Category Archives: Writing

Writing Oneself in a Corner

The author writing herself in a corner

You know this famous joke about the guy who paint all the floor … to get caught in a corner, surrounded by a freshly applied layer of paint?

I do not know if you are like me, but there isn’t one story where I did not commit this blunder in writing… Even when I had a plan!

Last time, I was so hesitant that I missed a contest. It was a historical fantasy thing that worked perfectly … as long as I did not notice a 5-year gap in the dates!

A head-banging puzzle!

It was terrible conundrum, a head-banging puzzle: either I changed the date and the age of the main character, and the plot fell flat. Or I kept the factual error by arbitrarily changing the year, and it was a great story. (The story being in submission, I do not speak more about it).

I should have done more research. The mistake would have jumped in the face and it would have given another story.

I am happily preparing a series of historical mysteries following Domus Justice. (published in Fiction River 27, edited by the talented Kris Kathryn Rusch)  I realized that — I who adore the antique period – I took liberties with the plans of the Domus (house) in question. Moreover, it was not clear where were the toilets, hum!

So, in the subsequent stories, after serious re-study of the plans, I saw that I misplaced the altar of Lares, in a corner of the back garden. Heaven what to do? See this Wikipedia entry for a layout.

In this case, I decided not to change anything in my text about this site … and to pay more attention next time!

In establishing your historical setting, you have to “do your homework”! But be careful not to stretch this search time indefinitely …

 

Following the right tracks!

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I’m also wading into writing a crime novel (technically, a mystery). I found out that I sent my shy heroine twice to the same place. It allowed me to insert a beautiful sequence in the center of the novel … And to advance the investigation because she discovers a special clue.

But, what my heroine already knows when coming back to this place breaks some of the reveal progression, the tension. In addition, I have a bad tendency to multiply the oppositions when only one could do the trick. In short, have I put too much, diluting the danger?

Ah, la, la … I’m not out of the woods!

In a detective novel / polar / suspense where all the details must converge towards a strong resolution,  painting myself in a corner (whereas I made a plan, I recall it!) led to a catastrophe. I got embroiled in my tracks, adding motive over motive for my villain, to be certain that the assassin had a strong incentive to act!

I have not solved this problem yet, so I’m working on another creation while letting my creative subconscious search for a viable solution.

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And you?

When was the last time you “wrote yourself in a corner”?

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Just in Time for Groundhog Day!

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My latest opus, White Valentine, a foray into the sweet Romance realm, comes in time for Groundhog Day.

A big fantasy geek summons his courage for a blind date, only to be fooled by his GPS and locked out of his snowed in car. Being no elfin warrior, Nick plods on in the rapidly piling snow.

Delilah gazes at the snowstorm raging outside her window, not a princess either with the scar marring her face, her hopes wilting. Then she must leave her post to rescue her nice landlady from an ambitious nephew.

Will this snowfall doom their Valentine date?

A funny short-story dedicated to my author and mentor Kris Kathryn Rusch, who taught me how writing in various genres can be son fun! I met her at the recent Master Business Workshop in Oregon.

And yes, this is my first romance  short story, in the spirit of the eponymous romantic movie Groundhog Day, so close to Valentine Day!  But don’t take 12,395 days (Phil reliving Groundhog Day estimations according to movie buffs) to appreciate those who live near you! 

Order it in advance on the usual suspects (Kobo, Amazon, D2D…) or go directly to the universal link here!

Launch on… Groundhog Day.

 

 

Losing Ursula

LOST: a formidable, witty, science fiction and fantasy writer.

IF FOUND: please send her back to Portland, Oregon.

REWARD: millions of readers expecting her next stories!

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A quick 2007 ink sketch I made in her presence, and that she approved and signed!

In person, I had the chance to met Ursula at the 30th Wiscon convention. We had approached her as a monument, a conception that her good humor shattered. I remember, after we had complained about the difficulty of getting published, that she told us “You know, it has always been difficult“.

Reading The Dispossessed, I felt like coming home. A sense of peace, rightness arose from the pages as I discovered how people lacking comfort and material possessions could live and achieve a reasonable happiness (with the small imperfections of life, because Ursula was a no non-sense writer).

Changing Planes is a beautiful collections of short-stories, a perfect introduction to paradoxal societies, like Those who walked away from Omela who turns on its head the maxim (the needs of the many prevail on the needs of an individual); here the happiness of a whole city hinges upon a price so horrible that some chose to walk away.

She transformed the landscape in SF by writing from a woman’s point of view; her heroes and heroines achieve their goals by more creative means than outright violence. And if they don’t achieve their goals, they discover that even an imperfect way of life can give them happiness as in The Dispossessed, The Lathe of Heaven, Four Ways to Forgiveness. I recommend the latter to show how a positive social evolution can come unexpectedly, getting there by side roads.

This citation, as she had to battle for her words in a mostly male literary environment.

“We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.”

Her writing had compassion and wits, lots of wits. I still have many books from her to discover, to get a better understanding of humanity (both halves of it, and more than the halves with the Left Hand of Darkness!)

Her blog gave visitors funny anecdotes about her cat Pard, reflections, poems and more. Some recent books available at the Bookview Café.

I leave the rest of this post to her voice. Here: a link to her extraordinary discourse at the national Book Award, where she denounces the expulsion of science fiction from the island of Literature.

The Guardian article reporting Ursula’s passing
The bookview café blog article, that she contributed to found. A group of authors that publish their ebooks independantly.

Margaret Atwood, an author who sometimes disagreed with UKL about science fiction, wrote this eulogy in the Guardian.

Catch some free minutes for you!

SurmenageHivernal2017coloriseFor my writing friends and artists, exhaustion and overworking are two companions of the indie worker. I’m no exception this year, starting my own company.

For this Christmas, I wish for you to catch a few of those flying minutes for yourself and for those you love. And if you can mute those minutes into hours and days, all the better!

 

What happens to your books after you die?

FinishedReadingPile1000My reading pile will stop growing! (Extract from the Sunday artist blog entry)

More seriously, your copyright will live on for 50 years after your death in Canada, 70 years after death in the USA. If you are a writer, learn how to protect your books after you pass away. Even if you don’t think they have any value!

Did you know that the singer Prince, did not leave a will when he died?  An ordeal  for the bereaved family.

Elvis Presley left a debt-ridden property to his daughter Lisa Mary (who was only 9 at the time). Priscilla Presley did step in to save Lisa Mary from ruin.

The latter exemple comes from a small and practical book by M.L. Buchmann, who writes military romantic suspenses (yes, it is a genre). I had the pleasure of meeting him in Oregon. There are stunning occurences of what can happen when personnalities die without a will (intestate) or when the heirs mismanaged the deceased writer’s IP, or leave the management into other (greedy) hands.

Here is the podcast of his interview at Kobo Writing Life with Mark Leslie. Matt is a hyper-organized writer: even if some rules only apply to the USA, most advices are valid for Canadians. To taste his brand of fiction, visit his author page.

A worldwide map of copyright term length, from Wikipedia: in some countries, that post-mortem life of copyright can last quite long…

 

A few useful references:

The Copyright Handbook – What Every Writer Needs to Know: Nolo Press (448 p.). The latest edition just came out (fal 2017) Quite expensive even for the e-bookbut they do have some sales like the Halloween sale on their website. Price in USD. I have the e-verson of the precedent edition (I knew there was a reason for the lower pricing…) That kind of book, you don’t want to read it in one sitting.

Helen Sedwick, Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook, Ten Gallon Press (<200 p.). Helen is a business lawyer with 30+ years of practicing. “Stay out of court and at your desk” is her motto. Her book’s last chapter list typical clauses in contracts, with the simpler plain English version besides. The new 2017 edition is out.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch- Business Musings: Prince, Estates, and The Future  and  Business Musings: Agents and Estates.  Those are two articles from her blog, but she has reunited some chronicles in books. Kris is a Science fiction and manygenres author about my age but with lots more published titles and experience. She has gotten real savvy on the business plan! I do recommand to follow her very rich blog.

Now, getting back to apply what I have learned…

October in Oregon

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Back from an intense Master Business workshop geared for independant SF&F and genre authors, in Lincoln City, Oregon. The class was held near the ocean, that was all except Pacific!

Michèle à la plage

None of us even thought about swimming on this smotth beach. The waves are 15-foot tall, and crashed in a loud BROOOOM! The area has to deplore one-two dead annually from the « sneaky waves ».

IMG_20171028_200037MerRochesHumans, to the scale of the waves…

A lot of subjects were discussed, but if I can find one advice now for my writer friends, it is to plan ahead for your intellectual patrimony (IP – intellectual property), not only to keep it in your hands, but to eventually transfer it to your heirs.

*

A few pictures taken on the beach and in Lincoln City, Oregon.

Les vagues dans toute leur puissanceThe waves in all their power. Photo taken from the 4th story.

Comment l'hôtel épouse la falaiseAt this hotel hugging the cliff, you enter on the 9th and go down to your room. The beach is all the way down. The high tide can reach over the concrete steps.

Pour une auteure de SF, quelle aubaine que ces algues emmêlées!For a SF writer, those big algeas are a nice find!

IMG_20171027_173037bois800Detail on the driftwood.

Fleurs de plage. non identifiées.Unidentified flowers, at the salted and moist sand near the Inn at Spanish Head. Try to find the name for the Sunday artist!

L'avenue principale = l'autoroute 101Running on the 101 sidewalk : Lincoln City.

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Don’t forget the tsunami possibilities.

Les trois "soeurs" de la baie.

Siletz Bay, where the water is calm. A natural park has been settled, because seals visit this beach. Didn’t see one in my morning runs, but some author friends did.

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My dream, a bookshelf with the RIGHT proportions for pocket-sized novels! North by Northwest bookstore.

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After a good run in my LC 2016 race shirt, at the Inn…

L'entrée de l'Anchor Historical Inn
The Anchor Historical Inn entrance. The sailor seated on the canoe on the left is a mannequin.

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For the end : a pumpkin disguised in a Westfalia…
Happy Halloween!

September Surprise!

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On the first of this month, I got a email from WMG Publishing. My first published SF story in Fiction River 21, (Tavern Tales, not so far back) Closing the Big Bang, has been re-published (hurray for the reprints!) in Fiction River presents: Writers without Borders.

Then I looked at the cover… Houla!

What a wonderful surprise to have such wonderful writers as Jane Yolen and Mark Leslie as cover neighbors!

Each contributor from outside the USA got their first published story in this special edition. To find more about the book and all the contributors, go here.  Kudos to the fine crew of WMG Publishing, especially Allyson, Dean and Kris!

Go grab the ebook on this universal link to all platforms!

Thinking Inside the Box…

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My hard-SF short-story has just been published in Issue 7 of Compelling Science Fiction, edited by Joe Stech. I am grateful for the occasion as this is my third publication in the English SF market.

Compelling SF has a very accommodating subscription system, as you can give what you want to sustain the mag. All five stories are available, and you can purchase the back issus on the Kindle Store.

 

 

Fiction River 21

Couverture du Fiction River no 21 Avec mon nom sur la couverture!

Cover of the Fiction River 21, this issue edited by Kerrie L. Hugues, with my funny SF story  Closing the Big Bang.  The Fiction River collection is directed by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Still basking in the thrill of reading my name on the cover and the warm and glowing introduction that Kristine wrote for the story.

Get your copy on Amazon.com, Amazon Canada or Kobo!

 

What is Trendy Today…

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What is trendy today… will have cooled down tomorrow! Don’t lose time chasing the latest fads!

As for the publishing delays, the new realities of the writing world have reduced them. Nevertheless, that advice stays: better write/draw what you love!