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Sandwich Rules

The First Reader and I share a kindle account. We’ve talked about separating it out, but we do enjoy many of the same books, and so we haven’t made the effort. This has led to a couple of problems, though. He never knows if a book is a library book, a KU read, or what… and he’s been partway through reading a book when it vanished. The other problem is that I’ll buy or borrow books for many reasons, not always because it’s a book I’m looking forward to reading. Sometimes, it’s sheer morbid curiosity. 

“Honey,” He twisted around in his chair. “There’s the book on the kindle. Monks who solve mysteries?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. That wasn’t supposed to be for reading. It was because the blurb on facebook said it was the reincarnation of Dorothy Sayers and Ellis Peters and I took offense.”

“It’s mostly preaching.” He informed me. “Not badly written, just…”

I mean, if you enjoy pithy little homilies every other page or so, then it’s probably a decent book for you, although the only resemblance to Ellis Peters is that there are monks, and to Dorothy Sayers in that there are college deans. But if preaching isn’t what you bought a book for, then you’re going to be disappointed and put off. I mean, personally I was fairly sure that the over-inflated blurb was doing the book a disservice – far better to create a reasonable simile than to oversell and under-deliver. But there are other books that have disappointed me severely, and I look back now and realize that what put me off a favorite series (for example) wasn’t entirely the fault of the author.

You see, sometime in the last couple of decades, authors ran into what I call sandwich rules. I ran into sandwich rules as a young bride – I’d been unaware that a sandwich was anything more than bread and stuff in the middle prior to that. Afterwards, I learned that if I didn’t make the sandwich just right, I’d have to make it again, and again… and usually I wasn’t told before I started how it was supposed to be. Authors who had previously written books full of fun and entertaining mysteries suddenly learned that they had to go back and write in a heaping portion of social justice activism, or else…

I used to really love the Cat Who mysteries.  Who wouldn’t? Two preternaturally intelligent Siamese cats assisting with the solving of murders… but as the series went on, I stopped reading them. From having hunted every book down that I could find, and waiting on release dates, I went to not bothering, and maybe picking a copy up if I found it in the thrift shop cheap enough. Because the author, voluntarily or not, made the books into social justice sermons, and that wasn’t why I was reading them to begin with. It’s not the only series or author I would stop reading over the years for this reason, it’s just the saddest. There are other cat cozy mystery books, but they weren’t the same.

The authors had run afoul of the publisher’s sandwich rules. “That mayo is too white! bring it back when you have some chipotle aioli in it.” And it didn’t matter to protest that the author had been conscious of melding flavors when they made the sandwich, and chipotle was not going to fit in well. It didn’t matter what the reader’s taste was, it was all about the flavor of the week with the publisher. Then the publisher would get angry with the author for not selling well enough, and the author would find themselves abandoned, staring down at a sh*t sandwich in their hand wondering what happened. The surviving authors started shoveling whatever the editors and publishers wanted into their books as fast as they could, and bookstores were stocked with a lot of unappetizing messes on their shelves.

I was listening to a podcast on entrepreneurship earlier this week. Having retired my entertainment business, I’m still running a publishing business, albeit much more slow-paced than before (thank goodness). One of the ladies who makes a guest appearance says ‘I run my own business because I’m a control freak.’ and I was sitting there nodding my head and thinking ‘Yeah! I am a control freak. I want my books to be the best they can possibly be, and to that end, I write what I want to write. I don’t have to write the flavor of the week to try and sell the book to gatekeepers. I don’t have to sandwich in the dog poo of social activism and then tell readers that’s not what they are tasting. It’s chocolate, yeah, yeah.’

So if you want to write a book with sermons in it, have at it. I’ll warn you that it might not sell well, and will probably get bad reviews, but hey! That’s your prerogative. You get to make your sandwich with whatever flavors you want in it, and if you don’t want to mix chipotle aioli and liverwurst, you don’t have to. You get to hire your editors, and fire them when they commit sins against your writing voice. You get to have a voice in what your covers look like. You don’t have to go back in the kitchen and make that sammich again until you please the gatekeepers. You have…  Freedom! outside the box1.jpg

60 Comments
  1. c4c

    March 3, 2018
  2. The Cat Who mysteries… OMG, yes. I found an almost entire set at a garage sale and was having a lot of fun reading through them, thinking I would buy the missing titles at some point. Then WHAM, social justice slapped me upside the head. I read a couple more and then donated the whole series to St. Vinny’s. So sad.

    Yep, my inner control freak tendencies definitely love the self-publishing route. Succeed or fail, it’s all on me. And I’m okay with that. =o)

    March 3, 2018
    • I was given an omni bus of the first three and adored them (I love Siamese), but later when I was able to actually buy my own, the series had degenerated.

      I love being able to control my own work. The liberty of running this my way is very appealing. I know a lot of people are like ‘so much work! I can’t!’ but you know, you can. You just haven’t tried, yet. You’ll amaze yourself with what you can accomplish when you have no other choices.

      March 3, 2018
      • Zsuzsa #

        The first three are really different from the rest. Those were written at least twenty years before the fourth one.

        March 3, 2018
    • Once Quill left the big city, the books went downhill fast. I read two after the move to the north woods, and that was that.

      There’s a great history book that has three three-four paragraph social justice inserts. They are glaringly obvious, and I suspect the editor jumped up and down and yelled that the book HAD to have something about how homosexuality was OK in Europe in the 900s, and global warming is eeeeeevil.

      Oh, yeah, Cedar? Your bunny-blankets from last week? They ordered me to write a story about them just after I started a new novel. Talk about literal plot bunnies! Sheesh!

      March 3, 2018
    • Zsuzsa #

      See, I would have diagnosed the fall of the Cat Who… from an entirely different direction. The series that had started out as a series about cats solving mysteries ceased to be mysteries. In the last one I read, a dead body was found on Qwill’s property…and no one cared. I think the murder came up maybe half a dozen times over the entire book. We never even found out the murdered man’s name, that’s how little anyone was interested in investigating things.

      I suppose if I squinted, I could find a few social justice-ish messages (the billionaire decrying the greed of a young woman who actually wanted to be paid for her work struck me as downright tacky), but that wasn’t the main problem. The problem was that people would buy anything whose title started with “The Cat Who…” and no one saw any reason that the books needed to be done well.

      March 3, 2018
      • Terry Sanders #

        For men it was Qwill’s gradual descent into Doctor-Zachary-Smith-dom.

        In the first few books, Qwilleran was, you know, a *newspaperman.* He had a cat, but the story was about, well, a *story.* And Qwill was seriously chasing that story. The cat was a major plot point, but Qwill was the protagonist.

        In the later books, he gradually turned into a crazy cat lady with a gender-identity problem. The fourth time I watched him panic completely because the cats had “disappeared” (for approzimately eighteen minutes), I decided to look for more balanced individuals to solve mysteries for me.

        Her habit of giving him an exotic new home, describing it in exquisite detail, and then burning it down in the next book didn’t helpm

        March 3, 2018
        • Terry Sanders #

          That was. “For me, comma…” Android keyboards are so specialm

          March 3, 2018
        • This is why I can’t get into the TV series Monk. The eccentric Monk is tolerable, but one of the police characters is so incompetent, you have to wonder how he made detective.

          That said, in TV series characters usually become caricatures of themselves. Perhaps that can happen in book series, too?

          March 3, 2018
          • snelson134 #

            Inspectors Gregson and Lestrade.

            March 3, 2018
            • One has to wonder if Doyle held an incredible contempt for the Police in general, and Scotland Yard in particular.

              March 4, 2018
              • snelson134 #

                No more than the typical upper and upper middle class then and now, IMHO.

                March 4, 2018
                • I’d have to look at the dates, but for all the respect the Yard has earned now, it was at one point horribly corrupt and incompetent. I’m not sure if that lines up with when Doyle was writing without research, though.

                  March 5, 2018
  3. Artists everywhere and everywhen fought with this. Even the Bard had to tread carefully over the idea of divine right of monarchs, which is why so much of his stuff was set in fantasy realms (A Midsummer Night Dream) or faraway cities (Prospero was the duke of Milan.) We can’t have ENGLISH rulers being tossed out to sea! He that pays the piper has ALWAYS called the tune.

    Maybe indie authors will be able to dodge this censorship by the market, by going directly to the consumer, but by definition, half of the population is below average in ANY measurable parameter, and the best-selling book/TV series/movie/game/whatever is going to “appeal to the masses.”

    I read a depressing statistic years back. An extremely small percentage of the population (3-5%?) had ever even SET FOOT in a bookstore (this was pre-internet days) and a huge majority of the world never picked up a book *for any reason* after their formal education had finished.

    50 Shades, anyone?

    March 3, 2018
    • But most of us are not attempting to appeal to the masses. As you say, the majority just don’t read – or if they do, it’s for some social reason like ‘everyone else is reading that… and statistics show us most of those books are bought but never read. Kris Kathryn Rusch has a fascinating article about that this week, I believe.

      What Indies have is an unprecedented access to the niche markets in this internet era. You don’t have to step foot into a bookstore. You don’t have to scour the shelves for a book that may or may not be in print any longer. You can pop online, and have it in your kindle in minutes if not less. I’m not trying to market to millions. All I need are thousands.

      March 3, 2018
      • Undeniable truth in what you say, Cedar. Indie authors may make a good living NOW that the trad gatekeepers are dying, but I’m afraid we’ll always see our stuff outpaced by dreck written for the general populace. Hence my 50 Shades reference. I realize this sounds incredibly elitist, but it is what it is. Mea Maxima Culpa.

        March 3, 2018
        • Brett Baker #

          Yeah, but she’s one of Corriea’s A writers though. Which, now that I think about it, sucks.

          March 3, 2018
    • In terms of sales demographics, I see the 50 Shades trilogy as a novelty item that happens to made of paper. It no more reflects the reading taste of the core market for fiction than Pet Rocks reflected the taste of geology hobbyists.

      There have always been such books that sell to non-readers for reasons other than their quality as fiction. (And they are always held up as examples that America’s reading taste is going down the tubes. Anyone remember “The Valley Of The Dolls”?)

      Like all crazes, they are unpredictable and unstable. Dollar stores are full of items that some marketing department created to jump on the latest bandwagon just a little too late.

      There is a consistent market for fiction, and authors who are able to reach their market with a quality product are able to sell their work. But the people buying the 50 Shades trilogy (or “Naked Came The Stranger” or “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” or “The Happy Hooker”) are not that market–they are likely to splurge on the latest health fad or home automation app next month and may never buy another book.

      March 3, 2018
    • Draven #

      Yes, that’s because the schools systems have spent decades making sure students read and study the ‘classics’ never want to read a book again.

      March 3, 2018
      • I am almost certainly not representative, but I adored some of the classics. ( Almost all of Willy, Moby Dick. Twain) OTOH, I’ll never read Dickens or Austen, or most of all, Catcher in the Rye, again. On the gripping hand, is RAH considered to have written “classics” yet?

        March 3, 2018
        • Draven #

          his books will never be considered classics by educators because he’s a filthy lowbrow genre writer.

          March 3, 2018
          • Wonder what genre they consider him to be? Which one could accurately contain works as varied as “To Sail Beyond The Sunset,” “Starship Troopers,” “Podkayne of Mars,” and “Glory Road?” I expect they’ll still be reading RAH in the far future when Maya Angelou,Tom Clancy, Danielle Steele, and John Grisham are just names covered in dust, known only to specialists in academia.

            March 3, 2018
  4. I fight the freedom that brings me doubts. But, this is just me less than my usual optimistic, sunny self. Been a bit under the weather, and boy does that bring one’s mood down.

    I write what I write, because I want to write it.

    If I wrote what others wanted me to write, I wouldn’t write.

    March 3, 2018
    • Christopher M. Chupik #

      “If I wrote what others wanted me to write, I wouldn’t write.”

      Deserves to be framed, that.

      March 3, 2018
      • Yup.

        Whenever someone told me how to ‘improve’ my work and ‘expand my market’ by dumbing down the male characters and making the female characters the focal point of the story, or change the point and the politics to one with which they agree, I would respond with a polite but firm No.

        However, now I just tell the truth:

        Why the hell would I want to write a book I wouldn’t want to read? There’s lots of people writing those kinds of books, I don’t want to read those books and when I accidentally do end up reading one of those books I get frustrated and slightly angry. You want me to write them? So I can be frustrated and angry at my self and my own work for three to six months? Are you insane? I’d never write anything ever again if I abused myself in that way.

        And then I have to wonder if that’s the end game? Getting someone like me (a blue collar, conservative, pale male) to stop writing altogether.

        A decade or two ago when I first had that thought I dismissed it as paranoia because I was different politically than most writers and those in the industry assured me that wasn’t the case. Bu the last five years has made me reconsider. They clearly have revealed themselves as ideological actors who revel in suppressing artists who disagree with their politics.

        And they would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for those meddling puppies.

        Steve

        March 3, 2018
        • Steve, serious question. Is there money to be made, hearts to inspire, please, by writing stuff that is destined to fuel outrage in the masses. I.E. The exact opposite of catering to the masses?

          March 3, 2018
          • Terry Sanders #

            Depends. How many will buy your book *because* it fuels outrage in the masses?

            March 3, 2018
            • As compared to leaving one-star reviews on Amazon with the comment that they haven’t read the book, but hear there’s wrong-think in it?

              March 3, 2018
              • That’s the sort of review that might incline me to make a purchase.

                March 3, 2018
          • I don’t write stuff to inspire outrage, that’s not me, that’s not what I want to read, nor what I want to write. I’m talking about people who read a story about a conflict between a father and a son and tell you if you don’t make the focal point of that story a female character then you are sexist (a conflict between a mother and daughter is a different but equally valid story and I fully support that being written. By someone else). Or if they read an offhand observation from the main character that reveals he or she may not be a far left ideologue and state how deeply wounded they were by the revelation and believe the offense they took to that should allow them to change your work. Those are the people I’m talking about. Not the ones who say something like the love story is a sketch of a love story and they’d like it to be more fully realized which would help it to sell to female readers. That makes sense, and that’s something I’d listen to if it didn’t hurt the work as a whole.

            My basic goal with my comic and my books is to write the book and comic fifteen year old me would have loved to read. Violent, but not grim and gritty, sexy but not sexual, adventurous but with a philosophical underpinning. My issue is people who tell me people like me should have no books or comics available for them to read unless we subsume ourselves, our wants, our desires, to what they want us to want.

            Perhaps there is a smaller market. Perhaps a much smaller market. Or, alternatively, there’s a large market that is incredibly underserved. And insulted. And disregarded. The end point being I neither care, nor can care about that.

            I cannot, and will not, write books or comics that irritate me. I have no idea why I should, or why I would want to. And if I did, could I reach that ‘larger’ market? I doubt that, I would be telling lies (as defined by things that I do not believe to be true) in order to pander to people and generally I’ve found people know when they’re being lied and pandered to in that way and do not appreciate it.

            Which means my only true option is to write what I believe in and hope it finds the market I believe it deserves. If it doesn’t? I did the best I was capable of doing because I don’t believe I am capable of writing stories that I hate or do not understand.

            I look at it like this: There’s a lot of money to be made in romance novels, and I’ve read a bunch of them and mostly liked them. But they didn’t inspire me to pick up more, nor did they inspire me to want to write them. If I chose to chase the dollar by writing romances I think the work I’d produce would be insipid, uninspired, and off-putting to the readers of romance novels. So by chasing that huge market I’d be ignoring a smaller market I might more naturally fit in and still would never reach that huge market.

            I care about the market, I care about sales, I care about readers, but if someone read my comic and said they wanted it changed because the stubborn individualism of the main character offended them I would shrug and advise them to read something else. Nothing else I can do.

            Also, changing it for one vocal reader would mean the less vocal readers (who are not politically motivated and are reading because they like the stubborn individualism) would be left out and would no longer be being served by the comic. Essentially destroying my readership by acquiescing to a vocal critic.

            Hope that answers your question.

            Steve

            (oh, and just for fun; I do have a pen name picked out if I ever do write a romance novel. My full name is Stephen Don Swanson, my pen name for regular books is Stephen Swan, but for romance; well, it’d have to be Dawn Swan, wouldn’t it? So, if you ever see a romance on the shelves by a Dawn Swan I’d advise you to put it back since it was written by someone who didn’t want to write it and was only chasing the dollars.)

            March 3, 2018
            • Thanks for the thoughtful and extensive reply. I’ll make two observations.

              One. YouTube is FULL of people telling you how to make “10,000 bucks a month” by writing non-fiction. Make a cheap book with supposed wide appeal about, say, homeopathy, or coin collecting, or whatever you have some alleged expertise on, or can easily and quickly learn, or quickly clone a current bestseller on that particular topic. I could easily whip up a booklet or ten about life in the Marine Corps, or living in Colombia, that might could sell, and make a decent living.

              Two. The fiction equivalent of One. Look at current bestsellers on Amazon. Say vampire or superhero stories are the current rage. Write a book in that genre. Even better, a series. I’m certain I could write stories in that genre without “selling out.” It’d be WORK, not a labor of love, but how is that different from punching a time clock, or working on commission selling cars or real estate? How is reading a few of the Twilight books to prepare for profitable work different from taking a few accounting courses to pass the CPA exam and go to work for one of the Big used to be 8, not sure how many are left now?

              The common thread is find out what’s selling and write that. It’s honest work, and all honest work is honorable, no?

              My question was regarding the idea of writing a SATIRE mocking what’s popular. I’m talking a satire of a superhero book. Or a vampire book. Think of Twain sending up Nathaniel Hawthorne in his essay about the Deerhunter stories. Or, more recently, (60’s, I think) “Bored of the Rings.”
              I like (some) Tolkien, but I enjoyed that mockery with Goodgulf and Frito and Arrowroot of Arrowshirt and the Nozdrul immensely. See, I still remember all the character names after forty-mumble years.

              Imagine a story about a desperate casting director and her pal screenwriter. Their network just bought the rights to Gilligan’s Island, but they have to recast and shoot it in SJW-approved form. The bigwigs in the corner office have Laid Down the Law. Skipper has to be black, Gilligan gotta be gay, and the Professor has to not be a White Male, but better not make him an Asian either. Maybe an MS-13 gangbanger?

              That’s what I meant by “fueling outrage.” 🙂

              March 3, 2018
              • Dorothy Grant #

                The answer is – yes, there is indeed money to be made in satire. However, satire requires:

                1.an excellent grasp of comedic timing (pacing),
                2.ability to feed in context to anybody who is missing the joke in time for the punchline (foreshadowing / worldbuilding),
                3. Enough exploration of the issues from both sides that the underlying themes connect with the audience – and the longer the work, the more you have to work on this.
                4. Strong enough characterization / milieu / plot arc to carry the satire for the length of the work.

                This is why most satire is short – because it’s easy to do quickly and in broad concept, and very hard to actually execute at length. By the time you’re doing it for novel length, it often turns into an in-depth exploration of the subject and commentary on the human condition, as enacted by the characters and the plot arc. See Terry Prachett’s Making Money or Going Postal, or Marion G. Harmon’s Wearing the Cape.

                Also, it requires something even harder: the ability to see both sides of the issue, and where the people you’re making fun of come from, how they think, and what they value. Because a strawman opposition works for three-panel comic strip. It can work for a short story. Given that the actual screenplay of a movie is roughly equivalent to a novella, Disney’s made hay on evil mustache-twirling or scarred rich villains with paper-thin motivations.

                But when it gets to novel-length, it gets HARD to carry the reader’s attention with a running gag for 300 pages, without it dragging.

                March 3, 2018
                • Been a looong time since I read Bored of the Rings, but it was short. Twain’s mauling of Cooper was maybe a long essay? (> 5,000 words) BOTR was well under 200 pages, Amazon tells me and small pages they were. So I’ll take you at your word regarding the length of decent satires, while quite respectfully taking issue with some of your statements.

                  I doubt Twain, for example, much cared to “see both sides” while writing Connecticut Yankee, The Prince and the Pauper, or the remarkably short War Prayer. Swift was pretty polemical in Gulliver, a novel, and “A Modest Proposal,” only about 3,400 words. In none of those do I see a conversation balancing both sides, or even recognition of opposing views..

                  March 3, 2018
                  • Draven #

                    Does anyone want to play Mechwarrior? My books are in the car.

                    March 3, 2018
                  • Dorothy Grant #

                    I’ll agree with you – to a point. The shorter the work, the easier it is to have the initial punch of humour override any other requirements. A single-panel comic is perfect for poltical cartoons, for example, and a bumper sticker doesn’t exactly have much in the way of depth or nuance. In fact,

                    “Seeing both sides” doesn’t mean you have to present both sides equally, it means you have to know how the other side works sufficient unto sending up something real and true, instead of a charicature that rings false and wierd.

                    Have you ever listened to, say, ideologues discuss their enemies (of which they consider you one), and the sterotype they discuss is orthogonal to reality? Like when some talking head claims “The NRA sells guns to people so they can murder kids!”

                    Now, to the vast majority of people who are in the middle, they’re going to get their suspension of disbelief completely shattered, and the joke falls flat. Because, uh, what? And it fails to really inflame the target because they’re shaking their heads and going “That’s not even wrong.”

                    Since you’re writing this to entertain people? The longer the work, the closer to what the target of the satire really is you’ll need to portray.

                    March 3, 2018
                    • I’ll agree to agree. 🙂 I don’t see me writing satire on much more than a novella, a comedic scene or so, really. I don’t see myself primarily as a satirist, though I can, (and have) written satirical kits. I was more explaining what I meant by causing “outrage.” I could as easily mock the military as a vegan. I’ll let you guess which I was. 🙂

                      March 3, 2018
                    • Dorothy Grant #

                      🙂 Makes sense to me!

                      …why not both? The Vegetarian MRE options were… interesting. Certainly inspiring to… comedy?

                      March 3, 2018
                    • Dorothy, I was long outta the Marines before I even HEARD of veggie MREs. Weren’t they a ME thing? I never saw, much less ate one. I’ll admit I can IMAGINE Vegan DoD folks, but Vegan MARINES? I’m gonna need a bigger imagination.

                      March 3, 2018
                    • I thought it was the Vegan Marines that crash-landed in Roswell in ’47,

                      March 4, 2018
                    • The ones that are from the star in constellation Lyrae, the ones that eat asparagus and quinoa, or the ones that hit the beach in Chevy 4-bangers? The latter are kinda lame, but I hear their elite unit, the Cosworths, are some bad mammy-jammers.

                      March 4, 2018
                • Second Attempt:

                  Part of the problem in writing satire is the same in writing all humor: You don’t have immediate feedback. Tell a joke in person, and you know right quick if it’s flopped. On paper, all you have is your reaction and that of any test readers. Gag writers and comedians have about that much in making jokes and rehearsals, but you won’t know if it’s really funny until the audience reacts.

                  Watch old clips of Johnny Carson monologues and ignore the topical humor. Carson bombed a lot, and recovered (and recovered better than the much funnier Red Skelton, who’s go-to comment was “Another joke writer bites the dust”). A writer doesn’t have that immediate feedback. There’s some rough guides, visible when you deconstruct something like “The North thinks it knows how to make corn bread, but this is a gross superstition” (written by Mark Twain), but without that immediate feedback, a writer doesn’t really know if it’s funny until it’s out there.

                  If you think of writing humor like stand-up comedy, each humorous scene is a gag, but you have to have stuff going on in between to set up the next gag. Pratchett did this. You can really see the seams in The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic. He did it much better in Mort. In between are other stuff that sets up gags and lets the reader rest, in the same way an action-adventure has to have periods of action separated by space where the reader can catch his breath.

                  Satire is hard, because it’s so blamed close to straight. Many times, when I’ve had to come up with an ad at work and hit a blank or try so many ideas I get cranky, I go to satire. Problem is often they don’t get picked up as satire, and end up being actual ads. In other words, my satire flopped.

                  OTOH, fans of satire magazines knows this is common as well. While I haven’t tried my hand at novel-length satire, I’d have to do a cross between Pratchett and Monty Python and string together different bits of satire. In other words, throw it all against the wall and see what sticks.

                  March 3, 2018
                  • Kevin, I’ve written comedy. Not a LOT, but I’ve done it. Standup, easy crap. Like an exaggerated
                    over the top fire and brimstone preacher. Skits, to be done on a stage at Renfair, mostly topical, inside baseball stuff “civilians” wouldn’t be expected to get, side by side with broad slapstick KIDS would get. (If there were any present) I hope there weren’t, as they would have zero business at that particular bawdy show. Closest equivalent you might know would be Moliere. I have never included a routine that made me laugh writing it that did not make the audience howl. So far, I’ve been my own best test audience. That said, nobody likes my stuff as much as I do. “Call me Suicide. I kill myself.”

                    March 3, 2018
                    • That’s a lot more than I’ve gone, which is a few tries at humor. I’m just someone who liked to tell jokes and do griping monologues. Did enough of it that someone at a class reunion thought I’d might have gone into stand-up, but real comics can’t rely on that thing called mood, and have to preform whether they feel good or bad, happy or sad. It just interesting to compare the two. I know I rely on instant feed back quite a lot, and notice real comics doing the same. And there’s a lot of things easy to convey in action and voice that’s hard to put down on paper. Timing is only one of them.

                      March 4, 2018
                    • I don’t think MY kind of comedy writing relies much on timing. Look at some of Twain’s written stuff. “Roughing It,” still makes me laugh out loud after repeated readings, and timing by definition cannot be a part of written humor. Granted, he was funny on stage as well, so maybe there is something there that continues to elude me. Thx for the feedback, Kevin.

                      March 4, 2018
                    • Au contraire. Timing is everything in comedy, written or spoken. You are correct in that it is not the ‘beats’ in a written form, but it is still there in the text. Twain was masterful with it, as is Pratchett, and for a modern writer of funny SF, look at Duntemann’s Ten Gentle Opportunities.

                      March 5, 2018
                    • Will do. Before or after I finish Dragon Noir, which pleasure I’ve been putting off finishing, because I’m using that as a reward for the day my first book goes public? Still wrestling with cover art and formatting, but THAT is delayed as well as that B-I-Titch we call Inspiration decided I needed to write another book, and release them both simultaneously.

                      Further complicating matters is that it (second book) PRECEDES the first book I wrote, so it’s technically a prequel, so do I release it as the second book, even though it’s the first? Muh haid hertz.

                      March 5, 2018
                    • I’m tickled you see my book as worthy of being a reward 😀 You’ll make my head big.

                      As far as the books go, does it make sense for a reader to read part 2 and then part 1? Chronologically, that can work for a story – writing the present, then a precipitating incident in the past, for example.

                      March 5, 2018
                    • Kinda sorta, but it ruins all the really neat “foreshadowing” I’d inserted in the original book. it obviously can’t foreshadow PLOT, but characters have interesting backstories, and character quirks and the exact reasons why some are quirky become apparent after reading the Second Book/Prequel/Whatever it turns out to be.

                      March 5, 2018
                • Ben Yalow #

                  Randall Garrett, who was one of the fields masters of parody, wrote in shorter length for that style of work. Many of them (including “Backstage Lensmen” — which perfectly captured Doc Smith’s style in ways that nobody else ever could) have been collected, but only by a small press (Starblaze) that is long since folded, and the collection, Takeoff is long out of print.

                  March 4, 2018
            • A mildly disturbing dream from a psychological perspective has me questioning why I want to write. The dream itself was pretty pedestrian (downright boring, really), and the conversation had nothing to do with writing, but I think it’s linked to it. Since I woke this morning, I’ve been tempted to just finish putting up the kids books, redo some covers, and look into other things.

              And yet, last night had a vague idea for a thriller. Shrug.

              March 3, 2018
        • They’ve done this with many a webcomic author, whose works I’ve dropped over the years, because boooooring and SJWstisy. That they say for you to do this, is one of the big lies they like to push, for two reasons: it’s the kind of story they want to write, but cannot, and they are unhappy you are writing something that they are seeing other people enjoy. It’s deliberate sabotage.

          March 3, 2018
          • Draven #

            in the case of one webcomic author, its because he has been doing a podcast with mary three names for too many years.

            March 3, 2018
  5. At the way things are going, if I can’t write for a publisher and editor that will respect my choices about character and setting and setup (ask questions, yes-but respect my decisions), I’ll be going indie out the gate and staying that way until and unless I can get enough status to demand respect for my characters and settings and setup.

    March 3, 2018
  6. Stanley Miller #

    On your shared Kindle account problems, consider using the Categories to tag books that either of you wants to keep. If you add it to your list he won’t delete it until it is removed from your list and you do the same if he adds something to his list.

    March 3, 2018
  7. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. On this subject of sandwiches, a lot of authors -used- to be fun to read and I have many of their books from the 80’s and 90’s, maybe some of them up to around 2008. Charles Stross, John Scalzi, Ian Banks. People like that. Lots of fun.

    But then something happened. Whereas previously politics didn’t really enter in to their books in an overt way, the last ten years that’s all there is in them. Preaching. Bank’s last book contained one of the worst diatribes against Christianity I’ve read in SF, and that’s saying something.

    At a guess, I’d say that those overt departures into Preaching used to be edited out. They certainly detract from the story, and they certainly made me decide the author didn’t want my money anymore. I’m not much of a Christian either, I can only imagine the reaction of somebody that’s seen the inside of a church in the last five years.

    What we are seeing is a failure at the publishing level, IMHO. Whereas pet authors and big sellers used to be guided towards what sells, now the publisher actively steers them in the opposite direction.

    This has happened before.

    I got digging into some history yesterday, and came across Reefer Madness. Dug a little more, and that whole thing turns out to have been a concerted media campaign that went across movies, newspapers, radio and interestingly, “true crime” pulp novels and comic books. The dime-store spinner rack was full of fallen women and crazed killers, destroyed by the Demon Weed.

    Reminded me of gun control. Or Trump. Its precisely the same model, same modus operandi. In 1930, Eli Lilly had 30 or more cannabis based medicines in their catalogue. There were something like 200 drug companies making cannabis-based medicines in New York City alone. In 1937 it was all -gone-. Poof. After the war, all the anti-weed propaganda got buried very fast. It is never spoken of now. I’ve had to go to dedicated pot-head sites to even hear about it.

    The difference between then and now is we currently have a back-channel that isn’t 100% controlled by the government or by a single faction. So now somebody prints a lie about Trump, or gun control, or global warming, or pronouns, or Jordan Peterson causing newsbot Cathy Newman to glitch hard in an interview, we all hear about it. In the old days, it was news-reels, network radio and yellow journalism and that’s all anybody got to see.

    In the book universe, we have -one- back-channel right now, that’s Amazon. Its working for us, but it is vulnerable to people muscling down on it the same way they’re doing to Google search, Farcebook and Twitter. It wouldn’t take much of a tweak for Goodreads to relegate everything from non-PC authors to the dusty basement.

    So, in that vein I ask, what are the chances of a Mad Genius Club store? Letting a major American corporation be the only refuge of Indy, historically speaking that doesn’t turn out well.

    March 4, 2018

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