Sorry, I Completely Spaced This

Part of the issue is that I’m in the middle of changing my workload as contributor at PJM to something I can cope with and not burn out or not do my novel work.  So, I need to finish a bunch of work to clear the decks to shift to the lower work load.  In the middle of that this got lost.  I’m so horribly sorry.

The chapter isn’t going to happen because I got in article-mode and can’t snap back.

This is not an open floor — or if it is, the guys can feel free to overpost me — but can I ask — and I’m very serious and will be very grateful — for “writing topics” ya’ll would like me to cover on Wednesdays?  It can be writing or indie publishing, and it can run from minor niggles to stuff that will require a multi-post workshop.

Please give me suggestions!


  1. I’d like a couple/few posts on how to evaluate and give feedback and criticism on other people’s stories in a useful way. Probably from both sides of that… the one asking and the one doing the beta reading, etc., and maybe how to find a way to be objective about your own work. Also what can we learn by studying published stories that we think are great, and published stories that we think suck?

  2. I’d love a discussion of the basics of science fiction covers, including any pointers on the lingo of cover artists.

  3. Promotional tools. How to get Slashdotted or Instalanched.

    (I actually e-mailed Glenn Reynolds asking him what the criteria were for Reader book plugs, but I didn’t get a reply).

    1. I wrote him once asking for a plug, but did not get one.  I wrote him a month later and requested the criteria, but did not receive a reply.  I wasn’t registered back then (although definitely a regular reader), so maybe that was it.  Good luck.


        1. I was hoping that was it. I’ll try with my next one. And, we do appreciate you showcasing your readers who also write, Sarah. Talk about paying it forward.

            1. I shall do that. Alas, I think I only got one additional sale from the book plug post. Still, 17 sales on an obscure short from an unknown author in the first month is better than I could have expected. (If only because I had no idea what to expect *grin*).

              Must write more on the next short. It’s a long way from having a good idea where the story should go to actually filling it out.

  4. Because of where I am in my writing, and which projects are looking feasible, I’m trying to keep my eye out for shorts, especially comedic shorts.

    I’ve found I can get a complete thing out if I cut things down, and concentrate on the essentials, but I read so few short stories that I doubt I know enough.

    I’ve just pulled up some Wodehouse collections on gutenberg, but I don’t know how they’ll grab me, or how Wodehouse is supposed to compare to other writers.

  5. Short of taking the DWS Genre Structure class, is there a good way to determine how to label your books for Amazon/Kobo/B&N/EIEIO, once you get past “fiction” and “short story”?

    (FYI: I did an Amazon search for Human Wave under sci-fi and my books appear in the top ten listings. So apparently I hit one right button by accident.)

  6. First, what TXRed said. Tagging in the ebookstores.

    Second, I think general time management would be a good topic. Writing on “found” time for those of us who have day jobs.

    Oh… maybe you might be interested in something on writing on mobile devices – something I’ve done for a while…?

    1. Heh, I once thought I’d be able to write on my Kindle Keyboard before I got it. Then I found out the truth.

      Although I DID once write a big chunk of story on a Palm Pilot with one of those nifty folding keyboards they made.

  7. I have _got_ to remember Book Plug Friday.

    For writing subjects, how about the bare bones of writing a mystery? I love them, but I’m finding them very hard to construct on purpose.

  8. Some possible topics? Reflecting on your (generic) writing process, perhaps. What I mean by that is learning to look at your own writing, identifying how you do it, what problem areas you want to work on, how to improve it, and so forth. Some people talk about a reflective journal. That’s one way to help keep track of those reflections.

    I’m always a sucker for pieces showing how sparks turn into stories, walking through that process both at a high level and in specific cases.

    How about sizing ideas? You’ve mentioned that some are short stories, others are novel sized, and some are thundering series. How do you separate them? Are there ways to expand or tame those sizes?

    There’s always grooming a crop of ideas, and then picking which one you’re going to work on, along with throttling the others to let you focus.

    I keep seeing people claiming that you have to have big bold new ideas for science fiction, brand-new magic systems for fantasy, and I suppose other strange things for other genres. Do you really? When is the demand for newness and innovation simply overdone? How do you invigorate an old idea and make it sing again?

    It’s interesting to me that most of the topics I’m thinking about focus on that initial generation of ideas and turning them into usable stories. Where do you get your ideas, dahling? And how do you control the flood 🙂

    1. Where do ideas come from? Some ne’er do well put in an order for a truck a week, and they are dumping on my property.

      1. Yeah, I know, and the monthly list from Hoboken, and… but I still get asked about this. I think people who are asking are not in fact looking for ideas, they are trying to find out how I collect and process them. Although there are some who seem surprised when I point to the floods (news and other torrents of information around us) and ask if they are paying attention. It’s the process, not the (mythical) source that seems to elude them. I think.

        1. I’m finding myself wanting to do an essay on that, but I’ll cut it short.

          In ways, it is hard to answer. I’ve been doing it in some manner as far as I can remember, back to early childhood.

          I have cultivated it a great deal, by doing the idea generating thought process often, and enjoying it.

          The easiest answer for me to say is that the story generating in some ways seems to be very much the same as cognates in technical problem solving.

          1. If you want to write one, I’m sure Sarah will appreciate the help, but I was just trying to suggest some topics for her Wednesdays, not start a long discussion. Thanks for helping to clarify the topic!

  9. Another late note. Skimming another writing blog, I happened to see they have started doing “First page” critiques — have a volunteer submit a first page (or section), and do an online critique. Might be fun for the gathering to try out something like that?

      1. I think I’ve just figured out how to tweak the beginning of my next novel, so I (audible gulping) volunteer. I won’t be done with it until Sunday, however, so let me know what to do, where to send/post etc.
        In light of it being nothermike’s idea, however, I am more than happy to go second… or third.. or whatever.

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