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Pour Epater Les Bourgeois

Last year around this time, for reasons of applying to teach a workshop — so, you know, not because I’m a masochist — I had to look through the net to find my reviews.

The results were mixed — on finding them, not on them being bad — including reviews I KNOW I had for stuff like Darkship Thieves.  So, I ended up trolling for reviews for every one of my books, including the fairly obscure, in fairly obscure blog.

This means, I ended up on this blog from someone who absolutely hated, despised and wanted my musketeer vampire book — Sword and Blood — to die in a fire. And not just because it was a vampire book, which one of my fans more or less drives me nuts with, by telling me that “Vampires are no, no, no.” Read more

Up and Out

Happy Tuesday to all you fine sophonts! After the Snowmageddon of last week (seriously, two full snow days, and two 2-hour delays), and then – and then!! – a blasted holiday weekend, I’m finally getting into restoring my poor, shattered and tattered routines. On the upside, I’m managing to get traction toward a renewed work-out regimen, which travel and holiday shenanigans mostly put paid to. So that’s a goodness. Meanwhile, on to the fiction! In which our hero overcomes challenges, only to be faced with an untenable situation… Read more

Science fiction, today’s reality and all the rest

(Morning all. I’m up to my eyes trying to finish up the final edits on Risen from Ashes, to be released Feb. 4th. I’ll be honest, I forgot today was Tuesday. So I went crawling through our archives and found the following. I’ve updated it some but the sentiment is still the same. The original post appeared Aug 5, 2014.)

Science fiction was the first “genre” fiction that I fell in love with. As a kid, I can remember reading everything the school and local library had with space ships and faraway planets as part of the plot. I dragged my parents to every SF movie to hit the local theater. Lost in Space and Star Trek were must sees on the TV. Why did these books, movies and TV shows call to me? Because they offered a look at a future that was exciting and a bit dangerous and they let my imagination run wild. Looking back, I can see just how true that was. When my friends and I played and decided we’d be the characters in our favorite shows or movies, it was almost always science fiction-related. And why not? We got to play with really cool laser guns and fight aliens and explore planets and fly in spaceships. What more could any kid with an overactive imagination want? Read more

An author to learn from

I’ve been working hard at the fine art of making myself itchy (putting ‘earthwool’ or glass-fibre insulation in the wall cavities of our home.) so I thought it had been a long day and it was time I decamped…

Well, de Camp. Lyon Sprague de Camp, 1907-2000, author of many fantasy, sf and non-fiction works. I happened to mention him to a young author I like and respect, who said he had read almost no de Camp… and I thought, sadly there are probably a lot of sf/fantasy readers and indeed writers who have never encountered de Camp’s work. That’s rather sad, not because he was the best author that ever wrote, but because there is quite a lot of value to gleaned from his work. Like Clifford Simak, the ideas are terrific – but sometimes you wish the story execution was better.
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Can I Quote That? Ask Your Lawyer

At least, that’s the short version of the answer.

The slightly longer version of the answer would be: how long has the original author or speaker been dead?

This has come up a few times when I wanted to quote more than just the title of a song or poem. The rough rule of thumb for fair use in a commercial setting (your book) that I was given has been five words. If you quote more than five recognizable words, then you are getting into copyright law’s turf. The rule comes from academia, specifically what constitutes plagiarism, and a real copyright law site suggests that you can go a touch farther. In one case, I knew I didn’t have a prayer of using the lyric, because it was (and as far as I know, still is) tied up in a nasty copyright fight between a performer and the writer of the song, and the distributor.  That’s the sort of fight no author wants to wade into, so I made up some lyrics that fit the mood of the song and went from there.

Making up something is always safe. Doing your own translations is also safe. Read more

Life is Like That

I find that writing while being interrupted constantly is impossible. It is equally impossible to write when my brain is full of fluff and nothingness, echoing back at me when I inquire of the ideas it was providing me at any other point than this one, when I sat down at a keyboard. I turn to my notebook where I could have jotted something down while I was in one of those moments of inspiration, but Lo! there are only meaningless scribbles, signifying little. I sit and stare at the screen. I write a list of bits we need for household projects. I wonder why me? Why would anyone want to read about writing from me? Read more

The Disorganized Muse


I’ll be out of reach when this goes live, so I’ll ask my fellow Mad Geniuses to add helpful suggestions and answer questions.
In an orderly Universe the ideas for stories in a series would come sequentially, in proper order.

Unfortunately, Chaos rules this Universe, and is concentrated in my subconscious, where my Muse usually resides.

So, how does one deal with a minimum of three ideas (a new one pops up every time I get to a scene I don’t want to write, but really need to) at once? Well, since hitting your desk with your head has never worked (for me, give it a try if you want) I generally try to force some degree of order to the tangle of my imagination. Read more