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[conventions] Meet the author (me) tonight at the Milwaukie Ledding Library

As announced here, I will be speaking tonight at the Milwaukie Ledding Library. That would be Thursday, June 21st from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

This is a library author talk, so I won’t be focused so much on craft as I would with an audience of writers. I plan to discuss inspiration, worldbuilding and characters from a reader’s perspective, with specific reference to my steampunk novel Mainspring.

If you’re in the Portland area, come on down.

[links] Link salad’s flag boy and your flag boy, sittin’ by the fire

Angelesen: Die Räder der Welt (Jay Lake) — What appears to be a positive review of the German language edition of Mainspring.

A natural history — Roger Ebert with a moving essay on growing up, and lost friends.

“Crab” chips, fruity Oreos? They’re big overseas — More on on-USAnian flavors. Snack food crack for me is Maui onion flavored Hawaiian kettle chips in creamy French onion dip.

Tornado near Tokyo kills 1, injures dozens — I’m always a bit surprised when I read about tornadoes outside the North American Great Plains.

Reminders of Secular Authority Reduce Believers’ Distrust of Atheists — Many of my Christian friends seem to have grown fond of the self-valorizing myth that they are being oppressed or persecuted in modern America, but it is still true that atheists poll at the bottom of trustworthiness. Amazing, the power we secular types have as a small and least-trusted percentage of the population.

The ‘Big Four’ markers of the evangelical tribeSlacktivist Fred Clark with some fascinating social history of the Evangelical movement.

Family Battle Offers Look Inside Lavish TV Ministry — This is precisely what our country needs more of, not those godless, immoral liberals.

Biden on gay marriage: ‘Absolutely comfortable with men marrying men, women marrying women’ — Good. As it should be, assuming you value an open, tolerant society. Which conservatives explicitly do not. Another of the many, many reasons I can never be a conservative.

Republicans! Get in my vagina! — Very sarcastic video, funny as hell decidedly not worksafe. (Via [info]willyumtx.)

The Right-Wing’s 20 Biggest Sex HypocritesThe ones who scream the loudest about how godly they are often turn out to be the exact opposite. Only twenty? But, but, but, Clinton had a blow job! (Via [info]danjite.)

How to End This Depression — Paul Krugman is, as usual, sensible.

Republicans on ‘Politicizing’ Terrorism, Then and Now — Well, it was fine when Bush did it, just not when Obama does it. Like so many other things. Just ask any Tea Partier about deficit spending, foreign wars or corporate bailouts. Those only became a problem for conservatives after an African-American progressive was elected to the Oval Office. The GOP: setting the standards for intellectual consistency in political discourse since, well, never.

Schwarzenegger: GOP, take down that small tent — You didn’t mind that ‘small tent’ when it got you elected, Arnie. I despise so-called moderate Republicans almost more than I despise the whackaloon conservatives that dominate the GOP these days, simply because while in a lot of cases the whackaloons really can’t seem to help being who they are, the Republican moderates are people who know better and went along with the nuts anyway for electoral advantage.

Historic campaign collision of race and religion likely to arouse both pride and prejudiceBarack Obama vs. Mitt Romney, an African-American and a white Mormon, representatives of two groups and that have endured oppression to carve out a place in the United States. How much progress has America made against bigotry? By November, we should have some idea. Hint: which man is running from a party that has built and sustains its political fortunes foursquare on bigotry and intolerance?

?otd: Jockamo fee na nay?


5/6/2012
Writing time yesterday: 3.5 hours (2.5 hours and 5,600 words on Their Currents Turn Awry, 1.0 hours of WRPA)
Body movement: 1.5 hour suburban walk
Hours slept: 9.25 (solid)
Weight: 240.0 (!)
Currently reading: The Blade Itself Joe Abercrombie

[links] Link salad waits for the drums to stop beating

Review of Die Räder der Welt — At Phantasick-News, a German site. (Thanks to Marcel Bülles, my German translator.)

The Rejection Generator ProjectThe Rejection Generator rejects writers before an editor looks at a submission. Inspired by psychological research showing that after people experience pain they are less afraid of it in the future, The Rejection Generator helps writers take the pain out of rejection.

Mark Bourne Clarion West Scholarship Fund — A memorial for our dear friend. Check it out, and contribute if you can.

A View Inside the Sausage GrinderScrivener’s Error with more detailed legal neepery on the new ebook pricing lawsuit.

How My Aunt Marge Ended Up in the Deep Freeze . . . — Weird, weird piece.

Greenland ice sheet may be sliding away due to surface lake melt — Just a hypothesis so far (tip for denialists: what you like to confuse with “theory”), but more evidence of the inherent bias of reality in favor of a reality-based worldview. Weird, huh?

Roger Ailes: Soledad O’Brien Was ‘Named After A Prison’ — Ah, how I love the measured, thoughtful and rational tone of conservative discourse.

“Pro-Life” Community Very Upset More Women Will Not Be Collateral Damage in Their Religious Jihad Against AbortionIf they are so convinced they are right on the issue, why must they LIE about EVERYTHING? I would ask that of conservatives in general, and religious conservatives in particular.

If Romney Loses, the Republican Desire to Win the Presidency Will Trump All Other Considerations in 2016 — If Romney wins, it will be America turning a blind eye to the utter disaster that was the last period of Republican rule.

Mitt Romney thinks his wife lacks “dignity”? Mitt Romney said this past January that he thinks stay at home moms taking care of small children are lacking in dignity since they’re not working real jobs. But Hilary Rosen!

Romney’s Live Mic MomentBut what stands out to me most is [Romney’s] explicit statement of what seems to be his campaign strategy — remaining as vague as possible about what policies he’ll actually pursue. “I’m going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them. Some eliminate, but I’m probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go.” That’s because to get specific will alienate lot of voters. Nobody, not even Republicans, likes conservative policies when applied to them personally. Punishing the “other” is terrific GOP politics, but the reality is that even “real Americans” will get scorched of any of this ever turns out to be true.

Romney’s remarks on limiting tax deductions draw fire — Once again, conservative “ideas” aren’t popular when applied to conservatives personally. Removing the home mortgage interest deduction doesn’t punish liberal sluts or little brown people or the greedy poor, it punishes “real Americans”, and that will never fly with the GOP base. Republican voters like to imagine the cruelties behind which they rally will never apply to them. (See “the only moral abortion is my own” phenomenon for another glaring example of this deep hypocrisy inherent in the Right’s worldview.)

?otd: Got rhythm? Got music?


4/17/2012
Writing time yesterday: n/a (cancer stress)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 6.5 (fitful)
Weight: 240.0
Currently reading: Somewhere Else by Sally McLennan

[links] Link salad on hump day

A reader reacts to Endurance — Decidedly mixed but thoughtful review.

Jay Lake – Die Räder der Welt — A somewhat mixed review of the German edition of Mainspring.

Fanfare for the Comma Man

D’oh! Groening Reveals The Location Of ‘Real’ Springfield — Right here in Oregon.

New View of Depression: An Ailment of the Entire Body

How Dark Matter Interacts with the Human BodyDark matter must collide with human tissue, and physicists have now calculated how often. The answer? More often than you might expect.

The Amazing Trajectories of Life-Bearing Meteorites From EarthThe asteroid that killed the dinosaurs must have ejected billions of tonnes of life-bearing rock into space. Now physicists have calculated what must have happened to it

How the Greatest Prankster in Political History Messed With Richard Nixon — Ah, politics. (Via [info]danjite.)

‘A Recipe for Losing Touch With One’s Own Editorial Faculties’ — Ta-Nehisi Coates on Noah Millman on John Derbyshire. And I have to confess that firing Derbyshire for being racist was as puzzling to me as firing Buchanan. Why, after all these years of letting them be leading conservative voices with exactly the same message, does it matter now?

Karl Rove and company are losing the argument over inequality — Since, as usual for conservatives, they can’t win this one on the merits of the position, the dirty pool campaigning will start.

Republicans Try To Erase The Contraception Wars“And there was the perception that somehow Republicans are opposed to contraceptives,” Romney told Newsmax last week. That perception would be because Republicans are opposed to contraceptives, on the plain face of their own rhetoric and legislation introduced. There’s no “somehow” about it, fool. The backlash on contraception is just another example of how people of all political stripes tend to intensely dislike conservative doctrine when actually applied to them personally. Conservatism is all about punishing the “other”, not the conservative himself.

?otd: Is your car marked ‘Do Not Hump’?


4/11/2012
Writing time yesterday: 1.5 hours (3,100 words on Their Currents Turn Awry)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 7.25 (solid)
Weight: 242.2 (!)
Currently reading: The Bone Doll’s Twin by Lynn Flewelling

[process] Mature characters with backstory

Saturday evening I was texting with [info]bravado111 (urban fantasy author J.A. Pitts) about how much we both liked Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moonjlake.com | LiveJournal ]. John observed that the book read like the fourth volume of a series, and compared it to the original Star Wars movie, now known as A New Hope.

This got me on to thinking about mature protagonists, a topic which has already been on my mind somewhat of late. Mature characters come with their own backstories, their own histories. (For that matter, so do infants, but in dramatic narratives, people with fully formed life histories are usually more interesting.)

Among my books, Rocket Science, Mainspring, Escapement, Pinion, Green, Endurance and Kalimpura all center around young protagonists. Death of a Starship and the Flowers books deal with people in middle age. (The Before Michaela Cannon, core protagonist of Sunspin‘s ensemble cast, is 2,000 years old, so she’s a bit of an outlier.) With those younger protagonists, a major aspect of the story being told is their own journey to maturation and discovery of their life path. The older protagonists have a lot of backstory and implied action embedded in their preferences, desires, choices and reactions to the unfolding of the plot.

Certainly that latter effect is what Saladin achieved in Throne of the Crescent Moon. Hence [info]bravado111‘s reaction. Those characters had been around a long time, had experienced many prior adventures, had lived.

What I’m now chewing on is whether I think it’s a bigger challenge to write a youthful protagonist or to write an older protagonist. How does this affect the reading experience? Green and its subsequent volumes would be very different books if she were middle aged at the time of the action. Some of the key underlying themes of Sunspin would be null and void if Cannon weren’t literally the oldest human being who had ever lived. And Ahmed’s Doctor Adoulla Makhslood wouldn’t be anything like he is if he were still living in the bloom of youth.

Food for thought, indeed. What’s your take, as either a reader or a writer, on the age of protagonists?

[process] Sequel-itis, or the part 2 blues…

Yesterday afternoon, [info]the_child‘s basketball team lost their first round playoff game. It was heart-breakingly close, a very good game, but in the end, the other team pulled it out to beat them by three points. After dinner with friends, we stayed up late (and tired!) and watched Kung Fu Panda 2imdb ], which we’d rented over the weekend and is due back Real Soon Now. Meanwhile, I’m thinking ahead to the second book of Sunspin, Their Currents Turn Awry.

All of these things are essential part two of something else. The playoffs were a coda to her season. Kung Fu Panda 2 follows on the success of the first movie. Currents, well, we shall see.

It’s hard to do something twice. I learned this writing both of the Mainspring and Green trilogies. The demands of the sequel/part 2 are very different. The challenge for the creator is how to maintain and build on whatever magic the original had, while still doing something new and interesting. So I worry a bit about Their Currents Turn Awry and the final two books in Sunspin. Once a reader has encountered Calamity of So Long a Life, their expectations are set. They have a view of the world that I have to both satisfy and expand upon.

Luckily for me, while very, very few movie sequels live up to their original (off the top of my head, the Toy Storyimdb ] cycle is the only movie series that truly pulled this off), there are plenty of sfnal and fantasy examples of successful series and trilogies. Writing is not the playoffs, and we’re not worried about box office take. Not exactly, at any rate.

Still, there’s nothing like a story the first time out of the wrapper, when you’re experiencing it like never before. How to keep that magic going…?

[links] Link salad checks in from Michigan

A reader reacts to Mainspring — I think they liked it.

Only Forward — Paul McAuley on writing first drafts and the perils of revising. This. (Thanks to Rick York.)

Ghillie Suit — Art guru James Gurney with an interesting entry, including an IKEA ghillie suit.

Depression Defies the Rush to Find an Evolutionary Upside

Computer Model Replays Europe’s Cultural HistoryA simple mathematical model of the way cultures spread reproduces some aspects of European history, say complexity scientists. Paging Hari Seldon.

X and Y chromosomes — A beautiful photo of our gender-selective chromosomes. (Via [info]scarlettina.)

Dracula-esque monkey long thought vanished reappears

NASA still not hiding aliens: Triangular ‘UFO’ debunked — Well, darn. Where are they?

Picture of the Day: The Planet Heats Up — More of that pesky, liberally biased data from the reality-based world. More on this from NASA’s Earth Observatory.

Gingrich’s Ex-Wife and the Republicans’ Predicament — Conservative commentator Daniel Larison on Gingrich. If they were voting based on character, they wouldn’t have chosen him in the first place. I’m old enough to remember when the GOP was angrily telling us (about Clinton) that “character counts.” Not so much when it’s your own guys, eh?

?otd: Chilly yet?


1/20/2012
Writing time yesterday: 2.5 hours (revisions to Sunspin)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 8.25 (solid)
Weight: n/a
Currently reading: The Atrocity Archive by Charles Stross; The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore<

[links] Link salad heads out for Confusion

Die Räder der Welt — Check out Mainspring‘s cool German cover.

Time experts debate whether to abolish the leap second

Statt Schurkenstaat nun Schurkenseite? ›SOPA‹ und ›PIPA‹ — A German article on the current American Internet kerfuffle, in which I and a number of other American authors are quoted.

Web Protests Piracy Bills, and Senators Change Course

The rise and fall of personal computing — A handy infographic. (Via Curiosity Counts.)

What the GOP’s “Market-Based” Health Care Looks Like — This. And I am one one of the lucky ones.

Scotland to the Rescue: Seeks 100% Renewable Energy by 2020Scotland is looking to reduce the cost of offshore wind generation and distribution by 20%, which would make it competitive with hydrocarbons. (Actually it is already competitive because no one takes the dire effects of global warming into account in the price of oil and gas. What would you estimate Miami is worth?)

Migrating Siberian Shrubs — More pesky climate change facts. Warning: Data not valid if you are willfully ignorant.

Japan’s push to restart nuclear plants sparks public anger — Gee, I wonder why.

Dear Andrew Sullivan: Why Focus on Obama’s Dumbest Critics? — An interesting piece, though I object to the false equivalency drawn between critiques of George W. Bush from the left and critiques of Obama from the right. Bush’s most unhinged critics were largely marginalized in the media and the public opinion. Obama’s most unhinged critics come from the heart of the GOP establishment, including many sitting senators and congressmen.

The Secret of South CarolinaDavid Frum’s notebook on what the elections in South Carolina may hold for the GOP candidates.

?otd: Are Troy’s towers topless?


1/20/2012
Writing time yesterday: 1.75 hours (revisions to Sunspin)
Body movement: Airport walking to come
Hours slept: 5.75 (solid)
Weight: 223.2
Currently reading: The Atrocity Archive by Charles Stross; The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore<

[writing|process] The outline for Mainspring

Since people seemed to like my recent post with the outline to Alternating Current, I thought I’d post the outline to Mainspring, my first trade novel, which was released by Tor in 2007. Note this book didn’t sell from outline, it sold from finished manuscript, but the outline is still an important sales document even in that context. This was originally written at a workshop as part of an exercise at a writing workshop, but I returned to it later. What you see below is the revised outline.

It also occurred to me while drafting this post that I’ve never revised an outline after the fact to match the finished manuscript. More to the point, I’ve never bothered to. I find myself wondering if revising the outline (or possibly even rewriting it from scratch) after the first draft and before the revision passes would be productive. Have you ever tried that?

Note this outline comes more recently in my career than Alternating Current, and it helped sell a novel in New York. Also as discussed above, this was not revised post-drafting to match the final product, so if you’re familiar with the finished book, you’ll seem some variances. Another interesting exercise would be to go through several writers’ outlines and look at their variances — it would tell you something about their individual processes, I think.

And the outline… (more…)

[links] Link salad is chilly

A reader reacts to Mainspring — Including a comment on my author photo.

Mid-career surgeons ‘are safest’

Alone Again, Naturally — Some good stuff in this article. Also some pretty annoying generalizations about male behavior.

Gaming Tablet Suggests New Form Factor

Where the Trees Are — You can actually see Oregon’s Willamette Valley in this image, if you know what you’re looking for.

The TSA Posts Its ‘Top Good Catches Of 2011’ List, Not One Of Which Is An Actual Terrorist — Sigh. (Via [info]danjite, who also sent along the sigh.)

Businessmen and Economics — Really, business and economics are not the same thing.

Appeals court affirms order blocking Oklahoma sharia law banA federal appeals court upholds a 2010 ruling preventing the implementation of an Oklahoma constitutional amendment that would bar judges from considering international or Islamic law in decisions. Hey, look, a brief moment of sanity from our court system! I’m sure the Supremes will smack this down in due time, unfortunately.

Huntsman would pose big threat to prez, experts say

Why Rick Santorum Can’t Just Say: God Doesn’t Want You To Be GayGay rights and the collapse of pseudo-secularism. An interesting analysis of the religiously-sanctioned bigotry of Senator Frothy Mix. (Via [info]scarlettina.)

Can Romney be more than an opening act? — He’s not actually pulling a lot of votes yet, he has the advantage of a split opposition.

Romney’s Dreadful Inevitability: How Did It Come To This? — Conservative commentator Daniel Larison mulls Romney.

?otd: Is it cold where you are?


1/11/2012
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (work related evening social function)
Body movement: 30 minute suburban walk
Hours slept: 7.25 (fitful)
Weight: n/a
Currently reading: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

[links] Link salad for a frozen Sunday

A reader reacts to Mainspring — Really, really not with the liking. At some length.

Everyone Speaks Text Message — Technology and ‘heritage languages’. (Via my Dad.)

The dos and don’ts of Googling people

NASA: Earth’s Prehistoric Record Warns of Nearing Rapid Climate Change — Yeah, except that since the Earth is 6,000 years old, this can’t possibly be true. Take that, reality!

Study: Greenland faces land crisis as global warming heats up

Searching for Meteorites in Antarctica — A cool APOD photo. I can’t wait for my brain to come back online post-chemo so I can work on my own Antarctica project.

You Press the Button. Kodak Used to Do the Rest.Kodak saw the shift from analog to digital photography coming. Here’s why it couldn’t win. Young Sidney Kodak will never come to be, I’m afraid, Mr. Bester.

Evolution: The Natural History of Animal Skeletons, Stripped DownWhat a flamingo, a capybara, and a guinea pig have to do with the beginnings of recorded time. Offer not valid for the willfully ignorant. (Via Curiosity Counts.)

Won the battle and lost the war? How about lost the battle and won the war?[info]elusivem on the normalization of being gay.

Imaginary Farm Dust Regulation Banned By House — Ah, conservative “reality”. Where the sky is occasionally blue, even.

There Will Be No Spoilers in 2012 — Conservative commentator Daniel Larison on the GOP ticket. If conservatives were not motivated enough to rebel against the GOP in 2008 at the tail end of one of the most disastrous Republican administrations of the last eighty years, they are hardly going to start casting protest votes in large numbers when there is an opportunity to defeat a Democratic incumbent. In a rational world, after the miserable failure that was the Bush administration, the GOP shouldn’t be able to elect a dog catcher. Their incompetence at governance has solid, very expensive proof.

Mitch McConnell flunks CollegeSo what is Mitch McConnell on about? Does he not know his Constitution? Is he merely pandering to the crowd he was addressing? Hello? He’s a Republican. Both of those things are true pretty much by definition in the GOP these days. (Snurched from Steve Buchheit.)

?otd: Billy or ice cream?


12/11/2011
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo fatigue)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 11.0 (badly interrupted plus napping)
Weight: 207.8
Currently (re)reading: Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold