Series vs. Standalones

Why are all the SF/F writers doing series these days?  What ever happened to the good old standalone novel?

I can’t give you a thorough answer on that one, but part of it is simple economics.  Let’s start by comparing Goblin Quest and Stepsister Scheme, and please forgive me for geeking out with math and graphs.  Nothing here is all that complex or life-changing, but I tend to obsess a bit.

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The B Team

Dear Hollywood — what do you think?

Love,
Jim

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In 2009 a crack fiction unit was pushed to the backlist for a crime they didn’t commit.  These characters promptly escaped from low print runs to the Internet underground.  Today, still wanted by fans, they survive as soldiers of fortune.  If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you’re really desperate, maybe you can hire the Blue Team.

Goblin Quest miniatures are from Garden Ninja studios.  Want your own set?  Check out their site for unpainted, patina-finished, or custom painted minis.  Or head over to BSC Review, where they’re giving away a free set of patina-finished goblin miniatures.

Tick figure is from a garage sale.  You’re on your own for that one.

Rape Posts & Resources

I’m angry with myself.

Years back, I posted a page on my site with articles I had written about rape, as well as a link to a resources page I put together for a local crisis center.  (The crisis center hasn’t updated the page in several years, unfortunately, so those resources are now out of date.)

Anyway, this was right about when my career as a writer started to take off.  I revamped the web page to be more businesslike and focused on my writing.  I left the resource page posted, but it was no longer linked from the main page.  Looking back, I think I was getting all caught up in being a “professional.”  I was worried that including rape resources would take away from my image.

Looking back, I want to smack myself.  It’s the same sort of thing I’ve vented about: men not speaking out because it’s easier that way.  Because we’re afraid of what people will think.  Afraid of alienating potential readers, maybe.  I don’t know.  All I know is that in this particular instance, I chose silence, and I’m disappointed in myself for that choice.

I’ve updated the rape page on the new site, and I’ve put the link back in the menu bar.  I’m working on adding more links and resources.  (I’m open to suggestions if you have any.)

So, yeah.  Disappointed and angry with myself.  And grateful to the reader who indirectly kicked me in the pants to do better.  Thank you — you know who you are.

Updates from Around the Writersphere

A while back I reviewed Steven Harper’s book Nightmare, the second of his Silent Empire series.  The books have been out of print for a while, so Harper is making the first book available for the Kindle as an experiment.  You can pick up Dreamers for the low price of $1.79 $1.43! (significantly cheaper than any of mine 😛 ).

Greg Wilson, a friend of mine, just had his first book come out from Five Star.  The Third Sign [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy] is fairly classic epic fantasy.  As some of you know, Goblin Quest started out as a Five Star release, so I’ve got a soft spot for them.  You can read the first three chapters of Wilson’s book at his web site.

In my own ever-thrilling life, I figured out how to rotate quotes on my web site, so I’m putting up quotes from my various books and stories.  Will the excitement never end? If you’ve got a favorite line from one of my characters, please let me know and I’ll try to get it added to the rotation.

Finally, just to dispel the myth that we famous authors (ha!) get it right the first time through, here’s a glimpse of page one of Red Hood’s Revenge.  Please remember this is the second draft, marked up in preparation for the third.

Get a Real Job

It’s an interesting paradox. As a writer with four novels in print, one of the most common questions I get is “When are you going to quit your day job?” On the other hand, take a writer who has done just that and runs into financial trouble. One of the first questions they hear is “Why don’t you just get a real job?

Writing “professionally” is a real job.  It’s more work than any day job I’ve had.  There’s the actual writing, the rewriting, the communication with editors, agents, and fans, the paperwork (contracts, taxes, etc.), and that’s before you decide to go to that convention or booksigning, or try to do some publicity for your work.

The real question is “Why don’t you get a safe job?”  One that would provide you with stable income, health insurance, and everything else you needed to avoid this mess.

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Friday Five

1) After spending all that time working on Red Hood’s Revenge, it’s amazing how quickly the short fiction goes.  One week from short story seed to finished first draft?  I could get used to this!  Now to go back and make the whole thing coherent and cohesive.  (Right now it’s 3700 words of themeless mess, but that’s okay.  It’ll get better.)

2) A lot of you have already seen this, but author Cat Valente is writing a book-in-a-book as a way to help get through some tough financial times.  Cat’s a great author and human being.  Please check out her announcement for details, or visit the adopting cat community which has been set up in LiveJournal.

3) I try not to obsess.  I really do.  But I want to know who stole one of the Amazon reviews for The Stepsister Scheme!  14 reviews last week.  13 today.  Amazon’s just doing this to mess with my head, aren’t they*?

4) There is no four.  Or is there?

5) Apropos of yesterday’s post on weight issues, what are some SF/F books that deal with the issue in a decent fashion, whether that means addressing it head on or simply including non-supermodel characters who are portrayed well and not just as villains (fat=evil) or comic relief?  The first one I think of is the Such a Pretty Face anthology Lee Martindale did almost a decade back.  What else is out there?

Have a great weekend, all!

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*A brand-new 14th review popped up literally minutes before I posted this.  Amazon is totally messing with me!  Jerks.

Screw You, Death Clock! Signed, Fat Jim

So I was killing time, following a link from Michael Brotherton to the Death Clock, which supposedly predicts how much time you have left. Apparently I’m going to die in 2048. (At my current rate, this means I should be able to churn out about between 30 and 40 more books.  Yay!)

Anyway, I know this is just as reliable as any other online quiz, but what stuck with me was the basis for the prediction: 

1) I don’t smoke.
2) I’m 5’7″ and 161 lbs.

This, along with my gender and birth date, is the total data collected by the site*.  #1 is the “healthy” answer, but according to the site, #2 means I’m overweight and heading for an earlier grave.

Screw you, Death Clock. Screw you and your “Lethal Danger of Being Fat.”

Of course, deathclock.com is owned by Life Extension, a site whose front page is plastered with ads for vitamins, supplements, and — you guessed it — weight loss products. It’s a brilliant industry. Make people feel like crap, then promise them they can be skinny and happy again, and isn’t that worth an obscene amount of money? Of course they want to warn me of the deadly dangers of being 161 pounds. How else can they convince me to rush out and send them all my cash?

I do understand that obesity can have an adverse effect on your health.  Yes, I’ve heard that we have an increasing trend toward obesity in this country (though you wouldn’t know it wandering down to my daughter’s school and glancing at the kids).  Heck, I’ll even admit I’m in much worse shape these days than I used to be.  More exercise would be a very good thing.  But overweight?  Give me a freaking break.

I am so sick of my country’s attitude toward weight.  We don’t give a damn whether you’re healthy.  We care about whether you’re “pretty”.  And if you’re not?  If you’re heavy?  Congratulations, you’re a 21st century leper, and the rest of us can feel free to mock you and look down on you, because it’s your own fault.  Because you made yourself unhealthy.  You did choose to be fat, didn’t you? So by reminding you how fat you are, by making sure you know exactly how grotesque the rest of us think you are, I’m helping you!  I’m motivating you to get past your unhealthy habits and become healthy!  Because if you didn’t want to be fat, you wouldn’t be.

If that was the way things worked, I should weigh about 300 pounds.  Tonight I’ll eat almost an entire large pizza for dinner.  Healthy?  Definitely not.  But I was fortunate enough to be born with my mother’s metabolism.  I can hit the ice cream for a snack before bed, and I’ll still be 161 pounds at my next checkup.  I know people who eat far healthier than I do, exercise daily, and they’re still heavier than me.  Their bodies simply won’t lose the weight. But it’s so much easier to assume fat people are all lazy slobs gorging themselves on ice cream every night.

If it was really about health, we wouldn’t have diabetics deliberately going off insulin so their bodies would cannibalize themselves for fuel.  It’s effective — I lost about 30 pounds that way when I was first diagnosed.  It’s also toxic and potentially deadly.  But hey, better dead than fat, right?

I’m sick of it.  You don’t even want to know how young my daughter was the first time she came to us worried about her weight. And don’t get me started on the ever-popular Hollywood “Fat = Funny!” formula.

There are some seriously beautiful people out there who would be labeled heavy or even obese. I don’t mean that feel-good “Everyone’s pretty on the inside” stuff. I’m talking about Garcia from Criminal Minds being one of the hottest characters on TV. I’m talking pure, physical, completely shallow sexiness.

As a kid growing up, I couldn’t see that.  I was an idiot. As I can’t go back in time and kick my own ass, I’ll settle for venting on the blog.

Be beautiful.  Be healthy.  The rest of it can go to hell.

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*I forgot that they also ask if you’re optimistic or pessemistic, and yes, I recognize that the site gives a lot of emphasis to your attitude. Which doesn’t change the fact that their numbers label me overweight and then present me with nothing at all about attitude, but a nice little treatise about how being heavy is LETHALLY DANGEROUS!!!

Drive-by LOL Book

As some of you know, I used to post regular LOL Books.  Sadly, I eventually chose to stop doing them because it was taking too much time, and it was becoming work rather than fun.

However, as I was browsing Amazon yesterday, I came across a book just crying out for a LOL…

(The book is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy], for anyone who might have missed the buzz.)

Oakbottom’s Revenge

Trees.  Lurking in gangs, watching in silence.

Trees!  Their resentment simmering after millenia of abuse, remembering every log cabin, every paper factory, every sawmill, and every indignity left by your dog.

Trees … fanning the coals of their hatred.  Luring us into complacence, until they STRIKE!  Suddenly and without warning.  Sacrificing themselves in true kamikaze spirit.

It’s my own fault.  As a paperback writer, I should have realized I had a special place on their enemies list.  How many of their kind have I killed, building a career on their pulped corpses?

But even as I was writing about Oakbottom, the man-tossing oak in Goblin War with heartwood of stone, never could I have imagined how truly evil these creatures could be in their pursuit of splintery vengeance, striking not at me, but at my children’s playsets.

I mean, come on! That’s just cruel!

Thankfully, nobody was hurt. The playsets are history, but damage to the house itself was minimal. The kids were pretty shaken up, though. Not looking forward to working with the insurance company, tree removal, fence repair, and the rest of it. Still, it’s only stuff. All in all, it could be so much worse.

Pictures behind the cut.

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Jim C. Hines