writing life

On Plagiarists and “Real Writers”


Image © 2009 ViaMoi CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Click here for original image.

Holly Lisle in her writing tips newsletter today wrote about plagiarism and being a “real writer.”

I put “real writer” in quotes not for sarcastic effect. I put those words in quotes because those are the words Holly herself used, and I agree with them completely. She talks about some would-be aspiring authors, as it were, looking for an easy way to rip off 100,000 words of others’ work, run it through an automated computer program, and come out with a supposedly original story. These are not “real writers.”

Then Holly said, “People who live their lives always looking for ways to get their hands on things they have not earned never do anything worthwhile. Never create anything worthwhile.”

I am what I create
Believing in my fate
Integrity is my name
All that I am doing
Can never be ruined
My song remains insane

“Eye for an Eye”
Soulfly  Click to continue »

On Plagiarists and “Real Writers”


Image © 2009 ViaMoi CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Click here for original image.

Holly Lisle in her writing tips newsletter today wrote about plagiarism and being a “real writer.”

I put “real writer” in quotes not for sarcastic effect. I put those words in quotes because those are the words Holly herself used, and I agree with them completely. She talks about some would-be aspiring authors, as it were, looking for an easy way to rip off 100,000 words of others’ work, run it through an automated computer program, and come out with a supposedly original story. These are not “real writers.”

Then Holly said, “People who live their lives always looking for ways to get their hands on things they have not earned never do anything worthwhile. Never create anything worthwhile.”

I am what I create
Believing in my fate
Integrity is my name
All that I am doing
Can never be ruined
My song remains insane

“Eye for an Eye”
Soulfly  Click to continue »

Gotta Write Who You Are


Photo © 2009 Ahmad Hammoud CC BY 2.0

In How To Write Page-Turning Scenes, Holly Lisle tells the story of a writer who lived SF. He decided to write a fantasy-comedy, just because he thought he could sell it. And sell it he did. And then he sold another one, and then again and again and again… ten titles. Except it made him miserable.

As Holly tells the story, “he hated the book, hated the readers for being so stupid that they liked that crap (his words, not mine), hated the fact that fantasy comedy was the thing that had done well for him, because he hated fantasy, he hated comedy, and he’d just done it because Robert Asprin and Piers Anthony were at the time raking in the dough with fantasy comedies… When I talked to him at a con one year, he was one miserable dude. He’s doing work-for-hire now.”

I’ve never forgotten that story.

Holly has filled Page-Turning Scenes with excellent advice about how to, uh, write page-turning scenes. Ironic, that in the midst of it all, this sidebar story has glued itself to my memory.

Then today, R.A. Evans told his story, with a flip-side theme:  Click to continue »

Gotta Write Who You Are


Photo © 2009 Ahmad Hammoud CC BY 2.0

In How To Write Page-Turning Scenes, Holly Lisle tells the story of a writer who lived SF. He decided to write a fantasy-comedy, just because he thought he could sell it. And sell it he did. And then he sold another one, and then again and again and again… ten titles. Except it made him miserable.

As Holly tells the story, “he hated the book, hated the readers for being so stupid that they liked that crap (his words, not mine), hated the fact that fantasy comedy was the thing that had done well for him, because he hated fantasy, he hated comedy, and he’d just done it because Robert Asprin and Piers Anthony were at the time raking in the dough with fantasy comedies… When I talked to him at a con one year, he was one miserable dude. He’s doing work-for-hire now.”

I’ve never forgotten that story.

Holly has filled Page-Turning Scenes with excellent advice about how to, uh, write page-turning scenes. Ironic, that in the midst of it all, this sidebar story has glued itself to my memory.

Then today, R.A. Evans told his story, with a flip-side theme:  Click to continue »

A Kindred Spirit on Your Writing Journey


Photo © 2007 Adam Foster CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I’ve been writing fiction—or at least trying to—for about a decade now (plus or minus a couple years, depending on how you count it). After that span of time, most of what I now read, it touches me so profoundly that I have to put a fist through a wall just so I don’t lose my mind out of sheer boredom.

In other words, I don’t fall in love with much of anything anymore.

For example, I just started Ship of Magic by acclaimed fantasy author Robin Hobb. I picked up the book, because Robin Hobb once gushed over Holly Lisle’s Talyn, which I adored. I figured, if Robin knows good stuff when she reads it, maybe she’s written some good stuff, too. Besides, the story sounded like it might engage me. So I cracked open Ship of Magic. And somewhere on page one, I actually put myself into “line-editing” mode, reading for grammar and punctuation instead of for content— because for the fun of it, that’s why!  Click to continue »

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Feedback as a Writer


Photo © 2006 Mark Adams CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I ran across this post about how important feedback is to a writer, by the pseudonymous “Frootbat31″ on her blog A Writer’s Journey. She makes four stimulating points regarding criticism, and how to manage it as a writer.

As someone who’s gone through a career cycle of first seeking feedback (as a beginner), then trying to distinguish criticism from critique, growing to loathe feedback of any sort, and finally appreciating thought-provoking feedback… Here are some of my comments on the topic, for whatever they’re worth.

(BTW, I did manage to find Frootbat31′s real name. But I’m resisting the urge to refer to her by name, even though names come across as much more personable, because she doesn’t appear to use her real name as a regular practice on her sites. So, Frootbat31, just because I call you “her” in this post, please don’t feel that I’m trying to whisper behind your back or to avoid addressing you directly, even though it may come across that way. I’m merely trying to add to what you wrote and respect your pseudonymity at the same time.)  Click to continue »

Ever To Be an Aspiring Author


Photo © 2008 pedro veneroso CC BY-NC 2.0

Lazette Gifford, author of Return to Redlin and other ebooks and novels, wrote a couple days ago about the most important writing rule:

“You must be willing to learn.”

She’s not talking about learning how to write. She’s talking about learning about life, about the world. Or what I call the spiritual side of writing. Writing is a growing experience. If you want your writing experience to fulfill, you must be willing to expand your horizons through it. Regardless of which horizons you expand or which passions you pursue, writing fulfills because it allows you to express yourself in the world around you.

“Why do you write?” Classic question. That’s the reason, the last clause in the paragraph above. “Because it allows you to express yourself in the world around you.” This is what writers mean, I think, when they say “I write because I have to,” or “I write because I have a story to tell.” As reasons to write, these are cop-outs.  Click to continue »

Negative Reviews May Be Good for Your Book

Thanks to Bill Morris of The Millions for this link to a paper, published in Marketing Science (v. 29 n. 5, September-October 2010), “Positive Effects of Negative Publicity: Can Negative Reviews Increase Sales?”

In this paper, researchers Jonah Berger, Alan T. Sorensen, and Scott J. Rasmussen scientifically demonstrate a truth that I’ve been asserting intuitively for years: if you’re an unknown author, negative reviews of your book only let more people know about you. And since most of us are relatively unknown, for most of us there’s no such thing as a bad review.

Some snippets from the paper:

While a negative review in the New York Times hurt sales of books by well-known authors, for example, it increased sales of books that had lower prior awareness…

A wine described “as redolent of stinky socks,” for example, saw its sales increase by 5% after it was reviewed by a prominent wine website (O’Connell 2006). Similarly, while the movie Borat made relentless fun of the country of Kazakhstan, Hotels.com reported a “300 percent increase in requests for information about the country” after the film was released (Yabroff 2006, p. 8)…  Click to continue »

Aspiring Authors: Quit “Aspiring” and Just Do It Already!


Photo © 2007 Linus Bohman CC BY 2.0

“So what do you want me to do?” I can hear you quip. “Get published? Just like that? Sorry, buddy, I’m trying, but it just don’t work that way. Some things are out of my control.”

Now, getting published may be a fine route to authorship. But this post is not about getting published.

Trish Perry, author of Unforgettable, her newly released 1950′s romantic comedy, she guest blogged on Novel Journey today: you might be a novelist if…

If you’re like most fiction writers, whether published or not, you’ve struggled with that decision about when to actually call yourself a novelist. Yes, once you land your first contract, it’s a given. But most of us toil for years before that happens. Are we presumptuous to call ourselves novelists, or even writers, right from the start?

Trish goes on to list some of the quirks that make a novelist, even if you haven’t yet snagged the ear of a publisher. An entertaining post.  Click to continue »

Rejection Sucks

This morning, I replied to Sarah Allen’s latest post, about how very many editors have been rejecting her stories:

I have been telling myself for years now that I’m good at rejection and that I’ve learned to take it like water off a ducks back, and I think relatively I probably do handle it okay, but my rejection/acceptance ratio is really starting to make me feel like a hack…

But the thing is, how do you really know you aren’t just lousy? I’m serious when I ask that question. Sure your family and roommates will say it’s good, but how do you know editors aren’t laughing at your short story and using it to line their garbage cans? Again, serious question. What’s the check? Is it the number of rejections?

Well, Sarah, my perspective may be a little skewed, because I definitely know how that feels. And instead of developing a thick skin, I think I’ve become a little unhinged. Nonetheless, for what it’s worth…

Rejection always sucks. They say you have to develop a thick skin, but I think that’s a myth. The best I’ve been able to manage is to behave as graciously as I can, before I slink home and dig into the Häagen-Dazs.  Click to continue »

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