Archive for all posts in 2017

Radio Silence, 2017 Edition

Be back soon, but don't know when.

Speaking In Tongues (And Writing In Them, Too)

"Translators are people who read books for us."

Beyond Good And Evil, And All That

In re: "Trying to find absolute rights and wrongs is a trick we play on ourselves to feel comfortable."

TV Or Not TV

More on the de-boob-tubing of my life.

Don't Techno For An Answer

"The computer has almost since its beginning been a solution looking for a problem."

Artifact And Artifiction

I have been reading the writings of Gerhard Richter, a painter whose view of his work is a good deal more interesting to me than much of the work itself. He was, like John Cage, not interested in creating things that were an expression of his personality; he wanted some larger aspect of things to manifest itself through him. In fact, Cage is explicitly credited as an influence, and in one of the photos in the book, Cage is seen smiling in front of one of Richter's paintings.

The Monster Mash

" can a mash lot of orcs and unicorns and intergalactic wars together without actually imagining anything."

Emotional Rescue

The greatest stories make us emotional standard-bearers, not just emotional recipients.

Arrested Development

Comics and video games are low-hanging fruit that anyone can use for cheap shots about maturity.

On The Burning Of Two Bridges

Self-pity is no way to ask for help.

You Feel That Feeling?

On choosing an emotional resonance for a story.

Moving Parts

Reverse engineering shouldn't be a prerequisite to working with technology.

The Nose On Your Face (And Everyone Else's)

On training yourself to see the obvious things.

Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On For The Third Time

On kicking off a third draft.

Thank You

Reasons to be grateful.

The 'I' In Experiment

All art is experimental. Let's not shy away from that.

Justice League Repair Shop

Why was 'Justice League' only okay instead of epic? How could it have been made epic? Here's my plan.

Just Us

On 'Justice League' itself. Beware spoilers.

Those One-And-Done-Isms

More on why I'm a never-the-same-thing-twice writer (and why others might not be).

Half A League Onward

My 'Justice League' theory is bust-ice league. But that's a good thing!

Endtable Pile, Continued

More notes on getting caught up with the state of SF&F.

The Endtable Pile

Some of my SF reading list for 2018.

Turn That Damned Thing Off

On the autohypnosis of the boob tube.

Validation Is A Drug

And one of the most intoxicating for do-it-yourselfer creators.

A Quick One Before I'm Away

A rundown of projects in progress and other things.

Kicking A Habit

A mission for the coming seasons: Read more current SF.

Give No F**ks But Plenty Of Damns

How not to let self-determination turn into a mission to merely offend.

The Discomfort Zone

Ta-Nehisi Coates is not here to make you smile, so stop asking him.

A Passionate Mediocrity

On an author with a worldview that is more arrested development than substance.

Methods For The Radness

"Whatever works" is not the same as "anything goes", and other insights.

A Reason, Not An Excuse

Creative motives matter.

Ignorance Of Others Can Be Bliss

“You have to worry about your own work and ignore what everyone else is doing.”

A Workspace Of One's Own

A few notes about creator's personal voodoo.

No Laughing Matter

On the devolution of Zen into a bad joke.

If You Really Cared About This ...

Why the morality-play view of personal responsibility is bogus.

Captains Of Our Souls

“The premise is not ‘I have you what you need, let me give it to you.’ It’s ‘You have what you need and we’ll find it.’”

Other-Upsmanship, Continued

More on why "I could do that, too" is an impulse to grow past.


I started writing, why? Because "I could do that, too."

Forward Ever, Backwards Never

Who turns around and starts over in the middle of a first draft? A case study.

I Just Can't Help Myself

"Good films are made, because the person behind the camera had to make them."

The Justice League Project(ion)

If my theories about the movie prove wrong, I can make hay from them. I've done it before.

Watts's It

On reading, at long last, Alan Watts's 'This Is It.'

Xanax For The Anxiety Of Influence

The other night, in discussion with friends of mine, it came up that most every generation of creators seems to be influenced by whatever happens to be in popular culture at the time. Previous generations were influenced by Star Trek or Star Wars; the last generation or so was influenced by the first wave of anime crashing on American shores; the current generation is surrounded by Harry Potter and now love-triangle YA dystopias.

I've Seen Things You People Wouldn't Believe!

On 'Blade Runner 2049': All these moments in time must be kept, like tears from the rain.

Grindhouse Vs. Arthouse Vs. My House

On schlock being useful without the love of it becoming its own snobbism.

Where's The Rest Of Me?

Me, minus a little of my mouth.

Another Slow Moment

Me and my achey breaky mouth.

Boots On The Ground

Why nothing beats the "in-the-trenches" experience of writing.

Creaking Gears

Slowly getting back up to speed with life.

A Brief Respite

The pause that refreshes.

No Masters Here

There is no such thing as "mastery" of one's art, just improvement in whatever form is possible.

Yet Another Left Turn

A new, new project rears its head, all but overnight.

Uncomfortable Vs. Annoying

Or, challenging vs. merely irritating.

Regular Service And All That

Post-Irma, picking up the pieces.

A Quick One While He's Away

My post-Irma cleanup.

Stormy Weather

On Irma and I.

The Deep End Of The Pool

How to work with all those ideas swimming around in your head.

While Standing On One Leg

Want to get to know your story? Pitch it to someone else.

Try A Little Emptiness

Irma's coming, and I'm not sure how much of its impact I'll be feeling directly, so I'm in kind of an existentially uneasy mood. I've prepared as best I can, though, so there's not much I can do except button up when it comes, and wait it out. For the time being I'm going to contemplate the eternal or something vaguely like it.

The Road Not Taken And All That

How 'Flight Of The Vajra' could have begun altogether differently.

If I Had More Time, I Would Have Written a Shorter Novel

On my unease with creating longer works.

How To Take Advice Disguised As Criticism (& v.v.)

Or, how to keep pedantic jackasses from getting the better of you.

Kid Stuff, Labels, And Vonnegut's Lament

It's a problem when you fall in love with the (SF) exception and not the (SF) rule.

Crazy Doesn't Help

On the use of "crazy" as an intensifier.

My Fans, All Two Of You

Steve and I were talking about the way Blizzard has cultivated an absolutely frothing level of devoting in the fans for Overwatch. It's to the point where a character that is only shown in passing on a poster suddenly inspires fanart and cosplay.

Not For The Lazy!

On resisting a reworking.

Fridge Logic

Don't turn a project wiki into a fridge full of leftovers.

You Did That For A Reason, Remember?

On rewriting: "No, no, I can't cut that, it's there for a REASON!"

The Word's The Word

On Hugh Howey's wish list for a word processor.

IT (Alan Vega)

Alan Vega is dead, and that means there will never be another Suicide album. But it also means there will never be another Alan Vega album, and that matters at least as much to me.

Face Down In The Cesspool

A year and change ago, I mostly quit social media. I don't think that's likely to change.

It's Always Better When It Doesn't Exist

Why you can't perfect something that was never created to begin with.

Your Motorcycle Ran Over My Dogma

Why 'Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance' made me hold my nose.

Be Ye Not As Doormats

On Buddhism and fascism and pacifism.

Find Your Voice To Lose Your Voice

"You’re going to find your voice.... The problem is getting rid of it."

Me And One Other Fool

Who's really worth pleasing when you're writing? (And why?)

From Monstrosity To Tragedy

Art isn't profound just because it hurts.

Feed Me, See More

Our site's feeds got munged. Look within for answers.

But What If The Moment Sucks?

On the problems inherent in "living in the moment".

The Long And Winding Checklist

On using (and abusing) the rewrite process's "things to do" list.

The Empire's New Tools

New tools for publishing on Kindle are a major step forward.

Action And Reaction And We-action

On not second-guessing audience responses to your work (again).

Changing It Up

Take a book that's not SF. Imagine it as SF. What would it be like?

Rock (Un)Steady

Just because something's in your story doesn't mean that's what your story's about.

The Benefits Of A Cracking Good Yarn

What storytelling can do that a straight rundown of facts can't.

The Ticking Clock

Some thoughts on deadlines and how they affect productivity.

Map Vs. Territory

On finding my way through the second draft of a story.

Me First

I like to write about other peoples' work, but I write my own work first.

Always Outnumbered, Always Overworked

Next up: revisions on my next novel, and rough plans for a future one.

'Welcome To The Fold' Is Now Available!

My latest novel is now out! Get a promo copy while supplies last!

Inkblot Tests

On interpretation: "The experience of grappling with the thing is what makes it interesting."

57,000 Channels And Still Nothing On

On the "drawbacks to the all-access, all-free world".

A New Coat Of Paint

A brief pause as we clean house.

It's About A Lot Of Things Dept.

Getting beyond the trap of: "But what's your story about?" "Well, um ... "

Two Ways To Blow It Dept.

Meaningless yet complex; simple yet shallow -- two ways to make a story founder.

Lifting The Curtain Dept.

I dropped a hint earlier that I was going to be unveiling a revamped version of the Genji Press site. Some more notes on that, then.

We Have To Go Deeper Dept.

More on a story being complex vs. being deep.

Not The Bookish Type Dept.

I went looking for books in my personal library that are about the craft of writing. I could barely find any.

Do-It-Yourselfer Helper Dept.

On preparing 'Welcome To The Fold' for (self)-publication.

Post First Draft Blues (And Greens) Dept.

Some more detailed thoughts on having finished Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned.

Finish Lines Are Just New Starting Guns Dept.

I finished Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned draft 1 last evening....

I'm Just Here For The Beer Dept.

On when not everyone who shows up for your work is showing up for your work.

Pretty Things Dept.

Go make something beautiful and humane. Everything else is just commentary.

Unfinished Business Dept.

Stories abandoned and as yet unwritten have much in common.

Faith Some More Dept.

My books have soundtracks. Faith No More begs to provide one for a book as yet unwritten.

Original Formula Dept.

It's important to deliver original things in the way that matter; it's not important to be original everywhere and always.

Shall We Put A Label On That? Dept.

Given my interest in Zen, am I writing "Buddhist fiction"? I'm dubious.

By The Seat Of The Pants, Or Maybe The Bottoms Of The Pockets Dept.

On improvising, or why no plan for fiction survives first contact with the writing process.

Unclog The Backlog Dept.

News on current and future books of mine.

Let's Do It Again Dept.

Rewrite, revise, revisit, rethink.

Self Control Dept.

When you assume full and total responsibility for everything that happens to you, even the things you think you can't control, you have a change of perspective.

The Mess-Age Dept.

On the themes I keep coming back to in my work, and how I try to not let that trap me.

Rocks In Your Head (And Out Of Them) Dept.

What to do when a story component is just an albatross. Or a boulder.

Unscripted Dept.

How I decided to try taking the plunge back into screenwriting.

Lock, Stock, And Character Dept.

Stock "literary" characters can be just as one-dimensional as stock SF characters.

It Takes A Worried Man Dept.

On taming my inner fussbudget.

What E Say? Dept.

On my first attempt at writing a character of nonbinary gender.

Fail Better Dept.

The trick to learning from failure is to not make it into a morality play.

Drowning In The Popcult Goldmine Dept.

How to survive the modern digital cultural flood: have no sense of history.

Brevity Being The Soul Of Wit And All That Dept.

It's far harder to write a good short book than a good long one.

Authorial Time Dilation Dept.

The closer I get to the end of my new novel, the slower it is to write.

Empathy Machine II Dept.

More on the idea that entertainments can be engines of empathy.

Non SF&F Writing For SF&F Authors

Last updated: 2017/05/19

Engines Of Empathy Dept.

Does reading make us more empathic, or do more empathic people just make better readers?

Time Manglement Dept.

On carving up one's time efficiently for creative work.

Character Building Exercises Dept.

Sometimes making things hard on yourself doesn't "build character"; it just makes things harder than they have to be.

The Sweet And Sour Crew Dept.

On creating an internally complementary cast of characters.

Outside Lookin' Inside Dept.

If past, present, and future are all unknowable, what's left? (And why frame things that way?)

Gather Those Rosebuds Dept.

Tim Hall, one of the good guys, is leaving us.

Favored Creation Status Dept.

" ... his goal was making someone’s favorite movie of the year." Whoever that someone might be.

Do You Mind? Dept.

On the idea that we can use technology to amplify human intelligence.

Unblock Me Please Dept.

The real story about writers' block, or lack of same.

Some Of The Above Dept.

Do I call myself a Buddhist? I'm not sure I ought to.

Wikispertise Dept.

Notes towards using a wiki for managing a writing project, 2017 edition.

Cheap Shots Dept.

On politics in literature, again.

Get Back To Work! Dept.

Writers have a hard time reading industriously without feeling like they're goofing off.

Say Yes To Me Dept.

On the urge to find validation for one's work.

Bad Guys Never Lose Dept.

Don't think good and evil; think why and how.

Henry Sez Dept.

Creative advice from a former Black Flagger.

Not Everything Is About You, Not Even You Dept.

Would you believe me if I said the universe wasn't out to get you?

Stop Waiting For The Good Times Dept.

You'll never get anything done that way. Take it from an expert.

Third Division Dept.

On Robert Fripp's three divisions of creativity. (And how I fit in one of them.)

Book Nook Dept.

Ten things from my shelf I'd take into isolation, 2017 edition.

As Of Late Dept.

Peek at my latest novel, and find out what's happening with my next one.

Artitude Dept.

"I cannot serve like a waiter, because that's not what this job is about."

Pain Management Dept.

Pardon my silence (and agony).

Self Esteemed Dept.

Take yourself seriously even when no one else does.

The Happy Life Of The Mind Dept.

"Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out."

Change Their Minds Dept.

Let's waste less time trying to argue people out of something they were never argued into to begin with.

Writer's Revenge Dept.

"I could do that too," said the writer. And thus the trouble began.

Politicaliterary Dept.

On politics in literature, spoken and unspoken (and a few other things).

Call And Response Dept.

On making things in reaction to the existence of other things.

A Peek Ahead, Pt. 2

The second chapter of Welcome to the Fold has been uploaded for previewing at Inkshares.

Public Service Announcement Dept.

I hope people will not assume my silence over the last few days indicates any kind of assent to the situation unfolding around us. I've been busy with some mundane things -- my day job has put that many more...

Science Affliction Dept.

I call my work SF because I gotta call it something.

Alternativity Dept.

Every picture tells (me) a story.

The Firstest Or The Bestest Dept.

It doesn't matter who does something first. It matters who does something best. Or who does something most theirs.

The First Peek Dept.

My novel 'Welcome to the Fold' is now finally going public. A little at a time.

Lipstick Traces Dept.

'Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned' and its hidden influences.

Mudballs And Fear Factors Dept.

How not to be intimidated by your own creative process.

Guidance Is Internal Dept.

My thoughts have become less in the vein of, "What is the wisdom to be sought?" and more in the vein of, "How is this wisdom to be germinated in each of us?" (Warning: Late-night blather-y.)

Truthiness-ness Dept.

Being a skeptic or a freethinker is more than just about a label.

Arguments With Myselves Dept.

How a static plot outline becomes a living thing by way of self-dialogue.

No Tacos For Saddam (Andrei Codrescu)

NPR commentator, author, and sardonic voice of the disgusted put some of his best material to wax in this collection that is regrettably out of print.

A World Awaited And A World Attained Dept.

To ring out the old (and busted) and ring in the new, I share with you a note penned just after WWII. I think you will find it as fitting as I did....

See previous posts from 2016

See future posts from 2018

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This page contains an archive of posts for the year 2017.

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I'm an independent SF and fantasy author, technology journalist, and freelance contemplator for how SF can be more than just a way to blow stuff up.

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