The World in the Satin Bag has moved to my new website.  If you want to see what I'm up to, head on over there!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

WISB Podcast: The Final Push -- Last Day!

Well, today is the last day of the funding drive for The World in the Satin Bag.  As of this moment, I am $135.44 short of my goal, which means I don't have to do the Truffle Shuffle or Peanut Butter Jelly Time this time tomorrow if that number doesn't change.  That's up to all of you, though.

But if watching me embarrass myself doesn't do it for you, remember that there's lots of free stuffs to be had once the project is finished.  But only for folks who donate!  I need roughly 14 people to donate $10 each and I'm over the hump.  Could you be one of those 14?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

It's hard to complain, though.  Reaching $860ish in a month is not bad at all.

Anywho!  Thanks to everyone who has supported the project thus far.  You rock!  I will have the next chapter up this weekend, which will keep you all entertain, I'm sure.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Guest Post on Young Adults and Literature!

For those of you who don't follow John Ottinger's Grasping For the Wind, you really should, because then you wouldn't have to read this post telling you to check out my guest post there called "Our Inner Children and Childhood Suppression:  Let Kids Be Kids."  Seriously, you should read it.

But first, here's a little taste:
It’s only as we get older that our wonder and imaginations are clamped down on by society. Schools stifle creativity by resorting to “by the numbers” teaching styles and teaching goals. Parents begin to tell us to grow up, to act our age, to stop talking to ourselves in the corner or playing house or all those silly little games we used to play.
Hooray for out of context quotes!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Skiffy and Fanty Show #4.2 is Live! (Torture Cinema Meets The Wicker Man)

This week is all about pain on The Skiffy and Fanty Show.  Our listeners picked the remake of The Wicker Man for us to watch, and it's not exactly the best thing to do to yourself on a weekend...

Check out the episode and let us know what you think!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My American Literature Course (Science Fiction = Well-Represented)

In case any of you were curious, the following is the final reading list for the Survey in American Literature course I begin teaching tomorrow.  I think the list is fairly diverse and incorporates a great deal of the important figures of American literature while avoiding all the stuff that would bore the hell out of me.  Feel free to provide any thoughts you might have in the comments.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926)
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (1974)
Writing About Literature:  A Portable Guide by Janet Gardner

"War Brides" by Marion Craig Wentworth (1915)
"Mine Eyes Have Seen" by Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1918)

Short Stories
"The Comet" by W.E.B. Du Bois (1920)
"The Grave" by Katherine Anne Porter (1944)
"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson (1948)
"Lost in the Funhouse" by John Barth (1967)
"The Artificial Nigger" by Flannery O'Connor (1955)
"Going to Meet the Man" by James Baldwin (1965)
"Advancing Luna--and Ida B. Wells" by Alice Walker (1977)
"Speech Sounds" by Octavia Butler (1983)
"The Lions Are Asleep This Night" by Howard Waldrop (1986)
"Thi Bong Dzu" by Larry Rottmann (1973)
"The First Clean Act" by Larry Heinemann (1979)
"Faith of Our Fathers" by Philip K. Dick (1967)
"Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut (1961)

“‘The Sun Also Rise’: A Memory of War” by William Adair
“’Slaughterhouse-Five’: Time Out of Joint” by Arnold Edelstein
“The Vietnam War as American Science Fiction and Fantasy” by H. Bruce Franklin

WISB Podcast: My Grandma Will Be a Frog

One of the amusing things about my family is that it explains why I am so strange.  I seem to contain much of my strangeness on this blog, but every once in a while, it gets out...

For example, I recently wrote the following to my Grandma in response to a misunderstanding she had about the WISB podcast project (i.e., the donation tier):
I'll write a character *based* on you, which means you'll likely be a talking frog named Bethel from Ferngarden-upon-Erethen. But that will be up to you. How interested are you in being a giant talking frog?
To which she said this:
Me a FROG what a novel idea. I know so little about them
I know that they are toadly great
Are hoppy most of the time
Jump willing into new and different situations
They love their pad
They slurp their food
Eat most of the meals on the fly ... or is that the fly
Go to great lengths ...orally ... for most of their meals ... sometime without moving
Can be environmentally friendly ..... they are green for the most part and are a super insect abaters.
I will concider being a frog BUT only if I don't turn into something fluffy and cute if a tall dark and handsome stranger kisses me
Can you change the name to Bethellda it sound a little classier and you know me I'm all about couth and culture.
Do you see now why I have become a very strange 27-year-old man?

(Chapter Thirteen is on its way.  My sister is currently staying here as part of her "get to know my brother so I can annoy him better" vacations.  But the chapter is coming!)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Game of Thrones: Episodes Eight, Nine, and Ten (and Final Thoughts)

I've decided to review the last three episodes of HBO's A Game of Thrones together in order to avoid repeating the same praises over and over.  The cast of the show, as I've already said, is practically perfect, and that doesn't changed in the final three hours worth of show.  Most of what I'll relay below are my final thoughts about the last three episodes, somewhat disconnected from any formal review structure and episodic order.  A lot of these final thoughts will be focused on my issues with the series.  I will say that the following things are still some of the greatest strengths of the series:

  • Cast/Acting (as I just noted):  almost every single actor/actress in this series is superb.  Peter Dinklage better damn well get an award for playing Tyrion.  Maisie Williams is still one of my favorite child actors in GoT; if she does not have a great career ahead of her, I will be pissed.  Lena Headey is still brilliant and loathsome (in a good way).  Emilia Clarke is also quite amazing in this series; she gets stronger and stronger as an actress (and as a character) with every episode.  And Sean Bean is, well, Sean Bean; what more can I say?  I don't think there's been a TV series where I have loved the cast as much as I do in GoT.  I will come back to the series based on the actors alone (though Sean Bean will be sorely missed, of course).
  • Sets/Costumes:  To put it briefly -- gorgeous sets, gorgeous scenery, and gorgeous costumes and design.
  • CG:  The producers of GoT were intelligent enough to limit their use of CG, which means the few times when we do see something put together by computer, they are properly budgeted and look decent enough for a TV series.  No more of that SyFy cheap cheese garbage.
Beyond that, the series moves back and forth between good and bad.  I'll talk about some of those issues below.

(Note:  I'm not going to offer any synopses for the episodes.  You should watch the show.  There may be some spoilers, though; if you haven't watched the show, then don't read beyond this point.)

Now to the reviews:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Haul of Books 2.0: Books Received Vol. 2

I've got more books for you, which is pretty awesome if you are a lover of books.  Me?  I'm a lover of books.  I love books almost as much as I love the sound of my own voice.  Wait...

Anywho!  I've got one last edition to do after this one, and then I'll be caught up.  Unless twenty more books show up on my doorstep... *drools*

Here goes nothing:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Get Your Parenting Off My Metaphorical Child (Young Adult Lit B.S.)

Imagine for a moment that I am happily married and have a lovely 12-year-old child who likes doing jumps and learning tricks on his BMX bike.  Because we don't have billions of dollars, we can't afford to buy our imaginary child the best BMX bikes, but we're very fortunate to live in a town with an awesome bike library where kids can go to borrow all kinds of bikes.  Tandem bikes.  Normal street bikes.  Bikes with little bells and baseball cards in the spokes.  Pink bikes with little tassels and red bikes with racing stripes.  They also carry BMX bikes.  You know, the kind with the little metal poles on them for grinding and what not.  I may not fully understand BMX bikes or why my child wants to jump off boards leaned up against cement parking stops or grind off rails, and so on (well, I do, because I did similar things as a kid, but let's pretend otherwise for now), but we've talked talked about such things and we're there for our child when he or she needs us.

You've got the image in your head now, right?  Happy little kid doing semi-dangerous tricks on a bike, falling and hurting him or herself, talking to mommy and daddy (or daddy and daddy, as is always possible in any analogy) and learning life lessons, as is the domain of parents?

Good.  Now I want you to imagine this:  my next door neighbor, who may be a man or a woman, but almost always a very grumpy, controlling person, wanders over and tells my child that they aren't allowed to ride on BMX bikes, because they are dangerous and inspire dangerous behaviors

Writing Young Adult Fantasy: The Challenge of Darkness

How dark is too dark for young adult readers?  How dark is too dark for a young adult character?  Not long ago, I responded to a Wall Street Journal post by Meghan Cox Gurdon which argued that YA fiction has become exceedingly dark.  I didn't agree with the author's assessment, largely because it was a "conservative" political manipulation of reality rather than anything approaching legitimate criticism of the genre.  In a lot of ways, the thematic shift in the YA literature field to a more active engagement with the things that plague teenagers has been a good thing for me as an author (of YA and other "genres").

When I first began writing The World in the Satin Bag, I intended it to be a quirky fantasy romp a la Leven Thumps, but the deeper I got into the world, the more I found my darker side taking over.  WISB is not fluff.  In a lot of ways, the novel tricks you into think it is just that.  Is there humor?  Absolutely.  Are there quirky creatures and characters?  You bet.  But is it a novel that avoids taking its 13-year-old character through the ringer?  Nope.  WISB is a novel about the limits of young adults.  James, my main character, experiences some of the darkest things imaginable for a child, from murder to child kidnapping to the terror of children as soldiers and the horrors of power.  And, if you've been listening, you'll know that James has to constantly deal with the fact

The Haul of Books 2.0: Books Received Vol. 1 (Special Reboot Edition)

I haven't done a Haul of Books thing in a long time.  The result?  A pile of books I've received for review which I haven't told you all about, with a smaller pile of things I've purchased for myself that I also haven't told you about.  Well, I can't let them sit there without at least telling you about them.  So the Haul of Book begins anew!

Let's get to it (descriptions taken from Amazon):

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Skiffy and Fanty Show #4.1 is Live! (Interview w/ Peter Orullian)

The title says it all.  For the latest episode, we talk to Peter Orullian about The Unremembered.  I might also mention that we do some digging into the finer points of the novel, which might be of interest to folks who get tired of "what's your favorite book" questions.

Here's the episode.  Happy listening!

Video Found: A History of Pretty Much Everything

The video below is why Stumbleupon is one of the most amazing things ever. It's also why the pen will always be mightier than MS Word. I have no idea how the creator came up with the idea, but apparently he used over 2,100 pages to do it. That's a lot of trees, which I'm strangely okay with.

Here's the video:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why I'm Going Indie: An Anti-Self-Publisher's Perspective

Longtime readers of this blog will be aware of my harsh opinions about self-publishing.  The title of this post is intentionally inflammatory to highlight a point which I hope will be clear by the end of this post.

I consider myself exceedingly critical of the concept of self-publishing, not because I think SPing is inherently wrong or improper, but because the field of self-publishing, if one can call it that, is flooded with people who lie or misrepresent traditional- and self-publishing.  This is not something you see on the other side of the scale; there are so many writers and authors and editors writing about how hard it is to be traditionally published, and what you have to go through to get there -- it's a gruesome process, after all.  I have a tag devoted to these issues.

Perhaps this is why some of you may be surprised that I am doing an indie/self-publishing project (namely, podcasting the rewritten version of The World in the Satin Bag and putting together an ebook version to be released later).  Why would I put my feet into the self-publishing bucket when I've been so critical of it in the past?

There are a number of reasons for why I've gone indie with WISB.  I've never been interested in sending it to a traditional publisher, for starters.  The book has been sitting on this blog for years, and traditional publishers are generally averse to blog novels, unless it's extraordinarily popular (some podcasters have had their books picked up, but you already know that).  But I also don't

Saturday, June 18, 2011

WISB Podcast: Chapter Twelve (Of Tunnels and Pitch)

The new episode is here. My apologies for the delay. I explain why I waited so long to put up the 12th chapter at the end of the podcast.

In any case, now that things have gone terribly wrong in Traea, James and his companions (Darl and Pea) make their escape. But the tunnels under the earth are not what they seem...

I hope you enjoy the episode:

Chapter Twelve -- Download (mp3)

Thanks for listening.  Please give WISB a review on iTunes!

(Don't forget to check out what I've done to sweeten the pot for anyone who donates to the project.  So far, six people have donated. Plenty of free things are available, from ebooks, paperbacks, random letters from me, and even a character written about you into the world of WISB. Please consider donating!)

(All podcast chapters will be listed on the Podcast page.)

P.S.: In case you missed it, I've agreed to do two very embarrassing things on camera if I meet my funding goal. Find out what they are here and support this podcast!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Video Found: Ocarina of Time 3D -- The Robin Williams Commercial

Robin Williams is totally awesome in this commercial. Totally geeky. Totally Williams. I'll probably be equally as geeky as a father, since I already know I'm naming some of my kids after characters in books or science fiction movies...

Here's the video:

An Interview with Andy Remic

(Note:  This interview was originally meant to be in audio form for The Skiffy and Fanty Show.  Due to technical constraints, Mr. Remic and I decided to conduct the interview in text form.)

The lovely Andy Remic has been so kind as to answer a few questions for my blog.  I've reviewed two of his works (Kell's Legend and Serial Killers Inc.) and loved both of them.  You should definitely give his work a try, or something bad will happen to you.

Here's the interview

You've recently started up Anarchy Books. What is Anarchy Books and how did you come to be a part of it? What's the story?

I'd written a couple of novels which were not of my "genre" (SFF) and, like every other author, have seen the gradual acceleration of digital publishing during the last couple of years following in the footsteps of the digital music world; and I thought, "why the hell not?" I knew some of my books were doing well digitally, and simply decided I'd give it a try as a vehicle for some of my different genre works. Then I discovered other friends/writers wanted to jump onboard as well, hence Anarchy Books! Ultimately, I suppose it's my longterm backup plan for when I've sexually

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Halfway-Point Donation Push: I Will Embarrass Myself For You (Ha!)

If you haven't heard, I am selling my body to readers of this blog and my Twitter followers.  Let me explain:

When I began podcasting The World in the Satin Bag, I set up a donation tier, which offered those of you willing to donate $1 or $10 or whatever some perks and personal bits to keep you happy.  Those perks include copies of the ebook, paperbacks, silly handwritten letters from me, and other goodies that you should check out.

But I also offered to do something embarrassing and altogether unbecoming of my nature (at least to those that don't know me personally).  I said that if I met my funding goal for the month ($1,000 by July 1st; you can see the progress on my sidebar), I would do something on camera for everyone to watch...and you'd decide what I would do.  Thanks to some friends and acquaintances on Twitter, I have agreed to do these silly things:

The Truffle Shuffle (from The Goonies)
Peanut Butter Jelly Time

I'm perfectly open to more suggestions, and will add them to the list as they are made aware to me.  But these are conditional.  I have to reach that goal, and I'm not there yet.

So, if you want to see me embarrass myself by doing two dances which will likely outlive my reputation as a science fiction and fantasy writer, you should do the following:

  1. Donate anything you can.  Look at the donation tier if you want even more perks beyond the privilege of laughing at me.
  2. Tell all your friends and get them to donate too.
  3. Share this on your blog, your Twitter, Facebook, or wherever.
  4. Check out the novel podcast.  It's on iTunes and on this blog (either in the Podcast section or under the WISB Podcast tag).
There are less than two weeks left to reach the goal.  I need about 68 people to donate $10 each to reach it (as of 6/16/2011), which doesn't sound like a whole lot, but is actually a lot more than you might think for a fairly small fellow like me.

And that's all I'll say on that.  Spread the word!

Delurking the Lurkers: Say Hello!

I recently looked at the demographics for this blog and saw that beyond my typical readership from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, there are a great deal of you arriving to this blog from a variety of other countries. Such as: Russia, Romania, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, France, India, Germany, Ireland, Malta, Spain, and even Saudi Arabia. Some of these places are a bit of a surprise.

First: Thanks for visiting/subscribing! It's awesome to know that people follow my blog all around the world. That makes me feel quite good about myself.

Second: Why are you so quiet? Come out and say something! That's what this post is all about. I want all you lurkers to come out and answer a few questions:

  • Where are you from?
  • What is your native language?  What other languages do you speak?
  • What are you currently reading (or writing)?
  • Which book that you read in the last year was your favorite?  Why?
Let's talk books, folks!  Answer away.

Video Found: Sheen Lantern

Charlie Sheen is insane. But you already knew that. So what does that make the people who came up with the video below?

Either bloody brilliant or batsh*t crazy...

Here's the video:


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

SF Signal Mind Meld: The Russ Pledge

I was asked by the wonderful Fabio Ferndandes to participate in the latest SF Signal Mind Meld by answering the following question:
What's The Importance of 'The Russ Pledge' For Science Fiction Today?
Check out what I wrote and feel free to contribute to the discussion!

P.S.:  Are you taking the Russ Pledge?

The SF/F "Homophobia" Anthology Needs a Name

You might recall that I threw out some ideas about a possible anthology of SF/F stories which deal with homophobia. That anthology is now very much a reality, with JoSelle Vanderhooft at the helm, along with the aid of Charles Tan, Fabio Fernandes, Madeline Ashby (who is working on a queer military SF anthology), and myself.  The theme of the anthology is roughly the the same as I had originally intended it, with some understandable changes to include more "non-traditional" groups and to add complexity to the thematic concept.

The last stage before we start commissioning work from authors (and before we open submissions to the public, etc.) is to come up with a name for the anthology.  That's where you come in.  We want your suggestions for a title.  Use the comments below to toss out some names; we'll take your suggestions seriously and see if we can find a fit.

To help you with your name suggestions, here are the tentative guidelines for the anthology:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Impslapped: Coming to HBO Soon!

I lied.  This probably isn't coming to HBO.  But we can dream, right?  Peter Dinklage is bloody brilliant in Game of Thrones, so brilliant, in fact, that you could probably do a spin-off show for his character and still produce amazing content.  Can you imagine the witty banter?  I can.  I can indeed...

But perhaps what we really need to do is turn this into some kind of SF/F community version of "you got served."  Only it would be cool, because SF/F is much more fascinating than bad actors who happen to be good dancers.  And we could use it in amusing situations.  Let's think of some shall we?

For example, if someone tells you that fantasy is a silly genre that you shouldn't waste your time writing, you could immediately point out that J. K. Rowling has sold over 400 million copies of her books worldwide.  Impslapped!

Or you might get in an argument about whether the Enterprise D is more powerful than anything in the Star Wars universe.  You might show them this:


Those are just the ones I can think of on short notice.

When would you use this new buzzword?  Let me know in the comments, because I feel like having some fun!

(Thanks to The Wertzone for the discovery.)

Science Fiction and Its Future -- To the Literary Den

It's been a few days since I posted my rant on the genre/literary divide.  One of the things that occurred to me after thinking about what I had written is that there does seem to be a rise in popularity for "literary" science fiction, and that there might be something to all this discussion of literary SF.  I still have huge issues with the way critics approach the form, but the popularity of certain SF titles which aren't categorized as SF makes one wonder if something is going on.

If I had to hazard a guess, which is how future history always operates, I would say that the increased popularity of SF outside of the publishing category, particularly in its "literary" strain, may be signalling the fracturing of SF.  Titles that are marketed as "literary" or some other non-SF category sell well enough and get plenty of attention, while category SF is declining only insofar as its non-tie-in industry is concerned.  Star Wars novels will probably sell well so long as Star Wars is on our TV screens, in our video games, and so on.  You could take the Star Wars section off the SF shelf and give it a whole new space and it would still sell quite well.  I get the feeling that people come to Star Wars books not for the SF tales, but for, well, Star Wars.

And, if we're being fair, SF as a genre can't survive on the backs of its "literary" takes, except where classic authors are still contributing to the field.  What will save SF from obscurity is adventure and suspense, which other genres are, sadly, doing quite well without needing the SF label (though many of them are SF stories).  It occurs to me that SF's possible fracture will see the "serious" forms move out into general fiction (or "literary" fiction, if you will), while SF will become a haven for the adventurous and suspenseful, encompassing the tie-in wonders like Star Wars and Warhammer 40K and bringing back a lot of what we used to call the "sense of wonder."  As for "literary" SF:  because it sells well enough outside of SF (or appears to sell well enough), I think we'll see it move away from category fiction in general, because "literary" writers within the SF category might see the intelligence in moving out into non-SF shelves.

But this is all conjecture.  I don't know if any of this is happening; it probably isn't.  All of the above is based on what I've observed in my tiny little world.  Which is why I'm bringing the question to you:

Do you think "serious" or "literary" science fiction will abandon category fiction for the general fiction pile?

Monday, June 13, 2011

WISB Podcast: Chapter Eleven (Turned Black the Old Oak and Farewells)

I took a little extra time on this chapter to get the description right.  What happens in Arlin City is really important to the story; weak description was pulling the power of the scene into the dumps.

But the episode is now here and ready for your listening pleasure!  Here you go:

Chapter Eleven -- Download (mp3)

Thanks for listening.  Please give WISB a review on iTunes!

(Don't forget to check out what I've done to sweeten the pot for anyone who donates to the project.  So far, six people have donated. Plenty of free things are available, from ebooks, paperbacks, random letters from me, and even a character written about you into the world of WISB. Please consider donating!)

(All podcast chapters will be listed on the Podcast page.)

The Skiffy and Fanty Show #4.0b is Live! (Religion in SF and Why Fantasy is More Popular)

The second half of our special episode is up and waiting for your approval.  Jason Sanford, John Ottinger, and Adam join us to discuss the lovely topics in the title above.

Here's the episode.  We hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Florida Grapefruit/Orange Conspiracy

Something is amiss at my local Publix.  Something...sinister.  I'm calling it a conspiracy managed by disgruntled produce workers to screw with customers because it may very well be the cleverest attempt to force us to buy Florida oranges ever conceived.  And they're doing it through grapefruits.

First, some back-story.  I recently began eating grapefruits as snacks/meals in a sad attempt to lose weight and get in better shape.  I suffer from what I'd like to call English Major Body, which is a rare condition that forces you to look something like the image below, but with all of your fat content evenly concentrated around the midsection.  This is different from having a beer belly, which concentrates a lot of your fat in your stomach (I have no interest in demonstrating this via a picture).  I want to get rid of this shape, and that means I have to start eating things that are supposed to make my insides act like they haven't been chugging down processed plastic and grease.  In all fairness, I am not very good at such things, though I have developed an expert

Video Found: A Tortoise and a Cat Walk Into a Bar...

I have no idea what is going on in this video beyond the obvious. Why did the cat decide to ride on the tortoise? Why did the tortoise have no problem with such a thing? I don't know. It's craziness, I tell you!

See for yourself (after the fold):

Giveaway Winner: 2011 Nebula Awards Showcase

The giveaway has ended and we have a winner:
R. S. Hunter
Congrats to you, sir!

Your regular programming shall resume in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

WISB Podcast: Now on iTunes! Reviews Appreciated

I may have mentioned this on my Twitter account and certainly on the latest episodes of the podcast version of The World in the Satin Bag (and, of course, in the episode posts themselves).  But it seems to me that I should make a more official announcement about it on my blog.

As of this moment, The World in the Satin Bag Podcast is available on iTunes.  You can click that link or search for the podcast on iTunes (which is simple enough, I'm sure, since there can't be more than one podcast by the same name).  If you have enjoyed the novel thus far, please consider writing a review on my iTunes page.  The more happy for the show, the more exposure it might get, which is good, considering I'm trying to make sure I can pay rent next month!

And, as always, if you feel like letting me know you like the show, you can donate using the chip-in widget on my sidebar (which uses Paypal).  Check out the donation tier to see what you can get at various donation levels. The higher the donation, the more nifty stuff I'll give you, including really personal things, like bad drawings, amusing updates, and, if you're so inclined, a character based on you!

Young Adult Literature: Is it too dark? WSJ Thinks So...

I suspect the YA folks have tackled the recent Wall Street Journal article already, but the more I look at the wording of the article, the more I feel like throwing in my opinion.  The language suggests (to me, at least) a fundamental misunderstanding of YA and its intended audience, which is, in a lot of ways, an extension of a fundamental misunderstanding of non-adults in general (which I take to mean anyone under the age of 21, since society has a tendency to view anyone who is not fully responsible for themselves as less-than-adult).

Our culture seems predisposed, if not subconsciously conditioned, to view non-adults as one group.  There's push against this view, of course, and many parents do try to distinguish between the various age ranges, but culture pushes against these distinctions, in part, I think, because it's easier to think of a 16-year-old and a 6-year-old as part of the same thing.  That kind of thinking doesn't do teenagers justice, and leads to quotes like the following (from the WSJ article)(after the fold):

WISB Podcast: Chapter Ten (On the Brink)

It's here. James has survived an attack by one of Luthien's beasts, but there is something mysterious about that creature. Something sinister. The continent of Traea is a strange place, with magic and monsters of all shapes and sizes. James is only beginning to understand this.

Here's the episode:

Chapter Ten -- Download (mp3)

Thanks for listening.  Please give WISB a review on iTunes!

(Don't forget to check out what I've done to sweeten the pot for anyone who donates to the project.  So far, four people have donated, bringing me over the first milestone.  New story coming to you soon!  Thanks to everyone who is supporting this project!)

(All podcast chapters will be listed on the Podcast page.)

Friday, June 10, 2011

WISB Podcast: Another Late Episode (I Have Jackasses For Neighbors)

I had hoped to have the episode up by now, but my upstairs neighbors have made editing and recording essentially impossible for the last four hours or so. I'm the kind of person who edits and writes when there is either complete silence, music, or so much noise that the sounds blend together (such as in a cafeteria). Sadly, my upstairs neighbors think it's amusing to stomp up and down and let their dog bark whenever it damn well pleases. I've been recording little bits between their noise, which, sadly, has been creeping into the recording. I gave up when it took me almost an hour to record three pages worth of material (that amounts to about eight minutes of audio). Even with my talent for screwing up simple words when speaking them out loud, this is a ridiculous amount of time to devote to recording something. As such, I gave up and will release the episode tomorrow afternoon.

What does this mean for WISB? I'm going to start recording episodes in the morning when my neighbors are supposed to be at work. I will also start leaving little presents on their door mat as a thank you for their wonderful asshole-ish behavior. Apparently having the cops enforce the city's noise ordinance once for a party that ran for five hours (until almost two in the morning) was not enough. I will get my revenge!

In any case, I apologize for the delay. I suspect a lot of you are behind on listening anyway, since I've been releasing the episodes every day since the 1st of June. This will give you a chance to play catchup (and donate $10).

Thanks for your patience and support.

WISB Podcast: Chapter Nine (Of Omens and Night Walks)

The new episode is here.  Later than I expected, but it's here nonetheless, and during the evening (which is when I said it would arrive).  Chapter Nine introduces something new and wonderful, and something utterly terrifying.  I won't say anything more, though.  You'll have to listen!

Chapter Nine -- Download (mp3)

Thanks for listening.

(Don't forget to check out what I've done to sweeten the pot for anyone who donates to the project.  So far, four people have donated, bringing me over the first milestone.  New story coming to you soon!  Thanks to everyone who is supporting this project!)

(All podcast chapters will be listed on the Podcast page.)

Thursday, June 09, 2011

WISB Podcast: Chapter Eight (Swords and Things)

It's here!  The next chapter.  Thanks for your patience.  I told you I'd get it up in the morning, and so I have.  Things are, of course, heating up for yet another major plot point, which you'll get in Chapter Nine.  This chapter finds James meeting his first physical challenge, one which could make or break him if he isn't up to the task.

Chapter Eight -- Download (mp3)

Thanks for listening.

(Don't forget to check out what I've done to sweeten the pot for anyone who donates to the project.  So far, four people have donated, bringing me over the first milestone.  New story coming to you soon!  Thanks to everyone who is supporting this project!)

(All podcast chapters will be listed on the Podcast page.)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

WISB Podcast: Running Late

I wanted to let everyone know that I'm running late on getting the next episode up.  The chapter is edited, but I didn't get home until a lot later than I had expected.  As such, I won't be able to get the episode up tonight, in part because I don't want to record my voice so late at night.  At 9 PM, it's not a problem, but it's after 11 at the moment and I like to avoid pissing off my neighbors, even though they don't show me the same courtesy.

But there is good news:  I will catch up tomorrow.  I've split Ch. 8 into two chapters anyway, which means I can release the first half (now just Ch. 8) tomorrow (before noon) and the second half (now Ch. 9) at some point in the early evening.  I'm not going to stay behind this early in the project (mostly because I know it will become much more difficult to keep the day-by-day schedule once June comes to a close).

Thanks for your support and understanding!

Lethe Press Special: Time Well Bent for $2.99!

If you follow me on Twitter, then you might already know about this deal.  But for those of you who don't, this will be fantastic news!

Steve Berman (editor at Lethe Press) and I recently had a discussion about the apparent lack of ebook discounts for users of Barnes and Noble Nooks (on Twitter, of course).  Kindle users frequently get free books, huge discounts from publishers, and so on, but such things seem more rare for Nook users.  The Nook does give away an ebook every Friday (usually a major title), but I rarely hear anything about other free books, discounts, and so forth, except from indie authors who are already selling their books at $7 or $8 lower than the major publishers.

What does this have to do with this post?  Well, Mr. Berman gave me the option to select a Lethe Press title to discount for users of Nooks (and other devices which use ePub rather than the Kindle format).  It wasn't an easy decision, because Lethe Press publishes some fantastic SF/F, but I narrowed it down eventually.

For an undisclosed time, Time Well Bent, an anthology of queer alternate history stories, will be available for $2.99 when you enter QV52A (the discount code) in your cart.  I've already purchased my copy; you should too!

But even more importantly, please spread the word!  It's pretty damn awesome that Mr. Berman is listening to a lowly little fan like me, and I'd love to see Lethe Press benefit from this wonderful gesture.

Here's some more info about the anthology:

Literary Genre Fiction: It's Ain't New, So Please Shut Up

One of things that annoyed me about Cormac McCarthy's The Road was the way it was received by critics.  Specifically, critics from outside of the genre.  A handful of them praised McCarthy for writing original post-apocalyptic fiction while ignoring altogether the rich history of such fiction in the SF community.  While I enjoyed The Road, it was not a piece of solid genre fiction.  Rather, the novel suggests that McCarthy is very much the outsider, despite his apparent excellence in other forms of genre.  To praise The Road for doing something original would be akin to a genre writer being praised for writing the first realist 2011.  This issue is one which continues to plague genre fiction writers, critics, and fans, even as we further solidify our strength as a community and dominate sales.  Like the colonizer masking their involvement in human rights violations by appropriating indigenous history, so too do critics (many outside of the genre) appropriate ours.

Alexandra Alter's Wall Street Journal post is a superb example of this activity at work.  She makes several absurd blunders, most of which are fabrications from the ancient literary vs. genre war some of us have decided to leave behind (the war is over; all that is left are people who can't let go or don't realize that the literary side lost -- academics especially).  One such mistake reads:

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

WISB Podcast: Chapter Seven (The Council in Darkness)

The new episode is here after a long process of editing (which may have actually killed me a little inside). Things are heating up in the story. The moon has gone dark, James continues to worry about Laura and battle with his guilt over his influence on the events consuming Arlin City, and Pea may harbor secrets that could answer some the mysteries surrounding everything. Here's the episode:

Chapter Seven -- Download (mp3)

Thanks for listening.

(Don't forget to check out what I've done to sweeten the pot for anyone who donates to the project.  So far, four people have donated, bringing me over the first milestone.  New story coming to you soon!  Thanks to everyone who is supporting this project!)

(All podcast chapters will be listed on the Podcast page.)

Monday, June 06, 2011

The Skiffy and Fanty Show #4.0a is Live! (Schizophrenic Computers and Other Weird Crap)

The new episode is live.  A very special episode it is, too.  Jason Sanford, John Ottinger, and Adam Callaway join us on the show to talk about bad movies, some really weird science news, and other fun things (like film adaptations, Inception, and some bad jokes about Megan Fox...).

Here's the episode if you'd like to listen.  We'd appreciate your input on anything we discussed.  Leave a comment over on the SandF blog if you have any thoughts!

The second episode will go live no later than Monday and will contain a discussion about religion in SF/F and why we think fantasy literature fairs better than science fiction.


WISB Podcast -- Chapter Six (The Dark Side of the Moon)

Chapter Six is when the story really takes off.  James' presence may pose serious problems for the people of Arlin City and Pea and Triska must keep the truth of his origins secret and also prepare him for what is to come.  Here's the episode:

Chapter Six -- Download (mp3)

Thanks for listening.

(Don't forget to check out what I've done to sweeten the pot for anyone who donates to the project.  So far, four people have donated, bringing me over the first milestone.  New story coming to you soon!  Thanks to everyone who is supporting this project!)

(All podcast chapters will be listed on the Podcast page.)

Sunday, June 05, 2011

The World in the Satin Bag Podcast -- Chapter Five (Triska and Things)

The fifth episode is here and on time (this despite my annoying upstairs neighbors making noise).  Things are getting a little heated up in the story, but once Chapter Six hits, I think you'll be hooked.

Chapter Five -- Download (mp3)

Thanks for listening.

(Don't forget to check out what I've done to sweeten the pot for anyone who donates to the project.  So far, four people have donated, bringing me over the first milestone.  New story coming to you soon!  Thanks to everyone who is supporting this project!)

(All podcast chapters will be listed on the Podcast page.)

An Anthology Idea: Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories About Homophobia

In the last twenty-four hours, I have been having a very interesting discussion with Fabio Ferndandes, Charles Tan, and others on the subject of homophobia and science fiction.  Our talk stems from a post I wrote a few days ago on that very subject and has sparked serious consideration of queer-related anthologies (at the time of this post, many were discussing the possibility of a queer military SF anthology, of which I would love to be a part).  I suggested early on that it would be interesting to see an anthology of SF/F stories which deal with homophobia.  A number of people thought that was a good idea too, and so I am writing this post as a way to further test the waters (and have something concrete on "paper").

The anthology would obviously serve a social/political purpose:  to help spread knowledge about the issue of homophobia, discrimination against LGBT people, and so on within the SF/F community.  How could it not have a purpose if it is on that very subject?  I think an anthology dealing directly with these issues would have an impact on the SF/F community (and, perhaps, outside of it).

In terms of the actual theme, it has occurred to me that diversity in content is essential.  Nobody wants to read a collection in which every story is about a gay man or gay woman being treated like garbage by

WISB Podcast: First Milestone Reached!

Thank you all for your donations. As of today, I have crossed the first financial milestone for my project, which means that I will begin writing a new short story set in the world of the novel and post it here as soon as I can (next week at the earliest). I will also podcast the story and make it available in ePub and Kindle format (plus any other format you'd like).

Thanks again for donating and supporting my project. I really appreciate it. You all are awesome!

P.S.: Yes, indeed, those of you who have donated will be getting free stuff in the future. Some of you more than others, thanks to the donation tier I set up.

P.S.S.:  The donation that took me over the first hurdle was sent direct to my email, rather than through the Chip In thing.  I'm going to see if I can change the total so it reflects the increase.  Never mind.  It should clear up on its own in a day or so.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The World in the Satin Bag Podcast -- Chapter Four (A Not So Far Away Place)

It's finally here.  My apologies for the lateness, but I had some issues with recording the episode (some of them my own fault).

In any case, I hope you enjoy:

Chapter Four -- Download (mp3)

Don't forget to check out what I've done to sweeten the pot for anyone who donates to the project.  I'm happy to see that three people have already donated.  I hope this keeps up.  Thanks to everyone who is supporting me on this!

(All podcast chapters will be listed on the Podcast page.)

P.S.:  I finally got the podcast uploaded to iTunes.  I'm waiting on approval.  Once that happens, you'll be able to subscribe there in the event that you prefer iTunes for your podcast listening.

WISB Podcast: Sweetening the Pot (A Donation Tier and the Crazy Things I'll Do)

(Note:  All episodes of the podcast are listed here.  You can also see all posts related to the podcast on the page for the WISB Podcast tag.)

(Note 2: A number of folks on Twitter have suggested that I do a video of me performing the Truffle Shuffle and Peanut Butter Jelly Time. In the interest of fairness, I have decided that should I reach my $1,000 funding goal by the 1st, I will perform both "dances" on video. That' right...both. If you want to see me embarrass myself, please donate and tell all your friends.)

One of the things that occurred to me while editing and podcasting The World in the Satin Bag is that there needs to be more interesting bits for you listeners.  I've been hanging the promise of an ebook on every episode, but that's a long way off.  Besides, why should you bother listening and donating now when you can buy the book later (or something like that).  With that in mind, I have decided to create a tiered donation system with incentives (i.e., "free" stuff -- similar to Kickstarter).

Why am I doing this?  Well, why not?  If I'm going to ask you for $1 or $10 or $100, I might as well give you a little more bang for your buck, right?  That's the way I see it, at least.  We'll see how it works out.

The way this tiered system will work is fairly simple:  if you donate up to the amount at a certain level, you get whatever that level offers (when the project is finished or sooner, depending on the item).  You don't have to donate all at once if you'd like to give a few dollars every episode.  I'll add everything up in the end anyway.  You also don't have to be constrained by the levels.  If you want to give me $2 instead of $1, then go for it.

Sounds simple, right?  Good.

Without further adieu, here are the tiers (stay tuned at the bottom, because I've thrown in something even more "crazy" to keep things interesting -- it will involve me and torture)(after the fold):

A Giant Whoops

If you accidentally saw an unfinished post in my feed, please ignore it.  I accidentally hit the wrong combination of keys and magically posted it.  This will mean that some people might see that item post a second time (the second version will be completed, of course).

I'm feeling particularly dumb about it, so to make everything better, here's a picture of some baby ducks!
If I recall correctly, there are sixteen, but it's hard to tell.  The little things move too darn quick and the mommy duck wants nothing to do with me and my counting fingers.

Still, they're cute as hell, no?

Friday, June 03, 2011

The World in the Satin Bag Podcast -- Chapter Three (The Satin Bag)

It's here!  The third chapter in the podcast of my re-written blog novel (or rewritedited, as I like to say).  Thanks to everyone who has donated thus far.  As I mention in the episode, I am planning to do something to sweeten the pot for you all, which I'll mention tomorrow (or the day after).  It involves free stuff.

For now, enjoy the episode:

Chapter Three -- Download (mp3)

Thanks for listening (and for donating)!

(All podcast chapters will be listed on the Podcast page.)

Video Found: George Lucas Strikes Back

This is hilarious! George Lucas was kidnapped in the 1980s and an evil man used his likeness to create the prequels and destroy his career. It's the best kind of geek fantasy in comedy form!

Check it out (after the fold):

Eric James Stone: A New Level of Homophobia in the Science Fiction Community

You may remember seeing Stone's name on the Nebula Awards list not too long ago.  He won for "That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made," a story I have not had the pleasure to read, and a story I will never read now that I know a little something about what the author thinks about my mother and some of my closest friends, their friends, and, most of all, children.

You see, I discovered something very interesting about Stone through Outer Alliance, a community for readers and fans of LGBT people/characters in SF/F.  He's a homophobe.  And not just any kind of homophobe.  A very special brand of homophobe.  We've all encountered everyday homophobes -- the kind of people who just don't care for gay people.  Some of them are alright folks.  Misguided?  Perhaps, but you can't win them all.

In 2006, Stone commented on a post called "Perfecting the Saints in Utero" at Times and Seasons.  The post, written by Adam Greenwood, discusses whether genetic modification to change a baby's sexual orientation is morally acceptable in a society where such powers are available (and, obviously, where homosexuality is found to be genetic either as an actual set of genes or a "mutation" as a result of the mother's hormones, etc.). Stone, in comment #21, responded by using deaf people as an example for whether it would be acceptable to genetically modify a child if it were found to be deaf.  Shortly after, he removed "deaf" and replaced it with "homosexual" in some strange attempt to prove that the two things are mutually inclusive. Here is the section as he wrote it about homosexuals (there are some errors, but you get the idea) (after the fold):

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The World in the Satin Bag Podcast -- Chapter Two (Lights)

Another chapter is here!  It's later than I wanted it to be, but I had issues with recording it (they were mowing the lawns in my apartment complex this morning and my upstairs neighbors were being loud and obnoxious in the evening).  In any case, the episode is here!

Chapter Two -- Download (mp3)

I'd also like to thank the lovely person who donated $150 to my silly cause.  I really appreciate it.  You rock and deserve a medal!  So far, I'm glad to have made it that far.  Let's keep it up.  If you enjoyed Chapter One and Chapter Two, send $1 or whatever you like.  And I'd love to hear what you all think!

Thanks for listening!

P.S.:  I'm trying to get the episodes up on iTunes, but the system is on the fritz for some reason.  As soon as I can get it on iTunes, I'll let you know.

(All podcast chapters will be listed on the Podcast page.)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The World in the Satin Bag Podcast -- Chapter One (Hansor Manor)

It's finally here!  The first chapter of the flashy new WISB!  Here it is for your listening pleasure:

Chapter One -- Download (mp3)

For those that don't know what this is all about, feel free to read this post.  The goal is $1,000, with milestones at $250 (which means more stories set in the world). If you'd like to donate, you can click the donate button on the sidebar or you can send paypal money to arconna[at]yahoo[dot]com.  Any little bit helps. If you like the episode, send $1. If you like future episodes, send $1 then too!

(All podcast chapters will be listed on the Podcast page.)

A Game of Thrones: Episode Seven ("You Win or You Die")

It's a sad thing that I have to post a review for Episode Seven so late in the week.  More pressing concerns prevented me from getting to it, I'm afraid, such as yesterday's USPS insanity.  I refuse to review anything with anger on the mind, or to do anything remotely productive, such as writing fiction, editing The World in the Satin Bag, or similar things.  When I get upset, I tend to make a lot of mistakes.  Dumb mistakes.  But things have cooled over now and I feel I can review "You Win or You Die" fairly.

The seventh episode in HBO's adaptation of GRRM's A Game of Thrones is yet another episode that suffers from poor writing and excess scenes and nudity, but it is also an episode that partially masks these flaws with some of the best acting all season and a renewed influx of dramatic tension.  The political turmoils that have plagued the characters for so long are finally cracking the pot they've been boiling in.  Eddard Stark has solved the mystery of his son's injury and the former Hand's death and must wrestle with that knowledge and the potential consequences which might arise if it's to be shared.  Daenerys, now free of her brother's fury, must contend with assassins and

The Hobbit Films Have Names! (Le Guin Did Not Unname Them)

The SFX Blog (linked through The Wertzone) has announced that the two films in Peter Jackson's adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit have been named:
The Hobbit:  The Unexpected Journey (to be released on the Dec. 14th, 2012)
The Hobbit:  There and Back Again (to be released Dec. 13th, 2013)
While I am not a fan of secondary titles for films, nor for the two-film split of Tolkien's classic, I have to say those are some good titles!  They capture what might be called the hobbit-y feel of the story.

And if you didn't already known, the following folks from LOTR are set to return:  Elijah Wood, Ian McKellan, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, and Orlando Bloom (who was the most recent addition).  That's great news considering that The Hobbit has been in production limbo for years.

What do you think about the titles?  What about the release dates?  I honestly wish they'd release the second movie in summer 2013 instead of a year later, but that's because I'm an impatient son of a biscuit...