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athgarvan July 29 2014, 07:33

The Life of a simple farmer.

Jos--Mujica-009Following my recent post about Pope Francis taking lunch with workers in a Vatican café, an LJ friend asks why we were surprised? Is it not normal for him? Is it not part of his duty?

He then suggests I take a look at the life-style of José Mujica, the President of Uruguay, a self-declared atheist, in the following link: http://www.wimp.com/poorestpresident/

Would you agree with your country's President (ruler) living such a life-style?
starry_diadem July 29 2014, 07:23

Can hardly wait...

As long as I keep Book Tolkien pure and separate in my head, I can enjoy the Jackson films as something that nods towards their source, but are entirely separate and to be accepted on their own terms.  So as much as  the purist in me grumbles about the liberties Jackson takes, the shallow  ohh-looky-it's-pretty-elves me can kick back and enjoy the films.

elektra July 29 2014, 04:30

Do those look like Apes to you?

matthewsrotundo July 29 2014, 03:54

Progress Report, in which you might need some sodium chloride

A quick 8300 words on “The Winter Palace” rewrite brings Magic Meter to that most magical of places:

And that’s that.  I think this little bird is ready to leave the nest.

I gotta be honest, folks:  I like this one a lot.  Like, a lot a lot.  Of course, given that I’m the worst judge of my own work, you should take that with a rather large block of sodium chloride.

A final snippet:

At the secret door, rock in hand, she hesitated, torn in an agony of doubt and fear.  She was only a little girl.  How could she be expected to do this?  It was so wrong . . . and at the same time, it had to be her, and no one else.  She had climbed thornfruit trees, had braved the catacombs.

And for my next trick . . . um.  I don’t know.  Need to think of something.  If anyone has any ideas, do let me know, will you?  Thanks in advance.

Write Club update:  A tier one bounce from an agent on a novel query.  Response time, 26 days.

On to the Next Big Thing.  Whatever that may be.

Current Music: "Try a Little Tenderness"--Three Dog Night

Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown

matthewsrotundo July 29 2014, 03:45

Progress Report, in which I do not ask for your approval

Business travel and a metric crapload of familial obligations last week = meager progress on the rewrite of “The Winter Palace.”  But such progress as there was, I submit forthwith for your approval:

OK, I’m not really asking for approval.  It’s just an expression, folks.  Go with it.

Anyway, hoping for better progress this week.  As always.

Your snippet:

“The Nayeed—”  Jessica stopped herself before she said anything more.  She’d been on the verge of asking if it was true that the Nayeed had built the Winter Palace, but Father would demand to know who had told her that.  She licked her dry lips.  “Father . . . are the Nayeed all liars, like the snakes?”

Father exchanged a glance with Mother.  “They . . . one must be careful with them.  They do not love northerners.  But not everything they say is a lie.”

“Not like snakes, then?”

“No, not like snakes.  But you still stay away from them, all the same.”

No updates for Write Club.

And I’m gone.

Current Music: "Superhuman"--Velvet Revolver

Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown

writerjenn July 29 2014, 02:46

What to write next

"Please know that I am not trying to avoid my editorial responsibility, but I think it is always unfortunate that an editor decides what an author should do next. ... I do think you should do the one you really want to do. I never want to forget that if Lewis Carroll had asked me whether or not he should bother writing about a little girl named Alice who fell asleep and dreamed that she had a lot of adventures down a rabbit hole, it would not have sounded awfully tempting to any editor."
--Ursula Nordstrom, from Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom, Collected and Edited by Leonard S. Marcus
gillpolack July 29 2014, 02:25

No subject

It's delightfully warm today, and I'm delightfully achy. This is because the delightful warmth (it was nearly 16 degrees outside when I went to run my day's worth of messages) is due to an even more delightful weather system.

So my messages are all done and my appointments all finished and all that remains in my day is work and housework and housework and work. And coffee. And pain relievers. And more coffee. And possibly more pain relievers.

Despite my current aches, I'm boppy. A webpage explains it: http://www.poslovni.hr/after5/liburnicon-upisao-opatiju-na-kartu-destinacija-za-ljubitelje-sf-a-i-fantasyja-276344 I'm not translating it, for I have no Croatian. I know what it's about, though, and why my name is on the webpage. It's the icing on the cake for my trip, to be able to talk about things I love with people who share that love and to be given a guest of honour status for so doing. I've already prepared a slide show that includes everything from writers attacking each other to kangaroos trying to stare me down. I'm honoured and excited and totally chuffed, all at once. I will have various celebrations (for being a con guest deserves celebration), some online - watch this space.

And now I need to finish getting my work done before I go!
mmerriam July 29 2014, 01:10

"Invisible People"

This is everyone's reminder that the Minnesota Fringe Festival production I am taking part in opens this Thursday, July 31st with 5 performances at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage -711 West Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55405. Tickets are $12 and you need a Fringe Festival button, available at the venue for $4

Showtimes are:
Thursday, 7/31 @ 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, 8/2 @ 10:00 p.m.
Wednesday, 8/6 @ 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, 8/9 @ 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, 8/10 @ 1:00 p.m.

Invisibility tops the superpower list . . . but what is lost when we’re not seen? From a writer fearing his own erasure to a young man attempting to hide his transgender self in a monastery, it’s two true stories by two Minnesota-based writers in one can’t-see show.

Their stories—which are quite different, on the surface—are intertwined in one unified performance.

Michael Merriam fears that his loss of sight will make him invisible to those around him. “It all started with the fliers,” he says, describing the people passing out fliers advertising shows, political candidates, or grass-roots causes that begin to scurry past him when they see his cane.

Christy Marie Kent tries to become invisible by entering a monastery, thinking that hiding from women will cure her from wanting to become a woman. When this fails, she gives in and transitions to womanhood. “My physical transformation begins with this, hormone pills created from the estrogen-rich urine of pregnant mares. On the bright side, the sweet candy coating almost disguises the taste of horse pee.”

Explore with them the depths of the human spirit. Discover the ability to make the best possible lives for themselves—for ourselves.

Isn’t this what we all want?
aprilhenry July 28 2014, 22:47

Why research when you can do?

machine gun

I’m on a board for people whose write about murder and theft, poisons and fires. In addition to writers, there are a lot of professionals on the board - people who are or have been cops, paramedics, FBI agents, firefighters, PIs, and more.

A writer recently posted a question about what kind of gun her character should get.  She said she knew nothing about guns, and she wanted to know what her equally ignorant character would experience if she went to a gun shop and asked for help.

At which point I (and several other writers) chimed in. Why not just go into a gun store and explain what she was working on and ask their advice?  This was one real-life situation (unlike questions about, say, the best undetectable poison) where it would be easy to experience it.

And experience will give a writer so MUCH more than reading about it ever would.  She’ll be able to describe the shop without trying to google images of “gun shop.”  She’ll know the heft of a gun, and the feeling of the grip, learn it’s surprisingly heavy even though parts of it appear to be made out of plastic.  There may be smells and even tastes she would not expect.  Since her character and the writer herself are both coming from the same place (not knowing much about guns) she’ll be able to ask the questions her character would and hear the answers her character would as well.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 3.50.05 PMI have found that almost everyone likes to talk about themselves and what they do to an interested person.  I have interviewed teens, death investigators, DNA experts, and curators.  In some cases, I have gone in cold (as I would in the gun situation above).  In others, I have done the professional the courtesy of learning as much as I could before I went to them.  With Dr. Dan Crane, the DNA expert, for example, it would be a waste of his precious time to sit down and say, “What’s DNA?”  Instead I learned a lot on my own and asked about Y-STR and familial DNA testing.

When I was working on the end to The Body in the Woods, I knew it took place in Forest Park.  And I knew my bad character would be armed, and my good characters wouldn’t be.  They needed something they could use as a weapon.  But what?  I took the same walk they would have to get into the park, past nice homes, and I photographed everything I thought they might consider for use as a weapon. Real life thought of many more alternatives that I did.

2013-01-08 10.40.30
2013-01-08 10.55.122013-01-08 10.34.49
ellenmillion July 28 2014, 22:36

Epic Mondaily Update

In Guppy News

I am astonished how fast she's growing. It's easier to see when I spent a good chunk of two weeks away from her than it was when I was constantly with her.

Her speech is getting clearer - milk is no longer gum, blankets are no longer boppies. (Each blanket, in fact, has a name, and must be put on her in order: Pink Blanket, Guppy Blanket, Rose Blanket, Kitty Blanket. And heaven help you if one of the blankets is missing!) She says 'please' if barely prompted, 'thank you' nearly always, and 'you're WELcome' all the times in between. 'Do it myself!' is one of her favorite things, and she drew an 'H' and identified it correctly this weekend. Her counting is still hit and miss. ('One, three, one, two...') 'Build a tower!' is still a favorite. Reading never goes out of style. A few weeks ago, she made a drastic change and began personifying her things. Suddenly Kiko, her rag-doll, has to be fed and have her diaper changed and take naps, where before I think Kiko's little blanket meant more to her than Kiko. Even her 'Little Green Person' (a Duplo figure) is addressed as a character now. She cannot seem to sit still through storytime - today she bolted across the library (just to be chased, as far as I can tell) five times before I finally just pulled her out and went to play with Duplos with her.

Growing up is hard work!

In pet news

I need to take Norway for more walks! But as he's gotten older, he seems more content with hanging out at his house and doesn't bolt around quite like he used to. Long walks sometimes wind him now. His weight is down at a healthier place for him, and he seems in good health.

Velcro, on the other hand, had started grooming bald patches down her sides, so I took her in for shot updates (just rabies - she's not at risk for anything else, being an indoor only cat) and to get an opinion on that. $300 of bloodwork later (and two draws, because they LOST the first one...), it turns out she is hyperthyroid, poor kitty. We're trying prescription food for a month or so, before resorting to medicine. No improvement yet, but it's only been a little over a week. She's definitely showing her age these days, but remains tolerant to toddlers who cover her with towels and try to stack books on her and convince her to eat duplos.

In house news

We got the lights up in the garage, and they are fabulous! The fan is also purchased, but not yet installed.

In weather news

More %^*##@ rain. I don't want to talk about it.

In project news

Sketch Fest was a little bit slow this month, and the Torn World Muse Fusion (which runs the entire month) is shaping up to be a bit of a flop. I suspect that my being offline and largely out of touch plays a role.

I am all kinds of inspired over Shifting. I have, in fact, reserved a domain for it, because I have no sense at all. It is now required to make me $15/year. Sketch Tarot is still moving forward - Empress is inked!

Going to draw now, and then make banana bread. Inbox: 117 (urgh!) and I've got Sketch Fest payments to get out.
cathschaffstump July 28 2014, 22:26

And That’s a Wrap…

Tomorrow I return to work. My summer vacation is over, as is my time as a full time writer.

I did manage to get a rough draft of my novel done, and I have started draft 2, which for me is usually where things get very detailed. Currently I have one novel, one novella, and five short stories making the rounds. We've done all right this summer.


You will hear more often from me now that I'm back at work.


So, before the end of the week, I'll get started on that RAINN auction regarding Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon. Hey, if you have a friend named Catherine who doesn't mind what MZB did to her kids, this will be a perfect opportunity for you or that friend to make a donation to RAINN and get a personalized autograph. Or maybe your friend will want to bury the book. Whatever.


Thank you, summer. You were very, very good to me. Especially Convergence, the Ren Fest, and Detcon. Very good. I'll miss you.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

jennifer_brozek July 28 2014, 20:37

Tell Me - Kenneth Mark Hoover

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

I have to admit, I have a soft spot for the Haxan world by Kenneth Mark Hoover. I love a good weird west tale and Haxan is it. Someday, the worlds of Mowry, AZ and Haxan, AZ will collide and it will be epic.



I fell into writing westerns, and dark fantasy westerns, entirely by accident.

About five years ago I started listening to the Old Time Radio Gunsmoke series. These were created and written by John Meston, a writer who wanted to bring adult sensibilities to the western. He hated what Hollywood had done to the Old West, relying on crude mythology and cliches. He wanted to write adult stories about the men and women of that time in a responsible way, leaving behind more cartoonish aspects which had taken root in the collective mind.

The OTR portrayal of Matt Dillon is very different from the television version. John Meston created Matt Dillon as a man as violent as the men he has goes up against. In fact, in the radio series, Matt Dillon is almost a psychopath who beats men within an inch of their life. Kitty, in the radio series, is a worn-out prostitute, and Doc Adams is a gibbering ghoul intent on collecting autopsy fees.

While listening to these episodes it wasn’t long before I knew I wanted to do something along the same lines. I had no intention before then of writing westerns or using a western setting as a backdrop in my fiction. John Meston, and his work, set the hook in my mind. I feel I owe him a lot.

Around the same time I finished reading the entire comic book run of Jonah Hex. I liked the hard-bitten edge of the character as written by John Albano, and the art of Tony DeZuniga has never been matched, in my opinion.

One afternoon I went outside to sit in the sun and I started making notes. I first had the town as Hex, New Mexico, probably a result of the comic influence. But I quickly changed that to Haxan, which is a Swedish word for “witches” and is the name of an excellent silent horror film from 1922. Just like that I had the entire plot of “Haxan” in my mind.

I started doing research, and to make things a little different leavened dark fantasy in the story. Not a lot. I didn’t want the fantasy to overwhelm the historical aspect at all. I had seen this in other “weird westerns” and frankly, never thought much of it. I didn’t want the West to be another generic (and replaceable) backdrop to my story. I wanted “Haxan” to be about the West, and any dark fantasy present would be included to illuminate that singular aspect.

I must say I have never thought I wrote “weird westerns” although the Haxan stories, and the novel published by CZP, are categorized that way. Being pigeonholed is a crux every writer must bear, and I don’t let it bother me too much. But, to me, your typical weird western is just another cliched story with vampires, werewolves, and the occasional Cthulhu-type monster in a walk-on role. I am a big reader of history and philosophy. I know the most frightening monsters have always been human. So that’s what I set out to write.

I’ve said many times Haxan is my own little dark corner of the universe where I get to play with matches. The setting and the characters lend themselves to many different story styles and genres. But I am always careful to make the West, and its culture, and the men and women of all races who struggled everyday to survive, my central focus. This came home to me in a big way when Jennifer Brozek remarked I should start writing stories about the other people in Haxan rather than concentrate on Marwood. I immediately saw what she was getting at. The whole mythos of Haxan needed to be told, rather than one slice from an individual viewpoint.

I haven’t looked back since. I’ve published about 20 Haxan short stories and more are coming. The novel Haxan was published by CZP earlier this year, and they’ve scheduled the next one, Quaternity, for May 2015. I will begin work on the third Haxan novel, Seven Devils, this fall.

So far I’ve enjoyed writing in the world of Haxan very much. People tell me they like the stories and the characters a lot. But I haven’t done it entirely by myself. I have some very good writers and friends I bounce ideas off to gauge their reaction whether a story idea is worth pursuing.

No writer writes a story entirely by himself. But as of today I am a citizen of Haxan, New Mexico, circa 1874, and I think I am going to stay there for a while.


Kenneth Mark Hoover has sold over fifty short stories and articles. His first novel, Fevreblau, was published by Five Star Press in 2005. His work has appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons and the anthology Destination: Future. He is a member of SFWA and HWA and currently lives near Dallas, TX. Mr. Hoover can be reached through his website kennethmarkhoover.com where extra content, including character biographies and photographs, can be found regarding the world of Haxan.

medleymisty July 28 2014, 20:09

Here are the kittens!


This pic was taken probably less than an hour or two after the last one was born. :)

Umm, for those of you who haven't been following along...I am not an irresponsible kitty caretaker. We found a stray cat in our yard five weeks ago, she was pregnant, we took her to the vet, the vet was all "Boo boo no I don't do terminations and don't even ask!" and we were like "That's cool, we only wanted to make sure that she was all healthy and fine and we would have only terminated if it was in her best interest", and now here are her kittens.

She will be spayed when they're weaned (and then living with us for the rest of her life because she's AWESOME), and they will all be spayed/neutered before we adopt them out. To good homes. Really good homes. I'm not letting these babies go with any humans that I don't absolutely trust.
yolandasfetsos July 28 2014, 19:51

I have some news!

First there was a space cowboy in Wither.
Then, a shapeshiter in Clash.
We also met an arena warrior with a bloodlust problem in Shiver.
Now, it's time to meet an AI in Dash.

Thanks to my awesome editor, Holly, I just signed another contract with Samhain Publishing. This one is for the fourth book in my SFR RECAST series, which is called DASH.

I can't wait for readers to meet Taylor and Walsh.

If you've read Clash, you've already kinda 'met' Walsh. And if you've read Shiver, then you might have noticed Taylor's turbulent introduction.

I loved writing Taylor and Walsh's story, so I can't wait to share it with everyone.

This is what I'm calling my robot love story. :)

This is very exciting news!

*still dancing around the house*

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