Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links


Interesting perspective on the "write what you know" advice:

Five things about writing as a career:

Tips for planning your interaction with an agent at a conference:

Decent dialogue tips. I'd also add that using voice recognition can improve your overall dialogue.

This is the start of a series on how to cut your novel by 20%. So far, the advice is solid and I agree with it. Often I find the "cut by" articles too simplistic, so I will be watching this series.

And more tips on what to look for when shortening:

10 things to know about being a professional writer:

Some suggestions on how to make traditional openings in romance unique.

I like this philosophy regarding pantsing and outlining. It has a lot in common with my approach:


This fascinates me because I have an innate compass, but even so, I navigate by triangulation. At a certain point instinct tells me I've gone too far. In contrast, my youngest hates cities because he gets disoriented without being able to see the big landscapes.


When is a publicist a good idea?

Rachelle Gardner's take on publishing in the current economy:

I've been going back and forth on the Google Settlement, trying to understand it, but today I signed up only to discover I've already got something listed. It's worth doing just to check:

With the caveat that a brilliant story can overcome almost anything, here's a list of agents' dislikes for opening chapters.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

A little bit late in the day, but here are your interesting links. A lot of fun stuff in writing, especially for YA and Middle Grade for some reason.


How to get going when you don't feel like writing, because "in the mood" gets old when it's your job.

A quick demonstration of writing emotion so the reader can feel it:

Some pitfalls in writing YA/Middle Grade:

Categories of YA/Teen novel segments:

If you're interested in writing for the middle-grade market, this article offers a good overview, including everything from how to structure the novel and how long the chapters should be, to how to market it once you're done:

A solid breakdown of what royalties mean and what authors should expect of those royalty statements.

An interesting approach to deciding whether to rewrite a story on request:

This blog post was written for me. I can tell. And what it tells me is to get cracking on one of my titles that belongs in one of the bigger market segments :).


History told in a unique, changing, sand painting. Incredible and moving:

How to be politically active in an effective manner:


Tips on how to give public speeches:

A good reminder to read contracts closely, in general as well as when making donations. Odds are these are just poorly written contracts, but...

Building an author platform.

Problems with pitches and author expectation:

The story of an author's agent search with some good suggestions:


I had to include this article for those who have critiqued Shadows of the Sun for me. Though it would have been more fun if it had sold already, I put this method of translation (alien language not ancient) in my novel well before they came up with it.

This belongs as much under writing as here. An analysis of facial expression interpretation reveals cultural differences in something previously believed to be universal:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

I was gone most of this week, so I'm posting the links late to give me time to gather up something fascinating. Hope you enjoy or learn something...or both.


Analysis of the impact of ebooks and ereaders, something of interest even more now that I buckled down and got a Sony ereader.


Just what is author branding? Here are some answers.

Some tips about writing a bio whether for your publications, your social sites, or the "about me" page of your website. It's a little more oriented to business than writing, but still it's a good start:

This has a lot more to it than just promoting, but I had to file it somewhere. Top 10 mistakes of solo businesses:


What interests me in this article is not so much the discovery as the methodology for making it. But fun reading anyway:


I've put up publishing terms dictionaries before, but this is a solid, clear one that even included a couple terms I didn't know.

On the OWW listserv we've been discussing how much you can get away with that's pure fiction without grounding. This is a good breakdown for science fiction in specific. In my mind, as long as it doesn't feel like a new, unexplained gadget/culture/natural phenomena shows up every time the characters are stuck, I'll keep reading.

A solid approach to emotional writer's block.

And that's it folks. Maybe I'll get around to writing up some book reviews for next week.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Zombie Realms of Fantasy

I have been an on and off subscriber to Realms of Fantasy for years, often picking up a newsstand copy when I didn't have a subscription. When I saw that Realms had been cancelled, I spread the news with tears in my eyes. Realms of Fantasy is an icon. It is one of the few long-standing pro markets for short fiction, and it's one of the few markets that offer fantasy short stories in printed form.

I couldn't quite let go of the dream, though, and hoped and wished for a good samaritan to come out of the woodwork and rescue Realms. Then what happened but Warren Lapine stepped up to the plate and took it on. I, for one, cheered, but at the same time, there's always questions. Just what would change? Just how different will the new incarnation be? Will it retain the character that made me interested?

Well, having read what editor Shawna McCarthy characterizes as the Zombie Realms of Fantasy (August 2009--the first issue under new management), I can say without a doubt that Realms is alive and kicking. It's certainly not resurrected with an arm torn off or an unquenchable desire for brains. This issue is so much like the last one I read, that I forgot until I got to the editorials on the very last page that Realms had even been buried six-feet under.

It's funny, but I always think of Realms as a fiction magazine (you might have noticed that above). However, this issue, like all the others on my shelf, has more non-fiction content than fiction, a combination of essays, reviews, and the afore mentioned editorials all speaking to an audience of readers, movie goers, and gamers who come together in their love of fantasy.

The main article reads as a dissertation on the mystical aspects of music, and the social and political consequences that stemmed from this fact. It offered a glimpse into cultures ranging from Europe to the Middle East and China as well as more modern musical forms. Though a bit of a dense read, it was very informative and interesting.

The four short stories (one at flash length) varied among the possible subgenres, including one involving time travel cloaked in a magical framework and another set in modern day to balance the one in plague-ridden Europe and another in Medieval times. Though I rarely like all the stories in any particular issue of a magazine, I'd be hard-pressed to state a favorite.

Each of the four had a strength, whether it was Tanith Lee's skilled conveyance of her character's arrogance turned to desperation, Dennis Danvers' exploration of the costs and consequences of power, the implications that expanded Bruce Holland Rogers' flash well beyond its short word count, or the neat twist that ends Ian Creasey's story. They were not without weakness, but none of the weaknesses overwhelmed the strengths, and in many were quite minor. I would have appreciated another pass through the copyeditor's hands for Tanith Lee's tale, but I did not notice a significant number of typos or editing errors in the other stories, or indeed, in any other material.

Those interested in Harry Potter would find much to capture their attention in the movie article. It explores the movie not so much, rather delving into the lives, motivations, and processes of the folks involved in bringing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to life on the movie screen. A combination of commentary and quotes, the text makes the people involved become three dimensional.

The game reviews, of both video and pen-and-paper offerings, provide clear details on the value of each. A couple of them go so far as to include an analysis that looks beyond the game itself, while the rest appear to contain just what the players of those specific games need to decide whether to purchase a particular supplement.

And finally, the bulk of the non-fiction content is book reviews, a category that contains fiction for adult readers, young adult novels, and graphic novels. The reviews are largely written by staff writers, and contain both pros and cons about the various pieces...or at least where the reviewer felt it necessary. The specifics, though, are presented in a compelling way, enough that I've added a couple of the books to my list, and would have added more if I didn't have such a reading backlog.

Though there's been a lot of uproar about the possibility of advertising in books (as if the ads for other novels in the back or the middle insert in romances is not advertising...), Realms proudly displays its advertisements interlaced with the content and just as targeted. This issue contains ads for books, games, conventions, and other objects of interest to the fantasy/gaming crowd. Only the actual insert (a packet of information cards) bothered me, and that because it was too heavy so tore the page when I tried to remove it. To give an idea of how useful the advertising is, I had somehow missed the announcement that one of my favorite authors was releasing a new book in one of her ongoing series, but the advertisement clued me in.

The magazine is also heavily illustrated with both photographs and full-color drawings that ranged from realism to abstract as they captured the mood of the stories and articles they supported. The article about artist Michael Hague was full of his artwork, some whimsical and others with a darker ambiance.

So, having gone through practically every possible aspect of Realms, I have to applaud the clear effort to keep continuity in content and quality. Leading short story magazines in SF/F have shifted into other hands before, but in this case, the editorial staff remains the same, along with (if this issue is any guide) the publication philosophy.

At a time when short story magazines are struggling, as shown by the recent closure of Jim Baen's Universe, Warren Lapine's move to step in is appreciated, as is the decision of Shawna McCarthy, Douglas Cohen, and the returning contributors to stick it out. I, for one, plan to put my money where my mouth is and restore my subscription. I look forward to seeing what interesting stories, articles, and other information will appear between the covers of the resurrected Realms of Fantasy.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Friday Interesting Links

Quite a few links this week. Hope you find one or two that resonates.


Plans for a permanent full-service space:

Archeology has had some interesting breakthroughs, the first two technological and the third happenstance:

We've come a long way from interpretation ultrasounds..."is that a foot?"

Zombie Ants?

Interesting breakdown of why whales have lungs not gills:


An interesting twist on the Amazon-Orwell uproar. A case where a student lost real work (annotated notes) because of the deletion without notice.

That cover art blowup I mentioned earlier? The effort has borne fruit:


Agent Janet Reid weighs in on the issue of submission exclusives:

Some good tips on writing strong sentences:

Writing your author biography:

Nice guidelines for catching pacing issues:

Quick lesson on novel pitches for conferences.

Explanation of 10 myths about copyright (+1)

Keeping your focus on what's important in writing:

An agent's perspective on manuscripts that don't sell:

Agent Jenny Bent is doing a series on understanding publishing contracts, starting here:

And another change to the publishing arena: meet deadlines or else. On the other hand, I know of at least one midlist author who got opportunities she might not have had otherwise because she had a reputation for coming in on time.


Interesting experiment in kindness and the nature of it.

There's been a time or two when I could have used one of these: (I used to wake up on the other side of the San Mateo Bridge during my commute several times a week...not a problem except that I was the driver :P.)

This could go in a number of categories, but it's a good breakdown of the issues we have with motivation by an old college friend I just rediscovered on the web.


An excellent take on author blurbs. How to approach authors so that it's a good experience for everyone.

Step-by-Step directions on creating an author podcast: