Sunday, June 21, 2015

Home Again

So I am home again.

This is the first year, in a good many years, where I've spent more time away from home, then actually at home. Being away was neither fun nor easy this time, and I'm getting too old to be sleeping on couches and the like. However my brother did need a break from some of the many family tasks that have fallen to him, and I'm glad I was able to give him a bit of one. Sadly I live three thousand miles away, so this isn't something I can do much of right now.

Plus flying has often become something of a sojourn in hell, especially the longer flights. I dislike when people bring a baby onto an aircraft, and I hold it as child abuse myself. The babies cry because they're in pain, barotrauma is something few doctors are versed in, I however am very conversant in it, as I have been both a deep diver and a high altitude pilot. Babies do not know to equalize their ears, or other things, so yes, being in an aircraft is painful to them, and hence they cry. If your child isn't walking, they shouldn't be flying.

And taking your crying screaming baby and walking up and down the length of the aircraft while people are trying to sleep is something that I'm not sure the gods themselves will forgive you for. It does nothing for the baby, however it makes everyone equally miserable.

I did not get much done on book five while I was away, I had an ailing parent to deal with, and that did of course cause interruptions in the ability to write. I think I'm about back to normal now, Sunday, and tomorrow I will get back to the salt mines and see if it is possible to get the first draft completed by the month's end. Financially, having this as a non-publishing month will not be very beneficial, however, family must at times come first, and I gave my word I would help, and my word is something I take seriously (as my bank account has often shown).

I do want to get Lost Souls out soon, I just have not found the spare time to give it the attention it needs, which isn't much. It will either be addressed immediately after book 5 is done, or during a break in work. I think sixteen hours is about all it needs, possibly less. The next book in that 'world' is actually the first in what could become a series, and its (according to my sister and beta readers) very YA (Young Adult). I'm surprised by that, because as I have mentioned elsewhere, it's something I was writing simply for fun, and totally for myself. I never intended to publish it at all.

I spent last night and this morning re-reading 'Nine Princes in Amber', an old favorite (by one of my most favorite authors) that I had not read in probably twenty years now. I think it says something about my life now that I can see many of the 'missteps' that Corwin makes in his journey, and I'm truly impressed that Zelazny was able to write those in so seamlessly. There are things you don't notice when you're younger, because you don't have the experience, but as you get older, you (hopefully) learn a few things. Writing those kinds of actions into a story I think is actually harder to do as you get older, because you tend to shy away from making those kinds of mistakes. So it takes more of a conscious effort to write them in.

There are a few tricks of his, that I have learned about over the years, from reading interviews with him and I do try to use them. One of them will become apparent in book 5, for those who have been taking issue with a minor thing, namely the way I used a particular word in book 1. Some people I think are just way to trusting of some of the words that come out of some of the characters mouths in the series (and that includes William!). Sometimes people do make mistakes, or forget, or skimp, or mislead, or even (gasp) lie! And then there are things that the character whose eyes and ears you are experiencing this all through might not realize are important, well until perhaps later.

One of these days I may have to try and write down some of the rules and show everyone, but I don't know, that would take the fun out of watching people try to figure them out!

Anyhow, that is enough rambling for tonight, tomorrow it's back to work (I hesitate to call it a 'grind' because it definitely isn't that). I've got much to get done before Fallout 4 comes out and I disappear for a few weeks into it.


Friday, June 19, 2015

3 Typos

Someone filed a complaint with Amazon over finding three typos in the book Interregnum.
Three is pretty good! I fixed them of course and updated the new version, I do try to fix issues when people point them out (and I still have a couple in two other books I'll get to when I get home), but three is a lot less than you'll find in actual print books these days, so if between my editor, and my beta readers, we can keep it down to less than a handful, I'm pretty happy.

I'm also trying to track down some of the people who find these things and report them and ask if maybe they want to be beta readers. :-) If they're going to point the errors out anyways, might as well get them to do it for me in advance, right?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Should I be worried?

So the new COS book, Interregnum ( currently has seven, 5 star reviews. That's really nice and incredibly kind of the people who wrote them.
But I'm worried that people coming to look at the book will think I paid for them or something, because there are no 4, 3, or lower star reviews.

I've heard people say (you know the infamous 'them' we hear so much about) that if they don't see any lower reviews, they think they're all fake. Then again, this book is a sequel, so odds are no one is going to look at it, who haven't read the first one already. So maybe it doesn't matter.

Ah the things we authors worry about.

Still stuck in NY for a few more days, and not getting as much work done as I wish I was. Can't wait to get back home and back on schedule. Probably have to work a few weekends to get caught up.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Fallout 4

I watched the Fallout 4 launch last night.
I think November is going to be a complete write-off as far as getting any work done.

I've seen quite a few game launches over the years, and even more product launches (I've been involved in some fairly large ones myself). I think Bethesda just outdid everyone in the game industry with their product, and their launch. Giving everyone in the world a free game as part of your pre-launch? Yeah, genius.

And looking at the game, and what they put in it? Just amazing, they really gave us all so much more than what we expected. You now have a game with so much content, and so many variables that you can bring into it, that replaying it many times is guaranteed. Also, the snapgrid (or whatever it's called, I forget at the moment) that they announced for Doom is extremely impressive. I bet the Doom players are all in a lather over that as well. I can see a lot of tournaments and competitions coming out of that, because anyone now can build a course for timed runs and point runs.

Gaming took a big jump forward last night, and with over a half million people watching it live, I think Bethesda probably will book over thirty million in sales by the end of this month, maybe even the end of this week. Fallout 4 will probably make them record amounts.

Now to buy me a pip-boy

I have to laugh...

Or maybe cry a little?
I went and checked out a few of the 1 star reviews on the first POI book, mainly out of curiosity, and I was a bit surprised at the people decrying Will's behavior towards women, in that he was sleeping around with quite a few. Ummm let's see, a young man, comes into a bit of influence and power, and he takes advantage of it at first? Yeah, that's not science fiction, that's more like science fact.

Of course the people doing this are the same ones who see no problems at all with the reverse of that behavior, you know how in many PNR books the female lead has two (or more) husbands. That's fine, but the reverse is not? George Martin has women raped constantly in his series, and lots of pretty nasty stuff done to them, and that's okay, but a little catting around by a young man isn't?

Yes I know that a couple of my 1 stars are hit pieces by people who personally hate me (they've made mention elsewhere about it) and I understand that's just the cost of doing business. But the true ideologues, they leave me scratching my head. There was a time in my life when I was young, and came into quite a bit of status and had a rather large and disposable income. Did it go to my head? Of course it did! I was young and stupid and just wanted to have a good time. Like pretty much every other young man OR woman. People claiming it's unrealistic must have been cloistered or something when they were young. Even if you didn't do it, you had to know someone who did.

And understand, I consider my own exploits to be somewhat average, because I had some friends who were a lot wilder than I was, who really played the 'game', and they weren't just guys. I never judged anyone for doing it either, male or female. We were just finding our own way through life, yeah sometimes I wish I had saved some of that money I was making instead of spending it all :-)
But it really was a lot of fun.

Friday, June 12, 2015

On Writing

So, I'm stuck in NY for another week, and I thought I'd post a little something on writing tonight.

A few of us have been having a bit of an open discussion on science aspects of science fiction over the last few weeks, dealing with different things. When you're writing SciFi, you have to be careful whenever you get into anything science based (which of course happens a lot) because you don't want to do something that is already known to not be correct. (That was always the thing that annoyed me most about Star Trek TNG, because they were often guilty of it. Also their own 'science' was often inconsistent as well.)

Now I have an engineering background, and I've done a lot of science work over the years, so I (hopefully) have all of the basics down. I also expect one of my beta readers to catch it if I make a mistake. On the larger issues, I usually will talk to someone, or do some research. But this brings us  to the initial topic I wanted to discuss: Science in today's fiction.

A lot of discoveries have been made in the last twenty plus years, even in just the last few, that are changing the way you might look at something like space travel. If you go back to stories from the forties, fifties, sixties, and even seventies, you can find things that we now know are not true. But there are also things that have been written in the last ten years that are no longer science fiction, especially dealing with mass-less (or 'energy only') drive systems. So what do you do about things like that?

Well as a friend of mine once said, never describe how something works until you absolutely have to. And when you get to those things that are deep in science theory, well, yes - don't describe them. In my COS series, I have not gone into any real detail on how the FTL works, except to note that there is no FTL communications, you have to be a certain distance from a gravity well/source, and that when you exit FTL there is an energy dump. I think I've also mentioned that there is no communication or observations possible when in FTL mode.

Now this doesn't mean that I don't have copious notes on it, and on how it works, because I do. I have a few charts and other things, because I need the way it behaves to be consistent, I need what you the reader sees, and what the characters experience, to be understood. I need to make sure you have an idea of what to expect from it. But do you (or they) really need to know the scientific details? No, of course not, you really don't need to know very much about how it works, unless its important to the story. The only person who really needs to know, is me.

It's like how a car works, oh I suspect a lot of you know how the internal combustion engine works in theory, and a few probably understand the roll of the timing gear, push rods, cams, etc. But I'd be surprised if more than a handful of you really know how an automatic transmission works in detail, or what a planetary gear looks like. Same for say, an airplane, how many of you know how lift is generated? Or how a flight control system works? Or navaids? Because it's not important to you to know, and in any story about current times you might read or movie you may watch, you take these things for granted.

Some of it is 'suspension of disbelief', some if it is not wasting time to explain those things that 'everybody already knows', unless of course you need to give your reader a basic understanding for the purposes of the story. Some of it is just letting the background be the background.

Believe it or not, a lot of new writers really get hung up on this. They spend way too much time on developing their word, or their science, and then of course they want to tell you all about it. They can go into overwhelming detail about how it all works. In short, they want to tell you all about the map, when they need to be talking about the trip you're taking across the map.

They need to talk about the story.

The story is first and foremost what everyone has come to read. They want to read and experience the story. They want to get to know your characters. After that, they will have some interest in your world and the way it functions, they will also have an interest in how the people in your world function. Those last two can be swapped in order, depending on the type of story you're telling, but they are really, typically, the last things you introduce your readers to.

Now this isn't to say you can't go into great detail on your science, but if it is not key to your story, why would you bother? And if it is key to your story, don't describe it in anymore detail than you really need to, because the time may come where you have to change a detail. If you haven't described that detail, it's a lot easier to go back and fix it, than if you have. Also, it makes it easier to keep your science consistent if you don't go into unnecessary details.

Now yes, there are authors out there, very experienced authors, who can create a beautiful and very complex world and you really do want to learn about the world because it's so amazing (like say Tim Powers) but they're highly experienced pro's and they know how to break the rules and get away with it. But for most of us, it is better to never show more of the cards in your hand than you have to, and make sure that your science is consistent from front to back. And if you must do something inconsistent, have a reason for it that makes logical sense in your world. Which again, if you've only shown what you had to show up until then, will be a lot easier to deal with.

Now I think I'll go to bed, it's hot sticky and very very late here.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Proof readers... I thought I had one...

I have an editor who I pay to proof read and copy edit.
And still some people continue to say I need one.

So either the one I have isn't doing a good job, or some people don't know grammar as well as they think they do.

Not really sure which the case is, but it's only a couple of people complaining, so I don't think it's worth going back through the books and re-editing them right now. But it does drive me a bit crazy, I know my books are not littered with errors, there's probably less than 5 or 6 in a book, if that many. But I guess one mistake every 10K words is too many for some people?

Between editing and cover art, I have to sell 250 copies of a book before I start to make any money (and all of my books are pirated within 48 hours of publishing, I'm very popular with people who spend two grand on a computer, but can't spend 3 or 4 bucks for a book that takes me 8 weeks to write), so spending even -more- money on an editor to catch a few more mistakes? I'm not sure it's worth the money.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Big Cats do not have slit pupils ('cats' eyes)

If your artwork or comic has say, tigers and lions with 'cats' eyes, you know the slit pupils that small cats have, well then I'm probably not going to look at anymore of your work. Because you didn't take the time to ever once in your life to look at a tiger or a lion. Because you would have seen then that they have round pupils. Like people do.

These are also the kinds of 'little' mistakes that I see others make in other things, (and that I try very  hard to avoid making myself) that show you really just couldn't be bothered. I mean it's one thing if you make an occasional mistake here or there, but when you mess up a fundamental, and you mess it up constantly, well, you lose me. And probably a lot of other people as well.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Be mean to Will month

So June looks like it is going to be national 'Be Mean to Will' month.

Let's get started, shall we?