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(Which does not necessarily mean ‘ex-pants’ – but may possibly do so under certain circumstances.)

I’ve been away for the week, taking the hand I was supposed to rest after a 12 pound spiny lobster put a feeding claw through my glove and some of my hand (just a few stitches, should be fine) for that rest.

Running with suitcases to catch your connection because your flight has been delayed is a kind of rest, I guess. Story of my life, really 🙂 Read more

Help, my plot’s stuck!

That plot’s not going anywhere without some help.

Your hero is pondering something of world-shaking gravitas, and


You hit a wall. Or your readers hit a wall (hopefully just your alpha readers). And you cannot unlock the scene for love, money, or little green apples. What do you do?

You can skip to something later in the story and write that, after marking your  file with [fill in]. You can go rotate the cat and clean the living room just to get away from the screen or notepad, but you must return to the work at some point in time. You could go to the old faithful “Just then, a shot rang out.” Or you can try doing the scene essay-style.

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Revisiting Advice

We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. – T.S. Eliot

When we first start out writing, we want for guides, gurus, gatekeepers, and guardians to tell us the way to go.  Read more

All Upsot

They say you should write what you know. Many writers seem to interpret this as only writing about things they have experienced, which would be very limiting. Me? I’d never have written about a midair conflict between a Roc and a bush plane, or the cerebral battle between an old woman and a relentless alien foe, or… What I do is take things I have observed, or gone through myself, and weave those into tales that are set in other worlds, on other planets, but told about people (no matter their shape or color) very much like ourselves. Write what you know ought to be interpreted in a way to spin the certainties of life into new stories that come to life in reader’s minds with their elements of shared humanity. Read more

I need a Web ninja, please

To all the readers of Mad Genius Club:

I’m beating my head against a wall here.  For weeks – months! – I’ve been trying to find a Web site designer/administrator who can give me the service I need, at a price I can afford, and who – most important of all – will LISTEN! TO! ME! when I specify certain things. That last criterion appears to be honored more in the breach than in the observance, as if the design community is used to patting its customers on the head and saying condescendingly, “There, there, never mind. We know better than you. Just shut up and do as we tell you, and all will be well.” Grrrr . . .

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An experimental trilogy

At the urging of my wife, whose work is familiar to readers of these pages, I’m trying something new in a couple of weeks.

Last December, I was noodling over an idea for a new military science fiction series to expand my portfolio.  My Maxwell series has reached five books, and has at least as many left to run;  my Laredo War trilogy is overdue for completion of the third and final book (health issues got in the way);  and I have a Western series (currently at two novels, with the third due this year) and a stand-alone fantasy novel as well, with a fantasy trilogy on the table as a more distant project.  I felt the need to add another string to my bow – hence the noodling.

Dorothy challenged me to try something different.

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The Short-Short Ravencon Report

Ravencon was a blast – as usual. The drive down wasn’t – again, sadly, as usual. There’s a reason I drive down on the day before. Leaving at 8 and not getting there until 3 is quite enough for me to be exhausted – the trip back took an hour less, just because the traffic was good.

At any rate, all my panels went pretty well, despite the moderator of Harry Potter and the Glaring Plotholes trying to turn it into a critique of the most recent material while ignoring the books that started everything. The rest of us managed to keep bringing things back to the actual topic by pointing out and discussing gaping plot holes.

Future Shock, Moore’s Law, the Singularity, and the End of the Future was a fun discussion about how technology and the rapid changes of the past hundred years have impacted our lives and made it much harder for hard science fiction set in near future times – Jules Verne and his contemporaries often weren’t disproven for more than 50 years, where someone who starts something set ten years from now could well see their ideas obsolete before the book sees print. When we were asked our favorite AI, I had to mention Hex. He might be magical, but he’s unquestionably an AI.

I moderated Medicine in Fantasy, which also included some science fiction medicine and some bits and pieces about general medicine, human biology and its limits, and a few other bits and pieces on those lines. The audience seemed to be enjoying it and the panelists all managed to get a decent amount of speaking time – and I had a few people mention to me afterwards that they really appreciated the panel and how it went.

I was totally outclassed in One if by Air, Two if by Sea, which was about how nautical and aviation tech influences science fiction (and, to a lesser extent, fantasy) – that topic very quickly became almost exclusively military shipping, aviation, and science fiction. With nuclear scientists and former military people as my co-panelists, I was more than a little out of my depth there and let the others carry the discussion. I wouldn’t have minded seeing more on civilian travel, but that wasn’t the way the panel went.

My last panel was Junk Science – all about using technobabble for good, as it were. We covered a range of ways technobabble worked, and had fun despite the panel being at the tail end of the con and a bit thinly populated for it.

Obviously, I’m getting old, because I was so exhausted by the end of it all that I didn’t even attempt to find the dead dog party – I just got myself an early night.

I’m still bloody exhausted, though. I swear, I need a vacation to recover.


Getting Real

When I was a young writer (sung to the tune of “when he was a young warthog”) and we rented our first house, the landlord who was maybe all of five years older than us (maybe 28) asked my profession.

Since at the time I did not have a job, I told him none.  He asked me what I did all day, and my husband told him I wrote novels.  The landlord insisted on putting down “writer” as my profession, which embarrassed me mortally, since I didn’t think I was one/hadn’t done anything to deserve being called that.  Or at least so I thought. Read more

Twofer – Part 2

I’m still running with that gag. You may be able to catch me, but you can’t stop me.

Reading back through last week’s post, I realized I barely talked about openings, other than the War of Art. For a series called Noob Notes, that’s not terribly helpful, so I’m coming back around to it today.

Openings are easy. Every time you start a project, you craft an opening. Once Upon a Time is a classic, though seldom used in the current market. Dark and stormy nights notwithstanding, one can often get away with a touch of purple. Not full-on Roman royal, but maybe some pastel lavender.

The trick is-

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On reviews

Once again, there are rumblings among indie authors about how big, bad Amazon is being mean. I’m the first to admit Amazon isn’t without fault. It takes actions, mainly due to automation, without warning. Innocents can and sometimes do get caught in the massive bans wrought by Amazon bots. For those wrongly caught up in the bans, the process of getting their accounts reinstated can be long and frustrating. They are why Amazon needs to look at their process and change it. Read more