Thursday, January 29, 2009

He wrote HOW many stories?

Prolific flash writer Michael Kechula has some tips over on Katie Hines's blog, specifically tips about writing short fiction. And by prolific, I mean, makes Jay Lake look sedate.

Kechula's tips:

  1. Write openers that grab attention.
  2. Omit excessive detail. It burns up precious word count.
  3. Omit long sentences, especially those with semi-colons.
  4. Consider including 1-word, or 2-word sentences for impact.
  5. Include dialog. Big chunks of narrative create yawns.
  6. Use contractions. Especially in dialog. One word is saved each time.
  7. Use words gained from items 2 and 6 to enhance the plot.
  8. Omit anything that may throw readers out of the story.
  9. Keep moving the story forward.
  10. Keep characters down to a minimum.
  11. Read your draft manuscript out loud. Better yet, record it and listen to the story several times.
  12. Edit, edit, edit.

And if you want to know precisely how many stories he's published in the last four years, go read it. Unbelievable.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why Science Fiction

Alan DeNiro writes over on Book Spot Central an article titled "Why I Write Science Fiction: An Apology by Alan DeNiro"
DeNiro is the author of the forthcoming YA novel Total Oblivion, More or Less (Bantam)and a story collection, Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead (Small Beer Press).

Hat tip The Swivet

I thought it interesting to compare to Marti Steussy's essay on the same subject: "Why I Write Science Fiction". I adored Steussy's two novels in the 1980s; she's sort of an Andre Norton with a harder edge and sharper mechanics. The essay includes some excerpts from Forest of the Night, which I especially liked.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009



SFScope reports that Realms of Fantasy has announced that April will be their final issue.

This saddens me no end, not just because a couple of my stories are begging to visit there, but because RoF was a professional speculative fiction venue with a viable, growable, non-geriatric demographic, and a clearly different sensibility that I enjoy as much as, say, Strange Horizons.

I have to admit that stories in the big three classic SF magazines (Analog, F&SF, and Asimov's) more often bore me than not. There was an article on the web that I can't find now, discussing how those magazines reflected their older demographics, both in style and subject. The stories are all about old people dealing with old people's issues, or stories with nostalgia value, more or less. There's also a political bias that further cuts down the sales potential.

Honestly, even though I'm about to qualify for associate membership in the AARP, I like to read stories about different people with different problems. I like coming of age stories, love stories, tech stories, lots of things. I don't mind stories about middle aged people, but that's not all I want to read. Where's the wonder?

Well, it was over at RoF, while it lasted.

hat tip Shawn Scarber, who sent this by email to NTSFW.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Publishing - Where to Go from Here

Over on Shalanna's Scribbles they are discussing the publishing industry and what may be next.

Interesting store concept, but I'm not sure how well it might work before POD reaches quality parity with offset printing. It might end up similar to a cross between a gallery (where art is on consignment) and a grocery store (where the cereal company pays by the square foot for shelf space). But if that happens, imprint and genre become more important, and independent writers have to bribe their way into the right aisle.

There's a story there somewhere.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Goal Setting

Moira Allen wrote an excellent article on "Setting Effective Writing Goals" over on Robin Kelly's Writing for Performance Blog.

I think a principle that she missed may have been to put those goals where you can be held accountable for them. More about that later.

Editorial Anonymous's Best Lists

Okay, as long as I posted Stacy Whitman's list, I might as well point to the one over on Editorial Anonymous.

Anonymous posted "required reading" lists for picture books, for Middle Grade and for Young Adult. S/he started with the obvious point that s/he couldn't remember all the good or even excellent ones, and closes with this point:

Let us also say for the record that people who are interested in Children's Lit in a pure sense can concentrate on catching up on the classics.

But those people interested in being published now should read one book that's topping the charts now for every classic they read. (Which "chart" you use should vary. Read the bestsellers; read the Mocks; read the books that get four starred reviews and sell 3,000 copies; flip through the books that Target carries.)

Having just finished reading Steven King's On Writing, and posting a quote from him over on White Flow, I'll remind writers that reading and keeping up with what's published is part of the job. He ends the memoir with a list of roughly 100 novels he had read in the prior four years. Yep, that's one every two weeks.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Getting Weird Out There - Tumbarumba

Over at GalleyCat, they pointed out a brand new thingie.

Somebody called Turbulence (or Transition Turbulence) has created something called Tumbarumba to make your web surfing just a little more distracting.

It's a collection of 12 short stories that, if you install the browser plugin to play them, will be randomly inserted into your daily surfing. But you have to pay attention, because it will be just a few odd phrases in some page you visit, and you have to notice it and click on it and then it will open to (part of?) the story.

Because, you know, we don't have enough distraction in our lives, we need to add some more plug ins...

In case you're interested, here's the stories -

  • Temp by Greg van Eekhout
  • Reunion by Stephen Gaskell
  • Birthday by John Phillip Olsen
  • Bio-Anger by Kiini Ibura Salaam
  • Sequins by Mary Anne Mohanraj
  • Little M@tch Girl by Heather Shaw
  • Martian Dispatches by David Moles
  • MonstroCities by David J. Schwartz
  • A Steadfast Tin Soldier by Tim Pratt
  • Of Love and Mermaids by Jeff Spock
  • Painting the Air by James Patrick Kelly
  • Listen to Me by Haddayr Copley-Woods
  • Monday, January 5, 2009

    Stacy Whitman, Sorted Midgrade Fantasy List

    Okay, this list is from over on Stacy Whitman's site. I tried to sort it and put it over there, but livejournal removed all the formatting from the comment, making it unreadable.

    Jan 6 Noon Update - Stacy has now provided the list in book name order.

    The below lists are sorted by author, with a semicolon at the end of the author list and usually an asterisk attached to a series.

    Here's Stacy's Jan 3 list, formatted :

    Lloyd Alexander - The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron* ;
    M.T. Anderson - Whales on Stilts* ;
    Blue Balliet - Chasing Vermeer;
    J.M. Barrie - Peter Pan & Wendy;
    Sarah Beth Durst - Into the Wild* ;
    Franny Billingsley - The Folk Keeper, Well Wished;
    Jeanne Birdsall - Penderwicks;
    Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi - The Spiderwick Chronicles* ;
    L.M. Boston - Children of Green Knowe* ;
    Michael Buckley - The Sisters Grimm* ;
    Lewis Carroll - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland;
    Gail Carson Levine - Ella Enchanted,
    The Princess Tales (Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep etc.)* ;
    Eoin Colfer - Artemis Fowl* ;
    Susan Cooper - Over Sea, Under Stone* ;
    Kevin Crossley-Holland - The Seeing Stone* ;
    Roald Dahl - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory*, James & the Giant Peach, The Witches;
    Kara Dalkey - Little Sister* ;
    James Dashner - The 13th Reality* ;
    John David Anderson - Standard Hero Behavior;
    Silvana de Mari - The Last Dragon;
    Joseph Delaney - The Last Apprentice* ;
    Kate DiCamillo - The Tale of Despereaux;
    Edward Eager - Half Magic;
    David Farland - Of Mice and Magic;
    Susan Fletcher - Dragon's Milk* ;
    L. Frank Baum - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz* ;
    Cornelia Funke - Inkheart* ;
    Neil Gaiman - Coraline;
    Kenneth Grahame - The Wind in the Willows;
    Shannon Hale - Princess Academy;
    R.D. Henham - Red Dragon Codex* ;
    Russell Hoban - The Mouse and His Child;
    Jennifer Holm & Hamel - The Stink Files* ;
    Erin Hunter - Warriors* ;
    Brian Jacques - Redwall* ;
    Norton Juster - The Phantom Tollbooth;
    P.B. Kerr - Children of the Lamp: The Akhenaten Adventure;
    Dick King-Smith - Babe: The Gallant Pig;
    Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm - Babymouse* ;
    Madeleine L’Engle - A Ring of Endless Light, A Wrinkle in Time*, Many Waters;
    Derek Landy - Skulduggery Pleasant* ;
    Trenton Lee Stewart - The Mysterious Benedict Society* ;
    C.S. Lewis - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe* ;
    David Lubar (ARC, to be published this August) - My Rotten Life: Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie;
    Jodi Lynn Anderson - May Bird and the Ever After;
    George MacDonald - The Light Princess, The Princess and the Goblin, The Princess and Curdie;
    D.J. MacHale - Pendragon* ;
    Anne McCaffrey - Dragonsong* ;
    Robin McKinley - Beauty;
    S Morgenstern - The Princess Bride;
    Brandon Mull - Fablehaven* ;
    E. Nesbit - Five Children and It* , The Story of the Treasure Seekers* ;
    Garth Nix - Mister Monday/Keys to the Kingdom* ;
    Mary Norton - Bedknobs and Broomstick, The Borrowers* ;
    Phillippa Pearce - Tom's Midnight Garden;
    Tamora Pierce - Protector of the Small* ;
    Daniel Pinkwater - The Hoboken Chicken Emergency;
    Elizabeth Pope - The Perilous Gard;
    Terry Pratchett - The Wee Free Men* ;
    Sarah Prineas - The Magic Thief;
    Philip Reeve - Larklight* ;
    Lynne Reid Banks - The Indian in the Cupboard;
    Rick Riordan - The Lightning Thief* ;
    J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter* ;
    Brandon Sanderson - Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians* ;
    Justin Somper - Vampirates* ;
    Paul Stewart & Chris Riddel - Hugo Pepper* ;
    P.L. Travers - Mary Poppins* ;
    Megan Whalen Turner - The Thief* ;
    E.B. White - Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little*, The Trumpet of the Swan;
    Carole Wilkinson - Dragon Keeper* ;
    Diana Wynne Jones - Howl's Moving Castle*, The Chrestomanci Chronicles*, The Dalemark Quintet*, The Power of Three;

    And here's the ones Stacy collected out of the Comments :

    Raymond Abrashkin and Jay Williams - Danny Dunn books (SCI FI)* ;
    Tom Becker - Darkside;
    Pseudonymous Bosch - The Name of This Book Is Secret;
    Ruth Chew - What the Witch Left, The Wednesday Witch, The Secret Tree House* ;
    Roald Dahl - Matilda;
    Lois Duncan - A Gift of Magic;
    Michael Ende - The Neverending Story;
    John Flanagan - Ranger's Apprentice* ;
    Eva Ibbotson - various;
    Carol Kendall - The Gammage Cup* ;
    Elizabeth Knox - Dreamhunter/Dreamquake;
    Jane Langton - Hall Family Chronicles* ;
    Ingrid Law - Savvy;
    Christopher Lincoln - Billy Bones;
    Dean Lorey - Nightmare Academy;
    Georgess McHargue - Stoneflight;
    Jenny Nimmo - Charlie Bone* ;
    Bertrand R. Brinley - The Mad Scientists' Club* ;
    Adam Rex - The True Meaning of Smekday;
    Rick Riordan et al. - The 39th Clue* ;
    Peter S Beagle - The Last Unicorn;
    Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow - A Wolf at the Door, In The Dark of the Woods, Swan Sister;

    I reserve the right to come back and put it in a table or something, but that's good enough for now.

    Friday, January 2, 2009

    Jerry O'Connell and a pregnant Mystique

    Ex-boy-hero Jerry O'Connell does a sitcom with a pregnant
    Mystique (from X-men) here.

    I don't think it's a real show, but with Hollywood you never know.