Welcome to S.N.Arly on the Web

If you’re new to my site, welcome! I hope you find something of interest here. If you’re a return visitor, welcome back!

I’m a long-time reader and writer of speculative fiction, the umbrella term that includes fantasy, science fiction and horror. The strongest influences in my formative years were Anne McCaffrey and Stephen King. I write both young adult and adult flavored fiction.

I enjoy blogging about the creative process, writing life, and independent publishing. You can find novel excerpts, short stories, writing exercises, essays on writing topics, and resources for writers in the left sidebar navigation. All my posts use visible tags to help you find more similar content.

I’m pretty friendly, so feel free to comment on posts or pop over to my contact form if you have questions.

General Research – Part 1 – Skip Google for Research

Information literacy is a huge topic in high schools and universities, and one of the things teachers and librarians are struggling to help students understand is the fact that their search engine is not free of bias and may prioritize ads (or what it thinks you want to see based on your shopping experience) rather than actual information.  It’s made more difficult by the fact that the technology in use is constantly evolving.

Google’s search algorithm has not merely gotten worse.  It has been redesigned to prioritize advertisers and popular pages, often times excluding pages and content that better matches your search terms. As a writer searching for specific information for my stories, I find this unacceptable.  As a proponent of availability of information so the populace can actually educate itself, this is unforgivable.

I’ve been meaning to share some general research resources for a while, but my energy got eaten by a couple of instances of burnout.

Search Engines

The bulk of the links in this article are databases, not search engines. This first batch are search engines, intended to replace the Google search function. I would recommend Firefox as a browser, as it is a significantly less stalkery option.

Duck Duck Go – This is my first choice search engine these days as it’s claim is that it does not collect or share your personal information. I’ve heard rumors that it skews right, but I have not seen evidence to back that up (and I’ve done identical searches with the other engines in this list), but it’s something to keep in mind.

Ecosia – A search engine out of Berlin Germany that uses ad revenue to plant trees. It supports full financial transparency and the privacy of its users.

Qwant – This search engine is operated from Paris, France with no tracking. It claims that it does not employ user tracking or personalize search results in order to avoid trapping users in a filter bubble. It uses contextual advertising

Academic/Research

Academia – platform that shares academic research

Bielefeld Academic Search Engine – BASE is a search engine specifically for academic studies texts, and contains more than 100 million scientific documents, 70% of them are free.

Bioline – This is a library of scientific bioscience journals published in developing countries.

Education Resources Information Center – ERIC is a comprehensive, easy-to-use, searchable, internet-based bibliographic and full-text database of education research and information.

JSTOR – academic digital library providing access to more than 12 million journal articles, books, images and primary sources in 75 disciplines.

PDF Drive – This is the largest website for free download of books in PDF format, claiming over 225 million names.

Research Gate – founded to address the problems in the way science is created and shared. Connects the world of science and makes research open to all.

Research Papers in Economics – Volunteers from 102 countries have collected almost 4 million publications on economics and related science for RePEc.

Sci-Hub – research publication library – technically pirated content, but please note that the researchers do not get paid for publication, and will often send you a PDF of their research for free if you ask, it’s the publications that want to restrict access to paying readers

US Government Science Portal – Science.gov is an American state search engine on 2200+ scientific sites. More than 200 million articles are indexed.

World Cat – a search for the contents of 20 thousand worldwide libraries. Find out where the rare book you need is.

Libraries

Boston Library History & Political Science – The Boston Library has a ton of history and poli sci resources. Big libraries often have things available digitally for free, even if you aren’t in the area.

Hathi Trust Digital Library – This library provides free digitized books from all over the world.

Internet Archive – This non-profit library houses millions of free digital books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.

Project Gutenberg – This site provides free downloads of digital books, focusing on works with expired US copyright. Note, if you look for out-of-print books on Google, it will try to sell you books that you can actually download free from Gutenberg (I’ve tested this multiple times).

Z Library – This digital library provides ebooks for free.

Singles Will Be Paired

Kezia looked up at the red frame and rails of the compact Mad Mouse roller coaster. Letting out a huff, she went directly to the queue. The weather was perfect, just warm enough to feel like summer, but not overbearingly hot as it had been just a week before. She was not going to let her stupid friends ruin what could be one of the best days of the entirely too short season. To be fair, she probably never should have agreed to visit Valleyfair as part of a trio, something she’d honestly learned back in junior high. She should have worked to bring someone, it wasn’t like she lacked friends, though most of them weren’t available for a middle of the week trip to the theme park. She could have brought her brother, for crying out loud. At least he liked the same kinds of rides. And that was the other issue; they should have discussed their interests in advance. All three of them had failed on that detail.

Her phone buzzed in the little hip pouch she’d worn to keep her small things secure. She pulled it out and swiped to get to the text.

Emma: Let us know when you want to meet up for lunch!

It was followed by a selfie of her friends riding on the little train that drove through the park.

Continue reading Singles Will Be Paired

A Writer’s Update in the Time of Pandemic

Greetings visitors! The pandemic has run roughshod over my enthusiasm and motivation for pretty much everything, and I spent much of 2021 in a state of family maintenance burnout. I’m digging my way out of that hole and have been both reading and writing again (things I hardly did in 2021). Hoping that means I’ll have more fun tales to share as 2022 unfolds.

I’ve made some recent updates to both the Clothing and Names resources in my Resources for Writers posts, so please check those out. Once Chinese New Year is past, I’m hoping to get back to building additional lists of resources for writers.

MarsCon 2021!

MarsCon 2021: Forces of Darkness is virtual, free, and it starts today, March 12. Programming will run on Zoom, YouTube, and Discord.

When I’m not on or attending programming, you’ll probably find me in Krushenko’s Lounge on Discord running and participating in writing sprints. 

Scheduled Events

Times are Central Time, USA, so convert appropriately!

Friday, March 12

8:30 pm – Apocalypse Crafting

Saturday, March 13

10 am – Writers and Their Pets
11:15 am – Assistive Technology in Science Fiction
1:30 pm – Reading (chapters 5-7 of Something Familiar)
10:00 pm – Writing Craft: World Building – Hard vs Soft

Sunday, March 14

11:30 am – Cut the Boring Parts

I’ll be wrapping up my MarsCon attendance at about 2:30 on Sunday so I can run a 3:00 Girl Scout meeting

What Large Teeth

There was once a great wolf who lived in a lush green forest. He was much like other wolves, embracing the freedom of night runs and enjoying routine meals of hare and the occasional deer. As a youth, he had left his pack to find his fortune in the wide world. Many of the woodland villages boasted the position of a town wolf, but time and again he was turned down. He was told he lacked the necessary qualifications or skill set, his personality wouldn’t mesh with the other staff, or in the few honest cases, he was just too damn big. Disillusioned, he settled under the canopy of green where he didn’t have to interact with many humans.

His nearest neighbor was an old woman who insisted that everyone simply call her Grandma. She was a witch, rapidly approaching retirement, and feared nothing and no one. To her credit, she was able to see past the fur, canine teeth, and impressive stature to appreciate the wolf as another of the forest’s valuable inhabitants. She welcomed her wild neighbors, both near and far, for polite conversation, meals, and the exchange of favors. Wolf had made a habit of fetching supplies from greater distances to save her arthritic joints the long journey. In return, she provided routine medical treatment and advice.

Grandma’s granddaughter dwelt in a nearby town with her parents and three younger siblings, though she often traveled the forest path. The ability to learn and perform magic skipped every other generation, making the granddaughter the next witch in the family. Her training under Grandma had been progressing along the usual lines, though Grandma expressed concern over what she had perceived as a cruel nature housed within a charming and adorable countenance.

Continue reading What Large Teeth

Capricon Days 1 & 2 (Thursday & Friday)

Capricon is a new convention for me, totally made possible by the fact that it is virtual. After I had kids, we had to pare down our convention-going to three for childcare and money reasons, and we picked three that were pretty local. The pandemic is giving me a chance to check out the programming and general feel for other conventions, and that’s actually kind of nice. Obviously it’s not entirely the same as an in-person experience. But I’m really glad that creators and fans of speculative fiction content have found a way to make this work.

Capricon 2021 – Structure

I started off Capricon by moderating a panel on YA. While I’ve been moderating for years, and I’ve participated as a panelist at a virtual convention, I was a little worried how I’d manage both the panel discussion and getting audience questions. I like to make sure I’m really attentive to my panelists, and managing tech on top of conversation is not a strong suit (I also can’t pfutz with the radio while I’m driving, but I digress). Fortunately, the very clever folks at Capricon had a plan to make this really effective.

When possible, there is a Zoom co-host who feeds Discord chat questions to the moderator/panel, so the moderator can focus on the other panelists and the conversation. The Discord server has a number of useful channels. Each programming “room” has both a live and a hallway channel. The live channel is used for audience discussion and questions while the panel, presentation or reading is happening. The hallway channel is where folks convene afterward for post panel conversation and follow up.

This structure works very well, but it also means that there are a lot of volunteers working behind the scenes. Way to go Capricon volunteers! You have made this a delightful event to participate in.

Events/Activities

In addition to my own panel, I’ve attended panels on writing in dark times, the future of conventions, publicity and marketing, diversity and inclusion in creative spaces, and the economics of art. I’ve also attended delightful readings by Kathryn Sullivan and Catherine Lundoff (she has a new book coming out and I’m very excited about that). I’ve also spent a not insignificant time assembling digital jigsaw puzzles in the cafe.

All in all, it’s a good time and I look forward to enjoying the next few days. It’s sort of like a vacation from the day to day pandemic life stuck at home.

Capricon 2021 (Feb 4-7)

Capricon is coming up in a few hours, and I can attend since it’s gone virtual this year. Getting to check out some cons that I normally can’t afford to attend has been an unexpected positive in the pandemic.

Here’s my schedule, I hope to see some friendly faces (or names if your cameras are off) in the audience.

The Young Shall Inherit the Earth:Wondrous Worlds of YA – Panel – Moderator
Thursday, February 4; 5-6pm (central time)
Other panelists include Kathryn Sullivan, Donna J.W. Munro, and Cindy Matthews

Something Familiar – Reading
Saturday, February 6; 11:30am-12:00 noon (central time)
I will read the first few chapters of Something Familiar, which will also be available on the virtual freebie table.

Future of Accessibility – Panel – Panelist
Sunday, February 7; 12-1pm (central time)
Our moderator will be W A (Bill) Thomasson and Miss Chief will be our other panelist.

It’s not too late to register to attend Capricon. The rate is a very affordable $10, and if that would be a hardship, you can actually register for $0, because organizers know times are tough

Book Sale at Lulu!

If you’re holding out on picking up a print copy of Something Familiar, it’s sequel It Sounds Familiar, or one of my short story collections for a good deal, you can get 15% all print orders at Lulu through January 29, 2021.

Use coupon code WRITER15

Something Familiar is a young adult novella about a  Parisian witch looking for a familiar, and a shapeshifter who has run  away from home. Its sequel, It Sounds Familiar, picks up where the first book left off.

Magic, Mischief & Mayhem is a collection of fantasy short stories suitable to teens and young adults.

Practice to Believe is a collection of short stories  that twists fairy and folk tales and expectations for a new look at  some familiar (and some less familiar) stories.

Black Friday Through Cyber Monday Sale at Lulu

If you’re shopping for a teen reader of fantasy (or someone who enjoys reading YA fantasy), all my print books are 30% off at Lulu, through Monday, November 30.

Something Familiar is a young adult novella about a Parisian witch looking for a familiar, and a shapeshifter who has run away from home. Its sequel, It Sounds Familiar, picks up where the first book left off.

Magic, Mischief & Mayhem is a collection of fantasy short stories suitable to teens and young adults.

Practice to Believe is a collection of short stories that twists fairy and folk tales and expectations for a new look at some familiar (and some less familiar) stories.