Audible Tempest

Due to a great lack of spoons (and the evil hacking of my web server), I have not yet made a post telling you about wonderful things! Fiction-related things! I shall do so now.

First, as I mentioned, I was on the radio the other week. Hour of the Wolf, 5am, reading the first draft of a story and having it critiqued on air by my wonderful writing group, Altered Fluid. For those of you not up at 5am on a Saturday, the archive of the show is here[1]. Those of you subscribed to my first draft journal have seen that story in its very, very first incarnation.

In other news, my Interfictions story, “Black Feather”, recently went up on PodCastle. You can check out the story here if you haven’t already[2]. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the folks on the forum did not hate it! Not everyone loved it, of course, but there appears to be some nice balance to the responses.

I am amused by the discussion going on surrounding the line “Flying is nothing more than controlled falling.”

The mighty Amal El-Mohtar read the story beautifully, and the awesome M. K. Hobson did the introduction. These are two of my favorite ladies, so it was all squeeness for me. Amal wondered how her reading compared to the one I did below. I have to say, I had the benefit of a band behind me. Normally, I feel like my readings suck. But that night everyone who read was on fire. I still need to make an MP3 of Veronica reading “Rats”.

Anyway, if you listen to both versions, I think Amal and I would both enjoy hearing what you think of them.

Footnotes

  1. Once the archive goes away, expect to find that file in, uh, other places.[]
  2. You should subscribe to PodCastle if you like audio fiction that fits neatly into a commute[]

Not At All Innocent or Hypothetical Question of the Day

Not At All Innocent or Hypothetical Question of the Day

This is for the writers out there. If you were to get the urge to write on a mobile phone (not a whole novel, say, but whenever you needed to bust out some words and it wasn’t practical to do so on a netbook), what qualities would have phone have to have to make you comfortable doing so?

I would imagine a physical keyboard is a must, but that’s because I can’t type very fast with on-screen keyboards. Others are better at it. Regardless of whether it’s physical or not, I definitely feel like a qwerty-style keyboard is a must.

Do you agree? Also, what other aspects of a phone are important? Screen size, operating system, apps?

Let’s Talk About Writing Software

Let's Talk About Writing Software

This post reminded me that I’ve been wanting to poll folks about writing software lately. I know everyone talks about the wonders of Scrivener and how it changed everything for them and such, but there are other programs out there as well. I’m wondering how well they work for people.

I know some still prefer homespun methods of keeping track of stuff like plot threads, character traits, settings details, etc. Sometimes having it all in one program does help those who need a little guidance in order to be organized. I’m still int he process of finding the best way for myself, so I’m definitely intrigued by what others are up to.

So, if you use writing software that provides a bit more functionality than a word processor, let me know what you use and why you like it. Also what you wish it could do but doesn’t, and wish it wouldn’t do but does. Or, if you’ve cobbled something together from several different programs, I’d love to hear about that, too.

What I’m not interested in hearing is variations on: “Real writers don’t need fancy writing programs, you should JUST WRITE.” Because, honestly, everyone is different. Some of us do better with extra tools. And I’m sure everyone agrees that no matter how good a writing program, it cannot write something for you. So if you feel the urge to whip that out, kindly talk about puppies and kittens, instead.

Writing In Public

Writing In Public

I’m sitting in a new tea cafe that just opened up in the Village with my friend Nivair, just soaking up the cafe ambiance and drinking expensive tea. I love finding new cafes and other places to write in the city, especially since my ‘old’ haunts often go sour long before I’m done with them. This has been a constant source of annoyance for me since I moved back to the city four years ago. And I am on a constant hunt for good places to chill and write.

People often ask me why I can’t write at home, and I have no good answer for them. I can rarely get in the mood at home, can rarely even work up the energy. It could be that I don’t have an office space per se — my desk and such is in the living room — but it could just be that I am odd.

I like writing in cafes and other public spaces. I like the din of other people’s voices around me, which are often mixed with music. I guess I also dig the energy. I’m not one of those people who needs to be seen writing to feel like a real writer, I just need to be out of the house.

This is not always the best idea for my wallet. Sitting in a cafe or coffee house for hours means you have to pay to justify the space you’re taking up. Unless it’s a Starbucks. I never feel guilty for taking up space in a Starbucks. With an indie cafe I want to help them stay in business so I can keep coming there to write, so I buy stuff. A whole day can cost $20 if you’re not careful.

So in addition to cafes I also seek out good hotel lobbies, and I’m pretty talented at finding them. My current favorite hotel is the Ace on 29th street. They’ve got their lobby set up for laptop jockeys like me, with a long communal table with outlets in it, which is very convenient. And since it’s a lobby, they don’t mind if you don’t eat and they’re open all night and all day. It’s pretty perfect. Except on Friday and Saturday nights.

Anyway, my obsession for finding good places to write long ago led me to create this list on Yelp, which is an adjunct to this massive list of places with free wi-fi in the city. Every time I add something new to that list and it hits the front page of Yelp I get a new compliment as more people discover it. There are a ton of people like me who need the comfort of a public place to get their work done. Or to waste time on the Internet.

How many of you are like me and need to be out of the house to write? How many of you need to be in your house to write? And how many of you are lucky enough that it doesn’t matter?

How Do You Keep Track Of Submissions?

How Do You Keep Track Of Submissions?

A couple of years ago I brought up this topic as I was searching for a solution for myself. I decided on Sonar, and so far it’s serving me well. However, I’m researching submission trackers for another project, so I figured I’d open up the discussion again.

How do all you writer-types keep track of your submissions? I know some are still using the old Excel spreadsheet solution, but what else is out there?

And if you were going to build the perfect tracker, what features would it include?

WTF Authors AGAIN

WTF Authors AGAIN

Authors… what the hell is going on? I would say that Twitter has made you insane, but I know some of you have been bringing the foolishness for a while, so obviously it’s not new media that is causing you to act out like a 10-year-old on too much sugar.

Alice Hoffman, get your butt off the internet before you embarrass yourself any further! Posting a critic’s phone number on Twitter? NO. *smacks on nose with paper* Bad author!

Ayelet Waldman, stop damning your critics to hell. It doesn’t reflect well on you. See above about 10-year-olds.

Again, I know that criticism hurts. And hey, complain about your critics all you like… in private to your friends. That’s what I do. That’s what most sensible people do. Your friends will tell you that the critic is an ass and you’ll feel better. But telling it to the world? Just makes you look like an ass.

What to write when autographing?

What to write when autographing?

Since I’m obviously going to have to come up with a bio on my own (hinthint), here’s something else the masses may be able to help me with: what to write (besides my signature) when autographing my stories in anthos or zines? I feel like writing “To Danny, keep on reading!” or something similar is too much like banal yearbook writing. “Have a great summer, Ken!” Even when it’s someone I know, I find it hard to figure out what to say. For Black Feather I often wrote “12 ravens, 7 swans, 1 chance to fly” which kind of worked but seemed a bit pretentious. I don’t even know what to write for the Federations story.

I can’t draw, so I can’t emulate Ben Rosenbaum or Neil Gaiman, and I am obviously not pithy. What should I do, instead?

I am crap at writing bios

But more and more lately I need a bio, either short or long, to give to someone. The one on my bio page is boring and stilted. This will not do. Help me out here — point to some awesome author bios that you really like. Or, rewrite my bio to make it more exciting! Or make up a fictional bio for yourself and post it in the comments.

I Am Shameless. At Least I Admit It!

I Am Shameless.  At Least I Admit It!

The storySouth 2009 Million Writers Award for Fiction is now accepting nominations!

The purpose of the storySouth Million Writers Award is to honor and promote the best fiction published in online literary journals and magazines during 2008. …this year there will be three cash prizes: $500 for the overall winner, $200 for the runner-up, and $100 for the honorable mention/third place.

I am going to nominate some stories (yes, I’ll tell you which when I know), but I am shameless and want people to nominate my 2008 story, Until Forgiveness Comes, as well.  Here’s the link to do so IF you desire.  Obviously, I shall not force you. ;)

My Kingdom For Some Back Support!

My Kingdom For Some Back Support!

I am hanging out in a cute cafe around the corner from my apartment.  I really like it — they have good food at decent prices, know what a real smoothie is, and they play awesome music.  But oh my god, the chairs are AWFUL.  They are all leany back and provide no sitting up straight support.  Sigh…

Why must everything be almost perfect?

Also, I realize these people don’t have a lot of money, but no one could spring from some decent chairs in this place?  Beyond the leany back thing, they’re small, hard, wooden, and I think a bit low.  I guess they don’t want people to hang around.  I don’t understand cafe owners who take this mentality.  You have people who desire to sit in your establishment for hours and consume things.  Make it so they can!