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“That’s why they put the “I” in FBI.” – Fox Mulder

Yesterday was a major milestone.  It was the 20th anniversary of the day that Agent Fox Mulder met Agent Dana Scully.

First of all, TWENTY YEARS?  Holy shit.  I feel incredibly old right now. 

The X-Files premiered on September 10, 1993, but with the on-screen date of March 6, 1992.

Why does this matter?  Why should anyone, including you or I care?

Well, for me, The X-Files was a life changing event.  The show changed the way I looked at the world around me, for good or ill, and it helped me hang on when I was so depressed that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make it to the next episode or not.  For the record, my obsession was so great that I honestly think my need to find out what would happen next (and when would they hook up, damn it) trumped any suicidal thoughts that I possibly had at the time.    

Continued

Age of the geek?

There have been a couple of recent book events that have annoyed me. The Da Vinci Code was one of them. So many people were going crazy over the content of the book, over the concept that the author was trying to push, and yet the writing was utter shit. I mean, just terrible.

I read detective novels and suspense thrillers. I went through a period in my life where I had read almost all the current releases, even the shitty books that they sell you at the checkout counter in big box stores like Wal-Mart or Meijer, for like $1.99. So, when I started reading the Da Vinci Code and I was able to guess every step that the author would take for the first 30 pages, I decided I was done.

I don’t want to be a step (or five) ahead of the author. I want to be surprised and shocked and mesmerized the whole way. Which I wasn’t.

And I wasn’t all that surprised about the content of the book, either. After reading other books with similar theological content (and which mare much better written) like Christopher Moore’s Lamb, and seeing films like Kevin Smith’s Dogma, the idea that things did not go down like the bible spells it out is not a new concept to me. And it’s not heretical, at least in my mind. There are numerous reasons why the Catholic Church and the Pope would want to change the story to meet their own needs and I get that. Which is why the whole plot of the Da Vinci Code just didn’t shock me.

Like, at ALL.

That ties in with a second phenomenon that bothers the crap out of me. Remember when Lost came out and all these people got sucked into the story? People who had denigrated and smack talked all sorts of sci-fi and fantasy works for years?

Yeah, they decided that they loved Lost and they fell into two categories. Either they refused to believe or accept that Lost was actually a work of science fiction or of fantasy (which I experienced when I worked at Blockbuster and got into an argument with a woman who refused to accept that Lost was a fantasy despite all of the evidence to the contrary), or they acted like they were the first person ever to like science fiction or fantasy. Or, that Lost was the first show to do any of the things that it did.

Spoiler alert- it wasn’t.

Not that I don’t think Lost was a great show, although I only watched the first season and that was it (god, back to the Twilight/Hunger Games conversation). I think it did amazing things and I am actually pretty glad that it got people interested in speculative fiction. However, as a lifelong speculative fiction fan, it’s annoying.

My husband is seeing this trend in gaming and with comic books. It’s really popular to be a geek right now. Geek isn’t really derogatory anymore, which is nice for the kids growing up, but it’s annoying for those of us who went through that gauntlet when we were kids and are mad as hell that the people that tormented us with snide comments and who failed to invite us to their parties are suddenly embracing the very things that they gave us shit for.

The internet, it seems, it responsible for this in the long run. It’s not that Spider-Man is inherently cooler now than he was thirty years ago. It’s not like the X-Men have undergone a major revision and are suddenly a different, more exciting team of heroes. No, it’s that the people who never would have read those comics or seen those movies in the past are being shown, thanks to technology, that those stories are amazing, they are spectacular (see what I did there?), and they are worth spending time and money on. The internet, it seems, is a geek enabler.

The internet makes it easier to share your passion. It makes it easier to show people WHY you love something and give them an interactive medium with which to ask you questions and find out more. And if someone does find your little manifesto on why Nightwing/Robin is the best sidekick ever in the history of comics (with Bucky coming in a close second), they are able to, with just a few clicks, find more material to read and do research. Comics, it seems, are not difficult to get a hold of anymore, even if you live in the middle of BFE.

Short stories, fan fic, book/comic/movie reviews, podcasts- there is an amazing amount of access available via the web and it’s allowing people to find their inner geek, even if they hadn’t allowed themselves to do that previously.

Which bugs the shit out of the nerds/geeks who had to take the heat for loving Star Trek or Star Wars for the past 40 years or so.

I was an angry kid, tall and strong and big, who cared what people thought but was able to throw shit back and ACT like I didn’t care when people made fun of me. It was fun to be contrary and tell people, “so what?” when they told me that I was a loser or that Star Wars was lame.

“Why do I care what you think?” does wonders for people messing with you. (I will also confess that I won a weight lifting competition when I was in high school and after my total weight lifted was announced over the intercom the Monday after, there was a certain segment of dudes who had given me shot before then who decided that I was no longer worth the hassle, which made life a lot easier for me.)

Seriously, when you tell people who are giving you shit that you don’t give a shit about what they’re saying, it is so much fun to watch their faces. They sometimes deflate, like a balloon, or they get all red and mad, which is equally awesome.

But I digress.

My point here is that my husband and I grew up without the internet. If we wanted to squee over Star Wars or Thundercats or whatever, we needed to actually meet people, probably in our hometown or at camp or something, to talk about it with. It could be hard to find fellow fans (Escape to Witch Mountain fans, please contact me!) and being a fannish person could be super lonely.

If you were alone, and you were taking shit from people at school, it could be a long, hard road to walk.

That all changed with the internet. We got the internet at my house in 1996 and the coolest thing about it, at least for me, was the fact that I could get on Yahoo (oh, 1990′s, how quaint you were!) and do a search for any of my fannish loves and find web sites devoted to it, fan fiction archives with the additional adventures of whoever it was you wanted to read about, newsgroups discussing the latest episodes, and e-mail loops with all of the above.

Suddenly, the community of geeks was much larger, in that it now included the entire world, and smaller, in that so many people from all over the world became close friends with fans who felt the same way about it.

On the one hand, I am so glad that today’s kids can log on to the web and find someone else who loves what they love and they can talk about it. Even in a town as small as the one that I grew up in, it’s easy to find someone else to geek out with, even if they live 5,000 miles away.

The other side is that the special nature of geekdom is slipping away. It used to be that you survived the trial by fire and you earned your stripes. You got respect for what you made it through and what you were able to find on your own. It took work to get a hold of fanzines or fan films. It was hard to get all the episodes of Doctor Who or Cowboy Bebop. Now it takes less than 5 minutes and you can have the entire run of Doctor Who on your iPad.

I feel like an old person, complaining about this, but I think it is something that needs to be brought up. After all that, it comes back to the Lost phenomenon. All sorts of late speculative fiction adopters are annoying those of us who have been in the game for most of our lives. It is super frustrating when people talk about tropes of the genre that appear in these shows (I will include Battlestar Galactica here as well because there are a ton of people who jumped on the bandwagon because it was cool, not because they really loved the sci-fi and started acted as though BSG was the first to do any of it and really? It was a REMAKE of a show from the 1970′s- CLEARLY it is not entirely new and fresh.) as though the show was the first to do any of it.

No. No it isn’t. They are tropes. Please to be doing some homework.

Here’s the thing. I’m not opposed to things like the Da Vinci Code or Lost. I just wish they were BETTER than what we’ve been given. If we’re going to suck in this new wave of fans, why can’t we give them the best that genre fiction has to offer, not just something that’s middling?

Clearly there is something in these works that have connected with these viewers/readers in a way that previous works did not. That must be taken into consideration, clearly. My concern is that what if what drew people in is something superficial and stupid, that no one who is a true lover of genre fiction would ever want to repeat in their own works? Like, did people watch Lost because of the cast? Or because they were fans of Felicity and JJ Abrams was a part of Lost? Or was the massive marketing campaign that ABC threw out a part of it as well?

I don’t want to be the snob that doesn’t want to let in the barbarians at the gate. I love that more and more people are getting into the things that I love. It’s just that, as they do, they are changing the nature of fandom and of fannish interactions. They’re changing what it means to be a geek and some of us long term, hard core geeks who survived all those early battles are a bit bitter.

Just a bit.

I’ve been on LiveJournal for over 10 years, and I’ve been an active participant in fandom and fan fiction culture for almost 20 years. There are certain rules that were created in the early days of the net that governed the way that fan interacted. Those rules tried to take into account misogyny, racism, ablest language, gender and sexuality issues, and generally try to make fannish online spaces safe havens for fans of all types, no matter what they look like, who they worship, who they want to have sex with, or what kind of body they were currently living in.

New fans are breaking these well-established rules, left right and center. Just look at the comments on any random youtube video. Or on popular online blogs like IO9 or Huffington Post. The negativity, the vicious attacks on anything and everything- it’s like the wild west out there and the old school online fans are having a hard time tamping it down.

Many of us are sticking with our little corners of the web but as more people embrace new technologies and advances, we’re forced out more and more. I LOVE Twitter- I think it’s so much fun, but it does allow people to be absolute dicks to each other, and in public. The things that people will say on Twitter that they would NEVER say face to face is just astounding.

And tumblr. I don’t even get tumblr. I feel like an old lady sitting on his front porch with the shotgun and the old dog, warning kids to get off my lawn when I play around with tumblr. But as LiveJournal has issues and people aren’t willing to go over to Dreamwidth (which you should- it’s awesome!), they are finding themselves on tumblr and the epicenter for fannish info and trends is gradually shifting. Maybe not so gradual. And, again, tumblr is the wild, wild west. It doesn’t work the way I’m used to and it’s uncomfortable.

Change is uncomfortable.

I’d really like to welcome all the Twilight fans to the world of the paranormal. I’d love to tell the Losties where they can find the best sci-fi to expand their minds and to find more of what they loved about their favorite show. But I’m not sure where or how to do that, or if it would even be well received, because I’m not sure that their speculative fiction is MY speculative fiction and that makes me a bit worried.

The times, they are a’changing and I’m not sure I like the way the wind is blowing. I bet this is how old school Trek fans felt when Next Gen was on the horizon. At least they had Patrick Stewart to look forward to.

There and Back Again… to AWESOMETOWN

I am so excited!  The Hobbit trailer was released yesterday and it just looks wonderful

I have heard some people complain about the appearance of the dwarves, especially if you compare them to how Gimli looked in the Lord of the Rings movies.  However, I felt like they really fit into that world and looked like what I imagine dwarves would look like.  If you recall, Gimli was the only dwarf that we really saw (that was alive) in the LotR movies.

Martin Freeman looks just wonderful as Bilbo Baggins.  I loved him in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, as well as in Love Actually, and I ADORE him as John Watson on the BBC’s Sherlock.  I wasn’t sure about him before that, to be honest.  I thought he was funny and cute and sweet in the previous two films but after seeing him in Sherlock, I have seen that he can be a BAMF as well.

John Watson on Sherlock is an Afghan war vet, and took some serious injuries to his shoulder and to his leg.  He’s amazing with a gun, and incredibly brave.  He’s also very smart, not just as a medical doctor but as an investigator.  And let’s be fair, anyone would look less than when paired with Sherlock Holmes.

When they announced that Martin Freeman would be playing Bilbo Baggins, I had recently finished the first season of Sherlock and was still in my initial “fresh and new” fangirl phase, which meant that I was all about anything having to do with the show or anyone in it, so I was doubly excited to hear about the Hobbit casting. 

Because while Bilbo is a hobbit, who tend to be a bit reserved and not particularly brave for the most part, he is also an adventurer.  He is brave.  He leaves his home with no guarantee that he will ever return.  I found that I could connect Bilbo and John Watson fairly easily and suddenly, I could NOT wait to see what Peter Jackson was going to do with Martin Freeman.

I was not disappointed.  I think the trailer captures a number of elements that are necessary for The Hobbit to work as a film.  It shows Bilbo engaged in his community, known around the Shire, and it shows his love and desire to stay at Bag End.

But it also shows his curiosity about the world beyond his home and his desire to get out there and see it.  It comes back to his desire to return home, always, but the trailer keeps pushing at us his interest in going out and seeing the world.

This is very different than Frodo, who leaves less because he wants to and more because he’s been convinced that he HAS to leave.  He needs to get the ring to a safe place (he does not yet know that it will need to be destroyed) and he is willing to take that journey in order to make sure that the evil the ring represents does not come to find him in the home that he loves so much.

I’m not sure who the braver hobbit is.  Frodo is in a bad position.  He must get the ring to someone that can handle it, because if he doesn’t, evil will find it and will find him, and all he loves.  Bilbo leaves because it will be fun.  At least, because it COULD be fun.  There isn’t anything chasing after him, no reason for him to sneak out of town, or to even consider Gandalf’s offer.

And yet he does.  He considers it, and he leaves the Shire.

I think that may be the bravest of acts.  Because there isn’t a repercussion if he stays at home.  No evil creature will come after him and hurt those he cares about.  He won’t lose anything, in fact, he may gain more if he chooses to stay put in his safe little life.

And yet, he decides that he can’t do that.  He can’t stay in his little house in his little community and be a little man.  He decides to leave with the gray wizard and change his life forever.

That takes guts, ladies and gentleman, and Bilbo has them. 

I will confess, I never read The Lord of the Rings books before they came out in theaters.  And I still haven’t read them.  I’ve tried to before, but I always gets stuck in Rivendell and can’t get and farther.  Nor have I read The Hobbit or any of JRR Tolkien’s other works. 

I have, however, fallen deeply and madly in love with the world that he created and the characters that populate it.

I mean, ARAGORN.  How can you not love Aragorn?  And while I didn’t want Eowyn to get Aragorn in the end, I still loved her and respected her and wanted to be her when she gets to her epic moment of “I am NO man!”  Holy shit, man.  That’s the kind of female character that teaches girls to be women and to not take any shit for loving who they are.

The LotR movies gave us a bearded, horse riding Karl Urban, looking fine.  They are also the only films in which I find Viggo Mortensen to be attractive in any way.  Orlando Bloom is so much fun, and Sean Astin just makes me weep with his love and devotion to Elijah Wood’s Frodo.

I’m glad that Peter Jackson finally was forced (I believe) to take the helm of both Hobbit films.  I think that he brought something to the original three movies that no other director could recreate or even hope to come close to.  And while other directors could have had great and interesting visions for this film, I kind of want it to feel like it exists in the same universe as the first three films.

That’s something that the Harry Potter films (at least the first two) don’t do as well as they could or should.  Those first two Chris Columbus helmed pictures just don’t have the same feel as the third movie and beyond, much to their detriment.  So, while I would have loved to see Guillermo del Toro’s The Hobbit, I’m really glad that we’re going to Jackson’s Hobbit instead.

There and back again, right?

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“Hold my hand. Ooh, baby, it’s a long way down to the bottom of the river.” – Bottom of the River, Delta Rae

I was thinking about why I like country music today as I was driving in the car to get to work.  I’m pulling an overnight (again) and I wasn’t listening to the iPod, just threw on the radio.

It’s weird.  In LA, there is apparently only one country music station and it’s pretty good, but then again, I haven’t been listening to country radio for a long time.

But, back to the music.  Recently, I have been on a country kick.  I’ve got a ton of stuff on the old iPod and I’ve been streaming music, watching GAC, reading country music blogs, and listening to the radio more than I have in years.  Why?

I realized as Thompson Square’s “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not” came on the radio tonight- it’s because country music is romantic.  There are a ton of songs out there that are basically the plots of various romance novels.  Or they are the aftermath of romances novels, when the new wears off and the relationship dies. 

Personally, I prefer the romantic songs but there are times, especially when I’m not in a melancholy mood but am in the mood for a slight sniffle, where I love to listen to the sad songs as well.

And NO ONE does sad songs like country music.  Good lord, Xander from Buffy was right.  Country music is the music of pain.

Brad Paisley has a song out right now called “This is Country Music” and it talks about how in general, music isn’t supposed to talk about mama, cancer, etc. but country  music does.  It’s like it’s different than anything else, bringing up the topics that no one else wants to touch because they’re painful or sad.  But country music doesn’t shy away from them.  In fact, says Paisley, they embrace those topics and that makes country music what it is.

Some of the saddest and some of the most moving songs I have ever personally heard have been country songs.  Some examples:

Two Sparrows in a Hurricane – Tanya Tucker

Waiting on a Woman- Brad Paisley

Then- Brad Paisley

The House That Built Me- Miranda Lambert

Love Story- Taylor Swift

Mine- Taylor Swift

I like listening to the stories of these songs, of hearing about the romance, the cute meet, the fall in love, the fight to be together.  I love hearing these men singing about how much they love their women and how hard they would fight for those same women.  I love hearing the women sing about the same things. 

Taylor Swift breaks me into pieces with a lot of her music.  There are a lot of women out there, many in feminist circles, that don’t see a lot of value in Swift’s work.  However, I think that Taylor and I are on a similar wavelength, because almost every song she sings, I can find a connection to my own life.  Hell, “Mine” is basically the story of my husband’s and my romance.  The line “you made a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter” is the relationship I have with my father and with my husband, whether they know it or not.

I guess that’s part of it, as well.  I see myself in country music in a way that I don’t always with pop music and I don’t with R&B or rap.  I didn’t grow up in the south but I grew up country and I know that culture and that world, more than I know the world of the big city.

So, it’s the romance, and it’s the self-connection that I have with the lyrics.  And I tend to like the tunes a lot as well.

I like that country music is so connected to the blues, to bluegrass, to folk music.  It still feels like it has a good blend of a number of different, older styles, but has a modern and new sound.  I can hear you saying, “new?”, but listen to Johnny Cash and then listen to Brad Paisley and you’ll hear what I mean.

I am an incredibly empathetic person and I get emotionally involved and attached to things that  many people never do, including books, music, movies and TV.  And because of that, I need to find those pieces of media that make that emotional connection worth it.  Did I waste my time listening to something that I will never listen to again, or did I find a song that has emotional resonance for me and I will listen to it over and over and over again?

I actually just found a song that has stuck with me- haunted me, is being more truthful- and it was totally by accident.  My husband was listening to a non-country station here in LA and he heard this song that he wanted to do more research on.  He found a video of it on YouTube, and made me watch it.  You know how YouTube gives you suggestions on the side?  If you liked this, you’ll like this other thing, kind of deal?  Yeah, so I see this image that I wanted to find out more about so I clicked and I got the video for Delta Rae’s “Bottom of the River.” 

The song is an original gospel piece by the band and by itself, it’s pretty haunting.  The lead singer’s voice is rocking and awesome.  But when you pair it with the creepy, supernatural video, the song transcends music and becomes something MORE.  It’s just so GOOD.  I’ve gone to sleep these past few nights thinking about the song and I’ve woken up singing it.  It’s just that great.

Please check it out and see if you agree with my assessment.

I just love country music.  I don’t love all of it- no one loves all of something, no matter what they say, but I love a lot of it.  I find it inspiring to write to, and I find it pleasant to listen to as I drive to work and then while I’m plugging away at work at my desk in the office.  And I know that when I need a good cry, I just need to turn to a few certain songs and the tears will just flow. 

I love that this kind of music can be so moving for me, that it can reach inside of me and touch me in a way that not a whole lot has, in the recent past.

It feels good to feel, if that makes any sense.  And sometimes it’s good to feel good, and other times it good to feel sad, or angry.  I love that these songwriters and performers have found an outlet for what they feel and have done so in a way that makes ME feel.

I can only hope that my own writing does the same thing for those that read my stories.

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. – Ray Bradbury

A few things:

 1) I was in Beverly Hills a while back, to see the doctor, I had to park in one of the public parking structures.  As I was pulling out in The Falcon (my Jeep), I passed Michael T. Weiss in his car.  He was making a turn, and he slowed down to do so, so I got a great view of his face.  He still looks good, which was awesome.  I LOVED him on The Pretender and it makes me sad that he’s been playing bad guys recently.

And not too long after I saw the guy, he shows up on Burn Notice!  It was great to see Michael T. Weiss and Jeffrey Donovan together again.  I was inspired to look up the show and see just how many episodes Donovan was in, as Kyle, Jared’s messed up brother.  I was shocked to see that it was only three TOTAL episodes!  He must have been mentioned more than that, for him to have been as pervasive in my memory as he is.  Or he was just that awesome.

 

2) A friend forwarded me an e-mail about this writing program called Skyword.  Skyword hooks writers up with different websites that are looking for content and they pay you based on hit counts for each article that you write.

I applied to write for gather.com and I was chosen to write for the news and political channels of the site.  I’m really enjoying it- I pick my own topics, do my own research and then submit my articles to be published on the site.  They have editors that read for content and they do edit articles as needed, which is a great service. 

I’ve already started to make money, although it’s a very small amount at this point.  But cash is cash, and it spends.  This is the first time I have ever been paid for my work.  Woo!

If you are interested in writing for the same program, check it out here.

Some of my currently posted articles are here:

a) Black Valedictorian Forced to Share Honor with White Student

b) Married Lesbian Couple Save 40 Teens from Norway Killing Spree

c) Murder of Gay Student Ends in Mistrial

d) After 66 Years, Nazi Secretary Reveals All

e) New Jersey Bullying Legislation Hits Hard

f) West Memphis 3 Released After 18 Years

 

3) Keep Calm and Finish Your Damn Book

Beth and Deb linked me to this post, via twitter, and it hit so many buttons for me, it isn’t even funny.

First, I love the art.  It reminds me of Hyperbole and a Half, which is awesome, and the actual content just really speaks to me. 

I mean, I am that person.  I freak out about all the people that are better/wittier/funnier/darker than I am and that have great books out there, getting read and possibly sold by a major publisher.

In fandom, I always get sad when my stories don’t get the kinds of comments that other stories do, some that aren’t as good as mine but get a billionty more comments.  And I wonder if people just don’t like me, like you do.  Or if I’m that uncool kid that people just put up with because it’s the internets and you can’t really kick people out until they become REALLY creepy or crazy or dangerous.  Am I that girl that you went to school with that had the terrible hair and smelled like peas? 

And then I wonder if it IS, in fact, the content of my work that just isn’t getting the response that I want.  If my stories are okay but not good, even if they aren’t BAD.

As an aside, I had a story that was due for a fannish challenge and I knew that I had to get it done, as it was for someone else and I would be gifted with a story of my own.  You never want to be that asshat that DOESN’T meet the deadline, okay?  And I thought I had a good story but I asked an amazing friend to beta read the thing for me.  She’s totally awesome and totally honest and she didn’t like it.  Like, at all.  So I had to break it down and really try to find what the story was I was actually trying to tell.  In the end, I had a much better story that I actually really loved.  I still did not get the kinds of comments that I was expected, based on the fandom and the characters involved.  My ego is ridiculous, okay?  I get that.  But man, I just wish I could write a story that not only connected with ME but connected with everyone else.

And that’s what I think this post is really about.  I question my worth as a writer based on the feedback from other people (or the distinct lack thereof).  I also question my worth based on my own comparison of my work/blog/twitter/facebook to that of other people, just like the blog talks about.  I psych myself out, creating all this doubt that doesn’t need to be there. 

What is the answer here?  The answer is just write the damn book.  Just tell the story the way I want to tell it, the way that I see it in my head, and just get it on the page.  Don’t worry about what other people will think about that paragraph or that character turn.  Don’t get caught up in all the peripheral stuff, like blogs and twitter and stuff.  Just focus on the work.  Because in the end, that’s all you have to stand on and it will have to be enough.  Make sure that the focus is on the work and just get it done.

That’s what I’m taking away from the post.

 

4) Speaking of Keep Calm and Finish Your Damn Book…

I’m trying to get my edits done on The Drake submission so I can send it out.  I’m struggling with too much information.  I’ve been thinking about the problems with the story and how to fix them for months and now that I need to actually sit down and pound out the fixes, I’ve got almost too much information pouring into my brain.

I need to rework the synopsis- crap, I have one, that I can just edit.  Maybe.  Or maybe it would be better to just start from scratch.  Ack!

Add to that, I need to update my first three chapters to incorporate the changes that I am making in the synopsis.  Let’s be clear- the changes are important, if only because they will help make the story not suck.

I feel both empowered, mostly because when I do have ideas hit me, they are pretty good and I am making a lot of fixes, but also like my hands and feet are tied.  When I sit down to actually type out the new words, I freeze up and I don’t know why.

Am I intimated by the amount of work this will require?  Am I afraid of getting it wrong?  I have no idea, I just know that I need to get my act together and get these pages out so that I don’t miss out on this opportunity.

 

5) My Kindle.

I love my Kindle.  I take it with me almost everywhere and I can read anything I want without anyone commenting on the cover, because I don’t have a cover.  I also am saving myself a ton of paper and ink costs by putting fanfic on my Kindle instead of printing it out to read away from the computer.

In fact, fanfic is what I use the Kindle for more than anything else.

Since my husband has been out of work for 1 year and 9 months (aside:  he was recently hired to work for a great place here in LA and starts on 9/15.  Another post to follow regarding this!) one of the things we’ve cut out is the book buying.  Granted, I do get amazon.com gift cards and can use those but I am pretty picky about what I pick up, because I know that my budget is so limited.  So, I’ve been very slow to add actual published novels to my device.  I have a lot of free stuff and a lot of samples of what amazon.com has available, but not a lot of purchases.  To be very clear, I do not pirate e-books.  It never does, as they say, to shit where you eat.

But the fanfic?  Oh, HELL yeah.  Lots of it.  And I’ve been collecting some of my favorite stories for re-reads and getting all the long Big Bang stories downloaded so I can read them at lunch, at work.  It’s the perfect little device for the avid reader of all types.

If you think you are interested in a Kindle but are concerned about the various format issues, be sure to download the program Calibre. 

Calibre is a FREE program that will help you manage your various e-books, files, etc.  Calibre can also convert files to other formats for better reading.  For example, I have a number of pdf files that I have converted to Kindle format (modi).  I have also purchased e-books from non-amazon.com sites that only offer pdf or epub formats and have converted those to Kindle as well, using Calibre.  I love it.  

And for all you fanfic readers out there, if you get your fix from An Archive of Our Own (AO3), you can download works in all e-book formats, including Kindle, so you won’t need to convert, just click and save.  Just another reason that the site is so amazing.

 

6) My short story.

I had submitted a story to an anthology and it was not accepted by that anthology.  Which is okay.  Not everything is for everyone.

But I submitted the piece to my crit group and it didn’t get that great of a response from them, either.

So, that is a sign that the stupid thing needs a lot of work.  On the plus side, now that I’m not writing it to fit into specific parameters, I can increase the word count and make positive changes without worrying if I am working outside the theme of the anthology.

The downside is that my husband really liked the story.  He was my beta reader and he was the one that suggested the current ending.  Apparently, my crit partners felt like it wasn’t a complete story, instead of an ending the implied additional action after the story was technically over.  That is not good.

I’m wondering if their reaction to it is based on reading preference.  They prefer the romance genre, that demands a HEA, and the husband prefers to read sci-fi and fantasy stories, that can be ambiguous and possibly sad or tragic.  That’s a different audience and one story would create very different reactions from both types of readers.

I am not discounting any feedback on this one- I am taking everything into account, including that it’s currently in present tense but it might work better in past tense.  This is something worth exploring.  I do have some experience in changing the tense, as I did with First Lady and the Dead Presidents.

I need to make the ending really pop, so that even if I don’t write in all the action that I thought I was implying before, than at least the reader would have a better understanding of what actions was supposed to be happening, as opposed to thinking that the story wasn’t even complete.  *sigh*

A lot of work, but worth it.  I love the characters, I love the world, and I want to see this in print somewhere other than my computer screen.  My plan, after I take it apart and rebuild her, is to send it to one of the guys that rejected the story from the anthology and see what they think about it after the overhaul.  If he’s willing. 

I will report back as things happen!

Revenge is an act of passion; vengeance of justice. Injuries are revenged; crimes are avenged. – Samuel Johnson

I’m a fan of the show The Mentalist.  If you haven’t seen it, the basic premise is this: A fake psychic, whose family was brutally murdered by a serial killer, works with law enforcement to find said killer, using his skills of deduction to solve other crimes along the way.

Spoilers ahead, in case you are sensitive to that kind of thing.  But I want to talk about story and the proper set up, so I hope you’ll join me.

Continued

You could take 29 Justin Biebers in a fight! Score!

In my quest to find amazing procrastination activities, I have been pointed towards an amazing webcomic.  You all know (at least you should by now) that Hyperbole and a Half is one of the best, funniest, most unique web comics/blogs out there.

My favorite post, just FYI to all you fellow procrastinators out there, is The God of Cake story.  No explanation will do it justice, just go and read it.  Do not drink anything while doing so or you will spray diet Coke out of your nose.  NOT PLEASANT.

Add to that list The Oatmeal.  Funny, weird, irreverent- this comic has it all.  Including a quiz to let you know just how many Justin Biebers you could take in a fight when it comes down to the Bieber Clone Wars.

My results are as follows:

How many Justin Biebers could you take in a fight?

Created by Oatmeal

You must unlearn what you have learned – Yoda

I was pointed to an article last night, about a little girl named Katie.    Katie is 7 and she loves Star Wars.  Katie has a Star Wars water bottle that she very excitedly chose for the new school year to match her backpack.

Sounds good right?  Normal kid stuff?  Well, the boys at her school told her that Star Wars was only for boys.  They teased her so much that she decided to leave her favorite water bottle at home and take a pink one to school instead.

But Katie’s mom is awesome and she realized that there was a problem.  After asking Katie why she wanted to swap bottles, Katie broke down in tears and told her mom what was going on.  She loved Star Wars and Star Wars is only for boys so she couldn’t use that water bottle ever again.

Katie’s mom, Carrie, is a blogger.  She blogs about life with an adopted child (Katie) on a Chicago blogging site.  She wrote a post about teasing and the slippery slope to bullying and how she was sad that it had already started for Katie, even at age 7.  She wrote about talking to Katie and telling her that she can like whatever she wants- her water bottle is perfect for Katie. 

Carrie asked, almost as an aside, for female Star Wars fans to write to Katie and let her know that she wasn’t alone.  A few readers of Carrie’s blog spread the message to their own blogs and suddenly, Katie was viral. 

Literally thousands of people came out to tell Katie that it’s okay to be a Star Wars fan.  It’s okay to love the things you love and be the person that you were always intended to be.  And the really amazing part was that all of these people began sharing their stories of being different, of being picked on and feeling different because of the things that they were passionate about.

The thing that came out of all of that, at least for me, is how similar all the stories were.  How many people had been picked on, who had been forced to muddle through childhood labeled as “different” because they found something that engaged them so much that they just couldn’t give it up, even to fit into what society had determined was “normal.”

Continued