Two Peeves and a Link

Yes – it’s grey and rainy outside today, which means that it’s peeve time here in blogland.

Peeve the first:  It isn’t “per say” (though that’s what it sounds like.)  It’s per se, because it’s Latin, meaning “by itself.”  Per is one of those useful prepositions that also shows up as a prefix, usually one that means “thoroughly” or “extremely” or “completely” – probably from one of the other meanings of per-as-a-preposition, which is “through.”  (If you think that’s a wide range of meanings to stuff into a single word, just consider for a minute some of our English prepositions, which let us say things like “He came by himself to the house by the river by car.”  Which is an awkward sentence – I’d flag it in a heartbeat if I ran across it during a revision or editing pass – but not an ungrammatical one.)

But seriously, people, if you’re going to throw in Latin phrases, at least spell them right.

Peeve the second:  Don’t say “this begs the question” when what you mean is “this raises the question.”

Nobody, but nobody, gets this one right, and it drives me batty.  “Begging the question” is the English term for one of the common logical fallacies, also known by its Latin name, petitio principii, in which the person making the argument assumes as true, and argues from, the very thing which he or she is seeking to prove.  (For a fuller explanation, with diagrams, you can look here.)

Finally, to sweeten things a bit after that outburst of peevishness, a link:

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America 50th Anniversary Cookbook, edited by Cat Rambo and Fran Wilde, is now available for pre-order.  It contains 175 recipes as well as interior illustrations, and is available in both print and e-book formats.

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Where I’ve Been When I Haven’t Been Here

Working, mostly, clearing my way out from under a couple of editing gigs. Our trip to Albacon went well – it was a pleasant local convention with congenial people – and we were able to make a side trip to Ausable Chasm on the way out.

Chasm Sign02

Jim Macdonald (husband and co-author) has had a hankering to visit Ausable Chasm ever since he was a kid and first saw the classic Charles Addams cartoon showing the man and wife at a ticket window, with the caption “A round trip and a one-way to Ausable Chasm.”

Well, this year we finally made it. It’s impressive, even from up on the bank of the chasm:

Ausable Chasm01

All we had time for – we didn’t want to miss the Albacon Ice Cream Social later that evening – was the basic two-hour self-guided trail walk (well, Jim did the trail walk; I, as befits a person who has been spraining my ankles on everything from loose rocks to cracks in the linoleum since I was six years old, stayed up on the bank and enjoyed the tranquility.)  But I suspect we’ll be going back, now that we know what’s there. Both the chasm and the convention come highly recommended – do check them out if you have the opportunity.


Filed under Adventures in the Writing Life

Albacon This Weekend

Jim Macdonald and I are going to be in Albany, NY, this weekend, at Albacon 2014.5.

The Doyle and Macdonald schedules for the con:

My schedule

  • Saturday 12:00 PM – The Real World in Fantastic Fiction
  • Saturday 1:00 PM – Autographing
  • Saturday 2:30  PM – Reading
  • Saturday 10:00 PM – Villaincon
  • Saturday 11:00 PM – If I  Am Ever The… (Evil Overlord, Hero, Sidekick, etc.)
  • Sunday 10:00 AM – Noir in SF Cinema (or, perhaps, Science Fiction in Film Noir!)
  • Sunday 12:00 PM – Novel Craft – great plotting & effective world-building

Jim Macdonald’s Schedule

  • Friday 10:00 PM – Crowning Moments of Awesome
  • Saturday 10:00 AM – Steampunk 101
  • Saturday 11:00 AM – Deathbuilding
  • Saturday 1:00 PM – Autographing
  • Saturday 2:00 PM – Reading
  • Sunday 12:00 PM – Novel Craft – great plotting & effective world-building

(The sharp-eyed reader will notice that Jim and I will be autographing jointly, and reading sequentially.)

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Of Books and Stew

A brief thought on the science fiction and fantasy community’s ongoing Hugo controversy (which is too depressing to have more than a brief thought about, especially before noon; for more links than you can probably stand to shake a stick at, go here):

If books I especially like are considered as analogous to chunks of beef, while books I don’t care for that much are considered as analogous to a collection of assorted vegetables, then “this beef stew has more vegetables in it than I prefer” is a not unreasonable statement. Likewise, the assertion “this isn’t a beef stew with vegetables anymore, it’s a vegetable stew with beef” – while almost certain to be productive of considerable argument about the precise definitions of “stew” and “with” (and probably the definitions of “vegetables” and “beef” as well, once people really get going) – isn’t especially unreasonable, either.

What is unreasonable, though, is if I go on from there to shouting out loud in the public street that my local diner HAS BEEN TAKEN OVER BY A VEGETARIAN CONSPIRACY!!!

And if at any point I start threatening to burn down the whole diner if the proper proportion of beef (good) to vegetables (bad) is not restored, then I have become a danger to the community and ought to be gently removed from it.

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A Timely Reminder

Applications are still open for the Viable Paradise Writer’s Workshop on Martha’s Vineyard, running this year from October 18-23.  If you’re definitely planning to apply, help spread out the admin workload by going ahead and doing it now; if you’re still on the fence about it, let me urge you to give the workshop a try.

It occurs to me – as it does every year about this time – that not everybody outside of New England can be counted on to know that Martha’s Vineyard is an island off Cape Cod, accessible by Cape Air and the Martha’s Vineyard  ferry.  (Or, I suppose, by your private plane or personal yacht, should you have one.)  As such, it has excellent seafood, five picturesque lighthouses, and glowing jellyfish.

Applications close on the 15th of June; get yours in now and avoid the rush!

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Nifty Link of the Day

Sherwood Smith has a blog post up at the Book View Café, talking about women writing space opera (since there are still a few readers out there who, despite all the evidence, seem to believe that the possession of girlybits negates the ability to write about epic space battles.)

Full disclosure time here:  I would have liked this post even if it didn’t say good things about one of mine-and-my-husband/coauthor’s own space opera novels (and its sequels), The Price of the Stars.

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Sampler Platter

Some time back, I posted a tasting flight of shorter works by important authors, in the interest of giving readers a way to decide whether or not they liked a particular author enough to go on and tackle one of that author’s signature doorstop volumes.  Now, as a follow-up to that round, here’s another quartet of shorter pieces by authors of important longer works.

Henry FieldingJoseph Andrews.  Tom Jones is the doorstop (and well worth reading for its own sake); Joseph Andrews is the short one, written in response to that other blockbuster of the eighteenth century, Samuel Richardson’s Pamela.  Richardson’s novel featured a virtuous maidservant who attracts the lustful attention of her employer, Squire B, possibly the world’s most incompetent rake.  He tries everything, including abduction and a fake marriage, but never works himself up to doing the actual deed; meanwhile, Pamela steadfastly holds out for honorable matrimony or nothing, and – spoiler alert! – gets her way in the end.  Fielding, for his part, found the entire plot so silly that he responded to it first by writing Shamela, an outright parody, and then by writing Joseph Andrews, which was what we’d probably call today the genderflipped version, with the title character being the handsome young footman who resists the advances of his employer, the licentious Lady Booby, widow of the late Squire Booby (hey, no one ever said that Fielding was subtle!), and is dismissed from his position and forced to go on the road as a result.

Charles DickensA Christmas Carol.  Charles Dickens was the Stephen King of his day (or maybe Stephen King is the Charles Dickens of ours): He wrote big fat novels, and he wrote a lot of them, for a long time.  A Christmas Carol is short, but it’s got enough of the Dickens flavor that you can figure out whether you want to go for one of the doorstops – Bleak House, say, or Oliver Twist.  (You can avoid Great Expectations, if you like, and I won’t blame you a bit.  It’s the one most often inflicted upon long-suffering high school students, and has probably turned a lot of them off of Dickens for life.  Lord knows, it nearly did it for me.)  Dickens also managed, with A Christmas Carol, to come up with one of the great recyclable plots.  Hollywood, in particular, has been running riffs and changes on it for decades.

Thomas PynchonThe Crying of Lot 49.  Pynchon’s another author best known for doorstop novels like V and Gravity’s RainbowThe Crying of Lot 49 – the title refers to an item being put up (or “cried”, as the terminology has it) for auction – is short and fast-moving, an ideal way to find out of you like Pynchon enough to try the big stuff.  Highlights include a centuries-old conspiracy of uncertain intent, a (fictional) Jacobean revenge tragedy, and one of the funniest games of strip poker ever written.

Alexander SolzhenitsynOne Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.  Russian novels are notoriously long as it is, and Solzhenitsyn carried on with the tradition.  One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is an exception, being short enough to be published in 1962 as a complete-in-this-issue novel in the Soviet literary magazine Novy Mir.  If you don’t feel up to tackling Solzhenitsyn’s mega-doorstop nonfiction work The Gulag Archipelago, One Day in the Life will give you enough about life in a Stalinist-era Soviet prison camp to be getting on with.


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