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Posts from the ‘Alma Boykin’ Category

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

Writing by Nose: Use all the Senses

No, this is not a new version of two-finger-typing for those endowed like Cyrano de Bergerac. It is about adding a new layer of reality and depth to your setting and scene description, and about playing up the differences between characters. Read more

Writer Life Balance: A Semi-Anchoress’ Take

On Wednesday, the question came up about how does one manage to balance out the life of a writer and everything else that we need to do. I’m probably better suited to be the horrible warning than the good example, because I am the one who once locked herself in her apartment for six weeks to study for exams, emerging three times a week to 1) get food, 2) have lunch with German speakers, and 3) attend worship services. And I was quite happy to do this. Most people would start having serious problems with the lack of social contact.

But how do you keep your family from dragging you out of the office, your employer from providing you with far more writing time than your budget wanted, and your health from deteriorating? Read more