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Posts from the ‘BY THE MAD GENII’ Category

Good: Extended Deadline in the US Bad: We Still Have to Pay

Ugly – sorting out if your writing has reached the point that it is a business and not a hobby (for tax purposes.)

If you have a DBA or are registered as an LLC (in other words, if you are a company already) it’s easy – you are a business, and you can skip the rest of this piece.

For the rest of us, it’s a bit trickier. Here’s one writer’s starting point:

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How Will Publishing Look After Covid-19?

Let’s start with a singular truth many of us don’t think about when considering the publishing industry. It consists of much more than the publishing houses. There are distributors, like Simon & Schuster which is now on the auction block. There are the various contractors who work for publishers, including editors, proofreaders and even those who design the interior and exterior of a book. There are the bookstores and online merchants. Each of these have been impacted over the last decade plus by changes in technology, changes in reading habits and by Amazon and other online retailers. But nothing will impact them like Covid-19, thanks to actions taken by local, state and national governments. Read more

Twice upon a time

Yes, well, we’d all like a do-over, especially knowing what we know from the first time, the second time.  My life would be less fraught with disasters and bad decisions.

Of course, I’d be someone else. They say all this shit is character building and if that is true I now have a large enough character to launch low orbit satellites by dropping them off the top of it. Well, whatever. It may be that there an infinity of alternate universes just a hairbreadth of a dimension away (part of the foundation for the Karres books, which may be supposed to be pure space opera, but bits of science kept sneaking in), and given enough iterations, one where my chaos-prone nature didn’t result in character building. I’m not sure if it is nature or nurture, but it does seem to be me.

So: time and again. Time travel has been a staple of sf since… well, Mark Twain, I guess.  I mean traveling to the future is in a couple of myths and of course the like of Rip Van Winkel – but traveling into the past (and changing it) seems to be later idea. I can’t offhand think of any earlier ones, but I may well just not know it or have thought of it. Some books have been fairly successful, but it is a cow for paradox (the old you went back in time and killed your own grandfather, so you didn’t live go back in time, so your grandfather lived, so you went back in time… I have this mental images of versions of the universe winking on and off in an endless loop.

There tend to be two versions of ways to get around this: either the past reflects the effect of the time travelers (Spoiler: See Harry Harrison’s ‘Technicolor Time-Machine – and that’s the punchline to the whole book) or, more popularly the time traveler changes the future…  but it is not his future (the multiverse concept, with breakpoints engineered in this scenario, by the activity of time traveler. Of course the latter has the fascinating dichotomy – can one person change future history, or is history ‘self-healing’ (you travel back in time to stop Archduke Franz Ferdinand being assassinated by Gavrilo Princip, to stop World War 1… and because that was merely a trigger to an unstoppable chain of events, something else promptly triggers the same chain, and, looked at from 500 years hence, ye Time Police arresting the time-traveling perp, discover that actually there is almost no difference as consequences.)   It’s the sort of stunt you can pull once as short story, but really most time-travel sf tends towards the former. I have a feeling that the best scenario (for the writer, because it allows you to ‘borrow’ the plot from history) is that one person can make changes – but that history would trend slowly back to what we know. YMMV.

Of course the idea that we can see the past but not change it has been used too – as has the fact the past is a microsecond ago. (I am trying to remember the name of that story. Anybody help?)

Of course, there is travel into future (and sometimes back again, a la DOOR INTO SUMMER).

Or stopping time for everyone but the character (A favorite of mine: THE GIRL, THE GOLD WATCH AND EVERYTHING, and as part of various DISKWORLD novels.)

And then there is the idea in James White’s TOMORROW IS TOO FAR with travel in time being also, obligatorily travel in space (a fascinating idea I toyed with, once again in one of the Karres books, but I haven’t seen elsewhere).

Time travel does however seem to have largely been displaced by Alternate History.

But, because sf trends are rather like fashion, recurrent if not absolutely circular, maybe its time is coming again.

Image by annca from Pixabay

The fruits of persistence

This year, I decided I would write every day – and it didn’t matter if it was 5 words of fiction or 5,000, as long as it was every single day. No, I didn’t decide this on January 1st; that would have been far too convenient. I decided to do it on January 18th, right as I was in the middle of working on the pantry turnover project.

(Every year, I put a sticker on each and every item in the pantry. This way, I not only go through the entire thing, but I also get to see exactly what is still stickered from a year ago, and hasn’t been used yet. It leads to a month+ of interesting one-off meals, using up oddball ingredients, along with much lower grocery bills for the duration, organized pantries, and the sincere but unkept vow not to have so much “Oh! I want to try that!” that I never got to next year.)

This is relevant because this year I got a pack of gold star stickers for the pantry, and ended up with almost 500 excess gold star stickers. Having them right there, I resolved there was no time to start like the present, and put up the gag-gift wall calendar (shirtless men in kilts, with sayings like “Once you go plaid you’ll never be sad”), and started giving myself a gold star every day I managed to write at least 5 words of fiction.

For those of you rolling your eyes or laughing at the mental image, hey, writing may be serious business, but no one said we had to take it seriously!

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Inktail: Preparing Art for Print

In this second part of my series where I am making mistakes in public, I’m getting a coloring book print-ready. I’m using the new-to-me program Affinity Publisher to lay it out, and I am using Affinity Photo to get the hand-drawn art ready for layout. Something I learned last time I did this, with Inktail & Friends, is that it’s not as simple as getting a good scan or photo of the art. What you need is just the black lines, saved with transparency (I’ve been saving to png files).

And again, last time I did this I made a lot of mistakes. I’m hoping to avoid those this time, and wind up with a cleaner product. I was dreading this process, to be honest. That’s part of why it took me four years to get back around to it. The last one was so much work (and honestly not a lot of profit, not like a novel). However, I have dedicated fans and that makes me happy. So again, this is a labor of love! Read more

Execution: Violence in Action and Writing

Violence, and violent action, can be difficult to portray. Yet the ability to do so is a necessary part of the fiction writer’s repertoire. Violence is a part of the human condition. If we hairless apes have learned anything in the last 5000 years of existence on planet Earth, it is that violence is a part of the human condition. Thus it becomes us to study the best examples and see how we can go about doing the same.

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We also serve Martians (boiled, fried or wrapped in duct-tape and barbecued)

We also serve Martians!

We welcome free-spending apocalyptical looters and overlords with green skins. Come in and get a little something for the lovely tentacle-haired one in your life and your little bloodthirsty spawnlings, so you can go next time again!  Tasteful multi-armed T shirts in many charming garish colors inscribed with ‘Martian, go home’ in several now-extinct earth languages. Well-tuned decorative nose-flutes, with a full range of delightful nails-on-blackboard shriek tones. The spawnlings will love them.  Models of artistically dismembered of earth-native life-forms, commemorative ray guns and other humorous nick-nacks like the ever-popular exploding Sydney Opera House.

Please leave your war-machine outside. Anything you incinerate or vaporize, consider it bought by you. Read more