Archive for the 'Writing' Category

Dealing In, Episode 11

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Welcome to the First of the Free Will/Next Ten Thousand Hours Feedback shows! This one is episode eleven of the Dealing In series of feedback shows, where I and several friends answer your emails and talk about whatever comes up. This time, I’m joined by Metamor City creator Chris Lester, my The Next Ten Thousand Hours cohost Kitty NicIaian, and composer Danny Schade. What do we talk about? An incomplete list, in roughly chronological order:
1) Introductions
2) Schadeys’ music
3) Physical types for Lantham and Joss Kyle
4) Meeting Caspar Van Dien
5) Heinlein’s politics
5) Where would you live on the moon?
6) What’s Earth like in the Antithesis Era, and what effect did the nuclear war have?
7) People living on the moon and its security implications
8) Silly Antithesis titles!
9) Eggs and food and the penises of birds
10) Feedback (finally!)
11) Computer Security in Antithesis
12) Quantum computing and cryptogrpahy
13) revolutionary cell networks and types of trust
14) codes vs cryptogrpahy
15) Alyssa Hartman, Catholicism, Suave Rob and Bi-Gendered Characters
16) Commercial availability of Free Will
17) Who are the best commercial audiobook companies?
18) The future of Metamor City
19) The NSA
20) Knitting needles as weapons

Released: Suave Rob’s Double-X Derring-Do

Sometimes you can’t help smiling a mile wide just typing an announcement, and this is one of those times (for me–at least I assume I’m the one typing. Yup. Okay, then, on with the show). Today I get to unveil to you my latest literary abomination, one that fulfills a lifelong dream to write a fun pulp sci-fi adventure story. A good short pulp needs a good long title, so here you go:

Suave Rob’s Double-X Derring-Do, a Short Novel of Long Odds.

One Surfboard. Two X-Chromosomes. All Man.

Climbing Olympus Mons put him on the map, winning a gold medal in asteroid jumping got him great press, and children everywhere tune into watch every time he skydives from a space station, but Suave Rob Suarez is just getting started. Together with his childhood hero and his stunt partner, he’s gonna stage the biggest daredevil stunt the universe has ever seen:

Surf a supernova. Or die trying.

Read a sample here, or get it now on your Kindle, Nook, or any other reader.

Tinker, Tailor, Topple, Die

So, you want to make your work–book, movie, sculpture, whatever–perfect, don’t you? You want it to shine. And you’re going to polish it, rewrite it, re-imagine it, and retcon it every chance you get? Or maybe you just can’t resist adding those few last-minute flourishes?

Well, you’re in good company. The impulse to tinker is universal. So universal, that some people make vast fortunes just so they’ll have the ability to tinker endlessly. People like, for example, George Lucas.
Continue reading ‘Tinker, Tailor, Topple, Die’

Playing Jazz With Words

You hear a lot of talk of “discovery writers” and “outliners” in the writing world. The “pantsers” and the “plotters,” respectively. It’s true that there are a lot of people that fall into both categories–including many of my friends–and human nature loves dichotomies, but I’ve never fit comfortably either, and I suspect I’m not alone.

Last night, I had occasion to have a long conversation with a new writer who’s vexed and confused by the options before him when it comes to writing process, and saying “you have to find your own way” only left him more despondent. I know that look–I’ve been there many times when faced with a new field of endeavor with so many options that at once feel constraining and non-specific. So, in the hope of letting those new writers who don’t comfortably fit a category know that they’re not alone, I’m going to describe my method.
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Failing the Wikipedia Test

Writing fiction in the age of the Internet can be fraught for the author who values authenticity–particularly if you write historical or technical fiction. Since the glorious thing about writing fiction is that you essentially make shit up to entertain other people, there are a range of opinions about the technical rigor to which writers should aspire.

I’m one of those poor tortured souls who is a stickler for detail, to the point where I’m rarely able to meet my own standards when I write–but, let’s face it. If anyone wrote like that, they’d either write only in their area of historical specialty or after years of research. The trick with writing is to create a successful illusion, not a master’s thesis. Besides, the vast majority of readers aren’t the kind of obsessive compulsive pain in the ass that I am–a lucky thing!–so there’s a certain amount we authors can count on getting away with.

Still, I can’t help but think there’s some level of rigor that one ought to aspire to. Some minimal standard–particularly since the stories we professional liars tell often form people’s view of the past long after their high school and college history classes are long-forgotten–must surely be in order. Something that we can at least hold up to keep ourselves from being embarrassed at conventions when a fan calls us out on an obvious boneheaded anachronism?

There might just be one. Let’s call it “The Wikipedia Test.” Continue reading ‘Failing the Wikipedia Test’

Literary Studies, Anyone?

Disclaimer: What follows is a rant about something that can screw up the creative process. This post is more esoteric than is normal for this blog. It contains a lot of jargon, and talks a lot about academic politics and social history, and it won’t interest everybody. Don’t worry, though. It doesn’t signal a change of direction for the blog. I’ll be back on Monday with more stuff about contracts, stories, podcasting, and my general flavor of nutiness.

Last night on Dean Wesley Smith’s blog I made a snarky comment about the deleterious effect of a Literary Studies degree (or, in my case, 90% of a Lit degree) on creativity. The comment went something like this:

A Literary Studies course is the worst thing you can do for your creativity, other than bashing your skull in with a mallet while reciting the lyrics to “The Song That Never Ends”

Needless to say, this caused a minor row in the twitterverse among my fellow literati, and I received a few demands to justify myself (which is not easy to do on the best of days, let alone in 140 characters or less), so, in the name of entertainment, here goes, in no particular order:

Continue reading ‘Literary Studies, Anyone?’

Who’s an Outlier, Again?

A funny thing happens during times of great industrial upheaval: Everyone wants a piece of the new deal, but nobody wants to take what they perceive to be a risk. Most established players retrench, hold on to what’s familiar, and try to shout down anyone with a contravening opinion. It’s human nature to get defensive when one perceives a threat to one’s view of the universe.

In the midst of the upheaval in the publishing industry, I’m seeing this a lot. As agents are conning their clients into unethical business arrangements (and kudos to Peter Cox and Kristen Nelson for going on record about the danger this represents to writers), editors with excellent reputations are getting kicked off writing forums for providing data on the change, publishers are defrauding their authors and engaging in massive rights grabs, breaking the rules can earn you some pretty serious grief from other writers who are following the rules and hoping they’ll get reputation points for it.

Trouble is, this isn’t first grade. There are no gold stars for following the rules. And a lot of people are breaking the rules.
And they’re winning.
Continue reading ‘Who’s an Outlier, Again?’

Revelation 16:17 (Free Will update)

And the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, saying “It is done.”

All the original writing for Free Will is now done. I have a few days of continuity tweaking ahead of me, and then some cutting, but it really is now all over but the shouting.

New equipment for the studio arrives this week, and I’ll be resuming production on everything in two weeks after I give things a proper shakedown and take a day or two off.

What does this mean for you?

Predestination and Free Will paperbacks (and Free Will ebook) in June. New episodes of Sculpting God in June. New episodes of Free Will starting in July, and continuing through to the end of the book.

It’s been a marathon–two years of work plotting and researching, and four solid months of aggregated writing time over those two years.. Final count: 212k words. Manuscript page count: 848. (Don’t worry, that will shrink as I shake out the continuity).

Time to crack the champagne!

The Great Cull (Free Will Update)

When I started writing The Antithesis Progression, I had a nice, tidy three-book series in mind. Then I wrote it, and discovered that what I thought was book 1 was actually 2 books cleverly hiding inside my head under a single title.

Well, no problem there. Turns out there was an excellent break point where book 1 could end naturally–and on a very nice cliffhanger–so I could move on to the new book 2 (which was originally the planned second half of book 1). I’d just sit down and write book 2 as soon as the time afforded.


If you’ve been following my progress with this book, you already know how that bright idea turned out. I’ve gotten four other books written in the meantime, and I’m quick on the way to finishing a further two, and still Free Will mocks me with its recalcitrance. And it’s not because I haven’t kicked ass on writing it either: Predestination rang in at 122,000 words after some serious cutting post-podcast and only had to cope with four major storylines. That’s a healthy sized book–it’s fantasy-novel length. Free Will is…well…bigger.

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Link Salad, Jan 10, 2011

It’s mid January, and time for your vegetables. This year’s first link salad is here–I hope you enjoy this sampling of my weidrness and wanderings from around the web!

Continue reading ‘Link Salad, Jan 10, 2011′