Quick-Tip Tuesday: Travelogue and Narrative

In 1987, I drove across the country with a friend. We camped and hiked and saw some amazing places. One of our favorites was Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, in southern Arizona, where we witnessed what remains to this day one of the most incredible sunsets I’ve ever seen. We camped in the monument for a couple of days, explored some of the backcountry wilderness, took lots of photos, found some amazing wildlife. And, because I was keeping a journal at the time, I wrote page after page about the place, recording my impressions of the terrain, the climate, the night skies.

Six years later, in the spring of 1993, my wife and I spent several days on a barrier island along Georgia’s Atlantic coast. It’s a place that has an arrangement with Nancy’s university, and we were able to stay there for free. It’s an island wilderness, with overgrown […]

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A Special Release Day Quick-Tip Tuesday

Welcome to a special release-day edition of Quick-Tip Tuesday. Today is the official publication day for Shadow’s Blade, book III of The Case Files of Justis Fearsson (following Spell Blind and His Father’s Eyes). I have a giveaway going on my Facebook page; my publisher, Baen Books, is giving away five copies on Goodreads; I’ve been posting teasers from the book and last week I recorded an interview for the Baen podcast. Pretty standard release time stuff.

I love this book and this series, and would very much like to write more in the Fearsson universe, so if you have not yet started reading the Fearsson books, please consider picking them up and giving them a read. And if you have been reading them (thank you!) and have been waiting with bated breath for this newest volume to drop, now’s a great time to order your copy. We’ll wait. [Cue […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: What We Can Learn From Ro Laren

The other night, my wife and I were watching old episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (we own the whole series on disk). We’re on season 5 right now, and we came to one of our favorite episodes: the first episode with Bajoran Starfleet Ensign Ro Laren (played by Michelle Forbes). Ro was an amazing character — and this is a terrific episode — because she was everything a Starfleet officer wasn’t supposed to be: rebellious and disdainful of authority, prickly and opinionated, and more devoted to her own people than to the principles on which Starfleet was founded. Adding her to the cast shook things up a bit, and freshened the series at a time when it might otherwise have started to grow stale.

 

As I watched, it occurred to me that other shows of which I’m a fan had done very similar things with their casts. […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: Revisiting the Past, and Finding Out We Sucked

I owe an apology to all of you.

Seriously.

To every person I have critiqued at a Live Action Slush, to every student whose manuscript I’ve marked up, to every aspiring writer I’ve advised with arrogant confidence, I am truly sorry.

For what, you ask.

For failing to realize just how fortunate I am, and have been, to have the career I’ve had.

What has brought this on?

Well, I am editing Children of Amarid, my very first novel. I have the rights back to the book — to the entire series, actually — and I’m planning to come out with what I call the Author’s Edit (kind of like the Director’s Cut of a movie). So I’m reading through the book, editing as I go, rediscovering the tale that kicked off my career.

And it’s awful. I mean TERRIBLE. I am mortified to realize this book has been in […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: Realistic Expectations (and a Little Math)

In my last post a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about writing on a daily basis. I basically said that while no one should tell you that you have to do this in order to be successful, writing every day, despite life’s intrusions, is what professionals do. It is also the best way to build skills. For reasons I’ll get into soon, I hate the phrase “practice makes perfect.” But practice certainly does make proficient.

Still, while I recommend writing each day, that’s only half the story. No matter how often we write, or for how long, we need to set realistic expectations for ourselves. Because if we write every day, but we expect too much out of those writing sessions, we can do more damage than good.

I’ve said this before and I will continue to say it until people stop listening (you are listening, right?): writing is […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: On Writing Every Day

One hears conflicting advice these days on the question of whether aspiring writers should try to write every day. Some will say that it’s important to write, but it’s also important to take time away from the work when we need the rest, when we’re exhausted physically or emotionally, when all that other stuff that falls under the heading of “life” gets so overwhelming that we can’t write at all. That was, in essence, the point of Tamsin’s wonderful post a couple of weeks ago.

And Tamsin, who I adore, is absolutely right.

Mostly.

I am one of those obnoxious old fart writers (I have a birthday coming up very, very soon, and yes, I’m feeling a bit like an old fart) who shakes his cane at the young’uns and says in a voice much like that of Bart Simpson’s grandfather that writers ought to write each and every day. […]

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Quick Tip Tuesday: A Challenge to All — Time to Take the Plunge!

How many of you have complete manuscripts that you have yet to send out for publication? A lot of you, I’d wager. For some of you it might be a novel that you’ve finished but want to revise one more time. Or maybe two more times . . . For others it might be a short story, or several. All of them are finished, but none of them feels quite ready. You can’t imagine showing them to an editor, at least not yet. One more pass. Just a little more revising and polishing.

And you may be right. The works in question might need a bit more work. Or they might not. For all you know, they’re ready now. For all you know, the only thing standing between you and that first sale, is your reluctance to let go of your work.

I see this a lot with aspiring writers. […]

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