Wayward Coffeehouse in Greenwood was a self-described “haven for sci-fi geeks of any fandom.” The Seattle Browncoats and GeekGirlCon regularly met at the coffee shop, and Wayward boasted a weekly science fiction and fantasy film night.
“The Wayward was very much GeekGirlCon’s birthplace,” said Erica McGillivray, president of Seattle’s first convention celebrating geeky women. “[...] It was viewed as a place where people could go as an individual or in a group and still feel at home,” she said. “That’s not so easy to find.”
But now, they’ve finally found a new location in the Roosevelt neighborhood!
“We are thrilled to finally have a new home and grateful that it is close by,” states an email sent out by Wayward. “And, we hope that many of you will still be able to come by as frequently as before. We are also excited to be able to spread the wonders of Wayward to a new neighborhood and expand the fabulous community of friends we built during our five years in Greenwood.”
Work is underway on the new space, and Wayward plans to open by late October.
I’m ridiculously happy about this. The Wayward was home to several of my readings, and was the place I was most comfortable writing out in public. (Which is something I need — I get antsy if I’m stuck at home writing by myself.)
I’m hoping they’ll be open in time for Halloween — I’d love to do a reading there again this year.
Belinda Frisch has a guest post over at Tyr Kieran’s blog entitled The Hard Road of Horror Authors. She talks about the path she’s taken to get to where she is, and why it’s not as far along as she’d hoped it would be, and she talks about putting her books up online as free downloads — and that’s where she says something that really caught me up short:
I know it seems radical and you’re thinking you’re going to make a small fortune because a handful of very lucky indies have done so, but I don’t know a single horror indie taking Amazon by storm. Amazon’s new indie only section doesn’t even offer a horror section because it only features their top sellers.
I read that and thought, wait a minute, what? Can that possibly be right?
I admit I’m a little biased in my research. Since I write horror, the indie writers I’ve paid the most attention to have been those who also write horror, and they’ve seemed to be doing okay, for the most part.
But she’s right. Have a look. Their list of popular categories: Biography & Memoir, Fantasy, Literary Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, Romance, Science Fiction, and Teen.
Horror is nowhere to be seen. That didn’t make any sense to me. I’ve certainly browsed through the Kindle bestsellers list a few times and have seen several books in the past that I’d call horror . . . .
Wait — that I would call horror. Was that the problem? On a sudden hunch, I clicked through to the “Fantasy” section.
In the first page of top results, I count four vampire novels, two books about witches, a couple of books about serial killers, and one anthology whose description includes: these stories visit haunted islands, disturbed families, and forgotten pasts as Nicholson serves up chills, thrills, ghosts stories, and paranormal fantasy.
Right — got it. All the tropes and trappings of horror that I love are still alive and well, and people are still buying them. Just seems that Amazon, like a lot of publishers, may be a little afraid of the “H” word, that’s all.
Okay, noted. When I finally finish revising my vampire novel, I may have to label it more as “urban fantasy” than “horror.” Doesn’t seem like a problem to me.
Ha! This is absolutely, definitely, a physical law of the very fabric of the universe. I’d noticed it myself years ago, back when my favorite spectator sport was avidly following Internet flame wars. (In my wiser, more mature years, I’ve lost my taste for such blood combat. Well — mostly.) The spelling and/or grammar flames were the last resort of those who had no substantial point to make — or sometimes, the first resort — and to my delight, they inevitably contained errors of their own. Now there’s a term for that:
Muphry’s Law is the editorial application of the better-known Murphy’s Law. Muphry’s Law dictates that:
- if you write anything criticising editing or proofreading, there will be a fault in what you have written;
- if an author thanks you in a book for your editing or proofreading, there will be mistakes in the book;
- the stronger the sentiment in (a) and (b), the greater the fault; and
- any book devoted to editing or style will be internally inconsistent.
Muphry’s Law also dictates that, if a mistake is as plain as the nose on your face, everyone can see it but you. Your readers will always notice errors in a title, in headings, in the first paragraph of anything, and in the top lines of a new page. These are the very places where authors, editors and proofreaders are most likely to make mistakes.
I can corroborate this, and would like to offer a corollary of my own:
The likelihood of spotting typos in your own work is inversely proportional to how close the work in question is to appearing in its final form.
Hand-written first draft? No, I don’t see any mistakes in this. Copy you’re about to send to your editor or agent? Yeah, I found one or two. Finished typeset proof copy? Man, I can’t believe I didn’t notice these before! Published book — ? How did I let this out the door?
I lost one of my favorite places yesterday. The Night Kitchen was a restaurant with a clever and simple concept — they were only open at night, from 6:00pm until 9:00am. That suited me just fine.
I’ve always held kinship with people who are enemies of daylight, the people whose brains are wired just a little differently, who have too much to do and think about and talk about to be bothered with trivialities like sleep. There’s a point past tiredness, past exhaustion, that you can reach with enough caffeine and enough enthusiasm, where the fatigue in your bones is replaced with an electric tingling that fills your veins and your skin and your thoughts, a vibration that sparks from your fingertips. The people who know this are a tribe, and they can’t be confined to their homes in this condition. They need to be out, out in the city, out in places like this.
One less place, now.
The Night Kitchen was a bar, it was a restaurant, it had a spacious yet cozy back room that was perfect for planned gatherings or spontaneous conversations. I held a reading there back in January. I’d had my fortieth birthday party there, not long before.
I knew the owner before the place opened. I made their website for her, and so was always somehow proud of the place, just by association. I’ve met friends there, brought dates there, sat at their bar while looking over footage we’d just shot nearby for a Causality promo. Hell, they’d offered to let us shoot some of the actual scenes for Causality there, and we were really looking forward to taking them up on that. We’d mentioned it by name in the script. I’ll need to go back and change that, now, we’ll need to line up another location. It won’t be the same.
They announced just yesterday that they were closed for business, thanked everyone for being involved for the past couple of years. No real explanation beyond that — the owner is too upset to talk about it, yet, and I understand that. I hope she’s doing okay.
The things we love, we lose, eventually. One way or another. A lot of what I write is really about that fact, if you deconstruct it. I keep losing the places I love that I’ve done readings at. The Aurafice, the Wayward Coffeehouse, and now the Night Kitchen. It gets harder every time.
Good night, Night Kitchen.
I’m really looking forward to the remake of Fright Night that’s hitting theaters this Friday. I have very fond memories of the original Fright Night, even though over the years I think I’ve let other people’s opinions talk me out of thinking it was very good.
So I was very happy to see that the Egyptian Theatre here in Seattle had the original as a midnight movie this past weekend, so I could see it again to refresh my memory, and I’m really glad I did.
I spent about the first half of the movie thinking that it was pretty good, but just not quite as good as I remembered. The pacing was a bit slow — the movie gets the kind of long build-up that you just don’t see in movies these days. It was occasionally kind of scary, but not that scary. And every now and then, it shows off the limitations of its budget — like when the vampire next door informs our lead character that “I’ve just destroyed your car,” which has happened entirely off-camera, and we just simply never see the car again.
But then when the story reaches its hinge point — when someone other than our lead character finally becomes aware that he’s not crazy, that vampires really do exist — then we’ve reached the top of the roller-coaster, and it’s time to hang on. Everything that happens after that is a very fun ride, often very creepy, often downright scary, never letting you take your eyes off the screen.
Roddy McDowall was just as good in this as I remembered — again, especially in the second half, when his character has a lot more to do than just bluster and be annoyed. Even though his character is very funny, he manages to bring a lot of emotional weight to it, a lot of sadness and fear and awe and determination.
We’ve seen so many vampires in movies over the years that their threat has become a bit diluted — or removed entirely, when vampires are cast as sympathetic. It’s nice to see a story where just two vampires — really, mainly one vampire — are presented as a serious, major, almost unstoppable threat. This is presented as a modern Dracula in many ways, with the vampire as a powerful figure who has invaded your comfortable, normal surroundings, who is a threat not just because of his physical strength, but because he can fascinate — turn your friends against you, lure your loved ones away.
I’d completely forgotten how effective the music in this is. Edgy, sinister, seductive and dark. Even though it is, yes, stylistically dated. If the fact that the music is very much a product of the 80′s is going to bother you, then you’re really going to laugh at some of the fashion choices the costume designer made.
One thing about the “dated” aspect of this movie, though, that really had me nostalgic for the era, was the extensive use of special effects make-up and latex creatures, fake blood and ooze. The remake, I’m sure, replaces all this with state-of-the-art CGI, and to some eyes that’s going to look more “realistic,” but to me, nothing can beat seeing a real, physical object that the actors are really interacting with. Even if I can tell it’s just the product of someone’s hours of sculpting and casting, it still does a better job of convincing me, of grounding me in the story.
I hear the remake is really good, and I definitely want to see it. But I’m glad I took the time to re-watch the original, and I would definitely recommend you do the same.
Heh. I really kind of wish this were real.
CISCO—Noveller, the online macroblogging service that lets users post their impromptu narrative ruminations on modern life, society, and the nature of existence itself, celebrated its millionth post late last week, officially making it the world’s most popular prose-sharing tool.
Social media experts said they’re not surprised so many people have subscribed to the exciting new site, as it’s the only online service in which users can post a major multivolume epic in the morning, and have it read, critiqued, and reNovelled by thousands of other people around the world before lunch. [ . . . . ]
“I love it,” said Sheena Wulf, a Novellist from Kansas City, MO. “If I’m ever sitting in a coffee shop and my sense of alienation and utter detachment from contemporary life provides me with sudden insight into the world that helped shape my family, I just grab my phone and Novel it out to people.”
[ . . . . ] Just months after its release, Noveller has become a cultural touchstone, despite countless jibes from critics who claim it has broken no new literary ground and oversimplifies the narrative form. Those who Novel on a daily basis claim to love the challenge of the utility’s 140-page minimum, and popular Novellists such as TheRealJayDeeSalinger, no_i_am_not_thomas_pynchon, and aplusk soon boasted hundreds of thousands of followers.
Every writer I know laments how little time they can find to write, mainly because none of us are financially able to write full-time. (Yet.) Having a day job sure kills a lot of hours that could have been better spent writing, and while we all make time by cutting out non-essential activities — watching television, spending time with family and friends, sleeping — it’s never enough.
But if you can’t find any more time, how can you make better use of the time you have? How can you wring more words out of those hours?
T. S. Bazelli decided to find out.
My average writing pace is 1ooo new words in an hour, I am happy with that, but I wondered if I could do better?
I started thinking about writing efficiency after reading a post on Magical Words about Writing Even Faster, and tips from Rachel Aaron on how she went from writing 2000 words a day to 10,000 words per day.
So, inspired by the latter post, I started tracking my writing in a spreadsheet and making notes on where I was writing, the time spent, and began experimenting with my writing time.
Over the course of a week, she tried setting a time limit on the time spent outlining, writing at different times of day, writing with the Internet connection on, taking breaks between scenes, and just simply not letting herself space out:
Result after 5 days of tracking and adjusting: My writing output has increased to 1600 words per hour. On my fastest writing session, I clocked in at 2000 words per hour. All of this, not because I’m typing any faster, but because I’ve cut out the dead time in my writing.
There are probably a few things anyone can do to write a little faster, no matter the writing process. Tracking my time was eye opening. I had no idea I wasted so much of it!
Definitely worth checking out the articles to see the details of her experiments, and what she learned from each one. It might give you ideas for some experiments of your own. Go break some speed records.
I’m always fascinated by fairy tales — not so much the “originals,” in so far as anything that’s been passed down to us by this point can be considered the “original,” but retellings and new interpretations. The more skewed and interesting, the better. I’ve done it myself, on occasion.
But why do we keep telling fairy tales, over and over again in new forms and new combinations? Why do so many writers keep re-using the same toolbox? Marie Brennan has some insights:
You know how you can tell that “The Snow Queen” is a literary fairy tale, rather than a part of the oral tradition? It makes sense. Evil mirror, shard in the eye, everything looks unpleasant; sure, I follow. But what about these opening lines, to a lesser-known Grimm tale? “There was once a little mouse, a little bird, and a sausage, who formed a partnership. They had set up housekeeping, and had lived for a long time in great harmony together.”
[ . . . ] If you think fairy tales make sense, that’s because you’re mostly familiar with the ones that have spent two hundred years going through the rock tumbler of the literary tradition, having their nonsensical edges worn off.
[ . . . ] Sometimes I think the entire thriving sub-genre of fairy-tale retellings is our collective attempt to wrestle the things into making actual sense. [ . . . . ] It isn’t that there’s no logic to them; folklorists have spent plenty of time analyzing what makes fairy tales go. It’s just that their logic is not our Earth logic. [ . . . . ]
The thing about fairy tales is, they’re like Rorschach ink-blots. What you see in them depends on who’s looking. And that, I think, is why we go on retelling them: we keep seeing with new eyes, finding new things to amplify or argue with. Their very simplicity and persistent weirdness makes them nigh-infinitely flexible — and at the same time, the shared familiarity of the most common tales means your audience is already part of the conversation you want to have. No wonder we keep coming back to them.
I don’t know if I entirely agree with the point that Brendan Gannon is trying to make, here, but it is an interesting argument:
I’m taking a course on film editing right now. Lots of what we’re learning can be applied to other creative arts as well, including writing. [ . . . . ] On screen, cuts from one thing to another leave a gap in the action that the audience fills in. By filling in these bits of narrative the audience creates part of the story in their own head. They are more involved in the story because they are, without realizing it, telling it to themselves. [ . . . . ]
Newish writers are repeatedly told “show, don’t tell.” It is easy to follow the letter of this law and miss the spirit. Instead of writing “Jane was sad” you write “Jane turned away and wiped her eyes.” But that’s the same thing. You’re still telling the reader that Jane was sad in a predictable, transparent fashion. It looks like you’re writing action now, but really it’s still exposition–just because a character is moving doesn’t mean they’re taking an action. A sentence like that doesn’t draw the reader in, because it doesn’t require them to draw conclusions, to fill in the gaps.
Leave stuff out. Leave out the gestures, the conversational affectations, the colorful descriptions. Emphasize the action, because if you’re writing compelling fiction the action will advance the plot and reveal depth of character and relationship. If you give your reader compelling action they’ll fill in the parts you left out without realizing it, and in the process grow more involved in your story. Give your reader room to tell part of the story to themselves.
I think this advice could be applied too broadly, as well. I can definitely see wanting to avoid “stage directions” that are predictable and transparent, but I think that well-written ones are a good way to express thoughts and emotion.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving your characters an internal life. Sure, if you have a strong enough plot and actions, the audience might be able to infer their feelings and motivations just from that, but I don’t think they’ll be drawn in without these descriptions — I think your characters would just end up being lifeless ciphers, swept along by your story without giving anything of themselves away.
In real life, we give so much away all the time, often without realizing it. There are so many non-verbal cues that we can derive meaning from, that tell us so much about how another person thinks and feels — the crossed arms, leaning in toward or edging away from the person they’re talking to, drumming their fingers along the edge of the table.
As a writer, I think it’s important to develop as good an “ear” for these unspoken conversations as you have for actual dialog. I think if all you put down on the page is the actual words being said, you’re leaving out half the interaction.
I suppose I’d agree, don’t overuse it. Moderation is a good approach to any writing technique. And for God’s sake, don’t underline what you’re doing. It should never be necessary to say something like, “He sighed in frustration.” You can just say, “He sighed” — the frustration should already be apparent from context, and if it’s not, then you need to re-write the scene until you’ve done a better job providing the context.
Well, I’ll be damned!*
So if you saw Wednesday’s post, then you know I entered a writing contest over at Chuck Wendig’s blog with one simple aim — write a story in three sentences. If you didn’t see the post, don’t bother clicking on the link — three sentences is just too short not to just go ahead and quote the entire thing again:
It took me weeks of searching, but I finally found the girl from the “MISSING” posters, the girl with the sky blue eyes and the blond hair as soft as sunlight, and rescued her from her kidnappers. “My father has money,” she tells me, “he’d make you rich if you’ll just take me home,” but I just know someday, she’ll learn to like it here. I read the posters very carefully, and they just said she was missing — they never said I had to give her back.
It was an interesting challenge — writing a three-sentence story is both easier and harder than it looks, somehow. I suppose I did have the advantage that I didn’t come to it completely “cold” — I looked through my ideas file, and pulled out a few ideas that I thought were neat but hadn’t really figured out how to make as full-length stories yet. I came up with a short-list of ideas, and picked the one I thought would work best in this format. I tweaked the sentences until I was happy with them, then posted it. I didn’t really expect to win — I was just doing it because I thought it was a neat exercise.
Well, I am delighted to announce that I did win the contest! I get free electronic copies of Wendig’s books — Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey, 250 Things You Should Know About Writing, and Irregular Creatures. He’s also going to send me:
(1) Penmonkey postcard sent to you via Jolly Olde Snail Mail, and on this postcard I will ink a random thought about writing all for you. I might also pass out on the postcard and smear it with drool.
I make no secret of the fact that his blog, TERRIBLEMINDS, is my favorite writing blog. It’s consistently entertaining, profane, funny, and just kinda wonderful. So I’m really thrilled about this. Mr. Wendig, if you’re reading this — thank you!
And if you’re not Chuck Wendig, you should go read the announcement at The Big Five Triple-Oh.
* … Probably, yes.