This video reminded me of some of the stories I've seen that have rather sharply juxtaposed elements, some working well, some working horribly most working for only a very small slice of the market. I suspect this video falls into one of the latter to categories.

Thanks Mel

The big mistakes that sink a book are not nearly as interesting to me as the little ones that can tip the balance either way. One of the little things that always leaves me bemused is how people in stories go straight from summer into winter without more than a passing mention of fall. While its true that New England and other places sometimes feel that way, as a rule it just isn't true. The pictures below were taken in the last day or two, and at this time of year we have those lovely thirty to forty degree temperature swings that make sweatshirts appropriate at morning and eve, and short sleeves comfortable the rest of the day. The area I live in is march and hills, and more marsh mixed with occasional lands decent for farming.

I find it curious how often I see this in fiction. Nothing seems to happen in the fall in books. The weather is boring if discussed at all, and it rarely fits the climate area that is supposed to be right for the place. Travelers will head north, and about four weeks after they leave someplace temperate they are immediately buried to the horsebelly in snow. No changing leaves, no animals shedding, no birds migrating, not a hint of fall dew, nary a mention of frost, just one to another.

So for those of you who live in places without real weather:

marsh mixed foliage

wide mixed folaige, marsh slight hill

tight view of marsh mostly colored

elevated view, water tower

onyxhawke: (Default)
( Aug. 31st, 2008 09:06 pm)
Dave Freer posted two interesting things that i thought I'd mention. on his feelings after finishing something. And what he wants to write in the future.

Editors and publishers interested in the latter should call me immediately.
I am considering some of the things from the last post, unfortunately time and functional gray matter are scant.

So noting the lack of wit of my own, today's offering for your discussion:

"The penalty for success is to be bored by the people who used to snub you." Nancy Astor


"In real life, unlike in Shakespeare, the sweetness of the rose depends upon the name it bears. Things are not only what they are. They are, in very important respects, what they seem to be." Hubert H. Humphrey

So how, if at all do these quotes apply to the real world and to writing?

oops. edited to fix quote...

I must not post when too tired to type.
I must not post when too tired to type.
I must not post when too tired to type.
I must not post when too tired to type.
I must not post when too tired to type.
I must not post when too tired to type.
I must not post when too tired to type.
I must not post when too tired to type.
I must not post when too tired to type.
I must not post when too tired to type.
Yes, life has left me busy enough to nearly forget the contest.

I will announce the winner in this post. I promise. But first:

My panel schedule for WorldCon;

Worldcon )

Standard plea to Congoers;

If you see me wandering around at a time I'm supposed to be at a panel please point me in the right direction. I'm very good at losing track of time at cons.


I need three for horrible duties via LJ during Worldcon.
Please comment, and I'll ask you what I want via either the LJ message service or one of the IM platforms.

And the winner is....

Well first i really need to thank everyone who participated because these were just hilarious to read. The LOLCATZ one was fun, the sheer inanity of quite a few, and the good fun of them all. The winner is going to the one that combined uselessness of actual text, psychopathy, criminality, and pure iron plated resistance to good sense the best, all without showing an overall deficit of writing skill. The author of the gem below should contact me via email soon so I can get their prize shipped. My comments are between the "[" and "]".
Contest )

I think I'll have to do this contest again sometime not so soon.

onyxhawke: (Default)
( Jul. 18th, 2008 03:44 pm)
“Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs. The adjective hasn't been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place.”
William Strunk
I found this over on and can't believe I didn't see it on my flist. It should be noted that a great many of the words and phrases mentioned in the article, and the comments are frequently seen in  query, synopsis, or cover letter.
onyxhawke: (Default)
( Jun. 15th, 2008 10:51 am)
There is so much bad information out there about the publishing industry, and writing, and how to find an agent that i was wondering what posts people had seen that had good advice. Got a link or two to share, post them in comments.

Here's a few i found interesting. *

It occurs to me that i should be adding more posts to my memories....

*Yes I know its hubris to include myself, otoh if in almost two years i don't think I've said anything useful, its time to stop spewing displaced electrons. Besides, not everyone may have seen that one.
onyxhawke: (Default)
( Jun. 13th, 2008 12:27 pm)
First my website is back up and running.

Second Dave Freer's website is freshly updated.

Third for those of you who are itching for a taste of James Enge's writing, he's got another story coming out in Black Gate.

Fourth, it looks like I've forgotten to post any Slow Train chapters so there will be two more of those today.

And last, sometimes revisions and persistence do pay off. This week i signed my second client who I'd asked for revisions for, James was the first.
onyxhawke: (Default)
( Jun. 8th, 2008 04:40 pm)

Warning. Post contains spoilers for several series. Including, David Weber's Honor Harrington series, Lois Bujold's Five Gods, C. E. Murphy's Walking Papers series, Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, the Tails of the Moon series by Dave Freer and Eric Flint and Irene Radford's Dragon Nimbus. You are warned.


P.S. Thanks Kate.
onyxhawke: (Default)
( May. 28th, 2008 11:14 pm)
Verb conjugation is apparently a dying skill. I've had more than one manuscript in the past few dozen that seem to lack this basic skill. Maybe it is too much for me to expect that people who want to be published should be able to know what tense of a verb to use, if so please tell me. But I can't escape the sneaking suspicion that some of these people just don't care enough about their work to finish it instead of merely writing to the end. Sure they care enough to collect words in a string until they have something they construe as a story, possibly over the objections of first readers. What gets me is that a careful reading by the writer would probably catch these things and save them from killing the chances of an agent or editor accepting the book. Grammar is in my opinion the one fundamental of writing good fiction that really is teachable to almost everyone.

I don't think that plotting is really something that everyone can learn. Most people yes. But its a skill that escapes many a story teller who none the less displays good grammar and and decent character building.
Character creation I think is probably the hardest skill to develop, and world building being something that most people don't apply anything like moderation too. It's either vast quantities of information that doesn't advance the plot, build the character(s), or otherwise draw the reader to care about the book or the equivalent of talking heads in space or with swords (sometimes both).

Seriously, for the grammatically challenged there is help, most libraries will have some level of English text book that teaches the hows and whens.
Having read several thousand novels over the course of my life, I can't say there are as many characters I'd like to meet. Not all of the characters are ones that I liked, but all had their own personal gravity that inescapably draws the minds eye to them. It goes without saying that most of the people who form the emotional topography of Lois Bujold's books are high on the list of people I'd like to meet, and while Miles and Cordelia have appeal that can't be understated in any way, and Ivan, Piotr, Mark and Cavilo are all signifigant, i think in all that universe the person their I'd like to meet most is Aral. Why, perhaps its because we see him almost exclusively from the worshipful eyes of people who see all his warts and wounds and still bloom in his warm regard.

In epic fantasy there are so many larger than life characters that it has become nearly as much of a cliche to create smaller, weaker heros with pluck and luck to counter what they don't have in brash and brawn. Still, there are a couple of the world beater class I'd enjoy meeting, Marcos the Black from Ray Feist's Midkimea
has such a twisted mind I don't think I could resist the urge to try and burrow into it. He'd probably turn me into a goat or something, but I'd adore the opportunity anyway.

What I refer to as middle fantasy is even richer with fascinating people. Mercedes Lackey created Valdermar, and it and it neighbors are home to quite a few people worth the time to enjoy a few drinks with, Kerowyn was always a fun person to follow the life of. Vanyel despite needing the occasional slap certainly qualifies as well. I think if i could pick only one person from the world I'd want to meet the adept Ma'ar (who's name I've probably butchered). Dianne Wynne Jones made me love fantasy again when I read Deep Secret, I probably hadn't read a single fantasy in over a year before that book and with it the balance of what I read took another of those periodic tacks that have less to do with what's popular than with what is good. Deep Secret introduces one after another of Simon's brothers, in-laws and coworkers and each of them has that genuine it that makes you take notice. Robin Hobb writes probably the darkest fantasy I read for fun and makes the bloody minded perseverance of her characters an unspoken but palpable motive force of her works.

Urban fantasy has its own fun, and quirky characters which I adore. C.E. Murphy wrote about the first cabbie who was drawn as a real person and not a cardboard cutout since Taxi, and I can never wait to see what he'll do or say next. Laura Resnick's Disappearing Nightly stars a prima donna cast of an off Broadway play that has you gobbling pages half hoping something unpleasant will eat them, and half hoping they'll live to be a wiser head some, distant, day. Dave Freer and Eric Flint have one of the most effective social satires of the genre with Pyramid Scheme and the follow on Pyramid Power and while cheerfully assassinating the character of government agencies and agents, mangling mythology with a thoroughness rivaled only by the cartoon Fractured Fairytales, and setting a breakneck pace put characters in front of you that are fully drawn and deftly executed. Cal and Nik Leandros are brothers with the type of relationship that will instantly click with anyone lucky enough to have a relationship that close. Rob Thurman takes this foundation and uses it to build the two separately and together and a world that is nearly intense enough to rival them. Richard Kadrey's regard for the conventions of fantasy are best described as scant, but Butcher Bird  takes us on a hell ride with the gritty and gripping Spyder Lee. Spyder's probably not the guy most of us would pick to perform emergency surgery on us, but he's not boring.

All in all, for me it doesn't matter if the character is a good guy, a bad girl, or somewhere in between, they just have to feel like someone who is genuine and if I couldn't imagine meeting them here in our world, they need to be a real product of the universe they life in, and not someone from the here and now shoved into a world that just makes them look absurd.
onyxhawke: (Default)
( Apr. 29th, 2008 12:19 am)
Darwin Garrison of "Darwin's Evolutions" is getting closer to launching the innovative ezine, as part of the run up, they have just launched their forums. Enjoy
onyxhawke: (Default)
( Apr. 27th, 2008 01:16 am)
Just after the last update i had my third event of the day. A well moderated, and actively engaged assembly of panelists that had me blithering along while; L Jagi Lamplighter, John C Wright, Allen Wold, fired off insightful answers to Peter Prellwitz deftly asked question. This was fun, and like most good panels we could have easily and entertainingly done another hour without noticing.

I then went out to lunch with the Chuck Gannon and we talked about all things large and small over some delightful Vietnamese food from a little place called "Vietnam One" just down the street from the hotel

Later, i got to what I expect to be the only let down of the weekend, the hotel 'restaurant'. I think it must actually be something of a safe employment place for the mentally disabled as it took me forty minutes to get my burger the first time, and then another fifteen to get it the second time since it came out very, very, wrong.

After that I got to the panel on sub genres, Steve White, Julie Cochrane, Charles Gannon, and Jason Cordova were entertaining as hell and even stayed on topic.
onyxhawke: (Default)
( Apr. 24th, 2008 10:20 pm)
I'm pretty sure I mentioned once or twice that I'd be at Ravencon this weekend. I know it says so on my website. Now I just wish real life hadn't gotten in the way of getting ready for the con until tonight.

A well...

I'll be looking at some of the slush this weekend as well. Anyone who submitted to the correct inbox for Winter Workout who has not received a final response yet should drop me a message via the contact form on my website.
Super secret subtle hint below:

For those who have received their reply, the shorter and more positive it was the more i liked it. If i said something about there being a better place to start the book, I may have really liked it if that was the largest comment on it.
onyxhawke: (Default)
( Mar. 3rd, 2008 08:06 pm)

One of the conventions of Science Fiction and Fantasy that is on my list of things that bemuse me is the addition or change of a letter as a signal to the fan of the extraordinary nature of what the writers has written. The magic letter occurs in both fantasy and science fiction and has been a staple of a certain quality of writers since the advent of the genre. How this convention came to be and why it’s continued is something mysterious to me. Perhaps it is the result of some sort of alchemy? Or maybe The Magic Lyttyr is the sort of science that can’t tell the difference between a micrometer and decimeter?


            Maybe just maybe there is a school of writing in which this subtle display of differences is clamed to be advantageous by saving the writer the need to build up any form of informative background in the text. This would make perfect sense as no one expects an author to have to do work creating their world. Obviously with such particularly subtle gestures like this one the entire story that is in the incomparably talented author’s mind will simply leap from the page full formed into the heart, mind and soul of the reader. If it doesn’t it is certainly not a fault of the author who has used a tool only blue chip writers are capable of using, and thus the reader is just too constrained a spirit to properly appreciate their genius.

    Last night as I was for some inexplicable reason watching Celebrity Rehab and thinking about what to post for Bittercon., i was struck by a thought. That thought was struck by a question. After filing assault charges and a brief flirtation with a civil suit, I decided that I'd go with thought, that I'd take the abuse and stay with the evil that is thought. Because somewhere, somehow I had to set an example of how not to quit. Besides, Thought loves me!

     With all the stories about dark urban environments, the cold reaches of space, and the heartless politics of arenas from corporate to courtly and criminal to pugilistic, I have to wonder where the bad relationships are? Sure we've got relationships where the two people don't get along. One is a defense attorney, the other is a street cop, that's all well and good and creates emotional weft that we can all appreciate. But what about the battered party in a relationship? The person who arrives at work ready to slay adversaries with briefs, bullets or whate'er the weapon on their field of battle and yet can't stand up to their (in)significant other? I know a few of this type, their the person who'll tell school comities, police, and bad drivers do some anatomically improbable things, and then go home and never raise their voice except to apologize for their imagined faults to the one demon they can't bring themselves to fight.

    Another type we don't see are those involved in relationships that spin on the axis of addiction. In any relationship involving addiction one person is the symptom bearer. Everyone else is somewhere on the continuum of helpful to harmful. Most people being somewhere on the darkside, usually unintentionally. I think in the right hands, a story where someone wears themselves to a nub trying to keep someone they love well supplied with their drug of choice so that person doesn't have to turn tricks or steal for a fix could be interesting.

    Obviously, at least in the context of science fiction and fantasy, these make rather poor things to hang an entire story on, but they do make interesting things to know about one or more of your characters.

onyxhawke: (Default)
( Feb. 11th, 2008 09:50 pm)
I was talking to a writer friend tonight about him doing a new character. I asked him what he knew about his character? This ties in really well with some of the points that Laura Gilman, myself and others made at Arisia about building characters because the more you know about your characters, the better you can write them. I asked a the people in the audience who were curious to imagine their character standing in the corner. And then picture them: Are they standing on one foot, if so, which foot? Are they standing with their arms crossed? Leaning against a wall?
Here are some of the questions I asked my friend that are probably applicable to more than just the UF we were discussing:

so how did said character become a werewolf? (insert vampire, cavalryman, mage, space mercenary)
what's his favorite weapon?
Is he a loner or part of a pack?
Is he a loaner thats been forced into or out of a pack?
Where's he from?
What makes him laugh?
What does he regret?
What does he do on his day off?

Other questions that might be useful:
What do they do for work?
What if any faith do they have?
What's their family like?
What's their relationship with their family like?
What do they like most and or least about themselves?

While you may never put all of this information into the story, knowing that your main character is an avid hockey fan mean you know they're likely to get or make jokes about tripping over the blueline, or make a sports analogy to explain something instead of a political one or a car one.
Everyone should have received either a "Still reading after one." or a critique form by now. If you haven't, either post here with the title of your book, or use the contact form on my website to let me know.

A lot of interesting projects this year. Some were very hard to say no to, and one or two I might not say no to at all. Between the Winter Workout and cleaning out the regular slush pile (which is filling up again) I'm pretty certain well over a million words have passed my eyes in the last month.

Thank you all again for taking part.
onyxhawke: (Default)
( Feb. 7th, 2008 10:44 pm)
Work Reward by Intelligent Thorough Execution.


onyxhawke: (Default)


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