Entitlement In Writer Culture

Sean Hoade:

It’s true. Hard to accept, but true.

Originally posted on Kait Nolan:

One of the first things I saw when I logged into Twitter this morning was a conversation between a writer friend of mine (who, incidentally, is also a professional editor and teaches workshops) and another writer who was essentially lambasting her (and all other professional writers) for not helping new writers.  Digging back through the conversation, this evidently centered around the issue of queries, but it definitely had broader implications.  My friend handled things in a very calm, professional manner, stating quite rationally that she couldn’t be held responsible for every writer who wants to write, as it simply wasn’t possible.  To which she received this in reply “Your reaction is why so many writers feel worthless. No one wants to hear from them. No one cares.”

Frankly, the whole exchange pissed me off on multiple levels.

Now I know nothing about this person who initiated the conversation.  Looking back at…

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How To Write A Zombie Apocalypse Novel

Sean Hoade:

Colin Drysdale has some extremely good points. I’d just add that there’s nothing wrong with writing a zombie novel just if you feel like creating your own undead apocalypse, but don’t do it with the expectation of publication and remuneration. It’s a fun sandbox to play in, though!

Originally posted on Colin M. Drysdale:

It’s surprising how often people arrive at this blog having typed the title of this article (or something similar) into Google. Obviously there are a lot of would-be zombie writers out there looking for help so I thought I’d put together a brief guide based on my own experiences. This is quite a long article and if you’d prefer to read it offline, you can download a PDF from here.

1. Come Up With A Good Idea: Sorry to have to say this, but if you don’t have a good idea, then there’s really not much point in writing a book about zombies, or indeed anything else. Yet, coming up with an idea that’s good is probably the most difficult thing you will have to do; that’s right, coming up with a good idea for a book is more difficult than actually writing it! So what do I mean…

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Talented, knowledgeable friends ARE A PAIN IN THE ASS

All right, both of my readers may remember the post I had earlier today, with the new, allegedly better cover for Reviva Las Vegas! Book 1: Dead Man’s Hand, right? I showed how much better it was than the old one by putting them side by side, thusly:

RLVDMH front cover RLVDMH front cover
Old slapdash cover New, slightly less slapdash cover

Well, I have a friend, Deborah Dorchak of Blue Sun Studio, who commented that she liked the earlier one more. The new one, she said, looked “washed out.” And goddamn if she wasn’t right. That may come from her being a professional cover designer as well as a writer, so the opinion did carry some weight. (Although I disagreed with keeping the three different fonts on one cover, and I think the “a novel by” is needed to set off the author name from the rest of the mucho text. In the end, all of this will be discarded by Permuted Press anyway when they actually bring the book out.)

So let’s take a look at the old new cover and the new new cover:

newrevivacoverforadvancecopy newrevivacoverforadvancecopy
Old new cover New new cover

I must say I’m chuffed as cheese at this suggestion, and I agree it looks much nicer. (I also softened the smoke at her suggestion.)

Other pain-in-the-ass friends of mine (called “beta readers”) have also been a great help in noting inconsistencies and outright typos. Especially due for praise are Bunny Reynolds and the zombie writer (and fellow Permuted Press author) Charles Phipps. The book literally wouldn’t be the book I had intended without their help. And this is all before it goes through the Permuted editing phase! More pains in the ass! YAY! (But seriously, YAY for the help.)

Onward!

New, nicer cover for advance print copy of Reviva Las Vegas!

This is the unofficial cover for Reviva Las Vegas! Book 1: Dead Man’s Hand — the book won’t be out until 2015, and then will have a nice and professional cover from the publisher, but it’s on the beta read copies I’m sending out and I thought I would share the joy. Here, have some joy!

newrevivacoverforadvancecopy

For comparison, here’s the old, slapdash one I did just to have SOMETHING, ANYTHING; and the new slapdash one.

RLVDMH front cover newrevivacoverforadvancecopy

 

The beauty of astronomy: A galaxy group

There are few things more ethereal and fascinating than galaxies. As this post at Big Think rightly says, that means four (plus one) of them in a group is one of the most beautiful, compelling sights in the universe.

Think about this, gaze at it, and feel wonderfully, infinitesimally tiny. Why is it wonderful? Because, although we are specks of dust, we can take the fullness of the giant universe inside our minds.

Stephen’s Quintet

Bt_nasa_quintet_final

Stephen’s Quintet is the name of the first identified compact galaxy group. This remarkable image of it was captured with data from the Hubble Legacy Archive and the Subaru Telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea.

NASA explains this “dance” of galaxies in Space:

The galaxies of the quintet are gathered near the center of the field, but really only four of the five are locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters taking place some 300 million light-years away …

 

Check out the rest at http://bigthink.com/1000-words/stephans-quintet-plus-one.

Zombie Kill of the Week II

Sean Hoade:

Jack Flacco is THE MAN when it comes to creative zombie analysis!

Originally posted on Jack Flacco:

Given the past few Monday Mayhem posts have been on the serious side, I thought I’d lighten the mood today. Instead of talking about diseases, viruses, and pork and beans for dinner, I figure I’d make fun of those dratted zombies and see how much I could get away with. Don’t expect any literary brilliance or anything educational. I’m just going to sound off about what makes me happy. And that’s killin’ zombies. That’s right folks. I’m going to talk about my all-time favorite ways to kill zombies.

Zombie (of course)

Zombie (of course)

I really hope you haven’t eaten anything recently. Let’s start from the very beginning. I ordered them from least to greatest, placing emphasis on the most outrageous kill as the last item on the list.

[Disclaimer: Written with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Please don’t be an idiot and try any of these with humans. It’s not only stupid…

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Write. Writing. Writer. What do all of these have in common? Passive-aggressive cheerleading from me!

One of the toughest parts of trying to be a writing coach is achieving the proper level of cheerleading. If people are paying you for a class or for one-on-one instruction, it’s not too complicated — your (constructive) criticism and support is what they are buying with the fee for the class or coaching. I would no more tell the worst official student or coaching client that they should give up writing fiction than I would tell a parent to give up on a baby because it isn’t walking two weeks after he or she was born.

DancingBaby

Or dancing. (This joke comes to you courtesy of the year 1996.)

But what about the writers who look to you for support or encouragement — not even critique at this stage — that you offer for free, as a way to pay it forward to give thanks to the muses that helped you become a for-profit teller of tales? This is the case with the NaNoWriMo worldwide write-a-thon, which is in November and asks writers to pen 50,000 words during the course of the month, words that tell a single story that you begin and complete in that time. (Of course, what a writer has at the end of that is a very rough draft which will then be rewritten and reworked, but you need the raw material before you can bring it to life.)

ItsAlive

This cat knows what I’m talkin’ bout.

And so it is the same with the July version, Camp NaNoWriMo. This is a wonderful opportunity for those writers who want to do something other than the 50,000-word novel, instead maybe a 30,000-word novella (that’s what I’m working on), or a book of poems (two in our group are doing that), or a full revision of a manuscript, or whatever you would like to work on. (Interesting is how the poets are handling it. Because there is a 30,000-word minimum for participatnts to be considered “winners” for the month, they are splitting their poetry books into 30 or 31 even slices, and as they finish each chunk [ideally once a day] they give themselves 1,000 words. It is this kind of ingenuity that is sparked by Camp NaNoWriMo’s relatively lax requirements.)

However.

here we go

I will thank you for not undermining my authority, younger and funnier Jim Carrey!

Not one person in our 11-writer cabin — and this includes Yours Truly — is even close to near the wordcount he or she had posted as a goal. Some people are still at 0, some (points at self) are at under 5,000 words, and some haven’t updated their progress since the beginning of the month so there’s no way of knowing, but one can assume that radio silence ≠ incredible success.

But that’s okay! And what’s more, going through the process — even if you don’t do what you had hoped — is valuable to writers and to humans in general. I love my cabinmates whether or not they finish or even start their projects. They stuck their necks out to be a part of the community of writers, and that’s brave.

All of that said, I really want to help my cabinmates to succeed at Camp NaNoWriMo if they are looking to do that. The best way for me to do this is to get some brasselfrackin’ consarned words done my own bad self! So I wrote the following on our Camp NaNoWriMo cabin’s Facebook page, to try to give my peeps some inspiration.

babyyawn

“Yeah, wow, consider me inspired. w00t or what have you.”

All right, guys, it is July 13 as I am writing this. Camp NaNoWriMo has not — THUS FAR — been a huge success for our little cabin. Part of this may be because the month of July was chosen for us, not by us, and maybe it’s not the ideal time for some of us to hit it on a big project. That’s certainly valid. But there are other reasons why our word counts may be sorely lacking:

1. The writing bug sometimes takes a little time to get out of its chrysalis and onto the, um, sugar bowl of, uh, words. (If you can’t tell, this was a metaphor I made up on the fly –THE FLY! HAHAHAHAHA! Ahem.) We might start with 3,000 words done by July 15 and then end up doing 30,000 (or however many) in the last two weeks. As any novelist will tell you, there’s a physical feeling of momentum once you get really writing your book.

2. It’s too goddamned HOT to write. Not as valid as No. 1, but certainly something to take into consideration. Of course, winter might be too cold, spring might be too damp, fall might have to many nice days to spend them inside …

3. You don’t exactly feel inspired by your Dear Leader’s word count. It’s true, my own efforts have been really pathetic, mostly because I started working on one project when the publisher said it liked a different idea of mine and asked for that. Since then we’ve been hashing out the plot and I should be good to go by tomorrow. Then, I hope, my word count will jump like a track and field superstar (they jump, right?) and I can be a bit more of an example to follow for you guys.

4. Only 1 in 6 writers finish their project in the month. Maybe the other 5 get really good stuff down but just write more slowly, or maybe they get stuck in rereading and revising their stuff (a HUGE mistake for NaNo), or maybe they just don’t have or don’t care to cultivate the discipline it takes to sit still for an hour and bang out some words. So if you don’t finish your project, you’re in the majority and shouldn’t feel bad.

5. Rereading and revising instead of plunging forward. You were warned, you were told the folly of trying to revise instead of just writing for this project, but (maybe) you went ahead and did it anyway. That is certainly your prerogative, you’ll do what you want to do, but it’s deadly for NaNo time. For those who are doing revision as their Camp NaNo project, you’re for one reason or another not actually doing the revising OR writing new material. This, again, is fine — we’re not trying to save lives here — but I hope you’ll reconsider that strategy for the second half of the month.

6. You have given up or just realized you don’t want to do this. THIS IS PERFECTLY VALID! But maybe drop us all a message on the cabin message board and let us know we shouldn’t be trying to pep up someone who has opted out of the game. NO SHAMING, because it’s not shameful! NO GUILT, because it’s not hurting anyone else and maybe not even yourself. NO WORRIES, because creativity thrives on freedom … until it needs to thrive on asses in seats. (But you know this.)

All right, then, lecture over. I do hope you’ll let us all know any thoughts, feelings, fears, hopes, what have you, anything about your experience that you think we’d find interesting or enlightening. And I’ll try harder to do the same for all of you.

Whaddya think of that? Was that not some incredible support of my writers whether or not they get much done? Am I not a wonderful — not just coach or cheerleader, but wonderful humanitarian?!? 

Thank you. Really, you’re too kind.

NOW GET WRITING, EVERYONE! Or at least reading. Be a pepper, come on.*

* And this comment was brought to you by the year 1982.