Left: Felicity Jones stars at Jyn Erso in Star Wars: Rogue One. Right: Amy Adams plays Louise Banks in Arrival.
Do you like to take family and friends to a movie over Christmas? Science fiction fans have two great choices: Star Wars: Rogue One and Arrival. Rogue One, the latest installment in the Star Wars franchise, stars Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso. Arrival, a first contact story, stars Amy Adams as Louise Banks.
You can’t always get what you want, even on Christmas, and what if you had to choose? So I’ve got a poll for you. Nope, you can’t see both movies, you have to pick one.
For all you non-sci-fi fans, I’ve got an “other” choice. Be sure to say what you plan to see. Have fun!
In today’s publishing market, every author needs a tagline, three to five words that give readers a sense of what he or she offers. This is especially true of unknown authors (like me), and it’s time that I update my tagline to reflect what I hope to offer readers in 2017.
I have a few ideas, but I need some help settling on a choice. I’d like to offer a survey with my favorite ideas, and solicit yours if you have a better idea. To help you, here’s the log lines from each of my as yet unpublished manuscripts in the Carbon Run series:
Carbon Run: In the 22nd century, an ex-sailor accidentally destroys an endangered species, forcing him to run from a fanatical inspector in the feared Bureau of Environmental Security.
City of Ice and Dreams: An ex-cop who’s lost her identity joins desperate climate refugees searching for a mythical city in Antarctica.
Restoration: In a future darkened by climate change, an urbane young woman faces adjustment to life in a divided small town as her father demolishes the last great dam on the Columbia River.
Not sure if I’m carefully weighing my options or being indecisive.
I’m religious about my work habits. I set aside two hours a day for writing only. I decide what I’ll work on and do that thing until it’s done or the two hours are up. I’ll add 15 minutes here, cut 15 minutes there, work on a lower priority item if I finish the high priority task, that sort of thing, but the core principle is like a rock. As a writer with only a few fiction credits, this helps me feel that I’m moving forward.
There’s one point where my little method fails. When I’m between major projects, I’m all sixes and sevens. I’m uncertain what to do with myself. Start a new project? Tinker with an old project? Get a real job?
Take the current moment. On Saturday, I finished a major revision for City of Ice and Dreams, the second novel in my as-yet-unpublished Carbon Run series. I’ve incorporated suggestions from my editor, John Paine, and a half-dozen beta readers. I’ve worked on it an average of five or six days a week for half a year or more. It’s consumed much of my waking life. I capped this portion of the project by writing a synopsis and a template query letter to agents and publishers. I’m working to push this project out of the nest, if anyone will have it.
Writers of a certain stripe hate fiction genres. Committed writers focus on character and plot, and the fact that a story takes place in space or another historical era is secondary. Writers can live with basic genres, such as science fiction or mystery, but when things get fine-grained, such as paranormal romance (the Twilight series, for example), they have a tendency to go ape-shit. The labels are too constraining, too arbitrary, they complain. And when you bring up the newest sub-genres, such as “solarpunk” or “climate fiction,” you get strange looks or outright hostility, pure and simple.
I once thought I wrote science fiction, but my editor on Carbon Run convinced me that it’s a dystopian thriller, more in line with Hunger Games than Star Trek. In truth, only booksellers care about genre, apart from the readers they’ve trained. Genres are simply conveniences that writers have to live with. Put another way, genres are the old solution to the discoverability problem: How do writers find readers and vice versa? You want sci-fi, you look on the sci-fi shelf, or enter “sci-fi” in the Amazon search box. Continue reading →