Ya gotta play to win

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Roulette wheelLast weekend I came across a series of blog posts by author Delilah S. Dawson about author self-promotion; and, as an author who has been trying to crack self-promotion for years, naturally I decided to read her posts.  I started with Please shut up: Why self-promotion as an author doesn’t work, and without recapping everything in there, I’ll just say my takeaway was that Delilah’s secret to writing success boils down to one thing.

Unfortunately, that thing is luck. Blind, steenkeeng luck. Continue reading

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Giving the people what they want

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Sava's closed noteI recently came across a news item about a restaurant in Texas that closed due to poor business, in order to relocate to another town.  (The only reason I saw this was that someone at this restaurant posted a note essentially chewing out the residents of that town for being a bunch of tasteless inbred rednecks for not loving the crap out of the place, and that made it news.  Ah, America.)

So, seriously, the owner of the restaurant said that the residents showed no appreciation for his food and wanted something else from him.  He decided that that was something he didn’t want in his restaurant, so he picked up sticks and left.  (He denies leaving the note, and no one’s been fingered for it yet.) Continue reading

Joss Whedon’s (and my) take on SF

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Director Joss WhedonJoss Whedon has a biography coming out (one of those things you look at with a strange crick in your neck, because biographies usually come out at the end of someone’s career), and in some excerpts printed in IO9, I’ve discovered some significant similarities in the way he and I see science fiction these days.

For instance, when he had the opportunity to submit a TV series concept to Fox, he wanted to do science fiction.  Problem was, most TV SF turned him off.  He wanted to see realism, but most sci-fi TV shows looked too plastic, too clean, like Star Trek.  Or too cheap and cheesy, like Blake’s 7 or (pre-2000s) Doctor Who.  One movie series he appreciated—Alien—but he wanted more than a “ripoff” of the Alien look. Continue reading

American Hustle: A lesson in over-the-top characters?

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Christian BaleThis weekend, I finally had the chance to see American Hustle, which I greatly enjoyed.  (Yes, my movies don’t all have to have robots and alternate universes in them.)  The movie featured a gross ton of class acting, even in the bit parts (De Niro!  Zerbe!), and the story was a lot of fun all around.

But when it was over, it occurred to me that one of the reasons that so many of these actors (and the movie) were on the short list for Oscars this year, was the preponderance of over-the-top characters.  And I wondered if that was something I needed to think more about. Continue reading

Writing as a process

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Steven Lyle JordanEvery so often, I come across an article in which a writer seems to lament some aspect of novel writing that troubles them: How do you create this kind of character?  How do you world-build?  Why is writing a good ending so hard?

This always strikes me as strange, because I imagine any person who tries to write must have done a fair amount of reading and writing as they grew up… probably in school.  And I immediately think: Didn’t any of that reading and writing sink in? Continue reading

Backing off

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Steven Lyle JordanI’ve been noticeably bummed this past week: I keep reflecting on the fact that none of the promotional attempts I’ve made recently has had any success lately (and I mean as in zero success).  Every so often that particular hammer taps me on the skull, and I spend a few days sulking and brooding over the ego bruise it leaves.

Eventually, the bruise goes away, and I stop sulking.  But I’ve come to realize I specifically keep getting hit by that hammer because I spend way too much time around it.

It’s actually good that I’m realizing this now, because the holiday season is almost upon us, and I have good reason to stay away from that hammer and not ruin my fun this time of year.  Hopefully as well, staying away from that hammer will help me find other things to occupy my time and not make it obvious that I’m dancing around with one eye cocked at the spot where that hammer always comes down.

That means cutting back on Facebook.  (I needed to do that, anyway… terrible waste of time if you let it.)  Less time chronicling my activities online, so I have more time for… activities.  Less time thinking about redesigns of my books site (I’ve come to realize it’s not the design that’s keeping people from finding it).  Less time trying to recall bits and pieces of dreams to figure out if they’d make good book material.  Less time rehearsing my interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

And less time spent trying to figure out what blog subjects will attract more readers.

Overall, a backing off of the whole writing thing.  I don’t want this bruise to be permanent.

My confession

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Steven Lyle JordanI have a confession to make.

This is kind of hard for me, because I’ve been trying to hide this for so long.  I never felt fully comfortable in admitting it to anyone, for fear of the way people would look at me… judge me.  I can tell that the few people in my life who do know about it don’t look at me in the same way they used to.  I’ve tried to keep it to myself, afraid of how it would affect my job, or drive away my friends.

However, I believe I’ve reached a point in my life where I can no longer deny my nature.  And I am willing to stand up to the judgement of my friends, relatives and colleagues, free of shame or remorse. Continue reading