Archive for writing

And Book Makes Three!

Squee!  (Er, manly squee!).

I grew up reading trilogies.  I grew up watching trilogies.  I lived in trilogies, walked the lands of trilogies until I knew them better than my own neighborhood, lived many lives through trilogies, fought evil and triumphed in trilogies.  I dreamed of writing a trilogy.  It is surreal to have actually done so.  And wonderful.  But really, it doesn’t feel real.  Yet there it is.  Three books.  That I can hold in my hands. With my name on them.  It’s like I’m living in some bizarro alternate universe.  And it is pretty dang cool.

Finn Fancy Trilogy US-TOR

 

And I love the UK versions from Titan as well!

 

Finn Fancy Trilogy UK-Titan

 

Book 3 comes out in the US on March 7th, and I can’t wait for people to read it!

 

 

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Setting your Goals for 2017

Happy New Year!

I thought I’d once again offer a bit of new year’s encouragement and advice to help with the coming year.  While this is aimed primarily at my fellow writers, the same advice can also, I think, be applied to most any goal or creative pursuit, and to life in general, so just replace “writer” or “write” with whatever your passion is.

This weekend, I encourage you to sit down and do three things:

1) Create a calendar/schedule for your goals and tasks.

2) Create, or update, your list of goals and tasks.

3) BELIEVE, and do what makes you happy.

2017 will also certainly be a particularly important year to be active in supporting and fighting for what is important to you, without giving in to despair or in to anger that harms yourself. Here is a starting point for that: http://www.randy-henderson.com/2016/11/what-now/

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Why I Talked to Word Sluts at WorldCon

I found myself in a number of conversations at WorldCon where persons were seeking my advice or thoughts on their writing, or seeking advice of a group in which I sat, and would say some variation on:

“People seem to have a problem with me calling it Warrior Wanda the Space Slut.  But I mean slut in a positive or ironic way, because she is a powerful woman so she can have sex with whoever she likes.”

Or

“I have a pretty graphic rape scene in my novel, but if I didn’t have it she wouldn’t have that motivation to get stronger from it and learn to fight that is so important in my story.”

These persons were clearly seeking someone to say, yes, that is okay.

And I engaged in these conversations in a calm, friendly, positive way.

Why?

Because I have the privilege to do so.

By this, I do not mean the honor, though really it is an honor to be asked my opinion on anything.  Rather, I mean that had such questions been asked of someone who identifies as female, for example, such questions would have been understandably offensive and anger-inducing, and made the person feel unsafe, along with a host of other reactions.

I’m not saying I found the questions pleasant and encouraging, but I recognize that my con experience as a cis white male who presents as het is entirely different from that of anyone who is other than that.

So while I cringed internally, I did not walk away, or mock these persons then, or later with my friends.   I gave them a clear but disgust-free expression of “Oooooo, I wouldn’t do that,” and proceeded to lay out in positive terms how they could improve their stories, and their chances of reaching a broader audience.

Here is an example of the types of thing I try to say in these cases, with the goal not being to score points or put him in his place, but to help guide the writer in the right direction where they will hopefully learn for themselves in time what cannot be forced into their understanding in a single argument (And to be clear, I am not in any way saying there are not other approaches, or that outright anger is in any way not a valid response for others to have):

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Usual Path to Publication

Want to know how to get published?  Well, there’s lots of ways, actually 🙂

And writer/ editor Shannon Page has put together a pretty neat collection of essays called The Usual Path to Publication by 27 published authors (including yours truly) on HOW they got published.  Check it out!

And for some additional fact-dense and flow-charty info on publishing options, you can also see my post on How to Become a Novelist (Part 2): Publish a Novel

The Usual Path to Publication cover image

Links:

Amazon

Book View Café

B&N

Kobo

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Finn Fancy 3 Cover: Smells Like Finn Spirit!

Two big bits of news for book 3, Smells Like Finn Spirit:

First off, revised Finn 3 has been officially delivered to my editor!  And I am so proud of it.  Of course, I’m biased, but honestly there are just so many parts I can’t wait for people to read — funny moments, emotional moments, fantastical moments, moments that made me tear up or laugh on my own re-read — and I think that’s a pretty good sign.  It has more of the humor of Finn Fancy Necromancy, and expands on the world building of Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free, with some deep character moments I think reflect all I’ve learned as a writer while working on these books, and it completes a nice three book arc (with seeds for future books of course should Tor buy more).  Not trying to sound braggy, or like I think so much of my skill or anything, I just am proud of what I created, and feeling pretty happy about being a writer right now.

And second, COVER REVEAL!  Thanks to the awesome Peter Lutjen!

Smells Like Finn Spirit

 

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When Worlds Collide: Diversity in Fiction vs Drumpf

I see two major conversation streams in my world converging here: Diversity in fiction, and our current political circus.

Diversity in fiction is about many things, but one of those is that it allows us to experience lives unlike our own, and through that experience gain a deeper understanding of people who are different from ourselves, and the ability to empathize with other experiences. This applies across all media.

Perhaps if we had more popular media that shared an honest view of the Mexican immigrant experience, for example, we might not have a demagogue winning votes by promising to build a giant wall and kick people out of the country, or playing on other racial and religious fears.

Not saying diversity in fiction is THE solution to any problem, but this is just one example of why I feel diversity in media is actually important not just for any specific group who see themselves continuously ignored or badly stereotyped in media, not just for those who are marginalized or persecuted in society, but for everyone. Because we are all in this together — at least until we find a way to teleport to our own planet where we can mess it up however we want without affecting others.

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Finn Fancy Love Time: Ticking Clock Edition

Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free comes out February 16th.  This is a really critical and exciting time for the series! I hope you’ll join in the fun.

“So, this is your apartment?  Nice.  Where can I slip into something more comfortable?”

“Right over there, in the door past that copy of Finn Fancy Necromancy.  Oh my gosh, have you read it?  It’s REALLY exciting and funny an — uh, like you.  I’ll get the wine.”

Why do I give this fine example of Finn Fancy love?  Well, if you think it might be cool for the series to continue past book 3, continue reading.

Finn Fancy Force-omancy

This IS the book you’re looking for!

 

The Finn Fancy series is not in trouble, but it has reached its first critical test.  Whether or not Tor wants to publish more Finn Fancy books will likely be based on sales of book 1 and pre-sales/ sales of book 2 (Bigfootloose) over the next couple of weeks. Just because that’s how the industry works.

What this is:  Me asking you to take a few minutes to support Finn Fancy if you’ve read and enjoyed it, OR if dark and quirky contemporary fantasy is something that interests you and you MIGHT read it someday.  Or if you are just feeling generous toward me and want to support my dream, I suppose.

So if you DO want to help guarantee more Finn Fancy books, here’s what you can do, in rough order from most impact to least.  I’ve tried to make it easy:

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On “City on Fire” and Mocking Bad Writing

In my social media feed, a lot of people were sharing this post about City on Fire, a book with sentences so bad they are funny (much like entries into the Bulwer-Lytton “Dark and Stormy Night” contest but not intentionally so).

I laughed.  Then I learned about the author, and the history of the book.

I think we can learn a lot from this example, but not just about bad sentences.

City on Fire

WHEN I FIRST READ THE HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE SENTENCES:

First, yes, these sentences are pretty bad.  As in, this is a master class in bad sentences. I think an annotated version of this list that breaks down just why each is so bad would be very helpful for writers.

The examples range from pretty common writer errors like:

“But that was where the drawing ended. Below was just white space.” The problem here is stating something so redundant and obvious that it becomes ridiculous. So we can take this, and learn from it to make sure, for example, you don’t write something like “His heart beat in his chest,” because if you are human, where else would it be beating?

To a wide range of other issues as in these examples:

“Just then, a horripilating Scaramouche appeared at her elbow.”

Or

“Breasts like bronzed mangoes.”

In fact, there appears to be a lot of bad breast descriptions in the book.

 

 

HOWEVER:

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The Benefits of a Con Where Few People Came

Rustycon 2016 lights out

When the lights went out in the room due to the lack of bodies, we had to laugh.

 

I was a panelist at Rustycon this weekend, a lovely small local con run by very dedicated and passionate volunteers.   Unfortunately, several factors led to smaller than expected turnout — horrible Friday weather and traffic, every other person in the State apparently having the flu, and a Seahawks game on Sunday among them.  As a result, my panels all had two to five attendees.  The Guest of Honor’s had maybe fifteen.   I was lucky enough to have a handful of people at my reading, but several writers had nobody show.

I’m glad I went.

Like a lot of people, I’ve been crazy busy of late, essentially three-full-time-jobs level busy.  So there are those who might question whether a con where only a handful of people attended my panels might be seen as a “waste of time.”

But here’s why I don’t feel it was:

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The Fate of Grimdark the Grimdarian and the Rise of Shiny Fantasy

Like most people I think, I read by both taste and mood.  Sort of like how I eat.  Or make lo — uh, make the food I eat.

 

While I enjoy dark fantasy and so-called “grimdark” (official term and sponsor of the 2000’s Stuff Nobody Agrees What the Official Term Should Be For-athon), it feels like heavy lifting to me, as it is often filled with a sense of hopelessness, of fear, of pain, etc. that, even when cut with the occasional moment of joy, can still feel draining to read (at least for me).   I have to take my dark in small doses, like absinthe, or Carrot Top, or the awareness of my inevitable death.

Grimdark Hamlet

Swallow My Darkness!!!

 

Don’t get me wrong.  I think that Shakespeare guy has a real future with those crazy dark tragedies of his.  And when done well, “grimdark” can be satisfying reading in the sense that you feel these complex and sometimes uncomfortable emotions evoked by the work, and feel rewarded for that heavy lifting.  It also is able to explore deep and difficult themes and subjects in a more focused way than other fantasy, topics such as the darker side of human nature, moral ambiguity, torture, the origins of cruelty, etc.

 

In the words of that wise bard Trent Reznor, “I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel.”

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