My Big Idea. . .

Wolf’s Cross is out this week, and coinciding with that, my Big Idea piece is up on Scalzi’s Whatever:

When I wrote Wolfbreed I wasn’t concerned for markets, or genre, or much else beyond having my muse promise not to beat me senseless.  It was written outside of my contracts for DAW, so I had no real constraints on what I was doing, and no expectations of anything beyond its fiery conclusion.  Everything had been wrapped up, the still-living characters all had their main conflicts resolved.  All the plot threads tied up with a nice bow made of human entrails. . .

Of course you have to go there tor read the rest of it.

Me – Beard

Here I am at Confluence this past weekend, minus some facial hair:

On the Writing panel:

Signing books (note the cat-shaving battle scars):

Doing the research

Everyone knows that you should do research for any story to make sure you get the facts right.  Few people actually point out why this is an important thing, and why you shouldn’t slack off because it’s fantasy and it’s all made up anyway.  Case in point, bestselling author Beverly Lewis vs. my wife the horse person.  Now, after we met Mary Ellis at the Buckeye Book Fair, Michelle went and got hooked on Amish spirituals.  It wasn’t very surprising since, as you might guess, that genre has a lot to do with farming, livestock and the countryside, which happen to be three of my wife’s favorite things.  So, after she finished Mary Ellis’ Amish oeuvre and loved it, I went and bought her some of Beverly Lewis’ work.

Then, late one evening, I hear my wife cry out “Oh My God!”  I rush in, fearing that something awful had happened, and see her staring at the Lewis book with an expression of disgust.  I ask her what’s wrong, and she proceeds to read me a passage where a veterinarian is recommending to the Amish farmer that he bed down a foundering horse on black walnut shavings.  If you have anything to do with horses, yes you read that right.  If you don’t, let me ‘splain: Black walnut is toxic to horses.  In fact, I very much doubt you can purchase black walnut animal bedding of any sort.  And, ever since, my wife has been bitching to anyone who will listen about this and all the other horecare fails in the book.

Object lesson.  Whatever you write about, if you get a fact really wrong, someone will read it and feel strongly enough about it to regale all their friends far and wide about what you screwed up.  This is why you do the research, and do it in more than one place because if you have a single source in a community, they might just have a warped sense of humor.

(And no, I’m not immune from this.  I’ve been told about the Glock in Dragons of the Cuyahoga many, many times.  Firearms fail.)

Writers + Internet = A List

The subject came up when I was on a writing panel at the Medina library this past Saturday, and I thought I might codify it into some general rules of thumb for writers (aspiring and pro) using the interwebs. This can be considered a companion to my earlier post of what NOT to do:

  1. Write first! Using the web to promote your writing if you aren’t actually writing is, to put it bluntly, a damnfool thing to do. Nothing wrong with using the internet for its own sake, but don’t rationalize it as something akin to actually writing. It ain’t. (This also includes blogging, at least until you turn that into an income stream.)
  2. You only need to have enough of an internet presence so that when someone Googles you and/or your work, the first hit is something you control. Everything else is optional.
  3. Make sure your site/blog/Facebook page has links to things about you that you want to promote but aren’t under your control (Amazon pages for your book, your publisher, nice reviews and articles &c.)
  4. Make your presence on the web about YOU as an author first, then about the work. i.e. when you get a website/domain, it should be BIGNAMEAUTHOR.com rather than KICKASSBOOKTITLE.com because, when you get the next contract it will be something else, and you have to start from scratch. Look at my site as an example of how to organize things like this.
  5. Whenever you’re out commenting on blogs and forums and so on, try to have a consistent identifiable persona as an author. Even if you aren’t pimping your work (and you shouldn’t when uninvited) if you have a consistent identifiable YOU, across multiple sites that’s at least as valuable as being on a panel at a con somewhere.

Me elsewhere. . .

On the Suvudu blog, they’re doing a Spectra retrospective, and today, Wolfbreed was up:

“On Friday, March 16th 2007, I had an idea for a novel. It had been bubbling in my head for about a week after watching the anime Elfen Lied. Since it wouldn’t leave me alone, I decided to just write the thing out of my system even though I had other things I was supposed to be working on. Little did I know what I was getting into. By the start of April, I was forty thousand words into the thing. That was the point I took a breather and started realizing that this was more than just getting an idea out of my system.

Go read the rest.

A little writerly observation

It may seem narcissistic to enjoy reading your own work, however, since a writer’s job is to engage their audience, and the only direct measure any writer has of that engagement is their own reaction; any writer worth their salt should be writing stuff that, at the very least, blows their own socks off.  It should be a given.  Also, I suspect that it is necessary to have that level of engagement in your own work before you can start engaging other people.

Of course, mentioning how much you like your own stuff is probably gauche, so you probably should keep it to yourself.

Tying the whole thing together

I’ve been light blogging the past few weeks because, even though I’m done with Messiah, I’m not done with Messiah.  Even though the draft is finished (so no one needs to worry about me pulling a Robert Jordon) I’m still in the midst of going through and polishing off the edges of the draft.  I’ll also have one last pass after Sheila at DAW gives me her two cents.  I’ve seen the cover art, and I think it rocks.  All-in-all, I’m rather happy with it.  Especially since, when I began it, I wasn’t thinking of it as the capstone to the whole Moreau/Confederacy universe.  Now I know that it is, I’m very happy I put Nickolai in there.  To a certain extent, he may be the most important character in the entire series of ten books, since he’s a personification of nearly every theme I’ve been using since Forests of the Night. (In fact, you can think of Nick’s conflict with Adam in Apotheosis as a reflection of Nohar’s much smaller-scale conflict with Adam’s precursors in Forests.)

He gets a worthy send off.