Monday, May 25, 2009

Writer Feedback Tokens

OK. I've been thinking that it would be fun to create a Facebook application to send feedback to my writer friends. But you know what, I can write scripts and PHP programs, but I'm not really a Facebook applications programmer. OK... Yes... I tried using the Application Builder to make a FB gift application, but it's very unforgiving of mistakes and I can't figure out how to edit (and add icons as I go). And...

In the back of my head I thought, "Gee, in the old days, we would have just e-mailed these things to each other ... all these gift applications are lazy ways to send someone a picture with some text."

So... In the spirit of doing things manually here are my Writer Feedback Tokens. You have my permission to send them to whomever you'd like as long as you are not charging them money or erasing my watermark out of the GIF comment area.

Meeting Writing Goals. Congratulations on meeting your daily word count, or sustaining a certain number of stories in the mail, or whatever writing goals you've set.

Good language flow. The prose in the story is flowing wonderfully and is doing what it should.

Great Idea(s). The manuscript contained a great or compelling idea (or ideas) and used them to great effect.

Great Plotting. Whether the story used a try/fail cycle or something more convoluted, the plot worked, and there weren't any "Red Matter?" moments in the plot.

The Ticking Watch. The characters have to reach their goals, and there's a stopwatch (or maybe a ticking bomb) they need to beat adding tension and raising the stakes.

Cool Ninjas. Okay. They don't have to be Ninjas per se. But the threats to the characters were Real Threats and not paper tigers. The characters were going to be Really Dead in Nasty Horrible Ways.

Great Staging. The characters' locations were clear throughout the story, and none of them accidentally walked through a wall, furniture, or teleported.

Great visuals. The eye candy in the manuscript is clear and intriguing.

Good world building. The story takes place in a consistent and interesting world -- either one at the bottom of the sea, on another planet, or in a magical universe.

Nice Fantasy Setting. This isn't just a transcript of your FRP game. The fantasy society is well thought out, the technology is appropriate, and it takes a realistic amount of time to travel to the next castle over.

Believable Outer Space Setting. The spacecraft didn't whoosh as they plowed the space between the stars. The characters floated in microgravity. And giant flames didn't come out of the back of space craft exhaust...

Cool Science. The nanotechnology isn't magic in science clothing, or the computers don't blow up when introduced to paradoxical instructions. And the science is an inseparable part of the story.

Alien aliens! The aliens in the story are from another planet, and not some humans in a latex mask. In a pinch, this could work for Elves, too -- Elves are not humans with pointy ears.

Story Heart. The story tells a moral, has an "aha moment" or it tells a truth that reasonates with the reader. Not to be confused with romance.

Sizzling Love. Wow! Sexy (but not raunchy or pornographic) prose that probably has a NC-17 rating... OR, really sexy prose without explicit body parts.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dreams and Lasers

Quick dream recap: I was helping some folks in an auditorium test their sound equipment by singing "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" and was about to launch into a rendition of "The Shark Song." But I woke up.

The irises are about done flowering. I do wish they would last longer than two and a half weeks. I guess Mark is right and we need to plant some more things so that something is always flowering (or at least interesting) throughout the lighter months.

My sister is about to have a child (her first). There were some hopes that the child would be born May 18, in which case it would be named Ashley or Ashton in honor of Mt. St. Helens. I was hoping the child would be born today (May 20) which is "Eliza Doolittle Day."

In other news, Mary Robinette Kowal wrote how she was working on a Music of the Spheres Device. I imagined it as a glass harmonia with a bowl of water set into its sounding box with a laser shining on the water so that the vibrations from the various tones could be projected by a laser onto a ceiling. So, last night I borrowed one of Jerry Oltion's laser pointers (he uses them to measure telescope mirrors) and a cereal bowl of water. After several attempts at pinging the bowl I settled on singing right next to it and I got a circular sine wave pattern on Jerry's kitchen cabinet's underside. Someone else pointed out that if I'd used a sheet of mylar it would probably do the same thing (only with more sensitivity)... and I'm thinking that with two lasers and a mylar sheet, I could have one laser reflecting off of the vibrating mylar sheet and a second one refracting through it for extra laser pattern goodness.

Too bad Mark probably won't let me have one, let alone two, laser in the house. Sigh.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Mini Trek Review

I saw Star Trek today.  For the most part I liked it.  The acting was fun, the sets looked nice.  

I find myself somewhat conflicted about the franchise's use of space-time anomolies and their resulting paradoxes.  On one hand, it gives the writers extra freedom -- but on the other hand the anomolies have come to be the StarTrek equivalent of Pamela's dream from Dallas.

The action scenes did get to be a bit much after a while and had to take a nap after the movie. 
And... I can take a little action for action's sake, but I wish some of the action made a little more sense practically and on an astrophysical level.  But hey -- it's a science fiction action flick.  And it's funny.  Go and laugh at all the in-jokes.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sharing Dreams?

So here's a question for the readership:  Are the dream posts something I should continue with OR do you wish I would stop posting them?

My original thought posting them was that I would discover material to use in my stories (and I have).  But possibly folks would rather read about irises and waking life in Eugene instead.

Send me an e-mail or something.

 #  #  #

Last night's dream involved a kind of inspector.  She was 40-something and was trying to spruce up the neighborhood.  I'm not sure if she was with the city or not -- our house wasn't the house we live in during waking hours, but some kind of dream-amalgam house.  

Accompanying the inspector was a kind of handy-man.  I think he was 60-something; he had a grizzled face, short white hair and he wore white coveralls.  He started triming the vines growing over our front porch.  This was bad because we wanted them to grow there.  I spent a great portion of the dream yelling at the inspector and her henchman that I wanted what they were going to do to our property in writing, with start and finish dates. 

Monday, May 04, 2009

05-04-2009 Dreams:  Mountain Anxiety

Not too much in the dream department...  let's see; I'm in highschool and I've somehow not noticed that it's finals week.  And the usual anxiety motif of falling over a cliff.  This was a little new in that I was pushing a cart with an unspecified dream woman along an icy road.  Down hill.  On top of a very tall mountain.  Of course we hit the ice, and I had the unpleasant dream experience of having one foot skidding along on ice and one foot dangling over a Very Rocky Cliff.

I guess in dreams you don't get safety rails.

We did manage to avoid tumbling over the edge, and later, the dream turned into a snowboall fight with Mark and our friends Mark and Dario.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Of Irises

John makes a visual pun with irisesThe irises have been blooming. I like how the purple petals unfurl from points into tri-lateral lamps and their aroma is sweet and potent. This year the irises are larger and have more blooms -- I'm supposing that the bulbs have had longer to get established and that this year we've had more sunlight than last year.

irisesThe purple and green go well together. My folks have giant bearded irises (which I covet) growing at their house. I like the giant purple ones the best, although the yellow ones are nice, too (I think I've seen some pale blue ones growing at there, which are fun). When the sunlight filters through the iris blades, the different shades of green are beautiful.

iris close-upMy camera was a little confused on the auto-focus, but I think this photo came out OK. It's a sort of Georgia O'Keefe. I like it because the base of the petals look like a reptile or alien skin.

I didn't notice it at the time, but the sunlight created the number 7 on the side of the flower. It must be a sign!

iris close-up

iris close-upWhenever I take multiple photos of flowers opening, I'm always struck by how the flowers start out so densely packaged. Sometimes I think it would be cool if NASA could use inflatable polymer sheets coated with photovoltaic material for the solar panels on spacecraft. I think that's the way flowers open, only with sap or water through the flower petal veins instead of air in a balloon....

More photos here.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Musings on Writing

Mark was great today -- he cleared out a block of time so I could mail out stories. Luckily, I have my PHP script to help me figure out which market to send things to -- but the script doesn't help me with things like sending something probably R-rated to a PG-13 market, so it's always a good practice to double-check its suggestions.

What I've discovered is that I've been writing stories that are too long for most markets. Most editors will take a 3000 to 4000 word story. Unfortunately -- at least from a making a sale point of view -- I am writing stories that come to about twice as long.

And I think I've had a new rejection-record, one of my stories got rejected in about two hours. I guess its good practice, but I would like to make a few more sales.

On a different topic, I finally had "How can I love you if you won't do what I say" translated into Latin: "Quomodo te amare possum nisi facere vis quae praecepi?" The translator sent me a recording so I pronounce the hard C's. Although I do wish that the Latin word "possum" didn't remind me of the English word "possum."