Aside from being a delightful author and a Campbell award winner, Mary Robinette Kowal is a professional puppeteer. She joined us at WorldCon 67 in Montreal, and totally schooled us in front of a live audience.
I mean it. TOTALLY SCHOOLED.
If you want to learn something new about writing, and I mean something really NEW you need to listen to Mary talk about puppetry. You can’t see the perpetual looks of astonishment and epiphany us jaded professionals wore during this recording, but I assure you they were there. We learned so much from Mary we decided to record two more episodes with her. Not because we felt like you, our listeners, necessarily deserved it. We wanted these recordings for ourselves.
Mary required us to share. It was part of the deal.
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Howard here… I’ve learned that it’s a really bad idea to run out for a bio-break between podcasts. When I returned to the packed panel room I could tell that everyone’s attitude towards me was subtly different. It wasn’t until we started recording that I realized Brandon had turned our Q&A panel into a “Stump Howard” panel. Our good friend Eric James Stone joined us for the fun.
As silly themes go, this one works well. So well, in fact, that we went six minutes into overtime. The questions were all good, and yes, according to the rules (of which I was not apprised, I should add in my defense) I got stumped one time. It was the question about making aliens seem alien. Go figure.
Writing Prompt: Start with a device that vaporises water, ala Batman Begins, and turn it into a believable superweapon which is not being used to destroy the world.
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This episode was recorded live at CONduit in Salt Lake City with special guest Aprilynne Pike. Our topic: How do we “keep it real” when writing speculative fiction? What does that even mean?
(Okay, it means making the stuff that exists in real life seem real.)
Short answer: Research. We talk about how we go about researching the “real” elements of our various works, all the while trying hard not to go “squee” with our very first #1 New York Times Bestelling guest. We also discuss many of the shortcuts and tricks we fall back on.
This week’s episode of Writing Excuses is brought to you by editor Stacy L. Whitman and her World-Building in Middle Grade and Young Adult Speculative Fiction Seminar. The seminar will be held at the Provo Library in Provo, Utah from 1:00pm to 5:00pm on Saturday, June 27th, 2009. The deadline for registration is June 19th.
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Nancy Fulda, assistant editor at Baen’s Universe and editor-in-chief and founder of Anthology Builder, joins us again while Dan Wells is out celebrating his birthday. We discuss the rise of digital SF magazines, and touch on concepts like user-generated content, the Superconducting Copy Machine, and disruptive technology. We talk about print-on-demand vs. self-publishing, we laugh as Nancy puts her foot in her mouth, and then we argue over whether free online content can generate income for authors, as opposed to webcartoonists.
This week’s episode is 20 minutes long, because you’re not in as much of a hurry as we originally suspected, and Nancy made us at least a little smarter.
This week’s Writing Excuses is brought to you by I Am Not A Serial Killer by our very own absent-two-weeks-running Dan Wells. The book is only available in the UK, but you can get now from http://www.bookdepository.co.uk which has free shipping to anywhere in the world.
Writing Prompt: Write a story that convincingly describes the death of the traditional publishing industry 25 years from now.
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Nancy Fulda fills in for Dan for this week’s episode (he was sick, she was in town, huzzah!) but she’s more than just “filling in.” She’s FEATURED. Nancy is the assistant editor for Jim Baen’s Universe, and as such is probably the one who rejected your story. Nancy is also the editor-in-chief and founder of Anthology Builder, where you can create collections of short stories you want to read, and have them printed and bound for you. She tells us the sorts of things that will get you rejected, maybe after a page, maybe after a paragraph, and perhaps even before the very first line has been read.
This week’s episode is brought to you by Schlock Mercenary: The Scrapyard of Insufferable Arrogance. Pre-orders are open now!
Disclosure: Nancy is, in fact, Howard’s sister-in-law. That might be why her stuff is getting so dang much relevant linkage in this entry.
Writing Prompt: Write about a passionate egg.
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Tracy Hickman joins us again at “Life, The Universe, and Everything,” and in this episode we let Brandon ask him random questions while Dan and Howard chime in with comments that hopefully don’t detract from the discussion.
During the interview Tracy mentions his latest project, XDM: Extreme Dungeon Mastery, but he doesn’t mention the very latest news about it. That news is that Tracy and Curtis Hickman (the authors) have contracted with Howard Tayler to illustrate and publish it. So that bit about Tracy doing it in his basement? It’s no longer accurate.
This week’s Writing Excuses is brought to you by I Am Not A Serial Killer by our very own Dan Wells. The book is only available in the UK, but you can get now from http://www.bookdepository.co.uk which has free shipping to anywhere in the world.
Writing Prompt: Give us Winnie the Pooh’s big death scene. On a destroyer in the South Pacific.
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We took Writing Excuses on the road last month for “Life, The Universe, and Everything,” the symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy at Brigham Young University. The Guests of Honor were Tracy and Laura Hickman, and poor Tracy agreed to join us for a podcast or two, recorded in front of a live audience.
After the initial introductions we dig into clichés, starting with characters – specifically, how to avoid these kinds of problems in our characters. What’s the difference between a cliché and an archetype? Tracy saves us time and again with great answers that beg a dozen or more podcasts. It’s a good thing Tracy and Laura have their own podcast.
This episode has “clipping” problems. We need to buy some good audio gear for Jordan so he can fix problems like this. Or maybe some audio gear that will let him prevent problems like this. But don’t discuss that in the comments. Discuss clichés, please.
Writing Prompt: Howard gets attacked by monkeys.
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“Branding,” not “Brandon,” just so we’re clear. Brand-ING.
We open with the definition of “branding,” talking about what it is, and (just as importantly) what it is not. With that out of the way we forge ahead and talk about author brands, brand messaging, and why any of this really matters. We throw down a few examples, and use them to help the listener arrive at a decent author-branding strategy.
Writing Prompt: Pick your favorite author and in 50 words or less write down what you think their brand is, then compare it on the forums with what others write.
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