Jan 29
2015

Space Opera Slice-Of-Life Serial, Updates Twice A Month

cropped-Intertwined-Lives-Patreon-logo1

 

Ever wondered what heroes do when they’re not saving the day?  Or what life is like for ordinary people in a place and time where going somewhere 100 light years away is just a couple hours trip?  Click the image above then!

Posted in Intertwined Lives | Leave a comment
Jan 29
2015

Support me on Patreon

If you want to.  I mean, I’m not forcing you to or anything.  I’m going to put Intertwined Lives up anyway; it’d just be really nice if people paid me to.

https://www.patreon.com/shanhaddock

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Jan 24
2015

The purpose of character deaths

I was just, against my better judgement, perusing the forum of a webcomic I’ve been reading for years that’s presently got a really dramatic thing going on.  I stumbled on a phrase that pisses me off beyond all reason:  “if he’s willing to kill a character.”

Why does this piss me off so much?  It’s, honestly, a bit hard to articulate, but the biggest reason is because of the implication that not killing a character is some sort of weakness.

Here’s the thing, non-writers:  Sometimes characters aren’t killed because that’s not the story the author is trying to tell.  It’s that fucking simple.

Also, just because something has evolved from being a gag a day thing to something with dramatic plot arcs doesn’t mean it’s turned into Game of Thrones levels of dark realism.  And this doesn’t mean it’s less artistic/professional/whatever.  It just means it’s different.  Different is okay.  I like Game of Thrones, but I sure as hell don’t want a steady diet of it.

I don’t have a problem with killing characters.  Sometimes it’s the best thing for the story.  But it should never be done just to show that the author is willing to do it.  It should never be done just to show that a work is mature or dark or serious.  It should be done when it’s what the story the author is trying to tell calls for.  No other time.

If I ever get all the Universal Nexus stories kicking around in my head down on paper, there will be character deaths, but there will be a lot more miraculous recoveries from near deaths.  Why?  Because it’s, in my opinion, more interesting to see how a near death experience changes someone’s outlook on life than to kill them.  Because while I write the occasional story so dark that I worry a bit about my mental health, generally I prefer to write happier stuff.  Because when you’re writing about the top 1% of the top 1% it’s not realistic to have characters dying all the time.  I’m pretty damned sure Delta Force and the SEALs don’t lose people on every single mission.

But mostly characters don’t die that often, because that’s not the sort of story I’m trying to tell.  It’s that simple.

Posted in Rants | 1 Comment
Jan 19
2015

Kavaliro Cousins Book Two Delayed Indefinitely

When I finished Crown of Eldrete, I immediately started the sequel, like the next day “immediately”. Twelve thousand words into it, I realized I’d started in the wrong spot and needed to cut the first ten thousand words. That was painful. Since then, nearly two years ago, I haven’t been able to get any idea how to write the bit that I knew happened next.

Then a few days ago it hit me: The reason it wouldn’t come together was because the entire fucking plot hinges on someone being out of character.

So, I’ll be scrapping the whole fucking thing and starting over . . . some time after I finish the novel I’m editing, the two I’m writing, and the short story collections I’m working on, that is.

Posted in Kavaliro Cousins, Writing process | Leave a comment
Jan 16
2015

Progress report

Instead of listing all my works-in-progress and getting depressed by how many I haven’t worked on in ages, this year I will instead be updating how far I’ve come on the to do list I posted at the beginning of the year.  With new items being added, because I’m great at making plans, but suck at sticking to them.

As I had a nasty cold starting on the fourth and am only just beginning to feel mentally fully okay again, I haven’t accomplished a damned thing this week.  So I’m behind already.  Great way to start the year!

  • Edit my wife’s story she wants to submit to Queers Destroy Science Fiction, if she decides she wants to expand it.  UPDATE:  She’s still deciding.
  • Submit it for her.
  • Finish editing my own story for Queers Destroy Science Fiction.  UPDATE: Might finish it when I get done here.
  • Submit it.
  • NEW ITEM:  Edit Jake thingy inspired by annoying bit in book I was reading. DID THIS.
  • NEW ITEM: Submit it to Queers Destroy Science Fiction too, since it’s flash fiction instead of a short story.
  • Alternate between writing Blaughk on EarthIntertwined Livesand editing No More Lies, not becoming slavishly devoted to any one work, but keeping in mind and tracking my monthly word count goals.  UPDATE:  I’ve not written any more of any of these, but see above.
  • Publish No More Lies.
  • Devote a month to marketing it.  Just a month.  No more.  After that, it’ll sink or swim on its own.
  • Alternate between writing Blaughk on Earth, Intertwined Lives, and editing the leytgeleshishort story collection, with the same caveats as above.
  • Write remaining leytgeleshi stories.
  • Alternate between writhing Blaughk on Earth, Intertwined Lives, and editing the Dagger short story collection, with the same caveats as above.
  • Write remaining Dagger stories.
  • Edit remaining leytgeleshi stories.
  • Publish leytgeleshi story collection.
  • Devote a week to marketing it.  It’s going to be a free short story collection (or 99 cents, I can’t recall what we agreed on now.)  There’s no sense in devoting a lot of time to marketing it.
  • Edit remaining Dagger stories.
  • Publish Dagger story collection.
  • Devote a week to marketing it.  See above for why only a week.
  • Alternate writing Blaughk on Earth and Intertwined Lives.

Word count for January so far:

Written: 1351/10000

Edited: 1356/10000

Posted in Intertwined Lives, No More Lies, Writing process | Leave a comment
Jan 11
2015

Five star reviews — Abigail Abernathy: All-Night Analytical Engine Analyst by T. R. Goodman

The description, via Goodreads:

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All Abigail Abernathy wants is a respectable job where she can put her knowledge of analytical engines to use. The Royel Trading Company of Bristol provides her with just such an opportunity, but not everyone is pleased to have her aboard. Between incompetent management, clients helpless beyond her imagination, and a disgruntled former analytical engine analyst who will stop at nothing to take back the job she unknowingly took from him, will her credulity, not to mention her sanity, be up to the task? It’s going to be a long night.

Abigail Abernathy: All-Night Analytical Engine Analyst is a steampunk short story about 5,000 words in length.

And my review:

This was a very interesting little story. The setting was believably Victorian with the social norms of that period accurately portrayed. The characters were all unique and . . . well, likeable is probably the wrong word for one, but I guess he was likeable as a character, if not as a person. The plot was intriguing, and certainly not quite what I was expecting from the beginning. But perhaps the best part were the problems she had to deal with that weren’t related to the main plot, problems that I’m pretty sure anyone who’s ever worked in tech support or similar, or knows anyone who has and has heard them ranting, can identify with . . . except steampunk era style.

There’s not really much else I can say about this story, since it was only 5000 words.  One of these days I’ll get around to buying and reading it’s sequel.

 

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Jan 08
2015

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from criticism

I had another post I was working on for tonight, but I saw this on twitter and it seemed far more important than my blatherings about the different definitions of space opera.

Now, I admit, my French isn’t up to translating the cartoons, nor do I know enough about French or Muslim culture to know just how offensive these are, but the point is good, nonetheless.

And before any idiot says it, I am not condoning murder.  I’m just agreeing that this isn’t a black and white situation.  It’s not “cartoonists = good; murderers = bad” thing.  BOTH were bad.  Yes, murder is far worse.  But being murdered for it doesn’t make what the cartoonists did right either.

 

http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2015/01/in-the-wake-of-charlie-hebdo-free-speech-does-not-mean-freedom-from-criticism/

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Jan 02
2015

Drabbles: Lance and Jasmine

A drabble is a story of exactly one hundred words.

I think these stand alone fine, but if I’m wrong, just ask me about what’s confused you.

I make no promise these are great.  They were written years ago as an experiment, and because of the exactly one hundred words stipulation they’re a bitch to edit.

Lance looked at the beautiful woman sitting across the table from him. He and Jasmine had been dating for months, and he was in love with her.  She, he knew, courtesy of being an empath, felt the same way about him, even though she hadn’t said it yet.  Smiling, he asked, “Why don’t you come to Sweytz with me? I want ya to meet my kids and spice.”

“You … you mean it?”  At his nod, she asked, “Do you think they’ll like me?”

Lance chuckled.  “Of course they will!  There’s nothing about you not to like.”

“Then yes, I will.”

*****

“Lance, you can’t be serious!  The Queen shops here.  There’s no way you can afford it!” Jasmine said, standing in front of Pyn’s Dressmaking.

He shrugged.  “Yes I can.  No more than twice a year though, okay?”

“Lancelot, this isn’t funny.  Now, really, where are you taking me to get my ballgown?”

“Here,” he said, gesturing at the whole street of expensive shops.  “Unless you’d prefer getting something from Tiplin’s,” he added with a grin, referring to a discount retail chain.

“Here or Tiplin’s?  You’re telling me you can afford things from here and my only alternative is Tiplin’s?”

“Yep.”

*****

Jasmine sighed as she sat down on the bench.  “I don’t want this dream to end.”

Lance chuckled.  “It’s not a dream. How many times I got to tell you? I’m rich.”

“I know that, but … a Pyn dress, Ilora shoes, and now you’re telling me I can get jewelry too?”  She looked at him seriously.  “And you can afford this twice a year?”

“Combine what me and all my spice make, and yeah.  And stuff from their ready-to-wear lines more often.”

“You get the jewelry.  I’m just going to sit here and hope I don’t wake up.”

*****

Jasmine was nervous.  “I can’t believe I get to meet Viktor Blue.  Are you sure he’ll like me?”

“Of course he will.  You’re beautiful, smart, funny, and have the good sense to be dating me.”

She rolled her eyes at the last bit, then asked, nervously, for the thousandth time, “Are you sure everyone will like me?”

Lance put his arms around her.  “Jazz, relax.  My family will love you.”  As much as I do, he thought, but decided not to say, not yet.

“And you’re sure I won’t be overdressed for the ball?”

“Absolutely,” he said with a smile.

*****

“I need to change,” Jasmine said, looking down at her faded and patched pants as they approached a very large, very rich-looking, house.

“Nah, no one’ll care about the patches.  They aren’t stuck up.  Just relax.  Be you and they’ll like you,” Lance said.

“You sure?”

“Yes!” he said, trying not to sound exasperated.  “And you’ll like them.  My kids are the greatest, and my spice aren’t too bad either.”

They soon landed, parking the speeder in a garage bigger than Jasmine’s house.  She took a deep breath, grabbed Lance’s hand very tightly, and walked towards the large house.

*****

A little boy who, if he’d had straight hair and brown eyes instead of green, would have looked like Lance in miniature came running up to them.

Jasmine smiled, relaxing some as she saw that the child was dressed in worn jeans and a coat that was a little too big.  She was about to introduce herself when he spoke in a language she didn’t speak.  “Wow, Daddy, she’s gorgeous!” Lance translated with a huge grin.

She laughed.  “You must be Richie.”

The boy, bowing with a flourish, said in heavily accented Allurian, “Richard Samuel Kavaliro-Reddige, at your service.”

*****

The introductions to everyone else had gone smoothly and Jasmine was feeling much more relaxed when Viktor came in.  She was speechless for a second when she saw him, the Slayer of Drochslem, Savior of the Vorton Galaxy. She’d known for years that he was Lance’s husband, but she still had scarcely dared to dream of meeting him.

Viktor smiled kindly and bowed slightly.  She went to her knees in front of him.  “It’s an honor to meet you, Hero.  I offer my body to you.”

“Get up.  I’m no hero,” he snapped, his smile replaced with an irritated glare.

*****

Lance was in tears, screaming at Viktor.  Jasmine, also in tears, managed to pull herself together enough to speak again.  “Lance, come on.  Let’s get a hotel room.  I don’t want to sleep in the same house as him.”

“That makes two of us,” he said, glaring at his husband.  He then looked at everyone else in the room.  “Sorry, but we need to get out of here before one of us kills him.”

“I said I was sorry!  What the fuck more do you want, Lancelot?!  I’m not a hero and I’m sick of being called one!”  Viktor yelled.

*****

“I can’t ask you to choose between us,” Jasmine suddenly said.  Lance got a brief glimpse of her thoughts, like he sometimes did when people, especially people he was emotionally close to, were very emotional.

“No.  Jazz …”  He trailed off.

“He’s your husband.  He lives with your kids.  I’m just your girlfriend.  I can’t ask you to choose me over them.”

Lance hugged her tight, crying.  “I couldn’t choose.  I love you both too damned much.”

“Then I’ll leave instead of breaking up your family.”

“No!  Let me talk to him.  His Allurian is rusty, maybe he misspoke,” Lance improvised.

*****

When Lance saw Viktor, the first thing he noticed was how nasty the bruise on his cheek looked. Serves him right, he thought.  I would have hit him harder if I’d been her.

“Hi,” Viktor said, glumly, looking up from his book.

“Let’s go for a walk.  We need to talk, Vik.”  Lance sounded uncharacteristically serious.

“Yeah, I guess we do.”  Viktor put a cloak on and grabbed a cane from the stand by the door.  “I am sorry I upset her.”

“Stop.  Just stop apologizing.  You don’t even know what you did wrong,” Lance said, trying not to yell.

*****

“She’s gonna leave me,” Lance said suddenly.

“What?”  Viktor asked in genuine confusion.

“Rather than making me choose between you two.  Since the kids are with you, and she knows I couldn’t live without spending time with them, she’s gonna leave me.  Vik …”

Viktor interrupted.  “If she does, you’ll leave me.  You and the rest of our spice.  They’d leave and take the kids.”  Viktor’s voice was almost a whisper.  “They told me so last night. I … I didn’t mean … It’s just …”

“You insulted the Queen.  I told Jazz your Allurian was rusty.  I better have been right,” Lance said.

*****

Viktor smiled at Jasmine again, this time a bit sadly.  “I’m extremely sorry.  I meant no insult to you or your Queen.  When I accepted the title of Hero, I wasn’t fully aware of how great an honor it was.  While I still don’t, personally, believe I’m worthy, I understand I’m in the minority on this.”  He gave a significant look to his spice, who had spent the day explaining to him in excruciating detail how wrong his reasoning was.  “What I meant to say was, I’d prefer it if you saw me as Lance’s husband instead of a Hero.”

*****

Jasmine hadn’t completely believed Viktor’s apology, but for Lance’s sake she tried to get along with the man, even if she didn’t like him.

Lance hugged her when they got back to their hotel room.  “At least you like everybody else, right?”

She laughed.  “Yes, of course.  The kids are adorable.”

“Of course.  Especially Meri and Richie, with me as their biodad they can’t help it.”

Jasmine rolled her eyes and laughed.

After a few moments of silence, she suddenly said, “Lance, I love you!”

“Glad you’re finally ready to say it.”  He hugged her tight.  “I love you too.”

Posted in Short stories | Leave a comment
Jan 01
2015

The plan for this year

So, 2014 is over.  I edited and published a novelette with an attached short story.  I very heavily revised, changing such intrinsic things as POV, and republished a short story.  I finished and started editing a novel.  I pieced together three semi-related vignettes into a short story and started editing it.  I edited a novel for a friend.  I read, according to Goodreads, 67 books.  That’s an inaccurate count though as I read a couple of things that weren’t listed on there that I’ve been too lazy to add and I read some fanfics which, obviously, aren’t listed on there, and articles, and blog posts that were probably longer than some of the short stories that were on there, etc.  I read a lot, as usual, in other words.  I reviewed most of those books.  I made a lot of blog posts.

And that’s not getting into the stuff that didn’t involve words.

All in all, 2014 was a pretty busy year.

For 2015, I’m planning to concentrate more on writing and less on the other bits of the writing business.  I spent months this year following the advice that said getting reviews and networking and stuff like that was more important than writing, and, well, I covered how well that worked in a previous blog post.  If you haven’t read it, the short version is:   I made some mistakes and tanked my sales.

My plan for this year, in order (And yes, some of this is more notes to myself than anything relevant for my readers, but if I have this somewhere public I’m less likely to change it on a whim just because I encounter a bit of difficulty.  Even if you aren’t holding me accountable, for good or for ill I’ll feel like you are now.):

  • Edit my wife’s story she wants to submit to Queers Destroy Science Fiction, if she decides she wants to expand it.
  • Submit it for her.
  • Finish editing my own story for Queers Destroy Science Fiction.
  • Submit it.
  • Alternate between writing Blaughk on Earth, Intertwined Lives, and editing No More Lies, not becoming slavishly devoted to any one work, but keeping in mind and tracking my monthly word count goals.
  • Publish No More Lies.
  • Devote a month to marketing it.  Just a month.  No more.  After that, it’ll sink or swim on its own.
  • Alternate between writing Blaughk on Earth, Intertwined Lives, and editing the leytgeleshi short story collection, with the same caveats as above.
  • Write remaining leytgeleshi stories.
  • Alternate between writhing Blaughk on Earth, Intertwined Lives, and editing the Dagger short story collection, with the same caveats as above.
  • Write remaining Dagger stories.
  • Edit remaining leytgeleshi stories.
  • Publish leytgeleshi story collection.
  • Devote a week to marketing it.  It’s going to be a free short story collection (or 99 cents, I can’t recall what we agreed on now.)  There’s no sense in devoting a lot of time to marketing it.
  • Edit remaining Dagger stories.
  • Publish Dagger story collection.
  • Devote a week to marketing it.  See above for why only a week.
  • Alternate writing Blaughk on Earth and Intertwined Lives.

Word goals, which I think I will track on the blog to hold myself accountable to my readers as well as myself:

MINIMUM, BARRING ILLNESS:

10,000 words a month written; 10,000 words a month edited (20,000 a month written when not editing)

AIM:

15,000 words a month written; 15,000 words a month edited (30,000 a month written when not editing.)

I know I can do 50,000 a month.  I’ve won NaNoWriMo twice, after all.  But I also know that about 20 to 25,000 a month is a more natural pace for me.  It’s slower than I’d like, but given that only a few years ago I was amazed when I wrote 7,000 in a month, I expect that number to keep going up, hence the shooting for 30,000.

I tracked my numbers for December, as an experiment more than anything, and I wrote 9,462 words, which is not far off my minimum goal at all.  However, I only edited 2,247.  Christmas and my spouse finding out she’s laid off as of January 17th made me lose some time though, so I’m cool with this.

So, in short, my professional plans for the year are to write two novels, edit one novel, write some short stories, edit some short stories, and try to get a short story professionally published, and do a total of six weeks of marketing.  This should be less stressful than this year’s attempt at trying to do marketing, writing, and editing every single day was.

This blog will be getting more focus than it has the past couple of months, but less than it was a couple of months before that.  Instead of at least two posts a week, I’ll be making at least one.  For the next few months at least, starting this week, one week will have a short story, the next a five star review, and the next a WIP update of some kind.  Other blog posts will be made as whim and time coincide.  My list of things I want to blog about but haven’t yet still has about a dozen things on it, so I won’t run out of material for a while yet, especially doing it at whim instead of doing one of those every week.

I’ll still be writing reviews of most things I read, and I’m again going to try to read one hundred things listed on goodreads this year, but unlike last year I’m not going to try to force myself to finish every book I start, and I won’t be making detailed notes on everything so I can leave long reviews.

If it’s an indie or small press book I’ve agreed to review, that’s a bit different.  If I agree to review it, it means I’ve read enough of the sample to think I’ll give it at least three stars.  I’m not interested in screwing other indie authors, but I’m not going to glowingly praise works that don’t deserve it either.  It also will get a detailed review because indie books get so few that are.  Little Women is well enough known that I can leave a review that just says “I love this book!”; Love or Lust is not.  I will not be agreeing to review more than one book a month, except maybe when I’m doing the marketing times for my books.  I already have books for January, February, and March, but if you have a book you really want my opinion on, especially if it’s fantasy or space opera, get in touch.  I enjoy reviewing, I just find it too time and brain power intensive to do it the way I have been.  Sometimes I just want to read and enjoy something without thinking too much about it, you know?

So, what are your plans for 2015?

Posted in No More Lies, Once A Hero Always A Hero, Short stories, Writing process | 1 Comment
Dec 31
2014

Does it matter who I am?

I keep seeing people saying things like “I just can’t watch The Cosby Show any more now that I know Bill Cosby sexually assaulted all those women!”*  and “I can’t watch Firefly any more now that I know that Adam Baldwin is so ((insert various terms here, as he is not shy about stating his opinions regardless of how stupid/unpopular they are.))”

This makes no sense to me.  Ender’s Game is still on my to read list despite me finding Orson Scott Card’s statements about homosexuals extremely offensive.  I can still enjoy Firefly despite knowing that Baldwin apparently wasn’t acting when he played Jayne.  I can still read books by one of my new favorite authors despite having had to unsubscribe from her blog because of my feelings about her political posts.  My enjoyment of a work has nothing to do with who created it.

Usually, anyway.  There are exceptions.  I research authors before I read near future military sf after one too many books that had lines like “That’s what liberals never understood during the Iraq War” (almost a direct quote from one, by the way) followed by a tirade about how liberals are a drain on everything that’s right and good about America.  If they list certain other authors as major influences/friends or anything like that, I don’t even bother with trying the book.  But that’s less a “who they are/what they believe/what they’ve done upsets me” thing and more a “I don’t like getting lectured about how horrible I am in fiction” thing.  Really, if I’d ever seen it handled without becoming a serious case of Writer on Board, I might not have this policy.

Also, there are authors I’ve tried just because they seemed like such awesome people.  Patrick Rothfuss is the only one that comes to mind right now . . . I was very impressed by what he does with Worldbuilders and by his sense of humor . . . but I’m pretty sure there’ve been others.  Oh, right!  I’m sure I’m far from the only person who first tried a John Scalzi novel after reading his blog.  But, despite loving the blogs of both of them, I gave Name of the Wind five stars and Old Man’s War only three.  My enjoyment of either book had nothing to do with my feelings about the man who wrote it.

You see, when I read I’m not thinking about anything other than the words on the page and the story they’re telling me.  I don’t care if the author is a blue wombat from Alpha Centauri.  I care about the book they’ve written.  Likewise when I’m watching a TV show or movie I don’t care who the actors are; I care about the characters they’re portraying.  When I watch The Cosby Show I’m not thinking about Bill Cosby, I’m thinking about Heathcliff Huxtable.  When I watch Firefly I’m not thinking about Adam Baldwin and how much I’d like to smack him, I’m thinking about Jayne Cobb and how much I’d like to shove him out an airlock.  When I read Name of the Wind I wasn’t thinking about the awesome guy who wrote it, I was thinking about Kvothe.

I know there’s a school of thought out there that says I’m wrong and that authors and actors always put so much of themselves into characters that in some way they are the same.  To some extent I suppose it’s true.  No one is creative enough to be someone completely unlike themselves.  But, for the most part, this quote by S. M. Stirling sums things up well:  “There is a technical term for someone who confuses the opinions of a character in a book with those of the author. That term is idiot.”  The inverse is also true.  Yes, maybe it’d help you understand my books better, or at least why they contain things they do, if you knew my political beliefs or religion or sexuality, or even whether I prefer ham or turkey.  But you should still be able to enjoy them without knowing any of that, and even if what you do know of that you find offensive.  Because Jake, Lyndsey, Renata, Bobby, Viktor . . . none of them are me.  I’m not writing autobiography.  I’m writing fiction.  That means I get to make shit up.

* We will not be getting into the bigger issue of him not having actually been found guilty yet, because the whole thing about how innocent until proven guilty doesn’t apply to people accused of certain crimes is not something I feel like getting into today.
Posted in Rants | 1 Comment