St. Anthony’s Fire and a Problem of Bureaucracy

Cat Rotator's Quarterly

In August of 1951, in the French village of Pont-Sant-Esprit, bakers received several loads of flour. It had a greyish cast, and smelled a little off. The government depot in charge of distribution ordered them to use it anyway. By August 11, customers complained of feeling ill after eating the bread, and other bakers reported trouble getting their dough to behave properly. Multiple complaints about the flour fell on deaf ears, even though, as it later proved, more bakers in other villages complained about the products of that one specific mill. On August 17, the first local people began to suffer hallucinations. Their feet burned as if they walked on coals. Physicians had no idea what was wrong, until someone realized: St. Anthony’s Fire had struck for the first time in hundreds of years.

Ergot poisoning, or St. Anthony’s Fire, was a disease that afflicted people who ate wheat or…

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If You’re Interested in Archives…

The Big Four (I think there are still four? They keep merging/buying each other) are trying to take out the Internet Archive.

For bonus “fun,” if these books are old enough– the publishers never bought the digital rights. They weren’t in the contracts back before ebooks existed.

Crossover Queen's Creative Chaos

I just heard about this court case, figured I’d pass the news along in case it was of interest.

Full disclosure: I’ve never borrowed books from What I have checked out on their site is their very large section of archived old foreign shows. They have, among other things, about 80 eps of Unfettered Shogun. That is an awesome thing to have preserved.

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Reblog: RIP Flo

I’ve shared LaughingWolf’s story before– short version, he was struck by lightning, and survived.
It was a solid strike, he’s still really messed up.

He had a treasured statue– story at the blog I’m going to link– in bronze. In a storage area.
Given the folks who read my blog, you probably already have a bad feeling what happened… yeah, snatch and run on the statue, and it’s probably already destroyed, although he’s holding out in hope he’s pretty sure she’s gone.

Full story for Flo here.

My Saturday afternoon was interrupted by a call I first thought was a telemarketer, and now really wish it had been. Instead, it was the manager of the storage facility where I have most of what’s left of my life put away for now. Not a huge thing, less than half the normal size, but packed full of memories and the few things I’ve been able to hold onto these last few years. Including my books.

Forms of Conflict, Part 1: Man vs. Society

>>> . Well-known examples of Man versus Society stories are tales such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington*, To Kill A Mockingbird*, or even the X-Men films*. In each of these stories you have an individual or a group acting to bring about a change of some kind in society. For Mr. Smith it is a fight against corruption in the U.S. Senate; To Kill a Mockingbird’s plot shows a lawyer fighting racism on behalf of his client, and the X-Men are literally fighting for peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants.

>>> It is only to point out that Cameron and others like him have come to rely on this type of narrative so much that they no longer stop to think about how it works or how to make it better. They have stopped acknowledging reality in their stories and that makes said stories fall flatter than shadows, which have slightly more substance than these types of movies and tales do now.

Little sample of the basic theme– quotes are paragraphs apart.

A Song of Joy by Caroline Furlong

Previously, we discussed conflict – its definition and how to build it in a story. This article and the following ones will delve into types of conflict, an idea that was prompted by a discussion I had with Foxfier in the comments here. It brought to mind the idea that the kinds of conflict which authors rely on ought to be fleshed out more so writers could see and consider them in some depth. That way, they would know what to aim for in their various stories.

A great part of this is Foxfier’s point that if you narrow the conflict too much you end up hamstringing yourself as a writer. If you must write a report for school about a book you read, then this narrowing helps to focus you on the point you need to make to earn your grade. However, while such contraction is useful for…

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Public Service Announcement — Survey Data Request

Survey for anyone who spends more than half their worktime in writing and publishing.

Mad Genius Club

With the kind permission of our gracious hostess, I’d like to draw your attention to a survey for Indie Authors.

Several years ago I joined the Alliance for Independent Authors (abbrev ALLi), an industry group based in the UK with a very substantial US constituency. (You can find out more at the link. They’re helpful in providing advice and some benefits for indie authors.)

I followed the Author Earnings data analysis work while that was being publicly released (it’s now private and sequestered inside the industry), and I advised ALLi when they wanted to solicit some equivalent information self-reported by indie authors, for comparison with the traditional publishing data currently available. While this is obviously not at the detailed data level of Author Earnings, it still has useful light to shed in comparing the traditional and indie publishing industries at a high level.

Here is the information about the survey

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Reblog: The Squeaks Caper

This is a pair of stories from Lawdog’s childhood in Nigeria in the 1970’s. One of the two, which I have dubbed the Goat of Justice, and he refers to as “Law and Order: Special Goat Crimes” has never before appeared in print. Both of them are fully illustrated, and as you may have come to expect, there are also accompanying illustrations of Nigerian flora and fauna to fill in any gaps. Because I can. In addition, there are two sections where I’ve put in full-spread illustrations. Wait until you see the bonus at the end!

Go check it out at Cedar’s blog!

Genre Signals: Science Fiction

Making it easy for your readers to find you, scifi edition.

Mad Genius Club

Starships! Computers! Blasters/phasers/proton torpedoes/lasers in spaaaaaaaace!!!! Toss those into your story, stir, slap on a tag and go right?

If only. (I decided on this before Karen posted her piece, so I’m riffing off of her, plus going a few other directions. No, we did not plan in advance. Pinkie-claw swear.)

Science fiction goes back to Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein’s Monster or A Modern Prometheus, if not earlier. She used state-of-the-art science as it was then understood, with one small piece of handwavium. Then she extrapolated, based on that science and on human behavior. Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and others did the same thing, perhaps with more handwavium. Then along came the 20th Century and whee! Oh, and along came genre tags, and readers who wanted “Something new, but like that book there.” Hugo Gernsback, John Campbell Jr., and others gave readers what they wanted, and the rest is…

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How Much Is Your Reputation Worth? – (AKA) Do Your Great-Grandchildren Need Your Copyright? A Guest Post By Frank Hood

On copyright.

Mad Genius Club

How Much Is Your Reputation Worth?(AKA) Do Your Great-Grandchildren Need Your Copyright? A Guest Post By Frank Hood

Headnote: Since we’re all either writers here or people fairly savvy about the ins and outs of the writing life, I have to apologize for insulting anyone’s knowledge, since I wrote much of this for the general public with later parts added specifically for those of us here.

Ted Sturgeon gave me the best advice about writing fiction I ever got. No, I’m not going to tell you yet, but, patience, I will tell you, so just hold on a little bit. First, I want to answer the second question that came to your mind about my first sentence. Who is Ted Sturgeon? “Why,” I reply indignantly, “He’s the creator of Sturgeon’s Law.” He said, “90% of Science Fiction is crap, but 90% of everything is crap.” Ted Sturgeon, author…

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Grab Your Memes While they’re Memes

Meme trove!

According To Hoyt

First and very importantly I want to make all of you aware of this site: Glorious Meme Commissar of Proletariat.

It is run by a friend of this blog, and collects some great ones. These first few memes come from that. (And we refuse to explain the one about the secretary of transportation. Deal with your disappointment. Whatever possesses you, though, DO NOT LOOK IT UP.)

The next few are memes found in the wild that he hasn’t corralled yet:

And these are more personal but still true. The top one is how a lot of us feel about our fandom.

This is absolutely true in this house. Every time you fight Dan tooth and nail to get a cat. Who does the cat love, adore and OBEY? Dan.

Oh, and in these difficult times, it’s really important to combat a tendency to become an alcoholic. Not only am I…

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Girls With Guns Book Reviews

So, this is a thing….

An online friend of a friend writes action-thriller-romances with Nephilim; other than geeking out with her on some theology squeeing discussions, I haven’t read things she’s written. (I want to go somewhere else in my fiction, not simi-modern.)
In spite of that defect in my experience, this book review (and site) seemed like something that needs to be spread around…and I really like her taste in artwork, and she actually thinks about a lot of this stuff.

The Draka and the Giant, by Liane Zane

This is definitely a series that needs to be read in order. Our story here opens in medias res, and readers who begin here won’t have much knowledge of the premise or the situation –nor, especially, of the characters and their relationships. You really need the context of the first two books to fully appreciate this one. (With that context, though, it becomes a wonderful capstone to the arch the author has crafted!) However, for the benefit of readers who haven’t read either of those books nor my or others’ reviews of them, and who may not have seen the book description either, the titular “Elioud” are human-angel hybrids (matings between the two races having begun before the Flood, and some unions –or rapes of humans by fallen angels– supposedly continuing to occur). Depending on their degree of angelic inheritance, Elioud may have special abilities that most humans do not, and may be quite long-lived (as in, centuries) as well. Those who are aware of what they are may choose, like other humans, to knowingly serve God or Satan (or, also like many humans, to imagine that they can just ignore that whole conflict and be neutrals). But for those on one side or the other, the term “spiritual warfare” may be a lot more literal than it is for most believers.