The Quotable Princess

The infamous Luc Reid — optimistic motivator, SF writer, award winner, member of the League of Unextraordinary Gentlepersons, and founder of the Codex Writers Group.

In Luc’s infinite wisdom, he decided to post pages of memorable quotes by its fantabulous members, lifted from the Codex forums (with permission, of course). In Luc’s own words:

I love the group not because of the amount of success of its members (which tests my envy tolerance on a regular basis) but because of the flood of wisdom, intelligence, kindness, encouragement, and enthusiasm that wells up every day through posts, e-mails, discussions, critiques, and in-person meetings. And while I can’t share all of that material, I can and will share quotes that have cropped up on our forum, with the position of the originators.

And who is the quotable member (by far not the most quoted–that’s probably James Maxey)? WHY ME, OF COURSE! You can check out all my nuggets of wisdom by clicking this little old link right here. It’s funny to see my own words from so long ago posted on an internet wall like so much bathroom graffiti…and full of all  the inherent wisdom that comes with such an honor.

I also highly recommend this list of quotes from Eric James Stone and Helena Bell — two of my favorite witty people. Well worth reading…and possibly writing on a wall with a Sharpie somewhere.

These quotes make me miss Codex. I am terrible about keeping up with things like messageboards (and Facebook mail, and phone calls), especially when I should be writing. Happily, everyone there knows I’ll pop back in from time to time, and they’ll continue the conversation like I haven’t been gone a day. They really are the best of all possible friends.

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Genre Chick Interview: Luc Reid

Back on “Take Your Princesses-in-Training to Work” Day, Ariell and Kassidy helped me create a great questionnaire that I could send out to the ever-growing list of authors on my to-interview-list. After I sent the interview out, Ariell then started formatting all the interviews into posts for me. Hooray!

We start with my dearest longtime friend, Luc Reid. (Some of you may remember him from the Beauty & Dynamite essay “The Story Magnet.”) Not only is Luc the founding father of the Codex Writers Group, he is one of the original members of the League of Unextrpardinary Gentlepersons. Find out about his writing, his exceptional motivation, and his superpowers in this interview!


Alethea Kontis: Mac or PC?

Luc Reid: Both! I bought my Mac laptop solely so that I could use Scrivener on it, but I’ve used it enough now that I’m almost as comfortable on it as I am on the PCs I work on. I write on that Mac, various PCs, and an AlphaSmart (an outdated-seeming yet very useful device that basically consists of the world’s most rudimentary word processor with a full-sized keyboard and a four-line LCD screen. It cost me $30 on eBay, fires up in less than a second, and can dump data to a Mac or PC with a USB cable). I read and critique stories on computers, scrap paper, and my Kindle.

AK: Coffee or Tea?

LR: Neither, I’m afraid. Caffeine has nasty effects on me unless I administer it in carefully-managed doses–itching, headaches, high blood pressure, etc. You would think that an existence without coffee, tea, and chocolate would be pretty miserable, but once I got used to it, it got so it barely registers on the I-Care-At-All meter.

AK: Travel the world, or travel outer space?

LR: Can I say “both” on this one? Probably not, I’m guessing. Forced to pick one, I choose the World, for several reasons:

1. There are tons of fascinating people on it, and as far as I’m concerned, people are the most interesting thing conceivable. People seem to be harder to find in Outer Space.
2. Cheaper tickets.
3. Better food.
4. Free air. I hate having to pay for air.
5. Travel time measured in hours or days rather than decades or centuries.
6. Water parks.

On the other side of the equation, travel in Outer Space offers things like (possibly) alien civilizations, magnificent views, mind-boggling scientific discoveries, and all the rest–so it’s not an easy choice.

AK: Fantasy or Science Fiction?

LR: Both, again. Apparently I have trouble choosing individual things: I hadn’t noticed that pattern before. I’m also a compulsive black sheep type: you say tomato, I say tomatillo.

Anyway, sometimes I like digging into what the world could be like and what the universe might have to offer, and for that I need SF. Other times I just want to find out what would happen if chickens could talk or if some guy had a tie that made him invisible, and at times like that I tell physics to go jump in a lake and call the result Fantasy. I also am fond of alternative history, except that it’s a hell of a lot of work to do it right.

AK: What is one of your most irrational fears?

LR: My brain getting full. Ever see that Gary Larson cartoon with the kid who asks to be excused from class because his brain is full? That kind of thing completely creeps me out. I mean, brains are finite, right? What if I run out of space and start losing things like how the rocks felt on the shale beach when I was a kid, or the reasons for not worrying about death?

AK: What are you working on now?

LR: I’m revising, expanding, and reformatting my 2006 bookTalk the Talk: The Slang of 65 American Subcultures as an eBook. There was a lot of material I couldn’t put in the book when it originally came out because of page limits, and I get to put some of that back in for the new edition. To get this done, I temporary stopped work on an alternate history novel set in a 1950’s America that has been fending off a decade-long Russian invasion. It’s not about war, though: it’s about musicians.

AK: If you could be one superhero, or have one superpower who/what would you/it be?

LR: I want to be “Insight Man.” I’d love to have some sort of beam I could blast people with that would give them immediate perspective on who they are and what they’re doing. People would say things like “Wait! I’m not even enjoying these chips–why am I trying to bury my emotions under junk food?” and “Hey, I could ditch this crummy job, sell most of my stuff, and live very cheaply while doing meaningful volunteer work!” and “Wow, this shirt definitely does not go with these pants!” I would use it on myself constantly.

With that said, I do already have a super-secret identity, which you already know and which I’ll share with the Internet as long as the Internet promises not to tell anyone: I’m Vertigo Man. I don’t exactly know what my superpower is, but I do have a trademark phrase that I use for people in peril on bridges, skyscrapers, Sequoias, space elevators, etc.: “I’ll save you! Whoa, hold on–that’s really high up!”

AK: What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?

LR: I’m not sure, but here are some of the failures and successes that might be on the list: I helped found an intentional community and devised a more or less unique labor management system for it. I’ve raised my son to teenagerhood without (as far as I can tell) seriously screwing anything up. I taught myself some Hungarian and spent a month in central Europe trying to found an import/export company. I earned a black belt in Taekwondo. I won second place in the Writers of the Future contest. I learned how to play a dozen or so musical instruments. Oh, and Charles Barkley sweated on me once: that’s cool, right?

AK: Coolest thing you’re about to do?

LR: I’d like to know that myself! I personally would like to vote for “Release an eBook edition of Talk the Talk that becomes phenomenally popular,” but only time will tell.


Luc Reid is a Writers of the Future winner whose fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Brain HarvestAbyss & ApexStrange HorizonsClarkesworld, and elsewhere. He writes a column called “Brain Hacks for Writers” for Futurismic, is member of the flash fiction group The Daily Cabal, and founded theCodex online writers group, whose members garnered 8 Nebula nominations this year (none of which were for Luc himself). His books are Talk the Talk: The Slang of 65 American Subcultures (Writers Digest Books, 2006; with an electronic edition expected out this month) and Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories (2010). He blogs about writing and the psychology of habits at and can be found on Twitter @lucreid.
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Lawrence and Luc

Over at my dear friend Lawrence Schoen’s website (you may know Lawrence as the King of Klingon), my other dear friend Luc Reid is grilled about the Codex Writers Group, his new e-book Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories, andwhat it was like to be a student in Lawrence’s class all those years ago. (Small world, isn’t it?)

Luc was one of the people–possibly the very first person–responsible for making SUNDAY the novel it is today. After getting a very crushing rejection on New Year’s Eve five years ago, he encouraged me (after my birthday party) to send it out again. Nine months later, it was published in Realms of Fantasy. Next year, it will be a book. Life is just amazing like that.

If you’re looking for something to pass the time (and if you’re reading this website, you’re obviously doing that already), pop on over and see what Luc has to say. And if $2.99 is burning a hole in your pocket, follow that link and check out his 172 short stories. I guarantee–Luc’s always good for a laugh.

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Genre Chick Interview: Luc Reid

This month, Genre Chick Alethea Kontis gets past the nerd gate of subculture slang and learns to grok everything from Basic Faire Accent to Ciazarn. Our professor today is Luc Reid, award-winning author of the chunky, entertaining reference book Talk the Talk: The Slang of 65 American Subcultures.


Alethea Kontis: How long did it take to write Talk the Talk?

Luc Reid: I spent a very busy 10 months writing Talk the Talk. Some days, I lived, breathed, ate, and dreamed subculture slang, and since I worked on only one subculture at a time, it was a strange kind of immersion in one fresh take on one world after another. I think my friends noticed mostly that I started using weird words and phrases, excitedly pointing out social nerd gates and telling them to keep the shiny side up.

AK: How did you write it?

LR: I wrote the book the same way I do everything: with a database. I have to say I love to find ways to organize information. Of course, I knew I’d need to eventually alphabetize and note synonyms and cross-reference and index the book, so I decided to take the most organized approach I could and built myself a database system for it. I built up the terms one at a time on one computer screen, working from reams of electronic notes on another computer screen. I think without the database, I would have been buried in information. Actually, even with the database, I was buried in information. In terms of gathering the information, I read books and talked with people in the different subcultures I was covering, but the real whoosh generator was the Internet. Web sites for different subcultures, discussion groups… 10 years ago– even five years ago–it wouldn’t have been possible to write this book in such a short amount of time.

AK: Why did you write it?

LR: I wrote Talk the Talk for primarily selfish reasons. I love experiencing things that are new or strange or that give me a different perspective. Digging into these subcultures, I got to experience 65 different vantage points on life, or at least parts of life. And of course as I learned about these things, I wanted to share the information, because when I really get interested in something, the only way to shut me up is to put me at a keyboard. These are the reasons I was so enthusiastic about writing the book in the first place.

In practical terms, it happened this way: my agent, the lovely and talented Nadia Cornier, was having lunch with an editor from Writer’s Digest Books. The editor mentioned that they were looking for “weird reference books” for writers, and the phrase “weird reference books” seems to have immediately brought me to Nadia’s mind. For those who know me, this won’t be surprising.

She asked me if I had an idea to pitch, and the next thing I knew, I was on the show.

AK: Are you, or have you ever been, a member of any of these subcultures?

LR: Oh, absolutely: I’m a coder (meaning a programmer), and I webify things for a living when I’m not writing books. Although I don’t have much experience with cons (science fiction conventions), I’ve loved Science Fiction and Fantasy for years, so I grok fen. I’ve bagged a few peaks (hiking), ridden some hydraulics (rafting), hacked and slashed through dungeon crawls (in role-playing games), gone dry while off book (acting), celebrated the odd Sabbat (with witches and pagans), and once helped found a consensus-based intentional community (with other sustainability advocates). Actually, now that I look at it, I’m surprised by how many of these subcultures I really belong to–and I’ve probably missed a couple.

AK: Did you go undercover for any of these sections?

LR: Well, there was this one incident when I was trying to finish up the skydivers section and the beekeepers section at the same time and …

Actually, no. The research was fascinating in terms of information, but not in terms of methods. Even for sections like the one on prostitution, it was largely conducted through e-mail (thanks, Norma Jean!) and on the Web. Most of the subcultures couldn’t be researched well in books because their slang isn’t often written, but I did find some key pieces of the puzzle for both the con artists section and the politicos section at the library.

AK: As a writer, what are your favorite/most used reference books?

LR: Well, I have a great thesaurus that’s organized dictionary-style, called The Synonym Finder, by J.I. Rodale. Even with the online thesauruses that are available, I’m much more likely to find the exact right word in that book than anywhere else. I have a 40-year-old rhyming dictionary that begins with some awful advice about writing poetry and then provides a tremendous means of getting verse to work. I don’t need it often, but when I do, it’s a major boon. I also have a deep and abiding love for the Oxford English DIctionary although I don’t yet own it, so in a pinch I rely on my local library.

Apart from that, most of my reference books have been replaced by the Internet, especially by Google Earth, Wikipedia, and Google’s “define:” feature. As an information addict, the Internet satisfies a deeply felt need for me, which is to know absolutely everything, right now. I’m doing my best to add to the amount of information on the Web, too. I’ve started populating the Talk the Talk Web site,, with information that didn’t fit into the book, and am launching a set of subculture forums there.

AK: What were some of the most interesting things you found? Surprising? Scariest?

LR: I was surprised at how much more interesting language was in smaller subcultures than in larger ones. The larger subcultures had a huge number of terms, but those terms tended to be for more usual concepts, sometimes a lot of them for the same idea. For instance, drug users may be hopped up, wasted, blasted, loaded; however, smaller, quirkier subcultures had terms for concepts I’d never thought of before. I’ve already mentioned one of my favorites, “nerd gate,” which is an obstacle just difficult enough to filter out people who aren’t serious about what they’re doing. In professional wrestling, there’s the word “smark,” which can either mean someone who thinks they know what’s real in pro wrestling but doesn’t, or someone who does know what’s real in pro wrestling, but pretends not to.

And then there are the terms that help convey the mindset of the subculture with great economy. For instance, puppeteers talk about “wiggling the dollies,” which is so uncomplimentary that it immediately gave me a feeling of what it’s like to work in an art form that often gets lumped in the same category as making balloon animals. Model rocketeers have great, evocative terms for rocket malfunctions, like “power prang” and “land shark,” that convey a sense of being able to take joy even when things go wrong–especially if they go spectacularly wrong. Well, that list goes on and on. Actually, despite the fact that my editor had to go to bat for me to get approval for the book to be longer than immediately planned, I cut back mercilessly on the material I had developed for the book, just to squeeze it into the available space. The up side of this was that I was able to concentrate on only the most compelling terms.

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