Free Download: “Holly Lisle’s Create a Plot Clinic” Excerpt

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

I’m pleased to be able to offer the first 54 pages of Holly Lisle’s Create A Plot Clinic for download. This covers the introduction, all of the section on Plotting before writing (including structure) and the first two plotting “tools”. If you are at all interested in writing you owe it to yourself to give it a look. It’s free, so what have you got to loose?

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Shop.HollyLisle.com, but that’s because I believe in the products. I’ve found these books invaluable in my own writing.

Audiobooks Are Not Cheating

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

GalleyCat pointed out The New York Times article Your Cheatin’ Listenin’ Ways (also mentioned on TeleRead this morning). It’s not the first time an article about audiobooks in The New York Times has set me off. I continue to be dumbfounded by peoples reactions. I’m even more disturbed by the people in the article who listen to audiobooks an feel guilty about it. What’s wrong with people?

In general I don’t feel the need to defend myself on this, but it seems many audiobooks listeners feel some sort of shame, so I guess I will. Listening to an unabridged audiobook is not cheating. Listening to an unabridged audiobook is reading a book. The majority of books I consume are in audio form. When reading paper book I sometimes find that I don’t remember the last few pages and have to reread them. This happens much less often when listening to audiobooks (and when it does I do backtrack and listen again). I also don’t have the luxury of doing just one thing at a time. I have responsibilities to my family, my writing, and my job. I was only getting six hours of sleep before the new baby. When am I supposed to read? I do have a number of print books I want to read but they have a long waiting period before I can get to them. Even once I do it often takes months for me to get through them. I’ve had John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War in my queue for a while and I’m elated to find out yesterday that it will be available on audio soon.

Most importantly, I’m thirty and my eyes are not in good shape. They aren’t going to get any better. I already have separate reading/computer glasses and my eyes have basically shut down due to eye strain multiple times.

The reality is, there’s very little difference between listening and reading. According to The New York Times article:

“If the goal is to appreciate the aesthetic of the writing and understand the story,” said Daniel T. Willingham, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Virginia, then there won’t be much difference between listening and reading. “The basic architecture of how we understand language is much more similar between reading and listening than it is different.”

I know this is true. When I’ve re-listened to audiobooks I’ve been amazed at how much of the story I remember word for word.

My wife and I have been listening to Harry Potter on audio since before book three. Listening together is tougher now then it was then, so it’ll probably take a year to get through the new one, but it’s wonderful to be able to enjoy books with my wife in this way. Currently I’m working to instill a love of audiobooks in my children. I’ve found some great stuff for them on Audible.com (which is where I get most of my stuff as well). I love reading to my kids, but I also enjoy experiencing a story with them, and just enjoying it. I feel no shame in any of this.

Ron McLarty wasn’t able to get The Memory of Running published in print until after the audiobook was available and people heard it. Numerous authors are releasing free serialized audiobooks, many for otherwise unavailable works. I assume they consider the medium valid. Feel free to comment whether you agree or disagree. I’d like to hear what others think.

Go Listen: 7th Son: Book Three – Destruction

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

The final book of J.C. Hutchins 7th Son novel trilogy starts today! Available (sometime today) for free at jchutchins.net or podiobooks.com.

Update: It’s available now!

Podiobooks and Free E-Books Harmful?

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Flametoad seems to thinks so (found via TeleRead). He suggests that authors like Cory Doctorow, JC Hutchins and Scott Sigler are devaluing the audiobook and e-book formats, and buying the p-book is “paying for the paper because the content has no value”

I don’t see it. Perhaps these authors value readers. After all, what value does you work have if no one has read it? Cory Doctorow’s books keep showing up in the bookstore. In fact IDW recently bought the rights to do a series of comics based on his works even though the license for those works allows anyone to create such comics non-commercially. Scott Sigler recently managed to sell quite a few copies of his new print book recently. Heck, I bought two (one as a gift).

I have both an audible.com and a podiobooks.com account. Do I value one over the other? Not really. I don’t think most people equate free with no value. Not anymore, if they ever did.

Holly Lisle’s Writing Clinics on Sale

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

Just wanted to let people know that Holly put her three writing clinics on sale ($2 off each) through Friday (March 9th) at her online e-book shop.

I can personally recommend them, especially the language clinic. I’m currently working on my second language for Miracles and I’m enjoying the heck out of it. The books are clear and concise, and most importantly they make the process fun (and manageable, but fun is more important). If any of this even sounds vaguely interesting you owe it to yourself to check them out (the shop pages contain Table of Contents and excepts):

You Write Fantasy? Isn’t That a Lot of Work?

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

Holly Lisle posted the the introduction to Holly Lisle’s Create A Culture Clinic, the next volume in her Worldbuilding Course. Reading it really drove some things home for me. My wife often asks why I choose to write stories set in a fantasy world that I have to create, giving myself that much extra work to do (other people ask too, but she asks most often). There are two problems with that. Firstly, it’s not so much a choice so much as when I sit down to write, I write fantasy stories. I didn’t make a conscious decision to write fantasy stories. Secondly, I don’t think it is more work.

No one seems to believe me on either of those, but the second one seems to dwarf the first in peoples minds. How can I possibly believe such a thing? Because it’s true.

If I want to have a race of purple headed bird people in my world I have some work to do. How to they interact with other races? How are their lives different than humans? What’s their history? Do they speak their own language? Do they eat worms? That’s just the start, and perhaps these violet faced flying folk will only play a passing role in my story.

What’s that? I’m failing to prove my point? Be patient.

If I want to set a story in modern day Saginaw, Michigan, where I’ve never been, I still have quite a bit of work to do. What are the people like? What’s the economic and social structure? What local slang is in use, and by what age groups? What clothing lines are popular with high schoolers? What’s the ethnic makeup of the city? What color are the police cars? How many schools do they have? That too is just the start.

See, in the fantasy world, I make my own answers. Sure I have to make them work in a believable context, and I might make some stupid choices I have to later deal with in some way, but I can’t really be wrong. After all, I’m the world authority on those purple headed bird people. You might think people will be forgiving in the second scenario. It’s only fiction after all, right? Not that I’ve seen. Authors who take liberties with the world we live in get ripped apart. Maybe not all the time, but I’ve seen it happen about really stupid stuff.

So why not write about my hometown, or somewhere I know more about firsthand? I’ve always felt I had a lot of good reasons why I chose not to do that. But Holly’s introduction gave me another one by pointing out a big danger in writing about the world you live in. If you fail to capture the culture in the story, once the culture changes you’re story will no longer work. Yikes! It’s not that it can’t be done, and maybe I could do it, but it sounds like a lot of extra work.

‘Dursin the Firestarter’ Hits the Net

Friday, August 18th, 2006

The first time I saw YouTube I knew this day would come. It was only a matter of time. Dursin the Firestarter is online (well, so far just the first scene).

"Dursin the Firestarter" movie poster

“What is Dursin the Firestarter?”, you ask. Back when I was in high school Dursin and John used to make a lot of movies. The greatest of these was Dursin the Firestarter, a feature length remake of the original trilogy of earlier shorts (Matt Dursin the Incredible Firestarter, Dursin the Firestarter Part 2, and Dursin the Firestarter Part 3). It may not be a great film, but it is amusing. I have a small roll in there somewhere (in fact you can see me in the movie poster), and I provided some of the sound effects in the latter half of the film. Check it out. Be warned that the film would definitely get an R rating for language, so it may not be work safe.

OK Go: Here It Goes Again

Saturday, August 5th, 2006

Saw this over on Del’s site. I haven’t watched a music video in quite some time, but it’s nice to see there are still some folks having a good time.


Ok Go

Listen in on the Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman Book Tour

Thursday, August 3rd, 2006

"Dragons of the Dwarven Depths" CoverI have fond memories of reading the Dragonlance Chronicles and Legends trilogies, so I’ve been looking forward to Dragons of the Dwarven Depths from Mararet Weis and Tracy Hickman since I saw mention of them working in Locus.

Tracy is broadcasting their entire book tour on his DragonHearth podcast. I’m not sure if that’s ever been done before or not, but it’s the first time I’ve heard of it. I really enjoyed being able to hear the Q and A sessions from the book tour. Hearing them talk about the new book, the old books, and the upcoming movie has really got me itching to read some more of their books again.

As of now, all the book tour shows are still available on the DragonHearth feed. Check them out.

Time Flew, Where Was the Fun?

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

The day after my last post I returned to the day job. My schedule is all over the place instead of the 7am to 3pm day I’d grown accustomed to. As a result I’ve made no attempt to start the write-in portion of my revisions yet.

I have been doing more reading, mostly in preparation for my next novel. I now think a lot of the hard revision work on the first book can be traced back to my outline, and I’m hoping that knowledge of past mistakes also makes thing easier.

I learned a lot from Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. Chapter 10 has a 7 question quiz to help you decide if you are an OP or a NOP. Funnily enough I came out right in the middle. That’s right, even with an odd number of questions I managed to end in a tie. The last question is:

You would be happier as a:
1. Software developer 2. Poet

I couldn’t decide. I enjoy both of those things, and for many of the same reasons. When I tried to break it down I hard a hard time seeing any real difference between the two.

I’m going to take that to mean I need an outline, but I also need the freedom to explore as I write. Now the tough part is finding a way to put that to use.