LCRW #34

Quite thrilled to have my story “The Shop of Dying Illusions” in the latest issue of the wonderfully quirky Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet!

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Speculative Fiction podcast link spam!

This week at the Star-Dusted Sirens, I’m serving up some link spam!

The Star-Dusted Sirens

When it comes to fiction, I generally prefer reading over listening, but over the last few years, two factors have led to me spending more time listening to short fiction podcasts: 1) I’m a dreadfully slow reader with very little free time, and 2) I often have stretches at work where I’m doing fairly routine tasks like binding or scanning music—the perfect opportunity to put on my headphones and let someone else do my short fiction reading for me.

What’s been interesting about listening to fiction rather than reading it myself is that audio often gives me a better sense of when a story is truly gripping me. The less engaged I am with the story, the more I find myself zoning out and missing things. But when a story’s good, I’ll hang on every word—assuming the narration is decent, that is. There have been a few times when I’ve…

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France, shiny writing news, and the impending arrival of the cymbal-clapping demon monkeys

Life has been so amazingly nice to me lately that I’m expecting the other shoe to drop at any moment, complete with an army of cymbal-clapping demon monkeys. I’m a pessimist like that. But in the meantime, I shall revel in the shiny!

I just got back from a rather lovely trip to France with my husband’s family. Much awesomeness was experienced. As an opera nerd, getting to see the Palais Garnier was the highlight for me during the few days we spent in Paris. After Paris, we took a barge cruise through Burgundy, which rocked on every level—the food, the wine, the weather, all the places visited, the amazing crew, and the chance to go bicycling along the canal route. But now, alas, I am re-adjusting to real life, where lunch sadly does not include wine and a ridiculous number of cheeses.

There has also been continuing writing-related shininess, most of it occurring while I was off learning just how rusty my French has gotten:

* My story “Memories of Mirrored Worlds” is now available online at Daily Science Fiction;

* Last week I got another acceptance from Daily Science Fiction for a flash piece called “The Perfect Coordinates to Raise a Child”;

* And finally, “The Girl Who Welcomed Death to Svalgearyen” from issue 124 of Beneath Ceaseless Skies received some nice comments in reviews at Locus Online and Tangent Online. BCS will also be offering the story as a podcast sometime in the near future, which I’m quite looking forward to hearing.

The Kneejerk Click-and-Share

Or, “Facebook is going to steal your photos before you’ve even taken them!”

Those of you on Facebook are quite likely familiar with variations on the following post:

For those of you who do not understand the reasoning behind this posting, Facebook is now a publicly traded entity. Unless you state otherwise, anyone can infringe on your right to privacy once you post to this site. It is recommended that you and other members post a similar notice as this, or you may copy and paste this version. If you do not post such a statement once, then you are indirectly allowing public use of items such as your photos and the information contained in your status updates.

PRIVACY NOTICE: Warning – any person and/or institution and/or Agent and/or Agency of any governmental structure including but not limited to the United States Federal Government also using or monitoring/using this website or any of its associated websites, you do NOT have my permission to utilize any of my profile information nor any of the content contained herein including, but not limited to my photos, and/or the comments made about my photos or any other “picture” art posted on my profile.

You are hereby notified that you are strictly prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing, disseminating, or taking any other action against me with regard to this profile and the contents herein. The foregoing prohibitions also apply to your employee, agent, student or any personnel under your direction or control.

The contents of this profile are private and legally privileged and confidential information, and the violation of my personal privacy is punishable by law. UCC 1-103 1-308 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED WITHOUT PREJUDICE

When I see stuff like this, the first thing I do is stop and think about it for a minute. Does it seem even remotely plausible? (In the case of the above example, no. Becoming a publicly traded company has nothing to do with privacy rights.) Then I usually take a few minutes to look into it. I use my Google-Fu. I check reliable and highly useful places like Snopes.com where, more often than not, I’ll find that the post is a mutation of an outdated or equally erroneous post. And based on what I find, I do one of three things:

1) Share the post,
2) Ignore the post, or
3) Tell people to stop sharing the post because it’s just not true (giving them links to relevant sources, of course)

For the record, it’s usually #3.

Sadly, there are an awful lot of people who will pass the post along without a moment’s thought. Hence the reason it’s usually #3.

And when it is #3, sometimes people will thank me for the correction, delete and/or correct the erroneous info, and mention how they need to remember to check these things before clicking “share” in the future. Unfortunately, other people will just leave the post there and not respond to comments pointing out its bogus nature, or they’ll delete it and act is if it was never there, because who likes to admit they were wrong about something? No one. It’s not a pleasant feeling. But what really makes me want to bang my head against hard objects is when I get responses like this:

“A lot of people told me it’s not true, but I figure what can it hurt? LOL”

What can it hurt? Well, my least tactful response is that it makes you look kind of stupid. My more tactful response is that, because other people with kneejerk click-and-share tendencies are going to share the post after seeing it on your page, you’re needlessly perpetuating misconceptions and disseminating information that just ain’t true. Too many legitimate issues are obscured by the tinfoil hat flavored variety. But my main concern about this “share now, think later (if ever)” culture is that it’s part of a larger problem that unfortunately isn’t limited to the internet: a lack of critical thought.

In the ancient days of email forwards, I would sometimes do exactly the sort of thing I’ve ranted about here. “A friend sent me this email saying you’ll get cancer if you hold in a sneeze after ingesting Pop Rocks and Coke, so it must be true! Forward to everyone!” Two things helped me change that habit. The first was a friend who revealed that an email I had forwarded was bogus. He introduced me to the glory that is Snopes.com, for which I am eternally grateful. Because I hate feeling like a dumbass. The second was a class I took as an undergraduate called Science vs. Pseudoscience. That class helped to remind me that a) I have a brain, and b) I should engage it in critical thought more often.

To make a long blog post short (too late!), I’m toying with the idea of writing a series of blog posts (probably posted fairly irregularly given my schedule) titled something like “Why Skepticism is Not a Four-Letter Word.” Given that I normally blog about writing-related matters, I’m not sure if that would be of any interest to the folks who actually read my ramblings. But it would give me an outlet for some thoughts that have been rattling around in my head, and I guess that’s reason enough.

*blows dust off blog*

Wow, it’s been a while, huh? I guess it’s time I stop with the “I’ll blog more, I promise” stuff and accept the fact that a regular blogging routine is probably not going to happen for the duration of my time in grad school. When it comes to establishing priorities, there are just too many things that win out over blogging at present–fiction writing, classwork, day job, musical endeavors, exercise, and sparing some moments to remind myself that I have friends and family.
Oh, and sleep. Precious, precious sleep.
That said, I can at least promise two upcoming posts: some story pimpage later this week, and later this month, a guest post by writerly compadre Lindsey Duncan, whose contemporary fantasy novel Flow has just been released by Double Dragon Publishing.