Category Archives: General Writing Things

Another Story Prompt

I was out skiing the other day, and ran across this:

There’s a dizzying array of possible stories here, all sorts of inspiring prompts.

Did one of the people involved with the romance memorialized on the tree come back after things went badly, hacking away at it with a Bowie knife (a birthday gift form their former lover), over and over until all evidence was gone? Did the third end of a romantic triangle find the original carving while on a walk through the forest and obliterate the initials of both their unrequited love and their hated rival? So many different stories.

Anyway, happy Valentine’s Day, folks!

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I Should Give Seminars

As those of you with a calendar know, we’re closing in on the end of National Novel Writing Month (also known as November).  I usually waiting until Nano is done to share my progress, but I thought it would be interesting to see what it looks like in comparison to part of the NaNoWriMo community:

That’s me on top, and one of the regions I’ve chosen as sort of close to me (the other being, um, “other”) below.  Note how my progress is steady as a rock, gradually pulling ahead of the pace needed to make 50,000 words by the end of the month, while those in Syracuse at large start fast and shamefully fall off – you can be assured that other regions are similar on average.  Obviously, other nano people could learn from me, as far as wordcount progress (someone else will have t0 give the seminar on how to produce a quality draft that doesn’t need to be completely rewritten – I can’t teach you everything, people).

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Fistful of Fire

I’ve always had a soft spot for pulp and penny dreadfuls and other disreputable forms of literature, so I’m delighted to have my story Fistful of Fire published in Crimson Streets, a big ol’ pulpy magazine (I mean, it’s online, so it is not literal in its pulp feel, but you know what they mean).  And of course, it is awesome to have a story of mine actually illustrated, which is why the illustration in question is so big, up there.

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Romancy Heart

It’s tough, coming up with ideas for stories and books and things.  Hence, the popularity, in writing workshops and such, of writing prompts – little ideas to both spur and limit creativity.  But who comes up with the prompts?  Some random guy who would have written his own story based on the idea if it was any good?  Pff.

Far better to harness the awesome powers of computers and artificial intelligence.  Not only were all those great titles produced by leading-edge technology instead of a boring biological brain, but you don’t have to worry about why a neural network didn’t use the idea itself – frankly, it’s got better things to do.


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Worldcon 76!

Well, another Worldcon is in the books.  It was a great con with great donuts, culminating in NK Jemisin’s acceptance speech for the Hugo for best novel.  Well, it didn’t really culminate in that, for those hanging out for the closing ceremony and so on.  But I had an early flight, so I went to bed and arose in the wee hours of the morning to get a cab.  And it was then that I witnessed a melancholy scene.  There were two groups of people engaged in drunken conversation outside the hotel, which is nothing unusual at Worldcon.  But now, only one of the groups contained someone with bright pink hair and a spangly rainbow dress.  The other group was three very well-dressed people sharing a wine bottle while one declaimed about “Winston FUCKING Churchill”.

It was sad, seeing San Jose being handed back to normal old wealthy people who like to yell about Churchill.

Then, on the plane home I overheard a snatch of conversation between two Worldcon-goers: “…so that’s how he found out about furries”, which cheered me up.

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More Reading Recommendations

Once you’re done working your way through twenty-six years of Galaxy Science Fiction, another possibility is working your way through Tangent Online’s recommended reading for 2017.  The fact that my story, Peddler, in Grimdark Magazine happens to be on the list is, of course, incidental.

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Who Wants to Read Some Classic Sc-fi?

I’m a bit late to this, since it happened a while ago, but did you know that, thanks to you can read a good chunk of the run of Galaxy Science Fiction magazine for free?

Well, you can.  So go ahead and do it if you enjoy Bradbury and Asimov and so an (and who doesn’t?)

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I’ve got a story in the latest issue of Grimdark magazine, and as you can see from the image over there, I’ve maintained my streak of only being published in magazines with unsettling cover art (seriously, check out the ol’ publication page for a gallery). This one isn’t as lighthearted as There Are Rules, which was also under a spooky-pants cover, but it isn’t exactly scary either. Just a bit dark and grim (oh, hey, I just got that).

Anyway, I encourage ya’ll to pick up a copy, in whatever digital format you prefer.

Here, some links to make it even easier for you:






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Finally, I Can Enjoy Books Properly

If you’re like me, you agree that there is nothing more annoying than reading a book in a series out of order.  It’s almost as bad as being prevented from compulsively reading the foreword, afterword, and author’s notes.

So you, too, will rejoice in the website Order of Books.  It lists different series of books in their proper order, both by publication (which is the easy part), and by chronological order, for those series where the author gets all famous and successful and either a) can finally indulge in exploring origin stories, or b) realizes they need to go back in time because they ran too far forward too quickly and risk their characters getting to old to jump from car to car during a freeway chase or whatever.

So now, with a quick check, you can read in comfort, secure that you won’t suffer the horror of reading Sharpe’s Eagle before Sharpe’s Havoc (seriously, Bernard Cornwell – when you give every book in a series a two-word title, and make the first word the same for all twenty-three titles you aren’t giving us all that much to go on)


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And What Have You Learned From Johnathan Franzen Lately?

Not to reopen the never-ending battle between advocates of literary vs. genre fiction, but I assume by now everyone has heard about the girl that saved a friend’s life using first aid techniques she learned by reading The Hunger Games.  I’d always assumed The Hunger Games was more useful for information on shooting people with arrows, but there you go.

But what useful skills has anyone ever picked up from reading literary fiction?  How to make cutting remarks?  How best to map the travails and grievances of previous generations of your family?

I’m just sayin’.



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