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Posts from the ‘BY THE MAD GENII’ Category

Getting back together

The loves I’ve left behind…

I’ve just had a couple of weeks of my cousins from Brittany visiting. Like us, they’re a family quite content to companionably read, but they like having adventures with – as they call me – Robinson (as in Robinson Crusoe – when the boys were teens, visiting us from French urban life, I introduced them to being hunter-gatherers, which made me ‘Robinson Crusoe’ long before I lived on an island) as well as eating the ‘exotic’ (as in shot or caught or collected ourselves) things which are our normal diet (like the picture), not theirs. It’s been a busy time, spearing, netting, diving, shooting, to say nothing of the prep of the gear, and processing and cooking. Read more

Blast from the Past: What is “legitimate” in the 21st century publishing environment?

(Brad is away from his keyboard today so I pulled this post of his from January 2017. It is as timely now as it was then. — ASG)

Not very long ago, the intarwebz — or at least that part of the intarwebz which is fascinated with all things authorly — became infuriated over this toss-off commentary from the Huffington Post. Now, toss-off commentary is not surprising at HuffPo. In fact, one might say that toss-off commentary is HuffPo’s raison d’être. Articles like this are supposed to inflame. HuffPo wants clicks, and caterwauling. That’s how HuffPo functions. And while men far better than me have taken the commentary to task, I think it’s worth pointing out that the article does bring up a very valid question, which lurks in the shadows at every author workshop, convention, kaffeeklatsch, and bar conversation: when will each of us know we are legitimate? Read more

You Are What You Read

You are shaped by the company you keep, I was trying to explain to my son recently. He’d been watching a Youtuber known for vulgarity and disrespect. Find someone more wholesome, I told my boy, because even though you think he won’t, this guy will live in your head and that’s not who I want you to be.

My son doesn’t really know it yet, but whether you absorb the ‘person’ through reading, watching, or just hanging out, you are influenced by those you keep company with. I know that happens to me when I’m writing – my voice on paper changes if I have been reading someone with a strong voice. Unconsciously, I choose words and sentence structures more like what’s been in my head most recently. Since I’m aware of this, I can control it by not reading, say, Mickey Spillane while I’m trying to write something that isn’t gritty and noir.  Read more

On reviews

The other day, I opened one of my social media accounts to the chest beating and teeth gnashing of a number of authors. No, it wasn’t a mass rejection by publishers that caused their angst. Nor was it news that their Amazon KDP accounts had been canceled. It was the sound we hear every couple of years when Amazon decides to enforce its terms of service when it comes to reviews and authors — and other product suppliers — suddenly realize their review numbers have diminished, sometimes drastically.

In a conversation with several author friends about this last night, I wondered if I was odd. Okay, okay, I know I’m odd. I meant more odd than I already knew. You see, other than occasionally checking my reviews to see if there’s a common thread in them, I don’t pay that much attention to them. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate every review I get. But like many writers, I’m insecure. Putting a new book out is like shoving my baby out into the world on his own for the very first time. I’d much rather keep him home and safe, whether that’s what he wants or not. When it comes to writing, it is too easy to obsess about negative reviews or to start to believe the positive ones — if that happens, it can keep a writer from turning a critical eye to their own work. Read more

Anthology Workshop, two views

Kristine Kathryn Rusch & Dean Wesley Smith hold an Anthology workshop that I’ve been very curious about since I first heard of it, because it’s as practical as a genre writing class by Dave Farland (Wolverton) or Brandon Sanderson… instead of a giant critique group, it’s run by a panel of editors, one of whom is actually looking for stories for an anthology, and will buy from the stories written that week.

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The Soft Sciences

I would argue that to be a good writer, you need only to understand the human psyche. To be a great writer, you must delve more deeply into the interactions of humans, social and otherwise, than most people think possible. Not, necessarily, to psychoanalyze people – I have issues with psychology as a science, hence the title – but to truly understand what makes them tick, and to be able to predict what they will do faced with a given situation. Only that reaction isn’t going to be the same from person to person. One will freeze and be unable to react when the sound of gunfire rings out. Others will run toward it, knowing lives are at stake and even if they must lay down their life, they must respond in times of crisis. As a writer, one of these is the hero, the other the forlorn sidekick – not the antagonist. The antagonist is not a yellow-bellied white-feathered coward, and it would be a mistake to write him so. Read more

He said what?

Anyone who has been a long time follower of the blog knows that we don’t believe that there is any one “right” way to write. Everyone’s process is different and, if you’re like me, that process changes from project to project. So, when I came across this post by best selling author John Grisham, I found myself staring at it and shaking my head. Then I laughed and then I got angry. Why? Because he writes about what works for him in such absolute terms that there will be someone who believes it is the only way to be a successful writer.  Read more