Thursday, February 24, 2005

Getting Back in the Groove

Wow. It's been too long since I've posted--about two weeks. I've been caught up in work deadlines (editing--which involves some writing, but not my writing). That's now behind me for a while, so I'm getting back to work on Sunborn, starting today.

Last weekend I attended Boskone, a very good science fiction convention held in Boston every year, and had a chance to catch up with some of my writing friends. I also picked up some of the latest offerings from Full Cast Audio, dramatized readings of Robert A. Heinlein's classic Have Spacesuit Will Travel and The Rolling Stones. If you haven't heard any of Full Cast Audio's productions, you really should check them out. They use terrific voice actors, and present books in unabridged form. (The man behind the operation is Bruce Coville, who obviously doesn't have enough to do writing his immensely popular books for kids.) Visit their web site! (And no, I don't get a kickback from them. But tell them I sent you, anyway.)

As a way to unwind a bit from the editing before starting work again on the book, I turned to a bit of amateur carpentry today. We've been doing some renovations in our kitchen, which included replacing the sink cabinet and counter, and putting in a proper dishwasher. That meant we could pass on our old portable dishwasher to someone else, but it left an empty space where the old one provided a small counter by our stove. So...not wanting to throw out something that could be useful, I decided to cannibalize the old cabinet, and see if I could manage to stack two drawers that used to be at opposite ends of the old counter. So I cut the cabinet remnants (it had been pretty well torn apart) and the old countertop -and it looks as if it's going to work. (Fingers crossed -it's not done yet.)

And now, I promised I'd get to work on the book, so I'm getting.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Vanity Press Sting

Have you ever wondered just how honest vanity presses are? Well, one of them just showed its stripes to the world. Read about their hilarious comeuppance at (Thirty writers got together and submitted the worst manuscript they could come up with, to see if it would be accepted for publication by a "selective" subsidy publisher.)

In case you're not sure what a vanity press is, it's a "publisher" that preys upon would-be writers by charging the writers hefty fees to print their books—regardless of quality, or lack of it—with little or no editorial guidance. The unfortunate writer is then left with a thinner wallet and a garage full of generally unsalable books.

Writer beware.

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Monday, February 07, 2005

Questions on Writing #1

I hear from a lot of aspiring writers, asking about careers in writing. One correspondent wrote me recently, expressing a great desire to write and to succeed in publishing, and asking what one might expect to earn as a published writer. Here's my reply, in part:

I'm glad to hear of your interest in writing, and your willingness to learn. It's a long, difficult road, but it can offer many rewards.

Few of those rewards are likely to be monetary, though. Yes, some people do well--especially if they are prolific. It helps if you write fast, and well, and have a great many stories to tell. Some writers who do well financially are excellent writers; some are not. I can't tell you why.

You asked what the least was that I made in a year from writing, so that you'd know what to expect. That's an easy one. Zero. Nada. Zilch. That's what you can expect. You can't be in it for the money. If the money comes, that's a wonderful bonus. But you can't bank on it, so to speak. If you do, you are apt to be very, very disappointed. You must be in it because you want to write and have stories to tell, and are willing to work hard to tell them well.

My one piece of advice is to try to put your desire to see your name on the cover of a book way, way to the back of your mind. Everyone feels it, of course, including those who already have their names on the covers of books. But thinking about that will not help you learn to write. And that's what you have to do--learn to write. There are many, many skills that come together in the craft of writing, including storytelling, grammar, voice, sentence structure, vocabulary, imagination, organization of thought, knowledge of science and society and psychology, life experience, and many other things. Concentrate on all of these things. Expect to spend years practicing, and learning from others. Read books on writing. Join a workshop. Get feedback.

Do these things, and perhaps one year you will fulfill your dream of seeing your name on a book cover and sitting next to a favorite author at a signing. (There's no guarantee, that's one of the kickers.) Be fiery and determined, but don't be too impatient.

Read my further Advice to Aspiring Writers, and consider looking at my writing course on CD, which you'll see a link to on that page. (It's out of print, but Amazon had some used copies, last time I looked.)

But...please don't ask me to read your work. For the reason, see Before You Ask Me to Look at Your Work

Good luck!

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Sunday, February 06, 2005

Return of the Wrestler

She did it again! Today in a quad meet, she won a match, lost a match (and won another by forfeit). This time she won with a pin, in the second period. And had she not done so, the Arlington wrestling team would not have won the meet against Milford as they did. (Of course, the same can be said of everyone who won their individual meets. But I'll bet this one was a surprise to the opposition.)


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Friday, February 04, 2005

Yow! You go, girl!

My daughter Lexi broke the gender gap yesterday evening by defeating her (male) opponent 13-9 in a hard-fought six-minute wrestling match, in a dual meet with Reading, Mass. She's been part of the Arlington High School wrestling team for two years now, and it's been a tough uphill battle, competing with boys who are both stronger and heavier (she's underweight for her 112 pound class). This was her first varsity victory of the season, and her whole team had her (literally) up in arms afterward. She also helped turn the tide for the team, which had been trailing in the meet, but came back to win a decisive victory.

Her dad was more than a little excited, and very proud.

Throughout her wrestling experience, she's received great support from her coaches and teammates, who from the beginning welcomed her to the mat as one of the team. (Last year, she was the lone girl on the team; this year, two more girls joined her.)

Here are some action pix!

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