Magical Words Link Roundup 4-26-2017

Shortly after Donald Trump was elected president, sales of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale spiked.

io9 explains why they believe you should reread “American Gods” before you watch the new show.

Searching for exoplanets like Proxima b is not as simple as gazing through a telescope and pointing them out.

Unless you spent your childhood living in a cupboard under the stairs or being prepared for ritual sacrifice by your cult pseudo-family, you probably have fond memories of the stories you enjoyed as a kid.

There are plenty of movies that everyone knows star magical or supernatural characters, like Harry Potter, the Marvel movies, or Fast And Furious parts 5 to infinity. And that’s fine! The problem is when supposedly non-fantasy films feed us plots that seem realistic, but are basically essentially wizardry in disguise.

Con season is fast approaching, and with it, room parties. So it might be good to know that while you might think you’re a good judge of your own inebriation, according to a recent study, we actually determine our state of drunkenness based on the people we’re drinking with.

Is there anything more validating than bonding with a friend over something obscure? Some of the best friendships began with phrases like “You watch that?!” or “You do that, too?!”

Seanan McGuire says, “Let’s talk about the power of something closed, whether or not it’s been forbidden; the mystery of the trapdoor that leads up into the attic, the powerful draw of the locked hatch that leads down into the cellar, the irresistible temptation of someone else’s fridge or medicine cabinet.”

Magical Words Link Roundup 4-25-2017

Fantasy Cafe features Fran Wilde, author of Updraft, Cloudbound and Horizon, for their Women In SF&F Month series.

The reason we don’t write more disabled characters is because disability frightens us: it can spring out of the woodwork, surprise us around a corner or suddenly strike and flip our lives upside down.

When you write scenes with physical conflict, the injuries need to be realistic.

There are a number of reasons why someone would choose to defend a specific location: to protect property or the lives of inhabitants; to secure a strategic location; to offset an opponent’s superior advantage; or because they have no other choice.

A group of aurora enthusiasts have found a new type of light in the night sky and named it Steve.

The end of the world seems bound to be a big event, and it’s tempting to assume that the cause will be appropriately large—perhaps a nuclear exchange, maybe, or a giant asteroid. But some of science fiction’s most terrifying and fascinating apocalypse stories take things in just the opposite direction. What if the end of the world, they ask, was caused by the smallest possible thing: An alien bacteria, or a strange new type of virus?

Noah Michelson says, “I first began writing poetry when I was in high school to escape the constant and merciless torture inflicted on me by the homophobic monsters I called my classmates.”

Magical Words Link Roundup 4-24-2017

There are some books that a writer really should have in their own personal for-keeps libraries. These are the books that you’ll keep coming back to, over and over, through your career.

There’s a weird moment near the end of Shakespeare’s most realist and domestic comedy, The Merry Wives of Windsor, when the plot to expose Falstaff’s failed sexual exploits gets all “Midsummer Nights” dreamy.

Uhura: “Xenolinguistics. You have no idea what that means.”
Kirk: “The study of alien languages. Morphology, phonology, syntax…”

Dino Ignacio and his five-year-old daughter Harley showed their appreciation for Fisher in a unique fashion by interacting with Leia cosplayers. *Warning – you may need to have tissues handy.*

What do you call it when writers are all collected together?

Garrett Calcaterra put together this list of notable climate fiction (cli-fi) written specifically by science fiction and fantasy authors.

Sign up for Nicole Givens Kurtz‘s mailing list and get a free copy of Recruited: A Cybil Lewis SF Mystery.

In the Republic of Gilead—which once was Cambridge, Massachusetts, until the state was overthrown by a theocratic, totalitarian regime—women are defined solely by their assigned roles and the men who govern them.

I don’t know who said you couldn’t for the first time in your life. It might have been your parents, or a teacher, or a well meaning family friend. But somewhere in your origin story, someone told you that you were wrong, you were too small, you couldn’t, you can’t, you won’t.

It’s important to eat healthy when you’re writing. Read what happened when this writer committed to eating three eggs every day for breakfast.

Party Talk!

The weather’s changing, the flowers are blooming, and the writers are starting to emerge from their winter cocoons. Everyone has a drink, and we’re answering the question, “What kind of music do you listen to when you write? (If you prefer to write in silence, then what kind of music do you listen to in the car?)”

Faith Hunter
I sometimes listen to Country. But usually nothing except talk radio — NPR.

Gail Z Martin
Depends on the mood. For writing—mostly classical, smooth jazz, New Age. In the car—classic rock, Top 40, Sinatra, Buffett.

Melissa Gilbert
I like to listen to thunderstorms when I write. In the car, I have had Lady Gaga’s new album on heavy repeat. I’m also fairly fond of 60s and 70s protest songs.

Misty Massey
I don’t listen to music when I write. I have, in the past – managed to write a first draft while listening to Andres Segovia playing Bach. But after a decade of dance training, I find my thoughts dragged to choreography if I try and write with music playing. But I hate silence. So I turn the television to some random channel and let it run. The voices become white noise, and I can make words. Plus the shows end, which reminds me to get up and move around every hour.
In the car I listen to podcasts. Oh, so many podcasts…

Darrin Kennedy
When I write, it’s either silence or classical. Anything with words is too distracting.

Diana Pharaoh Francis
All kinds. I start not hearing the words in a pretty short time, so it’s just what sort of mood I’m in at the moment. Sometimes hard rock, hair bands, seventies rock, movie scores, operas, Mumford and Sons–Pretty much anything but rap. And dance music. That never blows my dress up either.

Alexandra Christian
I have complicated playlists for every story/ novella/ novel that I’m working on. Often the playlist is like a preliminary outline of the story, so the genre of music varies. For weird western, I have a playlist of old and outlaw country– the darker the better. For Sherlock Holmes, I have Victorian chamber music mixed with some goth, some steampunk, and Britpop. Doesn’t everyone do this??!!

Magical Words Link Roundup 4/20/2017

Maureen Eichner relates, “I felt a freedom to read all kinds of books: books that challenged me, and books that comforted me. Books that were too old for me and books that were too young.”

There are many kinds of humans in the world. That means there’re also many kinds of women. The logic of the above statement says two things: 1) that it is wrong for people speak out about conditions that are uncomfortable, unprofessional, or sometimes even dangerous and 2) that only people with the strength to survive a gauntlet that can include being groped onstage, being mocked publicly, having their work denigrated for no reason other than having been produced by a woman, and a multitude of other forms of harassment deserve careers and the rest are out of luck.

Tara Sparling said, “The other day, I tried a little experiment, and attempted to browse Amazon as though it were a good old-fashioned, bricks-and-mortar bookshop. It didn’t end well. It’s a miracle that my laptop survived the experiment, given my frustration.”

Chuck Wendig presents the things he’s learned after writing 20 books.

Got a hanged man’s corpse? Don’t know what to do now?

With news that a group of brave souls are going to attempt to adapt it into a TV series, the world was forcibly reminded last week that Piers Anthony is still cranking out Xanth books.

The secret to book selling is not so secret anymore. The answer lies in the unspoken pact between an author and reader, which agrees a great cover equals excellent writing. Honestly, we know the premise is false—great stories exist inside shoddy covers and vice versa—but the expectation remains.

Alyssa Wong talks about why “I’m a feminist, but -” isn’t enough.


Magical Words Link Roundup 4-19-2017

“Never was there a tale of more sad // Than that of Hamlet and his spooky dad.”

Here’s a bit of free advice for new writers that’s worth considerably more than you paid for it.

Twitter is talking about things only women writers hear, and things only women writers of color hear.

“Life as a professional writer is financially depressing, and I’ve often been advised to self-publish. Here’s why I won’t do it.”

Volunteers, Professionals, and Who Gets to Have Fun at Cons: another thought prompted by the recent unpleasantness surrounding OdysseyCon.

There’s nothing more frustrating than an ambiguous ending after a great movie.

On Monday, the American Library Association released its annual report of the most-challenged books and articles nationwide.

Bad movies are easy to laugh at and subsequently ignore. Bad movie series, on the other hand, make you question whether or not this whole Hollywood thing was such a solid plan.

The Lost Citadel Talent Search is officially open!

Magical Words Link Roundup 4-18-2017

Yes, it’s that special day, when the post office will be slammed from open to close, and many of us will be desperately scrambling at 11: 55 pm to try and finish that last bit of math. (Well, not me – we managed to finish our taxes over the weekend, so yippee!)

It’s the evocation of a mysterious elsewhere in language as weird and lovely as its subject. Language is the magic system.

If you give them a taste of the story and your style, they will be more apt to buy your book, rather than if you just drone on and on about your author life and why you wrote the darn thing in the first place.

The good people at the OED had a little tie-in to announce: “sonic screwdriver,” the Doctor’s multipurpose magic tool, is getting its own entry.

Judith Tarr says, “All I remembered of C.S. Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy before yesterday when I sat down and read it again was the part about the horse teaching the boy how to ride.”

Tor had an interview with Sherrilyn Kenyon, guest of honor for ConCarolinas 2017.

In the Hugo’s early days, there were fewer fiction categories, and there were years when no awards ceremonies were held. Alfred Bester was the first writer to win a Hugo in 1953, and there was only one writing category that year: best novel. Between 1953 and 1959 (and not counting retro Hugos), a dozen awards were given; all of the winners were men.

Is anyone going to say “Whelp, I was going to hit up a room party, drink like Bacchus, and compare various forms of magic and demons to one another, but now that someone I don’t know has yelled Bible verses at me through a megaphone I think I’m going to church instead?” No.

The Toast presents things I’ve learned about heterosexual female desire from decades of reading.