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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Open Mic Saturday

Good morning all, and welcome to Open Mic Saturday. This is the place to share your news and perhaps do a little bragging. If you're writing a novel: how much progress did you make this week? If you're writing short stories: did you finish anything or submit anything this week? If you've sold or published anything recently, when is it coming out and where can we find it? In short, as a writer, what kind of progress did you make this week?

Or what else is on your mind, that you feel like sharing with the group here?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Colorado Springs Shout-Out

To our friends in Colorado Springs: we've been watching development of the Waldo Canyon Fire with considerable concern.

If you'd just check-in and let us know how you're doing, we're greatly appreciate it.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

World Enough, And Time

Don’t Tick Off the Tech Writer

LadyQuill has been quiet of late.

She was offered her last book contract (Google Secrets, available now at Amazon, grab it quick before they sell out!) three weeks before her birthday, so I bought her a new laptop as an early birthday present.  Her old one had seen better days and just was not up for the rigors of an 800 page technical book.

I got her a good one, too.  Dell.  Full keyboard with keypad, nice wide screen, and she loved it.  Cranked out that book and it worked like a charm.

It’s starting to show it’s age, too, though.  The B and C keys failed.  This wasn’t that big a deal, as she uses a USB keyboard, but it’s still something that needed to be fixed.

Then the hard drive went out.

Now, LadyQuill has had hard drives crash before.  This computer had a separate partition set aside, called DataDrive, with all of her files on it.  The most important stuff was backed up to “the cloud.”  So, while a crashed drive for most anyone else is a total disaster, for her, it wasn’t much more than a low-level annoyance; the DataDrive partition was even still accessible.  She started working from a bootable CD while I handled the tech support duties.

Yes, I’m the one who needs to speak to tech support.  The reasons will become clear.

I checked the Dell website, and found she still had 70 days left on her warranty.  Then I called the 800 number.

The first tech I reached--I’ll call him L1--had an accent, but nothing I couldn’t deal with.  His biggest problem, though, was that the warranty was due to expire.  He tried four different times to get me to extend the warranty, and finally passed us through to the next level.  

That’s where the real fun began.

The second tech, L2 for short, was totally and completely chained to his script.

“Look,” I said.  “I can tell you this hard drive is bad.  

“My wife keeps three different versions of Linux running on her laptop.  If one of them crashes out and refuses to boot, she can switch to another.  This system had Ubuntu, Debian, and Arch installed, and none of them will boot.  The system will boot just fine from a CD or a Knoppix thumb drive, though.

“Now, she  has tried three different Linux installs on it and none of them work.  One of them ran a hard drive test, and that program said there are over 600 bad sectors in the Master Boot Record.  This drive is hosed, and my wife would like a new one under the warranty.”

“Well, we can’t just send you a new drive,” L2 said.  “Here’s what we’re going to do.  We’re going to use the Maintenance Partition to wipe your hard drive and put Windows Vista back on it, like when you bought it.  Once Windows is back up and running, that will probably fix your keyboard problem, too.”

Right.  Installing Windows Vista solves everything, and the two keys that have not worked for weeks--under multiple Linux versions, too--will magically start working again.  Immediately after this, Icehawk the Barbarian will headline on Broadway and Vidad will be the opening act for the Stones’ next tour.

“I’m sorry, but we accidentally wiped out the maintenance partition,” I answered.  

That was actually my fault; I tried to install MySQL on the laptop, screwed up the instructions, and fried an Ubuntu install, and then wiped out both the Windows partition and the maintenance partition in the repair process...but L2 didn’t need to know that.  

“My wife doesn’t use Windows.  We installed Ubuntu on it the day it came home.  They didn’t even give us the CDs.”

In the course of speaking to these two, I burned up nearly an hour and a half.  I could not get L2 to budge an inch; the only possible solution was to wait for them to send us replacement CDs, then restore the maintenance partition, then restore Windows, and that would fix anything that could possibly be wrong with it.  And, on the very remotest of possibilities that it did not...then we would need to take the laptop to the certified Dell shop downtown--which would very likely then need to send the laptop to Dell for the actual repair.


While waiting for the CDs to arrive, we decided to short-cut the entire issue.  We took the laptop in to the shop, and explained the situation.  The guy behind the counter looked mystified; he did not understand why Dell bothered to involve him, but he said he would try.

Of course, that meant that LadyQuill was without her computer.

...can you say withdrawal symptoms...?

The shop tried three times to speak to Dell, and got even more of a runaround than we did.  Finally, on the fifth day of laptop cold turkey, they called me and asked me to call Dell.  “They should give you a reference number,” he said, “which will authorize us to repair it under the warranty.”

Okay, I can do that.

What I did not know at the time was that Dell had sent LadyQuill a Customer Satisfaction Survey.  

She ignored it at first, but by the fifth day without her laptop, she was steamed.  Not only did she score them straight zeroes across the board, but she wrote in two or three paragraphs for each and every question.  The final draft was over three pages long, and ended with “I will never buy another Dell product, ever again.”

I called Dell, and got a different guy named L1, and L1 tried yet again to convince me to extend the warranty.  “If the warranty dies, then you won’t get free maintenance anymore,” he said, desperate to change my mind.  “You’d have to pay someone to change out the hard drive if it died then.”

“If the drive dies, I’ll fix it myself,” I said.  “In fact, if the drive had waited another 71 days to die, I would have had it fixed within three hours, including driving time into town, and my wife would have had an operating system on it in less than an hour after that.  I’m only on the phone with you because the computer is still under warranty.  You’ve kept us jumping through hoops for over a week.  Would you please put us through to someone who can actually help us?”

I had decided that L1 was not really tech support.  His entire job is to convince the caller to buy more warranty, whether they need it or not.  Deflated, he finally abandoned the sales pitch, and passed us on to L2--who, at any other tech support phone bank, would have been L1.

L2 started in on the same “okay, let’s get out the CDs we sent you” script, and I told him the same thing I had just told L1.  

“All we want is a new drive,” I said.  “The computer is in the shop.  If you’ll authorize them to fix it, you don’t have to do anything.  In fact, if you’ll ship me the drive, I’ll even do the work, and you can save yourself a few hours by not bothering to install Windows on it.”

“I’m going to look at your case records,” L2 finally said.  “Let me see if there are any other options.”

I heard his voice change.  I distinctly heard a kind of strangled "squeak" sort of noise, like you'd expect a stalking cat to make when the mouse whips out a flaming sword and cloak of invulnerability.  I'm making the assumption that he stumbled across that Customer Satisfaction Survey.

“I need to go speak with my supervisor,” he said, very quietly.

I was on hold for quite a while.

When L2 came back, he said “If I send a new hard drive to the same address where we sent the CDs, would that be okay?”

I pressed him on the keyboard, and he added that to the order without skipping a beat.

The spare parts arrived less than twenty hours later.  I brought the laptop home the same day.  And exactly 47 minutes after she cut open the box, LadyQuill was running Linux on a laptop without a trace of Windows software on it anywhere.

Allan Davis is a writer/photographer/database programmer in southeastern Nebraska.  Before he was a programmer, he was a tech, and though woefully out of practice, can still change out a laptop hard drive with the best of them.  

Just don't ask him to install MySQL.

The Slushpile Survival Guide

A Manuscript's Odyssey, Part 5

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

As ridiculous as it may seem now, a year ago, when we were first ramping up to launch STUPEFYING STORIES, we worried about whether we'd be able to attract enough submissions to make it work. Ergo at that time we decided to make it a sticking point that every manuscript received would receive the full attention of the entire original editorial team. Every new submission that came in would be posted on our private file-sharing site, read by everyone, and then the team would discuss the story and decide whether or not to accept it.

It was a nice vision.

It was also insanely impractical.

Within a few weeks we'd completely overloaded our original file-sharing site and exceeded its capacity. Not too long after that we'd completely overloaded our original editorial team and exceeded their capacity, too, and they began to show signs of serious story-fatigue. As the trickle of submissions became first a stream, then a flowing river, and then a raging torrent, our submissions-handling process needed to evolve quickly or die.

It evolved, in fits and starts.

We went from sharing every individual file that came in to posting zipped-up weekly round-ups. We went from "everyone reads every submission" to "each editor takes a portion and forwards only the best stories to the entire group." We went from a voluntary opt-in system in which editors were allowed to pick the stories they wanted, to assigning blocs of work and nagging people when they fell behind. We started pre-screening stories and rejecting the obviously unsuitable submissions before they ever made it as far as the slush pile. (Believe me, read a few hundred stories and you will develop if not an infallible sense of what's good, at least the ability to catch the unmistakable whiff of True Crap the moment you see the first line. Or sometimes even just the title.)
Sidebar discussion:
Every now and then some well-meaning person asks, "Why not do what [magazine] does? Let the slush pile accumulate for a month," (or two, or three), "and then pick a Saturday, have everyone come over to your house, order in some pizzas and beer, and deal with it all in one afternoon and evening. It'll be fun!"

Well, for one thing we're an Internet-based company, spread out over two-thousand miles and three time zones, so that puts a serious crimp in the idea of our all meeting at anyone's house. (In fact I don't think we've ever all met in person.) For another, on those rare occasions when we do get together, we can't even agree on which beer to buy. So for us to reach agreement on which stories to buy in the space of just a a few short hours...

We went from "let's identify promising writers and work with them" to "if you can't be an advocate for the story as-is, reject it."

That last one was a difficult step to take. We've all come out of writing group backgrounds and have painful memories of what it was like when we were just starting out. We all have this innate desire to behave as if we are still in a writer's workshop, and to identify promising new talents and then spend the time it takes to coach them through the rewriting needed to turn their interesting student-grade projects into polished professional work. And to be honest, of the stories we've published so far, a few of my favorites came to us in just exactly that way.

But ultimately, we had to let go of that. As the first winds of the Great Submission Blizzard of 2011 began to howl and the story-drifts began to pile up in the lee of the garage, it became apparent that we had to make a choice: we were either running a writing workshop and trying to teach people how to write or building a fiction publishing company. There simply was not time and energy enough to do both.

And then the Heavens opened up, and it being winter, the torrent of stories became an avalanche, and we began to realize that we were in real trouble.

...to be continued...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Open Mic Saturday

Good morning all, and welcome to Open Mic Saturday. This is the place to share your news and perhaps do a little bragging. If you're writing a novel: how much progress did you make this week? If you're writing short stories: did you finish anything or submit anything this week? If you've sold or published anything recently, when is it coming out and where can we find it? In short, as a writer, what kind of progress did you make this week?

Or what else is on your mind, that you feel like sharing with the group here?

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Slushpile Survival Guide

A Manuscript's Odyssey, Part 4

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

How do you help boost your manuscript up out of the undifferentiated muck of the slush pile so that it gets the level of editorial attention you want? The rules are simple and should seem familiar...

In fact, they're so simple and familiar that as I was writing this column, I got déjà vu all over again, broke off for a few minutes' search, and sure enough, I wrote a column about this years ago. Liberally sampling from my own earlier article, then (and bearing in mind that it was written back in the days of printed manuscript submissions and print publications):

[...] The following numbers are gleaned from conversations had with a number of major magazine editors back in the late 1980s but still should be reasonably indicative.

In an average month, Joe Editor, head honcho at Stupefying Stories Magazine, [Huh? Was I prescient or what? ~brb] receives 600 manuscripts and publishes eight. How does he bridge the gap between the two numbers?

- 100 manuscripts are rejected on receipt, because they're either
  • addressed to the previous editor who quit five years ago, thus indicating that the writer has not looked at a recent issue of the magazine
  • addressed to "Ms Jeo Edtori," and if the writer can't even get that much right, what hope is there for the rest of the manuscript? [I will tolerate misspellings of my name -- after all, I've been listening to people mangle the pronunciation of it all my life, so what's a typo or two? -- but I've decided I will no longer tolerate submissions from people who can't make the effort to get the name of the publication right. ~brb]
  • addressed in crayon, or submitted in an envelope covered with cutie-poo pony and butterfly stickers, in the apparent and misplaced hope that this will somehow draw attention (it does, but not the sort of attention you want) [This still happens, only now it takes the form of photos, graphic images, or animations and Java crapplets embedded in the cover email. Doing so still indicates that the would-be author is a hopeless putz. ~brb]
  • or have a return address indicating the submission is from a known crank or jerk that Mr. Editor would never in a million years publish even if he or she was the last living writer on Earth or any of the nearer planets [This is one area where technology has made an enormous difference. Thanks to auto-responders and email filters, it's now possible to establish a "Known Twits" list and stop the real jerks before they ever make it as far as your inbox -- until they figure out what's going on and get a new email address, which they always do. ~brb]
- 100 manuscripts are rejected based on the first line of the cover letter, which begins, "I know you don't usually publish stories about..." and then goes on to describe a topic that, yes, Stupefying Stories never publishes stories about.

- 100 manuscripts are rejected based on the rest of the cover letter, which either describes the submission in such tedious detail as to remove all desire to read the manuscript or else includes palpable bullshit or even threats. (Yes, people have been known to send cover letters that include lines like, "My good friend Gordon Dickson read this story last week and said you'd really love it," [Gordie died in 2001], or "Don't even TRY to steal my story because I have COPYRIGHTED it and I have a VERY GOOD LAWYER!!!!")

- 100 manuscripts are rejected based on the first page of the manuscript, which either shows that the writer has no knowledge of standard manuscript format, thinks a hideously overused cliché is a marvelously original title, has sent a stained and shopworn wad of paper that's obviously been bouncing around for awhile, or is simply so bad a writer as to be beyond all hope of redemption. [Okay, the "stained and shopworn paper" thing never happens anymore, and I don't agonize over standard manuscript format as that's just more cruft we have to strip out in the process of coverting the ms. to .epub. However, the "is simply so bad a writer as to be beyond all hope" part is such a big topic that it deserves its own column, and will get that column soon. ~brb]

- 100 manuscripts are rejected based on the first two pages of the manuscript, which are decently written but such an obvious setup for a "twist" or "pun" ending that Mr. Editor jumps to the last page and—yup, sure enough, the narrator is a lobster in an aquarium in a seafood restaurant! And given that the whole story hinges on keeping this fact hidden from the reader until the very end, this is also where Mr. Editor's interest ends.

Which leaves Joe Editor with a considerably more manageable stack of 100 manuscripts, in which to find the eight that are well-written, interesting, the right length, and not too much like something he already has in inventory to be worth buying. And if he has the budget for it he'll probably end up buying ten manuscripts, just in case next month's batch of submissions only includes four acceptable stories.

There now: that doesn't look so daunting now, does it?

...to be continued...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Open Mic Saturday

Good morning all, and welcome to Open Mic Saturday. This is the place to share your news and perhaps do a little bragging. If you're writing a novel: how much progress did you make this week? If you're writing short stories: did you finish anything or submit anything this week? If you've sold or published anything recently, when is it coming out and where can we find it? In short, as a writer, what kind of progress did you make this week?

Or what else is on your mind, that you feel like sharing with the group here?

Friday, June 15, 2012

To your scattered websites go

As the Friday Challenge continues to evolve into whatever it is that it's evolving into, the FC crew are branching out to other interests and other sites. For at least the next few Fridays I'd like to use this Friday morning post to start collecting links to our members' various projects and productions. For example, today:

Henry Vogel has just posted chapter 9 of his novel-in-progress, Scout's Honor. Read it today at Cliffhanger TwoFifty

David Goodman (a.k.a. Vidad, a.k.a. David the Good) has added more images to his online art gallery. While it will eventually be moving to a new site, you can check out the work-in-progress today at FoundMyself.com. Also, David wants us to plug his latest album, The Brainspider Affair, so here's the link to it on Amazon. I haven't listened to it. For all I know it sounds like someone pounding on a bag full of cats with a rug-beater. But hey, maybe that's your thing. There are samples on the Amazon site, which will tell you much more about his music than any amount of blather by me will.

M. David Blake was recently interviewed for the Clarion West Write-a-Thon, and the interview was supposed to be published today, but we haven't received a live link yet. Check back later.

CORRECTION!: M. David Blake was recently interviewed by the ever-enterprising AmyBeth Inverness, and you can read the interview now at her site. He is also participating in the Clarion West Write-a-thon again this year, but the link for his profile, at the time of this update, is not yet live on the site.

And of course I'm up to my armpits in STUPEFYING STORIES stuff, but most of that is behind the scenes at the moment.

Anyone else have a link to a project they're working on that they'd like to share? Let me know.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

World Enough and Time: The Nature of Criticism

True story.

LadyQuill and I joined a local writer's group.  Their meetings consisted of reading stuff to each other, plus a writing exercise on occasion.  At one of these get-togethers, one of the other members read this rambling reminiscence story about a woman he knew twenty years earlier.

"She brought him up on stage," he read, "and she embarrassed him."

Then he moved on to the rest of his story.

The writing was good; his skills were there, the sentences were well structured.  But there's that whole "show, don't tell" guideline that he was completely ignoring--not just once, but at several points throughout the piece.

The real kicker came when LadyQuill tried to offer "show don't tell" as advice to him.  After all, LadyQuill has two books and a plethora of magazine and online articles to her name; she should know a little bit about writing and selling what's written.  But her honest advice was not welcome.

"This isn't a critiquing group," we were told.  "We're just here to listen.  That way, no one gets any hurt feelings."

Okay.  No hurt feelings, I can see that.  Maybe.  

If I take off my glasses, shield my eyes, lean in close, and squint, maybe.

Writing is about taking the images, and thoughts, and concepts, out of your head, and plunking them down on paper for the entire world to peek at.  Writing requires both the imagination to develop the ideas AND  the skillset to present them properly.  If you don't have the writing skills to get your ideas across, the whole thing falls apart, no matter how cool and interesting the original concept might have been.  And if you don't have a thick enough skin to accept criticism and advice, then how in the heck do you expect to improve?

"I don't write for publication," he said.  "I write for me.  I don't care if it ever gets published."

Ah, okay.  Critique not necessary if it's not for public consumption, I can see that, too.  But if it's not for public consumption...then why the BLEEP! did you read it out loud...?  Were we not "the public" in that particular scenario...?

LadyQuill and I didn't attend too many more meetings of that particular writer's group.

To me, criticism and critique should be treated as the advice and opinions they are.  On occasion, there will be some really good advice in there (like "show it, don't talk about it").  Sometimes the advice will be absolutely horrendous (like, "you should change your barbarian hero to a woman and have her talk to her opponents about their feelings").

One of the reasons I originally started doing Friday Challenges was to get critiqued.  I actually wanted to know what was wrong with my writing and how I could improve it.  I'm sorry, but "cool" and "nice" are probably not words used in an honest critique.

You--any of you reading this--you are my "public."  If I confuse you, or irritate you, or the absolute worst, BORE you...I want to know it.  I need to know it, or I'm going to keep making the same stupid--and preventable--mistakes.

How about the rest of you?  Do you have any views on criticism and "creative suggestions?"  What's the worst (or best) critique  you've ever received?

Allan Davis is a writer, photographer, and programmer currently hiding out in a corner of Nebraska. He started a new job a while back, and used that as an excuse to skip out on writing this column for way too long.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ultimate Geek Fu

Today's topic was going to be a review of Prometheus, but on further reflection: meh. We can dispose of the entire thing by citing a simple truism: Prequels Always Suck.

I mean, really. The Phantom Menace. Caprica. Young Indiana Jones. X-Men: First Class. Butch and Sundance: The Early Days. Can anyone here think of a prequel -- not a franchise reboot, like Batman Begins, Casino Royale, or the most recent Star Trek movie, but a same-continuity prequel -- that did not totally bite? Because we were talking about it at some length last night, and we sure couldn't.

And if you want to go deeper: do you have a theory as to why prequels always suck?

Let the arguments begin...

Meanwhile, over in Philip K. Dick land, another load of aspiring contenders for the PKD Award showed up this week. Steampunk, zombie, steampunk, zombie -- ah, here's one about steampunk zombies, I guess it had to happen sooner or later --

I suppose I should count my blessings; at least the flow of paranormal romances has slowed. But looking at all these new releases leaves me with one burning question:

What the Hell happened to science fiction?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Slushpile Survival Guide

A Manuscript's Odyssey, Part 3

Part One | Part Two

When last we checked in with our hypothetical manuscript it was sitting in the DMV Waiting Room of the Damned, a.k.a., the STUPEFYING STORIES slush pile, waiting for its number to be called and for me to find the time to continue writing this series. The latter has finally happened, so let's assume the former has as well and usher the manuscript in for its big chance: its audition with the First Reader.

Writers seem to share a lot of misconceptions about First Readers. Writing group folklore to the contrary, First Readers are not embittered failed writers who use the power of their petty positions to crush the dreams and hobble the careers of competing writers. Nor are they constipated nit-picky martinets, eagerly seizing on any excuse to disqualify a submission. ("A-hah! He used a hyphen when he should have used an em-dash! REJECT!") Dogbert's Publishing Company to the contrary, we aren't actually in this business simply because we relish the sadistic joy of rejecting stories all day long.

Rather, First Readers are an essential part of any publishing operation, ours more so than most, and they're here for the same reason as the rest of us: because they're eager to be the first one to discover some new treasure, and bring it to the world.

Some days I think of our First Readers as being like grad students working on an archaeological dig, carefully sifting through the lithic debitage to find that one fragment or fossil that's going to rewrite the history books and change the world. Other days I envision them as being more like newcomers in a mining camp, knee-deep in a cold creek, panning for gold and hoping to discover the nugget that will make their careers.

Unfortunately, to find those nuggets of pure gold, you've got to pan a lot of gravel. 

How much? Consider these numbers. When we're on-schedule (and we've been way off schedule lately, but that's another column), we publish about ten stories a month.

In December alone, we received about five hundred new story submissions.

Our submissions numbers are erratic: we're a very minor, penny-a-word, third-tier (at best) market, and the submissions ebb and flow in direct relationship to how well we stick to our publishing schedule. (And in relationship to the academic calendar, too. We always get a big gush of submissions at the end of every semester.) In December we received about 500 new submissions. In January, slightly over 300. In February slightly under 300, in March slightly over 200, in April and May slightly under 200 each, and as of June 11 we've received 77 new submissions month-to-date, so we're on-track to come in at or above 200 again.

In short, at this time, in our market, the odds against our hypothetical manuscript being accepted for publication are roughly 20-to-1.

So considering those raw numbers, what are the odds that your story will rise out of the common muck and gravel and be accepted for publication? Surprisingly good, if you just pay attention to a few small but very important details....

...to be continued...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Open Mic Saturday

Good morning all, and welcome to Open Mic Saturday. This is the place to share your news and perhaps do a little bragging. If you're writing a novel: how much progress did you make this week? If you're writing short stories: did you finish anything or submit anything this week? If you've sold or published anything recently, when is it coming out and where can we find it? In short, as a writer, what kind of progress did you make this week?

Or what else is on your mind, that you feel like sharing with the group here?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

No More Summer Running

RIP Ray Bradbury.  Perhaps he's drinking dandelion wine with all his old colleagues.


I grew up on Ray Bradbury's short story collections. The Illustrated Man, The Martian Chronicles, The Golden Apples of the Sun, R is for Rocket, S is for Space, I Sing the Body Electric; yeah, sure, I read Heinlein, Clarke, Norton, and Asimov, but Bradbury's short stories were the ones that made me say, "Hey! I want to do that!" Somewhere in my archives there are piles of really bad Imitation Bradbury stories I wrote when I was a teenager, that haven't seen the light of day in the thirty-plus years since, and which I should probably burn now, purely as a public service.

Half a lifetime ago I was at a big con in -- Atlanta, I think -- waiting to go into a hall that was closed for the moment, and turned around to find that the man standing next to me was Mr. Bradbury. I was still frozen in awestruck fanboy mode when he leaned over, read my name tag, and then stuck out a handshake, said how pleased he was to meet me, and started talking about how much he'd liked a story that I had just had published. I wish I could remember which one. I'd only made it as far as, "Buh -- buh -- buh -- Bradbury!"

Yeah, he really was that kind of a good guy. The world is poorer for his passing, but he left a terrific body of work and some huge footprints to follow.

Good legacy, for a writer.

I keep thinking of the end of Truffaut's 1966 (?) film of Fahrenheit 451, in which all the people who have memorized books to keep them alive are walking around, reciting them. That seems like a fitting way to honor Bradbury: by reading one of his stories aloud tonight.

I wonder which one I'll chose? Going back to The Illustrated Man seems like the right thing to do, since that's where my lifelong affection for Bradbury's writing started, but there are so many good stories...

Ah, here we go: "The Exiles."

     "Their eyes were like fire and the breath flamed out the witches' mouths as they bent to probe the cauldron with greasy stick and bony finger.

     'When shall we three meet again
     In thunder, lightning, or in rain?'

How about you? What's the Ray Bradbury story most on your mind tonight?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

And we're back...

Sorry for the site outage this morning. I was trying to fix our chronic URL redirection problem and instead put the site into an infinite redirection loop. Getting out of it turned out to be both easier and trickier than expected. It was easily done, once I knew how to do it. (What, document the API? We don't need no steenkin' documentation!)

Everything should be back to normal now. Well, as normal as we get, anyway.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Open Mic Saturday

Good morning all, and welcome to Open Mic Saturday. This is the place to share your news and perhaps do a little bragging. If you're writing a novel: how much progress did you make this week? If you're writing short stories: did you finish anything or submit anything this week? If you've sold or published anything recently, when is it coming out and where can we find it? In short, as a writer, what kind of progress did you make this week?

Or what else is on your mind, that you feel like sharing with the group here?
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