Tag Archive: Jim Butcher


I took a creative writing course at my first college. I dropped it later, because the professor didn’t know how to actually teach creative writing. That’s not to say that I knew what I was doing; I’d been writing since I was eleven, and by the time I took this professor’s class I was told by one professional author and another English professor that I was publishable, but I (today) wouldn’t consider myself (then) to know what I was talking about any more than that professor. I learned far more from the assigned texts than I did from her.

The problem with many creative writing courses is that they spend a lot of time teaching you what not to do rather than what you should do. That’s a lot easier, I suppose; as I frequently say, writing is an art, not a science. There are a few ways to fail, and an near-infinite number of ways to succeed. It’s easier to talk about what not to do. The problem is that these courses go on and on with their rules rather than treating it as an art form. When I teach writing, I actually approach it the same way one might teach drawing or painting: here’s some stuff to try, and here’s how to refine it. The rules of fiction aren’t the laws of physics.

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One such rule, which this professor was quite strict on, is one that many of you will no doubt have heard. Don’t use adverbs. The professor in question was even more specific: “Don’t use -ly words.” Whether she didn’t care about adverbs that didn’t end in -ly or she just thought we didn’t know what an adverb was, I don’t know; it could honestly have gone either way. (You can tell I didn’t enjoy that class.)  Continue reading

The week isn’t over, but it’s just getting crazier. Aside from the “No True Fan” argument, publications like Entertainment Weekly (though the editors almost immediately retracted the hit piece), Salon, the Telegraph, the Guardian, and more, as well as numerous websites like Cracked and various blogs, have been saying over and over that the Sad Puppies campaign is vile, vicious, vulgar, and villainous. It seems that the campaign that nominated works by liberal, female, non-white, and gay artists did so out of a strong desire for a right-wing utopia dominated by straight white men. Who knew?

But I’m not going to get into that right now. I’m going to leave that up to others. For now, if you want my opinion on the subject, I invite you to look at my previous blog posts. In “Piers Plowman and the Hugo Awards,” I discussed the problem of putting a message before the story. I followed that with a look at those who argue differently, with “G. K. Chesterton and the Social Fiction Warriors.” Finally, after the Hugo ballot was released, I talked about the effort to deny the validity of opinions, and what makes a fan a fan, in “You Are All Fake Geek Girls.”

According to the trackbacks and referrals I’ve been getting, these are all considered moderate opinions, and as unbiased as someone who’s taken a side can get. I’m flattered, everyone, and I’m glad the posts have been useful.

However, unless and until more specifically writing-related topics come up, I’m leaving it there. I’ve been enjoying the extra traffic, but my focus here, on this blog, is on writing and reviews. I’ve said as much as I can really think of about that in relation to the Hugos.

. . . well, almost. I still have to get on to reviewing Hugo nominees. I fully intend to crank out as many reviews of nominated material as I can get before the end of July, when the final ballot is due. I already have non-spoiler reviews of Jim Butcher’s Skin Game (nominated for Best Novel) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The LEGO Movie (both nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form).

But, for now, I want to talk about the voting process. Continue reading

Every year, the Butcher team releases an official April Fool’s Day joke. This is the best one yet, and I had to share it.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York, NY

Due to readers’ frustration with the wait between books, Jim Butcher and his editor at Penguin Random House are taking inspiration from one of their favorite film trilogies and declaring a temporary hiatus on publication of the Dresden Files novels.

“I think Peter Jackson had the right idea with the Lord of the Rings movies,” Butcher explained. “The trilogy took eight years to make. You can’t expect an audience to wait that long between installments. It made more sense to film all three movies simultaneously, then release them back to back. That’s what I’d like to do.”

He continued, “I mean, these books take a long time to craft.  Each novel is its own challenge with new complexities, and ‘Skin Game’ was almost double the length of ‘Storm Front’.  Brandon Sanderson was kind enough to hook me up with the xenobiologists who grew his hybrid army of alien writer clones, but until these pupae mature, I’m just one man.”

Jim will be writing case books 16 through 20ish all at once, then releasing them six months apart.  Then, taking inspiration from Jackson’s treatment of The Hobbit, Butcher will split the final Apocalyptic Trilogy into fifteen books, also written simultaneously and released on the same schedule.

Look for “Peace Talks” on April 1st, 2027.

The cover and dust jacket text for Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass have been released. io9 has an exclusive look at the second chapter, so just hop over there to take a look. Meanwhile, here’s the cover:

Jim Butcher Aeronaut's Windlass

What, no hats?

This isn’t just an announcement, however. I’m going to take a closer look at what this book seems to have in store for us.  Continue reading

Paranet PapersLongtime readers may remember that I had some input on the Fate Core RPG system. (Yes, that is my name on the cover of Worlds on Fire. They didn’t tell me that was happening.) Evil Hat Productions and I haven’t had business together since, but Fate remains my favorite RPG system, and I actually have a review for one of their latest offerings in the pipeline.

Today, however, I just want to share the news that the long-awaited supplement for The Dresden Files RPG is finally scheduled for publication. The Paranet Papers will be released on June 1st.

“Big deal,” you might say. You’re not interested in anything other than the next Dresden Files novel. Why would you want an RPG supplement? I’m glad you asked, Mr. Strawman! Continue reading

It should be no surprise to any of you that I’m a bit of a Jim Butcher fan. In fact, if I don’t find anything even better in the meantime, he’s got my top vote for this year’s Hugo Awards. Skin Game was pretty awesome, as you might gather from my review.

Well, he’s been working on a new series for a while, The Cinder Spires, promised to be a steampunk fantasy. That’s a rather broad description but, knowing Butcher, we’ll get a fairly thought-out magic system with a delightful blend of brute-force and subtlety, a complex society buried under a seemingly-simplistic exterior, and a good dose of sarcastic humor.

Oh, and explosions. This book has airships, and the title of the first book is The Aeronaut’s Windlass. If we get through this novel without at least two airship crashes, I’ll be surprised. Jim Butcher tends to be rather hard on his characters’ insurance rates, and airships tend to be ever so fragile.

The release date is September 29th of this year. That’s a Tuesday, in case anyone is scheduling out their time off from work. (*cough* Novel Ninja Freelance Editing does not and will never endorse calling in sick on account of the publication of oh never mind.)  Continue reading

23500493Recently, I gave you all a review of Shanna Swendson’s Enchanted series, an urban fantasy romance set in a version of New York where wizards, fairies, gnomes, and elves live among unsuspecting humans, hidden by magical illusions, with lives both astonishingly similar and predictably different from reality. My future co-author Elizabeth Hajek has given her own enthusiastic verdict on the series, and I should note she hadn’t even finished the sixth book before deciding to endorse it.

Well, while I waited for Swendson to publish the next book in the series, I decided to take a look at what is currently the only book in a separate series written by her, titled simply A Fairy Tale. This is similar to Enchanted because it takes place in New York, it’s a fantasy, it’s women’s fiction with significant cross-gender appeal, and it’s very good. It’s different because it’s adventure rather than romance; it’s urban fantasy only in that some of it takes place in New York; and it’s not as light and humorous as Katie’s adventures with Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc.

It’s also one of the best examples I’ve found so far of adapting British fairy folk tales to the modern fantasy genre that is their direct descendant. If you like your fairies to be less like Walt Disney’s Tinkerbell and more like Jim Butcher’s Queen Mab, you’ll be right at home.  Continue reading

As I said in my review of Shanna Swendson’s Enchanted series, I wound up with a lot more to say that was really appropriate for a review. Like many of my posts, it’s a long one, clocking in at over three thousand words, but it’s aimed more at writers than all readers. And, I promise: spoiler free! (Well, except for the romance angle.)

So, without further ado, here’s my analysis of this new favorite series.  Continue reading

download (1)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

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