Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Living the iLife

This fall, for my birthday, my parents sprung to get me an iPhone.  There were a few reasons for this, the first being that it made shopping for me unusually easy.  Another is that my mom and sister already had them and the goal, I think, is to bring the entire family into the iUniverse.  I have to admit that it's a pretty slick walled garden to live in.  There's a lot of nice features that work well for a family if everyone has one.

In addition my parents also got themselves an iPad and of course came to me with questions about what to get to put on it, with an eye to letting Xander (who's about to turn 5) play games on it.  Sadly I don't have a lot recommendations on that front but I thought I'd do a little write up of the various apps that have become indispensable in my iLife.

Most of what I'm going to talk about here was free, though many of them were only free for a limited time.  Always check prices before you buy an app and always be aware of the pricing models.  They've made some good changes to how Apple handles In App Purchases, but I still only marginally trust them with Xander around.

So... what's on my iPhone?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Rise of Genre Fiction

Fellow blogger and Author Elizabeth Baxter has a post up over at the Indy Book Blog about the Rise and Fall of Genre Fiction.  I think she offers a good glimpse at it but really there is so much left unsaid.

I shall take this opportunity, dear readers, to say it.

The question of the day:  "What the heck is it with everyone being into Genre Fiction?  How did True Blood become mainstream?  Why do we have everyone and their cousin watching Game of Thrones?  And how can you crack a joke about BDSM at a craft show and everyone laugh it off?"

The answer put forth by Baxter is that it has to do with the global depression.  So summarize- nah that'll take to long, let me sum up: the world sucks, people know the world suck, so they want to get as far away from the world as they can.  Nothing like escaping to Westeros, or to the towers of Grey Enterprises to forget about how far behind on your car payments you've slipped.  Why read about courtroom dramas and political in fighting when you can turn on CNN, MSNBC or FoxNews and get the exact same story, played out as though a cheap hack of a writer were coming up with the predicable and convoluted plots?

Speaking of which, seriously?  If I wrote a political drama I would not have named the guy Wiener.   Just, ya know, sayin'.  A dude needs some cred, amirite?

But I think Baxter only skirts the start of the deeper roots.

Friday, October 19, 2012

FFV: German Star Wars

According to Google the page says:
It felt very spontaneous: the WDR Symphony Orchestra organized a flash mob at the Wallraf Square. Suddenly passersby and visitors turned out to be Cafe Orchestra - and played unabgesprochen apparently to the surprise of passersby a very familiar tune.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Summer Nights (of Writing)

Some time ago I declared that I was going to spend 3 months as a writer, working full time 5 days a week, pounding out a chapter in the sci fi epic novel, a chapter for the online web serial, and at least one short story.  In addition I was going to edit the web novel, promote FantastiCon, promote the web novel and maintain the blog.

I knew it was ambitious.

I knew it was going to take work, dedication, and perseverance.

Writing is hard and I was ~ready~.

So... how'd it go?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Writing "Real" Fiction

So a while back I waxed poetic on the merits of writing fan fic as a means to practice your art and to establish some kind of reputation as someone who can tell a story, craft dialogue and engage characters.  I stand by that advice, but I would like to deal with some of the negative stigmas that Fan Fic gets and how some of them are legitimate.

One thing that I see in a lot of fan fic, but rarely in quality published writing, is the use of specifics.  The main character does not get into a hot rod to drive to school, she climbs into a 2012 Pontiac Solstice with turbo charged V8, leather seats and the eight speaker stereo.

This makes me want to ask the author:  So?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Banned Book Week: My Love Hate Relationship

This week is Banned Book Week.

This is where we stop and celebrate that we can read books that people want to ban for a variety of reasons.  We can ride a raft down the Mississippi with Huck Finn even though putting such a bright glaring light on the evils of racism and post-slavery Southern States make some people uncomfortable.  We can ride the Hogwarts Express and learn about the power of the individual who cares even though some people don't like that there are witches and magic.  We can come of age with a nervous teenager and What [Her] Mother Doesn't Know even though many mothers would rather we not know.

This is actually a bit of a big deal.

We forget, too easily, that there are parts of the world where the government, or the religious leaders, can forbid their people from having access to words that they don't want them to read.  They can deny that printed books be sold, that internet sites be accessible.  They can lock down Twitter on a whim and can make Facebook posts just vanish.

Even in our own history, not too long ago, having the "wrong" book in your house was a way to get yourself listed a Communist, be blacklisted from your profession and have your life ruined.  We did not tolerate different very well, and most Americans worried more about keeping food on the table, and gas tanks full of fuel then they did making a fuss about their Right To Read.  Thankfully we outgrew that phase.