Musings

Dramatic readings of Atlanta Nights

Do any of you remember Atlanta Nights, the intentionally awful book written by a group of SF/F pros to prove that PublishAmerica would accept anything?

Some wonderful soul has done a complete dramatic reading of it, with each chapter posted to YouTube. Go listen to my so-horrid-it’s-hilarious chapter, and be sure to browse through Manwithoutabody’s channel to find your favorite. :-)

B&N’s Best SF/F of 2009

Paul Goat Allen has released his list of the best science fiction and fantasy novels of 2009, which you should all check out. I had the pleasure of copyediting two of the books on the list–Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker and Ken Scholes’ Canticle. I loved them both. I just finished copyediting Antiphon, the most recent book in Ken Scholes’ Psalms of Isaak series, today, and it definitely continues the richness of character and setting found in the preceding books. I know it’s mean to say when you guys have to wait for it, but I can tell you that you’ll love it. :) Congratulations to everyone on the list!

Legal fundraiser for Dr. Peter Watts, SF writer

Please go read Cory Doctorow’s post regarding the arrest and beating of Peter Watts by US border crossing guards. Peter’s a friend of mine, and I’ve contributed to his defense. I hope some of you are able to do so, too.

Edit: Peter’s account of what happened to him is at his blog: http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=932.

Facebook privacy concerns

Facebook is going to make it really easy to come back to blogging rather than hanging around on their site.

There are a number of things I particularly hate about the changes, and they all have to do with less control on my part. (I had the items listed below hidden as of a few days ago.)

First, I don’t like my friend list to show, because if it does, people I choose not to add can see that I’m adding others; this can make for a vaguely stalkerish fixation, when there may be any number of reasons I don’t add someone. I also don’t like for all my friends to see where else in FB I’m commenting or “liking.” [Edit: It looks as though comments may not show, but “likes” do.] Neither do I want my profile picture to show for everyone searching. (I didn’t mind it till I got a creepy FB message not long ago; then I hid it.)

Those changes, for the most part, go beyond those mentioned in the articles above. I see now, too, that everyone searching my profile can see what groups I belong to; that may not matter much for me, but I’m sure it is important to others that those be hidden. FB is really screwing up here. They’re so vastly popular because of what they offered, and they’re changing that offering substantially.

Honestly, part of the reason I got away from blogging was that I encountered several instances that amounted to stalking, and they scared me off. Facebook, for a while, felt like a safe place in the meantime. It doesn’t feel that way anymore. It doesn’t take much incentive for me to come back to blogging anyway, and I’m glad I was moving in that direction. I miss you guys. :)

Awards

I’m really liking LibraryThing, though I’ve realized that it will only load three widgets full of books at once. You have to refresh the widget to get more books, or just click the title to go to the full list.

One feature I just found this morning is that it will tell you what awards the books you’ve entered have won. This discovery coincided with my realization that the books I’ve copyedited have won even more awards than I was aware of. I will have to update my sidebar. :)

If you’re curious, check out the full awards list.

Widget!

I’ve put about a hundred of the novels I’ve copyedited into a wonderful widget (though the widget doesn’t seem to show them all. :-/). I particularly love it, though, because so many of my authors request me for multiple books, and it’s nice to be able to call those out in such a pretty manner. :-) I will likely put it on my “About Me” page, but I wanted to show it to you here. Isn’t it wonderful? I’m undecided on whether I should add in the nonfiction I’ve copyedited, and I’ll have to go through quite a bit of paperwork to find all the novels I’ve done. Still, it’s a start. :-)

Edit: I’ve added the widget to my “About Me” page, replacing my list of authors with it.

“You smell like Chewbacca”

Wow, two posts in a day! I told you I was going to pick it up. :-)

I came across this post in praise of copyeditors while Twittering “copyediting” and had to share with you. I particularly love the author’s description of how authors feel when they get a copyedited manuscript back:

It was like getting dressed up and brushing one’s hair very carefully and thinking one looks quite respectable indeed, only to have one’s big-mouth best friend show up and say “You can’t go out like that—your skirt is tucked into your underwear and you smell like Chewbacca.” You feel relief that someone caught you in time. Adoration for their superior wisdom and objective eye. Lingering embarrassment, mingled with wounded pride, mingled with overwhelming gratitude.

Every once in a while copyeditors run into an author who gets offended at having these things pointed out, but it luckily doesn’t happen very often. :-)

“The Copy Editor’s Lament”

I found a video called “The Copy Editor’s Lament” on YouTube today. It’s aimed at the newspaper industry (fiction copyeditors don’t go about killing adjectives :-)), but the lyrics are pretty amusing. Freelancers can’t be laid off, obviously, but publishers are finding ways to cut back on copyediting costs regardless. I read a wonderful post in support of copyeditors–and lamenting their current scarcity–on medical writer Debra Gordon’s blog today, too. I particularly liked this bit:

I always know the client I’m working with is a true professional when she has a copy editor standing by for my copy. The ones that scare me are the ones who expect me to copyedit my own writing. I’m a writer, I tell them, not a copy editor. The two are about as similar as a five-star restaurant and a fast-food drive through window. I can edit the copy for hours. . . but that’s not copyediting.

With that in mind, here’s the video I mentioned:

The poor copyeditor should have spelled “support” correctly, though. ;-)

The mindset of idea generation

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much I miss my blog. I post a lot of short updates to Facebook, and I Twitter, but I rarely take the time to come up with a thoughtful blog topic. There are several reasons for that, but I think the primary one is that I just allowed myself to get out of the mindset of generating ideas.

This has been on my mind because I’m aware that the things I post to Facebook are somewhat ephemeral, in the sense that if FB one day disintegrates, the photos and everything else on there will also go away. When I post something to my blog–a photo or a recipe or some of my introspective thoughts or questions–I know I can go back and access it anytime I want. I like that feeling of ownership (and the ease with which I can search my blog to find a favorite recipe–you have no idea what my recipe box looks like). ;-)

It occurred to me the other day, too, that the time when I was blogging a lot was also the time I was writing the most fiction–something I’ve also done far too little of these days. And I really think that the reason behind that is the mindset. I posted a question to Facebook one day asking my friends how they brainstormed new novel ideas, and I got some of the most wonderful answers. (I wished then that I’d posted the question to my blog, though I’m not sure I would have gotten as many responses here–something I can talk about in another post.) My favorite response, though, came from author Laura Anne Gilman, who said,

The trick is to be open to a passing thought, and then grab it and feed it scraps until it grows into something. After a while, you learn to do that while you’re going about your day, without conscious effort. Then it’s your job to sort out what’s workable and what’s just Bright!Shiny!

And successful writing, whether it’s fiction or blogging, has a lot to do with idea generation, and I’ve come to realize that idea generation has to do with mindset. I’ve heard bestsellers say that they get a hundred ideas a day of things to write, and the trouble is picking one. I think that that mindset is something that has to grow on you, if you don’t have it already. When I was blogging all the time, my mind was constantly recognizing potential blog topics in the world around me–things I thought would interest my readers or things I thought I could write interestingly about. And in the same way, I was also getting ideas for fiction. I would notice things around me or topics my mind flitted to, and my mind would feed those ideas and see if they evolved. When I cut back on blogging a few years ago, those topics would still occur to me regularly, but because I didn’t blog them, the ideas just…tapered off. Really, that’s a pity, because I miss the camaraderie I had through my blog. But as my mindset changed, ideas for fiction tapered off as well. Most of the time in life, if we ignore something, it really doesn’t go away. In this case–in being mindful, though–I think that you can starve out ideas through neglect, and you can change your mindset for the worse because of it.

With that thought it mind, I’m going to try to recapture my own mindfulness. And I’m going to try posting to my blog more often as part of it. I feared for a long while that if I posted things that didn’t have to do with copyediting, people would get bored and go away. However, nothing is also boring. :-) So if you don’t mind putting up with my favorite recipes, pictures of my kids, and the occasional rumination on whatever topic my mind has flitted onto that day, I’ll hopefully see you in the comments. I’m going to do my best to always reply to them, too, because so many of you have such wonderful observations to offer.

And of course, if you have any thoughts on the mindset of idea generation, I’d love to hear them. :-)