Saturday, January 31, 2015

Nifty Links to Enliven Your Weekend

(an occasional series of tidbits I found delightful)

Writers Sherwood Smith and Judith Tarr discuss Writing: Where history, fantasy, and science fiction intersect.

The Pomegranate Architect“: A previously unpublished essay by Ray Bradbury

Asteroid M44 streaks across the night sky. On Monday, January 26, well-tracked asteroid 2004 BL86 made its closest approach, a mere 1.2 million kilometers from our fair planet. That's about 3.1 times the Earth-Moon distance or 4 light-seconds away.

Vesta is the second most massive body in the asteroid beltsurpassed only by Ceres, which is classified as a dwarf planet... and other cool stuff about Vesta

Barns Are Painted Red Because of the Physics of Dying Stars Red ochre—Fe2O3—is a simple compound of iron and oxygen that absorbs yellow, green and blue light and appears red. It’s what makes red paint red. It’s really cheap because it’s really plentiful. And it’s really plentiful because of nuclear fusion in dying stars

Friday, January 30, 2015

Thunderlord snippet - The Summons

Please remember that this is a work in progress and drafts have a habit of changing drastically from inception to finished book.

From Thunderlord Chapter 2

The strip of carpet was so worn that it did not cushion the thumping sound of Valdir’s boot heels. He marched along, gaze fixed in front of him and expression somber. Kyria had to jog a few paces to keep up with him. At this rate, they’d arrive at the presence chamber without time for her to ask a single question. “Val! Slow down, will you? What’s going on?”

He did not look at her, although he moderated his pace. “You’ll find out soon enough. It’s not for me to say.”

Kyria, near the end of her temper, came to a halt. If he wouldn’t talk to her, she’d stay right here until he did. “Now you’re frightening me. What do these men of Scathfell want with me? And why can’t you tell me? Is it bad news?” Although what that news might be and why it must be delivered to her and none of the other women of the family, she had no idea.

Valdir turned to face her. They’d never been close for their ages were too dissimilar, but now he seemed almost sympathetic. “No, it’s not bad news. At least, I don’t think so. But the outcome is not yet determined. You must trust me – or if not me, then our father – that much good may come to you – to us – from this. Please, they are waiting.”

His words, although kindly spoken, did nothing to dissipate Kyria’s unease. Thinking that the problem, whatever it was, was best faced quickly, she hurried after her brother so rapidly that they soon arrived at the presence chamber. She hadn’t been in that room more than a handful of times in her life, for the chamber was dim and chilly, even in high summer. Valdir opened the door and indicated she should proceed him. Candelabra of their most expensive beeswax candles pushed back the gloom. Her father sat in his usual high-backed chair. A strange man, also seated, faced him. Kyria had only a moment to study him and the two others who stood at attention behind him. Even at a glance, she noticed the armor under their travel cloaks. Their hands rested on the hilts of their sheathed swords.

Wear no sword at kinsman’s board, she recalled the old proverb. But these men were not kin.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Midwifing a Story: Editors

Once upon a time, editors were the gold standard of book midwifery. Editors loved books and had the time to not discover budding authors, who received nurture and guidance for their entire careers. The best editors took the “long view” and invested patience in allowing “their” authors time to develop, find their audiences, and achieve their full potential. If a single book didn’t do well, author and editor soldiered on; this loyalty and refusal to give up on the partnership encouraged authors to try new and challenging projects. Editors understood that not every book will be a best-seller and that new writers need time to find the true power of their voices. 

Nowadays, with a few happy exceptions, the situation is very different. In some traditional publishing houses, one editor may acquire a book and another may edit it. Authors who do not rapidly achieve success (measured in dollars, not the quality of their work and the depth of their vision) are dropped or ordered to change their bylines so that poor sales figures do not affect pre-orders of their next books, or even to change the story to make it fit into current marketing niches. More and more, editors spend their time wrestling sales figures for multinational conglomerates instead of working with their authors. Even so, most editors are in the business because they love good books; for them, the thrill of discovering a new talent and seeing it blossom overrides the long hours and the impossible task of satisfying the bean-counters.