Rather on a whim, I responded to a post on Absolute Write from a startup e-zine called RUSE Magazine. They were looking for people who were willing to write articles on an advertising share scheme. For some reason I gave it try; mostly because I liked some of the content on the site, and also because I wanted to practice my writing muscles outside of fiction. And hopefully make a few dollars in doing so, although that rather depends on the success of the magazine and the advertising market.

My first article is now online at RUSE: The Future is Flexible. I take a look at the different news stories that have emerged this week surrounding flexible display technology. Who is actually working on them, how realistic are the plans, and does this tech actually have a chance of reaching "Joe the Plumber" (pardon my French) in the short term?

Let me know if you like it! I hope to continue writing on that site, posting on tech, space, science, maybe even science fiction literature if they'll let me :-)

Snippet below:

This week's news that the Flexible Display Center at Arizone State University (ASU) has a created a flexible display with touch sensitivity brings the flexible display concept to another level. Thanks to US Army funding, they have managed to integrate E Ink technology - the electronic ink that drives the success of e-book readers such as Amazon's Kindle, but more on that later - with the flexible screens. This makes the screens extremely energy efficient; and now that they are touch sensitive, devices using a flexible display no longer need bulky cases housing keyboard or control buttons.

While this all sounds promising, one aspect was still prohibitive towards mass production and consumerization: the production itself. The LCD displays that have become commonplace in our houses - used as...

Read the entire article here.

Another milestone reached today: fifth-ever rejection letter, this time in a record time of one (1) day! Clarkesworld Magazine didn't like The Snow.... I decided to repost it for crits on the OWW, perhaps it is still missing something.

Clarkesworld Magazine is a nice market though: they have some very good stories up, they pay pro rates and the submission system is top notch. Kudos to the editors for that: they have an online submission status tracker that is perfectly designed. Very simple, tells you the status of the submission and even its place in the slush pile queue. Very nicely done!

Sadly, I didn't even have the chance to fully the status page, by the time I went to check my story had been rejected. Well, better luck next time...

There. I think I've done editing my third ever story, The Snow Fell Fast and Final. I have a good feeling about it, but I'm still not quite sure it is really finished. As such, I'm contemplating resubmitting it for crits. Then again, I might just submit it to markets instead, and get on with writing a next story. I need to up the pace a little on the output...

Word count: 3,964 words
Total writing/editing time: approx. 5 hours

Excellent read here:

Pitfalls of Prophecy: Why Science Fiction So Often Fails to Predict the Future >> Gary Westfahl on predictions of "the future" in Science Fiction literature, and why the predictions are almost always dead wrong. Very interesting, and quite along the lines of my own thinking when I construct the near-future world in which my stories seem to naturally take place.

Today's healthy dose of linkage:

Ireland's most wanted reckless driver has been caught >> A wonderful story I heard this morning from a few Irish colleagues here in the office, but apparently it's also on the BBC today [via Jay Lake and said colleagues].

Scalzi on writing media tie-ins (i.e. Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica,...) novels >> A bit discouraging, this defense of the media tie-in novel by blogger-extraordinaire Scalzi. Especially the bits where he mentions how hard it is to make any money writing SFF. Perhaps I ought to rethink this whole venture?

A lengthy, interesting post on shifting POV (point of view) by Jacqueline Lichtenberg over on Alien Djinn Romance >> haven't read all the way through this article, but I will do just that later tonight. A lot to learn about the craft of writing on this blog. Thanks to the peeps at OWW for pointing this out.

Here's my first submission to Outshine. It got rejected so I'm just going to post it here. My accepted piece is a lot stronger, I can see that. But still. I feel like it's a waste to let this die in an e-mail thread, and it may give you an idea of just how concise twitter fiction (why not call it "twiction"?) is.

Shielding my eyes from the solarfield glare /
high on the hill,/
I saw her delightfully dark /
against the azure of pools and panels below

So. I got some great news yesterday - I made my first fiction sale!

Three cheers for myself, and all, even though it's quite a tiny sale. More specifically, a nanosale for twitterfiction. If you haven't heard of the concept, check out my Twitter feed. Twitter is a social site that allows you to broadcast tiny little updates about what you're doing, random observations, or short haiku-like statements to people who subscribe to your twitter feed. Very short, in fact, because posts are limited to 140 characters.

Jetse de Vries, formerly of Interzone and currently preparing the Shine positive SF anthology, runs a "twittermag" called Outshine. What's a twittermag, I can hear some of you thinking back at me? Well, it's a dedicated twitter feed on which he publishes SFnal "tweets" (twitterspeak for posts) that speak to the imagination. Sort of an instant SF magazine.
My second submission to Outshine was accepted. It will be published on April 29th, if the current planning holds up.

In other news, I am editing my third short story, The Snow Fell Fast and Final, after getting some majorly useful crits from an online workshop. More on that in a later post.

Two quickie links for you writerly people out there:

::: Nathan Bransford hosts a discussion on writerly auto-terminology
Nathan is a SFF-representing literary agent working at Curtis Brown, and he has a highly interesting blog (to which I subscribe). He sometime asks pertinent questions to the sizable crowd of authors, writers, aspiring writers and fellow agents who frequent his journal. This week's question sparked quite a debate:

So. When do you start calling yourself "a writer?", as in, "I'm a writer, please go easy on me with the bad news."

When you finish a novel?
When you spend a certain amount of time doing it?
When you decide it's what you want to do?
When you have an agent?
Upon publication of your first novel?

And what about "author?"

::: Pitfalls of Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy, General Useful Information & Other Opinionated Comments
You've probably seen this before, but I came across some broken links to this interesting list of Do's and Don'ts for new writers in the SFF field; so I decided to repost it here.
Actually it's more of a list of Don'ts only, but it's still really useful. Vonda McIntyre knows her stuff, she has quite a few SFnal novels to her name, though I have to admit not having read any of her work. I'll have to keep an eye out for her work. As to the Pitfalls, a recent crit of my latest short story highlighted a flaw that is listed in the Pitfalls: the Expository Lump of Dialogue. I need to work on that...

As a new item on the blog, I decided to introduce the "Currently reading" feature, where I'll talk about what I am reading at the moment and how I like it.

Right now, I am in the middle of:

Throne of Jade, the second volume in Naomi Novik's Temeraire series. The Temeraire novels are very well-done, in my humble opinion. The concept is simple but very nicely executed: think Napoleonic wars but with an air force. Not any old air force, though, but an air force consisting of dragons, dragons as big men-of-war of the skies with crews and captains and a separate corps. Lovely!

The Odyssey, the second volume in Homer's - well, you know the Odyssey, don't you? But did you actually read it? Like, properly read it from front to back cover? I hadn't, but I'm remediating that fault in my literary education at the moment.

More on both books in later posts...

There. I was strong and resisted the lure of Fallout 3 last night, and instead I finished off a short short story that I am provisionally calling The Snow Fell Fast and Final. It weighs in at almost 3,000 words and I think it will be just over that after an editing pass this weekend.

This is really quite an achievement for me, or so it feels, at least. I wrote this short in two sessions on consecutive nights. That's about 1,500 words per night.

Which is exactly the type of productivity level I want to aim for. Wordage is important, that's what reading lots of author blogs over the past few months has taught me (reaching a Jay Lake-like level of superhuman hypergraphy might be out of the question, but there seems to be a consensus that when you're drafting, you should just sit down and write, no matter how you're feeling or what the distractions of the day might have been).

Anyway. I'm feeling quite happy with myself!

Just stumbled on an interesting rant by Jetse de Vries (formerly of Interzone, now the man behind Outshine twittermag and the Shine Positive SF anthology). He starts off rambling about national postal services who screw over their small private customers and focus on large commercial contracts instead.
I very much sympathize, because mailing off manuscripts to overseas publishers is something I haven't even started doing yet, because of the cost and the hassle involved. As long I have online submissions options I will pursue those first.

Of course, Jetse being Jetse, he turns the rant into a valid point on the future of SFF magazine publishing...

SF magazines are one of those 'small' customers: sending out a few thousand (let alone a few hundred) is not enough to get a bulk discount. So the postal rates for them go up, considerably, as well. Therefore, SF fiction print magazines are doomed (or more doomed than they already were): mailing costs will go up, and sending the magazines through commercial companies is even more expensive.

Read the complete article on Jetse's blog, In the Plane of the Ecliptic

Copying a common practice around the web here, with a light and fast link salad for your consumption. Only two ingredients today, mind you, as I've other stuff to attend to.

The famous Drake equation has been re-evaluated with the latest data >> Futurismic has an interesting post on the latest calculations for the Drake Equation, which is an estimate of the number of intelligent species in our universe. In a few words: the recent slew of planet discoveries has drastically raised the number of likely intelligent species out there, but the chances of ever encountering them locally remain unimaginably small.

TLOTR retold as a comic strip with RPG players controlling the protagonists >> And old one but a good one, if you ask me. Of course, this only makes sense if you have ever played role-playing games yourself. But if you have, some of this is very recognazible and quite funny.

Wrote 1,200 words in an hour and a half last night. For the first time since I tried to take up writing, I felt as though I "got it right", "it" being the drafting of fiction in a fast, enjoyable manner. Perhaps it helped that it's an idea that I had been turning around in my head for a while, so I knew where I was going. I managed to put a lot of personal feeling into it as well, I think, and that helped.

I hope to write the remaining 1,000 words or so tonight.


I edged out of the command unit, ducked through a hatch and stepped into the lab. When I reached the panoramic observation window, I drew a visor onto it and resumed our conversation. "I suppose you're all really busy right now."

"Well, yes. Most of us got pulled away." Alex shifted in his seat. "Look, Jon, maybe you should spend some more time in the SimUnit. Psych says you're getting a little too stressed out. They uploaded some new programs that will help you."

"I'm fine, Alex, but thanks. Tell them I'll do just that. I've seen the view, after all," I replied, gazing out over the plains of endless rust-colored rock. Wisps of thin reddish cloud, almost invisible to the naked eye, streamed across the murky sky. The last vestiges of a dust storm that had shaken the habitat quite badly.

To Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, the magazine with the longest name known to man.

I expect a three month wait for a response, but I'm confident I'll have two or three other stories to submit by that time.

A little update was overdue here. In between Fallout 3 sessions (I know, I know, it's Evil Procrastination Incarnate, but hell is it a great game) I finished the rewrite of Total Immersion. It ended up at almost 8,000 words and at that it's on the borderline between a novelette and a short story.

Of course, typically for my luck, that makes it harder to find a market for. Anyway, it just goes to show that I need to write up one or two of my other ideas right away. Tomorrow, perhaps...

Off to bed now!

It's all down to Persistence, baby. Psychotic Persistence no less. Jay says, in with characteristic clarity and eloquence, that all the successful authors he knows share a single trait:

What they have in common is psychotic persistence. Almost all successful writers exhibit behaviors which would be unhealthy perseveration in the everyday world, but are critical success factors in publishing.

Well said, as usual on Jay Lake's blog. Sadly, I have yet to exhibit this trait.

While I have the persistent feeling that I should be writing, I'm still in the "learning/thinking" phase of things, studying how writers I like go about constructing their stories, picking up bits and pieces of story ideas and collecting those. I guess it is a step in the right direction, but something still holds me back from just writing.

I think it's fear of failure. Stupid really.