Fifty Shades of Grape

Over at Jim Macdonald’s blog, he takes on a forthcoming movie and a popular, not to say notorious, book:

Madhouse Manor

I see from the posters outside my local cinema (local = forty-five minute drive in good weather, assuming no logging trucks) that the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey is about to hit the screen.

As it happens, a while back I watched the first Fifty Shades movie on DVD, because, among other things, the book had sold a million-bajillion copies and I too want to sell a million-bajillion copies of my books.  I’m told that the movie was a reasonably-faithful line-by-line/scene-by-scene transfer of the book to screen.

The movie contained a number of protracted and deadly-dull sex scenes, which were scored with insipid and deadly-dull background music.  I discovered a way to improve them.  First, turn off the sound on the video.  Substitute either “The Song of the Volga Boatmen” or “The Song of the Horse-Drawn Machine Gun Cart.”  (This also helps with the movie’s various protracted…

View original post 440 more words

Why the Girl Scouts Remain Awesome

Tags

,

Here’s a post on the official GSUSA blog explaining why Girl Scouts from one council will be marching in the Inaugural parade on Friday (short version:  it’s the DC area council, and they’ve been doing it for the past 100 years), and why other Girl Scouts will be marching in the Women’s March on Saturday, and in other marches across the country (short version: GSUSA is about teaching girls to make their own decisions, not about top-down control.)

Also – it’s Girl Scout Cookie time, and the classic shortbread trefoils are an awesome cookie.  Buy some if you have the chance – here’s a link to the official GSUSA page with info on finding cookie sales near you.

It’s January, Which Means Arisia Is on the Horizon

Tags

, ,

Doyle’s Arisia Sked

What Lies Beneath: Adding Subtext to Your Story Alcott Fri 8:30 PM

    In real life and in storytelling, what -isn’t- being said is often more gripping than the actual dialogue between your characters. How can you use subtext to develop your characters and boost suspense? What dialogue tricks, body language, and setting communicate there’s a story which isn’t being told? Our panelists will teach you how to make your characters lie, dodge, and evade the thing they don’t want to face, all while foreshadowing the existence of inner demons.

Reading: Doyle, Ronald, Macdonald Hale Sat 10:00 AM

Expecto Patronum: Animal Symbolism in SFF Marina 1 Sat 5:30 PM

Symbolic and magical connections to animals are a standard trope in fantasy. But they are also prevalent in science fiction. From Black Panther to the Mockingjay, characters’ connections to particular animals can say a lot about them, especially in the context of the culture that produced them. What do animals mean in SFF, and how have they changed as we learn more about biodiversity and the changing natural world?

The 100 Year Old Barbed Wire: The Great War & SF Marina 2 Sun 1:00 PM

We are in the midst of the centenary of World War I. The US was not hit badly by it compared to Europe, and in 2017 the centenary of US involvement (6 April 1917) is coming up. How did the war and its aftermath change society and our idea of the future. Could “Brave New World” or “Things to Come” or other early classics of speculative fiction been written without the war’s impact? Why do so many alternate histories use earlier or later events as a changing point rather than this one?

Macdonald’s Arisia Sked:

Reading: Doyle, Ronald, Macdonald     Hale     Writing     Sat 10:00 AM   

Just the Facts: Vaccines     Alcott         Sat 8:30 PM

Why do we need a flu shot every year? Why do more people have to get vaccinated when the vaccine is less effective? What kind of harm _can_ they cause? And why is the U.S. having measles outbreaks again when Pakistan and India are eliminating polio? Come hear the science, the anti-science, and the ongoing discussions of immunology and epidemiology.
       
Pew-Pew-Pew! How to Write a Sci-Fantasy Gunfight     Hale         Sun 1:00 PM

Whether you write steampunk, gritty urban fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction or futuristic sci-fi, chances are you’ll need to write a gunfight. What kind of firearm (gun, pulse cannon or ray-gun) should your characters use? How should they secure and store their weapon? What are their weapon’s limitations? What materials will provide cover when the enemy fires at them? Don’t let your gunfights be like the Stormtroopers who always miss!!!

Going Viral: How Pathogens Spread     Faneuil     Sun 8:30 PM

Zombies don’t really work, but viruses do. This is a look at fast versus slow pathogens and how they can spread. Maybe it’s time to buy that house in Madagascar?

Bad Moon on the Rise

Tags

, , ,

If everything in this article at blogcritics is true (and that does appear to be the case) then there is some very bad stuff going down at All Romance E-Books.

Hard to tell, from the available info, whether the root cause is malice or stupidity, but for the authors caught up in the ongoing mess, it doesn’t make a difference.

(This is also why, when I purchase an e-book, I prefer to take what measures are necessary to make certain I have it stored on my own hardware, and not on somebody else’s.)

Seven More Days

Tags

, ,

A quick reminder that it’s only seven more days before the end of my traditional Midwinter Festival Sale – if you’ve got got a friend who might want a critique and line-edit, or if you want to buy one for yourself to hang on to until you’re ready to use it, you still have some time left.

In the meantime, have some links to pictures of gingerbread houses and a guide to finding local Christmas light displays and last year’s Festival of Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge, to amuse you during the season.

Setting a Magic Set

If you’ve got an amateur magician in your life, Jim Macdonald has a gift suggestion over at his blog.

Madhouse Manor

So, for some wild reason, you feel the need to put together a magic kit for someone you really like.   Rather than going out and laying down a couple of bills on an “executive magic kit” (as you can find various places),  here’s what I’d do:

In

  • A nice leather briefcase,

put:

  • A copy of Mark Wilson’s Complete Course In Magic,  by Mark Wilson.  Softcover is in print, but hardcover copies in good condition are available very inexpensively from any used-book shop — and you can get an autographed and personalized copy direct from Mark, so that’s the way I’d go.

Then the following gear:

  • Two decks of Bicycle Rider-back poker sized cards, one red, one blue.  Available from any variety store.
  • Six American half-dollars, reasonably well-matched in appearance.  Get the kind with an eagle on the back.  $3.00 at any bank.
  • Two old-fashioned English pennies, the…

View original post 160 more words

The Looming Spectre of Christmas Presents

Tags

, ,

That time of year is coming around again . . . the Northern Hemisphere Midwinter Holiday (exported to the Southern Hemisphere by transplanted Northern Hemisphereans), in which we celebrate, among numerous other things, the fact that the sun has come back for another year.  I never fully appreciated that aspect of the season when I was a young thing growing up in Florida, or even in Texas; it took moving up to live cheek-by-jowl with the 45th parallel to show me just why so many different cultures thought that the winter solstice was a thing to celebrate.  Right now, we’re in the tight and rapid end of the downward spiral, with night closing in at 4PM or even earlier, and the sense of relief when the days start getting longer again is, believe me, immediate and intense.

So we celebrate our midwinter holidays with good food and good drink and the exchange of gifts, and that brings us to one of the perennial worries of the season:  what to give to the other people in your life.

If one of the other people in your life is a writer, I can help you with that.  From now until the 26th of December, you can buy your writer friend the gift of a line-edit and critique from Dr. Doyle’s Editorial and Critique Services for the seasonal sale price of $1000.00, to be redeemed at the time of the recipient’s choice.

Sample December Gift Certificate

The gift purchase comes with a .pdf certificate suitable for printing out and presenting to the recipient in the wrapper or envelope of your choice.  The holiday in question can be customized for the recipient, as well.

(And if the recipient of the gift happens to be you, that’s fine, too – this has been a rough year, and we need to be kind to ourselves as well as to others.)

Peeve of the Day

Tags

,

Because a peeve is like an itch that you just have to scratch….

Exactly like, in this case.

Itch, the noun, is a physical sensation:

Starched clothing against the skin can cause an annoying itch. 

Itch, the verb, is the act of feeling that sensation:

Joe’s skin itches where his starched collar rubs against his neck.

The verb for what the starched collar is doing against Joe’s skin, on the other hand, is scratch:

Joe’s starched collar scratches the skin of his neck.

Scratch is also the verb for what Joe does to relieve the annoyance:

Joe scratches the itch caused by the starched collar rubbing against his skin.

The starched collar, on the other hand, does not itch Joe’s skin.  It scratches it.  Which makes it itch.  Which makes Joe scratch it.

Get it?  Good.

 

A Linguistic Conundrum for the Season

Tags

, ,

If you celebrate Thanksgiving with a traditional roast turkey, do you serve it with dressing, or with stuffing?

Butterball (the turkey people, the same ones who run the feast-saving turkey hotline every year) have a page devoted to that very question.  Turns out, as I suspected, that dressing is mostly Southern, and mostly cooked outside the turkey rather than in, while stuffing is more Northeastern, and is usually cooked (unsurprisingly) inside the bird.   My Southern roots show up in this:  In my native dialect, it’s dressing, and gets cooked in a separate dish, the better to have enough of it left over for breakfast the next morning.

(What?  You’ve never had leftover dressing for a post-Thanksgiving breakfast?  You’re missing something good.)

Now that we’ve settled that question, we can move on to which method of preparing green beans is the proper and canonical one:  Are they slow-cooked with bacon and a generous amount of salt, or are they cooked quickly and left unsalted so as to retain their crunch?