What is up with #Inktober?

Drawing a sword from the book, not stabbing the book. In case it was unclear.

Drawing a sword from the book, not stabbing the book. In case it was unclear.

If you follow my social media, you might have noticed that I’ve been posting ink drawings for #Inktober, and that they’re generally awful. You might have asked yourself why I would do that. Do I know how bad they are, or do I see my work through a blissfully ignorant filter? Is it some sort of prank?

So here’s what’s up with Inktober.

First, in case you aren’t familiar with it, #Inktober is a month for doing one drawing — in ink — and sharing it per day. You can find the brief background and this year’s optional prompt list from the creator Jake Parker. It’s something like National Novel Writing Month, but for visual artists.

Now, let’s recognize that I’m bad at drawing. No, I’m really bad at drawing. The local catchphrase for referring to truly hideous visual design is, “It looks like Laura drew it.” (Don’t feel bad. I’m often the one saying it. It’s not wrong to acknowledge my skills are in other sets.) So why on earth would I do Inktober, which unlike NaNoWriMo specifically requires publicly sharing one’s work?

I’m doing Inktober for several reasons: Continue reading

A Marathon Legend

I posted this on my Facebook page and got more reaction than I expected. So here’s an expanded version for your reading pleasure.

For most of my life, I’ve believed the story I read in my 5th grade schoolbook about Pheidippides running 25 miles from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to declare “We won!” before promptly dropping dead, and that’s the origin of the marathon.

Today I learned that’s not at all true. Continue reading

Doctor Who, Writing Female Characters, and Equality.

Jodie Whittaker in 13th Doctor announcement photo

Jodie Whittaker in 13th Doctor announcement photo

On the one hand, I can’t believe we need to have this discussion of how to write female protagonists and balance. On the other, since clearly we do need it, let’s have it.

With the announcement of the 13th Doctor as a female regeneration, the internet slightly exploded. I was actually at a fandom convention during the announcement and heard not only discussion of the announcement itself, but of reactions to the announcement.

We’re going to ignore those who were horrified to discover their Doctor now has girl cooties. They’re easy to ignore — or just borrow for humor, where they’re most useful. Anyway, the haters are vocal but seem to be a minority, or maybe I just have a better-curated network, and I don’t intend to waste blog space on that sort of thing.

But one repeated protest I heard repeatedly in several less-hysterical discussions was, now that the Doctor is a female, the male companions will be written down to idiocy so that she looks clever, and so everything will be less cool and the storytelling will suffer. I found myself saying or typing the same thing repeatedly, so let me just save time and put it here.

This is indeed a huge problem, only the problem is not the Doctor’s personal plumbing. Continue reading

A Little Feminist Check Re Discrimination

I botched it tonight.

Someone asked our panel about writing in a traditionally male-dominated (both as authors and heroes) genre, as a woman. And several women writers were invited to answer, but with the clock ticking on the last moments of our chat time.

I was discombobulated by trying to formulate both a comprehensive and brief answer under the countdown, and even more so by another panelist’s previous assertion that white males were the cause of the downfall of society — a statement I found untrue as well as unfair to the white male panelists sitting on either side of me at the time, not freaking out about being outnumbered on the panel. Continue reading

Gross! Parents, Seriously.

I’ve had a few people think it was “dirty” that I have dogs in my house, or that I touch them regularly in my day job as an animal trainer, or that I would take an in-training service dog into a restaurant. Okay, not everyone likes dogs, that’s fine, and I guess if you’re seriously weirded out about them you can imagine airborne cooties flying through the room or something. (Though the service dog under the table is not a risk to your food and isn’t going away.) But the weird thing is, the people who voice such protests say nothing to or about parents doing actual gross stuff with their kids, also in eating areas.

I have long been disgusted by parents who change diapers on restaurant tables. SERIOUSLY PEOPLE, how is that okay, and it’s not like there aren’t legally-mandated changing tables in the restrooms just a few steps away. But I guess they figure they’re busy and special, and anyway no one should be stupid enough to eat off a restaurant table or have their eyes open while eating. If I didn’t want to see exactly how much nastier strained peas are post-processing, I shouldn’t have chosen a restaurant which serves families. And anyway, breast-fed babies’ diapers are so much better than formula-fed babies’ diapers, see the difference? so they don’t know how I could be upset. Continue reading

Seems Legit.

There is a phenomenon in which some skeevy lowlife steals a title and often a manuscript from a published book and re-publishes them on Amazon in his own account, trying to fool readers into buying his “edition” of the story and stealing royalties from the author.

Most of the time, though, they do a better job of matching a more plausible cover. Continue reading

Why We Train, a sort of guest post

Today’s post is shared from my training and behavior blog. It references a previous post here — I love it when my jobs work together — and so I thought I’d share it here.

We’ve posted several times on training for when life catches you off-guard, like when you forget to put the meat in the fridge instead of on the floor. I had one of those moments today.

Over the weekend I was offered a big mirror, salvaged from a dressing room in the type of expensive store where I don’t usually find myself. I took it, because I didn’t have a full-length mirror, and put it behind my bedroom door. It didn’t have hanging brackets yet, but it was pretty secure in its place and I figured I’d get brackets this week. The dogs had seen it, knew it wasn’t a window to a new playmate, and generally they ignored it behind the door.

Until today, when the bedroom door was closed, exposing the mirror, and for some reason Undómiel decided to desultorily paw it — just once, and not particularly strongly. I saw and called her, but it was already moving. What followed was one of the longest seconds of my life, as the mirror tipped forward over my puppy who was looking back at me and couldn’t see it coming. I was on the opposite side of the room on the bed, with my feet up and a computer on my lap, and there was no possible way for me to intervene in time. Continue reading

The Proposed USFS Photo Ban?!

Ansel Adams landscapeIt’s about to become enforced policy: it’s illegal to take photos in national parks and on federal lands without a $1500 permit. The fine for taking unauthorized pics will be $1000/photo. Even in the /cough/ Ansel Adams Wilderness area.

USFS says it’s to protect the forests. Sure, our parks have been under a lot of stress — illegal logging, water pollution, drifting air pollution, human-started fires have all taken a high toll. You know what’s not damaging parks? Digital and film recordings. Photography doesn’t ACTUALLY steal the soul, you know. Continue reading

Frozen: What Went Wrong

Okay, I’m gonna pull some hate for this one, I know. But.

Disney’s Frozen could have been amazing, but its script got in the way and made it, not a glittering glorious castle of ice, but that splashy muddy sludge left after snow melts. It had good moments, but given its individual parts, the sum should have been much better.

Vilhelm Pedersen illustration.

Gerda in The Snow Queen, Vilhelm Pedersen illustration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not even talking about the internet rage at the de-feminizing of The Snow Queen, a fairy tale which featured a nearly entirely female cast and a girl actually rescuing a boy. I’m talking purely internal plot problems. And yeah, there’s gonna be lots of spoilers ahead, so be warned. Continue reading

D&D Gone Off the Rails

English: A twenty-sided die (d20) as used in w...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s no secret that I’m a nerd and a geek, but I’m pretty new to the gamer scene. In fact, my first Dungeons & Dragons experience was at Gen Con a few years ago. And it was a lousy experience, to tell the truth. The scenario was written so badly that even the GM (assigned to run it, not his choice) realized that it wasn’t possible to save it.

Continue reading