31 Mar 2012, 12:35pm
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Not an April Fool’s post

New group blog/webchannel/whatever Geek and Sundry will be holding a “Subscribathon” video chat on Google Plus. Here’s the schedule, all times PST. Do 10:30 yoga. At 2pm, follow a panel from authors Amber Bensen, Pat Rothfuss, and John Scalzi on “Creating Great Characters.” Enjoy a video dance break. Learn about creating indie video games. Join a chat with NASA astronomers.

And more! Much much more. Check out that schedule, and here’s their G+ channel.

By the way, I’m on G+ too.

30 Mar 2012, 9:11am
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Martha Wells’s EMERALD SERPENT Snippet

I’ve mentioned the Kickstarter for this anthology before, and I’ve linked to other writers’ snippets of their stories, as well as my own.

Well, now Martha Wells has posted her own snippet. Check it out.

As for the anthology, five bucks into the Kickstarter gets you an electronic copy of the entire book, and there are other benefits at higher levels.

Just sayin’

Randomness for 3/28

1) A history of the McFarlane/Gaiman Miracleman lawsuit.

2) Trompe l’oeil graffiti vanishes Egyptian military barrier

3) A working scientific calculator, built from Minecraft blocks.

4) Two words: Explosive. Polymerization. (Video)

5) Eight “forgotten” live-action children’s shows from the eighties. I doubt “Small Wonder” has been forgotten, but “My Secret Identity” is the only other one I remember (but I’m a bit old for this time period)

6) Heroic Goofballs: Aardman takes on DC. Video

7) An infographic showing the last words of executed inmates in Texas.

Hello, BoingBoing readers

Yesterday, two and a half years after it came out, Child of Fire got a great review from BoingBoing.

And, because my luck is so very perfect, the Kindle store has gone down–apparently because of a database error–so the link from the review takes you to the physical book. No worries, though! I’m sure they’ll have it back up again in no time (grumbles). I’ve heard rumors that there are other places to buy ebooks, but who can tell whether that’s true or not?

The series runs to four books, which you can see over there on the right hand side of my blog. It’s also been cancelled. If you’re curious, I blogged about the reasons why it ended. You can also go to my home page to see the fantastic book trailer made by the guys at Wyrd.

Currently I have a new series in the works I’m about to send to my agent, an epic fantasy about two people caught up in the sudden collapse of an empire. Check out my Upcoming Books page for more info about that.

And welcome.

Brandon Sanderson gets a video game adaptation of his books?

First of all, I’m glad for him. I don’t know the dude and to be frank I bounced off the first Mistborn book. But his books have been selling very well, and this is a happy thing for him.

But I have the envy, too. The deep, deep envy.

Ah well. It’s not something I can control, but I can go back to my own WIP. Here’s more details:

Mistborn: Birthright announced for XBOX, PS3, and PC — A Dribble of Ink.

More Tales of the Emerald Serpent Teasers

Last Thursday I posted a snippet of the story I sold to Tales of the Emerald Serpent, a mosaic anthology currently on Kickstarter.

Well, novelist Juliet McKenna has posted a snippet of her own along with a bit of world-building on her blog.

Lynn Flewelling has done the same thing.

There’s also artwork and additional world-building material in the updates section of the Kickstarter.

Check them out, if you’re interested.

Ray Lilly is out of the cage match

Kelsier defeated him 3 to 1 in the voting, just about, which is perfectly cool by me. I didn’t expect him to get this far in a popularity contest, so thanks to everyone who voted. Thanks also to David Pomerico and the Suvudu staff for all the work they put into it.

Now that he’s out, I wanted to comment on the attitude of a lot of the cage match commenters… but Pat Rothfuss already did it and he did it better.

One thing I’ll add to his comments about the slaying of dragons: I’m a writer. If you ask me “Who would win in a fight, Cthulhu or Godzilla?” to me the only logical answer is “Whichever makes a better story.”

Tallying up super-powers and arguing I don’t know this character but [personal fave] is the most awesome-est! entirely misses the point. Sometimes the “weaker” character has to/must win. That’s part of the fun (and it is supposed to be fun).

If the cage matches are a place where the underdogs can never “win” then it isn’t fun. That’s why I had Ray use his ghost knife on GRRM’s readers. That’s why I had Tyrion taunt him for not being lovable enough. Because Tyrion was the underdog and I love underdogs. (People who’ve read my books will know this).

Even worse, how powerful the characters are is orthogonal to the appeal of the work in question, and when people go all munchkin on their favorite characters they turn off potential readers.

Anyway, read Pat’s post. He’s a smart guy.

(BTW, Godzilla would totally kick Cthulhu’s ass. That’s SCIENCE.)

22 Mar 2012, 9:40am
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Teaser for Tales of the Emerald Serpent

As I mentioned a few days ago, I have a story in a mosaic anthology called Tales of the Emerald Serpent, which is having a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to pay for the printing (my understanding is that it will have quite a bit of artwork in it).

There are other authors involved: Lynn Flewelling, Juliet McKenna, Martha Wells, and Julie Czerneda to name just a few, and you can see some of the artwork at the Kickstarter site or the publisher’s Facebook page.

My own modest contribution is a short story called “The One Thing You Can Never Trust.” For folks who are interested, I thought I’d post the first couple of pages of my story. If you like it and want to read the rest, along with the stories from these other excellent authors, please consider pledging. The way Kickstarter works, you pledge whatever amount you want (larger pledges bring more/fancier swag) but if the project doesn’t meet its target, no money will be collected at all.

So! Without further blather, here’s the opening to my story. I hope you like it.

THE ONE THING YOU CAN NEVER TRUST

by Harry Connolly

Emil Lacosta did not expect his new prices to please Mama Serene, but he did not expect her to actually swear at him. She did. Being Mama Serene, she did it startlingly well. “I am terribly sorry,” he said, carefully keeping his voice mild. “Acquiring the materials I require has become quite difficult and…”

“Spare me the apologies of a Zimbolay scholar,” she interrupted. “Every learned word makes my purse lighter.” She wrote out a bank note, signed it, and handed it to him. It was for the old price. “Next time, I will pay your new, even more outrageous, fee.”

Emil nodded and handed the note to Mariella. He turned to the three young consorts sitting on Mama Serene’s ornate couch. “Do you accept this spell without coercion, of your own will?”

The consorts said “Yes,” in deeply bored tones. One of them added: “because it’s making me rich!” They all laughed at him. He had asked them last time, too, and would ask next time. It didn’t matter if they thought him fussy. He held out a small vial to the first consort and, after she had spit into the golden liquid, allowed her to take it. He did the same for the others.

They were love potions all. A select few of Mama Serene’s clients paid a high premium to be genuinely (or at least magically) adored, even if it was just for a few days.

Their business concluded, Emil and Mama Serene nodded politely to each other. Mariella opened the office door and led Emil swiftly and quietly down the side stair and through the lounge. Emil hated coming to the House of the Silk Purse, hated delivering his product in person, hated knowing the consorts would drink the potion when he was not there to watch over them. But the money was good. Very, very good. With luck, he–

Two men rose out of their chairs and moved toward him. They seemed to have been waiting for him, and Emil stopped immediately and drew back. Mariella stepped around him, her hand on the ribbon tying down her sword. There was an odd expression on her face.

“No no!” the taller man said, his empty hands raised. “We mean only to talk.” more »

21 Mar 2012, 4:18pm
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Shutting down my store

Effective immediately, I’m turning off my online store. Since Shopp updated their software, it hasn’t worked correctly and I need to figure out (in my Copious Free Time) why.

Sorry folks. I’ll get it fixed as quickly as possible.

20 Mar 2012, 11:50pm
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In which I make progress

I got to spend some time with A Blessing of Monsters today. I wrote about 1200 words, then wrote 100 anti-words. I wanted to do more at the end of the day but the scene I was working on had gone all wrong and my kid wouldn’t give me the space to think about it.

At some point in the day I even came up with a decentish title, but I didn’t write it down and now I’ve forgotten it. Ah well. It was probably brilliant.

Anyway, it felt good to take hold of the book again, even it wasn’t a firm hold. We’ll see what comes tomorrow.

20 Mar 2012, 8:29am
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John Carter of Legosoom

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We didn’t have a thoat, so a camel had to stand in.

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It was a tiny display, but my son did a great job with it.

20 Mar 2012, 6:25am
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Creativity Project, part 3

Continuing my examination of my own creative process through an examination of this article: Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking, I’ll touch on points 4-6 here and get to the halfway point.

4. Your brain is not a computer.

This is probably the most confusing part of the article. It’s starts with the truism above then starts talking about imagining things and synthesizing experience?

The first thing I’ll say is that comparing a brain to a computer is not a very interesting way to think about this. No, your brain is not a computer. Other things your brain is not: a loaf of bread, a set of dishes, an FBI file on a U.S. peace activist, a package of Alka-Seltzer.

A good rule for brains and computers both is Garbage In, Garbage Out, but I covered that in my last post. But let me address the little point that the article writer covers: Our brains can create false experiences and treat them as real.

To which I say: yes, that is the whole point of writing a novel. You create a false experience in the mind of the reader. The entire art and craft of creating a novel involves a) imagining this experience yourself and b) recording it effectively through text.

But it’s important not to make the experience solely a visual/auditory one. Personally (and these posts are about my own processes, remember) I do imagine scenes visually but there isn’t a lot of detail in them. I certainly don’t see faces as such. If you’ve ever read Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, (and you should) you’ll know what I mean when I say that the faces are “iconic.”

But I also experience the story in a different way that’s hard to describe. I also experience the character’s feelings as though they were tidal forces, pulling me one way or another. If there’s one thing that slows down my productivity, it’s translating those feelings into text without using cliche.

And it has nothing to do with my brain being a computer.

5. There is no one right answer

This one’s sort of important. You can make bad choices, creatively speaking. You can choose cliches, or story beats that ruin the tone, or that don’t make sense for the characters, or that open the story setting to questions/implications you aren’t ready or willing to address.

But there can also be numerous “correct” choices that will work within the story on one level or another. The important thing is to look at them and judge their effect on the story’s tone, the questions it raises about the setting, etc etc.

So, while you can have several correct choices, each should still be evaluated in terms of the effect it will have.

(I’m ignoring the article for this point for fear of annoying people with lay-physicist woo woo about creativity.

6. Never stop with your first good idea.

The temptation to do this is powerful–really really powerful, especially if you’ve been struggling with a particular question for a while–but don’t do it. If you do, you miss out on the chance to do the evaluations I talked about in number 5 above.

More in part four, including allowing other people to influence you in a negative way.

19 Mar 2012, 9:28pm
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Tales of the Emerald Serpent

As I mentioned on Twitter, I’ve written a story for a shared-world mosaic anthology which is being funded via Kickstarter. The title is Tales of the Emerald Serpent and the title of my story is “The One Thing You Can Never Trust.”

This has nothing to do with Twenty Palaces; it’s a high fantasy co-created by editor R. Scott Taylor with writers like Julie Czerneda, Lynn Flewelling, Martha Wells, Robert Mancebo, and Juliet McKenna, along with artists like Todd Lockwood.

You can read more at the site above. Check it out.

19 Mar 2012, 5:00am
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You guys helped pay for my son’s glasses

And here they are:

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Not sure what this is about? Last fall I posted a novelette called “Lord of Reavers” in my online store and let folks know that proceeds from the sale would help cover the costs of my kid’s new goggles. Here’s the cover I made.

Lord of Reavers cover

Love that public domain art.

It was also an experiment, of course. I wanted to see how well it would do, and now I know. In the future I’ll know it makes more sense to try to sell my short fiction to magazines before publishing them myself. But no matter. The story is there, you bought it, and it helped. Thank you.

17 Mar 2012, 10:42am
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The Power of Habit

Currently listening to a program about this book: The Power of Habit

I’m a guy who needs to change his habits.

If you want to listen to the program (it’s free) you can do it here.

Randomness for 3/17

1) The best of the worst of online fashion.

2) Horrible things donated to Goodwill. Absolutely NSFW.

3) Exposed to D&D Early in Life? A flowchart

4) Fan-made “Bella’s womb” made of felt. Of course it has a mutant fetus inside. Of course it does.

5) Japanese skater does parkour with his board. Video. Pretty amazing.

6) Camping tents that look like food. Call me when they make a tent that looks like something a bear wouldn’t want to bite.

7) Eleven tweets that led to legal action.

15 Mar 2012, 2:31pm
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Round 2 of the Cage Match is over

Added later: Apparently they are declaring Ray the winner because he was ahead at 5 but the voting was mistakenly not closed. I… er… I think I’m going to skip the comments over there. (Who am I kidding?)

And Tyrion Lannister defeated Ray Lilly, just as my writeup suggested. I’ll admit that it was closer than I expected, 50.15% to 49.85% out of nearly three thousand votes, which comes to a narrow nine-vote margin of victory.

Of course, one of those nine votes was mine. I’m pleased to see Tyrion move on to the next round. Love that character.

Thanks to everyone who made this fun, and thanks especially to David Pomerico and all the other folks at Suvudu who are putting so much time and energy into this game.

Back to my book.

Five things make a post

1) I’ve asked my agency to accept an offer from a Polish publisher to do a Polish edition of Child of Fire. Awesome! Never let anyone tell you that agents are unnecessary.

2) Netflix Streaming seems to promise a great deal, but I can’t pretend to be happy that the shows continually stop to rebuffer. It took 35 minutes to watch a 20-minute cartoon.

3) This small town will get a grant to cover 60% of the cost of a new library if they can raise the other 40% themselves. Can you help? Video.

4) Like many Americans, I’m not terribly happy with the current state of the GOP, but one thing I do like is the protracted primary process. I’m pleased to see so many candidates sticking it out and going from state to state. Why? Super PAC stimulus. Ad buys, sign printing, mailings, the whole thing, millions of dollars from a handful of extremely conservative millionaires are being poured into each state’s economy as the campaigns move from one to another. I may not like the message conservative candidates have been promoting, but I like watching them spend their cash.

5) Regarding the Suvudu.com cage matches, I’ve made a difficult decision: even if Ray Lilly wins, I’m not going to write the next round. Honestly, I just can’t. I’m struggling too much with my new book to let my attention be divided and that’s where I have to put my energy. I’m 96K words into it; I gotta get this done. On top of that I have more than a few demands on my personal time.

So, vote for Ray if you want but don’t vote to see another writeup from me. The cage matches are fun but I can’t afford to play any more.

14 Mar 2012, 7:17am
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John Carter, Bladder-buster of Mars

Saw JOHN CARTER yesterday with my son and not only did I like it, I walked out of the theater aching to write some sword-and-planet. I’d always wanted to read some Leigh Brackett, and that would be a fantastic excuse.

Still, it’s strange to see this movie dumped in the post-Oscars garbage pail release schedule and to read the NYTimes dumping on it unseen. I understand that some people have no interest in the genre, and the pseudo-insider “Hollywood spent lots of money on a flop!” articles are incredibly easy to write, but come on! This was a lot of fun.

I picked up the book two years ago because it was the most interesting option at an in-store Espresso Book Machine (video) but I never got around to reading it. Seeing this movie bumps it up my list.

Thing is, the movie is so freaking romantic: a dying world, interplanetary love, forbidden compassion, open-air “planes”, a cowboy with a tragic past, warring city-states, mysterious tombs, swords and armor dueling, ancient ruins, secret temples, mysterious villains behind the villain… the whole thing is really well put together. My bladder nearly burst because I just had to stay for the whole thing.

Damn it’s a good movie. You should see it in the theater if you can.

13 Mar 2012, 8:25am
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Silence falls

I’m really sorry, folks, but I’m turning off comments on my main blog again. I cleared my spam trap last night and when I woke up it was full again. You guys don’t see it because Akismet works pretty well, but occasionally it hoovers up a real comment and I don’t have time to search for ham in the trap.

Folks can respond to me on Twitter and LiveJournal, and I’m thinking of creating a Facebook fan page where people could interact without all the bullshit.

Sorry, but time is precious and I have to hoard it.

updated to clarify this is my WordPress blog on my main website I’m talking about.

  • The prequel to Child of Fire: see here for more details

  • Starred review from Publishers Weekly

  • Starred review from Publishers Weekly

  • Named to Publishers Weekly's "Best 100 Books of 2009" list. Get the audiobook here.

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