Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesday Word: Complex vs. Complicated

complexadjective |kämˈpleks; kəmˈpleks; ˈkämˌpleks|consisting of many different and connected parts a complex network of water channels.• not easy to analyze or understand; complicated or intricate a complex personality the situation is morecomplex than it appears.

complicated |ˈkämpləˌkātid|adjectiveconsisting of many interconnecting parts or elements; intricate a complicated stereo system.• involving many different and confusing aspects a long and complicated saga.

While the two words seem for most part interchangeable, to me complicated always has a negative connotation complex doesn't. As in:

A: How's your love life?
B: It's complicated.

When I read a review praising a film or book as complicated my inner pedant winces and reaches for the red pen.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Vintage Monday: Too Much Snow

Since the white stuff is about to hit the northeast, I give you and image from the The Great Blizzard of 1888. In for days in March (!!) "The Great White Hurricane" buried parts of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and connecticut under 20-60 inches of snow. The 45 miles an hour winds were icing on the cake.

So folks living up there, make sure you have plenty of food, toilet paper, and warm blankets. I hope nobody looses electricity, because that would suck. Oh, and charge and stock your ereaders, just in case.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thursday Blather

In a recent bout of silliness a freshly hatched author decided to lecture readers about how to review books. KJ Charles' post pretty much sums up how I feel about this, so I won't keep kicking the dead horse. However, I have a few stray thoughts on the subject.

1. Reviews are for the readers not for the authors. This seems obvious, but even some of the reviewers themselves seem to be confused about this point. No, sorry, you're not providing constructive feedback to the author. That ship has sailed with critique partners, beta readers, and editors on board. There's no guarantee the author will ever see your analysis of their work. They are under no obligation to read it. If you're writing your reviews for them, you're on the wrong path.

2. There's no wrong way to read a book. The creative process doesn't end with the author. Every single reader brings themselves to the story and bring it to completion. Consequently, no two people experience the same piece of art the exact same way. Without an audience, any artwork is the proverbial tree falling in the forest. Of course, every once in a while you get an interpretation way out of left field. C'est la vie; best to find the humor in it.

The book either stands on its own legs or it doesn't. Once upon a time I went to graduate school, studying art. It might have been a mistake. We spent a lot of time standing around, discussing each others' work using post- and post-post-modern lingo. Or at least the others did, because I sucked at it. My opinion is the same now as was then: if the artwork doesn't draw me in on a visceral level, no amount of smart talk will help.

3. Authors don't need to read the reviews of their books. I'm too curious not to, but I don't blame anyone who doesn't. When I was an undergrad art student, we spent a fair amount of time discussing each others' work without using big words and art theory. And it was good, but it took time to get used to. You go there, proud, showing your creation to your peers and they start picking it apart. It fucking hurts. But if you listen you learn from it and get better.

I have grown a much thicker skin thanks to this experience, but when I receive that constructive feedback from my beta readers, my first instinct is still to kick against it. However, when I begin to consider their points, 99% times I have to admit they're right. The story will improve, but it's a painful process. No wonder authors who are too young and/or inexperienced can't deal with criticism. However, criticism will happen whether you like it or not, so you better buckle up.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wednesday Word: Contumacious

contumacious |ˌkänt(y)əˈmā sh əs|adjective archaic or Law(esp. of a defendant's behavior) stubbornly or willfully disobedient to authority.DERIVATIVEScontumaciously adverbORIGIN late 16th cent.: from Latin contumax,contumac- (perhaps from con- ‘with’ tumere ‘to swell’ ) + -ious .

I don't remember where I picked up this little gem, but I suspect it was one of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries I was listening to. Against my expectations, I rather enjoyed the stories. The prose and attitudes are remarkably fresh despite being written almost a century ago. Probably more so than some contemporary novels set in the same time period.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Vintage Monday: Viennese Gents

So, last night after a long day of working plopped down in front of the telly, thinking it was Saturday. Then I saw my Sunday shows playing and was very confused for a minute. Where the frak did the weekend go? And it's bloody Monday again--pardon my British. So I give you these two gents and back to the grind stone. Ta!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thursday Musing

Admittedly, I have zero mothering instinct, but I've never thought of my books as my "babies" any more than most wild animals have such notions of their grown offsprings. You can fend for yourself now, so get lost. I have the next generation to deal with.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wednesday Word: Scrimshaw

scrimshaw |ˈskrimˌ sh ô|verb [ trans. ]adorn (whalebone, ivory, shells, or other materials) with carved or colored designs.nouna piece of work done in such a way.• the art or technique of producing such work :craftsmen demonstrate sailmaking and scrimshaw.ORIGIN early 19th cent.: of unknown origin; perhaps influenced by the surname Scrimshaw.

I came across this word recently while listening to The Atrocity Archives, a pretty good urban fantasy novel that mixes science with demonology.

I like the sound of this word--it has whimsy. As a name it's frightfully British. I'm going to store it away for later use.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Vintage Monday: The Ladies

The latest season of Downton Abbey has started, and I'm starting to wonder what those upper crust ladies did all day, aside from changing from one outfit to another. They must've been bored out of their skulls. Well, at least the manor has a radio now.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wednesday Word: Fell

fell 4adjective poetic/literaryof terrible evil or ferocity; deadly sorcerers use spells to achieve their fell ends.PHRASESin (or at) one fell swoop all at one time nothing can topple the government in one fell swoop. [ORIGIN: from Shakespeare's Macbeth ( iv. iii. 219).]

I have a confession to make: I've not till recently knew the many meanings of fell, aside from past tense of fall. I simple accepted one fell swoop as is, possibly because the expression is so wonderfully sinuous it must be right. Like a snake plunging in for the kill.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Vintage Monday: The New Year Edition

Time for reflections? 2014 was not an easy year for me, full of struggles, a health scare, and epic anxiety attacks with reason. I'll just file them away as material for future stories. (Writers are cannibals.) I'm cautiously optimistic for 2015.