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Not Enough

There is not enough coffee.

It’s been a week. And there is not enough coffee. Children packed, house cleaned, Dave readied (though not loaded, le sigh) and many miles fallen behind, and many miles yet to fall. I write this missive from the surprisingly light and airy Secret Lair of the BbESP and her Prince Consort. The Wee and Wee-er Daves are under the kind but skittish care of a family of wolves I befriended a few years back. Last I heard, they’d succeeded in taking down a rabbit, and a brace of unwary graduate students “communing with Gaia.” I’m so proud.

Yesterday was the long run, clocking in at fourteen hours of driving time, and arriving a bit past the mid of night. The next few are going to be pleasant, and relatively short jaunts through Flat Land, with stops for scotch, steak, and company, as well as seeing some genuine Americana, which I love. Most importantly, retrieving Plushy Wendell T. Manatee from the clutches of a vicious band of unnamed semi-feral younglings (really, he just wants a more restful trip). And then, the annual Congregation of the Libertous. Read more

On booksellers and evil muses

To say the last few weeks have been interesting is putting it mildly. We’ve seen Barnes & Noble, after years of speculation, finally selling. The publishing world was rocked by the news and it will be years before we see how the sale finally shakes out. Indies and traditionally published authors alike are being impacted by the sale–we simply don’t know how. Will B&N still exist a year or five years from now? Will it still be a platform open to indie authors and, if so, will we be able to submit directly to the bookseller or be forced to go through a third-party platform like Smashwords or Draft2Digital? Time will tell but, until we know more about the reorganization, caution is called for.

That said, B&N isn’t without hope. Keep that in mind as well. Read more

The bad penny

Hello… someone spilled blood on the grave dust. You were warned!

And now…

I’m back.

Salutations from the other side and all that sort of thing. I would like to say being numbered among the undead was dull, but in point of fact it was a great deal too exciting, and on a couple of occasions came relatively close to frightening me to death, and possibly squashing me as flat as the wicked witch (this IS Oz, after all, and modern gender neutral terms there is no reason I can’t be the witch. Except for the beard. I suspect there would be irrational objections to a witch with a beard. Equal opportunity for chin hirsuit-ness (or hisuit-ness) I say!) Read more

On Westerns, L’Amour and writing popular fiction

Technically, Dave originally estimated he’d be back this week. But I’m a pessimist when it comes to human plans vs. mother nature. (She almost always wins, and arguing with her gets mighty exciting, mighty quickly!) So if you see this one from June 06, 2016, he’s just getting a week of breathing space for the inevitable last-minute complications.

No two people like the same book (or at least not in precisely same way, for precisely the same reasons).

This is a serious design flaw in the human race, on a par, from the writer’s point of view, with putting the recreation park next to the sewage outfall, and sharing some of the facilities between them. However, we have to manage with the latter, so I suppose we will cope with the former.

Now, let’s state upfront that I am biased in favor of reading. Of as many people as possible reading. Of as many people as possible reading, and enjoying reading so they go and another book just soon as they’ve finished this one… preferably – for the sake of my bank balance – mine, but if reading mine would put them off reading, rather than making them read another book, any book. Whether it’s “Kinky Womb-raiders in day-glo Leather” or Mao’s Little Red Book or Mein Kampf or My Little Pony – if reading that pleases them enough to read another book… it’s a still a win. Read more

Javert and Antagonists

Last month, PBS wrapped up a costume drama based on Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. It was very well done, although I got impatient with some of the characters for the same reason I got impatient with them when I read the novel. Hugo wrote for a different time and different readers.

But the character of Inspector Javert remained one of the most intriguing. In part, this is because he was the first antagonist I ever encountered in screen, as opposed to a villain. I was probably 6 or 7 when I first saw Les Miserables. It was on TV, on a Saturday afternoon, when they ran Dumas and Hugo dramatizations. Javert’s actions didn’t make sense, and my poor parents had a lot of difficulty trying to explain them in language a child would understand. Later, after the musical came out and I read the entire novel, he made sense.

Javert is virtue turned to vice. Which makes him such a fascinating antagonist. Read more

The Slothful Writer

The sloth earned it’s name not from it’s habits, but the human perception of them. You see, there’s a sin of slothfulness: laziness, the inability to get things done, much less in any kind of timely manner. So how did the innocent animal get named for a sin? Well, it’s slow. Takes the sloth a while to get anywhere. Takes the sloth a really really long time to poop (look, I was briefly a children’s librarian. Kids love poop facts. More than that, they love to share them with any adult in range. What can I say? Did you know the wombat has square poops?). Read more

Character Analysis

Or Finding Your Own Bad Habits

Now, the first thing I’m going to say about creating characters is Do Not Outsmart Yourself With A Clever Naming Scheme!

I speak from experience. Ignore the weird names in the following examples. Or take them as a lesson on what not to do.

What I’m examining right now is how I introduce new characters when I’ve already got my POV character set. I have to see the new character through his or her eyes, and what the MC sees and infers is the information the reader will get.

Analyzing your own writing can be a bit surprising. Take this bit, a newly hired professor, with the head of the department . . . Read more