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Posts from the ‘BY THE MAD GENII’ Category

Wrong about what you know…

“Always write about what you know about”

That’s standard advice to writers, doled out like the wisdom of the ages to aspiring writers trying to write about the wilds of 1970 Irian Jaya, and the charm of the young nurse working there and the mechanics of the genetic illnesses in isolated tribal populations there… when the wilds of Poughkeepsie would be a bridge too far… and the nursing profession as alien as paleo-botany. As for genetics… they are almost sure it had something to do with genes. Or maybe jeans.

To the average mine of useless information (AKA professional writer) it shows, painfully.

Like most writing advice (actually, make that most advice) –it’s a crock… with a tiny gem of truth somewhere near the bottom. Read more

Cover caveats

The moment has arrived; your book is ready for its debutante ball. But no matter how finely honed its grace and manners, formatting and prose, it still needs to be dressed in an eye-catching cover that lets the readers of the world know exactly what genre and subgenre she is, and what promises are being made that will be revealed if they can take her home…

And if you’re like me, you’re not an artist. (Really; I just feed them.) So you have to get someone else to do that. Read more

Happily Ever After the End

I wasn’t sure what to talk about this week, and then I was, and then I thought someone else said it so well, how could I possibly do better? Then I got into a conversation privately with another writer who has, through no real fault of their own, wound up in a tight spot. And I realized that I’m weird.

Ok, if that wasn’t confusing enough, here’s this: this post is not about writing. It’s about what comes from writing, after the story is finished. Because as we all know in our cynical little back-brains, there’s no HEA.

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Planting rocks for fun and profit

One of the minor pleasures of writing is setting up your major characters to have not just rocks thrown at them, but a major rock slide. Metaphorically speaking.

And for maximum impact, you want the reader to say not “Where the hell did those rocks come from?” but, “Oh, of course that was going to happen, I should have seen it coming.”

For that, you need to keep the reader aware of these stresses and hot buttons that make your characters particularly likely to walk under that cliff, and the clues that tell them the cliff is dangerously unstable. It’s the difference between having your character knocked out by a random rock slide, and having him knocked out by a rock slide in a place clearly labeled Fallen Rock Zone. After he’s made his speech about how modern civil engineers never, ever make a road cut that leaves unstable masses above the road.

Okay, now to specifics.

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A book like Alice

 

Much, I am sure, to the vexation of the various juvenile canid haters, I was not carried away by an inflammation of the lungs this last week.

And it is a base canard to imply I was as sick as a dog. You’d have put down the dog as a kindness. (Yes, I have been reading Heyer again). Read more

Psst! Guess what’s now out?

Peter’s next book!  The launch will officially be tomorrow, but Amazon was more efficient than we’d planned!

An Airless Storm!

Hopefully, this means they’ll continue with their customary efficiency, and soon link it to my darling man, as well as Book 1 (The Stones of Silence) in the series!

Random notes: the titles for this series actually came from or were inspired by the poems of Pablo Neruda – I love that man’s way with words.

Heartstrings

I drew a piece of art the other day meant to evoke emotions. It’s a pig (inside joke) riding a motorcycle up into the mountains. His labcoat flapping, he’s not got a care in the world, the lab left far behind him… The cartoon lives on the whiteboard outside my boss’s office, and it’s meant to inspire thoughts of summer and leaving work in the dust once we’re all headed home (and yes, he’s riding these warm summer days now). But as I stepped back to make sure I’d gotten proportions and such right, I was thinking about it in terms of writing, and making our writing appealing.

To grab our readers by the heartstrings, and give a gentle tug, is to keep them engaged with the story and wanting to know what happens next. We all have commonalities, from wanting to be outside rather than stuck in a windowless lab on a bright beautiful day, to saying AW! At the sight of a puppy or kitten. Stories that make us feel good are far more likely to have us returning to re-read them time and again than stories that made us feel grimy and gloomy. I was working on a list (always!) of books for girls, and I was noting that as with any list I curate, some of the titles are older than I am, but loved by generation after generation. Little Women, the Five Little Peppers, Black Beauty, and so many more. I loved all of them, and they among others were the ones Mom had us reading out loud to the family while I was growing up. But what is it about these tales we all connect with and love? Read more