I have Fun Crits This Morning…

Just had a story make the rounds through Critters, and boy are the reviews mixed. I’ve got people tripping over their tongues as though sozzled, the tintinnabulation of their praise ringing to the stars! Write more! Write often! You are a wizard with words!

And then there’s the Dark Side, the turgid fusillades at my disregard for SCIENCE! Don’t I know better? Don’t I know that people only bothered to read this story because they were dedicated to giving a crit? That if the readers were not dedicated, they’d print my story only to be able to set fire to it since my opening line was SO BAD? DON’T I KNOW I’M KILLING TREES?

And then, there were three people that struck the Golden Mean. The types that said, “this is good, here’s what I think about this since I’m a Scientist,” or the “This will be a harsh crit, but it’s better to hear this now, trust me.”

You guys. We’re cool.

stanley

An Open Letter to That Book I Never Finished

BOOKS

Dear Book,

It’s not you, it’s me. 

Sure, you hooked me right away. The way you spoke, the way your outer appearance hinted at something deeper…that grabbed me. Stopped me in my tracks. Beguiled me. It was a crush.

And sure, you held me like a book ought, for a while, but I realized that I actually need to love you. In any courtship, the reader has to be won over. And so we cannot continue on in this lie.

There will be other readers for you! I’m sure you’ll be fine.

Will you stop texting me at 2:00 in the morning?

Thanks.

I Unpublished My FB Page

I unpublished my Facebook page- not my personal page, just the author one. I have a blog and Twitter, and that’s been helpful in connecting me with writing pals without the extra medium. In fact, it was just redundant… people who became personal FB friends were linking the page, but not too much traffic otherwise.

Plus, I just shared my author page with my friends anyway, so I was starting to feel silly.I see so many established authors using their personal pages as a way to connect to their friends/ readers, and I’m more comfortable with that approach.

So I’ll just keep writing and editing and being a fandom nerd-gal and see where that goes!

 

I Don’t think I Like Isaac Asimov

Zug_butterflybot

Illustrations by Mark Zug 

I feel like such a brat. I’ve spent a lot of time recently reading Asimov: I, Robot,Foundation, and a few shorts. My favorite is Nightfall (The short, not the book with Silverberg). I read it in college and loved the premise, loved the ending. It resonated. So, I tell myself, I need to read more Golden Age Asimov if I’m a TRUE FAN of science fiction right?

Well, I don’t regret reading his works, but I’m just not very enthusiastic about them. Whether it’s the Laws of Robotoics or the laws of Psychohistory, I put his books down feeling like I just read a textbook. Here are some rules, here are some possible, cold and calculated, eminently logical results of those rules, and then the book ends. The characters are like chess pieces instead of breathing people. We don’t, as readers, get to see much of what Hari Seldon really wants (I admit that I will add to my vocabulary, “For Seldon’s sake!” when I’m mad).

Perhaps the format of Foundation does not lend itself to good characterization, but after reading a Canticle for Leibowitz, I’m convinced that this format can be done well, and I don’t think Asimov quite made it. The premise requires constant jumps in time. One crisis averted, on to the next! I had the same trouble with I, Robot. Susan Calvin is an extremely interesting character, the thread that ties all of the robot stories together, and yet she’s not very likable. Asimov shows us one instance of her personality peeking through when her love interest dashes her hopes. She responds by vindictively (and understandably) lashing out at a robot who led her false. Every other view of her is her professional opinion, and she dies without leaving much of an impact. Just a cog in the wheel of history, a figure we are supposed to view as a museum relic.

And maybe that’s what Asimov is to my generation: a text showing the beginning of something great, because this speculative fiction thing has to start somewhere, right? I can now appreciate how derivative other works are, even if , in today’s world, Asimov doesn’t strike me as fresh. I think that’s ok.

Nerdy Things I’d Buy if I had Unlimited Funds

Yea, this stuff is cheesy but I guess I’m just a sucker.

starfleetdress

Starfleet TNG dress – comes in all three colors! Can buy  over at Thinkgeek

 

 

 

 

 

picardigan

The Captain Picardigan! Red here, pretty sure you can get other colors but red is the go-to for obvious reasons. Available at Her Universe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

nelsonhoodie

Nelson and Murdock sweatshirt at AllAboutRecords. Met them at comicon! Use code “comicon” to get 10% off!

 

 

 

 

enterpriseglasses

Enterprise glasses over at ThinkGeek

 

 

 

leia art

Leia art print by Karen Hallion- over at her etsy shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never Talk Back to Your Beta Reader

TIREFIRE

An actual tire fire. Curtesy of Mstyslav Chernov

So, say you’ve asked someone to read over a story you wrote.  What you’re looking for is reader reaction: how much enthusiasm does the average reader have for what you’ve written?  If something doesn’t work for them, they need to tell you so that you can figure out how to fix the problem.

It’s not a beta reader’s job to fix what didn’t work for them.

Read that again. Seriously. A reader is going to bring all of her own experience to your writing and it is going to form her opinion. If you get a bad review, better you know about it sooner than when that draft on the professional market. As you get better at writing, you are also going to be able to discern between actual problems with your story and an unreasonable misreading of your ideas.

And your job is not to fight a reader about their opinion.

And yea, that happens. I critique a few stories a week. Some authors are better than others, so if the author is pretty good I focus my review on their concept and point out things that I don’t think fit, always with the caveat of, “this is just my opinion.” And sometimes I get emails back from the author contesting my opinion.

Don’t. Do. That.

I don’t care if the opinion is rude, or says something insensitive like, “This story is a tire fire. Give up writing and go into middle management.” Beta readers are giving you their time and energy so that you can improve yourself.

The only things you need to say is THANK YOU, and then move on.

STOP EVERYTHING AND WATCH STRANGER THINGS

STRANGER THINGS

I just finished Stranger Things on Netflix and I’m here to urge you all to eschew all of your responsibilities like kids and work and housecleaning and to immediately view this with your eyeballs.  Set in the 80’s, the whole show has the enticing feel of a paperback novel you can’t put down.

The show transports you to the 80’s:  a world of cassette tapes and walkie-talkies that don’t work unless in range, landlines and large bicycles that allowed a kid to have free reign over a neighborhood. This show just wouldn’t have worked with cell phones and laptops. Stock characters abound, but you don’t mind. It’s comfortable. The popular and unpopular teens, the geeky middle schoolers playing Dungeons and Dragons, the single mom who works SO HARD, the wise and lovable science teacher, and the wounded yet capable sheriff who finds himself wrapped up in something bigger that shakes the foundation of a small, sleepy town.

And of course, NIGHTMARE MONSTERS!

Spoilers, now:

This show doesn’t just recycle what we’ve seen in 80’s sci fi already, that’s just the backdrop. The concept is fresh and utterly compelling. E.T. meets Stand By Me with a faceless, carnivorous monster that comes from the Upside-Down, a world that is parallel to ours and full of toxic air and the stuff of nightmares.  It’s an expert balancing act of the mundane and the extraordinary.

The show starts with the monster taking a boy, Will, and sets off everyone’s frantic search for him. The tension the show builds is just enough for the viewer to take. The scene where Winona Ryder’s character cries out for her son, “Where are you?” and he communicates to her with the lights: ‘Right Here’ followed by a cryptic: ‘RUN,’ as the monster literally comes through the wall makes for some magical television.

The characters are so well done that the comic relief they provide never feels out of place or canned. My favorite scene was near the end, when the teenagers join forces to kick monster ass. They bait it, beat it with baseball bats, shoot it, and catch it in a bear trap. That’s not enough to kill the thing, but the catharsis the scene provides is wonderful, and so earned.

This is very worth your time.This is the best Science Fiction series I’ve seen in a while, because it gets so many things right. A few loose ends go on untied at the end, but within reasonable parameters.

So call off work today. I mean it.