Friday 29 September 2017

Making Life Multiplanetary

Made me emotional to watch this.  Call me a starry eyed dreamer, but this was what Heinlein wrote about when I was a kid.  I've waited all my life to see mankind go back to visiting other planets.

Thursday 28 September 2017

Polishing Work

I caught a nice blog post about Beta readers by Sarah Hoyt.  One bit in particular I want to quote:
It brought home to me again that writers talking about writing, and lay people talking about writing mean completely different things.
I would add to this that reviewers and critics, often treated as one and the same, but their roles are different.  Also, they don't talk about books the way writers or lay readers do too.  It's complicated, and if you're interested in the writing process I would recommend going off and reading the article.

My stance is that editing a story that doesn't work is a waste of time, because all you end up with is a polished turd, which is a thing as can be seen in the YouTube link above.

Monday 25 September 2017

Autumn Time and the Writing is Easy

Besides reading a shed ton of books over the course of this summer's months, amount exaggerated for comic effect, I've also been taking time to think about my novels as well.

The last eighteen months of writing has been a bit struggle.  There were points when I was pretty sick and tired of working on my Bad Dog trilogy, which given how much time I've spent on them is to be expected.  But it has also felt very disheartening because writing had become a bit of a slog.  This is mostly around realizing what needs to be done to lick my novels into shape.

Over on Dean Wesley Smith's website I read an interesting piece called, A Matter of Perspective (here's a snippet with my comments in italics):
  • Author spent years wanting to be a writer.  Me, so me.
  • Author rewrote that “special snowflake novel,” following all guidelines, to agent’s and editor’s requests, taking years of time.  Mostly me too.
  • Author ignores all warnings because they want to be taken care of by an editor and their cherished agent.  Not me.
  • Author has no belief in their own work.  Sadly true for me.
  • Author signed an all-rights contract for the life of the copyright, selling everything to do with the book with no chance of getting it back. The author celebrated the signing as if it was a good thing.  More complicated than this makes it look.
  • Author a year or more later is excited that the book is coming out. Does launch parties or other such foolishness, all for the ego of showing friends and family it was worth it.  Not applicable.
  • A year later, since the sales were flat as all are in this new world, author can’t sell another book. Agent will no longer answer author’s phone calls. Author gets bitter and goes and does something else with their life.  Seen this happen to author friends of mine.
Some of these observations about writing fit me like a glove, especially the not believing in my own work, but fortunately not the rest.  Unfortunately, I can see authors whose writing careers are perfectly described by Dean Wesley Smith.  But, there are no easy answers.

Currently, I'm in the process of revising my third book, getting it ready to go out to Beta readers.  My second novel has been revised to reflect my Beta readers feedback, and It's currently going through a second round of being read by a friend who is a journalist.

So I have found myself thinking about the next book to write.

It will probably be another in the series, because I've been having ideas about the next stories.  The cybertank novel that I also want to write is proving difficult to formulate.  The problem being how to write about an AI becoming intelligent from fighting a war, whilst making an it sympathetic to the reader from the start.

Also, I'm still digesting the lessons from the Self-Publishing Masterclass, which I shall no doubt write about too.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Self-Publishing Masterclass

This is only the second writing conference I've been too.  The other was way was back here, at the beginning of this blog.

The first speaker of the day was Roz Morris, whose books on writing I reviewed here and here.  I've nearly finished reading her third one, so it was nice to meet her in the flesh and hear her talk.  It was reassuring to know that I knew what I needed to know to be able to write.

The second speaker was Jessica Bell on book cover design, which covered other stuff like typesetting, which reminded me of the days when I used to be in desk top publishing; back in the day when it was still called that.

Next up was Ben Cameron, who talked about publicity.  He discussed the reality that authors have always had to do their own publicity, and how that is only way one is going to be able to sell books in the future.  Harsh, but fair.

The last talker of the day was Robin Cutler, who made the day for me.  She did a sparklingly honest and refreshing talk on publish on demand printing, POD, which due to technological advances has been transformed from the early days of being not quite as good as traditional printing, to being as good as traditional publishers can print.

Finally, there was a panel question and answer sessions, where there was a lively discussion on the future of the publishing business.

And I mustn't forget to mention my friend Henry Hyde who tweeted throughout the day and put a running thread on FaceBook.

So all in all a good day.  Though it has left me feeling a bit down, because it seems to me that the economics of the business means that the only way to make a small fortune is to start with a large one; as in the costs to produce a book are such that realistically it will be hard to make back a return on your investment.

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Summer Reading Fun: Part 6


The last of my summer fun reading posts.

I bought this book by Sarah A. Hoyt, who was new to me on the strength of her blogging, called A Few Good Men.  However, this ended up as one of those books I bought and didn't get around to reading for a while.  But in all fairness, to both her and myself, I have quite a few of these; though not as many as some people I know.

I'm reluctant to try reading a new author, which when I was young would never have crossed my mind, but not it has become a thing.  Probably a sign of my impending old age and countless disappointments in the past.

Initially I was umh and aahs as I started this book as it reminded me of The Count of Monte Cristo –– in space!  Except its not, as it's set on Earth, in the future where a few good men have taken over and rule the Earth.  So, not really such good men after all.  But, once I settled into the tale of over-throwing the good men I was charmed by the story, which is different enough from the novel that clearly inspired it to be engaging.

The only reason I haven't picked up any other of her books is that finding the first book in the Darkship series, to which A Few Good Men is a side novel, has proven to be difficult.  However, I have a little list, and I shall hunt down copies in due course.

Thursday 14 September 2017

Summer Reading Fun: Part 5

Last weeks failure to post means that this week I get to put two up.  The next book I dived into from my to be read pile was Glen Cook's masterpiece The Dragon Never Sleeps.

I commented on Passage at Arms here, as it is one of the great military SF novels of the genre, but I'd never gotten around to reading his other military SF novel.  This is partly down to how difficult it has been to get hold of a copy,.  And remember I don't do E-Readers or enjoy reading fiction on a monitor; and you can call me an old fuddy-duddy if you like.

Let me start by saying they don't write books like this anymore, as in this drops you in the deep end, and just expects you to keep up.  It also expects the reader to be acquainted with the tropes and able to keep up with concepts that are mentioned in passing.  This is hard SF, where the characters are not more important than the plot and the ideas, which is opposite to what I see today where characters are considered to be the most important factor in a story.

It was every bit as good as its reputation would make it sound.  Can't say more than that.

Monday 11 September 2017

Summer Reading Fun: Part 4


I had meant to put this up last week, but work demands meant I was tied up with more pressing matters.  The result was too much to do in the time available.  However, this has meant I will be able to implement some decisions I've been putting off due to a lack of time over the last 18 months.

Enough of the business side of being an aspiring novelist, because writers like to read too.  After finishing the Andromeda series by Dietz,  I jumped into reading the sequel to Dead Six by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari called Swords of the Exodus.

This is not in any shape or form SF.

There's some mild fantasy flavour, but not enough to remove it from the real world.  Rather it treats some real world conspiracy theories and gives them a twist that could be explained by either being supernatural or alien artifacts.  We shall see how it pans out in the third book.  I enjoyed it, and the gun stuff is excellent.  From reading around the web, I understand that this places the book in the male dominated action and adventure genre.

I may have misunderstood.

Regardless, this second book also clearly shows both author's development as writer's.  The characterization is superior to the first book: as in both Valentine and Lorenzo are more clearly defined as people in their own right.  In the first book, it was sometimes unclear from the voice of the character, who-was-who, except by referring to the chapter headings.  This time I was never in any doubt about which character I was seeing the narrative through.

So again, recommended, and I can't wait for the third book to come out in paperback so I can find out what happens next.  As a further recommendation I went and bought Mike Kupari's first novel, Her Brother's Keeper, on the strength of reading this.

Damn, another book added to the to be read pile: current running total 31.


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