What to Read When You’re Writing

I read the advice of professional writers from time to time, like ya do, and they all have exactly two pieces of advice in common: (1) practice. (2) Read stuff. The thing is, they often aren’t great about telling me what to read, and for years I labored under the general assumption that it didn’t matter overly much as long as you read. But yesterday, my brain hit a save point of sorts where it gave me a cut scene of my reading practices as they relate to my writing, correlating and organizing and generally giving me an “oh, wait” overview.

I was listening to Stephen Jay Gould’s Leonardo’s Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms. I have to pick up a reading copy, as opposed to the audiobook, because I apparently do not have the attention span to catch the meaning embedded in subtlety and inferred connections that characterizes Gould’s writing while listening and driving. I have grasped maybe a quarter of what he’s saying. At one point, he poses the question of what the world might look like if China had done the empire building instead of western Europe, and I have no idea if this was an off-the-cuff thought or the point of the essay because my brain immediately screamed, “Ahhhh! That book would be SO much fun to write!” And I was off.

I started building a mental checklist of questions I would need answered:

  • What was the technological leap that made it possible for Europe to do it’s conquering?
  • Would it make geographical sense for China to need the same technology to conquer, and if not, what challenges would they face and given where they were at, what’s the minimal change that would have made conquest feasible?
  • Was a philosophical difference in attitudes towards conquest a determining factor? Who would the lynchpins have been and what would have had to change for them to be successful with a different message?
  • What is the Asian culture that would have been dominant at the time? Would an Asian conquest be more likely if a different Asian culture had won a particular war? How would the dominant philosophy (minimally tweaked for conquest purposes) impact the way that technologically less-advanced native peoples were treated?
  • What diseases were rampant in Asia at the time, and how would they have played out versus smallpox?

This is just a smattering of questions that I would need to answer and/or know more about in order to fix the questions in order to ask better ones once I learn which ones are based on flawed assumptions. I know a fair deal about the conquest record of western Europe post-1400 because I’m an American with a decent liberal arts education, but what I know about China in specific and the broader Asian context could fit in a shoe box. For baby shoes.

So that means, in order to write this story, I need to do some reading. Because I know so little about China, I’ll probably start with popularize non-fiction with strong bibliographies and work my way back to original (well, translations anyway) sources and denser history research. I’ll need to read Chinese fiction and mythology and philosophy. I’ll have to brush up on the finer points of European history to look for the credible lynchpins that make the most sense to change to posit a different world, which probably means reading some personal letters of influential people and doctrine and philosophy that was being produced at the time.

As I was making this laundry list in my head, I realized that THIS is what writers who have made it are talking about when they say writers need to read. This process, of discovery and inspiration and research. So, just to get a discussion started and for the sake of being useful, I’m going to throw some percentages out there on what writers need to be reading.

All of these numbers are bound to fluctuate by where we’re are in the process of working on a particular concept, obviously, and sometimes our background knowledge or the nature of the story means the research reading load has already been largely completed or is light to begin with, so these are just generalized averages.

  • Popular non-fiction along a broad range of categories that we’re loosely interested in. (books, magazines, blogs, trade publications, essays) – 30%
  • News/current events. (not because you shouldn’t read the news, but because you should probably be reading so much that catching up on the news doesn’t take up a vast piece of your percentage, unless current events are relevant to your subject matter) – 5%
  • In-depth scholarly reading on a subject that has sparked enough interest to merit book-writing research. (history, science, letters, historic decrees, old newspapers, philosophy, more in-depth and specific pop non-fic by reputable scholars, classic fiction/plays/poetry that will help you develop the culture/voice/what-have-you) – 50%
  • Writing about writing. – 3%
  • Fiction in genres not closely related to ours. – 7%
  • Fiction in our genre and closely related genres. – 5%

I’m only slowly coming to accept the lowness of that last number, but here’s the thing: reading other people’s fiction in my genre is more likely to inspire envy (or judginess) than ideas. Reading too much of it makes me feel incompetent, too far behind (or superior and lazy). Neither response is productive for improving my craft. And while I can swoon over a well-executed bit of SFF and learn from it’s plot/voice/structure/world-building/whatever, I almost never walk away from other fiction itching to get my ideas onto the page–that energy comes, for me, from great non-fiction and new discoveries.

But I’m only one writer, and not yet a published one at that. How does this list stack up with what you have success with in your own reading to writing life?

UPDATE 4/15: For those of you who don’t read the comments, my co-conspirator in the arcane art of writing genre fiction, Dan Bensen, responded at length, going so far as to put up an excellent blog post answering and providing resources to explore the questions posed on how China might have come to rule the world.

Dimensions of Good and Evil

Alignment has been on my brain of late. If you’ve never gotten into role-playing games, alignment is the scale by which the game identifies the moral and ethical stance a character is supposed to take. There are two basic axes: lawful vs. chaotic and good vs. evil. Characters tend to get grouped into these quadrants, with neutrality being a viable possibility on both axes:

Classic Alignment

The system is pretty good for your standard hero journey or typical high fantasy, and it definitely works in the structured boundaries of game play, but it breaks down faster than cheap make-up on the fourth of July when you try to apply it to real people. I think, in fact, that it breaks down nearly as quickly when you apply it to good fiction. I don’t believe this system was ever intended to be an informative or analytic tool for fiction, but I think that trying to design an alternative system for alignment opens up an interesting discussion about the nature of good and evil as well as the kind of paths characters can take to acting on their convictions of good or evil. For the fun of discussion, allow me to propose the following:

Facet 1: Self Interest vs. Greater Good

Self Interest vs Greater Good

Putting self interest and a commitment to the greater good on opposite points of the same axis would rob us of the opportunity to tease out some depth in the way these two critical concepts interact. When characters have the opportunity to experience both intense self interest and intense care for the greater good, you get great hero vs. self conflict, which is not the same as being well-balanced, or neutral, between these two sometimes conflicting notions, which is what that conflict would look like if self interest and the greater good were on the same axis. Constructing them as intersecting axes is more useful for asking, “If I plot out the relative values of these two ideals, what is the shape of the line between them going to look like, and what does that mean for my plot?

Facet 2: Efficacy & Decision Making

Efficacy and Decision Making

Lawful versus chaotic is such a complex concept that I had a hard time teasing out just a few data points worth looking at to try to arrive at a useful metric and I’ve left off a third dimension which probably lines up better with the traditional notion of chaotic vs. lawful. I think the fundamental question behind that dichotomy is whether characters derive their code of behavior from a top-down, external force, or from a bottom-up, internal force. I’m not  yet entirely sure how separate that question is from whether a character is more motivated by self interest or the greater good, however, so I’ve decided to keep that on the back burner.

The aspects of decision making and situational response protocols that I do find incredibly useful to think about are whether a character is more of a gung-ho, intuitive thinker or a “Let’s step back and make a plan” sort of thinker. It’s also important to ask just how active a character is, primarily because this is one of the most critical places where character growth happens. In my reading experience, I have seen far fewer heroes move from evil to good than from running scared to empowered.

That brings up yet another dimension of alignment that matters much more for writers than it does for role-players: change over time. If some part of your hero’s alignment doesn’t shift over time, you’re missing out on a great part of their story that’s waiting to be told.

Trying to categorize the responses is mostly a philosophical exercise, I know. Whack me with a balloon. As a writer, I do still find it interesting and even useful to step back from time to time and ask myself. “What is this character’s alignment?  Are they acting in accordance with their alignment? If they’re acting outside of alignment, do I know why?” Changing up the axes by which I’m classifying my characters has, for me, blown open my thought process about what constitutes good and evil or law and chaos. I suppose that is what happens when you move from 9 possible rough permutations to 81…

What do you think? Any other key concepts you think I’m missing? Am I complicating the question without good cause? Discuss.

p.s. John pointed out that organizing the scales as intersecting axes is deceptive because these variables are all independent, and that it would be much more sensible to display the information as a set of sliding switches. He’s probably right, but I already had the charts made and put it, so hopefully that visual will work well enough for the moment. :)

The Primacy of Practice

I just started reading Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga last week. I started with Shards of Honor which is, as far as I can tell, her first published book. Bujold is a new addition to my lineup of sci-fi/fantasy storycrafter heroes, but her Sharing Knife series knocked my socks off, as did the fact that she has a damn fine record with Hugo and Nebula awards.

As a yet-to-be-published writer, I found a few things comforting about Shards of Honor:

  1. It’s not great. I mean, it’s decent for a first book, but it’s nothing stellar compared to other work of hers I’ve read.
  2. It was only accepted for publication on the strength of the second novel in the series.
  3. She was older than I am by the time she was first published.

I don’t know about the rest of you writers out there, but I thinking being a bookworm who enjoys words as a kid means that adults tend to express high expectations for your early success. I went through a weird paralyzed phase after college when I realized that I had missed the deadline to write a beloved fantasy staple by the age of 18 and I let that bizarre disappointment in myself at not being a child prodigy slow my writing down for WAY too long. The past few weeks have been a good source of inspiration for the process of outgrowing that unreasonable expectation.

It started with a conversation about writing with my friend Jennifer. We’ve both had the realization that there are some stories we have to tell that we don’t have the life experience and perspective to do justice to yet…which I don’t think is quite possible to grasp when you’re so young that you aren’t capable of realizing how much perspective time is able to give you on a situation. Standing on the edge of thirty, I am only just now beginning to get a sliver of a glimpse of the potential time has for improving my ability to see what makes a story worth telling. Makes me excited to see what I manage to write when I get old. : )

The inspiration continued in a friend reminding me of the quote from Ira Glass talking about the creative process. His main point? It takes time, and more importantly, PRACTICE…a point which Chuck Wendig reinforced for me vividly with his recent blog post about writing ESPECIALLY when you don’t feel like it. All of which reminds me of this piece of wisdom from our beloved philosopher-painter:

Talent is a pursued interest. Anything that you’re willing to practice, you can do. – Bob Ross

The message was crystallized for me in an unexpected way when another friend sent me a link to an incremental web-game about writing. I played around with it for half an hour or so, and I think the challenge of mustering enough dedication to progress will be familiar to any writer. Dedication to putting words on the page is the hard part.

What all of this has amounted to, for me, is a bit of comfort that the best is yet to come as long as I sit my butt at my computer and keep working towards that dream of joining the inimitable Ms. Bujold in the ranks of oft-honored Hugo winners.

Final words of pep: I’ve been awake since 2 a.m. because my body thinks a full moon is a perfectly reasonable excuse to wake me up with an adrenaline rush. I’ve put in a solid day’s work on writing for other people. I feel queasy and burnt out. And I’m going to go write for a bit without worrying about how rubbishy the result is. You might be doing worse or about the same or just barely better, but join me anyway–if you get nothing else out of a tiring day, you will at least have gotten some practice. Here’s a song to get you going…

Carving Out Space-Time

The universe is doing it resonating thing again which means, as those of you who for whatever reason keep reading this blog know, SOAP BOX TIME! In which I encourage women to worry less about who might get an elbow in the stomach if they fail to step back when we choose to stand akimbo.

The best thing about NaNoWriMo  this year has been by far my NaEaYoWaThrWrANoMo group, or National Eat Your Way Through Writing a Novel Month, not only because of the incredible tea and baked goods (and they have been legendary), but because of the excellent writers I’ve been getting to know. There are four of us in the group–all women and all unpublished as of yet–and the most helpful facet of our interaction has been the constant stream of little emails of encouragement and commiseration and interesting links we’ve been exchanging throughout the month.

One of the writers is working on a novel whose main character is a young woman during suffrage in the United States. As this writer was describing the character’s key transformation to our group, I was struck by her use of the phrase “She’s learning to take up space in the world.” This resonated with me–one of my beloved writing mentors in college used those same words with me over and over and it’s a mantra I have to force myself to act on because we live in a world that makes it uncomfortable to take up space as a woman. That space-taking journey is still relevant for women nearly a century after women got the vote.

Doubt it?

Another writer in the group shared this article by Sarah Rees Brennan on the problems she faces trying to promote her writing. The reality of what faces even women who have “made it” to one degree or another in the creative world makes me nauseous. I just want to line up all the misogynists in the world and run down the line, high-fiving them in the face. While wearing an iron gauntlet. It’s not just men, to be clear. This is language women use on other women, which should give you a sense of just how deeply ingrained in us is the feeling that women, like children, should be seen and not heard, should sit in the background working their fingers to the bone without asking anything for themselves.

All of this was rattling around in my brainpan when one of the writers emailed the group noting her guilt over putting aside some other commitments in order to take time to write, and something struck a spark. She’s right. We are trained to feel nothing but guilt for saying no in order to take time to work on our personal creative goals. I have been getting up at 5:30 in the morning to try to squeeze out my word count without jeopardizing the time I spend on housework or grocery shopping or communicating with family or my paid job. And then staying up until 11 at night or later working on little projects to make the house “just so” for when I host Thanksgiving or trying to finish handmade gifts before Christmas.

Side note on that: whoever decided to put National Novel Month during one of the two most insane months for family holidays and folks who like to make gifts? You’re fired. I want to play along in, say, March, which is the most dreary and boring month and actually needs something to spice it up.

Back on track:  Why do I think my only option for finding time to write is to bankrupt my sleep cycle? Why is it so difficult to tell the dishes or the dust or the dirty clothes that they can wait because I have a scene begging to get out of my head? Why is it that I empathize so completely with the guilt my writer friend felt for making her writing work a higher priority?

It comes back around to the question of taking up space, or rather space-time, as learning to take that time for one’s work is a part of the process of learning to take up space in the world. I don’t know if I will ever stop hearing the nagging, whining guilt in my head telling me I should be less of a self-centered bitch, more of a good little woman, but I hope I will always be listening harder for the voice of my mentor. I’ll pass on that call to the rest of you women, creative or no: take up space in the world. Take up time. And let me know how it goes, because I can’t wait to see what you all do with your own little room in space-time.

And if our husbands can’t find clean pants one morning? I’m betting they can find the washing machine.

How to Piss Off Your Editor in 3 Easy Steps

Fair warning: I’m feeling a little stabby about “professional” writers at the moment. The language of this post is a mite stronger than usual. Uncensored honesty, and such.

I have more experience as a semi-professional editor than as a paid writer. What I do for work now involves a fair amount of editing work–probably at least as much as it involves writing copy. In college, I interned as an editor’s assistant, served on the editorial board of the school paper, did copyediting for the academic journal, and ran the student literary magazine. In short: I’ve been on both sides of the manuscript, and I promise you, if you love the starving artist mystique and don’t actually want to make a living from your pen, there are three easy things you can do to send your editor into a bloody rage spiral.

1. Miss Deadlines. Repeatedly.

One missed deadline, dying parent, sick kid–it happens. Fine. Two missed deadlines…well, you’ve got a drama-filled life, maybe we’ll try to cut you a break. Three missed deadlines in a row? You’re an inconsiderate asshole. Do you think your piece of writing flutters from your email directly to the printer? Do you think photos done’t need to be sourced, layout doesn’t need to be managed, or that the abundance of typos you created by vomiting out your piece in a last-minute felthesh of desperation are destined to be paradigm changers for the world of literature? When your work is late, you either force nice people into working late and missing time with their sick kids and dying parents or you lower the quality of the publication you’re working for, and by god, if you have an editor who will stand for it, you should fall to your knees and thank the muses who are looking out for your unprofessional self.

2. Ignore Word Count. Astronomically.

If you work for a print publication, you’ve had this lecture. More words means more money for the print job, and that is not going to fly with the publisher, even if you do have the kindest of editors, one who looks upon your egotistical rambling with motherly affection. In the information age, text is cheap, and you probably take that as licence to babble on and on. You might think that the low, low cost of being able to say as much as you want automatically negates the age-old saw that being forced to shorten your work improves your writing. You might think the cheapness of online text means that readers will put up with endless, badly written drivel. Your editor, if you’re working for a respectable publication, has no such illusions. Lengthy text will either force your editor to spend hours doing the thoughtful editing you, dear writer, should have done in the first place, or it will force your editor to bury your not-as-lyrical-as-you-think meandering as the self-indulgent pile of elephant feces it is.

3. Reject Revisions. Gracelessly.

Now I am enough a writer to know that when you’ve opened your veins onto a page, having someone suggest that you might need to bleach out a few of those bloodstains makes you a bit light-headed. Nauseous, even. But the truth is that you don’t end up as an editor if you have a dead ear for language, and, in fact, the very nature of editing means that editors are getting their hands dirty with bleedings of a much wider variety than writers tend to. Editors hear all the time, “I think I know how my blood ought to splatter a lot better than you ever could. Editors are just failed writers, so how right could you possibly be?” What you’re ignoring, to your peril, is that editors have something you can’t have: perspective. They also don’t spend their entire working lives with their heads up their own rumps, as writers, by the very nature of the work, sometimes must. So yes, go ahead and call your editor a burned out, washed up, talentless hack for the sake of preserving the first draft sanctity of your blood-soaked rags. You don’t need publication or a paycheck to validate how much of a literary giant you are, right?


On Why

I’ve been struggling lately with where to put my creative focus. It’s not a problem I should be complaining about, really–an overabundance of ideas is a good thing, not a bad thing. The trouble is that when you have too many things you’re excited about, it feels like gross neglect of all of your other projects when you sit down and focus on one.

For me, this leads to a lot of fairly paralyzed couch time where I stare at my knitting basket and my computer and ponder my options, which is in itself a problem because pondering what to do inevitably leads to “Why do it?” and that question is perhaps the most sadistic bastard occupying any artist’s subconscious.

John and I were discussing this last night–he also has a tendency to get hung up on the why. We agree that there’s a certain social pressure on art to be meaningful in a very specific way. That is, art isn’t art unless it comes from a really dark place. That doesn’t really work for me though, because my dark places aren’t all that dark. They’re more angry and commonplace, and dwelling on them to create doesn’t give me a lot of joy or peace of mind.

Whatever I may be as a writer, a Sylvia Plath I am not. Nor, let’s be brutally honest, would I want to be. I’d rather be content than have that experiential edge that would enable me to create the painful work that hold the high place of honor in our art. I see no reason for a bit of fluff and nonsense to not be capable of achieving that high art status, but not knowing how to bridge the gap between a feel-good YA fantasy and literature that will outlive me, I spend a lot of time in paralyzed thought.

Which pushes me into knitting…because there, at least, I suspect that a book on how to create your own style of seamless dragon will be met with the delight it’s meant to engender.


Synposis – Autumn’s Daughter

I’m working on sending out proposals for my book to agents, and I’ve run into something I should have expected but didn’t: many of them want a synopsis.


Since the point of a synopsis is to demonstrate your skill as a storyteller while communicating the broad strokes of the plot, I drafted out a synopsis as if Niamh (my main character) were writing a letter to the publisher herself, which seems like a clean way to demonstrate the voice of the book. I think it’s a non-standard approach, but then, as it’s been pointed out, so is the tense structure of my book.

I think that’s a good thing?

Anyway, the synopsis contains massive spoilers both for Autumn’s Daughter and the sequels, but if anyone either doesn’t care or has already read a version, I’d love feedback on the synopsis…

Autumn’s Daughter Synopsis

Dreams Half-Remembered

Dreaming and writing are strangely connected for me. I write  best in the mornings when I’ve woken up from a vivid dream, even if I’m not trying to capture the essence of the dream. I rarely try to capture the essence of a dream, actually. The emotion is so intense and surreal and personal that my efforts inevitably fail, but that moment when you mourn the realization that you don’t live in the dream world is very much what I hope to invoke in my readers.

I didn’t so much dream memorably last night as I do sometimes, but I went to sleep having just finished a fairly excellent post-apocalyptic sci fi. It left my mind dancing  with ideas and handed me a puzzle piece that I needed for my own post-apocalyptic novel…that piece that starts your mind singing and drives the writing forward. Until I find that piece, I always feel like I’m working uphill to build a mountain of dung. It’s the soul of the thing. No matter how carefully crafted a plot or how well-developed the characters, a story without soul isn’t worth reading…and I figured out what that missing soul piece was as I was drifting off contemplating the book I had just finished.

I woke up this morning, charged to get writing, which feels amazing after two or three weeks of feeling dead about the whole writing  thing because my brain has been utterly stressed out by the lack of a definitive answer about whether or not the bank is going to give us the mortgage on this house. (Reason number umpteen to avoid working for giant, asshat corporations: their salary verification processes for lenders suck.) We STILL don’t have an absolute, 100% “yes,” even though our loan officer is still saying we’re probably fine to close on Tuesday, so the stress is still there, but it’s like a breath of fresh air to find this soul-piece of a story to take  my mind elsewhere.

Anyway, I sat down at my computer to get to work and in the process of looking for the files for this story, which I haven’t touched in a while, I ended up going through a few old pieces I’ve either finished or started on. I came across one that took my breath away to leave me incredibly sad, not because it’s a staggering work of genius by any means, but because I got to the end and really wanted to know more. And I realized that I’m the only one who knows what’s supposed to happen next and I DON’T REMEMBER IT AT ALL. I don’t remember writing the beginning, and I don’t remember the general concept for the tale, so I’m left with this fairly intriguing beginning and no clear idea of what to do with it.

This is exactly what happens when you don’t keep on writing when you’ve got the soul of a project in your hand, so I’m going to chase after that story sprite and attempt to capture it before my mind wakes up all the way. And in the meantime, maybe I told someone about this story and maybe that someone reads my blog and remembers what the heck I was thinking about when I wrote this, so here’s the snippet that left  me wishing I remembered how it goes on…

A Shellhead’s Pearls (a working title I threw on there after reading it  this morning, so don’t think there are necessarily any clues in the title)


Don’t Write Like a Child, For Mercy’s Sake

I have a bone to pick with all you writers who are out there giving advice about writing like a child. Have any of you ever actually met any children? Do you have kids? Have you studied the way their minds work? Because the trite, surface-level advice that keeps popping up in the blogs I read is making me twitch.

Cultivate your inner innocence. Wonder at the world. Think about things with fresh eyes. Be honest. Stop editing yourself. Listen to the way kids talk. Sure, do all that…if you want your kids to sound like every other kid produced by working the problem from the wrong end.

If you want to grow up and write realistic kids, read about developmental psychology. Choose a mental age for your character (doesn’t have to match their physical age–conflict for kids can often stem from being either too precocious or a bit slow for their age), study up on what kids’ brains are doing at that age, and try to adopt those specific mental frameworks as you think about how your kids will address the challenges you’ve laid out for them.

Kids are wondrous strange creatures, it’s true, but it’s not because they’re magical. It’s because they don’t know anything yet and often don’t have the resources to learn things efficiently on their own. When you’re pre-literate, you can’t pop on the internet to google “how to tie shoelaces,” for example. You have to rely on other people, but even posing questions is a challenge because you don’t have the vocabulary to be specific or standard in your inquiries. If you want to immerse yourself in what it’s like to be a kid, find someone to teach you something completely new, preferably something with a highly technical use of vocabulary that you don’t know.

And as for the “kids are honest,” piece…that’s true. But it’s not a kind or morally-sainted honesty. Kids have an “I have underdeveloped social filters” honesty and it’s as often cruel as it is unintentionally sage or touching. If you want to get it right, try to image how you would respond to the situation, person, environment, etc. if you were the most socially inept person on earth and then tone it down as befits the mental age of your kid.

In general, I’m convinced that thinking about taking a child’s POV from a “writing like a kid” angle is not going to get you very far. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take a kid’s POV. But kids are people. They’re people with specific ranges of mental and physical challenges that many adults don’t deal with on a daily basis, but they’re still people. If you lose sight of that fact, your writing will show it, and probably not for the better.


If 15 is Giant Metal Chickens…

Then 4 is houses. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, finish reading my post and then come back up and follow this link to a marvelous madcap blog where you can read about Beyonce the Giant Metal Chicken and learning to pick your battles.

Purple Chicken
Purple Chicken / Joe Schlabotnik / CC BY 2.0

Still with me? Okay: first things first.

John and I are making an offer on a house tomorrow. It’s the first house we’re making an offer on and it would be delightful if we could close the deal, no matter how improbable it is that everything will work out on the first go round, so wish us luck. Pretty please. Don’t ask which house yet…we don’t want to jinx anything. We do promise that if we know you in real life and wish to continue having you show up at our doorstep unannounced, we’ll send you an invitation to the open house after we close so you’ll know where to stalk us. :)

Secondly…I attended the marvelous Agents of Change conference today, and while an excellent evening of paying culinary homage to the fourth anniversary of being married to John has been helpful in unwinding, I’m still processing. It gave me great inspiration for both my professional work and my personal projects. For now, I’ll just say that (1) good things are coming for Variations on a String and also my novel-level work and (2) once I set up a newsletter sign-up, you should jump right on that list because it will only ever bring you interesting things that NO ONE ELSE WILL BE GETTING. So keep your eyes open.

Thirdly–did you know that Amazon is now doing serial fiction? I think the program has interesting promise for readers and writers alike and I will be pitching them a concept that I will end up developing on my own if they turn it down, because I think it’s that potentially awesome. (See newsletter teaser above…hint, hint.)

Lastly…Harper Voyager (a big freakin’ name in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy world) is opening their doors for unagented submissions for the first two weeks of October. I share this with you not to increase the competition, but to foster goodwill with my peers. In other words, if your manuscript is accepted and mine isn’t, you talented fool, remember who sent you the link and put in a good word for me with your shiny new editor. :)

Alright, I’m done with you. Go back to the top of the post and check out the giant metal chicken thing…it’ll exercise your liver.