Lynda Barry's 'Writing the Unthinkable' lesson

TIL: the fabulous Lynda Barry teaches at the University of Wisconsin! In this lesson, called "Writing the Unthinkable," she shares a neat method to get started on a new piece. It begins by drawing a tight spiral as a meditation.

"Once I start to draw this spiral, I'm starting to get in the mood to write some kind of story."

(Wertzeen) Read the rest

Richard Kadrey talks about his latest book and what comes next after Sandman Slim

I’ve known Richard Kadrey for a number of years. We generally mouth off at each other about technology, injuries we acquired while we were young/dumb, barbecue, tiki drinks and movies. There’s not much jibba-jabba, however, about what either of us does for a living. He writes constantly. So do I. It’s nice to talk about anything but your gig, from time to time.

That said, the rent must be paid, so here we go.

On August 28th, the tenth book in Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series, Hollywood Dead, will be available in the United States. Last last week, after reading an advanced copy that was sent out to me, I got on the horn for a chat with him about the new book, his plans for Sandman Slim and what he’s got cooking beyond the massively popular urban fantasy series.

SB: I read Hollywood Dead over the weekend. I think one of the things I enjoyed the most about the new book is how the tension ramps up as Stark came to understand how screwed he really was.

RK: I really wanted him off-balance. He felt off-balanced in The Kill Society—Stark was basically hiding who he was. But I wanted him to be genuinely fucked up in this book. He thinks everything’s going to be fine now and nothing is fine. Everything is fucked up. There’s no problem he can solve by punching it. Yeah, there’s bad guys, but his overall situation can’t be solved with violence. In the book, a lot of the truth of what[Stark]is comes out of Kasabian’s mouth, the way it always has. Read the rest

Trademark troll who claims to own "Dragon Slayer" now wants exclusive rights to book covers where someone is holding a weapon

Austin's Michael-Scott Earle, last seen around these parts when he filed a trademark on the phrase "Dragon Slayer" for use in fantasy novel trademarks, has found a new depth to plumb: he's filed a trademark on book covers "one or more human or partially human figures underneath, at least one of the figures holding a weapon; and an author's name underneath the figures; wherein the title/series and author's name are depicted in the same or similar coloring." Read the rest

WordTsar: WordStar updated "for the 21st Century"

In an age before Microsoft Word, even before Corel WordPerfect, WordStar ruled the DOS word processing world. Beloved to this day for its simplicity, power and wealth of keystroke commands, some writers never gave it up: G.R.R. Martin maintains a DOS machine just to run WordStar 4. Enter WordTsar, a clone cut to run on modern machinery, brings the classic into the 21st century.

The keyboard controls we love. WordTsar understands most of the Wordstar keyboard controls, and more are on the way,

The user interface we all know. WordTsar gives you a look and feel similar to the original interface.

A new GUI. WordTsar gives you a Graphical User Interface that will feel right at home.

There's something odd about just how many apps are made with writing (rather than coding) in mind, but how few of them offer much tooling for prose—let alone the ability to write and edit without mousing. Read the rest

Sponsor my next Little Brother novel and a short story in the Clarion Write-a-Thon

I'm in the home stretch on CRYPTO WARS, the third Little Brother novel; and making good progress on RADICALIZED, a short story about suicide bombers and US health care; you can follow my progress and sponsor my work on the Clarion Write-a-Thon, which raises funds to subsidize the tuition at the Clarion Writing Workshop, which I graduated from in 1992 and donate to every year. Read the rest

EFF on Cockygate: trademark trolls vs romance literature

Romance author Faleena Hopkins earned the wrong kind of notoriety when she registered a trademark on the word "cocky" for use in romance novel titles and then began indiscriminately threatening to sue her peers for using this common trope. Read the rest

RIP Gardner Dozois, pioneering, genre-defining science fiction editor who helped launch my career

Gardner Dozois started his career in science fiction as a (very good) writer, but quickly transitioned to the role that defined his life in the field, as an editor, taking over Asimov's from 1984 to 2004, winning 40 Hugos, 40 Nebulas, 30 Locus Awards, and the best Professional Editor Hugo Award 15 times. Read the rest

"Cocky" romance novelist embarks on a second career as a trademark troll: will romance writing fall from grace?

Over the past 20 years, the world has become a lot more cognizant of the risks of unbalanced copyright, as what was once a way to help creators gain leverage over publishers, studios and labels became a rubric for mass surveillance, unaccountable censorship and monopolism. Read the rest

Beautiful chart shows how the English alphabet evolved

Matt Baker from UsefulCharts.com made a detailed poster and video of how the English alphabet evolved over the last 4,000 years, but his elegant and colorful topline is the simplest iteration of the process: Read the rest

Little Brother is 10 years old today: I reveal the secret of writing future-proof science fiction

It's been ten years since the publication of my bestselling novel Little Brother; though the novel was written more than a decade ago, and though it deals with networked computers and mobile devices, it remains relevant, widely read, and widely cited even today. Read the rest

Romance writers sought for library residency at my former Toronto workplace

I was a teenaged page at the North York Central Library in suburban Toronto, working in the Business and Urban Affairs section, shelving books, taping together newspapers while we waited for their microfilm versions to arrive, and fiddling around with the newly installed (and poorly documented) computerised catalogue/lending system -- I worked there with many other would-be writers, like Nalo Hopkinson, who was a public service clerk a few floors down. Read the rest

A science fiction writing workshop lexicon

The "Turkey City Lexicon" is a widely used -- if controversial -- set of critiquing terms for use in science fiction writing workshops, created by Lewis Shiner and Bruce Sterling for use in the Turkey City Writing Workshop; Sterling describes SF workshops as being "like a bad rock band" in that a workshop "can be set up in any vacant garage by any group of spotty enthusiasts with nothing better to occupy their time. No one has a copyright on talent, desire, or enthusiasm." Read the rest

Ars Technica is hiring a senior writer

Are you "an experienced writer who loves to help readers understand new technology and innovative ideas—and why they matter?" Ars Technica is hiring. Read the rest

Amazing Tales: a storytelling game with dice for kids and grownups

Tim Harford (previously) turned me on to Martin Lloyd's Amazing Tales, a storytelling RPG designed to be played between a grownup games-master and one or more kids. Read the rest

RIP Kate Wilhelm, science fiction great and co-founder of the Clarion Workshop

Kate Wilhelm, author of many of science fiction's seminal books and stories (e.g. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang), would have been a titan in the field if she had only written; but Wilhelm's prodigious authorly accomplishments are matched by her influence on the generations of writers trained in the Clarion Workshops, which she co-founded with Robin Scott Wilson and her husband Damon Knight. Read the rest

Kids struggling to hold pencils thanks to too much tech

Parents who load their tablets and smartphones up with fun educational apps for their kids to play with may actually be doing them more harm than good. According to The Guardian, spending too much time tapping and swiping away at touchscreens is leaving the muscles in many children's hands too weak to hold a pencil.

In the article, Sally Payne, a pediatric occupational therapist, explains that the nature of play has changed over the past decade. Instead of giving kids things to play with that build up their hand muscles, such as building blocks, or toys that need to be pushed or pulled along, parents have been handing them tablets and smartphones. Because of this, by the time they're old enough to go to school, many children lack the hand strength and fine motor control required to correctly hold a pencil and write. In order to correct the problem, some parents are going so far as to send their kids to pediatric occupational therapists, like Payne:

Six-year-old Patrick has been having weekly sessions with an occupational therapist for six months to help him develop the necessary strength in his index finger to hold a pencil in the correct, tripod grip.

His mother, Laura, blames herself: “In retrospect, I see that I gave Patrick technology to play with, to the virtual exclusion of the more traditional toys. When he got to school, they contacted me with their concerns: he was gripping his pencil like cavemen held sticks. He just couldn’t hold it in any other way and so couldn’t learn to write because he couldn’t move the pencil with any accuracy.

Read the rest

The myth of the "genius creator" requires that we ignore the people they build on, or insist they don't matter

The wonderful Copy Me project (previously) has revealed the first installment in its new three-part series on The Creativity Delusion, which takes aim at the "myth of genius," which picks a small subsection of creators, scientists and entrepreneurs and declares them to be "original" by ignoring all the work they plundered to create their own and erasing all the creators whose shoulders they stand upon. Read the rest

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