Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2017

Well, thank you for your interest! Somehow (and I honestly don’t know how), I pushed along at a respectable clip this week. I am now at 46,510, almost 6700 words ahead of last week. I should come in at 60,000 words by August 12, right on schedule. Woohoo! Right?

Well, yes and no. You never thought it would be that easy. I can see now that this book is not going to come in at 60,000 words. It’s probably going to run around 65,000 words. (Don’t you love how we authors can so blithely throw around estimates in the thousands of words? Don’t you wonder how we do that? So do we.) Fortunately, that only means about a week’s extra work (even including fixing a major problem I recently discovered), so if I edit quickly, I can stick to my publishing schedule. It also means, though, that I have to put some thought into a cover… I’m thinking of doing something classic, like the less lurid of the old Black Mask and Dime Detective covers. We’ll see.

In the meantime, by the time you read this, there will be only 24 hours left in the Smashwords July sale, which means you have hardly any time left to pick up The Invisible City for free, and all of my other books at a steep discount. This is your last chance to save some money on quality fiction, and time is running out…

#SFWApro

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

It occurs to me that except for blaming the lost weekend for my lapse in productivity (yeah, like that’s the only reason), I have said very little about Comic-con. This seems odd, since the very scope of Comic-con would presumptively lend itself to having a great deal to say. This is true, and yet not.

Let me emphasize here that I like the idea of Comic-con. I grew up with comics. I own a lot of them (and the ones I’ve lost that would be worth a fortune today?–don’t ask). I love that they’ve finally hit the mainstream.

But.

My personal experience inside Comic-con was largely limited to one room (Hall 20), which in and of itself does speak volumes about the event. We were only there one day, and we were there to see a particular panel (Outlander), which did not premiere until late. Under the rules by which Comic-con operates, however, this meant we had to sit in the room all day. And that is where the concept of blame, of which Comic-con bears much, comes in.

You see, Comic-con’s large halls (H and 20) feature panel discussions all day. Hall H is where the infamous “movie reveal” panels happen, where you can see the entire cast of “The Avengers,” for example, on stage. Hall H holds 6000 people. It caters to movies and some very popular TV shows (like The Big Bang Theory). Hall 20 is the smaller venue for TV shows of somewhat lesser, but still significant, popularity. It holds, if memory serves, 4800 people.

The problem with these rooms (and thereby hangs the blame), is that they are not cleared after each panel. Once you get in, you stay. You can try to maneuver your way to a seat closer to the stage once people vacate on their own after seeing the panel that they came to see, but given the high standard of events in Hall H, I doubt that happens much. (It did in Hall 20.) This is why people camp out all night to get into Hall H. (Kind of a waste of a hotel reservation, wasn’t it?) In our case, it meant sitting through several hour-long panels we cared nothing about.

Now I understand that clearing a 6000-seat (or even 4800-seat) auditorium and re-filling it every hour would be a mammoth task. Notwithstanding, this policy is garbage. If you don’t want to empty the hall six times a day, do it once. People can come in for the morning sessions, or the afternoon sessions. Force them to choose what they want to see, and give twice as many people the chance to see something. At least allow people to pre-register for Hall H the way they pre-register for the convention so that they don’t have to camp out all night.

Comic-con is big. Really big. It shows no signs of slowing (to my knowledge), but a lot of events now happen outside the convention center. I saw Star TrekBladerunner, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones events, among others. This trend will grow. Exhibitors are already complaining that the traffic in the dealers’ room is declining. Part of that is the outside events, and part is because anybody who wants to see a panel in the latter part of the day cannot do anything else that day. You want to see a 4:00 panel in H or 20? You’re stuck from 9 to 5. (And for Hall H, that’s 9 PM.)

Like any monster, Comic-con moves slowly. And like the dinosaurs, even if it lasts millions of years, it carries the seeds of its own destruction. “Really big” is only a short step from “too big.”

And who would be to blame for that?

#SFWApro

Read Full Post »

The storm of events that seems determined to sabotage The Experiment has continued–which is a non-self-accusatory way of saying that progress on the novel this week was almost non-existent. I am at 39,831 words, which is about 2,000 words ahead of last week (as opposed to the planned 6,000). The culprit this week, as you might have noticed, is Comic-Con.

We hadn’t been for several years, but when The Better Half managed to snag tickets (no mean feat), we decided we really had to go. So we went down to San Diego on Thursday morning. This meant, for the purposes of this post, that Thursday was a non-writing day; since I knew there would be no chance to do anything useful, I didn’t even bring the laptop. But it also meant that we had to pack on Wednesday, so that night was lost, too (as was Tuesday, for other pre-event reasons). Ergo, the book was pushed back essentially another week.

I don’t blame Comic-con for this; I was the one who agreed to go, after all. And I thought it might present a marketing opportunity for The Invisible City, currently available for free on Smashwords (hint, hint). Comic-con has rules about these things, however, so our efforts were constrained. (All credit to The Better Half, though, who is far better at getting people to take promotional postcards from strangers than I am. Of course, she’s better-looking, so that helps.)

Comic-con itself was pretty much what I expected, crowded and full of long lines. I was surprised to see how it’s spilled out beyond the confines of the Convention Center; there were some interesting things that you could get into even if you weren’t a member. I had my first taste of VR over the weekend, for example. It needs work, but it’s intriguing.

And it’s one of the few places you can wear a kilt and not be stared at. TBH is a rabid Outlander fan, and I volunteered to attend the panel she wanted to see, in a kilt. This meant wearing the kilt all day. They really are quite comfortable. I might incorporate it into my convention persona.

Okay, yes, there are pictures.

D1D214B3-9530-458D-B80E-9FBD9490EBF0

This week there’s no Comic-con, and no excuses! Full speed ahead! Six thousand words or bust! We have a book to write.

#SFWApro

Read Full Post »

If you have any connection to SF fandom or geek culture, you’ve heard by now that the new incarnation of Doctor Who is going to be played by a woman. You may also have heard that this is going to bring around the fall of civilization, much like, oh, I don’t know, electing a black President.

I have no interest in arguing whether the new Doctor’s gender is a result of left-wing politics, political correctness, feminist pandering, or just a new showrunner bringing along an actress he really enjoys working with, from his current show. (It bears mentioning that he could not bring along the lead actor from his show, because David Tennant has already been the Doctor.) I have no interest in arguing this question because I don’t know the answer. And neither do you, unless your name is Chibnall.

Furthermore, I don’t care. It’s all in the story. If you tell good Doctor stories next season, I’m all for it. If you don’t, well, then, it won’t be Jodie Whittaker’s fault. Unless it is. Who knows? (No pun intended.) But the Doctor’s gender should not be the determinant of whether you watch the show.

As far as I’m concerned, the Doctor could regenerate into an aardvark. (A talking aardvark, of course.) Or maybe Disney will buy the BBC and she will regenerate into a gun-toting raccoon. Or a mouse. The point is: If the Doctor had regenerated into an aardvark, or a mouse, or a dancing bear, it would not have made any difference because this is fiction. Science fiction. They make this stuff up as they go along. Are you an expert on Time Lord biogenesis? Do you have a Ph.D. in temporal biophysics? No? Well then, where do you get off saying the Doctor can’t be a woman?

And what difference does it make anyway? I defy anyone to give me one good story-related reason that the Doctor can’t be a woman. Apparently, it’s been in the cards for years. This is the same reasoning that said John Steed’s partner couldn’t be a woman–until they hired Honor Blackman to play Cathy Gale and TV was changed forever. Oddly enough, The Avengers was not ruined, even by a succession of female partners.

Could a woman have replaced John Steed? Probably not, but I know a lot of guys who wouldn’t have complained if all we got was sixty minutes of Emma Peel

 

Read Full Post »

As you are aware, by this point in the proceedings, the plan was to have reached 40,000 words, the putative 2/3 mark of this monument to one man’s ambition. However, as you are also aware, from having read the title of this post, things this week did not go entirely as planned.

Through a combination of events largely out of my control, I couldn’t keep up the pace this week. Apparently, 32,000 words per month is my limit. (Already the experiment is yielding valuable data.) Even before Life took precedence, I had decided that 2000 words per day, even working only four days a week, was just too much. It was eating up all of my “free time,” and this gig doesn’t pay well enough for that. (Doubtful that it ever could.) So I ratcheted my goal back to 1500 words per night, which will extend the time it takes to finish, but not as much as you might think, since I’m so far into it already. I’m thinking ten weeks instead of eight. This should still leave enough time to make my September 15 deadline. (And if it doesn’t, I-the-publisher can fight me-the-writer over it.)

For the record, I am at 37,418 words. Since I already gave myself permission to slack off, however, this means I am only about 1100 words behind schedule on the sequel to The Choking Rain, which will now with 90% certainty be called The Scent of Death. Our Heroes, having hied themselves to an Asian kingdom where they don’t know anyone, don’t speak the language, and which is threatened by both revolution from within and invasion from without, have been attacked by a mob in the market square, resulting in becoming separated from their guide, the princess they’re protecting, and one of their own gang. Add to this a mysterious method of assassination, a gallery of untrustworthy high officials, and a couple of “allies” with their own secret agendas, and it’s all pretty much business as usual.*

And that’s all I can tell you. Fortunately, as part of the outlining process, I know who’s who and who’s not. Unless you count this character, who just kind of showed up and introduced himself, and that guy who’s not what I thought he was, and the other fellow who’s now…

I’m telling you, this would all be a lot easier if the characters would just read the outline first.

*And that’s not including the fact that their fearless leader has taken on a new identity so secret he won’t even tell them.

#SFWApro

Read Full Post »

Why is it, when you go into a Starbucks (it’s not always Starbucks, but they seem to attract the species, like flytraps) in LA (I’m assuming it’s only in LA, but I could be wrong–enlighten me) that you see all these guys (and yes, it’s always guys!) writing screenplays on their laptops, an empty cup beside them like their ticket on the train? (“Look, Mr. Conductor/Barista! I paid to be here!”)

No, I’m not asking why everyone goes to Starbucks to write. I’ve written in coffee houses myself, and found it works a lot better than I expected. I guess if it was good enough for J.K. Rowling, etc., etc. It’s not the writing in coffee houses that I don’t understand, it’s writing screenplays.

Look, writing fiction is a crapshoot. Let’s take science fiction, because that’s the field I know. When I was a “kid,” there were those who (I’m sure from an overabundance of caring) made no secret of the fact that your chances of ever getting a story published were 1000-to-1. Even today, with dozens of markets available for short SF, the odds are about the same. It’s not pretty, but it’s true. (Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try!)

But screenplays? I have no numbers to go by (and I’m too lazy to look), but I have to figure that your chances of selling a screenplay are about 1/10th as good as selling a short story. Yes, the rewards are vastly higher, but so’s a winning lottery ticket. So why write screenplays when your chances of succeeding at straight fiction are ten times better? I made more on my last sale than most of those coffee-jockeys will make on whatever they’re writing, if they push it from now until they die. (And believe me, what I make isn’t a lot to brag about. The pro rate for magazines as defined by SFWA has about doubled since the 1960s.)

I guess it’s the same mentality that plays the lotto. And I play the lottery, too, occasionally, though I stay with the small tickets. I guess I’d rather win a little every so often rather than play for the big pay-off that may (probably will) never come.

If you’re the other kind, and you hit it big, good for you. Go back to Starbucks and buy a round for the house.

#SFWApro

Read Full Post »

As of the end of Week 4, I am at 32,189 words. (Target threshold: 32,000.) If you remember, at the end of last week I was about to embark on a Big Action Scene. Turns out 50 bandits was a little on the heavy side, and I settled for 30. How that all turned out, who faced up to the danger, who was shoved to the sidelines, and who got shot, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

The plot is beginning to coalesce, with the cast of characters growing, potential villains set up, potential allies acting mysteriously (could they also be villains?) and making various shocking disclosures. (All I will say is that there are more people sneaking around the palace after lights-out than there were during the day.)

I am now considering a tentative release date of September 15. This presumes, of course that (a) I finish on time; (b) I can commission a proper cover, not only for this book, but a coordinating one for The Choking Rain as well; and (c) editing does not take more time than I anticipate. Plus, of course, I need a title. The Scent of Death is hanging around like, um, a mysterious and sinister perfume, and unless something really cool comes up, that will likely be the winner.

Meanwhile, of course, the Smashwords July sale is still on, and you can get all of my titles at reduced prices (one is actually free). So don’t be shy; I write these things to amuse myself, but you might find you like them too…

#SFWApro

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »