No, that’s not all one topic (though it sounds like it would make an interesting discussion). I’m just giving you an update on some things over at my other site that you might be interested in. Continue reading
Category: Plugs and Promotions
Some years back, I evaluated a manuscript for a publisher. It was a Civil War historical mystery novel, and the Civil War is not exactly my area of expertise. Yet I sent the chief editor seven pages of notes on the book’s historical inaccuracies and plot holes. The editor later told me that, while reading through those notes, she turned to someone else in the office and asked “Who is this guy, Sherlock Holmes?”
It remains one of the funniest moments of my editing career, because it really wasn’t that difficult to do. Almost all of the notes were things that were easy to research. The author had the days of the week wrong in reference to the Battle of Fort Sumter. The date of Easter for the same year was wrong by a month. Currency values were closer to 1980s instead of 1860s. The depiction of proper police methods felt more like Dragnet at times instead of a period when investigative police was a rare thing.
The one and only reason why what I did was unusual was that I’m a knowledge junkie. If I don’t know something, I still have a pretty good idea where to look it up. I have lists of experts to contact, on anything from astrophysics to horse care, from the history of international law to how to sew a dress. My browser’s bookmark bar is a mostly-organized collection of links leading to various topics that I collect, thinking they might be useful someday.
The comparison to Sherlock Holmes is true, but only in this respect: I observe, I collect, and I don’t like being bored. None of that is especially unusual. Anyone can do it.
And if you’re a writer, you should do it. That doesn’t mean that if you want to write a book, you have to become the Phantom of the Library, haunting the stacks and shunning the light of day. Rather, it means you should always keep an eye out for things that are useful. Scratch the surface of almost any topic, and you’ll find something that makes your writing-sense tingle.
Here are some tips to get yourself started. Continue reading
Okay, geek fans. We all know that Firefly was one of the most awesome things in the history of geekdom.
I could go into lots of reasons why it was a great show, but that’s not the point here. The point of this post is that there is a sort of shared community among Firefly fans that can’t ever be duplicated (well, except by Star Trek fans in the 70s . . . or Doctor Who fans in the 90s . . . never mind, you know what I mean). It’s a shared rapport over not just what it was, but what it could have been. There’s nothing more powerful than the imagination for that sort of thing.
And when you have a rapport like that, you tend to band together. And when you band together, you tend to find other fun things to share. And sometimes the people who help create those fun things show up too. And when that happens, you call it a convention.
And now Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion, with Gina Torres, Felicia Day, Seth Green, and James Gunn, are going to make a series about that experience. Continue reading
Okay, let’s face it. Like most men, I’m a sucker for a pretty face. Like most geeks, I’m a sucker for a pretty face with a smart brain. But give that smart, pretty woman a sword, and . . . sorry, where was I?
When my friend and future co-author Elizabeth Hajek was offered the chance to host a giveaway for Michelle Moran’s upcoming book Rebel Queen, I thought “good for her.” When I realized it was about Rani Lakshmibai, I thought “I should really buy this book because history and battles and sword-wielding queens oh my.”
Now, I should say that I know about as much about Indian history as I do about American football. That is, I can kind of recognize the names involved and where they’re supposed to go and vaguely how things fit together (though I still can’t find the goalie), but just like I’ll confuse an NFL team with ones that play baseball (that’s the one that plays indoor and bounces the ball a lot, right?), I’ll get north and south India mixed up, which, take it from me, is worse than getting northern India mixed up with Pakistan.
However, as I read the back cover text for Rebel Queen, I realized that I had heard of Rani Lakshmibai.
I keep getting side-tracked when it comes to making blog posts. The new job, plus finishing contracts on the old one, is taking up a lot of time. However, I had to write up a review of Skin Game by Jim Butcher, the latest Dresden Files novel.
If you don’t know what The Dresden Files is (or if you only know it from the failed TV show that bares little in common with the books), here it is in a nutshell. Harry Dresden is a wizard. A professional wizard. The only professional wizard in Chicago, to be exact. He’s even in the phone book. He’s a card-carrying member of the White Council, the semi-secret (mainly because normal people don’t believe they exist rather than because they try to hide) semi-government of mortal magic users. They also, to some degree, protect mortals from supernatural threats: vampires, demons, warlocks, werewolves, faeries, and other things that go bump in the night. And, in Harry’s case, they try to pay the rent while doing it. Continue reading
Readers of the blog know I like Lego. It’s a great toy, arguably the best single toy investment you can make for a child. Unlike a video game, its operating system doesn’t go obsolete in three years; every Lego brick you buy today is compatible with the same company’s products going back decades — and they’re not going to change that in the future. It rewards creativity, teaches spacial and structural awareness, and can be combined in so many different ways that you can never say you’ve beat the game.
And then, as an adult, you can stick with it and turn it into a genuine art form. Years of experience, an adult’s funding and patience, and that little kid inside of you that still shouts “THIS IS SO COOL!” — all joining together to show kids that art can be fun, and their fun can be true art.
Well, there’s a movie out this weekend that’s based on the toy. I got to see the press screening last weekend with Wamalug (the Washington Metropolitan Area LEGO Users Group), so I’m here to give you my review. Continue reading
I’m not a DC Comics fan. I like Batman, but usually the rest of the universe seems . . . stilted. Yes, I enjoyed many of the animated series while I was growing up (and even more after I decided being grown-up is a bit overrated), but I just can’t get into the mythology and worldbuilding. Too many fictionalized yet supposedly “realistic” locations, too much space between “gritty” and “heroic,” too much “hey, that sounds good, let’s go with that — who’s going to think about it too deeply?” Continue reading
There are great, well-known, household-name authors that we credit with shaping our ideas of fiction. And for every one of those, there are many more that even our friends haven’t heard us talk about. For me, one of those was A. C. Crispin.
Mind you, many of my friends and authors have heard me quote some of her advice, but I rarely go around talking about her actual fiction. It feels like a disservice, even though I know there are so many books and authors out there that we can’t get to every one of them. And yet, Ann Crispin was one of my favorite authors in my teen years, and she had a deep and abiding influence on my writing style and how I approach editing.
Plus, her StarBridge series had one book that featured a deaf heroine. Very rare in fiction, much less SF&F. My hearing problems weren’t as frustrating back then, but it was a nice thing to have. And I should reread it, because it’s been years.
Today, September 6th, Ann Crispin lost her battle with cancer. I never got to meet her, and I wish I did.
An author’s estate always experiences a posthumous bump in sales. It’s not ghoulish. She’s most famous for her Star Trek and Star Wars installments, but she’s got a hefty bibliography to her credit. Check out her books and buy some. If nothing else, you’ll be providing a little extra income for her husband, who just lost the woman he loved and really shouldn’t have to worry about money right now.
And for everyone, prayers don’t cost a thing. I bet they could both use some right now.