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I have a policy 517YQxDo8PL._SY346_.jpgagainst review requests: namely, I never do them anymore. I can’t tell you how many requests I get for reviews from authors. The problem is that some authors proved we can’t have nice things; so, to avoid any appearance that accepting review copies means I am guaranteeing a favorable review, I just don’t accept them anymore.

The closest I get is with something like this book, The Long Black, by J. M. Anjewierden. The author and I happen to be in a few Facebook groups together, and he mentioned some financial difficulties; nothing very urgent, but that he was depending on sales from his books. I’d never taken a look at them, and I made my policy clear, but I said I’d at least put them on my long, long list of books to review. I have books I’ve been meaning to review for literally years. And while Jared shares several Facebook groups with me, he and I are hardly friends. In fact, I really just happen to recognize his name in passing.

Jared mentioned this three days ago. I’m already writing the review. Why? Because I made the mistake of looking at the first few pages to get a sense of the story, bought it, and wound up reading the whole thing in three sittings, most of that on Sunday.  View full article »

Intern Number One, signing on.

My daily purpose in the peculiar Novel Ninja family is a little hard to describe. Hannah and I are being trained side-by-side, but with very different specialties. Hannah, with her love of flow and passion for the written word, is spending her days gleefully working through documents sentence-by-sentence to polish the beauty in them; I, for the most part, am playing in my own little sandbox, learning how to stitch together inconsistencies and help chains of events feel realistic and alive. One of the tools Bowman and I use to keep ourselves entertained and our minds fluid is a little thing I call Culture Chess.

Culture Chess is an exercise that developed very early on in my career as a mook. It’s a way that Bowman-Sensei and I play with our shared love for big-picture thinking. It’s a mutual thought experiment; starting with nothing, or nearly nothing, we slowly build the workings of a story. View full article »

How to Review

One of the many things I’m behind on, especially in regard to this site, is my pile of review to-dos. That doesn’t mean manuscripts; it means books I’ve read (or listened to, in the case of audiobooks) and think are worth talking about.

But a review is actually a delicate sort of art, and — as readers here well know! — I tend to be more on the verbose side. That actually isn’t the way I should be doing it, and as I get back into the swing of things I need to watch that. Part of it is that because this site exists to focus on writing advice, I like pulling out lessons; but that isn’t always the best use of a review even for here, even if the only people reading the reviews are authors looking for tips and tricks.

So what does go into a good review? And what’s the difference between a review and a critique?  View full article »

A Wild Intern Appears

As I mentioned previously, I have two interns I’m training this summer, known as Thing 1 and Th– Wait, no. Intern #1 and Intern #2. There. That’s better.

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Well, okay. They have names of their own. I’ll just let them introduce themselves. View full article »

Open for Business

As many of you know (especially those of you who have been querying me for submissions), I’ve been very busy with a backlog for over a year now. That has been whittled down, and I’m now accepting submissions once again. Remember to follow the submission guidelines!

In addition, I’m training two interns this summer who will transition to more independent work as their experience increases. For now, if you’re willing to provide guinea pigs specifically for intern training, you’ll get a discount over the regular Novel Ninja rates (which are already below average, because frankly, the industry freelance standard is aimed at large companies and not the single authors I normally work with).

Please see this page for submission and pricing guidelines.

The LEGO Batman Movie

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And I now have this as an actual poster, too.

I haven’t posted in over six months, making this my longest stretch of silence yet. The reason is that I have been extremely busy without a lot to blog about. But this is me; if a movie based on the Lego brand can’t get me back here, what could?

You may recall that two years ago, I got to see an advance screening of The LEGO Movie (and then got interviewed about it on TV). Well, I got the same invite to go see The LEGO Batman Movie, and I took Intern #2 with me as she lives and breathes Batman. (I exaggerate, but only slightly.) My expectations were higher than what I had for the original film, but here’s the short review: my expectations were still exceeded.

Don’t worry. This review is spoiler-free. View full article »

It’s short notice, but Declan had to cancel his weekly show, so I’m stepping in. It’s The Catholic Geek Radio Show, part of my other site, and it’s normally a guest-interview show. Well, I don’t have a guest, so it’s just me talking about stuff . . . including editing, if you want me to! You can call in or use a chat window. The details are over here.

You can even call in and say “Hey, why haven’t you replied to my email yet?” *hangs head in shame* Yes, I know I still have a bunch to go through, some of them a couple months old. I haven’t forgotten you! Unless I have, in which case it’s probably a good idea to call in and let me know.

By the way, one of the things I’m talking about is the new author co-op we’re starting at CG, as well as a chance for you to hear some of my lectures online. If you’ve been interested in those, you might want to take a listen.

Post-AwesomeCon Update

This past weekend was my fourth AwesomeCon, which was also the fourth AwesomeCon, period. I’ve seen it grow over those four iterations, and I’m very glad that I’m in the neighborhood. It’s great fun, with great people and great entertainment, including some people, stories, games, and more that I probably never would have encountered without it.

Speaking at this convention is truly a highlight of my year, and has been since the beginning. Despite its size (starting out as a postage-stamp-sized event and growing this year to be a so-far-estimated 50k+ mass of humans, elves, dwarves, robots, and space marines), it’s always been laid-back, relaxed, and focused on fun. I’ve been to cons that took themselves too seriously, or let their success get to them, and AwesomeCon has always been the most welcoming, joyful event I’ve ever been to. View full article »

I haven’t posted in a while, because I’ve been buried under work. I certainly don’t lack for contracts to fill my spare time, but I’ve also been busy preparing my house for a kitchen remodel; I’m significantly handicapped, so that’s even more trouble than it might otherwise sound. I just haven’t had the energy for blogging.

However, today is Marvel Day. No, really; it’s not just that it’s when Captain America: Civil War is out in theaters, it’s also the day that I seem to have seen several MCU movies over the years. Not just the weekend, but the day, May 6th. Not sure how that’s happened, but it’s what my Facebook memory feed shows today. The coincidence gets eyebrow-raising with the fact that I didn’t even realize this when I’d made the decision to take today off.

But taking the day off also means that I have the time to write up my thoughts on this movie — spoiler-free, I might add.  View full article »

I’ve been seeing a lot of new authors worrying about the prospect of going indie, or self-publishing. (A terminology note: “indie” used to mean “not part of the Big Five conglomerates.” Now it’s rapidly becoming identical to being a self-pubber.) I keep telling authors who go for SF&F that they should be prepared to self-publish; and part of that preparation is to understand the cost of everything that a publisher would provide.  View full article »

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