Got the e-mail asking for some examples of the snotty elitist writers. Obviously, I'm not going to quote my SF colleagues, that would be (cough) impolitic. So let's pick on that guy Dvorak over at PC mag again. You can read JohnBoy's latest whinefest here
for excellent anti-tribe sentiments.
One more thing: Star Lines is not, as JohnBoy puts it, one of the "faux blogs...set up by authors promoting books or newsletters..." I promote my books on my web site. The weblog is a journal, just like any of the ones I write in at home. This is as real as I get. :)
There was an old man named Michael Finnegan . . .
I have a whole new appreciation for Michael and the crap he had to go through in that song. Two thirds of SF Proposal #2 tanked, onto Proposal #3.
In the midst of this sucking vortex of pressure, work demands and general spring break insanity, moments of clarity are hard to find. I shift into that auto-writer gear whenever I can steal fifteen minutes and whip out another thousand words, and the to-be-edited pile gets that much deeper. The kids are kids, and they are excellent at their jobs. The felines are infinitely patient; they'll make me pay later for failing to pay the appropriate daily homage. Everyone else becomes hit and run drivers but I can usually dodge the worst wrecks. This morning I pulled the telephone cord out of the wall and it ain't going back in until I'm done outlining these three new books. Then I take a moment to check e-mail for editor stuff and a good friend sends me this e-mail ("Helpful Hints by Defensive Self Promoting Twits") and laugh so hard my tea goes into reverse.
Let me dispell some of the myths surrounding writers. Anyone who can form sentences in their native language and use some means to record them can be a writer. Anyone who can organize what they write can create a story or a novel. It's not neurosurgery, folks. We tell stories to each other all the time -- when we talk on the phone, when we lie to the boss, when we fall in love. Our lives are just endless strings of story after story, in which we're the protagonist, or a supporting character, or occasionally, the villain. Learning how to organize all that is the trick, and some people are lousy organizers, just as some people are boring conversationalists.
But when you get right down to it, the only difference between me and the guy who lives across the hall is, I'm one hell of an organizer, and I sell what I organize. That, and I don't have curly black hair on my back.
For some reason I don't get, writers feel it's necessary to separate themselves into this little snotty elitist group and brag about how they're better than everyone else solely because
they're published. Oh, please. We're simply better organizers. As for perpetuating this whole mysterious process artistic garbage like it's some kind of secret club and you only get in if you know the right handshake, that's just sad. Being a writer doesn't make you superior to your own kind. Readers may elevate us to a pedestal, but we have no right to climb on to it. Jesus, given enough time, paper, and typewriter ribbon, a monkey could be a writer.
What makes someone a successful writer is different, and this is where 99% of writers fall on their faces: It isn't how smart you are. Or obscure, or lofty, or whatever these idiots are telling you. Here's the key to being a success: You must have great affection for the people who read your stories.
When Og sat around the cave fire back in 1 million B.C., he knew he had to tell a story that would keep everyone from crawling back to their furs and making babies. So he organized his story about hunting down a woolly mammoth into a thrilling adventure that kept everyone glued to their boulders. He watched their eyes and their faces as he piled on lie after lie after lie, and they oohed and aahed and loved him for it. And he loved them for giving him that moment by the cave fire, that spotlight in their lives, those unblinking eyes, those startled gasps. Og would go hunting the next day and be thinking about how to tell an even better story next time. He would look for things that would help him make up new stories. Because entertaining the tribe was simply a way to show his affection for it.
So the next time some snotty writer tries to tell you how special you have to be in order to do what they do, blow them off. We're all one tribe, we all can have a place by the fire.
Figures I would check out on a Monday, right?
For Whom the Bell Tolls:
You guys e-mail me some weird stuff, but this is really morbid. A reader directed me to a place on the Internet where you can find out how long you have to live, and it shows you the seconds counting down until your (estimated) time of death, so you can actually watch
your time here on Earth slip away. Don't go here if you're depressed, but if you're in the mood for a gruesome laugh, find out how soon you should make out your will at the deathclock site.
And when do I buy the farm? Optimistically speaking, Monday, November 27, 2062 (great time to die. After Thanksgiving, before Christmas. Everyone will be at work.)
Quote for the Day:
"There is nothing wrong with writing - so long as you do it in private and wash your hands afterwards." -- Robert Heinlein
You know, I'm starting to like this guy anyway.
Medical Fact for the Day: Parathion
is an organophosphate insecticide that is highly poisonous to humans and animals. Poisoning occurs after absorption through the skin, inhalation, or ingestion and is common among migrant workers and others employed by agricultural industries. Symptoms include nausea, vomitting, stomach cramps, loss of bowel and bladder control, abnormal salivation and sweating, blurred vision, headache, confusion, and muscle spasms. If the poisoning is severe, the patient may suffer difficulty breathing, palpitations, seizures, and loss of consciousness. Treatment requires induced vomitting or gastric lavage for swallowed parathion, or injections of atropine and pralidoxime for other contamination methods. With rapid treatment, many patients often survive otherwise lethal doses.
Got in a rather strange e-mail today from someone who sent me a copy of an interview with Iris Johansen with a subject line of "Interview Request." I'll assume Ms. Johansen got the e-mail intended for me. Since we've only met once, briefly last summer, I don't think I should e-mail Ms. Johansen and ask, "Hey, any e-mails for me?" I did enjoy reading the interview, though, she's an amazing lady.
I decided a while back to stop giving interviews, about the same time I stopped reading reviews of my books. I don't like talking about my work and I can never think of anything stunningly clever to say anyway (unless it's a write-in, and they give me 48 hours to think.) Also, most of the questions make me very uncomfortable. They always go for the artistic stuff and let's face it, I'm a cold-blooded machine when it comes to writing. I don't play music, I don't talk to my characters, I don't wear special clothes or spray myself with Chanel or otherwise transport myself to Neverland. The most artistic thing I do is to put a coaster under my tea mug before I turn on the computer so it doesn't make a ring on the desk. Wait, I do burn incense, but I do that when I'm folding laundry, washing the dishes, clipping coupons, etc.
So an honest interview with me where I'd be comfortable with the questions would go something like this: "Hi. I write books, and I'm fast. See you later."
If I feel comfortable anywhere, it's here, or talking to real readers -- then I can pry off some of the clamps and discuss things. I like talking with my readers, because they ask things like "Why are Omorr incapatible with Jorenians but not Terrans?" I got into a whole e-mail correspondence with a reader based on that single question last year.
As for the weblog, I don't know. Maybe because no one answers back?
I'm all graphric'd out.
The Latest Restoration Project
My View from the Balcony
Quote for the Day:
"Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day." -- Ernest Hemingway
This is the point when someone should have taken the shotguns away from Ernie.
Medical Fact for the Day: Megalomania
is an exaggerated sense of one's own ability or importance. This condition sometimes takes the form of a delusion of grandeur (such as believing oneself to be Christ, or Napoleon) or the desire to organize large-scale, expensive activities for many people (such as leasing an entire hotel to celebrate a birthday party.) Megalomania is not formally recognized as a psychiatric illness, although the bizarre ideas and behavior are usually indicative of some form of mental inbalance.
Oh Bloody Hell.
Sometimes, no other phrase fits. I feel so much better.
Titles and Story and Excerpt, oh my:
Everything always seems to descend on me at once around here, and I've been busier than a band-aid salesmen in a leper colony today.
for my new Gena Hale Onyx Trilogy, dreamed up by the Onyx production team:
Book #1 -- The Deepest Cut
Book #2 -- Double Touch
Book #3 -- The Kissing Blades
This month's story,
"Warrior Bond" is now posted here
on my website, and you can all say thank you to my wonderful web designer, Willa Cline
, who only just got it tonight from me via e-mail and worked overtime to get it posted.
Willa also is responsible for posting the cover art and excerpt
for Eternity Row here
on my home page, so if you want to read the first 3K words that go with that gorgeous cover art down there, check it out.
And to answer some e-mails, yes, the gentlemen with the brown wings on the cover for ER is Hawk from Shockball. :)
New Cover Art
Quote for the Day:
"As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life -- so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls." -- Matt Cartmill.
Get a job at NASA, then write a book about Mars. Really impresses the chicks.
Medical Quote for the Day:"The human body was designed by a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area ?'' (Anonymous)
(coughing and laughing)
We accepted the new contract deal today, and here are the books I'll be writing 2002 -- 2003:
A winged pre-med student abandons his medical career and his Navajo beliefs to join the motley crew of freedom fighters disguised as intergalactic female impersonators. As Hawk delves the mysteries of lip tint and falsies, he meets crew seamstress B-ver, another gay humanoid who was raised by giant, sentient ferns. When Hawk accidentally discovers B-ver can control his wardrobe choices through telepathy, he must make a desperate decision -- does he trust the man he now knows he loves, or does he expose the radical perennial before B-ver's ambitious designs destroys the show set to liberate a televangelist colony?
2. Being China Mieville:
What if you could look inside the mind of an Arthur C. Clarke award winner/member of Parliament? Would you be able to see memories of his Mom wrestling to get those Crypt Keeper comics away from him and yelling at him to go outside and play like a normal little boy? Would you find out why he is obsessed with the excretory functions of the human body? And what about all those earrings on one side -- what's that all about? Ballist? This book will examine the interior workings of one of the Giants of SF today, through an exciting metaphysical journey into the writer's actual cerebral tissue and following the twisty path of his periodic synaptic misfires as my existential character Odarus takes over China's brain and goes for some really wild rides.
3. Holly Lisle -- the Expose:
She's always trusted me to keep her secrets . . . well, I have had enough. It's time the world knew about the real
Holly Lisle. Like her secret collaboration with the government to develop interdimensional portals, and the fact that her children all have slightly pointed ears. You thought GlenRaven was just fiction, right? Hah. I'll go into the reason why the household cats are so necessary, and the horrible thing that happens to her whenever she loses her temper. Early publisher promo includes: "This is without a doubt the biggest, most explosive author expose ever written -- Viehl gives every intimate detail, without mercy. Be very glad S.L. isn't your pal . . . a must read for any devoted Lisle fan still operating under the misconception that she writes fantasy." (Surveillance photo section included.)
4. Heinlein the God:
Apparently this guy (Richard? Rowan? Starts with an "R") was an important SF writer or something. Not sure. Anyway, his estate is paying me a nice chunk to write the official authorized biography. Apparently they want an unbiased take on the Big Guy's contribution to SF. I'm going to interview all the stars from that movie with the big bugs and do a shoot of some guy named Norman weeping over the grave sight (but anyone who knows anything about him, send me an e-mail, save me some reading and research, 'kay?)
5. Galaxy Slut:
My editor put it to me this way: "The erotica market pays big bucks, and Roc needs the money." So come along with my space adventuress Victoria Spouse as she sleeps her way around Joren, the Hsktskt homeworld, and the rest of the quadrant. The first book in this series will actually be the sequel to StarDoc book five, but Vicky kills off Cherijo by giving her a terminal STD and then jumps into bed with Reever . . .and Xonea . . . and Alunthri . . . and whoever else is breathing. The orgy reunion scene on K-2 is particularly provocative, btw. I think it'll be a nice, refreshing change from all those medical thrillers, and just the direction I want the series to go in from now on.
And if you believe any of the above, you obviously haven't looked at the calendar today.
Quote for the Day:
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." -- Albert Einstein 1879-1955
Medical Fact for the Day: Progeria
is a condition in which the patient ages prematurely. There are two types of this extremely rare disorder, Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome, which strikes children around the age of four, and Werner's syndrome, which starts in early adult life. Patients with progeria quickly exhibit all the signs of advanced age, including gray hair, baldness, and loss of body fat. Internal degeneration includes widespread atherosclerosis and osteoporosis. With both types of progeria, death usually occurs within ten years. There is no known cause, and no cure.