March 6th, 2012


[links] Link salad goes all Clara Peller

Apex magazine interviews me — They also will be reprinting my story "Lehr, Rex". (Link to come when it is available.)

Strong Female Characters, My Own Definition — Mur Lafferty Is Wise.

H.P. Lovecraft for Beginning Readers

Five hundred new fairytales discovered in GermanyCollection of fairytales gathered by historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth had been locked away in an archive in Regensburg for over 150 years. (Via @pauljessup.)

The Fiction to Reality Timeline

Scrivener's Error on, among other things, agents practicing law — Also some good political commentary there today.

The Disciples of Memory — Aging and memory, and Alzheimer's. (Via someone on Twitter, but I forget whom.)

Alien invasion a threat to Antarctic ecosystem

Quantum Biology and the Puzzle of Coherence

Why Do Cats Run the Internet? A Scientific Explanation — Because no one knows you're a dog? (Via David Goldman.)

Surviving “the Tyranny of E-mail”

A Review of the Lytro Camera — Man, do I want one of these. (Via my Dad.)

Neil deGrasse Tyson: How Space Exploration Can Make America Great Again

The Diabetes Dilemma for Statin Users — I have both elevated cholesterol and am pre-diabetic, so this one hits close to home.

The Specter of DenialismConspiracy theories surrounding the global HIV/AIDS epidemic have cost thousands of lives. But science is fighting back. Anti-science denialism can cost lives. Vaccine denialism certainly does. Global warming denialism will almost surely be a significant contributor to serious future losses of life and property.

Abortion-Mental Illness Link Doesn't Hold Up, Researchers Find — What do you know? Ideologically driven "research" doesn't actually produce valid results. Millions of conservatives would be shocked, if they weren't impervious to facts. (Courtesy of [info]threeoutside.)

Sluts UniteBy standing up to Rush Limbaugh’s slur, Sandra Fluke shows how sex positivity is recharging feminism.

Women react to Rush's apology: Not accepted?

Rush Limbaugh has so much more to apologize for — The man is the heart and soul of the modern GOP. He has nothing to apologize for that every conservative in America doesn't share. Even those GOPers who are now pretending to be shocked by Rush's remarks have been very happy to ride his vitriol to electoral success these past two decades.

Republicans, Be Bold! For the Republican Party to be attractive again to the various groups that have historically found a home under the "Big Tent," whether it be 2012, 2016 or even 2020, it needs to think big and put forward a new generation of bold ideas that fit neatly within the overarching themes of Republican values. It wouldn't hurt to have a nominee willing and able to stand strong on their convictions either. Unfortunately for the GOP, when your convictions are based on peevish bigotry, denialism and big old helping of paranoid hate (c.f. Santorum), it doesn't actually pay to advertise them too far outside your own base.

The greatest actress in American political history — Roger Ebert on Game Change, the HBO film about Palin in the 2008 presidential campaign. When Newsweek's David Frum asked Schmidt what he thought about the film, he said it was "an out-of-body experience." Neither he nor Wallace (who confessed that after working with Palin she was unable to vote for McCain) has questioned its accuracy. Inflicting Palin on American politics will be McCain's enduring political legacy.

?otd: Where's the beef?

Writing time yesterday: 2.0 hours (30 minutes of WRPA, 1.5 hours on the Going to Extremes nonfiction proposal)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 7.25 (solid)
Weight: 237.0
Currently reading: 1491 by Charles C. Mann; Permeable Borders by Nina Kiriki Hoffman


[books] Working on Going to Extremes

Over the weekend at Rainforest Writers Village, I began working on the book proposal for Going to Extremes. Last night I made some more progress on it. I'm getting pretty excited about it.

Nonfiction is an entirely new direction for me. I've written nineteen first draft novels, but never written nonfiction longer than five or six thousand words. Covering the intersection of cancer, parenting and extreme travel, this book will be part autobiography, part narrative nonfiction, part how-to book on coping with cancer; a hybrid of several nonfiction forms. The challenge of doing this, and the opportunity to talk about my experiences in a coherent framework, will be fantastically interesting.

This project also seems to be a new way for me to approach my cancer and my life experiences with the disease. The fourth anniversary of my initial cancer presentation is coming up next month. (Makes me wonder if I should throw it a birthday party.) That strikes me as momentous for some reason.

I'll be pulling heavily from my blogging for the book. Likewise I plan to interview my doctors and some of my other caregivers, as well as friends and family members. Most especially, [info]the_child. I am feeling very engaged.

Let us hope the book proposal does well out in the big, bad world of publishing.


[process] Listening to the book

As recently discussed [ | LiveJournal ], I have added a step to my novel manuscript revision process. I know from experience that reading a manuscript aloud always helps me find copy editing errors, infelicitous wording, word echoes and so forth. But I also dislike reading aloud at length, and especially all by myself.

The tension between knowing what was right and being pretty strongly avoidant about it was troubling. Something had to change. After much dithering, I finally had the MacBook Air read me the entire book aloud, using the GhostReader application, as recommend by commentor rip.

The voice in GhostReader is functional but primitive. It took me a little while to get used to the flattened, mechanical tones. Then I experimented with the reading speed to see how fast I could set the playback and still be able to make notes without having to pause the application.

What I did then was open GhostReader in one window and the Word document of the manuscript of Calamity of So Long a Life in another window. I simply listened, and whenever something struck me as wrong or off, inserted [brackets] in the text. Occasionally, if the fix was very easy, like a missing simple word, I would just make the correction on the fly. I didn't try to sort out the larger issues, just marked them for later read through.

While I suspect that reading the whole manuscript aloud would have been more effective, I think I got 80% of the value of the readaloud by listening to GhostReader without wearing out either my voice or my patience. Also, this meant I could work on the book in public spaces and on airplanes without looking like a crazy person. Even coffee shops, despite what [info]scalzi says about that.

One of the minor problems of the process was when I went back through the manuscript, sometimes I'd have trouble figuring out why I marked a section. The answer to that, of course, was just to read it aloud to myself. Another minor problem was sometimes I'd go on a word hunt when I'd realized I'd used a crutch word, and then hit that point of neural fatigue where the word became a meaningless string of letters and stopped making sense in situ.

I'm extremely pleased with this outcome. GhostReader (or some equivalent) will be an important part of my writing from now on. It adds a layer of time and attention to my revision process, but that layer is worth a great deal more than it costs me. If you've never done this, I highly recommend trying it out.