November 15, 1997 Style 'n Purpose
The underlying themes which recur in my books are: All persons are worthy of respect, unless they make the choice not to be. Don't live DOWN to expectations. Only you can discover your full capabilities and only you know if you're doing your best. Each person is unique. It's the one thing we all have in common. People cannot be compared; better at, not better than. Of course, I do that in fast paced, sexy, science fiction action/adventure.
When one writes for women, FTL drives and big guns aren't enough. My personal specialty is cultures which MUST be changed and the heroes who make the choice to do what is required to make that change. I have several books I group together under the heading "demi-gods in bondage" in my files. I say I don't write fantasy, but two of my books would fit the category if it didn't ALWAYS imply magic. Sorry, don't believe in it. As a power of the mind, yes. As separate from that, no. I usually carefully avoid comparisons with other writers' work, but those two are like MZB's early Darkover books in one way, not quite fitting into either science fiction or fantasy.
I term myself a talespinner, not an author. I have an unusual writing style and I'm just plain stubborn about it. I spent seven years developing it and submitted no work to agents or publishers until there could be NO confusion between style and error in any work of mine. I CHOOSE which rules to break and can explain why. It's rather funny that it was my statement I write for e-publication only, and developed a style specifically for it, which suddenly got me the attention of several 'legitimate' agents. I may send one a manuscript just to see what her reaction is to a style that combines traditional oral storytelling, writing and modern media techniques. I've titled the style itself Narration and Dialogue Vignette. POV is 'from the camera,' a carefully structured variation of third person omniscient.
November 19, 1997 College
The question that needs to be asked is: "WHY are you in college?" Why is any 18-19 year old in college? The truth is the answer is most often because it's expected, or there wasn't anything else they could do, besides work at Macdonalds, and that doesn't sound like much fun. College does. Frat parties, dorm dances, football games... Bigger and better high school. What if no one could enroll in a bachelors degree granting institution until two years after they graduated from high school; community college, trade school, preparatory school, but not a university?
Now, there's that odd thing, preparatory school. They used to be relatively common. Young people, though almost exclusively young men at that time, planning to go to Harvard or William and Mary often, one might even say usually, attended a preparatory school first. Granted those schools were private and expensive, but so was college. When the federal government established the land grant universities, the students were usually older than 18-19 when they began study there. Fifty years ago, most entering college had worked at least a year or two to earn money before enrolling. They wanted an education enough to work for it. It's really only since veterans returning from WWII had finished the higher education, that wonderful thing, the GI Bill made possible, that freshmen of 18 became MOST common on campuses.
When I first went to college in 1964, every fraternity and sorority had a house mother and every dorm, men's and women's, had at least one dinner a week at which the table was 'set' and proper table manners taught. I didn't like a great many things that accompanied that, but I remember how important that part of it was to some of the kids who hadn't been taught such things at home. It was considered part of the preparation of young people to enter 'educated' society. Now, even electives which are intended to broaden the students and make them capable of carrying on a conversation, that doesn't revolve around the field in which they intend to get a degree, are disappearing.
I don't want to return to that time in any fashion, but a college education should be more than vocational training. And a campus more than a place to stick kids until they grow up enough to be on their own.
December 5, 1997 Writing Why
Writing is a way of sharing, but it can also be a way of life. For some of us, there isn't really another choice. Nothing else we do to earn a living can ever be more than 'a day job.' Writing is the only thing that comes to mind when someone says "career" to us. We are those who struggle to become professionals. A dozen unsold books doesn't keep us from starting another. We must. Every one we finish makes us better at our craft.
We discuss markets, agents, editors and audiences. We don't just dream of getting a book published, we work at it with a tenacity that would probably bring a very high income if we did the same in a 'day job'. We are performing artists, like actors, musicians and dancers, who measure our success in each tiny improvement and each step farther in the selection process before another is chosen to star.
We not only take criticism well, we ask for it. Every honest opinion helps us look at our work objectively and find ways to improve it. We don't take every suggestion, but we weigh each one carefully and decide whether or not we should. We are those who WILL be professional writers. We welcome all who make the choice to become such, but we warn them any other career is easier. There aren't any bit parts, choruses or local club gigs in writing. At least not any that pay.
January 31, 1998 E-bookin'
Both types of publishers are looking for a good, well written, story. However, you're right in there's a bit more to it than that. How fast the story moves and how deeply the reader becomes engrossed in it may be, I think is, even more important than in print work. That book on the screen has to be opened starting with turning on the computer and choosing *that* program and file. It has to call the reader back to it in a way the one lying on the table next to the chair doesn't. I gave a lot of thought to that when I was figuring out how to write for the internet audience. My work is dialog heavy in the extreme. Some of the reason for that is chat.
People, especially women, will spend hours reading the dialog of chat, often adding little to the conversation, especially if there are two or three who are interesting to *listen* to involved in a good one. In most of those chats, "names" are used often to direct a response or comment to a particular participant. Very few people look over to the left to find out who said something if that dialog is primarily between two people. Those who spend a lot of time chatting with a particular group seldom need to look to see who replied at all. The *way* a response or comment is written, or its content, becomes as obvious to them as the tone of a voice.
This was a bit harder to handle in Paradox than some of my later work because the Gallants are a closely knit family, have the same fundamental education, come from the same cultural background, etc. and individual speech style is far less distinctive. It's there, but it *had* to be subtle to be realistic. Therefore, it's primarily manifested in content and they say each other's names a lot.
Speech style in dialog is a useful tool to indicate the progressive deepening of a friendship or relationship and give a feeling of the length of it that just denoting a passage of time doesn't. Again, it has to be subtle, but it's far too noticeable in life not to be necessary for realism in fiction.
At some time, your parents have probably commented you've been "hanging around" a person or group too much because they can hear it in your speech. I've yelled at my sons to either quit talking to specific people or quit talking to me, before I embarrass myself because I've "picked-up" something they say without realizing it. I don't mean just the words used as sentence filler when a person can't think fast enough to come up with an adverb or adjective. "He had to take and do it anyway." "She could sit and say she didn't agree." The "take and" and "sit and" are speech mannerisms of this area and my husband is driving me NUTS with them. I did use this type of "we all 'get to using' something we heard" with my characters, but I tried to restrict the obvious ones to those with an identifiable source. In Paradox Equation, that was often Gallant.
All that sounds more complicated than it really is. It "just happens" when you know your characters so well you hear them speaking. You know what they would or wouldn't say and how they'd phrase it without thinking about it. When I changed a bit of dialog somewhere in Paradox after I'd completed the whole thing, it was because I knew the character better than I had at that point and realized it wasn't quite as he'd have said it, even at that age. Paradox Equation spans over thirty years in the life of the central character and far more in the lives of some of the others. One character is a, somewhat shy, fifteen year old when first introduced, but that boy is still very recognizable in the hearty mature man who reappears much later. Oh, my,I did it again! Looooong note! Sorry.
February 1, 1998 Cut to…
When you're writing for e-pub, cut to the chase starts with the title. ;) You can put it in fifth gear and let the peddle up off the floorboard on a straightaway now and then, but don't take the hand off the gear shift or put on the brakes. Downshift for those curves and roar out of them.
Can you tell I drive a Porsche?
March 21, 1998 Regret
Your definition of regret is too wide. It shouldn't be confused with wishing 'you'd known then what you know now' or sorrow that even the right choices sometimes cause pain. Guilt is a civilizing emotion. The more civilized we are, the more likely we are to feel guilty. By that same token, we are civilized enough to decide whether it is deserved and bear it, or it is not and reason it away.
It's very difficult to admit you can't help another because it takes all your strength to survive. However, it is the truth and, though truth can be very painful, it is not cause for regret. Narrow your definition. Accept there are things you would change if you could, but regret only those things you did with intent to harm. Forgiving ourselves for our weaknesses is even more difficult than forgiving others for theirs, but we must accept that we're 'only human' too. Once we have, understanding flows into all the corners of our souls and wisdom is born.
May 3, 1998 Personal Agenda
I'm a writer with a background in philosophy, economics, cultural anthropology and political activism. It is my goal to change the laws of this country and the attitude of society. I want group marriage legalized and accepted. I also want gay and lesbian marriage legalized and accepted, but the gay and lesbian communities are very politically active and well organized to get at least the legal situation changed. I don't expect any of these changes to happen fast, but I think they will come about much sooner than most expect.
It's getting to the point two people earning moderate wages cannot provide for two children. It usually takes at least 80% of one of those incomes to pay for child care. The number of 'latch-key kids' is rising at an incredible rate. I expect to see a nationwide push to allow people pooling their resources to file taxes jointly, as a single household, in the next few years. If you're watching tax law changes, you'll see married filing jointly is about to be removed as a tax break.
This is the time to begin to push for 'household' filing and a deduction for the full time, stay-at-home caregiver for more than one mother's or couple's children, and I want that applied to those living in familial arrangements whether or not they are married. It's the first step in restoring the fiscal and emotional strengths of the extended family of sixty years ago.
June 27, 1998 The Real Award
Thank you. Awards are nice because they're an acknowledgement of the hard work I've put into my website, but it's "I'll come back often." that truly makes me feel good.
I'm a writer and, like nearly all, searching for a way to share my work and, hopefully, earn something for my labor. It's an interesting profession. There may be no other in which the competition for employment is as tight, but those competing for the too little paid for the work done cheer for those who get that pay, commiserate with those who don't and work to help others, who decide they MUST write, to develop the skill to compete.
Electronic publishing and the internet offer a new opportunity for writers. It's my hope my website will help them understand it's an incredible tool to promote their work, whether that work is published in electronic or paper form. Or.... Thump! "The back of the dust cover doesn't sell the books in the book store. A web page that looks like one isn't going to sell them either. Stop complaining the publisher didn't do much advertising and promotion and get to work!" :)
That's one reason I use NO tables, frames or java script on my website. It's much easier to teach people to swim in the shallow end of the pool where they can see the water isn't over their heads.