Orson Scott Card

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

Jan. 19, 2011 -- 3:35 p.m.

Orson Scott Card had a stroke over the holidays. He writes about it here. I'm impressed he can maintain his sense of humor: "I solemnly promise not to croak with any of my book series unfinished."

Dancing With Ogres

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

January 10, 2011 -- 7:33 p.m.

I had my first dance class since the sexual assault today. It was easier than I expected. Ballroom's so formal compared with Argentine Tango, it's like dancing neutered. I was a little annoyed that no one asked me to dance, but whatever. Not the kind of people I'm interested anyway since they left the poor, heavily-accented Chinese exchange student who sat by herself in the corner out in the cold. Hard enough to be alone in a foreign country, to barely speak the language, without being surrounded by people who avoid you because of your accent.

So anyway, I'm feel self-pitying at the moment because it's a pattern. I never get asked out on a second date, never get asked out on a first one, either. Something I'm doing, possibly body-language-wise is driving people off and it's frustrating because I have no clue what it is.

I wonder if it's a Utah thing? In Oregon, I wasn't any Bella (groan) but I didn't have trouble finding company if I wanted to. Here, it's like I'm a grape Popsicle in Antarctica--nobody's interested.

Anyway, dancing's a lot like riding a bicycle. It's coming back to me fairly easily. As is the fact that I'm such a klutz, sigh.

I also went to my first meeting of the science fiction magazine run by the university. Only some people don't seem to realize that, since the story I read had no speculative elements whatsoever. We also got a poem that read like someone's suicide note, which is sad. I wished there was something I could do for the poor kid. I also wondered what on earth prompted someone from South Carolina to send his suicide poem to a Utah science fiction magazine. Gotta be one of the most desperate cries for help ever, and the rejection letter he's gonna get probably won't help him. I had the sudden realization that, if I ever become an author, I'll have to deal with depressed lonely teenagers sending out letters to me about how lonely they are. And I still probably won't know what to do. There are some things you just have to work out for yourself.

If there's a school shooting involving said submitter in the next few months, I'm going to feel really guilty. There was some discussion as to whether we should report the poem to...someone...since it also expressed anger toward the people around him. But who do you talk to? And isn't there some kind of submitter-submitted privacy clause?

Oh, and here's a little tip to writers: If you send a story to a fantasy magazine with the line "It's hard to be a straight-A student when you're living with an ogre" and there's no actual ogre in the story, you're going to have one very disappointed reader.

Stupid metaphorical ogres.

Zombie Christmas

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist



Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

January 7, 2011

So busy. For Christmas, I went to Seattle to visit my family. Including my father, who I haven't seen. He had an emergency gall bladder removal a few weeks ago and seems to be doing well.

Went back to school this week. Feels weird, being a student again. Also feels weird how easy it is to slip into that mold. Listen to lecture, take notes. Like riding a bicycle. More on that below.

Still studying for the GRE. Oddly enough, the verbal section I'm having the most trouble on is reading comprehension, mostly because when they ask me to figure out authorial "intent" or what is implied but not said by the passage, I'm out to sea. Who cares what the author intended when they wrote it? Who cares what's implied? If it's not stated explicitly, then it's either a) not important, b) a failed piece of writing, so I don't pay attention to it. So they're testing my ability to read between the lines, and often what I pick up between the lines is something completely different than they what they pick up between the lines.

Anyway, I have the most success if I pretend I'm a complete idiot and just pick the most obvious thing.

Between that and the absurd vocabulary (anyone care to argue that my ability to define what a Mansard roof is going to be important to my future studies?) I've become even more certain that the GRE is a waste of time and money and needs to be torn apart and rebuilt to the ground up if it's to be remotely diagnostic. Right now, it just measures how much people are willing to jump through hoops.

The arithmetic is still difficult for me. I've come to the conclusion that my score in math is most likely going to be determined by how awake I am on test day. Then there are the times when the test books are just being smart aleck-y. For example, they'll show undefined figures (figures that look like triangles, parallel lines, circles, etc.) but not explicitly define them as such, and you're supposed to work them out anyway, until you come along to one problem where they show two straight lines parallel to each other and then say: "Oh, but we never told you they were parallel, so technically you can't work out the answer! Psych!"

I am putting this off to bad test book copyeditors and hoping that the GRE will not do the same tricks on me, but it is really frustrating to have them play games like that. We should be being tested on real knowledge, not how well we can respond to trick questions.


On the whole, I'm expecting to enjoy my classes, though I do have grips. In one of the classes, I'm pissed about because the teacher is having us submit the homework through the book's online software. Sounds fine...except you can only get a key to the software by buying a brand new textbook with a brand new activation code. So effectively, this completely destroys the used textbook market. If you buy a textbook, it cannot be effectively resold because you have already used the unique code. So you're left with a $70 book that you can't resell and you're unlilely to look at ever again. Between that and the $30 device I have to purchase to participate in extra the class credit, I am spending $100 on things I will probably never need in the future, especially since the teacher seems to be teaching directly out of the book, ergo reading it is probably unnecessary. At U of O, for these kind of classes, I just checked out a textbook when I needed it, then put it back. I can't do that, since the library codes are useless. Moreover, the ebook for the textbook is almost as expensive as the real thing, so there's not much savings there.

So kudos for the textbook publisher on figuring out how to extract money I wouldn't have to ordinarily spend, but boo on the teacher for making me put my savings account through the ringer for no necessary reason. It will definitely be noted in my end of class review. I'm financially advantaged, but I've got a savings account because I'm a cheap, money-grubbing miser and I intend to stay that way.


I had my first Brandon Sanderson class yesterday. I was glad I'm officially signed up as a student--there must have been fifty non-student people clawing for the chance to listen. Sanderson used my hat to draw names of the lucky people who'd get to audit--although it was too small to hold all the slips of paper. Brandon Sanderson also mentioned he'll do public lectures in the future, so they'll hopefully those who won't get to enroll able to see everything. I suspect a lot of the content will be similar to that expressed on writing excuses.

My first impressions are positive, although a bit disappointed. I was hoping for a little more intimate situation, like with my teachers at Oregon, but those were classes of about 15 students...much fewer than the classes here. I understand why things are this way, and I like the idea of dividing a larger class into critique groups based on fervor (I'm in the most "hard core" group). I was very glad because I was concerned that the class was going to be divided randomly, and I was worried that I'd get in a group with less experienced people, who might not offer as useful comments. Sanderson also seems to be taking a different approach by emphasizing word production--by the end of the quarter, we're supposed to have produced 50,000 words. I don't know if I could do that if I were a full-time student, but since I'm not, I should be able to bag that out, especially since it's first draft quality (much like this blog post--I'm too lazy to take out the typos). Still, it's going to be a challenge. I'm looking forward to it. He's recommended that you do all the POV scenes from one character, straight beginning to end, just so you can practice all stages of writing, which is good logic but may be beyond me since my POVs tend to be so interconnected, separating one out will likely end up in an ending that doesn't make sense without information contained in the other POVs. But I'll give it a go.

I was originally planning to post my class notes online, but my grandmother said she thought that would be illegal. I don't see the harm, personally, unless it somehow undermines the authors' appearance fees, but I wouldn't want to get sued. And I could see opening myself up for liability by doing something like accidentally writing "[the author] hates fags" instead of "[the author] hates lag." Stupid example, yes, but the point is there.

There's also this train of logic--if someone posts notes from 'x' workshop, others might be less likely to take the workshop because they think they know it all already, ergo the authors earn less money, ergo, I'm depriving them of income. I don't necessarily believe this, but I'm not willing to piss off authors who might.

So in the end I won't post notes, or my notes from Scott Westerfield's appearance here, most of which was repeated on Writing Excuses, anyway. But if you want to play along by trying to write 50,000 words in three months, be my guest.