Happy Birthday!

No, not mine.  That is a mysterious day shrowded in darkness and mysterious mystery.

One year ago, today, I started The Undiscovered Author; although my first post was actually put up one year ago tomorrow.

It’s been a heck of a year.  Over 300 posts and many hundreds of comments from you, dear readers.  And nearly 9,000 hits. 

That’s not that many, in the grand scheme of things.  And it’s not as many as it’d be if I’d not have had such a slump in posting these past few months.  But for me, it’s been a whirlwind.  I look forward to the year ahead, and everything it has to offer.  I do hope I’ll have more opportunities to share with my readers the trials, travails, and triumphs of an aspiring author’s life.

Cheers!

Giving Thanks

For those of you in the U.S., you will most probably be spending the day with your families celebrating our annual commencement of the college football bowl season.  I, myself, have no interest in football, but I will be with my family today observing a holiday which, in the U.S., happens bizarrely to coincide with the aforementioned football-related event.  I speak, of course, of Thanksgiving.  To which, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

I won’t regale you here with tales of dread winters, Pilgrims, and Wampanoags, nor of Turkeys Past.  But, as is somewhat traditional, I shall endeavor to list the things for which I am grateful this year:

  1. My Dear Wife and my wonderful son, B.T.  I don’t always express my appreciation as fully as I should.  But you should know that I love you both.
  2. The opportunity to live in a  free and democratic nation.  It’s not perfect (this nation), by any means, but it has a lot going for it.  But I am so very glad to live in a place and time when I am relatively free to pursue my own destiny and make the most of my life.
  3. Education.  I’m in school, getting ever-so-closer to my graduation day when I earn my Sheepskin Second Class (i.e. the MBA).  And I am so ready to be done.  But I am so very lucky to have had the opportunity to learn more and advance myself.
  4. Good food, good friends, good family.  Though not in that order.  I love my family, and am grateful to be able to spend this holiday with them.  Not just my Dear Wife and son, but my parents and siblings and nieces and nephews as well (my wife says they are called “nildren”).  What’s more, I’m very lucky to be able to say that through my wife I am now connected to another wonderful family who I am likewise always happy to visit or have over to visit.  On this Thanksgiving day, I am thankful for all of them.
  5. My Home.  It’s small – some might say cozy.  But it’s very nice.  It was precisely what Dear Wife and I needed at the time.  And I am grateful each day to go home to it, and to those who dwell there with me.
  6. The opportunity and the will to write.  Writing time is scarce these days, but it will not long be so.  I’ve always loved writing stories, since the earliest days of my childhood.  I still love it, and frankly can’t go long without taking the chance to sit and write.  And I’m always glad that this is a part of who I am.  I’d rather be a writer than any other kind of crazy.
  7. Applebutter.
  8. Chocolate.
  9. Excellent books and other forms of entertainment in the various Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Speculative genres.  I don’t have much time to enjoy it all, right now.  But things will ease up soon, and I shall enjoy it all with much gusto when things do.
  10. All of you.  I’m grateful for you, the readers of my blog.  Someday, I hope to be published.  When that day comes, I hope you’ll all stick with me.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200

So, last week, as part of the Grand Jury duty I’m serving, I was dragged off to had the privilege of touring the local County Jail.  To correct the “Monopoly” metaphor, in truth, I was “Just Visiting”. Continue reading

Zombie Realms and Full Fathom Falsehoods

So, a pair of interesting publishing-related items have cropped up in the past few weeks, and I thought I’d share my take on them.  The first concerns the venerable genre magazine “Realms of Fantasy”, and the second concerns this article in the New York Magazine about a new book called I Am Number Four. Continue reading

Incoming: Monday Two-fer

A twin posting, today, with more news you can use on the writing front. But first, a minor apology:

Insofar as the stated promise of this blog, set at the outset, was at least 250 words of updated content weekly… Last week was the first week that I didn’t even come close to meeting that bar.  I can’t apologize for the state of affairs: things are what they are, right now.  Let’s just say that there are issues in life both personal and professional that have precipitated a perfect storm of a blogging black hole.  I’m deeply sorry that the conditions are thus, but yet, they are thus and there is little I can do about that.  I won’t make promises nor issue platitudes about when things will be back to normal around here; eventually, however, I believe things will return to normal.  In the meantime, please enjoy today’s twin posting… Incoming in 5…4…3…2…

Addenda to the Public Service Announcement

Since I first learned about this fiasco by reading Mr. Scalzi’s blog (and later heard about it on NPR, one of the victimized parties), I thought I’d point back to Mr. Scalzi’s blogs for these updates, and make said updates known to what few of my readers who don’t regularly read said blog:

Addendum A: The entire imbroglio has been immortalized in song.  Go forth and listen.

Addendum B: A half apology is issued.

A Public Service Announcement: The Internet is Not Open Source

Picked this up via John Scalzi‘s blog, and I do think it’s worth taking a couple minutes to spread this message (in the viral way things spread on the Internet) so that the offending party is never given the opportunity to make this mistake again.

The story is that a writer who had published an article on medieval-style apple pies to her own web page woke up one day to discover that her article had been… “appropriated”, let’s say… by a cooking magazine by the name of “Cook’s Source“.  The author was given attribution, but the article was printed both without her permission or knowledge and without payment to the author.

But, as though the first offense were not egregious enough, the editor of said magazine proceeded to add insult to injury.  When the author, Monica, contacted Cook’s Source about the error, she got a response.  Oh, did she get a response.  Here, quoted in part, is a snippet from the response sent by editor Judith Griggs:

But honestly Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me… ALWAYS for free!

And, later in the letter, this:

There, now. I have gone on enough. Thank you for allowing us to use your (improved) article. the only piece of advice I have to offer is that I would watch your email content, it was very offensive, what you sent.

Hmm.  Wow.

What else can be said.  You, Ms. Judith Griggs, FAIL: the internet, and copyright law, and editing FOREVER.  And that, I think, is the end of your career as an editor.  I hope you enjoyed your three decades.

The original author’s own take, as well as that of author Nick Mamatas, are here and here.

Therefore, go forth and spread this message: The Internet is NOT Open Source.  And it goes without saying… What a writer writes on the internet is copyrighted without said writer needing to do anything else to secure that copyright.  Let us pray.  Amen.

Grand Jury

That’s right.  Yours truly is in one.  For my international readers, a Grand Jury, here in the States, isn’t the Jury that presides over a trial of someone accused of a crime.  Rather, it is a Jury that listens to a summary of the Prosecution’s case and decides if there’s enough prosecutorial evidence to warrant a trial.  And they do this over and over.  And over.  And over.  And over again.  For a whole lot of cases each in a day.  It’s fair to say that the Grand Jury is giving a “Pass/No-Pass” grade to way more cases each day than real juries are capable of resolving each day.

Anyway, that’s where I was, yesterday (and why there wasn’t much replying to comments from me during that period of time).  Obviously, for legal reasons, I can’t say much else about it.

It’s the first time I’ve ever even been called in to face Jury Duty, and obviously my first time being selected for service.  So, I’ll be spending about one day a week for the next good many weeks trapped in a room with 20-ish other strangers learning about all the unseemly parts of my community.  It’s like a holiday, only without the joy and cheer!

On the “I’ve been driven mad with power!” side of things, Grand Juries also get to investigate whatever they want to investigate in their county government; and their investigations are published.  Of course… that’s like work

……………………………….

In completely unrelated news… I’m filling in again over on Serial Central with an Election-themed shorty.  Check it, read it, and enjoy it.

Defending Steampunk

So, my post from a few months back on the themes of the Steampunk genre has been getting a fair number of hits in the past week, thanks mainly to my comment on the blog of author Charlie Stross.

In his post, Stross attempts to eviscerate the Steampunk genre, but comes off sounding more like an angry curmudgeon who doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about… (Authors Jeff VanderMeer and Tobias Buckell respond to Stross’ post here and here, and Steampunk novel writer Scott Westerfeld’s reply here.) But he does make some good points, and they coincide largely with points that I made in my “Steampunk Society” article: that point being that the reality of the era from which Steampunk takes its inspiration is anything but ideal or utopic.  But, whereas he finds in this fact a condemnation of the Steampunk genre, I find it a matter of praise: that Steampunk as a genre embraces an era of gritty dystopianism and finds in it cause for optimism.  In my article, I felt I made clear that I see a lot of potential in a full exploration of the themes of social and class upheaval that are part of the bundle that comes with Steampunk.

Charlie’s problem, apparently, is that a lot of Steampunk eschews this conflict-rich thematic approach for an “oh, aren’t gears and cogs and springs and brass just so sexy” (which, yes, they are… but that’s not the whole point) approach that tends to linger over-long on the gentlemanly adventures of the upper class without ever straying into the real and hard challenges of the lower classes.  It’s steampunk with polished brass, where the brass never needs polishing because it never gets dirty.  Admittedly, I have never read this kind of steampunk, what I have mentally taken to calling “Steampunk-light”, and I don’t intend to start.

The result of Stross’ post was to lead me to reread my Steampunk entry… and to lead me to muse further on the topic.

I still believe that my fundamental thesis is sound and correct.  But, I think I can do a better job of defending that thesis.  I think I can improve upon that article.  I think I will improve upon that article.  But it won’t be today.

The new, better article would be better-sourced, with more links, more references to existing works in the genre, both historical and modern, and a more thorough analysis thereof.  I won’t say that it would be the definitive article on the topic… but it’ll be a sight better than what I wrote previously, which I thought was pretty good at the time.  Would there be any interest in this?