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Posts by accordingtohoyt

If At First You Don’t Succeed

I hesitate to say that sometimes you need to rewrite.  I hesitate to say it, because writers are crazy people, and given half a chance will spend their entire lives rewriting the One True Book, which frankly, more likely than not was never worth that much effort, and would turn out a dud in either case.

I heard Kevin J. Anderson himself compare book writing/publishing to making popcorn. You can pick the one perfect kernel, adjust the oil and heat just so… and if it’s a dud, it will never pop.  Or you can put some oil in the bottom of a pan, throw some corn in, put the lid on (important. First month of marriage, my brother and his bride forgot this step in making popcorn. My father found them, advancing on the corny artillery, using pan lids as shields.)  And chances are you’ll have a bunch of duds but also a ton of very good popcorn.

And yet, you must understand that analogy above is the whole and complete range of your choices. Let me explain Read more

Put Your Best Foot Forward

For those who don’t know, I run a promo post on my blog (usually) on Sunday mornings.  There are a bunch of conditions, and a place to send the Amazon link to your book. What there isn’t (ever) is a guarantee that I’ll have read your book. (Why? Because, well… I don’t have that kind of time. Also I often have trouble reading books from friends, because it gets complicated.) I shall paste the rules below.

The thing is, I sometimes get books with horrible covers. I don’t mean aesthetically displeasing. It’s possible for a book cover to be ugly as sin or at least blah and fulfill its purpose. I mean horrible in terms of sales (yes, that shall be explained.) When I come across them, if I have time — not lately — I will offer to make a cover (sometimes.) Last week there was an overabundance of them, and I snapped. Read more

You’re Not Going Crazy

You’re not going crazy. You’re just a writer.

Yes, I know — I know — sometimes it feels like you’re losing your mind, but the thing is this is all perfectly normal.

No, I can’t explain to you why your character has decided to act in a way that’s not what you planned. No, I can’t explain why you suddenly become obsessed with a theme. No, I can’t explain why or how your plot takes twists and turns you never heard of.

But I can tell you that it is perfectly normal. And I can give you my theory of why. Read more

How to Break Bad Habits

Stop doing that or I’ll bury you alive in a box doesn’t work markedly well. Cleaning your room does. But this is not about that kind of habit.

Now that fanfic is a money-making thing — well, probably not for anything still under copyright, but take it from someone who reads a lot of Jane Austen fanfic on KULL, someone is making money off it — it occurs to me a lot of people are at risk of acquiring what I used to call “Write for hire bad habits.”  (Because it’s more or less the same process.  At least if you do media tie-ins.

And then it occurred to me the habits aren’t so different from Mary Sue or from what makes message fic obviously message fic and bad. And since no one really objects to political fiction, only to bad political fiction (No, really, trust me. I love Clifford Simak even if — partly because of where he lived — I disagree with 90% of his ideas on the world.) perhaps a post on what those habits are and how to overcome them is in order.

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Amazon Panic AGAIN


I was going to write something completely different — sorry Phantom, again — but last night just before I went to bed I saw the beginnings of another Amazon panic. Again.

Look, I understand this. We’re dependent on and at the mercy of Amazon, and the more money we make, the more we fear what they can do to stop it.  I GET it.

But this case is even flakier than former panics.  So, stand by. Read more

To Re-Write, Re-Cast or Re-Vise, that is the Question


Almost every writer runs into this sooner or later: you start with great hopes, the story is bowling along. And then either it stops dead and you’re not sure why. (And you can’t get past, even if you want to.) OR and this is arguably worse, you finish the book, but it feels so wrong you don’t even want it out where people will see it.

At which point, you have a choice: discard or change it.

But how do you change it? Do you, having realized you need a climatic scene go in and insert it? Change your male to female? Or vice versa? Or should you ditch the whole thing and rewrite it from scratch? Read more

Status, Achievement, Diplomacy

Every job has status.  And you know setting out the status you want and if it’s achievable.

I probably did it wrong when breaking into sf/f.  Call me stupid, or maybe take in account I grew up in a country where “celebrity culture” was not the same as in the US.  What I mean is, guys, all we had was the radio. It’s hard to become a US type celebrity with the radio.  Also, I’m broken in that I never pay any attention to movies, and you need to be really famous for me to remember your face. No, seriously. And even then I won’t give a hang who you sleep with, or what you do on your time off. I’ll just go “oh, he was okay as x in x movie.” And that’s it.

So, what did I want when I first got published: I wanted people to read me. A lot of people. The more people the better.  And I wanted to make enough money to live. But fame? Meh. If I’d thought about it at all, I’d have created a complete persona to be famous, and no one would have any idea who I really was. Read more