May 22nd, 2012


[links] Link salad heads west

New York's Last Cross-Harbor Railway Chugs On as Alternative to Trucks

Gesture Controls Get a Huge Boost with New ‘Leap’ Interaction System

Fossil Ink Sacs Yield Jurassic Pigment—A FirstInk "strikingly" similar to that of modern cuttlefish, study says.

Quantum Dots May Be Safe to Use in PatientsThe colorful, glowing crystals could prove to be useful as a surgical aid.

Can mammals outrun climate change?For about 10 percent of species, the answer could be "no." Of course, they wouldn't need to if they'd just listen to Rush Limbaugh instead of paying attention to the realities of their environment.

Catholic dioceses, colleges sue over Obama mandate — Stay classy, conservative America. It's what you do best.

On Christianity and marriage equality (part 4)Christians who oppose equality are losing the argument. That’s why they’re so loud. Slacktivist Fred Clark with an excellent roundup of links about Christianist bigotry and responses to it.

Andrea Mitchell: Romney Has Been Getting A "Free Ride" From The Media — Of course he has. He's a Republican. Your Liberal Media has for many years been strongly biased in favor of them. Look at the scholarship on the relative incidence of negative stories about George W. Bush and Al Gore during the 2000 election cycle (roughly 4:1 against Gore) for objective confirmation of this. The "liberal media" meme has been one of the most successful political lies in modern history.

?otd: Cascades or Coastals?

Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (full day of work and socializing)
Body movement: n/a (airport walking to come)
Hours slept: 5.25 (fitful)
Weight: n/a
Currently reading: Light Breaker by Mark Teppo


[personal] Miscellaneous miscellany

Yesterday was a long, good day. Day Jobbery went well, even better than normal. We had a terrific Open Dinner here in Austin, with @dratz, @itsaJuliasaurus (a/k/a Mrs. @dratz), [info]stillsostrange, @StevenBrust, Skyler White, D—, old Austin Slug Tribe friends Jn4 and CH, [info]jess_ka, E—, [info]sophielandon and Mr. [info]sophielandon. I got to talk with everyone but E—, to whom I regretfully didn't even manage to say good-bye.

Afterwards, we rolled back to chez @dratz where I wound up interviewing @StevenBrust and Skyler White on camera.

Jay Lake interviewing Steven Brust and Skyler White

This was a cold interview, from my perspective, in that I hadn't known I'd be conducting it until about a minute before the interview started, and I'd done none of my usual interview preparation. Nonetheless, Steve and Skyler were gracious and cooperative interview subjects. Oddly, I went to bed feeling a bad attack of imposter syndrome post-interview. That's mostly a measure of how tired I was, given my usual bullet-resistant writerly ego.

Now I'm heading back to Portland, rather underslept and feeling more than a bit behind on my writing. The latter is not in fact true, this is just my psychotically persistent writerself talking, so I'll be fine. After lunch with [info]mlerules, I'll be working Day Jobbery this afternoon, then photographing [info]the_child's lacrosse team, and spending the evening with her. More Day Jobbery tomorrow and (hopefully) lunch with [info]kenscholes. Then off to Detroit on Thursday.

I do owe a couple of blog posts, time and mental focus permitting. Among other things, I want to document last Saturday's cheesefest at Paradise Lost II.

Also of note, a dream from a couple of nights ago. I was watching television (in my dream). It was a nature documentary about a family of manta rays that had adopted a kitten. That was all very sweet and adorbz until at one point in the documentary, the manta rays turned on their kitten. As they began slashing at the animal, taking bites out of it, I felt the stinging, tearing pain of each bite in my body. I got wrapped up in wondering how the documentary crew had managed to capture then broadcast the pain to me, the viewer. Interpretation of the meaning of this dream is left as an exercise for the reader.

At any rate, I'm off. Be well.

Photo © 2012 Donnie Reynolds and Waterloo Productions. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission.


[process] My copy editor comments in response

Kalimpura's copy editor and I have had a very nice email exchange arising in response to my recent post about copy edits and manuals of style. [ | LiveJournal ] With their kind permission, I am reprinting excerpts from that email exchange here, as I found it pretty interesting.

On eccentric spelling issues:
I thought I'd share a little bit about how British/Canadian spellings can come across to a copy editor.

Basically, the first time I see words like "storey" and "colour," I'm on alert wondering if the author just went English for a second or what else might be going on. It gets harder again, when later "flavor" and "harbor" might go by as is. (And I'm not even sure why, or if the author has a strong reason why "colour" and "neighbor" might inhabit the same sentence.) Textually, it can read like the narrative has mysteriously decided to affect a brief accent that is just as quickly dropped again. At this point, I am noting what the prevailing style is and if there perhaps might be some narrative logic to a quick switch in voice/dialect/geography—yet only for certain words.

I don't greatly prefer American over British spelling, and have had no problem when enough of the latter crops up, then going back and reconciling grey, kerb, spiralling, harbour, draught, neighbour, til, and so forth--all in. Before the tipover point, I'm writing down hundreds of words and instances in my notes, work that's often needless when it turns out the author just quickly tried out a dialect and backed off from it. Those hours never feel wasted, just part of the job.

I am thinking that where many, many readers (and editors) see/hear an inconsistent regionalism in what an author spells, the author might just be trying to encode a quick flavor of nostalgia, sprinkled where they most prefer it with a spelling device. That's the point at which the author's stet is so stylistically priceless.

In my case, when I do this, I am trying to convey a flavor with certain spellings. So, "storey", "despatch" and "draught", for example. It looks right for what I'm wanting to do in the book. I'm not deliberately being Anglophilic or otherwise, just working within a certain context that feels right to me.

They go on to say:
I'm glad you're keen on preserving your intentions when they might be invisible to someone farther along in the process. With 900 books behind me, I've witnessed that most often textual quirk is not the result of care or deliberation, but accident and inattention, and now and then forgotten indecision. You do your best as a CE to come across as an aide-de-camp rather than an adversary, giving the author more YES/NO choices than they might first have had in mind. Maybe 1 percent of authors are as good about process and design as you are (no lie), which makes the mighty stet such a blessing for everyone involved in the making of the best book possible.

I appreciated the kind words, but that's also an important point. The copy editor has to distinguish between auctorial intention and textual errors, generally with very little context to work from. In my response to them, I mentioned that I had developed a stylesheet for the Sunspin books, to address certain items of usage and so forth. My copy editor replied:
A style sheet specific to each title could be helpful for you and for the other hands and eyes involved in the next books, sure.

Noting points of usage and style is valuable, as is delineating the reason and pattern behind, say, the narrative "speaking" in "storey" and "draught" but not "dialled" and "programme," for example. Sharing your overarching scheme helps immensely and aids the CE with the gist of your spelling gimmicks and similar storytelling choices.

On the other hand, if it's just as much of a time sink to create a comprehensive style sheet as it is to click "reject change" later on, then I'd say put the time in at whatever point in the process you can best spare it: front or back.

I'm increasingly coming to believe that an author-generated stylesheet can be critical. Of course, I only know what a stylesheet is from experience with prior copy edits. I don't believe I'm free to share those here, as they are Tor's work product, but at the bottom of this post, I'll append part of my Sunspin style sheet as an example, since at this point that's still my own work product.

A bit later, I received a third email from my copy editor, adding another interesting comment.
[S]omething else that might be valuable if you're continuing to write in genres that use sometimes exalted, formal, studious, or ceremonial speech between characters is to let the CE know that despite the tone, you're purposely leaving out the "whom" or similar constructions in either the dialogue or running text. A careful CE is generally trying to extrapolate and fill in from a mosaic of other hints--if you have an issue that contrasts rather than coheres, that's the sort of thing to flag.

I want to thank my copy editor for their frankness, and their willingness to be quoted herein. And also for the terrific copy edit.

Sunspin stylesheet notes follow. In addition to these explications of usage, I have lists of people and place names, as well as a list of starship names. I still need to create a list of nonstandard words in deliberate use.
Titles or ranks are capitalized when they are part of names or used in direct address in lieu of a name. They are uncapitalized when being referenced without the name or otherwise in indirect use. These include father, father superior, sergeant, lieutenant, lieutenant-commander, commander, captain, admiral, baron, count, earl, duke, prince and princess. The only exceptions are Before, Library, Interlocutrix, Patriarch and Imperator, which are always capitalized, even in their adjectival forms. ("Before" does not have an adjectival form.)

The prefix "go" when applied to an officer's rank (i.e., Go-Captain Alvarez) is specific to the Navisparliamentary service, and is reserved for those officers trained and certified for starship command. Note that some starship captains do not have a "go" prefix. These are either captains from outside the Navisparliamentary service (i.e., Captain Kinman), or more rarely, Navisparliamentary officers in a command role without the formal certification. The "go" prefix may be omitted in casual address, much as lieutenant colonels are often referred to simply as "colonel".

The suffix "praetor" when applied to an officer's rank (i.e., Lieutenant-Praetor Shinka) is specific to the Imperatorial Guards (also sometimes referred to as the Household Guards -- the two terms are interchangeable). "Praetor" is reserved for those officers permitted to carry weapons in the Imperator's presence, or to command troops carrying weapons in the Imperator's presence. The "praetor" prefix may be omitted in casual address, much as lieutenant colonels are often referred to simply as "colonel".

Starships are always formally referred to with their pair count, so "Third Rectification {58 pairs}" in narrative or written references, but "Third Rectification, fifty-eight pairs" in dialog. This formal reference should be used the first time a starship's name is introduced in narrative or dialog, but can be omitted in immediately subsequent uses. If the starship is not referred to for a while, the reintroduction of the name should again be with the formal reference on initial occurrence.

Note that both Third Rectification and Joyous Strength have varying pair counts within the manuscript of Calamity of So Long a Life. This is because of the new pair master built at NSN.411-e. AA. Characters unaware of the return of the two starships will refer to them by their previous pair counts, Third Rectification {58 pairs} and Joyous Strength {21 pairs}. Characters who have become aware of their returns will refer to them as Third Rectification {59 pairs} and Joyous Strength {22 pairs}. This creates an apparent inconsistency in the text, as for much of the book, not everyone is aware of their return, so both references are being used. However, any given character will be consistent according to their knowledge of the situation.

Polite address for persons without title or rank is "Ser" or "Sera". This corresponds to "Sir" or "Ma'am", and also to "Mr." or "Mrs./Ms./Miss". However, in a very few cases the older, archaic forms of address are used, exclusively by Befores, and usually under stress or in a moment of thoughtlessness. Likewise, a common expletive is “hells”, except for the Befores who will often use the older, singular form. (I.e., “what the hells?” vs “what the hell?”)

This culture does not make a strong distinction between the name of a star and the name of the primary inhabited planet in any given solar system. Hence "Salton" for both the star and the planet. Often the star will have a different name or survey number for technical or scientific use, but in Calamity of So Long a Life this rarely occurs explicitly in the text.

In starship operations, generally speaking a "cruise" is a voyage between destinations which or may not include multiple distinct transits between pair masters. A "transit" is more specifically the process of traveling between any two pair masters. This language is not used with precision, and so there may be occasional inconsistencies depending on the speaker, dialect or stylistic concerns of the text.