All posts filed under: The Craft

The process and tools of writing.

Villains and Rape

Okay, let’s talk about rape. If you don’t want to, that’s fine, but I need to discuss some elements of this issue. It’s been bothering me. I want to talk about rape as a storytelling and literary device, but I recognize it’s impossible to remove it from its real world context as something that has, odds are, actually happened to someone you know (the statistics are rather appalling in this regard.) Rape is very personal and very, very charged, and for this reason, more and more I’m seeing writers talk about rape as an edgy literary trope they can use to push boundaries and emphasize just how evil their villains are. Rape or the threat of rape is still a very common theme in movies, books and comics. Note that I’m saying ‘writers’ and not ‘male writers’ because I’ve seen both men and women use rape this way (I’ve seen plenty of self-identified feminist writers use rape to emphasize how evil the menfolk are.) Take any random guy, have him rape the hero or their …

The Kidnap and Ransom Business

When I began researching Blood Chimera (I tend to do a lot of preparatory research on books when I know I don’t know a damn thing about certain subjects) I began to play with the idea that the main character, Jack, is a kidnap and ransom specialist. What’s a kidnap & ransom specialist? Well, it’s been depicted in a few movies (probably most famously in Proof of Life) but a K&R negotiator is someone who comes in to organize a response to a kidnap for ransom situation. It’s a very small, select field, and incredibly secretive. There’s no single path to becoming a K&R specialist, but K&R people typically have backgrounds in law enforcement or military special forces (or both), and they can expect to fly all over the world and spend months at a time in the field. It’s dangerous, ugly work that puts their life at risk in foreign climes on a regular basis and requires them to be at home in the bureaucratic nightmare of dealing with governments, organized crime groups, terrorist …

Copyright 2013, Jennifer Williamson

The Art of No

So remember that publishing deal I was gushing about just last week? The one I wanted so desperately? I’m walking away from it. What? Insanity! I know, I know. I can hardly believe I’m doing it myself. The company seems like a good one. I adore the person who was my contact. (For legal reasons, I’ll be naming no names.) I was so exited. I was going to be published! I celebrated when the contract arrived in my mail box. Tonight I turned it down. There are a lot of reasons why. Some I won’t go into. I will however address the reasons that were independent of the publishing company themselves (or which would be true of any small indie press, which this was). On investigating the contract and doing some hard analysis of risk/reward and ROI, I came to some conclusions regarding my own personal situation. I’m a graphic artist. Technically, I used to be a graphic artist, but I did it professionally for twenty-years. A print graphic artist. I know layouts, typography, pagination, …

You’re Not Good Enough

‘What if I’m not good enough?’ That’s my goblin. It’s not just my goblin. It’s my husband’s goblin and my friends’ goblins and it haunts the dreams of so many people I know, online and in the real world, who dip their toes in creative works or dive in with both feet and a held breath. That goblin waits for the dark hours of the night and ambushes us from paragraphs of mangled reviews or worse, from the silence of a lone voice echoing lost in the static of the internet. So let me be perfectly clear: you’re not good enough. Don’t be mad. I’m not good enough either. No one is good enough. We are, all of us, flawed and imperfect and self-destructive, and while we are constantly striving towards perfection, it a goal that none of us will ever reach. Take a deep breath and accept that you are not good enough. Be liberated by that, so that you give yourself permission to make mistakes. (Sometimes the accidents are so damn beautiful.) Pick yourself …

On Book Covers

I used to be a graphic designer. This isn’t exactly a secret, and I was a graphic designer for something like 20 years (a little over, but close enough.) I became something of a specialist in logos, which are often considered the hardest work a graphic designer can do. Nope. I wasn’t giving enough credit to book cover designers. This stuff is HARD. Keep in mind: I am an artist. I have that advantage over most writers — I still think this stuff is hard. Insanely hard. When I say writing the book was the easy part, that is nothing but blunt honesty. You’re probably wondering why I’m designing the book cover at all, if I have a publishing contract. The truth is: I don’t have to. I’m very lucky in that my publisher is open to the idea of letting me take a crack at it (even if they go with something else, which would be their contractual right.) As a graphic artist turned writer, I have it within me to be the most obnoxious of …

©2013 Richard Lund

Beginning My Next Novel

Okay, so here I am…I have two finished books shopping for a home, one of which is well on its way to publication. So I should finish the epic fantasy, right? Hell no. I’m writing the sequel to Blood Chimera, my debut novel. Because when folks finish reading that, I want them to have a book they can jump right to, or at the very least, know that it will soon follow. Oh, which reminds me: Avast! Here there be spoilers! Go away if you don’t want to accidentally find out details of Blood Chimera. You still here? Okay, let’s get this shit started (as Ze Frank would say.) So the first thing I do, the very first thing, is pick out music. Yeah, yeah, I know, but I like to have soundtracks when I’m planning a book. And this is a pretty music heavy book. There will be nightclubs, concerts and stuff as we spend some more time in Hollywood and along Sunset Strip. So let’s see…I start with some David Bowie, and then …

Very Good Things

So I woke yesterday morning to find an offer from a publisher sitting in my mailbox. Now, I can’t give out details yet, but this is going to happen: I’m going to be a published author. (Okay, I’m probably going to be a published author — it’s still possible that I won’t like the contract, they’ll come to their senses, something will happen to muck it all up.)  I’m not going to be in ‘I’m writing a book’ limbo — everybody’s writing a book. I will have written a book. It will be in stores. My reality just shifted. So I’m taking a moment to reflect on this, because I’m kind of fascinated by the fact that this is the year that everything came together. I’ve been writing for a long time. Years and years. Why now? Why is this the year I’ve finished 2 books, and will almost certainly have a third finished by its end? Part of it I can blame on finally jumping on the twitter bandwagon (which really is a fantastic, …

Writing Fast, and Why Twitter is Awesome

So it’s been a while. And I’d apologize for that, except I finished not one, but TWO books in that time. So no apologies. I was getting stuff done. Better, both books are inching perceptibly towards being published. No details yet, because no contracts have been signed and nothing it as yet written in stone, but I’m starting to feel more and more confident that yes, this is really going to happen. Which still feels a little unreal. So what wisdom have I learned in the past few months? First, I’ve learned that I can write far, far faster than I ever realized. If I’m really pushing myself, it’s not at all unrealistic to write 1,000 words in 30 minutes, which translates into 4,000 words a day if I write for two hours in the evening.  And it’s not easy. It feels a little like you’ve run a race, honestly, but it means I can come home from work, cook dinner, and write 4,000 words. It means, if I keep up the momentum (which I’ve …

Why Momma Needs Her Stories

Anyone who doubts that the worlds we create in fiction can have a profound effect on the reality around us should go read this article on world-wide fertility rates. If you’re anything like me, you grew up being told several unassailable facts: one, that the world-wide population was booming to unsustainable levels and two, this was because  third world countries were having too many kids. I remember hearing incredible numbers: the population of the planet would be at 10 billion by 2010, which would of course lead to everyone starving and killing each other over that last piece of broccoli  Except this hasn’t quite panned out. The chaotic system turns out to be just a little self-adjusting, and it’s not necessarily for the reasons you’d think — certainly for no reason Darwin would have suggested. Population growth has slowed radically in the last twenty years. Virtually every part of the world but Africa is now operating at near ‘replacement’ levels of population growth — i.e. populations that are either self-sustaining or shrinking. Africa is still seeing …