How Not To Run Around With Your Pants Down

So, I’m still finishing Darkship Revenge which means this is a quicky post.  I was — ahem — inspired by the sad spectacle in Amanda’s comments yesterday (no, really sample them, they’re amazing.)

It occurred to me that to an extent you’re all my, or perhaps our (shared) fledgelings.  Except of course for those of you who have more experience than we do and can therefore add to the points, if you wish.

It used to be, at least for those of us who came in the normal way, that a new writer, in the process of breaking in acquired mentors, and the mentors gave them tips so they didn’t make fools of themselves in public.  By my time this system was already somewhat in decay and I kept running into people who made mistakes my mentors would have skinned me — or at least disowned me — for.

However, with the proliferation of indie, I’m seeing a lot more kid writers running around the net (and conferences) with their metaphorical pants around their metaphorical ankles and fingerpainting the walls in shades of brown.

I would hate for that to happen to one of mine, even if just one who follows my lessons here or over at PJM and as such, I’d like to at least ward off some of the worst behavior.

This behavior, btw, is not because they are bad people, by and large — though some are more clued than others — but because all they know about writers and writing they learned from TV, movies, books and the zeitgeist.  And if there’s a profession more maligned than ours it’s my husbands.  Mathematicians have even more lore attaching to them than we do, and most of it wrong.

So, in the interest of setting some things right, here goes:

1- Writers don’t all know each other.

We know a lot of other writers, but not (trust me) all of them.  In science fiction and fantasy we tend to run into each other at the same conferences, the same forums, and generally have a fairly good idea who the other is, even if we’ve never met them.

In science fiction, too, as far as I know, it’s all black and white, and it’s always been.  What I mean is you either love or hate each other.  Of the ones you know.  But there are circles (geographic, political, and time wise.  Where you live, whom you lean towards, and when you broke in) and beyond those a lot of us are blind.  I have an agent friend who routinely calls me with “What do you think of X” and I not only know the person but never heard of their books, even though I (of course) read in the field.

The practical implications of this are that you’re not going to be discussed at the weekly poker game between Stephen King and J. K. Rowling.  Not even if you want to.  And by and large, if you’re smaller than they are, even at midlister level?  No one is even going to talk about you, except maybe in passing: “I was at this panel with Jane Smith, and” or “I heard that thing Jane Smith said.”

1a- Things you say won’t be remembered by all other writers. You’re not the center of their universe, hard though that is to believe.  In fact, if you act like an idiot at a con, it will need to be pretty amazing — on the punching a bestseller or p*ssing in the punch bowl level of amazing — before anyone remembers it the next con.  Unless you make an habit of it, it will pass.  You see, every pro at cons meets SO MANY people that it all becomes a blur.  In my case, most often I remember “nice/not nice” and it’s just a feeling attaching to name or face.

1b) you can — d*mn skippy get blacklisted — I worked pretty d*mn hard at blacklisting myself.  The way to become blacklisted is to either not guard your tongue about things like quantum print runs in a certain publisher’s statements and/or to hold the wrong/unapproved/frowned upon political opinions.  Or to fail to proclaim the right (left) ones loudly enough, depending on the publishing house and how crazy they are.

You know what?  These are my middle fingers to those who would curtail my beliefs or speech.  I don’t go around picking fights needlessly but when it is something that, to quote Giovanni Guareschi in Don Camilo, “Cries to the heavens for vengeance”, I believe it’s unethical and anti-future to shut up.

But even I have a career, and even if Baen didn’t exist, I’d still have one indie.  With indie, speaking your heartfelt mind won’t blacklist you.

1c) Speaking your mind is not the same as running around like a drunken Irishman picking fights with everything including the lampposts.

I speak on politics, and occasionally on societal trends/interests.  I’ve been known to take issue with articles in Esquire and wonder what is going through the writers’ mind.

What I don’t do is pick on colleagues, people who work for my publisher or other people in the field who have never gone after me in public.

Look, I love my publisher — Baen books, if any of you don’t know it — but I’m not them.  They pick books I wouldn’t pick.  that’s because they’re not Hoyt books, but Baen books. And though they’re stigmatized as “right wing” all that means is that they don’t blacklist writers to the right of Lenin.  But they do publish the whole spectrum, from communist to… well, me.  This means that yes, I do have pretty severe ideological and style disagreements with writers in the Baen stable.  We just don’t talk about it in public.  Or at least I don’t.  Doing so would be the equivalent of running around punching your office mate because you don’t like the color of his tie.

You just don’t engage.  And neither do your family members. It actually took me some time, particularly as the relationship with my agent soured before I left, to convince Dan that he couldn’t say what he thought to her, because, yes, it affected my career.

Yes, sometimes your colleagues — or their books — will piss you off.  You know what, you can rant or rave at your family or your cat, or you can run six miles on the threadmill.  If you wouldn’t pick a fight at your place employment you don’t do it either when it’s a virtual place.

2- No one is out to steal your work.

No, seriously.  First, ideas aren’t copyrightable.  Second, there are a lot more ideas any writer has at his disposal than there is time to write them.  I’ll probably die with a file of a hundred ideas never made into writing.

Besides, no matter what movies and stories tell you, there is no killer idea.  There is a combination of idea/the way it’s told/and the time and circumstances of release. Harry Potter is not new.  It contains hardly any new elements.  BUT it hit at the right time to go really big, and it had the right cover, the right push.  You could have stolen Harry Potter in every detail, published it a year earlier and no one would know.

One of the most pitiable things I’ve ever seen is the spectacle of writers running around telling everyone not to steal their ideas.  One of the weirdest ones was the kid at a con who made an entire panel of professionals promise to not steal his idea.  Which turned out to be a shop that sold magical artifacts.  I kid you not.  The oldest idea in the field.

Yes, of course there is such a thing as plagiarism, but that involves stealing the EXECUTION of the idea, i.e. copying the actual words in substantial percentage.

By all means, put a copyright mark in the books you publish, but do not put them in the manuscript you pass around at a critique group, and don’t refuse to tell someone your idea because “they might steal it” — that just marks you as a newbie.

3- Speaking of marking you as a newbie:

Just a few years ago, I realized either a lot of people were naming their kids Author, Writer or Novelist, or the newbies in my field had got off their collective rocker.

This used to be advice given to us before social media: don’t put writer on your card.  If you’re doing it right, they’ll remember that.

I guess it’s more needful than ever for people’s egos to affirm their real writerness (totally a word) now that there are no gatekeepers.

Look, the way to affirm you’re a writer is to write, and to take it seriously.  Putting “writer” or novelist, or author on your card, your facebook page or your blog isn’t going to make you any more “real” than you are.

But Sarah, you’ll say, how will people know it’s me, and not another Jane Smith?

Well, if they’re looking for you, they’ll know.They’ll know because of your friends, your place of origin, the stuff you post.  Fans are amazing that way.

And if they’re not looking for you, putting “writer” or “author” on your page won’t make them look for you, either.

A great part of this — a great part of any entertainment field — is “fake it till you make it.”  Does Kevin J. Anderson put “Author” on his page?  Oh, h*ll no.  Maybe under “profession” but nowhere else.  Are there other Kevin Andersons?  Tons.  Does it matter?  No.  You know you’ve found the right one, because his friends are sf people, and because he posts on sf stuff (and his own writing.)

So, when your first, or your 500th fan finds you, you don’t want to display your insecurity with that “writer” label, and make him wonder if he was wrong about you.

4- Whether you’re known or trying to be known, your putting your stuff out there makes you a public figure.

This comes with certain … precautions.  Some of them are to discourage stalking, and others are to discourage the sort of familiarity that breeds contempt.

First, I advise you to create a persona and decide where the boundaries are.  I share an amazing lot with my fans, and it’s even true, but there are things I won’t share. Unless you’re a friend, not just a fan, you won’t hear of family spats, or of issues with the extended family.  You won’t hear that I had an underwear malfunction (oh, it’s been decades, anyway.)  You won’t hear if I hated someone’s book or someone’s sweater (at least if it’s someone nice.)

Why?  Because it’s none of your business.  You can hear about the cats, about derp fish (he’s better but still not WELL, dang it) and sometimes about something funny that happened in the family.  You don’t need to know about things that neighbors wouldn’t know in the old days.

And as a writer, you shouldn’t share that stuff, either.

I know more than one writer whose divorce became a thing of fandom discussion.  It never helps the writers’ image, or the writers’ career.  Yes, the fans want close to you, but they need to see you as professional.  You’re not their spouse or them yours.  Think.  Would you tell this stuff to all your office colleagues?  If not, hold your tongue.

Part of this is keeping your kids, your outdoor cats, anything that might be vulnerable out of the limelight.  Don’t publish kids pictures until they’re old enough to defend themselves.  There are crazy people out there.  Not many, but all you need is one.

And for the love of heaven, do not — DO NOT — run around blogs and facebook waving lawyers in people’s faces.

Don’t threaten to sue people because they repeated something you said; because they don’t like something you said; because they told you your sweater is ugly.

Not only is suing someone A LOT harder than you think, but people who find lawyers crazy enough to sue EVERYONE become pariahs.  If you’ve been suing everything in sight (or even threatening to) no one is going to work with you on that anthology.  No one is going to want to invite you into a shared world.  No one is going to want to be around you.

Inform yourself on what actually is slander or defamation, and don’t use the words like magical talismans.

Don’t assume people either love you or hate you.  Most of them don’t do either.  And if you come out assuming one or the other, you’ll make their minds for them, and they won’t want to have anything to do with you.

Oh, yeah, if on a con panel about say “favorite heroes in science fiction” try to have some from books you read, unless the question is “how did you create a likable character?”  Because if all you’re doing is saying “in my book” and no one has read you, you’re boring them.

And if you break every one of these rules, here is the one you should NEVER break.  DON’T BE BORING.

Some people interpret “don’t pick fights” as “always be nice” which translates to “be bland.”  This is why I said, if you feel strongly about something (not someone, or at least not someone not a celebrity outside your field) feel free to talk about it. Just do it entertainingly.

If you must pick fights, toot your own horn and generally be a boor, do it amusingly.  Declaim your greatness while swinging from a chandelier from your toes.  Tell people about your sexual prowess while sashaying down con hallways in a pink feather boa.  If you amuse people, they’ll forgive you a multitude of sins.  But if you bore them, they’re gone.  And they’ll never ever ever pick your book up and read it.

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head.  If anyone has anything to add in the comments, do so.

Now pull up your pants, and good luck.







  1. I once entered a life-changing self-help group with rules different from my previous group. I quickly observed that my conduct was non-standard in the new group, and, because the group was important to me (literally, a matter of life and death), I shut my mouth and listened. After a VERY short time, I picked up on the the unspoken rules, and I was accepted into the fellowship. I didn’t have that happen because I successfully defended my prior actions, proving to my new group that I was right all the time. It happened because the other members were willing to accept my errors as being products of a newcomer.
    That was a long time ago, but I’ve found the same principle applies to other social clusters as well.
    Keep coming back; it works if you work it.

    1. It has been a source of amazement and amusement to me that I often try to lurk at the edges of things, attempting to practice what I once heard termed ‘Active Non-involvement’… and by simply showing up and not making a scene, I often wound up getting invited into whatever it was. Meanwhile there were those seemingly forever complaining that they hadn’t gotten in when all they had to do was… relax, really.

      1. Greatest secret to successful navigation and survival in the interweb community. Pity more have not managed to figure it out.
        Lurking until one knows or at least think they do the score and proper behavior is always a highly recommended approach.

    2. There’s a kipling quote that I’ve always found relevant when it comes to new groups:

      [H]is training had set the public-school mask upon his face, and had taught him how many were the ‘things no fellow can do.’ By virtue of the same training he kept his pores open and his mouth shut.

      Which you can summarize by the Jim Baen rule “Don’t be a butthead”

      It’s amazing to me that people don’t seem to grasp that jumping to a new group with you mouth open and ears closed is a great way to get tossed out of it again with nothing more than bruises to your backside

  2. Well, shoot. I put ‘Writer’ on my business cards. I’ll probably keep doing it.
    Simply put, writing is only a part of who I am. I’m also an amateur scientist, an amateur musician (amateur in the sense that I do it for fun and don’t get paid). I’m more likely to be found performing music or at an SCA event or at a Mensa dinner. You probably won’t see me at a convention, but then you never know how things will turn out.
    I write. I also publish, on Amazon, and do my own promoting. For my most recent book, the fans have done all the promoting, and it’s doing well. I’m just not willing to take the extra time to hobnob with people I don’t know at a convention. Advice? Sure, I’m always willing to hear advice, but I know most of the things I need to do to improve my writing. I’ve gotten advice from other Indies, via emails and blog posts.
    To each his own, Sarah.

    1. My business card has my company title, along with other company information. All of ours do. That way, when we hand them out at a meeting, it helps someone remember who does what in case they need to contact us about an issue. It’s all information that a customer or contact needs to know.

      The question is whether someone needs to know that we write. For free-lance, maybe. For Western fans, it’s like the card carried by Paladin, which marketed his services. If we aren’t doing work for hire, of what value is a card?

      1. My card also lists where my books are available, the series titles, and the titles of the novels.
        Maybe it works better for me because most of the cards are given to potential readers, not fellow authors.

      2. Mine says ‘Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories’ in small print in the upper left hand corner, but only because I’m looking at my card as an advertisement device. I don’t have author or writer on it anywhere.

        Now, if I lived in Europe I could put the word ‘Engineer’ in front of my name because I have an engineering degree, but here in the states people don’t do that (also, unless you have your PE cert, legally you’re not supposed to do that). I do have a business card somewhere with an alphabet soup on it after my name, for all the certs, degree, and other stuff that I’m actually entitled to, but I made it as a joke.

        I’m always a bit leery of people who feel they need to use titles before their names, or string tons of stuff after it. Business cards and resumes are about the only place I’ll accept it, and then usually only the later, not the former, because it’s just advertising. But look around at your contemporaries and see if they use titles or not. If the big names aren’t doing it, you shouldn’t be either.

        It’s like putting the word ‘Actor’ before your name. It means you aren’t one, or you wouldn’t have to always be telling everybody. (and yes, I’ve seen people introduce themselves like that).

          1. Enforced In-order Execution of I/O? Sorry; spent some time doing PowerPC assembly.

            I keep trying to get management to let me use “Miscellaneous” as my title. They haven’t gone for it. Yet.

        1. I’ve always felt that people who used “Dr.” as their normal title for social activities are, perhaps, a little too impressed with their achievement (or, like Heinlein’s sad little lizard, have no other distinction to be proud of).

          Though I’ll admit to teasing our daughter-the-pharmacist with “Congratulations. You now have a doctorate in one of the few medically-related fields where people never *call* you Doctor So-and-So either “, I’m much more impressed by those who *don’t* make a big thing about their attainments. Like a coworker (Silicon Valley engineer) that I worked with for over two years before learning he had a doctorate – he had to leave early one day because he was teaching a class at Stanford.

          Putting earned credentials or job titles on a business card makes sense, if your cards are actually helping people reach you for professional reasons. Ditto if you’re doing a business oriented web page.

          Citing credentials where not relevant, especially socially or when using them to shore up an argument-from-authority in an unrelated field, just marks you as a putz.

    2. Er… Shrug. I don’t do many cons these days. It’s just something newbies tend to want to do so, advice.
      As for putting “writer” on your card, when it’s one of many things it’s a “oh, I also do this.” When it’s the only thing….

    3. I do have “author”, on the business cards that I had out at events – in smaller letters under my name – and short list of my most recent books. I do a lot of non-traditional marketing events, and hand out those cards to people who perhaps will buy one of my books later. And I have had a lot of people come to the table, asking, “Are you the author?”
      Seems only polite to say yes, and to remind them of why they have my card when it turns up in their wallet a couple of days later and they wonder howcome.

        1. At the moment, I consider myself a writer. One of how many millions?

          When I actually do have something out, I may (or may not) get business cards, on which I may (or may not) put “Author.” Although I am leaning more towards “Unrepentant Idiot Torturer.”

          1. When I changed jobs I thought about making up some cards saying ‘Dispatcher Extraordinaire’ just because it’s shorter than my current title ‘Communications Call Center Operator’

  3. The title bit reminds me of certain folks on Second Life who either use a name or have a title attached that proclaims ‘Master $NAME’. And the general reaction is, “If you have to tell people, you ain’t.”

    1. Now, that said, I can see where using a title in some mediums might be a sane option. There are only so many common names available on Twitter and even things like ‘TheReal$NAME’ are similarly limited. WriterJohnSmith would be better than JohnSmith359. And JohnSmith357 might have an implication that particular JohnSmith wishes to avoid.

        1. Can someone please explain the C4C thing that seems to pop up randomly to me? Is it just comment for comment? Because I thought that died out years ago.

            1. If wordpress would implement the ability to subscribe to comments without leaving one, it’s die out around here, too. But, eh, free software. We get what we pay for, and thus wordpress delenda est.

  4. I agree on the “don’t be guilty of TMI.” There is about 90% of my life (and struggles) that only people close to me know. Very rarely, I will talk about that some of that, *if it’s relevant* to a discussion. I.e. someone is struggling with a problem that I have experience with. At times, I have felt that I was being attacked bu someone, operating with *no* information, except for what they *think* they know.
    The one exception, is my being a Christian. I’ve been in fandom for 35 years, as a Con goer/SMOF, and never made a secret of it. Of course, I was known for that beforehand, but unlike some, I don’t _push_ my “Faith,” if you want to debate it, I will. If all you want to do is attack it, find someone else.
    I also am “unwilling” to be too critical of other authors. I will say. “I didn’t care for this/these books, for the following reason(s).” When I “review” a book, I try to remember that no matter how ugly it may be, it is still someone’s “baby.” In fact, I am struggling with how to write a review of two books. They are good “HS” level writing, but _not_ Professional level, IMO. Like the “Ancillary . . . ” books the author is just not yet “ready for prime time.” I will probably “punt,” and send a “private review,” to the author. I won’t go farther, unless they get Hugo nominated.

    1. Personally, I would post that criticism publicly if on a review site like Goodreads or LibraryThing. There are a lot of people who check those sites out to see if it’s a book they might enjoy. And seeing someone explain that it’s a good concept that wasn’t fully developed is something many of would like to know. If all the posted reviews are 4 and 5 stars glowing with praise it can be rather disappointing when you find major errors.

  5. Other words of wisdom (don’t worry, I got them from someone else 🙂 )
    – save files early and often. Have an off-site backup so if your house burns down/meteor strikes, you still have your files.
    – don’t leave bodies in the trunk until rigor mortis sets in, they are a right bastard to move. And for heaven’s sake, pick up your brass! The bail fund is not *infinite*, you know.
    – old phone books and membership directories, especially if multinational, are excellent sources for character names.
    – polymer fillings do *not* pick up radio transmissions, so if you hear voices it’s just you, not the Mole People.
    – remember the little kindnesses that came your way as you struggle to succeed and how much they meant to you, and resolve to be like that to others. And yes, no matter what stage you are at now, you are the experienced one to someone else.

    1. “– don’t leave bodies in the trunk until rigor mortis sets in, they are a right bastard to move.”

      Back when I worked at a cemetery, I use to tell people that I could hide the body. -eg- Oh, I owed a Crown Victoria with a two body trunk at the time. I think some of my associates were a little scared of me.

      “And for heaven’s sake, pick up your brass! The bail fund is not *infinite*, you know.”

      Not an issue with me, I use a revolver – the brass stays with me, unless I have to use the speed-loader

      “– old phone books and membership directories, especially if multinational, are excellent sources for character names.”

      I have done this. 🙂 Walking through a cemetery is also a good source.

      1. Now there’s Find A Grave to conveniently allow you to digitally walk through a graveyard. Just go and search for a cemetery by state. Or type the surname Smith in with a date range and you’ll get access to tons of names 🙂

  6. If there is an actual new idea in anything I am writing – boy, is it ever hiding well… The real hope, as Sarah says, is to have a (reasonably) new combination / sequencing of old ideas, told in an entertaining way. The latter of which I am still working at.

    I am tempted by this article to rethink the name of the eventual blog (now a full month behind on the launch schedule, due to… issues…).

    But I don’t think that I will. One reason is that the blog will be (at least as it starts) have a series of observations about the infancy of a writing career. (Yes, that assumes there ever is one. Work with me here!) I have an entire folder filled with the daily observations about what is going on, with the same title, that I will eventually mine for the details of what was going on as I struggled to get my feet under me. Heavily edited – it’s also my “to-do list,” with the day’s proposed dinner menu; and the personal things that, as noted, you do not publicize. Although – pardon me while I write this down – even some of that will get into a post about the difference between reasons and excuses for not writing. Which means I’m getting off the line now, limiting myself to ATH and MGC for the day.

  7. 1b) I have this visual in my mind of a huge ogre of a guard standing in front of a massive iron gate, clueless that the gate no longer has either wall or fence attached. What a brave new world publishing is about to become. And cudos to Baen for breaking the mold early on, bless Jim and Toni and their mercenary avaricious hearts.
    2) John W. Campbell, back when he ran Analog with an iron fist, had a stable of regular authors, many of whom we now consider SF masters of the golden age. It was his wont to take said writers out to lunch and throw them ideas just to see what stories would come flooding back. Same idea, infinite variety of execution.
    3) Personally I’ve always been partial to “surly curmudgeon” or “dirty old man” myself. Have I written, of course, for money, on occasion, but “author” how pretentious.
    4) The line between honest respect and admiration and pervy stalking can be a bit fuzzy at times, especially in the heat of a con encounter. I strongly recommend erring on the side of respecting the privacy of notables over the natural tendency to gush. What you know, or think you know, of them is in reality only a very small part of a typically complex life. To assume too much is to presume to much, so just don’t.
    Addendum on that lawyer thing, I see the term libel tossed around a lot. A good bit yesterday in fact. Found it most amusing when a certain shrill voice got slapped down quite nicely by knowledgeable professionals for the missuse of the term as a threat.

    1. Uncle Lar, what’s the difference you see between a Secret Admirer and a stalker? Inquiring minds, etc.

      1. In simplest terms a secret admirer does just that, they admire a person for any of a number of reasons while a stalker generally holds a fantasy of entitlement and ownership of their subject.

  8. *looks up from list* Not a To-Do list? Oooooops. *chases page back under sandbox*

    It may have been said before, but it is so easy to forget that the ‘Net is forever, and search engines are not always your friend. I learned that early and hard. It’s a bit like the “reply all” button, the cause of more Come See Me notes from the boss than every office party combined.

  9. Thank you as always for the advice.

    1) This is going to be even more common because a lot of indies haven’t been part of Fandom or even fandom. They read the books but haven’t gone to conventions or rubbed elbows with other writers and editors. They haven’t networked or even played the submission game, and they aren’t likely to be invited to a panel unless they are Hugh Howey-big (amusingly enough, I had no idea who Hugh Howey was until I started doing research on indie publishing, and then saw he was the #1 Science Fiction writer in Amazon’s lists).

    1b) I am so glad that blacklisting is going to become less and less relevant as time goes by and the Big Five’s hold on the industry continues to decrease. If a writer has a fan base and is willing to do the work, being blacklisted isn’t going to be as devastating as before – except for all the works under contract, of course.

    3) I’ll have to remember that when I make a business card. I do have “Writer” (not “Author” which I find somewhat pretentious) on my personal FB page.

    One thing I learned *very* early on (back in 1989, on Steve Jackson Games’ Illuminati BBS, back in the days of 1200-baud modem), is to *never* make public statements in the heat of the moment. Take five minutes then ask yourself the question: “do I really want to go public with what I want to say?” Every time I’ve broken that rule I’ve lived to regret it.

    I do have a problem with the being boring part. I suck as a blogger, and that’s something I should be working on.

    1. “*never* make public statements in the heat of the moment. Take five minutes then ask yourself the question: “do I really want to go public with what I want to say?”

      A thousand times this. I came into writing, through blogging … but having a background in public affairs and military broadcasting very early taught me the value of considering carefully what I put out there, and how I went about phrasing it. I still am rather surprised, sometimes, on how unguarded and careless people can be; what errant thought pops into their mind is on the internet a nano-second later, and then when what they have posted raises a horrible backlash, they are shocked and surprised.

      1. 1. ALL guns are loaded.
        2. ALL wires are live.
        3. ALL mic’s/cameras are recording/transmitting.
        4. ALL posts/comments will be remembered/screenshot.

      2. There is a good reason professionals go with the written statement read out loud by someone else.

            1. Indeed. They’d be better served having a live-in vetting specialist monitoring their social media accounts who has to approve any statements before sending them out into the world.

    2. Yeah, it can be a real time sink to walk away (or switch tabs), come back later, and rewrite your reply 2-3 times until it’s civil. But the following week, when you still have a working relationship with the person, you realize it was worth it.

  10. On ‘theft of idea’ I’ve seen it said that even if, or especially if, you actually do manage to come up with something new (not restricted to writing) the problem isn’t keeping others from stealing it. The real problem is getting anyone to even notice or consider it.

  11. Speaking of business cards…
    I vaguely recall reading about one character in SF/F fandom who had business cards reading “Expert”. Can anyone remember whom this was said about?

  12. To borrow a bit out from Jerry Della Femina, sometimes you just get zinged, and there’s really nothing you can do about it, as any response will just make you look worse. You just have to shrug and move on.

  13. I’m currently being peevish about the lack of a like button in the comments section on WordPress. That said, I’m also trying to resist allowing my peevishness onto the internets.

    Alternatively, I’m trying to drink it away. Sadly, I’ve gotten to the point of wondering if I or the mood will pass out first.

    To blizzards and those of us who don’t get to stay home when they happen! *raises glass*

  14. Anyone got a collection of mid-80s Analog issues? I’ve been wanting a copy of an editorial from that time period, talking about a list of story ideas they’d rather not have submitted, as they were overused, cliche, and rarely done well.

    Not that they couldn’t be done well, it was just that too many starting writers, like that kid at the panel, seem to think that because they’ve not seen them, that they are something new. And, as a result, way too many submissions each month were these same tired ideas that were already done to death before 1950, only written with less skill.

    That article was one of the reason I felt like punching the TV at the end of the last episode of the new BSG, as it was a really badly written version of the #1 offender on that editorial’s list.

    1. It’s too long for me to post as a reply here, but I do have a copy of a list I put together based on the Turkey City Lexicon and Stanley Schmidt’s list of Ideas that would not die… I can send it to you?

    2. Hi Basara.

      I have a collection of Analogs that Dad sent me from the 80’s & 90’s. I don’t have every issue, mind you, but if you can recall anything about the issue, I’ll see if I can chase it down. (pm me so it doesn’t clutter the page)

  15. Sometimes a chestnut gets published. When that hap[pens, though, it’s memorable (at least to me). Jim Baen’s Universe, Volume 1, Number 2, August 2006, features a story called ‘The Best Laid Plans’ by then-newcomer Loren K Jones about a trip to the past which changed the present. It was well-written, however, and he went on to write in the 1632 franchise and has at least a couple of novels out.

  16. Long-time lurker here. I made a mistake by reading selected portions of the comments section (I missed the post yesterday). They were characterized by RANDOM use of ALL caps, which IRRITATes ME to no END.
    Would it be bad form to joke about suing for pain and suffering caused by the trauma inflicted upon me by the tediousness of certain participants?

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