Jun 30, 2013

Reader Gets Shipped Off to THE FARM Today; and a Bonus Sunday Prompt

As I pointed out yesterday, Google is shuttering the Reader service tomorrow, July 1. If you subscribed to my RSS feed through Google Reader, welp, you're in hot water, unless you do something about it.

You risk not only losing your sub to Start Your Novel, but all your Reader subscriptions. You don't want that, do you? Click here to read the alternatives I propose. On Carolyn Nicander Mohr's recommendation, I tried Feedly and the 1-click import from Reader works. Like magic. But it only works until July 1.

Now that we got that out of the way, Here's a Sunday prompt, and Happy 4th to all my American friends.

*

Has an app ever ruined your life? Me, I wish I'd never heard of DICKLR. But the damn thing had such a fine Kickstarter... And the stretch goals, oh man.

So I got involved as a developer. I gelled with the team. We hung out, talked craft beers and cycling and wakeboarding. The first few days, we sizzled, man, sizzled, like grease on a hot plate.

Then Gil Blaine, the CEO, came back from his vacation. And I... How can I put it? I was initiated.

Bug Monster 07
by Ahmet Ozcan

To wrap things up, I'll give you a short list of light Sunday reads.

Lucy V. Hay suggests 5 career strategies for writers
You can follow her on Twitter - @Bang2write

The Big Think editors bring you a 5-minute drill: How to negotiate like a pro.
You can follow them on Twitter - @bigthink

This is from Wiley: Someone has studied the time-dependent properties of mayonnaise flow
Oh, science, we love you. Follow @wileytweets if you're so inclined.  

Uut Poetry sniffed out 10 minimalist quotation posters you should hang at home.
Can't find Uut Poetry on Twitter. Boo-hoo.

David Brin meditates on the difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Hint: It's political. You can follow His Beardiness on Twitter - @DavidBrin

Jun 29, 2013

Act Fast if You Want to Keep Reading This Blog

Do you read Start Your Novel using a feed reader? Would that happen to be Google Reader?

Well, Google has decided to bury their old, serviceable reader -- despite our collective yowling. You might as well try to get wine from a seahorse. As of July 1, Reader will go the way of the Norwegian Blue.

Too bad; let's not cry over spilled Yak mustard. I'm here to bring you solutions and alternatives.


Personally, I started using Feedly, and I'm delighted. The first time you land on their website, the colors and design lead your eyes to this friendly message:

click to enlarge

That one-click import? It works a lot more smoothly than I expected. Feedly imported every last item, and even preserved my folder structure.

Once you're in, the interface looks minimalistic but intuitive and familiar.

click to enlarge

When you click on a headline to read the article, you get all these useful social/sharing buttons:

click to enlarge

Feedly also supports Delicious, Pocket, Instapaper and Evernote.

What are you waiting for? The clock is ticking! Act now, or join the choir invisible.

Jun 28, 2013

Can I Borrow Your Body for a Couple of Days?

At the end of the day, with the sheep back in their pen, Crito kicked off his boots and took a hit of the new powder. He fell into his straw mat and kept falling until he hit something hard.

Concrete.

"Oh, man," he said, "not this world again."

Dreamtime
by Tiina Purin



Click here to watch "The City Limits" by Dominic on the blog.

The spark for this prompt: What if, on some alien world or parallel dimension, you came upon a substance that transferred your consciousness to another sentient being through the medium of a transtemporal network such as Dreamtime?

While we're on that subject, here's a fascinating snippet from Wikipedia:

"[E]very person essentially exists eternally in the Dreaming. This eternal part existed before the life of the individual begins, and continues to exist when the life of the individual ends. Both before and after life, it is believed that this spirit-child exists in the Dreaming and is only initiated into life by being born through a mother."

Between this world and the Tao / Apeiron / Kia / En Soph Aur, how many possibilities exist?

Arch Gate
by Remus Brailoiu

Jun 27, 2013

Quick! Come Up With a Title Before the Gators Get You!

I don't have a prompt today but I have loads of good stuff to share.

Good reads:

I may still be an arsehole, but at least I’m a sober arsehole by John Risby.
How one man started drinking at 13 and clawed his way out of the hole.

Your story needs two hearts, by Roz Morris.
Roz tells you why Fringe manages tension and story development better than Doctor Who.

I am the one who clicks banner ads, by Mike Lacher.
Meet the lone humanitarian who keeps the steam engines of the Internet going.

How to Live More Each Day, by Craig McBreen.
Where Craig McBreen tells you about the 103-year-old Jokemaster.

Gertrude Stein reviews beer
With the kind of language that would get her banned from Beer Advocate. By Jessica Probus.

My overlooked skills I wish people would endorse on LinkedIn, by Jill Zero
It's about microwaves and toilet paper.

Good News:

I joined tumblr today. My tumblings will revolve around photography. You can find me here. Come say hello. I'd like that.

Note how cleverly I convey a subliminal message through my choice of header.

Among other factors, including the steadfast support of one dear to me (she knows who she is), my decision to revive my photo-taking habits owes to Ruth Long, who invited me to become a part of the crew on the newly-minted Shutterworks Photo Blog.

See you tomorrow.

Jun 26, 2013

I Remember the Future on a Faraway Land

Esme ran away from the colony and on the edge of a cliff, as the dairy-blue sea broke against the jagged golden rocks, she found a new god. Unlike the other gods of Home, this one had no name. It was native to the new world, worshipless, alone.

Photo by Mira Nedyalkova

A handful of water gods:

The Mesopotamian Adapa, or Uanna, often depicted as a merman. Adapa was one of the Apkallu, hybrid beings sent from Dilmun -- "the place where the sun rises" -- to teach us poor humans all the arts of civilization.

The Greek Poseidon had about 3,000 sons and daughters, if I remember correctly. One of them was Aeolus -- someone coined the phrase "aeolic energy" to honor this illustrious gentleman. He gave Odysseus a bag containing all the winds save the west. A bag containing all the winds... Huh.

Abzu and Tiamat mixed their waters before the world began. Their offspring turned on them; Tiamat, goddess of the ocean, not unlike the Titan Oceanus, was overthrown by Marduk, her grandson. Tiamat's body became the Earth and firmament.

The Celtic Boann, goddess of the river Boyne in Ireland, had an affair with the supreme Dagda, who owned two magic pigs: one forever growing, another roasting forever. I have no idea what he did with the first one.
The two gods conceived a son, which was kind of inconvenient because they were both married. To other people, that is.
So The Dagda compelled the sun to stay still during nine months -- that way, Boann carried her baby to term in the space of a single day. Now we know where Steve Niles got the idea for 30 Days of Night.

The Egyptian Neith, mother of Ra, earned one of the most unsettling epithets I can think of: Nurse of Crocodiles. She personified the waters of creation.


Photo by Mira Nedyalkova

If mythology gets you going, check out Theoi Greek Mythology and Encyclopedia Mythica
For elegant retellings of world myths, I recommend Bullfinch's Mythology.
Looking for something off the beaten path? You might enjoy The Gnosis Archive or Avesta.

But dig deeper if you will.

Jun 24, 2013

Turn Off the Ghost Lights Before It's Too Late

Before she died, Livia made me promise I'd get to Mount Thor and pull the plug. The power companies don't know about the plug.
"It's time to stop burning dead people," she said.
"Don't worry," I said, "I won't let them pack your soul into a fuel cell."

Mount Thor
by Peter Morgan

Murray Brooks, in Progress and Its Discontents, writes:
"[By] the end of the 1960s warnings again began to be raised about the exhaustion of resources and the growing dependence of the United States on foreign sources of raw materials, especially oil. Could the momentum of growth be sustained, and if so for how long? World rates of population growth were still rising, with little prospect of tapering off, especially in the populous developing world, and it was clear, even to the greatest optimists, that this could not go on indefinitely."

Mount Thor is on Baffin Island, largest island in Canada and fifth in the world. (Sumatra is number six, in case you wanted to know.)
Thor is popular with climbers, featuring the Earth's greatest vertical drop - 1,250 m / 4,101 ft. It seemed like a good, remote place for a 'spiritual plug', which I envisioned as a ritual object anchoring human souls to this planet until they are granted safe passage to the world beyond.

Let me just add for the sake of clarity that I don't know whether there is an afterlife and am not interested in proving or disproving it. As a fictional possibility, I like it. To the willing writer, life after death is an all-you-can-eat buffet.

This prompt was inspired by the video below:


"Strobe" by A L M E E V A
Download Almeeva's EP#2 on Bandcamp, pay what you want.

Jun 21, 2013

I've Seen the Future, and the Future Wobbles a Lot

"But word-processing software -- particularly the sort that employs special, complex file formats -- has the eldritch power to unwrite things."
- Neal Stephenson, In the Beginning... Was the Command Line

Martin Close stopped going to work because everyone was transparent. Not quite see-through like glass, but light now hit their bodies and kept going. Like flesh-colored jelly they traveled the hallways; greeted each other and discussed sales around the water cooler as if nothing had changed.

Broken Promise
by João Figueiredo

Jun 19, 2013

Sometimes the Wrong Door is the Only One for You

I am not a time traveler – more like a time repeater. I’ve witnessed the birth of my first child four times now, on random days with several normal weeks between them.

The fourth time, May 12, now that’s a day I don’t want to live through anymore. But –

Buddha Bot
by Sumrow

music for people stuck in transtemporal space, 1:


music for people stuck in transtemporal space, 2:

music for people stuck in transtemporal space, 3:


Have you experienced deja vu today?

Jun 14, 2013

The Worm that Came to Stay

Deep where the fish don't breathe, Dorian had a silent listener.

The boy would go down to the lake with Doorknob, his Chihuahua. He'd stand by the water, hit reeds with a stick and tell them to speed up production. Like dad, Dorian had employees.

The lake drank Dorian's vocables.

Echo
by Ken Wong

Says Wikipedia:
"The hypolimnion is the dense, bottom layer of water in a thermally-stratified lake. It is the layer that lies below the thermocline. (...) Being at depth, it is isolated from surface wind-mixing during summer, and usually receives insufficient irradiance (light) for photosynthesis to occur."

The thermocline is a shifting layer that separates the surface from the still, life- and oxygen-deprived water below.

Companion words:
Epilimnion, the top of a lake
Metalimnion, the middle layer (changes depth as the day rolls on)

Jun 12, 2013

A Day that Never Ends is a Night Without Beginning

That's it, I'm going to quit my job and lie down on the M-Line and wait. Dismemberment by streetcar. Sweet!

I don't want to live on an occupied planet. Wanna know what those things are, with the wings you can see through and the singing? Not whales, I tell you.

Cicada
by Teagan White

Sometimes the idea for a prompt emerges from free writing. This time around, I'll give you my admittedly bizarre motivator:

As time dwindles and my face melts, the no-dragons made of nothingness and air lighten the Boston skyline, giving dusk the odd appearance of a sunless everday. There shall be no moon tonight, but Mars, magnified through the Dyson-Katzenberg, could loom large, given the proper conditions. If so, Mars will bathe the streets with its orange glow, and the streetcars swim through it like fiberglass eels on rails.

Jun 11, 2013

The Face that Ruins Everything

I start every morning with my eyes closed. Since March, that is. The bruises on my knees have bruises of their own and my little toe could be broken. I don't know.

I can't go out with this thing growing on my cheek. How would people react?

Good Day Sir
by Sweden10

So, what inspired my title today? Click here and I'll take you to The Face that Ruins Everything.

Some people are afraid of their own reflection. Others loathe their bodies. A few poor souls dread the thought of being touched. I imagined a protagonist burdened with all those troubles, plus incipient schizophrenia on top of that. Note: contrarily to public perception, schizophrenia is nothing like dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as "multiple personality disorder"). A schizophrenic will experience bizarre delusions, such as everybody else being made out of paper, or the government sending emails directly to their brains. Schizophrenics do not develop "alters" -- alter egos -- the way DID sufferers do.

Have some Plaid now. Empty your mind of horrible thoughts. Hug a kitten and make it listen to Rachmaninoff for ten hours or so. You'll feel much better. The kitten, possibly not. But you won't know until you try.

Jun 7, 2013

It Is a Moral Teething

Nobody on the station knows where the lizard came from or why it attached itself to my ear. Whenever we try to tell home base about it, they pretend not to listen and always change the subject.

And yet it's here. Marjorie likes it even less than I do.

Fun with Lizards

Jun 5, 2013

Tinkerhell, the Black Metal Florist

Tina was a girl who fell. She tripped on wayward bricks, small dogs, homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk.

On the way to work she stubbed her toe on a vending machine and staggered into a florist's. Surrounded by funeral-red carnations, a longhaired man stopped reading his Black Pullet.

The Crane Wife
by Budi Satria Kwan

The Black Pullet is one of many grimoires that'll teach you how to make charms and talismans and contains words of power that summon djinni. I doubt whether any of the spirits mentioned in the Black Pullet are still available, but you can read it for entertainment value.

As for my black metal florist, I must attribute direct inspiration to Vegan Black Metal Chef. I selected a video for you to watch right here on the blog if you can't be arsed* to check out the man's YouTube channel.



(*"Can't be arsed" -- one of my favorite Britishisms. Because it's rude.)

Jun 4, 2013

Desert Islands Are Shitty Places for Music Lovers

Today I bring you 3 variations on the desert island/shipwreck/castaway theme. I tried my best to avoid clichés.

1

"You want to eat me? Are you serious?"
Postal didn't take his eyes off the fire.
"Sure," he said, "if you die first."
"What makes you think we're going to die on this island?" I asked.
The moon peeked from behind a cloud.
"Forget I said anything," Postal replied.

2

I'm going to beat you, you damn island. By dying. Then I'm appearing to Ekaterina as a ghost so she knows where to find my body.

Singing and banging on coconuts passes the time. It also keeps the flying lizards at bay, so I can starve in peace.

3

Stricher found a rusted knife stuck in a tree and a cracked skull beside a rock down by the gully. The gully led down to a dark crevice he didn't particularly want to explore, but something caught the light in a way that spoke of metal or glass, not water.

Well Seasoned
by Anna-Maria Jung

The BBC started Desert Island Discs, a biographical and factual radio show, in 1942. It's still going strong and you can listen to its massive archive online. Fortunately it's accessible outside the UK. 

I just hate it when my physical location prevents me from accessing free content intended for public consumption -- there should be no borders on the Internet. Otherwise, what's it good for? Imagine Facebook, G+ or Twitter partitioned into all these tiny, nay granular, local divisions. Now imagine yourself only being able to interact with people within a 100-mile radius. Does that sound sane to you? 

Elsewhere on the webbysphere, Worlds Without End -- a fine resource for readers and writers -- presents an easy-to-read, useful overview of current science-fiction and fantasy magazines. 

Click here to visit Worlds Without End

Want even more? OK, I have a Twitter list of literary magazines and journals from all over the world, featuring 389 titles.