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Category: Writing

New Writers Under Pressure

New Writers Under Pressure

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

Good morning, Readers!

Floating around the Twitterverse yesterday was a long thread of new authors bemoaning all the extra stuff they’re expected to do — all of that extra work extraneous to their craft — that writers are expected to engage in if they have any hope of being successful with their publication.

It’s true. When I first started on this publishing quest oh, some [indistinct] years ago, my research revealed that I had a lot of things to do if I wanted to be successful. I had to be on several social media site. I had to belong to several writing groups. I had to blog. I had to do a book blog tour. I had to secure book reviews and interviews (but good luck getting either if you’re self-published or published by a small/micro press, and entirely unknown). I had to create a launch party. I had to create and maintain a newsletter. The list seemed endless and entirely overwhelming. I understand the dismay and frustration expressed on Twitter yesterday.

It’s valid. There is a lot of hidden work behind being a successful writer (unless you’re very, very lucky).

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Undue Influences

Undue Influences

January 1st

Diaries are written to never be read by other people, and that is an important difference from a manuscript.

Dear Diary,
I have started my new novel, just like I resolved to do! This project, Dearest Diary, will be codenamed Caterpillar, as it is basically in larval form. Get it? Or should it be called Ovum, as it is actually not as developed as a full larva? No, that sounds stupid. Caterpillar it is! Welcome, Caterpillar!

This novel is going to be a romance, in which our heroine, Margarite, an investment banker, meets Jacques, a poor tile-layer, and falls in love with him. Her well-to-do family will put all manner of obstacles in their path toward fulfillment!

On a side note, the house next door has finally been occupied. The moving truck arrived near dawn, right as I was beginning Caterpillar during my early-writing time. Perhaps Jacques should arrive at Margarite’s villa at dawn. Very romantic!
Weather: Sunny, cold.
Emotional Weather: Sparkly!

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Some Words That Must Be Said

Some Words That Must Be Said

There will soon be more going on here than meets the eye… or the ear.

100:

Well, hidey-ho there, friend! Let me ask you something. Have you or a loved one ever been writing something – say, a novel, or a short story, or heck, even a sonnet– and found yourself apprehensive about the dialogue to come? Or have you ever felt the reverse, an all-encompassing need to document the details of every character’s chit-chat? If so, you might be on the Dialogue Malappropriation Spectrum, or DMS for short.
Golly, I’m not sure. Can you tell me more? Continue from 180.
I most certainly do not! Continue from 320.
I do. I really do! Continue from 440.
You again? Listen, I thought I made it clear I’m just here for the stories and gaming stuff. Continue from 230.

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What Makes Us Human, the Challenges of Writing Cultures in Deep Time, and Important Skills Learned as a Party Clown: An Interview with Benjamin Rosenbaum

What Makes Us Human, the Challenges of Writing Cultures in Deep Time, and Important Skills Learned as a Party Clown: An Interview with Benjamin Rosenbaum

Benjamin Rosenbaum has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, BSFA, Sturgeon, and World Fantasy Awards and is the author of the short story collection The Ant King and Other Stories. (The Ant King was the first story of his I ever read.) He also created the Ennie-nominated Jewish historical fantasy tabletop roleplaying game Dream Apart and is the co-host of the podcast Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans. His stories have been translated into 25 languages.

He and I were in the Clarion West class hailed as the future of science fiction. Three Black women, three Asian women (including me), three Jewish men (including Ben), people from five different countries altogether: nowadays that may seem quaint, and that’s part of what we talk about in this interview. The world has changed a lot and as an author always exploring the limits of what it is to be human, Ben has gotten a front row seat to the challenge of asking questions that are relevant not just now, but ten years from now. Edgy questions about gender in one decade can become absurdly sexist by the next. Gender is one of the many concepts he explores in his upcoming novel, The Unraveling.

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LET’S KEEP THIS SIMPLE, SHALL WE?

LET’S KEEP THIS SIMPLE, SHALL WE?

Too many layers, or 100% necessary? Let’s examine this together, Friend!

100: Well, howdy there, Friend! Let me ask you a question. Do you or a spouse struggle with Character Development Mania, known more commonly as CDM? Oh, I hear you, Friend. It’s not easy to admit it when you have a problem and need help. But you can trust me, I’m in sales!
This sounds serious. Tell me more about CDM! Continue from 230.
This doesn’t sound like a real thing. Continue from 350.
I’m mostly here for the fiction and game stuff, not the writing advice. Continue from 410.

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If I May Take A Moment of Your Time

If I May Take A Moment of Your Time

100

A failed literary outline.

Hello, Friend! Are you a writer who struggles with Scene Development Instability, sometimes called SDI? I know, it can be hard to talk about in public, but let me reassure you, Friend, that SDI can be treated!

Great, tell me more! Read on from 400.
I’m not actually a Writer! Read on from 300.
I only write short stories, so I’m immune to SDI. Read on from 200.

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Heroes and Villains

Heroes and Villains

Image by Сергей Катышкин from Pixabay

Growing up, I had no heroes.

I’m not sure if this is a sign of anything in particular that might be wrong with me, but growing up, there was no one in any field — sports, literature, politics, or life — that I considered a hero of mine. There were certainly people whose skill and success I greatly admired. My favourite artists come out of the surrealist movement, and they are remarkable, both in how well the portray realism and how expertly they undermine it; twist it and make it strange. I have always loved Tolkien and regularly stand in awe of what he built. I feel the same way about Steven Erikson, a more contemporary writer. Martin Lass was my favourite violinist, and Tommy and Phil Emmanuel my favourite all-time guitarists. I was enamoured with the skill of tennis stars Pat Cash and Pat Rafter…

If you needed proof of my Australian-ness, I think that’s it right there…

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So, I Accidentally Wrote a Novella

So, I Accidentally Wrote a Novella

The Woman in the Coffin by Nathan Long (Oolong Books, February 18 2021)

So, I accidentally wrote a novella.

When I told him about it, John O’Neill congratulated me on my sagacity for following the current trend in novellas, but that was never my intention. I’m so out of the loop I didn’t even know there was such a trend. What I had set out to do was to entertain my friend Elizabeth Watasin by writing a serial adventure set in her Dark Victorian world and sending her a chapter every week. It just so happened when I put all the chapters together they turned out to be novella length and not too terrible, so there you go. And, yes, as you have already deduced, not only is it a novella, it’s a fan-fic novella. I so fell in love with the swooniness of Elizabeth’s world and characters that I was inspired to write a Watasin-adjacent story of my own. And, to add to its other sins, it’s very possible I won’t write a follow up.

Given all that (fan-fic, runtish length, no ‘long tail’) what the hell am I doing making The Woman in the Coffin the first thing I self-publish? Honestly, I don’t know. I have two finished full length novels in the trunk that would only require a copy-edit and a cover to put up on Amazon, but did I publish those? No. I picked the thing that requires half a page of mea culpa to explain, and which I had to ask Elizabeth’s permission to publish.

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Things Your Writing Teacher Never Told You: Columbia College Chicago Alumni Fantasy Writers Look at the Changing Role of Heroes in Terry Pratchett’s Troll Bridge Film

Things Your Writing Teacher Never Told You: Columbia College Chicago Alumni Fantasy Writers Look at the Changing Role of Heroes in Terry Pratchett’s Troll Bridge Film

Troll Bridge, Snowgum Films (2019)

The air blew off the mountains, filling the air with fine ice crystals.

It was too cold to snow. In weather like this wolves came down into villages, trees in the heart of the forest exploded when they froze. In weather like this right-thinking people were indoors, in front of the fire, telling stories about heroes.

This is the epic, atmospheric opening to Sir Terry Pratchett’s marvelous short story, “Troll Bridge,” set in his Discworld series. 

As I write this, it is not too cold to snow, though it’s much too nasty to be outside. The wind is howling and the snow is blowing, and here in Chicago they’ve predicted we’ll get a foot of snow in 48 hours. Texas looks like the Midwest in winter, and there’s damned few snowplows in the Lonestar state. A whopping 80% of the US currently has snow on the ground. 

In past winters, I have seen coyotes slinking around the park a block from our condo building, and one glorious Yuletime night, I saw a 10 point buck, antlers coated in ice, standing in the middle of Michigan Ave, on the Magnificent Mile. It was an icy, wind-whipped night, the type where the snow turns everything it touches into a glowing icicle. Only the buck and I were foolish enough to be out that night. That was 30 years ago, and I remember it clearly to this day.

As the wind howls past my window tonight, it takes little imagination to think packs of wolves might be coming down from the wilds of Wisconsin to stalk through the streets of Chicago.

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Writing Together, Apart

Writing Together, Apart

Image by Patrik Houštecký from Pixabay

Good morning! What a fortnight it has been. The news is insane, isn’t it? I’m not going to talk about it here. Instead, I’m going to talk about something that I did a couple of weeks ago that brought me joy.

I am a member of my local SFF writing community here in Ottawa (Canada, just to be clear). Thanks to the raging pandemic, we did not have our annual gathering of incredible minds and imaginations that is Ottawa’s own Can*Con. I find the press and bustle of people incredibly stressful, but this convention is always so enjoyable, I risk a panic attack every year just to attend. I love it.

Thankfully, the organizers of Can*Con haven’t left us entirely floundering in the dark. They are live-streaming incredibly thoughtful panels on YouTube every so often (by the by, you can subscribe to their YouTube channel here), and the Facebook group is pretty active with articles and sometimes even book recommendations.

Our humble little community is genuinely lovely to be a part of. I’m terribly glad for it. One of my favourite things, though, is something that I’ve only done once thus far, that the organizers of Can*Con has set up for its members.

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