Monday, May 31, 2010

Coming Up

It's the last day of Autumn and the last day of the story-a-day marathon. One more to write and then I can catch up on some reading and later, some editing.

Coming out in June (apart from the obvious train-wreck Bullet) that will be on my list of things to read:

Dreamveil by Lynn Viehl (Kyndred 2);

Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 8);

Mission of Honor by David Weber (Honor Harrington 12);

plus the next Kate Daniels book (it's already out to rave reviews) Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels 4).

Of course, I may have to wait another month before the books are out here in Aus, but I'm patient, I am Zen, I am... having a birthday in the next few of weeks and see no reason why I shouldn't buy one or two for myself off the 'net as a prezzo.

Now I have to go and write that one last story. I'm trying to think of something brilliant, something pithy and meaningful... but it may end up something, um, just something.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bullet Points

With Laurell K. Hamilton's new book, Bullet coming out next week, I thought it prudent to give authors, new and published, a little assistance in avoiding the deep, dark pit of Mary-Sue-ism.

For those who don't know what a Mary-Sue (or a Gary-Stu/Marty-Stu) is, here's a definition:

A Mary Sue is a pet character that the author exempts from realism and/or rules that otherwise govern a fictional world. The more that the author exalts this "darling" at the expense of the rest of the story, the more of a Mary Sue the character becomes. Mary Sue is impervious to failure and resistant to all in-story attempts at criticism and humiliation; any attempt at an external critique usually provokes an authorial temper tantrum. With a preference for style over substance, attitude over empathy, and romantic relationships above all others, the Mary Sue is nevertheless a popular character type due to her function as cheap wish-fulfillment. (PPC Wiki)

So, if you want to know if the protagonist you've worked long and hard on is a Mary-Sue, go to The Original Fiction Mary-Sue Litmus Test. Answer the questions and find out if your character is doomed. I got a borderline Sue for one of my characters, so I'll have to work on that.

As an added bonus, you can go to TV Tropes. "Tropes are storytelling devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members' minds and expectations."

(There are no official reviews of Bullet, but if you're canny enough to go to, you might find something of a... bullet point synopsis. If you don't want to know anything about it, don't read the discussion. Oops. Did I give it away? My bad...)

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Just because PBW did one and I thought it a great idea for when I ain't got nuffink and I'm busy busting out short stories - or working on other pieces.

Generate your own news story here and have fun with it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Storm From The Shadows

I've got a crick in my neck which is somewhat painful. Must be from reading David Weber's Storm From The Shadows.

This one thousand page tome takes place in conjunction with At All Costs and Torch of Freedom (which I haven't read yet, since it's still in hardback). The spiel:

Rear Admiral Michelle Henke was commanding one of the ships in a force led by Honor Harrington in an all-out space battle. The odds were against the Star Kingdom forces, and they had to run. But Michelle's ship was crippled, and had to be destroyed to prevent superior Manticoran technology from falling into Havenite hands, and she and her surviving crew were taken prisoner. Much to her surprise, she was repatriated to Manticore, carrying a request for a summit conference between the leaders of the two sides which might end the war. But a condition of her return was that she gave her parole not to fight against the forces of the Republic of Haven until she had been officially exchanged for a Havenite prisoner of war, so she was given a command far away from the war's battle lines. What she didn't realize was that she would find herself on a collision course, not with a hostile government, but with the interstellar syndicate of criminals known as Manpower. And Manpower had its own plans for eliminating Manticore as a possible threat to its lucrative slave trade - deadly plans which remain hidden in the shadows.

Now then. This actually sounds more exciting than it is. That's not to say the book doesn't build into a military confrontation with explosions and stuff, it's more that the book deals with political machinations and 'what ifs'. It's also not a book people should read without having read the series.

My biggest bug-bear with the book is how much could have, and should have been edited out. There is way too much reiteration of events and conversations and motivations. And for those people who have to wait for paperbacks, there was a bit of 'what the...?' for me.

Having three strands to a series is not good for me, and I do love this series, I'm just not all that interested in politics (hah!) even as those politics are integral to the series.

I could also replace one character with another and they sound the same. Woe. Is there such a thing as too many characters? This is a galaxy-wide, epic space opera and the thought of an author (or two: Eric Flint co-writes the Crown of Slaves, Torch of Freedom part) coming up with individual voices for hundreds of characters - even secondary characters - must be a daunting task. But now, we have the vast Solarian League involved.

Weber has done an excellent job of compartmentalizing the various star nations and the characters within with their various 'must have this type of personality'. However, this deep into the series, I don't think we need the justifications or the endless infodumps of the who, the how and the why for technology or a character's attitude - we can, mostly, take it as given; especially after so many books.

Regardless of my nitpickery - and I could go on - the book neatly ends with a suitably ominous scenario. And for those who know their military history and can see the parallels in the story, a suitably clever solution.

Storm From The Shadows is out now from Baen; Mission of Honor is available as an E-ARC and will be published in hardback (damn their eyes) in July.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Welcome Home

...Jessica Watson, after an epic solo around the world voyage. Of course, she's now facing heavy seas outside of Sydney Heads, but nothing worthwhile comes easy. Mother Nature's last hurrah.

Young Jessica is an inspiration to all 16-year-olds, and indeed everyone.

And regardless of what anyone might think about letting someone so young do something so dangerous, Jessica has demonstrated outstanding courage and steely determination to complete her voyage.

You have done us all proud. Congratulations.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Con and condolences

Oh, shiny!

The World Science Fiction Convention is being held in Melbourne (again!) with the secondary name of AussieCon 4 in early September.

Apart from the announced Guests of Honour, author Kim Stanley Robinson, artist Shaun Tan and mega convention veteran, Robin Johnson, there are a number of other luminaries I'm looking forward to seeing.

Oh, yes, I'm saving my pennies!

Lessee, also attending are Australian authors, Trudi Canavan, Glenda Larke, Garth Nix, Kim Wilkins, Jonathan Strahan and others in our industry, but we've got more overseas ones as well.

On the list are: authors Carrie Vaughn, Robert Silverberg, George R. R. Martin Baen Editor, Toni Weisskopf, Editor, Ellen Datlow and that's not all of 'em; maybe there'll be others by the time September comes around.

* * *

We lost a great science fiction and fantasy artist in Frank Frazetta earlier this week. His body of work was remarkable and I send his family my condolences.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Iron Man

I’ve been writing, reading and watching Sci-fi recently, so it wasn’t much of a surprise to view Iron Man 2 (finally!) from a different perspective.

For example, I couldn’t help wonder if the suit had inertial compensators, and if so, where was it; whether it had any anti-gravity elements, what kind of servos, sensor suites, power units, armoury... and so on. I was thinking similar thoughts when Tony Stark developed his cure... and thought it a little too easy.

But the pyrotechnics were fabulous, all that flying and zipping around avoiding the droids and explosions and more zipping and ka-blamos and I do love a good bang; does that make me shallow? I am easily entertained...

Mickey Rourke was an absolute stand out. He didn't need too many words, his expression and actions said it better - gosh, he's good.

Gwennie was suitably overwhelmed by her new position and Robert Downey, jun., seemed to look tired and slightly out of sorts, until he found his cure and went off like a manic genius.

So. I'm glad I saw it - it's one movie that's an absolute must for the big screen. But only for all the speckie special effects.

Now back to the short story marathon - until Shrek 4 comes out...

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Strike Two!

Another strike out in the attempt to see Iron Man 2. Same problem as Tuesday - no one but me. Still, I understand most people prefer to see movies - can you believe it? - at night! Or - hah - on the weekends! Who'd a thought? I'll try again on Sunday; that's part of the weekend, isn't it? See if it's true.

Hopefully, I won't strike out a third time; there are some films you just have to see on the big screen.

The marathon is scooting along, but the short stories are in a restricted forum - apparently, some publishers get bent out of shape if a story has first been posted on a forum before submission. I guess it's to do with publishing rights and what that means.

The Seventh Sanctum has provided some really 'out there' prompts, but this is an excellent exercise in imagination dexterity. Win, pass or fail, the stories are on the page - and you can't edit what you haven't written.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Off and on the 'net

Took myself off to the movies yesterday to see Iron Man 2; sadly, I bumped up against the reality of living in a coastal village on a gorgeous day. Since I was the only one to turn up, the proprietor decided not to screen it. (Insert sad face.) However, he did give me a complimentary ticket for a future movie. (Insert happy face.) I think I'll reserve the ticket for a later film - and try for Iron Man 2 tomorrow.

My home area is filled with retirees and loud, action flicks aren't the most popular here. Maybe tomorrow, a more younger crowd will show up.

The short story marathon continues and I'm keeping up. Only 26 to go...

The Magic District has an interesting post on a writer's vices and Writer's Digest has 7 Reasons Agents Stop Reading Your First Chapter and this, 8 Basic Writing Blunders. All are useful reads.

Now, I have to got thrash out another story.

Sunday, May 02, 2010


Story-a-day marathon time at Forward Motion. WOOT! Yes, thirty-one sometimes 'wow-out-there-for-creativity' and sometimes 'what-were-you-thinking,-writing-that-after-a-few-glasses-of-Merlot' stories, mixed in with 'well-that-was-boring-but-it's-done'.

...I haven't started yet. But that's okay, I'll catch up. I like my challenges with a bit of relish.

Most of the stories use a generator and I am looking at the scenarios. My fav place for story prompts is the Seventh Sanctum, which has buckets of generators to choose from or The Speculative Fiction Muse.

I might try some new ones, like The Do It Yourself Giallo Kit, or any one of the photograph websites for visual prompts. There are plenty of sites out there for inspiration.

I can write one out of every three from ideas that happen to drop out of my head onto the page. And now, I'd better get to it; with marathons, thinking you can catch up is a good way to not reach your goal.

Picture by Lazette Gifford - damn, she's clever!