A few days ago I received an email from PMI Publishing. You probably haven’t heard of them – they don’t publish books, or magazines or short stories. Apparently they’re a promotions agency. Nothing wrong with that – lots of folks employ promo people to help get the word out about their careers. But this particular email made me uncomfortable. Let me share the bulk of the email with you, so you can get where I’m coming from.
“We just signed an exclusive deal with the three monthly publications in Florida to provide book reviews. As part of our agreement we are required to review between 36 and 64 books over the course of the next 12 months, which will appear in print. There is no cost for the review.
Our goal is to provide a win-win scenario for both our client and for you, the [...]
Continue reading Get What You Don’t Pay For
Today (Sunday), my older daughter was graduated from high school. It has been an emotional weekend, full of celebration, of wistful remembrance, of joyful anticipation of adventures and journeys to come.
Throughout the various events, as I have watched my child take these first decisive steps into adulthood, even as she still smiles at me with a face that doesn’t seem to have changed at all in the past eighteen years, I have found myself thinking about many things, most of them having nothing at all to do with writing. But I have given a good deal of thought to the notion of narrative, to the ways in which we humans seek to shape a coherent story out of events and circumstances and milestones that do not necessarily lend themselves to a coherent progression of “plot points.”
It seems to me that we do this at moments like these. A [...]
Continue reading On Creativity: Narrative, Fiction, and Life
[Warning: This post touches on an emotional political issue in order to illustrate a point. I do NOT want the comments on this post to devolve into political debate. This is ultimately a post about writing and character work. Please refrain from commenting on the political stuff beyond how it relates to character work. Comments that are polemical or divisive, whether or not they agree with my personal political views, will be deleted. Thank you. We now return to our regularly scheduled Monday post...]
There is a moment late in the second Thieftaker book, Thieves’ Quarry (due out July 2 from Tor), in which my protagonist, Ethan Kaille, explains to another character all that has happened in the previous days and how the magic wielded by the “bad guy” contributed to a series of attacks and deaths. When he is finished, he and the character in question have the following [...]
Continue reading On Writing and Creativity: Who Are Our Characters?
On Monday, our own Mindy Klasky started a series on how she writes a synopsis, which I am dying to read because … uh … I have no idea how I do it. I mean, I do it, I write them, but I don’t know if I do it right. I know I must have my own way of constructing a synopsis because I have never read anyone else’s synopsis. Synopses. (shrugs) I’ve learned a lot from the other writers here at MagicalWords.net, and I am looking forward to her process.
Through MW, I have discovered one major way in which Mindy and David (and probably everyone else for that matter) do character research and planning in the pre-writing phase. They have their characters histories fully fleshed out, sometimes down to their childhood sports injuries, their pets’ names, the schools they went to (the characters, not the pets) and their [...]
Continue reading Character Preparation … Stuff I Don’t Do
On Friday night, I finally saw the new(ish) movie version of The Hobbit — the Peter Jackson version that came out earlier this year. I am a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings movies, despite their flaws, and I was looking forward to seeing what Jackson did with The Hobbit. To be honest, I have been excited about this movie since I first heard that it was being made, and my excitement only increased when I learned that the marvelous Martin Freeman would be playing Bilbo Baggins.
I am sad to say that I found the movie stunningly disappointing. Let me pause here to make clear that I am not a movie purist. I was fine with many of the decisions Jackson made in his retelling of LOTR, including those that strayed from the books as written by J.R.R. Tolkien. I do not believe that a movie director [...]
Continue reading On Writing: Book Identity, and Why I Didn’t Like THE HOBBIT Movie
Early in February of this year, I posted to the MW site the opening paragraphs from my WIP, City of Shades, which will be the third Thieftaker book. (It should be out in the summer of 2014; Thieves’ Quarry, the second book in the sequence, will be out on July 2 of this year, as will the paperback edition of Thieftaker. Just sayin’.)
Today, I want to revisit that passage and show you the revised version. First, here is the original:
Ethan Kaille knew that he had been followed. Even as he pursued Peter Salter, who had stolen a pair of ivory-handled dueling pistols from a wealthy attorney in the South End, he himself was pursued. Like a fox running before hounds, he could almost feel Sephira Pryce’s toughs bearing down on him, snarling like curs, determined to take what he had claimed for himself.
Salter had led him [...]
Continue reading Your Critique of My Work Revisited
A couple of weeks ago, Diana mentioned in a post the latest publishing kerfuffle, which pits Barnes & Noble against Simon & Schuster. (Feel free to check out Di’s post, as well as the other posts to which she links. I’ll wait.) The issues in this fight, as with so many other publishing industry conflicts, are murky at best. When corporate behemoths do battle, it’s hard to take sides because neither entity is terribly sympathetic. But you can always count on one thing: Whatever costs the giants incur as a result of their disagreement will be passed on a) to authors, and b) to consumers. Certainly that has been the case this time around.
I bring this up because lately I have been feeling deeply frustrated by this business and my precarious-as-always place in it. I’m a mid-lister. I’m not one of fantasy/science fiction’s big names. I’m too old to [...]
Continue reading A Writer’s Manifesto: The Doubts and Resolve of a Midlister