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research question and icon contest followup

Icons first, because that’s the shorter bit: I had someone ask how large the icon should be for The Tropic of Serpents. Answer is, 100×100 pixels; that’s LJ’s size limit. And the door is still open for people to submit their efforts — not because the ones I’ve received are in any way unsatisfactory, but because I didn’t answer this question sooner, and I want to give everybody who’s interested a chance to try! Remember, winner gets either a hardcover of A Natural History of Dragons or an ARC of Tropic when those become available.

Now, the research question. First of all, my deep gratitude to everybody who has responded; keep ’em coming. Secondly, some clarification.

I almost feel like I shouldn’t have mentioned Hawai’i, because so many people have fixated on that. It doesn’t have to be Hawai’i specifically, so if you have recommendations for sources on other Polynesian societies, please share them — New Zealand, Samoa, wherever. Reason being, what I’m after right now is stuff that will give me a broad sense of what traits are shared across the Polynesian cultural sphere, such that we’re able to talk about there being such a sphere. I won’t attempt to drill down more specifically until I have that broad sense, because without it, I don’t really know where I want to drill.

This means that if, say, there are better writings about New Zealand than there are about Hawai’i, then I’ll happily go read about New Zealand instead. I don’t need the specific history of any one place, because I’m not writing about that place; I’m trying to invent a society with broadly similar social/political/religious/economic structures. Mind you, I know enough about the history of anthropological writing to know I’m going to be dodging bullets wherever I go (hi, Margaret Mead; how are you?) — but if there’s an area with fewer bullets flying, please do point me at it. πŸ™‚ As long as it’s part of the Polynesian sphere, it’s good for my purposes at this stage.

As for history in my own setting, I need to invent the nearest continent before I’ll know what I’m doing with that. πŸ˜›

(Speaking of which, I should inflate my globe-beachball again and start doing some more worldbuilding.)

This entry was also posted at Comment here or there.

tonight’s random experiment

My braid weighs approximately six ounces.

For those of you who were wondering.

(It doesn’t sound like that much, does it? Though when I said “so my hair in its entirety probably weighs about half a pound,” that sounded like a good deal more.)

(This experiment was brought to you by the bun into which I had put my hair for karate starting to pull painfully on my scalp, and me wondering just how much weight I had hanging in a lump off the back of my head.)

This entry was also posted at Comment here or there.

Four! It’s a miracle.

Wow. This may be the ugliest first draft I’ve produced in ages . . . but it’s a draft, and a draft is fixable. Much more so than a story that doesn’t actually exist.

No title. It’s the Catherine Rochester story, for the tiny number of people who know who Catherine Rochester was. Though about all it has in common with the original character by that name is, well, the name, plus shapeshifting, undercover work, and the world’s worst identity crisis. (I made it much worse this time around. In fact, that’s the core of what the story is about.)

Four short stories in the last four months. It’s like I’m an actual short story writer again.

This entry was also posted at Comment here or there.

The Littlest Brown-and-Black Belt Works Her Butt Off (perhaps literally)

I got no exercise while I was at TIP — which was okay in some respects, because right before I left for that I got a plasma injection to deal with a tendon problem in my hip, and was supposed to be taking it easy for a month or so after that. But it meant that by the time I came back, I was very grumpy about lack of exercise, and determined to fix that.

My schedule for the last couple of weeks:

  • Mon. 7/8 — two hours of karate and kobudo
  • Wed. 7/10 — two hours of karate and kobudo
  • Thu. 7/11 — one hour of karate
  • Fri. 7/12 — swimming (250 breast-stroke, 250 freestyle, 25 fly)
  • Sat. 7/13 — half hour of stationary bike
  • Mon. 7/15 — two hours of karate and kobudo
  • Wed. 7/17 — two hours of karate and kobudo
  • Thu. 7/18 — one hour of karate
  • Fri. 7/19 — swimming (250 breast-stroke, 250 freestyle, 25 fly)
  • Sat. 7/20 — no exercise per se, but several hours of walking around museums etc
  • Mon. 7/22 — two hours of karate and kobudo
  • Tue. 7/23 — one hour personal training (upper body strength)
  • Wed. 7/24 — two hours of karate and kobudo
  • Today — another hour of personal training

I won’t keep this up forever, of course. The Thursday karate classes are a summer-schedule thing, so those will end mid-August, when I leave for a trip. I won’t always make it to both kobudo and karate on both Monday and Wednesday, though I’m trying to get back into doing that more reliably. Swimming is something I’ve been wanting to start up with for a while; we joined a gym at the beginning of this month, and it’s a five-minute walk from our house, so the activation energy for that is about as low as it gets. And kniedzw and I are trying to institute a habit of going to the gym on Saturdays.

Regardless, it feels good, and I’ll try to make it last.

stories for reading and voting upon

Thank you to everybody who’s been offering feedback on the research thing; I’ll be posting more about that in a little bit, and also the icon dealie from before. (A lot of things have been delayed by busy-ness around here.)

But first!

First, I must tell you the happy news that Mythic Delirium has begun its spiffy new relaunch. And as part of that relaunch, you can read “The Wives of Paris”, which might just be one of my favorite stories I’ve ever written. It isn’t the story I intended to write, mind you — there’s an author’s note about that at the end — but it’s the story that came out of my fingers when I started typing, and it’s apparently what happened when my Inner Folklorist slips her leash (and takes the snark with her).


Beneath Ceaseless Skies is doing their annual reader poll to select stories for the “best of year” anthology. Despite not having done much on the short story front lately, I do have one in the poll: “The Ascent of Unreason”, aka the most recent Driftwood story. (And it’s a happy Driftwood story! For realz! Not all depressed about the ends of the worlds and stuff!) The story is free to read on the site (or to download as a pdf, epub, mobi, or audio podcast), and if you like it you can vote for it in the poll. And vote for other things, if you like them, too — you can pick up to five. Heck, you can even vote for five stories and leave mine out. πŸ™‚ But anyway, go forth and vote your conscience.

That’s it for now; more later on the aforementioned topics.

Help me, o Internets; I don’t know where to start.

So I know you all are still waiting for The Tropic of Serpents to come out, but backstage, we’re already ramping up for the third book of the series. And you know what that means: research!

. . . on a topic I don’t know at all. A large portion of the third book, you see, will take place in an area based on the Polynesian Islands. My knowledge of Polynesian culture pretty much consists of “tourism in Hawai’i,” which, y’know. Not so much. The sole book in my library on the topic is Pacific Mythology, which is an encyclopedia-style overview of the entire Pacific, Polynesian and otherwise.

So where do I start? Does anybody out there have recommendations for good early histories (pre-European contact, though not necessarily pre-other-people contact), “daily life in ancient Hawai’i” type books, local mythology 101, etc?

I also could use recommendations of appropriate music. I make heavy use of playlists to set my brain in the right gear, but I have zilch in the way of stuff from that particular milieu. I don’t even know what it sounds like, beyond “stereotypical hula tunes.” Traditional folk music, movie scores that draw on that kind of sound, all of those things are good.

Help me, o Internets. I’m dead in the water here.

This entry was also posted at Comment here or there.

a belated announcement re: Mythic Delirium

I thought I had posted about this before, but apparently it’s on the list of things that have slipped through the cracks of my brain lately.

Mythic Delirium — long known as an excellent magazine of SF/F poetry — is reinventing itself as an online title, publishing both poetry and short stories. Its “zero issue” will contain my story “The Wives of Paris;” I’m looking forward to seeing that one out in the world.

But that’s not the point of this post! No, the point is to tell you all about the Mythic Delirium Kickstarter project, now in its last two days. It has reached its funding goal, and also the first stretch goal, meaning that there will be a print anthology of the first year. If they can make it up to $4K total, there will also be an anthology of the second year. This is all being run by Mike Allen, the same guy bringing you the excellent Clockwork Phoenix anthologies, so you know the result is gonna be good — quite apart from the nifty stuff you get for being a backer.

Head on over and check it out!

This entry was also posted at Comment here or there.

a question for the gamer types

As you probably don’t know, Bob, [profile] kniedzw and I are running a Dragon Age game right now, using the Pathfinder system. A couple of our players have decided to go into business — they basically staged a hostile takeover of the trading contracts belonging to a certain noble house, since they knew in advance that said house was about to go down in political flames.

So now we’re trying to work out how to handle the business in a way that will make it rewarding and worth the investment of skill ranks/character effort/etc, without flooding the game with so much money as to completely unbalance things. I have some ideas for how we might do this, but I also know this is something other people may have dealt with in their games, so I thought I might as well toss the scenario out here and see if anybody has suggestions.

For context, these are level 5 PCs, so average character wealth is roughly 10K-11K gp. There are two PCs involved in the business. They took out a loan to foot the bill for buying out the contracts; we haven’t specified how much money that was, since the whole economy of D&D is borked in the first place and putting numbers on things would only highlight that fact. What I’m aiming for is a) some way to measure the scale of their enterprise, b) some way for them to draw off limited amounts of cash as profit, based on that scale, and c) some way to link the maintenance and growth of the business to their skills. (One PC has Profession: Merchant, and the other has a wacky good Diplomacy score.) As I said, I’ve got a potential framework in mind, but I’m interested in other ways of handling it. Thoughts?

This entry was also posted at Comment here or there.

The Tropic of Serpents, revealed!

I can’t decide whether the people at Tor are mean, or love you very, very much. (Can they be both at once?) You see, The Tropic of Serpents won’t be coming out for another eight months . . . but we have cover art now, and they’ve decided to make it public.

Can I just take a moment to say how pleased I am with myself? Also with Todd Lockwood, of course, who once again has turned in an absolutely gorgeous piece of work, and let’s not forget Irene Gallo (the art director at Tor) and everybody else involved in making this happen. But myself, too, because a few months back I was sitting here chewing on concepts and trying to figure out how we could repeat the general look of A Natural History of Dragons without pulling the same anatomical cut-away trick every single time. Then I hit upon the idea of a motion study, and lo: it worked!

You all know what this means, of course. I need an icon! Post your best efforts in the comment thread, and if I pick yours, you can have your choice of either a signed copy of A Natural History of Dragons, or an ARC of the sequel when those become available.

This entry was also posted at Comment here or there.