Links to Chew On: Art and Eruptions and AI Bookbots

Okay, so here goes with the trying to put these up on a quarterly basis (on the last day of the first month of each quarter; although I’m going to have to decide what to do since Halloween always falls on the last day of the first month of the 4th quarter…) A bridge to cross when we come to it. For now, lessons learned: don’t try to compile a list of links on recent genre controversies for one of these posts.  Those take a lot of thought to say anything cogent about them. (So I had to save all my genre controversy links for a later post…)

  • Every Award-Winning Book Sucks: Scalzi’s faux-sensationalistic headline makes a very basic point – the book with universal appeal has yet to be written, and the most highly-praised books will be a let-down for someone.  So enjoy this sampling of one-star reviews of Hugo award-winning novels from the past decade…
  • The Future is Now! At least, last year, a ton of science-fictional concepts made giants leaps closer to reality. You know, the really cool stuff, like mental control of a robotic arm (hello Cyborg and RoboCop) and robotic exoskeletons, spray-on skin, the legalization of self-driving cars (in some states), and artificial leaf technology. This stuff is mind-boggling.
  • Amtrak may be making Residencies for Writers on Trains a thing… I like trains. And I like writing. It would never have occurred to me to put the two together. Note that the article linked calls these “free rides for writers” in the headline, but in reality if this becomes an ongoing thing, there will be a cost. Discounted tickets maybe? Who knows, since there was only an individual, promotional test-run.
  • I feel like this is something I’ve shared an opinion or two about before, but NPR recently aired a story questioning whether popular, famous, even universally-acclaimed works of art have achieved such status wholly on the merit and quality of the work or… if there’s something else, some element of chance, involved in their rise to ubiquitous-praise.  “Good art is popular because it’s good, right?” But a study on that question suggests: well… not quite. Chance plays a huge factor: what gets buzz early tends to build on that buzz over time, such that a small but crucially-timed bit of word-of-mouth can lead to a massive response, and vice-versa. The caveat: there’s a minimum threshold of quality to which a work of art must rise before this element of chance can have it’s effect. In essence: you can’t accidentally explode the popularity of something that’s truly crap. The caveat to the caveat, of course: quality is in the eye of the art beholder. But my feelings are that this is reflective of the writing world, as well. You have to be good, to write good and engaging stories. Good writing, I’ve come to believe, is a necessary but insufficient precondition to success in the writing world. The other factor is wildly erratic good luck. There’s a lot you can do about the first part. (I.e. practice, practice, practice, write, write, and write some more. Also, read a lot, too.) There’s roughly squat you can do about the second. Still… the second won’t do you a bit of good unless you’ve got the first. “Opportunity Knocks” is a lot of chance and luck, but Opportunity only comes in and stays a while if you’ve cleaned the place up and have a special place reserved, I guess.  Have I beat this string of metaphors enough?
  • Author Jim C. Hines adds a little more context to his annual Writing Income reveal, for those that are interested in this sort of information (i.e., yours truly).
  • Hines also has some advice on Chasing the Market: don’t.  Sounds like good advice to me.  I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that many of us who write dream of making it big and writing a book that can be fairly described as “the next Harry Potter” or “the next Hunger Games” or “the next” whatever it takes to be a massive best-seller.  Not all of us, but some of us, and I daresay many if not most.  But frankly? I don’t think you’ll get there unless you first abide by the maxim: “Write what you love.”  Because otherwise? I think the writing will show that your heart ain’t in it – and your reader’s hearts won’t be in it either.  Which is not to say that writing what you love is a guaranteed path to riches – far from it, of course – but I do believe it’s a necessary prerequisite for finding that path if you’re looking for it down the writing road.
  • Speaking of writing what you love, I’m sure you’ve heard that old aphorism “Do what you love”.  But maybe we should stop saying that? “You keep saying that.  I do not think it means what you think it means.”  Miya Tokumitsu, writing for Slate Magazine, argues that the aphorism unnecessarily apotheosizes the many “lovable” career options and roles available to the already-elite, but degrades and demeans the hard, often physical labor options available to the middle and lower classes – work that’s rarely “lovable” but always necessary to making something valuable happen.  I must say, I found the article compelling, and not just in a “Solidarity Forever” sort of way.  It gets to something science-fictional but fast become socio-economic reality that I’ve often wondered about: someday, there will undoubtedly be robots to do all (or most of) the hard, physical, manual, and unpleasant labor that is necessary for the functioning of society.  Is this a good thing?  What happens to the human workers it displaces? Do higher level “service” and knowledge-work roles expand as a result, requiring the efforts of those displaced? Do folks whose roles have been replaced by machines get another shot at taking on service, creative or knowledge-based work?  Is there sufficiently increased demand for this increased supply of labor? Seems doubtful. Does it simply drive down the real wages of people working in these sectors such that they are now paid for less than what it costs to maintain a robot?  In many ways, it’s the same set of moral and ethical questions presented by the problems of outsourcing.  To which I have few if any easy answers.
  • Want to know the truth about Hermione Granger? Author J.K. Rowling says she got it wrong! Hermione would’ve been with Harry, not Ron. Say it ain’t so? Okay, let’s be honest: this is not earth-shattering news. Not earth-shattering because many, many of us knew this a long time ago. Most of us (or at least your humble correspondent) shrugged our shoulders and said “Oh, well, that’s how the author wanted it to go,” and we were fine with that because taken as a whole, including little quibbling flaws like that, the Harry Potter series was pretty fantastic.  But, I mean, this was self-evident from at least the second book (Chamber of Secrets) when Ginny came basically out of nowhere (she was barely even mentioned in the first book) to play a damsel-in-distress with a crush on Harry, and you could immediately see the plot machinations that were going to force Harry and Ginny together since Hermione and Ron were already predestined to be together.
  • While we’re on the topic of Harry Potter, have you heard the news that there are more HP-universe movies coming? Now, Harry won’t be in them, but the scuttle-butt on the street is that “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and “Quidditch Through the Ages” are headed for the big screen.  I’m of two minds. First, let’s be upfront and clear about this: yes this is a mercenary cash grab. You and I both know that Harry’s story is done, and being a tale well-told, there’s no need to tell more. However, and you knew this was coming, didn’t you: there may not be the need, but there’s so very clearly the desire for more. So many people fell in love with the characters and world of the Harry Potter stories, and many of them would dearly love to see more stories told in that universe. And they’ll pay to see these movies. So why shouldn’t those movies exist? Will they be as good as the HP movies? Will they make as much of the so-much-money? Well, no and no. But I’d put money on this: they’ll be entertaining, and they’ll be successful.
  • Back on the subject of publishing, and of self-publishing, Chuck Wendig calls for criticism of the Self-publishing movement – as in folks actually being willing to post negative reviews and/or find some way of separating the proverbial self-published wheat from the tons and tons of self-published chaff (oh so much chaff… and so much of it is actually crap).  Le Gasp!  What Madness Eez Thees? His thesis is pretty simple, and hard-to-dispute: If self-publishing is every bit as legitimate a career choice as traditional publishing (and he argues that it is), then it (i.e. the culture around self-publishing) needs to stop being self-congratulatory, stop celebrating mediocrity, and start building systems that allow high-quality and professional work to be recognized and found.  But who will fill this role? Wendig offers few answers. It won’t be editors and publishing houses – that’s the traditional gatekeeper method. Perhaps it will be other (successful) self-pubbers? But I’m not sure I see much of an impetus to create these traditions and mechanisms.
  • Continuing on his critique of the culture of self-publishing, Wending compares the glut of low-quality material to a volcano that spews… well… this is an expletive-light blog, so let’s just call it fecal matter. The real meat of the post is about the problem of “discovery” in a field of self-publishing where large number of (mostly) low-quality work are available – how do readers avoid the stuff that doesn’t work for them and find the stuff that does? It’s hard. And blogger Suw Charman-Anderson warns that the eruption of said volcano is unlikely to abate any time soon – and she makes a very interesting logical argument about the problems of the Dunning-Kruger effect in relation to self-publishing. I find myself in the category where I consider myself moderately competent at what I do (vis-a-vis writing), but not sufficiently competent to warrant a paying career in this industry as yet. That’s in part because I lack much by way of objective external validation of my competency, and I don’t trust my inner sense of that competency. So what Suw says here resonated with me. Mike Cane believes that Amazon itself will have sufficient motive to put an end to the glut of low-quality (and, importantly, non-selling) literary output, on the basis that hosting this material takes up server space and disrupts the Amazon search and recommendation algorithms. This is, of course, predicated on the assumption that the costs to Amazon of hosting very-low selling titles is non-negligible, that they won’t make substantive improvements to their search and recommendation algorithms over time, and that the cost of each of these would be greater than the negative goodwill this move would generate among the hosts of digital self-publisher’s cheerleaders. So there’s some logic and merit to the argument, but we on the outside can’t really penetrate the opaque walls of Amazon’s own self-interest (or any other corporation’s self-interest, for that matter) to gauge which of these factors is more influential to their strategy and thinking. Suw reiterates these limitations to Mike’s theory, with a bonus helping of actual numbers that suggest that the cost to Amazon of hosting large amounts of literary excrement is entirely negligible. Then she fantasizes about the impact of post-singularity  technologies (she doesn’t use that phrase, but still…) on discoverability and the future utopia of reading that AI will bring. The latter, of course, reads like science fiction, but hey it could happen – and I could dig it.


Links to Chew On: Can You Hack It?

So… I’m going to try to make this a regular feature – regular here meaning “happening on a consistent basis” as opposed to the very irregular thing they’ve been in the past.  I’m thinking, the last day of the first month of each quarter (thus, January 31st, and subsequently March 31st, June 30th, etc.).

And so without further ado, here are some tasty links to chew on:

  • Author Jason Sanford has some wise and reasonable words to share with you about all the “rules” of writing: don’t let them turn you into a hack!  Now, I’m no pro (as yet and, who knows, possibly ever) but I get this feeling I’ve expressed similar sentiments before.  Good to know I’m in good company when it comes to thinking that way.
  • Who would win in a fight between Zombies and Mother Nature?  BoingBoing says Mother Nature.  Her secret weapons include vultures, the California Condor, flies and their maggoty offspring, bacteria, molds, and fungi.
  • Musician David Lowery says “Silicon Valley Must Be Stopped, or Creativity Will Be Destroyed” in an interview that mainly seems to be a response to the GoldieBlox/Beastie Boys controversy. What he means is that tech start-ups that intend to make money off of the work of artists and creatives without first obtaining permission from those creatives for the use of the the things those creatives created need to be reigned in, and copyright law needs to be followed.  And, while this is undoubtedly true, it makes for a rather less-sensationalist headline.  And, frankly, in this particular instance, at least, it’s difficult for me to feel a lot of sympathy for the Beastie Boys – this may not be, as the article says, a “David and Goliath” story in terms of who’s got the money, but it’s certainly a “Daisy and Goliath” story in terms of the broader cultural headwinds. Still, it’s an interesting read – and while I might personally fall slightly on GoldieBlox’s side in this round (for one thing, I’m actually inclined to like GoldieBlox’s version of the song in question), I can definitely appreciate how this can be abused.
  • So, more and more teenagers are getting published, both through traditional means and through new digital self-publishing means.  This is a thing.  Oh, what I wouldn’t have given, at the age of something-less-than-twenty, to have had a book published.  And oh how glad I am, at the age of something-more-than-thirty, that what I wrote back then wasn’t published. I’ll stand by the Scalzi quote in that article: “The bad news [for teenage writers]: Right now your writing sucks.”  Mine did.  (I’d say it sucks arguably a lot less now.)
  • Chuck Wendig talks about the Digital Book World survey of self-publishers, traditionally-published authors, and hybrid-authors, and about digital author-publisher Hugh Howey’s response to that survey (along with a link to a rundown of this discussion by Porter Anderson).  Later, Chuck discusses the latest big news-splash author turning down a major traditional deal (i.e. romance author Brenna Aubrey) and gives his take on it.  The summary version: There’s different things going on in the different worlds of digital self-publishing versus traditional publishing, and they have different risks and different rewards, and authors should take into account a lot more than just the money side of the equation into their decision-making matrix.  That’s more-or-less how I roll on this ongoing digital evolution discussion. So Wendig gets my vote for “guy (i.e. person) who actually thinks before blathering on the internet about digital self-publishing”.
  • The Smithsonian talks about a new study published in PLOS ONE that demonstrates a strong statistical correlation between the language and tone of a book and the economic conditions that preceded it.  Or, in other words, books published after hard economic times with high unemployment tend to be darker and more negative.  I wonder what this suggests about the book(s) I will someday write…?
  • So Daddy Blogs are a thing that exists. I did not know this before. (I have a wife, so of course I knew that Mommy Blogs were a thing). And here’s a daddy who’s kicking butt and taking names – especially when it comes to diaper-changing stations in public Men’s restrooms.  As a dad, this is something that I’ve been aware of as being a problem already, but since reading this post I’ve started noticing a little more often whether a men’s restroom has a changing station or not. Suffice to say, of course, that as a devoted and loving father, I’m on-board with this campaign.  So far, most places I’ve been out to have had changing stations in the men’s rooms.  Next thing I’d like to add to this list, as a father of a semi-independent pre-schooler: retractable step stools for at least one of the sinks (in both men’s and women’s rooms).  Try holding a baby, the baby’s diaper bag, and then trying to lift a 3-4 year old up so he can reach the faucet to wash his hands! It’s cumbersome to say the least… I’ve seen these places so I know it’s a thing that can be done, but I see them far-too rarely, and often not at places where I think they’d make the most sense (like places specifically catering to the toddler or younger crowd).

Links to Chew On: The Great Library

Oh look: it’s my semi-annual link dump.  Enjoy these links to chew on:

  • Has one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World been reborn?  Bibliotheca Alexandrina explores the new Library of Alexandria – which is pretty awesomely cool.
  • Jim Butcher offers his advice to aspiring authors (of which I am one).  He warns that most aspiring authors will kill their dreams by their own hands.  I know of what he speaks: I struggle daily with whether to pull the plug and turn off the terminal life support on which my dreams of authordom subsist.  (Those dreams have been nigh-mortally wounded by my abyssmally-low wordcount productivity, which is a result of many factors, chief among which is my decision to focus my attention on things that I’ve deemed more important than writing – you know, the stuff I go on and on and on about here in my blog.)  If I ever come out on the other side of this, it will because of my dream’s will to live, to survive, to endure and, yes, to “transcend”.
  • Cory Doctorow has some thoughts on the ca. 19th-century marketing platforms that Publishers are currently using, and how they can move forward into the 21st-century.  (Hint: It doesn’t involve DRMed eARCs.)  Marketing is one the of four or five top reasons to go with traditional publishing instead of self-publishing.  But if traditional publishers can’t be bothered to use modern tools to do a more effective job at this, then that severely diminishes the argument in their favor.  Heck… even I, with my homely Microsoft Access and Excel skills can do better than a word processing file to keep track of this stuff.  (Okay, who’m I kidding: I’m mostly a whiz at Excel and pretty darn good at Access, too; but who else am I kidding: these aren’t so rare talents that any given corporation can’t find an intern or two who’s at least sufficiently competent with these basic tools to create a better tracking mechanism than that…)  As the number of publishers drops to a few, large corporations, it seems nonsensical to me that they can’t find the wherewithal to do even basic 21st-century business stuff.  I hope this changes, and changes soon.
  • Speaking of Marketing, this recent post on io9 about “7 Misconceptions About Sci-Fi Publishing” talks a bit about Marketing in one of its 7 points (the seventh, in fact).  It jives with a lot of the things I wrote about book marketing on my blog here, but comes with added extended quotes from actual book publishers!  The other six points in that piece are of varying grades of quality.
  • In “Movements: So What Do You Think of My Story…” on Strange Horizons, Filipina author Rochita Loenen-Ruiz discusses the mindset and headspace needed to write about cultures other than your own.  Her article doesn’t use the word, but it’s highly critical of people who use “Exoticism” when writing other cultures.  By the same token, the piece praises those who approach writing other cultures with a humble attitude, as exemplified by: “I have these characters from a culture that is not my own, and I’m trying to get it right.  Can anyone help me and take a look at this?”  For my own purposes, since I work largely in secondary-world fantasy, this becomes a question of how to portray interesting non-real cultures that reflect more than just the typical Western-European tropes, but which are also not mere cultural charicatures.  Except for the occasional foray into sci-fi, I won’t have a lot of “Japanese” characters or “Filipino” characters or “African” characters or, for that matter, “European” characters.  But I hope that I will be able to write characters from a variety of different fictional cultures and borrow – graciously, humbly, and respectfully – from a variety of real-world cultures to fill my invented worlds.  So, not “Japanese” characters or “African” characters, but characters with a clear cultural and ethnic connection to other real-world cultures, and done in a way that is interesting and (hopefully) not offensive.  I’ve no doubt that I have and will fail, from time to time, but I will strive to improve.
  • Packing to go on a book tour is not something I have to worry about.  It may not be anything I ever have to worry about (but it’s a worry I’d love to trade up for).  If, however, I do have to face the challenges of preparing for a book tour, John Scalzi’s rundown of how he packs for it would undoubtedly serve as a useful primer.
  • This is really for my own theoretically future-reference, but seeing as how I have almost no experience querying and writing synopses for my stories, this turn-by-turn run-down of what to include in a synopsis should prove a useful instructional aid if I ever need it.
  • I’ve waxed on and on about my inability to spend any time writing (and my attendant shame at being so anti-prolific).  One could say I’m “obsessed with daily wordcounts”, inasmuch as you extend that phrase to include obsession with a daily wordcount that’s consistently 0.  Author Jason Sanford looks at this sort of obsession a little differently.  The crux of his argument is that quantity does not equate with quality – but frankly I take that as a given, an article of faith.  On the other hand – you can’t have quality with a quantity of 0.  Author Rachel Aaron – she of the 10,000-words-a-day fame – also has some thoughts on this subject, to wit: she likes her some writing speed, but she still has to go back and rewrite to make her stories better, and she finds herself doing that more and not less as she goes along.  So at the end of the day, she and Jason are basically on the same page: you can’t skip the rewriting/editing/revising/whatever stage.  I suppose that what is best in life is to have both, eh?  Fast first drafts and nice, thorough rewriting/edting/revising/etc.
  • Here’s a very brief round up of links on SFWA and the GenderFail Kerfuffle – these links go mostly to authors whose blogs and feeds I already follow, but contained within these links are a wealth of additional links that provide a lot of food-for-thought.  First, I saw SFWA President John Scalzi’s post on the subject.  Without a little more context, though, I was more-or-less a fish out of water.  What, precisely, had happened?  Thankfully, Jim Hines was on hand with a somewhat more complete round-up of links on the subject (although see also the caveat he adds here, and his additional thoughts).  Included in that list was a link with a pretty thorough diagnosis of what happened, and included scans and/or PDFs of some of the offending material.  (Hines’ link list is worth perusing if this issue is of interest to you.)  The quick-and-dirty version: the last few issues of the official SFWA publication have had some problematic and misogynistic material in them: from a female warrior in an overtly “sexy” chain-mail bikini, an article about “lady” editors that spends too long extoling the phyiscal attributes of some of those editors (i.e. their beauty), and a praise of Barbie as an exemplar of longevity as attributed to her maintaining “quiet dignity the way a woman should.”  And then in the latest edition, two venerable old authors of the genre – the ones who wrote about the attractive “lady” editors, lambaste their critics and compare them to censors, fascists, and mass-murderers. Mary Robinette Kowal was more angry about how those two authors were able to singlehandedly trash the credibility of the SFWA with the misogynistic rant than about the rant itself – an understandable reaction from a former board member.  Jason Sanford is a little more direct and to-the-point: it’s “Time for the men of SF to tell the sexists to go to hell“.  Tobias Buckell, without providing context for why the post was necessary, linked to an article that made the point that “criticism isn’t censorship“.  (Jason Sanford seconded that notion.)  N.K. Jemisin made a reference to the SFWA kerfuffle (as well as to past kerfuffles such as RaceFail and others that were new to me) in her Continuum GOH speech.  This is one of those cases where I’m glad this discussion is happening before I become a writing professional.  It’s good to see people who are gracious and upright about these issues bringing them up and pushing for change – it’s good to have good examples.  It’s also good to expose myself to viewpoints that may illuminate some previously-unexamined latent sexism that I may contain within myself as a product of the culture I grew up in.  I hope I can be better, myself.  Meanwhile, some people are leaving SFWA over the ongoing sexism, while others are joining in the hopes of making a change in the organization.  At present, I am in a position to do neither…
  • The SFWA Gender-Fail dust-up was really just the beginning.  Misogyny is just one form of hatred and bigotry, and now an SFWA member has hijacked the SFWA twitter feed to spread other forms of hatred.  The hater-in-question was briefly referenced in Jemisin’s Guest-of-Honor speech linked above, and he took the opportunity to direct a lot of his own trollish malevolence toward Jemisin, and to do in a most transparently racist way.  There are now members of SFWA calling for him to be kicked out of the organization.  I don’t get a say – I’m not in SFWA – but I support their cause, and if you happen to be in SFWA, you should to.  Check out Amal El-Mohtar’s post on the subject linked above.  He’s got details on how to contact your SFWA representatives.  (ETA: The deleted section is no longer relevant, thanks to the next bullet.)  Tobias Buckell shares some similar thoughts on the matter here.  Jemisin replied (only a little obliquely) here, with a true take-down that cuts to the heart: “There can be nothing more pitiful — dangerous, certainly, but still, pitiful — than a person whose self-worth depends solely on their perceived ability to diminish others. That is a person who truly has nothing of his own.”  Some additional reactions to the aforementioned hateful bile here.  (As it turns out, the SFWA Board started looking into what actions it thinks it might take…)
  • At the end of the day, SFWA decided to expel the member referred to above.  Jemisin – the injured party in this case – responded to Beale’s expulsion, then offered a glimpse into her thought process had SFWA chosen not to do the right thing (thankfully, a counter-factual).  Meanwhile, writer SL Huang has a convenient timeline (with tons of links) of events in this latest dust-up, starting from the January 2013 SFWA Bulletin with the bikini chainmail cover and the initial, mildly offensive articles by Resnick and Malzberg, going through Resnick & Malzberg’s subsequent meltdowns, former SFWA president John Scalzi’s apologies, the unmasking of a serial sexual harasser from within the halls of Tor Books, the reactions of aforementioned hateful racist, homophobic, misogynistic turd, subsequent online discussion related to said turd’s misuse of SFWA communication channels, and finally the expulsion of said turd.  That’s a lot of controversial stuff, and I could link to all of it, but in the interest of time it seems more efficient to link you to someone who’s already aggregated a lot of those links…
  • It seems Amazon has decided to get into the Fanfic business… I haven’t much – or anything, really – to say on the subject.  I don’t write fanfiction or tie-in-fiction or anything of the like and neither do I have any desire to tread down that road, pesonally.  I  have way, way, way too much of my own stuff that I want to do to worry about adding to other peoples’ worlds.  But I’ll let some other, pro-authors opine: here’s John Scalzi, Jim Hines, and Tobias Buckell with some thoughts.
  • An infographic on the effects of writing on the brain
  • A modest bit of research on the classifications of Geeks and Nerds
  • Tobias Buckell has some interesting thoughts on the nature of “advice” from people who are doing well in publishing – whether via the new “self” model or the old “traditional” model: their advice is heavily skewed by their “Survivorship Bias“.  In other words: they think that because what they did worked for them, that there is some universal truth that can be taken from their experience and replicated perfectly.  What the Survivorship Bias ignores is the stories of the people who did the exact same thing as those who succeeded and yet… they failed.  Because they failed, we don’t hear their stories, so we assume the stories of the successful are accurate.  There’s a lot more than this on Buckell’s post, and you should check it out.
  • So how did that case/trial against Apple for publishing colluding work out? No big surprises, but Apple was found Guilty.  The evidence suggesting probable collusion seemed pretty strong – which is why all the publishers eventually bowed out; they knew they couldn’t win this fight.  Only Apple had pockets deep enough to bother trying.  Scrivener’s Error, of course, has thoughts on the ongoing matter here and here.
  • Scott Lynch doesn’t understand what you mean when you say you’re looking for a “shortcut” to publishing success…
  • Is Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader on it’s last legs?  They seem to have made the decision to exit the “tablet” business.  It would be pretty sad if that were the case – the Nook readers are the only really substantial competition for Amazon’s Kindle readers, as far as I can see.  I’m aware others exist, but without being attached to a content-purchasing backend, I suspect they’re all pretty much dead-in-the-water.  Nothing against Amazon (really; I use them all the time) but I’d really prefer they didn’t have a de facto monopoly over e-book distribution… (and no, Apple doesn’t count, first, because they don’t make readers, they make only tablets, and second because hello aforementioned antitrust litigation.)

Friday Links to Chew On

So I had a couple links I wanted to pass on before they grew stale.  But they didn’t fit the theme of the occassional series I do on “Tidbits of Inspiration”.  And then I remembered I’d done a pretty large link-dump recently, and I realized that I had a good name for an occassional series of posts in which I dump links on your poor, unsuspecting readers.  And so, I give you a small helping of “Links to Chew On”:

  • Author Myke Cole shares some of the rules of writing that he’s learned: He’s got 18 rules in all, and covers writing habits, style, genre, promotions and publishing.  The rules are pretty amusing, and you should check them out.  I’d say they’re a pretty complete set of rules, and if you’re a writer you’d do well to consider them.
  • Author Brandon Sanderson is Self-Publishing: And… it looks like big news, sure.  A major epic fantasy best-seller, the author who is finishing acclaimed author Robert Jordan’s magnum opus, is eschewing traditional publishing for self-publishing!  The End Is Nigh!  Except, well, not really.  When you actually read the news, you’ll find that it’s not quite that earth-shattering.  All Sanderson is doing is taking a couple novela-length stories he’s written and published elsewhere and binding them up in a single volume.  And after reflecting on it, I recalled that a lot of traditionally-published authors (though few as big-named as Sanderson) have been doing similar experiments.  Still, it is worthy of note because Sanderson is such a big name.
  • Pre-reject your own work: It saves time and heartbreak.  And it’s fun!
  • Respect Your Fans: An interesting article that makes what I think is an important point: if you want loyal readers, then you need to respect your fans.  The article explores some of the history of Sci-Fi and Fantasy fandom and how connected and engaged those fans are – and how that connection and engagement feeds back into the development of the genre.  There are some interesting counterpoints to this idea that aren’t fully explored in the article but discussed somewhat in the comments, too.  Anyway, worth the read.
  • Speaking of Fans… Here’s a pair of articles about setting up and using a facebook fan page.  I, myself, do not have one, and I won’t bother with one until I have published some fiction in a professional market or instead decided to self-publish and thereafter earned more than the sales I could count on two hands.  But hey… if you’re already down those rabbit holes, maybe you could use a fan page?

Anyway, there are some links for you this Friday…  Have fun!