Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Marriage Bed

I bought a bed yesterday.  Or at least a mattress and box spring.  This is a product of two circumstances:
  1. I am getting married in May.
  2. My old bed breathed its last.
I had been sleeping on a wooden futon frame, but rather than using a futon mattress (the only one I have is old and thin, such that you can feel every wooden slat beneath you), I used an inflatable mattress.  I found that it was comfortable, and while it got cold in the winter, I could cover it with some foam and an open sleeping bag beneath the fitted sheet, and I'd be fine.

Which worked until it sprung a leak on Thursday.  Exactly how that happened I'm still not certain, but I lay on it Thursday night, and woke up lying on the aforementioned wooden slats, with the remaining air in the mattress surrounding, rather than beneath, my body.

So I needed a new mattress fast.  Rather than going out and buying one (or ordering it on Amazon for overnight delivery), I talked to Kristin first.  Kristin's my fianc√©e, and we had been talking about buying a new bed when we got married.  She was not impressed with my air mattress, and her own bed is kind of small and creaky. So we used this as an impetus to get a new bed--or the mattress and box spring, as I mentioned earlier.  Said items were installed on top of the futon frame for the moment (an actual bed may have to wait until we have an actual apartment), to produce this:

Which is just a little bit tall for a bed, roughly as high as my stomach.  Apparently the mattress + box spring combination would work better on a bed frame somewhat lower than the futon frame.

Update: For reasons I haven't figured out yet, a whole lot more carriage returns were included in this post than I put there when I hit the publish button.  I've deleted them, but we'll see if they come back.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Upcoming Storyblogging Carnival

The next Storyblogging Carnival will go up on Monday, February 7th. If you use your blog to share your fiction, then the Storyblogging Carnival is your opportunity. Here we host any and all forms of storytelling in blog format. If you're curious about what this looks like, have a look at some examples of previous storyblogging carnivals.

If you'd like to participate, please e-mail your story submissions to me at dscrank-at-alum-dot-mit-dot-edu (or post in my comments), including the following information:
  • Name of your blog
  • URL of your blog
  • Title of the story
  • URL for the blog entry where the story is posted
  • (OPTIONAL) Author's name
  • (OPTIONAL) A suggested rating for adult content (G, PG, PG-13, R)
  • A word count
  • A short blurb describing the story
The post may be of any age, from a week old to years old. The submission deadline is 11:59 PM Eastern time on Saturday, February 5th. More detailed information follows (same as always):
  1. The story or excerpt submitted must be posted on-line as a blog entry, and while fiction is preferred, non-fiction storytelling is acceptable.
  2. The story can be any length, but the Carnival will list them in order of length, from shortest to longest, and include a word count for each one.
  3. You may either send a complete story, a story in progress, or a lengthy excerpt. You should indicate the word count for both the excerpt and the complete story in the submission, and you should say how the reader can find more of the story in the post itself.
  4. If the story spans multiple posts, each post should contain a link to the beginning of the story, and a link to the next post. You may submit the whole story, the first post, or, if you've previously submitted earlier posts to the Carnival, the next post which you have not submitted. Please indicate the length of the entire story, as well as the portion which you are submitting.
  5. The host has sole discretion to decide whether the story will be included or not, or whether to indicate that the story has pornographic or graphically violent content. The ratings for the story will be decided by the host. I expect I'll be pretty lenient on that sort of thing, but I have some limits, and others may draw the line elsewhere. Aside from noting potentially offensive content, while I may say nice things about stories I like, I won't be panning anyone's work. I expect other hosts to be similarly polite.
  6. The story may be the blogger's own or posted with permission, but if it is not his own work he should gain permission from the author before submitting to the Carnival.
If you'd like to be added to the e-mail list, please let me know. Finally, I appreciate folks promoting the carnival on their own blogs, and I'm always looking for bloggers willing to host future carnivals.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Doc Rampage on Kant

It's been a while since I linked to Doc Rampage, but he's had some interesting things to say recently.  I especially like his two posts on Immanuel Kant and irrationality.  Here's a tiny piece, from the first one:
Kant is not saying what the a simple reading of this sentence suggests: that he has to ignore the facts because they make it hard to believe in God. The reasoning that Kant is referring to is not reasoning that tries to show the non-existence of God --he is referring to reasoning that tries to show the existence of God.

In Kant's time, there was a common belief that reasoning could be used to prove all truths, including the existence of God. There were various "proofs" of the existence of God considered persuasive by influential thinkers. Although there were some who didn't buy any of the proofs that they had heard, it was widely believed that the question of God's existence could be settled, one way or another, by logical proof. Kant rejected this idea.

What Kant is saying in that quote is that since reason can never, even in principle, prove the existence of God we should give up the attempt and rely instead on "faith", by which he means another way of arriving at the knowledge of God.

More generally, Kant argued that we have different ways of arriving at different kinds of knowledge. There is no single faculty that is the ultimate source of all knowledge. This is in contrast to a very popular view in his day (associated with Descartes) that pure reason was the ultimate arbitrator of knowledge. In fact the title of the book that contains this out-of-context quote is "A Critique of Pure Reason"
 As they say, read the whole thing.

Update: Doc made an update to correct for a mistake for a misreading. I don't think it makes a huge difference to his interpretation, though.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fortune Cookies

Kristin and I had lunch at a Vietnamese and Chinese restaurant with a friend of ours, Rene, today.  Rene got a fun fortune cookie:
Keep your courage up and it will keep you up.
Which is kind of bland unless you play the "In bed" game--that's where you add the words "in bed" at the end of your fortune cookie.

My fortune cookie, by contrast, was kind of creepy:
The thing in us that we fear just wants our love.
Adding "in bed" doesn't exactly improve it.

I think that the best fortune I've ever seen wasn't one I got, but a friend of mine did one time when we were out together.  It said:
Kiss the person next to you.
She declined to follow its advice, hopefully not because I was the one sitting next to her.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Storyblogging Carnival CXVI

Welcome to the 116th Storyblogging Carnival. Once again I'm late, which is a shame, since there are some new contributors this time.

Not a limerick
by Stu Savory of Eunoia
An under 100 word brief story rated PG.

A video reading of a short poem.

Who Needs A Door, Anyway?
by Madelein Begun Kane of Mad Kane's Humor Blog
An under 150 word brief story rated PG.

A blizzard creates an unusual predicament for my husband and me 

Dynastic Ambitions
by Mark Rayner of The Skwib
A 200 word brief story rated PG.

Examining the dynastic ambitions of Reginald Tweedsmuire, and why they will not be realized.

Grandma's Zipper by Jessica S. of Literary Journey of a Freelance Writer
An 700 word brief story rated PG.

The tale of a new town and a puppy.

Clark in Florida
by Stu Savory of Eunoia
An 1,300 word short story rated PG.

Mr. Inept makes a humorous insurance claim.

The Emperor's Edge Ebook Excerpt
by Lindsay Buroker of E-book Endeavors
A 1,695 word excerpt from a novel rated PG-13.

An excerpt from my fantasy adventure novel: The Emperor's Edge.

This concludes the one hundred and sixteenth Storyblogging Carnival.

If you'd like to take part in a future carnival, please contact me. I am also looking for hosts. Other carnivals can be found here.

The Storyblogging Carnival can be found at The Truth Laid Bear's √úberCarnival.

Friday, January 07, 2011

The four revision process

I used to have a three revision process for all my stories, which I know I posted about before, but I think the post got lost in the move back.  Since I've joined a writer's group, that's expanded to include an extra revision.  Let me describe briefly how I do it.

Rough draft - This isn't really a revision, but it is where the process starts.  The rough draft is what I write when I have a story to tell, and thus I tend to rush from beginning to end to get there.  Thus I will sometimes skimp on the details, avoid getting bogged down in things I ought to research, and even just leave out scenes I'm not eager to write.  I tend to leave notes to myself in these so I can come back and fix these issues later.

First revision - In the first revision, I fill in the gaps of the rough draft, correct the obvious mistakes, whether in plot, character, or style (or grammar!).  After this revision, I show it to my writing group.

Writer's Group - This isn't a revision for me, per se.  Rather, it's a meeting where some fellow writers come together and critique my work.  Generally, when they do their job well, I can find out what works and what doesn't, and they'll give me back my story with lots of comments in the margins.

Second revision - This is the revision where I go through the comments made by my writer's group and incorporate them in the story, as best I can.  Sometimes I'll disagree with the device, and sometimes different people will give flat out contradictory advice, and sometimes I'll see what they want but just can't figure out a way to do it.  Regardless, after this revision, I should have a much better version of the story.

Third revision - This is the hardest revision.  This is where I print the story out and read the story aloud, all the way through, making corrections as I find issues.  Generally, this means there's a lot of red ink on the page by the end of the day.  Then, of course, I take the hard copy to a computer and rework the story so it conforms to my notes.

Fourth revision - This is the final revision, where I go over the story one last time, polishing it up, and correcting issues the previous revisions either failed to correct or created.

It may sound like a lengthy process, but even at this point, it's not really done.  Oh, I'll format it and submit it to some places, but as the rejections come back, I'll make revisions based on what they say.  Or, when I'm lucky, as editors request revisions. Or as new ideas present themselves.  Ultimately, the story is only really done once it's published.

Monday, January 03, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions.  That said, I do have a couple of goals for the year.  These are:

  1. Get married.  Okay, there's not much doubt about this one, but I figured I should put it out there, especially since my fiancee told me it was her New Year's Resolution for the year.
  2. Find an agent. I've been looking for one already, but I figure now's the time to put more effort into it.
  3. Get back to regular exercise. I've managed this in the past, and I'd like to do it again.
  4. Write regularly. I've been doing okay with this, but I'd like to do even better.
We'll see how well I manage these things.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Year in Review

This has less to do with newsworthy events, and more to do with my personal life. You may or may not be interested.

I don't usually post a lot on my personal life, so a whole year can go by with very little blogging on life events.  Then I decide to do a year-end wrap-up, and I end up having a ton of stuff to share. So, let's begin.

January - I began the year by moving into a new apartment, in a very nice old house in Medford.  For the first time in a long while, I had roommates again.  That proved to be a challenge.  I also received payment for a story sale to Black Gate.  That was very exciting--and still is.

February - Valentine's day, and the first time I actually had a date for Valentine's day.  That made it much more fun.  Valentine's day is also the anniversary for this blog, which should tell you all you need to know about my love life pre-Kristin.  This month I also attended Boskone, my third ever writer's conference.  Sadly, however, this was also the month in which our small group died.

March - In March, I sent my new story to John O'Neill at Black Gate, a requested sequel to my previous sale.  I'm still waiting for a response.  Kristin also had her birthday party this month.  It was a good time for all.

April - While I'm certain things happened in April, I can't for the life of me remember what they were.

May - In May, Kristin started her own blog.  In addition to adding her own brand of bloggy goodness to the blogosphere, she also tends to write about more personal stuff than I do, so I now have a reference to figure out what I was doing each month.  So, let's see . . . Kristin and I took a lesson in Medieval sword fighting (which we registered for at Boskone), we went for a hiking trip, and we went to New Hampshire for a writing retreat.  This was a weekend trip where we stayed in a cabin and spent most of our spare time in separate rooms writing. So, a very romantic weekend.  (I wrote over 2,500 words each day.)

June - In June, I had to move again.  Our landlords decided they wanted to renovate the house and rent it to a family rather than a bunch of individuals, so they wouldn't be renewing our leases.  I had only opted for a six month lease.  Fortunately, Kristin's house had an opening in the upper apartment (her house is divided into two apartments, one on the bottom two floors, and one on the top two floors).  I took the room, and now we live in the same building.  Also this month was my 36th birthday.

July - In July, Kristin and I both attended the Readercon writer's conference.  It was fun.  At this conference last year is when we decided to start dating, so it was also our anniversary, of a sort.  Kristin and I also went camping, with a dose of hiking added in.

August - This month, Kristin and I went backpacking (this, for those who don't know, is camping where you carry all of your equipment on your back, usually up a mountain).  All the previous camping/hiking trips were supposed to build to this, but we still weren't really prepared for it.  Backpacking is hard work (and renting camping equipment is expensive).

September - This was Kristin's and my longest trip together this year, beginning with a wedding of one of Kristin's friends in Texas, then a road trip to visit my parents in Louisiana.  It was good to see them, but my allergies were pretty miserable.  During this time we went to Baton Rouge, Avery Island (where Tabasco is made), and Rosedown plantation (in St. Francisville).  We saw my parents, sisters, nieces, and brother-in-law to be.

October - This month we visited Montreal, where we stayed with Kristin's friend Rene (my friend too, now).  We also went to the World Fantasy Convention.  While the other conventions we've attended together are small and local, this is a big one.  I met John O'Neill and the rest of the Black Gate crew, and took part in a reading they had.  This was the first reading I ever gave, and it was pretty monotone, but otherwise went well. 

November - For Thanksgiving this year, Kristin did the cooking.  I helped.  It was pretty intense, really, but we then had Kristin's friend Bob over, and had a nice time.

December - In December, Kristin and I cooked a Roman meal together.  That was a lot of fun, although the ingredients weren't exactly easy to find.  We also visited Kristin's family in Nova Scotia for the second year in a row.

You've probably noticed that Kristin appears in this post an awful lot--so much so that you'd be forgiven for thinking that my life revolves around her.  Well, that's for a couple of reasons.  First, I've been using her blog to remind me of everything that happened this past year, so I've had an easier time remembering events in which she took part.  Second, anything that's fun to do is more fun to do together, so I haven't done a lot of solo outings. Kristin also tends to be more interested in traveling than I am, so she was the instigator for most of it.  Finally, well, there's some truth in your thinking.  Kristin's a very important part of my life.  That's the sort of thing you should do something about, so I did.  On Christmas Eve I asked Kristin to marry me.  She said yes.

And on that note, I'll wish you all a happy new year.