Sunday, August 14, 2022

Be Cool

People are people.  Some have greater station in life, but that doesn’t make them people any less.  I bring this up because I’ve seen many of my peers swoon over meeting their favorite writers(I’ve seen similar in other areas regarding folks and film celebrities).  Not only does this response make you seem needy, but it also tends to weird out the person being so fawned upon…unless they’re a complete narcissist, in which case maybe they’re not the kind of person you should be hanging out with anyway(and yes, lots of celebrities are narcissists).


I’m not going to claim I’ve always been so blasé about this.  I’ve met a few famous folks(my first being when I was eight and got to meet my favorite soccer player), and I still slip, but I’ve tried remembering that they are no more or less than I.  This helps open up doors and keep me grounded.  I can have a no-shit conversation and not look like a total stalker(hopefully).


That doesn’t always dampen the awe, but it should keep it under control.  And as familiarity increases, the glow of fame and status should continue to fade in favor of mutual admiration and discussion.  They are people just like you – they’ve just managed to have more people know who they are.  Perhaps they’ve sold better or written something culture-shattering, and maybe their experience has given them greater current ability, but don’t let that frighten you.  Talk to them like they’re human.  If they demand genuflection, they aren’t worth knowing anyway.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Two To One

Okay, let’s settle an old dispute – two spaces or one after each sentence?  I grew up with two spaces.  Granted, as part fossil, I grew up using a typewriter(at least it was electric), so two spaces was the norm.  However, with these new-fangled computers nowadays, I keep seeing that only one space is supposed to happen after a sentence or a colon.


To be honest, it doesn’t necessarily affect me – this came about because my wife is going back to school, and there are formatting parameters for her work.  However, it got me thinking about formatting use for books.  Is it noticeable and awkward to now use two spaces instead of one?  It’s a habit now and will require significant effort to undo my tendency, so is it worth the effort?  Is it even a real thing?

Tuesday, August 9, 2022


 As writers, we get to create whole worlds.  Believe me, what you read in a book is only as small sliver of the world we’ve envisioned.


Of course, readers are interested in the story,  not the entire world.  Maybe there’s another story within that world that would interest the reader, and maybe there’s not, but readers want to be entertained with as great story.  The extraneous parts of the world you created mean little to them.


So why am I talking about those extraneous parts?  Because those worlds contain characters, and those characters wander in and out of our stories, much like people in the world wander in and out of our lives.  However, sometimes those characters wander away and don’t return, and audiences wonder where they went.


It’s a tricky thing writing characters into our stories.  How important are those characters?  Although a character’s importance may wane, rendering them less likely to appear in the story, that doesn’t mean that audiences don’t notice.  Sometimes they’ve come to care for these characters, and those characters mean more to the reader than we as authors intended(or noticed).  My own character Gary, from Salvation Day, comes to mind.


This is where care and mapping come in, along with multiple edits.  Removal of extraneous characters from the beginning is required, but what if the character plays an important role down the line, even if only for a page or two?  Maybe we need to go back in and give them a beefed up role once we notice their outsized impact.  It’s one thing to kill off characters to advance the plot, but forgetting them?  It leaves some without closure.

Monday, August 8, 2022


Sorry about no blog late last night(or last week).  Trying to get back into blogging, but likely to be spotty for a bit.  I'm not as up to date as I once was.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Crap On A Cracker!

Ok, so I looked up today and remembered I hadn't done a single blog post for the month of August.  I like to do most of the month in advance, but here it was, the end of July, and I hadn't started a single one.  Then I looked at my subject sheet and realized I barely had four topics to discuss.  Not very productive, especially when trying to get back in the saddle.

I'll do better.  I promise.  We'll soon see if I get a full month for August, or if life intercedes again.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Cover Artists Meeting Needs

I have a great cover artist.  Carl at Extended Imagery has been my go-to guy since I started publishing.  His first cover for me knocked it out of the park, and I've been very happy with everything he has done.  That said, I'm wondering if I should find a different route for my newest work.

Granted, my next novel is still likely several years from publication, especially at the pace I'm writing it at, but the tale is much more complex than I've done before, and I think I need a cover that reflects that.  This one involves, dragons, demons., magic, science, and new discoveries versus old legends.  I don't know that that can be covered in the covers I've gotten so far.  I might need an actual artist to draw something out for me.

Of course, that's also pretty expensive, and beyond great covers, one of the best things Carl has done is provide affordable work.  So how do I figure the tradeoff?  Do I give Carl the chance initially, knowing it'll cost me more money overall if I go with him(he still gets paid, whether I use his work or not), or do I venture into virgin territory and find another way to go?

Oh well, at least I've got time to figure this one out...

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Character Explosions

One of the things I've discovered while writing is the need to be stingy in introducing new characters, because such characters can be difficult to keep track of and can be incredibly disrupting.  Yes, the real world is full of people, and those people don't always play by the rules you'd like them to, but I like to control my story a bit more so it doesn't get out of sorts.

With this in mind, keeping track of characters and fitting the into a story is incredibly difficult.  Sometimes they make more of an impact on the audience than you think they did(Gary in Salvation Day is a great example of that...a few readers asked what happened to a person meant to be a throwaway character).  Sometimes they make more of an impact on you as the author than you thought they would(Ethan in Akeldama did that for me...he was meant as a tag-along, and he ended up having a tremendous influence on the novel).

This means judiciousness is called for.  New authors tend to introduce minor characters like they're nothing more than part of the setting, only to find themselves in a pickle when that character ends up doing more than they thought they would(I'm working through this right now with a character in my newest work).  We have to think through introductions in much more detail, or they'll tie us in knots.  Or maybe they won't and we'll just never mention the character again, only to get yelled at by readers who wonder where they went.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Characters Versus Story

Both story and characters are important, but which is more important?  Do the characters drive the story, or does the story develop the characters?

Some of this is obvious.  In Harry Potter, the entire story revolves around Harry and his adventures.  Without Harry, there is no story.  Yet in World War Z, there are a hodgepodge of characters, none of which we are really given a chance to know before the story moves away from them(Paul Redeker possibly being the sole exception).

Perhaps it depends on the story.  In both Salvation Day and Akeldama, the characters are exceptionally important to the overall movement of the story.  However, in both Schism and Homecoming, the characters are incidental to the overall story.

Do authors have a preference?  I admit that while my characters are important to me, the story is usually more important.  Are others the same way, or are they more attached to their people?

Sunday, July 24, 2022


How much time do any of you spend on the names of your characters?  Some seem long thought through(Remus Lupin), while others seem pulled from the 4th point of contact(Jake Featherston).  Should the name match the character?  How important is it?

I admit that some of my names are things I agonize over.  In Salvation Day, the names of the demons, insofar as they related to their function, were very important.  The main character, on the other hand, was kind of pulled from just what I thought sounded good.  In Akeldama, the vampire names were heavily thoght about because their names needed to match their image.  Yet in Schism, I just kinda found regular names that seemed like what anyone might have.

In my latest book, one I've been working on for two years - creative concentration isn't why it hasn't been finished...I'm just lazy and busy otherwise - the names are important.  The ships from Earth that find a new world are meant to reflect a much more integrated Earth than now exists.  The inhabitants of the world so discovered are meant to show parts of who they are(regal, mysterious, brutal, etc).  This makes writing much more involved when I have to stop and actually provide thought to a name.

The next time you pick up a book, or sit down to write one, look at the names of the characters and figure out how much thought went into them.  Some will be obvious, but some will be much more subtle.  Figuring out which is which can be fun...or frustrating.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Pulling A Blog Post

I'm about to do something I initially swore I'd never do - I'm going to delete a blog post.

Now you may ask yourself, possibly while fresh in the frisson of horror, why I'd do such a thing?  Don't I believe in and stand by what I've written?  Did one of them suddenly become much more controversial in the light of new societal standards of decorum?

Nope, none of that has happened.  What did happen is that the post in question has been hijacked.  My post, from October of 2015, and titled Advantages of Indie Publishing, has somehow become a repository for a Russian browser to advertise.  I know this because I check every message that my site gets, and the only comments I've bene getting for the last year or so(mostly) have been in Russian.  Here are a few examples and their translations:

"Отыскать источник коннекта в сеть через ТОР практически нельзя. Благодаря интеллектуальной протекции человек сможет без особых усилий смотреть актуальную информацию в интернет сети. Интернет веб-серфер TOR соединяется hydra сайт с помощью благодаря значительному количеству удаленных серверов. Есть огромное множество умных веб-серферов, что в реальном времени предотвращают шансы атаки на персональный компьютер или телефона."
It is practically impossible to find the source of a connection to the network through TOR. Thanks to intellectual protection, a person will be able to effortlessly view up-to-date information on the Internet. The Internet web surfer TOR connects to the hydra site via a large number of remote servers. There are a huge number of smart web surfers that in real time prevent the chances of an attack on a personal computer or phone."

"Оперативный список добавочных линков возможно запросто просмотреть в сети интернет. Как зарегистрироваться на форум ГидраUnion с ПК? Публикуется огромное число url, через которые посетитель имеет возможность залогиниться на hydra. Для начинающих покупателей бывает трудно залогиниться на торговый сайт Hidra."
The operational list of additional links can easily be viewed on the Internet. How to register for the HydraUnion forum from a PC? A huge number of urls are published through which the visitor has the opportunity to log in to hydra. It can be difficult for novice buyers to log in to the Hidra shopping site."

"Сплошь и рядом наблюдается ламинированная поверхность фанеры особой, необыкновенной фактуры и изображения. ФОФ ламинат существует с деревянной текстурой, в виде природного камня или керамогранитной плитки. Особенностью ламинированной пленки есть не исключительно хорошее сопротивление влажности, но и наличие особой расцветки."
"Quite often there is a laminated surface of plywood of a special, unusual texture and image. FOF laminate exists with a wooden texture, in the form of natural stone or porcelain tiles. The peculiarity of the laminated film is not exceptionally good moisture resistance, but also the presence of a special color."

It goes on like this for almost 200 comments.  It hasn't infected any of my other posts, and I have no idea how this one became a Russian repository.  Some of these posts include links that I have not clicked on, and I would strongly advise anyone reading this to not click on them either(I have no idea what they lead to).  So at the end of the month, this post disappears forever(I only leave it up for now for reference for this post), and I hope no more Russians find their way into automating comments for other weird stuff to me.