Tag Archive for Linkfest

Top Ten Posts on Man vs. Bear in 2013

Last year, when accurate visitor data was still a shiny new concept around these parts, I went and looked at the posts that had achieved the most visitors over 2012. It proved to be an interesting exercise, so this year I’m expanding it to look at the top ten.

In order of visits, the most popular parts of the archive were:

1. Why I Have Problems with the Big Bang Theory

2. 13 Things Learned About Superhero Games After Running 30 Sessions of Mutants and Masterminds

3. Why Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ Can Be Dangerous to New Writers

4. What Writers Ought to Know About Die Hard, Part Two

5. What Writers Oughtt to Know About Die Hard, Part One

6. Seven Notes on a Lover’s Discourse While Halfway Through the Book

7. Sri Lankan Love Cake FTW

8. 10 Thoughts on Shame and Writing

9. Running a Villain Audit

10. GenreCon 2013: The Aftermath

It’s interesting to note that both the first two spots are consistent with last year, but not a huge surprise. For one thing, a crazy amount of traffic comes to this site following searches for Big Bang Theory and related terms. For another thing, the post about superhero gaming got a lot of eyeballs when it first got posted, and people still link to it occasionally (we’re coming up on the 60th session of our Mutants and Masterminds campaign in a few weeks, which probably means I’ll do another post in this line to celebrate it).

The weird part about doing this is seeing exactly what it is that gains traction. The Die Hard posts I pretty much expected to get a bunch of links, and they did, even though I ended up getting distracted by other things halfway through the series (part three is still waiting for me to go and re-watch the film so I can enter time codes); the response to the Steven King rant wasn’t entirely unexpected either, but seeing the Writing and Shame post on the list is a pleasant surprise given that I went back-and-forth on both writing and posting that one.

Number 7 is just a reminder that I owe the internet a long overdue dance video. I’ve got no excuse for this one, beyond 2013 being way busier than expected and my original plan for recording things wasn’t altogether feasible. I think my coworkers have set up plans to ensure that it happens over the coming weeks, which will mean we can get a slightly better quality video of my embarrassment due to their superior equipment.

And with that, it’s time to start looking forward, and thinking about what I’ll be blogging about in 2014.

Top Five of 2012

So I was checking out some of the site stats last night – something I rarely do here on my personal site – and spent some quality time looking at the data. Since I’m off at write-club today, trying to catch up after a slow weekend of writing, I’m going to take advantage of the data and the changing-of-the-year feel to showcase the most visited posts here on Petermball.com in 2012.

Number One: 13 Things Learned About Superhero Games After Running 30 Sessions of Mutants and Masterminds

Number Two: Why I Have Problems With the Big Bang Theory

I have to admit, the order of these two surprises me. I know a lot of people found their way here when I posted about my M&M campaign for the first time, largely courtesy of the link showing up on a bunch of gaming message boards. It represented probably the single-biggest spike in traffic I’ve ever had, and under any normal circumstances, I probably should have assumed it’d have a lock on the most-visited spot.

And yet…

I posted my concerns about the BBT back in March of 2011, and there isn’t a day goes by when *someone* doesn’t find their way here after searching for Big Bang Theory information (usually, for whatever reason, about the sexuality of the actors or some combination of are character X and character Y fucking; I imagine both sets of searchers are disappointed by the blog post they find). Had I been a bit more aware of the data tracking ’round these parts prior to this, I could probably tell you with some certainty that it’s the most popular blog post I’ve ever written and back it up with stats. Instead I just have to assume it.

In the number three slot: Pledging My Allegiance to the Fake Geek Army

Honestly, not a huge surprise. I don’t blog about gender issues all that often, but when I do, it generally accumulates some links and a spike in traffic.

Number four: Things I would do if I were planning on becoming an indie publisher…

For the record: I’m still not planning on becoming an indie publisher. Although I’ll let you in on a secret – I actually would have put all this into action, had I suddenly found myself unemployed at the end of 2012. There was a lot of turmoil at the day-job in 2012 and I put this together as a just-in-case, should the worse case scenario eventuate. I figured I could live on saving for about six months while I found my groove, then I’d look for some shitty part-time job while I looked at the data and worked out what needed to happen next.

Weird part is, I don’t really remember that many people linking to this one. It just seems to have crept up into the forth-place spot, all ninja-like.

And tied in the fifth-place spot

5 Short Story Recommendations in 1,012 Words or Less

Everything I know About Plot in 1,069 Words or Less

Seems I went through a phase with that words or less approach to a  title. Trust me when I say it’s coming back in 2013.

Trust me, also, that you’ve all just encouraged me to post about writing and things worth reading a lot more this year as well.


Makin’ a Racket

I’ve been worrying my flatmate recently, ’cause I seem to have developed a jaunty whistle of late. This is not, as a general rule, the sort of thing that happens around our house, least of all to me.

‘Course, historically speaking, this isn’t actually true. I spend a great deal of my day with little fragments of music running through my head. I always have, one way or another, and I’ve always been fond of having music on while I work. What’s really happened is that I’ve inherited my sister’s stereo with it’s five-CD turntable and I’ve moved it out of my bedroom and into the study where I write, surf the internet, and occasionally play computer games.

Up until this point, all my music had to run on either Fritz the Laptop (which meant he couldn’t do anything else) or play on the DVD player attached to my TV. Neither of these have been particularly optimal, so my music listening gradually whittled down to playing things in my car and listening to the same Dresden Doll’s live DVD while I cleaned the old apartment. Even upgrading laptops to Shifty Silas didn’t help much – he could play audio at the same time as word-processing, but his speakers were…well, lets just say they weren’t designed with audio in mind.

So, there’s suddenly a stereo I can pack with music that floats around the space I spend most of my non-day-job waking hours. Net result: I’ve listened to a lot more music in the last two weeks than I have in the previous two years.

And it’s been freakin’ GLORIOUS.

I’ve largely celebrated this by listening to a stream of classics from the eighties and nineties. If you’re wondering what the interior of my head sounds like this week, it can be captured by the following three youtube clips:

It must be said, all three of these songs benefit greatly from volume. It’s eleven-thirty as I type this, which means I don’t have the freedom to crank the stereo the levels all three songs demand, but you can be sure I’ll rectify that the moment I’m left in the house alone.

It must also be said that I’m a man singularly lacking in musical taste and class, but I’ve had years to get used to that.

Busy Today

GenreCon looms like a big, awesome loomy thing, which means I’m alternating between YO, I’M CRAZY BUSY DUDES and flaking out on the couch in front of wrestling DVDS. In deference to my current state, I’m going to skip today’s post and point towards an awesome thing on the internet:


About four months ago my flatmate wandered past and said words to the effect of “Hank, The Vlog Brother who isn’t not John Green, is doing a youtube recreation of Pride and Prejudice. You should really check it out.” Given that the last time he said this it led me to John Green’s Swindowntown Swiddleypoopers youtube videos, I flagged it as one of those things I should follow up on and immediately forgot about.

Which is, like, utter damn stupid of me. ‘Cause, a) I really like Pride and Prejudice, b) I really like smart adaptations, and c) I’m fascinated by people doing smart things that play to the internet’s strength. The series is three for three on that respect, so it was really something I should have started watching right damn then.

Eventually I did get my act together and check out the first episode, which immediately meant I spent the next two hours watching every episode currently available (which was a lot) and subscribing to the youtube channel (currently the only channel I actually subscribe too). The Lizzie Bennett diaries are many, many kinds of awesome and I encourage you to check ’em out. The first episode is here:

And you can check out the rest on the Lizzie Bennett youtube channel.


12 Things

We’re mid-way through a long weekend here in Oz. This still catches me off-guard, since I’ve spent the majority of my adult life not really paying attention to long weekends, but the acquisition of a dayjob changes your relationship to such things. And so we’ve hit Sunday and I’m mooching around the new house, grooving to a mix of the Hilltop Hoods and the Beastie Boys (RIP, MCA), just kinda…randomly getting things together.

And so, in that spirit, a random grab-bag of twelve things I felt like mentioning.


So my flatmate bought a new home and we moved into it. Most of the last two weeks has been spent getting stuff there, unpacking it, figuring out where it will live for the foreseeable future, and generally waiting for the internet to be turned on.

You know, moving stuff.

There’s a part of me that wants to just kick back and say “yup, we’re done now,” ’cause we’ve basically moved enough that it feels like we’ve moved in and can live a functional life. The truth is there are still all those odds and ends that need to be fixed up, and the room containing my computer/files/desks is littered with boxes of files that should probably be put into the filing cabinet, just as the bedroom closet looks more like a place to store half-full boxes of clothing rather than a bedroom closet.

Although, to be fair, you should see the closet. For a single bloke who owns three pairs of jeans, three jackets, and a seemingly endless supply of t-shirts, it’s one of those spaces that feels slightly epic and impossible to fill.


I’ve never really been big on Hemmingway as a writer. I’ve known people who adored him, but I always leant towards F. Scott. Fitzgerrald as my writer of choice for that particular era of American letters. I mean, seriously, The Great Gatsby. It has its issues as a book, just as Fitzgerald has his issues as a person, but there is something about the sheer amount that book packs into approximately 50,000 words that makes me look at 100k novels and think, really? This is our standard length? Did we miss the levels of awesome that could be achieved at half that?

But we were talking about Hemmingway, who I seem to have started reading in earnest for the first time since I was…shit, eighteen? Nineteen? A really long time. It’s the net result of watching Midnight in Paris, in which Hemmingway shows up as a character, and I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for the reflection of Hemmingway that’s thrown up as a social construct. He’s just such an unremitting bastard, capable of throwing out these moments of sparse beauty, yet so…self-loathing? Or a kind of loathing far more external than that?

In any case, I picked up a small book of writing advice that’s been curated from Hemmingway’s letters and articles, and it’s full of these moments that are both beautiful and angry. My favourite, thus far, is this:

“F. Scott Fitzgerald’s talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly’s wings. At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred. Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and of their construction and he learned to think and he could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it had been effortless.” (From A Moveable Feast)

There’s a part of me that thinks, well, yes, that. There is another part of me that thinks, really, Hemmingway? Just ’cause you say it pretty, it doesn’t mean you aren’t a dick.


These showed up my PO Box earlier this week

It’s shiny, in both the metaphorical sense and the literal sense, and the print edition is due out in Mid-June, which means this is one of those rare occasions where I’ve received contributor copies before the book goes on sale.


So as part of my dayjob I curate a bunch of writing and publishing links every Friday for the Speakeasy blog. I have to admit, it’s one of my favourite parts of the dayjob, since it means the vast majority of the stuff that I’m reading on the internet anyway now becomes part of my working day. And since I figure there are probably a couple of writer-types reading this who may be interested, I figured I’d point the way in case you’re inclined to check it out.


One of the random things I’m doing this week? Putting together a new writing plan.

Someone asked me the question “how many stories do you submit a year” at work on Friday. It freaked me out a little, ’cause once upon a time there would have been a pretty steady answer to that, and now there is not. I’ve been living without a writing plan for months now (and, effectively, since life went kaboom back in November of 2010). I have grown weary of the uncertainty, and I figure I’m staying in place for the next twelve months, so I’m going to spend a few hours this evening putting together a plan that’ll allow me to…well, get stuff done.

The problem with writing plans is…well, me. I over-estimate my own abilities a lot, particularly after I’ve let writing lie fallow for a stretch, and it often results in plans where I’m trying to do all the things all the time. This barely worked when I was a marginally employed writer-type with a wealth of free time. It’ll surely fall apart now that I’m regularly employed and trying to fit writing around the edges of things.


I maintain a PO Box that I use for three things: receiving subscriptions, ordering things online, and an address I can put on contracts that doesn’t change every six-to-eighteen months.

A few weeks ago, in the lead-up to the move, I realised that Shifty Silas, my new laptop, was capable of running a bunch of computer games people had recommended to me. I’m usually pretty careful about playing computer games, since I have an addictive kind of personality when it comes to narrative. If I start watching a DVD boxed set of a TV series, for example, I’ll down it in one sleep-deprived sitting rather than space it out. I want, in essence, all the story, all the time.

Also, basically, I like to win things. I mean, I really like to win things. To the extent that, if there are no victory conditions, I’ll invent them simply so I can win.

It’s…well, it’s not a pleasant side of my personality.

These two things, when combined, generally make computer games the equivalent of narrative crack and I’m usually careful to avoid them. But friends raved about Mass Effect and Mass Effect II, and my flatmate had some copies floating around, and it wasn’t like I was doing anything other packing, so I fired Shifty Silas up and played them both. In fact, I played the hell out of them. In, like, rapid succession.  even started replaying the game, this time with an external mouse, ’cause the first time around I wasn’t able to use sniper rifles.

They were exactly the kind of interactive narrative-crack I fear when it comes to computer games.

And because the designers of Mass Effect are evil, you can’t really play those two games and get the end of a story, so I’ve ordered a copy of Mass Effect III. It’s been posted and now it’s sitting in my PO Box, waiting for me to come pick it up.

And when that finally happens, when I pick it up and start playing it, well, I’m going to be good for very little else that week. And I have the self-control of a lemming that’s just been shown a cliff.

Which means I can’t pick up my mail at the moment. And I’m going to avoid it for as long as I possibly can.


If you’re a writer-type, you probably want to come do this.

Basically, the Rabbit Hole is a three-day event where a bunch of writers come together and collectively thumb their noses at, say, NaNoWriMo. Instead of being all 50,000 thousands words in a month, the word-warrior heading down the rabbit hole is chasing 30,000 words in three days. It’s run at the QWC a couple of times, but this year the event is going national as part of the Emerging Writers Festival, with teams gathering in Melbourne (where it’s hosted by Jason Nahrung), Tasmania (hosted by Rachel Edwards), Brisbane (hosted by, well, me), and online (hosted by Patrick O’Duffy).

It takes place between the 1st and the 3rd of June, and it promises to be a weekend of words and smack-talk between the four teams. I may even bring the Spokesbear as a mascot.

You can register for Team Brisbane over the QWC website.


I don’t really review things, ’cause I kinda suck at it. Me and non-fiction, it’s not a thing that works well (and I’ve been reminded of this, quite explicitly, because I’ve been writing a non-fiction article for work and it’s like pulling teeth, dammit).

But I did watch the third season of 30 Rock recently. And, at one point, I may have laughed so hard that I developed tunnel vision and passed out for a few seconds.

Just saying.


So about a month ago I tried to watch the 2011 Conan the Barbarian film with my flatmate. It…wasn’t good. I say this as a person who has a really, really high tolerance for bad movies, especially any kind of fantasy epic. The only way I got through it was jumping on twitter and making fun of the movie as we went, so other people shared my pain.

Halfway through the topic of Hawk the Slayer and whether or not it was worse than Conan 2011 came up.

I’d never seen it before, so my flatmate and I arranged to watch it the following Tuesday. And, since I’d tweeted the first film, I figured…well, why not? I tweeted throughout the second film, and about halfway through people started suggesting films we should watch and make fun of in the future.

And thus the tradition of the Trashy Tuesday Twitter Movie got started. It was an accident, I swear, but somewhere along the line we developed a schedule. If you’re interested in joining in, we generally kick off at 7:30 PM, Brisbane Time, on a Tuesday evening. Next week’s film is RED (Helen Mirren with a Sniper Rifle!), and on the 15th we’re watching Red Dawn. Debate about the hashtag usually starts earlier on a Tuesday, and the results can be found on my twitter feed @petermball

And yes, this is basically what I do when I’m avoiding posting here. I’m sorry blog, but Twitter is my new love.


Actually, that’s not true. I acquired my first smart-phone at the beginning of the year, and it’s instantly become one of my favourite things ever. It’s the promise that SF always offered me – a miniature computer that I can carry around in my pocket and access nearly everywhere. It lets me carry around my email and a collection of books to read and all that stuff.

What I dislike is the way it’s changed my relationship to the internet.

Over the past four months I’ve watched my engagement with things become increasingly passive, largely because I spend the vast majority of my non-dayjob internet surfing on the phone rather than the computer.

I receive my email on the phone, but I dislike the keyboard I’m forced to use there so I don’t respond until I’m sitting at a computer. I can read blogs and my RSS feed, but I don’t comment or come here to write things unless I’m sitting at a keyboard. I can check facebook and twitter, but…well, actually, facebook and twitter are the places where the phone really shines, so it’s not like either of those have suffered.

Basically, I put a lot of things off until I’m sitting at a keyboard, and that never seems to happen ’cause I can check things on my phone.

I’m trying to figure out how to combat this problem, since it really doesn’t sit right with me. Half the reason I love the internet is that it allows me to engage with things, and I’m not really a huge fan of any medium where passivity is the primary mode of engagement.


Last week, in the midst of moving, I took an evening off and went to see The Avengers with a bunch of my co-workers. I freakin’ feared this movie so hard, since I’m a) a huge comic nerd,  b) not a fan of anything Joss Whedon has done that involves armies of villains, c) generally irate about films and not inclined to like them, and d) a huge fan of the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Hero TV series which delivered everything I want in an Avengers comic in cartoon form instead.

In short, I wanted this to be teh awesomes and figured it wouldn’t quite get there. I certainly didn’t think it’d live up to the cartoon.

What I got was teh awesomes. I may have made high-pitches squealing noises of joy in the theatre.

If I had to deliver a review, I can do it in three words: FUCK YEAH, AVENGERS!


They’re everywhere. You just haven’t noticed them yet.

Week of Doom

So, the birthday. I got some good, solid slacking-off-with-an-arm-thrown-over-my face. I went and had dinner with my parents and my sister. There were new pairs of Converse sneakers (my secret vice), Crème brûlée, and a card from my mother that was covered in unicorns. They put a birthday candle in my crème brûlée, so I even blew out a candle for the first time in years.

Then I went into work today and logged onto my facebook and found a wall timeline full of people wishing my happy birthday, which is one of those things about modern life and interconnectivity that I haven’t quite gotten the hang of. Plus, I always feel like I’m disappointing people by being so sedate  in my celebrating. To say nothing of the fact that I’m a horrible facebook user, what with being a convert to Twitter.

Still, thank you all. I shall endeavour to celebrating harder next year, I swear.


Tomorrow will be the sole sane day in my entire week. Wednesday I’m off to Rockhampton in the morning, something that’ll require a 6 am flight, and I’ll be back in time to teach my 6 pm class at the QWC. Thursday I go and find somewhere to vote, since I’ve just realised I’ll be out of town during the state elections, then I’ll working late at the QWC staffing an event. Friday morning I fly down to Melbourne on a flight so early it makes the Rockhampton flight look sane and reasonable, and once I’m down there I’ll be sitting in on a class the QWC is running so I can learn the content.

After that, I’m going to have a short two-day holiday in Melbourne, catching up with some people, although I expect part of the time will be spent lying comatose in a hotel room catching up on lost sleep. If you’re in Melbourne and free Saturday night, there will be some kind of catching-up-for-drinks at a location to be determined.


I’m becoming, in my old age, increasingly grumpy about book snobbery.

I understand it, of course. I am, after all, male and white and ostensibly middle-class, which means I grew up with all the usual prejudices against certain kinds of fiction and film due to the audience they were written for. For the last few years I’ve been trying to grow out of that, but it isn’t easy – some days I’m good at it, some days I wish I could trash Twilight just like everyone else.

I do spend time trying to find things I like in genres I used to revile, which actually turns out to be pretty easy. The process goes a little something like this: find a fan of the genre whose company you enjoy, ask for their recommendations, then read them with an open mind.

For romance, however, you could probably skip finding the fan and go straight to Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, which is quickly becoming one of my favourite places on the internet. And if you want to know, I recommend starting with the following post: Romance, Arousal, and Condescension. It’s brilliant, and smart, and covers all the reasons book snobbery pisses me off.


Horn Spotting

So back in 2010 I get an email from Alisa over at Twelfth Planet  sent me an email that said, in effect, there’s some people making a TV show that’d like to use a couple of TPP books as background props.  Apparently there are contracts that needed to be signed when this kind of thing happens, which is one of those things about making television that I never really thought about, and I was being given a heads up that the permission had been granted and there was some kind of TV show which may or may not use Horn and a bunch of other Australian small press books in the background.

This was two days after my dad’s heart attack, so I mostly nodded and made sure there was nothing I needed to be doing and went back to fretting and coping with the fact that my dad was due for open heart surgery in a few days time. Like everything else that happened about that time, it kind of slipped my mind.

Today I discovered the TV show in question was actually Outland, and for the next week, if you hie yourself over to iView and watch the second episode, you can spot a copy of Horn being picked up and flicked through by Fab at about the 4:16 mark. A blink and you’ll miss it moment to be sure – I know, because I totally missed its presence in the episode until Narrelle Harris tweeted this photo in which Horn is tucked behind her book The Opposite of Life (which is, incidental, one of the most charming vampire stories I’ve ever read, and I read a lot of vampire stories).

Even without cameo’s of books I either wrote or seriously enjoyed, the second episode of Outland was all kinds of brilliant and, seriously, go fucking watch it, ’cause there’s only six episodes in this season and I really want there to be another one. If you’re trying to figure out why, I recommend checking out the Open Thread about the first two episodes over on Horden About Town where they discuss some of the meta-textual jokes that even I, in my nerdiness, managed to miss the first time around (I mean, seriously, how did I miss the wheelchair thing?).


The Writer in a Silly Hat

I was given a particularly silly hat for Christmas, and the first thing my mother said was oh god, it’ll be up on his blog by tomorrow morning. My mother is a wise woman, but she failed to take into account the delays inevitably caused by moving house and cleaning and the other minutia of the last few weeks. Not that she’s wrong about me posting a picture here, just the time frame:

Best. Present. Ever.

The hat came about because my sister buggered off to Nepal a few months back, planning on walking to the base camp of Everest, and asked if there was anything I wanted. Usually when my sister goes places I shrug and mumble something non-committal and end up with a motley array of t-shirts when she returns, but Tibet proved to be a special case. “You know what?” I said, “I’d really dig a sherpa hat.”

The fact that she found one with its own woolly Mohawk is really just a bonus, even if she spent the entire trip with people asking her if she actually liked her brother. Now I just need winter to roll around so everyone shall know me by my resplendent blue-green headware of awesomeness. 

Until Winter, I shall content myself with writing and admiring said headware on the noggin of the Spokesbear.


I am, officially, relocated to a new domicile and deadline free.

The new place features somewhat tighter quarters than I’m used to, what with cramming pretty much everything I own into the one room. I’m somewhat amazed that *exactly the same bookcase* appears in the background of webcam shots despite the relocation, because apparently it’s that bookcase’s destiny to be set up opposite my computer in every place I live.

It’s also, coincidently enough, a brand new year. I don’t do resolutions and such, but I do have some plans for 2012. Not big plans, admittedly, but there’s a fairly well-sketched plan of things I’d like to write and things I’d like to read and a single credo – no damn deadlines for the first six months – dominating my approach. The first thing I’m working on are a handful of stories – mostly so I can kick the writer-brain into shape again – after which I’m disappearing back into novella land for a while.


I caught up with the inimitable Angela Slatter at a friends birthday party recently, and she mentioned that the Lair of the Doctor’s Brain project she’d been working on with her co-brain, L.L. Hannett, was ready to launch. I’ve been eagerly waiting for this series to hit the blogosphere for months now and it doesn’t disappoint – they’ve started big with an interview with China Miéville and a series of illustrations from Kathleen Jennings.

I’m also pretty sure that every aspiring writer in the known universe has linked to this by now, but I’m nothing if I’m not a joiner: Chuck Wendig’s 25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing (Right Fucking Now) is pretty damn spiffy. And, you know, full of smart advice in amid the swearing, as is so often the case with Wendig’s work.

And since I’m feeling a bit grumpy that the Dresden Dolls are touring and I’m not going to their Brisbane concert tomorrow night, I’ll going to link to their cover of War Pigs and say, well, fuck, go listen. It’s pretty damn rare that I actually want to go to concerts these days, what with the crowds and the young people and the drinks you have to take out a mortgage to afford, but dammit, I really wanted to go to this one and that clip is one of the reasons why.


Ah well, I should probably be writing things anyway.

The internet knows everything, and so I ask…

I was at work today, innocently doing my job, when one of my co-workers turned around asked “have you ever come across a transgender zombie story?”

At which point I allowed that a) I had not, b) google wasn’t inclined to find me one, and c) I adore my new dayjob more than any other dayjob I’ve ever had.

Still, it’s a vexing kind of question to be unable to answer in the affirmative. I fired off the question to a couple of friends in the hopes that they’ve heard something, then figured I’d ask the question here just in case someone had come across such a thing. Transgender zombies and/or protagonists appear to be fair game, so far as such things go, so if you’ve come across such a thing in your readings please drop by the comments and let me know. In short: help me, Obi-net-kenobi, you’re my only hope.


I’d be linking you to Catherynne Valentes not-quite-review of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, but it’s on livejournal and LJ has been buggy for the last few days, so I’m not entirely sure the link is going to take you where it’s supposed to take you. Should it work, I really recommend taking a gander at the review-slash-essay posted there, for it immediately makes the movie one that I absolutely must see and, I think, articulates something quite important about the reason people wander off to become artists and writers, that kind of long-term chasing down of a tribe that’s smart and passionate and engaged with the world in a very particular kind of way.

And I, as ever, want a book of Catherynne Valente essays, for they are frequently phenomenal when she posts them online and they deserve to be a book one day. I would be deeply grateful if someone would pay her to write one.


So, of the six killer copyediting tips delivered in this blog post, I’ve managed to internalize…two. Unfortunately, the ones I still get wrong are generally the more embarrassing options on the list. I should probably work on that, since it seems like a perfectly reasonable list of things that it’d be a good idea to learn, and my problems with apostrophes are getting quite out of control.


Every second Wednesday has become the bane of my writing routine. There simply isn’t time for sustained writing, just little bursts of wordage that are fit into a spare half-hour or so. I try not to begrudge Wednesdays this – I work and I go out, doing that thing where I see other people, which is presumably important for my continued status as a sane human being – but I am not built to take breaks from work. I live in fear of my own sloth, where I give in to the temptation to not-write because it’s easier, rather than force myself to put down new words.

Thursdays are meant to make up for it: a day off, a writing day, free of distractions. Yet I’m four weeks into the day job and it’s never quite become that, always winnowed away by odd jobs and far too brief a time spent writing.

Still, I’m getting better at carving out writing time. Not as good as I used to be, but better than I’ve been for much of the last twelve months, and I plan on getting quite a bit done on the morrow. I just wish I could come up with a solution for tonight that made me felt like I’d done enough to warrant going to bed at a reasonable hour tonight. I mean, I’ve written something on the Flotsam draft, which is almost certainly better than nothing, but somehow I can’t quite talk myself into believing that 250 words is a reasonable day’s work and no amount of but tomorrow I’ll finish the draft of the next story and be able to start editing seems to satisfy the spokesbear and my inner taskmaster.

This, I suspect, is because they know me too well. One good week of getting things done doesn’t mitigate of year of saying such things and not quite getting around to doing them.

I suspect it’s time to aim for five hundred words and try again. Which means I’d best get on with things, I suppose.



Once we give toasters a modicum of AI, the whole damn world is doomed

If you haven’t read Kelly Link’s Swans before, you can do so over at Fantasy Magazine today. I really recommend it, and I’m totally okay with you going over and reading it now. I mean, I’m not going anywhere, and I’m happy to wait.


Tried cooking chili tonight. Ordinarily not a thing that’s noteworthy, but so far I’ve managed to burn the bottom of the saucepan and forget to put on the rice and leave off half the optional ingredients that I usually put into a bowl of chili in order to transform it into the kind of chili I enjoy eating.

Tried to work at the day-job today. Again, not ordinarily noteworthy, but after spending three hours watching tech support try to figure out why my computer wasn’t actually interested in doing things necessary to my job – on my computer, or any others in the office, for the work server obstinately believed I shouldn’t be there – it was generally acknowledge that I should take an early mark and come back in to make up the time on Friday when things had been corrected.

Personally, I blame the toasters. They know I’m on to them. My ailing toaster huddles in the corner of the kitchen, unwilling to toast things that should be toasted, plotting my downfall. One of these days I shall wake up with the power chord ’round my throat, the prongs waving menacingly in my face, the toaster glaring down at me with that angry, heated, amber glow seeping through the toast slots. “You were warned, lad,” it’ll tell me, “you were fucking warned, eh? Should have kept your big gob shut. What’s with all the spare toasters, indeed. Bollocks to you, eh. Bollocks to fucking you.”

My toaster, apparently, watches far too many British gangster films.


One of the perks of my new work-place is that there are far to many interesting things on the internet that are either a) sent to me by colleagues, or b) stuff I go looking for as part of my job. A while back I got into the habit of sending links to my home email, lest I end up spending my entire work-day chasing down stuff on the internet and muttering words like Oooo and shiny. One of my favourite things that I’ve stumbled across this week was the mashable feature on creative (and attractive) QR codes, one of the first things I’ve ever seen that’s actually made me interested in QR codes as anything more than an academic exercise.

Being a writer’s center, there’s also the occasional flurry of links pointing people towards writing advice. I generally go back back-and-forth on posting links to online writing advice here, usually because I either disagree with it or figure it’s redundant to a large portion of the folks who read it (I’m a short-story writer, after all, and short story writers are generally read by other short story writers). Despite this, I figured I’d throw up the link to 5 Creative Flaws that Will Expose Your Lack of Storytelling Experience, since there were at least two entries on the list I hadn’t thought about before.

Still, all writing advice is dangerous if you hear it at the wrong time, even the best bits.

Hell, especially the best bits, ’cause you know deep down that they’re right and you live in fear that you’re  doing it wrong and lolcats will eat you in your sleep.

In other news, I totally want one of these tshirts retelling the story of Star Wars with unicorns. 


It appears that I’ve become one of those people who are best described as “local colour” and more colloquially known as “total loons.”

I’ve mentioned my habit of writing stories on my morning commute, scribbling away in my notebook while stead on the train platform, but today I seem to have taken the next step and introduced the part of my process known as walking around the house speaking the dialogue aloud and occasionally acting out a scene so I can figure out how the movements feel. ‘Cept today I wasn’t doing that in my house, but in the quiet bit of the train where you’re not supposed to make loud noises.

On the plus side, I discovered something important about Black Candy, and I’ve half talked myself into writing the damn thing long-hand rather than trying to type it all into the computer.

On the down side, my fellow commuters looked at me strange, and heard me repeat about six variations on the following phrase: there are two of us in here, Sammy Dunn and Sammy Dunn. He lets me ride shotgun when he’s wearing the meat, close enough to the surface to remember what’s going on. It’s not a Jeklye and Hyde thing, I swear. We work together, we want the same things, but he isn’t me and I’m not him. Sammy does the crying, the moments of angst and depression. I do the hard work, the guns and the stakeouts, but it’s always been that way and I’m not here to complain…

Not quite there yet, but that’s the curse of testing these things out while far away from a computer. There’s no place to sit down and capture things once you’re done.