Wednesday, July 23, 2014

All Creatures, Small and Tiny

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Does violence define masculinity?

I'd say, yes, actually. That's with a whole bunch of caveats and recourse to definitions. Still, I think that most of what this guy says is both very right and very wrong. 

First, he claims that men = violence is entirely cultural... that it's trained into boys from their youngest years.  Part of that is true, but it's also not true.  We know that higher testosterone is associated with higher aggression in both men and women and men tend to have more testosterone. Violence is actually essentially human. We don't train it into ourselves, we train it OUT.*

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Dad's Hot Rod

There are T-shirts over the seat covers.

My dad has had this hot rod since he was a "rebel" in the 50's.  When I was a teenager he started to fix it up again, rebuild from the bottom up.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

How long is a Novella?

I'm starting to consider that I might be a novella writer.  Short stories don't seem to fit.  My ideas for novels seem to just peter out, even when I know how I want the story to conclude, because there doesn't seem to be enough going on.

But novellas Do Not Sell.

I learned this impermeable Truth about the same time I cut my milk-teeth learning about writing and publishing in the early 1990s.  Novellas do not sell.  It's a Short Story or the Game of Thrones.  Choose wisely, young one.

Novels, you see, are no longer 50,000 words (no matter what NaNoWriMo tells you), a novel begins at a nice meaty 80,000 words or It Will Not Sell.   It doesn't matter how many Golden Age space operas or Louis L'Amour novels you've loved nearly to the point of disintegration.  Novels start at 80,000 words.  I knew this with all my heart.

And then, as Grue from "Despicable Me" would say, "Light bulb!"

My expectations are stuck in the old paradigm, the traditional publisher, agent, brick-and-mortar trifecta of gate keepers who decided that the economic realities of book binding and distribution made novellas a waste of time.  What I learned so very well belongs to that version of publishing.

Ebooks are a whole new world.

As a consumer of ebooks, however, I've been burned.  Yes, they say you can check the file size and get a good idea about how long the story is that you're buying for $2.99.  To me this misses the "customer is always right" principle.  And if I'm selling novellas I want to be entirely up-front about what I am offering.

So I did a little web surfing and research to find out how different story lengths are categorized these days. There is some variation.  Different contests and awards have their own, very specific, rules.  Some add additional categories such as short-short and long-short stories. Generally, though, this is a pretty good approximation of what lengths are called what names.

Flash fiction:     less than 1000 words.
Short fiction:    1,000 to 7,500 words.
Novelette:        7,500 to 17,500 words.  
Novella:           17,500 to 40 or 50 or 60,000 words.
Novel:             Whatever is left.

Okay, so we've still got a problem. SFWA and the RWA define the "novel" category as anything upward of 40,000 words for their award categories. To give a good approximation, this is a 150 page novel.  It is approximately 1/2 inch thick, and has been unsalable as a "novel" for decades.

I found definitions online that put "novella" at 30,000 to 60,000 words.  The goal here isn't to be pedantic, it's to set and meet the expectations of readers. Readers expect a novel to be more than 300 pages, probably closer to 400 pages and at least 1" thick. That's 75,000 words and up.   It may feel like a story has been demoted to second class, but someone who is reading a 40,000 word, 150 page "novel" is going to wonder what happened to the rest of it.

The answer I found on the Writer's Digest website used the NaNoWriMo standard of 50,000 words as the cut between novella and novel... and then went on to say, as "writing advice" to someone, to expand their novella to novel length so it would be salable... "at least 80,000 words."  That is what readers expect because for decades that is what publishers would buy.

So I'm inclined to ignore the contest regulations for the Rita and Nebula awards and cut the difference between the technical and "real" novel length presented by WD, and go with the high number for "novella" that I found on my web searches, 60,000 words.

Novella < 60,000 < Novel

Other than that... Novelette and Novella can duke it out over where they split the take.

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Art my kid did for me for a book that's not done yet!

Definitely need to get my butt in gear!   But
at least my artist is hard working and prompt!
I'm intending this for the back cover art.  The 
front art has her asleep and the cherry blossoms
are small buds.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Cactus blooming season, 2014!

Prickly Pear growing by the road. 

A cactus I bought, bloom for the very first time TODAY.

Cholla cactus.  Not a good picture of the flower.

Wild claret cup somewhere south of Belen.

Claret cup in my garden.

A local claret cup I moved two yards to my garden.

"Single spined" claret cup I bought, blooming for the very first time.

Tiny pink blooms on a wild cactus.

Small local cactus with green-yellow flowers.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Awake in the Night Land

I heard a rumor this collection of novellas by John C. Wright was going to be FREE tomorrow...

It looks like something my husband would probably like.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Vengeance from Ashes

I just put up a review for this on Amazon.   Was it the best, most amazing book ever?  No.  But I started reading it, not *meaning* to read it but just meaning to look at it and read it later, at bed time and finished the book at 3:30 AM.   It's over the top adventure with Space Marines.   I wasn't quite expecting what I got but the price was right ($2.99) and there's that 3:30 AM thing...  at the point that a story keeps you up all night reading it, it counts as a success in all ways that matter.   Fun, adventure, intrigue, a looming threat, and Space Marines.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What cause is worth demanding women be victims?

So... this seems to be a thing.  I'd assume it couldn't be a thing, only a strange aberration, a case of "tweeting before thinking"... but I'm not sure.

The "thing" is Ms. USA... she's apparently pro-rape. She answered a question about rape in a pro-rapey sort of way.  So, is this a "thing" or just a couple of accidental tweets, like when you've eaten beans and aren't paying attention and they just sort of sneak out there and make a stink way way out of proportion?

In any case... this is the horrible horrible pro-rapey answer given by the woman who eventually wins Ms. USA.

She just makes the one statement, I think that the video repeats it a few time... so once she says it you can stop... there really isn't something more pro-rapey coming at the end.

Ace of Spades HQ had this *promptly* and included one of the offended tweets.  Larry Correia has a very nice run down of all (all?) of them.   A sample:

’I'm sorry, but women shouldn’t need to take self defense classes to protect themselves from rape #MissUSA— 
Peter Simon (@PeterSimon12) June 09, 2014

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Saturday, June 07, 2014

June Garden Update (lawn? what lawn?)

Salvia in the rock garden by the road.
These irises like their new location.

The dianthus are spectacular right now.
My "bought" cactus is blooming.

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Sunday, June 01, 2014

Bill Richardson, genius?

Well it's about time!

If the FAA approves we'll have Virgin Galactic spaceships launching from New Mexico.   The only thing sort of nearby is Whitesands, but I'm assuming they've got this figured out with the Air Force already.

Bill Richardson made a big deal about building a spaceport here (he was big on film kick-backs too) and while I'm skeptical of the economic wisdom involved I'm extra excited that maybe, just maybe, the facilities of Spaceport America aren't going to resemble one of those photo documentaries of abandoned Soviet architecture.

Spaceport America - from above it looks slightly like a bed pan.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Have you ever wondered how to evaluate a book or movie?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Symbolic summary of Lord of the Flies.

My kid wrote this for English class. I thought it was pretty darn funny.

Locke Pascal
Period 2

In The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, a group of Metaphors in the guise of English schoolboys are shot out of the sky after their transport plane is mistaken for a military craft. This caused the young Metaphors to be stranded on a Metaphoric Island after their probably metaphoric plane crashes and leaves a definite Metaphor of a Scar in the jungle.

Basically, The Lord of the Flies is one massive analogy: which provides plenty of symbolism to look at.
The first piece of symbolism to appear is the Scar left by the plane. Symbolising the surprisingly arrogant notion that human presence is inherently destructive. The Metaphors’ accidental arrival brings a massive mar on the island before the Metaphors could even gather and start any of their business.
Another more acknowledged piece of symbolism to show up at the same time as the Scar is the Island itself, acting like the local Garden of Eden. As it’s a “pure” place untouched by evil. But as said, the Scar undoes that purity.

The next piece of symbolism to appear is the Conch. Symbolising society and order, with the Conch being used to gather and organise the Metaphors. Its fragility could represent the the also actually, awfully, arrogant accusation that society as a concept is easily destroyed by something similar to either simply being dropped, or having a massive boulder run it over due to negligence. Throughout the story the importance and authority of the Conch wavers and becomes essentially ignored by the larger body of Metaphors, sans Piggy, the walking Intellectualism Metaphor.

Last, but really not least at all, the most consistent piece of Symbolism in the story are the tiny, talking, walking Metaphors themselves. With the most prominent of them being Ralph, Jack, Piggy, and Simon. Symbolising Responsibility, Power, Intellectualism, and Philosophy respectively. With Power basically dumping loads of sweaty old gym socks on the rest of them for no reason better than just the fact Power doesn’t play nice with anyone. Power’s refusal to play nice eventually results in Intellectualism and Philosophy drowning in the sweaty old gym socks because Power just could not take being told to calm his butt down. Responsibility almost swallows a load of socks, but the whole thing get’s set on fire because Power was stupid.

In conclusion, as stated before: The whole thing’s an analogy. Several layers of symbolism put together like a slightly foul and arrogant ice-cream cake. Probably with “Huminz sux” written sloppily on the top.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

2014 Tulips

My tulips weren't much last year, but this year they're spectacular (and over now but... pictures!)

The little red ones are so intensely colored that the phone won't record the color. I've had most luck with species tulips.  I spread these out some last year and moved half the red ones to another spot and it looks like I'll have to do it again.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Why no Wonder Woman movie?

It can easily be argued that Wonder Woman was overtly feminist in design... she was an Amazon and came from a culture and place that excluded men.   It would be appropriate that she (if she had an origin movie set in 2015) spend a great deal of time experiencing culture shock and under-estimating the ability of men to be competent at anything... which only works if she's wrong about the men.   In other words, Diana isn't feminist... she's sexist.

Which is likely the biggest reason that we haven't gotten a Wonder Woman movie.  -- They need me to write it. :P --  Because what people pushing for a Wonder Woman movie want is a ode to feminism... and that wouldn't be right.  For all that Wonder Woman could be used to frame an exploration of gender roles and preconceptions, it doesn't work to do that flipping of perception unless the thing that Diana learns is that men are every bit as real as women are real.

Make Wonder Woman a female Captain America, as parochial and "Boy Scout-ish", as set in her ways and misconceptions and unwilling to easily get over what she knows is true... and we could have something rather amazing.

It's not going to happen... partly because the idea is pushed by people who think that Thelma and Louise portrayed "strong" women.  And who think, not that a Wonder Woman movie would be awesome, but that a Wonder Woman movie ought to be viewed as a moral need.

(I think this guy sells posters... )