Scientists Discover a Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics — The amplituhedron looks like an intricate, multifaceted jewel in higher dimensions. Encoded in its volume are the most basic features of reality that can be calculated, “scattering amplitudes,” which represent the likelihood that a certain set of particles will turn into certain other particles upon colliding. Huh. (Via David Goldman.)
Vitamins’ Old, Old Edge — From the beginnings of life roughly four billion years ago, they have played a central, necessary role. In fact, early life forms used to be veritable vitamin factories.
Furthering the Conversation on the HPV Vaccine — Katie Couric sorta-kinda apologies, but not on the air!, for giving weight to vaccine denialists in a segment on the HPV vaccine. Which is the precise intellectual and moral equivalent to sorta-kinda apologizing for giving weight to evolution denialists, climate change denialists and proponents of supply-side economics: all destructive counterfactuals with no evidence-based support, crafted from knowing lies and deceptions for which real people pay a real price.
Melting Arctic sea ice could be altering jet stream — More studies look at links to extreme weather. Nothing to see here, kids. Just corrupt liberal scientists falsifying data to get a bigger share of that sweet government grant money. Thank God for Rush Limbaugh and the Republican party, or someone might have to take this shit seriously.
Australia Court Nixes Gay Marriage in Capital — A day after India's Supreme Court recriminalized gay sex, Australia's High Court has overturned the capital's same-sex marriage legislation. This culture war really is over, but the forces of bigotry, clothed in the self-valorizing righteousness of their faith, will keep the battles going for years to come.
Support for a $10 Minimum Wage Is Surprisingly High — Every time in my life there’s been an effort to raise the minimum wage, conservatives have raged about job losses and damage to the economy. Every time, they’ve been dead wrong. Every time, Your Liberal Media gives them full coverage and credibility, and never asks about their history of being dead wrong on the issue at every turn. So it went with integration. So it goes with gay rights. So it goes in America, where the conservative narrative is dominant even with almost no track record of accuracy.
Boehner Snaps At Conservative Groups For 'Using' House Republicans — "These groups aren't acting out of principle, and they're not trying to enact conservative policies. They're using you to raise money and expand their own organization," Boehner said, according to the source's paraphrase. "No one controls your voting card but you.” Hi, Speaker Boehner. Welcome to reality. Where the hell have you been through the past four decades of Movement Conservatism?
Mandela and the Question of Violence — One should never lose sight of why America preaches nonviolence to some people while urging other people to arms. Ta-Nehisi Coates is on fire.
?otD: Did you smell that cheese?
12/12/2013 Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain) Hours slept: 8.5 hours (solid) Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride Weight: 239.4 Number of FEMA troops on my block forging presidential birth certificates: 0 Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)
So! As many of you know, last September and October I ran a Kickstarter for my new epic fantasy trilogy. My goal was $10K, which was barely enough to cover the cost of cover art, interior design, a map, printing, copy editing, etc. In my original budget I had about $80 worth of wiggle room, which I figured would be safe enough; if costs went over, I could cover them with the Twenty Palaces POD edition which is coming out soon.
Then this happened:
The project hit its goal in about 8 hours and doubled it the next day. This post is going to be about what happened, why it happened, what I did right and wrong, and what I learned from it.
So, I’ll do it today instead. Tuesday (i.e., two days ago) marked the anniversary of the death of Damon Runyon, newspaperman, short story author, and (as I recently learned) one of the architects of modern roller derby.
Runyon wrote about New York’s Broadway. He died in New York, but he was born in Manhattan, Kansas (i.e., the “little Apple”).
When I was in high school, the drama department put on a production of Guys & Dolls, and I’ve had his characters’ voices running around in my head ever since. Eventually, this led me to write a pastiche, “The Sky’s The Limit,” which was published in All Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories.
I recently installed a “Contact Me” option on my website. As my way of paying respect to Damon Runyon, if you “contact me” in this way and include your email address and the format you need (ePub or mobi), I will send you an ebook of the story. The offer expires Sunday night, December 15th.
A quick note that I’ll be hanging out and signing books at Barnes & Noble in the Kalamazoo area this Saturday from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. The address is 6134 South Westnedge, Portage, Michigan. Hopefully I’ll see a few of you there! (Autographed books make awesome Christmas presents, you know )
On a related note, if you live in the U.S. and feel like giving away one (or more!) of my books for Christmas this year, I’d be happy to send you a signed bookplate to go with it. Email me at jchines -at- sff.net. I’ll mail up to three bookplates per person, but you have to let me know today or tomorrow so I can get them in the mail by Saturday. Limited time offer, while supplies last, etc. and so on.
The "hot" part is gonna have to be spice-hot. Air temperature 6 F for the newspaper walk, wind NW at 5 mph or so, windchill numbers negative. The north country was subzero F this morning. We still wait for winter to arrive.
Now that sign-language interpreter claims to have been hallucinating angels while he was on the podium with World Leaders. Okay. You wouldn't believe this shit if I wrote it into a novel.
Lucy A. Snyder, Christian Klaver, Mike Underwood, Courtney Moulton, J. C. Daniels
9am Saturday - Erie
Sometimes an idea fails to find an audience, or zeitgeist just zigs when a story zags. For whatever reason, there are a number of unexplored areas of Urban Fantasy that we might want to revisit.
If I Knew Then What I Know Now (Session One)
Lucy A. Snyder, Ron Collins, Jacqueline Carey, Tobias Buckell, C. C. Finlay, Ian Tregillis
10am Saturday - Michigan Room
Many of us would do things differently if we had the opportunity to go back and try again with what was learned later. We can’t do that for everything, but in this hour several publishing veterans will shed some light on some aspects of the writing life that they learned the hard way.
Lucy A. Snyder, John Klima, Sandra Tayler, Howard Tayler, Tobias Buckell
1pm Saturday - Southfield
Self-publishing is here to stay. Traditional publishing is still going strong. What do the people who who do both have to share about their experiences?
How do I find the right fit when looking for an Agent?
Amy Sundberg, Peter Orullian, Lucy A. Snyder, Aimee Carter
7pm Saturday - Ontario
What do you look for? Should you ever consider changing agents or is there a situation where one should find more than one? What are some warning signs or things to avoid?
Many of us know the healing, invigorating, brain-kicking power of good water pressure and a reliable boiler. Need to wake your brain up? Stuck on a story point? Go stand under some hot water.
Sometimes it can kick in without your expecting it, though.
For some reason, I started telling this story in the shower, this morning.
Once upon a time, just yesterday...
a dragon moved into a garden patch.
Oh, you say, but dragons live in high mountains, or deep in the waters, curled around gold and gems and pearls. They don't live in gardens! But this dragon was old and wise, and he knew that gems were not satisfying to his belly, and rare was the knight or maiden who came to the deep fastness of a sea- or mountain-cave. So to a garden plot he went, where tomatoes and aubergine and rutabagas grew. Not that he liked rutabagas, mind, but they were wonderful for his scales, and so he crunched them down when they came ripe, and reminded himself that knights and maidens taste worse.
And so the dragon lived in his garden plot, tending the winter gourds and the spring greenshoots and the summer fruits and the autumn tubers....
There was only one problem...dragon poo is NOT good for gardens.
I actually know where this story goes. It may take a few more showers to get it there, though.
So much so that the January 1898 issue of The Nickell was packed with ads for bikes and biking accessories, such as the Columbia Chainless Bicycle (“totally unaffected by mud, dust, rain, or sleet”), the “Serrate Tread” Tire (if your dealer doesn’t have the new ’98 model, “tell him he’s not up to date), and The Wheelmen’s Gazette (“an illustrated monthly magazine devoted to the grandest, healthiest, most manly sport in the world—cycling”).
But what really proved to me that bicycling wasn’t just a hobby in those days, but a craze, was the poem “Ye Ballad of Ye Mermaiden,” in which a mermaid was spellbound … by a cyclist.
Or the wheelman’s “wondrous shell on which you travel so fast and well,” anyway.
I assume “she scorches beneath the sea” in the poem’s final line merely meant she was going very fast. But if you’ve got a better handle on the slang of the late 19th century, let me know!
So these my published stories, much like buses, tend to come along all at once after a very long period of silence. Also, much like buses, I have a tendency to get distracted by shiny things and miss them when they come along, which means I’m left to chase along behind and arrive places very, very late.
I’m really not good with buses. And it’s possible this metaphor is getting away from me. Forgive me, I’m out of practice, and the blogging muscles have atrophied
Suffice to say that the November-December stretch has been pretty good for me on the publishing side of things, however, since it saw my most recent story coming out at Daily Science Fiction, plus it saw the release of the Coins of Chaos anthology which features one of the few stories I actually finished in 2012.
So now, somewhat belatedly, I give you excerpts and links.
From Tuesday to Tuesday, Daily Science Fiction
They’ve been together long enough for this to become ritual: Deanna Sable in the clawfoot bath, head resting against the curve of the tub, her fingers coiled around a Stuyvesant smoked down to the filter; Kirk seated at the door, bare-chested and nursing his third beer, drawing what comfort he can from the proximity to the cracked tiles. Watching one another, half a smile shared between them, looking for new ways to fill the idle silence.
From Tuesday to Tuesday hit the interwebs about a month ago, when I was deep in the depths of running workshops after coming back overseas. You can read it now over on the Daily Science Fiction website, where it’s somewhat cheerfully appended with a warning about adult language.
Getting published at Daily SF is always a slightly strange experience, both ’cause their readership is so diverse (and, lets face it, huge) and ’cause they’re one of the few places that ask for short exegetic pieces alongside the story. And, every time, I hem and haw and write a handful of words about the story, then delete those words and write another handful. Ultimately, because there’s a deadline and the exegetic bit is optional, I throw up my hands get on with the next thing.
The truth is, sometimes the story behind a story is easy to tell. Sometimes, well, there really isn’t one. From Tuesday to Tuesday got written because I wanted to write a story; I woke up, I wrote a section, and then I tooled around with what I’ve written until I figured out what the next bit should be. It’s an attempt to write a story by leaning little bits of story up against one-another and seeing how many it takes for them to stabilize.
Tithes, Coins of Chaos Anthology
Last stop, Gould’s Antiques, up on Wickham Terrace. The three of them skulk in, trying to disappear amid the furniture and the ball-gowns and rows of glass display cases. The same routine every visit: Angie slinking to the rear of the store, breathing in the scent of the ancient leather jackets; Byron down by the glass-fronted cabinet, crouched so low his coat brushes the concrete floor, peering at the flintlocks and gasmasks and colonial knives; Nate just kind of wandering around, not really looking at anything except his watch, fretting about the possibility of missing their last train home.
Nate’s only there because they are a team, the three of them. Refugees from the land of misfit toys, as Byron’s so fond of calling them, sharing a shitty fibro shack in a city that has no use for them. They spend their days, three against the world, the punk-girl, the goth-boy, and whatever Byron calls himself, a witch or a warlock or just strange weird.
So back in August of last year I got an email from Jennifer Brozek asking if I’d be interested in submitting a story to Coins of Chaos, an anthology of dark SF-ish stories that revolved around the concept of hobo nickels.
Now I knew fuck all about hobo nickels when the email came through, but I’d written a bunch of stuff for Jennifer’s Edge of Propinquity project in 2011 and, honestly, I had so much trouble getting my shit together on the monthly deadlines that I pretty much assumed I’d be *way* down on the list of writers she’d ever want to work with again. Awesome, I thought, I get a shot at redeeming my laggard ways.
Then I actually went and read up about hobo nickels and checked out the sample images Jennifer had sent through, realised they were all kinds of creepy awesomeness, and disappeared down the rabbit hole for a week while I belted out the first draft of the story. It is, quite possible, the fastest I’ve ever gone from I’m going to write a story to holy shit, this is done in twenty years of writing.
It’d been years since I wrote something that was intentionally a horror story – usually, if that happens, I’ve ended up there accidentally – and it was great fun to play around with my memories of being nineteen or twenty and hanging out with the small crew of goth-types on the Gold Coast (which is, really, not a city that is ever going to be welcoming of vaguely goth-type people).
One final note for people who’ve been reading the blog on the email subscription: you may note a slight change to the layout of the emails that are coming through, as I’ve swapped from the old RSS provider over to a mailchimp set-up that does the same thing. In theory, this should be a seamless change that no-one notices, and the email list will only ever be used to send through blog content.