My New Best Friend: Stark Computer Lab

Let me tell you about a place where I spend LITERALLY half a day sometimes. Alright, so the longest I’ve done is nine hours, but that’s longer than I sleep, so it’s a lot.

This lab is a lovely place on my college campus that is filled with four rows of dual-monitor computers just waiting for me to use them. I like to use the one by the door, with the under-maintenance computers on either side, so I can stretch my stuff out as I work and not have to worry about people looking over my shoulder out of curiosity or boredom or whatever.

The room is air conditioned, but once again I have NO CONTROL over the temperature, so I’m always freezing. ALWAYS. I bring a coat with me whenever I study there, for one because of the temperature of the room, for another because it’s often late and FREEZING by the time I head back to my room, no matter how warm it is when I actually go to the lab.

There’s one girl, one of the people running our college’s paper, who is often there nearly as much as I am, albiet for shorter periods of time. One boy is there a lot on Monday and Wednesday evenings, working on his Economics homework. A friend of mine is usually there doing whatever it is he’s doing just after my classes get out, for an hour or two at most.

This lab is not just my best friend, but the best friend of plenty of people who regularly (even habitually) frequent it. Strange as it may seem, I think this is one of the places I will think back on with a twisted fondness when all is said and done and I’m actually somewhere other than Claremont.

Yup, I’m nuts.




What’s REALLY Going to Happen in the Publishing Industry?

First you hear to traditionally publish, then you hear that self-publishing is the way to go. Print will always be the best, then e-books are vastly outselling physical books.

With Borders out of business, Barnes and Noble following, and who knows what going on where actual publishing companies and agents are concerned, it’s a very relevant question: What is REALLY happening in the publishing industry, and what does it mean for writers?

Though I don’t really have an answer to this question, I will give two answers actual authors I have met in the past month have given to this question, and why I think one of them might be right.

Firstly is one Joyce Carol Oates, famous writer of a variety of fictional works, writing instructor at Princeton University, and winner of several life-time achievement awards in the work of fiction. These credentials, of course, mean that she is excessively well-versed in the publishing industry. She’s published time and again, and with much success. What did she say about the idea that e-books might put print books out of business?

Well, of course, e-books would never fully replace print books, she said. The great masterpieces of print wouldn’t likely have been made, she argued, if all they’d had to show for their work was a digital copy, and not a massive tome of paper and cover and binding that would fill bookshelves and be collector’s items, of sort. Similarly, she said, the great directors weren’t likely to put as much effort into their works if all they had to show for it was simply a inch-by-inch screen version.

I’ll talk about my thoughts on this later, and she was thoroughly, if a bit inarticulately, lambasted by a student who felt that she was completely wrong.

The second writer was one Amy Sterling Casil, well known to the Claremont Colleges, as she was a distinguished graduate of Scripps College, which was why she was there giving a talk during Parent’s Weekend. The talk was about, naturally, the way the publishing industry is heading.

Very simply, she was of the firm belief that non-traditional publishing, as it is often called today, is the way of the future. In fact, if she’s right, it is not too far off to be the only way of the future, and that the traditional publishing houses and the agent system are relics of the past, eventually to die out as self-publishing and e-publishing overtake them. In such a world as this, Smashwords, Amazon, and iTunes are likely to thrive, as well as the likes of Kobo and Diesel. Conglomerates of authors working together to benefit from each other’s publishing strengths and boosting each other where one has a weakness are not only advisable, but the most logical, profitable strategy for all parties. If one is good with covers and a friend a crack-hand at formatting, why not give each other a hand to save time and frustration?

I did tell her about what Joyce Carol Oates said, and we both agreed that she, herself, is a bit of a holdover from that previous era of the traditional workhorse that is finally meeting its end. After all, she was born in the thirties, published quickly out of college. Of course to her it seems that the physical book is the best representation of a work. However, Dickens wouldn’t necessarily agree, living in a time where the serial publication was king. We’ve already seen that publishing format die out, effectively. Why is it so strange to think that traditional publishing will die out too?

That’s not to say that I won’t try to be traditionally published, at least once, before the ship sinks. It’s a vestige of my childhood that I feel is an important part of the cultural history that will be studied by future generations, just as we study the serial today, and I want to be a part of it. But Natalie and I have already started talking about creating our on author conglomerate to help each other in the world of self-publishing, as well as our own literary magazine (because we’d be great at it). Sticking a toe on a sinking ship isn’t so bad. Jumping onto it when the dock is still very stable is foolish.

I’m preferring, at this time, not to put all my eggs in one basket, but I do think that self- and e-publishing are the way of the future. But just in case I’m wrong, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for traditional publishing sticking around, now, does it?

What do you guys think? Where will the publishing industry be in the next ten, twenty years? How are you preparing for this?



The Annoyances of Dorm Life

I love my dorm. I do. But sometimes there are things about a dorm and living in one that makes them not particularly conducive to student living, much less writer living.

This seems counter-intuitive  but suspend your disbelief for but a moment and I think you’ll all be able to see very plainly what I’m getting at.

First of all, noise. This is the most obvious thing, so I’m bringing it up first. There are all sorts of noises in even the quietest of dorms, which my own dorm is not. In fact, in the computer lab of our quietest dorm, one can hear the people playing billiards in the next room as if they were in the lab itself. Talk about driving someone mad….

Another thing with noise, however, is music. People in college apparently think it’s a great idea to turn their music up so people in the NEXT BUILDING have to listen to it. That’s not an exaggeration. It’s small wonder our generation is suffering from hearing loss.

My dorm is particularly difficult to live with at times because of our AC system. AC is great, but ours is one where you can’t control the temp, it’s the same for the whole building. While there are obvious issues with this, one that isn’t so obvious at first is the fact that you can hear things from all over the building through the vents. Sometimes it’s creepy, sometimes it’s gross, sometimes it’s just downright annoying.

Apart from noise, there’s also the other issue that the AC presents in my particular case, which is climate control. I have poor circulation to begin with, but add in the fact that it’s always below sixty degrees in my room and I can’t wear gloves and type properly, among other things, one can probably imagine many ways in which AC that can’t be individually controlled is problematic.

Then there’s shared bathrooms.

Shared bathrooms don’t have to be bad, and this certainly isn’t my worst experience with them. But let’s look at this from a creative perspective, shall we? Are bathrooms not the room where most people go to think? How does this change when your day-to-day bathroom is a place where other people also go in and out without knocking, constantly intruding on your thoughts with their sounds, smells, etc.? There’s a certain self-consciousness that comes with sharing a bathroom, even with just a couple of people, and this certainly does not lend itself to creative thought. That’s why I try to shower before anyone else on the floor is awake, not so that I make sure I get a shower, but so that my brain isn’t too self-conscious to create.

At the moment, that’s all that comes to mind, so it’s probably good for you all that I’m working on a paper as well, so that I don’t end up driving you off the wall with my complaints about dorm life being stifling to creativity. I’m too busy writing about how the home can drive a person mad. 😀 Maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime.



Just Turn My Brian Off, Please

All right, as if it’s not enough that I’ve got two test and two papers within the next two-ish weeks…. My brain can’t stop coming up with fabulous fan fiction. It’s like a disease!

I say this, because I recently dreamed up and outlined a 526-chapter fan fiction. YES 526 chapters. I’m writing chapter two already, but Natalie jokes that it will be six years before she gets to read my fabulous epilogues. We sacrifice for the sake of art. *shrug*

Last night I had an EPIC dream that was literally beginning-to-end plotline fan fiction. It’s a Severus/OC with some Sirius/OC and Remus/OC (this is beginning to be a theme w/ me…), but it’s much shorter than my other. How long? I don’t know in chapters, but it’s a fraction of the number of years being covered, so I’m not too worried about it.

However, it’s very inconvenient timing, don’t you think? Why can’t these things come to me when I’ve not already got dozens of things on my plate?

Then again, when have I not got dozens of things on my plate?


At any rate, I think it’s going to be a very interesting story, whenever I get around to writing it.

It’s going to be called Unlocking the Depths, in case you’re keeping your eyes peeled.



I Won Things!

For those of you who are familiar with fan fiction, you will know that there are a number of user-run awards and their varying processes. I was recently nominated for a good many things in the L&L 2012 Genre Awards, and here’s a listing of what I won.

– Best Drama Author (YAY I won something)

-Best Family Author Runner-Up

-Best Humor Author Runner-Up

-Best Hurt/Comfort Author Runner-Up

-Best Tragedy Author Runner-Up

I would like to thank anyone of you who might have voted for me. I’m a bit put out that I didn’t get anything for Romance, but Drama is basically Tragedy and Romance put together if to do it right, so I’ll take it! 😀

If you’ve not checked out my fan fiction, now’s a perfect time to do so! Lots of exciting things going on, and my awards are the perfect excuse to harass you about it.



Updates on ‘Soon’

All right, so I said I was sending this puppy off to The Cincinnati Review, and like as might I will, but not quite yet.

You see, my dear editor Natalie is editor-in-chief of the Scripps College Journal at (gasp) Scripps College. I published my short story “Forgetting Mia Martin” there last year, and intend to submit “Hunting Plums” soon. “Hunting Plums” was always intended for SCJ, but I’ve recently decided that I may as well put “Soon” up too. If the fiction editors like “Soon” better, well, “Hunting Plums” is more likely to get published somewhere else anyway. And if it’s a low year, they might even publish both, as both are quite short.

I’ll let you know how it goes, naturally. This will mean, of course, that I won’t be submitting either of these pieces to other literary magazines until I hear back from SCJ, but it also frees me up more time to work on editing “Make-Believe” and finish writing some of my short stories. Not to mention all the novellas, novels, and fan fiction projects on my plate. YEESH. 😀