Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Good Readers Make Good Writers (and Updates)

The title of this post pretty much says it all already.

It's my firm belief that a good writer needs to be a good reader.  Being a good reader isn't the ability to read fast or copiously, but rather understand the material, sort of what your teacher used to try and teach you in school with all those ridiculous interpretative essays.  Being a good reader is knowing what a story is about, and how the writer tells it.  It's probably about reading more than one kind of story, even if you have a favorite.

Basically, if you can't do any of that, you probably will never be much of a writer.  Being a good writer while being a good reader isn't aping your favorite material.  If that's your goal, then you will never be a good writer.  Being a good writer is about being inspired, and being a good reader will help you be inspired all over the place.  Being a good reader makes you observant, and not just when reading, but out in the world that is not specifically composed of words.

So that's what I have to say about that.

Recently I told you I would be working on a bunch of stuff, and some of that stuff I actually did finish, and when I said I hoped I would.  I finished the first draft of "Unsafe at Any Speed," and sent that off.  And then I wrote "Outliers - A Deep Space Nine Celebration."

I'm pretty proud of both, but can only show you one of them.  Here's links to "Outliers":

Part 1 (featuring Ben Sisko, Jadzia Dax)
Part 2 (Nog, Rom, Quark)
Part 3 (Miles, Keiko, Bashir, Odo, Kira, Worf)
Part 4 (Dukat, Kai Winn, Garak, Eddington, Kasidy Yates, Weyoun, Tora Ziyal, Female Changeling Damar - it should be noted that even though there are a lot of characters in this one, you should at least pay attention to Dukat and especially, as always, Garak)
Part 5 (Martok, Vic Fontaine)
Part 6 (Zek, Ishka, Ezri Dax, Molly)
Part 7  (Jennifer Sisko, Jake Sisko, Morn)

Enjoy!  Or not!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Current Doings

Things I'm currently working on:
  • "Unsafe at Any Speed" - This is a short story for a WWII era anthology that's being spearheaded by Brennon Thompson, started out as a proposal for comic books but has since shifted to at least initially a prose property.  This story takes its title from one of Ralph Nader's famed consumer advocate articles (that for some reason he never talked about while running for president), but features a character I first envisioned while I was in high (possibly middle) school, a youthful speedster who sucks at being a speedster.  I've been working out the whole arc of the story, and that's been fun, as well as started writing it, but for some reason I've known that this isn't one that I should just get over with, which is what I do with the majority of my short fiction.  Thompson's vision is known collectively as The Tarnished Age, and hopefully I'll have more to say about this, even though it's been a thing I've been helping develop for months now.
  • In the Land of Pangaea - Perhaps I've got a problem of the impulse to write too many books, especially considering that I've had a "little" trouble getting them published by someone other than myself (though I'll be working on that with Seven Thunders in the coming days and weeks, submitting it to at least two potential outlets).  The book I'll be starting soon (because I've more or less written a manuscript a year since 2009) is something I hadn't even considered until earlier this year (thus postponing yet again some other stories), but the more I've thought of it the more excited I've been to work on it.  Pangaea is all about a fake pre-history of mankind, a previous era of great achievement that takes place two hundred million years ago (during the Jurassic period), and ties together a lot of obsessions I've had and want to work out in writing (which tends to be what all my stories are about, which I figure should be what every writer does), among them the continent of Africa, Hurricane Katrina, and the trickster god Anansi, who makes a cameo (along with other deities) in Minor Contracts.  And yes, in my mind, part of the whole reason for writing Pangea at all is to help justify both Minor Contracts and the earlier Modern Ark, because one of the other things I hope to accomplish with Pangaea is a further exploration of dragons, and our continuing obsession with them, but outside of a typical fantasy setting.  The story will unite the present and the past, and dragons will be that connection.  The biggest conceptual hurdle of Modern Ark is the fact that the main character is a dragon, although he is also a perfectly normal human being.
  • "Outliers - A Deep Space Nine Celebration" - I've been writing Star Trek fiction for more than a decade now.  For most people, this stuff is known as fan fiction, but for me, it's just another form of my own particular work, that follows its own particular rules, and is not strictly just me mucking around someone else's playground.  Actually, my Star Trek work is a huge part of my formative development as a writer, and I'm particularly grateful to it for that reason.  This story will appear on my writing blog.  Although fun fact!  I've written at least one Star Trek story every year since 1999.  This one won't be this year's first, but it will be one of the few ones to feature the cast of my favorite series, Deep Space Nine, which premiered on TV twenty years ago this year.  "Outliers" will feature each of the signature characters just before we met them, some of them in the very first episode, and many well beyond that point.  Should be fun!  Hopefully this particular one will be done before the end of this month, as will be the first draft of "Unsafe at Any Speed."
  • And yes, there are a bunch of other stories I said I'd be working on this year, and before my laptop developed issues, they were absolutely going to be done.  But life threw some curveballs, and this is what I did with them.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Big Pulp - The Kennedy Curse proofing

I just finished proofing my entry in the upcoming Big Pulp anthology The Kennedy Curse, which includes my story "The Cuban Exile Crisis."  For some reason, the editors capitalized the "p" in my last name.  I'm sure my far more French ancestors did that, and I know my brothers have done retrofitted it back that way themselves (while my sisters both sport married surnames now), but I'm carrying on a tradition here, and have for all my previous published work.  Retaining the exact spelling of "Laplume" proves all the more important to me considering a decade ago I was fully convinced that I would write under a pseudonym.

(This has always been something of a small joke for me, considering "Laplume" translates to, variously, "the feather" or "the pen."  My own name is a pen name!  I like to imagine future generations, should I be lucky enough to be remembered as a writer, just assuming that it's not my real name.  To those prospective fans, I will now reveal my true surname: Firefox.  My name is Tony Firefox.)

Another reason to be particular about my last name is that I come across very few French surnames in the world of books, excepting of course French writers themselves and the occasional Cajun. 

"The Cuban Exile Crisis" has another distinction that I've referenced in the past, in that it will be the first official publication of Space Corps material, "official" in the sense that I didn't release it myself.  Reading through the proof, I'm reminded that I took a very deliberate literary approach to the story, "deliberate" in the sense that it reads like ordinary prose, not exactly the style I normally use.  Even if this is ends up being the only Space Corps story published this way, I think it'll give people a small idea of what the rest of it was about. 

The anthology is centered around the Kennedy clan and its legacy, and so is "Exile Crisis" (the title of course is a pun on JFK's Cuban Missile Crisis), but it also reflects the basic struggle between humans and the alien menace known as the Danab that lies at the heart of the saga.  While approached obliquely, the emphasis on the human toll carries the weight I would expect from an Space Corps story.

I'm excited for this Big Pulp release.  I should be getting my contributor copy sometime this month, and the release is scheduled for September.  I'll keep you posted.
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