Friday, August 28, 2009

Foreign Languages in Fiction

On Wednesday, Gary Corby blogged about historical research in writing a novel set in Ancient Greece (or any time period really), and I commented asking about how he handled foreign languages in his book. The Mediterranean of the period Gary's writing in was a happening place, if I remember my ancient history right, and a lot of peoples were flowing in and out of Classical Greece. Persians, Egyptians, etc ... so I was curious how, or if, he handled that in the writing.

I expected him to reply in the comments of the original post. Instead, he devoted an entire post to my question ... and then linked to this here blog. Which is pretty cool, I think.

Like I said above, this all stems from knowing the Classical Mediterranean had a lot of different cultures floating around, and from my own attempts to sprinkle fictional foreign languages throughout my fantasy writing. For one story I take actual languages and write mirror images of the words -- "Nyet" becomes "Tyen" for example -- and in the other one I decided I might as well use the languages proper. Of course, that's also because said WIP is a thinly veiled blend of Nazi Germany and the Spanish Inquisition (which wasn't as difficult as you might imagine).

So thanks for the response, Gary. And for the link too!

Criticism and its Value

I was reading this article that I found via Editorial Ass (thank you, moonrat!) and after commenting on moonie's post, it got me to thinking about the value of critique.

There's tons of resources on the web about the value of criticism and the difference between the positive reinforcement kind and the negative kind. I'm not going into that here simply because it doesn't matter so much to my own thoughts.

Criticism is valuable. There's no question about that. It's only through criticism of our work that we can grow and change as writers to become better than we were when we started. God knows I'm not the same writer I was at age 15 (which is good because I wrote some truly awful stuff then). The criticism I received made me grow in my storytelling, and in my execution, and in my characterization. Being told what's working and what's not working improves the story as well as the writer, which should be our key concern as storytellers -- what works and what doesn't.

However, criticism needs to be detailed. Saying "You need to slow it down" means nothing without pointing out where the story goes too fast. Saying "I don't like it" is similarly unhelpful if you can't innumerate why you don't like it (unless it's the genre and not the story, which means your critique has less value than someone who does read said genre).

Anyway, the article says that "refusing to comment" is a good way to get around the thorny issue of dealing with not wanting to injure a writing friend's ego. Which I do agree with somewhat. But only in certain cases.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Random curiosity

So I had a thought the other day (surprising, isn't it?) and was wondering what anyone who's reading this irregularly updated thingamawhoisit thinks.

Would you folks read a blog-only serialized short story?

It's something I've been toying with as a way to make regular updates. I have no idea what it would be about, or how long it would be, or if this random story would even have a clearly defined ending. It's entirely up in the air at this point.

So thoughts?

P.S. Rick, I promise I'll get to your chapters. Life managed to get in the way though, so it might be a bit longer than I planned.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Can't ... stop ... laughing

So a burglar in Salem, Oregon, got arrested while only wearing the underwear of the woman he tried to rob. Mind you, the best part of this Boston Globe story is not that the burglar was arrested while in ladies clothing, or that he had piles of the stuff in his garage down the street ... no, the best part is that in the laundry list of charges at the end the 47-year-old suspect got charged with possession of illegal fireworks.

Yeah ... 'nuff said.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Twitter and Denial of Service

So I was reading some tech news this morning (a rare feat, but something I try to every now and again) and saw that apparently the denial-of-service attack on Twitter recently was targeted at one person -- a blogger from Georgia (the former Soviet Republic) who writes under the name of Cyxymu.

News sources revealed here, here, and here that this blogger had accounts on all the sites affected by the denial-of-service attack, and one theory is that it's Cyxymu's anti-Russian feelings that sparked the attack.

I'd either hate to be that blogger, or slightly impressed that someone, in trying to shut me down, either knocked out or slowed down five websites (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LiveJournal, and Blogger) in order to do it.

What's really scary is how many people attacks like this one can affect. Millions of people use Twitter and those other sites every day. They're part of our lives pretty much. And someone can simply highjack a network and send dozens, potentially thousands of people into a frenzy with the click of a mouse. Freaky.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Oooo ... pretty toy

I worked at a newspaper for about two years -- yes I know, newspapers are going the way of the dinosaur, I've heard it all before -- but maybe not, if this story over at Wired is any indication.

I'll end this short post with three words: I want one.

Adding to my insanity

As anyone who knows me in real life already knows, I have both a full-time (see my profile for what that is) and a part-time job (oh glorious retail). A few weeks ago I started doing some freelancing for Demand Studios, the owners of, and have really liked it. I want to add to that, with the stated goal of increasing my freelancing to the point where I can replace the income from my part-time job with the freelancing.

So here's my questions to the freelancers who follow this blog (if anyone is):

How do you go about finding assignments? Do you skim websites? Contact company PR departments? Use a "freelance marketplace" resource, ala MediaBistro?

I'm really interested to hear how you all manage to make it work. Respond in the comments, please and thank you.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Royalties Demystified

Go read this gem over at Pimp My Novel, where the wonderful Eric explains how the royalty structure works. Very insightful and well done, as always.

P.S. I've been busy with freelancing assignments, hence the lack of posting here.