The Art of Criticism

After a conversation with another esteemed writer friend, I got to thinking about criticism, and how we as authors should parse it when it’s given. It’s a funny thing, really. Most of us are terrified of it because it can strike so deeply, but it’s absolutely required for us to improve our craft.

The White Saviour Narrative

So you’ve got this native people, okay, and they are “more in tune with nature” and therefore have no indoor toilets or shoes, and they have Issues, man. Issues that are usually insurmountable for them (because they don’t have access to modern plumbing, of course) but less so for the Mighty Whitey who makes first contact with them and brings them the knowledge of pooping indoors and wearing boots.

The Importance of Tea

This has nothing to do with bookbinding or swordfighting or writing, I know, but frankly I like to indulge myself sometimes. It’s 9am, I’m sleep-deprived, and right now the cause of that is only seven months old, and snoozing in bed and getting the shut-eye that I so desperately need, so ya know what – I’m going to write about tea.

Because tea is important, people. Especially if you’re Irish.

Cover Reveal: The Meldling

So you know how I was talking about sticking with one WP theme for a while?

Yeah. That didn’t last. I realized that I was never really going to be happy unless I got a theme that I really, truly loved, and the theme I had just wasn’t it. So I spent the weekend tweaking a very solid theme into something that I really, honestly wanted, and this is the result.

Defeating Procrastination

My author friends, let us talk about procrastination.

We are all guilty of this. We sit down to write, and suddenly the laundry waiting to be done looks inviting, or we get the urge to vacuum all the things. It is our nemesis! And a wily foe it is, ever creeping into our brains and diverting us from our appointed storytelling tasks.

Long have I struggled with this, friends. Long have I fought this demon, and traded victories with it. Every day the fight begins anew… but I have found effective strategies to combat this menace, and today, I share them with you. Take careful note, and know that you must always play to your own strengths to defeat the procrastination monster.

dungeons and dragons

Better Writing Through Tabletop RPGs

Everyone asks, how can I become a better writer?

The answers are usually something like: read more books in the genre you’re writing, write as much as you can, get feedback from other writers and readers. Yes, you should do all those things, and they will make you a better writer in general. But something that’s often overlooked (perhaps because it’s incredibly nerdy) is tabletop roleplaying.

RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons are amazing tools for focusing the mind on the process of storytelling. By running and playing in an RPG, you’ll develop skills and habits that will make your writing better – or at least easier!

Who You Write For

Who You Write For

I watched a video on Youtube today from the PBS Game/Show channel about crowdfunding, and the obligations of creators to the consumers of what they create.

Crowdfunding causes users to be invested in the successful creation of media. The rise of Patreon.com and other crowdfunding venues changes everything, in that it reverses the normal order of how media is made, from: {creator makes media -> consumer pays for media} to {consumer pays for media -> creator makes media}. Being invested ahead of time, before the media is made, inserts the consumers into the act of creation.

Lying Down with Dogs

It is now 8am in Vancouver, and I think I’ve rewritten chunks of this post at least three times.

Who’s been keeping up with the shenanigans going on in the Hugos? The five second summary is as follows: a couple of straight white dudes took umbrage at the fact that, recently, Hugo awards were being won by stories/books/etc that were not all about straight white dudes, and they took this to mean that Hugos were being handed out based on ideology and diversity rather than merit. So, these white dudes pushed a new slate of stories to be nominated that they felt were more worthy.

These white dudes included a guy who called a respected author a ‘half-savage’, because this author is a woman of color.

Long story short, most of the Hugo nominations this year in various categories are from these slates, either the Sad Puppies list or the Rabid Puppies list. Understandably, everyone else who’s interested in the Hugos is rather upset about the fact that the awards are being gamed by people with an agenda. (The irony inherent in the whole situation is so thick you could cut it with a broadsword.)

mako mori

Write Like a Girl

Everyone’s talking about the Strong Female Character(TM).

The actual pushback isn’t a mystery, you know? Lots of women said the same thing long before it was even A Thing – that maybe, just maybe, the way anyone with a uterus tended to be written as a sex-dispensing object/convenient plot device was problematic. And there were articles a-plenty on How To Write Strong Female Characters who were maybe something more than that.

Now people are wondering if we’ve traded one rotten stereotype for another. In asking for Strong Female Characters, the Powers that Be have decided to be literal about their response, and we’ve been given the equivalent of Bruce Willis, Action Hero with a vagina, boobs, and a sexy body. We have the Strong Female Character(TM) or SFC, who isn’t so much a character as a different type of sex-dispensing object/convenient plot device.

Grim Fandango Remastered

The Writing of Grim Fandango

So, I do loves me some video games. And video games occasionally deliver some truly stellar story-telling – none more so than the best adventure games.

Little history here: point-and-click adventures were a crazy popular genre, back when I was a kid. They were all about the story – you played a character, who could walk around and talk to other characters and whose entire mission was to solve some puzzle, advance the plot, and experience the story. The best of these games are legends in their own right, beloved by gamers everywhere and thought of fondly even now, years later.

Some of the absolute best were created by Tim Schafer when he was working at LucasArts, and his best was Grim Fandango.

Fire Eyes, Shadowblade

Fire Eyes, Shadowblade

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not really very good at titles. I’m good at writing long things. Short things, eh, not so much.

That said – I’ve procrastinated long enough. Time to put my money where my mouth is, or something. I’m announcing the title of my first book – my first real story. The first of a trilogy. This has been too long coming, but I have to commit at some point. So here it is, along with a short blurb that I will inevitably change later.

fifty-shades-of-grey

It’s Valentine’s Day and I Can’t Even

Yep. I just Can’t Even. Today’s the day that Fifty Shades of Grey is released in the cinema. Predictably enough, it’s set to break every box office record from here to Jupiter.

Perhaps I shouldn’t take it personally, you know? And yet I do, because I’m a writer. Because stories matter, in a way that nothing else does. I have a theory – and admittedly, it’s probably something that someone has come up with before – on storytelling.

Rift swords

Take Sword, Add Protrusions

There must be some kind of law about fantasy swords in video games. There’s a recipe to them, if you know what I mean. It’s not enough for a sword to be a long piece of sharp metal. It’s got to have… extra stuff, extra colors, extra everything! Presumably this is because normal swords are boring, or something.

I can’t quite fathom why various different blades designed purely to kill people real good might be considered boring, but there you have it.

An Author’s Life, or Why I will Never Do a Kickstarter

So… let’s talk about the business of writing.

It’s definitely a business, unless you’re writing and posting your stuff for free online. (Or just using it as parrot cage lining.) Being a professional writer is a tough gig. It’s hard to convince readers that your work is worth a couple of bucks, but we have to eat somehow. Writing isn’t powered by moon dust and unicorn farts.

So you’ll excuse me if I find it profoundly offensive that anyone thinks that a professional writer should work for free.

So You Just Want to Write

I’ve heard and read this a few times. It’s what every author wants, isn’t it? They just want to write. There’s so much work involved in getting a book to market, work that cuts into writing time. Handing it off to a publisher – or overpaying an outfit like AuthorHouse to do it – probably seems like a pretty good deal if it means more writing time.

To that I have to say: if all you want to do is write, why not just start a blog and write away? No covers needed, no special formatting – just you, the blank screen, and your audience.

“But Claire, you don’t understand! We want to make money by writing!”

Well now, that’s a different story.