A little experiment: Open Questions

Okay, so… I’m no Scalzi, but I thought maybe I’d try to do a reader question period.  I don’t have a ton of readers, but if you have any questions about my writing, or (more entertaining, most likely) teaching, or what-have-you, feel free to ask in the comments.  I’ll answer in a post or three.

Or none?  That’s possible, too.  We’ll see what happens!

Writing the New Project

I’ve spent much of the last few days shaking off the 2016-2017 school year.  It wasn’t a bad year, as teaching years go, but it still takes a lot out of you.

But, it’s over, and now is the Writing Time.  And the house-cleaning time, and the child-raising time.  But without work-time, those other things go smoother.

I’ve been looking over my plot outline for _Year of Rage_, and … wow, it was bad.  Whole chapters had to go.  Luckily, I’ve been on a roll writing new chapter outlines, so I think the book will be okay.  It just needed some adjustments.  A character was cut, but I think she was superfluous, and a new character was created that will fit into the plotline even better than her predecessor.

The hard part right now is answering questions about the stellar nations in the book.  Why is the T’lari Alliance so interested in the Boundless Empire?  Why did the Matuush Ascendancy stop innovating so long ago?  Why did nobody explore Khuta in the 1400 years it’s been a dead world? What happens if the Emperor of the Boundless Empire dies without heirs (hint: They’re tanists).

It’s exhausting, and often the questions are answered, then a note saying “Gods below, don’t ever put this in the book!” is appended.

Right.  Back to work.

Reporting from the Query Wars

Queried: 38 Agents, 3 publishers
Form Rejections: 30 (28 Agents, 2 publishers)
Requests for Partials: 5 (all agents)
Personal Rejections: 3
Still out: 3 Agents, 1 Publisher

Neither publisher got past the slushers, near as I can tell.  And that’s okay; I expected that.  I haven’t had a partial request since last summer, which is wearing on me, but them’s the breaks, and as a friend has said, it’s basically a numbers game.  40 queries is still in the little league of novel rejections.

If You Want Them: My Reactions to This Year’s Cancellations/Renewals (TV)

Lots of Renewals and Cancellations are being announced now.  For those who care, and maybe for those who don’t but find me marginally amusing, here are my reactions to them.  Note that I’ll only really be talking about shows I watch, or tried to watch, and won’t have anything to say about shows I’ve never seen or cared about.  And because of who I am, this is mostly about genre television (Science Fiction and Fantasy), but not completely.

Read More »

The Book, and What’s Important About It

Who knew selling a book would be so hard?

Well, I did, actually.  But this is nothing compared to the writing.

Anyway, the book is still going around to agents.  There was a request for more pages, but the agent passed–said she was a “very, very tough sell on aliens, although your writing is good.”   I’ll take that compliment; thank you!

The thing is, it’s very easy to start thinking that the book is crap because nobody has said “OH MY GOD I WANT TO REP THIS!”  But that’s bullshit. People I trust, who have no reason to lie to me (and who were very honest with me in the beta stage about the flaws it had, and helped me fix them), like the book.  In fact, my favorite comment from two of the beta readers was “If I’d bought this in a bookstore and read it, I’d consider my money well spent.” It’s not perfect–no book ever is, especially before an editor takes it in hand–but it’s good.  It’s a story worth telling, and worth reading.

It’ll sell, or it won’t.  But that isn’t the important thing.  The important thing is that I have a voice, and that I need to use it.  Because, while I need to write, I’m not really writing for me.  I’m writing for that teenager who thinks the future won’t have people like him in it, because they’re not in the mainstream books being sold.  I’m writing for the girl whose parents tell her she’s a loser because she loves SFF.  I’m writing for the man who is sick of every story with a gay protagonist being erotica or romance.

So the important thing is to keep writing, and keep querying.


Old Books: Not Really an Investment

Note: While this will crosspost to Facebook, I won’t be seeing any of the comments there for a few days, as I’ve left social media to avoid spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  If it matters to you that I see it before Saturday, best to comment on the blog.

Old books are weird. People often think they’re valuable, but the truth is, most books still in existence today were printed in enough numbers that they’re really not worth that much.  Of course, the older it is, the more likely it’s going to be rare, which increases the value, but unless we’re talking “Gutenberg Bible” or “Shakespeare’s Folio,” it’s probably not going to be worth much even then. Age alone is no indicator of value; much depends on the rarity and condition of the volume.

One of the silliest parts of old book buying is the differences between one version and another.

One of the old books I own, The Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke, was printed in 1921. It’s worth about $8. The 1919 edition, on the other hand, is worth $1400, partly because only 1000 of them were printed.

Another book I own, printed in 1819, is “Prayers and Offices of Devotion for Families, and for Particular Persons,” by Benjamin Jenks, Rector of Harley, in Shropshire, England. This 196 year-old book is worth a grand total of $25. Other copies, from just a few years prior, are worth over $100.

Fortunately, I don’t buy old books for their value (I couldn’t afford to, if I did).  I just like holding a nearly 200 year old book and thinking about all the hands that have touched it over the years.  It’s a connection to generations of human lives I will never touch in any other way.

Trump’s Ridiculous Proposal

Trump and his supporters are crowing that we need to prevent Muslims from entering the US, because we have no way of knowing which of them are terrorists.
This makes me sick.
If you support blocking muslims from entering a store or from even coming to the US, ask yourself this: would you support similar restrictions on Christians?
Because guess what? There are also Christian terrorists. In the Central African Republic, Christians have been attacking and killing Muslims for years. In Uganda, the “Lord’s Resistance Army” is a band of Christian terrorists.
In India, the National Liberation Front is a band of Christian terrorists who threaten those who are not Christian.
Lebanon’s Maronite Christian Militias have killed thousands of Palestinian refugees–not in battle as equals, but in attacks on refugee camps.
In the US, Christians such as Eric Robert Rudolph and Tim McVeigh, as well as groups like the Christian Identity Movement and its associated subgroups. “The CIM is made up of various Christian terrorist organizations, like Americans Promise Ministries, who are responsible for terrorist attacks and bank robberies; the aforementioned Aryan Nations; the Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord; the Oklahoma Constitution Militia; and the South African Groups that were behind the 2002 Soweto bombings” (AATP.org).
And no, you don’t get to say things like “not all Christians are like that” or “they’re not real Christians.” Well, you can say them, but they’re meaningless.  The best you can say is that they’re not your kind of Christian, or that you don’t accept their beliefs as your own (like the CIM’s belief that non-Caucasians don’t have souls and therefore cannot be saved).
Well, guess what, Internet?  Just like most Christians aren’t terrorists, most Muslims aren’t terrorists. In fact, the vast majority of Muslims say ISIS is not representative of their religious beliefs.
Trump’s people keep using the Internment of Japanese-Americans in WWII as a justification for this idea, but they’re ignoring perhaps the most important aspects of the internment:

1. The FBI informed the President that there was no reason to lock up the Japanese-Americans, and he did it anyway because he considered it better to assuage the groundless fears of white folks than to do what was right.
2. The Supreme Court ruled the Internment unconstitutional.
Even as an atheist who thinks belief in a deity is kind of silly, there is no basis on which I would agree with denying people entry into the US based on their religion.  The very concept is anti-American and violates our core principles.