Welcome to the Fold: Next One Is Real Dept.

The best projects are always the ones that haven't been started yet. That's the problem.


I'm now in the homestretch — the last 5,000 to 10,000 words — of Welcome to the Fold's first draft. Normally I'm reluctant to talk about projects in progress like this, because it feels like either bragging or promising more than I can deliver. The book could change drastically in the second draft for all I know, so I don't like to lead on that it's going to be a watermelon when in fact it's going to be a pumpkin. Vegetable metaphors aside, the occasion did bring some other thoughts to mind.

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Tags: Welcome to the Fold writing


Genji Press: Projects: You've Seen The Headlines, Now Read The Book Dept.

Is tying your work into current events smart self-promotion or just spammy?


One of the marketing suggestions I've seen for authors, self-published or not, is for them to tie their work into some current event in some form. Viz., Brad Thor observing that the recent swap of five Gitmo detainees for a hostage is reminiscent of his book The First Commandment.

This sort of thing has always made me uneasy, because it seems like yet another way to encourage authors to become marketers, or rather to denature the distinction between their work and the promotion of it. Or, in plainer language, are you going to be more inclined to read someone's work because they point out things like this, or less?

In my case, less — not because I have a thing against military fiction, etc. (I don't), but more because I can't help but apply my own standards to such behavior. If an author I knew did that, I'd feel like they were spamming me; that's why I'm reluctant to do it myself.

Other people often have entirely different levels of tolerance for such things, and I might simply be missing out on an opportunity. (Tell me what you think below.)

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Tags: authors promotion publicity publishing writing


Genji Press: Projects: Blog Hop (Around, Y'all) (Dept.)

Or, how I do what I do when I do what I do.


Normally I don't do these kinds of tag-you're-it blog games, but I got tagged by Steven Savage, for whom I would carry a back-box of Gatorade through the Sahara on hands and knees. The way this shtick works is, you get tagged to answer four questions. To wit:

  • What am I working on?
  • How does it differ from others of its genre?
  • Why do I write what I do?
  • How does my writing process work?

So, let us begin the beguine.

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Tags: writing


Flight of the Vajra: But Here's What It's Really About Dept.

The story isn't the pitch, but for readers, it often is.


Last night a friend mentioned he'd discussed Flight of the Vajra with someone at a geek meetup, although the lead-in was a bit oblique.

Other Person: "I don't read long stories as much as I used to."

Friend: "This book has a guy punching another guy in the brain with a city."

Other Person: " . . . what?"

Yes, this sorta-kinda does happen, but it's that the climax of the story, and it's far from being the most important thing that happens in it. But it's become something of a running-gag-explanation for my friend, who drops it in peoples' laps as a way to spark their curiosity about it. He also came up with a great one-liner to describe the book, one which never fails to turn heads: "A more responsible version of Tony Stark has to save the galaxy, and his elite strike team consists of a circus acrobat, the Dalai Lama, Commissioner Gordon, Seven of Nine, and David Bowie." (I'm putting that on cards and using them for my table pitch at the next con.)

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Tags: Flight of the Vajra publicity storytelling writing


Genji Press: Projects: Talking Head Dept.

Talkin' to Andrew Conry-Murray.


Fellow author and industry colleague Andrew Conry-Murray has published an interview with yours truly. My favorite of my own lines:

I bump into plenty of folks who say they want to write SF or fantasy, but don’t seem to have any curiosity about the genres other than what they’ve already read in them, or seen on TV. If you don’t read outside your own genre, if you don’t read nonfiction, if you don’t read anything older than you are, if you don’t have an interest in current events outside of the need to reinforce your existing prejudices about the world — then you’re not going to produce anything that isn’t a recapitulation of the previous generation of work at best. You have to peer further, be a more curious and empathic person. That’s what SF and fantasy are supposed to be about, anyway — bigger and better horizons, right?


Tags: interviews


Welcome to the Fold: No Plan Ever Survives First Contact With The Enemy Dept.

Plan ahead, lest you find yourself behind plan.


Again, work and the busy-ness of settling in (finding a house, getting access to my stuff in storage) has intruded on blogging time. So, some Fold news, delivered with my customary lack of spoilers.

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Tags: Welcome to the Fold writing


Flight of the Vajra: The Crack In Everything Dept.

How I turned an intellectual failure into a creative success.


One of the better pieces of creative advice I've received is "Look for the cracks in things." Leonard Cohen has a couplet along those lines: there's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in. But the right way to apply that advice eluded me for a long time.

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Tags: creativity Flight of the Vajra science fiction Science Fiction Repair Shop writing


Welcome to the Fold: Blowed Up Real Good Dept.

A bigger bang isn't always a better one, whether in movies or in books.


Child's Play: The Degeneration of Blockbusters | Balder and Dash | Roger Ebert

Artists certainly are allowed to make films that only satisfy their own creative pursuits. But blockbusters — more than any other kind of film — are conceived of as a way to entertain and satisfy audiences (so they can make money). Modern spectacles feel like they're built to entertain and satisfy their filmmakers instead. They're not considering who their destruction is actually for anymore. They're just doing it. Or, as Vulture wrote, when it comes to destruction porn, "No one necessarily asks for it; it just kind of happens."

My own reservations about how this unfolded in Man of Steel are actually not what's most on my mind when I think about this.

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Tags: destruction porn Flight of the Vajra movies writing


Welcome to the Fold: You'll Ruin It For Everyone Dept.

Why I keep my work close to the chest until it's done, done, done.


One thing I've noticed about myself vs. other writers with a Web / social network presence is how much more explicit and candid many of them are about their work while it's still being produced. E.g., Twitter updates about word counts or editing status, or even posting the whole thing to their blog incrementally (my friend Scott Delahunt has been doing this with his Lethal Ladies and Subject 13 projects). I don't think these approaches are bad or wrong, just that I've found that they're not the approaches I prefer to take.

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Tags: criticism editing feedback Flight of the Vajra Welcome to the Fold writers writing


Welcome to the Fold: Lead, Follow, Or Get A Life Dept.

On "I don't want to have to follow an artist that I have to lead."


T Bone Burnett vs. Silicon Valley: 'We Should Go Up There With Pitchforks and Torches' (Q&A)

People tend to want artists to do the same thing, and it is incumbent upon artists to do something that the audience doesn't want — yet. I'll tell you this. I won't follow an artist who will be led by his audience. Because I don't want to have to follow an artist that I have to lead.

The comments about Silicon Valley aside (I use and make a living off this technology, but I see more and more every day why many creative people are embittered about it, but that's another essay), it was this comment — courtesy of Marc McKenzie, hat tip — which caught my attention.

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Tags: creativity creators imagination


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