Learning from your synopsis

December 6, 2011 § 6 Comments

A few nights ago I was in a social setting and asked the question I dread more than any other: “What’s your book about?”

I hear those words and my heart starts beating wildly in my chest, my mouth dries up, and I adopt an unfortunate stutter. I could talk about my story, characters, and world for hours, but minutes? That’s much more difficult. How can I boil down a year of work, untold hundreds of hours spent prewriting, plotting, and producing these tens of thousands of words into a few sentences that won’t bore my audience to death or make me look like one of the millions of people out there who say they want to write a book? Sometimes I start by explaining the setting, but I’ve found that the majority of people don’t know what “steampunk” is.  This is further complicated by the fact that my story differs from most steampunk in that it isn’t historical fiction, it’s fantasy in an industrializing society. « Read the rest of this entry »


A moment of publishing panic

November 9, 2011 § 3 Comments

I had a big, heart-racing, prepare-yourself-for-embarrassment moment of panic yesterday. First, a bit of background: I started submitting short stories to science fiction and fantasy magazine a little less than a year ago. I started out with two making the rounds of the various big name magazines in sci-fi and fantasy short stories and quickly became frustrated. I had only gathered about six rejections before I was feeling like submitting was a big waste of time (for reference, many stories are rejected a dozen times or more before they find a home).  It wasn’t an “I should burn everything I’ve ever written and never touch a pen again” kind of frustration, more the “My work is clearly not ready to submit” variety. I was ready to pull both stories and buckle down to improve my craft when « Read the rest of this entry »

Guest Post by Jay Swanson, author of White Shores

October 16, 2011 § 2 Comments

Writing is Hard

Not really. I mean it’s about as difficult as talking, it just takes more of a concerted effort. But people really get worked up over writing, especially how hard it is, and then the whining starts. I whine some. I’ll be honest, some days it’s a struggle to write. But writing itself isn’t hard. It’s a simple matter of converting those thoughts bouncing around inside your head into ink on the page. Or pixels on the screen. Unless you have no thoughts, in which case converting them to anything will be difficult.

What’s truly a challenge is actually making yourself sit down and do it. People, including myself, tend to whine a lot more than they write. If you put as much energy into your writing as you did your whining you’d at least get another paragraph or two out of your day. What no one wants to hear is that you’ve always wanted to write a book as if that counted. It’s ok to have always wanted to write a book. And it’s ok to say that. What’s not cool is looking at someone who has done the work of actually writing a book and saying “well I’ve always WANTED « Read the rest of this entry »

Attacking that Pipe Dream Mario Style (with a little help from Robert Heinlein)

October 9, 2011 § 2 Comments

For a long time I didn’t tell anybody that I wanted to be an author.  Even now, I’ll mention to people that one of my short stories is being published in November, and they will say “Whaaaaa? I didn’t know you write.”  The big reason it took so long to tell people I wanted to be an author is that it feels like everybody wants to be an author.  I can think of a half-dozen people off the top of my head that have, at one time or another, mentioned that they have a book idea, partially completed manuscript, etc.  The fact that so many people say they want to be authors (preferably of the published variety) and so few ever get to that point makes writing feel like a pipe dream.  I hesitated to tell people about wanting to be a writer because A) half the time I felt like I didn’t stand a chance of my writing ever going anywhere, and B) I didn’t think people would take my aspirations seriously, which made me even more self-conscious. « Read the rest of this entry »

Reading, writing, and a mild case of insanity

September 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

This blog in a nutshell…


I love to read, and I have for as long as I can remember.  I was always the kid under the sheets with a flashlight after I was supposed to be asleep.  I still love to read anything and everything, and I want this blog to be both a resource for other people who feel the same way, and a place to talk about books, reading, and the ways both are changing.  I’ll be reviewing what I read, posting and commenting on book news, and compiling lists of books I’d recommend to other bibliophiles, whatever their age.


On some level I’ve always wanted to write, but it wasn’t until I was a sophomore in college that I started thinking maybe I could.  Since then, I’ve spent a huge percentage of my free time reading, writing, and learning about what makes stories work.  I’ve made a lot of progress, but there’s still more room for improvement than I want to think about.  This blog will be a place where I continue to share the tips and tricks I gather, glean, or learn the hard way.  To start, here’s a list of books I would recommend to anyone thinking about writing.

A mild case of insanity.

Anyone who has ever written something for an audience is familiar with this.  Some days I feel like God’s gift to literature, and others I feel like I would be doing the world a favor if I never wrote another word.  Sometimes it changes in a matter of minutes.  Albert Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  This isn’t what he was talking about, but I think Albert would cut me a little slack and call it insanity anyway.  I don’t have any useful insights on this, but I find that it’s nice to be reminded that it’s something every author feels.

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