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Game of Thrones, Season four, episode 1

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Game of Thrones, Season Four, Episode One

Yes, this is up a bit late. It's not my fault: the Lannisters crashed HBO. (Really. This even ended up on the news.) Anyway, general, partly snarky reactions on the episode:

Spoilery for the episode.Collapse )

Lessons Learned From Flash Mobbing:

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1. Flashmobbing can be indeed organized with a few days notice (like, two) and two hours of practice.

2. When following the directions of flashmobbers, it will often feel as if Google Maps is your best friend. Or even your only friend.

3. As is shade. Shade is good. Shade is very good. What happened to Florida this April? I miss you, delightful Florida Aprils! Oh, wait. This is supposed to be about flashmobbing not weather. Back to that.

4. Astonishingly, about one third of the people who show up will claim to have never flash mobbed before. About half of them will claim to be unable to dance.

5. You will wonder just how this is going to work.

6. As it turns out, this works by choreographing a dance specifically for people who can't dance. Also, fist pumping.

7. As it also turns out, thanks to this, people who are not, in fact, professional dancers can, in fact, do flash mobbing on a regular basis – say, at least once or twice a week.

8. Which also means that Orlando and Tampa are the sorts of cities that host flash mobs at least once or twice a week.

9. Orlando and Tampa may be a bit weird.

10. You can, as it turns out, fist pump and air guitar from the wheelchair.

11. Hiding in the back corner will not prevent people doing what is apparently meant to be a King Tut dance move from King Tutting right into your wheelchair.

12. You will be told that the one thing you never, ever do as part of a flash mob is call it a flash mob.

13. You will then decide that you are calling it a flash mob anyway.

14. First grade teachers join flash mobs to get out their frustrations. "At a certain point you need more than crayons."

15. Since everyone has to type things into tiny, tiny, keyboards, it will take a surprisingly long time to tell everyone where the flash mob is actually going.

16. "Everybody knows this Hilton, right?" "It's the one across from downtown Disney!" "Right!"

17. That will turn out to be wrong.

18. Orlando has far too many Hiltons, even if the first Hilton you head to turns out not to be a Hilton.

19. The second Hilton is, in fact, a Hilton, but is not the Hilton you are looking for.
20. Google Maps is your friend.

21. Parking garages are not your friend.

22. This particular Hilton will turn out to have not only a convention center and a splendid view over a championship golf course but also a lazy river and 24 hour chocolate.

23. You will realize that certain things have been missing from your life: namely, lazy rivers and 24 hour chocolate.

24. What high powered, wealthy attorneys call "business casual" and what the rest of us call "business casual" are two entirely different things.

25. You can be in "business casual" and feel terribly, terribly, underdressed.

26. Until you see some people in Mickey Mouse hats and gloves and cheer up.

27. All of the planning that goes into a flash mob can be destroyed in a second when the flash mob realizes that the area they can flash mob in is considerably smaller than the already not large rehearsal area.

28. It is nearly impossible to have a casual conversation about not having enough space for a surprise flash mob without letting the audience know that a flash mob is coming.

29. Hint: if part of your flash mob experience includes having to put on bright orange sunglasses, make sure that you have not placed your bright orange sunglasses into a bag with a zipper that more than occasionally gets stuck. Otherwise the sounds of "WE BUILT THIS CITY ON ROCK AND ROLL!" will boom out and you, rather than fist pumping, will find yourself wishing you had indeed bought a second bag with a working zipper from Target.

30. You can fist pump while putting on bright orange sunglasses.

31. Conga lines are much more difficult in a crowded room full of attorneys. They are much much much more difficult in a wheelchair in a crowded room full of attorneys.

32. A surprising number of people will want a picture of the group afterwards. You, however, will want chocolate. Because.
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Speaking of April, and more specifically April First, Unlikely Story has just published The Journal of Unlikely Story Acceptances, which I am linking to here only because one of the stories, "Whinny If You Love Me," by Andrew Kaye has a vampire pegasus, which is the sort of thing the world needs more of, although it needs more of this in better written stories.

On a completely different note: last night, CBS aired the final episode of How I Met Your Mother...

...and it's safe to say Twitter exploded. (Apparently Tumblr exploded as well, but Tumblr terrifies me so I'm just going to have to take other people's word on that.)

I don't really watch the show (I think I've seen about three or four episodes), and I didn't watch the finale, so I can't comment on the actual finale. But I was intrigued enough by the explosion to seek out a few reviews of the finale to see what, exactly, people were yelling about - and in the process found some very interesting comments about the writing process, for novels or television.

Probably the most interesting reaction was from Alan Sepinwall, over at Hitfix. The good stuff is on page two. There's also this.

The takeaway lesson here is that sometimes, you have to let your original plans go (are you listening, Arrow writers?). Friends did that, to wild success; its finale wasn't perfect and was certainly widely criticized, but nothing to this extent. Same with Cheers and several other great comedies and dramas through the year.

It's a hard lesson to learn. Like many writers I do often write the end before I write the middle, or in some cases even the beginning, and sometimes it's very hard to let that ending go because I'm so incredibly proud of it or tied to it. I'm having to do that just now with a story, where the ending was one of the earlier things I wrote. It worked beautifully with how the story was at that point; it doesn't seem to be working now. So I think I have to let it go, even though the very thought is making my fingers itch.

I meant to connect this thought with something about vampire pegasi, but I think that's another thought I'm going to have to let go of.

inkscrawl, issue 7

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One of my favorite little zines, inkscrawl, is back, just in time for National Poetry Month. This issue contains a tiny poem from me, as well as work from Sonja Taaffe, Kendall Evans, Adrienne Odosso, and many more. A lovely little way to start off April.

Tidbits

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Various tidbits that we will pretend make a post!

1. I spent most of last week and weekend at ICFA, the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, which for many people is an academic conference offering important insights about fantasy and the arts (literature, film, television, apparently tarot cards) and for me is a time to have a nice drink by the pool. Various personal issues and getting extremely sick prevented me from enjoying this conference as much as I would have liked, but I did have a chance to do a reading with Eugene Fischer and Dennis Danvers By a complete coincidence, we had all managed to choose stories on a similar theme: horror stories about the process of creating story. And by horror, the excerpt from Eugene's novella strongly suggested that we are all going to die, Dennis' story chatted about a puppy strangler – and by this, I mean, someone who strangles puppies, and my story had a house built from the teeth of small children. All very cheerful for a Saturday morning, though the puppy strangler story had us all collapsing with laughter. I think you have to read it to understand.

Special thanks to Julia Rios and Keffy Kehrli for helping me out during the conference.

2. Alas, attending ICFA meant I missed going to Megacon – and seeing many of you – but it looks like next year the events are on separate weekends. I'll keep my fingers crossed that golf is on a separate week.

3. While I was at ICFA I did get various tidbits of good news, including:

The release of Mythic Delirium 0.4, April-June 2014, available from Weightless Books here, which contains my poem, "The Silver Comb." (If you check, you will also see that it lists my name right under Jane Yolen, which is pretty awesomely cool.)

The news that Upper Rubber Boot Books will be reprinting my short story, "Twittering the Stars," as part of their new upcoming SOLES series.

I'm particularly delighted by this second bit since prior to this, although "Twittering the Stars" was hands down my most widely and best reviewed story (well over 40 positive reviews the last time I checked) it was also only available in an anthology that briefly popped up in bookstores and then mostly vanished, although the ebook is still available, which in turn meant that it was also one of my least read stories. I've been hoping for a chance to have it released into the wild again, so this is pretty awesome.

I'll also just note that Upper Rubber Boot Books offers a lovely selection of poetry books.

4. And while I was at ICFA and recovering from ICFA, Tor.com blogging continued! Two more posts on Mary Poppins, here and here, and also a second post chatting about Once Upon a Time and Oz here where I am VERY DISTURBED about the biological implications.

The Once Upon a Time Oz posts are not going to be a weekly event, primarily because so many parts of the show leave me wanting to throw things at the television or slam my head against something, and this sort of emotional reaction is a) not appreciated by the cats, who, as they have noted, do not deserve to have their hard-earned cat naps disturbed by this sort of thing and b) not really helped by friendly contact from the ABC publicity department (though I appreciate the effort.)

5. But regarding the upcoming Game of Thrones season four: yes, I do plan to snark individual episodes here, but I may be a bit delayed depending upon when exactly the new computer arrives.

Polychrome in Oz

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Some time ago I had the opportunity to read Ryk Spoor's Polychrome in Oz in manuscript. I sent him my comments, some of which you can see in that link. What I didn't tell him was that both midway through and at the end I kept having the same nagging thought: wow, I can see that this might be a tough sell to publishers.

Here's why - the tough sell, that is, not why I didn't tell him.

By this point, if you haven't been able to tell, I have read a lot of Oz books. And I do mean a lot. (Beyond the Tor.com posts, I also continue to review Oz books for the Baum Bugle.) They tend to fall into two different categories:

1. Happy, cheerful kids books focused on adventure and fun, with a few - very few - attempting to make sense of some of the inconsistencies in Oz along the way (Paul Dana's The Law of Oz, for instance.) Sometimes these books focus on Oz characters; sometimes these books focus on kids from our world getting to go to Oz - either temporarily or permanently. (Loosen those immigration standards, Ozma!)

2. Serious and often, frankly, depressing as hell adult takes on Oz, that Examine All of the Ramifications of This Fairyland and Insert Clever References to the Movies. Interestingly these tend to outsell the cheerful kids books, and I have thoughts on that, but more later.

What's been, for the most part, completely missing is anything between these two extremes: a fantasy adventure set in Oz written for adults.

And that's what Ryk has provided here. And since it doesn't easily fit into those categories, it was, as I feared, a tough sell - so he's turning to Kickstarter to get it into print.

Full disclosure: Ryk and I follow each other on Lj, but I'm linking here not because of that, but because I'm hoping this is the start of a new trend for Oz books.

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Lloyd Alexander, Once Upon a Time, and Oz

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ABC's Once Upon a Time finally went to Oz this last Sunday. I had FEELINGS, which Tor.com was gracious enough to post.

Speaking of Tor.com, the Lloyd Alexander reread finally came to a conclusion with The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio.

I'm finding, by the way, that going through this many books by a single author at once is getting slightly mind numbing - not to mention that I think it's making me less appreciative of these authors. So I may be altering my approach a bit - starting with choosing a less prolific author to reread this week. Keep an eye out for magical nannies.

(The Disney focus of this week was entirely unintentional, I promise.)

Undone and author interview

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First, Happy Pancake Day everyone! Alas, my own plans for pancakes today have taken a bit of a detour thanks to unpredictable weather, but the good thing about pancake day is that you can always celebrate it later with more pancakes.

And in non pancake news:

1. My little story, Undone just popped up over at Apex Magazine. Enjoy!

2. And over at Unlikely Story, I'm interviewed about my short story, Ink. Somehow or other clowns jumped in. That sort of thing happens.
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I have this novelette that I'm struggling to finish right now. Struggling partly because the ending just does not work, at least not yet, so I'm trying different endings, different sentences, to get something that works.

As I do this, I keep glancing back at the earlier parts of the novelette, checking, checking, obsessively checking --

For nitpicks.

And as I'm doing so, I realize that I can almost hear them, the voices in the back of my head -

And they sound like negative, snarky comments from Twitter, Tor and various internet forums. Because I know just how much readers/viewers can snark and nitpick and criticize anything.

It's not necessarily bad - I do need to find mistakes and errors in my work before I shoot it out to editors and try to sell it. But at the same time, it can be paralyzing, and it can distract me from the inner voice that's giving me the narrative I need to fill up the other holes in this novelette (it's not just the ending, although that's the major problem at the moment).

I realize authors had inner self-critics pre internet - I certainly did - but my previous inner self-critic had a distinct academic tone, a more serious literary tone, not "I LOLed." "Like, seriously." "This author is crap. I'm out of here."

Silence, I try to tell myself. This thing is nowhere near ready to appear on the Internet yet.

And then I take another look at the ending, and try not to type, "This story is crap. I'm out of here."

Toads

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For those who aren't getting Daily Science Fiction in their inboxes (and why not? It's free?), my little short story, Toads just popped up on their site today.

"Toads" is part of a series of flash fiction fairy tales that I really hope to have completed one day. I'm currently about 1/3 of the way through the planned outline, so...let's just say I have a ways to go. But at least this one is out there, hopping through the world.

No, I couldn't resist that pun. Why do you ask?

Ink

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Sure, I could comment on the still-ongoing SFWA stuff, or NBC's new lows of failure in their coverage of Alpine skier Bode Miller last night, but instead, let's focus on happier things: my short story Ink just popped up at The Journal of Unlikely Cryptography, along with other stories by Barry King, Mary Alexandra Anger, Ada Hoffman and Gregory Norman Bossert.

Ink is set in my wider Stoneverse setting; I don't know if we'll ever see the character from this particular story again, but I'm hoping to see her employers in future stories.

Enjoy!

Happy Watermaiden's Day

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Once again, the fairy courts have met and declared that today is, by decree fee, Official Watermaiden's Day.

Now, the trouble is how to inform the water maidens.

It is easy enough for the fairies to send out messages to mortals: a dream here, an enchanted drop of water there. Nothing spectacular, of course, nothing overt: just enough to let a mortal spend a moment or two, perhaps, thinking of water and dreams, shadow and light, or the sound of a drop of water falling on crystal. Nothing more than that; nothing that might let mortals know that fairies really are, well, real. A moment, and it is done.

Water maidens, however, are harder to reach. They have never been ones to come to fairy courts, after all, which are, they explain, far too dry for their tastes. Even the ones concealed behind waterfalls, or filled with dancing fountains. They are still filled with – how can the water maidens put this? – air.

And so the water maidens stay in their ponds, their rivers, their springs, climbing out only to explore a puddle or two, or perhaps snatch a luxury item or two from an unwary mortal, or even – for particularly bold water maidens – an hour or two of shopping.

Which means that the fairies must deliver the decree fee to the water maidens.

It is quite a daunting task: preparing messages that cannot drown in water or vanish in mist, yet cause no harm to the crystal clear waters some water maidens still jealously guard. (Alas, other water maidens have found themselves guarding polluted waters – but that is something that impacts all fairy realms, not merely those of water.) Preparing messages that cannot be seen by mortals.

Preparing messages that water maidens will see.

Some fairies, it must be confessed, simply dodge out of the task entirely, decree fee or no decree fee. You must not blame them too much: they are, after all, fairies, and in some sections of the world it is simply too cold or too hot to ask anyone, especially a fairy, to do anything that involves getting out of a bed or that is not strictly confined to drinking tea brewed from moonlight or eating ice cream carved from starlight.

(This last, by the way, is a specialty of fairies from the Antarctic; should you ever be fortunate enough to taste some, be sure to have some restorative tea of pennywort and mint nearby – the effect on mortals is said to be quite devastating.)

Other fairies, either more diligent or more interested in saving their ears, noses and feet from the fury of the fairy queens (who can become quite creative when crossed) resignedly show up to their assigned clouds or caves or tall standing stones and set to work.

I fear that their precise methods are so secret that were I to attempt to list them here, not only would this blog disappear, but also every computer attempting to read this blog. Oh, not right in front of your eyes, of course. You would just happen to find yourselves distracted – just for a second – a cat, perhaps (fairies love to work through cats) – the scent of chocolate (fairies find this very practical) – a sudden explosion (fairies work with what they need to work with) – the sudden realization that you really, really have to call this person right away, like now (fairies also like to work through guilt) – only to find, when you turn back, that somehow you or someone else has moved your computer. Someplace. You'll find it, of course. Very soon. In the meantime, you might as well head out and buy a replacement – you've wanted one for awhile, haven't you?

By the time you return, or think to use a cell phone or table, this blog entry would be quite, quite gone.

So let us not risk your computers. Let us instead discuss what happens when these messages are released into the wind and the rain, or, in certain particular cases, delivered in person by fairy hands.

Don't try to look for them: you will never see a fairy, much less a fairy message, when you are looking.

But you might see a quick swirl of air, a quick dazzle of light, a shadow where you should not see a shadow. Or hear a joyous tinkling bell or a howl of the wind, in a place without a bell or wind.

And if the drink you are holding in your hands quivers a little, for no reason at all; if you think you hear an echo of music while you stand in the shower, or see a rainbow as you pour water into a pot; if you see the wind spin up the falling rain into a whirl of water and dance, or find yourself dreaming of water; or simply feel your breath suddenly catch –

Well. That might be a water maiden, catching a fairy hand.

Watermaidens Day is the brainchild of folklorist, editor, poet, storyteller and scholar Nin Harris. I'm just borrowing it for fun.
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I was going to leap into the fun with a blog entry about the latest Fun With SFWA and Internet Petitions, but amusing as it's been to watch a non-member and 1% of the membership start a flame war up over something that doesn't even exist, and to have this immediately labelled a SFWA controversy, it's also kinda tiring.

So apart from noting, again, that many full, active members of SFWA either never received either controversial petition in the first place (me) or refused to sign them (many, many others - in fact, refusal to sign is what brought this to public attention in the first place), instead I'll just point you to the latest Tor.com blog post, this time about one of Lloyd Alexander's more unusual books: a novel that is half fiction, half memoir, interlaced with fierce commentary on the United States educational system on and the negative effects of war. As I've said before, Alexander's experience in World War II was almost uniformly negative, but until I read this book, I hadn't realized that he had also encountered World War I veterans suffering from shell-shock - what would today be called PTSD.

As I wrote in my post, it was an interesting read, one that reads much better on a second reading, when you realize what Alexander was doing. I rather wish I'd read it earlier in the reread: it would have given me a lot more insight into Alexander's writings with these posts.

Apropos of nothing in particular

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I found myself remembering this passage from Little Women today:

The solitary woman felt an interest in the ambitious girl, and kindly conferred many favors of this sort both on Jo and the Professor. She took them with her one night to a select symposium, held in honor of several celebrities.

Jo went prepared to bow down and adore the mighty ones whom she had worshiped with youthful enthusiasm afar off. But her reverence for genius received a severe shock that night, and it took her some time to recover from the discovery that the great creatures were only men and women after all.

Oh, NBC

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Every single Olympics I optimistically assume that, bad though NBC's commentary will be, it cannot possibly be as bad as the commentary at the previous Olympics.

And then, we have tonight's NBC Coverage of the Opening Ceremonies - on tape delay, of course -- with this gem:

"19th century [Russian] imperialism is about to be swept away by two events -- the Russian Revolution AND THIS COMMERCIAL BREAK."

Brazil, YOU'VE BEEN WARNED. If you decide to deny visas to the entire NBC staff, we're behind you.

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One more Arrow post, this time on a completely different subject: character development and the writing process.

Oh dear. Laurel Lance.Collapse )

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Upcoming 2014 appearances

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It's been brought to my attention that I haven't yet blogged about this, so:

So far, in 2014 I plan to attend:

1. ICFA, March 19-23, 2014, Orlando, FL where I will once again be mostly out by the pool, giving updates on golf.

2. Worldcon, August 14-18, 2014, London, UK. This is less "planned" than hoped for; I have my membership and a hotel reservation that is...not that close to the Excel center, which may be a problem. Still hoping.

3. World Fantasy, Nov 6-9, 2014, Washington, DC.

Alas, scheduling conflicts mean no Megacon this year (same dates as ICFA), and Worldcon eats up the budget for any other convention. Keeping my fingers crossed that I can make all three.

Two quick notes:

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1. I chat about my least favorite of the Vesper Holly books over at Tor.com.

2. The Grey One is now cancer free. She is not as happy about this as you would expect her to be, but she did have to go into a box (which she doesn't like) and she had to be in a room that had DOGS and a strange person TOUCHED HER and then they TOOK BLOOD OUT OF HER and then she had to go back into the box. Life is not good, which explains why she has stolen my pillow and why I have decided to just let her keep it.

Clarification

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To students choosing to copy and paste my Tor.com posts and turn them in for homework assignments:

1. Your teachers have Google.

2. You do not have my permission to copy and paste my Tor.com posts for homework assignments. You do have my permission to QUOTE from my Tor.com posts in your homework assignments.

3. In the future I would advise that if you are planning on using my Tor.com posts to help you with your homework, you choose from my posts that discuss books that are actually on your assigned reading list, since this may make your teachers less suspicious.

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Mari Ness

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