So as I’ve mentioned in the past, Demand Media is giving out a lot of bonuses this month. And if I finish 125, I get an extra chunk of change—this is actually a regular bonus, but I usually don’t find it practical to try for it.
But when I thought about it today, I realized that if I put in the extra 35 or so articles by the end of next week, and then do that much less articles next month, I could make the quota without neglecting my other writing.
On the other hand, trying to bat out an extra 35 in time to get them all approved will be exhausting and stressful. And given that I’m not desperate for the extra money (I’d love to get it, but I can pay my share of the bills without it), maybe it’s not worth the candle.
Whatever I do, I figure it’ll be a learning experience about my limits.
Okay, enough about my awful first-world problems, on to links!
•My new And column is out, on the NSA spying revelations.
•Echidne links to several stories, including one about Virgin Airlines proposing to help passengers hit on each other. Another link is to an article about the age gap between Hollywood leading men and their woman, actually looking movie by movie at the gap for Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, George Clooney and others.
•The growing popularity of hummus means a boom in chickpea farming.
•Paleofuture looks at the decline in mass transit in LA, and argues that it wasn’t the result of a scheme by car companies to destroy mass transit. Rather it was the transit companies delivering sub-par service, so the automobile looked the ideal solution. The comments include some disagreement.
•Texas Rep. Michael Burgess sees fetal hands moving and brilliantly deduces that male fetuses can masturbate at 15 weeks. And therefore, they can feel pain. But right-winger Ann Althouse (while insisting on her support for abortion rights) complains that this is hideously disrespectful: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” So there! Meanwhile, anti-abortion activist Lila Rose assures us “abortion is never necessary to save a woman’s life.” So never worry about the facts.
Category Archives: Writing
So as I’ve mentioned in the past, Demand Media is giving out a lot of bonuses this month. And if I finish 125, I get an extra chunk of change—this is actually a regular bonus, but I usually don’t find it practical to try for it.
I’m not sure why when I started this blog on MySpace years ago, but I did. And even though I’ve been posting here for four years (which was a wise choice—I have a lot more readers here) I’ve kept the other blog running, cross-posting to it.
Only yesterday when I went to cross post, I discovered that MySpace (which has been going through assorted changes) has decided to clean up the website. That includes no more blog posts and also removing past posts, so the whole blog is gone.
I don’t think there’s anything brilliant that I lost (and I won’t miss the inconvenience of double-posting) but it is annoying. More so that MySpace never notified me this was coming—though I suppose in all the Big Exciting Changes maybe they did and I blew it off.
Okay, that aside, this was a much better week than last week or the week before, quite aside from my anniversary:
•I finished my next draft of the new Monster Earth story The Fox and the Hedgehog. The character side is starting to take shape, the monster battles still need work. Which come to think of it was the case with the first story too.
•I rewrote Mage’s Masquerade, my Regency fantasy. On my last draft, I replaced the magic with psi-powers, this time I substituted the pseudo-science of mesmerism. I’m not quite sure if this works—it fits the period (the concept of mesmerism developed in the 1700s) but it’s harder to explain than generic psionics. Also most of the attacks on my hero have to be reworked to fit.
Even if I go back to magic, reworking the story has made the romance much stronger, so I think it’s been worth it.
•I put in a little more work on a new short story, Oh the Places You’ll Go, and my post-World War I fantasy (still untitled).
•I updated my Google plus profile and linked it to Google’s “authorship” program which will (I gather) show my latest stories from Raleigh Public Record, Demand Media and And, plus linking to this blog.
•I reviewed the material from that branding seminar I attended last week. No dazzling insights yet (not that it’s bad, as I said last week, it’s just not applicable at the moment).
I’ve also forced myself to go back to what I used to do, break from writing from 5 p.m. to 6. It always feels easier to keep working, but if I break, then start up with whatever’s left to write (usually just blogging), I feel much more relaxed. Non-stop computer-work wears me out.
And now, the Demand Media stuff:
•Does a Married Couple Need to File a Separate Return for an LLC?
•The Tax Impact of Business Supplies for Landlords
•How to Calculate the Basis Across Multiple IRAs
•What Are the Tax Implications of a Company Car With a Company Logo?
•What Real Estate Losses Can Be Deducted?
•Business Strategies to Cut IRS Tax Debt
•The Advantages & Disadvantages of Capital Gains Tax
•Can Divorced Couples Split Rental Property on Taxes?
•Tips on Refinancing With Low Closing Costs
•Disability Tax Deductions
•What Causes Tax Deduction Limitations?
•Is the Mortgage Interest Deductible on a Foreign Investment Property?
•What are FHA Loans?
•Can a Trash-Hauling Business Take a Charitable Deduction for Donations?
•Can House Remodeling Expenses Be Deducted During Tax Payments?
•Can Real Estate Rentals Secure Your Retirement?
•Real Estate & the Death of the Family Sole Owner
•Consistent-Use Theory in a Real Estate Appraisal
•How to Not Pay a Lot of Taxes on Large Sums of Money
•IRA Early Withdrawal Calculations
•How to Calculate Fair Market Value of Property After a Casualty Loss
•Tax Deductions for Buying & Renting a House to Parents
•Tax Deduction for Donating Consulting Services to a Nonprofit Organization
•Tax Benefits of IRA Vs. HSA Accounts
•Removing Real Estate From a Revocable Trust
•Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Property at Another House?
•Do I Need to Pay Taxes on Insurance From a Deceased Person?
Delilah Dawson weighs in about the current SFWA sexism issues. Jim Hines responds to Malzberg and Resnick’s complaints about anonymous attacks with a list of criticisms with authors’ names attached. Seanan McGuire also speaks up about Resnick/Malzberg’s insistence she’s a “lady author” and lady authors shouldn’t be offended at being called lady authors.
At this point, I will break from links to tackle a particular point Resnick/Malzberg brought up (and I’m sure they’re not alone), that romance covers have lots of scantily clad men on them. A fair point, but it’s a different genre, where the hotness of the characters is often an important part of the story (even when you have an SF story with a romance, it’s not the same). And in the world we live in, near-naked pictures of men simply don’t have the same effect as near-naked pictures of women. The cultural overtones are very different (I’m pretty sure women don’t see half as many online ads with implausibly endowed men as I do of implausibly endowed women).
•An article at American Journalism Review on whether to use email in interviews.
•Various news sites attempt to curb trolling in comments.
•Therin Knite on picking a genre when marketing your story.
•Are contracts selling your soul legally enforceable?
•Speaking of sexist images, here’s some mucho sexist Marvel shirts.
•I’ve blogged before about Google’s digitization plans for out of print (but not necessarily out of copyright) books. Now it seems the French are putting copyrighted works into a database and allowing publishers to negotiate for digital rights. It’s supposedly a service to make unavailable books available, but authors have found books of their that are still in print in the ReLire database. More here.
•The Justice Department says Apple was the ringleader in an e-book price-fixing scheme.
•The drawbacks to using family names or names of pets, etc. as password recovery tools. A recent article in the SFWA bulletin made a similar point and suggested making up names instead.
This has not been a good year for the SFWA, sexual equality wise.
First, for the 200th issue, they used a cover of a swordswoman in a very small halter-top and a chain-mail bikini bottom (I didn’t hear about this until recently, as I joined right after), rather than, say, armor or any sort.
Inside the issue, in discussing great editors they had known, Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg referred to one female editor from the 1950s (a very respected one, I gather) as “a knockout.” Which I gather (again, I haven’t seen this issue), was not a standard they applied to any of the men they talked about.
Then in 201, C.J. Henderson discussed branding andmarketing and cited Barbie as a textbook example of a brand that despite 50-plus years and lots of variation, never loses sight of the core brand. He then went on to add that part of her brand was “that she maintained her quiet dignity as a woman should.” An assessment of womanhood that had nothing to do with the point of the article (he also mentioned that when Barbie got her college degree, she never acted as if Ken didn’t want her to be successful. I think Mr.Henderson’s making another point there about women in the real world). E. Catherine Tobler expresses her less than enthused response, including that the organization she belongs to gave all this the stamp of approval.
And then, in 202, Malzberg and Resnick unfortunately decided to defend themselves against what they saw as a wave of criticism being flung at SFWA and themselves (scans and excerpts here). It would have been more persuasive if they hadn’t trotted out every argument in the book: They were being complimentary, would anyone object if they’d said that about a man, why is it wrong to mention women are attractive, they are so totally not sexist, OMG CENSORSHIP!
Which is, I suppose, why I wanted to mention the current storm here: That is the standard response, not only on sexism but racism, gay issues, religious issues, etc. That the speaker obviously didn’t mean to say anything wrong, so therefore they didn’t say anything wrong. They have no sexism/racism in their heart, so they couldn’t have said anything sexist/racist. And anyone who shouts them down is calling for censorship!
And I suppose it’s possible that someone in this fight is indeed calling for censorship (however you define that)—I’ve only read a fraction of what’s been discussed. But equally certainly a lot of the people are not. They’re simply saying “This shit is sexist, don’t run articles/pictures like this.” Which is a reasonable request, especially when the stuff is sexist, more so when you’re paying dues to the group responsible.
Malzberg and Resnick also have an absolute right to argue back, but these are not good arguments. Equating criticism with censorship is never a good argument, let alone invoking well, if we can’t say this, what if the government starts saying who you can have sex with? If the censors get away with this, the next step is Nazism or Stalinism!
That’s not a slippery slope, it’s a gigantic leap across an abyss.
John Scalzi, current SFWA president, has a reasoned response online here.
I had intended to post a whole bunch more today, but instead of being swept away by countless demands on my time, I was swept away by laziness, and the opportunity to do next to nothing. And it felt good!
Part of which is probably Tropical Storm Andrea pressuring my sinuses. Partly also a busy week.
It was satisfyingly productive, though a little catty-corner. There are extra bonuses for the Demand Media stuff this month, so I’m front-loading them big-time. Plus the meeting I went to Wednesday sucked up some time, as did writing it up. I also attended three hours of a “building your brand” seminar online, for free. A lot of it isn’t really applicable to me (I don’t have a product or a service that needs funding, or a website anyone’s going to have the urge to buy), but some of it may be. I’ll review it later this month.
I managed to meet my goals for the week (30 Demand Media), though by late afternoon today, I think my performance was really dragging. But now it’s the weekend, and we have nothing in particular to do, so it should be extremely relaxing. Fingers crossed.
This week was much better than the last couple of weeks, so I think the slump is broken. Huzzah.
Due to my new scheduling approach, this was a no-Demand Media week except for a couple of article rewrites (there’s a bonus for completing enough articles per month, so doing them in the first three weeks avoids any Internet or other problems thwarting me). This worked much better than the first time I tried it last month, when having such a shift in my schedule left me managing my time poorly.
I didn’t make up on all the time I lost during my sluggish period, but I did well enough I should be able to catch up next month (I’ve been behind worse in the past and still made it up). And I’m pleased to report that as of today everything that I currently think is submittable is out: all the shorts I’m not working or reworking on, and both novels.
And I also have an And column out on why national security is the real nanny state.
•I finished End of the World on the Cutting Room Floor and submitted it. I must thank the member of my writing group who said I could trim a lot of the end. She was right.
•I submitted two more shorts that had returned earlier this month.
•I finished formatting four of my stories for Smashwords. I’d hoped to put them up for sale this week, but I need a little work on the cover (a graphic-designer friend of mine is going to help). More news as it develops.
•I tried an alternative tack on Mage’s Masquerade, reworking it with psi-powers rather than magic. The more limited options available to my characters seemed to jump-start the story, so I’ll either stick with it or tone down the magery level.
•I got a second draft of my Monster Earth II story, The Fox and the Hedgehog, and it’s definitely improved. However finding a way to stop my indestructible monster is still perplexing me—I can think of solutions, but they come off very deus ex.
•I finished the 16,000 words of Brain From Outer Space I wanted to get done this month.
•I finally got around to redrafting Fiddler’s Black and for the first time the monstrous Light-Eaters and their method of eating souls makes sense to me. Still a long way from good, but it’s progressing.
•And I put in three hours on the early 1920s fantasy novel I’m working on. The first chapter or two where I introduce the cast is good, but then I have to kick off the plot, so my creativity slowed down some. But this is a work-on-it-whenever kind of project so for now that’s good enough. We’ll see where it goes.
•Plus I did some advance work for a Raleigh Public Record story I’ll be covering next week.
And now it’s time to save all my work and kick back before bed. See you tomorrow, everyone.
A good look at how to get characters to act out of character: because they’re pushed to the limit, drunk, or hiding they’re real selves for instance.
•If you’re planning to write porn movies, this is probably not good news. Some banks don’t want your money.
•A writer discusses the detailed research she went through to write a drama set in Bolshevik Russia. I don’t usually go into as much detail for my own work (the historical detail isn’t the main selling point—and I find heavy “time dropping” annoying) but it’s still an interesting read. And if that’s not enough, here’s a support group for historical figures unfairly maligned in fiction. It’s hysterical.
•Amazon has a plan for writing fan-fic, getting paid for it and giving the rights holder some money too. Consumerist talks about it too.
•Dean Wesley Smith blogs about ghosting a novel in 10 days, charting his day-by-day progress. Interesting to see him do it starting from scratch though the blow-by-blow of the account isn’t exactly riveting (it’s like I imagine Tweeting about writing to be). In a related post, his wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch uses him as an example of getting work done in small bursts of time. And I agree with her wholeheartedly about the importance of getting up and moving every hour or 30 minutes or whatever.
Of course, this also shows how what works for one person doesn’t work for everyone. Rausch and Smith structure their cooking plans to minimize the distraction from their writing; I love to cook, so I make sure and find time for it. Of course, I give up time for other stuff in return, but I think it’s a fair trade. And even when time is crunched, I’m unlikely to do much takeout; the gain in time for me isn’t worth the cost (for them, it’s obviously the other way around).
It’s an old cliche that you should write what you know. And there’s also the old counter-cliche, that this is too damn limiting for a writer.
Although I do side more with the counter-cliche, knowing stuff can really help writing. It’s not so much a matter of confining yourself to your life experience as importing it to whatever you’re working on. Particularly details.
Case in point, the owl in the picture above (from a Mensa event last month). During the presentation by the Greenville Zoo, someone played a tape of owl calls and the bird responded. What was striking was that it didn’t flap its wings or start, it simply turned its head. Slowly. More like a machine than a startled living thing.
I didn’t know owls moved like that. If I ever have to use an owl in a story of mine, I’ll try to work that detail in, just because it’s neat.
Likewise, I was watching our garden last week and saw a honey bee come to rest on a clover blossom. Only it didn’t rest because the flower swayed from side to side under the weight of the bee. When the bee flew off with its pollen, the clover vibrated for a couple of seconds from the release before it came to rest.
I could do a story with someone sitting in the field, watching the bees, without mentioning that little detail. But it would be a better story if I threw it in.
The great animedirector Hayao Miyazaki made the same point in an interview: when one of his films required a snake fall out of the tree on someone, he had to go out, find a snake and let it fall. The animators were city kids and they’d never had the experience of seeing it happen.
In the same vein, back in biology class I had the privilege of watching a small constrictor (I’m inclined to say hog snake, but I can’t swear to it after so many years) attack a mouse. It’s the first time I’ve literally seen something move faster than the eye can see—a quick blur, then there’s just a snake coiled around the rodent.
In a novel I worked on back in the 1990s (regrettably never finished, despite consuming several years of work), I had a fight by moonlight. I went out to the neighborhood park under the full moon just to so I could gauge what you can see in that kind of light.
Little details probably won’t break or make a story, but they can’t but enhance it.
In Engine Summer, John Crowley’s narrator observes that snake hands—the parts or stories that branch off from the main body—are the most interesting part. Of course snakes don’t have hands, but stories don’t really branch if they’re told right—it’s all part of the same narrative.
This weekend has been a whole bunch of snake hands, which is why I didn’t post yesterday and didn’t get the couple of posts done I was planning for today (or pretty much everything else).
Saturday, after posting, TYG and I went out shopping, then to a continuation of the Hitchcock festival where we caught North by Northwest last week (this week Shadow of a Doubt and Rear Window with a film-group dinner at a tapas bar in between).
Sunday would have been slower, but we’d been invited to brunch by recently engaged friends. So we got up early and rushed out to get some bicycling done. Unfortunately, we overdid it (I had a feeling we might be pushing it) which left me somewhat wiped the rest of the day.
Anyway after brunch we went car shopping. It was frustrating: Several hours but only one car driven (either the lot was closed or they didn’t have the car we wanted). By the time I got home, I was exhausted.
Today, we got up, took a walk,then I made the pear/butternut squash soup that I was too tired to make yesterday. Then out car shopping again. This again turned out much longer than anticipated—but that’s because we bought the car,so at least that’s taken care of.
So while my planned activities for today (lots of little stuff I wanted to catch up) got diverted by snake hands, it’s a good thing (our old car was close to dropping dead mid-trip). And we won’t have to do more car shopping.
On the down side, I have a feeling that getting the remaining details wrapped up (dropping off the old car we’re trading in, signing paperwork, taking it for a practice drive on quiet streets before I brave the freeway) will suck up a lot of work time tomorrow. Unfortunately, it needs to be done (I’ll have more on that topic tomorrow too). As I’ve said before, some weeks there are just too many giants with axes.
(Cover by Billy Graham, rights all belong to current holder).
This wasn’t as poor a week as last week, but it wasn’t as big an improvement as I’d hoped.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I have a bad habit when circumstances leave me really behind: my brain decides it’s hopeless trying to do anything as I’m clearly not making my goals, and balks at doing more work. After last week’s mess, that’s dogged me all this week. It didn’t help that I have a couple of other things to take care of for Mum, and that I gave up Tuesday to get recertified in CPR/First Aid. I gave serious thought to postponing so I could some extra writing done, but I’d have had to eat my reservation fee. And on the whole, I’m glad it’s done.
Output this week was pretty mediocre. I got a little bit more done on Brain From Outer Space, continued to toy with Fiddler’s Black and finished my replotting of Southern Discomfort. I gave a last redraft to Original Synergy and Learning Curve, which will be in the collection I hope to have out on Smashwords by the end of June. That was much less than I wanted to do.
I did keep my Demand Media stuff up, though today I just threw up my hands. I’m still dealing with Mum’s stuff, and I’ll be quitting early anyway (TYG and I have plans) so my brain is once again saying, what’s the point?
Still I did get these done:
•What Happens When You Borrow From Life Insurance?
•Do I Owe Taxes if I Got Money From My Mother When She Died?
•Can You Write Off Your Homeowners Insurance Deductible on a Claim?
•Can Babysitting Be Considered Charity on Federal Taxes?
•Can Credit Card Debts Be Attached to Real Estate?
•Do You Pay for Property Taxes & Homeowner’s Insurance if You Own a Timeshare?
•Can I Invest in My Husband’s Business With a Self-Directed IRA?
•Can You Dissolve an LLC if You Owe Creditors?
•Can I Claim Private Pre-K as a Tax Deduction?
•Do Losses Have to Be Reported in the Same Tax Year?
•Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Stolen Equipment?
•Should I Convert $10,000 to a Roth IRA?
•If My Husband Has a Mortgage on a House He Bought Before We Were Married, Is it Half Mine?
•Can I Contribute to an IRA With a Credit Card?
•How to Lower Taxes on the Sale of Inherited Rental Property
•Can I Deduct College Student Rent From My Income Tax?
•Can You Deduct Shipping Costs for Medical Supplies on Your Tax Return?
•Can I Deduct My Labor Expense for Investment Property Repairs?
•Do IRA Fees Go Against the Annual Contribution Limit?
•Can a Sole Proprietor Sell Capital Assets?
•How to Deduct Losses With a Roth IRA
•What Is the Monthly and Annual Net Profit Margin?
•How to Estimate a Claim on Homeowner’s Insurance for Storm Damage
•What Types of Investment Theft Losses Are Deductible?
•IRA Contributions’ Effects on Income Tax Owed
•Are Homeowner’s Insurance Loss Payouts Taxable?
•Is Landscaping Tax Deductible?
•Illinois Real Estate Law – Quitclaim Deed Vs. Warranty Deed
•Can a Live-In Partner Take Children as a Deduction on Tax Returns?
•Can You Take a Tax Deduction for Wedding Receptions?
And that’s that. Rather than make ineffective efforts at work, I’m going to quit now and enjoy myself. Hopefully I’ll be able to reset after the three-day weekend.