Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

I’m Not Here. I’m at #Readercon!

July 12, 2012

As we speak I am flying off into the great beyond, or Boston, for Readercon. It’s a great con, you should check it out. So I’m off, doin’ the writer thing. See you next week!

Dead Lines

June 29, 2012

Just a little silliness inspired by a Twitter conversation this morning involving @FantasyFaction, @PVBrett, and @PrinceJvstin. It made me think of @MykeCole‘s Control Point, so he got a mention too. It makes so much more sense if you’ve read their books and/or follow them. Which I recommend anyway.

So here it is, the start of a short wherein writers are kept as slaves to their audience.

Dead Lines

The rain was hard and ruthless, throwing up sprays of water from the puddles collecting in the dark prison yard. A cliché if I’d ever written one. Too bad this wasn’t just the product of one of my bad writing days. The rain was a frigid reminder, dripping down the neck of the prison-issue poncho—I’d have given a lot for this to be nothing more than a badly turned phrase.

“Keep moving, Petersen!”

Fac, everyone’s least favorite guard, stood on the wall, glaring down at me, his hands twitching on the shotgun. Some days it seemed like his tenuous grip on self-control was all that stood between us and the prison graveyard.

I shuffled back into motion, catching a wry grimace from Brett. “Fac’s in a good mood today,” he muttered. “He didn’t even threaten to shoot you.”

I didn’t look back him; conversation wasn’t allowed in the yard. “It’s cause I got five thou’ on the Regency YA paranormal science-fantasy yesterday,” I mumbled back.

“The one with the cannibals?”

I just dropped my head forward in a subtle nod.

“Your own, or did Weimer slip you some again?” Cole, ahead of me, said, his lips barely moving.

“Shut up, asshole,” I hissed. “You’ve had writer’s block before too.”

He didn’t reply. I watched him. His walk had the flavor of a march to it. I’d always thought he looked like he held himself as if there should be a gun in his hand. Maybe it was my imagination, ‘cause he wrote military. But I wondered if he’d been a soldier on the outside. Not that it mattered anymore, what any of us had been. We were writers now, and that was all we were.

“Inside!” shouted Nine, standing at the door to the inside. “Let’s go, writers!”

We trudged past her, that incredible rack, and that gun-arm of hers, back into the dubious comfort of the common room. They’d removed a lot of her cyborg stuff since Cole conjured her, in a careless flash of inspiration and exhaustion. But one thing they kept was the gun arm. It was really too bad that she couldn’t have been on our side. But she was Fac’s, just like everything we created here.

“Break time’s over,” she barked. “Back to work!”

We filed back into the work room, turning, one by one, into our chain-link cubicles and the typewriters waiting there. That was all we got. Pencils could be weapons. Scifi writers couldn’t be trusted not to hack computers. Only thing you could do with a typewriter, besides write, was throw it. And they’d bolted them to the tables after Schmidt tried that.

Nine followed behind, snapping the leg restraints on each of us as we sat down.

I glanced around as I lifted my hands to the keys, just in time to see Brett idly push up the edge of his sleeve as he did the same. The crisp-black edges of the tattoo made my heart stop.

“Shit, Brett, are you trying to get us all killed?”

He pushed the sleeve back down so fast his hand was only a blur of movement and I wondered what that tat would look like if I could see the whole thing. And what it could do.

“Shut up,” he hissed.

I thunked back against my chair, my heart beating again, wild and frantic with fear and a desperate hope.

“When’d you do that?” I whispered, my eyes locked on the keys in front of me.

“Been working on it,” he said.

“Finish it?”

He tipped his head forward.

“Shit,” I whispered to myself.

“Cole ready too?”

His head dipped again.


“Gave me the signal this morning at chow.”

Shit. This might really happen.

“You sure you’re good for your part?” he whispered.

The familiar resentment flared hot in my face. Them with their proven, published magic. Just because mine had been scifi. Boys. Always wanting to prove theirs was bigger.

“You just worry about your own business.”

“It is my business if you can’t come through and we all get—“

“Shut it, Brett, and work!” barked Weimer. “This ain’t social hour.”

We shut it and I saw a shiver run over Brett. Probably just as relieved as I was that it had been Weimer who’d snuck up on us and not Nine. Or Fac.

Weimer was on our side. Slipping us word count when we were short, passing on info about security weaknesses and helping us hide our powers. He even pretended he didn’t know about the pruno I brewed up for my muse. And he was helping us escape. Tonight.

In Which I Am Wounded But Triumphant

May 29, 2012

Or: What a SciFi/Fantasy Writer Can Learn From A Gatoraid Bottle

I met and did battle with a worthy foe this weekend. He was tenacious and strong, with the heart of a warrior. But in the end, I went home and he went in the recycle bin. As a consequence, I woke up on the Saturday morning of my planned Writing Retreat with a swollen, infected finger and a bunch of crazy ideas about the connections between being a scifi/fantasy writer and life.

I think the first parallel is rather obvious. The fact that a Gatoraid bottle being so frickin’ impossible to open that I scraped half the skin off my finger trying to get a drink from that evil thing has now become a story worthy of a blog post and the words “warrior” “evil” and “triumphant” is, I think, a consequence of being a writer. It colors our lives in a way that makes it impossible to talk about the cap on a bottle of a sports drink being stuck without making it into an epic drama.

But what really made me write this post was to point out a way, not at all related to writing, that being a reader of scifi/fantasy, or of anything really, can improve your everyday life. See, that Gatoraid bottle, (which I FINALLY got open) took a chunk of skin out of the side of my finger. Now, me being that kind of girl, I was inclined to ignore it. Bit of soap and water and once it stopped bleeding, life goes on. At least, until I woke up in the morning and the area was hot, red, shiny, and there was a suspiciously yellow lump that yielded nasty, gooey pus when I squeezed it. Nice.

So as I’m showering and planning where I need to go to buy a first aid kit, it occurred to me that the last description I’d read of an infected cut was in a scifi book. (Specifically Hunger Games.) In fact, it’s something you encounter fairly often, especially in fantasy, what with all the swords and epic battles and primitive conditions and the fact that there always seems to be a need to take a journey on foot through the winderness. (You get a horse if you’re lucky.) And I thought that it was a good thing I knew all the symptoms from all that reading I’d done.

(Not that I wouldn’t have pulled up WebMD if I hadn’t known why my finger was hot and swollen and oozing puss. Not that I think I would have made it to 33 with two kids I haven’t killed yet and not have known what that meant already.)

Still, the moral of the story (yep, there was a point) is: READ! You never know what you’ll learn or when you’ll need it.

Oh, and in spite of my (hugely over-dramatized) encounter with a (minor, almost nonexistent) medical emergency, I managed to average 9,000 words a day over my three day weekend. That’s right folks. Nine Thousand Words a Day.

Holy $*#%!

Does It Matter WHY They Buy Your Book?

May 23, 2012

The whole latest-writer-wearing-an-asshat-having-a-mental-breakdown-on-the-internet has been covered ad nauseum by better people than me, so I’m not going there. (Chuck Wendig’s was the first I found, and his posts are always worth the read.) But it’s had me pondering an important writerly-phiolsophical point:

Does it matter why they buy your book?

To quote Marc Aplin@FantasyFaction: But personally, if I ever publish a book, I’d like people to buy it because they’ve heard good things about it or like the premise, not because they want to know the answer to the question on everyone’s mind last night: “Can this egotistical dick really write?”

That alone is a very good point, and you can’t argue that an entertaining, psychotic, uber-egotistical trainwreck will get you some publicity and sell some books, if nothing else, for the rubbernecking factor. But that’s not the point of this post.

See, the guy in question already had a number of sales before this meltdown. And as he points out every other sentence, he has 92k Twitter followers. Clearly more than a few people who haven’t been accosted by him personally have been convinced to follow him and buy his books.

Now, I’ve only read the first few paragraphs (that was enough) of a couple of the samples of his books, so I’m no expert on his writing or the quality (or lack) thereof. But others have weighed in on it, and as it gets more attention, still more are adding their opinions, so I think it’s safe to say he’s no Shakespeare.

In other words, I’m going to posit that his “success” (his claim, not mine) is driven by marketing rather than word of mouth based on the quality of his books, that people aren’t recommending this to their friends in droves, and that he’s not being discovered by someone with a wide audience to sell his books to.

Now I don’t think anyone can argue that, ultimately, no book is going to gain lasting traction if it isn’t good quality in more areas than not, and entertaining to a broad audience. There are only so many new customers for a genre novel you can convince to buy your book before you fade into obscurity. Can this be overcome by churning out countless sub-par books? Maybe. I don’t doubt there are mediocre to bad writers out there who are making a living off their books for now. Why not? People buy snuggies. Sometimes consumer behavior defies logic.

So is that a good enough reason? The author in question seems pretty secure in his “success.” So let’s theorize that he’s satisfied with this. It’s about the money, right?

Is it?

Does it matter WHY someone buys his book? Surely, if it were only about the money, an author wouldn’t get his panties in a twist about a one star review when others continue to buy the book. You can’t please every customer, right? So if a negative review doesn’t impact sales, assuming sales is the primary goal, then it’s of no matter.

Except authors of this ilk continue to act like it matters very much. One might be tempted to say that most if not all authors still view their work as more than a product, as something that reflects THEM and their worth. Thus they so passionately (and sometimes hysterically) defend the quality of their work; either publicly, as in this case, or, one would hope, in private to a few trusted friends and then back that up by striving to learn more and make the next one better.

Are there really authors for whom the bottom line is the same as for a car salesman or an accountant? It’s possible. I doubt it. So is the meaning of “I have 92k Twitter followers and (x)bazillion sales” really what it says on its face, or is it just a last straw argument masking the insecurity authors usually struggle with?

Personally, I’d rather sit over here watching books I’d published as “anonymous” get love from people I’ve never met and who have no idea who I am than to sell zillions of books based on everything BUT the quality of my novel.

Does it matter why the books sell?

It does to me.

The Prodigal’s Foole RE-RELEASE Day!

April 20, 2012

Welcome again to my good friend, R.B. Wood, who is celebrating the re-release of his debut novel, The Prodigal’s Foole. As part of the re-launch, I’ve invited him to guest post here today.

I love good stories.

I have a vague recollection of my mother’s soft voice reading to me when I was very young.  The delight of receiving a picture book as a toddler.  The fear, when heading off to first grade, when I asked my father what would happen if I couldn’t learn to read.

The triumph of reading my first book out loud to the first grade class just three months later.

We were all voracious readers in my house.  Books always play a major part in growing up.  From my obsession with The Hardy Boys to that penultimate moment when I read H. G. Wells  War of the Worlds at age nine.

Today, with the re-launch of my first written work, The Prodigal’s Foole is available in stores again.  Why I’m doing a re-launch is touched upon in my blog posting of a couple weeks ago.  It was a long time coming, and more will follow.  But my passion for good tales—from the fantastical to the everyday—burns as bright today as it did that wondrous day I picked up War of the Worlds.

I’ve just finally reached the maturity level to give back a little of what I’ve enjoyed by so many other authors over the years.

I know I’ll never be a Dickens, a Tolkien or an H. G. Wells.  And I’m okay with that.  As long as I can build a story that people will enjoy and take them to another place for a few hours, I’m happy.

And really, as a writer…what more could you ask for?


R.B. Wood is a technology consultant and a writer of Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction and quite frankly anything else that strikes his fancy. He is working on the follow up to The Prodigal’s Foole, as well as a Science Fiction trilogy and a collaborative comic book project.

He is also host of The Word Count podcast. R.B. currently lives in Boston with his partner, Tina, his dog Jack, three cats and various other critters that visit from time to time. Feel free to contact him at:



The Word Count Podcast:

The Prodigal’s Foole is available via Amazon