Fake Poop and Other Cat Deceptions

So here I am, late again. I plead Way Too Much to do this week. But I digress:

I am a cat person. I don’t have a dog because I work, and a dog needs a ton of attention. But cats – there is this illusion that cats are easier as roommates.

Not so. A cat may have a walnut-sized brain, but it remembers everything that effects it: food, injuries, and repetitive human patterns. I have a cat over 13 years old, only he’s one of my Dorian Gray kitties – he acts like a year-old cat – and when he is going to get his toenails clipped, memory kicks into gear. When I get to the left front paw, he always pulls it back and looks at me as if saying: “You do know how to do this one now, right?” We’d made the mistake of allowing my 20/20 zillion-visioned Ex to trim the kitten toenails – and he hit the tip of the nerve on that foot.

Little brother remembers, and just wants to be sure that I remember, too.

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review: AN OFF YEAR, by Claire Zulkey

Just got Claire Zulkey’s first novel, AN OFF YEAR, a young-adult story from Dutton.  Really sweet story about a kid who chickens out on her freshman year of college at the dorm room door.  She just turns around and makes her dad take her home.  No stated reason.  She spends the next year working out whatever, very carefully never identifying anything specific that somebody could then force her to fix.  My favorite parts are the shrink sessions.  I have a weakness for fictional and cinematic shrinks.

Zulkey’s heroine is way true to life.  I want to slap her and yet I know I have been her, so I side with her anyway.

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The WisCon Chronicles – WisCon 33

Every year Aqueduct Press produces a volume covering the WisCon for the previous year. Timmi Duchamp has asked me to edit the 4th WisCon Chronicles, covering WisCon 33. It’s an honour, if also a very large responsibility!

I will be blogging about the progress of Chronicles 4, which will concern me in my other hat, as the editor, formal or informal, up to and including academic volumes, like the one I recently edited for the academic journal Paradoxa on the work of Ursula K. Le Guin.

For now, here’s a call for materials for WisCon Chronicles 4.
In this volume we’re looking to include

Some academic papers,
Some extracts from work by people who read at the conference, including flash fiction, excerpts from longer fiction and poetry, and

We’re also looking to include some panel reports.
Panels are the core of WisCon, where the important, the sensitive and the new issues for the SF and F and feminist scenes and increasingly, fandom in or out of the Blogosphere, come to light.
And we are looking from input from everyone who attended WisCon 33.
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xkcd: Another Great Way to Waste Time on the Web

xkcd on FireflyI am a huge Joss Whedon fan. I stumbled onto Buffy a couple of years into the series, and got completely hooked, to the point where several friends and I would go online immediately after every episode and do detailed crits via email. I did the same with Angel, and remain bitter about the way Fox treated Firefly.

I mean, I enjoyed the movie Serenity, but like most Joss fans, I’d have much rather had five years of Firefly episodes rather than one two-hour movie. Joss makes great movies, but he is the master of the serial storytelling that television can do so well.

Alas, at the moment, Dollhouse (which got really good by the end of the first season) won’t be back until fall, so there’s no new material to watch, and we Joss addicts have to get our fixes where we can. In that vein I recommend a five-part homage on the great webcomic xkcd. Continue reading

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Retreating To Charge Forward:

RETREAT: verb 1 a (1) : an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable (2) : the process of receding from a position or state attained *the retreat of a glacier* *the slow retreat of an epidemic*  b (1) : the usually forced withdrawal of troops from an enemy or from an advanced position (2) : a signal for retreating  c (1) : a signal given by bugle at the beginning of a military flag-lowering ceremony (2) : a military flag-lowering ceremony.

In some wars generals have been tried for treason for retreating without permission, even if it was the better part of valor.  To run away to fight another day.

What do you do when everyday life becomes a battlefield?  If you’re a writer you tend to turn “retreat” into a noun and take one.

RETREAT: noun 2 : a place of privacy or safety : REFUGE

mthoodMajestic Mt. Hood.  My refuge.

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Helping to decide the “Fate of the Jedi”: My first Star Wars novel

So today, something really amazing happens. Something I’m going to remember for my whole life.

My first STAR WARS novel gets published.

Like many of my generation, I remember my very first viewing of STAR WARS with astonishing vividness. I was thirteen, and drank it all in like a woman dying of thirst being offered water in the desert (or maybe blue milk in the desert…) . In “those days” you could park yourself for the noon showing and just sit through a movie again and again as long as you wanted. I wanted. I can’t tell you how many times I saw it, or EMPIRE, or RETURN OF THE JEDI. But I enjoyed it every single time.

About a year and a half ago, I was approached, not to do just one Star Wars novel. Not to do a hardcover. Not even to do a hardcover trilogy. But to do three hardcover Star Wars books as part of a major nine book series, co-written with Star Wars vets Aaron Allston and Troy Denning.

Gotta say this for dreams sometimes…when they come true, they come true big time.

As I’m also working on three more Warcraft novels for Blizzard, it’s been an interesting year. And will be next year and the year after that too. I’m not complaining, they are all six joyful projects that make me happy to think about that I am loving writing.

So tomorrow, OMEN, book 2 in the Fate of the Jedi series hits bookstores. Somewhere in Colorado, a 45 year old woman with the soul of a thirteen year old will be smiling. If you pick up the book (The first one is OUTCAST by Aaron Allston so you know what’s going on), I hope you are smiling too.

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Strunk & White . . . stinks

I so hope that Geoffrey Pullam’s cogent critique of The Elements of Style by Strunk & White helps to bury this precious little tome.  While I’ll not celebrate the losses suffered by Macmillan if the little book stops selling jillions of copies, it would be well if I no longer had to hear people who purported to be writers stating this book is some sort of English grammar Bible.  It’s a little piece of crap that even I, who was a real grammar moron, thought was dumb when it was first forced on me in college, oh so many years ago.

Having suffered through an internet stonehead’s criticisms (he’s not so bad; he didn’t mean most of it)of my “Guidelines for Critique,” I might even feel sympathetic to the deceased, much-lauded recipients of Pullam’s analysis.  Might.  I don’t feel very sympathetic, even though White authored one of my favorite books, Charlotte’s Web.

That said, Pullam refreshed my memory as to why 99% of students and others have no clue as to what the passive voice is.  To avoid in fiction writing?  Well, that depends upon one’s aims, goals and the voice of the story.  Pullam correctly points up that hardly any of Strunk and White’s examples of passive voice are passive voice, which is a reversal of active subject-verb order in a sentence.  Most of the examples simply use the past tense form of the verb “to be.”  The verb “to be” is a most valuable verbal construct in English.  It indicates time and condition.  To eliminate it is — moronic.

As Geoffrey Pullam not unkindly characterizes Strunk and White.  RIP.  Please.

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The St Louis Refugee Ship Blues: A Very Short Review

This is what the comics medium can achieve.  Pulitzer Prize-winning author Art Spiegelman has a full-page editorial cartoon in Sunday’s Washington Post which is a grand salute — and critique – — of editorial cartoonists of the past.   Those familiar with his work will know that Spiegelman is famous for his graphic novel Maus, about the Holocaust, featuring Nazis as jackbooted cats and the Jews, including Spiegelman and his father, as mice.

spiegelman1

The interactive on the Post web site does not have the delicious impact of opening the Outlook section over your morning coffee and taking in the entire breathtaking page of newsprint.  But click around and pick up on its beauties.  Spiegelman, in his usual mouse guise, closely reflects all the seventy-year-old cartoons he’s telling us about.   Also, look at how cleverly he handles the progression of the panels (directing you which to read next) and yet steps out of the traditional grid format.  His mouse avatar steps before, behind, and  even reaches from one panel to another.

The work of a master — and, in the great tradition of editorial cartooning, it’s ephemeral, read today and lining a bird cage tomorrow.  Luckily his magnum opus Maus, because it won the Pulitzer, is available everywhere.  Look in your local library if you don’t want to spring for it at Borders — it’s there.

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Horses Are Not Dogs

(c) 3004 Lynne Glazer

(c) 2004 Lynne Glazer

Coincidence being what it is, just the other day one of my equestrian connections twittered this very thing. “Horses aren’t dogs!” Apparently she had run into another case of would-be trainer trying to apply what she knows about dogs to the equine in her life.

“Write (or do) what you know” is often excellent advice, and writers may think, well, a dog is a domesticated animal, and so is a horse; if I know how my dog acts and thnks, I can extrapolate that to the horses in my novel.

Hence, the horse who runs around whinnying at everything; who gets a bag of oats dumped in front of her while the rider goes off on a day-long, secret reconnaissance; who travels for days with next to no stops for food or water–the list goes on and on. Continue reading

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Nancy Jane Opines on the Radio

The Scarlet Letter

I slept through it! My comment on The Scarlet Letter aired on Weekend Edition Sunday this morning, and I slept through it! I got up at 7, turned on the radio, and then lay down on the couch, since I was up late on Saturday. Of course I fell back asleep and somehow managed to sleep through both someone saying my name on the radio and my own voice.

Thank God for the Internet, because I listened to myself here, and you can, too. And in case you’re too lazy to do that, here’s the gist of what I said: The Scarlet Letter is funny. Intentionally funny — there’s a lot of satire there. Hawthorne, writing in 1850, was mocking Puritanism. Reading it makes me suspect that there was a lot more interesting writng and social critique going on in the 19th Century than I would have thought.

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