Monday, October 31, 2005

Feelings In Writing

In the past I have written about how my feelings affect my writing (writing as in how much I write more than the content itself).
Then I wrote another post, this time from the reverse angle, about how my writing affects my feeling.

Now we get to the most important subject of all, especially as NaNoWriMo is so near (tonight at midnight), and that is the feelings and emotions that are in our writing.

It is my opinion that the greatest novels evoke emotions, "that emotion is the novelist's stock in trade" as GOB so well put it.

I am not talking about gushy, mushy, trashy stuff, but I am definitely talking about emotions. "Cold writing" doesn't work, shallow emotions don't cut it. We are feeling sort of creatures and that's what we need/want when reading. That's what we have to show when writing.

So just remember that as you embark on your NaNo adventure and good luck to you all.

Blogging may become sparse, I still don't know...


Sunday, October 30, 2005

Desert Wind

Desert dwellers are familiar with the desert wind. A hot and sandy wind that dries up everything in its way, hurling a million tiny shards of glass, tearing the skin apart, breaking it.

Those who know the desert wind also know the longing it creates. It calls out to their hearts and awakens old memories and desires. Desire to wander and roam the world in the manner of nomads. Desire to pack it all and head straight into the wind.

Those who live in the desert, those who love the desert are like the sand, moving and changing, or at least the yearning is in their hearts.

I'm a wanderer. I'm often asked to stop, become rock, but I can't because I am sand. And the desert wind tosses me around.

I have made promises to stay put and I have broken them time and again, deserting the ones I love only to find that I am mistrusted upon my return.

Ah desert wind, what have you done to me? Why have you taken my heart?

Those who live in a barren land don't choose to go to another land, they just move around the desolation from one oasis to another.

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Friday, October 28, 2005

Explaining Too Much When Writing?

I had this in my fortune cookie:
Sometimes a little inaccuracy can save a lot of explaining.

Don't you just love it?
So true.

But does it apply to writing?
I think not.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Feeling and Writing - Again

A while back I wrote a post about feeling and writing.
The post related more to how my state of mind, my feelings, affect my writing.

Today I want to tackle it from the reverse angle - how writing affects my feelings.

Often I am told that my hide is quite thick. And it's true. I choose (note the key word here) not to get hurt by people as much as I can.

That's all very nice and works quite well in my personal life, but oh boy, it fails miserably when it comes to my writing.

Now I bet you're thinking, not another post about handling rejections...
No. Well, almost no.

I've discovered that my writing affects me in the following manner, and the order is important here, from best to worst.
  1. On days I recieve good news re my writing/submissions I'm elated. Almost panicky.
    • On very productive days, i.e. - the amount of writing done, I'm happier than on less-productive days.
    • On days where the percieved quality (by me) of my writing is fine, as on days I've revised something to my satisfaction, I'm happier.
  2. Then come the days I recieve "bad" news about my writing, and while I don't enjoy getting rejection letters, at least I feel that I'm moving on.
  3. Then come the worst days of all: those days I haven't written anything.
What's my conclusion from the list above? As long as I'm working on my writing I feel better. Not just generally feeling better but also more confident about my writing.
The days in which I've done nothing to advance my writing affect me the worse as the feeling of failure is the greatest.
So while publishing is something important, it's almost a side-effect of hard work that manifests itself in good writing (which has better chances at getting published).

Do you feel the same?

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Name the Nobel Prize Winners - Results

Remember the game?

We actually came pretty close. No one managed to guess all the winners, the closest guessed 14 out of the 16. I believe we guessed (together) about 10.
Here are the results.


Smoking Reduces Fertility and Intelligence

Maybe some of you figured out already that the fight against cancer is close to my heart.
So if getting cancer doesn't convince you to stop smoking maybe higher sterility and lower intelligence would as this Smoked Sperm article brings about new research.

Other science news in the article: the FDA approved the first transplant of fetal neural cells to human brains, oxygen on the moon, the rate of fatal drug overdose among people 40 or older has doubled, and more.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Please Allow Me to Introduce...


Kate has just started blogging (on Friday I believe) and her blog about art and writing is already full of interesting stuff:
- A fractal with a scientific meaning in Black Hole
- A very personal post and a painting in Paintings
- An inspired poem in Day Dreaming
- A little eastern philosophy in The Life Color Mandalla

Here is what I know about Kate:
Kate is first and foremost an artist. She paints. Always have.
Kate writes - a little prose but mostly poetry.
Kate is a philosopher. She studied mostly western philosophy, but also some eastern philosophy. She also studied a lot of religious philosophy and Kaballa long before Madonna's virgin stint.
Kate's love for science is contagious. She is never one to say 'I don't know.' When I used to ask Kate a question, encyclopedias would open until she found the answer.

How do I know so much about Kate?
If you go visit her, you'll understand...

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Deductive Reasoning

Ever since I can remember myself, I can remember my dad telling jokes. Problem was, he'd tell the same jokes over and over again.
When my friends would come over, my dad always tried to be 'cool' by holding my friends in the hallway, not letting them continue to my room, and telling them a joke or two or three.
I'd cringe and try to hurry things, being quite rude when I think about it today. My friends, so polite, always laughed. It never dawned on me that the jokes were actually funny (well... having heard them so many times).

Well, today I'll share one of these jokes with you that somehow made more of an impression with me. Unlike my dad, however, I'm the worst joke teller, so please bear with me while I struggle here:

A scientist performs an experiment. He takes a spider and tears off two of its legs.
"Go," he tells the spider and the spider goes.
The scientist makes a note in his log and tears off another pair of legs.
"Go," says the scientist and the spider goes.
He makes another note in the log and repeats the process until he tears off the last pair of legs.
"Go," the scientist says but the spider doesn't move. The scientist makes the following note in his log:
'Conclusion: A spider with no legs can't hear.'

Pram pam pam.

This joke appealed to me on so many levels, but first and foremost was the statement it made about us, humans, and our cockiness. Our assumptions, our presumtions of understanding the world around us.

I loved this joke's mockery of science specifially and of our deductive abilities in general. Do we really infer correctly from the picture we see? From the data?

Of course there is a reason this joke came to mind; a reason I'm talking about reasoning -- I've been reading about 'racist science' lately.
Naturally, scientists investigating such matters go to great lengths to sound as impartial and as dry and as disinterested as they can. They present the data and the conclusions. They don't care what the conclusions are, they're not racist.

Well, I wonder if some of these scientist aren't like the scientist in my dad's joke...


Friday, October 21, 2005

A Wash Post Befitting Cultural Dilution

Lance wrote a beautiful post Playing Dead in it he starts by reminding us how we used to play dead when we were kids (remember?) and continues by asking how many of us still do it. Play dead, that is.

Having the emotional complexity of a donkey, I took what Lance said to mean something slightly different than what he did, and only realized this as I continued reading his post. While Lance talked about our personal emotions, I thought of society's.

I mentioned pop-culture and art in previous posts, touching-not touching on the subject of cultural dilution. I also always promised a post on the matter but never actually wrote one.

My reasons for never writing one, you ask?
a) I was still trying to decide whether the perceived dilution is a generational thing rather than an absolute thing (as much as absolute things exist).
b) I lacked an angle.
c) I felt inadequate, ill-equipped and definitely not knowledgeable enough to tackle the matter.

Reason 'c' still exists and probably will never go away.
Reason 'a' - jury's still out.
Reason 'b' was solved. Lance gave me the angle - is our society playing dead, pretending not to feel thus diluting our culture?

However, since I still feel inadequate to analyze, criticize and (most probably) judge our society, maybe you can help me to decide on 'a.' Personally, I feel the dilution exists, yet when I read new good books, watch new good movies, go to a new amazing art show, I wonder.

I have no doubt that generational dilution exists just as it existed in previous generations. I remember the story my mother used to tell me about the radio. When she was a child for example, her parents would not bring a radio into the house for fear of the kids getting hooked on it and other familiar reasons we would today attribute to, I don't know, Nintendo.

Similarly, while the artistic domain with its four basic forms of visual art, 'word' art, musical art and performing art remain, it spills over today into the entertainment domain, hence the dilution as the lines between art and entertainment get blurred (as per one of my favourite blogs).

But culture isn't just art. Culture is the comprehensive activities of society in the form of manners, morals, customs, laws and a whole slew of other things. Issues that I admit I have my (sometimes strong) opinions on but that alas are too many to list here.

The end result?
A very dissatisfying post that doesn't really say much and that feels more like a wash.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The MP3 Breast Implant and other news

Okay, no one ever reads my news posts (I think), so I figured I'd start with something that is eye-catching.
According to UK tabloid the Sun - ever watchful for life-enhancing technology, especially when it's got a big jubs angle - BT Laboratories bod Ian Pearson reckons breast implants may as well do something useful if they're to be permanently installed, rather than just looking decorative.

Accordingly, he's proposed sticking an mp3 player in one dug, and a storage chip in the other. Quite how playback is achieved we're not quite sure*, but it may well involve the listener burying his or her head in the cleavage for a full stereo effect.
You can read the rest here.

Maybe now that you're hooked, you'd be interested in reading the other interesting stuff I found today:
In environment: Scientists: Natural Disasters Becoming More Common
In space: Venus Express set for liftoff
In health: International stem cell bank open
In quantum computing: Qubit link could pave the way for world's most powerful computers
In Nature: 'Zombie worms' found off Sweden
Exploding Rocks Dredged from Seafloor
In WTF: Nintendo in McDonald's wi-fi deal

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Monday, October 17, 2005

Oh, Joy - My second tag ever

Okay, this time the tag subject is one that is very dear to my heart - Joy!
Holly Lisle started the tag and Carter, Jean and Heather all decided I needed more tag practice.
Lucky for me this is a subject I can never tire of.

Well, it just so happens that the last (and only) time I've used the word joy in a post was in the context of the "joy of reading". I can't believe how appropriate that is. Makes me joyful...

Just to make sure this wasn't the only mention of happiness in my blog, I've checked happy (the other words aren't my style):
I was so happy; the sky was the limit.

For me, for now, I'm so happy to be sitting again in my office, at my desk, typing away at my keyboard with my familiar computer and -- without a soul around.

I never thought I would be so happy to be back - yey!

I'm usually a happy person...

I'm so happy to be home again.

I've submitted what I needed to submit and while I'm not happy about my overall progress, I'm happy that I've at least accomplished this.

That makes me happy.

Most times I'm happy because I choose to be.

I'm happy to report I was too busy writing at night to update you.

Seems I didn't need to look that hard for joy in my life and that it doesn't take much to make me happy - reading, writing, internet access, peace and quiet, etc. I was happy to see the numerous times I've mentioned I was happy. Other than the above sentences I found, there were many more happies in the comments, from me, and occasionally from others.

Last, but not least, I even wrote a post about happiness not too long ago: Meditation, Happiness and Mind Control. It's one of the posts I love the most and one I am most proud of even though it didn't seem to create as much interest.

Now for the tagging part, let's see:
Liz, Gina, Yzabel, rdl, Terry

(Eric, Cavan and Trée this is the second tag I'm not tagging you because I'm certain you'd ignore me... :)

Oh, and if anyone wishes to ignore me - no worries. Feel free...


Search your blog for the word "joy" used in the context of "happiness." If you cannot find the word in your weblog, you may use any of the select list of synonyms below.

joy - amusement, bliss, cheer, comfort, delectation, delight, ecstasy, elation, exaltation, exultation, exulting, felicity, gaiety, gladness, glee, good humor, gratification, happiness, hilarity, humor, jubilance, liveliness, merriment, mirth, pleasure, rapture, regalement, rejoicing, revelry, satisfaction, wonder

If your weblog does not include a built-in search engine, then you can use
Google to search it only for the word you wish to find.

If you’ve found the word and it was not used facetiously or sarcastically, good for you. All you need to do is link to your earlier entry, and write a few words about that joyous moment. If, however, you have no joy (whole words only) in your weblog, you must dig deep in your soul and find something wonderful in your life right now. One little thing that fills you with warmth, that bubbles you over with quiet happiness, or tickles you with its good-hearted hilarity, or makes you glad you just took a breath, and are getting ready to take another. It doesn't have to be anything big. A smile someone gave you; your cat on your shoulder; the way the light angles through your window and casts rainbows on your floor. All it has to be is something genuine, something real, something that matters to you.

Because we all need joy in our lives, and need to take the time - from time to time - to recognize it. And sometimes, we need to pass it on.

Even if we're a big pain in the ass when we do.

When you've dealt with your own joy, pass the quest on to five other bloggers.

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Boring Admin Stuff

I've decided not to wait until my new template is ready before updating my links.

The template that some of you were kind enough to comment on was a table, which wasn't my first choice, so now I've reverted back to floating 3-col CSS template. And it's not that easy. At least not for me. But I'm stubborn when it comes to such things.

If any of you linked to my template page, thank you, but there's no need. Really. It will be deleted or just used as an experimental coding page for me.

I hope I didn't mess up my links since I'm doing it manually. Please let me know if I did. It was just an oversight if you used to be there and you no longer are.

The joy tag will be the next post. Promise :)

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Dark Matter in Art, in Writing

It's been a while since we talked science, and don't you worry, we'll get to writing too.
Today, I finally caught up on some of my science news of the past week.
Seems that I missed a lot of news about Dark Matter. To those unfamiliar, a quick explanation from Wikipedia:
In cosmology, dark matter refers to hypothetical matter particles, of unknown composition, that do not emit or reflect enough electromagnetic radiation to be detected directly, but whose presence can be inferred from gravitational effects on visible matter such as stars and galaxies.
Just to explain it a little bit further, or more plainly perhaps (and those who know better are welcome to add and correct), it was argued back in 1933 by Zwicky that the gravity of cluster galaxies is insufficient to hold it together, and that there must therefore be additional gravity from dark matter, or otherwise the cluster would fly apart.

One news item I missed seems to have given the final proof:
[...]an Israeli cosmologist showed that the existing model of elliptical galaxies was wrong, proving that dark matter was there all along.
(Of course that this still isn't a smoking gun, but it is sufficient to continue assuming in dark matter's existence).

Now let's switch gears. You may recall that two posts ago I questioned what is art. I claimed that art is beyond skill and beyond creativity. I claimed that art is something that combines all of these but I was hard pressed to find an exact definition. Then, in my comments, ObilonKenobi said that art is more than the sum of its parts.

Well, I think that's just it. What makes art art? What makes a good book art? Dark Matter.
That invisible, undetectable something that helps bind the sentences, the paragraphs, the ideas, the plot, the characters in a way that is more than simply the sum of its parts. Something we cannot necessarily pinpoint or see but that we can identify its existence when it is present. It helps bring a good book together and hold it there in what we call a work of art.

Maybe if scientists one day find a way to 'see' dark matter, that would also be the day in which we'll find a way to identify artistic dark matter.

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Friday, October 14, 2005

My First Tag Ever

I've never been tagged so this is quite exciting.
Here are the rules as they were passed to me by Jean:

1. Delve into your blog archive.

2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).

3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).

4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions. Ponder it for meaning, subtext or hidden agendas.

5. Tag five people to do the same.

I already mentioned my luck two posts ago. Well, this time is no different:
My 23rd post - Classical Reading - consisted of one (that's 1) sentence only:
I've posted this list of sites where I read classics online on my other blog, but it's also important for writers to read the classics.
Then a link to another post.

So I went to my 22nd post - Beginnings are Hard, Endings are Even Harder - Part II - and found a fifth sentence there. Hold your breath - it's a beaut:
But no worries, it's not so much.

I couldn't leave it at that, this being my first tag and all, so I tried my 24th post (the instructions do specify: "Find your 23rd post (or closest to).").
My 24th post was about writing discipline. I should be able to find a good 5th sentence here. So here goes:
When professional and successful writers keep emphasizing the importance of writing, they don't mean only for the sake of practicing and improving, they also mean for the sake of discipline.
I can breathe again, now that's much better.

As for meaning, subtext or hidden agenda - well... er... yeah... - I'm a pretty straight forward person, so I couldn't find any subtext or hidden agenda, and the meaning isn't worth repeating really.

Jean had such a beautiful post and meaning (go read), and I have the above. What can I do???
Nothing, I guess, except fulfill the last part of the tag and tag five other people:
- Easywriter - cause her sentence will be full of subtext Okay, so Easywriter's been tagged for this one (popular lady), so instead I'm tagging...
- Jennifer - cause I know she'll enjoy it the most

- Patry - cause her sentence will be full of meaning

- Pat - cause she's bound to have a hidden, cynical agenda (and probably get pissed at me ;)

- Lee - just to bug him (Lee posted his tag on an earlier date. He thought he could avoid detection. Well, tough. Lee's post where he did indeed tag five others.

- AriadneK - cause I'm curious to see what "fumed" her on that day :)

Alas, I'm limited to five.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005


Yesterday I spent about four hours discussing different issues with six other people, the oldest was in his later 60s, and the youngest in her early 20s. One thing just led to another, you know how it goes.

We started off talking about a horrendous case where an 11-year-old-boy was turned into a sex slave to six other boys aged 12-16. We tried to understand the seemingly increasing numbers of these cases, so we discussed education and parental ability to control over internet/TV. This led us to discuss the effectiveness of tough laws as a deterrent effect, which led us in turn to Singapore and corporeal punishment.

And so the conversation continued with different views expressed until we reached the subject of art, and more specifically - what is art?
Before I continue telling the rest of the discussion and what we finally agreed on, or what I agreed on, I want to digress, because not too long ago in my post about my
poet friends we started discussing what is art right here.

Pat Kirby said:
I respect any art form (except maybe freaky modern art where a guy puts a toilet seat in a corner and calls it Man's Frustration or something equally un-pithy).
In response to my question if the example she gave was for real, she replied:
I think I saw the toilet seat thing, looong ago, in Newsweek article about an art exhibition. I think art is the manipulation of one thing into...I dunno, something else. The idea that someone can "artfully" (ha) array toilets or other furnishings, affix some philosophical significance to the arrangement and call it art...offends me.

Lee Carlon also had something to say about the subject (in reply to my complaint about extreme abstract art):
As for the art thing, it's how you arrange the triangle and the square in relation to each other that counts.

Done right, and with the correct understanding of colour, light, shading and composition, a simple triangle and a square could represent man's continuing struggle to dominate his environment and attempts to come to terms with his own human-ness, coupled with the...

No I'm sorry, you're right. It's nonsense.

There were other great comments there especially from Eric.

I agreed with what was said above; I simply refuse to accept everything and anything that someone calls art as art.

And so back to my great conversation from yesterday. We mentioned how fashion can affect art or what is perceived as art and aesthetics. We mentioned how skillful street portrait painters aren't necessarily artists despite their high skill level. We mentioned how the context matters - Once "something" is in a museum it becomes art.

We tried to get to a definition we were comfortable with and here is what we agreed on:
Art is something made by a human with intent behind it and that follows certain rules of aesthetics. It has to be combine skill and creativity.

Two things follow from this:
1) What is aesthetics?
2) A skillful artist who knows the rules can break them and create something very artistic. In the manner of Picasso's examinations of paintings, or a good author who breaks grammar rules intentionally.

I realize I'm opening a can of worms here, but - opinions?

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

100 Blogs in 100 Days

I can't believe it!
The Blog Herald featured little me in their 100 Blogs in 100 Days and of course it had to be my luck that it happened while I was away and I missed it. So here it is: Day 45: All Kinds of Writing.

My first reaction was jubilation naturally, but then I couldn't stop laughing (still am) at my luck. How could I not? I was featured on The Blog Herald, as Milly, while I was on a few different excruciating flights. That's me. Always a day late...

Oh, well. At least I'm featured and I even got the whopping number of five (that's 5!) visits from the Herald.

Must be my punishment for harassing the nice sales lady for half an hour yesterday when I was in the Milan airport about the right kind of Limoncello and grappa. Not to mention how I raided the Lindt sales guys who just kept giving me more samples (or was it me demanding more samples?). And they all had that adorable Italian accent.

Alas, Italy wasn't my final destination, but I'm here and I'm connected and I hope to have a more meaningful post by the end of the day. In fact, I started writing one on the plane, but the plane had an "engineering problem" and the lights went out, including the movie screen. So there I was, without a light to read or a movie to watch and with my laptop out of juice. I ended up staring at the back of the seat in front of me for over four hours. No wonder I took my frustration out later at the duty free.

Thank you all for coming to visit while I was away and commenting on my new template. I see I still have some work to do...

Raising a Limoncello glass now - To Friends!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

One for the Road

This weekend is Thanksgiving long weekend here in Canada.
I read Shirazi's post about Ramadan, and I read Carter's post about Rosh Hashana. Yom Kippur will be on Wednesday/Thursday.

I just found it interesting that this year all three holidays/important days were in such close proximity. Maybe this is the year that things will change... world peace... who knows?

In the next few days (probably until Wednesday), I won't be able to post. I might still have internet access until Monday though.

I know that some of you, being the sneaky people that they are ;), have already discovered my template test site. If you feel like it, please have a look and tell me what you think template experiment.

I haven't updated my blogroll in a while, but it will be done when the new template is up and running. Please be patient with me.

And in case you get bored:
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Friday, October 07, 2005

For Word Lovers

No, not MS Word. Just words.

I found an article today about Weird and wonderful vocabulary from around the world.

Apparently, this guy, Adam Jacot de Boinod, wrote this book - The Meaning of Tingo: And Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World where he collected words that have no direct translation in English. Some of them very culturally specific and some are just specific. For example: tingo--from the Pascuense language of Easter Island--means "to borrow objects from a friend's house, one by one, until there's nothing left".

Some of my favourites:

  • KOSHATNIK Russian - A dealer in stolen cats.
  • BUZ-BAZ Ancient Persian - A showman who makes a goat and monkey dance together.
  • GRILAGEM Brazilian Portuguese - The practice of putting a live cricket into a box of newly faked documents, until the insect's excrement makes the paper look convincingly old.
  • SEIGNEUR-TERRASSE French - Someone who spends time, but not money, at a café.
  • NYLENTIK Indonesian - To flick someone with the middle finger on the ear.
  • LATAH Indonesian - Uncontrollable habit of saying embarrassing things.
  • DESIR Malay - The sound of sand driven by the wind (isn't that poetic?)
Now if only someone could write a story using the above words...

Update: Trée actually used all these words in a reply to my comment in his FNF: East and West post. You have to check it out. I couldn't stop laughing.

Update 2: Eric started a new blog called Teh Blog Father in which he reviewed this post. Go here.
Anyone is welcome to submit to Teh Blog Father to be reviewed. Don't wait - go check it out and submit your post!

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Top Ten Questions Writers Ask

Poets & Writers brings us Top Ten Questions Writers Ask.

This is a great resource for the newbie to the publishing world. It's short, succinct and comprehensive. It's a good start.

For the more seasoned writer it can serve as a quick reminder.

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

New Sci-Fi Magazine - New Market

I can't believe I missed the announcement on September 29th but a friend emailed me this:
Card Debuts Web Magazine
Multiple award-winning SF author Orson Scott Card told SCI FI Wire that he will be helming a new online genre fiction magazine, Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show.
Card said that he considers new writers to be the lifeblood of the magazine, and Medicine Show will be accepting submissions from authors after the first issue appears. "We're paying 6 cents a word, up to $500, in the ballpark for a professional publication," he said. The first issue of Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show will debut Oct. 15.

From Tobias Buckell
No word about how to submit, though through the grapevine and message boards at Hatrack River, his personal site, it looks like graduates of his workshop are making some sales there.

Via Card's site

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Retro Car

Okay, I'm not a big car enthusiast, but this was just too cool not to share.

In Nissan's new model - Pivo - the cabin rotates 360 degrees. This means that if you drove this car and had to drive in reverse, instead of turning your head and twisting your body, you could just turn the cabin.

Other features:
- 3 seats
- electric
- cool dashboards gadgets and other new features.

Articles (each one with a different picture):
New concept car: a rotating egg on wheels
Nissan's new concept car: a rotating egg on wheels


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Another Angle on Copyright Issues and Ebooks

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First Yahoo!

You could just tell it wasn't going to be long before Yahoo! dipped it's hand into digitizing books.
Yet, I always had a soft spot for Yahoo! and even now they haven't disappointed me.

Instead of going head first into the fray, banging whoever is in its way like Google did, Yahoo! chose to digitize public domain books or those books whose copyright owners have given permission. Very different from Google's negative option where all books will be digitized unless authors specifically asked not to digitize their books.

And what's the difference between Yahoo!'s collection and, say, Project Gutenberg?
Not much except it allied itself with Adobe and others to perhaps give a better service.

Yahoo jumps on the library bandwagon
Yahoo! follows Google into print minefield
Yahoo to digitize public domain books

Second - Digital Music vis a vis Ebooks

I don't know if you heard yesterday, but digital music sales soared in the first half of 2005, up 259 percent compared to the first half of 2004.
At the same time, physical media sales went down by about 6%.

Books and music are two different things of course. While music lends itself to being digitized, a print book doesn't (have you ever tried scanning a whole book?)

And yet, we can see by example that the fight against piracy is taking effect and while actual CD sales decreased, digitized media sales increased, offsetting somewhat the decline in CD sales. But more importantly perhaps is that people actually bought digital music as opposed to downloading it online. Could it be that the education helped?

Regardless, I think this shows great hopes for ebooks and for containing piracy in the digital world.

Legal music downloads soar as CD sales fall
Digital music revenues soar
Digital music sales triple

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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Name the Nobel Prize Winners

In this "game" you're supposed to identify the Nobel prize winner from a partial photo.
I recognized four and I think I also know who two others are. The rest - I have no idea. Can you do better?

Slate Magazine will award the winner with "a Slate hat and a signed copy of The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank, by Slate Deputy Editor David Plotz."


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Monday, October 03, 2005

Solar Eclipse

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Uploaded on October 3, 2005
by rowrguez

In one of my previous posts I mentioned that there would be a solar eclipse today over Europe, Africa and parts of Asia.

What is it about a solar eclipse that still excites us?
Why does it still seem magical? Mystical?

I can understand that for our ancestors this was a disturbing phenomenon, but why is it still so enchanting for us? Don't we all know it's only one object in the way of another. Nothing more to it. Is all!

We love the mysterious and the supernatural, one might say, yet a solar eclipse isn't supernatural. It is very natural, only in a super, grand way.

I react the same way to any eclipse and I can't understand why. I read fantasy knowing very well it is just that. Why then do I bother? What is it that attracts me to a world I don't live in? What is it that attracts all of us?

If you want to read a beutiful magical eclipse experience, please read Yzabel's description in the comments.

There's also a pretty picture in the Guardian.

Uploaded on October 3, 2005
by Vedia

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Sunday, October 02, 2005

Just Because Atwood Does It Doesn't Mean You Can Too

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I'm finally out of my Reading Slump, and am happily reading Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. I'm really enjoying it.

Of course, I'm reading as a writer as Karen so well noted, so I pay attention to writing techniques and methods (without the joy of reading being spoiled though).

First I noted that Atwood wrote the novel in present tense which is by itself different from your usual run-of-the-mill novel. Then I noticed that Atwood used other writing devices not often found in mainstream. Somewhat experimental writing I would say.

What if this was Atwood's first novel? Do you still think it would have been published? Would it have been published as it is now, without being butchered?

I think that what established writers can "get away" with is very different from what a first-timer can. I think that if this was someone's first novel, they'd never publish it. Too risky. Too experimental. At most, they'd "edit" it completely.

(Please don't take it as an attack an Atwood, quite the opposite. It's more of a criticism of the publishing world).

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Movie Stars As My Characters

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This was Cavan's question: What would be your Dream Cast?
That is, what actors would you choose to play the characters in your novel?

I bet Cavan had no idea how much time I needed to think about it.

Not being very visual, this question took me places I wasn't familiar with. I had the big picture in my head but not the details. I knew how I want my characters to look in general, or I had a specific thing in mind, like big nose or large breasts, but not everything.

Also, the big difference was that I find film stars to look unreal, very plasticky, if you know what I mean.

Even after a long hard thought, I wasn't successful.
Here are my (incomplete) choices:

The gals:
- Protagonist - Holly Marie Combs (Piper Halliwell from the show Charmed). Holly is one of the most natural beauties I've seen on TV or on the big screen. She's also not impossibly skinny. She looks normal.
- Secondary heroine - Renée Zellweger - both my heroine and Rene are hotties. Need a blond too.
- Minor female characters - Tina Majorino who can play the geek well, Emily Perkins who can be my disturbed smart dyke, and I still need to think of one more.

The guys -
- Antagonist - Chris Martin (another pic), vocalist of Coldplay. He's good-looking enough without being Brad Pitt. (When I was looking for a picture I found out he's married to Gwyneth Paltrow and that they have a kid - pop-culture trivia.)

- Actually, I couldn't come up with any movie stars for the rest of my guy crew. They're all too pretty. I need a good-looking guy with a pronounced nose for example. The only guys I can think of are rock stars, not movie stars. Rock stars tend to look more real. I'd have Chris Cornell and Kurt Cobain (we are talking fantasy here, right?) and Eddie Vedder just to complete the grunge trio. So Cornell can be the Don Juan, Kurt can be the lover, and Eddie the disturbed smart guy.

This was a very good exercise for me. Recommended.

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Saturday, October 01, 2005

Things I Find Interesting, Just the Facts

  • Uncovered Capote novel published
    An early novel written by Breakfast at Tiffany's author Truman Capote is to be published after being found last year.
  • Serenity

      From Salon
      Joss Whedon's unfairly canceled TV series "Firefly" comes to the big screen -- and marvelously. But for all its wit, it's just not the same.
      From Slate
      Joss Whedon
      Why he should stick to television.
  • Bird flu 'could kill 150m people'
    Experts fear birds will carry the virus across borders
    A flu pandemic could happen at any time and kill between 5-150 million people, a UN health official has warned.
  • List of top 100 intellectuals includes only 10 women
    Commenting on the list, writer David Herman criticises its strong male content, querying the whereabouts of the new generation of female intellectuals.
  • Solar Eclipse Oct. 3 for Europe, Asia, Africa
    If you plan to be anywhere in Europe, Africa or parts of western and southern Asia on Monday, Oct. 3, you will be treated to a solar eclipse.

  • An update about my pop-culture post: Some poor sod actually reached my post after searching "Paris Hilton" Pregnant. I can't imagine his/her disappointment when reading my views about pop-culture and realizing that any information about Paris Hilton's pregnancy is miles away from this blog.


    Question About Writing Markets

    I used to list writing markets (for freelance, short fiction, novels etc.) and writing contests here.

    Would anyone be interested in this? Should I bring back this feature?

    I don't mind doing this, I have an extensive DB, but at the same time I wouldn't want to waste my time if no one cares.

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