Boo

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In my continuing busy schedule, this weekend I will be at a Halloween-themed event at Parmatown Mall.

Please join us for an exciting book signing event:
Paranormal Writers of Ohio
When: Sat. Oct. 17th 12:00pm-4:00pm
Where: Borders Express Parmatown Mall, main stage area
Authors: Mary Ann Winkowski, John Kachuba, Charles Cassady Jr, Casey Daniels, S. A. Swann, Vicki Blum Vigil and more!
Enjoy a brief presentation by most of the authors about their books!

Directions here. If you want to reserve a book, you can call: 440-845-5911

Using Twitter to promote your novel wrong

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I have mentioned before that there are certain rules that authors should abide by when gliding across this meadow of rainbows and unicorn farts we call the internet. It is not all smileys and lolcats out there, and forewarned is forearmed. Anyway, most rules boil down to (to paraphrase John Scalzi) don’t be a dick.

Back to those ten commandments of mine, from Dear Author we have word of someone, novelist Alice Hoffman, who managed to break my rules #1, #2, #4, #5 and #8 in 140 characters or less. Yes, we have now seen author self-immolation by Twitter. This woman got into a ever-spiraling shit-fit on twitter a couple of days ago. Incensed, Incensed I tell you, that a reviewer did not receive her book as the divine gift it most assuredly is. I mean, how dare that awful, evil reviewer say, “this new novel lacks the spark of the earlier work.”

Alice Hoffman needed to right this heinous wrong. To quote Ron Hogan @ Gallycat:

In addition to playing the Famous Writer Card on Twitter, Hoffman also played, among others, the Feminist Card (“Girls are taught to be gracious and keep their mouths shut. We don’t have to”), the Provincial Critic Card (“This is a town where a barking dog is the second top story on the news”), the Lousy Paper Card (“No wonder there is no book section in the Globe anymore – they don’t care about their readers, why should we care about them”), and the Post Your Enemy’s Email & Phone Number Online Card (encouraging fans to further validate her reaction and “tell her what u think of snarky critics”).

The fact is, anyone on-line who does not see how much of an asshat this makes them appear has a generous helping of stupid to go along with their hat of assness. Not to mention the potential liability invoked when encouraging people to harass someone who was mean to your book.

Now if you predicted that Hoffman’s Twitter account was swiftly deleted and a lame apology issued through her publisher, why you get a cookie.

All done but the editing

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This weekend I wrapped up the first draft of Wolfbreed 2.  We have it clocking in at about 84K which explains finishing about a week ahead of schedule.  This doesn’t mean that the book’ll end up that short.  Inevitably my revisions end up long.  (Even Raven, where I cut 30K from the original draft still ended up about 10K longer in the final.)  Also, I’m evolving as a novelist, since when I started this, 80K seemed just about right.  That’s the length of the first three, as well as everything I wrote up to around 1999 with the exception of the Hostile Takeover Trilogy. Now 80K seems barely adequate, though that might have something to do with the complexity and the number of POV characters I’m using nowadays.

I’ve sent the draft on to the Hamsters and my agent looking for first-reader feedback on the revision, which I promised to get in to Spectra by the end of June.

Best of all, we have a title.  For those of you who’ve noticed my perennial title difficulties, this is a big deal.  And the title of Wolfbreeed 2 is <drumroll> Wolf’s Cross.

Learning The Wrong Lessons

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Tell me if you’ve heard this one before. . .

The country’s in a crisis, it is desperately urgent that we act now by passing sweeping legislation that massively expands government intrusions into ordinary citizen’s lives.  We must pass it quickly, must not examine it too closely, and should anyone actually object, they’re just engaging in petty partisan demagoguery that will destroy this country! You don’t want to destroy this country, do you?  Of course not.  Just sit there and eat the patriot act stimulus plan like a good little servant of the State. They’re from the government, and they’re here to help you.

Ok, Libertarian rant over.  Back to the blog.

More good publishing news

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Someone, somewhere, in the 19th Century Ivory Tower that is the publishing industry has realized that allowing bookstores to strip unsold mass-market paperbacks and “return” them (i.e. tear the cover off for credit from the publisher and giving the naked book to cousin Billy.) is not a viable business model. According to Reuters, Borders is going to stop this asinine practice for books by HarperStudio, an experimental Harper Collins imprint that is trying to shift from an author advance model to a profit-sharing one.

The good news is not just this particular story, but just in the fact that there are people in the major houses that are at least trying to fix a severely broken business model.

(via Smart Bitches.)

In defense of sense of wonder

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There’s been a grumbling brewing about various places that seem to question one of the core attributes of science fiction. It’s a point of view that I think is crystallized nicely in a recent post on Nancy Kress’ blog:

Maybe the world has gotten too grubby and jaded for “awe.” Or I have. At any rate, a “sense of wonder” is no longer what I look for in fiction, including SF. I don’t want to be dazzled by things I never thought of before, even though often that seems to be what SF values. I want to be emotionally moved, involved at a visceral level with the characters and the situation, not with novelty or landscapes or gadgets or derring-do.

Combine that with the Mundane SF manifesto, and we seem to have what amounts to a crisis of confidence in one of the core elements of the genre. There seems to be a suspicion that old-style spectacle of Ringworlds and galaxy-spanning civilizations is— just like Mrs. Grundy kept telling us— just juvenile escapism unworthy of an adult engaged in the real world.  It all seems to be, as pointed out in Futrismic’s take on the above blog post, about “starships and rayguns.”

There’s a big issue I want to take with that idea:

While there’s nothing wrong with saying “I want to be emotionally moved, involved at a visceral level with the characters and the situation,” that’s not anything specific to ideas of sense of wonder, or even SF. It is a general requirement of fiction as a whole. All genres can short-change the characters in favor of whatever drives the genre conventions; SF, mystery, horror, thrillers (OMG thrillers). . .  It’s no more a risk in one genre than another. In fact I’ll go on to say that requiring emotional involvement with the characters and the situation is just asking for good fiction.

So this really isn’t a counter-argument to the idea that “sense of wonder” is a valid end for a SF writer to aspire to.  In fact, it is sort of beside the point.

Good or bad, “sense of wonder” bears a close analogy to horror or suspense, as it is a mood evoked by prose. In every case, that mood is heightened by having a POV character the reader can empathize with. Horror is much more horrifying when the protagonist is someone whose skin we can inhabit. A chase is much more suspenseful when we care about the person being chased. And when a star collapses into a black hole, we’re more in awe of the event when we see it through the eyes of a character we’ve come to understand.

The people who morn (or celebrate) the loss of the SFnal sense of wonder seem to think it all revolves around Lensmen and Star Wars and adolescent male power fantasies. But any deep reading in the genre will show that for every Lensmen there’s a Dune and for every Star Wars there’s a Hyperion.