Coyote Prints

Sporadic thoughts on writing

Twitter, LiveJournal and navel-gazing

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I’ve observed in the past that LiveJournal has been disrupted more by Twitter than any traditional “blogging” platform—like it or hate it, Twitter’s perfect not only for status updates (its original use case) but for just about any quick “hey, I’d like to share this with friends and followers” impulse. Tumblr is something of an extra sucker punch: while there are things that LJ does that Tumblr doesn’t, nearly everything they both do—from following your friends’ posts to providing a safe haven for teen-to-twentysomethings to get righteously angry about the state of the world—Tumblr does objectively better.

But one of the things that LJ does better than nearly anything else is right in the name: journaling. A typical LiveJournal post was obviously much longer than anything on Twitter, but it also tended to be more personal than what we usually see on Tumblr. (Which isn’t to say that there aren’t a lot of Tumblrs with surprisingly personal stuff on them, but the platform has a very different character that tends to be far more anonymous than LJ. This is both good and bad, which I’ll circle back to.) The only thing that’s ever matched that is, well, blogging: WordPress, Blogger, or something wacky like Octopress, which is what I’m using here.

And, frankly, Twitter has been disappointing me more and more as a company. I know a bunch of LJ users all got up and left because they didn’t like the direction they thought LJ was going, but folks, compared to Twitter LJ is owned and managed by the best people on the planet. I’m one of the ones who “moved” to Dreamwidth, but I’ve gotta admit that not only has nothing bad happened to or with LJ in years, the changes they’ve made make it feel a lot more modern than DW.

Quiet around these parts

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Updates since my last post, all the way back in April:

I did attend the novel writing workshop, and it was fantastic. The point of the exercise was, in a lot of ways, to tear down everyone’s novel outlines and reconstruct them in stronger fashion. I was told that Kismet was too “thin” in the version I brought with me, which wasn’t at all surprising—I’m good at novellas, and had more of a novella’s worth of plot than a novel’s worth. I ended up with new tools for visualizing plot structure, and with a stronger plot in its reconstructed form than what I had before. I’m still adding to that plot, and have started the rewrite of what I had. So far it’s easier; in large part that’s due to the workshop, and to some degree it’s simply because I know more about the story now than when these scenes were first written (which I think was in 2012).

In my last post I was job hunting; now I am, in fact, employed full-time as a technical writer. I like this. It may give me enough distance from programming to start liking it again, too, which would be terrific.

Something I didn’t mention, but should have: I have a new Ranea novella called “Going Concerns” in the FIve Fortunes anthology, which is five unrelated novellas from authors Phil Geusz, Renee Carter Hall, Mary E. Lowd, Bernard Doove, and me. It’s nominally a mystery, although in a lot of ways it’s more comedy. You can buy it from FurPlanet, and as near as I can tell nowhere else right now, and only in physical print form. I’ll make an update here when the distribution expands.

I don’t have any announcements about upcoming stories at this point; I’m long overdue at getting older ones into ebook form, and I’d like to say I’m working on that, but it’s more fair to say I’m thinking about working on that. A Gift of Fire, A Gift of Blood is overdue for an ebook release, for instance, and there are some other Ranea stories that could be polished up. (Maybe. Most of the old ones really aren’t all that good, to be honest about it, but maybe they can form the basis of new ones.)

Novel workshop and etc.

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I haven’t mentioned this here yet, but I’ve been accepted into this year’s Novel Writers Workshop at the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. The novel I’m workshopping is a hard sf novel (tentatively) called Kismet. I’m excited and a bit nervous about it—I’ve never actually finished a novel before. (Not that there’s any guarantee I’ll finish this one, but I’d like to think this will make it substantially more likely.) I’ll be attending with a friend, Tim Susman, who’s finished a fair number of novels—and who met the workshop’s instructor, Kij Johnson, when she was teaching at the Clarion Workshop he attended a few years ago.

Assuming it goes anywhere I’ll talk more about Kismet later. I’ve realized that since college, though, I’ve been toying around with Big Ideas for stories involving humans and animal-like aliens. That started as a story called “Only With Thine Eyes” that was supposed to turn into a novel (it didn’t, but the story’s collected in Why Coyotes Howl). A later attempt made the aliens into genetically-engineered animal people in a novel called In Our Image that got roughly a third of the way through before collapsing under its own weight. This one… well, it’s not a reincarnation of Image, definitely, although it touches on some similar thematic points.

Meanwhile, I’m working on other various projects, both writing and not-so-writing, as well as engaging in the boring but necessary project of finding more stable employment. I’m in the unenviable yet somewhat amusing position of being in Silicon Valley in the middle of a frenzy for tech developers… and increasingly burned out on the whole endeavor. I don’t want to keep competing with developers who are twenty years younger than I am, better at the kinds of programming brain teasers that interviewers (who are also twenty years younger than I am) seem to love, and perfectly happy with hour-plus commutes (each way). I think I’m trying to aim for a tech writer or developer evangelist type position at this point; failing that I’ll settle for the kind of “boring” corporate programming position that twenty-somethings sneer at but that sound like they might be just fine for me.

Oh: as of this writing there’s still two more days to vote for the Ursa Major Awards!

Ursa Major Final Ballot

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I’m very happy to say that Indigo Rain made the Ursa Major ballot this year!

If you haven’t read it, “Indigo Rain” is a novella in FurPlanet’s CupCakes line. It’s got a bit of fantasy, a lot of suspense, and a helping of romance.

Roulette, a young raccoon dancer, dreams of moving to Ranea’s capital city-state and marrying into a better life. But a horrifying encounter plunges her into a momentous political struggle—one that will turn tragically violent unless she and her companions can stop the mysterious Brothers of Atasos. And as if things weren’t complicated enough, Roulette may be falling in love with an activist who’s as far from her dream husband as she could get.

There’s a free two-part preview:

You can purchase it from several online stores in both print and ebook:

And, of course, if you like it, please cast your vote in the Ursas. There’s a lot of other good stuff nominated this year, from several works by Mary (Otters in Space) Lowd to the Hugo-winning Digger omnibus by Ursula Vernon. (The first issue of Claw & Quill was also nominated, which is immensely flattering, but I’d really like to get the damned second issue out. I didn’t know it was going to be a biannual. Mea culpa. As long as it doesn’t turn into a biennial.)

Indigo Rain and the Ursa Majors

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Nominations for the 2013 Ursa Major Awards are open through February 28th, and my novella “Indigo Rain” is eligible! This is the first time I’ve had something in the running since Why Coyotes Howl in 2005.

The nomination form is online; the process is a little clunky, but still fairly fast. This is for nominations only, not the the final voting; the top five stories will be on the final ballot.

You can read the first few thousand words of “Indigo Rain” in a two-part preview:

And, you can buy the whole shebang here:

The ebook is also available from Amazon, Apple iBooks, the Nook Store, and Lulu.

And, last but not least, Sabretoothed Ermine’s cover art is also eligible for a separate Ursa Major nomination as a “published illustration.” Just, you know, saying.

A digression on Cyberpunk

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I was listening to Fangs and Fonts‘ most recent podcast on cyberpunk, and—

Okay, let me back up. “Fangs and Fonts” is a podcast about writing, hosted by four writers in (and out of) furry fandom: Roland Ferret, Yannarra, Tarl “Voice” Hoch and Ocean. So far the episodes have mostly come across as structure-free conversations about a given topic. There’s a lot of spontaneity and liveliness to it, although I suspect they’d benefit from spending an hour or so before recording making a list of Things To Cover.

Anyway. While it was fun listening in on the conversation, my impression was that none of the four hosts had read much of the genre past the Wikipedia entry. They’d seen movies with cyberpunk tropes to varying degrees, but… well. There’s no way to say this without an implied tsk tsk, but you guys, it’s a writing podcast!

So let me back up more. Specificially, to the early ’80s.

I hate to say it, but…

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…I may start writing a web serial sometime soon.

All right, I don’t really hate to say that, of course—I’ve been thinking about it off and on for years. It’s possible that a new story that I’ve started may be a good candidate. I’ll have to get several months’ worth of updates in the bag before feeling confident trying this, though, so it might not start until next year. We’ll see.

I still have to figure out where to serialize it, too. As much as “serialize it everywhere!” sounds like the right answer, it could quickly get exhausting given that posting to each archive site is multiple steps and difficult to automate. I may stick to just my blog (http://cprints.ranea.org) and probably the LiveJournal mirror (which I’ve almost but not quite automated), with links to the posts from my SoFurry and FA accounts. In some ways I’d prefer to keep the story a separate “stream” from the blog, but mixing the stream doesn’t seem to hurt the audience of other people who’ve done it, so.

If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears.

Ebook Hula

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A couple minor updates: Why Coyotes Howl has been submitted to Bad Dog Books and should be available there in a couple days for $5.99 retail. And, the ebook version of “Indigo Rain” is now available at Amazon and Lulu (and should be on the iBookstore and Nook store soon).

What good are reviews, anyway?

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A discussion-slash-debate broke out among friends and acquaintances on Twitter earlier this week relating to the value of reviewers—specifically with respect to furry writing (and by extension other subgenres), but also in a more general philosophical sense.

“Reviewers = haters” is not an attitude unique to fandom; I know a lot of people who express disdain for movie reviews—which also happen to be the media criticism we’re most familiar with. “If I listened to bad reviews, I’d have missed a lot of movies I liked,” the thought goes. “And reviewers never like escapist stuff. They only like artsy fartsy stuff.”

Believe what you will, but I believe that just doesn’t hold up. Most critics liked “The Dark Knight” and the Lord of the Rings movies and “Star Trek Into Darkness” and countless other popular flicks. And do not tell me that critics can’t appreciate escapist fluff when “Fast & Furious 6” is sitting there with 70% on Rotten Tomatoes as I write this, okay? Critics have different likes and dislikes (surprisingly similar to normal humans), but in aggregate they tend to be fairly reflective of movie audiences. Yes, the critics probably will all hate on “Transformers vs. GI Joe: Give Michael Bay All Your Money,” but let’s not pretend it’s because they’re all horrible people who hate fun.

Indigo Rain now an ebook

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I’m happy to announce that Indigo Rain is available as an ebook from Bad Dog Books, in both Mobi (Kindle) and EPUB formats. Bad Dog’s ebooks are DRM-free, and Indigo Rain features all three of Sabretoothed Ermine’s interior illustrations.

Indigo Rain product page

It’ll be available through Amazon and other outlets eventually, but for now it’s a Bad Dog exclusive.