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As these things happen, I've gotten another technical article published over at SQLServerCentral.com. It's called The ABCs of Database Creation and is a free read (though it does require a registration at SSC, which is also free). This is intended to be the first in a series of ABC articles discussing the how-to of database design in Microsoft SQL Server.

It posted two days ago, so I'm a little behind on the notification. I hope you will stop by and take a gander at it. And, if you're feeling charitable, please stop by the forum boards and join the discussion about the article. I would really love to hear from you.
So as I come out the other side of the Speculative Fiction SouthEast con (and month end at work), it occurs to me that one of my panels (Speculating About Short Fiction. Should You Write It?) barely go through a third of the questions I had for it. Also, one of the panel authors mentioned that people came to our Short Fiction panel to learn about finding markets, which we defintely didn't get to cover in any depth.

As panel moderator, I've decided to post the panel questions in their entirety. Please, feel free to ask questions here. I'm going to ask the panel participants to stop by and give their own thoughts on these questions.

Introduction & What prompted your journey into being a short fiction author?

Brainstorming:

Starting the story: Why and how do we write the short story? Are there certain things (like submission calls) that prompt particular stories?

How do you determine if your short fiction should be a series or bunch of stand alone pieces?

Perfecting the story: At what point is it ready to sell to a publisher or self-publish?

The fear of beta readers: What can they do for you and is it worth the risk that one of them might "steal" your story?


Finding a Home:

Looking for the publisher: How do you determine what markets to approach and how to upsell your fiction?

Why choose a magazine over an anthology or vice versa? Consider the pros and cons of what rights are taken and for how long, royalty division, flat fee payments.

At what point does self-publishing vs. getting someone else to publish enter the picture?

Let's briefly discuss first publishing rights: See Neil Clarke's discussion at https://www.goodread...80-first-rightsfor where I'm heading.


Marketing / Sales:

Once published: How do you market & sell to the readers?

How does short fiction fit into the digital publishing world?

What is the one thing most writers don't take into consideration when marketing / selling their work?


Conclustion:

What's the best piece of advice you can give a new writer looking to break into short fiction?

For those who attended, I am terribly sorry we didn't get as much time as we really needed for this panel. I should have started off asking what people wanted to hear most about before launching into these questions. Next time, I will. Promise.

Anyway, please... ask away. What do you want to know about the whole thing? Which question interests you the most?

#SFWAPro

The new laptop (#technology)

The new laptop hath arrived. It has all sorts of weird Lenovo ware on it. So I created myself a restore disk, then clicked the Update Drivers thing, which promptly reflashed my BIOS. Then I ran Windows update and got 124 updates to download and installed. It just finished. Now I get to go through and set up all my power settings, etc. Not to mention update this puppy to Windows 10.

I might as well do that update before installing all my programs and such. I'm debating on a terabyte sized solid state drive for this puppy. Then I could duel boot between Windows 10 pro and Windows 7 business, set up my windows VMs and SQL Server for testing clusters and such. I've been wanting something powerful enough for HyperV or VMWare.

Anyone have suggestions for SSDs or virtual machine software?
So I've finally put together my fall viewing schedule. Assuming I have time (which I usually don't), here's everything I'd like to see. Usually, though, I have to pick and choose between the top 4-5.

Starting tonight!!

Saturday, September 19

9:00 p.m. - Doctor Who - BBC America


Monday, September 21

8:00 p.m. - Gotham - Fox

10:00 p.m. - Castle - ABC


Tuesday, September 22

8:00 p.m. - NCIS - CBS

8:00 p.m. - THE MUPPETS - ABC

9:00 p.m. - NCIS: New Orleans - CBS


Thursday, September 24

8:00 p.m. - HEROES REBORN - NBC


Saturday, September 26

9:30 p.m. - MARVEL'S GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY - Disney XD


Sunday, September 27

8:00 p.m. - Once Upon A Time - ABC

Tuesday, September 29

9:00 p.m. - Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - ABC

Wednesday, September 30

9:00 p.m. - Criminal Minds - CBS

Thursday, October 1

8:00 p.m. - Bones - Fox

9:00 p.m. - Sleepy Hollow - Fox

Tuesday, October 6

8:00 p.m. - The Flash - the CW

9:00 p.m. - iZombie - the CW

Wednesday, October 7

8:00 p.m. - Arrow - the CW

Monday, October 19

9:00 p.m. - Jane the Virgin - the CW

Monday, October 26

8:30 p.m. - SUPERGIRL - CBS

Sunday, November 1

8:00 p.m. - The Librarians - TNT

Thursday, November 5

10:00 p.m. - Elementary - CBS

Friday, November 20

12:01 p.m. - Jessica Jones - Netflix

? p.m. - The Man In The High Castle - Amazon

Turns out I did break the mouse touchpad on the laptop. Also possibly screwed the heat sink back in a little too tight. Lost the 6,Y,H, and N keys when I put the keyboard cable on wrong. Tried to reseat it last night and then lost half the keyboard. Had to give the SO's screwdriver back to him, though, because he carries it around with him.

SET GRIPE = ON;

We have to have a zillion screwdrivers in the house and I can't find a single one because he keeps moving them and not putting them back where they belong. Or he does put them where they belong, then moves the toolboxes under or behind things so I still can't find them. Of course I have computer sized screwdrivers at work, locked in my desk, but it never occurred to me to bring them home with me tonight and I forgot to take my laptop into the office today. So it's wait for him to get home or wait until tomorrow to see if I can reseat the keyboard cable correctly. I swear he does this sometimes just to make sure I don't forget that he can occasionally be useful. @=)

SET GRIPE = OFF;

I have been thinking for a while that I needed to get a new laptop. I'd been leaning toward a Surface Pro 3 (512 SS HD) which is 2k plus peripherials (even after yesterday's one day sale). The SO said I should look for something under $600. He decided the tech gods had spoken and convinced me to head out to Woot! where I found a Lenovo Thinkpad E455 with AMD A6-700 2.2 GHz, 4GB DDR3 RAM, and 500 GB SATA. It has a Windows 7 Pro OS (I currently use Business). I suppose I could either ghost over the OS or swap out the hard drives, then update all the drivers. I'm not sure how well that will work given Microsoft's reputation for killing OSes that don't match the hardware they were originally registered with. I guess I'll find out for sure though whether they really do such a thing.

On the other hand, I really really really want to get this up and running for a bit longer. Follower TheWayne suggested I troll Ebay for a parts laptop to see if I can get a new top cover assembly. I might do just do that and end up with more laptops than any one person really needs.

Anyway, girls, just wanted you to know that if I can take a laptop apart and put it back together again, so can you. It's not hard. Just annoying when you lose all the little screws because the canned air was facing the wrong way when you hit the trigger. And while I'm doing hardware repair, I'm also writing fiction and doing up a short SQL Server series on how to create a comic book database for SSC. Because that's just how we women roll.

Working in Trenches (#wit #technology)

I've know for a while that my travel laptop is dying. A few years ago, I had a heat problem. The bottom of the laptop kept heating up to sorching temperatures for no reason I could discern. So I installed some software, including a CPU temp monitor, and found out that my CPU was heating up beyond safe temps. The solution was to re-goo the heatsink. And I didn't exactly get the laptop cover put together correctly.

Fast forward to this past summer and the heat issue is back, along with an intermittent shutdown / blue screen o' death issue. I do a little research and find out that my fan / grill is probably gunked up with dust and what not. I pull up these instructions to take my laptop apart and what happens?

I break one of the motherboard cables (tiny little thing, the middle one in step 14), leaving part of it behind in the middle board.

Well, CRAP.

So now I have to order parts to get my laptop working again. And I should probably re-goo the heatsink again, just to be safe. Still, there's something to be said for taking apart the hardware and giving it a good cleaning. More people should do such things. It's cheaper than buying a new machine (I hope).

In the meantime, I've ordered some Android root-your-Nook SD cards to "upgrade" my Nook without voiding the warranty. I'm going to test both the N2A and the RootMyNook and see which one I like better. Hopefully this means I can use my Nook as a writing device when I'm traveling, and save myself some weight.

EDIT: Well, CRAP CRAP CRAP. Top cover assemblies are not sold as separate pieces, so it looks like I'm buying a new laptop. In the meantime, there is some hope that the cable I broke was to the mouse touch pad. As I have a USB mouse, I might still be able to salvage this laptop for a bit. So here goes nothing while trying to put it back together.
An interesting thing happened today. Weight Watcher's weekly topic revolved around superpowers (note, you have to be a member to read that link). Specifically, character strengths that could be used to help in one's weight loss journey. The interesting thing is they got it from a study by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman about what was right with people. The study is 800+ pages of book called Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. I haven't read the book myself, but what came out of that meeting was enough to ring a writing bell.

Which brings me to:

Da Prompt: What character strengths and virtues does your antagonist and your protagonist ? Below is a list of characteristics. Pick five for each of these characters (only one hero and one villain). Write a scene or short story with these two characters using at least two of the characteristics for both of them. Bonus points if you use all five without getting all "Talking Heads."

Da List: Creativity, Curiosity, Judgement, Love of Learning, Perspective, Bravery, Perseverance, Honesty, Zest, Love, Kindness, Social Intelligence, Teamwork, Fairness, Leadership, Forgiveness, Humility, Prudence, Self-Regulation, Appreciation, Gratitude, Hope, Humor, Spirituality. (Categories and definitions are linked)

Da Note: No wordcount for this one. This exercise is solely to teach yourself about your characters' good points. Why, yes, Virginia. Even villains are allowed to have good qualities. It makes for better bad guys.

——————————————-

Writers are frequently asked the question “Where do you get your ideas?” The question is a hard one to answer because we all find our inspiration in different places. Some people need to be given prompts, little snippets of ideas to spark their imaginations.

With that in mind, I am posting Writing Prompt Wednesdays. The goal is to inspire writers with exercises meant to train their skills and fire up the creative juices. There are rules. Most prompts will have associated word counts or style instructions. These are not meant to restrict the writer, but give the writer a chance to explore different ways of writing.

If you are an author in search of that one juicy idea, I hope these posts help. If you have ideas for writing prompts, please let me know.

Da Rules:

1) Anything goes so long as you stick to the spirit of the prompt.

2) I ask that if you do publish something based on one of my prompts, that you post the good news (and the link) in the comments of the prompt that inspired your success. You want other people to help you celebrate, right?

#sfwapro

I am looking for an artist to do cover art for a few of my stories. The most complicated one is my Steamwork story, Silk and Steam. I want a Victorian-version of a steampunk World War I battlefield with a clank or tank and a soldier or three. But the local artist(s) I know aren't too good with steampunk art.

So I'm putting the call out. If anyone is interested in doing some cover artwork, please let me know. Send me a private message on Live Journal or reply to me on Twitter (If I don't follow you, I will once you tweet me and we can exchange contact information).

Please come prepared with a resume (what work have you done before) and a portfolio (an online website is fine too) including people, objects, and backgrounds. Previous book cover art, if you've done some, is good too. I would definitely like to see some steampunk people and items, but don't forget about other fantasy and science fiction type work since this commission may lead to future projects if I really like your stuff.

One note: I don't mind digital artwork so long as the people look realistic and not plastic / video-gamish.

Two note: If you've never done a commission, but you have a portfolio that you think kicks butt and fulfills my requirements, please contact me anyway. I am willing to give new artists a chance too.

#sfwapro
This is is why women can't have nice things. Apparently it is dirty pool to keep men out of the room when it comes time for women to form their own groups. According to attorney Al Rava, who claims to have filed 150 sex discrimination lawsuits against California businesses, women-only technology groups and networking events are inherently "anti-male."

To which I cry bullshit.

I agree with the basic premise that women's rights isn't going anywhere until we get buy-in from the boys' club. It is an unfortunate fact of life that just decrying our lack of resources and opportunities will not get us those things until men are willing to fight alongside us. There are just too many male-oriented obstacles in our collective paths. Look at the U.S. Army Rangers, for instance. Women didn't get to go through Ranger school until after a male U.S. President supported the idea of women in combat-related jobs and a male U.S. Defense Secretary told the military to open up Ranger school applications. And even now the two women who graduated this month are going to spend their Army careers sitting around doing non-Ranger jobs until another man (probably a group of generals) says it's okay for the women who passed the training to be allowed in the group itself.

But the point of all-women tech groups and all-women conferences and all-women networking events is not to shut the men out of the process. It is to create a safe space where women can teach themselves and other women how to get into technology and how to fit into a male-dominated field. Technology has far too few women in the industry today. We get called names and lose promotion opportunities when we (doing as the guys do) advance our ideas and assert our ambitions. We don't get hired if we negotiate too hard for our salaries (but the guys do), and we miss out on opportunities if we play the nice girl card. Now, I'm exaggerating a little bit, but the trends are there.

Why shouldn't we have these safe spaces (for a little while at least)? Why shouldn't we take advantage of building our own networks (the Good Ol' Boys certainly have their own) and supporting each other?

On the other hand, we should remember that at the end of the day, we really do need male buy-in to break that glass ceiling. Otherwise all we're doing is singing "Let It Go" at a frozen mountainside with no one around to hear us.

One of many reasons I like the PASS Women in Technology group is that the men are encouraged to join. And several have. They don't see us as anti-male. On the contrary, they want to hear us sing, see us grow, and help make technology a better industry for everyone. So kudos to them!

But to Mr. Rava's point, I still call bullshit.
The SO, adorable thing that he is, has a habit of knocking on my office door to share cute cat moments, interesting news, and to see how I'm doing in general. The problem is, half the time he's interupting research or writing time. Much as I love him, he was one reasons I would leave the house to write (back when Borders existed and, after it closed, when it was easy getting a table at the local Starbucks). It's hard to concentrate on my work when someone always dropping by to chat.

Finally, last weekend, I told the SO I needed one of those sliding business signs that I could customize to say "Do Not Disturb" and "Free to Chat." When he realized why I wanted the sign, he dutifully took me around to all the office supply stores looking for such a critter. Unfortunately, we couldn't find it. Being the clever over-engineering-type that he is, he offered me an alternative: a couple of leds outside the door that I can flip to show my status.

IMAG0570.jpg

DO NOT DISTURB


IMAG0571.jpg
FREE TO CHAT


He finished it this weekend. The lights only stay on if I have the office light on. The pics are a little blurry, but you get the idea. So happy. Will be even more happy if it actually works.

#SFWAPro

What office hacks have you done?

Brandie's Stories

The Monster of Mogahnee Bay (reprint ebook, Coming Soon, Musa Publishing)

The Drunkard's Progress (Coming Soon, Musa Publishing)

Slipping Thru the Cracks, Latchkeys #7 (Sept 2012 Crazy 8 Press)

Legend of the Beemen (June 2012 Musa Publishing)

Feast of the Torn (upcoming Buzzy Magazine)

The Hunt for Liberty Jones (Space Tramps, Flying Pen Press)

The Tales We'll Tell Tomorrow (Shadowrun: Street Legends, Catalyst Game Labs)

Silk and Steam (The Ladies of Trade Town, HarpHaven Press)

Love Me Knot (A Lady Katya Story, Storyportals.com)

Another Day, Another Labor (A Career Guide to Your Job in Hell)

Locke-Down (Blue Kingdoms: Mages & Magic)

The Rose Garden (Shadowrun: Corporate Guide-Mitsuhama Fiction, Catalyst Game Labs)

The Monster of Mogahnee Bay (Blue Kingdoms: Shades & Specters)

Just My Luck (Pirates of the Blue Kingdoms)

Two for the Price of One (Transformers: Legends, iBooks Inc.)

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