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Everything you want to know about writing … and then some.

January 15th, 2012

 

 Any questions?

Lots of presenters conclude with that phrase. I’m different. I like to start with it.

The strategy may not be as harebrained as it sounds. I’ll explain.

I’ve just returned from my biannual residency in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University, where I always open my presentations by passing out index cards and asking the MFA candidates to record questions that come to mind during the lecture. Naturally, they can raise their hands as we go, but the question cards ensure that important inquiries don’t get passed over in the race toward the bell.

During the final hour of each three-hour presentation, I collect the cards, shuffle them, and spend fifteen minutes discussing them with the students.  It’s a collaborative process. I don’t profess to have all the answers.

At last week’s residency, my presentation on “The Art of Revision” generated some terrific inquiries ranging from the nuts and bolts of manuscript style to deeply theoretical thoughts on the writing process. And as is always the case, a few questions were left unasked and unanswered.

So what do you say we revisit those questions here? I’ve got all the cards, reshuffled and face down. We’ll try one card for starters, do a few more later in the week. Sound good?

So here’s the first one:

How do you show a scene break in your manuscript? Do you use an asterisk, hashtag, or simply a blank line?

This one generated some good discussion, with some of the students preferring a set of asterisks while others suggested that a single hashtag was best.

Indeed, the SFWA website still recommends the hashtag. Vonda N. McIntyre’s wonderfully detailed document on the subject is available there for free download. Go check it out if you haven’t seen it. It’s been the genre standard for many years.

Personally, I prefer the hashtag, but I was intrigued to hear from Christopher Shearer that at least one professional editor recommends avoiding them in favor of simply leaving the space blank.

I recall an amusing story that Harlan Ellison told about his manuscript for “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream,” about how he cut some graphics from a computer magazine and pasted them onto his manuscript to indicate line breaks.  

I sometimes do stuff like that too: a serpentine line for my novel Vipers and a staring eye for my collection Visions. My editor didn’t complain, and the manuscripts were accepted. Nevertheless, if I were a young writer casting my first manuscripts to the wind, I’d opt for the hashtag.

What do you think? Please submit your questions, comments, suggestions. As I’ve said before, the best part of this blog is often in the talkback.

I’m out of space and out of time. We’ll do more questions later. For now, I yield to the power of the hashtag.

#

 

I’ll Meet You in the Gaslight

December 9th, 2011

If you missed the Bitten By Books event last week, you can still access highlights at The Gaslight Gallery, a new blog sponsored by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

The blog features some of the best responses offered during the Bitten By Books event as well as new answers to some intriguing questions.

Drop by, read the interviews, post a comment. I’ll hope to see you in the gaslight.

New Trailer for Gaslight Arcanum

November 21st, 2011

The good people at Edge did a terrific job on this new trailer for Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes

The trailer features a catchy soundtrack, illustrations from the book, and photos of the authors. Great stuff!

Related news, on November 30, the website Bitten By Books will be hosting a 24-hour interview session with many of the Gaslight Arcanum authors. It’ll be a great chance to meet the writers, pose questions, and learn about this third Gaslight book edited by J. R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec.

More information is available at the Bitten By Books website. 

I’ll hope to see you there!

2011 World Fantasy Awards Ballot

September 4th, 2011

The World Fantasy Convention 2011 will be held October 27-30 in San Diego, California.
Judges are Andrew Hook, Sascha Mamczak, Mark Rich, Sean Wallace, and Kim Wilkins

Life Achievement

winner Peter S. Beagle
winner Angélica Gorodischer

Novel
Lauren Beukes, Zoo City (Jacana (South Africa)/Angry Robot)
N K Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, (Orbit)
Graham Joyce, The Silent Land (Gollancz/Doubleday)
Guy Gavriel Kay, Under Heaven (Viking Canada/Roc/Harper Voyager UK)
Karen Lord, Redemption In Indigo (Small Beer Press)
Nnedi Okorafor, Who Fears Death (DAW)

Novella
Elizabeth Bear, Bone and Jewel Creatures (Subterranean Press)
Michael Byers, The Broken Man (PS Publishing)
Elizabeth Hand, “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” (Stories: All-New Tales)
Tim Lebbon, “The Thief of Broken Toys” (ChiZine Publications)
GRR Martin, “The Mystery Knight” (Warriors)
Rachel Swirsky, “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” (Subterranea, Summer 2010)

Short Story
Christopher Fowler, “Beautiful Men” (Visitants: Stories of Fallen Angels and Heavenly Hosts, edited by Stephen Jones, Ulysses Press)
Karen Joy Fowler, “Booth’s Ghost” (What I Didn’t See and Other Stories, Small Beer Press)
Kij Johnson, “Ponies” (Tor.com)
Joyce Carol Oates, “Fossil—Figures” (Stories: All-New Tales)
Mercurio D. Rivera, “Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us” (Black Static #18, 08/09.10)

Anthology
John Joseph Adams, ed., The Way of the Wizard (Prime)
Kate Bernheimer, ed., My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me (Penguin)
Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas, eds., Haunted Legends (Tor)
Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio, eds., Stories: All-New Tales (Morrow/Headline Review)
S. T. Joshi, ed., Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror (PS Publishing)
Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders, eds., Swords & Dark Magic (Eos)

Collection
Karen Joy Fowler, What I Didn’t See and Other Stories (Small Beer Press)
Caitlin R. Kiernan, The Ammonite Violin & Others (Subterranean Press)
M. Rickert, Holiday (Golden Gryphon)
Angela Slatter, Sourdough and Other Stories (Tartarus Press)
Jeff VanderMeer, The Third Bear (Tachyon)

Artist
Vincent Chong
Kinuko Y. Craft
Richard A. Kirk
John Picacio
Shaun Tan

Special Award—Professional
John Joseph Adams, for editing and anthologies
Lou Anders, for editing at Pyr
Marc Gascoigne, for Angry Robot
Stéphane Marsan and Alain Névant, for Bragelonne
Brett Alexander Savory and Sandra Kasturi, for ChiZine

Special Award—Non-professional
Stephen Jones, Michael Marshall Smith and Amanda Foubister, for Brighton Shock!: The Souvenir Book Of The World Horror Convention 2010
Alisa Krasnostein, for Twelfth Planet Press
Matthew Kressel, for Sybil’s Garage and Senses Five Press
Charles Tan, for Bibliophile Stalker
Lavie Tidhar, for The World SF blog