Yes, You Can Be an Atheist and Like Bits of the Bible, Too

As with any collection of writings, even those chosen more for “God wants you to include this and will curse you if you don’t” rather than literary merit or storytelling chops, the Bible has a few gems of real value amongst all the religious dross. I don’t really approach it differently than any other body of mythology: I’m a writer, and I will damned well cannibalize anything. In fact, back before I was even an atheist, I had an atheist character who regularly spouted bits from the book of Revelation, and would have bopped the noggin of any one of the crowing Christians who love to scream “GOTCHA! You DO believe!” whenever he did so. Revelation spoke to him; God, not so much, and certainly less than the Norse gods. If he ever converts to anything, it will be something to do with Odin long before Yahweh gets an audition. [Read more…]

Get Your Ideas All Up in My Business!

All right, my darlings, it’s now less than two weeks until the day I hang up my shingle, and I haven’t got any idea what name to put on it. Well, I have a few ideas. You may have better ones. Think!

Image is a black cat in a suit. Caption says, "We need to think inside all the boxes."Think of names for a store selling all sorts of geology-themed thingies. And you know I like a nice Spanish flavor. Something like… Mercado Geológica, f’r instance. Mega Mercado de la Verdad? Give me ideas! I rather suck at naming things. One of you has to be better.

Some of you may want to help out, but come up just as blank as I do on names. No problemo! You know what else you can do? Let me know what kind of products you’d like to see. I’m going to be opening up a store on Cafe Press or Zazzle or Red Bubble or some site like that, maybe more than one – what sort of stuff do you want me to put up there?

I’ll be doing some crafty sorts of things and selling them through Etsy. That store will include things like my scarves, mufflers, wraps, hair wraps, scrunchies, and such. Anyone interested in handkerchiefs or other simple little fabric things? I can do simple bags, throw pillows, pillow cases, and things like that. I’ll also be doing custom work, so if you need something done, hit me up for an estimate. I might be able to save you a ton of money on curtains, for instance. And if you have a bit of fabric needing turned in to something, let me know.

Outside of sewing, would you go in for hand-collected pebbles for fountains, Zen gardens for your desk, rock sample magnets, things like that? Would you like me to look in to what it would take to make and sell coal and rock candy?

I’ll be looking in to getting some necessary items soon, too. If any of you has a used rock tumbler that works well and is in good condition you’d like to sell, let me know.

Now, on to writing, which will be the main focus of this whole enterprise: I am most definitely doing the Mount St. Helens book so many of you have requested! Two, in fact: the one about the May 1980 eruption, and I’m going to also do a geology travel guide. Probably more than one, now I’ll have time to investigate the other roads to the mountain! And I’m hoping to write up the more recent dome-building eruption, too.

I’m also writing a geological guide to Discovery Park, a book on women in the geosciences, and will be collecting and expanding some of the best posts from both ETEV and Rosetta Stones.

I’ve got a ton of other things planned, but your ideas are always welcome, so if there’s a bit of geology (or any other subject) you’ve been wanting me to do a post on, let me know.

All right, I’m off to begin putting the house in some semblance of order. Hit me with all your suggestions and demands!

An End, A Beginning… and a possible major freakout

Today’s the day I put in two weeks’ notice. Ye olde daye jobe will soon be defunct, and I will be working for the worst boss of all: meownself.

People at work keep asking me if I’m sure. As if trading stability for risk is ever something you can be sure of.

Image shows a cat on a boat, staring at a bird on the dock. Caption says, "Risk vs. Reward. Choose wisely."Of course I’m not sure. I’m not sure my books will sell. I’m not sure the merchandise I’ve got planned will move (although I have a feeling you guys are going to love the stuff based on geology puns!). I’m not sure the economy won’t tank and flush me just as things begin to take off. Can’t be sure of anything.

Except.

I’m sure I can’t play it safe anymore.

I’m sure I want to step off that mountain, even though there’s no way of knowing if I’ll fall or fly.

I’m sure there’s a lot I want to do that I haven’t got time for now: so many books to write, and fun things to design, and adventures to go on.

I’m sure I’ve got the world’s best cheering section (that would be you, my darlings!).

And I’m sure the time is now. Because if not now, it’ll be never.

So I’m all in.

Image shows a squirrel sprawled on a deck with a thick scattering of seeds in front of it. Caption says, "Awl In"Two weeks, and the badge gets discarded forever. I kiss the sweet union-bargained benefits goodbye. I say sayonara to the steady paycheck. And probably panic a bit before I get my footing. Shit’s a little scary, y’know. But I’m ready to take the plunge, because even if I fall, I can manage to land somewhere soft enough. And who knows – maybe this is the day that I fly.

Wish me luck.

When You’re Prepared to Give Up Name and Face

I’ve known for a very long time that I want to write for a living. Been writing since childhood, y’see, and at some point it occurred to me that being a writer was the most sensible thing to do for a person who was decent with words and wanted to be lots of things. A writer can vicariously be whatever they damn well please. A writer can spend all day every day fantasizing, and get paid for it.

So yes, I knew by my teens that I wanted to be a writer. And I began doing all of the things necessary to become one. Literature classes. Creative writing classes. Job in book store. Change name.

Oh, yes, the name change was essential. I share my legal last name with a well-known retailer. It isn’t the done thing to crack your adoring public over the head with your latest hardcover for cracking jokes. And a character of mine had filched my first name and refused to give it back. And stalkers. And I wanted to be taken seriously. That, I thought, required picking a male pseudonym – or at least masquerading by initials. [Read more…]

Answering an Aspiring Author: Who Do I Love

The friend o’ mine embarking upon a program of self-loathing and torture bit of sci fi writing asked me about my influences, including novels and short stories. So I took a quick turn about my shelves in search of. I have lots, yet they’re only a tiny fraction of the SF universe, and tend to cluster around just a few decades and authors. So grain o’ salt, follow your own star and all that.

The list appears below, but first, I shall say a few words about reading in order to become a writer.

J.R.R. Tolkien, da morto. Image and caption courtesy Daniel Prati via Flickr.

J.R.R. Tolkien, da morto. Image and caption courtesy Daniel Prati via Flickr.

[Read more…]

Answering an Aspiring Author: What I Loved

A friend o’ mine is about to embark upon a program of self-loathing and torture a bit of sci fi writing. He turned to me for advice. A few questions have been asked, and I figured answering in public may perhaps be useful in case anyone else in the cantina plans to embark upon the same soul-destroying madness career.

"This artist concept illustrates how a massive collision of objects perhaps as large as the planet Pluto smashed together to create the dust ring around the nearby star Vega." Alternatively, it describes the brain of a speculative fiction writer. Image and part of the caption courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

“This artist concept illustrates how a massive collision of objects perhaps as large as the planet Pluto smashed together to create the dust ring around the nearby star Vega.” Alternatively, it describes the brain of a speculative fiction writer mid-novel. Image and part of the caption courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

One of the questions was this: “What kind of stuff do you like to write?”

Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say like. Love is a safe word. It’s the right word for the kind of tempestuous, tumultuous relationship a writer has with their fiction. Like is too mild, too constant a word for this passion we share, this rollercoaster of high and low and in between emotion. So. What do I love to write? [Read more…]

Atheism for Believers: Do We Need a Book?

Some interesting comments on JT’s “Happy Ask an Atheist Day!” post got me to pondering that question. Do we need a book about atheism which we can comfortably hand to believers?

I’ve not really thought about it before. I’ve got close friends who are believers, but I’ve never felt uncomfortable recommending books like The God Delusion to them when they express interest in learning more about atheism. The conversations we’ve had haven’t swerved into completely uncomfortable directions, like the whole “But you’re going to hell!” trope. We’ve had sticking points, and we’ve had to talk things over, but they’re strong people who can handle strong ideas. Their faith doesn’t leave them flummoxed when confronted by the fact that someone they love is godless.

[Read more…]

Pitch 2.0: Naming Names

Veterans of the Nymwars will know why my ears pricked when a member of the audience asked the panelists at Pitch 2.o about pseudonyms. And they’ll know why I scowled a bit when the first response was along the lines of “Why would you?” They came out pretty anti-nym, but for a good reason: identity. While it wasn’t made clear in that brief time for discussion, I think they’d agree that it’s not the ‘nym that’s the problem, but starting over from scratch.

If I’m mistaken, they’ll hopefully be by to set me straight. But let’s proceed on the assumption I’m correct.

[Read more…]

CreateSpace and Amazon’s Pitch 2.0: Completely Worth It

So, last night, I attended a free event put on by CreateSpace and Amazon called Pitch 2.0. It very nearly didn’t happen, and I’ll be paying dearly for it for the next three days, but it was totally worth it. It was even worth the rush hour traffic on the 520 bridge, which locals know is the kind of hell you usually only associate with cities like L.A. and New York.

I took copious notes and I’ll be blogging about it for some time to come, starting soon (probably as soon as work finishes making me pay for my pleasure). The main thing I took away was this: publishing has changed, and independent authors have some fantastic resources available to them now. I’ve been seriously considering the whole self-publishing route for some time. Unless circumstances change, this event has pretty much convinced me that this is the right choice for my books. I’m not interested in spending years trying to get them traditionally published after finishing them. I want them in the hands of my readers ASAP. And with the tools available now, those books won’t lack for anything in the product quality department. The only possible failing may be the author herself, but I’ll be doing my utmost to make sure the contents match the beautiful, professional packaging.

A lot of excellent information came out of this event: help with pitches, marketing, distributing, and various other topics. We won’t lack for Dojo material, I can tell you.

I can also tell you that if CreateSpace and Amazon throw one of these little soirees in your neighborhood, get your ass registered and attend, no matter what it takes. It was worth several months’ worth of perusing the best writing blogs out there. Not that you shouldn’t be doing that, too, but there’s nothing like an event like this for helping you become a better author and, if you wish, your own publisher.

That’ll Be Me. In a Book. A Paper One, Even

So, I’m in the midst of a frantic day of playing catch-up, I glance at my email, and I see this thing that says “Welcome to Open Lab 2012.” And for a moment, I’m not really absorbing that. I’m like, “I didn’t sign up for any conferences yet. Oh, hey, there’s an email from the folks who’re doing that pitch workshop tomorrow night that work doesn’t want me to go to because poor planning on their part constitutes an emergency on my part, and… ZOMG WTF?”

Oh. Right. Open Lab’s not a conference, it’s an anthology. One that Chris Rowan nominated me for (yeah, saw right through that innocent whistle, buddy). So I open the email, and it’s got all this verbiage about how “Adorers of the Good Science of Rock-breaking” has been accepted and here’s a contract and some edits and professional author stuff. Oh, and we need these rights so it can be published world-wide.

What?!

They are going to chop down trees and make them into paper and print my words on it, and then bind that paper together with paper that has got words from rock-star quality science bloggers on it, and they’ll put all those pages in a nice cover and release it to the world next fall, and I still can’t quite believe that’s actually taking place. I’ll probably be clutching that book, looking at my by-line, and still not believing this is actually taking place. I’ll have to find a good psychiatrist before then. That way, I’ll have a professional specializing in the treatment of psychiatric disorders assuring me that I haven’t had a psychotic break.

On the assumption that I have not, actually, had a psychotic break, thank you! Thank you, Chris Rowan, for nominating me. Thank you, my friends in the geoblogosphere, for inspiring me. Thank you, my readers, for giving me a reason to write words down and post them. Thank you, Open Lab, for briefly taking leave of your senses and choosing that post of mine for inclusion. Thank you, everyone who believed I wrote words worthy of this.

Now, if one of you happens to live in the Seattle area, would you kindly drop by and give me a rather large pinch?