A Singularity
Podcasts: Writing Excuses 7.14

So I don’t often post really good podcast episodes mostly because I listen to my podcasts in the car and it is hard to write internet posts in the car. Most of the other drivers don’t appreciate it for some reason. Lots of car horns, let me tell you.

But today I am breaking that rule for Writing Excuses. Writing excuses is one of my favorite podcasts about writing, offering incredibly useful tips and advice for aspiring authors and wannabe writers. Plus the podcasts are only fifteen minutes long, because I’m in a hurry (and they’re not that smart)!

Which brings us to the episode I feel you should listen to. This is by far not a typical episode but it is a hilarious one and even if you aren’t attempting to become a writer it is well worth listening to.

Writing Excuses Season 7 Episode 14: Writing Excuses

This episode will go over common (and maybe not so uncommon) writing excuses. It offers us such jewels as:

[Brandon] You know, what I think helps with a writer who wants to write epic fantasy, really? I really think… You know Tolkien took 20 years to world build. You’re not as good as Tolkien. Let’s be up front with that. So I think maybe 40 years is about as much time as it…
[Dan] 40 years if you’re exactly half as good as Tolkien. Which is still a little arrogant of you, frankly.

Here is the link to the podcast. If you can’t listen to the podcast, here is a link to the transcript (which is a lot less funny unless you hear their voices, but still hilarious).

 

Writing: Being Classy: Dealing with Publishing Woes

On occasion we hear about when an author goes ballistic. Usually about reviews or sometimes about how a publisher treats them. We rarely hear about when an author stays classy in the face of obvious annoyance. Well unless you’re reading this article right now.

Let me introduce you to Mary Robinette Kowal. I am not one of her readers, although that might change in the future, but I am one of her listeners, as she recently joined one of my favorite writing podcasts Writing Excuses where she has proven herself very capable of offering advice and knowledge regarding writing.

Unsurprisingly she is an author of several books of which the most recent one, Glamour in Glass, had a printing error. The printer somehow omitted the first line of the novel. Does she rant and rave to the net? No. She takes the problem, stays classy, and turns it into something even better: A way to advertise her new book and interact with her fans.

Bookmark by Mary Robinette KowalHer blog post regarding the subject discusses the first lines of books in general, offers an interactive pop quiz, and then proceeds to enumerate a list of ways readers can correct their novels including asking her to pen the initial line herself if one attends a signing of the book. How awesome is that? The list also includes digital stickers, a digital book mark, a free signed bookmark with a self-addressed & stamped envelope (SASE), a temporary tatoo with a SASE, and the best part, she is selling a t-shirt with the missing first line. And of course you could read the first line on the webpage itself, if you wanted, or just start with the second line!

Despite Glamour in Glass being the second in a series, I’m tempted to purchase it. For those of you who don’t know, book collectors often see more value in a book that has a miss printing than perfectly bound books. I make no assumptions or assertions regarding Mary Robinette Kowel’s bibliography’s future worth but it does add some appealing value, aside from the story within.

So aspiring authors out there, take notes. This is how you handle someone else’s mistake of your work and turn it around into something awesome. Don’t believe me? Mur Lafferty, author and creator of my other favorite writing podcast, I Should Be Writing, agrees with me.

Writing Time: Everlasting #37

Writing Sessions

Word Count: 1,054

Today’s writing session was significantly less productive. It only took me an hour to write a thousand words but the writing kinda dragged. It took me a little while to get into it. So when I got to my word count I stopped. Why try and force it if I’ve gotten my word count? Speaking of which, I don’t want to spoil it here so read down below.

Everlasting Update

Word Count: 100,711

One hundred thousand words! I have written one hundred thousand words! Woooo! That is WAY TO MUCH! No seriously. For one entire story that isn’t even an epic, I’ve written far too much. So much needs to be cut. I’m almost of the opinion I just need to start over but that’s likely a fallacy. I need to re-read what I’ve written, edit it, glean ideas and perhaps re-write my plot and see what I can save. No point in re-writing if I can just edit it.

Today’s scene was a planning scene. I had a really good section of description which was fun to write but I had to do a bit of editing as I realized I was defining stuff that really needed to be more detail in the next chapter when the people do stuff. I also had to think up some “bad” ideas on the fly for people to reject before they came up with the good idea. Coming up with bad ideas is hard but likely I remembered a Writing Excuses that talked about the concept, which helped me realize what exactly I was and what I needed to be doing.

Writing Time: Free Write #14: The Specialists

Going to be quick tonight. I’m writing based upon a prompt from one of my favorite writing podcasts, Writing Excuses. This one is from Season 5, Episode 33.

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The Specialists

"I know some people have said that rooms get colder when there are-" Charley turned away from the thermostat he had just turned down to fifty-five degrees, focusing his attention on the pair he had invited into his home with a slight frown to his lips.

"A common misconception, Mr. Williams. It’s actually a juxtaposition of that belief," Clara Munson interrupted as she helped her partner take off his brown coveralls. The two were dressed in a similar fashion to the iconic characters from the movies that they supposedly shared a profession with except that they had no nuclear reactors strapped to their backs. Nor had any women asked him if he was the master of anything lately. Charley did, however, have a grown man stripping down to his boxers in the living room.

Charley took a few sideways steps towards the windows and then said, “I’ll just shut these curtains too.” The curtains were drawn but it did not dim the room very much as the afternoon light showed through the mostly sheer curtains. He lifted his hand to his chin as he surveyed the stuff scattered across the room. The pair had come with their own supposedly specialized equipment but none of it looked futuristic or even useful. A wash basin, two box fans, a cooler, a blanket, and a box of tissues. The woman, whose name was Carla Munson, was filling the wash basin with water and then set it in the middle of the room in front of the man.

"Good idea. Thank you. The less the light interferes, the better." Billy Munson, the now mostly naked man, pulled over a chair from the dining room to the wash pan and sat in it. He began pulling off his socks while Clara walked around the room with her hand raised up, carrying one of the box fans. She seemed to find what she was looking for as she set the box fan down and angled it towards Billy before turning it on.

"Of course," Charley murmured in agreement as if he had a clue what they were doing. Unlike others of their profession who charged hourly rates they only charged a flat fee for their services. It had seemed a good deal. Now he was definitely starting to wonder. If his wife came home from work early to see this…

"It shouldn’t take long, assuming this room cools quickly." To emphasize her point, Clara opened the small cooler and took out a plastic bag filled with ice. Billy grimaced in anticipating as he slid his bare feet into the wash basin. Clara then emptied the bag of ice in the basin with a splash.

The blanket and tissues were left aside but otherwise everything else seemed setup. Billy sat with his feet submerged in ice water, box fans blowing directly at him, and mostly naked, in the middle of Charley’s living room. He looked calm, as if he did this every day for a living which Charley supposed was true although he wasn’t sure what exactly Billy was doing.

Clara retired to the living room couch and casually picked up a magazine from the coffee table and began leafing through it. After a minute of watching the man subject himself to this, Charley had to ask. ”Okay so what are you doing?” His voice did not sound has irritated as he felt but he definitely snapped. Both of the Munsons looked at him in slight surprise, although Billy was now visibly shivering so he wasn’t able to stare evenly.

"We’re rendering services as you requested, catching your-" Clara began to explain before she was interrupted.

"No I mean this!" Charley waved his hand in Billy’s direction. He could feel a scowl forming.

"Like Clara said. We’re trying to… to… catch-aaachooooo!" Billy sneezed loudly, his head whipping forward with the power of the sneeze. As if the couch had a hidden spring board, Clara was at his side almost immediately, the tissue box in hand.

"Gesund-" Charley started.

"Don’t say it!" they both exclaimed in unison. Billy thrust both hands forward as he exclaimed to emphasize his point. Charley stopped mid-word. Clara pulled a tissue from the box and offered it to Billy. Billy blew his nose then instead of folding the tissue opened it up slowly and showed it to Clara. Charley found himself stepping slowly over and trying to look over Clara’s bowed head.

"Try and sneeze one more time," Clara advised, pulling out another plastic bag from the cooler and depositing the used tissue. Billy only nodded. It took him another thirty seconds while they stared at him quietly. He grew paler was they waited, and his entire body was shivering but finally he sneezed again. The tissue paper was ready. Clara clapped excitedly this time as she examined the contents of the tissue, before throwing it in the bag. "In two!"

Billy was now looking rather worse for wear. He sniffed loudly and there was very obviously mucus in his nose. He had a somewhat unfocused look in his eyes and now they were bloodshot. When Clara instructed him to pull out his feet from the cold water she actually had to lifted his feet for him. She asked Charley to turn off the fans while she wrapped the blanket around Billy’s shoulders.

"Thank you. There there. Let’s get you home where I can get us some nice chicken soup," she cooed to the man, who was being coaxed to stand and get led to the door. She cast a glance at Charley and mouthed ‘I’ll be right back,’ before leaving. Charley scooted to the window and peeked out behind the curtains. She helped him into the back doors of their van which let Charley caught a slight glimpse inside. There seemed to be a bed in there. Clara obviously covered him with more blankets before closing the doors.

"Well that should do it," Clara said as she re-entered the house and began gathering their tools. "We’ll mail you the bill once we’ve determined the removal was successful. Shouldn’t take longer than two or three days. Bill gets over them quick in the summer even if it knocks him out." She was nearly done packing when Charley found himself able to speak.

"Wait that is it? You gave the man a summer cold and you are going to charge me for it?" He placed a hand on his hip and stared at the shorter woman. She had another thing coming if she thought she was going to hustle a Williams.

"Exactly. Glad to be of service! I’d shake your hand but well you know." Overburden with all her equipment in every hand, she stood at the door waiting for Charley to open it for her, which he did. It was only polite.

"You should be completely ghost free," Clara said as she descended the steps to their van, the words ‘Munson Possession Specialists’ written in bold on the side. "Gives us a call if you hear even so much as a wail. Have a good evening!"

They drove away just as his wife drove up. She was thrilled with him surprising her by meeting her at the door and didn’t notice how confounded her husband was until she suggested they retire early for the evening. That night he fell asleep exhausted and wasn’t awakened by a single creek, moan, or wail.

~~~~~~~~~~

So if you didn’t figure it out. The writing prompt was: “Any time you’ve caught cold you’re actually being possessed.” I decided to take it a step further and create a pair of characters who made a ghost-busting career out of giving themselves colds in haunted houses, in order to get possessed, where they could then transfer the ghosts away from the client (ostensibly to deal with them in some other fashion back home). And Munson Possession Specialists were born! I thought the take on the idea was a little clever, if I do say so myself.

Hugo Nominations are up! (Part 1 of 3)

The Hugo Award Nominations are available

Man, do we have some great nominations this year. The Hugo Award is the leading award for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy. The Hugos are awarded each year by the World Science Fiction Society, at the World Science Fiction Convention. Let me go over some of the ones I am excited about.

Best Novel

FEED is nominated!!

This actually came as light surprise to me. I am not used to having already read one of the year’s Hugo Award nominees for Best Novel. I’ve written about how the book is awesome.  FEED is by Mira Grant, the alter ego of Seanan McGuire and it has a sequel coming out, DEADLINE, on May 31st, a book I am anticipating as much as Ghost Stories by Jim Butcher. So congratulations  Ms. McGuire!

I haven’t read any of the other novels nominated but I do recognize one of the other authors nominated, Lois McMaster Bujold for her book Cryoburn.

Best Short Story

I have not read any of the short stories nominated, however I will be looking forward to Escape Pod in the coming weeks, as they typically make a point of releasing all five Hugo Nominated short stories on as podcasts.

Best Related Work

Speaking of podcasts, Writing Excuses: Season 4, has been nominated for Best Related Work. Created and staring , Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells, the podcast focuses on various topics related to writing and becoming an author while keeping any particular topic under fifteen minuets because, as they say: “Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.” Obviously you’re smart enough to get nominated for a Hugo. Congrats guys!

Part 2 and Part 3 of the Hugo Nominees will be posted in just a little bit!