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Posts from the ‘Alma Boykin’ Category

Local Stories – Universal Stories?

David McCullough is one of the popular historians working today in the US. He’s a leading voice for keeping history where people can read, discuss, and enjoy it. He’s released a new book about what used to be called “the Old Northwest,” Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, and the stories of the frontier days there.

It’s gotten a mixed reception from professional historians, in part because McCullough calls the stories “untold.” People who spent their careers writing about that same region chided him for that.

Recounting the Untold History of the Early Midwestern Pioneers

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/recounting-untold-history-early-midwestern-pioneers-180972095/

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Publisher Bites Author

From over at PG’s place, the dreadful tale of a publisher-relationship that went badly wrong for the writer. Short version – he got stiffed and was not paid what he was owed.

Dan Rhodes got curious about why one book wasn’t earning anything. Here’s the first part of the story, and the publisher’s explanation: it was all a mistake.

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The Long Tail—the tail that is always new

Rudyard Kipling wrote several great poems about wanderlust and the itch to look over the next hill, including “The Long Trail.” We authors are more interested in the long tail, the sales of our earlier books. We want new readers to have access to our older work, to buy them, enjoy them, tell others about them. Long tail sales can yield a pretty penny over time, and can lure new readers in as well.

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Already?!?

How many of us have laughed, sometimes a little bitterly, at the little sign saying, “Deadlines: I love the sound they make as they go zooming past?” Or “If it wasn’t for the last minute, I’d never get anything done.”

Yes. We writers feel that a lot, either because of contract deadlines, tax deadlines, or self-imposed sales and publications deadlines. The threat of a hard time limit can be wonderfully inspiring, or it can turn a brain to mush. I tend to fall into the latter category, or used to. The words, “You have five minutes to finish your paper,” caused all cerebral function to cease. I might as well hand in what I had, or print it and turn it in, because the connection between hand/hands and brain had just been severed. Read more

Space Opera is Dead! Well, Maybe Not.

Author photo of part of the column in question. From the March 30-31 Wall Street Journal.

According to the science fiction book reviewer for the Wall Street Journal, space opera is dead. In his defense, he was reviewing a book from Tor and generally only reviews books from the Big 5 imprints, and Pyr. The book had been listed as “space opera,” leading him to muse on Niven and Heinlein, Frank Herbert and Jerry Pournelle and James Schmitz. Did anyone write about Moties and ray-guns and wild adventure on strange new worlds anymore? What about galaxy-spanning empires and questions of galactic import? If the review book was an example, well… The book was not bad, but it was not space opera. The reviewer finishes by saying that the Dorsai and Kzinti are long-lost and gone. We don’t have the willing suspension of disbelief and the “macho sub-genre.”

As I said, in his defense, he reads Big 5 imprints and a very few small presses. Read more

R.U.R., Cybermen, Mr. Roboto

I’m not certain if it was a case of great minds thinking alike, or just something in the air, but Thursday I woke up with fragments “Mr. Roboto” and “Ironman” playing in my mind’s ear. Which got me to thinking about robots, and my aversion to them as an author.

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Writing to Get Even?

I freely admit, I started writing fiction in part to vent. I was one of those teenagers who would have worn nothing but black if my parents had let me, and who composed odes to dying trees, wolves in the distance, and dreamed of the day when I’d tell my peers and tormentors (there was a great deal of overlap in the categories) to go jump in a lake and have the super powers or Mecha-style armor to make it happen.

I still do that, the writing bit, just more subtly now. Read more