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Marissa Lingen

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It’s what you know that ain’t so: the high fantasy edition, volume 37 [Oct. 18th, 2014|12:46 pm]

I can’t count how many volumes of high fantasy I’ve read that get categorized as inspired by medieval Western Europe. By this I mean I don’t feel like trying to estimate, because I have a spreadsheet that goes back over a decade and marks things by genre (“speculative,” though, rather than “high fantasy”–so it would be incredibly tedious). Point being: lots. Many to most of them pre-gun. Many to most of them featuring, at least peripherally, soldiers and armies.

Almost all of them have the soldiers in some kind of uniform.

If the soldiers are a major part of the narrative rather than “I passed a soldier in the street” (recognized by uniform), learning to march in step is almost always a part of the story.

And yet. Here’s the passage from Essays in Swedish History, specifically “The Military Revolution”:

The demand for unanimity and precision of movement led naturally to the innovation of marching in step, which appears at some date impossible to establish about the middle of the seventeenth century. And the principle of mass-subordination, of the solution of the individual will in the will of the commander, received a last reinforcement with the slow adoption of uniforms: ‘without uniforms,’ said Frederick the Great, ‘there can be no discipline.’ The process was already observable in the 1620s; but it was scarcely complete by the end of the century. The long delay is easily explained. As long as body-armour remained general, uniforms were scarcely practical; and even when armour was abandoned, the common use of the sword-resisting buff-coat prevented for a time a general change.

So…yeah. It’s not that movement in unison was unheard-of (if you have spears or pikes, you pretty much have to coordinate the movement–although in those cases shuffling together is sometimes as good as marching in step), and it’s not that nobody ever had clothes alike. But “this section of the army is so-and-so’s guard” is very different from “the entire army has a uniform.” If you look up “Flemish painting soldiers” or “Dutch painting soldiers” or either of those two ethnicities with “siege of” instead of “soldiers,” you will get paintings of people not dressed alike. Because they are off duty? Not in the sieges! No, because uniforms were not standard. Because an armband or something in your hat was what you had, more or less.

Here’s the thing: you can do this if you want, in your secondary world, even though it was not at all standard in this world in that period. You can do it no problem. “In my world they got there sooner, as a standard.” Fine. It’s one of the benefits of making it up. It’s a little dicey that so many people seem to want to. But you can jump on that bandwagon if you wish. Here’s the thing, though. Yesterday I read a blog post by Mark Lawrence in which he was talking about some of the questions he gets asked about why fantasy–his in specific–is “conservative” in some particular ways. And one of his answers–one of the standard answers–is that if the world is not focused on (in his example) a world with six suns or a complex symbiosis with aliens, putting those things in will bog down the book. And sure, yes. I get that. We end up talking about this when we talk about ways to draw on history, especially at Fourth Street–that of the cool ideas we discuss, it will be hard for any one book to take on all of them, because they will all take word count. It sounds like some of the questions Mark Lawrence is getting are pretty unreasonable, and I don’t mean to say that he does this specific thing–haven’t read his stuff.

But what I’m saying is: efficiency does not account for all of the conservatism of high/epic fantasy. sometimes the forms of “conservatism” that readers are noticing are historically inaccurate and bog down the book, and also are missing opportunities to be interesting. The books that I read that describe the soldiers’ uniforms, or describe soldiers learning to march in step: they are taking word count to make something simultaneously more generic and less historically accurate to the time period and general location that gets the credit for inspiring high/epic fantasy. It can be a phrase here and there, or it can be entire chapters. But in this case either historical inspiration or imagination would give you something more interesting than the blurred carbon copy of a misconception.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

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The slander of the time [Oct. 6th, 2014|03:12 pm]

I just permanently put down a book–sadly, no, this is not an “I can in fact quit you” post–because the historian writing it was taking every single period usage of a particular insult as though it was documented fact. He didn’t seem to have realized what the other historians of that period had: namely, that while some behaviors probably were well-supported, a single mention of a political enemy calling someone a witch, a sodomite, a cripple, or some other term assumed by contemporaries to be negative did not mean that they engaged in any particular concrete behavior whatsoever–except to disagree with the political enemy.

We’ve had this in our own lifetimes. Of course we have. People get called gay, Muslims, Communists, terrorists, because the people using those terms think that those are negative things to be, not because they saw someone kissing someone of the same sex or praying to Mecca, much less anything that might in real terms constitute affiliation with any Communist (or communist) or terrorist group. And yet historians! Come on, historians! This is supposed to be your job! This kind of perspective: you’re supposed to know better!

But in terms of writing speculative fiction, I think this kind of culturally pervasive insult can rise above Princess Leia’s “scruffy-looking nerf-herder!” if it’s handled carefully, but only then, and it’s pretty tricky for exactly the reasons the historians had trouble with it. One of the main ways we learn things about characters in a novel is what the other characters say about them, so if Ana says that Bot is a filthy drum-sniffer–what’s a drum-sniffer? why shouldn’t you sniff drums? what do they smell like?–we, the readers, have to find out that there’s some reason not to believe her, or else we do go away with the thought that, well, that Bot, he’s a filthy drum-sniffer. And we have to know whether drum-sniffing is an actual thing that carries with it serious shame, whether it used to but has fallen into slang usage that no longer feels literal (as with “bastard” no longer carrying serious allegations of parental non-marriage), and so on. Whether something is potentially a literal truth and only some people find it insulting is one of the hardest ones to pull off–the speculative world equivalent of allegations that President Obama is a secret Muslim, for example. It’s hard enough to navigate the thickets of “He isn’t, but it wouldn’t be an insult if he was” in this world, where there is an actual President Obama whose external religious behavior can be observed, and where people can look up external definitions of what “Christian” and “Muslim” mean to various parties.

It’s another piece of worldbuilding that can add richness and depth to the culture(s) and personalities you’re building, or it can bog a story down and confuse readers needlessly. If it happens to actual historians, it can certainly happen to fantasy readers. But that’s not a reason not to try, it’s a reason to be careful and run things past test-readers. Like most of the things worldbuilding nerds talk about wanting to see more of, it shouldn’t be required in every story, as a checklist, just as one of the cultural touchstones that can spark implications and ideas.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

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Raw seafood, Mary, just imagine! [Sep. 30th, 2014|10:39 pm]

Jo Walton has a blog post about the Decameron and ravioli, A Kind of Rissole, and it got me thinking about how we handle this sort of explanation in fantasy for effect, because Alec and I talk about it in terms of East Asian-inspired fantasy kind of a lot. It especially comes up with names, but I’m going to start with food and go from there.

The translator telling the reader that ravioli was a kind of rissoles, in Jo’s example, was trying not to make the reader trip on ravioli. (Slippery stuff. You could fall and hurt something.) It looks to me like he was trying to reassure his audience that, no, this is not important, this is mildly exotic but not upsetting, go on with this other thing I’m saying. He could have gone the other way. He could have described it in exoticizing detail, describing pasta in as distant a way as possible and then the fillings too, choosing the least familiar possible thing to fill ravioli with rather than going, look, it’s sort of like the thing you know with a starchy thing on the outside and a meat on the inside, right? When I was a little kid in the early ’80s, sushi was not a thing most older middle-class white Midwesterners ate, but oysters on the half-shell were a known thing, at least, a rich person food but a white rich person food, so if you were trying to explain sushi to someone’s white Midwestern great-grandmother, you could say, “It’s like oysters on the half shell, Gran, with a bit of rice,” if you wanted it to sound a little bit familiar, if you wanted her to say, “Oh, right, okay.” Or you could say, “They take tiny bits of carefully cut raw fish and seaweed and try to arrange them to look pretty, and then they eat them with long sticks,” if you wanted to make her go, “They what, I never.”

The same thing happens with names. If you’re trying to tell a story about someone’s daughter and you’re talking about, say, Japan to an 18th century English audience, you can think, oh, hell, well, the important thing is that Yuki was somebody’s daughter; what do people name their daughters? Fine, her name was Mary or Jane or Anne, one of the things people named their daughters. And the audience who needed to hear that ravioli was just like rissoles will think, oh right, it’s just someone’s daughter, carry on. Or you can decide that the important thing is the Flavor of Abroad, and you can carefully phoneticize: her name was Yoo-Kee, that’s what I think I heard! Yoo-Kee, your audience will savor, what a curious sound! how exotic! Or you can take a middle ground and translate. You can say, well, they named their daughter Snow. Snow! says your audience. What a pretty custom. And their other daughter was named Bitterness. Don’t think much of women there, do they? says your audience.

Oh wait. I slipped. That was Mary again.

Things have changed since the eighteenth century and even since the early 1980s; now Yuki is just an ordinary person’s name for most of us, thank heavens, and “oh, eat it, it’s fine, it’s basically like sushi!” is a way to make a food familiar and comfortable. Again, for most of us. For some…not so much. “Everyone” knows ravioli now. But my point is: fantasy authors sometimes want to invoke each of these effects in fantasy settings. The distancing, the familiarizing, the pieces in between. And that’s pretty value-neutral!…except for the assumptions behind what’s distant, what’s familiar, and which components of your audience will find them to go which directions. Writing is communication, and if you have giant chunks of your audience with opposite assumptions about what’s familiar and what’s distancing, that’s a pretty tricky balancing act for something as simple as a name. It’s very easy to overthink, but that’s because it’s a genuinely hard problem, and at a certain point you just have to do what you’re going to do and let it fall out as it may with different groups of readers.

Some of whom might end up thinking a rissole is a lot more similar to ravioli than it actually is, if you’re not careful with how you translate the Decameron.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

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Narcissism, self-assessment, and external feedback [Sep. 11th, 2014|02:58 pm]
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Last week the Strib had an article about teenagers–mostly girls ages 13 to 15–posting painfully sincere selfies and videos asking the internet to tell them the truth about whether they are ugly. And most of this article was about the effects on the kids in question, but there was some of the usual hand-wringing about how supposedly narcissistic this young generation is.

Narcissism, you see, is something that groups mostly suffer from if they’re younger than you. If you go to a nursing home and everyone there wants to talk about their individual aches and pains for hours, nobody wants to talk about the narcissism of the elderly. (And rightly so, because plenty of old people are not narcissistic. But plenty of young people aren’t either.) It can’t be that some percentage of people are pretty self-centered, and it’s more culturally acceptable to call younger people on it than older people. It also can’t be that developmentally people in their teens and early twenties are going through a time when they’re figuring out their abilities and plans and place in the world. Nope. The particular teens we have at any given moment are perpetually uniquely narcissistic. You can read it in the paper. ALWAYS. So it must be true.

Self-assessment is useful in many areas, and it can be hard to get help with it from the people around you. I’m not surprised that these teens want to find out whether they’re pretty or not. I’m somewhat surprised that they’re still naive enough, at thirteen, to think that the internet will tell them the truth. Of course the people around them–Mom, Dad, friends, whoever–will not. They will say, “You look so pretty,” when they mean a dozen different things like, “I love you,” and “I want you to feel good about yourself,” and “I understand and approve of what you’re wearing more today than yesterday,” and “you look so much like your grandmother today–I miss her so much–I wish she could have been here to see you grow up.” Thirteen-year-olds are old enough, smart enough to know this. They’re trying to figure themselves out and figure out how to relate to the world. That’s not necessarily narcissistic. Asking the internet is naive. But we all wanted to know where we fit, who we were, when we were thirteen. We still do, but we’ve got more data, more practice at it, past that age.

I was thinking about this in terms of all the advice about not telling kids that they’re smart, telling them that they did a good job on a specific piece of work. I see where that advice is coming from. But a few weeks ago I was at the zoo with my godson Rob, who is twelve, and I needed to tell him, “Rob, you’re walking very fast. It’s faster than the other people in the group can walk right now. They need you to slow down because they literally cannot keep up with how fast you are walking.” There are times when being a smart kid is like that. There are times when you’re young and not entirely socially aware, when it’s very useful to know that other people are not goofing off on purpose, they’re not failing to pay attention because they’d rather be doing something else, they are just not as smart as you, or not as smart in a particular subset of picking things up. They are trying. Telling a kid they’re smart is not always praise. Telling a kid they’re pretty, musical, fast, strong, whatever, is not always praise. It doesn’t have to be handled that way. Sometimes it’s useful feedback at an age where they’re not very good at self-assessment or at placing their self-assessment in the context of others and compassion for those others or compassion for themselves.

In science fiction, we have an established critique culture. It’s just a known thing that you can go to some group–friends, or a workshop in person, or an online workshop–and get an assessment of how you’re doing at something that affects your life. You can arrange, one way or another, to get other people who actually know something about it to critique your work, and you can get enough of them to do it to get at least a bit of triangulation. You won’t know perfectly, of course, but you’ll have the rough outlines, what’s working, what’s not, whether you’re publishable, whether you’re way out of that category. And I think we take it for granted as adults that external feedback above the level of “u suck” will be available. We need to recognize that while the internet has given teenagers access to all sorts of things we didn’t have, perspective is one of the ones that’s hardest to get that young, and cut them a break.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

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“We’ll only create a martyr!” [Aug. 29th, 2014|03:08 pm]
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I really liked some of the things Fred Clark said in this Slacktivist post about politics, martyrdom, and disgrace. I particularly wanted to highlight this part for my fellow fantasy writers:

There’s this mistaken idea in a lot of heroic stories that the oppressive evil villains can’t afford to kill the rebellious hero because they can’t risk turning them into a martyr. But that’s not how oppressive evil villains — or oppressive evil systems — work. They can kill without making martyrs because everyone they kill they also actively disgrace.

We–fantasy writers–are addicted to this trope. “We can’t kill him! We’ll only create a martyr!” says the villain. “Oh noes! Not a martyr! That’s way worse than, like, a live political operative wreaking havoc all over the land, and incidentally having crazy magical powers to boot! And also we are powerless against a martyr!”

Often what we mean when we do this is, “We can’t kill him! Our author would really like to write five more books if this one is successful!” And, y’know, I feel you, characters. I like having my favorite characters still around–both as a writer and as a reader. But we need a better reason to do that–like not walking characters into those traps in the first place. A reason that isn’t stupid. A reason that doesn’t make the real-life people who are killed look worse because they’ve been treated as real people always are: as people who can be disgraced by those in power, whose flaws can be played up or even manufactured, rather than as the mythical all-powerful martyrs.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

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Pretty tired, actually, but TINY PLUMS [Aug. 27th, 2014|06:13 pm]
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I was going to have a post here called “Beware of People” about generalities that give me hives, about generalizing what People Want and Readers Expect and Editors Demand and how this is really not a good reason to do things in a manuscript, like, ever. (“So-and-so wants this and it really works in this story” can be a great reason. That’s an important difference.)

I’m really tired, though, and it just wasn’t congealing. And so instead, hey, I went to the farmer’s market and came back with something like my body weight in produce. Every week I forget something on the list and get two or three more things that weren’t on the list because I didn’t know they’d come into season yet. This time I forgot the corn (oops–corn stand time maybe) and got golden raspberries, pears, and tiny plums (TINY PLUMS) that I didn’t know would be there. (TINY PLUMS YOU GUYS YOU GUYS YOU GUYS TINY PLUMS.)

So here is the thing about tiny plums: this year has been pretty rough for food for me, due to the vertigo and related meds. And tiny plums do not require a commitment. Four bites and you’re done, that’s all the plum there is. No preparation, and no feeling that, ugh, what if I start eating the plum and my body says HAHAHA NO NO MORE FOOD FOREVER? It will not matter. Because there is hardly any plum there to waste. It’s almost like deciding to eat a single strawberry. Except that it is an entire plum! It is a self-contained plum-based experience! What if it’s sour and not that great? You can have another one! Because they are tiny!

Boy, when they say sometimes it’s the little things, they really mean plums. I never knew that before.

I always think, “Maybe this time I will make the Hungarian plum dumplings out of them, with the potato dough and like that!” And then I laugh and say, “Maybe!” And then I eat another one and don’t. Because plenty of things take cooking. Long beans take cooking, and the round green eggplants, and you don’t have to cook the carrots but a lot of the things I put them in are cooking, and the salsa I make for Mark with his garden jalapenos and tomatoes takes cooking, and…yeah. There is no shortage of cooking. But the tiny plums can just be eaten, and that is really, really okay.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

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Adjective order and speculative writing [Aug. 19th, 2014|05:37 pm]
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I found this article about adjective order in English very interesting. It’s a topic that we mostly grasp intuitively–no teacher ever told me that saying “iron big skillet” was wrong because material is the type of adjective that belongs closest to the word and size goes further out, so we would say “big iron skillet.” But we would. I would never say or write “iron big skillet” unless I had realized after I’d already started to say “iron skillet” that there were two of them in there–and even then mostly I’d say “iron skillet–the big one” rather than “iron big skillet.”

(I wonder whether this gets taught in English as a Second Language classes or whether we just leave ESL learners to flounder and tell them that they sound “funny” and “foreign” and “wrong” because most of their teachers can’t articulate why they do, they just do.)

But the thing that occurred to me reading the article was that I use this to signal things like fictional species name when I’m writing speculative fiction. The example they used of “wondrous blue-green Hawaiian gecko” vs. “Hawaiian blue-green wondrous gecko”: in the latter case, I would incline towards “wondrous gecko” being the species name, and if I saw it later in the text as “Caroline advanced toward the wondrous gecko enclosure with the stun gun at ready,” I would take that as further data, not that the enclosure was wondrous, but that the species was called “wondrous gecko.” Because otherwise it’s an awkwardness I would assume that a) someone fluent enough to write in English would catch and b) someone fluent enough to edit in English would catch so that c) it would be there for a reason.

I don’t know if people who primarily read memetic fiction have that reading protocol, or if I’m giving other speculative writers (or speculative readers!) too much credit, but it was a tool in my toolkit I was not conscious of using until there was the adjective order laid out right there, so look: adjective order, it is a thing! If you mess with it, you can sometimes signal things like species name in a speculative context. This has been your afternoon’s SF science nerding with Mris.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

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Reading about reading, other things about reading [Aug. 19th, 2014|12:20 pm]
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Oursin has this post about a clueless article about books about reading–bibliomemoirs and “reading guides,” they mostly seem to be, rather than lit crit proper, although the line is almost certainly fuzzy. It looks like the original article’s author is having trouble with the concept that reading is another human activity that humans will like in varying amounts and with varying accoutrements. That’s…kind of weird, honestly. Aren’t we clear that some people want T-shirts that say “I’d rather be riding horses” and some people would just rather be riding horses regardless of their shirts? Some people want to ride horses and also read about the theory of riding horses and also read about famous riders of the past, whereas some people…just want to ride their horses. Why should reading itself be any different, as human activities go?

The ideal present for me has been the same throughout my life, and that is: the book I didn’t know I wanted. (Zalena nailed one of these recently: I had not been keeping close enough track to realize that Hilary McKay had a book out that I had not read, until poof! there it was. Hurrah!) A very close second place is a book I did know I wanted. I understand that there are people who change over the course of their lives, who have a different ideal present at age 6 than at age 36, but I understand this in an intellectual, not an emotional sense, because that is not my experience of life. For me the Best Present is a constant.

But. When I was younger, Book-Related Crap was far higher on my list of Good Presents than it is now. I have a mug reading “So Many Books, So Little Time,” and that was a good present at the time, and today it would be…not a great present, frankly. It would be a present I was polite about and would find a use for but would not be excited about, and at the time it made me happy. And I think I have figured out why.

When I was younger, it was a lot more important that people not try to put me in the wrong box. And giving me Book Crap or Fantasy Crap or SF Crap or Science Crap was a token that they had recognized my chosen boxes. The mug that said, “So Many Books, So Little Time” acknowledged that my Thing was books. They were not putting me in the Adolescent Girls Like Pop Music Box or the My Friend At Work Has A Daughter Your Age Who Likes This Box.

Now? Well, now I’m pretty comfortable with who I am, and the default adult question when you first meet someone is, “What do you do?”, not, “What grade are you in?” So it used to be that the default I Just Met You question solicited approximately zero information that was really important to me, and now it solicits information that is greatly important to me. “I write science fiction and fantasy for all ages.” People know that about me within thirty seconds of meeting me in nearly any context. So I can focus my clothing on having a flattering cut and color, feeling soft, washing well, being durable, that sort of thing. Because “I like books” will come across in other ways. Not everybody has that. Some people want it. I don’t see why the original poster should object to them having it on their shirt or on a totebag.

And I really don’t see why we shouldn’t have community in books about books as well as out of books about books, and I think that’s what bibliomemoir is aiming at. Bibliomemoir is the book version of when you’re sitting around drinking tea with a friend and you say, “So when I was 18 and I read Joanna Russ,” and she says, “ME TOO.” It’s okay when your friend writes this down and publishes it. It’s okay when you haven’t met your friend yet. It’s okay if you never will. You can still live in the same community of books. You can still be aware that you do. Being aware of it doesn’t spoil it.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

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Intellectual property and wills [Aug. 7th, 2014|05:20 pm]

Every once in awhile something brings this to mind again, so consider this your annual-or-so reminder:

Please, please, please make a will. Please, please, please make a medical decision-making/power-of-attorney document. Discuss these things with your near and dear so that they know what you want. If your lives aren’t terribly complicated, they don’t have to be expensive. In many states you can do legally binding ones for free if you do them in your own handwriting or other stipulations–I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on the internet, please look up the details for yourself and/or consult an actual attorney such as this nice man–but please, please get them done. They aren’t just for rich people. They aren’t just for “important” people. You are important people. Make a will. Make your health care wishes clear. Do it today, do it tomorrow, wait until next week if you must. But please do it.

And the thing that brought it to my mind was this:

If you do substantial creative work. If you are a writer with a substantial body of work–novels, several short stories or poems–if you are a visual artist, anything that is that type of copyrighted intellectual property, please, please take the time to do this so that you establish who will be your literary executor*. This person does not have to be an heir. Sometimes family members who have been very dear and supportive of your career, who would want your work to be protected and perpetuated, are not people who have the background or the time to navigate the business of publishing. This doesn’t have to require malice! You can say, “Oh, my next of kin would be my sister Alice, and she loves my books!” But Alice has five children and a thriving practice as a cardiologist; if you are killed in a tragic meteor shower tomorrow, in five years, learning what she needs to know to do well by your work may not be Alice’s top priority. Or it might be! Alice might be awesome that way. But at least think through the personalities and skill sets involved.

The other thing I would like to say about this is: if you’ve already done this, hurrah! I salute you! But if you’ve already done this twenty, twenty-five, thirty years ago, please consider whether the people you selected are still the right people. Right now, my godchildren and my nieces are not the right people, and right now I have no children and don’t know whether I ever will.** In twenty or thirty years, my parents and my godchildren and my nieces will be in very different places in their lives, and we will know about the child hypothesis for sure. So: reevaluation. We used to joke about how upsetting it would be if something happened to Tim’s parents, not only because of losing them themselves, but also because they hadn’t changed their will, and we would miss Tim when he had to go live with his aunt and uncle. Obviously the guardianship of minor children goes away when those children reach majority. But designating a sibling instead of a child or a younger friend to be the literary executor does not. Sometimes that’s still the right thing. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes putting an extra layer of conditional statements into place–”my friend Chris if still available, my cousin Pat if not”–can help make everybody more comfortable with the situation.

I know, I know, this is one of my hot buttons, and I keep harping on it. But I think one of the things that happens is that our work sneaks up on us. We don’t think of ourselves as major authors, because major authors are always going to be the next rungs up. Even if you’re regularly making the New York Times bestseller list, even if you’re regularly winning major awards in your genre of choice, you’re always going to be able to say to yourself, “Yes, but I’m no Octavia Butler, a major author is someone like Octavia Butler.” But the thing is–well, two things. One, Octavia Butler probably didn’t think she was a major author when she wrote the stories I just read in Unexpected Stories, and I’m still immensely glad that she had the procedures in place so that people could get those stories published after her death, so that the rest of us could have them and love them. And two, it doesn’t matter if you’re major. If you make things, please let the rest of us protect your things. Please let this be the lantern glass around your bright spark, even if it’s a tiny spark.

*I’m going to use the language of literature from this point forward, since that’s the terminology I know, but if you’re another kind of artist, please look into protecting your work post mortem in the way that suits your type of work also. It’s still important–it’s just not the language I’ve got immediately to hand.

**I would like one. If it becomes possible, I will tell you. Until then, please don’t ask questions about it. Thanks.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

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Guest blogging about short stories [Jul. 1st, 2014|12:27 pm]
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I’m guest blogging about short stories and how to do more of/with them over at Locus Roundtable–go check it out. (More specific topic title: “More Please: The Short Story Mosaic,” in case that interests anybody.)

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

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