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Posts from the ‘BY THE MAD GENII’ Category

Small Worlds: Writing Them

A commentor here observed that the Merchant and Empire books are set in a small world. It’s an interesting observation, and one that deserves some thought, because a lot of fantasy and sci-fi books seem to sprawl. They cover an epic-worth of territory, sometimes by design, sometimes just because it seems traditional.

But not all stories need sprawling worlds. Some books, even novels or series, fit better in a small space, a human or other person sized space. Which is sometimes difficult to do.

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So, that happens

I’ve recently read a couple of drafts written by more-or-less novice writers who had asked me for feedback, and as a result I’m now contemplating the best way to write tight, compelling movement into a story without making it too action-driven. The first recommendation I’ll always have is ‘don’t listen to me. Go read a book you really like that does it well, and pay attention to it.’ A good story will catch you up in the world and you’ll miss the way the writer pulls you in and hooks you. Also… style is very much A Thing. Different writers are going to do this in different ways, so read several good stories, and make notes, and then go back and look at your draft. Me? I tend to be wordy. I need to literally tighten up my sentences. Other people? Might want to consider condensing their introduction of character and setting into something more cohesive and perhaps even have it happen alongside plot. Sprinkle it in like stage setting with dialogue. But not too much! Read more

Orientation

I’m alive. This last week has been … a challenge. The littles are just now into the swing of full-time school, and I’m trying to figure out my own head space in that. It’s not proving particularly easy, but then, transition never really is. Adding to that, the weather has taken a turn for the unpleasant, and I’d just gotten used to taking a walk every day. I hate walking in the rain. It’s unpleasant, and everything’s gray out, and there’s too much water in the air.
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Keeping up with the times

Over the last few days, I’ve been part of a discussion with some other writers in my area about publishing. Specifically, about whether or not traditional publishers are keeping up with the times. One of our group still holds out hope that traditional publishing will return to its glory days, bookstores  will once again show up in major numbers and they will have their books prominently on display. Unfortunately, the latter isn’t going to happen, at least not the bookstore culture of the last several decades. Locally owned indie bookstores are popping up, but they are more speciality stores, catering to a very set customer base. Unless B&N manages to adapt, it isn’t long for the world. So what about traditional publishing? Read more

Why am I doing this?

Like the sperm whale plunging toward the surface of Magrathea, existential questions are something that most writers think about. Not necessarily ones relating to their own existence, but to that of the book they’re working on.

“Why am I doing this?”

It’s actually one those questions that, generally speaking, is easier to answer for yourself the first time around than the 20th (Trust me on this, I’m past that mark. And it’s still hard.) Read more

Why read me when there are new books out?

Seriously, you’ve got science fiction and fantasy options for your pleasure!

Alma Boykin just released the long-awaited pre-apocalypse book, Fountains of Mercy, that explains where the ColPlatScki Originally came from, and just who exactly were the desperate original colonists who became beatified and unrecognizable legends all those years later?
Fountains of Mercy: Book 8 of the Colplatschki Chronicles by [Boykin, Alma T. C. ]

When the fires dance in the sky, the great machines will fail, and the people will rise…

Colonial Plantation LTD can’t decide what to do with Solana, also called ColPlat XI. Should it be a nature preserve, a living museum of pre-industrial techniques, or a standard colony? As the bureaucrats wrangle, a solar storm disrupts technology and reveals deep rifts between the colonists and their administrators.

Susanna “Basil” Peilov clawed her way out of the slums and wants nothing to do with the Company. Peter Babenburg just wants to build his water system and stay out of trouble. When the sky-fires come, Basil, Peter, and their families and friends stand between the colony and chaos. Company administrators assure everyone that replacement parts and assistance is coming, will come. Without those supply ships from the stars, everything falls apart and the colony will die. All that people can do is wait and hope for rescue.

The administrators never planned on facing a group of engineers, a crazy farmer and his wives, and colonists determined to protect their home. Hope comes from some unlikely places, and courage takes eccentric shapes.
Get it here!

And Margaret Ball just came out with the second in the spin-off series from her Austin mathemagicians!
Dragon Scales (Dragon Speech Book 2) by [Ball, Margaret]

It’s one thing to meet a dragon in the snowbound mountains of the High Pamirs.

It’s another to entertain him when he shows up at your Austin home, along with his sulky and all-too-human teenage girlfriend!

Linguist Sienna Brown battles a shapeshifting dragon who helps himself to her clothes and demands enormous quantities of pizza, a teenager whose ignorance of American customs doesn’t prevent her from picking up every man she meets, a nosy neighbor, and a group of Russian thugs who are tasked with acquiring the dragon for their own country.

In addition, her boyfriend is terrified that the dragon’s presence will tempt her to use its magical but brain-injuring native language. And he’s not entirely wrong about that…

Get it here!

Reality V. Fiction

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.—Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar, Mark Twain

While we were on our trip to Washington DC there was one museum my son really wanted to go see, but I had been told it was very difficult to get into, so we left it off the itinerary. It was only when I made a remark to a friend who lives there that I discovered it was no longer timed, ticketed, and waiting-room-only to see the Holocaust Museum. So, as the final stop while in the city, that was our choice. It’s difficult to describe it, so I’m not going to entirely try. Suffice it to say that in a city where we saw several museums out of the lifetime’s worth you could see, this was the one that was hushed, beautiful in design, and utterly austere in message. Humanity is capable of the divine, and the most terrible things we can see on the face of this earth and beyond. Fiction writers can try to encapsulate evil in their villains, but nothing touches reality. Nor, perhaps, should we even try. Read more