Skip to content

Archive for

R.U.R., Cybermen, Mr. Roboto

I’m not certain if it was a case of great minds thinking alike, or just something in the air, but Thursday I woke up with fragments “Mr. Roboto” and “Ironman” playing in my mind’s ear. Which got me to thinking about robots, and my aversion to them as an author.

Read more

Tools for Survival

Before I was a SF geek, I was a survivalist geek. And yes, I mean that just as it sounds. I grew up in the woods, reading books about everything, but for a long time I gravitated towards books like Julie of the Wolves, Call of the Wild, Tom Brown’s semi-fictional survival guides, Wildwoods Wisdom, and many more. I learned how to survive in different climates – from the Boreal Forest of Alaska to the cool infinitely green Pacific Rainforest – and did a lot of camping with family all over. Read more

Saying goodbye is hard to do

No, I’m not leaving MGC. But I am saying goodbye, at least for awhile, to a set of characters that have been with me for a decade. When I sat down to write the book, I knew it would be difficult. I love these characters but the story has run its course. The series is already a couple of books longer than I figured it would be. Still, I hadn’t expected it to be this hard or that it would impact me the way it has.

But it goes beyond saying goodbye to the characters and typing “The End” at the bottom of the manuscript. I realized yesterday that my subconscious has dug its heels in and is doing everything it can to keep me from letting go. Not only did it take the book to places I hadn’t planned on, but it has kept me from following my own rules when it comes to promotion. Read more

Creeping Tyranny

It’s actually not all that common to have the Evil Tyrant take over the land and impose crushing new rules that the Hero and friends spend the book trying to overthrow. No, more commonly the Evil Tyrant replaces the previous Evil Tyrant (meet the new boss, just like the old boss) and changes who’s on the enemies list and the beleaguered subjects do the same as they’ve been doing forever and get on with life in general.

And bruised souls from the compromises that are necessary to get by when living in an abusive regime.

Read more

Seeing Your Writing

Sorry, today I’m not doing my installment of how to do covers.  We’re traveling out of town come Thursday, not back till Monday, and it’s one of those events where there will be pictures, so I need to be decently dressed.  We start with this part of how writers see — or don’t see — themselves. I normally work alone in my tiny office, overlooking 400 acres of trees and nothing, so the only things that go by are wild turkeys and eagles, neither of which gives a hang about what I wear. I tend to dress by the engineer method: are all relevant portions covered?

Now, face with being in public with a bunch of strangers, in the aftermath of losing 40 some pounds, I’m having to hem, pull in, etc. a bunch of clothes. Which is part of the work for today.  Writing is kind of the same way. Read more

Swords For The Modern Writer

The thing to know when you go to choose a sword is which miscreants you’ll be using it on. No. No, wait. The first thing to consider when looking for an appropriate sidearm is what you’re going to wear- Stop. No, the very first thing to consider is whether your locality will even allow you to wear a sword in the firs- Strike that. Read more

On Reviews (Redux)

Last week, I wrote about the need to read, write and review and not  necessarily in that order.  I promised to be back with more on the topic. I’ll be honest, that’s not going to happen today. I’m up to my eyes finishing several projects and deadlines are looming. That means my mind is busy running around screaming in panic. That’s not the mindset I need to tackle the promised topic. So I’m reposting a piece I wrote last year about reviews. It is as pertinent now as it was then.

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

Reality and expectations

I’m neck-deep in construction work on our little farm – we had – we thought, an agreement until December on the place we’re renting, so that when we moved the house (structure) — planned for April — onto the property, we’d have time to do the whole making it habitable part. Unfortunately that just got shifted to the end of April. That’s… approaching fast.

Now, we started with a piece of raw bush and some not well fenced paddocks which are more sag (rushes) and bracken than wallaby-and-wombat grazed lawn.  Like the man whose work was to push a wheelbarrow, our job was all in front of us. There was barely a drive-able track to the best place to put a house. Kind of forty acres and a mule, and I’m the mule, although I suspect ‘jackass’ would be closer. They’re also obstinate.

The difference between us and the pioneers of yesteryear are substantial. As they say in the Monty Python skit, we ‘ave it soft. But you tell the young people o’ today that, and they won’t believe yer. I’ve been lucky to have the loan of quite a lot of heavy machinery (the crane in the picture), as well as owning a lot of kit – like angle-grinders and power-saws and cordless drivers and drills, to say nothing of ye horseless carriage.  We also have access to shops and, possibly more important, information.  Oh, and while this is Australia, and we have a reputation of everything trying to kill you, it’s a trifle overstated, especially with modern medicine. The chances of wildlife, outlaws, or some local or transient group of people deciding to kill or rob us of everything we have to keep ourselves alive are very small. My firearms are good and accurate, I don’t have to hoard ammunition. My chainsaw will cut in 10 minutes what a skilled man could in an hour. My water-pump carries a hundred times the water that Barbs and I could haul in buckets.

We have it very, very soft indeed.

Read more

One of these things is not like the other

After getting a few reviews of Scaling the Rim that graded it as a romance, not a science fiction book, I got curious. So, the past few months I’ve been reading several Romances, subcategory SF to try to figure out the difference between Science Fiction, subcategory romance and Romance, subcategory science fiction. At first glance, you’d think they’d be the same thing, but they’re very, very different – the reader cookies (what makes readers happy) aren’t even on the same page.

In the Romance genre, not only is the emphasis completely and totally on the couple’s relationship (duh, it’s romance), but the worlds have an extremely limited amount of worldbuilding, and a huge amount of handwavium, with far higher tolerance for psychic this or psionic that. (In that way, it reminds me a lot of the old scientifiction, speculative fiction, and pocket books of barely 40-50K words that were one step removed from collected issues of pulps – or were pulp stories fleshed out into books. Jack Vance had no problem with magic in his far-future dying earth!) Read more

5 Steps to Open a Small Business

How do I start a small business? I’ve been asked that a couple of times recently, and my flippant answer is ‘you just do.’ And in some ways, it’s that easy. In others… Look. I can only give you loose guidelines, because opening and running a business is going to be different in every country, state, county, and even town you live in. Some places are highly regulated. Others are not so much. The two states I’ve owned businesses in were rather laid back about the process, to be honest, so I haven’t had to jump through a lot of hoops. Read more