Free Download: “Holly Lisle’s Create A Plot Clinic” excerpt

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

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.

Podiobooks and Free e-books Harmful?

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.

Reading “The War of Art”

I picked up Stephen Pressfield‘s The War of Art yesterday. It’s a short book, but I’ve not had any extended time to dedicate to reading, so it may take me a few days. The book has been on my radar for some time. When I saw it come up again over at 43 Folders I decided to buy it. I mean, I had been meaning to check out The Merlin Show after hearing Merlin Mann on TWiT, and I’d recently been introduced to the music of Jonathan Coulton, so seeing them together with a mention of the book seemed like some sort of sign. Adding extra weight to this, my wife had also recently discovered Jonathan Coulton’s music independently of me. That guy gets great word of mouth.

Anyhow, I grabbed the book at lunch Friday. I’m not sure if that qualifies it as an impulse buy or not, but who cares?

I finished the first of the books three parts this morning. While there are a few parts I don’t agree with, it really seems to hit the nail on the head 97% of the time. I’ll hold back on giving my final recommendation until I finish it, but so far, real good.

Holly Lisle’s writing clinics on sale

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):

Assassination, Explosions, and Clones! Oh my!

I recently finished listening to this podiobook, and I wanted to share my thoughts. But before I jump in, let’s get the “What is a podiobook?” thing out of the way. Podiobooks are audiobooks made available via a podcast feed. More simply, podiobooks are audiobooks available for download online, usually free of charge. They’re the audiobook equivalent to print on demand, in a way.

The book opens with the assassination of the President of the United States by a four year old boy. It’s a powerful scene. The story then shifts to tell the story of seven men, who are all abducted out of their lives by armed men. It’s not until they are all together in one place that it becomes clear that they are, in fact, clones. They’ve been collected together to help track down the person they were cloned from (referred to as John Alpha). Alpha is in some way behind the assassination of the President.

The seven men are the results of an experiment, not only in cloning human bodies, but in memory cloning as well. The scientists at 7th Son have developed a way to take a snapshot of a persons memories, and upload them into another persons mind, wiping it clean. This explains why the seven clones all have the same memories up to a certain point in their lives. As the book progresses we learn of further variations of this technology in use.

I really enjoyed listening to this. The story held my interest, and the author did a good job reading it. He’s obviously not a pro audiobook reader, but I never found his reading distracted from the story in any way. As someone who listens to audiobooks regularly I’m not the hugest fan of the serialized podcast audiobook, but thanks to Podiobooks.com I was able to subscribe to the book from the beginning and wait until it was complete before starting listening.

My only complaint is that although it’s obvious from the Book 1 in the title that the story is not complete, I expected a bit more of a solid ending to this “book”. But the first 19 chapters Book 2 are already available, and I’m excited to start listening to it soon. If any of this sounds even vaguely interesting, I recommend you give it a try. It’s free, so what do you have to loose? Still on the fence? Give this promo a listen.

I recently finished listening to this podiobook, and I wanted to share my thoughts. But before I jump in, let’s get the “What is a podiobook?” thing out of the way. Podiobooks are audiobooks made available via a podcast feed. More simply, podiobooks are audiobooks available for download online, usually free of charge. They’re the audiobook equivalent to print on demand, in a way.

The book opens with the assassination of the President of the United States by a four year old boy. It’s a powerful scene. The story then shifts to tell the story of seven men, who are all abducted out of their lives by armed men. It’s not until they are all together in one place that it becomes clear that they are, in fact, clones. They’ve been collected together to help track down the person they were cloned from (referred to as John Alpha). Alpha is in some way behind the assassination of the President.

The seven men are the results of an experiment, not only in cloning human bodies, but in memory cloning as well. The scientists at 7th Son have developed a way to take a snapshot of a persons memories, and upload them into another persons mind, wiping it clean. This explains why the seven clones all have the same memories up to a certain point in their lives. As the book progresses we learn of further variations of this technology in use.

I really enjoyed listening to this. The story held my interest, and the author did a good job reading it. He’s obviously not a pro audiobook reader, but I never found his reading distracted from the story in any way. As someone who listens to audiobooks regularly I’m not the hugest fan of the serialized podcast audiobook, but thanks to Podiobooks.com I was able to subscribe to the book from the beginning and wait until it was complete before starting listening.

My only complaint is that although it’s obvious from the Book 1 in the title that the story is not complete, I expected a bit more of a solid ending to this “book”. But the first 19 chapters Book 2 are already available, and I’m excited to start listening to it soon. If any of this sounds even vaguely interesting, I recommend you give it a try. It’s free, so what do you have to loose? Still on the fence? Give this promo a listen.

You write fantasy? Isn’t that a lot of work?

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

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.