April 25th, 2006

smirking-winslet

Isn't It Loverly?

Not to get into any details, but I had a somewhat surreal experience this weekend. Checking my e-mail on my HP iPaq 4705 PDA in the wee hours of just past midnight Sunday morning, I was one of several people addressed by an e-mail from the other side of the world in Cambodia, asking for information on a person in Chicago whose phone was apparently disconnected. I wrote back and said we hadn't been in contact for about two weeks, then brainstormed and send a message to friends in Wisconsin, who replied in the morning about what they knew, and forwarded the missing person's work number. Still have to find out all of what happened, but apparently forgetting to pay a phone bill was involved, regarding the disconnection.

But sitting in the dark of my living room, with the soft backlight glow of my HP PDA, connecting via 802.11b Wi-Fi to a base station hooked up to a DSL modem and thence to the Internet... Connectivity is a strange and wonderful thing. When it works, of course.

Out, Out! Damned Light!

The SES (Service Engine Soon) light on the "new" 1996 teal Blazer finally went out after about half a tank of premium. Whew. It's not so bad, I've fed all my vehicles premium to get rid of knocking, since I consider 87 octane "regular" gas to be substandard. I was just trying to be cheap on the new Blazer, but even its manual warns that 87 octane is an absolute minimum... plus the SES light subsystem is real big on responding to knocking and pre-knocking conditions.

Okay. Gas is "only" three dollars a gallon plus anyway... (double-taxed-grin)

And A Referral

If you aren't reading the online Internet Review of Science Fiction, then you should check it out. You have to subscribe, and it used to be free -- might still be to new subscribers. The current issue, a combined April/May, just came out and there's a number of nice articles. I particularly like the one about Cold War movies and a generation which has grown up without the Cold War, plus commentary on two of my favorites: Dr. Strangelove and Colossus: The Forbin Project. The latter was wonderful and scary when I saw it on TV in the 70s, but some of my current students don't figure those in charge would be that stupid... (au contraire mon ami grin)

There's also a nice piece on SF awards they'd like to see. (more grins)

Later,

Dr. Phil
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    amused amused
smirking-winslet

Blogs O' Writing

One theme that comes up again and again on my blog and many of the ones I regularly read has to do with cites to other blogs. This is not just idle churning of URLs and empty blog-o-referencing. Since one of my concerns is in writing SF "for fun and profit", then I can use my blog for the greater good of humanity by spreading the word about other interesting bits. Or rather I can write a blog entry which (a) I can use and (b) my 2004 Clarion friends can use -- if anyone else stumbles by and finds any of this useful... bonus!

For the cynical amongst you -- and we know who you are (grin) -- all these writers blogs, editor blogs and agent blogs are just a bunch of marketing and posturing and positioning. Sure Jeff Ford's blog 14theditch touts all his stories and books and reviews and appearances -- because a lot of the people reading Jeff Ford's blog like Jeff Ford and/or like his writing, so this is informative. Fact is, being a successful SF and Fantasy writer takes a certain amount of self-promotion and a blog is an effective informal way of accomplishing that, with a minimum of overhead. So there's plenty of time to be cynical about things later.

douglascohen is the assistant editor of Realms of Fantasy and for example writes on the slush sifting process. John Joseph Adams, a.k.a. The Slush God, is the assistant editor at The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and gives a link to Jenny Rappaport's new blog on agents.

Are all these people just flogging for business? No. They're trying to get some information out into the world, along with many others, so that new SF&F writers can figure out what the hell's going on in the business. And what mistakes to avoid and who to contact, etc. I've made close to a hundred submissions so far, but sometimes it's hard to remember how difficult putting that first submission into an envelope and sending it out in the great void really was. And not quite knowing what "the rules" were, even though I'd spent some time reading up on the whole SF writing business ahead of time.

Be as cynical as you want, but I've met some editors and pro writers and slush editors -- and they all want you to succeed. They want you to do a good job. If we joke about the red line of death -- the mythical DO NOT CROSS line that an editor would draw past which they've stopped reading your manuscript, it's because they don't have to read the whole story to know whether someone is a writer or not. Whether it's worth working with someone. Whether a particular story happens to fit a particular issue of a magazine. In other words, whether they're going to buy it, or at least pass it up the food chain to someone who can make a decision.

They say you need to "know your markets" before submitting, but "markets", whether magazines, e-sites or publishing houses, are run by people. And so you need to know something about the people who are running the markets.

At least I find it useful and interesting.

Dr. Phil
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    accomplished accomplished