Friday, February 15, 2013

An Inconvenient Thing: Part I

An Inconvenient Thing by Sky Sloderbeck
Welcome to a new feature that I hope you enjoy, a story called An Inconvenient Thing. This story is a serialization with no rhyme nor reason. There will be no set lengths since I'm writing on the fly and letting the story go where it will: this first offering is tiny at just over 200 words when I'm used to writing 2000+ words at a sitting. There will be no set publication dates since it depends on the kind of time I get to update due to life's demands. But maybe the randomness will help to make it a little more special. Or maybe it will hurt it. I guess we'll find out.

This serialized story was inspired by stories you may know, and is in a way a response to them. How long will the story go on for? That depends on a number of factors, not the least of which is you, the reader. Subscribe, visit, comment. Let me know what you think of An Inconvenient Thing. Let me know where I can improve. Let me know lines you love, or characters for that matter. If the story takes a turn you don't understand or like, let me know that too. Help me write Tatiana's story by being an active reader. I look forward to your feedback, and I hope you enjoy this serialization.

Part 1: Upon Waking

I tasted the dirt on my lips and felt the weight of the earth pressing down on my chest. I didn't expect dead to feel so alive. A synapse fired in my brain, reminding me that I should be panicking. After all, I was buried alive, wasn't I? But I was dead. I remembered dying. I remembered the darkness flooding my vision and how it felt like his tight embrace was becoming as wispy as smoke.
          I tried to lift my hand, but it was held tight, pinned by the demanding earth. Another synapse fired, urging me to struggle, but I kind of liked it here in the ground. I don't remember what my mother's womb felt like - who does - but I imagined it felt much like this. I wiggled a finger, working it through the loose loam, and reveled in the sensation. 
          It was nice here, comforting, but it was an inconvenient thing, too. As the synapses continued to fire and my brain continued stretching, waking, I felt more and more like it was time to be reborn. It seemed appropriate that I remembered my death before I remembered my life, but it started to come back to me - I am Tatiana. I am nineteen. And I am a vampire.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Skydeas™ by Sky Sloderbeck
I have ideas. I am Sky. Therefore, I have Skydeas™! But where do Skydeas™ come from? Are they like mana from MMORPG heaven? Do I have a barrel of Skydeas™ like some people have barrels of monkeys? Do I catch them with a butterfly net and mace? Do I have a pair of mommy and daddy Skydeas™ which I give oysters and chocolate and copious amounts of wine to in order to encourage them to create baby Skydeas™ for me?

I have to be honest, Skydeas™ aren't so esoteric as all that. They are actually very easy to come by in just a three easy steps:

  • Step One: Get some Smarties. 
  • Step Two: Get some bacon.
  • Step Three: Get some ideas.

I know what you're thinking: Sky, I understand the bacon, it's inspirational, but Smarties? How does that lead to getting ideas?

Aside from the fact that they're Smarties and I've been eating them for years and I always got pretty good grades in school and so they must work, to get said Smarties and the bacon, you must go to a store. When you go to a store, you see things. When you see things, your mind stores the things. Then one day, you're standing in line at Walmart with your Mullet Master At-Home-Barbering Kit and your basket of BBQ pork rinds when it hits you: IDEAS!

You are suddenly reminded of the day you went to get Smarties and saw the lady in the purple and pink paisley muumuu slip and fall in the chicken meat aisle on some chicken juice and wondered, "Why can't clothes have airbags?" And then you see the guy in front of you has a bag of Donkey Mix for Healthy Donkeys and wondered, "Why can't donkeys have airbags?" And then you put them both together and wonder, "What would happen if our society became so paranoid of injury and pain that clothing, donkeys, and everything else was wrapped in airbags and we lost our situational awareness? How would that affect how we move through the world? Would we be more careful or less? And what if the airbags started to fail? How would our airbagless society cope with such a sweeping change in our tactile interactions?"

So get out there, experience the world, and get ideas. Just not Skydeas™. Those are mine.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why We Need Bookish

Book-ish by Sky Sloderbeck
Last night, a service two years in the making launched. The web site, Bookish, is the brainchild of three publishing powerhouses: Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, and Simon & Schuster. That seems like a lot of big fish with hands in one little fish pie, so to help me remember who is backing this exciting start-up, I'm going to call this powerhouse Simon the hachette-wielding penguin.

The initial buzz on Twitter was positive:

I ran over to Bookish and played with it for a while, and sure enough, Simon the hachette-wielding penguin may have hit on a very good thing here. It's barely a day old, and there's already a great selection of books available, as well as some exclusives like a joint interview with crime fiction author Michael Connelly and suspense author Michael Koryta, an essay from Eat, Pray, Love's author Elizabeth Gilbert, and my favorite, a handful of book reviews courtesy of The Onion.

But what makes Bookish different from Amazon? Or Goodreads? A lot, actually. Amazon may have the lion's share of the market on book sales, but people value convenience, and if readers head to Bookish to look for recommendations, they may buy through Bookish since they're already there. Plus, Amazon isn't exactly known for making it easy (or fun) to find new books to read. Sure there are lists and "Viewed by Others," but those aren't tailored to your current reading style.

At Bookish, you can enter up to four books and get back recommendations on new books you could try. As the web site grows and more books are added, this part of the service will surely get better and more accurate.

And while Bookish may have shelves like Goodreads, the simplicity of those shelves suggests that they are meant as a place to keep track of books you've read so that you don't inadvertently purchase them again. Maybe (I'm hoping) Bookish will eventually use that data to deliver even better recommendations, in the same vein as Netflix: the more you read and rate, the better the recommendations are. But let's give that particular feature time. They are only a day old, after all.

So why do we need Bookish? Instead of thinking of it as a replacement for or competition against Amazon and Goodreads, it might be better to think of Simon the hachette-wielding penguin's digital baby as a tool to use alongside them. With a clean, fast interface, content-rich author pages, and author exclusives, Bookish is a nirvana for readers - a stripped down and beautiful way to find and enjoy books.

Monday, February 4, 2013

OCD About Your Library?

Home Library by Sky Sloderbeck
I have a confession: I have an addiction to cozy home libraries. My ideal library would have an old world explorer vibe, complete with a globe mounted in a brass-and-wood stand, a brass telescope, and a taxidermied mountain lion stalking a taxidermied big horn ram. It would also have a massive fireplace and at least three of the four walls would be lined with mahogany built-in bookcases. And those bookcases would be filled with books, yet have just enough shelf space left to accommodate any additions.

My current library attempts to mimic that dream library vibe, with mahogany lookalike bookcases on every wall, stuffed animals of the teddy bear kind propped on the bookshelves and the bookcases filled (to overflowing) with books. My Goodreads profile shows I only have 188 books, but I'm fairly certain that I have closer to 500 (many are too old to be scanned using their app and I will have to enter them by hand).

Ideally, I'd love to get all of them entered on Goodreads so that I could use it as a searchable database of my books, and then organize them on their physical shelves to match their Goodreads shelves, but until then, I have rudimentary organization going on. Horror over here. SciFi over there. Memoir up there. Children's books down there. Series are grouped together and placed in chronological (publication) order, but that's it.

And it works, in a sense.

Every once in a while, though, I stare at my bookshelves and know that as soon as I add a new horror book or if I purge some of the books given to me that I know I'll never read,  I'll have to reorganize. That thought is depressing when there are so many books to deal with.

So now my questions: If you have a glut of books, how do you organize them? If you organize by genre, how do you organize books that cross genres? How do you organize anthologies? And how much space do you leave per shelf so that you can add new books (or do you pack the shelves tightly and worry about that later)?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Has It Really Been a Year?

Malayan Tiger Airbrush by Sky Sloderbeck
If you look at the post immediately preceding this one ("Correlation and Causation: Regarding Gender Discrimination Claims in Publishing"), you might notice that it's from March 13, 2012. With red-faced embarrassment,  I have to admit that I wasn't as diligent in backing up my blog as I should have been.

What followed was a FUBAR moment with GoDaddy, their demand that I pay an outrageous sum of money to have my data retrieved, and the loss of my two-year-old writing blog. Before my last major site update - which was in 2012 - I backed up my site and so was able to salvage those 20-odd blog posts, but my entire "Life of an Intern" Series (a blog series that shared my experiences as an intern at a publishing company), some writing, and a few craft posts were lost.

And that brings us to the present. I've decided on Blogger because it's a Google product and they have yet to let me down. Plus, for a single mom and full-time college student, the hosting being free is a nice perk.

So if you knew me from my old blog, Literary Crux, welcome back! If you are new, welcome! I hope you join in on the occasional writing exercises and find my posts entertaining and helpful. I look forward to meeting you in the comments!

Why not start now? Leave me a message saying hi and the kinds of writing- and reading-related posts you'd like to see here. I'd love inspiration from my readers!

Oh, and are you wondering about the tiger above? No, it doesn't have anything to do with this post, but I've decided that with a new blog should come a new "feature," if you will. I have been creating a bit of art recently and I'm going to use that art, in addition to my own photography, in my blog posts. It sure saves headaches on copyright issues. I hope you enjoy the new blog and the new art!