Monthly Archives: March 2009

In the interest of full disclosure…

Upon rereading my “things writers do that bother me” post, i realize that I sounded a little, well, self-righteous. So, to be fair, I’ve compiled a list of things that I do as a writer that annoy me …

1. Most of my viewpoint characters are snarky. I’m trying to fight this, so there is a variety of voice, but it creeps in. No one gives anyone a straight answer. I stamp down the pop-culture references, but they still keep making them. I have to re-write chunks of dialogue and observation because I realize a lot of it sounds like Television Without Pity snarkcaps (back before TWOP got bought by Bravo, fired the founders, and started sucking). Oh, and they shrug and smirk a lot, which must. be. stopped (thank you, Allen Guthrie).

2. The neoplasms … just, really, etc. Trying to get a handle on this one, but sometimes they do make the flow a little smoother, especially when you’re trying to convey a certain characters perception, or internal rhythm. Some of you will know what I mean there. It’s hard to explain.

3. I try to have too many viewpoint characters. I like using a large cast and a variety of people. My short stories only have 1, but the novels … I must be blocked from adding and adding (and since they’re all sarcastic jackasses, I really do need to start limiting myself). Maps of Perdition started off with 7. It’s soon to be 5 (Spoiler alert!), which will make it a little more manageable.

4. My romance plotlines are often predictable. I hate the “well these two are the male and female lead, so therefore they must get together” thing, so I’m trying not to do that here, but, you know, sometimes it’s hard to resist. I’m trying (but they’re so cute together, and both of them are nuts, so it’s perfect!)

5. I like the sudden violent death once in a while. Handled correctly, this can be a nice, shocking moment that takes characters to a new level of engagement with their immdiate situation. I may have overdone it in recent chapters.

So there, things I do that annoy myself…i’m sure my writer friends will have a list of their own.

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Posted by on March 22, 2009 in writing


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My quickie, non-spoilery reaction to the BSG finale

a more reasoned analysis will come later, but for now….

omg! omg! omg!

and I would like to thank io9 for the following image, which pretty much sums up everything.


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Posted by on March 22, 2009 in culture


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1proxi I would like to thank Unfocused Me for the Proximadade award … my first blogging award, which I am printing out and putting on my wall (alongside the photocopy of the check from my first sale).

But now it falls to me to pass the award on… The proximadade award is to be given to a fellow blogger (or bloggers) who are close you  in concept, location, or that you just hold in high regard(at least I think that’s how it works).

So, the blogger to whom I’m passing the priximade award  is …. (i know, i know, you’re all excited now. I was going to have Charlize Theron come in to type this part, but for some reason she’s not returning my calls).

Jasmine Hammer

In a weird twist to normal blogging relationships, I have actually met Jasmine in real life. We had our first professional reading and signing together at Borderlands Books in San Francisco. Her work is amazing, and anyone who writes will find themselves in her posts about her journey as a writer trying to get a career started .

She also has the coolest name for a writer since, like, ever. So, Jasmine … tag, you’re it!

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Posted by on March 20, 2009 in writing



A controversial opinion (or: a rant about stupid stuff that’s bothering me).

People absolutely have the right to write about whatever they want to. But as someone who’s read a great deal of stuff, some professional, some not, I’m coming more and more to the conclusion that imagination is not enough for some things … to write about some subjects, you really have to earn the right.

That sounds harsh. But if you’re going to write about science, you would probably do some research, talk to scientists, make sure you had your facts straight.

But there are a lot of writers who think they can write about different experiences they’ve never personally experienced, experiences that bore right down into the core of people’s lives, and they get it wrong. Maybe not offensively so, but you can tell the writer just didn’t “get it” with an issue.

As an adoptive parent, stories that flippantly deal with adoption, or with an adopted child searching out their “real family” bother me. This is a valid subject, but in most cases, it is not handled with grace. In most cases, it’s a lovely little quest that reunites the child with some inheritance or family group, completely oblivious to the fact that that child already had a family …

As a person with Bipolar disorder, and the parent of a child with severe ADHD, I see these conditions used as jokes in many, many stories. And people try to write about them without really understanding how they feel to the person experiencing them. It’s one thing if its characters making jokes, quite another when its right there in the narration, or when ADD, or Bipolar are used as quick and dirty descriptors. Usually by people who don’t really understand what they mean, and haven’t bothered to talk to anyone with these conditions.

Divorce, death of a child, career paths, legal issues (this one’s for you, Jared), life in different countries, etc (this list could go on for thousands of words), you need to do your reseacrh.

No work of fiction should be completely research free, even if your research is simply digging into your own life.

The good news … no one gets through their first tweny years or so without becoming one of life’s walking wounded. We all have experiences that can be poured into the vessel of fiction and shared with others. And if something that hasn’t happened to you interests you as a writer … talk. to. someone. Even if it’s just having someone else read it to make sure you’re getting it right in the important ways.

This doesn’t even get into the area of writing from the perspective of a different ethnic group than you … do it. Be brave. Take a risk. But talk to someone, let others see your work. It will be stronger for it.

None of us are experts on everything. We are usually experts only on ourselves, and because of the nature of our lives, that does give us a wide base to stand on, but … let’s get it right, people.


Posted by on March 17, 2009 in Uncategorized



oooooh boy … Watchmen

I first read Watchmen just after the original mini-series finished up its run in 1986. As a country kid, I didn’t live close to a comic shop, so summer vacations to California, and the occasional foray to Indianapolis, were the only places I could get comics that I couldn’t get at our local Haag’s drug store (yes, kids, they used to sell comics in spinner racks at drug stores. That was just after I waved goodbye to my uncle and my cousins when they left for Oregon in a Conestoga wagon).

And Watchmen, being part of DC Comics’ direct-only initiative (which removed Teen Titans and Legion of Super-heroes from my world, but that’s a rant for later) was not available at the Haag’s drug.

This was probably good for many, many reasons.

So when I was in Cali, visiting what is still my favorite store of all time: Fact, Fiction, and Fantasy in Livermore, California, I found all issues of Watchmen in the back issue bin,  and used my saved up money to purchase them all. I think they were $1.25 apiece. Again, this is depressing.

I should mention I was 13 years old at the time. If you’ve read Watchmen, or seen the movie, you will understand a lot more about me now.

Needless to say, I loved every panel. I was young enough that a lot of the deeper meaning went over my head, but have loved it even more as I got older and those other layers revealed themselves.

So when the movie ads started running,  I started annoying my wife about it ( i was not stupid enough to think the kids were going). She probably would have smothered me in my sleep except that my fanboy squeeee was audible only to the dogs.

She was in … it looked interesting. She’s always tolerated my geeky side, and likes a good movie if it’s a good movie, no matter what it’s about.

So we went …

I have been given a probationary period of 365 calendar days before I am allowed to pick the movies again.

It was … well, the core was there. The first ten minutes were some of the most incredible moments of cinema I’ve ever experienced. The last supper pastiche with Sally Jupiter at the center, Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis discreetly off to the side … it was … wow.

And I liked the movie at a very basic, visceral, level. It seemed right. Everything but Malin Ackerman anyway. It worked.

An aside: how awesome would Amy Acker have been as Laurie Jupiter (yes, Juspecyk, but the movie didn’t get into that)?

My wife has a very low tolerance for gore, but if it’s necessary to the story, it’s not a big deal. I used to think I had a high tolerance to that sort of thing. I’ve never said a movie was too gory …

This movie was just too, too gory. Yes, this is a world punctuated with moments of sudden, horrific violence. That’s appropriate to the story, necessary. Everything in Watchmen’s 1985 is kind of hyper-real, ramped up.  But in this movie, it was constant, it dulled you to it, which made it less effective. It was like a super-hero movie made by a thirteen-year-old, all shock, no context. It even made some horrific scenes from the original more gory for no real reason. I’m thinking of Rorschach in the child-killer’s house. That’s not how he killed him in the original, and the original, the fire, the coldness, was much more effective than this hot rage. That cold dropping of the match, the walking away, THAT was Kovacs breaking and Rorschach emerging. Not the raging,  gore-porny, hatchet/skull montage.

This movie really got the story in a lot of ways, but in a lot of ways did not. The one moment of gore from the book, that slow pan of the bodies in Times Square … absent. The one really grim moment we needed to linger on … not there.  I mean, I understand going with nuclear attacks instead of the big giant squid, but the apocalypse was mundane, which it absolutely should not have been.

I wanted to love it. I couldn’t even really like it very much. I probably would have known what to expect if I’d seen 300, which I hadn’t. I don’t want to now. I don’t want to see a Snyder movie ever again.

It’s too bad. It could have been amazing (I need the first ten minutes by themselves).

Zach Snyder doesn’t get it, really. He got most of it. The look and feel, characterizations (one notable expection already mentioned), were all spot-on. But it went waaaay over the top and undercut its own point.

Now, J.J. Abrams …please don’t screw up Star Trek…


Posted by on March 15, 2009 in culture


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Gone so long ….

Sorry about the gap, so soon after my promise to post more prolificly. Blame Facebook. Seriously, blame it. It it the ultimate time-suck, a black hole of attention, which I don’t have a great time controlling in the first place.

But I do have an announcement:

My short story, “Dust in the Stellar Wind,” will be published later this year in the Hadley-Rille Books anthology, Footprints.

Other than that, I am at work on my novel, Maps of Perdition, and a couple of short stories I’ve been kicking around for a while. Since selling “Dust,” I’ve still got one out there circling, not rejected, not accepted. I hope to hear about that soon …

So, that is the status as of thsi moment. It changes hourly. Actually, it changes secondly, but it’s best not to think too hard about that.


Posted by on March 14, 2009 in Uncategorized