Because sometimes it’s fun to play with Photoshop’s sliders and see what you come up with. This is what happens (in part) when you push the “dehaze” slider all the way to the right. The real sunset didn’t look like this (it looked like this), but I think it might be cool to live on a planet where the sunset did look like that, every once in a while.
Enjoy the weekend, folks.
Stage of Fools on LJ | Stage of Fools on Dreamwidth
Sign-up post on LJ | Sign-up post on Dreamwidth
Sign-ups: July 22 through August 18, 2017
Assignments go out: around August 20, 2017
Assignments due: October 20, 2017
Madness/prompt claiming time: October 20 through 31 - as soon as all assignments are in, all unwritten prompts will be revealed for everyone to write fic of any length. You don't have to sign up as a Stage of Fools participant to participate in Madness.
Go-live: November 1, 2017
Author reveal: November 5, 2017
( Talk about my Mom's employment situation, which includes talk of politics and racism )
( Media I'm consuming: the Holocaust, and politics in the Balkans )
Repeating the details from my signup:
( Requests for Anne of Green Gables, Mary Poppins, Younger, Love & Friendship, Pride and Prejudice (2005), Anne With an E, Sense and Sensibility (1995), Friday Night Lights )
-planning or outlining
-sending to beta
-taking the day off
-something else, which I will tell you all about
I'll be honest, I have been embarrassingly distracted today. Which distractions do you have the most trouble staying away from?
This is a weekly check-in! You do not have to check in, of course, but if you would like to comment on the last week, feel free!
If you have a deadline coming up, you can do it! If you need a deadline, feel free to ask!
Here’s Sugar curling up with a good book, in this case the ARC of Don’t Live For Your Obituary, my upcoming collection of essays about writing and the writing life, which comes out in December from Subterranean Press. And you can win it! Here’s how:
Tell me in the comments which Beatles song I am thinking of right now.
The person who correctly guesses which Beatles song I am thinking of wins. In the case where more than one person correctly guesses, I will number the correct guesses in order of appearance and then use a random number generator to select the winner among them.
“Beatles song” in this case means a song recorded by the Beatles, and includes both original songs by the band, and the cover songs they recorded. Solo work does not count. Here’s a list of songs recorded by the Beatles, if you need it. The song I’m thinking of is on it.
Guess only one song. Posts with more than one guess will have only the first song considered. Posts not related to guessing a song will be deleted. Also, only one post per person — additional posts will be deleted.
This contest is open to everyone everywhere in the world, and runs until the comments here automatically shut off (which will be around 3:50pm Eastern time, Sunday, July 23rd). When you post a comment, leave a legit email address in the “email” field so I can contact you. I’ll also announce the winner here on Monday, July 24. I’ll mail the ARC to you, signed (and personalized, if so requested).
Kitten not included.
Also remember you can pre-order the hardcover edition of Obit from Subterranean Press. This is a signed, limited edition — there are only 1,000 being made — and they’ve already had a healthy number of pre-orders. So don’t wait if you want one.
Now: Guess which Beatles song I am thinking of! And good luck!
Why Michigan? I have no idea. But they are there.
Five volumes. More than 700 pages in most.
I'm downloading them and plan to read them all. What I'm looking at is the correspondence of Gen. Frederick Haldimand, a Swiss-born British soldier who became the military commander in the Americas. He was Ebenezer's boss, during the time of the events I'm dealing with, and a lot of the other characters involved with Ebenezer are likely to be in them as well. So far I've run into Brigadier MacLean, who was in command at Fort Niagara, and whom I've met in other letters before -- he wrote a friend about how badly Haldimand was dealing with the Sullivan expedition and how disappointed the Indians who were British allies were about it: "The king has a fool for a general" (direct quote from the letter, which is in the Archives of Ontario, filed under Scottish Immigrant Papers.) In the current letter, he's talking about running out of trade goods, asking to be sure the proper things are sent to Niagara and to Erie (which fort he had to borrow supplies from, and promised to make it up to them) and it is clear from his clipped-off sentences that he is really pissed about it all but can't say that to his boss.
It's something like 1800 pages overall. I'm downloading it in PDF and in MOBI, so I can read it on Kindle and cross-reference with the PDF for documenting pages and such for bibliographic info, if necessary.
I'm looking for two specific things (but I'll take others as they come): Ebenezer's promotion to lieutenant and move to the Indian Dept. from Butler's Rangers, and Ebenezer's own letter(s) to Haldimand demanding a reason why he was being detained without being charged and describing how he was being treated in various places of imprisonment (the Ranger camp at Niagara on the Lake, Hamilton (which was called something else then) and Quebec. I would have checked for these in Ottawa on principle, but apparently Ottawa was not that big a deal back then.
So, I'll spend the time I might have spent on the road (and more) in reading this pile of British military correspondence and getting to know the guys better. I can think of worse things to do in August.
I have also decided to burn some vacation by declaring the weekend of Leslie Odom Jr's Ravinia concert to be a four-day weekend. I shall go to the Botanic Garden for a few hours on Sunday afternoon, then walk over to Ravinia and settle my butt on the lawn with a tasty selection of noshes (and possibly a bit of very classy booze) to listen to Gershwin, followed by the golden tones of Mr Odom. And then have Monday to snooze after a late night.
As I was making my lunch wrap this morning, I set aside some of the wilted spinach for Sawyer and the guinea pigs, then realized that Sawyer and The Guinea Pigs is totally the name of my next cover band. Some will also go to Peeves the hamster, who is one of the sweetest, nicest hamsters I have ever gotten to snuggle. When I pet his back, he rolls over to show his fuzzy white tummy and wriggles into my hand while making the cutest little happy hamster face.
So, on July 21, 1997, which was a Monday, I posted the following on the alt.society.generation-x newsgroup:
Thought y’all might like to know. I’m happy, pleased, tired.
96,098 words, cranked out in a little under three months, working
mostly on weekends, grinding out 5,000 words at a sitting.
Learned two things:
a) I *can* carry a story over such a long stretch;
b) like most things on the planet, thinking about doing it is a lot
worse than simply sitting down and doing it. The writing wasn’t hard
to do, you just need to plant ass in seat and go from there.
I did find it helped not to make my first novel a gut-wrenching
personal story, if you know what I mean. Instead I just tried to write
the sort of science fiction story I would like to read. It was fun.
Now I go in to tinker and fine tune. Will soon have it ready for beta
testing. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
That novel? Agent to the Stars. Which means that today is the 20th anniversary of me being a novelist. Being a published novelist would have to wait — I date that to January 1, 2005, the official publication date of Old Man’s War — but in terms of having written a full, complete (and as it eventually turned out, publishable) novel: Today’s the day.
I’ve recounted the story of Agent before but it’s fun to tell, because I think it’s a nice antidote to the “I just had to share the story I’d been dreaming of my whole life” angle first novels often take. The gist of the story was that my 10-year high school reunion was on the horizon, and having been “the writer dude” in my class, I knew I would be asked if I had ever gotten around to writing a novel, and I wanted to be able to say “yes.” Also, I was then in my late 20s and it was time to find out whether I could actually write one or not.
Having decided I was going to write one, I decided to make it easy for myself, mostly by not trying to do all things at once. The goal was simply: Write a novel-length story. The story itself was going to be pretty simple and not personally consequential; it wasn’t going to be a thinly-disguised roman a clef, or something with a serious and/or personal theme. It would involve Hollywood in some way, because I had spent years as a film critic and knew that world well enough to write about it. And as for genre, I was most familiar with mystery/crime fiction and science fiction/fantasy, so I flipped a coin to decide which to do. It come up heads, so science fiction it was, and the story I had for that was: Aliens come and decide to get Hollywood representation.
(I don’t remember the story I was thinking for the mystery version. I’m sure death was involved. And for those about to say “well, you didn’t have to stick with science fiction for your second book,” that’s technically correct, but once I’d written one science fiction novel, I knew I could write science fiction. It was easier to stick with what I knew. And anyway I write murder mysteries now — Lock In and the upcoming Head On. They also happen to be science fiction.)
I remember the writing of Agent being pretty easy, in no small part, I’m sure, because of everything noted above — it wasn’t meant to be weighty or serious or even good, merely novel-length. When I finished it, I do remember thinking something along the lines of “Huh. That wasn’t so bad. Maybe I should have done this earlier.” In the fullness of time, I’ve realized that I probably couldn’t have done it any earlier, I wasn’t focused enough and it helped me to have some sort of external motivation, in this case, my high school reunion.
Once finished, I asked two friends and co-workers at America Online to read the book: Regan Avery and Stephen Bennett, both of whom I knew loved science fiction, and both of whom I knew I could trust to tell me if what I’d written was crap. They both gave it a thumbs up. Then I showed it to Krissy, my wife, who was apprehensive about reading it, since if she hated it she would have to tell me, and would still have to be married to me afterward. When she finished it, the first thing she said to me about it was “Thank Christ it’s good.” Domestic felicity lived for another day.
And then, having written it… I did nothing with it for two years. Because, again, it wasn’t written for any other reason than to see if I could write a novel. It was practice. People other than Regan and Stephen and Krissy finally saw it in 1999 when I decided that the then brand-new Scalzi.com site could use some content, so I put it up here as a “shareware” novel, meaning that if people liked it they could send me a dollar for it through the mail. And people did! Which was nice.
It was finally physically published in 2005, when Bill Schafer of Subterranean Press published a limited hardcover edition. I was jazzed about that, since I wanted a version of the book I could put on my shelf. The cover was done by Penny Arcade’s Mike Krahulik, who among other things knew of the book because I was one of Penny Arcade’s very first advertisers way back in the day, advertising the Web version of the book (those guys have done okay since then). Then came the Tor paperback edition, and the various foreign editions, and the audiobook, and here we are today.
When I wrote the novel, of course, I had no idea that writing it was the first step toward where I am now. I was working at America Online — and enjoying it! It was a cool place to be in the 90s! — and to the extent I thought I would be writing novels at all, I thought that they would be sideline to my overall writing career, rather than (as it turned out) the main thrust of it. This should be your first indication that science fiction writers in fact cannot predict the future with any accuracy.
I’m very fond of Agent, and think it reads pretty well. I’m also aware that it’s first effort, and also because it was written to be in present time in the 90s, just about out of time in terms of feeling at all contemporary (there are fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors remaining, to pick just one obvious example in the book). At this point I suggest people consider it as part of an alternate history which branched off from our timeline in 1998 or thereabouts. Occasionally it gets talked about for being picked for TV/film. If that ever happens, expect some extensive plot revisions. Otherwise, it is what it is.
One thing I do like about Agent is that I still have people tell me that it’s their favorite of mine. I like that because I think it’s nice to know that even this very early effort, done simply for the purpose of finding out if I could write a novel, does what I think a novel should: Entertains people and makes them glad they spent their time with it.
I’m also happy it’s the novel that told me I could do this thing, this novel-writing thing, and that I listened to it. The last couple of decades have turned out pretty well for me. I’m excited to see where things go from here.
"Here's how the new Star Wars novels will connect to The Last Jedi: The ‘Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ books will explore details from the history of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia". I'm just gonna jump down here to Canto Bight: "This collection of four short stories will focus on creatures from the glamorous casino world of Canto Bight, described as the galactic version of Monaco. The book, which hits stores on Dec. 5, will be written by Saladin Ahmed, Rae Carson, Mira Grant, and John Jackson Miller." [Also linked at aftertheendtimes, because awesome news is awesome.]
"Stargate Origins Series to Launch New MGM Digital Platform — Watch Teaser".
"Pacific Rim: Uprising Releases Teaser and Info on a New Crop of Jaegers". [Tor.com] And once again, we have a Jaeger with a slur (same one) in its name. :/
"Jenny, the Doctor’s Daughter, Finally Getting the Doctor Who Spinoff Adventures She Deserves" [in audio drama form]. [The Mary Sue]
"Dick Grayson vs. Toxic Masculinity". [Book Riot] [May 2017]
Via wendelah1, "Rape Choreography Makes Films Safer, But Still Takes a Toll on Cast and Crew". [Content warnings: what you'd expect from that headline.]
Via dine, "The Kitten Rental Program is Saving Lives".
"The Lost Picture Show: Hollywood Archivists Can’t Outpace Obsolescence".
"Photobucket Is Holding People's Photos For 'Ransom': The company is now charging a $400 fee to hot-link images — which will break photos on tons of old websites and blogs.". [Buzzfeed]
"The Lost Cookbooks Of Black Chefs".
"Just 19 Fascinating Things About The Hair & Makeup On 'GLOW'". [Buzzfeed]
"How Eyeliner Defines My Womanhood". "My politics and my eyeliner became inseparable. Projecting my own sense of beauty, without shame or hesitation, scared the hell out of my opponents. My look was my armor and my weaponry. / But the fight took its toll. Somewhere in my late teens, I closeted myself again, without particularly noticing that I was doing so. I stopped wearing anything that scanned as feminine. I didn't even own eyeliner for 20 years. And I said nothing when people took me for a straight, cisgender man. [...] I’ve finally recognized, over years of trial and error — mostly error — that a wildly disproportionate amount of anxiety I experience arises from dressing like a man. A couple of years ago, that anxiety was swallowing me whole. I didn’t like who I’d become, and I wanted better for myself and my family. And, thanks to the wealth of information available online, and the supportive trans and queer community I found there, I had finally found the words to describe myself."
"Not in This Day and Age? On “Feisty, Cheeky, and Rebellious” Women in History".
"Cooling the tube – Engineering heat out of the Underground". "One of the biggest problems is a side-effect of what made it possible to dig the deep level tunnels in the first place — namely the very solid and nice to tunnel through London Clay which sits under the city.
In fact, when the early tube tunnels were dug, they were so cool down there that the cool tube was seen as a respite from the summer heat on the surface. Why suffer on a bus in the heat when there’s a cool tube to take instead, said the marketing men.
So why is the Bakerloo line, once the coolest place to be, now a mobile sauna?"