The Husband and I take a lot of road trips. Some of you have asked about the car games we play, for they are many and varied. I probably should’ve posted this earlier in the holiday season, but better late than never.
License Plate Anagram Game
Object: Make an anagram out of every letter on a license plate.
• License plates only.
• Moving cars only.
• The more interesting the word, the better the bragging right.
• Single word score: Use all the letters but out of order. License: BGG-123, “Garbage”
• Double word score: Use all the letters in order by not next to each other. License: TXS-554, “Taxes” or “Texas” or “Taxidermies”
• Triple word score: Use all the letters in order and concurrent. License: STL-826, “Costly” “Castle”
Level: Simple to Moderate (gets progressively harder).
Object: Look for the alphabet in order.
• License plates take priority, but signs and other writing on vehicles count.
• No more than one letter per discreet object. (“Alphabet” on a sign only counts for “a” and not “b”).
• Can use a particular type of sign once (IE: Exit sign can be used for E, X, I, and T once.)
• License plates are always allowed.
Scoring: How many iterations of the alphabet can you get through before the end of the trip?
State License Plate Game
Occurrence: A rare game to play unless we are on a long road trip. Usually begins when someone sees Maine, Florida, Alaska, or Hawaii.
Object: Look for every state license plates in the country.
Rules: Any order. Parking lots are fair game.
Alphabet License Plate Anagram Game
Occurrence: Long, multi-day trips only.
Object: Make an anagram out of every letter on a license plate. Alphabetic. Begins with the letter sought.
• License plates only unless there have been no cars for more than 3 minutes.
• No more than one letter per discreet license. (“JBA-222” only counts for “a” and not “b”).
• Word must begin with the letter sought for.
• Single word score: Use all the letters but out of order. Looking for “G.” License: GGB-123, “Garbage”
• Double word score: Use all the letters in order by not next to each other. Looking for “T.” License: TXS-554, “Taxes” or “Texas” or “Taxidermies”
• Triple word score: Use all the letters in order and concurrent. Looking for “S.” License: STE-826, “Steady” “Stenosis”
Perched Birds of Prey Spotting
Occurrence: Long trips and random.
Object: See a perched bird of prey.
Rules: Bird of prey. Must be perched. Only one person in the car needs to see it, but better if more than one does.
Scoring: See the bird and note it. Smile at the good omen.
All twenty-six episodes of Five Minutes Stories is now up on the Apocalypse Ink Productions website. As a first podcast, I think it’s pretty good. I don’t hate my voice, the Husband did an amazing job on the post production, and one of my favorite podcasters, Alasdair Stuart, gave it a good review. I even have other podcasters who want me to work with them. I’m thrilled by this.
A couple of my favorite episodes of the series are: Train to Topeka, Elevator of the Damned, Responsible, Questions, and Two Letters. It’s not just the stories themselves, it’s the reaction I’ve received from listeners. I love it when I take someone’s breath away with a story.
Will I do this again? Absolutely. Now that I have some experience under my belt, I want to write an original podcast fiction serial. I even know what the basic story is about. I've got the beginning and the end plotted. I still have to figure out how I get from A-to-Z. Podcasting is a completely different type of storytelling, but it is also one of the oldest: the oral storytelling tradition. Now for computers.
I love the fact that, ten years in, I'm still learning new ways to get my stories out. It was a great experience to produce Five Minute Stories as a practice run. I'm glad I finally jumped on the bandwagon. I look forward to what I work on next.
This past weekend I was at Anglicon for the first time with Books & Chains. It was also my birthday weekend. Sometimes, you just gotta work on your birthday. I did have a good time. Sold lots. Got to meet up with old friends and pet celebrity corgies while they slobbered all over my hands. But now, I'm exhausted. So, here's a Bubble & Squeek for you.
Article: I got a shout out in this article: 5 Literary Agents Discuss the Horror Genre. Thank you Lane Heymont.
Release: The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade anthology has been released. This has my story “To Lose the Stars” in it!
Release: Pathways – All New Stories of Valdemar anthology has been released. This one has my story “Reborn” in it. This is a sequel to my story “Written in the Wind.”
Review: A nice review of The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade anthology with a shout out to my story.
I will be at Anglicon this coming weekend as a panelist and with Books & Chains. If I'm not at the Dealer's table, this is where I am.
Black Mirror: Too Much or Just Enough - Cascade 2, 2pm
The Best British Shows You're Not Watching - Cascade 2, 4pm
Sherlock Holmes in Every Incarnation - Olympic 2 - Saturday, 3pm
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Clara? - Cascade 2 - Sunday, 3pm
Both Raven and I will have mystery boxes to sell at the convention (perfect for that hard to buy for person in your life) as well as books and candles. Elise, of course, will have her fabulous chainmail.
Come by, say hello, get a book signed, and buy a gift for yourself or that someone special. Hope to see you there!
Happy book day to Benjanun Sridaungkaew! In this Tell Me, she talks about the agony and ecstasy of the rewrite and how important a lesson it was to her.
Winterglass is my second novella, and prior to it I was mostly a writer of short fiction. I feel I’ve learned a lot more from writing it than my first long-form work: to wit, because Winterglass required a monstrously extensive rewrite.
This sounds more like a horrendous mistake than a learning experience, but with short stories, if I wrong-foot or make false starts (sometimes the entire story being a false start) it’s easy to scrap it all and start over from scratch: there’s a disposability to short story ideas, and you can run away from ones that went sour or fizzled out. While you can still do that with longer works, and sometimes it’s absolutely the right course of action, there’s a good deal more investment, and this novella happens to be the longest work I’ve published so far. It doesn’t help that my false start was so extensive that there was no way to neatly restart from the midpoint, or the two-third, or anything like that. There were entire subplots that have been in the book since the first few chapters. At that point, with my usual mindset with short fiction, it was super tempting to just dump the entire completed manuscript and try again with a completely different idea. This was infuriating, given that I went into writing this expecting it to be simple and essentially write itself.
But I was rather fond of the characters, and felt the core premise had some legs. “The Snow Queen” is a fairytale I don’t see retold much, and not retold the way I had in mind. I decided it was worth the time. First I had to identify what’d gone wrong, and I realized that I had an entire point of view—a blonde foreigner named Idrun struggling against her society’s patriarchal standards—that just didn’t work: she took up close to a third of the book (!) and did... nothing. She interacted with one of the other POVs, but not in any meaningful way. She didn’t affect the other subplots and certainly not the main plot. She was soft and boring and a dead weight. She had to go.
Once I axed her, something magical happened: the revision clicked, the focus on the novella’s two protagonists—the duelist Nuawa and the general Lussadh—was a lot sharper, their relationship more intense. The manuscript grew longer, but it was all meat and muscle. The rewrite took just a couple weeks for a novella that had, prior to that, taken me four agonizing months. I learned to balance confidence in my ideas and my craft, and the awareness to identify my own weaknesses.
Winterglass now more deftly fits its description (a post-colonial, lesbian retelling of “The Snow Queen”), and is far tighter than its first draft ever was. The journey was arduous, but I’m more than pleased with the result.
Benjanun Sriduangkaew writes love letters to strange cities, beautiful bugs, and the future. Her work has appeared on Tor.com, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld, Apex Magazine, and year’s best collections. She has been shortlisted for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and her debut novella Scale-Bright has been nominated for the British SF Association Award.