to have written a 2700-word epistolary mad science love story with giant mind-controlled grasshoppers.  If you'd like to volunteer as a research subject--sorry, I mean beta reader, just reading, absolutely no untested mind-control devices involved, I promise--please let me know.  I'm aiming for the January 31st deadline, just in case.
ashnistrike: (lightning)
Tell me awesome, worrisome, trivial, or terrifying details about modern Rome?
ashnistrike: (lightning)
The 2nd issue of Crowded Magazine is out, with "The Jester's Child" available within.  Transhuman starving artists take in a stray mortal child, and have to decide where their priorities really lie.
ashnistrike: (lightning)
I've sold the transhuman starving artists story to Crowded Magazine.  It should be coming out over the summer.
ashnistrike: (lightning)
Apparently the last time I posted a media consumption review, I got all the way up to July 2012.  It's been a pretty busy few months.  More on that in a later post that will hopefully actually happen.  In the meanwhile, here are the most interesting things that I read in the 2nd half of 2012, made easier by the fact that the Great Big Work Project has eaten enough spoons to send me into rereading mode for much of the winter.

Debt: The First 5000 Years )Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson )
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, by Lois McMaster Bujold )

Permanence, by Karl Schroeder )

Online Fiction: Methods of Rationality and Shadow Unit )

Music: Talis Kimberley's Queen of Spindles )

New Media Created:  Little bits on both novels: My Obsession With the Field Museum Let Me Show You It and Transhuman Starving Artists Raise a Family (note: not real titles).  Also a short story written in one evening on a prompt from [livejournal.com profile] aspenwolf.  As of January 1st, I am back on the Novel in 90 discipline and making some serious progress on My Obsession With the Field Museum.

I sold two sestinas in 2012.  "Pantheon" is out in the January issue of Starline.  (And for my few readers who will know what this means, this is officially the first published bit from the Changewinds universe.  Apparently no context is necessary to appreciate it, though.)


Stats for the year:

Books Read: 52--busy year in many other ways.  Nine non-fiction, and three fiction that weren't SF or fantasy (assuming you count the Gibson).  Thirteen rereads.  Nine new-to-me authors, of which Tim Pratt is far and away my favorite discovery.  Three books thrown against the wall.  Only one book marked as failing the Bechdel test all year (the intensely disappointing Wicked Gentlemen).  Either I'm getting better at picking out books with girls in, or skilled authors are more likely these days to avoid that particular failure mode. 

Music: 4 new albums. Genres include modern classical, folk rock, whatever the hell Grey Eye Glances are, and activist filk.

Movies: Apparently... zero.

TV: A little bit of Doctor Who and Criminal Minds.

Other:  A reading party for Love's Labours Lost, and a slightly dubious production of Cymbeline, which is a slightly dubious play to begin with.
ashnistrike: (Default)
I'm sitting in a hostel in Minneapolis, feeling slightly at loose ends while I wait for this conference to kick into gear.  So, meme.

Tell me about a story I haven't written, and I'll give you one sentence from that story.
ashnistrike: (Default)
Every year at Wiscon, [livejournal.com profile] elisem spends an evening giving out titled earrings in exchange for haiku written with the title as a prompt.  It is a powerful ritual.  For some people, it's the only poem they write all year.  However, I am not that person, and I find that after writing the haiku, my brain still itches, and I need to write something else to satisfy the craving.

Someone who was there, and paying a great deal of attention to the people present, could probably time the writing of this sonnet by the descriptions in the first verse.

A fairy scarlet-haired and leather-capped,
A woman garbed in time lord’s blue and white;
Hands hold a pen, and child gently wrapped
And set to task: with well-worked stones to write.

The line winds through the room; we seek our sparks.
Lift every bead: weigh color, shape, and feel,
And look for omens hidden in their marks:
A hint of immanence and words made real.

An unassuming bead of wood carved round,
A pewter-masted ship with sails unfurled,
A square of jasper map-marked by the ground,
And each one holds a poem, a thought, a world.

Hands work in gold and silver, stone and wire;
Eyes find the name—and light the muse’s fire.

ashnistrike: (Default)
After about 2 years of mostly getting distracted by work foo, I have finally finished the second Aphra Marsh story.  Which turns out to be a novellette at 11,000 words.  About half written in the last month, so I seem to be back on track for writing habit, huzzah.

I'm still not sure what I'm going to call it--"Going Between," the title of its [livejournal.com profile] elisem necklace, doesn't quite fit, and "The Shadow After 'The Shadow After Innsmouth'" is about as inappropriate as titles come.

To do list now: 1) Edit. 2) Figure out where to send the much longer stand-alone sequel to an unsold Lovecraft pastiche. 3) Figure out whether to focus next on the post-singularity domestic hard SF novel, or the urban fantasy with landscape architecture and hot boy-on-boy scholarly collaboration.
ashnistrike: (Default)
The "work-in-progess" meme, via [livejournal.com profile] robling_t:

1. Go to page 77 (or 7) of your current manuscript.
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines – sentences or paragraphs – and post them as they’re written.
4. Encourage other people to do it!

I've got two current manuscripts...


"It's a strange sort of power," I murmured.

"This?" Jon hefted his compass.

I shook my head and swept my arm at the fair.  "It's turned into a legend, one of the things that holds Chicago together.  And it's beautiful.  But these people would never have wanted a gay Jew taking such liberties here."  I tried to avoid glancing sideways, checking his reaction.

And in the distant land of science fiction:

“Come on.  Let’s go find a place to sit.”  Ignoring the little breakfast nook right there in the kitchen, she led the kid back out to the main room.


Fortunately, her platform was one of the lower ones.  “Can you climb?” she asked.  He scrambled up the ladder.  She balanced the plate on her head (cloud-aided) and followed him, then handed it over.  He poked at it gingerly, and she added a belated fork.


In other news, I just spent two days at a workshop for people trying to build tricorders.
ashnistrike: (Default)
As a member of the Outer Alliance, I advocate for queer speculative fiction and those who create, publish and support it, whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity.  I make sure this is reflected in my actions and my work.

Unfortunately, none of my work with queer characters is actually published.  A couple of short stories are in submission, and can't be posted here right now.  So you get a scene from Land Beyond the Border, one of two novels in progress.  It's currently stalled in the midbook, actually; maybe this will help.

Quickie background and dramatis personae:  Between Earth and Faerie lies a narrow borderland.  Not all stories are true there, but the ones that have sunk deep into the collective consciousness take on a life of their own.  Sherua is from the section of the Border that is, essentially, where Indiana Jones goes to steal treasure.  As a Border native, she is fae-blooded, with mostly inconvenient results: an allergy to iron and limitations on her free will where it conflicts with the story defining her world.  She is currently stuck in the dinosaur section, trying to return a stolen map to her people.  Nadine Lopez is an anthropologist from the Field Museum in Chicago.  She is currently helping escort Sherua through dangerous territory, and sitting really hard on her desire to write the whole thing up for journal publication.  They are safe for the night in a walled town, and taking a much-needed trip to the bath house.


Read more... )Read more... )

ashnistrike: (Default)
Words: 1310
Total words: 5460
Scene finished?  Yes, and only one more to go.
Mean things: Mostly the same as before, plus breeder/non-breeder angst.

Clearly the next scene was not short, and this will not come in under 5000 words, and I cannot predict when my characters will go all maudlin on me.

Also, we have been virtupus today.  We finished the shopping and did the laundry and changed all the dead lightbulbs in awkward and rarely used corners of the house and replaced the ugly broken under-cabinet lights with good new lights from Home Despot and started our Thanksgiving cleaning.  And S made spicy chocolate-dipped apple chips, which are yummy and taste like Autumn.

New Story

Nov. 12th, 2007 09:45 am
ashnistrike: (Default)
Ghosts and Simulations is now up on Strange Horizons.

Hopefully I will be able to post soon about the reason I haven't posted since September.  All good stuff, but not entirely mine to explain yet.
ashnistrike: (writing)
I just learned that Strange Horizons will be publishing "Ghosts and Simulations," probably in November. I am now officially two thirds of a pro!

May 23rd is a good day for me, apparently. In 2003, it was the date of my doctoral graduation. It's also my wedding anniversary--which means that selling a story to one of my favorite markets is not even the best thing about today. I'm a very lucky person.
ashnistrike: (Default)
-Somehow, it's become Spring. The garden is full of apple mint and scallions. The yard is full of lilac and honeysuckle. Edible "weeds" are poking up all over our yard: mustard greens, sorrel, dandelion, bee balm. I never get over the way plants just grow.

-If the Internets know why my copy of Firefox now sticks my previous e-mail into any attempt to reply to someone, rather than quoting their e-mail, I'd appreciate them sharing their wisdom. It also sticks a copy of my previous lj post into the text box whenever I start to make a new post--and a copy of my previous comment on a given journal/community into the text box for my next comment. It does not confuse these different types of text entry with each other. My other copy of Firefox (on my work computer) does not do this. [ETA: Aha! It was the Greasemonkey "Backup text area" extension. It's gone now, and my e-mails quote properly again.]

-After correcting 60 undergraduate papers, every misplaced apostrophe digs into my flesh like a tiny thorn. "It's" = "it is"; "its" = possessive form of "it". Plurals do not get apostrophes, no matter how much they beg. Editors and teachers everywhere will love you for getting this right.

-If anyone, like me, is silly enough to use Windows Media Player for their music, I highly recommend not upgrading to version 11 when it's offered. The interface, based on the princple that graphics are good, and more graphics are better, is hideously ugly and hides most of the information that is presented on the surface in version 10. Particularly if you use any of the more esoteric columns (like "mood"), it absolutely refuses to give access to those. It took me half an hour to figure out that a rollback was even possible, and another hour to do it.

-My favorite typo yesterday--mine this time: I'd written, of a small tabby-colored dragon, "He looks like one of the Norse breeds, so he probably expects to eat bark in the winter." I attempted to change this to, "...he probably expects bark in the winter." Result? "He probably expects to bark in the winter." Nameseeker assumed this was an interesting evolutionary adaptation, but couldn't figure out how it might be a survival characteristic.
ashnistrike: (writing)
The first draft is done! All 128,000 words of it.

And 90,000 of those words have been written since January 6th. Thank you [livejournal.com profile] novel_in_90. My previous rate was about 20k a year, so under normal circumstances I would have finished this in mid 2011.

Things I have learned:
-Being told that I should put Butt in Chair and write for a certain length of time every day causes me to stare at a screen for that length of time. Knowing that I have to produce a certain number of words or be mocked causes me to pound out 750-ish words in an hour to an hour and a half.
-Waiting for the muse to strike does not give me better words than writing every day. Actually, I think I'm writing better words this way. This is partly because I can feel the novel's pacing more clearly when I'm writing at an even rate. Also because I've just fit four years of learning-by-doing into four months.
-Writing every day, workmanlike, does not take away the romance. I've had two days of writing ecstasy in the last four months, which is about average, maybe a bit high. It's just that I've had a bunch of productive writing days in between.
-As Neil Gaiman points out, a good writing day is a good day. Since I've been writing more, I've had more good days. Except for the usual end-of-the-semester stress, in fact, my mood has generally been more even than usual, and my productivity in other areas has been up too. If I know I have to produce words, there's no point in writing a day off entirely (no pun intended) when I'm feeling under the weather. On a related point, it's much more clear to me now when I'm actually sick or exhausted, because those are the days when I can't write.
-I can produce books at a reasonable rate around my academic schedule. This is good, since I love my day job and have no desire to quit.

I'm 31, and have been writing the same way, approximately, since I was old enough to pick up a pen. This is more or less the only thing I share with my 10-year-old self. I'd assumed that I was a very slow burst worker, that I produced my best work that way, and there was no way around it. Now it turns out that a completely different set of thought processes works even better for me. What else could I be missing?

Dinosaurs are next. Dinosaurs and editing. I'll probably be bugging my beta-readers with the first-pass draft in about a month.
ashnistrike: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] tavadriel and Ib have been and left. Tavi and I did our words in solidarity together, so I stayed caught up all weekend.

Project: In the Sight of Justice
New Words: 2951
Words Total: 46,082
Scene Finished: Several
Mean Things: Stupid monogamy tricks, stupid polyamory tricks, maternal abandonment, Ancient Masters of Atlantis playing girl detective
Possible Excuses Not to Write: Guests visiting, missing guests after they leave, head cold
Other Things Accomplished: Except for cooking dinners, not a lot. Went to the Field Museum, role-played, had fun and good company.

I am at that lovely point where the subplots start to weave back together and everything briefly makes sense. They will fly apart again soon enough--they're supposed to--but it's a nice feeling.

The semester starts tomorrow, so we'll see if I can keep this up. I'm going to try and figure out a good word count goal for school-related stuff, too, so I can get novels and tenure.

Thud

Jan. 9th, 2007 01:19 am
ashnistrike: (writing)
Didn't end up going in today--got an e-mail from a collaborator that caused me to stay home revising an article instead. Added some words there, and figured out pairwise comparisons.

Project: In the Sight of Justice
Words Today: 1040
Words Total: 42,133
Scene Finished: Yes.

It may be somewhat anticlimactic, to go from world-shaking politics to incompatible cross-cultural sexual mores, even if the personal soap opera eventually becomes relevant to the politics. I need to figure out how to manage this.

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