D.B. Jackson: The Writing Life, part II — Living With Success and Failure

admin

As I’ve mentioned before — and as Faith and others have mentioned as well — the release of a new book can be incredibly stressful. Of course there is satisfaction in seeing the finished product in print (or ebook format). Writing a book is a big deal. That completed volume represents a tremendous amount of work; it required a huge investment of time, and of emotional and intellectual energy. It represents as well, an admirable accomplishment, and there is nothing wrong with taking pride in that. The problem is, releases are fraught with additional significance. Right or wrong, the success of a new book is judged on a collection of external factors that have little or nothing to do with the work itself, and everything to do with how others receive that work.

Every writer, aspiring or established, knows what I’m talking about. How many of you have finished [...]

Continue reading D.B. Jackson: The Writing Life, part II — Living With Success and Failure

Alyx Dellamonica: Slivers of a Writing Life

admin

I call myself a full-time writer.

What would be more accurate (and it’s something I do sometimes say) is that I have a handful of interrelated part-time jobs.

For two to four hours a day, I write fiction. There’s another one to two hours I spend teaching writing, via the UCLA Writers Extension Program. I review books and write articles about pop culture within the SF/F field (my recent Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch on Tor.com, for example). I sometimes pick up one on one mentoring gigs, helping writers work on completed novel manuscripts.

Part of what makes it possible for me to have this lifestyle, which is rewarding but also a bit catch-as-catch-can where income is concerned, is that I am also the primary homemaker for my two-person family unit. This means cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping mostly falls to me. (As John Scalzi says, in his brilliant [...]

Continue reading Alyx Dellamonica: Slivers of a Writing Life

Nuts & Bolts – Back Cover Copy and Why Yours Is Bad

John G. Hartness

There might be a little hyperbole in the title, but probably not much. A friend who self-publishes posted her new cover on Facebook this morning, and it was beautiful. A striking image on the front, very nice typography, it looked good in a thumbnail (which many, many major publishers are terrible about, especially in urban fantasy, BTW. Those incredible dark, moody, painted covers look like nothing but black and blue blobs when shrunk down to Amazon thumbnail sizing. That’s why the author names have to be so big, so the consumer has SOME way to figure out what the book is!), until I started reading the back cover matter.

Back cover copy is critically important for any book, but it’s only really relevant to a self-published or small press author. Most major publishers A) Do back cover copy pretty well most of the time and B) won’t give you [...]

Continue reading Nuts & Bolts – Back Cover Copy and Why Yours Is Bad

Explaining it All — J. Kathleen Cheney

admin

Last week I talked about how most Fantasy writers do a great deal of Worldbuilding. We like to be able to explain every aspect of our worlds, even if we don’t do so on the page (in order to spare the reader.)

But what about those things we can’t explain?

I’m not talking about Differential Equations or Quantum Physics. I’m talking about some piece of our world that we simply can’t pin down. It happens.

Here’s my example: I’m very cautious about shapeshifters. I like to have a reasonable explanation of how they’re doing what they do. At a most basic level, what they’re doing is Magic, but…what kind?

For most of the shapeshifters I create, I use a physics-based standard; if their mass changes, then I like to have an explanation for the difference in mass. For my horse shapeshifters (puca), they draw energy from the world around [...]

Continue reading Explaining it All — J. Kathleen Cheney

LETS TALK ABOUT GODZILLA (no spoilers, I’m not that much of a jerk)

James R. Tuck

Okay, I saw the big lizard this weekend.

It was good but not great.

Godzilla looks amazing, totally rocked that.

Here’s the thing that happened that moved what should have been the third best movie of 2014 (after Captain Americas Winter Soldier which is so amazeballs it should be illegal, and Gaurdians Of The Galaxy which will be a close second to CAWS in the amazeballs category) into just a good movie level….not dollar movie, but not full priced, more like matinee from 2000 priced movies.

(55 bucks for three tickets, popcorn and drinks when the Tucks went Damn)

Okay, how this relates to story.

Godzilla is an action movie. It’s a disaster movie. Those both come with tropes. They are loaded with audience expectations. Now these really often become very rote and we can see them coming from a mile away and that suxxors….so the makers of Godzilla avoided [...]

Continue reading LETS TALK ABOUT GODZILLA (no spoilers, I’m not that much of a jerk)

Joshua Palmatier — What The EDITOR Is Looking For

admin

Today is the second post here at Magical Words related to the upcoming SF&F anthology release CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs ALIENS, the first book from the new small press Zombies Need Brains. Again, as I’m the editor of this anthology (and founder of the small press), I’m doing a slightly different take on each of the posts for this series, focusing on what the EDITOR is looking for when reading stories for possible inclusion in anthologies. The first guest post was about character, since that’s the first requirement of a story if you want to catch my attention. If the character isn’t interesting, I’m not interested. After that comes plot, which is what I’m going to discuss today.

OK, so, here’s the thing. We’re doing THEMED anthologies, which means that there are a certain amount of set parameters that the story must meet in order to even be considered [...]

Continue reading Joshua Palmatier — What The EDITOR Is Looking For

Joshua Palmatier — Zombies Need Brains

admin

Welcome to the first post here at Magical Words related to the upcoming anthology CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs ALIENS, the first release from the new small press I’ve founded called Zombies Need Brains. The intent behind this press is to produce quality SF&F-themed anthologies, hopefully a couple a year, with an escalating schedule after that. Since I’m writing these posts as the EDITOR of the first anthology, I figured I’d direct the topics more toward what the editor is looking for in terms of Character, Plot, etc. This first post is about Character, so let’s focus in on that.

What is the editor looking for when perusing submitted stories? Obviously, different editors look for different things, but I, personally, am mostly focused on character. If the story I’m reading doesn’t have an engaging character, then it’s extremely unlikely that I’m going to be interested in buying the story [...]

Continue reading Joshua Palmatier — Zombies Need Brains