Thursday, April 26, 2007

More Names ...

A few notes on a research process. Perhaps process is not the correct word, as it was neither organized nor preconceived. Let's call it a road to discovery. :-)

A character in my short story is a ten year-old girl from Jamaica. I made up a name, but wasn't completely satisfied with it. An authentic name would be better.

The search started with the Jamaican government website. I was hoping to find information similar to the U.S. SSA site on common baby names. The Registrar General's department seemed a likely place to look, but no luck. Further surfing revealed no other options.

Now, who would be a good resource for information and research? Perhaps a library, specifically, the National Library of Jamaica. The library has a contact form for free research requests. They responded promptly that they would look into my question about an online resource of common names. A few days later, they concluded nothing similar to the SSA site existed, but perhaps the Registrar General would have an answer if I e-mailed them.

I didn't want to take up the time of someone else, or try and navigate a government bureaucracy, especially for such a small inquiry. The next step would be newspapers. My thought was to read some articles and see what names of people came up. This led to sports and a mention of high schools.

Aha! School websites. Perhaps there would be mention of sports players, a younger generation with a more current crop of common names. What I found next, well I should have thought of it before. I used to do tech support for college alumni offices. I discovered a site listing Jamaican high schools, with links to alumni lists.

Finally! I went through the classes of 2000 and up, writing down female names.

Conclusions: Adding 'ette' to a name is popular (e.g. Novellette, Shaunette, Paulette) as well as adding 'Ann' (Perryann, Tracey-Ann, Stacy-Ann, Jodi-Ann). These seemed to differ from their older classmates.

I decided on a name. What is it? Sorry, you'll have to read the story when it's published to find out. Of course, you could get a preview by entering the contest by April 29th!

Monday, April 23, 2007


Currently Reading: Zeitgeist by Bruce Sterling

In honor of IPSTD, a few links to those participating. I don't have anything to put up myself, besides some incomplete scraps which are better left in the drawer.

Steve has made available a great story, "The Dead Are Busy"

Merrie Haskell has posted no less than 5 works!.

Edward Willett has put up his YA Novel Andy Nebula: Interstellar Rock Star.

Matthew Jarpe, while not posting specifically for IPSTD, has had several published stories available online for quite some time.

There is a list of others on Jo Walton's blog.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I Am A Crispy Noodle ...

Currently Reading: Lifehacker by Gina Trapani

I am a crispy noodle in the vegetarian salad of life.

Or so the fortune cookie tells me.

Just a reminder that the contest ends on April 29th. There is one entry so far, which gives that person rather good odds at the moment. That would be fine with me since I do this for the fun of it. But, I know a few friends intend to submit. Send me an e-mail, post your idea here, or even type it on a tiny slip of paper, bake it into a cookie, and send it along. Whatever works for you all.

Some strange sites I've come across:

How to explore places you shouldn't

How to void the warranty on your stuff

Get a fortune here or here or here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Up Linked ...

Currently Reading: Grey by Jon Armstrong

Organization is not my natural inclination. I need help to keep on track. Paper and pencil work as well as digital tools. For the next big project, I'm going to try out several different approaches to see if there is a better, easier way that fits my style of writing.

First, better bookmarking. As I do research online, there will be many sites that I want to return to, double check, and review for updates. I could keep them in a working document in Word with all my notes, but that isn't very convenient.

The folders in the browser toolbar are hierarchical, can be arranged to my liking, probably searchable (not sure; I assume there's a widget of some sort for Firefox), and in a word, functional. Once I get beyond two folders depth, it's not as convenient, more difficult to keep the mouse pointer on track, and less helpful. is a popular tool, organizes links by tags instead of folders, and presents a different view (the tag cloud). There is a social networking component, which seems less relevant to my purpose. I'm giving it a whirl here. We'll see how it goes.

Anyone use Helpful or not for organizing bookmarks? Tricks to finding what you want? Anyone use another method to organize bookmarks?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater ...

"Death is like a really long nap, the difference being you don't have to worry about finding your shoes when you wake up."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Not very good at remembering quotations, and can't find this one now, so forgive me if I'm off by a few words (and I'll be really embarrassed if I'm mis-attributing it). Thanks to Steve Bucheit for the heads up on this sad occasion.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Endeavor to Persevere ...

Currently Reading: Take Joy by Jane Yolen

The e-zine Nanobison has accepted one of my stories for publication later this year. The story is called "The Unwritten Future of Princess Melodious Squeak" (the text is slightly longer than the title). It is a great relief.

I had almost given up on it.

The story had been rejected a few times (okay, quite a few). Despite adversity, I kept sending it out. The story is humorous and plays on a well worn SF trope. I think it has a subtle depth and complexity, but then I wrote it. Of course I think it's great. The trick is finding an editor who also thinks so.

The right editor, at the right publication, at the right time, when that editor has a short-term need for your story. Thanks Doug Helbling!

Now I have just one story out for submission. Better than none. My productivity seems to limit how many I have out in the world. Some writer blogs that I've seen have listed a numerical goal: 5, 10, or more out for submission.

For those that write short stories, how many do you have out for submission? Do you have a goal for more? Or does it not matter?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Name Game ...

Currently Reading: Busting Vegas by Ben Mezrich

Over on the website is a new contest where participants have a chance to name several characters in one of my short stories. Silly, serious, strange, anything short of profane will be considered.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Q3 Q4 ...

Currently Reading: Jingo by Terry Pratchett

It is that time again. April begins the last quarter of fiscal year 2007.

Let's face the music and see how things went this past quarter.

Set up a budget by 1/14 to track and limit writing expenses for the calendar year.
Completed on time.

Move website to a different host by 1/28.
Well, it was moved by then. Finishing it, on the other hand, required a lot more time than I expected.

Finish editing 'Midnight', SF novel, by 2/16.
Nope. Only about 25% done. Turned out to be more difficult than I anticipated. The cutting and slashing is easy. The filling in with spackle to match the surrounding area has been tough.

Finish writing 'Lodestone', novel for 2-year writing class, by 2/25.
Didn't happen, nor will it. I started this mainstream book before I was fully committed to the speculative fiction genre. There is potential to re-purpose it as future fiction, but it will be mothballed for now.

Write, edit, polish, agonize over, edit again, and submit a new short story by 3/31.
The writing, editing, and agonizing did occur. Then I put the story aside to age/ferment and didn't make time to look at it again. B+

FY07 Q4 Goals
-Finish editing 'Chasing Midnight', SF novel.

-Edit, polish, agonize over, edit again, and submit a new short story.

-Start process for new novel: 20,000 foot view, theme, basic idea, etc.

All right, here we go, no foolin'.