Good morning from NOLA

Everything you want to know about vomit inside a space suit is here.

So instead of fretting at home about the elections, yesterday I sat in the car for around 15 hours yesterday driving from NC to New Orleans with my friend Ursula Vernon. While one of us drove, the other obsessively read Twitter, FiveThirtyEight,, or #RomneyDeathRally. We also listened to the Mary Roach book Packing For Mars.

Cool thing: Did you know that the best thing to do if you’re in a falling elevator is lie down on your back?

Currently I’m in a dark hotel room working while Ursula sleeps, and then we will go wander the city and do research for my next book, the sequel to The Shambling Guide to New York City. (Guess what city it takes place in. Go on. Guess.)

Will post pics and more of our adventures. Stay tuned.

And while my state went more conservative (Kinda expected since our previous liberal governor turned out corrupt – thanks, Easley) I’m absolutely thrilled by the reelection of Obama, the resounding support of gay marriage (whether it was legalization or refusing to pass anti-gay amendments), the shutting down of the rape-apologists, and having the most women in the Senate than ever before! Things aren’t 100% peachy, and I pretty much agree with Dr. Phil Plait here, but damn, I’m so glad my uterus can stop clenching.

Dear AI Writers

Was looking for a good Fallout 3 screenshot, then in my search I found this picture of Liam Neeson, who’s a voice actor for Fallout 3. I pretty much forgot everything else I was doing and decided to post this instead. Mmm. Liam Neeson.

I used to work at a game company. I am married to a game programmer (14 years this week!). I’ve been friends with graphics programmers, AI programmers, UI programmers, networking programmers, and more. I know this job is tough. Really.

But do you think, maybe, you could consider the logic involved in having an NPC ally run in front of your PC as they’re firing a ranged weapon?

I play Mass Effect 2. My team takes their position, battle starts, everyone starts running around, and I start hearing “taking friendly fire!” I know I’m not the best shot, but this happens a LOT.

Last night I was playing Fallout 3. Some Brotherhood of Steel dudes were fighting some raiders. Hey, I thought, I’ll help! So I ran in and got myself a nice sheltered corner. I have a machine gun, so there’s not a lot of stealth involved. It’s not like they could say, “I totally didn’t notice the woman running into the room going RATATATATATATATAT.”

I’m firing a long round of bullets and then suddenly a dude runs in front of me and “Sneak Attack on Brotherhood of Steel” pops up, and the dude I’m there to help out turns around and starts shooting at me. This of course puts his back to the Raider, and between the Raider shooting him and his focus on me, the dude dies immediately. I am not too sorry. Fucker tried to shoot me.

This happened a lot in Skyrim, when I was a magic user or ranger and hired a tank to go in with me. Only, the tank would place him or herself RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME in order to engage the enemy. Without even an “excuse me.” Then I would shoot them and either they would die or turn on me, and we’d have a merry chase throughout the dungeon with me yelling, “I don’t want to kill you, I just leveled you up! Quit it!”

I don’t know how to program. Not even a little bit. But it seems that you could put in some awareness of teammates’ positions, and reluctance to place themselves directly in front of said teammates.

Or shit, just have them realize that if you do run in front of a woman who’s shooting a machine gun to help you out, and you get shot, it’s your goddamn fault and don’t turn around and shoot at her. Because she will then have to loot your broken, bloody body and your combat armor is really fucking heavy, and that’s just rude to expect her to carry it back to Megaton.

ISBW #265 – Interview with Jared Axelrod

Another belated show, this time an interview with Jared Axelrod, author of The Battle of Blood and Ink!

Hey! It’s Day 2 of NaNoWriMo! You should be 3332 words in! (I’m a tad bit behind, eep!)

New at Escape Pod: Sprintime for Deathtraps

We have a fun story this week at Escape Pod about deathtraps, in a series that has been popular to our listeners. I heartily recommend it!

Springtime for Deathtraps
Marjorie James
Read by Dr. John Cmar
Discuss on our forums.
An Escape Pod Original!
All stories by Marjorie James — including EP007– The Trouble With Death Traps and EP224– The Ghost In The Death Trap.
All stories read by John Cmar
Rated 13 and up for language

Springtime for Deathtraps
By Marjorie James

The building sat in a small clearing in the jungle, its stone walls radiating solidity and the midday heat. Giant statues of warrior-gods crushing skulls beneath their feet flanked the doorway. Xnab looked from the ornately carved keyhole to his customer and back again.

“And the key is where, exactly?” he asked.

“In the treasure chamber,” the big man said in a small voice. “We had just finished putting everything away and, well, it had been a long day. I think I must have put the key down on the altar or something. The problem is, the place locks automatically, and our entire fortune is in there. We had a few locksmiths out to work on it, but they didn’t get very far.”

Xnab nodded. He had already noticed the blood spatter around the keyhole.

“So that’s why we called you. Everyone said that if anybody could get in there, it would be you.”

Read More, Or Listen!

Fabulist Update

Hey all you Ink Splattered Fabulists!

I’m currently working on a spreadsheet to put all y’all in there nice and cozy, then I’ll be emailing you some information on how we’re going to continue. And don’t worry. We ARE continuing. It may not be pretty, but it’ll happen. Watch your email box.

You are a nasty virus that infects your writing

Picture by Vintaga Posters – BY NC ND

CASE STUDY 1–So I had two kids at the back of the bus. A demon was in the seat across the aisle and it wanted those kids. The kids had no special demon fighting powers. I was at a loss as to how they could get away from the demon without having it simply follow them.

“She had no idea what to do,” I wrote.

CASE STUDY 2– Two characters were on a late night train, talking, info-dump style. (Yeah, it has to happen sometimes. Sue me.) I was reaching the end of my wordcount, and it was late, and I was tired.

“She yawned and said, ‘Let’s talk about this over coffee in the morning.'”


I just wrote myself into my novel. Twice.

I’m not doing a Mary Sue in that my characters are me, only BETTER. Instead, they’re me, inept, confused, and tired. Ruby didn’t know what to do because *I* didn’t know what to do. Zoe was tired and wanted to continue the discussion tomorrow because that’s how *I* feel right now.

I will be fixing these things on rewrite. Do you do this? Be aware of your emotions making your characters confused, angry, tired, horny, sad, or whatever you’re feeling at the time. Sometimes it’s good to tap into those emotions. Other times, at least for me, it’s just damn lazy.

Look at the thing! It’s a thing!

Look over there! The thing! On the sidebar!

Yeah. I’m trying NaNoWriMo. Again. This time I’m breaking the rules and going for a books on an existing project. My book, tentatively titled Ghost Train to New Orleans (sequel to The Shambling Guide to New York City), is 8k in, and I am using NaNoWriMo in hopes to get to 60k. My wordcount there at the right is the honest NaNo count, starting with the words I wrote today. I’m cheating in that the project is started, but I am NOT considering I have an 8k word start. I donated to NaNoWriMo, got my donor halo, and I’m off and running.

Who’s with me?

ISBW #264 – Feedback – I HAVE RETURNED

photo by motyka_sfa – BY NC

I’ve returned with a feedback show I recorded in September before my online world fell apart. I’ll have another one for you tomorrow!

I’m also doing NaNoWriMo, and am working on a blog post, but the site is down (as it is every Nov. 1) so that might not go up till tomorrow. Still! Wordcount for today needs to be 1667! Get to it!)