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Heaping stones

Some lines by Gary Snyder that I can’t find on a quick skim of my poetry bookshelves, so this may not be quite accurate:

“When creeks are full / poems flow / when creeks are dry/ we heap stones.”

There are times when the book in progress is like a trout leaping and flashing through a spray of cold water in a peaty burn, something so very much alive that I’m typing as fast as I can just to keep up with the scenes and dialogue flashing through my mind, and that’s glorious.

And there are other times when I feel as though the trout has disappeared, and to find it again I’m going to have to dam that Highland burn, one stone at a time. Read more

Blast from the Past – The Fine Art of Character Torture

It’s been another insane week – which has, yet again vanished without trace (honestly, whoever is vacuuming the sands of time really needs to stop before I run out of them). And yet again I find myself with a thunderous lack of something to write about.

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What Went Wrong?

Last night, I started making notes on the next couple of entries in the new Road to Publication series I’ve been doing. It dawned on me then that we talk a great deal about the process of writing, editing, formatting, etc., but we don’t talk a great deal about things that can go wrong with the process. Specifically, things that can go wrong once you upload your files to online marketplaces or distributors. I know there are those among us who have horror stories. I have my own. That is what I’m interested in.

In the comments, I’d like you to answer the following questions:

  1. What went wrong in the publication process? (Needs to be specific and it needs to be something you experienced. Please, no second-hand tales.)
  2. How did you discover there was a problem?
  3. What steps did you take to find a resolution to the problem?
  4. How long did it take and were you able to come to a satisfactory resolution?

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Art and Artifact

I often say that writing isn’t an art, but a craft.  That might be a matter of opinion, and frankly also a matter of how my brain classifies the two.

Crafts are things you learn how to do, with known techniques, and which are repeatable. Art… is when in the middle of all that a muse comes down and gets her hand in, and the whole thing is transformed and magical.

I’m actually not being metaphorical. Or not precisely. The problem you see is telling when you’ve  practiced and trained to such an extent that what’s happening is just the result of that; and when you actually got that extra oomph added in.

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Asking Questions

I’m feeling better, but the fiction is still not playing. I spend a lot of time dealing with the Wee Horde’s needs, even when they’re in school. Errands still need running, food still needs cooking, and the gears of domesticity continue to grind. I’m not the hugest fan, meself. And I’m feeling a bit ground. I say this every time Mrs. Dave travels, but this one feels different, and I’m not thrilled with it. But enough about that.
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Road to Publication – Creation and Conversion Programs

Last week, several of you asked about what programs I use to during the writing and converting process. So today, I’m going to list some of the programs I’ve used (or that writers I know have used). This is by no means an exhaustive list. Nor does it cover programs for cover creation, photo editing, etc.

Let me start out by saying that I mainly write and convert on a MacBook Air. Part of the reason for that is to keep work separate from gaming. When the MacBook Air comes out, it is time for business. It doesn’t matter if I am sitting in my office, in the family room or the local coffee shop. Because of that, I am more familiar with the Mac versions of certain programs. Read more

A Farewell to a loved and loyal dog

I’m in a somewhat bleak spot – I had to take my dog into the vet for that horrible last trip yesterday.  She was the second last of the animals we brought out here from South Africa (one cat survives). That was a ruinously expensive exercise – it cost us about 1/3 of what we got from selling our home, and left us in a new country with next to nothing.  We did it really tough at first as a result, down to rationing our slices of bread. The cats and dogs ate fish I minced in a hand mincer to get rid of the bones, and – for the dogs (and us) cheap rice. Pet-food was too expensive. But… loyalty calls for loyalty, and we got through it. Ten years later, we’re getting back to where we were, but I came through that at least knowing I had done my best for them.  I wish I was one 1/10 as good a man as my dogs assumed I was. Read more

Scary Forecasts

Sales will be slower next year. That’s a spooky forecast, and one that is easy to make, because your collective Mad Genii have seen this pattern for quite a while. 2020 is an election year in the US. The uncertainty will slow sales of books. Election years are like that, even when it is a year where the presidential election is more certain (2012) or a mid-term election. It is not one hundred percent guaranteed that sales will slow, but I’d be willing to bet money on it.

What does this mean for us, besides more time to write as we try to avoid political ads and campaign stuff on the TV and phone? Read more

Strange Science

There’s been a lot of buzz recently about the paper that came out last week on gene editing, and a breakthrough that looks like it will allow double-stranded cuts of DNA without introducing substantive errors in the genetic code following such editing. As writers, we can surely appreciate that editing is important, but from the genetic standpoint, it is literally a matter of life or death. Readers, disgusted by typos or malapropos, will just put our books down. DNA that encodes for the wrong protein will quickly lead to death or disease. Which is, ironically, what science hopes to be able to do with the novel editing procedure: eliminate certain kinds of diseases. Specifically, I point out, disorders of the existing genome. I have seen headlines that implied more than this, but that is so far beyond the capacity of technology as we know it. Read more

Food for writing thought

Three articles caught my eye in recent weeks.

The first is titled “Novelist Cormac McCarthy’s tips on how to write a great science paper“.  It interested me, because most of us write fiction, and aren’t used to a more scientific exposition.  Could we learn something from that discipline, that would perhaps help us write better fiction?  Here are two examples of Mr. McCarthy’s advice.

  • With regard to grammar, spoken language and common sense are generally better guides for a first draft than rule books. It’s more important to be understood than it is to form a grammatically perfect sentence.
  • With regard to grammar, spoken language and common sense are generally better guides for a first draft than rule books. It’s more important to be understood than it is to form a grammatically perfect sentence. When you think you’re done, read your work aloud to yourself or a friend. Find a good editor you can trust and who will spend real time and thought on your work. Try to make life as easy as possible for your editing friends. Number pages and double space.

Seems applicable to me!

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