Originally posted on Whatever:

Sometimes a book’s big idea is a risky one. And sometimes writing a book and getting it to publication involves one risky idea after another. Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith’s new novel Strangerhas risky ideas in it from start to finish — and beyond. They’re here to assess their risks for you.

RACHEL MANIJA BROWN and SHERWOOD SMITH:

We knew it was risky when we started.

The heart of science fiction is the tension between the familiar and the different, between new ideas and much-loved themes. Our post-apocalyptic YA novel, Stranger, features our favorite tropes— mutant powers, colorful alien wildlife, building a new civilization from scratch, man-eating plants, desperate treks through the desert, swordfights, attacks by mutant creatures, towns under siege— but in an unusual context.

Young prospector Ross Juarez comes stumbling through the desert, wounded and delirious, and is rescued by the citizens of Las Anclas, a…

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momsomniac:

ooOOooo oo This looks like a lot of fun!

Originally posted on Whatever:

In some ways, writing a novel is a bit of magic — you sweep someone away to another time or place using only the power of words. When Greer Macallister was writing The Magicians Lie, about an actual, professional magician, there was another level of magic to consider — as well as some intriguing practicalities.

GREER MACALLISTER:

I write stuff of all sizes, inspired by ideas of all sizes. Some ideas are the right size for short stories, others for poems, other for plays, and so on.

One day a little over five years ago, I was hit upside the head by the Big Idea that became The Magician’s Lie. I knew from the beginning it was a Big Idea, the right size for a novel. I was inspired, actually, by an absence.

Picture a magician doing a trick. Is he pulling a rabbit out of a hat?…

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I was physically ill for too much of 2014.  I developed and continued dealing with some serious health issues. And we lost my Step Dad in January.  These things were hard.  The last two are still hard.  But I also enjoyed what, to me, seemed like a long string of good fortune.

Here are some lucky things that happened to me in the past year:

1) The company I work for is in a tough spot, so we did not have a holiday party this year. We did have a nice catered lunch during the work-week with a drawing for Amex gift cards, and  I won a $50 card!  I promptly gave it to Darth, who promptly took it to Target, where he promptly spent it on pants for Son 1 and Son 2.  To me, this was an all-around win.  Except maybe for Son 3, but I bought him pants a few weeks earlier.

2) I attended MALCon with my sister in 2014. At first glance, it seemed like a convention for gamers only – but with nice folks checking us in, pretty T-Shirts with Chaz Kemp art on them, and a really, really nice vending room (truly incredible vendors!). But my sister would not let me shop, sigh, and leave.  She started dragging me into various panel rooms and I ended up sitting in on a writer’s panel that really needed a woman on it. And I got to be that woman. It was great fun and I met some lovely folks, among them the incredibly talented and truly nice Lou Berger.  If you like science fiction at all, you should go buy something with one of his stories in it NOW!  Seriously, do it now…I’ll wait. :)

3) At MALCon (yes, I just linked that again), I signed up to win some earrings from Purple Poodle Designs - one of the aforementioned high quality vendors. And I won them!  But…the notification went to my “other” box on Facebook. When I finally saw it, I sent a note to the artisan, and though it was too late for me to get the earrings, she sent me an awesome pterodactyl necklace that I like better than the earrings. Is that doubly lucky, or what?

4) I won a free download of an album by The Breaking Winds!  I listen to it at the start of almost every work day and it both calms and amuses me. If you are a fan of bassoons, a fan of classical music, and a fan of classical music jokesters, check them out.

5) And most recently, I won a small drawing of a triceratops from Tara Gildow. It came a few days ago and is already up on the wall.  It’s orange and I love it! The link on the artist’s name is to her website.  Here is a link to her etsy site: Rocket Penguins Works.

Historically, I would not have classified myself as “lucky”.  Not at all.  So I am blown away by this amazing good fortune!

 

And, of course, good things that were not about luck also happened:

1) Son 1 also made the most amazing best friend in 2014 – the kid is a gift from God.  His whole family is.

2) Son 2 started Kindergarten, and though we had a brief adoptee-anxiety issue about a month in, he is doing incredibly well. He’s well suited for school. It’s nice.

3) We all started learning Korean and Son 3 is learning Hangul and English equally, which is awesome, though I had to explain to his pre-school teacher that he’s not wrong when he thinks the symbol “E” is pronounced “t”, he’s just getting the alphabets mixed up. Hangul is an incredibly easy alphabet to learn and Korean is an elegant language. Though I am finding pronunciation and vocabulary challenging, I have high hopes for my sons, especially Son 3 (who is not the Korean son, btw).

4) Darth started working more…which I hope will lead to me working less in 2015. A lot less.

5) And last but far from least – I finished the 3rd draft of my early reader book!  I started off 2015 by submitting that book to a literary agency.  That was terrifying, though I can’t explain why.  It’s a good book, and either they want it or they don’t (and I’m not the sort of person who gives up on the first try either).  Still, I am keeping my fingers (and toes…and eyes) crossed in hope that my streak of luck holds out.

Who knows – maybe I’ll have good fortune for the duration.  My grandfather was the kind of man who often won things seemingly because he willed it so.  Maybe it’s my turn?  Happy Year of the Sheep (or Ram or Goat, if you prefer)!

How did your 2014 wrap up?  What do you think lies ahead?

 

 

Originally posted on Poor as Folk:

image via Cartoon Politics

Consider this your annual reminder that poor people are poor the other 11 months of the year,too. It’s nice to have a box of good food for the holidays but there are other times people could use the help.

Most low income and homeless organizations see a major upswing in generosity between Thanksgiving and Christmas. My local food bank,Food Bank of the Southern Tier,says  donations in December account for 30% of their annual total but then drop down to 3.5% in January. Winter in my area (NY) can be pretty harsh, as it is in much of the country. Having to choose between keeping the heat on and buying food is a very real thing. Food banks have been struggling,too, and some can’t fill the needs of every family.

When the winter is over, some families with children face the struggle of having to feed children…

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momsomniac:

Lazily re-blogging my own poetry on this snowy, snowy day.

Originally posted on db mcneill - Momsomniac:

Another old one…circa 1992.  All of this is actually happened…

 

Thursday

a poem by d.b. mcneill

 

I am on your doorstep

in my dream

wondering

if you can

disappoint me in the right direction

 

Under here

     

There is still more

but wordless

  

The magician spins

diamonds from her eyes

It’s only rain

 

Thunder breaks

I awake

 

Outside

there is a man

shouting shut up

at the sky

 

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momsomniac:

Very worn out post-holiday, so I am sharing this again as a little pick-me-up. How are you doing?

Originally posted on db mcneill - Momsomniac:

Ode to a Bean

for Dan and Dan of Fojo Beans

I found a poem in a cup.

It was hot, I drank it up.

When the poem was smooth and brown,

it was good.

I drank it down.

When the poem was hot and black,

it called to me.

I threw it back.

When the poem was sweet and mild,

I held it gently, like a child.

The poem flowed – gentle, quiet –

moving moments, day from night.

It warmed me and it woke me up.

I found a poem in a cup.

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momsomniac:

Good stuff to know.

Originally posted on Whatever:

Writer Beware has posted a heads up for writers with regard to Web sites The Toast and The Butter, and the rights they are asking from contributors. Specifically, WB reports that contributors to the sites must hand over copyright (and, where applicable, moral rights). The specific freelance contractual clause in question, according to WB (relevant bits bolded by them):

The Contributor hereby acknowledges and agrees that the Work, including any drawings, images, sounds, video recordings, or other data embedded in the work and including adaptations or derivative works based on the Work is the sole and exclusive property of the Toast and the Toast has all rights under existing United States’ copyright law and all reproduction and republication rights. In the event that any portion of the Work is not copyrightable, The Contributor hereby irrevocably assigns any and all ownership of the Work’s intellectual property rights, including but not…

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Chess Aficionados -
If you’ve been wishing you could do something to support kids and thinking it would be awesome if more kids learned to play chess, here is your chance to do both!
Every Wednesday at our neighborhood elementary school, an hour before school starts, two Dads patiently teach a wide variety of kids to play chess. They donate their time.  There is no fee for the kids to join or play.  They’ve been doing this for years. This is their first fund-raiser  (link below) and it’s all going into materials for teaching the kids to play chess and getting the kids – all kinds of kids – tournament ready. 
Even one dollar can help bring them towards their modest goal.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/south-lakewood-elementary-chess-club-fundraiser

 

momsomniac:

We are trying to learn Korean now as a family. I need to keep this handy!

Originally posted on the talking cupboard:

I’m sure some of you who watch kdramas are already familiar with the titles used in the family, as in how a  person address his or her family members. I got used to hear a servant or maid calling the young master and miss as doryeonnim (도련님) and agasshi (아가씨) in dramas but when I watched another dramas, I was surprised to hear a woman addressing her younger brother and sister-in-law as doryeonnim and agasshi. I then realized that there are various ways of calling your relatives in Korean culture. It’s not as simple as uncles and aunts!

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The time is nearly upon us – the night when the veil is thin, the hungry dead walk the Earth and we ignore them at our peril. In other words, trick or treat!

For people who claim no one played pranks involving eggs or toilet paper “back in the day”, for everyone who complains about teens trick-or-treating, for everyone who lives in Colorado – a State that’s very name is a Spanish word – and then complains about the Day of the Dead colliding with Halloween, I have three words: KNOCK IT OFF.

When I was a kid (in the 1970s), I lived in a bucolic rural area in Maryland. It was lovely. On Halloween, it was a given that if you had no treats, there would be a trick. The severity of trick often depended on how you treated the kids. If you were an older, popular kid, it was possible to end up with toilet paper trees whether you had treats or not.

When my Dad was a kid (in the 1950s), one Halloween he and his buddies carried the neighborhood grump’s Volkswagen up onto her porch and left it there. Of course, she was not handing out candy, so she did not find it until morning.

The pranks are not new. They are not a sign of the times. In fact, I see fewer of them than ever. So, yeah, trick or treat. Get it?

Teenagers are between childhood and adulthood, just as always. Even back when they were considered adults and were settling the (not empty) American West, their brains were still not adult brains. Sometimes teens are like adults, sometimes not. But really, think about it – what would you rather they were doing?

And yes, in Colorado, sometimes adults trick-or-treat – often with faces painted like skulls and dressed in wedding clothes. This is not new. The first non-native land claims in Colorado were made by Mexican farmers – long before the gold rush. This unique-to-the-region Day-of-the-Halloween mish-mash may or may not come to a neighborhood near you. But if it does, that’s really cool.

Here’s the main thing – Halloween is all Soul’s Eve, is Hallow’s Eve. This is the night when the dead were believed to walk the Earth and the living were to feed them. This was believed in many places across many cultures, and I can only speak for myself, but if people come to my door on Halloween, I am feeding them, whether they are 70, 27, 17, or 7 (though I also offer non-food items ~ which makes the night so much nicer for some kids).

So these are the questions – Trick? Or Treat?

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