alanajoli: (mini me short hair)
(Crossposted at Substrate)

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I went to hear Max Gladstone read at Enigma Bookstore in November. I was playing around with my camera's video capture, and I successfully recorded Max's section of the reading. It's about twelve minutes, and if you've not had the chance to hear Max read in person (or if you've not heard an excerpt from Two Serpents Rise,) check it out!

--

Success!

Jun. 17th, 2013 09:25 pm
alanajoli: (mini me)
That's right, I'm under 30 messages in my inbox. That's a mark of success, and I'm sticking to it. I don't think it's been that way for months, and today, it happened by accident. How exciting!

In other, slightly less successful, news, I'm still in the middle of work on "Kidnapping at Willow Creek," the new Choice of Games adventure I'm writing, and I'm still at the beginning of edits on Into the Reach. We're already through June's halfway point, and I'd been hoping to finish both projects this month. Current outlook? Doubtful. I have gotten some other stuff done, though, like updating my website a little bit to reflect my new look. The old author photo's seven years old at this point, and I figured it'd be nice to actually have my headshot look like the modern me. (The photo was taken by the awesome Jason Neely, who was a coworker of mine in my days at JBML.)



In other news about moving forward, the Viking Saga group is gathering for the first time since, I think, February this weekend, so we can get back to clearing the automatons of an upwardly-mobile sorceress from Baba Yaga's hut. Because only good can come from helping Baba Yaga. Right?

Best news of the day isn't mine: it's that fellow Substrater Max Gladstone got a starred review of his upcoming novel, Two Serpents Rise, in Publishers Weekly. Go Max!

What's your good news?
alanajoli: (mini me)
Substraters are all over the Web (and our blog). Vlad Barash has posted a new excerpt from his WIP LukOL. If you like MMOs or music or both, make sure you catch the tidbits we've got up!

Next, Madeline Miller's Song of Achilles is listed as a "great reads at a great price" for the nook!

Great Reads Great Price

If you haven't bought it yet, check it out!

Both Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead and Madeline's Song of Achilles were chosen as must read books in the Massachusetts Book Awards, which makes them both finalists for the award. Congrats, Max & Madeline!

You can also follow some of the Substraters on twitter:
alanajoli: (mini me)
It used to be that on Tuesdays, I'd open my LJ feed and get bombarded with teasers from the various authors I followed. I don't know that Teaser Tuesday is still a thing, but after chatting with the other Substraters, we decided we'd promote that old tradition with our own Tuesday Tidbits. Each Tuesday (we hope!), we'll be posting a tidbit over at the Substrate blog from our various works. This week, Vlad Barash kicks us off with an excerpt from his current WIP, LukOL. I hope you'll check it out, and if you're not already subscribed to our feed on LJ, you can do that here.

Other folks are also making new appearances online -- I just discovered that Baeg Tobar writer friend Daniel Tyler Gooden has a facebook page for his writing. He's currently promoting his recent self-published novel, Cinnamon, Cayenne, and Fire.



My PW editor for SFF reviews, Rose Fox, who blogs over at Genreville, is soon to be editing a Kickstarted anthology, Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. They've just hit a stretch goal that will be opening them to more submissions, and if they hit the next stretch goal ($9000 away with 12 days left), they'll be increasing the art to go in the anthology. I'm very excited about this book, and I hope that more folks will consider contributing, especially if you appreciate multicultural speculative fiction.

Clearly I'm promoting more Kickstarters than I used to -- what Kickstarter projects do you think deserve some extra love?
alanajoli: (Default)
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (or at least a life that was far, far different), Nat Rowe introduced me to a lot of writer types he'd gone to Yale with. Not to be outdone, I sought out some writer types from Simon's Rock, and [livejournal.com profile] notadoor/S. K. Gilman and I joined the throng of Yalies to create a very awesome and fun crit group that hasn't met in far too long.

Or, rather, that I haven't attended in person in far too long. Almost everyone in the group relocated to Boston area, leaving those of us in Connecticut and New York to our remote attendances when possible. (That's me and Thomas Scofield, for what it's worth.)

But I have been thinking about Substrate quite a lot lately, in part because I got a fantastic rejection letter (I say this without a trace of sarcasm -- it was a full on critique from the editors) from Tor.com. I'll be giving the piece I submitted another look with the help of the Substraters, and will see if I can't find a good home for it once I've applied some additional feedback to it.

The other thing that has me thinking about Substrate is, of course, Max Gladstone's release of his debut novel Three Parts Dead, which I cannot rave about enough. I loved it as a manuscript, and the physical book is a beautiful product that is even nice to hold (as you can see I'm enjoying doing in the photo below).

My first print run copy of Max's book!

So in honor of Max's publication, I cleaned up the old Substrate group blog, which had apparently been hacked by a Polish blogger. I'll be posting news about Max and other Substraters (as we have news to share) over at that blog, which does have a livejournal feed. You can follow us here at livejournal or over at Virgil & Beatrice.

And if you're in Bethesda, MD on Monday, you can catch Max at the Barnes & Noble doing a signing. More detail's on Max's page.
alanajoli: (Default)
Last weekend, Substrate got together -- mostly in Boston area, but a few of us stragglers couldn't get to the physical location. We logged onto Skype, our usual long-distance communication technique, and realized that with two of us off site, we couldn't all have video.

Enter Google.

The new Hangout feature on Google+ allows for unlimited (as far as I know) video connections on the same feed. And so, Substrate gathered, to me all on one screen, and we discussed a role playing setting and two short stories (one of which was mine), much to the benefit of those of us who had pieces critiqued. It was great to get the gang back together (as Kermit says), and I'm excited to get to work revising "Good Company."

--

Super exciting good news since I last wrote: Haunted came in first in the Critters Writers Workshop Preditors and Editors Readers Poll!



We also got a very nice review from Dave over at Hellnotes.

I couldn't be more pleased with how well Haunted, is doing, and I hope those of you who have picked it up have enjoyed it!
alanajoli: (cowboys and aliens)
I am apparently not terribly inspired with thoughty* words lately, but other people are saying interesting things, and you should read them.

  • I'm pretty sure I've raved about [livejournal.com profile] jeff_duntemann's work here before -- I've certainly done so other places -- which falls all over SFF land (mostly SF, but at least one in the F side of the equation). Some of his favorite stories of mine are set in his Drumlin world, and are fantastic examples of space westerns -- which he was doing before it was cool. He writes a bit about subgenre splicing here (and even gives a short mention to Cowboys and Aliens).

  • Starting with my blog post last week about Castle, a very fun conversation started happening among members of Substrate about meta-fiction and interactive-fiction, continuing at Max Gladstone's blog and then over to substrater Vlad's page. They both provide examples of the kind of fictional-into-reality writing I was looking for, including the classic Borges on Borges piece. (You can follow Max at on the [livejournal.com profile] maxgladstone feed, and can apparently follow Vlad's comments, but not his blog, at [livejournal.com profile] vlad43210 -- once I get some problems with my account worked out, I'll be fixing that one.)

  • Last, it's goblin release day! [livejournal.com profile] jimhines has just released his first goblin e-book, Goblin Tales, in which Jig the Goblin and his Fire Spider make their triumphant return. I bought my copy form my nook, but it's available at Amazon too, with Kobo, iBooks, and Lulu soon to follow. [livejournal.com profile] sartorias gave it an excellent review, which would have spurred me on to buy it if I hadn't already intended to.


Not much cooking on the homefront, aside from doing research to try to solve this mystery, writing reviews, copyediting, and playing peek-a-boo.

--

*thoughty: a word meaning "thoughtful," stolen, not from Firefly like many of my pseudo-colloquial words, but from the Disney version of Robin Hood.
alanajoli: (lol deadlines)
I got next to nothing done that I'd had on my list to accomplish today.

In the plus column: Awesome substrate meeting! We talked about a new short story by Substrater Vlad -- he originally wrote it in Russian and submitted to us in English in synopsis form, which makes for a really engaging way to talk about a story! -- and discussed "Shotgun Wedding" (which I'll be making some edits to shortly, due to the good conversation) before I had to absent myself from Skype and do real-worldy things. (I missed the discussion on the first two chapters of [livejournal.com profile] lyster's new novel, which, like its predecessor, has the appearance of being absolutely fantastic.*)

Someone asked me to post about finding a writing group awhile back, and the truth is, I don't actually have really good advice. I fell into this one almost by chance -- Substrater Nat had an inkling about getting a group together when [livejournal.com profile] lyster got back from China and did most of the inviting of folks who, then, I didn't know well and had never read. I invited [livejournal.com profile] notadoor, who I'd met briefly at Simon's Rock when I'd gone back on TA prep for one of Mark Vecchio's study abroad courses, and who I'd gotten to know (and admire) via LJ. Most of us write, and are interested in, the same kind of fiction -- F/SF stuff, largely. We write in different areas of the genre, and we bring different opinions as readers to the table. And, this is kind of important -- we all seem to like each other. I don't know if that's critical for a writing group, but I've found it's really important for a gaming group, and I think the two are more similar than might seem obvious at first appearance.

But as far as writing itself goes, I wrote a few new sentences in a review that's due on Monday... Yeah, not exactly an inspiring total. On the other hand, Twostripe and I spent some time reading Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber (it's our family read aloud book right now -- we've done The Hobbit, Unseen Academicals, and, as you may recall, the last two books of "The Dark Is Rising" sequence since Bug was born. Picking grown-up books means that progress is sometimes quite slow. But we kept going ahead in Off Armageddon Reef after Bug fell asleep tonight. I'm hoping she won't notice.) Spending family time together, especially over a good book, was an excellent use of time, despite meaning that I didn't get to check anything off my to-do list.

Tomorrow is a Christmas pageant at church, which I'm excited about, and then perhaps I can be constructive in the afternoon. Here's crossing my fingers!

(Don't forget the Tarot / Greater Trumps contest! And keep getting ready for Alayna Williams on Friday!)

--

*For the record, I don't just build up the Substraters because they're my crit group. Anything that I mention thinking is awesome is because I think it is awesome. (And really, I know from awesome, so you should take my word for it.)
alanajoli: (Default)
Today's guest blog comes from fellow substrater, Thomas Scofield, who is launching an exciting new interactive fiction project this month. I corresponded with Thomas originally when friends introduced us for purposes of forming a writing group, but didn't meet him the first time until I showed up on his doorstep with [livejournal.com profile] lyster, driving home from ICon on Long Island (after the last ferry left me with a very long drive ahead of me, instead of the short jaunt back across the Sound), and said, "Um, hi. We sorta know each other. Can I crash with you?" (Thomas had been expecting [livejournal.com profile] lyster -- I, however, was a surprise.) Then, despite the late hour, we spent a few hours talking about literature, gaming, and all manner of interesting and engaging stuff. In short, I discovered something I'd suspected from his e-mails -- Thomas is an intelligent and generous man who as engaging a conversationalist as he is a writer.

This month, Thomas is launching Adrylle.com, which he talks about in the post below. Check out both Adrylle and Thomas's home page, where he has several ongoing serials and shorts posted.

--

a’drylle, v. – To slide or slip away. Source: The Oxford English Dictionary

I have a weakness for words, and have had for as long as I can remember. I’m particularly fond of odd, old, unusual or otherwise unused words. There’s something appealing to me about a word that’s been all but forgotten, like it’s a little secret that I and only a few others are party to. I like that. I like half-forgotten things. Mythic things. Because you can’t really be mythic if you’re remembered perfectly, can you? There’s always that element of mystery, or legend, of the unknown.

Or at least there is to me.

Adrylle is bound up in all of that. It’s a half-forgotten word that I’m using to describe a place made up of lost and forgotten things, people, places, ideas. At least, that is what it is on one level.

Adrylle.Com is, at the core, a hypertext adventure game, where you play the part of yourself, or a version of yourself, fallen through the cracks and forgotten. You find yourself in this new world of old and forgotten things, with its old secrets and new adventures. The world itself is made of words, right there on the computer screen, and a lot of those words describe (what will be) 120 in-game “locations,” like “The Darchives” (Dark-Archives) or “The Fairy Ring.”

Hidden throughout these locations (often in plain sight) are all sorts of standalone adventures, set in all sorts of worlds--be that the world of Adrylle or a world that exists only in that story. In the Darchives, for example, you can play out such stories as Rotmeo and Jujuliet (or, Romeo and Juliet and Zombies) or Titus Androidicus (a Bloody tale of Android vengeance). Or at least you will be able to play them out, when they are written and posted to the site.

There are secrets, too, hidden pages that you have to be clever enough or lucky enough to find. These hidden pages might have cyber-graffiti on them, from the winners of contests past, or secret little things, lost snapshots or fragments of text, maybe even pictures or other, stranger things in the future. We’re even working on a lay, the verses of which will be scattered across the site.

Right now it’s a labyrinthine and twisted labor of love. Of course, we’re all for sharing the geeky love, and there will be plenty of contests and prizes and giveaways linked to the site, its secrets and the stories embedded therein.

Right now, in fact, we’re running our first contest. The prize is a $500 gift card, which one lucky winner will be able to use to purchase a new eReader and a whole passle o’ eBooks to go with it. You can check that out here.

The whole labyrinthine mess can be found at http://www.adrylle.com.

Slip on over and visit us, sometime.
alanajoli: (mini me)
I meant to mention this earlier, but I am finally, finally starting to catch up with my reviews for Flames Rising, largely thanks to my Nook.* Matt posted my review of the Grants Pass post-apocalyptic anthology, edited by Jennifer Brozek, which you can read here. (Amanda Pillar, the in house editor, mentioned it in her livejournal.) There were quite a number of authors I've been meaning to read featured in the anthology, so it was a great way to be introduced to the fiction of Cherie Priest ([livejournal.com profile] cmpriest) and friend-of-the-blog Seanan McGuire ([livejournal.com profile] seanan_mcguire), both of whom I've been reading on LJ for ages but haven't actually read in the sphere of fiction. (Seanan's novel Rosemary and Rue is sitting prominently on my TBR pile; her piece in Grants Pass was probably my favorite in the whole collection.)

I've got some crit group pieces and three novels to review between PW and SLJ before the end of the month, then back to the FR pile!

*For this reason, I am probably going to keep it, by the way -- the reading experience is so much more pleasant for e-books and critique group manuscripts than the computer that I think I'm going to come out ahead by using it, even if I can't yet annotate the pieces I'd really like to annotate. I'm using the bookmark feature to get by for now, which hopefully will be enough to remind me about what it was I wanted to say on those pages. I'm crossing my fingers that they'll improve it in the future. In the mean time, since the majority of my e-books are in pdf or ePub format, it seems worth keeping rather than purchasing a Kindle, which can do the annotations now, since the conversion process there sounds, from the reviews, like a big ol' hassle (plus the hassle of exchanging items, waiting for a new device to arrive, etc., etc.).
alanajoli: (Default)
Wow, has it been that long?

Why yes, yes it has.

The holidays were fabulous around here -- lots of great time spent with family before the actual dates themselves and then lots of extra hours at work to cover the time I took off! We had some fun gaming in New York on the first with our characters from the 3.5 continuing Xen'drik Expeditions campaign (we couldn't just let it go when it stopped being an organized play game). Twostripe has ramped the karate schedule back up, and Bug is big enough in my belly now that I can feel her from the outside of my belly even when she's not moving. That, by the way, is wild. There's a little person in there! The editorial assistants are now eating grown up food ("We're not kittens any more, boss!"). And I've been copyediting, book reviewing, finishing up my Living Forgotten Realms Adventure (slot zeroes starting soon!), and doing reference writing -- my usual ridiculous pace of work. My big fun project for the weekend (besides crib shopping!) is creating a map of the kingdoms in Great Britain for the Viking Saga game. Since we're somewhere between 700 and 900-ish A.D., ambiguously, I have some great fun maps to play around with to help me decide. (New favorite resource: Anglo-Saxons.net.)

The other big news for the beginning of the year is that I've just gotten a Nook, and am in the testing phase to decide if I want to keep it. Much to my embarrassment (since I posted the assurances of a bookseller on several forums), the Nook does not, in fact, read .doc or .docx or .txt files, which was one of the primary convincing factors for getting it. (I had intended to use it primarily as a tool for 1) reading digital review books, and 2) keeping up with Substrate submissions.) The Nook does read pdfs natively, however, and there are plenty of free programs to convert files from Word to pdf. Next hurdle? It doesn't annotate pdfs yet (actually, it might -- there are differing reports from users on this, and I need to play around with it more; B&N just says it doesn't support the feature as yet). That's a hurdle for me, since I want to be able to annotate Substrate pieces to remember what my thoughts were while reading -- and want to be able to have other people do the same for me. (Twostripe has not yet given much response to my thought that he could, perhaps, read drafts of my manuscripts more easily on an e-book reader this way; he is a print guy.)

The reading function, however, works beautifully. I've had an overdue review for Flames Rising since, what, August? The book came to me as an e-book, and despite reading the first twenty-odd pages on my computer screen, and then printing it out to three-ring-binder in hopes that I'd actually read it in print, I hadn't managed to actually read the thing. With an e-reader, though the formatting is still a little wonky (the pages are about a screen-and-a-half, so every other "page-turn" is only a small portion of the screen), it's been a much easier read to digest. It's a short story anthology, and in the last two days, I've read the various introductions (there are three -- two nonfiction and one fictional) and three short stories (including the first actual fiction I've ready by Cherie Priest of Team Seattle, who I've been meaning to read for ages), which amounts to nearly a third of the book.

The Nook is easy to use, loads fast enough that I don't feel like I'm waiting, has decent wallpaper installed for when you put it to sleep (they recommend never turning it off), and seems like a pretty straightforward device. I'm enjoying the e-book reading experience far more here than either on computer screen or printed from a three ring binder, so it's a major coup in that regard (though whether it's better than any other e-book reader, I couldn't say). Since reading e-books for review was half of the point of buying it, I'm satisfied on that score. I'm still playing with the annotation function to see if I can make it work for the rest of what I need it for -- which will impact my final decision on whether I remain an e-book reader owner, wait for a model that does everything I want it to (the Kindle has a lot of the functionality I'm looking for, but doesn't natively read ePubs, and the conversion process for that sounds like a bigger hassle than .doc to pdf), or decide to purchase another of the devices on the market (despite what their flaws might be). In the mean time, I'm having a fun reading experience and generally enjoying using it, so I have no doubt I'll be an e-book reader owner in the future, if I don't end up keeping my Nook this time around.
alanajoli: (cowboys and aliens - daiyu)
I had an absolutely fabulous time at Anonycon this weekend! I got to play games with several gamer friends and substraters: I was a student at a special school reminiscent of PS 238 (the superhero kids comic by Aaron Williams), Emily Post (yes, Miss Manners edit: apparently Miss Manners was Judith Martin, who wrote in the 1970s, not, in fact, Emily Post, who wrote Etiquette [via [livejournal.com profile] holmes_iv]) in a horror game, and an epic level paladin in a 4e game. [livejournal.com profile] banana_pants puts on a heck of a party!

Now I'm getting back to my regular schedule, finishing up a review for PW today and working on obituary writing and coding the autobiographical essays this week. Just a few thoughts in the meantime.

Paul Green interviewed me and Jeremy Mohler about Cowboys and Aliens II on Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns. Pop by and see what we have to say (and what we're hoping for the future!)

As the Mystery Writers of America delisted Harlequin due to their new "self-publishing" (in actuality, vanity press) arm, the debate about whether Harlequin is in the right is still going on across the Web. (The RWA and SFWA have also spoken out about Harlequin's new "imprint.") I would hope that people who read this blog know I'm in favor of self-publishing, and that I think there are great scenarios where it's the best venue for the work. [livejournal.com profile] jeff_duntemann is, to me, one of the most sensible people on this topic, and I very much admire the work he's done through Lulu.com. [livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf has done great work in both self-publishing and small press. Self-publishing makes it possible to market your own work when traditional publishing isn't working for you (for whatever reason).

Edit: Jeff commented below: "Your readers should understand that I've been as successful as I have as a self-publisher largely because I've worked in publishing since 1985 and did quite well at it, both on-staff for other companies and in command of my own. Now, in (slightly) early retirement, I have the time to pursue it with the energy that it requires. It's a lot tougher being a writer AND and a publisher AND a worker at a day job." He's right -- I probably should have mentioned that to provide the context. If I ever have questions about self-publishing, he's my first go-to person. :)

Vanity publishing is an entirely different creature. As Jackie Kessler wrote on her blog:

  • Self-publishing: author keeps all the money after paying expenses.

  • Vanity publishing: publisher keeps majority of the money and the writer pays all the expenses.


Given the information available online about what the new Harlequin imprint's process will be, I'm astonished by how many supporters it has. There are a lot of people reacting to the PW articles defending Harlequin as forward thinking and showing their willingness to try something different from traditional publishing. The thing is, vanity publishing is not new -- and a big, respectable house like Harlequin offering expensive packages to would-be and rejected authors while dangling the carrot that if their book sells well, they might bring it over into a regular Harlequin imprint seems unethical at best.

I do see that some of the publishing services that I respect, like Lulu.com and CreateSpace (with which I'm less familiar), also offer packages that would make me dubious, rather than the free option (which is the one I associate with the companies) where they just take the cost portion of the proceeds from each sale. I think I agree with Victoria at Writer Beware that one of the qualifiers of self-publishing is that you own your own ISBN. Short of owning your own POD press, however, Lulu.com and CreateSpace seem like the best options out there for DIY publishing. A company that's going to take your money for the same services a traditional publisher would front for you strikes me as taking the vanity press option, and it's a move that I'm sorry to see Harlequin making.
alanajoli: (Taru)
I've been meaning to update my page for awhile, and it occurred to me today that there wasn't a way to contact me through the site, so all I was going to do was add that page and be done with it. There are galleys to proof, gosh darn it!

A few hours later, and the page is fully up to date. I'm quite pleased with it (despite that not having been on my list of things to do today). The Substrate blog is now linked to the front page, which means we really should get cracking keeping it updated! I hope you'll pop by and check out the site (and tell me if I accidentally broke anything while updating -- I am not an html magician, despite the Taru icon for today's entry).

In additional good news, the FTC announced that they didn't really mean book bloggers when they were talking about their new requirements. I think I'll stick with the safe side (and hey, I don't care if you guys know I got an ARC or won a contest or however I got my books).
alanajoli: (Default)
Egads, has it been so long? I had company all last week (delightful company -- my parents came to visit from Michigan!) which meant my internet time was somewhat limited, as we were busy spending time in each others' company. Sadly, we did not get a chance to play bridge, but that can wait until the next time.

First order of business: [livejournal.com profile] cinda_cite, you have won the book & CD combo! Congrats. I hope you enjoy Common Shiner. :) I'll talk more about my own thoughts on music and myth later in the week.

In the mean time, some important things happened in the publishing world this week:


  • Most importantly, Genreville, the Publishers Weekly blog on science fiction, fantasy, and horror, has relaunched! Their first post is a contest for a John Scalzi ARC, so get over there and say hello. (You can also find them on twitter @Genreville.)

  • You must have heard it by now, because it's all over the news: Disney bought Marvel. I have no pithy commentary to add at this time (especially since Jeph Jacques ([livejournal.com profile] qcjeph) of Questionable Content already took the cake with his twitter feed, @jephjacques, which is NSFW).

  • One of my fellow substrate members relaunched his two websites today: ThomasScofield.com and Nursery Tymes. He also shared a great blog entry about what your job is as a writer, from the blog of James Scott Bell. All are worth a look.



In slightly more self-centered news, I got asked by a fellow alum of Simon's Rock if I'd sign a copy of Into the Reach for his daughter. They'd made a bet of some kind, and her reward was that he'd buy her a book and get it signed by the author for her. She must have won, because she got the book (and enjoyed it!), and it'll soon be on its way for me to sign it and send it back. :) That definitely made my day.
alanajoli: (Default)
One quick and important news announcement: Ransom: The Anthology is going out of print at the end of the month. Edited by Dylan Birtolo ([livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf), the collection features my short story, "Don't Let Go," (which has, in short form, part of my treatise about religion, folk tales, and fairy tales), as well as a host of excellent stories by other authors. Get it before it can no longer be gotten!

It's been a slow week here at the blog, in part because I've been wrapped up in spending time away from the computer, relaxing. (That, in part, has been due to our air conditioner existing only upstairs, coupled with my reluctance to have a warm laptop on my lap.) In the meantime, I've been catching up on review books and library books I'm supposed to have finished and have fallen a bit behind on my own fiction writing -- some of which was supposed to be turned in to my crit group yesterday. (Luckily for me, the other two substraters with the same deadline also neglected to turn in their work, so I'm in good company.)

At any rate, while going through my library books, I picked up Everyday Immortality: A Concise Course in Spiritual Transformation, which I'd picked up off the shelf in the comparative religion section (Dewey: 204.2) and thought might hold some interesting thoughts for excerpting. Little did I know that it's similar, in some ways, to a Christian devotional book. The devotional readings I've done have primarily been short essays, or excerpts from the works of Christian scholars, coupled with Bible verses they illuminate. They're meant to provoke thought and consideration.

In Chopra's book, the intent is the same, but the method is different. On each page, he offers a sutra or koan, one simple sentence jam packed with possible meaning. He recommends meditating for five to ten minutes, reading a passage, then meditating on it thereafter. If it immediately makes intuitive sense, move onto the next sentence. Instead of being guided by an accompanying message, the sentences themselves are the message -- as is what the reader brings to them.

Chopra is a big proponent of what he calls the quantum mechanical body, and he relates new discoveries in science to a higher way of understanding the world. So, without further ado, a few sentences as thoughts for the day. (This guest blog excerpt is necessarily short, due to the nature of the book being excerpted.)

--

Subatomic particles are not material things; they are fluctuations of energy and information in a huge void.

Subatomic particles flicker in and out of existence depending on whether I am watching them or not.

Before my decision to observe them, subatomic particles are probability amplitudes of mathematical ghosts in a field of infinite possibilities.

When I make the choice to observe the subatomic world of mathematical ghosts, the ghosts freeze into space-time events or particles that ultimately manifest as matter.

My physical body and the body of the physical universe are both proportionately as void as intergalactic space.

The essential nature of my material body and that of the solid-appearing universe is that they are both nonmaterial. They are made up of non-stuff.
alanajoli: (Default)
So many book birthdays today!

Welcome to the world, Thorn Queen by [livejournal.com profile] blue_succubus; The Eternal Kiss, featuring a short story by [livejournal.com profile] kazdreamer; My Soul to Take, [livejournal.com profile] rkvincent's first YA novel; Destined for an Early Grave, the fourth installment of [livejournal.com profile] frost_light's Night Huntress series; and Demon Inside by [livejournal.com profile] stacia_kane, who is a guest today over at Bitten by Books. Whew!

One of the cool things about book birthdays is that you notice which authors you're following are also following authors you're following. Meaning: [livejournal.com profile] ilona_andrews retweeted [livejournal.com profile] rkvincent's post about the releases from [livejournal.com profile] frost_light and Jenna Black (who I'm not yet following; I've got one of her books on my desk, borrowed from a friend, but haven't had a chance to read her yet). Chandra Rooney blogged about [livejournal.com profile] kazdreamer. [livejournal.com profile] blue_succubus is showing up all over the twitterverse today, in no small part through the retweets of Team Seattle. Watching this kind of connectivity in the writing community is fascinating, and it's one of the things I love about the way the Internet is changing the way writers interact -- with each other, and with their fans.

But what's even better than online interactions among writers is, to me, the classic -- the good ol' writing group. Substrate met this past Sunday: four writers in my living room, plus one significant other/first reader, plus one writer joining us via Skype from his summer location of California. We looked over three pieces, a short story, a full novel (the first we've had submitted to Substrate), and three new chapters of a novel we've been getting in pieces. I didn't have anything this go round -- I've been having enough trouble keeping up with my deadlines -- but reading and discussing other people's work makes my writerly brain function *better.*

I'm really looking forward to the day when I can celebrate some Substrate book birthdays.
alanajoli: (lol deadlines)
... and so I'm not here, but I did quickly post to the Substrate blog today.
alanajoli: (nap)
I got back yesterday from a wonderful, busy, and very full weekend in Chicago. It went by far too quickly, and my next trip to Chicago will definitely have to be a longer one, so I can not only fit everything in, but also say hi to the folks who live there who I didn't have time to get in touch with this trip. Highlights of the weekend include taking the tall ship Windy out on the water (I got to help hoist the main sail), touring Chicago's Sky Chapel, going to a Common Shiner concert, and generally spending time with my sister, who I hadn't seen in ages. Full weekend, lots of fun, and I'm still a little exhausted and recovering.

While I was away, the intrepid writers in my critique group, Substrate, started our new group blog. What does Substrate mean? Check out Max Gladstone's first entry at the Substrate blog. (Max also did a nice short post on his home blog about us.) Please, stop by, say hello, and generally, check us out! (As Strong Bad would say, "No, really... check us out!")

Now off to catch up on a deadline that got moved ahead in my schedule...
alanajoli: (Default)
I love traveling. I enjoy being in new places and seeing new people (or going to old places and seeing familiar people). Changes of scenery are largely good. But even I have limits, it seems, and I apparently hit them over the weekend. Allow me to paint you a map:

Thursday: Branford to Great Barrington to Branford.
Friday: Branford to Long Island (via ferry) to Brooklyn.
Saturday: Brooklyn to Branford.
Sunday: Branford to Cambridge to Somerville to Branford.

This, my friends, is a lot of time in a car, and not a lot of time being stationery.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a really excellent time with the students at Simon's Rock on Thursday. The myth conversations that started Thursday managed to continue on through the weekend (largely with [livejournal.com profile] banana_pants and [livejournal.com profile] lyster, who were kind enough to both listen to my myth geekery and contribute their own right back). [livejournal.com profile] banana_pants and I traveled down to Long Island together on Friday to go to I-Con, the science fiction convention that's usually at Stony Brook, but moved this year to be at three locations. The trip down was fine (although rainy), and the mist covering the island when we got there totally gelled with the stories I'd been telling about Manannan and the Isle of Man. (Having to wait an hour and a half in the mist before I could pick up my pre-registered badge was not the height of fun for my weekend, but [livejournal.com profile] banana_pants kept me company, and we met up with [livejournal.com profile] lyster in line, so the company was excellent. We also had a great time enjoying the parade of costumes and watching Yoshi give Yoshi-back rides to anime characters and other video game stars, including Wario, without prejudice.)

The point of going down to I-Con for me was in part to meet up with the Browncoats of NYC, with whom I've corresponded but not met in person, and largely to see editor Jamie Chambers, who I worked with on Serenity Adventures. Jamie, Cam Banks (also from Margaret Weis Productions), [livejournal.com profile] lyster, [livejournal.com profile] banana_pants, and I all went out to dinner and talked shop, then headed back over to one of the convention hotels and chatted with a bunch of industry folks before [livejournal.com profile] lyster and I headed off to Brooklyn to stay with friends (including a fellow Substrater). Jamie not only filled us in on a lot of cool projects that are upcoming, but introduced us to some folks who have also worked with MWP and White Wolf. (He also got a bit into the myth geek chatter with us; who knew he'd actually written his thesis in college about mythology? There are an awful lot of us myth geeks in gaming...)

Saturday was a short recovery day -- I had work at the library -- before we headed out on Sunday for Mythic Greece, in which our heroes finished their first major quest, delivering little Odysseus to Chiron for study. Now they've been cut loose from their first mission, given to them by the Oracle at Delphi -- only the Fates know what they'll be up to next.

At any rate, I'm mostly recovered now from all the travel and I even turned in some work early for one of my deadlines, so things are pretty well right with the world. How were your weekends?
alanajoli: (british mythology)
This may seem a complete tangent from my last post (and it sort of is), but it's come up several times in conversation recently, and I suspect it has to do a bit with training your thinking, so it's vaguely relevant. One of the things I have trouble with as a writer and as a freelancer is self-motivation. People who work for themselves have to be very self-motivated in order to accomplish anything, and figuring out how to find that motivation and drive can be a struggle. I suspect that anyone who works alone has to deal with the same thing, as humans need interaction (we're social creatures) to keep our spirits (and thus our motivation) at high levels. We have to train ourselves to find motivation in unexpected places, since the usual community routes aren't open to us.

One of the ways I'm finding compelling recently is having the benefit of mutual admiration. I've spread out my writing projects among a bunch of different people and groups, so I'm not hitting up the same folks for motivation all the time. In addition, I'm surrounding myself with people who are, in short, brilliant. An old saying (or at least a repeated one here) is that "excellence recognizes brilliance." I've long known that while I'm pretty good at a pretty wide variety of things, I'm rarely the best at any of it. (Some of this comes from being related to extremely talented people and surrounding myself with incredibly smart friends --and vice versa.) I strive for excellence, but really appreciate it when the brilliant folks show up in my life -- and better yet, are interested in the stuff that I'm doing. There are few things so satisfying as having someone who you admire creatively asking for more of what you're up to.

Today was a great day for remembering this. Not only do I have an e-mail from one of the Substraters in my inbox, asking when he'll get to see some more of the new super-secret (super-drafty) new novel that may or may not become anything more than a first chapter, but I was up visiting students at Simon's Rock. The purpose of the trip was to become acquainted with the students who will be going to England in May, but it also served as a brain refresher. The myth students are usually a clever bunch, and this group is no exception. The ideas they were throwing around -- and catching, and tossing back -- were just delightful to witness. (The discussion was of Barfield's Saving the Appearances, and the refresher on those ideas was also a motivator for me to get back to Breakfast with Barfield -- and then move onto the Mabinogion, so I can keep up when we're abroad.) After class, I spent some time with the students I've traveled with before, just chatting and catching up, and then went out to dinner with Mark Vecchio. All in all, it was a wonderful day of feeling appreciated by people who amaze and challenge me, and that's just the sort of day that can fuel my motivation for a long time to come.

Perhaps tomorrow, I'll even get back on track with guest blogs and posting here more regularly. But I'm off to ICon on Long Island tomorrow, and up to Boston for Mythic Greece on Sunday, so my best intentions may have to wait 'til next week.

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Alana Joli Abbott

July 2017

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