Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I can't rhyme

So I've joined the WriYe blogging circle.

If you don't know what WriYe is, it's like year-long NaNo. But less crazy. Well, you get to pick how crazy. I picked not-very-crazy (500 words/day) and I've written ...

... well, let's just say, less than that.

Nor yesterday nor tomorrow nor ... I need to write more.
Since I joined the Mythic Scribes Champion of Cliche World challenge, this is even more of a problem. Mainly because I haven't written in AGES so nothing is coming out right, the deadline is June 7, and AH ALL MY IDEAS ARE CRAP. I've newly started Attempt #3, which has progressed past 500 words so there is hope. But MC has no personality and I'm in info-dump hell, additionally I have no plot.

A sudden bolt of inspiration would be very welcome right now.

And on that note ...

Did you see what I did there? Are you SURE? :D :D
Rage—Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles,
murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,
hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
great fighters' souls, but made their bodies carrion,
feasts for the dogs and birds,
and the will of Zeus was moving toward its end....
As an effective and mature way of dealing with the "Oh right I'm in WriYe, I should write--AGH I SHOULD DO HOMEWORK" dichotomy of being a college student who dares to have hobbies, I am going to talk about poetry to the Internet.
How do you feel about poetry? Do you write any? Do you see the significance of it or do you think it is a waste of time?
Bonus: What is your favorite poem? Tell us! (Written by you or another great writer!)
Glad you asked. I LOVE POETRY.

OLD poetry. BEAUTIFUL poetry. Oftentimes DEPRESSING poetry. And most definitely, poetry I didn't write.

Like it says right there in the title, my poetry-writing skills are ... lacking.

Does anyone remember that May is National Epic Poetry Month? Is anyone participating?

I tried, once. I wrote this epic "poem" (it was very post-modernist. As in, it was a a few paragraphs randomly broken up into separate lines because I can't hear meter, nor rhyme, nor describe beauty). Mainly about a princess whose quest was to stop her brother from doing exceedingly stupid things, like rescuing his fiancee from a dragon when he sucked at swordfighting. IT COULD HAVE BEEN EPIC. If someone else was writing it.

 When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

Sadly, my total inability to hear meter, and my painfully literal brain means that most poetry tends to pass me by. If it's a beautiful and subtle metaphor for the Human Condition or plays tricks with word order to demonstrate the irony of existance ... I will not pick up on it. There's a reason I'm good at programming guys. LITERAL. BRAIN.

Could not resist. (xkcd)
EPIC poetry, however, is a whole other deal. Of course, there must be deep themes about Life, The Universe, and Everything. But the basic-level story, the legend-style wording, the way that sometimes it flows so well I CAN hear it being said aloud in my brain ... yes, I like Epic Poetry. Can't write it to save my life.

LOOK AT THAT SECOND ROW. Why does America never get the best covers?
My first fantasy books, the first series I was well and truly obsessed with, was Pellinor by Alison Croggon. I can't tell you how many times I reread The Naming. I memorized the poems. It was the reason I found SFFworld, started looking for people to talk about fantasy with me, started writing. I will not lie, my first SRS BZNS attempt at a book was an awful ripoff of Pellinor, with totallyNotMaerad, singing magic, and Airbending (HUSH IT WAS REALLY COOL OKAY).

If you're going to have a Prophecy for your Chosen One, this is the way to do it.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to win Third Runner Up on the Flash! Friday contest with a short little flash about the world ending in a particularly depressing way. Needless to say, I was quite surprised. As Mars put it:

> Mars: My favorite is the "it reads like poetry" line
> Mars: when you so vehemently deny being able to write poetry

Maybe I can only write poetic depressing things?

Well, I've always liked prose poetry. Though that sounds like an oxymoron.

For a book that is the DEFINITION of prose poetry, read Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel.
"That which yields, is not always weak. Choose your victories wisely."
I need to cross-stitch about half that book. Beautiful.

I'll end this ramble with lines from my favorite poem ever: James Elroy Flecker's Gates of Damascus.

Postern of Fate, the Desert Gate, Disaster's Cavern, Fort of Fear,
The Portal of Baghdad am I, and Doorway of Diarbekir.

The Persian Dawn with new desires may net the flushing mountain spires:
But my gaunt buttress still rejects the suppliance of those mellow fires.

Pass not beneath, O Caravan, or pass not singing. Have you heard
That silence where the birds are dead yet something pipeth like a bird?

Pass not beneath! Men say there blows in stony deserts still a rose
But with no scarlet to her leaf-and from whose heart no perfume flows.

Wilt thou bloom red where she buds pale, thy sister rose? Wilt thou not fail
When noonday flashes like a flail? Leave nightingale the caravan!

Pass then, pass all! 'Baghdad!' ye cry, and down the billows of blue sky
Ye beat the bell that beats to hell, and who shall thrust you back? Not I.

The Sun who flashes through the head and paints the shadows green and red,
The Sun shall eat thy fleshless dead, O Caravan, O Caravan!

And one who licks his lips for thirst with fevered eyes shall face in fear
The palms that wave, the streams that burst, his last mirage, O Caravan!

And one-the bird-voiced Singing-man-shall fall behind thee, Caravan!
And God shall meet him in the night, and he shall sing as best he can.

And one the Bedouin shall slay, and one, sand-stricken on the way
Go dark and blind; and one shall say-'How lonely is the Caravan!'

Pass out beneath, O Caravan, Doom's Caravan, Death's Caravan!
I had not told ye, fools, so much, save that I heard your Singing-man.

I swear I'm not actually this depressing.


... not sure if that helped or hurt my case.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Good writers writing bad fiction? That's so ironic.

We of the Skype Writing Group of Awesomeness have this concept called Cracked Flash Fiction (CFF). You've probably never heard of it.

As you can see in that handy sidebar, this means we three of much sanity and maturity (Si, Mars, and Rin) get a prompt, ten minutes, and ... well, actually, that's it.

Prompts courtesy of MARS, Generator-Writer of Doom (as in, she writes generators. Awesome ones).

(Memes at the end. They're pretty great.)

And so we begin! Here are my flashes (flash fictions?):

One Internet to anyone who gets the names.

#1504: "What's the blinking light for?" // "It means . . . wait, did you say blinking?"

"What's the blinking light for?"

"It means ... wait, did you say blinking?" Ada Love stared at her brother. Her heart started to beat slightly faster.

"Yeah, look, rate approximately 2000." He frowned at her, absently rubbing a dirty hand over his face.

"Oh sh." She swore softly.

DJ stared at the dinky circuit board between them. Wires trailed over the shed floor like tripwires, in those ancient Bond movies.

"2000 microseconds?"

"Yeah?" He blinked at his sister. "Is that a problem--" He cut off. She didn't look at him. Slowly, she ran both hands through her tightly curled hair and clutched it. Her eyes, red with exertion, focused on the little board, with once-silver knobs and faint wire tracings through the green plastic.

"I don't get it, Ada," she heard him say, faintly. She ignored the sound, all the sounds. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink.

She didn't look at the beaten-up monitor, carelessly parked against one wall of the shed, crooked, spitting out line after line of numbers and error statements.



"Dijkstra." She said softly. He went silent, staring at her. "Cover your head."

"Oh." She heard him say, the relieved exhalation of solving a problem.

We're mad. She thought. Then threw herself to the floor.

The explosion was, actually, rather quiet.

As dust rose to wreathe the shed with tendrils of soft, ghostlike particles, she heard him yell.

"It's a race condition!"

Insane. She pushed herself off the floor, coughing, ignoring the sting of splinters. She couldn't see anything.

They were both laughing.
Aaaand I offer no apologies for the next one. Subgenre: CFF Horror.

 #1650: "You of all people know there's nowhere to run."

The Horror in Green

"You of all people know there's nowhere to go."

She shrank against the wall, fingers frantically scrabbling over the metallic surface. It was dark, with only a few, flickering bulbs far away and out of reach. She couldn't see. She couldn't think.

"Don't be stupid."

Sliding, sliding along the cold expanse, fingertips freezing, searching for that tiny groove, a screw out of place. How had it come to this? Herself, alone, weaponless, stupid. She was supposed to be intelligent. She should have been able to think her way out. That was how her ancestors differentiated from monkeys, right?

"You've had your run. Give up, like the rest."

Tears in her eyes, blinding her further. She could hear something, moving, slowly. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Like a boulder, or a robot. Inexorable, slow, quiet. But mindless?

Not now.

She bit her tongue in pain, trying not to yelp, as her fingernail caught and tore. Agony racing up her finger, her hand ... no, she had to think! Cradling her hand near, she huddled closer to the wall, eyes wide, trying to see.

A faint shadow--was it? Or was she dreaming? With her other hand, she delicately dragged her fingers over the spot. Was it--yes! Yes, a slight edge, a jagged join, that had cut her. And that meant--

"Hiding like a mouse, little one?" The grating, jarring computerized voice. Like an answering machine but terrifying, deadly in the darkness. "Get over here and lie down. We've had enough."

No. No. She caught the edge, barely, and pulled.

For one, glorious moment, she felt it give.

Then light, suddenly, poured from the heavens. She cried out and fell back, covering her eyes. Blinding, burning! She hadn't seen so much light in days, weeks. No, she had to, had to, open the hatchet ...

With eyes slitted she saw it. She froze. Her gorge rose, her muscles clenched, she gasped for breath.

Slow, rolling, with a tiny circuit-board on wheels following on a lead, like a child's toy.

Green. Gigantic. And, somehow, sentient.

They had done this.

"It's the end, little human." The cabbage said, slowly, in the Verizon woman's chirpy, computerized voice. The circuit-board flashed. Red, red, green.

"You should never have made us GMO."
It's past 10PM now ...

#2107: He was crouched in the glass case, eyes fighting between fear and fury.

The Little Elf

He was crouched in the glass case, eyes fighting between fear and fury.

"I am the night!"

Tittering laughter.

Tears welled in his eyes. Dammit, why had this happened to him?

"You'll regret this, one day." He whispered.

A large finger, clumsily prodding at the case. As big as his body. He fell back and collapsed, as the case shook violently.

"Mama! Make it angst, Mama!"

"Hush, baby, it's sleeping. We'll come back later, okay?"

Trundling away, thick, ungainly bodies shaking the earth with each step. Where was the grace, the beauty, of the land from whence he came?

He pushed himself to his knees, wincing as the hay stalks stabbed at him. In the corner, a grey bowl, made of some unnatural material. A woody cave in the other corner, with more stick-like material haphazardly thrown over the top. A faint whirring from the fan that made a half-hearted breeze.

"You will REGRET!" He shouted, voice thin and reedy after so many days of that nauseating pellet s**t. As if they could even call it food. "Vengeance! The vengeance of my people--"

Booming laughter, making the case shiver.

Who were these massive animals, barely sentient, and disgustingly graceless? How had they caught him, a prince of the forest, a warrior of his people?
Shame drowned him, misery suffocated him, but he could not end his existence.

A warrior fought. A warrior survived. He would be true to his people.

It would begin with finding out the meaning of angst.
...blame Mars for this one. She made me. I WAS GOING TO GO TO SLEEP.

#82: He ran into an unyielding wall and cursed. Where had he put his cane?

Being Neighborly

He ran into an unyielding wall and cursed. Where had he put his cane? Should've stayed home with his porridge. Dang those kids, and their weed killer!

All he wanted as a nice clean yard, a blue shiny "Best Neighbor" ribbon, and his twice-darned breakfast (he was, briefly, proud of his restraint. Filthy youths could keep their gutter words--he was a gentleman!).

He'd kept it to dirty looks, for a long time. Then he'd shaken his cane once or twice, maybe yelled a few times to get them off his lawn. Nothing more, harmless, surely?

Turns out, everyone had a breaking point.

He strapped the flamethrower to his good hand, and spied his cane lying, abandoned and dirty, with his good eye. Hobbling over, he scooped it up (with a soft "oomph!" for his back) and clutched it firmly.

He could hear them jeering over the wall.

He squinted, he saw the ladder, and the frayed rope. Cursing softly under his breath (nothing your mama'd wash out of your mouth with soap, no, never him), he limped over, ONE two ONE two ONE.

He'd bought a single level house just to save his knees from climbing. With a grimace, he took the first step up.

As the flamethrower peeked over the wall, he heard the jeers turn to screams.

They'd brought it on themselves, they had, those meddling kids.

Aren't you glad you waded through all that late-night writing?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Er, again.

Let's just say that life is stressful, and I suck at informing the world when I'm about to suddenly vanish. Instead of freaking out over Very Stressful Things (*eyes college*) imma write a little post about Cool Things.

So I have a new URL. Observe. I might think these things are really cool. Cool enough to write a post on, even. There's memes at the end.


Anyone who can do this is not me.
For the longest time I didn't consider myself a writer. I haven't published anything, hell I've barely FINISHED anything, and my quality? Can you say NEEDS EDITS? How about "who the hell would even READ this?" I don't even WANT to publish. I just like to write stupid stories that feature absurdist humor, cliche black cloaked assassins, dramatic fight scenes, and bad endings. Okay, maybe not all at once (okay, maybe all at once >.>) but still. Not exactly the next Tolkien, Jordan, or Eddings. I struggle with finishing things. I struggle with keeping to stories, writing coherent thoughts, and remembering my plot. For ages I hated all my characters because they were too D&D, too cardboard, and unemotional as potato salad.

Well, screw that. That's basically where NaNo comes in.

NaNoWriMo is an amazing invention not only because it brings together a bunch of writers, but because it is SO INSANE that you can't stop to hate your characters. Can't take a brief plot-abusing breather. Can't abandon a story because HOW WILL YOU COME UP WITH ANOTHER PLOT AND 2k WORDS, S**T IT'S MIDNIGHT, 4k WORDS, IN TIME.

(Hmm, I've apparently come to a decision about swearing here. Convenient.)

Map from NaNo '10. Kinda looks like inverted America?

I won that first NaNo with a tale so epically unlikely, so Airbender-y in magic system, and with such fakely comrade-y characters that I loved it. I swear I had TWO nations of angsty elves, each deliciously idiotic in its own, snowflaykey way. And a MC who fought blindfolded WITH A SCYTHE because I thought it was cool.

It probably looked like this. Also I just realized my ImageShack acc. is a trial period o.o

What I'm trying to say here (the hell am I trying to say, self?) is that writing is FUN. Who the f**k cares if your writing is terribad and stupid and kills off too many MCs? Deciding to never publish a novel is actually surprisingly freeing. I can write about angsty cabbage-Nuns (Malcab, an extremely serious tale) and serial killer noblewomen (Celia, not disturbing at all) and lands where nearly everyone is a Chosen One (City of No Seers, it ends well, I assure you). Writing is cool because you get to tell stories no one else has told, and create the ones you've always wished to read.

Loads of people take writing seriously and have a Purpose in their stories. I don't. I write to amuse myself, and I certainly do. Sometimes I amuse other people, which is awesome when it happens. I like the online writer community, and the way the fantasy genre is made up of SO many reader-writers, and the abundance of flash fiction contests that are low-pressure and absurdity-friendly. I've always been, first and foremost, a reader. Other than at exam-time, I'm usually most motivated to write after finishing a brilliant book. Does my story usually come out derivative and horribly unoriginal? Probably. But seriously, who cares. Writing for the sake of writing is basically the best way to approach it. You don't have to be a professional, or even a good writer. You don't even have to be serious, or intellectual, or have a point. Get yourself a fun and awesome writing group that is cool with whatever "literature" you seek to produce, join a bunch of crazy forum challenges, and go write. It's fun, I promise.

And with that ...


I want this shirt.
CODING IS FUN. No, I'm not lying to you. Do I hear you, in the back, whispering that you're not mathy enough to code? What about you on the left, muttering that you can barely find your Task Manager? What about you, hunched down in the front, hissing (shh, I'm running out of words) that you learned how to Google yesterday?

Okay, last dude might have a bit of a problem. But the rest of you DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE MISSING.

Something you are missing.
Everyone. Can. Code. Whether everyone likes to code is a different matter, of course, but the widespread mental block that people (all kinds of people! Even engineers!) have about coding as this arcane martial art, wrought in the deepest computer lab caverns by hunched over minions of the Dark One--er, I mean programmers, those strange of seldom-seen creatures who generate this mysterious thing known as a program, is, frankly, ridiculous.

This is what I look like when I debug. Honest.
Do you want to make a game? Give your brother a little pop-up virus? Become a Hacker(tm) and moan about non-techies on IRC? Well, you can do that by learning programming. And you don't even need math.

I got into programming because I was bored. SO bored, that I wanted to learn to write a javascript calculator to convert Celsius to Farenheight because I was doing a data entry internship, and nothing makes you want to set yourself on fire more than a data entry internship.

This is what would have happened to me. Programming saves lives.
Just go to this website <>, it's the friendliest one I know. Get into Javascript, learn until you've got the basic programming concepts down, then think of a project you desperately want to do (I'll admit the virus one was one of the most motivational--and successful--projects of my programming career) and go do it. All you need is Google, a few tolerant friends to moan at, and persistence. English majors can code. Molecular Biologists can code *coughs*. People who decided college wasn't their thing and take care of a family can code. There's a woman on my knitting forum who has NINE children (here Si dies of horror and amazement) who is learning DATABASE MANAGEMENT. ON HER OWN. AND SHE'S FREAKING GOOD AT IT. If you have questions talk to me, I am pretty darn obsessed with programming and like to talk about it a lot.

The fun never stops. I'm writing a bioinformatics data processing alg (with machine learning! No, I did not take a class and yes, it's a hell of a challenge), learning game dev (stupid Pong stupidly doesn't follow my orders), and getting a minor in CS (for fun. I love telling non-CS people that). This all started because I wanted to write a little Javascript calculator because setting yourself on fire to escape boredom is bad.

I am going to hate myself when I have to move all these images to a different host.

So yeah. I should probably shut up while I'm ahead but there's one little last cool thing I want to tell you about and that is ...

Do Science

A bad scientist.

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that Doing Science is pretty high on the list of Things That Are Causing Stress right now, but I'm trying to publish a paper and get into grad school.

Like coding, people often have a mental block about science. That's often because a lot of science is obtuse, hard to understand, and presented in an extremely dry and self-conciously academic style. I'm guilty of this myself.

What peer-reviewed research papers don't tell you is that SCIENCE IS AWESOME.

Are you on Twitter? Follow NASA. No, seriously, it's INCREDIBLE. When people talk about science, they should use pictures.


I think science is so awesome I'm literally running out of words to express this with.

Okay, I give up, just watch this.


This is a simplified version of what the hell is happening in every single one of your cells at this moment. Maybe with less background music. And people think bio is dry.

Everyone needs to study science. If you don't know science to at least a "skeptic" degree (aka you can tell when someone's BSing you), then you are putting control of yourself into the hands of fake "experts". Even if you don't know the answers, know someone who DOES. Or can at least tell you if something is legit/not legit. I volunteer *waves*. Better yet, learn to distinguish the BS from the real thing. Always be skeptical as hell.

I hate that some of the most awesome things in science are made so incredibly dull in the classroom. I hate that science education is actually getting challenged here, that science funding is getting cut, and researchers are being forced to look elsewhere to continue their work.

NOTHING sets my mind on fire (this is a good thing) like research. I have a tiny part in discovering a tiny thing that minutely expands human knowledge in a sub-sub-sub field almost no one has heard of. AND I LOVE IT.

We actually do this.

Everyone can discover things! Everyone can add to human knowledge! The world is a huge, wonderful, incredibly interesting place.

Go out on a walk and know that trees are drawing water through their whole lengths by the power of tiny vacuums, caused by the leaving of water through tiny holes in leaves.

Stars that look so calm and faraway are fusing hydrogen to helium at their centers; they're giant burning balls of gas that will violently explode (or have already done so), releasing matter and energy throughout the universe!

As you sit here breathing, hundreds of tiny proteins are racing along your DNA, repairing breaks and errors caused just by going out in the sunlight.

Have you ever looked at refraction patterns in a crystal? Do you know how freaking hard that is to calculate? Yet, with the incredible organization of a diamond, it happens AUTOMATICALLY. And that's why they sparkle so well.

I'll admit this is SO not my field. But how can you not appreciate this?

The world is SO not static. So many invisibly small things are happening at once that builds and builds until you have something as crazy as a tree, or a hurricane, or the universe itself.

Only by knowing how fragile, how impossibly faulty, every tiny building block potentially is, can you appreciate the insanity in the fact that our universe ACTUALLY EXISTS.

Stats is boring until you realize that our universe is just one improbable event built upon another. And then you wonder how many times it got it wrong. And yet, we exist.

Nikon Small World Contest. This is a the blood-brain barrier in a Zebrafish.

How amazing is the world?

Everyone should do science.

Science would not quit dammit!

That was probably a bit intense so here are some of my favourite (why is my Firefox British?) memes as promised. Coherency ftw!