Charlie Holmberg, whom I alpha/beta read for, just got an agent for her book The Paper Magician. I read it and I’m not surprised it landed an agent, I love it to pieces. (It’s reminiscent of Diana Wynne Jones’ style and uses origami-based magic.) Go congratulate her! Or even if you’re too shy to congratulate her, go watch her sing a song she wrote to celebrate the occasion.
I thought I’d just link you all to two videos, they’re both really short and interesting!
And here are 5 interesting factoids learned elsewhere about living in space:
- Water clings to you in space, not just itself. For some reason I didn’t realize just how much. See: crying in space & wringing out a washcloth.
- Writing a space western? Might want to learn how to play a guitar in zero G. Gravity affects more than we realize!
- Along with that, the space station is both bigger and smaller than I realized. See for yourself.
- Sauces/water are wonderful in space. They make your food stick to your utensils! Also, bread crumbles so use tortillas as a substitute.
- If you want to keep something with you, like a notepad–strap it to your leg! Velcro is your friend.
So, I think I’m going to start using this blog to show off cool research. A big part of writing fiction is doing research and learning about things, it’s not just about making stuff up. (Yeah, even though I’m not in school, I still do a lot of research, I just don’t write nonfiction papers anymore, it all goes into fiction.) We learn about people, about events, about how things work. Then all of our research becomes story fodder.
Often times, seasoned professionals get upset with writers who misrepresent them and their work. And it’s true that sometimes we don’t know what we’re writing wrong because we’re just writing what someone before us has written. It can be anything–getting science wrong or history wrong, or someone’s culture wrong. We take a lot for granted.
I would love to invite guest posts on these and any subjects. Have you done research and learned something new lately? What was it and what are 5 things you found new, interesting, or surprising?
- – -
I have a character who used to be a private detective, so I went looking to see what there was to learn about being a private detective, and I found this distance-learning school at Detective Training Institute. They teach you all the book-work learning in 3-6 months in preparation for being an apprentice PI at an agency. Really cool! They also offer their first lesson free, so I read that. Here are five new things I learned from their introductory lesson:
- Apprentices can be as young as 17, and they usually do mostly surveillance work since they are easily overlooked.
- Private Investigators are no longer allowed to carry a badge. There has been too much confusion between PIs and Police Force detectives, and impersonating a police officer is illegal.
- Most PIs do not carry guns. In fact, gun-carrying is discouraged because it gives you a sense of superiority and omnipotence.
- But on the other hand, PIs can be bodyguards and bounty hunters, something I hadn’t really connected the dots to before.
- PIs don’t just work in the legal field for criminal investigations or the private sector (to locate missing persons or check up on cheating spouses, etc.), but also with insurance companies to protect them from insurance fraud and with corporate entities to protect their products and investigate potential employees’ backgrounds.
I learned a lot more than this, but 5 seems like a good number. Expect to see more posts like this one!
Here’s a ballad from The Oxford Book of Ballads for National Poetry Month:
One of my favorites, entitled: The Famous Flower of Serving-men; or, The Lady Turned Serving-man
Note: I changed the spelling of two words to make them more easily understandable to modern audiences, otherwise I left it untouched.
- – -
Her lover being slain, her Father dead,
Her bower rob’d, her Servants fled,
She drest her self in Mans attire,
She trim’d her locks, she cut her hair,
And thereupon she chang’d her name
From Fair Elise to Sweet William.
You Beautious Ladies, great and small,
I write unto you one and all,
Whereby that you may understand
What I have suffered in this land.
I was by birth a Lady fair,
My father’s chief and onely heir,
But when my good old father dy’d
Then was I made a young Knights bride.
And then my love built me a bower
Bedeckt with many a fragrant flower;
A braver bower you never did see
Than my true love did build for me
But there came thieves late in the night,
They rob’d my bower, and slew my Knight;
And after that my Knight was slain
I could no longer there remain.
My Servants all from me did flye
In the midst of my extremity,
And left me by my self alone
With a heart more cold than any stone.
Yet though my heart was full of care
Heaven would not suffer me to despair;
Wherefore in hast I chang’d my name
From Fair Elise to Sweet William.
And therewithal I cut my hair
And drest my self in mans attire,
My Doublet, Hose, and Bever-hat,
And a golden band about my neck.
With a silver Rapier by my side
So like a gallant I did ride;
The thing that I delighted on
Was for to be a Serving-man.
Thus in my sumptuous mans array
I bravely rode along the way,
And at the last it chanced so
That I unto the Kings Court did go.
Then to the King I bowed full low,
My love and duty for to show,
And so much favour I did crave
That I a Serving-mans place might have.
Stand up, brave youth the King reply’d,
Thy service shall not be deny’d;
But tell me first what thou canst do;
Thou shall be fitted thereunto.
Wilt thou be Usher of my Hall
To wait upon my Nobles all?
Or wilt thou be taster of my Wine
To wait on me when I shall dine?
Or wilt thou be my Chamberlain
To make my bed both soft and fine?
Or wilt thou be one of my guard?
And I will give thee they reward.
Sweet William, with a smiling face,
Said to the King, If’t please your grace
To show such favour unto me,
Your Chamberlain I fain would be.
The King then did the Nobles call
To ask the counsel of them all,
Who gave consent Sweet WIlliam he
The King’s own Chamberlain should be.
Now mark what strange things came to pass:
As the King one day a hunting was
With all his Lords and noble train,
Sweet William did at home remain.
Sweet William had no company then
With him at home but an old man,
And when he saw the Coast was clear
He took a Lute which he had there.
Upon the Lute Sweet William plaid,
And to the same he sung and said
With a pleasant and most noble voice
Which made the old man to rejoyce:
My father was as brave a Lord
As ever Europe did afford;
My Mother was a Lady bright,
My Husband was a valiant Knight.
And I my self a Lady gay
Bedeckt with gorgeous rich array;
The bravest Lady in the land
Had not more pleasures to command.
I had my musick every day,
Harmonious Lessons for to play;
I had my Virgins fair and free
Continually to wait on me.
But now, alas, my Husband’s dead
And all my friends are from me fled;
My former joys are past and gone
For now I am a Serving-man.
At last the King from hunting came,
And presently upon the same
He called for the good old man
And thus to speak the King began:
What news, what news, old man? quoth he,
What news hast thou to tell to me?
Brave news, the old man he did say,
Sweet William is a Lady gay.
If this be true thou tellest me
I’ll make thee a Lord of high degree,
But if thy words do prove a Lye
Though shalt be hanged up presently.
But when the King the truth had found
His joys did more and more abound;
According as the old man did say,
Sweet William was a Lady gay.
Therefore the King without delay
Put on her glorious rich array,
And upon her head a crown of gold
Which was most famous to behold.
And then, for fear of further strife,
He took Sweet William for his wife;
The like before was never seen,
A Serving-man to be a Queen.
Proof that we never really change: this is from a letter my dad wrote when I was 3 years old.
Laura is still real cute. She is growing up. The main thing that she does different is imagine. Now when she plays with her dolls, one of them is Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty and the other is the Prince. The basic script runs something like this: The prince has to fight the dragon. Then Laura says, “Throw the sword!” after which the prince makes a throwing motion. The dragon goes “Arrg, kerplunk”. The prince tries to find Sleeping Beauty. He finds her. He gives her a kiss. She wakes up, they dance. Sleeping Beauty is now Cinderella, because she says “I must go!” The prince has to say “Don’t leave!” Cinderella leaves, losing her slipper on the way. Then the prince finds her and puts her slipper back on. The prince then has to fight the dragon and the cycle continues. That script can also be used with her Mickey and Minnie, and Donald and Daisy figures. There are many variations on the theme. One variation is that Sleeping Beauty doesn’t wake up on the first kiss. Sometimes the Prince kisses Sleeping Beauty and falls asleep too.
I gave a head’s up several weeks back, but I want to say it officially here and now– I’m going to take a break from alpha/beta-reading for a while. Last year I alpha/beta-read 5 novels and novelettes, and I’ve already done 4 this year just in the past 3.5 months.
I have a class coming up that starts April 22, and I’m really feeling the itch to finish some of my own projects. I’m really good at getting things done for others, but I’m not very good at finishing my own work, it seems, and I’d really like to be able to do that.
So here’s for a sabbatical. See you on the other side!
You’ve probably noticed I’ve started writing about my chronic illness experiences again lately. This is because I’m gearing up to compile all of last year’s posts on CFS and revise them this summer to make into a free e-book, so the topic’s on my mind as I think about what I have already written and what puzzle-piece gaps are still left to fill.
But I know some of you are asking–why an e-book? And why free?
Well, one, I don’t foresee making enough money to live off of, just enough to mess up my financial situation as it is currently. (Anything more than $20 would be problematic. Crazy, huh?) Two, I don’t like the idea of charging people money to learn about what it’s like to live with a chronic illness. That seems counter-intuitive. I want this to be like a pamphlet you hand out on the street, or an information packet you grab at a museum or doctor’s office.
Originally, I’d wanted to get contributors to add to the book, but I don’t think that’s quite right for this project. Maybe in the future I will make an anthology of sorts and invite paid contributors (since I’ve compiled quite a list of writers who’ve been in similar situations), but not this year and not this book.
So! Expect to see some posts off and on as I think about what else I’d like to add. If you have any questions, now’s the time to ask them.
As a contrast to the above, I have a new non-fiction book project. I’ve never seen myself as a non-fiction writer, but this book has been in my brain-gears for a couple years. I just was in denial about wanting/needing to write it until last week when someone I respect told me that I should, without even being asked. It felt like the stars aligning–again. This one will be very different from the CFS book, and I won’t be able to put it up in blog-sized chunks because he challenged me to send this one to a publisher and I’m going to take that challenge. That’s all I will say about it here, but I’m rather excited! I’ll begin serious work on it this summer after I’ve finished the CFS book, but I’ve already started the preliminaries and have a working table of contents. Can’t wait!
So, I learned that at Camp NaNoWriMo you can set your own wordcount goals as opposed to being required to hit the 50k that’s NaNoWriMo’s goal in November. I also learned that Camp NaNoWriMo is in April and July this year! So, I’m going to do it. The minimum goal (and my goal) is to do 10k in April. I’d really like to learn how to do that sort of a pace with my health, so I’m going to give it a shot.
My plate is clearing up, so there’s no better time like the present to give it a try! Wish me luck.
Anyone else with me?
The best way to sympathize is to listen, to ask questions, and to try to understand. I’m not always good at this, myself, but I hope that I can at least try to deconstruct what it’s like from the other end, so that we can all learn how to do it better together.
For example, one of the most popular “sympathetic” attempts people make on me is for them to try to show me how they understand my illness because they know what it’s like to be tired. (This is the unfortunate consequence of having an illness named Chronic Fatigue Syndrome rather than something ominous and obscure-sounding like fibromyalgia, lupus, or even cancer. Before you speak, ask yourself: would you commiserate this way with someone who has any other disabling illness? Why not?)
This type of commiseration happened to me again twice today (as I write this). The second time, I just shook my head and told her it’s not like that at all, rather than let her get away with it. Still, I’m much better at expressing myself through writing.
So without further ado, here is my attempt to answer this phrase via Twitter with a slice of life snapshot, to try to write up a pithy comparison to what a normal health life is like vs. a chronically ill one.
- Being tired all the time because you’re overworking yourself is not the same thing as having a chronic illness, just fyi
- Went to the library on Thursday, found I couldn’t remember the alphabet nor could I see any of the books on the shelves #chronicillness
- On Friday I opened up a book to start reading, couldn’t even read one sentence before I stopped seeing the page #chronicillness
- Was exhausted, sick & teary all day Friday, but my body forgot how to flip the switch for sleep, had insomnia till 4 am. #chronicillness
- Woke up, couldn’t eat without feeling like I was just going to puke it all back up. Am getting good at this nausea thing #chronicillness
- At least I haven’t had heart problems this week. #chronicillness
- If I used Twitter to vent about my health whenever I felt poorly, you’d all get tired of me reaaaal soon. #chronicillness