Wanderings on Writing by Jane Lindskold: Enter to Win a Signed Copy!

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 | Posted by Emily Mah

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I am back! In the months since you last heard from me I started up a ebook and paperback formatting company, and we’ve formatted some very cool stuff. The coolest, I will post about here on the site (note, this is not all I will post about and I do not benefit commercially from these postings. This is all stuff I want to shout from the rooftops because of its coolness.)

First up is: Wanderings on Writing by Jane Lindskold, which is a compilation of essays about writing, plotting, storycrafting, characterization and much, much more. She is giving away a signed copy here –> a Rafflecopter giveaway.

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When I Win the Lottery; Or, I Should Be So Lucky

Friday, February 27th, 2015 | Posted by Violette Malan

Jackson LotteryThe phrase “when I win the lottery” seems to be used in two distinct ways. The first and, I hope, the most common usage, has the same “ain’t gonna happen” meaning as “when pigs fly,” and connotes a certain sense of realism on the part of the speaker. The second, and I think sadder, usage stands for a certain lack of foresight. It’s been said, for example, that a sizable percentage of people include winning the lottery as an element in their retirement plans.

In our house the phrase also stands for any unlikely event beyond our control that we would nevertheless welcome. Like “when they finally come up with a retina chip that will fix my right eye,” or, “when the Dhulyn and Parno novels are optioned for TV.”

The lottery as a phenomenon is now so pervasive that it’s almost impossible not to think about lotteries and winning/losing them. The concept has formed the basis of a wide variety of movie and TV plots – mostly on the negative aspects of winning, but I think that’s meant to comfort those of us who, well, lost.

How are lotteries treated in Fantasy and SF writing? I don’t mean games of chance as such, though that gives us magnificent stories like “Gonna Roll the Bones” from Fritz Leiber. Nor do I mean criminal activities like numbers running, or even straightforward betting, whether on or off track or line. No, I mean actual lotteries. You get your ticket, and you wait your chance.

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The Making of a Dark Fantasy Anthology

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 | Posted by Salome Jones

Cthulhu Lives-smallLike all books, an anthology begins with an idea. In the case of Cthulhu Lives! the idea was simply this: the eerie feel of Lovecraft’s cosmic horror stories without the lengthy exposition and racist diatribes. I called for submissions using the tag line “Lovecraftian cosmic horror stories with a modern sensibility.”

The cool thing about asking creative people to respond to a call is that you will often get more than you expected. For CL, I got some stories about things that Lovecraft never imagined because he was from a very different time. For example, 3D printers, spying internet programs, Higgs bosons – and steampunk Europe.

I didn’t have access to a group of known cosmic horror writers. In fact, I didn’t know when I put out the call if we would even get enough good stories to fill the book. At the same time I put out another call for a different book, this one for dark, modern fairy tales, and I got only three stories that I considered suitable, so I had to cancel that book.

After the open call for Cthulhu Lives!, I had thirteen good stories, stories I felt could make the grade either with or without a bit of extra work from the author. After putting them all together, I only had 55,000 words. Tim Dedopulos, the managing editor of Ghostwoods Books, told me I had to get the word count up to at least 70,000 before we could publish.

At that point, I asked writers I knew who I felt were up to the task. I have to say that Gethin Lynes was amazing here. He had been helping me copyedit the stories I already had. In order to help him grok some of the editing decisions I made, I suggested he read some Lovecraft. (He’s Australian, and Lovecraft isn’t as popular there as in the US.) When I needed stories, he wanted to write one. “The Highland Air” was the result, and it’s one of my favorite stories in the book.

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Writers as Barbarian Conquerors!

Friday, February 20th, 2015 | Posted by mariebilodeau

This is possibly the most brilliant way to think about writing ever. I can’t believe I’m just thinking about it now, and certainly won’t have to beat the metaphor into shape. Well, maybe a bit. But, who the heck cares. You can now view your writing as a freaking barbarian invasion! Like I said: brilliant.

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Barbarians don’t post plans on the Internet, so I interviewed one and drew this. You’re welcome.

PLANNING THE BATTLE

Like any good invading army, you must first plan which of your troops are going where. It’s known as “plotting” in the writing world. It doesn’t need to be super detailed, but you should know the attack plan of your knights (aka hero) and archers (aka secondary characters. Sorry, Hawkeye). Plus, you should know a bit about your enemy’s defenses (aka villain).

Build up enthusiasm in your barbarian army with awesome speeches (aka writing down cool scenes).

FIRST WAVE OF ATTACK!

This is where you plunge in and WRITE! KILL! DESTROY! Your armies are in place. Your knights are totally rocking it! Your archers are shooting those little wooden arrows like they can’t run out AND THEY DON’T BECAUSE IT’S YOUR BOOK!

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Book Tour Tips for (Self-Published) Authors

Monday, February 16th, 2015 | Posted by Patty Templeton

book tourMy adventure begins sixteen tons of sundowns ago… maybe say, November-ish, when the Clarendon Hills Public Library in Illinois asked me to be a featured reader at their No-Shush Salon. They wanted an author for early 2015. My first response (which I thankfully didn’t send) was no. Grateful that they thought of me, but no way. Who can afford to travel 5 hours one-way for one reading?

And then, THEN! In a cosmic crapshoot of hell yeah, another Chicago reading series, Tuesday Funk, contacted me. They wanted me for a reading several days after No-Shush.

When the universe shimmies at you, you wink back. I said yes to both.

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Five Things Better Than Handing In Your Manuscript

Friday, February 13th, 2015 | Posted by Violette Malan

Nobel prizeThis is in the forefront of my brain this week because – you guessed it – I’ve just handed in a manuscript. Now even though this is only the current draft of the work-in-progress, it feels pretty good, so I started to wonder, is there anything better than this?

Here are some of my thoughts:

Winning the Nobel Prize. It’s true you get to call yourself a Nobel Laureate, but I’ve asked around, and apparently this isn’t as wonderful as you might think. To start with, you have to go to Stockholm in February. Nothing against Stockholm, but really, February. It sometimes gets given to people years, and even decades after the work it’s being awarded for was done – which means their thank-you speeches frequently have a heavy subtext of “what, that old thing?” The money’s nice, but again, it so often comes later than you’d like it. In fact, more than one Nobel Laureate has been overheard to murmur, “Great, something else to dust.”

Winning the Superbowl. This one I confess I just don’t get. I keep asking what’s in the bowl, and all I get are funny looks. I mean, there’s a big difference between a super bowl of popcorn, and a super bowl of sauerkraut. I’m just saying, I’d need more details to be able to tell whether winning one is better than handing in a manuscript.

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Writing: Why You Shouldn’t Tinker With the Beginning Until You’ve Written to the End

Thursday, February 12th, 2015 | Posted by M Harold Page

Storyteller-Tools-New-Cover 255

Outliners like me, we write in layers.

The beginning of your novel is… Important. Vital. Critical.

It’s the bit that grabs the reader, and if the reader is your dream agent or an editor, then it can potentially grab you a career instead.

So, important, vital, critical. So much pressure to get it right. A nagging fear that it’s wrong.

And yet, you need to hone your beginning last. Here’s why…

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The World of New Publishing Models: Serialized Self-Published Novellas by Traditionally Published Authors: Nigh, by Marie Bilodeau

Saturday, January 31st, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Nigh Marie Bilodeau-smallI wanted to talk to Marie Bilodeau, a multi-Aurora-nominated Ottawa-area author about her new novel, Nigh. It is an apocalypse story, a magical one, which is an original twist, but it’s also taking an old-school/new-school leaf in that Marie decided to serialize the novel as several novellas and self-publish them. So I sat virtually with Marie and the disjointed conversation that follows is the best one out of twenty-six takes…

So what’s fun about Nigh?

FAERIEPOCALYPSE!

Stop! That’s not even a real word! God, let’s start again. Take twenty-five….

No! Keep typing! It is a word! That’s what fun. I’ve taken all the old scary faerie stories and thought about what would happen if the veil between our world and theirs suddenly collapsed. It’s not pretty. It’s definitely dark fantasy that could also be considered horror.

Plus, since I’m a professional storyteller, I’m also going to be performing a set of traditional faerie stories, woven in with some bits of Nigh, as bonus-can’t-read-this-on-the-page material. No, but seriously: FAERIEPOCALYPSE!

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Drizzt Do’Urden Simply Won’t Stop Adventuring: Myke Cole on Learning to Love Serial Fantasy

Friday, January 30th, 2015 | Posted by Myke Cole

Gemini Cell-smallMy name is Myke Cole, and I have a hard time with serial fantasy.

Yes, that’s right, I’m admitting it right up front. I’m wading into the hornet’s nest and making my confession.

More than three books in a series and I start to nod off. At five, you’ve pretty much lost me. It’s happened to me again and again and again. In A Song of Ice and Fire, I honestly don’t really care what happens after Dance. I followed Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharp through twelve books before I finally decided that, no matter how awesome his further adventures might be, I couldn’t get excited about them. Daniel Abraham’s The Widow’s House is the fourth book in his absolutely stunning Dagger and Coin series, and I know I’ll get to it… eventually.

It’s happened to me time and again with comic book series. Fables, Hundred Bullets, Sandman and on and on and on. I reach a point 5 or 6 or 10 trades in where I just sort of throw up my hands.

And all of the above examples are for good books. The kind of books that resonate and transport, the kind of books that make you want to give up writing because you’ll never be in the same league as that author.

For years, I’ve hid my head in the company of other fans, bit my tongue and kept my opinions to myself. Because Brandon Sanderson wound up rounding out The Wheel of Time series at fourteen books. Because Drizzt Do’Urden simply won’t stop adventuring, because fans LOVE long serials.

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Dave Duncan’s The Great Game

Friday, January 30th, 2015 | Posted by Violette Malan

duncan past Connor Gormley wrote a post not long ago in which he discussed the seeming sameness of the current state of Fantasy. That the genre which should be most imaginative showed a singular lack of imagination, or flexibility might be a better word, in its choice of settings and characters. The comments give you a pretty good idea of how people agreed or disagreed with his thesis, and the whole post is well worth looking at. I think what it did for a lot of people, however, is remind them of books they’ve read that aren’t cloyed down with the sameness of things.

In my case, I was reminded specifically of Dave Duncan’s work. I’ve mentioned his Alchemist Novels in discussing fantasy mysteries, and one day I’d like discuss the brilliant West of January in more detail, but at the moment I want to introduce you to the trilogy The Great Game, made up of Past Imperative, Present Tense, and Future Indefinite.

At first glance it seems we’re being dealt a typical stranger-in-a-strange land trope, but as is so often the case with Duncan, the first glance is all you get for free. I think it’s safe to say that whatever you think Duncan’s up to, it’s very seldom what’s going on.

Part Imperative begin with two apparently unconnected storylines, or rather, we assume they are connected – not being entirely new to this game ourselves – but we aren’t shown how until much farther into the narrative than we’d expect. An epigraph does give us a broad hint, but honestly, it’s very easy to overlook. I have a theory that fewer than half of all readers actually read epigraphs, even the ones at the beginning of chapters, but that’s neither here nor there – which, come to think of it, pretty much describes the position of Duncan’s characters.

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