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An Apology and Some Pointed Questions

Yes, as my mom would say, I’m here again with the excuses of “someone who pays late.”

But there are reasons.  The most material one is that I’ve been very ill (more than I thought. Why do I only realize these things in retrospect?) for two weeks. So I’m late on things that have deadlines, and things that simply must be finished.

Also, I really don’t know whether to continue with the cover workshop, mostly because it’s too long and it’s hard to keep focus. So beneath, there are a series of questions for you, gentle readers. Read more

The Long Fall

It’s Tuesday, and while that means I’m here, this Tuesday is not like other Tuesdays. My own stress is reaching a fever pitch. The Lesser Unknown is pissing me right off, and so are Wee Dave and Wee-er Dave. The usual sitter has appointments out of town, today, so my DARLING CHILDREN are spending their energy working to distract me from, well, anything productive. In addition, we had a long, full weekend full of good and (very) tiring things, and I’m fighting a headache and fatigue. So I’m going to try a thing, and see where it gets us.
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Taghri’s Prize is Live!

Taghri's Prize
Taghri’s Prize is live!

Taghri has left the Sultan’s army to seek his fortune – and he seizes opportunity when it knocks. In the confusion of a pirate raid on a trading caravan, he kills their leader and captures their ship. The vessel is now his prize of war… but some prizes may be more trouble than they’re worth!

Nestled among the gold coins in the captain’s cabin is a stolen Temple sacrificial knife, whose Goddess is now paying close attention – too close! – to its new owner. Among the slaves he’s freed is a princess, formerly being held for ransom, who comes with political and personal intrigues all her own. Even if he survives the attention of both, there’s also a pirate lord out there, hell-bent on avenging the death of his son.

It’s going to take all of Taghri’s skill, experience and cunning to survive winning this prize!

Macmillan, the publisher that keeps on taking

Let’s face it, Macmillan isn’t known for its love of e-books. From the moment Jim Baen and, later, Amazon showed the viability of the new technology, Macmillan and others did their best to torpedo the new market. The Big 5 (remember when it was the Big 6) engaged in price collusion, ongoing attempts to undermine not only the market but Amazon and more. But now these same publishers, with Macmillan leading the charge, have targeted our libraries, blaming them for their problems making money on ebooks instead of taking a hard look in the mirror. Read more

It was the Lemurians, honest.

In a fit of whimsy (I have them often) I set out to write a book which takes as its starting point the idea that the ‘kooky new-age ideas’, everything you might find in the Fortean Times, from Mystic Crystals to Lemuria to Burrowing Llamas… is, if not actually per se ‘true’ but had its origins in something that, with broken telephone style oral tradition, gave birth to the idea. It’s a very tongue-in-cheek story… pure and unrestrained space opera, with disbelief suspended because the reader chooses to let go and enjoy, rather than being (for want of a better word) conned into going along with what superficially seems sort-of plausible.

I say this and I’ll have people in tinfoil hats accusing me of betraying the secrets of the Ancients.  The principal secret of the ancients seems to have been to live much shorter lives. The other secrets, such as women having perhaps two dresses, and there being no flush toilets are considered too unbelievable to even be used in fiction these days. Read more

Storytelling Tools

Rule one: If you aren’t entertaining your readers, you’re doing it wrong.
Rule two: There are no rules, only tools.
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Psychopathy and the Successful Villain

When writing a tale, the temptation can be to simply put in an evildoer for your hero to struggle with. That way lies cardboard villains, and although it may be easier on the writer not to have to empathize with their bad guys, or to understand their motivations, it’s far better for the readers if you take the time to truly understand what your villain is after. Read more

Losing our cultural heritage – and our readers

I was struck by a recent article comparing school reading lists from 1908 and today, and what it revealed.  It’s structured in such a way that it’s hard to pick usable excerpts from it, so I’ll simply recommend that you read the whole thing.  Briefly, the author pointed out that the books on the modern reading list were much less challenging to their readers, much less informative about our cultural and historical background, and very limited in their vocabulary.  She concluded:

Unless we give our students challenging material to dissect, process, and study, how can we expect them to break out of the current poor proficiency ratings and advance beyond a basic reading level?

Go read it all.  It’s worth your time.

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Seeing through a glass, darkly

Unhurried imagination.

That phrase occurred in a passage Amanda quoted in her Tuesday column, and it… so to speak… caught my imagination. Because that’s not how my imagination – or Amanda’s, to judge from her comments – works. Ha! Imagination should only be so polite as to present itself in long, leisurely segments that fit my typing speed! It tends more to arrive with the speed and finesse of a runaway train!

A long time ago Diana Gabaldon told me something about her writing process that exactly described my own (Yeah, I know, too bad my results aren’t as wildly successful as hers). I’ll try to paraphrase from memory: Read more

A Cat Named Bugger

Those of you who checked back on the comments of last week’s post will know that the Bugger-cat succumbed to cancer last Friday. The rest of you know now.

He earned his name at the age of 6 months when he joined us, a hyper kitten we adopted from the Reading shelter. His previous adopter had to surrender him when her boyfriend turned out to be abusive and she couldn’t keep him in her new accommodation. We suspected from his skittishness around any and all adult males that the abusive boyfriend was also abusive to the kitten, which may or may not have contributed to Bugger earning his name.

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