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The Kickstarter Funded!

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Hooray! Our Kickstarter for Writing Inspiration Postcards funded!

This project was fascinating for me because we learned so much about what to look for in our Kickstarter campaigns:

  • We changed the title (from "Beautiful Inspiring Postcards" to "Writing Inspiration Postcards") because we didn't realize that the title didn't reveal what the postcards were about until after launch (the information was available in the text and image, it just wasn't salient in the title).
  • We tweaked our reward tiers to provide more of what people wanted.
  • We realized as the Kickstarter was ending that we could have added even more reward tiers with useful things that people would have wanted (e.g. Keiko's "White Mice" postcard, or Thinking Ink's other writing postcards that we've already made).

And, for me personally, I'd have run the Kickstarter for another week, as we were just figuring out how to improve our outreach as the Kickstarter wound down. But, there's a tradeoff between how long the Kickstarter runs and how much time and effort it takes for us to manage it, so there's no exact formula for how long a Kickstarter should run in terms of wear and tear on the team.

Anyway, I hope you backed it, and get to enjoy the postcards!

-the Centaur

We want your stories for the NEURODIVERSIVERSE Anthology!

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Hey folks, I and my coeditor Liza Olmsted are happy to announce we're looking for stories for THE NEURODIVERSIVERSE ANTHOLOGY, which will explore how neurodivergent folks might have an advantage in dealing with aliens whose thought processes might also be different. From the call for submissions:

The universe is filled with aliens—creatures with different histories, cultures, and even biologies—who may seem strange to us. But our world is filled with a diversity of people, many of whom find each other strange. One particular group finds the rest of humanity especially strange: neurodivergent people.⁠

Would neurodivergent folks find themselves at an advantage in dealing with aliens?⁠

Let’s find out.⁠

From the call for submissions:

We're looking for short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and black-and-white line art. You can find out all the details at Send us your stories! We can't wait to read them.

-the Centaur

(Back to Dragon Con)^3!

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So! I'm back at Dragon Con once again. So good to be back in Atlanta after almost a year! (Well, actually, I was down here a month or so ago, but that was swinging through just for the day zip zap zop to see a little movie answering to no-one, but that's not a real visit in my mind).

The fans are already starting to gather, and so are the curious onlookers, pouncing with questions if you wear a Dragon Con shirt! (Ask me how I know).

This year, I'll mostly be at the Writer's Track, except for my reading on Friday:

Welcome to Writers' Track 2023 - Thu 08:30 pm - Embassy EF Hyatt
Join us for an introduction to the best Writers' Track ever! Let us give you a hint of what's coming up for Dragon Con 2023 - and get you started on your way to becoming a professional author, if you aren't already.
Panelists: Yasmin Bakhtiari, Anthony Francis, Vanessa Guinta, Nancy Knight(M), John Robinson

Reading Session: Anthony Francis - Fri 02:30 pm - Learning Center Hyatt
This will be me reading from my books and essays.
Panelists: Uh, the me.

Social Media: Your Friend, Enemy or Frenemy? - Sat 02:30 pm - Embassy EF Hyatt
Description: Social media can boost your career or torpedo it. What's a writer's best approach to all the social media, both old and new? How do you develop a strategy that makes sense for your career?
Panelists: Gail Z. Martin, Venessa Guinta(M), Anthony Francis, Bob McGough, J F Brink, Noel Plaugher

AI and What It Means for Writers - Sun 11:30 am - Embassy EF Hyatt
Hearing a lot about the 'takeover' of AI? Let's dispel some of the myths, while we confirm some of the truths.
Panelists: Anthony Francis(M), Rich Gatz, Andrew Greenberg, Amie Stepanovich, D.J. Bodden, Phillip Pournelle
Note your beanie: possibly the most apropos panel I've ever been on.

Career Advice: WHAT? - Sun 01:00 pm - Embassy EF Hyatt
People give advice freely. How to raise your children, save money - they even want to tell you how to develop and maintain your writing career. Who should you listen to? Listen up for some great advice from people who've been there and done that.
Panelists: Greg Keyes, Bill Fawcett(M), Anthony Francis, Esther Friesner, Jeanne C Stein, Drew Hayes

How to Be a Professional Writer in One Easy Lesson - Mon 01:00 pm - Embassy EF Hyatt
What's the difference between a professional writer and a hack? Let's draw some boundaries…
Panelists: Trisha J. Wooldridge(M), Anthony Francis, Mel Todd, Ryan DeBruyn, Richard Lee Byers, Jeffrey L Kohanek

Hope to see you all there!

-the Centaur

Pictured: A view from the Hilton Garden Inn, a pretty good hotel to stay in at Dragon Con if you don't mind a walk and if you missed signing up for a closer hotel, Francis.

[ninety-one] minus one-four-two: we have opinions on tomatoes

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So my wife is back from her business trip, and we and our housekeeper made a lunch of tomato sandwiches out of the remaining tomatoes that from my last grocery trip prior to Sandi's return.

My wife is actually hesitant to buy tomatoes, as she's gotten a lot of poor ones, and I realized that my youth growing up as a child of a produce wholesaler - from an ethnic community that has heavily tomato-flavored dishes - may have left me with some definite opinions about tomatoes.

We all discovered we had firm opinions about tomatoes: that heirloom tomatoes are generally more flavorful, less meaty and dense, and generally better for sandwiches because they're often wider and less juicy than their beefsteak companions.

Regardless, tomatoes may be on their way out this season, but they're still good now.

Get them while the getting is good.

-the Centaur

Pictured: End-of-season tomato sandwich, and a hummus-lettuce-tomato salad.

[ninety] minus one-three-seven: the spectacle of moviemaking

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One of the striking things about this depressing, all-streaming, post-Covid apocalypse that many of us (including myself) seem to think we're sliding into is the resurgence of Movies, Real Movies. In another sense, neither the depression nor the resurgence were all that surprising. Many movements and media have gone away: disco died, 8 tracks went out, and the goth-industrial club scene of the 90's is mostly dead.

But vinyl, which many people thought would go the way of the 8 track given that CDs are more durable and accurate, is having a resurgence because records are larger, more beautiful, sound more pleasant, and are useful in DJ'ing. In the early 2000's, with the rise of ebooks, a friend told me that he would be so worried if he was a physical publisher or a bookstore owner - but, speaking as a publisher, physical books are now being produced at a higher quality than they have been since the book of fucking Kells, and speaking as a bookstore lover, there is a fricking renaissance of bookstores, which in the 2010s felt like a dying breed.

So maybe it isn't surprising that, with the rise of streaming, 85-inch screens for the home, and the whole zombie apocalypse, that there would be some pessimism about the future of movie theaters. But, speaking as somebody who really loves streaming, I've always preferred media that I can physically own, and I've always preferred seeing movies on the big screen to the small.

Now, some things seem just made for streaming. Marvel movies, for example. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, for another. And Doctor Who. Yet my greatest memories of Doctor Who were seeing "The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang" at Comic-Con, and "Day of the Doctor" in the theater. My greatest memories of Star Trek were watching the re-release of Wrath of Khan for something like its 35th or 40th anniversary. And I must have seen Avengers: Endgame in the theaters like six or seven times (admittedly, one extra time because I got food poisoning in the middle of a showing and had to go back to see it again, and another extra time when they did a special showing to push it past Avatar).

But for the real revival of filmmaking, I credit Christopher Nolan and Tom Cruise. They consistently make movies which are, well, real movies. Movies that look best on the big screen. Movies that show us things we haven't seen before. Movies that push the personal and technology envelope to create experiences that no-one has ever created before.

I really enjoyed Tenet - it's my favorite Christopher Nolan movie - but Oppenheimer takes the spectacle of moviemaking to the next level with an unending, almost seamless wall of sound and imagery, broken only when Nolan chooses to go dark or quiet for effect. Top Gun: Maverick may be a popcorn movie, but, at the same time, I think it is very literally one of the best movies ever made, and if you understand the behind the scenes stories, the effort that Cruise put into making it shows in every frame. And the Mission Impossible series, similarly, continues to excel at showing us stunts which are, well, impossible.

Even beyond Nolan and Cruise, other moviemakers are doing the same. Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness or Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania may ... not be the best movies ever made, but they are some of the most visually imaginative. No Time To Die may suffer a bit from the just-so storytelling that afflicts many modern movies and TV shows, but it's truly a spectacular Bond outing. And the quality of acting, directing, and even writing in recent years means we get truly spectacular achievements like Knives Out, which uses little to no obvious special effects to achieve a truly spectacular result just by clever writing, deft directing, and amazing performances orchestrated to a crescendo.

So, hey, go catch a movie in the theater. It's better than it's been since the late seventies / early eighties.

-the Centaur

[eighty-nine] minus one-three-six: oppenheimer is good, go see it

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long day driving down to atlanta to see oppenheimer with a friend, followed by work on the novel and on social navigation paper followups. very tired, crashing. oppenheimer is good, go see it.

-the centaur

pictured: lazy dog atlanta, and their signature smoked maple bacon old fashioned. it's good, go drink it.

[eighty-eight] minus one-three-five: wiped after a four hour bike ride

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The Swamp Rabbit Trail rules! But it is very long, and I'm tired after two hours there, two hours back (even with a break in the middle for a bookstore / writing run, and a break for dinner on the return journey.).

So, no real blog post for you ... but I learned something very interesting on the way about how to push through things, such as, for example, a steep unexpected hill when you are a very out-of-shape cyclist.

Actually, the steep expected hills are even worse, but the same trick works on them too - very simply, counting to a hundred, and doing that again. More on that tomorrow.

-the Centaur

Pictured: the car, and the bike, after the ride; the break to write in the middle; and the dinner near the end.

no, seriously, i can help

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Yeah, right, buddy. You just want my dinner, after not eating yours.

Lots of news, much of it good - particularly, a new way to structure projects with a literature review, book document and manuscript doc. But workmen arrive in the AM, so you just get a picture of a cat.

-the Centaur

Pictured: He is determined.

Not dead, just recovering from Nano

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More on Camp Nano in a bit (it went well). On to the next project(s). Gotta blog something, though.

So, I'm not dead. That's a blog post, right?

-the Centaur

Pictured: the literature review I'm doing for the "Rules Disease" project. Yikes.