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Meeting Note 006

Been a while, but here’s one to make up for it.

It’s not exactly a meeting note, but something similar.

fish

A Post

This is a post to get the, “I haven’t posted in a long time” stuff out of the way so that the next time I post I don’t have to write it and I can just write what I’m thinking about.

Also… I sold a story to Podcastle!  Woot Woot!  Yeah it was a couple months ago but I haven’t written anything here in almost a year.

Also… I got a different job!  Yay!  In Washington…  er… yes that’s a yay! too.  But it means moving and selling the farm… that’s not so much yay.  More like Holy Crap!  How the heck are we going to do that.  Answer: not right away.  I move to Washington, rent a crappy little cave of an apartment and leave the family to brave the winter and lambing season alone.  Yeah… not so much yay at all.  But still yay in the long run.

Also… mostly almost done with a long short story – heading towards 9000 words, but after a good edit it’ll probably be down around 8000 which is my ultimate goal.  It’s a bit dark, science fantasy, and everyone dies in the end.  I’ve got my eye on trying it out on Clarkesworld first and they can likely do one of their famous same day rejections… or maybe not.  Lots of editing needed first… well first I need to finish it and then comes the editing.

Also… I’m annoying myself with all of these ellipses so I’m just going to stop now.

Pseudopod flash fiction semifinals

The Pseudopod flash fiction story contest has reached the semifinal stage.  A lot of stories have been weeded out, but both of mine are still in the running – woo hoo!

And I’m sitting in a little resturant section of a Price Chopper grocery store drinking Grape Chia Kombucha and eating Doritos because the clutch gave out half way to work and I’m stranded, so I’ve got lots of time to read through the stories and vote.

I encourage everyone to do the following:
1. Go to forum.escapeartists.net and vote on the stories.
2. Try some grape chia kombucha – yum.
3. Don’t have your clutch go bad.  Blah.

And now I must go… my ride’s here.

Writing Contests

Writing contests.  I’ve wanted to write since I learned how to read, and while I’ve always known that I’m pretty good at it – having your mom or your wife say you’re good is nice – they aren’t objective readers.

I’ve been listening to Mur Lafferty a lot over the past year since I decided that I wanted to give being a writer a try, so when I received my first couple of rejections, it didn’t bum me out much.  Actually my reaction was, “Cool!  Now those stories are finally free again to submit somewhere else.”

I hate how long some submissions take.  That’s one of the benefits of web sites like the Submissions Grinder and Duotrope – they’ll tell you what the average submission length is, and some of them aren’t really that bad – a couple days for Clarkesworld.

99% of the stories submitted there are rejected though, and usually with a form letter, so you have no idea why the story didn’t make it.  Either it was bad, didn’t work for the slush reader, or just wasn’t what they happened to be looking for that day.  A form letter really isn’t that much to go on to help improve your craft.

One place to go is critique groups – I don’t have a good one that I’m part of so I can’t really write much about that.  The one thing that I’ve heard though, is that you need to be very careful with critique groups because you can get some pretty terrible advice.  You should look for a group where most of the members are better / have more experience than you.

My current favorite is contests.  The mother of all scifi/horror contests is the Writers of the Future contest.  I haven’t worked myself up to entering it yet, but I’ve got a story in mind that needs some rewriting before I send it off anywhere.

Last summer I entered the Escape Pod flash fiction contest – 750 word stories, and I did pretty well.  The story was rough and needed to be rewritten, but it still did alright.  So when Escape Pod’s sister podcast Pseudopod announced their flash fiction contest, I got to work and came up with two 500 word stories that I think are going to do really well.

One of my stories has already won its group and is headed to the semi finals and the other story’s group hasn’t shown up yet.  The cool thing is that I think the second story is better than the story that’s already in the semi finals.

It’s exciting to see the voting, to read the comments that people are making, and it’s also consuming.  A new group shows up every two days, so every two days at midnight it’s possible that my next story has shown up, and new comments are being posted all the time.  Whew.  Fun stuff.

The nice thing is that even if neither of my stories wins, I can see the feedback directly and I can see how much my writing was liked.  I’m not getting a bland form letter, I’m getting real, helpful, constructive feedback that can help my writing get better.

So when the contest is over and I’m less consumed by it, I think I’m going to polish up my story about Mars, add a couple thousand words, and send it off to Writers of the Future.  Most likely it will be the beginning of a process that may or may not result in winning a prize, but I think I’ve found what works for me, and that’s a pretty good prize to win all on its own.

Gates

Gates are interesting things.  Where there is a gate, it’s implied that there is also a fence or a wall that the gate allows passage through.

On a farm, gates let trucks, tractors, and animals pass from outside the farm to the inside, or sometimes the other direction, but either way they’re going it’s always a very controlled thing involving three parts:

Part 1: open the gate.
Part 2: pass through the gate.
Part 3: close the gate.

On a farm, if you do part 1 and part 2, but are too stupid or lazy to do part 3, then you will quickly learn the fastest way to meet your neighbors while you spend the next five hours chasing down your animals.

If you tresspass on someone else’s property and are too stupid or lazy to do part 3, then you have given some poor farmer the gift of meeting his neighbors while he spends the next five hours chasing down his animals, and if one of those animals happens to walk out into the road and a car comes by and hits it, totals the car and gives the driver a broken collar bone, then the poor farmer gets to pay for the car, the hospital bills, and he’s down a cow which might be worth $800.

So if you open someone’s gate, you better freaking close it once you’ve passed through.

Vacuum Pump for a Surge Milker

Here’s the vacuum pump my wife picked up at an Amish auction.  I attached it to the  board and the motor.  it only came with the pump and the glass jar thing.  The old Amish guy had been using it to milk his cows for years, so we know the pump is good enough to do the job.  The big question is  – aside from the surge milker which isn’t pictured here – what else are we missing?

MilkPump-s

The four main parts of the pump are the pump itself on the top left, the on/off switch on the bottom left, the motor on the bottom right and a glass jar thingie on the top right.

I have no idea what the glass jar thing is for.  I’m sure it’s important for something though – and the Amish guy didn’t say anything about it.

Here’s a picture of the pump manufacturer tag and model number.

Violet

Daisy had a baby.  The kids named her Violet.

violet

Origin of the word W00T

A lot of speculation has been written over the years about where the word woot comes from… that’s woot! as in, “WOOT!  I’m so happy!”

Some say it’s a Scottish word, some say it comes from dungeons and dragons, some say it originated with L33t speak, and some say it came from the original MMORPGs like Ultima online.

Here’s the real story.

Back before fast internet and before there was anything like a graphical internet let alone graphical playable online computer games, kids with UNIX accounts at their local college spent WAY too much time playing the original online multi-player games – MUDS (Multi User Dungeons.)

There were a lot of them.  Hundreds, maybe more than a thousand or two, and amazingly there are still a lot of them out there.  One of the largest then (and it’s still one of the largest and most popular) was a MUD called The Discworld Mud, modeled after Terry Pratchett’s Discworld book series.

At the height of the Discworld’s popularity there were still only a few popular MUDS available to play on and people tended to play on multiple muds at the same time, so the population of users was very well integrated between the different large muds.  The reason for this was LAG.  In the Discworld LAG was even a monster you could attack and kill.

The servers that the MUDs were hosted on were generally run by collages and were supposed to be used for research, so the MUDs were designed to limit the number of people who could play at a time, so it was typical to sit in a queue and wait for your turn to play on a popular MUD, and while you waited you’d play on a less popular MUD.

All of this explanation is to set up the environment where a popular new word could spread rapidly across a wide group of people.

Woot started this way:

On the Discworld, there was a popular way of communicating with other players on the MUD – you’d shout, and everyone near you would hear what you said.  Usually the shouts would be silly things.  For example if you shouted the number 8, you’d go flying through the air and get kicked out of the game.

It was also common to quote bits of Monty Python movies – especially the Knights who say Ni!.

In the Monty Python skit, the knights use the word Ni to attack the knights of King Arthur, and one knight invariable says it wrong… Noo!

And to this we add one more final piece – the Unseen University Librarian.

The Librarian used to be a human wizard but due to a magical accident he was changed into an orangutan – after which he refused to be turned back into a human because he found that he was more effective as a librarian in Simian form.  His only problem was that he could only communicate by saying, “Wook.”

Add them all together – the shouting system of communication, the word, “Woot” and the Monty Python skit – and you get someone shouting, “WOOK WOOK!” when they were excited, then someone else turning it into, “Woot Woot! in reference to the knights who say ni… er nooo… or something.

This was eventually shortened to simply, “Woot!”

There we have it… the origin of the word, “Woot” is actually a magical orangutan.

The reign of the MUDs was strong all the way up until Ultima Online came out, and then almost all at the same time, the players dropped the MUDs and moved over to the new graphical MUD experience, and they brought their way of speaking with them.

AFK – away from keyboard.
LOL – laugh our loud.
: ) – the smiley face.  It originated in early MUDs.

And Woot.

 

The Discworld MUD

Pseudopod Flash Contest III

Voting for the Pseudopod Flash Contest III  is officially starting this Sunday, and with 143 stories submitted, I’m thinking that it’s going to be a pretty great contest.

I’ve never been a really big fan of horror – especially the gory stuff.  One of my favorite horror movies is the old BBC version of A Woman In Black.  I guess maybe there should be a difference between a horror movie and a scary movie.  The Woman in Black is the scariest movie I’ve ever seen.

But can a book or a story be scary?  Horror seems to be divided into two main horror areas – Physical Peril, and Mental Peril.  I’m not counting Emotional Peril because it’s a byproduct of the other two – so there’s just the wet and the dry horror and on the wet side, sure it’s easy to describe lots of bloody things happening, but at least for me it doesn’t create the feeling of terror that they psychological stuff does.

I’ve had some experience with both in real life.  I’m sure people coming back from Iraq or Afganastan have seen more than their fair share of it, but for me, my only experience is seening a person get ripped apart by a semi-truck on the freeway once.

Seeing it was awful.  I watched the movie Starship Troopers shortly afterward and had to leave or I would have puked.  Stuff like that doesn’t normally bother me, but I’d just seen the real thing and I found that Starship Troopers did a pretty good job of recreating it.

But reading about it?  I dunno.  I think it’s powerful, but less powerful than Mental Peril can be – Like the Woman in Black, and like my grandfather’s ghost stories.  There wasn’t any blood or gore – just the promise that there is a lot more to the world than what we can see and not all of it is nice.

Anyway, the first group of Pseudopod stories will be added on Sunday.  Head on over to the forums and read and cast your votes.

Pseudopod.org

Is it spring yet?

My computer crashed and so I’m going through the hard drive and saving the good stuff.  Here’s some pictures that make me happy.

Little fish in the creek.Little fish in the creek.

SistersSisters

HelloSaying hello to the new calf

GuessWhatCan you guess what this is?  99% of you won’t have a clue.
The rest live on a family farm.