Open Thread

Guys, the floor is yours today. Ask questions. Give topic suggestions. Post cat pictures–please. I’ll be back next week hopefully.

34 thoughts on “Open Thread

  1. I feel guilty at how much enjoyment I get from this.

    1. It’s an interesting idea, and I’ll admit to being curious enough to maybe give it a try. Basically, serializing stories. I don’t know what the market will be and how tied up my story will be. I need to write something that is not connected to my current series and see what happens.

    2. Listen to old radio serials, read serials from the same period, listen to current popular podcast serials, then compare and contrast.
      Draw some hypotheses.
      Write testbeds.
      Release them under pen names.
      See what happens.

      There’s a horror/conspiracy setting I’ve been playing with as a palette cleanser between other projects. Since the characters necessarily die quickly without ever starting to figure out what’s actually going on, it might be useful for something besides the drawer. (Ok, I considered that it might have podcast potential once it gets built up more, but then it would have to be a continuing focus instead of a welcome diversion.)

        1. Sure.
          The Macguffin is a cursed set of modified tarot cards (e.g. The Magician is “The Comte de Saint Germain”, The High Priestess is “Cybele”, etc.) that predicts?/creates? the future of the one unwise enough to try.
          (Yes, I made a physical deck with misappropriated artwork from the Internet. Also some “ancient “ coins with a faint kraken motif, because I’m a fricking nutball that can’t focus, likes props, and has power tools.)

          I have the metaphysics hammered down, and at least the broad strokes of the major conspiracies (less two reserved as wildcards).

          Between my mistake of leaving my computer unlocked around children and a hard drive that decided to eat itself, what I’ve got on hand is a bit fragmentary, but I should be able to stitch a few pieces together in short order. I’ll make a dedicated flack catcher email account later today and post it in a reply to this message.

          1. FlackcatcherTestbed “at” gmx “dot” com

            Sorry this is going up so late. It’s been a day.

    3. Remember that serials have to be structured to break periodically and probably with a pretty fixed period.

  2. Here’s one. Some authors get people leaving reviews like “I love Dyce Dare and can’t wait to see what she gets into next” and “I want to eat at the George!” …whereas I get “the characters are relatable, and the worldbuilding is excellent.”

    How do I get to the point that people react to my books like the former, not the latter? I suspect it’s a skillset I just haven’t acquired yet.

    1. Might be an artifact of series instead.

      Tactical romance may operate against building series in that way. a) A murder mystery plot, it is in genre for the same person to have more than one. Less so romance plots, violates HEA. b) Realistic action possibly makes recurring battle sites unlikely as a series basis.

      1. It may be. One more thing to think about! I suspect there’s no singular answer, but rather an entire set of answers to the question, and sets of skills yet to be acquired.

        By the way, as per your comment… two weeks ago? On my post before last, I kinda cocked my head to the side and went “Maybe? Kinda? But not really?” Peter, on the other hand, emerged from his office to bring me a cuppa and make sure I’d seen it, as he think you nailed the process we were doing just about perfectly. Which clarified things to the point we were on the same page, and made future revisions easier. So, thank you!

        1. 4/25, One More Step?

          Very glad to hear that.

          I’m obviously trying to figure out a bunch of things I don’t really understand. It is heartening to hear that I had figured out something correctly. I don’t always have enough to information for putting something together, much less together correctly.

          And I’ve also been doubting some of the time spent on expository writing. I’m happy that one of my attempts didn’t get scrambled at the explanation.

          I’m also pleased that your process is adjusted to be more enjoyable for you.

    2. The promise of Dyce Dare is that she’s going to get up to something next, is getting up to something out there in story land even if Sarah doesn’t write it down. She’s said she’s got at least one more planned, but even if she didn’t Dyce would still be out there stumbling over bodies while chasing E and giving Cas heartburn. That’s probably a mystery genre thing.

      And the George is its own character. “Of all the diners, in all the cities, in all the world, she had to walk into mine.” The Firefly was its own character. I’m sure we could think of lots of examples.

      Science fiction has followed a character from one adventure to another, so that’s probably doable. Duck Dodgers, agent of the Galactic Empire and Troubleshooter extraordinaire!

      So I suppose that the trick is figuring out how to set things up that way on purpose? (That and merchandizing.)

      I don’t think that I have anything that I’m following the same character (or crew) from one adventure to the next, not as a plan that can be given with a promise even if they do show up again somewhere. I might have a planet that counts as a character, and another where a city is a character. So the question might be how to ramp that up? How to make promises that there is more, that something unknown and amazing is lurking out there in the trees or down that alley?

      And maybe? Keep in mind the possibility that vivid visuals or cute animals will make swag easier later, or that even if it doesn’t matter what the unit patch for your guys is, that having one means that there’s branding options and the possibility of making them?

      I don’t know. What do you think? What do other people think?

      1. Fantasy (or horror) series that follow successive generations of a single family are a well-established trope. (I’d look on tvtropes to see the “official” name, but don’t want to lose a couple of hours.)
        So it’s definitely a workable, proven concept that can be tweaked for your purposes.

    3. I ponder this and wonder if it’s not a matter of the group dynamics. If the reader comes to feel like he’s a part of the group, they are his friends, his clan, and wants to see what they get up to next.

      Do you watch Star Trek to see what sort of contrived ridiculous situation the writers have come up with this time, or do you want to pal around with Kirk and Spock and Bones and Scotty?

      1. I remember hearing a bit (I think it was Smothers Brothers, but I wouldn’t swear to it), where one of them said, “The people out there didn’t come to listen to us fight.”
        And the other one said, “Some of them did.”

        I know I always liked hearing Spock and McCoy bicker. And if McCoy wasn’t there, Spock would bicker with Kirk.

  3. Do any of the Mad Geniuses have business accounts for the writing business?
    At what point did you decide you needed a business checking account and credit card?
    The point of a business account is to keep the writing business $$ carefully segregated from household $$, thus making the annual accounting to the IRS easier.

    But when should you do it?

    1. This will probably be a different answer for each person. Speaking personally (and I’m neither an author nor a tax lawyer/accountant), I would probably look into it once I started generating sufficient income or expenses, or if there are benefits available to the business account that aren’t available if it’s mixed in with your personal account (like not paying sales taxes on business purchases, or better deductibility for expenses).

      Having said that, though, I didn’t separate the income from my rental properties from my own accounts, even when the rentals were generating over $10,000/year in income. If I were financially savvy, it might have been worth splitting things up, or even putting the real estate into an LLC or similar corporation. But I didn’t – I just kept track of expenses and income, and filed the appropriate tax forms using documentation that would let me show the accounting in case I got audited.

    2. Oh, I forgot to mention – Kristine Katherine Rusch’s books on the business aspects of writing might have some good advice. I’m thinking of her “Freelancer’s Survival Guide”, among others.

      1. Yep, I’d second that book, too. And I’d say – the best time is before you begin, because then you don’t have to untangle anything. The second-best is when you reach a preset target, so you have enough income you know the hassle is worth it. The third best is after you do your taxes and go “I could have made this a lot simpler if I split this into a full formal business.”

    3. Immediately. Depending on where you live and the cost. I got a DBA for Iron Ax Press, and a checking account that Amazon/Kindle sends the money to. While it doesn’t seem like it could possibly be worth the bother for the small amount of money a beginner earns, it looks professional, and there’s nothing to untangle later.

  4. A newbie question. I’ve got my first first draft (mil sf, 30k-odd words – possibly in need of expansion) for which I need a set of beta readers. Where’s the best place to ask?

    1. I let blog readers know that something’s available, and they volunteer*. This works because I had hired an editor for my first few books, and then developed a blog following that happens to include some darn good subject-matter specialists and others.

      *Heck, I mention that the end of the book is in sight, and I get a stampede! At least for the fun books.

    2. Do you currently hang out in any forums or social groups that include other folks who like reading Mil-SF? Unless explicitly forbidden by group rules, the best place to start getting beta readers is where people who like the same things as you hang out… understanding that most of them are as new to beta-reading as you are to filtering and interpreting beta reader feedback.

      The other places to ask are where you hang out with other authors and if someone is interested, they’ll reply in comments, and you can proceed forth to the sharing of emails addresses, etc. Been known to happen! (Though be aware feedback from writers is fundamentally different from feedback from readers. Not necessarily better, just different.)

      1. Unfortunately, the answer is “probably but I’ve never found out their reading likes/dislikes.” Offline I’m too much of an introvert to be particularly comfortable enquiring of friends and acquaintances.

        Online I don’t hang around many places, so I may need to expand my presence online.

        1. Yes, increase your online presence. Occasionally post a paragraph or two and see who responds. “Does this work for an opening” Or whatever. If someone says “Then what happens?” ask them if they want to beta read.

          The hard part is figuring who spots real problems and who thinks you ought to write it the way he would write it.

  5. Nebula Award nominees are uniformly SJW rubbish this year. I mean, they’re really bad.

    So, in the spirit of kicking over the apple cart, who wants to engage in some flash fiction? The game is to take a Nebula (or Hugo!) nominee and rip out a less than 500 word version, substituting a main character who is a decent, capable human being. Or robot.

    We could call it “Stories About People Who Are Not A-holes.”

    No need to read the actual stories, that would be cruel and unusual punishment. Cover blurb would be sufficient.

    Extra points for working in an orbiting space weapon or thermonuclear device.

  6. My Senior Girl Scouts are working on their Novelist badge, and it’s amazing how much advice I am able to pass on just from this blog. The best part of last night was on girl saying “they tell you to never start in the middle of the action”. She was quite happy to hear that I know of several successful authors who do exactly that.

    1. Huh? The advice I’ve always heard is to start in media res and the use of a Latin term shows how old that one is. People are advising against it?

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