There’s Gonna Be Some Changes Round Here

This has not been discussed intensively. I’ve mentioned it to a couple my co-bloggers, but not all. So I guess this is another situation of “uh, don’t kill me guys.”

I’ll start by saying the changes won’t in any way be mandatory. People who just want to go on doing whatever can go on doing whatever. However, we’re going to open up to a few possibilities of “you can also do this.”

When we started this blog, oh, lord, what? 15? years ago or thereabouts, (I think Dave Freer and I are the only original remaining members) it was with the idea that it would be a publicity blog.

Oh, the same reason I started my blog? Yeah. You spotted that too! Well done. I must be the worst ever at publicity because my blogs are started for publicity and then…. become something else. Look, I try okay. (I’m very, very trying.)

Two years ago, I was really upset that Mad Genius was not growing as much as According to Hoyt and I almost shut it down. Only Amanda Green convinced me we could “turn it around” and make it something else. Make it, in fact, work for publicity….

Morgan Freeman voice: They could not in fact turn it around.

Yeah, places on line have a specific gravity, a pull in some direction that’s only partly controlled by the writer, but also by the audience, and by that magical intersection of audience and writer. It’s like writing, in that way, where the intersection of writer and reader creates…. something bigger than was in the writer’s mind at any point.

And what Mad Genius Club had become was a place to come and learn as writers, to talk about the field, to be reassured we’re not all, in fact, crazy, or if we are we’re not alone in our peculiarity.

Mad Genius club over its however many years in existence (We started over at blogspot, and I know we moved here 12 years ago. I’m too lazy to go figure out when the first post ever was) has become the bar at a con, late at night, after all the fans have wandered off somewhere, or are doing the costume contest, or getting it on in the fire escape, or whatever the heck goes on at cons these days (you haven’t lived till you find a star trek ensign and a storm trooper making out in a darkened con stairway. You hear banjos, and expect their respective fandoms to descend on them in rage: “A dog from the house of trek!” Anyway….)

Those nights around a bar table, usually in the corner, nursing a single beer unless someone else was buying (had some very passable whiskey when bestsellers or editors (!) bought for the table) provided the “learning the ropes” beyond books on how to write.

Everything from tips on writing that finally clicked in the back of my mind and made me go “oh, so that’s how” (like the dead family tip. You want to write a thriller and you want it fast? All your character’s family is dead. Minimal background to deal with. I don’t use it often, but yah, it’s been done) to “what is deductible, and not, and how much documentation do you need,” to more specific stuff “Don’t submit to x without a high level agent. They’ll put your firstborn in the contract.”

It was at one of those that between all of us we calculated that it was easier to sell a novel than a short story in the early oughts. There were more novel slots.

I learned a lot. There are really no places to go to learn the ins and outs of our metier. Except from other writers. And because it’s such an “experiential” work — you know it when you do it enough — sometimes we don’t know what other writers need to know or hear. Sometimes we don’t know what we need to know or hear.

However, sit around long enough and something will click.

Well, that’s kind of what Mad Genius Club has become. Pros, old and new, started-trad (neither Dave nor I are strictly trad anymore, nor is Margaret Ball, and our colleagues are more or less all indie) and ran with it indie from the early on, sitting around a bar table trading stories, anecdotes, tips, jokes, and occasionally showing what we’re doing, and how, or just telling stories.

Because writers tell stories. That’s what we do.

When Amanda threw in the towel (for good and sufficient reason, relating both to her writing taking off, and to her family situation right now) I thought about it and considered closing the place again. (For the record, I pay for the hosting, which is why considering closing it falls on my shoulders.) But the hue and cry that went up from the readers “but I read it every day.” “I’ve learned so much.” “It’s what keeps me writing.” etc. (in private chats, mostly on discord. I was trying to get an idea of if it would even be missed.) gave me pause.

And then I realized it is that corner table, at a bar, at a con. And we’re the old pros sitting around, trading tips, stories of the field, stories we’re writing or read or find fascinating. Occasionally passing around drinks.

So — it’s never going to be a publicity blog. And don’t get me wrong, most of us doing this, week in week out are doing it to pay forward. People helped us get here (sometimes for free, sometimes for pay) and we pay it forward by passing it on. And that’s great.

Except all of us are working like crazy, particularly while the economy goes all mergitur….

We haven’t really monetized this blog. I’ve bitten the block on the price for keeping it up, because it’s not crazy. And it’s not what this is all about.

But our writers are giving of their time and knowledge every week. …. Or sometimes being silly, because they are my friends.

There is not going to be anything large and certainly not mandatory, but if this blog is going to teach, by gum it’s going to teach.

I’ve done this before, but I’m going to try to do it in a more organized fashion, perhaps with exercises assigned. And I encourage others to do the same.

What same? Well, forgive me, I was up till midnight finishing an overdue story, but it’s like this: We’re going to encourage our members to give lessons, workshops, lectures, or even just “I need three volunteers, and I’ll critique their opening/fight scene/whatever.”

And there will be a tip jar link at the end of the post (yeah, yeah, I need to find a service. Perhaps Ko-fi will answer. I have been under the gun of publishing stuff and delivering on due stuff that still is being done for other people — comics, shorts — that I’ve not had time to actually evaluate those services. I have three days now, if I can fit it around all the overdue yard stuff.) Writers can suggest what they think it’s worth it. OR they can just take whatever you wish to give. But there will be more of that (At least if they listen to me. What are the odds?) If we’re a teaching/learning blog, there will be more teaching and learning. Heck, maybe we can bring in Draven for some guest graphics lectures. And Cedar can do that too. I can also, on a totally different level. (The lazy woman’s guide to covers. Okay, lazy and broke, which is often my condition.)

Other things I’d like to see and I’m in the process of negotiating with people to get in/get back in: episodic novels. They will be on separate tabs, and by different authors — yes, this means the magical noir Elf’s Blood will get finished — and the author will post an announcement on the main page when a new installment is up. I find that getting feedback and following helps immensely, particularly when you’re doing the writing around other imperatives.

Anyway…. There’s going to be some changes around here, and new (and hopefully greater) things are coming.

Stay tuned. Hopefully things will be firmer next week, and we’ll make the big announcement.

32 comments

  1. You know, just knowing that there are sane people out here is helpful.

    Yes, you call it the Mad Genius Club, but you’re still saner than a lot of places. 😉

  2. Heh. Episodic novels? You and I need to talk, because the way the WIP is behaving, I’m seriously considering taking it Kindle Vella, then compiling and releasing in ebook.
    …though I’m going to get it finished first either way, because I want to know I *have* a full product and won’t leave the audience hanging for more episodes.

  3. It feels to me that this place has a critical mass that facilitates social/entertainment/support/knowledge utility to all participants. I know that my solitary blog is too anemic for that critical mass, and I’m sure others value it for that, too. No reason that can’t include some financial support for hosting…

    * One caution re; episodic stuff… do think about copyright declarations, if this will be the first platform something is on, even for draft material. Yeah, I know, the copyright should be implicit but it’s a good habit to get into.

    * I’m all for teaching/learning posts, but I also very much like (and contribute to) the less-structured among-our-peers “I’ve just figured out X and this is how — maybe you’re interested, too” posts. I think a mixed bag for the blog is fine, and one way to convey that might be not trying to necessarily restrict it to one post per day (to read) or one post per week or so (to write).

    * A separate thread/place to do straight-up Question/Answers-Suggestions on a continuing basis might be nice. If it’s easily searchable/categorizable it should retain its value indefinitely, especially if people can keep coming back to the answers to add to them.

  4. I’m in. I have been following this blog for about six months and have learned a ton. So glad you will be keeping it on.

  5. Vote of confidence here, I’m on board for whatever. Everything I’ve learned about book covers that made any sense I learned here from the Mad Geniuses and at ATH. Plenty of nonsense elsewhere, I’ll be bound.

    Carry on.

  6. I’ve enjoyed reading you guys’ thoughts here, and have learned stuff. I’m glad you’re keeping it going, but don’t feel bad about dropping it if you need to.

  7. I read it every day. If I miss a day, I go back and read what I missed. I don’t always comment, but I am here. Just wanted to let you know that.

  8. I’ll continue reading as long as you post.

    Will you solicit articles? I’m slowly, slowly, slowly writing out my thoughts on direct sales; i.e., selling books directly to the public at events like the Wyoming Peach Festival.

    I’d be happy to share if you’re interested.
    Being an amateur and wanting to help other authors, no, I don’t expect to be paid.

  9. Oooo! What about cut scenes? And I fear no copyright issues, but then I don’t have to live on my writing income. Although that would be one way to diet!

    I’ll go all episodic, if you need a volunteer to go first.

        1. Weekly or fortnightly, I would think.

          Daily seems much too big an ask, and monthly greatly exceeds my attention span. 😀

          1. Right. We can designate a day “Thursday Morning Episode” or whatever.

            I’ve a sequel to _Stone_ that’s complete at 15K words. I’m planning on adding to what’s there and then expanding it to short novel size, so public posting of this bit won’t be a problem if I ever actually do expand it.

            5K words for three weeks? 3K for five weeks? Decisions, decisions . . .

  10. And I think I finally figured out why the male lead wasn’t working: an agent has too much time out of direct control to be indoctrinated. While I could put a mental monkey on his back, that’s not really a universal human experience, so don’t think it would make as interesting a story arc. Plus the female lead’s arc is about addiction, so it feel too similar.

    So I need to go really think through what is interesting about the male lead and why he is broken at the beginning.

  11. As someone who stumbled onto this blog, and into writing in the last few years, I’m glad to hear it’s still going to be around. Thanks for your work!

  12. I’ve always been afraid of posting at places like this. Is this the sort of insular community that frowns on “outsiders” and works hard to keep it that way? (some writers I followed in the past really seemed to want to only allow like-minded people into their fold, and I’m not very like-minded with a lot of other writers I’ve met…) Will I come across as stupid? Tragically-ill-informed and naive? Thankfully none of that seems to be the case, no one’s told me to get lost yet. I guess I’m kind of an odd, too, and I like it here.

        1. I know what you mean. 😀

          Not long after I started reading Accordingtohoyt’s blog I corrected some statement. I do not have a clue what it was. But I argued, gave supporting evidence, and….

          Got something like “Huh. I thought X. I can see how it went from Y to X, though, thanks.”

          Usually, it’s “[blanked for family friendly]” followed by blocking. ^.^

          Well, when it’s not unlabeled editing of comments followed by blocking….

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