ideatrash

Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

Writing Music Review: Frozen Synapse and Frozen Synapse: Red

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I have different music that I listen to when I write or edit.  And soundtracks - especially game soundtracks - really fit that bill nicely.  I'll be talking about some of them here.

Frozen Synapse is a squad turn-based strategy game, which means that I love it and suck horribly at it at the same time.  It's got a pretty compelling backstory of its own, as well as a visual aesthetic that I really enjoy.

But that's not why we're here.  We're looking at the music for both the OST and for the expansion, Frozen Synapse: Red.

I'd like to call these dark minimalistic melodic electronica.  It doesn't quite hit the "chiptune" level of electronica (which honestly tends to irritate the crap out of me), but there's a heavy synth element here. 

But there's also a strong world element as well, and that helps keep it from simply being yet another techno anthem.  I really pull this out if I'm writing anything that is modern day or onward, and if it's not straight out-and-out happy.

Both the OST and the Red expansion are available from the artist's Bandcamp page ($10 and $6 respectively) and are well worth the price.  And like all Bandcamp artists, you can take a good listen first to make sure you agree with me. (And since I'm writing these well before they go live, I'm hoping the embeds show up properly...)




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I'll be at Origins next week: Come say hello!

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Welp, it's super-duper official (on page #29); this time next week I'll be at Origins Game Fair as part of the Library - a gathering of authors (who are also gamers) talking about telling a good story.

Which makes more sense than you'd think.  After all, I got into this by wandering into the Writer's Symposium at GenCon... not because I wanted to be a writer (or publisher!), but because I wanted to be a better storyteller... as a GM and player.

(That and I ended up publishing a book with essentially the same premise...)

The panels I'm on are below;  I'll be down in the dealer's room (where all the other authors are) for most of the remainder of the time.  Come by, say hi, talk shop, or generally chit-chat!
  • Thu Jun 4 15:00 – 15:50 The Short Story and You: C223
  • Fri Jun 5 13:00 – 13:50 Writing From A Feminist Perspective: C223
  • Sat Jun 6 10:00 – 10:50 Worldbuilding 101: C223
  • Sat Jun 6 13:00 – 13:50 Social Media 101: C224
  • Sat Jun 6 16:00 – 16:50 Flash Fiction: C223
  • Sat Jun 6 17:00 – 17:50 Diversity in Speculative Fiction: C223
  • Sun Jun 7 11:00 – 11:50 Crowdfunding Your Novel: C222 
I look forward to seeing you there!

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A Unique Opportunity for Origins and GenCon

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There is an unique opportunity coming up for two of the largest gaming conventions to demonstrate their commitment to diversity.

The convention themselves.

Let me explain.

Both Origins and GenCon are, at their core, gaming conventions. As a result, their schedules are filled with many small (4-10 people) events. A vast majority of these events (e.g. games) are set up by volunteers instead of being created by a central concom. And the vast majority of people who attend these events preregister.

That means that these conventions already have a nearly-complete database of what people attend what events, without having to expend a single extra bit of work.

From this point, a skilled sociologist (and if anyone from GAMA or the GenCon board is reading, I mean a sociologist, don't skimp here) can get some fascinating data. Presuming just knowing the attendee's gender1, it would be fantastic to see if any of the following impact attendance rates:

  • Type of game (RPG/CCG/Wargame)
  • Gendered name of GM
  • Franchise material or not
  • Correlation with words used in the description
And that's just for starters.

There's an obvious reason why the game manufacturers and sponsors would like this information - they would love to know who their hard-core consumers are. But I'd challenge them (and event organizers) to consider that these (and other) variables are causative rather than reactive.

Look at the descriptions (and characteristics) of events that draw greater diversity... and see how you can incorporate those into your event to signal your own commitment to diversity.

Even if they're already gathering this information privately, this is the sort of thing where the results (interpreted by a sociologist) would benefit the whole community when shared publicly.


1 I cannot remember offhand what demographic data both conventions directly ask for, but it is quite possible to at least code for gender using first names, which they do have.

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All Social Media is Not Equal: A Quick Lesson From Buffer

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Because I tend to find, read, and share stuff in fits and spurts, I use Buffer in order to space out the things I want to share. 

Because it's not really a business decision for me (I just don't want to overwhelm everyone on social media), my usage of Buffer is pretty organic.  I had the same schedules on both Facebook and Twitter, and most of the posts were things that I read elsewhere and then shared.

But today, while tweaking my accounts, I saw that Buffer has a feature to let them to try to optimize your schedule.  So I took a look.

Facebook

Twitter

Yes, I realize those "engagement" numbers aren't huge, that's not the point. Notice how hugely different the shapes of the graphs are.

The people who follow (and interact) with me on Twitter start around eight and check about once an hour or so.  Facebook gets the most traction very clearly before work, at lunch, and then in the late evening.

This data is really interesting because there was no real attempt to seed, A/B test, or otherwise manipulate the variables.  It's just me going about my day the same way on two different social media networks...

...but getting very, very different results.

And that is fascinating.


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Writing Music Review: Deathmøle

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I have different music that I listen to when I write or edit.  And soundtracks - especially game soundtracks - really fit that bill nicely.  I'll be talking about some of them here.

Deathmøle is a fictional band by Jeph Jacques, originally spawned by his webcomic Questionable Content.  

Deathmøle has released several albums over the years, nearly all instrumental (or mostly instrumental).  They're very, very definitely metal... but in a kind of weird way.  They're not thrash, or black, or prog... but definitely have elements of all of the above.  Rhythmic chord progression?  Yup.  Speedy chords?  Yup?  Dark minor keys?  Yup.

But as I mentioned at the top, what's great about this is that the songs are great to write to.  They're melodic, but they're also rhythmic in a way that lets part of your brain just fiddle around with that while you're busy actually writing instead of listening entirely to the music.

You can get Deathmøle albums on Bandcamp for $5-$10 bucks each.  I highly recommend Meade's Army as a good starter;  you can preview the tracks easily using the widget on the webpage or below.





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Pay for a novel-writing course! Get a certificate (but apparently, not a novel....)!

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I swear, sometimes I wish I didn't have ethics.

Because then I could guilt-free do crap like this:


This $331.81 value (snarf choke cough) can be had for only $18 with a Groupon...

...and where do I even start with this?  I mean, I think that writing classes, seminars, and conferences are fabulous resources.  I think that distance learning is a viable mechanism for teaching things.

But damn, son.

I'm not sure which has my undies more in a wad:

  • That it's originally valued at over $300
  • That it's discounted on Groupon to $18
  • That the assessment has nothing to do with producing a novel, focusing instead on "(quizzes and written questions), which will be marked and evaluated for feedback. Successful completion of the course results in certificates." 
This sounds like a giant waste of time to me (spend your $300 on a real writer's conference, or spend $18 on On Writing and Booklife, IMHO), but if you insist, here's the link to the Groupon and the course at the "Centre of Excellence".1

And if you do pony up the money, I'd be interested in hearing your reactions.

Me, though, I'd rather spend the money on coffee and the time writing.



1 Just once, I want to see the "Centre for Good Enough". Just once.


#SFWAPRO

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Authors, Editors, and Publishers: You should have an about.me nameplate page - even if you have your own website

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As I mentioned back in 2013, there is no reason that you as an author should rely on Facebook as a primary author page.  And if you want more options (and you should) check out that post for more solutions and options.

As I pointed out, there are several services that provide you the opportunity to make a "nameplate page", but I still think about.me is the easiest to set up and perhaps the best if you're not tech savvy.  (And even if you are, the basic plan is free, so why not?).

Let me show you what mine looks like (you can see the live version at https://about.me/stevensaus ):


There's actually quite a bit more below the fold - a representative quote, where I'm located, and some of my other work.

about.me provides several things that are really nice which you can see in the above image.  It has links to my most recent blog posts, as well as links to my major social media (and then some) sites.

It also looks really slick on mobile (something you absolutely must be aware of!) with absolutely no work on your part:


And with the addition of the new app "Intro" (iOS / Android), it's possible to send digital business cards very easily to someone based on thier phone number or e-mail address.  You can customize what information is shared;  mine looks like this:



Again, this is all from the free version!  It takes literally minutes to set up, and again, even if you already have an existing web presence, it helps fill up the first page of search results with legit information about you.

I highly recommend about.me1 as an easy and vital tool for authors, editors, and publishers... and really just about anyone.  Check it out.


1 Those are referral links throughout; please note that I recommended about.me back in 2013 before they had referral links!

#SFWAPRO

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The worst fear is the one you don't call a fear

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I knew a woman who only had sex when she had been drinking.

This held true regardless of whether she was married or not, in a "serious" relationship or not.  When she had a drink or two, she was very interested in sex.  Otherwise... not at all.

I knew a man who let himself get into relationships where he, by his own admission, wasn't really interested.

This held true regardless of how long it had been between relationships.  If he found someone who was interested in him, he'd pursue the relationship.  It got him into at least one marriage where he didn't really want to, but shrugged and went along with it.

I knew a woman who critized her partners whenever things were going well.

This held true regardless of whether or not things were going well in whatever relationship she was in.  The more interested she was, the more emotionally invested she was, the more she'd talk about her partner's faults - both to them and to others.

I knew a man who made everything around him worse.

This held true regardless of whether or not the people around him were treating him well, or the stability of the situation.  He'd had so many bad experiences as a child that when things were going well, it felt wrong.

All of these people I've known1 strongly argued that there was nothing wrong with them.  That the problems and things happening to them were caused by outside events, other people.

They're wrong.  It's clear to see from the outside, as so many things are.2

She was afraid of being seen as having a sex drive - and the negative labels our society puts on women who enjoy sex.

He was afraid of being alone (or afraid that he wasn't good enough for anyone) - and so latched on to anyone who seemed like they would accept him.

She was afraid of commitment and disappointment - and so ended up creating situations and dynamics to keep herself at a safe distance.

He was afraid of feeling abandoned and hurt - and so lashed out pre-emptively.

We all have something - or many somethings - like this in ourselves.  While it's easier to see in others, it's often hard as hell to see in ourself.  But without doing so, we run the risk of making our lives worse... or even creating exactly that which we fear.

Figuring out that fear - identifying it and acknowledging it - is the first step to finding out what's driving our behaviors and making ourselves better people.

Take some time to look at something that's been a problem in your life.

What are you afraid of with it?  Afraid of about yourself, about what others might think, about what might happen?

Then think:  What behaviors are being driven by that fear?

Once you start to get a hold on that, you can actually start to change the behaviors that you need to change in order to make your life better.


1 Please remember my artistic license policy.  I've changed details in these accounts, so if you think I'm thinking about you, that says more about you than me.
2 Of course this is oversimplified. I think this is key to figuring out the complicated stuff, as I point out later.

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Writing Music Review: Strike Suit Zero OST

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I have different music that I listen to when I write or edit.  And soundtracks - especially game soundtracks - really fit that bill nicely.  I'll be talking about some of them here.

The first one I'd like to introduce you to is the Strike Suit Zero OST (Amazon | CD Baby | Google).

The game is a futuristic space flight sim (with some twists), but that only tells you that this isn't a great soundtrack for your epic fantasy.  But anything else - modern action, science fiction, or modern or futuristic horror - this soundtrack delivers the goods.



The main theme (embedded above) really gives you a good sense of what this soundtrack is like.  World music with a slight futuristic bent predominates these tracks, and just enough forward momentum and lyric-like stylings to keep things moving forward, but without the distractions that actual lyrics give.  The story is just creepy enough that tracks get dark and disturbing ("The Mind in the Machine" comes to mind) without trying to be scary... so you don't get jump-scares from the music, but it definitely puts you in a tense state of mind.

This is definitely a go-to OST for me when writing.   Highly recommended.

And the game's pretty sweet, too.

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...and sometimes the reasons are strange.

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Sometimes things happen for reasons that aren't obvious until well after the fact.

And if the reasons are just us post-hoc rationalizing things... they're still reasons.  They're still good.  And they're still worthwhile.

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Shawndra Jones: Excellent photographer in the SW Ohio region

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I realized my business cards still made it look like my hair... well, wasn't the stylish silver that it is now.  (Work with me on this, folks.)  So I knew I needed some new headshots for profile pictures and the like.

I had recently met Shawndra L. Jones, and was really impressed by her smarts and style.  So I asked her to do the photoshoot for me.

She was super easy to work with, and struck a natural balance between her photographic eye and what I wanted for the images.  And the price was very reasonable.

I cannot recommend her enough to anybody needing a photo shoot (whether for senior pictures, headshots, or damn near anything else) in the Southwest Ohio region.

I mean, she made me look good.  Imagine what she'll do for you.

You can contact her at the e-mail address below (sorry it's an image; I don't want spambots deluging her).


And now, some examples of her work:





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Publication News: Story acceptance for the Diverse Wierd Western Project vol 2.

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I am pleased to announce that my story "Coyote, Spider, Bat" will be included in the second volume of the Diverse Wierd Western project (no official title yet) from Wolfsinger Publications.

The table of contents of this book is simply amazing, and I am honored to be in such esteemed company:

  • Saladin Ahmed - Mister Hadj's Sunset Ride
  • Rachel Manija Brown - Steel Rider
  • Tobias Buckell - Sundown
  • Vivian Caethe - The Company Men
  • Aliette de Bodard - Memories in Bronze, Feathers, and Blood
  • Edward M. Ed Erdelac - The Dust Devils windmill excerpt (The Merkabah Rider)
  • Gemma Files - A Feast for Dust
  • Sacchi Green - Jessebel
  • Ernest Hogan - Lupita's Hand
  • Nicole Kurtz - Kq'
  • Rebecca McFarland Kyle - A New Beginning
  • Ken Liu - What I Assume You Shall Assume
  • Bryan Nickelberry - Unexpected Discoveries
  • Misha Nogha - Omiyahcîs
  • Sandra Odell - Samaritan
  • Rie Sheridan Rose - The Most Alarming Incident at Doc Adele's Laundry
  • Elizabeth Ann Scarborough - Extended Family
  • David Lee Summers - Reckoning at the Alamo
  • Don Webb - Half-Dime Adventure
  • Steven M Saus - Coyote, Spider, Bat

As I get more details and a cover, I'll share them with you all.  I know this is a book I am going to be interested in reading!

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I Won't Publish Some Authors... but not because of what they believe.

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I got in a bit of hot water the last time this came up, but it's worth mentioning and discussing again.

There are some people I am not going to publish... no matter how good their ideas or stories are.

It would be cheap and easy to say it's because I disagree with them politically... but that's not true. There's plenty of people I have (and continue to) work with who hold different political or social ideas than myself.

The people I'm not going to work with are those whose actions and behaviors would damage my reputation... because they are (or have been) unprofessional assholes.

I have a respect policy, after all.

The list of people I will not work with is pretty damn short (fewer than five people) - and there's at least one person who thinks they're on it because of their beliefs, when really I have bigger problems with their lack of ethical treatment of writers and readers. (You know who you are, mate. Don't make me name you.)

But again - and I can't stress this enough - I don't particularly care what an author's political or social stance is.

But if they make assholes out of themselves in an unprofessional way that would damage my reputation by association with them... then I don't want anything to do with them.

Not because of ideology.

Because that is bad business.

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Word Porn Quotes

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I originally snagged these from this and this imgur album; the original source (though not the images) seems to be the Word Porn tumblr.

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And you shall know them by their works.

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There are two sides in our current culture wars.

But don't decide which side is which by their names.

You will know them by their actions.

One side works so that everyone should have an opportunity to do something - get married, be nominated for an award, pee in whatever bathroom, be on television.

The other side already can - and has - done all those things.1  That side works so that only their group can get married, be nominated for an award, pee in a bathroom, or be on television.

Forget the labels for a second.

Are you working to give more people the same chances and opportunities... or to deny chances and opportunities to someone else?


1 This part cannot be emphasized enough.

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Some quick ways to get me to block/unfollow you on social media

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TL;DR:  If you spam my ass with things about your book or tag me in events, videos, and other things I'm not actually involved with, then the odds are good that I'm going to block you.


Entering the busiest part of my convention season means I'm meeting a lot of new folks.

Which means more and more social media connections.

So I'm going to point you to a couple of key posts that you probably should be aware of if you've decided to interact with me on Facebook, Twitter, or whereverthehell online.

You should Grok Twitter (and Social Media):
http://ideatrash.net/2014/01/grokking-twitter-why-of-social-media.html

You should check out Wendig's rules that govern his online existence

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2015/02/23/the-social-media-rules-that-govern-my-slapdash-online-existence/

and his 25 Things Writers Should Know About Social Media

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/08/23/25-things-writers-should-know-about-social-media/

But if you don't read those, most importantly - and I mean most importantly - if you spam my ass with things about your book or tag me in events, videos, and other things I'm not actually involved with, then the odds are good that I'm going to block your ass.

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Help Get Computers To Those In Need - And Keep The Planet Green, Too

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Motor City Free Geek takes old computers and electronics folks were going to throw away and then either refurbishes them or disposes of them environmentally.

They're a purely volunteer 501(c)(3) organization currently trying to raise money via StartSomeGood in order to expand their operation so they can help more people enter the digital age.

Learn a lot more about them - or make your tax-deductible donation at http://startsomegood.com/mcfggreen1
 
If you aren't able to donate directly (or even if you are!), please help spread the word through a tweet or Facebook share.

This is a limited time thing (two weeks left) so help them out right now!

Thanks!



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