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Archive for the ‘Links’ Category

Writerly Linkee-poo

The Staffordshire Hoard Flickr set. I love stuff like this. It gets my hack and slash geekery on. Of course, this year’s gift of choice for the little curtain pee-ers? Metal detectors! I expect to see a few hundred of those things in garage sales next year. (link grokked from Making Light).

Justine Larbalestier pontificates on excuses white writers use for not writing non-white characters. As someone whose stories are filled with hispanic surnames and latest novel has Chinese dropping from the skies (not in a “real” sense but in a “that’s easy, they’re all around us” kind of thing), and I’m not either, that I also struggle with. The best I can do is make them real people. Sure, many are fodder for the sword, but the other people do all the interesting things people do (one Chinese side character speaks perfect English, but when confronted by obnoxious police conveniently forgets they know how, many are shop owners). But it does require knowing “something” about the people you’re writing about (name conventions are especially important, not just picking appropriate names but knowing how to put them together, such as the daughter is Kasandra Bonita, not just Kansandra or Kassie).

New stalker meat writer I’m following on blogs (Harry Connolly) writes something I’ve also dealt with. Hope is the mind-killer. I had a whole different commentary for this, but then I had some work to do, and my brain engaged. For me, this reaction is a defense (and therefore a part) of the big D. When you’re raised to judge yourself harshly, say by someone who is a perfectionist or abusive, you try to eliminate all possible avenues of criticism (differing from writing critiques, this is self-destructive criticism I’m talking about). If I’m hopeful, if I succumb to the siren song only to have that hope swallowed by the Charybdis, the gremlin voices grow louder. It’s better to skirt the rocks of the Scylla accepting there will be losses. It part of what I struggle with to live a somewhat happier life.

McSweeney’s with their comments written by actual students extracted from workshopped manuscripts at a major university. “Apes, aliens, then dead vampire family = too much Sci-Fi.” ha ha ha ha (grokked from Jay Lake, I think)

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Friday linkages

Josh Olson tells just why he won’t read your fucking script. You know, even at this point in my writing career I’ve had to adopt this philosophy as well. I have enough writing friends, and I include among those the critique group I belong to, that taking on more from people I don’t know personally is just too much. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

Jay Lake talks about his time allotments and schedules. Here’s another writer who says, “I get a lot done, and I’m a very busy boy.” How? Well TV is out. For Jay it’s way out, for me it’s mostly out. I don’t have a gaming system (although that’s changing, more on that later), I don’t do lots of social activities. Even with that I have less than two hours to write in a day (normally). It can be frustrating, especially when I realize that I need to clean the bathroom (and if it’s bad for me, I can only have sympathy for my long suffering wife) and the home projects that lag in time (still need a final sand on the hole in the wall project). It’s a matter of what your priorities are. Above all are friends and family, after that the things that bring in the cash (day and night jobs), then writing, then cleaning, watching TV, seeing a movie, etc.

Jim Hines talks about self publishing myths. My own position on self-publish has softened in the previous years, mostly due to friends like Ken McConnell and Matt Mitchell who have gone down that road. However you can read the hard work they’ve gone through on their blogs. Many of the myths Jim talks about are those used in publishing schemes (which, just like POD books, we need to delineate are different from self-publishing). The self-publishing model isn’t for me. I’ll probably use it the way Scalzi does (to get limited edition books as a way to share), but I don’t think I have it in me to go the whole way.

Closely related is Kelly McCullough’s self-promoting authors anonymous. Or, letting go and letting marketing professionals help. One of the reasons I go to conventions and read successful writers’ blogs is to learn this kind of stuff (to see what works and what doesn’t). Really, people have been down this road before. What works for them may not for you (really, who else is John Scalzi?), but it’s all grist for the mill.

Last night the missing part of chapter 22 came to me. I wrote it out long hand before going to bed and will key it in today. Maybe and extra 300 words. It might seem like I’m obsessed with wordcount (if you read my other blog), but I’m not really. It’s a hand metric to say, “I’m progressing.” If I would get my real milestones I’d be getting all spoilery with my own novel, and I might tempt the fates to make it all go wrong. And if I said, “Hey, last night as I was writing Chapter 22, I realized just why (this thing) happened in Chapter 21, which makes the world of New Frisco that much richer and enhances the depth of the characters. Also, and interesting side plot which reveals some history of the Disaster and can lead to some good situations, humor, tension, and motivation down the road.” That probably wouldn’t be helpful to you at all.

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Writerly Linkee-poo

Dean Wesley Smith is dinning on the bar-b-qued remains of publishing myths. This one is about rewrite. There’s a lot in here I agree with, and a lot I disagree with. I think the point would be, “don’t be so critical of yourself.” As to his rant on critique groups, I agree. You shouldn’t write your work to appease your group, instead you should find a group that will point out things like, “So why don’t they have radar in this far future story, so they could see the rockets coming” (that’s one made on one of my stories, and the truth is I didn’t tell part of the story correctly so they misunderstood what was happening). Don’t go to the groups that say things like, “Maybe if you had this person do this instead” or “You’ll want to use this word here.” Those are death. At worst (or best) the group can say, “This would have worked better for me if…” and then you take that with a grain of salt the size of Utah. (grokked from Jay Lake)

Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s notes on Wendy Loggia’s speech “I Wanted to Love This: Seven Reasons Why Your Manuscript Gets Declined.” Good reading. This goes back to the, “Once you’ve gotten the mechanics down it still doesn’t mean you’re writing a story.” And as Stephen Kings says, “It’s all about the story.” (can’t remember how I got there, sorry who ever pointed this out)

Jim Hines spills the beans about Neil Gaiman. Which includes the excellent, “#9 Neil Gaiman is the reason nobody teaches “I before E except after C” anymore.”

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Writerly Linkee-poo

So, as someone who is writing the first novel they’ll complete (I think I can, I think I can) this article on This Is Your Job speaks well to me. (grokked form Jay Lake)

The Writer’s Digest (of which I no longer subscribe, sorry guys) with 7 Biggest Myths of Publishing. What she said (especially #7 – It’s okay to put your book on hold).

Terry Bissons 60 Rules for Short SF (and Fantasy) which is a much faster read than it sounds.

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Rejection to Linkages

OSC Intergalactic Medicine show sends word they’re passing on my humorous flash fantasy “Prince Wanted.” The letter is short and sweet, but I’m not sure it’s a form (I’ll have to check older rejections from them). So, sometime this weekend it’s back to duotrope (and now that I think about it, it’s been quite a few weeks since I’ve been there).

So on that vein, some writerly links.

The blog, “Pimp My Novel” has been spilling the beans about sales. Here’s their post for Fantasy and here’s the one for SF. They also do reports on other genres (literary, childrens, etc).

The Rejectionist with book ideas they couldn’t make up, even if they wanted to. Wow. Really, if you think you’re ideas are crap, you need to check out these three.

Seanan McQuire gives us some thoughts on writing. And her discussion of “Recess” is so spot on, I was misty-eyed by the end of it. (Grokked from Catherine Schaff-Stump).

Tobias Buckell extolls the virtues of Story Tracker which somewhat does something I’ve been looking for as well. I think Duotrope will also handle this, but, frankly, I haven’t taken the time to check it out. So, another reason to get that iTouch (they’re building up).

And the Blood Red Pencil continues to dish up some good content (I’m way behind my reading there).

edited to include Kate Elliot talking of Identity and characterization over on Tor.com.

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Writing in a vacuum is overrated

Writers are a driven bunch.  When the Muse is MIA, we are either pounding our heads on our keyboards, or torturing what we’ve already written with the red pen of doom.  When the Muse does show up for work, we strap in before the genie goes back into her bottle.  It’s easy for us to become either gibbering fools or crazy hermits, often both at the same time.

We talk to ourselves because writing is a one-person show.  As chief cook and bottle washer, we have to maintain production, research and development, and both market research and product marketing.  Plus, little things like maintaining a healthy work environment, facility maintenance, and letting the family know we still love them seem to be fairly important.  Overwhelmed, we sometimes stop writing altogether.

We might need alone-time to actually write, but our fears have a tendency to grow when we lock ourselves in a vacuum.  If we are completely insular, we miss out on industry news, helpful tips for improving our craft, inspiration from other writers, classes, contests, and conferences.  Writing is hard.  We have to commune with other writers because they are the only people who really understand the psychosis, the drive to create and write.   We don’t need a twelve step program, but we do need a support group for when we are ready to throw it all out the window and say “Stop this crazy train!”     

Joining a local writing or critique group can be the ticket that allows us to stay on the train.  Live human beings, real people, and fellow writers.  Not only do the live human beings give us the support we need, they can also hold us accountable for our production, or give us valuable, immediate feedback on our writing. 

Conferences are another great way to expand your writing network.  Most have contests, classes, workshops, and editors and agents attending, as well as both published and pre-published writers.  Commune with the other writers at the conference, share, network; you never know when it might pay off.  The author you just met might like you enough to introduce you to their agent or editor.     

Live interactions take time, but everyone has a spare fifteen minutes somewhere in their day.  You can use that time to play a game of spider solitaire, or you can surf the web.  The internet has more resources than we could conceivably surf in three life times—some good, some bad, some indifferent—hundreds aimed at writers, the writing community, and the writing industry.  If all else fails, check out a favorite author’s website and blog; they have a ton of information and inspiration, and sometimes links to other helpful sites. 

Here are just a few just jump-starts; they are definitely not all that is out there.  I did not include any conference websites since attending one often requires travel time and other expenses. 

Most classes can be done online, or you can just order the lecture packets.  Other sites offer week-long live-action workshops.  Some sites offer give-aways or scholarships.  Podcasts are what they are. 

http://www.writersonlineclasses.com/ (classes and workshops)

http://www.writeruniv.com/ (classes and workshops)

http://pasic.net/workshops.html (classes and workshops)

http://www.free-expressions.com/site/default.htm (classes and workshops)

http://rosescoloredglasses.com/ (classes and workshops)

http://www.sff.net/Odyssey/podcasts.html (podcasts)

http://www.thewritingcast.com/blog/ (podcasts)

http://www.stormwolf.com/thesecrets/podcasts/index.html (podcasts)

 

http://www.americanwriters.com/ (podcasts)

http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/ (podcasts)

 

Some of the following sites have giveaways (classes, books, etc), author interviews, as well as excellent information about the writing life, the industry, tips, and other related subjects.

http://loveconquers.wordpress.com/ (features guest bloggers on writing and industry)

http://www.margielawson.com/  (she gives many classes.  Great author, smart lady.  This is her homepage)

http://fivescribes.blogspot.com/ (sponsored by Margie Lawson, this has author interviews and give-aways, guest bloggers)

http://www.ralan.com/ (industry news, contests, tips, etc)

http://anotherealm.com/prededitors/ (a way to see if your agent/editor/publisher is a good one…or a preying mantis)

www.writerunboxed.com (author interviews, blogs, mostly from published writers)

http://www.routinesforwriters.com/ (the name kinda says it all)

 

Mind-mapping , brainstorming, and creating a timeline can be made easy with software.  Timeclock software or downloadable egg-timers can help manage your computer writing, research, and play time.    

http://www.mindjet.com/

http://www.thebrain.com

http://www.ravensheadservices.com/

http://www.timeclockmts.com/

http://www.download.com/Cool-Timer/3000-2350_4-10062255.html?tag=mncol

http://www.download.com/Egg-Timer-Plus/3000-2350_4-10073665.html

 

You could spend days reading or listening to what I have linked, so please limit yourself to fifteen minutes to an hour at a whack.  Use these sites as rewards for writing 3 pages, 1000 words, or for “continuing education” purposes, not as a delaying tactic, or in lieu of writing.  They are intended to inspire, not contribute to delinquency. 

Feel free to add more links in the comments!
 

 

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Five Not-So Random Link Post

Justine Larbalestier has a few things to say on the need to prefect your craft. I’ll reiterate here a comment I made there, in every thing you try in life you’ll eventually reach a point where it becomes hard. What you do at that point determines what you really love, and what should just be a hobby. For, that point concerning writing came eight years ago. It was at that point I figured “If I’m going to do this writing thing, I need to really work at it.” I could have kept at the same level I was, I enjoyed telling myself and my friends the little stories. But if I hadn’t made that determination to “go beyond” and start putting more energy and start sacrificing other things, I wouldn’t be close to being published now.

K. Tempest Bradford is guest blogging over at Jeff VanderMeer’s Ecstatic Days and she has some words for genre fiction writers who maybe thinking about including rape, sexual retrograde mores, being ironic about the same, and how being a feminist does not automatically make your writing feminist. On her own blog she’s gone off on many things that (IMHO) don’t deserve the attention her vehemence brings, however she’s spot on with this criticisms.

Diana Peterfreund talk about bad and good books and some writerly response. You need to read.

Matt Jarpe links back to his 5 Writing Lessons he wished he’d learn the easy way. We all feel that pain, Matt. We all do.

Dave Klecha clues us in on making advice too cliche-ish instead of helpful. And yeah, a lot of advice comes into this realm. He also reminds us, that not all advice works for everybody.

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