Oct 26

And Away It Goes

Posted: under the writing life.
Tags:  October 26th, 2014

There’s a book in progress now (it’s over 100 pages–that makes it a book in progress) It is not (alas for Paksworld fans who don’t like my other stuff) a Paksworld book. What Robin McKinley calls her Story Council (determining what she can write next) I call my Plot Daemon. The Plot Daemon shot down several previous book starts in the past year, some Paksworld and some not, but finally got steam up in the old Inchcliffe Castle* when I quit handing him ideas and said (with all the ire of a frustrated writer) “Fine, then: What do YOU want to do for the next year?”
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Oct 17

Why No Plagues in Paksworld?

Posted: under the writing life.
Tags:  October 17th, 2014

With the Ebola situation that’s grabbed the attention of the country (not to mention those of us in Texas) for the past few weeks, some of you may be wondering why I didn’t throw some plagues into Paksworld. I did consider it, at one point, and as you recall there were illnesses, but a full-blown plague would have diverted the story to something else.
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Oct 13

Bad Guys III: Psychology and Anthropology

Posted: under Craft.
Tags:  October 13th, 2014

Psychology offers a lot of ways to complicate bad guys (when you want to) and handy shortcuts for when you don’t. Its sources concentrate on the individual and the family (though not all writers about psychology ignore culture, what’s published under that name is rarely broad and deep enough to serve the fiction writer, especially in fantasy and science fiction.) Anthropology covers the “outside” nurture, the broader context of why people become who they become and do what they do. Both are excellent areas for fiction writers to study, though with the warning that your characters should not read like case histories, and readers should not be able to recognize which book that character came out of. Moreover, fiction should not read like the writer’s own therapy sessions. Even when the story requires that a character be in therapy for something, and the writer has had the same therapy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Oct 09

Bad Guys II: How Do They Think?

Posted: under Craft.
Tags:  October 9th, 2014

“The line between good and evil,” Solzhenitsyn wrote, “runs right down the middle of every human heart.” That’s a starting point, but some people have that line apparently stuck closer to one side than the other. In a society where honesty is prized, how does a dishonest bad guy justify dishonesty to himself or herself? In a society where kindness is prized, how does someone justify cruelty? Or, conversely, in a society where cruelty is prized, how does someone justify kindness? From the point of view of a storyteller, a bad guy character is a character and that means the bad guy has agency–acts for reasons that make bad-guy sense. Saving the mentally ill bad guy, bad guys use the same internal thinking processes (but not outcomes) as good guys. That’s what this post is about: how do bad guys come to the decisions and behaviors they exhibit in a story–the ones that define them as bad guys? Read the rest of this entry »

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Oct 09

Bad Guys: Thoughts on Writing Them

Posted: under Craft.
Tags:  October 9th, 2014

Many stories–especially in fantasy–include one or more bad guys–defined for the moment as someone in opposition to the protagonist.   I’ve written before about characterization, ways to approach creating characters that work as fiction but appeal to readers as real people.   But I haven’t specifically dealt with writing bad guys (villains, traitors, tyrants, etc.) , and there are differences in writing them because of the different roles they play in the story being written.   It would take a book (or more) to deal with all aspects of writing bad guys–and then it wouldn’t be complete because someone would invent another, and besides no two writers are likely to agree on what the difficulties are–but this is one way–just one way–to consider what goes into making a bad guy who is not too weak, too strong, too boring, too fascinating, too…much of anything, for the story in hand.

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Sep 26

Small News on Progress

Posted: under Collections, E-books, Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: ,  September 26th, 2014

Got a call today from my agent’s office, that the cover copy person is working on cover copy (the enticing description of what’s inside) for the short fiction collection. The cover design itself is “somewhere” having “something” done (I don’t know where or what yet, so the quote marks are just a hint at that.) However, this is progress. Things are moving. No schedule yet and probably won’t be until the cover’s done and approved.
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Sep 18

Things Change, Things Move

Posted: under Collections, Contents, E-books, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  September 18th, 2014

The short fiction collection has a new title:  Deeds of Honor.  Remember how I said the cover design for the short fiction collection was tentative?    It was indeed, and that design has now vanished from mortal ken (well, not exactly…) and a new rough has been shipped out for work.   You’ll see it when it’s done.   Some things will be the same, and some things won’t.   The stories are in the hands of those who will prepare them for the collection.   I am alternately working on new fiction (not ready to talk about it yet) and the head-notes for the individual stories, which I should have done in another day or so (the new title has suggested changes in the head-notes.)  Read the rest of this entry »

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Sep 12

Site Stuff

Posted: under Website Notice.
Tags:  September 12th, 2014

Some of you may have noticed the site was offline for awhile last night.   It may be off for a bit today, too, because of some problems with a plug-in and the need to update the basic software and the plug-in.   Also, my comment database is getting large enough to be almost-a-problem at the host site, so I’m going to start pruning it (on my other sites as well.)   So some stuff will disappear, and the site itself may be unavailable for brief periods as Things Change.  It will be back, functioning better and with a smaller “waistline,” when I’m done tinkering with it, which I hope will be finished today.   (The host end help I’ll need for some of this will happen at their convenience, so depending on their other workload it could be any time.)

Please be patient, and I’ll let you know when all the tinkering’s over with.

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Sep 02

Home, Con-crud, and Bad Writing

Posted: under Craft, Life beyond writing.
Tags: , ,  September 2nd, 2014

It’s not all negative.  I had a great time at Dragon-Con,  the con-crud is not (so far) really bad, and the bad writing was/is hilarious.    I don’t trash other peoples’ books in public, so I won’t tell you who wrote this gasper, only that it’s not in SF/F (I indulged my interest in another genre).   I won’t even quote it because someone lurking here would undoubtedly run it through a search engine and figure it out, after which someone (maybe a different someone) would hasten to tell the author that I trashed the book, and the author’s fans would then come hurtling down on me, and those who like internet fights would sit around cheering.  I  have a better idea.

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Aug 26

A Short Post About Waste

Posted: under Background.
Tags:  August 26th, 2014

With thanks to Jonathan, actually.     When I was a kid, in mid 20th c. South Texas,  buying, preparing,  and consuming food provided  much less waste than it does today.   Vegetables in the grocery store were not encased in plastic bags.    Milk and cream  weredelivered in glass bottles which the milk company picked up at the time of the next delivery.   Depending on the grocery, bread might be in a wrapper, or might be “nekkid.”    Meat was wrapped in butcher paper, true, for its travel homeward, but there was no little plastic try and clingfilm wrap over it.   Grocery sacks were heavy brown paper, widely used (by us as well) as containers to line trash containers in the house–containers that almost never overflowed the modest size they were back then.   They were also used as drawing paper for kids, as costume elements,  as mulch in the garden,  as something to put on a patch of mud in the yard to keep it off shoes,  as an extra bedside trash container for used tissues when someone had a juicy cold, and so on.   Flour  in small amounts came in a paper bag, as did sugar, but flour in 20 pound and more amounts came in cloth bags, and the cloth was brightly printed cotton–easy to turn into clothing, curtains, quilts, whatever.   (My mother made my clothes, but refused to make me a “flour sack” dress, claiming we never needed that much flour at a time and the flour beetles would get into it.)   Paper wrappings were biodegradable–if buried, they decayed readily.   The few foods in jars and tin cans resulted in useful containers for later use, as did the aluminum foil frozen food “dishes.”   As for the food itself,  we ate it at one meal after another (if there was enough for leftovers)  and when it was down to the end, we had dogs, cats, and a parakeet.  Scraps went to animals. Read the rest of this entry »

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