babarnett: (torchwood ianto monday)

1) Not that the world needs more of me babbling, but fellow Odyssey alum A.J. Cooper was lovely enough to do an interview with me over at his blog.

2) I've spent far too much of today transfixed by the internet train wreck that is Weird Tales and their now-revoked intent to publish the first chapter of the "thoroughly non-racist book" Saving the Pearls. If you somehow missed the WTFery, you can find a summary and related links here.

5) After getting back from vacation a couple weeks ago, I was determined to get lots of writing accomplished before before the fall semester craziness begins. Sadly, I have been failing miserably at that. I'll have a brief burst of productivity only to then turn into a total slug. Today, I was particularly slug-like. My brain, being the uncooperative evil thing that it is, seems amused by the irony that, after hosting a discussion night at TNEO called "Buffy the Rejection Slayer: Defeating Doubt, Procrastination & Other Writerly Demons," I am now totally getting my ass handed to me by those very demons. I think it's time to get out the stake.

babarnett: (firefly shiny kaylee)

First, Izzy David's podcast of my story "The Little Things" is now up at Every Day Fiction. Please have a listen and rate it if you feel so moved.

Second, story sale! I'm pleased to say that my story "Ghost Writer to the Dead" has been accepted for Penumbra's October 2012 Edgar Allan Poe issue.

And finally, so it's not all about me, some pimpage for writerly compatriot [ profile] marshallpayne1, who has recently released two novels, Petrol Queen and Jimmy-Don and the Texas Hill Country Ordeal. I haven't had a chance to read them myself just yet (because I'm a horribly slow reader with a very large to-read pile), but if they're anything like Marshall's short fiction, they'll make for a fun, quirky read. You can find links to them on his Amazon author page.

babarnett: (farscape aeryn genius)

I'm currently trying to readjust to reality after a couple weeks away—first for a week of writerly workshoppiness at TNEO, and then for a week of vacationy goodness down the shore. My brain's a little scattered, so bear with me as I share the writerly randomness that has occurred during my absence:

* First, story news! My flash piece "The Little Things," which was published in Every Day Fiction last month, will be available as a podcast (read by Izzy David) on August 13.

* While at TNEO, I finished a shiny new short story called "Memories of Mirrored Worlds" and sent it off into the world. Fly, little story! Fly! 

* Speaking of TNEO, it was once again fun and full of awesome people. Lots of great feedback and brainstorming and bouncing around of ideas. Not to mention a highly hysterical evening of people trying to read bad sex scenes without laughing.

* Among my revelations at TNEO this year: I need to stop procrastinating and just revise My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel already. I've spent the last couple years stopping and starting and hemming and hawing and it's all rather silly at this point. Brainstorming is all well and good, but there comes a point when the only way to figure out what works is to just finish the damn thing.

* BUT! Before I go back to the novel, I will revise a few short stories that are in need of attention. Revisions on one of those began this morning and will continue after I finish with this post. Which means now.

babarnett: (farscape aeryn genius)

So I lied about eventually having a more substantial post last week (not that I think anyone was eagerly awaiting one, especially given my half-assed blogging tendencies of late). I had intended to write a post last week, but I got distracted by something that was probably far more worthwhile for me. I rediscovered how much I like words. 

I'm a fairly slow reader, so once I started grad school, I didn't have much time to read anything beyond assignments for class. And as soon as the spring semester ended, I had a big pile of critiques to get through for TNEO. But then, last week, a beautiful thing  happened: I was done with critiques, and I had before me an evening with no rehearsal, schoolwork, meetings, or anything else to do or go to. So I read. Fiction. For fun. For the first time in months. It was glorious. And it continues to be glorious.

In addition to getting to lose myself in someone else's words for a while, I also got to rediscover some joy in my own words. Even though I've still been working on fiction these last several months, my writing routine during my spring semester . . . well, I no longer had one. I squeezed in what I could where and when I could. And everything I was working on was revision. With deadlines. And therefore pressure.

But last week, I started a new story. Every day on the train ride to and from work, I've been writing. And when there's time in the evening, I write some more. And since it's not revision, I've been able to use my old battle-worn AlphaSmart (aka VoldeSmart). In other words, no shiny things on my Macbook to distract me. Just me and my words and no deadlines. I had forgotten how much fun it can be to just play.

babarnett: (firefly shiny kaylee)
I should have a more substantial post later this week, but for now, just a quick moment of pimpage: my story "The Little Things" is up at Every Day Fiction today. This one's a rare little jaunt into mainstream humor for me.
babarnett: (torchwood ianto monday)

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up:

* A story sale! My flash fiction piece "The Little Things" will be appearing in Every Day Fiction on July 9.

* I've added my short story "The Deepening" (from issue 37 of Aoife's Kiss) to those I have available on AnthologyBuilder.

* In a few weeks I'll be heading off once again to TNEO, a week-long workshop for alumni of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. As a result, I've been knee-deep in critique mode the last several weeks, but those are pretty much done now. I rewarded myself with new shoes. 

And now I must sleep and prepare for Monday, which is soon to assault me with its Mondayishness.

babarnett: (firefly shiny kaylee)
The lovely and talented and soon to be Tor-published author [ profile] stillnotbored (aka Jaime Lee Moyer) has been holding monthly contests where she invites folks to take an orphaned first line of hers and write the first paragraph of a story or the first stanza of a poem. I entered the last one in a moment of procrastination and was thusly rewarded for my procrastination by actually winning. Sometime soon, possibly after I finish up with a rewrite request I'm working on, I will turn my first paragraph into a full-fledged story. The darn thing has been niggling at me, though I have no idea what the heck it wants to be yet. But in the meantime, my shiny pretty fantasy map pendant prize showed up today:

Thanks for the shiny pretty, Jaime!
babarnett: (get fuzzy enlightened bucky)

Or, "Facebook is going to steal your photos before you've even taken them!"

Those of you on Facebook are quite likely familiar with variations on the following post:

For those of you who do not understand the reasoning behind this posting, Facebook is now a publicly traded entity. Unless you state otherwise, anyone can infringe on your right to privacy once you post to this site. It is recommended that you and other members post a similar notice as this, or you may copy and paste this version. If you do not post such a statement once, then you are indirectly allowing public use of items such as your photos and the information contained in your status updates.

PRIVACY NOTICE: Warning - any person and/or institution and/or Agent and/or Agency of any governmental structure including but not limited to the United States Federal Government also using or monitoring/using this website or any of its associated websites, you do NOT have my permission to utilize any of my profile information nor any of the content contained herein including, but not limited to my photos, and/or the comments made about my photos or any other "picture" art posted on my profile.

You are hereby notified that you are strictly prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing, disseminating, or taking any other action against me with regard to this profile and the contents herein. The foregoing prohibitions also apply to your employee, agent, student or any personnel under your direction or control.

The contents of this profile are private and legally privileged and confidential information, and the violation of my personal privacy is punishable by law. UCC 1-103 1-308 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED WITHOUT PREJUDICE

When I see stuff like this, the first thing I do is stop and think about it for a minute. Does it seem even remotely plausible? (In the case of the above example, no. Becoming a publicly traded company has nothing to do with privacy rights.) Then I usually take a few minutes to look into it. I use my Google-Fu. I check reliable and highly useful places like where, more often than not, I'll find that the post is a mutation of an outdated or equally erroneous post. And based on what I find, I do one of three things: 

1) Share the post,
2) Ignore the post, or
3) Tell people to stop sharing the post because it's just not true (giving them links to relevant sources, of course)

For the record, it's usually #3.

Sadly, there are an awful lot of people who will pass the post along without a moment's thought. Hence the reason it's usually #3.

And when it is #3, sometimes people will thank me for the correction, delete and/or correct the erroneous info, and mention how they need to remember to check these things before clicking "share" in the future. Unfortunately, other people will just leave the post there and not respond to comments pointing out its bogus nature, or they'll delete it and act is if it was never there, because who likes to admit they were wrong about something? No one. It's not a pleasant feeling. But what really makes me want to bang my head against hard objects is when I get responses like this:

"A lot of people told me it's not true, but I figure what can it hurt? LOL"

What can it hurt? Well, my least tactful response is that it makes you look kind of stupid. My more tactful response is that, because other people with kneejerk click-and-share tendencies are going to share the post after seeing it on your page, you're needlessly perpetuating misconceptions and disseminating information that just ain't true. Too many legitimate issues are obscured by the tinfoil hat flavored variety. But my main concern about this "share now, think later (if ever)" culture is that it's part of a larger problem that unfortunately isn't limited to the internet: a lack of critical thought.

In the ancient days of email forwards, I would sometimes do exactly the sort of thing I've ranted about here. "A friend sent me this email saying you'll get cancer if you hold in a sneeze after ingesting Pop Rocks and Coke, so it must be true! Forward to everyone!" Two things helped me change that habit. The first was a friend who revealed that an email I had forwarded was bogus. He introduced me to the glory that is, for which I am eternally grateful. Because I hate feeling like a dumbass. The second was a class I took as an undergraduate called Science vs. Pseudoscience. That class helped to remind me that a) I have a brain, and b) I should engage it in critical thought more often.

To make a long blog post short (too late!), I'm toying with the idea of writing a series of blog posts (probably posted fairly irregularly given my schedule) titled something like "Why Skepticism is Not a Four-Letter Word." Given that I normally blog about writing-related matters, I'm not sure if that would be of any interest to the folks who actually read my ramblings. But it would give me an outlet for some thoughts that have been rattling around in my head, and I guess that's reason enough.

babarnett: (me steampunk)

During my sophomore year high school English class, we read a lot of short stories. One that really stuck with me was "The Veldt" because:

a) We were reading science fiction! In school! How cool was that!?

b) It was the first time I read a story by Ray Bradbury.

RIP, Mr. Bradbury.

babarnett: (muppets)

I intended to write this blog post several months ago after seeing The Muppets, but . . . well, you can see how rubbish I've been about blogging much of anything. 

Anyway, I still giggle incessantly whenever I hear the song "Man or Muppet?" from the film. But the song also inspired thoughts about how, when I run into people I haven't seen in a long time, I'm often told, "You haven't changed at all." When that remark is in reference to personality rather than appearance, it usually comes in one of two tones: the I'm-pleased-you're-still-awesome tone of voice, or what I'm going to call the why-are-you-still-acting-like-a-Muppet tone of voice. The latter tone tends to be used when I'm acting like the big geeky goofball I am at heart, which leads to me wondering (and often replying), "Um, should I have changed? I'm happy with who I am."

I eventually realized that the why-are-you-still-acting-like-a-Muppet tone tends to be used by people who view growing up as a matter of change. Growing up means you become serious and mature and stop taking delight in childish things. But for some of us . . . well, I think C.S. Lewis summed it up rather well: 

"When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."

As I said, I'm a geeky goofball. My closest friends have always known and accepted that. But for much of my life, when I was outside the comfort zone provided by my friends, I often hid that geek girl or apologized for her because she didn't fit in with the norm--or at least what certain circles deemed to be the norm. And sadly, sometimes I still hide her when I'm outside my comfort zone. But the important thing is that I've realized that I like being that goofy geek girl. I don't want to hide her, and I sure as hell won't apologize for being her. The higher my geek flag flies, the happier I am with myself. 

So for me, growing up didn't mean changing who I was. It meant accepting who I was.

That's not to say that I haven't changed at all over the years. I have. Somewhere along the road, I went from being a fairly credulous individual to becoming super skeptic girl. My religious beliefs changed. My career path has gone in directions I hadn't anticipated. I've taken on new activities and interests while setting aside others that, at one time, I couldn't imagine going through life without. I'm always learning and discovering new things, and with that often comes change--sometimes little, sometimes big. 

But, at the end of the day, there's a fundamental part of me that hasn't changed. I'm still the chick who takes a geekish, childish delight in spaceships and zombies and unicorns and the like, not because they're escapist as some would claim, but because of the new perspective they offer on the real world. I'm still the chick who likes be surrounded by a weird (in a fun way) and diverse group of friends, who randomly bursts into song, and who thinks life can't be all that bad if you can still laugh.

So to answer the question in the subject of this post: I may not be made of felt, but I'm totally a Muppet.

babarnett: (torchwood ianto monday)
Operation Remind Myself I'm a Writer, Day One: The procrastination enemy has withdrawn to a defensive position. Fiction accomplished.

Day Two: The standoff with procrastination continues.

Day Three: Enemy regroups, distracts us with shiny objects.

Day Four: Our forces don't even try. They just sit in the bunker, eating pizza and watching Iron Man.

Day Five: We finally pick up our weapons and take aim only to find out that the enemy built a Death Star while we were watching Iron Man.

Day Six: We fight back, but get our assess handed to us. Again.

Day Seven: Turns out that Death Star has an exhaust port...

[Disclaimer: It's not my intention to make light of Memorial Day with a battle metaphor. My respects go out to those who have died on real battlefields.]
babarnett: (edna the incredibles)
*finally resurfaces from the Sea Of Too Much Else To Do*

I finished with my second semester of grad school about a week and a half ago (and totally rocked it, by the way), which means I get to be a writer again! And read things that aren't for class! Wheeeee! And now that I've caught up on some other pesky real life things, it looks like I should actually have time for that whole blogging thing again too.

So, the state of writerly me: Before the semester started, I was pretty darn productive on the writing front--one novelette revised and sent out the door, one flash story written and sent out the door, and three flash/short story drafts written. Then the schoolwork tsunami struck, along with a new routine to get used to in February when I started a part-time fellowship in an orchestra library (which has been awesome), so there was a while there where I didn't feel like much of a writer (an assessment my writerly success ratio seems to agree with lately). But now that I don't have any grad school-related work to worry about until the fall, I get to reacquaint myself with the world of reading and writing fiction--something I look forward to with huge heaps of geekish joy.

babarnett: (firefly shiny kaylee)

I'm an exam and a paper away from the end of the semester and having time to make a substantial post again. So close...

In the meantime, as you've likely guessed, I've briefly emerged for shameless self-promotion. You can now read my story "Sea of the gods" in BayCon's Progress Report 3

babarnett: (dr. horrible ahhhh)

Sorry to be posting nothing but pimpage lately. Soon there will be substance. Soon. But in the meantime, my story "The Sins of the Living" is part of the latest podcast at Tales to Terrify, along with other stories by some other fine horror-writing folks.

babarnett: (farscape aeryn genius)
Three more weeks until the semester ends and I might actually have time to be an active blogger again. Emphasis on the might part given the way my crazy schedule goes.

In the meantime, I've briefly surfaced for two quick bits of cheery news:

1) My story "Sea of the Gods" was accepted by BayCon to appear in their next upcoming progress report. They were originally going to publish only one flash piece in a progress report, but lucky for me, they decided to publish a second one.

2) And my opera-singer-meets-the-zombie-apocalypse story "The Holy Spear" from Black Static 25 made Ellen Datlow's full list of honorable mentions for The Best Horror of the Year, volume 4

Now back to those looming end-of-semester deadlines.
babarnett: (edna the incredibles)

And I resurface yet again! Only briefly, though. For this post, I'm turning my blogging space over to Lindsey Duncan, author of the contemporary fantasy novel Flow, which has just been published by Double Dragon Publishing. And she's a darn fine short story writer to boot.

So while I run off to do more grad school work, here's Lindsey talking about character dynamics:

Since Barbara has kindly me offered me space on her blog, I wanted to talk about character dynamics and interaction between three main characters … using my recently-released novel Flow as an example.  (There are arguably slightly more than three main characters in Flow, but this in case, I’m speaking of the protagonists, the characters who have positive interactions – mostly.)

Groupings of three characters are very common in fiction, whether the classic love triangle or other configurations without a name.  One theory I encountered gives an obvious reason why.  Draw a line between two characters and you have only two possible dynamics:  how A reacts to B and how B reacts to A.  This can be fine in short fiction, but doesn’t offer enough variety for a novel.  (As always, exceptions exist – though in man-versus-nature stories, nature becomes a character.)  Add a third character, and you have six potential dynamics.  Add a fourth character, and you have a much larger number … one that gets unwieldy except in the most skilled hands.

So three characters is the ideal number to generate interesting interactions – without overwhelming the reader.  In Flow, my two viewpoint characters – Kit and Chailyn – are joined by Hadrian.  He was meant to provide them with further assistance, and I knew before I started writing that there would be a level of attraction between he and Chailyn, frustrated by the polar opposite nature of their outlook on life.  She finds herself confused and saddened by his cynicism; he, in turn, is frustrated by her trust and optimism.  And as Kit’s story progresses, some of their interaction revolves on how to deal with each discovery – invisibly pivoting around that third point, although she is not directly present in these conversations.

I already knew how Kit and Chailyn would interact, and because they meet multiple chapters before Hadrian entered the picture, I had time to explore their individual dynamic.  Despite some points of friction, the two build trust quickly and serve as mutual tour guides – each explaining their respective worlds to the other.  To face the challenges the novel throws at them, they have to be united early on.

The interaction I hadn’t considered when beginning Flow was the final pair – how Kit and Hadrian deal with each other.  In many ways, the two characters have a lot in common:  cynicism, a certain snarky sense of humor (oh, how I love snark – even just the word!) and some problems with authority.  But these are qualities that, when shared, don’t lend themselves to peaceable contact.  Unsurprisingly, the two have a lot of verbal sparring, mutual suspicion, and guarded reactions.  At least initially, most of the hostility is on Kit’s side, while Hadrian is avidly curious and perhaps understands why the two women might not appreciate his inserting himself uninvited.  But that pendulum swings as the story progresses …

Had I stuck with the two female leads, I would have had a relatively simple dynamic – with its own tension and variety, but resulting in only a single thread.  Also, I would have been left with some balance issues.  To have two characters in a constant state of harmony or friction can become boring, but a loss of tension can drag down the whole story.  With the addition of Hadrian, I could switch up where the points of tension happened.  Kit and Hadrian might have reached an understanding (an interaction almost sibling-like, perhaps) at the same time Chailyn and Hadrian clashed over their opposing views.  Having three characters at the center of the novel allowed me a wide variety of possibility along various characters arcs, from suspicion to trust, from blind trust to real friendship, and from mutual bewilderment to … well, I say no more.

Another advantage is allowing two of the characters to discuss the other in her (or his) absence … though that often says more about the speakers than the third party.  Of course, the trio don’t exist in isolation:  they encounter other characters throughout the course of the story, and again, having three characters gives me a range of possible responses.  Where two may concur – sometimes – three rarely have the same outlook.

Overall, I feel that having three central characters made the core of Flow stronger.  In a novel that for me was so much about the characters, each individual helped to illuminate the other two.

LINDSEY DUNCAN is the author of contemporary fantasy Flow, just released by Double Dragon Publishing.  Flow follows the water-witch Chailyn, on dry land for her first mission, and Kit, a contemporary teen with mysterious powers, as they seek the man who killed Kit's mother ... a goal which catches the interest of the darkest of fairies.  They must also deal with the Borderwatch, a zealous organization that hunts fairies and has been in a cold war with the water-witches for decades.

Flow can be found here:

babarnett: (firefly shiny kaylee)
As promised in my previous cobweb-clearing post, I have pimpage:

First, I'm pleased to say that my story "The Cycle of the Sun" is now out in issue 18 of My Odyssey classmates will possibly remember this one as "the orgy story." Though the orgy's a lot tamer than it was in that first draft. That pesky plot thing seemed to think it deserved more attention.

And second, I'm also pleased to say that two of my stories--"The Holy Spear" (originally published in issue 25 of Black Static) and "The Sins of the Living" (originally published in Dark Recesses)--are going to be included somewhere down the road on the new horror podcast Tales to Terrify, sister podcast to the Hugo-winning StarShipSofa. The podcast has already featured stories by awesome folks like Joe Lansdale and Gene Wolfe, so go check it out!
babarnett: (dr. horrible ahhhh)

Wow, it's been a while, huh? I guess it's time I stop with the "I'll blog more, I promise" stuff and accept the fact that a regular blogging routine is probably not going to happen for the duration of my time in grad school. When it comes to establishing priorities, there are just too many things that win out over blogging at present--fiction writing, classwork, day job, musical endeavors, exercise, and sparing some moments to remind myself that I have friends and family.

Oh, and sleep. Precious, precious sleep.

That said, I can at least promise two upcoming posts: some story pimpage later this week, and later this month, a guest post by writerly compadre Lindsey Duncan, whose contemporary fantasy novel Flow has just been released by Double Dragon Publishing.

In the meantime, how the hell have you all been? 

babarnett: (doctor who happy face)
In 2012, babarnett resolves to...
Volunteer to spend time with wbledbetters.
Pay for my jamietrs on time.
Go reading three times a week.
Ask my boss for a horror.
Connect with my inner yoga.
Find a new theater.
Get your own New Year's Resolutions:

babarnett: (farscape aeryn genius)

Yup, it's that time again: the end of another artificially imposed construct approaches. January 1 may be a fairly arbitrary marker for the start of the new year, but it does serve as a convenient measuring stick for looking back and taking stock of where I've been and where I'm heading writing-wise.

So with that said, let's take a look at 2011--not as epically awesome as 2010 was for me on the writing front, but not a bad year.

Novel Progress
Ha! I said "novel progress."

There was lots of valuable brainstorming and jotting down of notes and ideas during 2011, but otherwise, revisions on My Big Fat Epic Fantasy novel took a back seat to a great many other things. Hopefully that will be remedied in the near future.

Short Stories
Stories written in 2011 include:

  • "Demon Dreams," a 6,700-word fantasy piece that's probably going to end up being even longer once I finish revising the dang thing
  • "The Girl Who Welcomed Death to Svalgearyen," a 3,800-word Norwegian folk tale-ish fantasy story that sadly has only racked up form letters at the few slush piles it's visited so far. I had my hopes up that this one would get a little more love.
  • "First Date in the Horror Aisle," a goofy little 2,800-word YA-ish science fiction story (despite the title)
  • And a 1,000-word comedic superhero flash piece that's probably too heavy-handed to sell anywhere
My one writing goal for 2011 was to do better than my paltry 2010 output of only one new story, so I can definitely check that off as achieved. I wish I had gotten more done, but trying to balance writing time, day job, and grad school was tough. But now that I've gotten the hang of that being-a-student-again thing, I'm going to strive for a better balance once the spring semester starts. In the meantime, I need to take advantage of winter break and get writer-me into gear.

Of story sales and SFWA...
While I had several stories published this past year in some rather lovely places, I wasn't nearly as successful with sales as I was in 2010, both in terms of total number sold (9 stories in 2010 vs. 5 in 2011) and sales to pro markets (3 in 2010, zilch in 2011).

Acceptances in 2011
  • "Unlucky Clover" to Beyond Centauri
  • "Mr. Fluffy" to Untied Shoelaces of the Mind
  • "The Holy Spear" to Black Static
  • "The Cycle of the Sun" to
  • "Dumping the Dead" to The Best of Every Day Fiction Three
Published in 2011Daily Science Fiction became a SFWA-qualifying market this past fall, making 2011 the year that I finally reached active member status. I don't feel like much of a pro, though. Just another would-be writer slogging away, occasionally achieving a small enough scrap of success to feel like I might one day achieve awesomeness, but mostly just adding to my rejection collection and banging my head against the same old wall of why-can't-I-do-better-than-this frustration.

Wow, that last bit was a downer of a sentiment to ring in the new year with. Here, have a Muppet chaser:


babarnett: (Default)

December 2013



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