Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In Which I Conference

So I mentioned on Monday that I was out all weekend (and Friday evening).
And the reason was:

Palindrome and I went to a writing conference!!

4th Street Fantasy to be exact.

It was our first writing conference and Hannah located it by doing an interwebs search for local writing conferences. She's just so clever.

It was quite a bit of fun. And we got 4th St Fantasy pens that were also flash drives! AWESOME!

The Program and thoughts (in red) are as follows:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

8:00 PM – Three Shouts On a Hill
Last year we added a pre-conference opportunity to laugh and play. It was so successful that we decided to continue it and establish a tradition! Tonight we share in presenting the world premiere of Jo Walton's play version of the Irish legend of the Sons of Tuirean: Three Shouts On a Hill.

Jo Walton, Author, on the right

Hannah and I did not attend Thursday. We have day jobs and junk.

Friday, June 25, 2010

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM What should I be reading (that I'm not)?

An open discussion of what's exciting out there: not limited to fantasy or genre at all! We want to know what's getting us jazzed in the world of books and web stuff.
Tom Whitmore, with much audience help

Tom Whitmore, Conference Organizer and retired reviewer

Again, the day jobs prevented us from hitting this one. Too bad because I bet it was a lot of fun. However they made a list and posted it online.

5:30 PM – 6:30 PM How do you know when a story's going wrong?

An editor, a writer, a reviewer and a reader talk about how to tell when a story is going wrong, and what to do about it, from their perspectives.
Steven Brust, Karen G. Anderson, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Pamela Dean

Steven Brust, author, and his awesome editor Teresa Nielsen Hayden

Hannah pulled some strings at the day job and was able to leave work early. So we got zazzed up and hit this panel as our first foray into the conference. Both Steven Brust and Teresa Nielsen Hayden (editor for Tor books) were fantastic panelists. Funny and enlightening. Mostly the conclusion was, things can go wrong in the beginning, middle and end, but the middle and end mistakes are usually brought about by poor revision. Also this panel served to add to my confidence that the majority of work in the slush is terrible so we're already at an advantage.

8:00 PM – Getting to know you gatherings

Join Steven in the Smokers Den for Philosophy and Fun, Peggy in Courtyard Ballroom A for Singing and Silliness, Tom in Courtyard Ballroom B for Musings and Meanderings, or Janet in the ConSuite for Munching and Mischief... or stroll among them all. Other amusements will undoubtedly ensue.

Since we weren't planning on attending anything on Friday, we skipped this because we'd have to be up early for Saturday. Next year, I would definitely stick around to get to know everyone better

Saturday, June 26, 2010

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Mixing genres

We've had a raft of different ways of mashing up genres over recent years. Fantasy with rivets, dragons with novels of manners, future-setting fantasy — what's coming next, and why does this sort of synthesis work well (when it does)?
Jo Walton, Elizabeth Bear, Teresa Nielsen Hayden

We started off with a delicious breakfast. Twin came with and I brought my camera to take photos but for some reason it stopped working (though it's miraculously OK now...).
Elizabeth Bear told a fun story about how her first novel she submitted was All the Windwracked Stars which has MCs that are: A Valkyrie, Fenrir and a two headed mechanical horse. The response from her editor was that it was a good book, but not suitable as a "first novel". It was eventually published as her fourth book (and both Hannah and I picked it up from the dealer's room)

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Beyond promotion: Reputation management

Why is it wrong to put a stack of your books in front of you at a panel? What is effective at a convention in terms of promotion, and why? How do you get a reputation, and what do you do once you have one?
Steven Brust, Ctein, Patrick Nielsen Hayden

This was my least favorite panel. They pulled someone from the audience who was actively engaged in self promotion to sit on the panel as well. But all the authors more or less said, why would anyone want to self promote themselves when that's what the publisher was for. Which wasn't very helpful for everyone in the audience who didn't have publishers. Or who were published at small prints and couldn't even get bookstores to understand that they weren't self pubbed. Still, it was an entertaining panel. It just made me think that I should try real hard to be published with Tor books (BTW, they still accept un-agented submissions. Crazy awesome, right?)

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM How does the medium affect the story?

There are many ways to tell stories. Why choose graphic novel over song? What are the advantages of keeping it short or making it long? Why has epic poetry pretty much died?
Adam Stemple, Elise Matthesen, Elizabeth Bear

Elise Mathessen, writer, jewlery maker

This was an interesting panel. It ended up mostly focusing on using music or jewelry as a medium. Elise Matthesen was one of the most interesting people at the whole conference. She also had a jewelry booth set up for shopping where Hannah bought a set of earrings based on Jo Walton's discussion of her face shape. Hannah also bought an old Renfest costume of Elise's that she was selling for $80 which is ridiculously cheap. (I wanted one of her necklaces, but it was $425 and there's no way I could ever justify that). While the panel was going on Elise made us vote on what kind of jewlery we wanted to her to make. Eldirtch Horror won out, and then Pirate (even though Steampunk was CLEARLY the better choice...). When the panel was done she had created two necklaces.

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM Fantasy vs. Progress

Sarah Monette had a blog post which began a discussion on the nature of progress in fantasy, and how conservative fantasy tends to be. Of course we had to continue it.
Sarah Monette, Marissa Lingen, Adam Stemple, Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Elise Mathessen, Sarah Monette, Elizabeth Bear (aka Bear), authors

This panel discussed why, in fantasy, we rarely reach, or go beyond, the industrialized age, and why we think that is so. Topics included Tolkien and his supposed dislike of technology that somehow allows him to have bicycles and umbrellas in The Shire which are not simple bits of technology

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM Submit, or die!

What keeps you from submitting and what keeps your submissions from being seen by the right people? Includes stories about the story an author won't submit.
Tom Whitmore, Elise Matthesen, Skyler White

For some reason, I can't remember what was discussed in this panel... WTF

Update: I now recall, with help from Hannah, that the discussion more or less centered around the fact that sooner or later, it becomes more painful to not submit, than to submit

7:30 PM – 8:30 PM Second thoughts: The morning after

The aftermath of Food, Fashion, and Fornication. Happily ever after? I don't think so. Unruly, lively discussion of what happens next.
Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Jon Singer, Elise Matthesen, Karen G. Anderson

We skipped this one and went home so we'd have more energy to tackle Sunday

Sunday, June 27, 2010

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Point of view: How not to suck

Who's telling this story, anyway? Why should I care? Does it make a difference?
Jo Walton, Sarah Monette, Steven Brust

This was a fun in depth discussion about POV and authors that use it well and those that don't. A lot of focus was spent on the unreliable narrator

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM The new cliches

When does something change from a fad to a cliche? What's jumped the shark recently (besides "jumping the shark")?
Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Tom Whitmore

Discussion ranged from anti-cliche's that become cliches to trends. General consensus was that if you begin a story by examining a cliche, it was probably OK, but if a cliche was the punchline of your story (ie - aliens come to earth in the past and create Adam and Eve) then you're in trouble

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM But that's a different panel...
Everything you wanted to discuss that got tabled until now.

We voted on two topics to discuss. And though both Hannah and I voted for "Why the horror genre collapsed" the winners were "How to make your problems fun" and "When to stop revising"

For "Problems" there was discussion about how every writer is given a "freebie" which is a writing skill that just comes naturally. For me, it's dialogue. Then to take that skill and use it to help the areas you suck at. Bear stated she hates setting, so she uses her freebie, which is fun, to try and make setting fun to work on.

For Revisions it all depended on what kind of writer you were. Do you know the ending? Then you probably need less revisions. If not, you'll need to go back and work it in. All the authors said they had had a book that they either had to, or came close to, starting completely over on. Also they pointed out that every writer, on every book, will always reach the point where they feel like they're the worst writer in the world.

So that was it! It was super fun and I'll definitely hit it next year.

Monday, June 28, 2010

In Which I Was Gone All Weekend

So as the title post says, I was out of the house and away from the interwebs the whole weekend. So because of all of that, I have no post written.

Luckily for you, I have an LOLCat to share.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Fun Words

I'm back babies!

It's Me, Yvie, here to provide you with our weekly dose of definitions to word verification words.

It stopped raining here. Well kinda. I mean, it hasn't been raining every day which is kind of nice. But now it's been muggy and hot. Boo on that. Still, it's now officially summer so maybe things will even out a bit. I'm hoping I can get through the whole summer without getting stung by any bees. Bees are my enemies, you see, and I hate them even though my nickname is Miss Bee.

Hate them. So. Much.

Onto the words!

Coodis - a pigeon insult

Mati - the kid who has the power of Heart on Captain Planet. Fun discussion: Heart is generally consider the lamest of powers, but in all honesty it could totally be awesome. If stupid Mati wasn't around, then you could have Polar Bears mauling people (like Loot and Plunder) instead of monkeys throwing bananas or whatever lame thing Mati had the animals do.

Entanic - the most luxurious unsinkable ship ever built for ents. Unfortunately, ents don't swim. Not at all...

Pansies - a violet, Viola tricolor hortensis, cultivated in many varieties, having richly and variously colored flowers. This was a real VW that showed up.

Fache - a false soreness

See you next week, Ape Friends!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In Which I Share A Squee Update

So the piggies were here for three weeks and then we sent them back to the shelter for adoption. Well all of them except for the one we kept. More on that later.

Last time we hadn't yet named all the babies because we weren't quite sure of their genders. Once we were more sure about those, we finalized names.

Waffles ended up being the only boy. Which is kind of a bummer because it means he can't be adopted out with any of his family. After his first week of exploration he turned into a mama's boy and stuck faithfully by her side. The last few days of his stay he began rumblestrutting (which is a dance boars do to show the ladies how studly they are) which was adorable. His sisters just rolled their eyes since they knew he still lived with him mom.

Update: Waffles was adopted by a man who had adopted another male pig in 2009, so hopefully he'll have a pal at home

Dopple kept her outgoing attitude. She was never overly afraid to be out and about. One day she'll probably be a boss sow in her cage.

Update: Dopple was adopted by a very nice family with children that are very excited to have her

It took us a bit of time to name this little darling. At first she went by Curly Sue. But we really didn't like that name. After a few days of thought we came up with Miggory Sow, which is the name of the pig girl from Despereaux. It's fitting because she's a plump little piggie, much bigger than all her siblings. If there were veggies to eat, you could find Miggory getting in some noms.

This little gal was by far the prettiest of all her sisters (sorry, the pic is kinda crap because she's squirmy). She was incredibly soft and had giant Disney doe eyes. We named her Lacey, since it seemed to fit her delicate nature. She was adorable but difficult to hold and seemed to always feel she was going to get eaten

We named this little girl Blousey after a character from a favorite childhood movie (Bugsey Malone). She's a little plain (with her roman nose and curly whiskers) compared to her sisters. Never too brave, but never too scared either. She'll be an easy keeper pig for whoever is lucky enough to get her.

Update: Lacey and Blousey were adopted out together

Mama pig, who's name is Nixie, was always very demanding of veggies. Whenever she heard any bag rustle anywhere in the house, she assumed it was because you were about to feed her something nommy and she would wheek and wheek. She was an easy pig to hold and a good mother, attentive but not too bossy or smothering.

So after all that you're probably wondering which one we kept. We couldn't keep Waffles because he's a boar. Also Nixie was kind of out because it's much easier to introduce a baby pig than an adult.

The one we adopted was...


It was a difficult choice, but Miggory won us over with her awesome name, her chubby stature and her general cuteness. I mean, check out this smile:

We're really hoping that the rest of the pig family will get adopted out in pairs. Hopefully a set of sisters and mom and a daughter.

So the adventure of baby pigs is over once again. They were a lot of work, but there wasn't a moment that went by where they didn't make you smile with their popcorning, their wheeking and their general adorableness.

Here's hoping they find long and happy homes.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Movie Deadly Dozen Blogfest

Mr. Alex J Cavanaugh, author, is hosting a blogfest today, the Movie Deadly Dozen blogfest, where you round up twelve of your favorite films and gush.

Since that sounded fun, I signed up.

Let me tell you, it was super hard to narrow down my list to 12. I tried to stick to movies that were maybe a bit more obscure, just to zazz things up, though that's certainly not the case for all of the movies.

Here we go! (in no particular order)


Synopsis - a team of astronauts are sent on a mission to restart our dying sun. Along the way, they realize an unknown person is hiding on the ship with them

I love this movie. I guess it would be classified as space horror, since it does have quite a few intense moments towards the end. It's hands down one of my most favorite sci-fi movies. The astronauts are all completely believable. These aren't miners sent into space, but people with multiple PhDs.
It has a great cast, including Michelle Yeoh, Chris Evans and Cillian Murphy.
This movie will make you appreciate the sun like you never have before.


Synopsis - A successful lawman's plans to retire anonymously in Tombstone, Arizona, are disrupted by the kind of outlaws he was famous for eliminating

I think most everyone can agree that this movie is straight up awesome. Even if you don't like westerns (and why wouldn't you?!) this movie is excellent.
Kurt Russel, Bill Paxton and Sam Elliott round out the fantastic cast. And this is arguably Val Kilmer's best role (though Madmartigan is awesomesauce). I don't know anyone who doesn't love this movie

Whale Rider

Synopsis - a young Maori girl fights to fulfill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize

Have you seen this movie?
If you haven't, you need to rectify that immediately. For reals. Go watch it right now.
This movie is one of my all time favorites and totally deserves all the acclaim it received. It will probably make you cry, but by the end you'll be happy and it will most likely be one of your favorites too. When I look back on my list of movies, this is the one that makes me gasp because I love it so much.

The Royal Tenebaums

Synopsis - An estranged family of former child prodigies reunites when one of their member announces he has a terminal illness.

This is one of those movies that you have to watch 2-3 times to really get a full appreciation for it. I find this movie hilarious and will watch it any time I see it on TV. Also it's a touch bittersweet and that's always a plus for me.
It has a killer cast, including, but not limited to, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Gene Hackman, Luke Wilson, Gwenyth Paltrow and Bill Murray and is narrated by Alec Baldwin.

Love Actually

Synopsis - Follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely and interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England.

This is, in my opinion, the best Christmas Movie Ever. Period. I don't know anyone who isn't ridiculously happy after watching this movie. Combined with a great soundtrack and an amazing cast including Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth and Liam Neeson, there's something for everyone in this movie.
It's pretty much a Christmas staple in our house.


Synopsis - The people of a small village in Victorian India stake their future on a game of cricket against their ruthless British rulers...

I don't think I can properly convey how much I love this movie. It is excellent. It's another movie on my top 5 list. I think everyone should watch this movie.
It's a mix between a sports movie, a musical and an underdog struggle. Also it will make you want to play cricket.
The villain is easy to hate, the hero is adorable and the action so fun that by the end you'll be on the edge of your seat.
Even if you've never seen a single bollywood film (and this was my first) and find the music a little strange, by the end you may want the soundtrack.
I cannot recommend this movie enough.

Spirited Away

Synopsis - In the middle of her family's move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and monsters where she is forced to work at bathhouse for these creatures

All of Miyazaki's films are excellent, but for me the top two are always Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. My favorite of these two fluctuate, but typically Spirited Away edges out in front for it's fun plot line and the touch of unheimlich. Also I could watch Sen work in the bathhouse all day.
I pretty much always recommend any of Miyazaki's films for anyone who is looking to get into anime.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Synopsis - A quartet of humanoid turtles trained by their mentor in ninjutsu must learn to pull together in order to face the menace of Shredder and the Foot Clan.

This movie epitomizes what was awesome about the early 90s. Still trying to hang onto the 80s, yet trying to break away. I remember seeing this movie on opening night when I was in the 3rd grade. We watch this movie every couple of months in our house. It's that awesome.
Also this movie will solidify my love for Elias Koteas and Casey Jones in general and contains brilliant dialogue such as:

"Cricket? You gotta know what a crumpet is, to understand Cricket."
"I'll show you. See that? 12 runs."

ahh, good times

28 Days Later


Synopsis - Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.

This is my all time favorite Zombie movie. I know many purists say it doesn't count because the infected aren't actually reanimated dead, but I don't care. It's also one of my top 5 fav movies of all time. I really enjoy the "Who is the monster and who is the man" theme and this movie has that in spades. This is also the movie that more or less began Cillian Murphy's career (yay!).
Obviously this a a Danny Boyle horror film so it is chock full of blood, gore and extreme violence (just the way I like it) but this movie is not for the faint of heart. But if that's not an issue for you and you haven't seen this movie, check it out.


Synopsis - a little girl is kidnapped by the ghosts that haunt her family's home

When people ask what movie I think is the scariest, I always answer Poltergeist. Mostly because this is the scariest movie we used to watch growing up (though my parents did take the time to fast forward through the part where the guy rips his face off. At least until we were older). Clowns strangling children under the bed? Scary. Ghosts walked down the staircase? Hella scary. Little girl getting sucked into closet to then vanish? Effing scary.
The nerd part of me wants to point out that this movie is less about a poltergeist and more about a haunting, but that's beside the point. When I watch the Family Guy Poltergeist homage episode, I get freaked out because they use the original Poltergeist soundtrack.
I need to get this movie on Blu-ray or DVD.

The Last Unicorn

Synopsis - A brave unicorn and a magician fight an evil king who is obsessed with attempting to capture the world's unicorns.

We loved this movie growing up and I still love it now. It's one of those movies that changes as you get older so your appreciation deepens. Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow and Christopher Lee all voice act in this movie and though I LOVE IT, I would say it's not really appropriate for very young children due to some scary scenes including:
The Red Bull, creepy drunken skeleton and tree nudity.
Also, the soundtrack by America? Awesome.

Bugsy Malone

Synopsis - New York, 1929, a war rages between two rival gangsters, Fat Sam and Dandy Dan. Dan is in possession of a new and deadly weapon, the dreaded ‘splurge gun’.

This is your average 20's gangster movie. Except the gangsters are children. And instead of bullets, they throw pies. Also, it's a musical.
We grew up on this film in my house. To this day we still sing the songs when the mood strikes us. This is a movie you can watch with your children, they'll love it. But it's also a movie you can appreciate as an adult.
Both Scott Baio and Jodie Foster star, though they're probably around 10-12 years old.

I mean, what's not to love about a movie who's theme is:

You give a little love and it all comes back to you?

Nothing, that's what.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Fun Words

Hi ape-friends! I'm back!

Don't worry, I'll try not to let George hijack the blog post any more. Who does he think he is, distracting me with hose water? What a jerk.

And yeah his poop song is all hoity toity and junk, but he forgot to mention that he pees on paper bags. And sometimes shoes. So there!

It's been raining here for pretty much two weeks straight. Which means no walks and pottying with water on your head. Not fun, ape-friends. Not fun at all. How's a dog 'sposed to enjoy her summer if it's just gonna rain forever?

It's ridiculous.

Anyway, onto the words!

Indam - an inland dam

Stimsin - a sinful stimulant

Gultion - gumption for gulls

Undourid - to undo being dour ridden. Yes it's overly complicated but who cares? Not me, that's who, and I'm in charge of this exercise.

Persive - person cursive. Not that I can think of anyone other than a person who would use such an archaic method of communication

Brids - bird bids. OR bird brides. I'm being magnanimous so take your pick

Stay dry, ape-friends!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

In Which We Discuss Wordle

I mentioned last week about how I ran my short story "Hole Ridden" through Wordle to find any over-used words I was unaware of (apparently, I used "back" much more than anticipated.)

A couple of blog pals mentioned that they had never used Wordle before or didn't know what it was.

Wordle is a website that lets you paste a chunk of text that is then turned into a word cloud. The word cloud will show you the most used words and it will also let you remove words you don't want counted (typically character names if you're using it as revision assistance)

There are also other websites, so if Wordle doesn't work for you, you can also google "word clouds" and find other options.

Wordle also lets you choose colors, fonts, languages and how the words are displayed to make your word cloud as much a work of art as you want.

When I ran Hole Ridden through Wordle (and I left in the character names) this is what my word cloud ended up looking like:

I giggled like a school girl when I saw this because it seemed so ominous with the giant "Hole" front and center.

Anyone else throw their work in Wordle? Either as a revision assitant or just for fun?

Monday, June 14, 2010

In Which I Share A Favorite Term

So when I was messing around with duotrope, looking for submissions options, I came across my favorite term.


I discovered this awesome term a few years ago. Loved it immediately. Then promptly forgot all about it.

heimlich means roughly "familiar" so unheimlich is the unfamiliar, uncanny.

BUT heimlich can also mean "concealed" or "obscure" so unheimlich can also mean "the revealed".

In horror unheimlich is that moment we experience as being uncanny - akin to seeing something unseen. When we’re forced to reinterpret everything we understood in light of new knowledge.

Freud comments that a sense of the unheimlich is “often and easily produced when the distinction between imagination and reality is effaced, as when something that we have hitherto regarded as imaginary appears before us in reality, or when a symbol takes over the full functions of the thing it symbolizes"

I love dealing with the unheimlich in my short stories. I think short stories are the perfect medium to explore things that normally aren't unusual or frightening, but with a little twist can be scary.

So what about you? Do you have any favorite terms? Or favorite themes you like to explore in your writing?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Fun Words

Hi Everyone.

George here again.

Yvie is outside playing with hose water so I'd thought I'd sneak back in here to continue our previous discussion.

For any new readers, that discussion more or less revolved around dog poop and how Yvie loves it and I hate it.

Anyway, last time I showed you a song Yvie had written professing, if at least not her love, than certainly her non-hate of poop.

In retaliation to that song, I wrote a better song. When I originally wrote this it was around the holidays, so the song is set to Carol of the Bells (or the "Ding, fries are done" song from the Family Guy homage for all of you pop-culture minded peeps)

Here we go!

Poop over here.
Poop over there.
Why is there Poop

I'm potty trained,
It wasn't me.
It must have been
Sister Yvie.

She doesn't get the concept of going potty outside because she is dumb.

Oh my goodness here comes Mommy!
And she doesn't look too happy...

Poop on the floor.
Poop by the door.
I wish she wouldn't
Poop anymore.

My mommy said to say that I love my sister even though she is dumb.

She is 5 months old and should know better.
Yes, it's true... I just learned in December...

But still Poop is here
And still Poop is there.
Yvie just Poops

Poop Poop Poop...Poop.

So as you can see, I've always hated poop.

Onto the words!

Resongs - when you sing a song that already exists and make it your own. Like on Glee

Econs - Internet criminals. Is this not already a word? Because it should be

Porea - Korea's pores

Steambump - when you hit some writer's block in your steampunk WIP

Winglo - what some fairies do

Spoat - oats for spies.

And that's it, good folk!
I hope you have a nice weekend!

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