Haven’t done one of these posts for a while! Baby Duck doesn’t like too many linktastic posts, and since he’s my main audience I like to keep him happy! But I’ve come across some interesting tidbits in my travels across the glorious Internet this week, so I thought I’d share them with you.
First some exciting news for Baby Duck and the legions of Dr Who fans out there: the new series starts in Australia on Sunday 24th August! I have a worrying suspicion that I won’t like Peter Capaldi as much as Matt Smith, but I’m keeping an open mind. The BBC has some photos from the first feature-length episode “Deep Breath” here.
Next, something that would have rocked my teenage self to the core: the dragonriders of Pern may be coming to the big screen! Warner Bros has optioned the whole series. Admittedly, movie options come and go all the time, and don’t necessarily lead to a movie, but still! I think it was the Pern books more than anything else that fostered my lifelong obsession with dragons. One day not too far away there will be a new dragon book in the world, written by yours truly, and Anne MacCaffrey’s marvellous series is partly to blame.
And speaking of writing: Tansy Rayner Roberts does a great interview with writer Foz Meadows as part of the ongoing “Snapshots” series. Foz voices her disquiet with the idea that everything about your life pre-baby should cease to matter once you become a mother. “You can love your children without being ready or willing to sacrifice the most integral parts of yourself on the altar of motherhood.”
This really resonated with me. My children are the focus of my life, but even so I was hanging out for Baby Duck to start school so I could start writing again. In the end I couldn’t wait that long, and snatched writing time while he was at preschool or watching TV. It’s so important to have some identity other than “mother”. I think it’s good for the kids too, to see that mum is a real person with goals and dreams that don’t revolve around them.
Real people – even grown-up people – should have a little fun in their lives too. Author Kristen Lamb discusses the lack of “play time” in the lives of adults and is very wise on how our modern “all work and no play” culture is bad for creativity.
But luckily, creativity isn’t dead! For a beautiful burst of colour, check out Faith’s gorgeous quilt. It’s a fresh modern take on the old faithful “flying geese” pattern. Love it!
(I’ll just sneak one of these in here while Baby Duck isn’t watching.)
Australian marsupials for the win! The male antechinus kills himself with marathon mating sessions. “His fur falls off. He bleeds internally. His immune system fails to fight off incoming infections, and he becomes riddled with gangrene … He’s a complete mess, but he’s still after sex.” Hey, I think I married one of these.
Despite being scared of heights, the tree dwellings of Lothlorien caught my imagination as a child more than any other location in The Lord of the Rings
an architect’s idea for making similar dwellings.
Tom Simon discusses economics in fantasy
, or the lack thereof. Something to think about for fantasy writers.
Elle Casey talks about how she writes so fast
(18 novels in 15 months — makes NaNoWriMo look like a doddle!).
Kristine Kathryn Rusch is very interesting on the difference between “storytelling” and “writing”
, and how good storytelling trumps beautiful writing every time. “If you finish a story or a novel, and everyone tells you how lovely the writing is, then you’ve probably screwed up. If they demand the next book, you’re doing a very good job indeed.”
From the “I could have told them that” files: Google discovers putting M&Ms in ceramic containers and healthier snacks in clear glass ones encourages employees to go for the healthy food rather than the confectionary. Well, derrr.
This is the same reasoning that leads me to ask the Carnivore to store his chocolate in the downstairs fridge. I know it’s there, but because it’s not staring me in the face when I go to the fridge, I don’t raid it.
On the writing front, a couple of interesting links about characters:
Ever noticed how “strong female characters”are just women who can fight like men? They aren’t allowed to be “strong” in any other way, nor can they have any other attributes. Male characters, of course, can have multiple facets to their personalities.
“I don’t think it’s my job to make likeable … characters. I think it’s my job to make compelling characters” says author Deborah Levy. Good characters have to have complexity. Instead of one-dimensional caricatures (like “strong female characters”), they show “the nuance and ambiguity behind seemingly simple behaviour”. Just like real people.
And finally, for a lovely rainbow of luminous colour, check out Faith’s lighthouse quilt top. She’s going to be doing a quilt-along of this pattern soon. I’m tempted …
For a beautiful burst of colour, check out Matt’s Japanese flower blanket. So gorgeous! I’m making a scarf with this pattern, but so far my scarf is only six flowers long, so it could be a long while before I get to wear it. In the meantime, I’ll just have to admire his.
Elizabeth Bear on how to move past that stage where your writing is getting “rave rejections”, ie I loved this but …
Seth Godin muses on the end of bookstores: Basically, people have too many other amusements to bother with reading, especially when so many have suffered under well-meaning but dull education programs that make reading a chore. “More than once, friends have said, ‘you should be really pleased, I even finished your new book.’ My guess is that no one says that to Laurence Fishburne about his new movie.”
Had to laugh at that, and it’s a valid point, but I don’t believe you can therefore assume reading is dead – only that there might be many more readers if education didn’t insist on foisting “worthy” books on kids. But judging by the kind of books my girls are assigned (eg Uglies by Scott Westerfeld), things have changed a lot even since I was at school, and the future of reading seems pretty healthy.
Have you noticed my little revision progress bar on the right? I’ve actually been working, albeit slowly, which probably explains why there are fewer links this week. Not so much time spent surfing!
Kristine Katherine Rusch talks about the problem of self-discipline, when you are writing with no external deadlines. I could really relate – she said she could spend her entire life reading, and would rather do that than anything else. “No amount of ‘forcing’ myself got me to change my habits. I had to figure out where the problem started, and nip it in the bud.”
Michael Hicks has good advice on using Twitter effectively for authors (though it’s time-consuming)
In non-writing news, would you like a flat stomach? Of course you would! Who doesn’t? “If you want a flat stomach, the best advice – in conjunction with a sensible diet and regular exercise (of course) – is to get a good night’s sleep.” And then de-stress your life, according to Michelle Bridges.
And something that the smallest member of our household finds intensely interesting: Who will play the new Doctor Who? The BBC is announcing it tonight (or some time tomorrow, I guess, from an Aussie perspective, seeing as how we’re living in the future compared to just about everyone else).
OMG! Barbie’s a netball star! You’re all going to think I’m obsessed with dolls after ranting about Disney’s Princess Merida doll in my last linktastic round-up, but it’s not true, honest.
However, I freely admit to being obsessed with netball! One of these dolls may already have made its way into my house … what can I say? She comes with a netball! And a drink bottle! And a sports bag – and even A TROPHY!! How awesome is that? Plus she’s a Goal Attack. Shooters rule!
It’s nice to see a doll that encourages little girls (and the odd big one) to focus on their love of a great sport, instead of continually pushing the beautiful helpless princess ideal.
Still in the land of toys, an interesting review of Minecraft, a computer game that is Baby Duck’s latest obsession. Him and umpteen billion other small boys around the world! We have a rule in our house that “the M word” is not to be mentioned at the dinner table, otherwise the Minecraft chatter would be non-stop. Despite that, it’s a good game, just like playing with Lego onscreen, with the odd monster thrown in to make things exciting. You build during the day and defend yourself at night – “it makes clear the ancient ties between creativity and survival”.
Teeth-grinding stuff on “the lack of books for boys” in the YA section: It’s ironic that people complaining about this can’t see “that YA is so female-centric because coming-of-age stories for young men have already been staples in the ‘real books’ section for decades. Because being a young straight white man is universal, see, while being a girl is something that’s impossible to care about unless you’re both a girl and stupid.”
Hey, maybe all these boys who aren’t reading are too busy playing Minecraft.
On to writing advice:
An interesting take on the old “show, don’t tell” maxim: “Think of your book as a movie. Telling is anything you write that the camera does not see.”
Fantasy writer David Farland is wise on “being prolific”. There’s no magic to it. Work hard, focus, find little bits of time between other things and use them. Don’t fritter your life on Facebook or watching television.
Which brings me to indie publishing, which is a field where the successful writers seem to know all about being productive. The question is not “write a series or stand-alones?” with them, it’s “one series or more?”. Writing fast is no longer the problem it was when a writer had to wait on a big publisher’s schedule. Now it seems to be the key to success.
It’s an exciting time to be an author. As Kristine Kathryn Rusch explains, “indie writers, indie books, indie publishers now have the same access to bookstores that traditional publishers do. The playing field has just leveled.”
Which means that a lot of authors are leaving traditional publishing, or at least combining it with indie publishing. An interesting story from Elisabeth Naughton explains how traditional publishing wasn’t as great as it seemed from the outside, and how self-publishing came to the rescue. “I even hit the USA Today bestsellers list! But what no one saw was the hard reality: I wasn’t making any money. I was working my ass off for a couple thousand dollars, which I was then spending on promotional materials, conference travel and expenses to write MORE books. In fact, I was spending more money than I was making.”
Did you guess I’ve been spending a lot of writing time reading about indie publishing instead? Bad Marina. No biscuit.
One last link, from Lindsay Buroker: on establishing a fan base before you have a book out.
A fascinating article on a concept called “survivorship bias”, exploring the misconception that to be successful you need to study others who’ve been successful. In fact, the truth is that “when failure becomes invisible, the difference between failure and success may also become invisible”: Survivorship bias
Author Kameron Hurley takes the idea into the world of writing and marketing books: Survivorship bias and writing better books with bonus marketing chat: “The more we focus on ‘success’ the more we focus on the one-offs, the quirks, the outliers. It’s focusing on failures and middle-of-the road pieces that teaches me how to improve.”
Disney “pretties up” their new Princess Merida doll. Sigh. What’s the world coming to when even a Disney-created princess, all tiny waist and huge eyes, isn’t considered appropriately princessy? Merida, from the movie Brave, had messy hair and freckles to go with her independent I-don’t-need-a-prince-I’ll-do-it-myself attitude. At last! An imperfect princess who didn’t wait to be rescued for real little girls to admire.
“The freckles had been erased and the fabulous tangled hair was pageant coiffed. She looked like a titian-hued Cinderella. Even the dress is blue. Fierce, awesome Merida had joined all the other Stepfords on the shelf.” Where have the brave girls gone?
On to something more cheerful: Full of colour and quilting delights, Kathy Doughty’s always-inspiring blog here features, among outrageous chooks and beautiful medallion quilts, a shot of me contemplating a wall full of pink and orange triangles as I ponder the layout of a new quilt: The creative bug
And for pretty crochet goodness, Lucy from Attic 24 has some lovely mandala flowers. I’ll have to give these a go!
School holidays here. Brain is broken.
Can’t come up with a coherent post, so here’s a few things that have caught my attention recently:
Natalie Hatch with a great intro to hula hooping. Have fun! Lose weight! Embarrass yourself in public! (Oh, wait, that was just me, hula hooping in the park today …)
Carrie Ryan with a thoughtful post on book banning (thanks to writerjenn for the link). My favourite quote: “if the only way you can keep people believing what you want them to is to deny them access to other points of view, then not only do you not trust those people but you certainly don’t trust the strength of your own message”.
Amazing art from Linde Ivimey. On show in Sydney at the moment – hoping to get there to see it in real life. I first read about these sculptures made of bones just before I started Man Bites Dog. I was so intrigued I had my heroine creating similar sculptures. Looking at them makes me want to get back to work on that novel.
My Best Kite. Cool website with easy-to-follow instructions on how to make a range of kites out of stuff you probably have lying around at home. Very handy for school projects and amusing kids in the holidays!
Peadar O’Guilin, sff author. Stumbled across this blog last week. He has links to some short stories and sample chapters of his novel The Inferior in his sidebar. Enjoyed the stories very much and was so intrigued by the sample chapters I’ve ordered the book and can’t wait for it to arrive so I can continue reading!