Last week, my partner emailed me a small selection of links and said you have to read these. I did so.

And now I am giving you a small selection of links and saying no, really, YOU HAVE TO READ THESE.

First up, we’ve got How to Become a Mars Overlord by Catherynne M. Valente, published by Lightspeed Magazine. The explosive richness of the prose and the vivid snapshots of alien culture and mythos are amazing – reading this is like bathing in a nebula.

Next is Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time, also by Cat Valente, published by Clarkesworld Magazine. I can’t even begin to describe the brain-melting blend of science, world mythology, and personal history that she encapsulates here. I mean, just look at the beginning lines:

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was a high-density pre-baryogenesis singularity. Darkness lay over the deep and God moved upon the face of the hyperspatial matrix. He separated the firmament from the quark-gluon plasma and said: let there be particle/anti-particle pairs, and there was light.

How cool is that?

Thirdly, we have As Below, So Above by Ferrett Steinmetz, published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I am a sucker for stories written from non-human viewpoints, and Ferrett pulls it off with brilliant clarity and easy readability. The worldbuilding is stellar in its subtle detail, and the slow, smooth untangling (or further tangling) of the plot kept my eyes glued to the screen with barely time for a blink.

And lastly, certainly not leastly, the fourth story is from Cat Valente: The Days of Flaming Motorcycles, found in Apex Magazine. This is the most unexpected and original zombie story I’ve ever read, and it packs an emotional punch right next to a fascinating premise.

That’s what I’ve been reading – what about you? Got links to other short stories or poems to share? I’m hungry for more words!

I learned to open up anyways and engage every cell – I truly love this post. It’s fierce and vulnerable all at once.

I learned that we’re all the little man behind the showy curtain, even though we think we’re the only one with a projector.

I learned that science supports the benefits of connecting with yourself; physics students who wrote an unrelated-to-physics essay about their personal values got better grades. For real.

I learned how to survive extreme suckitude by not denying it and not losing yourself in it, either.

I found a 1995 Newsweek article on why the internet isn’t that great or important. I laughed. A lot.

I fell the fuck in love with Catherynne Valente’s mythpunk cowboy poem, which even has an audio recording of SJ Tucker reading it in the best way.

I learned that maybe it’s better to be a “loser” than constantly war with the me-or-them winner paradigm.

I read about the unexpected, relentless medicine of love and was deeply touched.

After someone complained that Dragon Age 2 was neglecting their main demographic by having non-straight romance options in the game, I cheered my head off when I found out that Bioware responded by affirming their support to their entire audience, not just the traditionally-pandered-to straight males. Huz-fucking-zah, Bioware! I love you. Thank you.

And your Friday photo was taken at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado a while back:

After reading a friend’s personal writing rules, then following the bread crumbs back to Ash Autumn’s rules, I wanted to play the game. I found myself getting verbose, so I separated my rules into two parts.

rules of passion

  • Write what you crave to be writing. Write what you’d exult in reading.
  • Don’t settle for less than gut-wrenching, eye-popping emotion. (As my partner said: Make it hurt more.)
  • Tell stories that could be real.
  • Enjoy the journey. Every step taken, every word written, every thing learned, every new experiment is useful in some way. Don’t scoff at the past or your old work – it helped get you here. Value everything, but cling to nothing.
  • Be loyal to the truth of the story, even if that goes against publishing trends, majority preferences, and writing advice. You can tell in your gut if it’s right or if it’s wrong.
  • If you don’t write it, no one will.

rules of craft

  • Stay true to your unique voice, but let it evolve with time and experience.
  • It doesn’t have to get published. It just has to get written.
  • Don’t be afraid to rewrite. A lot. Seriously.
  • Diversify. Shatter stereotypes. Twist tropes, warp clichés.
  • Don’t let anybody be “evil.” Minimize redshirts. Make each named character a real person with sympathizable motivations, even (especially!) the antagonists.
  • Make the worldbuilding solid, detailed, and believable. It doesn’t have to be shown in the story, but it needs to hold its structure and individuality under inspection.
  • Get feedback from all sorts. Whatever skill or information you lack, find someone who has it in spades and get their opinion/help.
  • Take criticism gratefully and run it through your logic filters. After thinking hard, make changes that make sense.

What are your rules for engaging with creativity and producing your form of art? Share them in the comments, or do a blog post of your own!

I found a freaking awesome online resource full of math, science, history, and other lectures and exercises. For FREE. Spread the word and get your learn on!

I was reminded that there’s room in our lives for everything we love and it’s totally cool to not have Just One Thing as your passion.

I learned that being kind to yourself means sometimes asking for support – and sometimes not.

I learned that being comfortable can actually help us to change our worlds.

I noticed a trend going around with posting the rules by which a person writes, and I particularly love these ones. I may do my own version in coming days. :D

I learned that resolutions are best made as exciting coulds, not dutiful shoulds.

I learned about different kinds of governments and cultures possible on non-Earth worlds, and how the development and evolution of social structures are innately affected by the world itself.

I found a free ebook on going beyond rules and creating your own guidelines to live by, which is all kinds of awesome.

I learned that mindful indulgence is often healthier than total restriction from “unhealthy” things, including donuts. (Disclaimer: This does not apply to things that are restricted for medical reasons, of course.)

I found a wonderful fundraiser called 1000 Cranes for Japan, where you can sponsor a paper crane for 5$. All proceeds are donated to Direct Relief International’s efforts in Japan.

I found an incredible, woman-empowering quote from Kissing the Hag by Emma Restall Orr.

And your Friday photo is a prayer for spring to come soon:

Some of my brilliant writer-friends keep talking or blogging about their writing. Not just wordcount updates, but how the process hits them, where they are in their personal arcs, what they’ve figured out and what’s left to learn about their stories.

I love those posts/conversations. I love hearing about writing progress and ideas and excitement and flailing. I am just as interested in commiserating about the stuck moments as I am in exulting about the lightbulb epiphanies.

Then I realized that I could write those kinds of posts, too! And perhaps someone would be interested, in the same way I am interested in others’ posts!

Exciting.

So I’m going to ramble today. And perhaps more than just today. Perhaps you will see regular posts that are not comprised solely of fiction snippets and awesomesauce collections from around the ‘net. Wouldn’t that be somethin’?

What I’m Working On

I’m fidgeting with three WIPs at the moment and trying to pick one to focus on. The focusing thing may or may not happen, because I’ve been trying to choose among them for weeks now and haven’t been able to yet.

First off, we have Enmity, the prequel to the Jubagh series. It’s the shortest WIP of the three in wordcount, and its outline is done and solid but for one lingering, missing plot twist at the climax. Right now, the main plotline is a little too straight-and-dry for my tastes. I need to tangle it a bit.

Secondly, we have Gudgeon, last year’s NaNoWriMo novel. (That’s one of the main characters right there, Berin of Ghura. He’s a rarra.) It has a good 50,000+ words on it, but the vast majority of those need to be rewritten. The first draft created in November served only to show me glimpses of its potential; I have a solid and detailed outline for it now, the first really thorough outline I’ve ever done, and I want to rewrite it entirely. It’s a little more severe and darker than most of my plots, but I think it’s a story worth telling.

Lastly, we have Ghosts, 2009’s NaNo novel. It was the first story I actually completed within the month’s deadline and 50k wordcount, and it didn’t suck! I recently reread it, realized how simplistic and undeveloped the plot was, and remembered how much I loved the characters and the concept. I’m about 80% done with the new outline, which is much more intense, believable, complicated, and tighter than the original. I even wrote a short story to help flesh out some of the characters’ backstory, which happens well before the novel begins; you can also take a peek at the first chapter in its revised (but not finalized) glory.

All three novels are set in the Gurhai universe, a place of space galleons, tiny orbiting suns, disc-shaped worlds, and special gravitic ore that produces both gravity and magical energy. Gudgeon and Ghosts – both of which are working titles, so no snickering, you – are set on the same planet in Gurhai: Ryarna, industry-dessicated desert world of the magic-talented, carnivorous, rabbit-eared rarra and their ghost-powered mechanical beasts, animetals. Enmity takes place on a handful of different worlds, including the homeworld of the main characters of Ghosts (who are not rarra, but are corata from Oakh).

I’m really excited about all three novels, especially Enmity: once I finish that, it catapults me back into the rough drafts of the 4.5 books I’ve written in the Jubagh series, and I can rewrite and revise and update and play with all of my favorite people again. However, since Ghosts and Gudgeon are much farther along than Enmity in many ways, I may choose one of those to push through the finishing-and-polishing process first, just to gobble up experience that I can learn from and use on Enmity afterwards. I have written many a story, and some a novel, but never gotten one truly done to the point where I was comfortable asking for beta readers.

And that’s my goal. Taking a novel to a place where I have done all I possibly can by myself, then passing it along to people who can help me improve it even more.

So, fellow writers – what are you working on right now? I want to know!

Much to my surprise and delight, a very sweet blogger-writer gave me an award! Ooh, shiny. Thank you so much! You tolerate me, you really really tolerate me! :B

Of course, it comes with terms. I have to introduce her, reveal seven things you don’t know about me, and then share the love with five other bloggers. Who then get to do the same song and dance (if you want!). Also, I owe someone my firstborn, I think. I never read the fine print that carefully.

Meet the talented Patti Larsen, a YA author and insightful writer. She recently sold her first book to Acorn Press and writes scripts for a teen web series. (How cool is that?) She posts samples of her fiction every Sunday – you should check those out. I also adore her in-the-writing-process posts, which are touching and gritty.

Now, a brief tangent before we get to those Unknown Seven Things. A few weeks ago, I discovered some… interesting… search terms that led to my blog. Such as “genderqueer dinosaur.” I was so amused and decided to write a blog post around those terms. So! In honor of my genderfunk and my secret saurian nature, I present to you:

The Littlest Genderqueer Dinosaur, Ty

  1. As a kid, I would sit outside in the yard with a notepad and pen and write down observations on the invisible dinosaurs I was watching. I even drew a diagram of how a pack of Velociraptors would hunt me where I sat. I named them all.
  2. I had the Jurassic Park Compound when I was young. My other toys (usually animal figurines) would frequently discover the human-toys lying dead and the dinosaurs roaming free.
  3. Utahraptors are my favorite dinosaurs. This is probably because of reading and adoring Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker as a kid. (I still love it as an adult.)
  4. My first grade teacher was a dinosaur nut and is responsible for my obsession. We made a life-sized paper maché Protoceratops in class.
  5. We also made giant paper maché eggs that “hatched” little dinosaur erasers. Each kid had their own and got to hatch them after a few months.
  6. Unsurprisingly, I wanted to be a paleontologist when I was a kid. What I really meant by that, though, is “I want to study living dinosaurs in the field,” which is why I eventually switched to craving zoology.
  7. Up through sixth grade, I pretended to be a raptor. Including in school, complete with stilted gait and tucking-my-arms-in and “hunting” people at recess. I have no idea why no student or teacher ever batted an eye.

Paying It Forward

Time for some completely amazing, wonderiffic, friendly, and brilliant bloggers who inspire and delight me! Now, I did not repeat any of the bloggers I awarded last time, but I still love them. The following awesomelings are great to talk with, either via Twitter or email, which I really appreciate. I love one-on-one interaction. I love when people care, and these guys do.

  1. Do Mi Stauber is a multi-talented wonder: she does colored-pencil art, she plays guitar and sings, she teachers people how to teach, and she’s a book indexer. She is talks about everything with such freshness that she makes me want to index books, too. And play mo’ guitar and draw more and basically do everything cool in the world.
  2. Shanna Mann has a sharp tongue and a sharper wit; she’ll delve into deep, mind-twisty discussions that leave you feeling satisfied with time and synapses well-spent. She encourages open-minded skepticism and promotes critical thinking, especially when dealing with the intangible.
  3. Fabeku Fatunmise is an orange ninja. (What, you need more than that?) He’s also a drummer and a singing-bowl player (bowl-singer?) and very savvy in just about every way. He also has free soundbytes if you want some soothing sounds from his bowls, which are gorgeous.
  4. Reba X is brilliant and clever, and her blog is full of heart and wisdom. Every post is rich and honest and so worth reading.
  5. Patrick Hester is rockin’ his geekitude and writing about writing, comics, cool TV series, SF/F books, and his cat. Oh, and he runs a pretty damn awesome podcast called Functional Nerds.

Just to clarify, my shiny stylish bloggers, you don’t have to post this award on your blog if you don’t want to. Totally optional! Spread the love if you want, but it’s not required. I just wanted to give a shout-out to some of my awesomelings ’cause y’all rock. ♥

Thanks again to Patti for passing me this award, and thanks to my five buddies above for being awesome!

I learned why James Bond could never be a woman – guys, this is a fantastic link and you should seriously check it.

I learned what to do when the internet sucks, which is, of course, link to ten hell yeah!s for each thing you read that makes you want to punch the monitor.

I learned that, when you’re being creative, the fact that it’s hard doesn’t mean you’re fucking it up.

I found a massive stash of awesome free ebooks! Way cool.

I found a 31 Days of Kindness Manifesto (PDF), which includes 132 ways to make kindness a daily habit.

I was reminded to live in this moment and enjoy yourself, even while you’re working towards even more awesomeness.

I learned that I should really be writing epic shit. (Doing epic link round-ups totally counts, right? Right?)

I learned how blogging can rock your world, but it may not be perfect for everyone.

I learned that Catherine Caine has the best facial expressions ever– um. Wait. I mean, I learned that your marketing should reflect your authentic self and purpose. (Oh come on, she talked about mohawks – how could I not link this?)

I saw THE most FABULOUS old motorcycle EVER and about shit myself from the sheer awesome.

I learned that singers and artists make use of a quality called chiaroscuro, which is both light and dark simultaneously; it can be translated into how we work with ourselves and stay mindful. I love the concept of chiaroscuro and will be chewing it over a lot now.

I learned that self-improvement makes you neurotic, so instead, why not think of your efforts to kick it up a notch as accessing your power?

I learned that we can be patient with our fellow human beings by reminding ourselves that we are no more or less imperfect than they are.

I saw the amazing visual map of the history of science fiction – I mean, wow. Damn.

Your Friday photo is a memory of peace from Colorado:

I learned that crows have amazing facial recognition, have dialects, and can make knives, among other crazy things. SO COOL.

I learned that you don’t have to just be vulnerable; you can be a safe place to land, too.

I learned that there’s an exception to every rule, including those you make about what you can’t do.

I learned that you’re a spoon, not a fork– er, I mean, that you should stick to your own truth, your own nature, and not try to be what you’re not.

I was reminded that being overweight doesn’t automatically mean you’re unhealthy.

I learned that there’s always more than one solution and that, if you own your problems, that means you get to do whatever you like with them.

I learned that you can’t very well have a rainbow without some damn rain.

I learned that yoga can be simple; this post contains an awesome video introduction to a breathing method and simple yoga-osity. (I may always prefer martial arts to yoga, but I really appreciate this kind of resource.)

I learned that we make the best choice available to us at any given time, and so does everyone else, based on our unique combination of past experience, overall paradigm/POV, physiological and psychological characteristics, and the situation we’re in.

And I learned that, goddamn, be yourself and tell the world to fuck off if they don’t like it.

This is a shot off our front porch from the last big storm. Some of these icicles reached about four feet in stature and lasted a week, forking at the tips as they slowly curved. It was EPIC.

This is apparently the Micro Edition of this post, because I only have four awesome things to share with you today. Damn. Slow week, I s’pose.

I learned that all the effort and time you can put into working on your self-image and learning to love yourself actually does pay off in amazingly real ways.

I learned that you can find more energy to be creative than you might think.

I learned this: do not minimize your existence.

I learned that the wall you keep hitting isn’t an obstacle – it’s the key to the next part of the journey.

It’s blizzarding again here, but since last Friday’s photo was a snowpic, I offer a refreshing change of scenery instead.

I learned that changing your vocabulary from car (drive, stuck) to boat (drawn, becalmed) can change your entire attitude about a situation.

I learned that if you make space, life will fill it.

I learned that “you are the only person on Earth who can use your ability.”

I learned how to reinvent yourself, rather than stay in your past self.

I learned that love is ugly, and generosity is often one-sided when it should be a two-way street of giving and accepting.

I learned that there’s nothing fluffy about self-love – it can be challenging, terrifying, and hard as hell.

I learned that you are the only authority on you – no one does you better than, well, you.

I learned that building momentum is easiest with small, unfailable tasks, rather than large challenges that can kill enthusiasm with too much difficulty too early in the game.

I learned that I am not the only one who uses structured procrastination as a system of productivity. Huzzah!

I learned three lessons from the ocean that really emphasize enduring quality and actual experience over I-read-about-it-somewhere knowledge.

I learned that the infamous V-day doesn’t have to suck (and also that this person is a ninja at making people happy).

And I learned that we are not, in fact, done with snow yet: