A New Year and new topics

Wow, it’s a new year and everyone seems to be setting goals and at least trying to figure out ways to meet them, myself included. Like so many of you, I’ve looked at what I’m currently working on, what series I need to get new installments out in and what other books and short stories I want to do this year. The initial list just about scared me to death. No way I could do it all. At least that’s what I told myself. Then I looked at it again and realized that, with a little careful planning, I’d be able to do most, if not all, of it. But it will mean buckling down and cutting out the distractions — and the excuses. In other words, it means having the discipline to sit butt in chair and write and — gag– edit.

Part of that planning also has to do with Mad Genius Club. A week or so ago, we asked you what you wanted us to blog about. Those of you who’ve been around for long know that each member of the blog has topics we hold near and dear. But this is, first and foremost, a writers’ blog about the publishing industry. We are here to pass along information, give our takes on what’s happening and answer your questions or at least try to.

In order to do that, I’ve culled through your comments from the other day and I think I have everything listed that you’d like us to discuss. Look it over and add any other topics you might be interested in. We will do our best to get to it before the year is out. (There is a caveat. If the topic is one that we’ve already hashed to death or that we don’t feel we are competent to address, we won’t do it unless we can find someone with the knowledge or experience to do a guest post.)

If you made a suggestion and it isn’t listed below, let us know. I probably overlooked it. So, here goes, in no particular order:

  • mechanics of how to make an e-book out of a finished manuscript
  • marketing (be sure to check out Sunday’s post)
  • genres and sub-genres
  • tags and descriptions
  • how to write farce or comedy in SF
  • music to write to (or what form of musical torture does your current wip subject you to?)
  • sub-plots (the specific question was regarding mystery in SF but this cross-genre issue is one we all face)
  • legal issues writers need to be aware of when publishing overseas
  • Pacing
  • Dialog
  • There were also requests for contests, exercises and the sharing of writing problems.

Is there anything else you guys are interested in? Some of the questions I’ve seen in other fora have concerned the use of pen names, writing in different genres to “keep it fresh”, writing goals, inspiration, etc. Are you guys interested in anything along those lines?

Thanks, guys, for helping us out this way. Now, go write!

27 Comments

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27 responses to “A New Year and new topics

  1. I’d love to hear about inspiration. My only one came late in life, and I’m wondering where to look for the next.

    • robfornow

      Marcedes Lacky wrote once on inspiration (maybe more than once) Take from daily life. The example she used, ‘A piece of dirty trash blows across the street in front of your car. Imagine an elf dodging your front bumper while trying to catch it.’ You have the start, now continue with why is he/she trying to catch it? Is it a treasure map?; maybe a missing page from the Headmaster’s spellbook, or your spellbook.’ I’ve started many stories that way. Once two girls climbed a tree and watched a woman come out of her bath. Her jewelry they saw added the two part book into a series that is at nine books so far. Oh, and I dropped the two girls story into a paragraph and went on with a different subject afterwards; but, it was the kick start to begin. I find that inspiration doesn’t work if it’s forced. Spontaneous, it’s a hoot.

      • That’s a good exercise and something similar to what I do. However, to me at least, it is more of a prompt and not really inspiration. Not saying she’s wrong, just saying it’s not how I look at it. Shrug.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      The joke answer is, assuming your brain works exactly like mine, looking through technical problems will eventually bear results.

      The serious answer is a question. Do you mean ideas or enthusiasm?

      Ideas come from a process. They are a result of training your brain. There isn’t a fundamental difference between training for ideas, whether the ideas are technical, writing, or fixing things around the house. Unless you’ve spent your whole life curled up into a ball, you have done something analogous. Maybe a lot of things.

      Enthusiasm seems trickier. It seems more prone to individual variation. It may be worth an essay in decisions and how they can shape mood.

  2. Draven

    I’m still planning on writing up a post on writing guns and that kind of stuff.

  3. I wrote this in 2013, but it might still be helpful. Or at least a starting point for the ebook-to-print conversion process… http://accordingtohoyt.com/2013/06/15/createspace-for-the-lazy-the-doomed-and-the-hopeful/

    • It is a good place to start and thanks for the link. I don’t know about the others here at MGC, but I’ve tweaked my print process since then that makes it a little easier, at least for me. I’m not sure which of us is doing the print how-to, but feel free to jump in on the comments and help out when it goes up in a week or so.

  4. Uncle Lar

    As the body of advice and instructional support grows ever larger I would really appreciate a static link to the collection, hopefully indexed for areas of interest.
    Put yourself in the place of a budding writer who’s just found MGC. What has already been discussed to death, and what still needs tearing into? How do I find pearls of wisdom, potential solutions, to this particular thorny problem that has bedeviled me?
    Said it before, y’all need to write a how to book, and keep adding to it as preliminary concepts jell and become firm practices. Annual editions is not out of the realm of possibility.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Yeah. Sarah had a really good bit on Cozies. I’ve not seen all the posts, so how do I know if somebody has done as much for westerns?

      One idea for implementation is letting someone compile things.

      Another idea is a limited access wiki. One page an index by time, others by authors, and some break downs by subject. So, a genre and sub-genre page might link to subjects of tagging and reader expectations, and in the body link to articles on genre, and quote comments for the ones which are not otherwise covered.

      • A good idea but with some drawbacks/problems. Finding someone to compile more than five years worth of posts and to do so in a timely fashion is the first hurdle. The second will be having the MGC bloggers then look over what has been compiled to make sure things are where they should be. Then there’s the issue of those bloggers who are no longer part of MGC. They’ve been kind enough to let us keep their posts up but if we wanted to do something more with them, and a wiki is something else, would require getting their permission or leaving out their work. Again, that would mean one of us having to deal with it. As I said above, this sort of thing is a good idea and something we probably should think about but the time involved in setting it up and then in keeping it up to date is time we could all be using to write. But I will make sure the other members of the crew see the suggestion and we will discuss it.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          I thought finding a regular commentator to set up a wiki, finding a regular commentator to administer the wiki, and letting regular commentators put the thing together might save on the work. As you say, still loads of potential problems.

          The thought I’d had time for before writing was not enough to anticipate as many time costs for the bloggers as I see now. I think I had some other errors in estimation.

          I’m already not taking full advantage of the tools provided by the community here.

    • We used to have a search function that let you search by tags or phrase. I’ll talk with Sarah t see what happened to it and if we can put it back onto the front page. As for the book, it is something we are considering but, as with anything, time is a factor as is figuring out the monetary part of it.

  5. Wyldkat

    ◾music to write to (or what form of musical torture does your current wip subject you to?)

    Ohooo, this could be interesting. [am I in a mood for filk or Mozart today?]

    • Oh no, it isn’t what music are YOU in the mood for. It’s what music is the WIP demanding and is it because that is what the story needs or because your muse is an evil bitch that enjoys tormenting you. 😉

      • Nathan

        Would be nice to learn to tell the difference between my music and the muse’s… Sometimes they’re the same. Other times, my music repels the muse.

      • Wyldkat

        I guess I come at it sideways then. -sg- What I am working on determines what the kind of music I put on. Which is kinda how I ended up liking classical music. One of my mc’s is a fan of Mozart. I decided to listen to it so to see if I could understand her interest.

  6. I was thinking this morning about a topic, but I’m not sure how to frame it.

    Let me explain the background. I was pondering the way that the older writers (golden era?) seemed to feel free to mix it up, lots of stand-alone novels. Oh, sure, there were some series, but stand alone books seemed more popular. Then trilogies and series started to eat the market. Nowadays, authors like Sharon Lee, Wen Spencer, David Weber, etc. — if they dare to write something outside their series, the fans jump all over them about “When are you going to work on your real writing?” Which usually means the particular series that the fan really likes, not necessarily their current work. And people are giving out advice about “How to write (implicitly, a series)” that seems to say you should start everything with the goal of producing a series. What happened to short fiction and stand alone novels?

    Basically, the mix of short fiction, novels, and series, and how do you balance and decide which to work on? Does that make sense?

    • …I could do an entire post on that, from the marketing perspective. Because a lot of that is market-driven vs. muse-driven. Um. Give me a few days, when I’m off work, and maybe I can condense that into a short and coherent post.

    • Uncle Lar

      On the one hand, a successful series builds and maintains a fan base, something near and dear to a publisher’s mercenary heart, and not completely ignored by writers also. It’s practically a license to print money.
      But it also exerts pressures on a writer, sets up expectations in their fans, and contributes to burnout. Look at A.C. Doyle and his Holmes stories which he tried to end at least once, but was hounded into resurrecting the beastie by belligerent fans.

  7. Angus Trim

    Thanks Amanda for being willing to take the trouble to do this.

  8. Yes, thank you. I would add, if allowed, a “new” subject, and an old _peeve_ of mine. Religion. Please, do not make up “variations” of religions, and try to sell them as being real. It’s like using “science” and then “making up” large portions of what you use. Info is _out there_ to get things at least half right. So, please do. (I can right an article or three on the subject if desired.)

  9. Pat Patterson

    Just posted my Amazon review for Nocturnal Serenade. I wrote this one straight, unlike my review for Nocturnal Origins (A Blisteringly Erotic LGBT Allegory). This review is entitled ‘Her GranMa could SO kick your butt!!’ (I think that’s the title I gave it…) I’m 42% through Nocturnal Interlude and should finish and post it tomorrow.
    I expect, now that the kids are back in school, the holidays are past, and I’m not having pre-op doctor visits five times a week, to be able to do at LEAST three Mad Genius Club reviews each week.
    Query: Is MGC the same thing as the Evil League of Evil?
    Query: Are there minions, and is minion membership open?

    • The Mad Genius Club is a subset (or overlapping on the Venn Diagram?) with the Evil League of Evil. Membership seems to come from declarations by SJWs that one is evilest of evil, and thus contains several people who are not in the MGC – notably, Larry Correia, Vox Day, and John C. Wright.

      Minion membership appears to be entirely voluntary and self-selecting. (Isn’t that incredibly evil to a totalitarian mindset? Letting minions choose for themselves whether or not they want to belong?)

  10. dontheugly

    I wanted to send this to Sarah. Of corse, I could not find her e mail address ao i will drop it here.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/11328570/Kindle-sales-have-disappeared-says-UKs-largest-book-retailer.html

  11. dontheugly

    ao i = so I It is 0130 my time. Went to sleep to early last night.

  12. katabatic

    Link salads to useful stuff like print and ebook formatting, cover design/genre conventions(how and when to break them) and what to look for when hiring an editor. That’s just off the top of my head.