Princess Scientist’s Advent Calendar Day 1

It’s time to open the advent calendar again! This year we have both our classic old advent and a new chocolate advent. Considering technical difficulties, we are going short and simple this year. Or at least today.

Inspired as always by Grant Baciocco’s Advent Calendar Podcast!

 

Post holiday catchup

What’s that word when you have been away for a while and you drive 12 hours – broken up by a 1.5 hour funeral along the way home – and you get home and have a migraine and take a pill and wake up completely brain dead and unable to get to work because brain not work good?

Right. The word is AUGH.

I’m home from Thanksgiving in Buffalo and pretty useless. Still in my robe and need to go get the dogs from the kennel soon. So I’m going to keep this short. The biggest thing is people are letting me know that the service I’m using for direct purchase of Merry Christmas from the Heartbreakers (Look! Sidebar! Buy it! Yay! Cyber Monday! Booyah!) is not delivering immediately in some cases. If this happens to you, PLEASE email me (mightymur at gmail). I’ll already have proof of your receipt in my inbox, so if you mail me directly I’ll shoot the files over to you.

[EDIT- As of 12/2/12 I have removed all links to the offending site that didn’t deliver. Remember if you bought from me and didn’t get your files, EMAIL ME.]

Secondly, I got an awesome thing in the mail when I got home from the trip.

The ARC for The Shambling Guide to New York City is here!

My dress isn’t pretty enough.

This is Victoria. I don’t know her but she has a pretty dress. She deserves to be invited to all the parties. Photo CC licensed by Robert Douglas – BY-SA

Some people like the fact that I show my insecurities on I Should be Writing. It tells them that they are not alone in their insecurities, that they are something to overcome, that you can reach publication while still feeling like someone’s going to knock on your door and demand the advance back because they just found out that YOU ARE A FRAUD.

Others don’t like it because they think I shouldn’t feel that way once I have reached the level in my career that I have. Get over it. I should quit whining; it’s obvious I’m doing OK, I have the writing creds to prove it. And their emails do so much to regulate my emotions. Thanks guys, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

But in reading [REDACTED] online today I discovered a new negative feeling that comes with the low level of pro writing that I have achieved. It actually comes from reaching a small sense of self worth. Where the feeling USED to be, “Wow, I’d love someday to be invited to contribute to a book like that,” now it’s, “Hey, wait, I’m totally qualified to contribute to that. Why didn’t they invite me? Wait. Am I done? Am I over? Did I never arrive? Did they sample my work and decide, ‘hm, no, not again.’ Or worse, did they read something I wrote online or hear me on a podcast and think, ‘yeah, we’re not inviting that asshole to a project.’ WHY WASN’T I INVITED TO THE PARTY? I WORE MY PRETTY DRESS AND EVERYTHING!” *runs off to eat frosting*

I often liken this career thing to a domed party in the desert. You think that you’re in the desert and all the pro writers are inside the party, and you need but ONE break to open the door and be invited in where there are water, showers, and waiters carrying trays of champagne once you dry off. But once you get in, you realize the party is only along the outer perimeter, and there is ANOTHER party right inside. And inside there? More parties. The parties of the multi-book deal, or the six-figure deal, or the movie option, or the actual movie being made, or the award winners. I had accepted this Dante-esque view of a writing career, but I had never expected that some people who I think are at the same party I am will get invited to other parties while we’re mingling. I mean, we’re all with the cocktails and the humorous WorldCon stories, and then a waiter in tails comes by with a little engraved notecard to hand to my companion, and he reads it and then excuses himself and goes on to the next party. Why didn’t I get one? Did I not wear the right pretty dress?

This is, of course, all metaphorical insecure BS. First, you don’t measure your career with someone else’s career as a yardstick. Second, not everyone can be invited to a party, just the law of averages, or some other mathematical rule, says that they can’t invite every talented person to every project. Third, maybe you’re not the right person – or even good enough – for that project, and that’s OK. Really. As long as you persist, your chances will improve, as will your talent.

Besides, you don’t stay hungry and scrappy by having every opportunity handed to you. The occasional disappointment/letdown/failure will make you fight all the harder next time.

And by you I mean me, obviously.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I had a migraine most of today, but I did manage to bake 3 pies, cook breakfast, feast with the family, and tell y’all how grateful I am for you who are my friends, listeners, readers, or just someone who stumbled on this site looking for something… else.

Although the site is new enough that I’m not sure weird-ass search strings will lead you here. But whatever. Welcome. Thankfulness.

Did I mention I was coming off a migraine? I’m kinda loopy now. But I’m grateful for all sorts of things. Boy howdy.

The book! In case you failed to look to the right to see the sidebar.

Did I also mention I had a Christmas story collection ebook out? I mean, I know I did, but that’s a subtle way to remind you in case you haven’t purchased it. And it’s SCREAMING up the charts. Well. It’s #92 in SF Anthologies on Amazon, which IS A CHART. You can buy directly from me, epub and mobi, via the image below, or buy from the Kindle store.





(Buy directly from me.)

And hey, if you’ve purchased it, THANK YOU! And if you can’t or don’t want to, but you have enjoyed my Xmas stories in the past, throw a review at Amazon, would ya?

What I hate about blogging

I did

I did not, however, sell my kidneys on the Internet.

Is that you get distracted and blink and suddenly OMG days are gone and you haven’t updated!

The trip took a lot out of me, but was ultimately awesome. Then I came home and had some health issues for about a week, and that’s resolved but now I’m all “WHEW- oh fuck, wait, I’m behind on everything.”

So happy Thanksgiving, safe travels, and good luck with NaNo, if you’re still in it. (Travel, school, and other projects have me saying, again, “next November…”) I’ll be updating some audio soon.

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, IsNateSilverAWitch.com, 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.

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.'”


Dudes.

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?

Dear Daughter [repost]

[I posted this on the old, lost site in April, and it was lost when the site went down. Luckily BlogHer syndicated it, so I’m reposting it here.]

“You know spies; they’re a bunch of bitchy little girls.” — Burn Notice

Dear Daughter:

You should know that you are hated. I’m not sure why they hate you. You didn’t do anything to them. You don your princess crown, take up your sword, and pretend at Pokemon. You read your books and you learn how to draw comics and dragons and you play piano and practice kung fu. You delight in pretty dresses and weaponry. You love me when I nurture you as a mom, train with you as a warrior, and play video games and card games with you.

“You throw like a GIRL!” Obnoxious drunk asshole behind us at a Durham Bulls game (Apparently he threw 75mph)

There is nothing worse than being a girl. I’m not saying this as a former girl — I quite liked being a girl. I’m saying this from the POV of the entire rest of the world. There was a lovely feminist TED talk — A Call To Men — where a man discussed his conversation with a twelve-year-old boy, and the boy said he would rather die than be called a girl. And the man thought, Good Lord, how do these boys view girls, if being compared to them is the worst thing in the world?

“What did Jesus do, when they put nails through his hands? Did he scream like a GIRL, or did he take it like a man?” — The Book of Mormon (the musical, not the holy book), “Man Up”

I’ve seen boys cry when injured. Frustrated. Feelings hurt. Blocked out of play. Denied something. It’s what kids do as they learn the world around them. The world is tough; before you learn to cope, you cry, whether you sport the penis or the fallopian tubes. It’s fucking lesson #1 after you take your first breath. I cried. You did too.

So. The world hates you. You are considered the worst thing to be compared to. Throw like a girl. Talk like a girl. Cry like a girl. God forbid we ever be girls. No, we wouldn’t want to take utter delight in beauty and love. We wouldn’t want to carefully watch and study something to learn. We wouldn’t want to look at the world and for just one second think that we have as many opportunities as boys. That we can play sports. Play the drums or saxophone. Play video games. Excel at science/math. And for that second, before something or someone starts opening their shit-hole to put down little girls, we can fly.

So what can we do, dear daughter? When you get a little older, I will be honest with you and tell you–fuck ’em. You will not change their mind by arguing, by telling them they are wrong. You change their mind by showing them how being a girl is awesome. You show them by not hiding, by not being demure.

“I gotta say, you are the prettiest little girl I ever did see!”

“Thanks!”

“‘Thanks’? You’re awfully matter-of-fact about that. I guess when a boy tells you how pretty you are, you’ll come home and be like, ‘Oh MOM! He said I was PRETTY!'”

“…”

— An older man and my daughter, this weekend

You show them by being more than your looks, even if that’s all people comment on. You show them by your independence. You show them by being more than they expect to see. You show them by not taking their shit.

When I think of little girls, I think of you. I think of perfect math scores, a passion for science, a love of My Little Pony, swords, dressing up as Cleopatra, and having absolutely no shyness or fear. I think of someone with a sharp wit, and frightening skills with a stunt kite. I think of someone with determination — even if you don’t know it yet, I’ve seen it. Whatever you’re determined to do, you manage to do it. I also think of someone who suffers confusion when kids make fun of her for liking “boy things” at school, but hearing that “girl things” are bad. You like them both. You like anything that interests you, the rest of the world be damned.

I hope someday I can fly a kite like a girl. And do kung fu like a girl. And draw like a girl. And you know what? I wish I could cry like a girl. You get it all out, and then you look for the next thing, bouncing back with amazing speed. You don’t do like me, hold it inside as long as possible, letting it fester, bringing me down for days. You are not bitter.

So they hate you. But fuck ’em. Because you are a force of nature, a powerhouse of emotion and talent and stubbornness and potential.

You’re worth a billion of them.