On the grotesque obsession with accomplished women's fertility


Rebecca Solnit is a brilliant writer whose essay Men Explain Things to Me sparked the discourse about "mansplaining" and whose 2009 book A Paradise Built in Hell is one of the best history books I've ever read -- so why do so many interviewers want to talk to her about the fact that she chose not to have babies? Read the rest

Alan Moore's advice to unpublished authors

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Alan "Watchmen" Moore, the Wizard of Northampton, gives some frank advice to beginning writers at a Q&A at a 2011 an anti-library-closure protest at St James Library, Northampton, UK. Read the rest

The Qwerkywriter: a delightful Bluetooth keyboard based on a manual typewriter


I blogged the announcement of the Qwerkywriter more than a year ago, when the company was retooling from its successful kickstarter to full retail production. I've had one of the production models in my office for a couple of months now and I've been very impressed! (I wrote this review on it). Read the rest

Taxonomy of the 37 basic silent-film plots


It's a lovely piece of narrative theory from Wycliff Aber Hill's 1919 book Ten Million Photoplay Plots: The Master Key to All Dramatic Plots, part of a tradition of stage-play manuals that presented related taxonomies for aspiring writers. Read the rest

Awkward Robots Orange Volume: science fiction anthology to benefit the Clarion SF writers' workshop


Lara writes, "Time traveling gamers, levee-breaking mermaids, and frayed sanity on the first manned mission to Europa. It's all packed between the pages of The Orange Volume. The cohesive Clarion class of 2012 is at it again. Last year they released The Red Volume and raised $1,500 for the Clarion Foundation. This year--just in time for Halloween--they're following up with The Orange Volume." Read the rest

Climate change science fiction contest: win $1000 and publication


Joey from Arizona State University writes, "ASU’s Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative is holding its first-ever Climate Fiction Short Story Contest. First prize is $1,000, and three more winners will receive book bundles signed by Paolo Bacigalupi, who was our annual Climate Futures lecturer last month. The best submissions will be published in an online anthology, and will also be considered for publication in the journal Issues in Science and Technology. The contest will be judged by Kim Stanley Robinson, along with a panel of experts from the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative." Read the rest

Lemony Snicket gives Planned Parenthood $1M


Daniel Handler (who wrote the excellent "Series of Unfortunate Events" books under the name Lemony Snicket) and his wife, Lisa Brown, announced the $1 million gift to Planned Parenthood on the eve of a possible Congressional shutdown over funding to the agency. Read the rest

Fabriano EcoQua notebooks


For taking notes, sketches and generally just having paper with me that works well with my fountain pens, I've been using Fabriano's EcoQua notebooks.

The dot-ruled, staple bound sheets of 85gsm off-white paper work fantastically with my my favorite pens and inks. There is nearly zero bleed through or feathering, and ink dries fast. My favorite Noodler's bulletproof black and red-black are both bold and bright, though the red-black becomes distinctively more red.

I really the dot-ruled paper. It is a more subtle version of quad-ruled graphing paper, but helps me sketch and draw out ideas.

There is a lot of marketing hullabaloo over the environmentally friendly nature of these notebooks. I find this ironic, as we start with killing a tree, but appreciate it regardless.

Ecoqua Dot Notebook 5.8X8.25 Navy via Amazon Read the rest

Kurt Vonnegut's 8 rules for writing with style

In the anthology "How To Use The Power of the Printed Word," brilliant author shares eight tips on how to write with style:

Find a Subject You Care About

Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.

I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way — although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your house or a love letter to the girl next door will do. Do Not Ramble, Though

I won’t ramble on about that.

Keep It Simple

As for your use of language: Remember that two great masters of language, William Shakespeare and James Joyce, wrote sentences which were almost childlike when their subjects were most profound. ‘To be or not to be?’ asks Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The longest word is three letters long. Joyce, when he was frisky, could put together a sentence as intricate and as glittering as a necklace for Cleopatra, but my favorite sentence in his short story ‘Eveline’ is just this one: ‘She was tired.’ At that point in the story, no other words could break the heart of a reader as those three words do.

Simplicity of language is not only reputable, but perhaps even sacred.

Read the rest

Stephen King on productivity


"There are many unspoken postulates in literary criticism," writes the legendary author, "one being that the more one writes, the less remarkable one’s work is apt to be." And yet… Read the rest

Worldcon attendees: silent auction today at the SFWA booth!

If you're at the World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane today, swing by the SFWA booth (W5 in dealers' room) to bid on tuckerizations from Annie Bellet, Jenn Brozek, Cory Doctorow (!), Greg Bear, Larry Niven, Mike Resnick, John Scalzi, and a critique from Nancy Kress. Read the rest

Anne Rice: political correctness is new form of censorship in the book biz

Anne Rice, of The Vampire Chronicles fame, posted on Facebook her concern that novelists "are facing a new era of censorship, in the name of political correctness." Read the rest

The failed writer who became NSA's in-house "philosopher"

Deep in the Snowden leaks are a series of columns by the "Socrates of SIGINT," an NSA spy who answered an internal help-wanted ad to write about the philosophy of surveillance. Read the rest

How posterity will remember this decade

Warren Ellis: "We saw the best minds of our generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves after an Uber that isn’t actually there because Uber fake most of those little cars you see on the Uber app map." Read the rest

Come see me tonight in Seattle!

I'm reading from the novel I just finished (Utopia) and then being interviewed by Geekwire's Frank Catalano. Read the rest

RIP, EL Doctorow

The author of spectacular novels (my favorite is Book of Daniel, which crosses a fictionalized life of Abbie Hoffman with a fictionalized account of the Rosenbergs) and outstanding critical essays (I still can't get The Creators out of my mind) was 84 (no relation). Read the rest

5 tips for writing science fiction to engage people who don't read it


Back in 2006, I had an epiphany. Stories are empathy engines, regardless of the medium. And for humans, they always have been. We’ve been primed to imagine other’s lives since we sat in a cave, telling the stories of our tribe and making sense of the world around us. I published an academic paper on this in 2008 and have given talks about storytelling and empathy ever since. I’m thrilled that there are now hundreds of researchers around the world searching for the neurological mechanisms that link “theory of mind networks” to empathy and narratives. PJ Manney's (R)evolution is available from Amazon.

In addition, I’ve been a futureholic throughout my life. Whether through science fact or fiction, I’ve wanted to know what was coming and how it might change everything we know. The future is very heady, complex stuff, and difficult to communicate to those who aren’t on your metaphorical wavelength, since change is inherently hard to understand or accept. With my novel, (R)evolution, I felt it was important to share research on nanotechnology and cognitive technologies like brain-computer interfaces, nanomedicine and more with an audience that might not read SF or know what is coming.

My parents are my sample audience. My father is a huge SF fan and the reason I am, too. Future-shorthand is easy with him. But my mother is so ignorant of SF, when we visited Industrial Light and Magic in 1980, she hadn’t seen Star Wars (and still hasn’t) and didn’t recognize the Yoda puppet! Read the rest

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