Effing Genius

First Draft Island

So, earlier this evening, kvetching about revision on twitter As You Do, I tweeted:


Which, of course, yes, so familiar here too. And then the fabulous Sarah says she can do maps in Paint. And then a bit later BEHOLD, the first draft of First Draft Island (!):

I simply could not let this go unshared, lost to the ever-shifting twitter cocktail hour sands.

Larger image of Sarah's brilliant mapping behind the cut:

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Effing Le Guin*

In which Ursula Le Guin posts at the Book View Cafe about the modern embrace of a certain F word.** Snippet:

I remember my brothers coming home on leave in the second world war and never once swearing in front of us homebodies: a remarkable achievement. Only later, when I was helping my brother Karl clean out the spring, in which a dead skunk had languished all winter, did I learn my first real cusswords, seven or eight of them in one magnificent, unforgettable lesson. Soldiers and sailors have always cursed, what else can they do? But Norman Mailer in The Naked and the Dead was forced to use the euphemistic invention “fugging,” giving Dorothy Parker the chance, which naturally she didn’t miss, of cooing at him, “Oh, are you the young man who doesn’t know how to spell ‘fuck?’”

More at the link, including some examples that raise questions about the use of the word as salt (or pepper). For rhythm in a sentence, I suggest we use the term The Heathers Effect. But, hey, how much do I love Le Guin for this post (and in general)? An effing lot.

And you really should read the whole thing, because agree or disagree, there are serious points being made about the nature of the words that become our chosen profanities, and their connotations.

That said, I'd be thrilled if she read Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist. A girl can dream.

Updated to add: So apparently there is some controversy about whether it was Parker or Tallulah Bankhead who said this to Mailer. Anyone have a sure-thing source? Or is this just an excellent fiction? I won't really be disappointed either way.

(Link via @Jonathan Strahan & @SFSignal.)

*I'm quoting Ursula Le Guin so I assume it's okay to use this language on a family blog, right? (Wait, this is my blog, not a family blog. Eff.) Insert smiley face. (Or similar emoticon, which I'm certain Dorothy Parker would agree is way more offensive than language will ever be.***)

**My mom (the principal) told me once that a common reason girls ended up in her office was calling each other 'the B word' and resulting disputes. She believed in making them specify which one. This is a purely an aside, thus the star.

***I use them too, but I don't have to like it. The real curse of the modern age.

(Was this all just an excuse to use this post title? Maybe.)

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Granny Fiction

Gavin Grant* has a tremendously excellent story up at Strange Horizons, "Widows in the World," which I waited to link to here until both parts were up. Part One and Part Two.

I remember hearing him read from this in a small, dark room in Glasgow** at a WorldCon years ago now and being dazzled all over again by the way he plays with language and the expected in his stories. Getting the whole of this one was well worth the wait. Happy Valentine's.

*Karen Joy Fowler has some guest entries up at the Small Beer blog, including one from today. Snippet: "A singing tree: Just west of the dog beach, along the clifftop is a Monterey pine. There are many Monterey pines along the cliff and one tries not to have favorites, but this is a very appealing tree. Today it was making a tremendous racket as I approached and I had to get quite close to understand that a congress of blackbirds was hidden among the needles, each of them shouting as loudly as possible. There were so many that if they’d all flapped their wings at once, the tree would have taken flight." Go read the rest of this too. And then read all her other entries; you will not be sorry.

**At least, I'm almost certain this is that story. I'm sure he'll let me know if I'm wrong.

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Truth & Beauty

Kate Elliott (whose new book Cold Magic is at the top of my TBR stack) has written an amazing and wise post about what it means to be a nation of immigrants, about prejudice and how it damages:

And yet a cycle repeats itself. Every generation seems to fixate on some “new” immigrant group as a threat that can’t or won’t assimilate itself properly, that is stubborn or ineducable or secretly under the thrall of the Pope or or or. You can fill in the blanks. It happens over and over again as meanwhile people who want to build a good life for themselves and their children, and their children who can conceive of nothing other than being Americans because, well, that is what they are–they are Americans just as I am, or you over there, or you, or you–get on with living a decent life . . . if they can, if they aren’t locked into internment camps or having their places of worship burned because they are this decade’s or this generation’s Threat to Our Way of Life.

Really, seriously, go read the whole thing.

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Geek Love: Andrew Auseon’s Freak Magnet

FreakMagnetHC cAround the end of chapter two of Andrew Auseon's latest YA novel, Freak Magnet (Amazon | Indiebound) I stopped to ask, Wait, why isn't everyone talking about this book?

Of course, I know the answer. It's because Freak Magnet is a book that might be lumped into the nebulous category of "small"–it's primarily character-focused, it's bereft of creatures of the night unless you count beginning astronomers, it's idiosyncratic, it's funny but also not afraid to be taken seriously… No, wait, I'm back to not understanding anymore. Because no one would call John Green's books "small"–at least not anymore–and I'm pretty well convinced that anyone who likes John Green's books will also respond to this one. Or fans of Sara Zarr (who contributes a lovely blurb) or Natalie Standiford, Barry Lyga or Cecil Castellucci, for that matter. I could keep going.

Freak Magnet follows Charlie Wyatt, aka the Freak, and Gloria Aboud, aka the Freak Magnet, during summer break. The book begins when Superman-obsessed stargazer Charlie first spots Gloria and decides he must tell her she's the most beautiful girl he's ever seen; a writer, she promptly records this encounter in her notebook, aka the Freak Folio. Sounds like a frothy set-up, doesn't it? But Auseon's too good a writer to be content with that, and what follows is a story that will truly keep you on the edge of your preferred reading furniture, turning pages, caring about each of these characters too much to stop.

This is the sort of contemporary realist fiction that I unabashedly love. Geeky, cool, honest, and absorbing. Focused on creating intimate character portraits and memorable casts (Gloria's sister is into cosplay every day–even for their mother's foundation benefits) without the handwringing of tea towels beside a window overlooking the English moors (or the professor someone just committed adultery with's backyard), but filled with no less emotional depth for that. Auseon's teens and adults feel as individual and as nuanced as any real people I've ever met and over the course of Gloria and Charlie's unconventional love story, I fell in love with both of them. I'm not overstating when I say this novel reminded me of all the things I love about YA realism done right (and there's plenty of appeal here for SFF readers, too). On a craft level, the book is quite an achievement–I haven't seen dual first person point of view done any better than this, with each voice absolutely distinct, or read many other novels able to balance true humor with true weight half so well.

I'd recommend this book to just about anyone. Freaks and freak magnets take note.

(Also, take note I'll have an interview with Andy Auseon as part of his whirlwind blog tour tomorrow.)

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I'm working on a hopefully-not-too-lengthy post about blogging (meta!), but in the meanwhile a reminder that I'm continuing to update links to Kelly Link's blog tour stops in this post. Yesterday she wrote about coming up with story ideas and a bit about her own process:

As well as useful ideas, there's a particular category of ideas that you, the writer, will never ever use, but which are pleasing, for whatever reason, to contemplate. I welcome these ideas even as I recognize them as ridiculous. They seem like but-wait-there's-more bonus! ideas that you get, for some reason, along with the useful ones — and sometimes I like these bonus! ideas even better than the ones that become stories or projects. In this category are two titles for anthologies that I will never ever edit, but which I love to contemplate: Manthology is one; the other is Unicats!.

I still like Singularicats! better.

Oh, and there's this:

And yet, wouldn't it be a blast to remake the movie "Bringing Up Baby" as a paranormal romance? I keep having this vision of the scene in which Cary Grant's character is wearing Katherine Hepburn's negligee. Doesn't the reason why seem obvious? He's just turned back from were-leopard into Cary Grant.

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