The Power of Primary Sources


There's a neat guest post at Sarah Hoyt's blog about the importance to budding writers of reading primary sources in other eras and places: it expands your horizons. She says,An aspiring writer ought to read history. Lots of it. Even if — perhaps especially if — he intends to write SF or fantasy and build societies of his own. And the most important thing he should read is primary source, which is to say, stuff that was actually written at the time. Jane’s letter to her Aunt Hortensia. Esm … [Read more...]

How Not To Write A Best-Selling Fantasy Novel

This post was written in September of 2004, relative to a blog post about how to put all of the typical fantasy cliches into your manuscript. Jaq's post is still available, because Jaq's got stamina, and you go look at it if you like. In this post, I refer to two novels of mine, one of which is indeed available to read on-line (though not in e-book format) and one which is still not quite done, ten years later. Jaquandor comments (with reference to his manuscript in progress) on this post … [Read more...]

Watchman for Daybreak Watch

Writing continued on Watchman for Daybreak in a somewhat desultory fashion; I had the flu most of last week, and blogging takes precedence. But I've now got over 5,000 words written, and the last thousand of that is for a scene that's going to need a fair amount more work. In short, I'm moving onward with (modified) vigor. The earlier scenes probably need some more description as well, to give a better sense of place. Also, I wrote rough drafts of several posts on Aristotle, who is More … [Read more...]

Bleeding Delicately on the Page

Wonder of wonders, I actually got some fiction writing done this week. I've written the first draft of another scene for Watchman for Daybreak, the first story set in the S'Mary's World universe, adding another 1500 words. It's beginning to come together, plot-wise, though the eventual structure is still somewhat up for grabs.And then, I added a bit to "Jeeves and the Nameless Ichor"...but then came to the sad realization that to do it properly I'm going to need to immerse myself in Bertie … [Read more...]

Writing the Scene

I've got a character, John St. Cloude, captain of the freezer ship Our Lady of Loreto; a sequence of events, the voyage to S'Mary's World; I've even got a title, always an important point for me, Watchman for Daybreak; yet I can't seem to get started.Part of it is simply lack of time: we went away for President's Day weekend, sharing a rental unit with another family; being present to family and friends is not conducive to writing fiction. Saturday is usually good writing time, but today … [Read more...]

iPad Air: First Impressions

iPad Air Smart Case

I've had an iPad 2 since they were first released, and I love it. It's sturdy, reliable, pleasant to use, and goes everywhere with me. For a case, I use the original Apple "Smart Cover": a leather lid with a magnetic hinge that pops on and off easily. The lid has four sections, and folds into a triangular tube, which you can use as a base. In landscape mode, the iPad stands up at a convenient angle; and in portrait mode the folded lid makes a pleasant grip for reading. There are magnets in … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: Bad Language

“Dang Brodell,” Emmett said. Actually that isn’t what he said. But about a year ago I got a four-page letter from a woman in Wichita, Kansas, saying that she had read all of my reports and that as each of her fourteen grandchildren reached his or her twelfth birthday she gave him or her copies of three of them just to get them started. If I go ahead and report what Emmett Lake actually said I would almost certainly lose that nice old lady, and what about the grandchildren who aren’t twelve yet? I … [Read more...]

City of the Beasts

A rare negative book review from January, 2003, of Isabel Allende's City of the Beasts. I find that I still feel the same way a decade later.Fifteen-year-old Alexander Cold's mother has cancer and is going to a special clinic with Alexander's father; he and his sisters get dispatched to live with aunts for duration. In Alexander's case, it means that he accompanies his eccentric, acerbic Aunt Kate on an expedition to the farthest reaches of the Amazon River, in search of a murderous … [Read more...]

Writing Tools: Hardware

I've been blogging for over ten years, but I've been doing it much more intentionally over the last several weeks. On my old blog, I'd write a post whenever it occurred to me do so and I happened to have the time. In the early days, that was often once a day; in later years, it was twice a week at most, and sometimes nothing for several weeks or months. But this is a new start, and I've made a commitment to myself to have at least one post up every day. That means doing a lot more writing, and … [Read more...]