Oh, for Christ’s sake…

Because your world is not strange enough yet, here’s an article about all the people who are suicidal after seeing Avatar, because they are realizing that they can never live in the imaginary day-glo world of Pandora.

This is probably a similar group of people to those who were suicidal after seeing Twilight because the realized that Lead Sparkly Vampire would never love them. Either way, the idea of these people removing themselves from the gene pool is curiously attractive.

On Laziness, or How James Cameron Just Doesn’t Give A Shit

So I saw Avatar over the weekend. I can’t say I was disappointed, because I had a fair idea of what I was buying tickets to see. It was very pretty. The effects were awesome. Visually, the movie is beautiful and well-executed. WETA Digital certainly deserves congratulations for their efforts. James Cameron, on the other hand, has clearly stopped trying.
I’m not going to get into the whole ‘noble savage’ idea, because just about every columnist I’ve read has already mentioned it. It’s there, it’s obvious, it’s not even trying to be something else. What bothered me about this movie was the sheer laziness in the writing.
First of all, the entire plot was cribbed from any White-Man-Goes-Native narrative you care to name. There’s not thing inherently wrong with this; stories are told and retold throughout history. But it’s lazy to add not a single new thing to the narrative. You could have the same effect by smoking a joint and then watching Dances With Wolves.
And the characters…Holy crap, between the Noble Blue Savages and Colonel Cliche, it’s amazing anyone got through this script with a straight face. Not a single one of them was interesting or unique or even well-crafted. They were cliches hacked together from popular fiction. I have nothing against a good stock character, but it’s the first time I’ve ever seen an entire movie populated by them.
Secondly, and this bugged the crap out of me, the name of the precious, expensive material found on the alien world is…Unobtainium? Really? That’s the best you could come up with? That sounds like the place-holder name you put into a first draft until you think of something better. Admittedly we live in a world with elements named einsteinium and berklium, but at least those were named after noted scientists and labs. They weren’t just named by casting about for a big word you like the sound of. He might as well have said, “the audience is so stupid that they don’t know what ‘unobtainable’ means, so I’ll just throw it in there for the hell of it.” Also, what the hell is the bloody stuff for? Nothing, apparently. It’s enough to know that it’s really, really expensive.
Third, where does the water on the floating mountain waterfalls come from? That totally threw me out of the fantasy. I was sitting back, watching floating mountains and the beautiful jungle scenery, and then these waterfalls appear and the verisimilitude is blown. I’m all for the willing suspension of disbelief, but the writer has to meet you halfway.
There’s more, but those are the biggest ones that I remember. And maybe this wouldn’t bug me so much if I wasn’t a writer myself. But it annoys me to be treated like I’m stupid, whether it’s by a person or a piece of fiction. Every writer I know and many I know of through their web presence works damn hard at making things believable. You can take your audience for a ride through things fantastic and strange, but without putting the legwork to figure out how it all fits together, you end up with these holes. It’s insulting to your audience to expect them to swallow whatever you put up on the screen or on the page without so much as a question. You don’t have to answer every question, but you should invest in a good box of Plot Spackle and fill in some of the gaping holes. Really, they spent half a billion dollars on the goddamned thing. They could have taken the extra hour to sort out some of this stuff.
If I ever watch it again, I think I’ll just turn the sound off and watch the pretty jungle light up.

2010: Year of the Thriller Bear

It’s that time again. Time to lay out my plans for the next year, as codified by the New Year’s Resolutions. I have a pretty good track record for this stuff as long as (and this is important) I write them out somewhere where people besides me can see them. It doesn’t matter if they actually do; the possibility of observation is important. Like the Panopticon.
Before this dissolves into the treatise on Bentham, here are the goals for 2010, or as it shall henceforth be known, the Year of the Thriller Bear.

1) Fitness Goals: These are threefold. I always need something to aim for at the gym or else I get bored. This year’s goals are:
a) Do a proper chin-up. This is going to be really, really hard, but I have a plan.
b) Do a body weight squat. This is 160 pounds, for anyone who cares. I’m already at 110, so I think this is very doable.
c) Lower my resting heart rate. My cardio sucks.

2) Writing Goals:
a)Finish the first draft of Lady’s Game and start the first draft of Lady’s Gamble. Okay, it seems like two, but they’re a duology, so it counts as one really big project.
b) Edit the unnamed novel I wrote last year (and name it) and try not to bitch about the editing as much as usual.

3)Writing-Related Goal: Submit to more agents. I have two manuscripts ready for submission and a third that needs to be polished up. Much to my surprise, once you finish a novel, the offers don’t actually come to you.

4) Craft Goal: Use up my knitting stash. This has a corollary: add no new yarn to stash unless it has a project attached to it. This should cut down on spending as well.

5) Lifestyle Goal: Eat at least 50% vegetarian meals. No, I’m not becoming a vegetarian, but I think that the amount of meat eaten by most North Americans is unsustainable and unnecessary. Plus I think it’ll be a fun cooking challenge. It’ll encourage John and I to broaden our food horizons.

6) Skill Goal: French. Again. This is my one big failure in the yearly goal category. But I have a new plan.

7) Financial Goal: Stick to the budget that John and I have set out. Plan more and react less.

So that’s the plan for 2010. I’ll check how I’m doing with these in two months and document my progress. Hopefully that will give me the kick in the ass I’ll need for some of these.
I have a good feeling about this year. I think it will indeed be the Year of the Thriller Bear.

NaNoWriMo ’09 Progress Report

Can’t talk. Must catch up on word count (which blog posts don’t count towards for some reason). I just made a new post to get this up:

Suck it, writer’s block

World Building, Day 12

I started doing this world-building exercise I found online here : http://www.web-writer.net/fantasy/days/index.html. And I have to say it’s going pretty well. Of course, since I have more time on my hands I’m not doing it day by day. I started yesterday and am currently at Day 12. But it’s a good starting point for a world. It asks some of the questions that I’d forgotten to think about. While I’m sure I would have eventually figured them out, it probably would have been, oh, 10,000 words into the story when I realized I needed to go back and fix everything. I’ll be interested to see how much the upfront work will affect the writing process. I’m a compulsive planner in any event, so this might just calm the neurosis down enough for me to get on with work.
So far, I have a basic map, climate, economy, political systems, exports, imports, recent history, languages, and people. Now if only I had a concrete story.

No, I said KITTY porn. KITTY.

Apparently, this man claims his cat can haz child porn:
Man Blames Cat for Child Porn

Tesseracts 13 Book Launch at WorldCon

I know this is what you’ve all been waiting for.

Look, my name's on the cover and everything.

Look, my name's on the cover and everything.

Tesseracts 13 Launch

Tesseracts 13, the latest in the Tesseracts anthology series from Edge, will be launched at Worldcon/Anticipation in Montreal.

T-13—the only all horror/dark fantasy anthology in the acclaimed series—is edited by Nancy Kilpatrick and David Morrell.  It features 23 dark, original and exciting stories, introductions by the editors, and a comprehensive history of Canadian horror and dark fantasy by genre expert Robert Knowlton.

Come join us:

Friday, August 7th

3 to 5 pm

Montreal Delta Hotel,

777 University Avenue

Suite 2815

Those of you who will be at WorldCon, go and check it out. I wish I could be there, but, alas, wedding expenses have put a halt on vacations.

Goodbye Toronto

It’s finally happening. Toronto is being sucked back into the underworld, one fourteen meter deep sinkhole at a time.


Editing Cat is Editing

I just finished the first round of serious rewrites for the novel I finished last year. It only took….*checks calender*….four months. Almost. Of course, a lot of that time was spent staring at the screen and waiting for the damn thing to magically fix itself. After the internet, I think self-editing manuscripts would be the best invention ever. Scrivener made the whole thing a lot easier, and if you don’t know what Scrivener is, you can find it here: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.html

I wrote a review of the software for The Scriptorium webzine a while back, in which I declare that it is awesome. And you’ll have to believe it, because it’s on the internet.

Anyway, I celebrated finished the editing yesterday with beer and jelly beans and capped it off by starting another sock. A proper toasting will take place when the fiance and I go out to dinner Monday. But in the meantime, I will leave you with this delightful image which kept me company during the long dark days of hacking my manuscript to pieces before putting it back together again.

Editing cat is editing

Editing cat is editing


Free Pattern Steal Worthy Hat

So after multiple requests on Ravelry for the pattern for my Stealworthy Hat, I present it here in all its glory. It’s easy, fast, looks good on just about everyone, and generates a lot of meaningful “gee, I wish I had one” comments. Be warned: make one and you will have to make more. Good thing it’s a fast knit, hey?

As per all free patterns, feel free to use this to make things for yourself or as gifts for those people who ask for one as a gift instead of just stealing yours. But don’t sell these hats or the pattern, or do any of the other asshole things that some people do, like claim you wrote it. Help reduce the incidence of random jackassery on the internet.


Shown in Knit Picks Shamrock yarn, in the colorway Doyle.

Steal-worthy Hat
© 2009 Stephanie Short

Materials: 2 skeins Knit Picks Shamrock in Doyle; 1 round sheet plastic canvas; stitch markers (optional)
Needles: 6mm 16” circular needle; 6mm dpns

Using circular needle, CO 60 stitches. Join in the round, being careful not to twist. Mark beginning of round.
Work in k1, p1 ribbing for 1 inch.
Increase Round: (k5, m1) all the way around. 72 stitches.
Work in stockinette stitch until piece measures 5” from CO.
Place markers: (k12, place marker) 5 times, k 12.
Shape crown:  Row 1:(slip marker, ssk, k to 2 stitches before next marker, k2tog) all the way around.
Row 2: k.
Repeat these two rows, switching to dpns when necessary, until 24 stitches left.
Next row: (ssk, k2tog) all the way around.
Next row: (k2tog) all the way around. 6 stitches remain. cut yarn, leaving 12” tail, and draw yarn through remaining stitches, pulling tight.

Using circular needle, pick up 32 stitches along CO edge of hat. Make sure right side (outside of hat) is facing you)
K 1 row.
Work short rows:
Row 2: P to 1 stitch from end, wrap and turn.
Row 3: K to 1 stitch from end, wrap and turn.
Row 4: P to 2 stitches before end, wrap and turn.
Row 5: K to 2 stitches before end, wrap and turn.
Continue on in this fashion until you are only working the middle 16 stitches of the brim. This leaves you with eight wrapped stitches on each side.

Next row: Work to 7 stitches before end, wrap and turn.
Next row: work to 7 stitches before end, wrap and turn.
Next row: work to 6 stitches before end, wrap and turn.
Next row: work to 6 stitches before end, wrap and turn.
Continue on in this fashion until you are once again working 32 stitches. You should have made a pocket for your plastic canvas. BO, leaving a long tail.

Cut a piece of plastic canvas to fit brim pocket. Make sure to curve the edge that will sit against the forehead. It should look like a crescent. Place the plastic canvas inside the pocket and stitch it closed using the long yarn tail left over from the BO.
If desired, tack the front of the hat to the brim approximately  1-1.5” from edge of brim. Wear hat and try to stop people from stealing it.