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Quantum Afterlife - now published

Mar. 7th, 2014 | 02:31 pm

I've been in a rush, propelled by a karmic debt to a dear friend of mine who is dying. I promised to investigate and write about what is going to happen to her. See, she asked me certain questions knowing I am not the person to go to comfortable answers. So, the past 6 months have been something of a race for me to finish this book before she died. I am successful, but just barely. Her immediate condition is dire and it is unlikely I will be able to see her again before she is gone. She isn't really in a condition to be able to hear me or communicate so I must be satisfied with our earlier discussions and with shoving everything into bookly shape and getting it out there. It is, in its own way, all I could do.

I learned a lot writing this book - mostly about how everything important seems to be connected to quantum physics. I didn't know that earlier -- or I didn't focus on my knowledge of it. I have only had one physics class and it did not venture into quantum states, so it is ironic that I've spent an intense five months writing about quantum states and hoping I don't make an ass of myself. I actually sent the work to a physicist to make sure I wasn't being completely wrong. He gave me a 'grinning' pass and wanted me to call him. Hmmm.

Today I feel weird about this book, like it was never really 'my' book. I had to double check my amazon author page just to be sure it was listing under my name.

Are you curious about what I discovered?


Go see! Review me! Give Chelsea a boost...

::hugs to my darling friend::

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Falling off the blogwagon

Aug. 1st, 2013 | 05:38 am
Feeling...: sicksick

Blogging consistently here on LJ is a struggle for me. I tend to use this journal for my writing stuff and although I've been writing 10 pages of nonfiction each week this effort has been 'minor' for me in terms of investment. Essentially these ten pages take me about 2 hours on average and I spend more time sourcing images than content. However, it behooves me to mention that these 10 page bits are rapidly becoming the base for a technical manual that I intend to publish later this winter after my class sets are complete. Here's the deal - if you are a writer who also has an area of expertise (such as I do) then writing nonfiction becomes a no-brainer. The reality is that I consistently outperform fiction writers in sales simply because people value nonfiction at a higher level than they do fiction.

I encourage struggling fiction writers to cross-pollinate - write in both areas as one will automatically feed fans into the other. Don't write nonfiction in saturated categories as you are likely to get lost in the mass of available books. Highly specialized can be a good thing. This is even more true if your nonfiction has a natural feed-in for some aspect of your fiction writing.

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Racism and Reading

Jun. 20th, 2013 | 03:07 pm
Feeling...: contemplativecontemplative

Today I read a blog post from a reasonably well known genre writer who also happens to be of color. She is also female. She is also of ambiguous sexual orientation. She had posted another 'referral story' about gendered harassment and discrimination. She often posts about the disadvantages of being of color (as a writer). Today she recommended that people should combat the ongoing discrimination by simply purchasing more books by persons of color and in particular by female persons of color.

I get it. This is an excellent way to support what you want to see in the world.

But, I probably won't be buying most of these books. I have a fairly tight reading budget and not enough time to read the books I have already stuffed into that 'time' in my life. Her recommendation falls into this 'should' category - ethics over entertainment. My problem is that I very seldom read a book by any writer of color where racism is not a central theme to the book and story line. It feels like a mandatory ingredient, just like most books with female protagonists must place the female in sexual jeopardy, have her raped or force her 'actions' via the mechanism of 'reaction'. I'm tired of warrior girls. I'm fatigued of reactionary motivations. I'm tired of these passive excuses to explain how the story could ever have occurred. I don't read a fiction book to become a better person. It might happen. But, usually I want my fiction to bring me wonder. I have plenty of nonfiction in my life to press my ethical buttons. Where is the wonder?

I don't read about wars or violence to animals or people who use violence to solve their problems. In fact, if that starts up in a novel I put that book in my give away pile. I'm ready to read about nonviolent nonpassive characters who aren't taking me down roads I've already traveled. I get it. I get that writers need to explore their personal wounds. But, not at my expense. I'm just not your audience. I won't buy a book just because it has a female protagonist or just because more women of color need to be supported. I'm tired of reading how every female in every story is living in rape culture.

Is a central theme in your next book (racism, sexism - any ism?) Sorry, I won't be buying it.
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Writing for hire...

Jun. 10th, 2013 | 10:26 am
Feeling...: restlessrestless

Today I am pressed to write another BEST OF list of SF books on a freelancer project.

The tricky part is capturing the right 25 books and saying something meaningful about each one. When doing such a list I discover stuff. First - I haven't read a number of the books so then I have to rely on various resources to talk about the book cogently (one can't read everything) - second, I've rediscovered books I've forgotten the title of (very fun) and third, I've discovered that most lists have few to no women on them. Seriously? Gotta remember I'm a huge Andre Norton fan.

When I see all of these lists without women represented I'm reminded of the recent SFWA bulletin mess where female writers and editors are quantified as (attractive or not) ladies.

This leads me to another post I read today wherein a well-known female writer/editor has recently altered her submissions guidelines to be fully screened so that the identity of the writer cannot unduly influence the selection of stories.

In my opinion this should ALWAYS be the case, not be the exception to the rule.

Another well-known male editor/writer acknowledged on his blog one day that he had sent in a submission to a well-known SF magazine. The magazine reader didn't recognize his name and didn't much like his story and put it in the reject pile. The editor walked by, saw his name and pulled it, sending him an acceptance. Bullocks!

I realize small mags are dependent on sales to stay afloat. I realize that NAMES sell copies. I also realize that this can produce mediocre content because the BRANDED writers are sometimes accepted work unseen and with frequent approvals even their drek makes print.

Name 10 top female SF writers (novels)

Did you have to reach back 40 years?

Selection bias becomes self-fulfilling. All submissions should be blind. Why should I support magazines (by purchasing them) that maintain selection bias that doesn't support quality but name?

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the convenience of equality

Jun. 1st, 2013 | 08:47 am
Feeling...: mischievousmischievous

Remember a couple decades or so ago when it became trendy to show how you weren't really a bigot?
And then you were betrayed by a BLACK MAN becoming President?

Remember a couple decades or so ago when it became necessary to show how you weren't really sexist?
And then you were betrayed by WOMEN writers rising to prominence in Science Fiction?

Inconvenient equality - right?

Remember a couple minutes or so ago when it became possible that women might not need you to grant them your favors?
And now you are betrayed by realizing that power is given UPWARDS not gifted DOWNWARDS and now you are facing the terror of a possible FEMALE PRESIDENT.

Inconvenient when your bluff is called and your misogyny, racism and homophobia are hanging out your too-big underwear (now pulled over your head for protection)

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The Gold Hairball

May. 22nd, 2013 | 10:26 pm
Feeling...: amusedamused

Yep, that's the title to one of my plays.

I'd forgotten about it during all of last years rush to other things. Then I was looking for something else and rediscovered it. I then had to hunt down my Dramatists Sourcebook and decide on a theater to send it to. After all, it will never be produced if I don't send it out.

See, back then I actually went through the book page by page and marked specific theaters as especially good prospects for various plays.

Even with all that previous work it still took me all day to get the submission actually sent off.

But, it was a good feeling none the less.

For those of you who consider yourself a new writer - there is ONE trick to becoming published etc. - that secret is simply that publishing is a numbers game. You send off X number of pieces and you get X number of sales. That's it folks. SEND OUT YOUR WRITING. Even when you suck someone will buy it.

The only difference between you and those other authors is that what they are offered is currently MORE, not because their work is better than yours - a lot of the time it isn't better - they are offered more because they are slightly ahead of you as a BRAND or you are BRANDABLE (cute, special) - brands sell more and faster. That's it. Don't be sold on the idea that your writing sucks, unless you know it sucks. Mostly writing is decent to okay to maybe good to slightly better to good to even better to really fucking good.


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ism whining...

May. 15th, 2013 | 11:56 am
Feeling...: annoyedannoyed

It has become popular, almost essential, to demonstrate your alignment with conformity by loudly and persistently pointing out some new form of cultural privilege being criminally perpetrated upon others.

The collective result of all of this whining is fatigue.

Everyone is tired of hearing about it. You aren't a wheel. I won't grease you. Whining and fatigue create a rush to bypass your newest 'same old' meme. By the time some messages reaches mainstream media they have exceeded their active shelf life. Eventually those around you cease listening, cease hearing and your whine effectively silences your message.

Some cultures create stuff.

Some cultures steal stuff.

America is the second one. Got stuff, expect us to steal it.

If your culture is about appropriating, don't be surprised by appropriation.

Oh, while Americans are busy stealing the cultural goodies of other peoples, other peoples are eagerly stealing the appropriation culture of Americans. Goodies. Everyone wants them.

Embrace your greed and stop pretending to moral horror on your way home from shopping.

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as a working writer

May. 14th, 2013 | 11:22 am
Feeling...: determineddetermined

Most people know I've been a working writer for a long time. Working essentially means writing for hire or being paid for writing. This work comes in many forms. At the best of times I work on my personal writing and produce books, screenplays and other similar works. At other points I work on writing for others. Some of this writing is really fun. Some is rather boring but ALL of it is paid work.

When I started writing and for a few years thereafter my goal was for someone to accept my writing. I was very insecure about it. I jumped through a bunch of hoops and frequently had materials published without being paid.

It's part of the professional writer process. You may be early in your career at this moment. You may feel driven to be accepted by editors, to be published in some minor magazine (maybe even major magazine) for very little money. I get it. I went that route for a few years.

Back in the day I used to believe in the 'old' publishing model where I, the writer, had to sell myself to someone in power. I gave them my power and in return they received most of the money for the work I was doing. In addition, they usually wanted to change what I wrote. So, not only was I giving my power and my work's value to them, I was also giving up my original content, allowing it to say something else or be fitted to their agenda.

Taking back your power as a writer means you have to let go of your belief in the current writing/publishing model and system. You have to let go of believing that the people you see advertised and spoken about in the magazines are the best writers out there. They aren't. They are merely more successful at working inside the old model. Most of those writers are good writers. Some of those writers are brands, names familiar enough to maintain their product line. When you read most 'branded' writers you are likely to think that the writing is not particularly good or interesting. These people make the magazines from long-term consistent advertising and marketing and a few good books, usually written a long time ago, before they became brands. You see these well-known writers at conventions, book signings, award ceremonies and heading organizations centered on their genre.

I'm not telling you to buck the system. I am telling you that the system won't work for 95% of you. I am also telling you that the radical transformations in the current publishing world will change the old system forever. The truth is that the old publishing system has only existed for a very short time. It looks longer and more important than it really was. Every publishing system is a scheme for middle-men to take advantage of product creators. The new system is also a scheme but, it is only temporary. Under the old publishing scheme the writer typically made 6% of the wholesale price of the book AFTER the publishing costs were deducted. Today, the writer makes around 60% of the retail price of the book. Do you see the divide of tension? It exists. Today a writer can and should have ALL of their books in continuous print. It's YOUR backlist. Yes, this flood of available content makes it harder to rise into the awareness of the public. But, as a writer you should take 6% of your 60% and pay a publicity company to market you. Trust me. That measly amount is MORE than the remaining publishers will spend on you. So, you earn 50% or more. It's called basic MATH.

What you hear about the SHAME of SELF PUBLISHING is simply those in power trying to stay in power. Don't give your power away. Give up on the awards showering inside the incestuous circle. Give up on the membership requiring you to suck on the old publishing model. Use your sword instead of falling on it.

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May. 3rd, 2013 | 12:42 pm
Feeling...: contentcontent

I'm a big advocate for story prep. You may not think you are doing research by reading articles and checking facts but your work does a lot for a story by immersing the reader in things they don't know, details that make a story rich.

A few years back I was writing a piece on my own life. I had been a writer for a long time at that point. You might think that I could just reel off the details off the top of my head. After all, the subject was my own life. However, I ended up doing nearly as much research and fact-checking as I do on any story. Our memory is flawed and in constant evolution as how we think informs how we remember. At first I was only checking dates, times and things like that but relatively quickly I realized I needed more information. I delved into family records and compared images and family stories to what I was trying to write about.

My point is simply that the reader relies on the writer to convey as complete an experience as possible. At this point in my career I can identify an 'off-the-cuff' story as easily as I can spot a story heavily researched. One gets the details right or right enough for me to invest in what the writer is saying. That investment is critical. If you only capture your audience in a hesitant way, your reader will fall away when they encounter the first bit of detail or information that doesn't jive. Then it won't matter what the rest was about, with the reader gone the writing is silenced.

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finding Ms. Goodstory...

Apr. 29th, 2013 | 12:25 pm
Feeling...: bouncybouncy

Recently I've read a lot of 'screen-writerly' advice that centers on the idea that all you need for a good screenplay is a memorable character. I get it. Viewers, just like readers, hook onto the protagonist for the ride. But, one of the problems I experience with so many recent films is the lack of story. Yes, the screenplay writer creates a memorable character and then leads the character through a predictable series of trite scenes. I learn nothing. I experience nothing. I spend the entire film noticing the plot holes, the set problems, the utterly predictable everything. Is this writing?


It's formula.

Predictable characters and predictable stories produce predictably boring films.

Character is the vehicle that carries the viewer or reader into the story, it isn't the whole of the story. Character acts upon story and story acts upon character. If you don't have this action or if the action is so overdone that it has lapsed into circular thinking then you end up with a vehicle driving in circles passing the same terrain over and over again.

I don't go to watch a film merely to vegetate because I feel too lazy to get up and walk out.

The best films, for me, are those whose premise is small enough to occur in the life of the viewer or whose premise is so gobsmackingly excessive that the mundane is ripped away. That's it, one polarity or the other. Everything in between is filled with the 'deadly middle' ground of nothing special. The ones I find the most interesting are those whose premise takes me where I haven't been, with a character who shouldn't be the heroine in the first place. This is because I, as a viewer or reader, am an ESSENTIAL collaborator with the writer or producer of a film. Without me, your creation remains silent, unwatched and unread. If I am co-inhabiting the protagonist, it better be a damn good story because I don't want to feel like vanilla, mundane, mediocrity. You have to elevate me, torment me, shock me, captivate me and respect me. Without me, you don't exist as a whole piece. This means you have to include me as the co-creator, not drivel down to me from on high.

As the writer I have to create that space for all the collaborators necessary to bring my work to life.

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