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scalzifeed July 31 2014, 18:36

Starred Review of Lock In at Booklist



It’s up at the magazine’s Web site now (albeit behind a paywall), so I can acknowledge it here: Lock In has received its third starred review, this time from Booklist. I won’t quote the whole thing (read it at the Web site if you have access, or in the August 2014 print edition), but here’s a bit I particularly like:

Another brilliant novel from a writer who has quickly become one of the genre’s most successful and intriguing practitioners.

I like the word “another” in that, I have to say.

I’m basically gobsmacked to have received three starred reviews for Lock In (the other two being from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus); that’s the first time I’ve had that happen. I hope you guys like it as much as the reviewers have so far.

theljstaff posted to lj_feedback July 31 2014, 15:27

Return of Writer's Block

Hi Everyone!

Do you remember Writer's Block, the question of the day that helped inspire your creativity? Well, we are bringing it back! We want to preserve the original idea of Writer's Block, of course, but we also want to increase the focus on writing.

Before we get too far along in restoring it though, we'd like to hear your feedback! Previously, the Writer's Block was a community and a module on the homepage which allowed you to post answers to your journal. Did you get more use out of it on the homepage or within the community? Did you answer mostly through the comments or did you use it to start new blog posts via the homepage module?

For the new Writer's Block, we would like to post a question every weekday except for Friday. On Fridays we'd like to try something a little different and feature a special writing prompt that is designed not only to spark your imagination, but to hone specific writing skills such as character development, tone, or description of setting. What are your thoughts on adding this type of prompt?

Thank you so much in advance! We are very excited about the renewal of this feature!
scalzifeed July 31 2014, 15:06

Old Man’s War and Transfolk



Note: This entry will have spoilers about my book Old Man’s War – which, inasmuch as the book has been published for nearly ten years now probably shouldn’t been seen as spoilers anymore but never mind that now — so if you haven’t read Old Man’s War and don’t want a relatively important aspect of it spoiled for you, here’s the takeaway: Yes, there are transfolk in the OMW universe; no, it’s not a problem for the CDF/Colonial Union that they are trans. There, now you can go ahead and skip the rest of this entry.

Now, then, for everyone else:

I have been asked several times (and just yesterday, in fact, via e-mail), what happens to transfolk who become part of the Colonial Defense Force in the Old Man’s War books. To recap, the CDF gets its soldiers by recruiting 75-year-olds from Earth and giving them new, super-awesome bodies that are based on — but not created solely out of — their own DNA. Because the creation of the bodies is only partly based on the recruit’s original genetic information, would it be possible to for transfolk to specify which gender they would like their new body to be?

This is a really interesting question. Let me try to answer it.

Let me note that with respect to Old Man’s War the book, I did not at all think about what would happen with transfolk who join the CDF as I was writing it. Why? Short answer: Straight white male who didn’t know any transfolk at the time, so it was not something in my consciousness. So everything from here on out is me adding commentary to the original text — but since it’s from me, the author, we can consider it canonical.

(Also, note: I am not 100% up on trans-related terms, so if I use terms incorrectly, it’s ignorance and not malice; please let me know in the comments and I’ll edit.)

1. First off, and to be clear, there would be no bar to transfolk joining the CDF, because why would there be? The entrance requirements are a) you’ve signed up, b) you come from what are in the book rich, developed countries (which mostly align with the current slate of rich, developed countries). So yes, there would be transfolk among the recruits.

2. By default, CDF bodies come in classically male and classically female forms. Note that thanks to genetic engineering, etc, the performance capabilities of both male and female forms are equal, so the gender presentation is strictly for the psychological comfort of the recruit, i.e., you’re (usually) used to being male or female, so you get to stay that way when you transfer into your new body.

3. Because the body sorting is a matter of psychological comfort, to the extent that the CDF knows about a transperson’s gender presentation, it’ll sort them that way. So, for example, a post-op transperson will be sorted into their post-op gender presentation, regardless of DNA profile, because that’s the clear preference for that person.

4. What about pre-op, genderfluid, intersex or transfolk who have not made their preferred gender public knowledge? The CDF initially sorts into male/female by best appoximation and then after transfer follows up for additional modification. The CDF is an organization that can grow back limbs and organs with minimal effort (for them; it’s slightly more traumatic to the person growing them back), so modifying bodies for the psychological comfort of the person inside is a relatively trivial matter. Most of this can be handled before the recruits get to basic training, although particular in the case of transfolk who are not public, much would be contingent on them telling the CDF doctors and technicians.

5. And no, the CDF wouldn’t care about the gender presentation of the recruits. What it would care about is them being willing to fight. You’ll fight? Great, here’s your Empee. Go kill an alien. Thanks.

6. Would there be some other recruits who would have a problem with transfolk? It’s possible; the CDF lets anyone in. The basic training drill sergeants will be happy to tell them to get over it. If they did not (indeed if they did not get over any general bigotry) the results for them would be grim.

7. Could a CDF soldier decide to change their gender presentation during the term of service? Sure, why not? All CDF bodies have the same baseline capabilities and identity can be verfied via BrainPal, so there would be no penalty or confusion on either score. Are you following orders? Killing aliens? Great — change your presentation however you like.

8. Likewise, when a CDF soldier leaves service, they can specify the gender presentation of the body they’ll be transfered into. Because, again, why wouldn’t they?

Short form: The CDF is happy to let transfolk be who they are because it makes them comfortable with themselves — and that makes them better soldiers, which is ultimately what the CDF cares about.

With regard to the Old Man’s War series, I have not intentionally written about transfolk in it (some of my characters may have been trans but did not tell me about it), but there’s no reason why I could not. So maybe I will at some point, if there’s a way to do so that doesn’t look like me transparently trying to gather cookies to myself. But regardless of whether I’ve written transfolk into my books, there are, canonically speaking, transfolk in the OMW universe. Because why wouldn’t there be.

tomatonation July 31 2014, 14:11

Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame: The Fugitive



Photo: Warner Bros.

Our next PFM nominee comes from Bill D., and it's a great one: The Fugitive.

Harrison Ford's spluttered "Ppprrovasic" is one of my favorite things in film. What's Bill D. got to say?

My favorite Poppy-Fields Movie has long been, and continues to be, The Fugitive. I've seen at least parts of it probably 100 times, but I still leave it on whenever I encounter it on cable (which is frequently). It's the perfect background movie, but I'll also still sit and watch it through to the end.

  • lengthy? A comfortable 2 hours and 10 minutes.
  • familiar/frequent? I think it's been on cable every weekend for at least the last year. Ion seems to run the hell out of it.
  • classic/award-winner? Tommy Lee Jones's well-deserved Best Supporting Actor win, but I also forgot that this [was nominated for] Best Picture (as well as Best Sound and Best Cinematography).
  • "Greetings, Professor Falken" (big payoff/long-shot victory a la WarGames)? "I didn't kill my wife." "I know it Richard. I know it."
  • "Wanna have a catch?" (Pavlovian tear-jerk; anything with dads opens the ducts for this guy)? Not really any tear-jerking per se, but I always love when Gerard asks how the boy's doing, and Julianne Moore says, "Saved his life."
  • quote-fest? "I didn't kill my wife!" / "I don't care!"; "Where's he going in an ambulance?"; "every henhouse, outhouse and doghouse" etc.
  • caper-ish or -adjacent camaraderie? It's very satisfying to watch Kimble be such an excellent detective, with the fake ID, and tracking down the killer through his prosthesis, and the liver samples.
  • "forget you, melon farmer" (you own it, but will still watch bowdlerized TV verzh) Not a lot of cursing on this one, but I own the DVD and the Blu-ray and I've probably watched each once, versus the 8,000 times on TV (with commercials).

Thanks, Bill. I'm a hundred behind you on this; I love everything about this movie. The Chicaaaaago accent on the landlady's son, the "hinky" conversation, "I'll call the press" / "no press!" / "no press," Krabbe as the villain — it's solid entertainment. Great pacing, great performances, and a Hey, It's That Guy!-fest of epic proportions.

Bill: You've won a shirt from the TN store; thanks so much for submitting.

The Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame is here. To nominate your own PFM, email bunting at tomatonation dot com with a rundown of the criteria and your argument for why it deserves a cushion. If I use your entry, free loot shall be thine.

xiphias July 31 2014, 14:10

I've got a pretty darned good nephew.

My nephew's been spending the week with my parents, his grandparents, but I had him for yesterday. I had a great time, and I think he did, too. We played with the cats, went to the diner for lunch, made ice cream, played some MtG, and played a few computer games (although not too many: he was grounded for using his iPad later than bedtime then lying about it, but, as his uncle, I was given permission to un-ground him for a limited period of time when we were together) -- there's a CRPG version of Shadowrun out that I introduced him to, and he was also showing me some of the stuff he's been doing in Minecraft.

Anyway, I was noticing something about myself.

You may have noticed that I'm really down on overprotective parents. I think that kids today are not given enough freedom, and their parents aren't preparing them for adult life. When I was nine, I was allowed to go down to the park on my own and stay out until dark; when I was in junior high and high school, I was allowed to go into Harvard Square on my own to hang out, and stuff like that.

Drew's fourteen, and his parents give him an appropriate amount of freedom. He's at least as smart as I was at his age, which is maybe not a very high bar, but I turned out okay anyway.

The thing is -- I totally wanted to protect him from absolutely everything in the whole world. I didn't want to let him out of my sight all day, because, y'know HE'S A LITTLE TINY BABY AND I HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF HIM.

So, yeah. I get it now. I get why parents get overprotective. Intellectually, I know that he's old enough to have a certain amount of freedom, but it would be SO HARD for me to give him an appropriate amount if I were his parent. At least the point of me having him was to spend the whole day together, so we were SUPPOSED to spend the whole day together the way that we did. But, yeah.

I get it.
scalzifeed July 31 2014, 13:36

The Big Idea: Joshua Roots



Reponsibility! It’s a drag, right? Not so, argues Joshua Roots, who explains how responsibility, and all the things around it, inform his latest novel, Summoned Chaos.


Growing up, life worked pretty hard to instill in me a sense of responsibility for my actions. Don’t eat your veggies? No dessert. Forget to call Mom if you’re going to miss curfew? Enjoy staying home for the next week or so. Ask two girls out to the same dance? Good luck getting a date the rest of your 7th-grade year, pal.

As a kid, responsibility was a burden, something imposed on me from the outside. Things like cleaning my room, eating veggies, and monogamy were crosses I had to bear. If I goofed up, I paid the price. Someone external (usually my folks) kept me in line, ensuring I stepped up to the plate for the responsibilities assigned to me or ones I’d volunteered for.

During those formative years, I found a kindred spirit in Peter Parker. He was just a normal teenager until a radioactive spider gave him all these amazing powers. Not to mention the burdens that went along with them. As Uncle Ben drilled into him: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

I didn’t know it back then, but that was only half of the equation.

Over time, the sense of responsibility became something that I realized through my own actions. Rather than my parents holding me accountable, I was doing it myself. Missing a homework assignment in high school or college meant I had to own up to my actions alone. Same with being flippant with a girl’s heart. Some of those lessons were learned the hard way, through poor grades or tears wept. But in the end, it was my choice to attend those classes or account for another person’s feelings.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but one day I found myself paying my mortgage, filling out a grocery list, and making my bed. Voluntarily. And you know what? That was pretty cool. More important, it was empowering. Keeping the lights on and food in the fridge may seem boring and mundane, but it was symbolic. I wasn’t merely surviving, I was building my future. Commanding my life.

Then I joined the Marines and that concept was ratcheted up to eleven. Responsibility wasn’t a burden, but a gift. Just as lives were entrusted to me, so too was mine entrusted to others. That responsibility became one of the greatest rewards because when I eventually moved on, I walked away with the strength to carve out my own future and the conviction to face whatever challenges came my way.

Becoming responsible as an adult, while not always fun, does carry a significant amount of power. We begin to control our own destinies, make choices, and learn to deal with the consequences—good or bad—of those actions. More important, the responsibilities that we take on allow us to choose which paths we want to navigate through life. No matter what, those paths are filled with challenges. Accepting those challenges and working to overcome them empowers us. It teaches us we can do better, maybe even become more than we think we can be. It gives us the confidence to move forward.

The Big Idea for Summoned Chaos, Book 2 in The Shifter Chronicles, centers on this theme. The main character, Marcus, is making the transition from being begrudgingly accountable for his actions to willingly accepting them. He’s not only dealing with the fallout of Book 1, but also realizing that there is a certain amount of power that comes from bearing the load of his family name, of serving the governing council of his magical society, and of being responsible for someone other than himself.

Rather than responsibility being a burden he must carry, Marcus, much like the rest of us, comes to realize that it is a weapon to win life’s battles. He is no longer a “lone wolf” caring for his own needs. Instead, he’s taking on the responsibilities of a team, his loved ones, and the defenseless humans he’s sworn to protect against paranormal creepy-crawlies. By doing so, he gains the strength and confidence to face the troubles ahead of him.

And trust me, there are a lot of them.

So, Uncle Ben was right: “With great power comes great responsibility”. But he forgot to mention the other side of the coin: “With great responsibility comes great power.”

Summoned Chaos: Amazon| Barnes and Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks

Visit the author’s website and blog. Follow him on Twitter.

cakewrecks July 31 2014, 13:20

Cake Mix-a-lot


In honor of Mutt's Day, and the Dog Days of Summer:


I like cake MUTTS and I cannot lie!


No other pastry beats this guy!


When a cake comes out like a pile of doggie waste


Or has Sliding-Frosting-Face

It gets SUNG!


Wanna say "enough"


'Cuz you know that spelling's "Ruff!"


Doggie got wrecked.

Happy Mutt's Day, everyone!


I'd feel like a heel if I didn't unleash a pack of thanks on Heather W., Nicole O., Erin R.., Catherine S., Sara S., Lysa R., & Thomas R. for taking pictures rather than going barking mad.


Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

seth_s_blog July 31 2014, 10:17

Trading favors


Those people who owe you—because you mowed their lawn, drove carpool, promoted their site, gave them advice, listened to you in the middle of the night—they will probably let you down.

Favors aren't for trading, they wear out, they fade away, they are valued differently by the giver and the receiver.

No, the best favors are worth doing for the doing, not because we'll ever get paid back appropriately.

ysabetwordsmith July 31 2014, 08:08

Poem: "The Making of a Man"

This poem came out of the May 2014 Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It also fills the "tickling" square in my 10-6-13 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Danso thread in the Polychrome Heroics series.

Read more...Collapse )
ysabetwordsmith July 31 2014, 07:03

Hurt/Comfort Bingo Card 7-31-14

Below is my second card for the 2014 [community profile] hc_bingo fest. This fest encourages the creation of boundary-pushing material that explores what happens when things go horribly wrong and people actually care about each other. Remember, things always go wrong; what matters is how you deal with that. Some of the content may be NSFW. Read the FAQ and rules first. The signup post is here. (See all my 2014 bingo cards.)

I thought this might be an effective way to attract some new readers. It's also useful for developing some of my more danger-prone series.

If you'd like to sponsor a particular square, especially if you have an idea for what character, series, or situation it would fit -- talk to me and we'll work something out. This is a good opportunity for those of you with favorites that don't always mesh well with the themes of my monthly projects. I may still post some of the fills for free, because I'm using this to attract new readers; but if it brings in money, that means I can do more of it. That's part of why I'm crossing some of the bingo prompts with other projects, such as the Poetry Fishbowl.

Underlined prompts have been filled.


Stockholm syndrome self-harm unrequited pining coma stalkers
fever / delirium confession in desperate situation forced to participate in illegal / hurtful activity dungeons septicemia / infected wounds
accidental mating for life torture WILD CARD insomnia cursed
prostitution eating disorders humiliation comfort food or item first transformation
counseling difficult / unexpected pregnancy grief loss of limb / limb function undeserved reputation

steamy_kitchen July 31 2014, 06:51

Giveaway: $100 Amazon Gift Card



Over 350 Steamy Kitchen Giveaways to date!

Can you believe it? We have had over 350 giveaways here at Steamy Kitchen so we thought it would be a great time to celebrate! So we are giving away a $100 gift card from Amazon.com so you can buy yourself a nice gift! See how nice we are.


Things you could get on amazon for $100

Amazon has a lot of cool stuff to choose from! The only problem will be trying to narrow your choices down to just one or two!

This giveaway is sponsored by Steamy Kitchen and is in no way affiliated, sponsored by, or approved by Amazon.com.


What is included in this giveaway

  • $100 Gift Card from Amazon.com

How to enter

  • Fill out the entry form below and answer what has been your favorite Steamy Kitchen Giveaway?

©Steamy Kitchen Recipes, 2014. | Permalink | No comments

rosefox July 31 2014, 06:28

"Intermittent failure"

From back when I started the Zoloft:

Taking Zoloft with lunch means it wears off enough by bedtime that I have a bit of trouble falling asleep (my old anxiety-induced awakeness) but stay asleep all night. Taking it with dinner means I fall asleep easily and then wake up every few hours. I'll stick with lunchtime for now.

(I cannot overstate the value of having this journal to track medication use and effects. It's a personal PDR. So essential.)

I'm still taking it at lunchtime, but reducing the dose has me waking up every few hours again. Last night I kicked the cats out so I could get a solid night's sleep, and then I woke up two hours later thinking I'd heard the doorbell. I hate it when that happens, because I don't even check the time and realize that it's 6 a.m. and I'm imagining things; I just leap out of bed to go answer the door.

Presumably this effect will fade either once I get used to the new dose or once I go off the meds altogether. Hopefully the former, since I've got three and a half weeks to go.

Yesterday I actually felt a little flirty, which was very nice.

Tonight I made a joke that fell very flat and J (who is also underslept) got upset and I got upset and we got into one of those stupid conversational spirals where we knew nothing useful was happening but we couldn't stop, and finally I had to text X and ask them to come in and intervene. That broke the spiral but left us all pretty thoroughly done in for the evening. We all forced ourselves to eat and then went our separate ways. I did the dishes and found my brain filling with angry upset self-loathing thoughts, so after I was done I pinged X and they let me cry on them. I am so, so, so tired of crying. On the bright side, I did resist the urge to smash all the dishes, and I no longer feel so awful at/about myself.

I don't think any of that is about the reduced dose, though who knows? But mostly it just felt like being underslept.

I took taurine and put on "Thursday Afternoon" (eternally grateful to [twitter.com profile] meetar for introducing me to it) and now I'm feeling calmer, though I made the mistake of playing a rather intense game on my phone and now my heart is pounding a bit. Might take more taurine. No more intense games tonight, for sure. Just Wanikani kanji practice (I totally blame [personal profile] yhlee for getting me into this) and a bit of Swords & Potions 2.

I really hope I can sleep tonight.

EDIT: I slept for a solid seven hours, woo! I think I'm going to keep taking bedtime taurine until I'm entirely done with the Zoloft; it clearly helped a lot.

You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is comment count unavailable.

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