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a.k.a. Goblin

Updated: 2018-03-06T01:47:20.105-08:00


Chris Eldin, a Light Snuffed


This is still a shuttered blog, but I wanted to speak here, because it was here on Blogger that I met someone who I've just learned is gone forever.

Chris Eldin was a zany person, a talented writer, and a lovely and warm human being. Those who knew her online have just learned that she committed suicide nearly a year ago.

I don't know any details beyond what I've read in the tributes from her online friends just coming out now, but I'm gutted. When someone disappears from the internet, it doesn't necessarily mean anything--I'm proof of that. But it could. It could mean she's entered a dark place and can't reach out. It could mean she's being systemically cut off from her support system.

I wish, so much, we could have helped keep that star shining. We would have done all we were able to, had we known.

You mattered, Chris. We will miss the warm light that was you.

Reading List - 2012


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Books I Read in 2012(Ratings out of 10 - consider 6 to be the minimum of what I expect a published book to be.)Among Othersby Jo WaltonFinished book on: September 13, 2012Quality of writing: 8Quality of story: 5Enjoyability: 6.5The Last Four Thingsby Paul HoffmanFinished book on: August 14, 2012Quality of writing: 8Quality of story: 7Enjoyability: 7.5The Left Hand of Godby Paul HoffmanFinished book on: August 10, 2012Quality of writing: 8Quality of story: 7Enjoyability: 7.5Adventby James TreadwellFinished book on: July ~26, 2012Quality of writing: 8Quality of story: 6.5Enjoyability: 7 Broken Bladeby Kelly McCulloughFinished book on: July 10, 2012Quality of writing: 6Quality of story: 6.5Enjoyability: 7The Minority Councilby Kate GriffinFinished book on: June 10, 2012Quality of writing: 8Quality of story: 8Enjoyability: 8Casket of Soulsby Lynn FlewellingFinished book on: June 3, 2012Quality of writing: 7.5Quality of story: 7.5Enjoyability: 7.5Twenty Palacesby Harry ConnollyFinished book on: May 20, 2012Quality of writing: 7.5Quality of story: 8Enjoyability: 8Circle of Enemiesby Harry ConnollyFinished book on: May 18, 2012Quality of writing: 8Quality of story: 8Enjoyability: 8.5The Way of Shadowsby Brent WeeksFinished book on: May 12, 2012Quality of writing: 7.5Quality of story: 7.5Enjoyability: 7.5Blackbirdsby Chuck WendigFinished book on: May 5, 2012Quality of writing: 8Quality of story: 7Enjoyability: 7The Alchemist of Soulsby Anne LyleFinished book on: May 2, 2012Quality of writing: 7.5Quality of story: 8Enjoyability: 8Comment: A cracking-good read!The Once and Future Kingby T. H. WhiteFinished book on: Apr 29, 2012Quality of writing: 8Quality of story: 6.5Enjoyability: 6.5Comment: It took me forever to get through this. Well-written, endearing, but not really my cup of tea.The Roadby Cormac McCarthyFinished book on: Mar 13, 2012Quality of writing: 9Quality of story: 8Enjoyability: 7.5Perfume: The Story of a Murdererby Patrick SuskindFinished book on: Feb 28, 2012Quality of writing: 8Quality of story: 7.5Enjoyability: 7.5A Rope of Thornsby Gemma FilesFinished book on: Feb 21, 2012Quality of writing: 8.5Quality of story: 6Enjoyability: 6.5Ready Player Oneby Ernest ClineFinished book on: Jan 22, 2012Quality of writing: 6.5Quality of story: 7.5Enjoyability: 8On Stranger Tidesby Tim PowersFinished book on: Jan 22, 2012Quality of writing: 7.5Quality of story: 7.5Enjoyability: 7.5[...]

From The Query Goblin: "My Protector: The Calling" by Hope Roberson


Hope Roberson has graciously allowed the Goblin to massage the query for My Protector: The Calling. Please pop by and see/say what you think!


From The Query Goblin: "The River" by Anonymous (literary fiction)


An anonymous author has graciously allowed the Goblin to massage the query for The River. Please pop by and see/say what you think!


Don't Second-Guess Your Gut


Anyone who follows me on Twitter probably witnessed my abject geek-spasm at the possibility of seeing (as Sarah Laurenson phrased it) a flaming schoolbus cross the sky, i.e. the UARS satellite as it flamed out in the atmosphere. Y'see, it was gonna be passing right over me at the time it was estimated to be due to bite the atmosphere.Unfortunately, UARS proved to be a ninja satellite. No one saw it sneak in. That tricksy metal minx.But that's okay; I found something of equal geeky worth to tell you about tonight!Wired posted this article about making hard decisions, which led me to this article about intuitive thinkingThe second article mentions some interesting experiments, and the one I found most intriguing was where they noted that if you ask people to answer the following:Are these sentences literally true?-- Some jobs are snakes.-- Some jobs are jails.-- Some roads are snakes....their response times slow down measurably on the second and third sentences.In fact, you probably noticed that effect yourself when you were reading the three sentences. The knowledge that the second and third may be metaphorically be true interrupted your determination of whether they were literally true.That's because your "Type 1" (or "intuitive") thinking is very fast and often provides more information than is actually available. It's the type of thinking that makes associations, that provides leaps of logic, that fills in the blank spots.Type 2 thinking requires more effort, but it gives you answers based on the evidence that is really there. To quote the article:Type 1 is automatic, effortless, often unconscious, and associatively coherent ... Type 2 is controlled, effortful, usually conscious, tends to be logically coherent, rule-governed.And this is why your brain slowed down reading the second two sentences. The parts of your brain responsible for Type 2 thinking were doing their thing, slowly and rationally, and then the parts of your brain responsible for Type 1 thinking got to an associative answer faster and blurted it out, so to speak. Then, after that interruption, your Type 1 thinking resumed and got to the correct answer.Now, that's not to say you shouldn't trust your Type 1 thinking. In fact, that's the point the first article makes: when it comes to making a decision based on very complex information, your intuitive, Type 1 thinking can often do a better job than your rational, Type 2 thinking.[R]esearchers have demonstrated that the emotional system (aka Type 1 thinking) might excel at complex decisions, or those involving lots of variables. If true, this would suggest that the unconscious is better suited for difficult cognitive tasks than the conscious brain, that the very thought process we’ve long disregarded as irrational and impulsive might actually be “smarter” than reasoned deliberation. This is largely because the unconscious is able to handle a surfeit of information, digesting the facts without getting overwhelmed. (Human reason, in contrast, has a very strict bottleneck and can only process about four bits of data at any given moment.) When confused in the toothpaste aisle, bewildered by all the different options, we should go with the product that feels the best.The article describes an experiment that showed this. The researcher gave a group of subjects information about a set of 4 cars. Each car was rated according to 4 criteria, for a total of 16 pieces of information.The subjects who were given a chance to think rationally about the information chose the best car about 50% of the time, and those who were distracted with an alternate task, then prompted to make a snap judgement about the cars, faired worse.But that was the "easy" decision. The researcher then repeated the test with a different group of subjects but he instead gave them 12 pieces of information about each car, for a total of 48 peices of information.The subjects who were give a chance to think rationally about the informatio[...]

From The Query Goblin: "Hard Nox" by Anonymous


An anonymous author has graciously allowed the Goblin to massage the query for Hard Nox, a YA Paranormal. Please pop by and see/say what you think!


Callous Seducer of Good Books


I'm currently more than half-way through two great novels right now, which is odd because I'm usually monogamous about reading.

You see, I was going out of town for the weekend (to be fed to the point of rupture by my absolutely lovely mother-in-law), and I had neither enough of the first book left to guarantee not running out of reading material nor enough space in my luggage to take two books with me.

Thus, that first book--a solid and dependably-enjoyable sweetheart of seven-hundred pages whom I have been commited to for over a week, now--is unaware of the flashy hussy I picked up at the library and had a weekend fling with.

And that hussy? Well. Let's just say you can tell that novel has been read a lot.

Still, I know my first book will take me back and everything will be just as good as it once was--although I can't foresee being with the poor dear for much longer.

And my relationship with the hussy will also soon run its course. I mean, you don't exactly settle down with a fast little number like that.

Always more books in the stacks, my friends. Always more books in the stacks.


Thank goodness for Twitter buddies! My friend Dale McGladdery caught something I might well have missed while I was away--my flash fiction piece Wetware Woes finally came up on Escape Pod.

This is a piece that started life as a winning entry for one of Janet Reid's contests. It's great to see it finally out! (And both weird and edifying to hear someone read what I wrote--Editor Mur Lafferty did a great job, but I'm not so in love with some of my odd-ball sentence constructions now, I tell ya!)


From The Query Goblin: "The Privileged" by Anonymous


An anonymous writer has graciously allowed the Goblin to massage the query for The Privileged. Please pop by and see/say what you think!


Useful Information for Non-US, Self-Published Writers


Roz Morris has assembled a very clear guide for how to apply for an ITIN number from the United States IRS if you are a self-published author who is not a US citizen.

Having an ITIN number allows you to then ask Smashwords and Amazon to withhold less of your earnings for taxation, provided you live in a country that has a taxation treaty with the US (as many of them do.)

Please note the IRS is damned cryptic about how to do this sort of thing, so please pass this link along to anyone you know who self-publishes but is not a US citizen. It's very useful information!
How I Got My ITIN Number


From The Query Goblin: "The Light of Emet" by Freya Morris


Freya Morris has graciously allowed the Goblin to massage the query for The Light of Emet. Please pop by and see/say what you think!


The E-Avalanche | Conan No Give Up! | Fear or Hate | GoodReads


A slightly scatter-brained collection of odd thoughts today: ~~~~~~~ The E-Avalanche ~~~~~~~ It used to be literary agents insisted on getting query letters, partials, and full manuscripts in hard-copy. Paper was considered easier on the eyes. Obviously that's changing, because when I was assembling my list of dream agents recently, I noted that of my top 25, only 5 still want paper queries. The rest either accept, or say they strongly prefer, email queries. In fact, I noted one agency said they started accepting e-queries not because they wanted to, but because they had realized writers will query the agents who accept email first. So by not accepting e-queries, the agency was knocking itself down everyone's "desirable" list. And as we all know, there's nothing to make an agent froth and fret more than the threat of losing something good to a competitor! ~~~~~~~ Conan No Give Up! ~~~~~~~ Sean Hood, a professional screenwriter, had some somber-but-wise words in the following article about the disappointing performance of Conan the Barbarian, which he worked on. It's worth a read because of what he has to say about perseverance at the end:What's It Like To Have Your Film Flop At the Box Office? Trumpet positions in major orchestras only become available once every few years. Hundreds of world class players will fly in to try out for these positions from all over the world. I remember my dad coming home from this competition, one that he desperately wanted to win, one that he desperately needed to win because work was so hard to come by. Out of hundreds of candidates and days of auditions and callbacks, my father came in....second. It was devastating for him. He looked completely numb. To come that close and lose tore out his heart. But the next morning, at 6:00 AM, the same way he had done every morning since the age of 12, he did his mouthpiece drills. He did his warm ups. He practiced his usual routines, the same ones he tells his students they need to play every single day. He didn't take the morning off. He just went on. He was and is a trumpet player and that's what trumpet players do, come success or failure.~~~~~~~ Fear or Hate ~~~~~~~ It always struck me as odd that homophobia gets the suffix -phobia, which means fear. To me, the behaviour described by that term seems more like hatred. It makes more sense when you understand it derives from the idea that fear of the 'other' leads to a reflexive hatred. Sexism is understood to be a form of hatred too, and a lot of YA books these days are aimed squarely at girls, with publishers justifying that fact with the statement, "Boys don't read." Which is sexist. Of course boys read, but they won't read books that don't appeal to them, and if that's all that's on the shelves, then no. Boys don't read. Why do the publishers believe this? I'm sure not many of the individuals in these companies are sexist, but the last two YA titles that turned into utter blockbusters--Twilight and The Hunger Games--appealed strongly to girls, and in trying to reproduce those successes, the publishers give in to fiscal paranoia. They make generalizations that are sexist and thus do a low-level, but pervasive, harm to society. Likewise, a while back, there was a lot of anger in the YA reading community over the white-washing of book covers, i.e. publishers putting a white face on the cover of a book featuring a non-white protagonist. Again, I doubt the liberal-heavy New York publishing industry consists of many very-racist individuals, but I'm certain it contains a lot of people quite leery of doing anything that differs much from that which proved successful in the past. And putting a person of colour on the front of the book meant for the mainstream would be different. Thus, out of fear of losing money from [...]

Wait--WHAT Time Is It?


Yeah, so, I had this fabulous nap tonight? One of those ambush naps.

And now it's more officially bedtime and I have no blog post written or thought up, but I do feel fabulously refreshed. Hence, I abandon responsibility for the content of the blog! It's all in your hands this week.

Ask me a question! It can be about pretty much anything that's not overly personal. Physics? Writing? Orchids? Rock climbing? Chess? Cheese? Full-body contact tree yoga? (Warning: I may not an expert on that.)

If you can't think of a question, ask me to draw you a picture! Those will take me a bit of time to put up, but I'll try to add them to this post as promptly as possible.

I look forward to being your blog-slave!

PS: For anyone interested in how my query letter is progressing, I've posted a new version in the comments of this post. Feel free to critique anew! As always, your comments are very much appreciated.


Sarf requested I draw him a picture, but I'm cheating a bit. His prompt was for the most impressive place I've been, and I had to finish the image in 30 minutes.

I chose the royal palace in Bangkok, Thailand, and that's the sort of place that demands a colour image, and I SUCK at colour. The result was not turning out as well as I'd hoped and wouldn't be fixed within the time limit, so I flagrantly reinterpreted my answer to the more general "Thailand" and did another picture.

This is the golden Buddha, also in Bangkok, which is a 7 ton, solid gold Buddha that was discovered inside a concrete Buddha. How was it discovered? They tried to move the statue and broke their crane.

My apologies, but I really do suck at colour. I like the way the face turned out, but the body doesn't really look metallic the way it should.


I asked her what she wanted a picture of. She said, "A cat? A robot?" So naturally, I drew both:


Baby Got Book


I finally got my hands on Ghost Story, by Jim Butcher, then promptly slurped it down.

The book sold out everywhere in my city on release day, so after much frothing and flailing, I broke down and ordered it online (then, when it arrived, boogied around my apartment in smug possessiveness, much to El Husbando's amusement.)

I'm astonished that the major bookstore conglomerate in Canada didn't realize this title would be kinda-sorta-like-whoa-maybe-just-a-tad? in demand. But I've no reason to complain on that score. Last month was my personal geek nirvana, what with A Dance With Dragons, Ghost Story and the final Harry Potter movie all coming out in a very short time frame.

Also, China Mieville has no reason to complain about the book not being in stock either, because in my frustration over not getting Ghost Story, I walked out of the store with Kraken instead. Impulse buy, for the win!

Or to put it another way: I like big books, and I cannot lie. You other readers cannot deny, when a book is fat, you wanna get with that and...

Yeah, white girl can't rap, and it wasn't my idea anyway:

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Super-segue! Actually, no segue at all, I'm just changing topics with whiplash disregard for your attention span's personal safety.

Thank you for everyone's suggestions last week regarding my opening scene. If you're interested in reading (and critiquing anew? Hey, I'd love it!) my changes, please click the following:
The Blooddrinker and the War Angel.

I'm also currently letting the denizens of the Query Goblin site chew on my book's blurb. If you'd like to join the fun, please click here:
In Soviet Russia, YOU bite Query Goblin.
ETA: New version of the query now posted in the comments section of above link!

(And thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you who already have commented! I'm getting fantastic feedback over there.)

Ooh, guess who's got Baby Got Back stuck in her head now...


From The Query Goblin: "Enoch's Device" by Anonymous


An anonymous author has graciously allowed the Goblin to massage the query for Enoch's Device. Please pop by and see/say what you think!


From The Query Goblin: "Guardian" by Anonymous


An anonymous author has graciously allowed the Goblin to massage the query for Guardian. Please pop by and see/say what you think!


Two Favours Done | One Favour Asked


This past week, Tracey Wood demonstrated to me how powerful word-of-mouth can really be.


The Query Goblin had been suffering a very empty maw for several weeks when Tracey put a single endorsement for it on Query Tracker, and BOOM! The Goblin's tummy was abruptly full-to-bursting with delicious queries!

So thank you, Tracey, for doing me such a good turn; I truly appreciate it.
(Psst; everyone! Go visit Tracey's blog--it's brand new!)


And if that weren't enough, Melodie Wright recently asked if she could interview my green alter ego on her blog, Forever Re-Wrighting. Please click through below to read the result:

Thus Spake Zarathustra Goblin

Thank you, Melodie! It was an honour.


In other news, I'm in that stage of writing wherein I wonder if I'm delusional.

In other words, I'm editing what is inching toward becoming a final draft, and I'm liking it! And then I'm second-guessing myself!

Because the problem with having birthed anything is you're kinda prone to adoring it unconditionally. I really don't know if I'm being objective about the merits of this manuscript, so I intend to put it away for a month, write other things, then come back to do a hopefully-more-objective final pass.

Erm, but in the meanwhile, would anyone be willing to critique the first scene of my science fiction novel titled The Blooddrinker and the War Angel?

You can get to it via the link below, but you'll have to come back to this post to leave your critique. Anonymous comments are on, however, so let fly! I really do want to hear what you think, good or bad. :)

First scene of The Blooddrinker and the War Angel

Thank you in advance to anyone who chooses to leave a comment--I very much appreciate your donation of time and thoughtfulness!


From The Query Goblin: "The Zero Line" by Anonymous


An anonymous author has graciously allowed the Goblin to massage the query for The Zero Line. Please pop by and see/say what you think!


From The Query Goblin: "Honor" by Mary_J_59


Mary_J_59 has graciously allowed the Goblin to massage the query for Honor. Please pop by and see/say what you think!


From The Query Goblin: "The Black Desert" by Greta Garbo


Greta Garbo (no relation, I'm sure) has graciously allowed the Goblin to massage the query for The Black Desert. Please pop by and see/say what you think!


From The Query Goblin: "Future's Prophet" by Anonymous


An anonymous author has graciously allowed the Goblin to massage the query for Future's Prophet. Please pop by and see/say what you think!


From The Query Goblin: "A Special Someone" by Robbin L.


Robbin L. has graciously allowed the Goblin to massage the query for A Special Someone. Please pop by and see/say what you think!


From The Query Goblin: "Power's Pawn" by Anonymous


An anonymous author has graciously allowed the Goblin to massage the query for Power's Pawn. Please pop by and see/say what you think!


From The Query Goblin: "Redemption for Liars", by Anonymous


Another anonymous author has graciously allowed the Goblin to massage the query for the novel Redemption for Liars. Please pop by and see/say what you think!


The Power of Words...and Science!


Would you believe science can show that words have power--that even tiny changes of wording affect people in measurable ways?

The following article discusses just that:
The Power of Nouns
A researcher wondered to what degree words can influence actions. He sent a questionnaire to voters on the day before an election asking them a question worded in one of two different ways.

The first way was: "How important is it to you to vote in the upcoming election?"

The next day, 82% of the people who answered that question actually went out and voted.

The second version of the questionnaire instead said: "How important is it to you to be a voter in the upcoming election?"

96% of those people voted.

The researcher did three versions of this study, and the results were robust: Yes, wording matters. By using a noun instead of a verb, the questionnaire was able to encourage people to identify more strongly with the idea of being someone who votes.

The article is worth reading because it outlines why the researcher thinks this works--what the psychology behind the effect is--and that may give you ideas for how to reveal character in your writing. The rule of thumb is that when someone says, "I am a [noun]", they care more deeply than someone who says, "I [verb]."


And since I'm discussing the power of words, here's an interesting article on the predictive power of words. It may be possible, by analyzing the wording used by journalists talking about the economy, to predict some of the behaviour of the stock market:
Fewer Verbs, Nouns in Financial Reporting Could Predict Stock Market Bubble


Query #24: Title unknown, by Anonymous


An anonymous author has graciously allowed the Goblin to massage the query for their book, which sounds like a middle grade novel. Please pop by and see/say what you think!