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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 »

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.  View full article »

Yes, that’s right. I’m going to give you the secret, handed down from the writing gods. It is the secret you have climbed this mountain to find, young supplicant, through the freezing glaciers, without climbing gear and bearing a rare flower in your teeth, just to prove your worthiness.

The secret is . . . that there is no secret. The secret is that you have to put in the effort. The secret is that you can have all the great ideas you want; but unless you practice your craft, unless you write and write and write, unless you try and fail and learn from the experience, unless you do what everyone learning any craft must do since the dawn of the ages, you will never write that novel.

Inspiration

But that’s not the title of this blog post. The reason why you’re reading this is because you’re asking “Okay, Mr. Bowman, how do I write a novel in three months? Just sit down and write? Oh, is that all?” View full article »

Pen nameThis is a topic that I’ve often intended to write about, and the other night a member of one of my Facebook writing groups was asking a question about it. I was going to reply in more detail, but realized I was writing that blog post I always intended to publish. So here goes!

There are many reasons to choose to use a pseudonym, but they all basically boil down to three categories: to hide your identity to one degree or another; to maintain some degree of separation between two or more of your works; or to give a better name because your own might get in the way. View full article »

Agent Carter is Back

Agent Carter titleThe first season of Agent Carter met with a lot of mixed press, mainly focused on whether it was misandrist messagefic. In the end, those issues were resolved, but as I described in my take on the first three episodes, it could have been avoided and still presented the same situation (that is, the unthinking sexism of that era) to the audience.  What with articles heralding the show’s second season as a feminist masterpiece, I saw several people assuming things would get even worse. I even got a bit of activity on my previous articles on the subject.

I took a more cautious approach. As I said last year, the show was excellent, in spite of the heavy-handed approach. I thought the first season ended on a very high note, propelling Carter’s World War II character into a Cold War setting, and having mostly traded in the poor attempts to portray the cultural difference for techniques that actually worked. I felt there was a good chance that we’d get an even better season this time around.

Well, the first two episodes came out last week, and over the snowed-in weekend I not only watched them, I enjoyed them. Peggy Carter is back, and better than ever.  View full article »

star-wars-force-awakens-official-posterI’ve been busy, as evidenced by how little I’ve been posting. I’ve even been neglecting the other site I own and manage. However, I couldn’t just let something like Star Wars go by unwatched, particularly not before Christmas. What will my relatives think?

This review will be in two parts, and not very long, because there’s not a whole lot to say. The first part will be completely spoiler-free. When you see the spoiler graphic come up, that is your only warning. Beyond that, and especially in the comments section, will be hic sunt SithaeView full article »

Elantris

20151222_000616[1]Prince Raoden of Arelon awoke early that morning, completely unaware that he had been damned for all eternity.

These are the opening words to one of the best novels ever written: Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson. I first read it in 2011, barely more than a year into my career as an editor. It immediately became one of my favorites, if not my most favorite novel ever.

It had been sitting on my shelf for years, though, waiting to be read. The problem was that the paperback copy doesn’t tell you what the story is about, and so I never knew if I was in the mood for it. My reading list is so long, and I stopped counting at a hundred, that I kept deciding to try something else. This is after reading both Mistborn and The Way of Kings. I’d heard good things, but not knowing what to expect kept making me pick something else.

Well, now it’s the only novel I’ve ever considered worth getting in a collector’s quality leatherbound edition. And not to give you a clickbait kind of hook, but what Brandon Sanderson put on the personalization inside made me tear up.

Considering how I feel about this book, I should have done a review on it years ago. I even said on this blog that it deserves its own review. For some reason, I kept putting it off. Maybe it’s just that I didn’t know if I could do it justice. I’m glad I didn’t, though. If I had, then I couldn’t have given my readers this story.  View full article »

Son of the Black Sword 1A few weeks ago, I finished Son of the Black Sword, the latest book from Larry Correia. I’ve been delaying on writing blog posts, so this review isn’t the only one on my to-do list; but the thing is, if you like fantasy that’s a little bit different, you need to read this book. You’ll thank both me and Larry later.

Son of the Black Sword is the first in a new series for Correia. It’s also marketed as the first in a new genre; that’s not really true, since he’s been writing Iron Kingdoms tie-ins, but when it comes to his original fiction he’s known as an urban fantasy writer. He’s most famous for his bestselling Monster Hunter series, a contemporary story about a group of contractors whose job it is to hunt and kill the monsters humanity would rather pretend don’t exist. Second to that (and my personal favorite) is his Grimnoir Chronicles, an epic-scale alternate history/fantasy set in an alternate Great Depression where magic exists and the West is in a cold war with Imperial Japan. (Also, there are airships and Tesla superweapons.)

Compared against that, Son of the Black Sword is definitely something different — and not just because there isn’t a single gun to be found. It’s an epic fantasy, of the sort that might normally be described as “traditional fantasy” until you read through the first chapter. Son of the Black Sword is set in a world that heavily draws on South and East Asian concepts, in terms of society, politics, philosophy, and even the fantasy itself. But that’s all mere backdrop, however well-painted, supporting a story with three major twists, five minor twists, and a story where you’re not sure quite what’s going on but you’re hungry, starving for more.

This is epic fantasy at its finest. My favorite epic fantasy remains David Eddings’ The Belgariad and The Malloreon, despite such personages as Brandon Sanderson redefining and expanding the genre. Larry Correia is now approaching a rival for Sanderson, and after this start I would not be surprised if he starts rivaling Eddings for me on pure enjoyment.

Spoiler Warning

As you might expect, minor spoilers ahead. Only minor ones, though, so if you want to read more you should be safe.  View full article »

high-pain-toleranceThere’s a common misconception about people with high pain tolerances. They tend to be big, beefy, and burly, usually men, and if female they’re all badasses. They shrug off bullets and sword-thrusts like they’re minor distractions; they grunt from the pain and rarely, if ever, scream.

Now, I frequently impress people around me with my high pain tolerance. Most of that is in awe; some few, such as my doctors and a close friend who helps me exercise, approach it with worry, because pain is an important thing. I have such a high pain tolerance that I often automatically ignore signals that I should really stop what I’m doing and rest. I threw out my back (a little over a year ago) and my knee (a couple months ago) precisely because I could just work through the pain . . . until I suddenly couldn’t.

How do I do that? Well, it’s not because I’m tougher than other people. I’m not beefy or burly, and I’m only big if I’m standing up and haven’t turned sideways. It’s never about your mass; it’s all about what you’re used to. Establishing that difference is the key to writing action heroes and other characters that deal with pain through the course of your story.  View full article »

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