Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why Hello There

If the author came with this book, I would totally pay extra shipping.

Also: possibly turned down a sweet temporary copyediting position with the company owned by the famous-billionaire-Chicago-talk-show-host-who-shall-not-be-named-even-though-I've-never-signed-a-confidentiality-agreement-with-her. I offered myself part-time and forwarded my availability to my recruiter—who, incidentally, after a year and a half, may just be fed up with my turning down job offers because of school.

Manuscript Tracker

Manuscript Tracker is a free software application designed to help you track your queries and submissions. A cursory check into its features shows it gets the job done. You can list your titles, word counts, and "genre" (which is really/also your format list). In the notes you can supply dates submitted and whatnot.

I would love to see production suites such as Celtx add a feature like this (Celtx is now upgradeable to 2.7), or Manuscript Tracker to add a feature where you can upload the actual manuscript in question. But there are ways around that.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ars Memoriae

Ars Memoriae is a novella by Beth Bernobich, an alternative history of England. A tight read clocking in at 80 pages, it put me in mind of Jon LeCarré's The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. I felt I was missing references. Like fairyhedgehog, I wasn't sure how much I was actually missing and how much was due to the writer deliberately being opaque. If anything, I think I would have liked the book to be longer. I liked the ending, though, and the cover is stunning.

At any rate, this was sent to me by fairyhedgehog. If you would like to read it and review it, here are the rules:

1. You must be the first person to request the book in responding to this post.
2. You must have a blog to which you post regularly.
3. You'll take a photograph of the book somewhere in your home.
4. You'll post your review and photo on your blog.
5. You send the book along to the first person who replies and will photograph/review/pass it on.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Letter from a Birmingham Jail

This is a bit late, but I thought I'd post this letter by Martin Luther King, Jr. in commemoration not only of Martin Luther King day, but of the ongoing struggle for human rights.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Night Off

I passed my Logic Pro certification exam, which means I'm qualified to teach it, at least at a basic level. This way I can make decent money teaching and still work as a composer. Right now I'm squeaking by about as well as Haydn did during his eight years of teaching.

My copy of Lisa Mannetti's The Gentling Box finally came, but I shouldn't complain since it really came at the right time. Meaning I might not have passed the test had it come a couple of days ago, because . . . who can resist a horror story about Gypsies and the supernatural? I can't, that's for sure.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Clarity of Night contest

Below is my Clarity of Night contest entry. First time doing this.

As the Crow Flies

We're taking you to new land, they tell us. We need yours for our crops. So they force us to walk the thousand mile journey across the plains and through forests. We do not mind the lack of roads; the land gives us our nourishment and tells us all we need to know to find our way. We need no maps.

My brother stumbles along beside me, sick with the illness they brought. I hold onto a thin hope to find herbs to cure him, though in my heart I know the sickness is beyond the power of our medicine—our mother and sister died of this illness, their skin fevered and hot. My brother complains of the same aches, and I can feel the heat rolling off him like smoke from a well-lit fire. I know I will soon lose him, too.

Our father died as well, but in battle. I wish I could be brave like him, to rise up and fight, but I look at their weapons and know I never could. I have seen what those weapons can do.

I am very tired now. I want to lay down and sleep, but I know that is impossible. Instead I close my eyes for a moment, praying to the Creator that he'll bring the eagle, our symbol of victory.

I look up. A crow flies overhead. For a moment I despair. But then I realize that, like the crow and the wolf, we will survive our doom.

Now I am off to shower and study for my Logic Pro certification. Really behind.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Just had a great discussion about art over at Evil Editor's blog. It started out as a discussion about Charles Burns's graphic novel Black Hole, but morphed into a discussion about novels vs. graphic novels, and then about objectivity and subjectivity in art.

I'm of two minds about objectivity and subjectivity. I think, for the artist - for me, at least - there has to be objective criteria in order to make good art. There are just certain things composers and writers and artists need to know in order to produce anything at all, let alone something good.

Picasso knew just as much about painting as DaVinci. He deliberately took a different route when he saw that painters were making paintings as realistic as photographs. Where does realism go from there? So at first glance if his paintings look like they were drawn by a child, does that make him a bad painter? Or does a closer inspection reveal something more? Do viewers need a greater sensitivity when viewing Picasso versus DaVinci? What about that velvet Elvis?

But once the art reaches the viewer, all bets are off. You can't tell people what to like or what to appreciate. It's like granting permission to people to like certain things. You can't tell someone else what they should value. (Quoting Ril - which was a great way to put it.)

I see this in music all the time, especially classical. Classical musicians moan the death of their music, that no one truly appreciates the hours of arduous practice or the beauty of the music. People would rather watch Survivor than go to a symphony. And I agree that music education is something we're missing in schools nowadays. (El Sistema, I think, has the best chance of "saving" classical music - see this post.)

But I don't mourn the death of classical and jazz. I think there's a hunger that's still out there; many people seem to realize they're missing something. I'm always amazed in my teaching just how hungry my students are. I think many teachers (myself included) make the assumption that most people who take lessons don't really want to learn - or they want music taught in such a way that it's made easy.

But it's not easy. Even for prodigies, music is hard. That's its nature. And I'm always surprised at how many students accept that early on. Not all of them do, but most can sense if I'm going easy on them, and nine times out of ten they lose interest. The harder I am, the more they seem to like it (generally). So I think there's definitely a hunger out there.

But you know what? Different tastes is what makes the world go 'round. That, and whatever force keeps the Earth spinning on its axis.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Celtx 2.5

For those of you interested in writing movie scripts or comic books, I strayed across a great open source application when looking for something comparable to Final Draft (which I currently cannot afford) called Celtx. (Open source, as I'm sure you know, means it's free.)

You can download it here.

It presumably follows "industry standard" formatting for your film scripts since its inspiration was Final Draft. Celtx operates as a full pre-production suite, in which you can write your projects in different forms: comic book script, film script, novel, and storyboarding. (In the storyboarding feature you can scan and upload your sketches). It also includes a feature to keep track of your production schedule.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Mira's List

I'd like to call attention to a wonderful blog I stumbled on a few months ago. Mira is an artist who was hit by an eighteen wheeler and survived. Despite living with traumatic brain injury (TBI), she keeps this wonderfully organized and informative blog on arts funding - and not just for the visual arts, but for writing (ahem!), filmmaking, and performance artists (including musicians). Check it out here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


So I really only have one resolution for this year. Well, that's not entirely true, but it seems to me that this year I just didn't have much fun. So that's my goal for this year. More fun. If I find it through creative outlets, great—but if I find it in a bar filled with . . . I don't know . . . female impersonators getting me drunk and giving me makeup tips, that's okay, too.

Friday, January 1, 2010


Just a short post to say I may not make it to the festivities on EE's blog. (Is he even aware this is going to happen?) Will be preparing to travel and then traveling today. I will try, though. What time is this shindig going to happen, anyway?

Also. I don't know about you, but I plan to start the New Year by seeing Robert Downey, Jr. with his shirt off.

You should, too.