Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why We Rock

Well, the other day I read this article at Genreville and it got me thinking--do people actually think that way? I don't rightly know because I've never met literati before, but if they're like that we should punch some...

...Kidding...

...But I digress. I got thinking about why we, the speculative fiction writers, are awesome--pure, concentrated, essential oil, aromatherpay, nanu-nanu awesome.

Here's my list of reasons:



  1. What other people can you talk to that know about space travel, relativity, and linguistics?

  2. If you want to talk about devoted fans, just look into the sci-fi fantasy world.

  3. You aren't going to find more interesting conversations than ours--anyone else want to discuss the practicality of silver bullets versus silver crossbow bolts?

  4. We have probably the strongest connections out of any fanbase and writer conglomerate. I don't hear about Dan Brown talking about what kind of erotica he likes with fans, but Patricia Briggs did--I know, I was there.

  5. We are HUGE! Easily the largest genres out there, save maybe romance...maybe.

  6. We have our fingers everywhere from romance to crime drama to opera.

  7. When push comes to shove, we're the most fun to be around--people that read other genres primarily (I've met a handful of them, but no pure literati) are just sort of dull.

Do you need more reasons? Really? I don't think so.


Suffice it to say we are awesome. Really awesome. However awesome I said above plus acid spitting laser wolves.


So don't listen when the "others" say that you just aren't a real writer--feck them and their Earth based books--I want freakin' elves!


Yours Faithfully,


Voss

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You Got Your Dungeons and Dragons in My Manuscript!

I feel fairly confident that almost every speculative fiction reader and writer have, at some point, at least attempted to read Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy--and I know for a fact that many of them have thrown it away in disgust.

There is a reason they do this.

I promise.

Tolkien's main claim to fame isn't, as we've been led to believe, his writing prowess. It's his backgrounding work. The man created a new language just to give his world a sense of realism for Christ's sake! He was the first in a long run of epic fantasy authors to delve into the world--the difference is, we now know not to do what Tolkien did.

We don't need to know everything about every petrified mushroom. I really don't care if that rock on the ground is the keystone of the Arches of Gerbnazuleth that fell one thousand years ago in the eighteenth war of King Hiloriet when the Orcadian hordes took Princess Yumkollor captive (please, God, don't make me wrte that again!) unless that actually has something to do with the story you're telling NOW! We understand this and Tolkien did not.

A fellow author and I use this as a bit of the evidence that Tolkien was a basement, tabletop gamer geek.

He got to absorbed into the world and, while he set the bar of success for our genre, wanted us all to join him when we, as a majority, didn't really want to join him.

The other piece of evidence we use? He doesn't kill but a single one of the main protagonists over the course of three rather large books. Three. Large. Books! No one dies except Boromir (please, God, let me get that right or the whole LOTR fan community is going to hang me up by my toenails.) and Gandalf--and Gandalf comes back.

Do the research that Tolkien did if you like--the Silmarillian is fascinating to read, so it's good. Just don't share it with the reader unless they need to know.

Love your characters, but make sure they die when and if aproppriate!

Don't mix your D&D with your manuscript--it can lead to bad things.

Voss

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Seed with Dissociative Personality Disorder

Or, in other words, a crazy little seed.

Now I know that people tire of hearing it--every author says it--but it's true: Ideas come from everywhere. It's not really the best advice for one reason--they give you no tools to access the amazing potential of "everywhere". Some people don't need to be given these tools because, in a combination of luck and practice, they have these tools ingrained. These are those people that give these wild sounding answers about getting ideas for a tribe from this really cool looking beaded necklace.

I don't know if anyone wants them, but I'll lay down a mediocre attempt to give y'all these tools.

First: you have to stop punching your muse in the face. Really, that's what happens. Muses, resilient little things that they are, will constantly yell things at you. Of course you need to filter it, but you may want to try seeing just where that idea tries to go. I once got a complete plot (yet to be written) from an apple. Just an apple. I let my mind run around and *poof* I ended up with a world and a storyline with bunches of subplots all in about half an hour. An apple. Follow the lines--it works.

Second: do not fear encyclopedias. All of these connections that lead into plot and story seeds (or at least a lot of them) come from what you learn through research. I go back to the apple, because I think about apples a lot. When i think apple, the first thing that pops into my mind is Aphrodite. Why? Apples are traditionally held as sacred to Aphrodite. From there, the world opens up to you. Along with cold hard facts, you also need those unique connections, like ravens and foot diseases. I have this in my mind thanks to my grandmother and a series of complex stories. Suffice it to say, without numerous connections like those in your head, pulling story bits out of thin air is going to be considerably more difficult.

That's it. That's how you do it. Have connections and start listening to your muse.

Voss

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Bedroom Smells Like Formula 409...It's a Good Thing

You've probably all heard it--the squeaky wheel wants to be greased. The rpoblem is, sometimes those wheels don't so much squeak as screech, whine, and b*tch until you pay attention to them. On that note, I'm back to editing. I had this fabulous little dream world for a while where I would be able to edit this to this point, write the end of this, edit some more of the first project, write this here short, and finish editing the first one by the end of June.

I crack myself up with that kind of humor, don't you?

Then I finally get going on editing full tilt, crafting brand new chapters to replace crap that still remains on the third draft (that says a lot about how I edit, but we may talk about that later...or I may just conveniently forget to talk about it...) and disaster strikes in too many different forms. I get people asking me to write this snippet of erotica for them...and I am very tempted to do so...along with a whole collection of erotica.

Today I watched "Hoarders" and, as always, I started to get antsy and wanting to clean all over again. I might mention now that I have a brand new bag of second-hand stuff to add to my other four bags I haven't taken in yet, a new organizing system for my drawers, a DVD of "The Covenant" I forgot I had, three sandals, a shoe polishing kit, and a clean(er) nightstand. I did, however, get a quarter of a sentence written, so it's not a complete writing loss.

You know, sometimes you just have to throw down your pen, stuff your writing fairies back in their cage, chloroform your muse, and do something else.

Now, let's get back to el work-o...or not...we'll see what happens.

High on 409,
Voss

P.S. - Signals From the Void came out on Monday...you should all buy it...

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Best Books Nobody Knows About Part 2: This Perfect Day

I don't know about you, but I have a soft spot for dystopian literature. Anything to do with the falsehood of a truly utopian society is okay in my book, but Ira Levin's "This Perfect Day" is a particularly brilliant example of this genre. You may know Levin from his more famous novel "The Stepford Wives", another brilliant, albeit more difficult to read and far more bone-chilling, dystopic novel. This, however, is not a post about Stepford--this is about "This Perfect Day".

This perfect day is set in a world where wheeled cars and prisons are ancient museum pieces, where everything from sex to death is run on a single, unified schedule, and anyone that questions anything is immediately reported to a "counselor" so the offender's "treatment" can be adjusted aproppriately.

Chip (whose real name is Li, as chosen by the supercomputer Uni) begins to question ane begins to be separated by an early genetic imperfection--he has one green eye. In his already fragile state, his grandpa Ira convinces him to think about the job he wants rather than letting Uni blindly decide for him. From that tiny seed of discontent flows a jungle of separatism. He meets other rebellious members and they help him to gain more control, but that little bit isn't enough for him and it isn't enough for Lilac, his secret lover.

I, again, can't reveal everything, but suffice it to say that this book travels across a world so foreign yet so familiar that we, in the modern world, begin to act like animals as we read it. Every carnal pleasure they finally receive from their lack of "treatment" becomes a personal victory. This is another five-star book and you MUST read it if you like books.

Voss

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Best Books Nobody Knows About Part 1: The Cyberiad

I sat down one day and realized something--some of my all time favorite books are books I can hardly discuss because no one has ever read them. This I saw as a problem. These are great books. I wouldn't be doing my part to the literary community if I kept these locked up in my library, so here we go with my absolute FAVORITE book, The Cyberiad by Stanisaw Lem. Some of you may know Lem's name from his very difficult to read, but very famous book "Solaris".

So, back to The Cyberiad. Unlike most short story collections, which tend to focus on a single theme, The Cyberiad follows a very rough story line. Each story is an excerpt from the lives of the glorious constructors Trurl and Klapaucius, focusing mainly on their Seven Sallies made across the universe in order to better the lives of their fellow robots (since robots are the predominant race in the universe at this point). Mixed in are stories of triumph, love, and the fallacy of a perfect mind--all things we need to remember are out there.

The style of the book is very much a sort of tongue in cheek humor of sorts. The text is sprinkled with seemingly random gibberish, but when you bother to take a look at it, everything is clearly Latin and Greek based. On top of the brilliant science involved, the humor ranges from slightly bawdy to downright intellectual.

From an English standpoint, this book can run on and ramble a bit, as well as a few bits and pieces that are just not grammatically proper. However, I blame this mostly on the fact that the English is a translation from Polish and loses something from the translation. Aside from those tiny flaws, this book is absolutely fantastic. I give it a definite 5-star rating, albeit this book can be tricky to track down. I reccomend that you find it, read it, and then keep reading it. Commit sections to memory. Just read it.

More books to come in later posts,
Voss