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These are some of the things C. Flynt has been up to, some of our personal lives, some reviews of things we've read, some stuff we've learned.

The blogs are organized by date.

Comments will appear when we've had time to check them. Apology for the inconvenience, but it's a way to keep phishers and spammers off the page.

Whitnet Spotts, from Schuler books gave us a quick drink from a fire hose on how to promote your book.

This was aimed specifically at independantly published hardcopy books being promoted at bookstores (like Schuler's), but the advice was relevant to just about anything.

It's best to get your books distributed via Ingram or Baker & Taylor. Specify ...

Agent Alice Spielburg, read randomly selected first pages and gave her assessment.

She was kinder than I think she needed to be. She pointed out a few places where folks could improve their work, but didn't use the (more common in these things) "Here is where I stop reading and throw it away" response.

...

I hit the end of this panel with

Deanna Sjolander , David Taylor, and Monica Velentinelli.

The takeaways I got from the few minutes I was there was the observations that for every trope, there's an anti-trope that's just as hackneyed (unless you come up with a new way to play it) and that different societies have different tropes. You ...

The panelists were Johathan P. Brazee, Clif Flynt (Hey! That's me!), Neal F. Litherland, Jon R. Osborne, and Kristine Smith.

There was a ton of information in this panel. Most of the folks were actively taking notes while someone else was speaking, and I finally (too late) realized ...

The panelists were Johathan P. Brazee, Clif Flynt (Again), Lauren Jankowski, Tina Jens, Karen Morris Herkes, and Dina S. Krause.

...

The main thing I did on Friday was to hit the Writer's and Donuts panel.

The idea for this get-together is if you feed them, they will come.

This may not be as true as it was when I was a starving student, but close to twenty folks showed up for the session.

...

I hit a few panels on Saturday and spent more time chatting with folks and finally hitting the huckster's room, artist alley, filk, and eating a couple meals.

  • Celtic Guitar
    Phil Cooper, Susan Urban

    Celtic Guitar is (per Phil) a catch-all term for non-standard folk

...
I hit these panels on Friday:

  • Care and Feeding of your Subject Expert
    Marissa Lingen, Michael Kucharski, Monica Valentinelli, Patrick S. Tomlinson, Teresa Nielsen Hayden

    My takeaway was that folks love to give you a short (or even medium long) answer. The more ignored folks - firemen, cops, plumbers - are even happier to discuss how the real world works.

...
The 2017 release of Penguicon was held from May 4 - May 6 at the Southfield Westin hotel.

Christian Klaver, Ferret Steinmetz and Merrie Haskell discussed the business of being a writer in the context of finding an agent.

The takeaways were:

...
The first session I attended was Steven Pizik's talk on "The Theme's the Thing".

Pizik's made the point that all literature has a theme. Sometimes you're beaten over the head with the theme (think Brave New World and 1984) and sometimes the theme is hidden behind the curtain and you don't really notice it.

The plot is what keeps you reading, but the theme is why you remember the ...

The last session I attended was on J. Gabriel Gates discussion of Ghostwriting.

I know that ghostwriters exist. Nobody believes that famous people's memoirs were written by the famous people who are too busy to sit down and write a thousand pages.

It turns out that there is also a thriving business in writing stuff for the everyman. Theres a market in writing for folks who want their ...

Clif and Carol attended the Michigan Writing Workshop on March 25'th. This event is a Business of Writing event geared toward the current and soon-go-be professional writers. The focus is on finding an agent, constructing an author platform and providing editors with what they want, rather than how to construct a story or tricks to make characters believable.

The session on Writing Great Young Adult and Middle Grade was presented by Madeline Smoot of CBAY Books ...

Sean Davis and I discussed techniques for self-editing your books.

This was the official release of checkIt under a new name: Editomat.

It's no longer a freebie I share with a few friends, it's now got a for-real website, paypal, documentation and everything.

Sean and I are in agreement that Editomat is not the last word in ...

Scott-Favre, Jim and Janice Leach, Michael Cieslak and I discussed the hows and whys of editing a friend's (or spouses) work. The panel was well attended and a lot of fun.

The obvious conclusions are that you need to be kind, but also honest.

You do your friend no favors by saying their drek is really pretty good, but if you can find a good thing in it, that's something you should point out. "I really like the kitten." might not help, but ...

The second Bard and Sigurd novel has survived a run through our critique group.

Being young men, Bard and Sigurd have appetites. They pay attention to food, so there is a fair amount of food mentioned in the book.

Their meals range from dried fish to banquets. Early in the story they visit a monastery and are honored with sweets.

...

November is NaNoWriMo month.

Around here, that means that all life stops, except where it concerns this year's project.

That's true for Carol.

For Clif, November is a week-long meeting with his consulting client, running a technical conference, finishing Christmas presents and a ...

Oct, 21, 2014 - Review: Skeeter Enright:Carnival Charlatan 1 Comment Most Recent: clif on Nov 17, 2014
Skeeter and I shared a couple panels at ConClave. She had her first novel with her and I purchased a copy. I stormed through it in a few days despite a lot of other things that were on my Do-This-Instead list.

Carnival Charlatan is an urban fantasy with a bunch of twists.

I was enthralled by Emma Bull's War For the Oaks when it came out in the 1980s, but I got tired of the genre by the mid-90s when it ...

Carol and Clif ended up on a couple panels and shared a concert.

Carol was a panelist for Publishing: Traditional or Independent.

At Detcon she met some folks from Baen and was encouraged to submit MisRouted to them.

At the panel, she discussed why she chose to submit to a traditional ...

Sisyphus


I fear that I shall never see
A story written easily.
I think and plot with all my might,
Then tear it up. It's just not right.
 
...
Every author I have ever talked to, seen on a panel or whose blog I've read gives this piece of advice.

Write every day.

The authors all give excellent reasons why writing every day is a Good Thing. It builds habit. It ensures you have some time writing. The skill of writing comes from practice, like any other skill. (Of course, I don't practice my guitar, either.) Especially for busy people, ...

Information comes from the strangest places.

It's generally easy to find the big facts like how far from here to the moon, but it's harder to find the little things you need to make a world real.

For instance, how many people would it take to run a lunar colony? How many cooks, cleaners, admin, etc are needed to keep three shifts of miners in the mines? ...

I attended Detcon1, the NASFiC (North American Science Fiction Conference) held in Detroit July 17-20, 2014. This is the first of a series of blog entries about the experience.

This was one of the most enjoyable and busiest conventions I've attended in almost forty years of conventioning. Tammy Coxen, ConChair and Kim Kofmel, Programming Division Head and Literature Track Head, both did a grand job. I've never attended so many panels and enjoyed all of them. ...

Creators and Brand Identity

Beverly Bambury (publicist), John Scalzi (author) , Martin L. Shoemaker (author), Sean Mead (corporate branding consultant)

With his years of blogging (since 1998), his book sales and his twitter activity, John Scalzi is an expert on branding yourself in the modern ...

Diana M Pho (editor), Sam Morgan (agent), Neil Clarke (editor) Richard Flores IV (editor) and Kate Baker (Editor, Representative of SFWA) described what they are looking for and what they'll pay for it.

Neil Clarke (Clarke's World) accepts short stories 1-8K in length. Pays ...

After watching Beverly Bambury moderate the Econ-101 panel, I wanted some more time with her and signed up for her Kaffeeklatsch.

In the earlier panel, Beverly was very energetic and enthused. It turned out that this was before she'd had any coffee. By the time the Kaffeeklatsch came around she was fully caffeinated. Think of the squirrel in the Over the Hedge movie, and you have an idea.

...

Writing Humor and Comedy in SFF

Cath Schaff-Stump (author), Elektra Hammond (editor/author), Jim C. Hines (author), Oscar "Oz" Wilson (author), Sam Morgan (agent)

This panel was one of the ones I wanted to hit. My Bard & Sigurd ...

This was the 31'st Rally of Writer's conference in Lansing, and the second we attended.

This event is worth the time and then some. There are 16 talks spread over four sessions ranging from craft talks like sentence construction and world building to business talks like how to pitch stories and promote your book.

...

Linda Peckham explained how to look at a sentence as word clumps, rather than the more formal grammar rules.

The basis is that you have Left-hand clumps and Right-hand clumps.

Left Right
...
Barbara Barnett, Dale Cozort, Clif Flynt (Me, again) Dave Kivi Jr., and Mary Mascari.

The panelists ranged from me, who never did NaNoWriMo (but helped Carol) to folks who reworked their novel and got it trad pubbed.

...

The panelists were Johathan P. Brazee, Lauren Jankowski, Tina Jens, Sean Mead, and Kristine Smith.

This was a lively panel with a bunch of takeaways.

...

Capricon was (as usual) a lot of fun.

This year's Literary/Writing track was particularly strong. There was frequently more than one panel I was interested in going to running at the same time.

The ego-boo for me was my reading on Sunday.

I read a "love" story from the upcoming "Unintended Consequences" ...

I only made it to one Sunday panel - the one Clif was on.

  • Poetry in Novels
    Amal El-Mohtar, Clif Flynt, Jeff Pryor, John Winkelman, Mari Ness

    There were more people in the audience than on the panel. That this happened at 10:00 on a Sunday for a poetry panel beggars the imagination.

...
Confusion 2018 - Through the Looking Glass was held at the Novi Sheraton.

As ever, the convention was a lot of fun. I spent time with a lot of friends who live within lunch distance, but I never see outside a hotel, total strangers, and friends from faraway. I didn't leave the Saturday Filk until 1:30. I might have stayed longer if I wasn't on a 10:00 AM panel on Sunday.

...

The 2017 release of Penguicon was held from May 4 - May 6 at the Southfield Westin hotel.

As usual, this was a multi-faceted experience. Clif attended techie talks on robotics and Clif and Carol each hit business-of-writing talks on finding agents and promoting yourself and craft-of-writing talks about editing and killing your characters.

High points included: ...

The workshop on Character and Voice was done as two 1/2 hour sessions.

Julie Timmer led off with discussing characters and character arcs. She provided a worksheet like this:

Character Arc Worksheet

  1. In Chapter One my Main Character believes:___________________________________________________________________________________________________
...
After lunch I attended Jess Wells session on Settings and Scene.

Wells made the point that the setting controls what characters can see or do and lets you control the flow of action as well as setting the mood or just being there.

Taverns, town wells, Rotary meeting, coffee shops, etc are places where people meet and exchange information. Bridges, gates, mountain passes, and intermittent wormholes control when and how people can ...

Clif attended the 30'th annual Rally of Writers conference in Lansing. This is one of Michigan's oldest writing conferences. Unlike the Writing Workshop, this was focused on both the craft of writing and the business of writing.

I attended four discussions:

  • The Theme's the Thing by Steven Piziks
  • Personality of a novel: Character's and Voice by Julie Timmer and Lori Spielman
  • Settings that work hard by Jess Wells
...
I did a solo talk about Editomat, explaining how it works and what it can do.

Attendence was next to nothing. Three folks showed up and none of them had actually written anything to edit.

A Friday evening panel is always lightly attended - folks are just arriving, getting dinner, etc. To add frosting to the cake, my panel was opposite Talis Kimberly's concert and Bill Higgins talking about ...

Steven Saus, Nicole Castle, Robert Kroese, Michael Cieslak and I discussed the ups and downs of history in your story.

Obviously, you can't go into details about how and why the history of the time happens. Not unless you're writing a book that will replace Sominex for insomniacs.

But, how much history do you need? Is it enough to say your hero is marching into Manassas, serving under Longstreet, ready to send the ...

Conclave 2015

Self Editing Tools

A small sample

Conclave has come and gone and we had a great time, Learned a bunch, ...
Those who have followed my researches into the creation of cookies, cookies that man has not seen before, will not be surprised at where my experiments led. Those who are most involved with these studies are usually the last to understand what they have unlocked.

It is rumored that the mad arab Abdul Alhazarad was encrypting a secret recipe for a true devil's food when he slipped into the realms from which none return.

...

The Livonia public Library hosted the GenreCon mini-conference on Oct 25, 2014. The event had several local authors and a cover artist doing readings and discussing their work, along with a set of How-To events for kids.

I attended the event mostly to listen to Kirbi Fagan talk about being a fantasy cover artist and how she works.

...

Conclave was so heavily programmed that Carol and Clif split up to attend various panels.

Some of our highpoints were:

Finding the Right Publisher with Adrian and Cynthianna Matthews.

I was a little late following the concert, and missed any advice on the actual search for a publisher. The discussion when I entered centered ...

The ConClave science fiction convention was held at the Dearborn Doubletree/Hilton over the weekend of Oct 10 - Oct 12.

The Guest of Honor was Kelly McCullough . Kelly was visible throughout the con and participated on nine panels. Jody Harrow chaired the convention, Sue Stahl did the programming and Susan Harris and Patricia Altergott handled the con suite.

...

Technology doesn't drive stories, but it has driven how literature is produced since folks figured out that a clay tablet didn't forget anything (unlike the actor who was supposed to speak Euripides's deathless prose.)

The Church scribes who recorded births and deaths replaced the scalds who would memorize lineages and a few years later Gutenberg's movable type brought Bibles and literacy to the common man, replacing the need for a Church official to recite biblical passages. ...

Patty Templeton is one of the new authors I met at DetCon 1. She was on a couple panels I attended and did a reading at the Pajama Party that Off The Beaten Path Books hosted on Friday evening.

She's an author to watch.

There Is No Lovely End is a very strong first novel. It's complex, engaging, has incredibly diverse characters and a marvelous author's voice. ...

Jul, 31, 2014 - Research: Promised Rewards 1 Comment Most Recent: clif on Sep 15, 2014
Useful historical information can be hard to find. It's easy to find the big facts like when was the Viking raid on Lindisfarne, or even who did what at the Battle of Hastings.

But, for the Bard and Sigurd stories, I needed to know what are they ate in medieval northern England? Lots of steak & potatoes? Not even close. Potatoes are a New World vegetable and cows were more valuable for milk.

...

Nanotechnology

Dr. Charles Dezelah

Science Fiction stories often have a magic technology - something that's new enough that even the scientists working in the field don't really know where it will lead. In the 1920s, the electromagnetic spectrum was new, and E.E. "Doc" Smith used rays to heat, cool, push and pull objects whenever he needed something done. ...

Writer's Groups: The Good and the Bad

Al Bogdan (author), Daniel O'Riordan (author), Deborah Millitello (author), Ellen Denham (author), Ferrett Steinmetz (author)

I'm afraid I didn't get much out of this panel. This was partly ...

Tony Daniel (editor, Baen)

Tony was suffering from allergies that hit him at the hotel (there was a lot of that going around) and finally broke down and took an antihistamine, which made him groggy. So it was a very low-key kaffeeklatsch. There were only three attendees, so conversation was laid-back and drifted from general topic to general topic.

However, this is the session I remember the best, because during it, I ...

Sam Morgan (agent),

Sam is gifted with wry humor, which balanced the air of cynicism permeating everything he had to say. On the other hand, it was 10:00 in the morning and there was no coffee, despite the nature of the gathering, one of the few mistakes at the con. So none of us were necessarily at our best.

Jabberwocky represents Tanya Huff, Charlaine Harris and Elizabeth ...

Econ 101 of Self-Publishing

Patty Templeton (author), Becca Price (author), JF Garrard (author & editor), Christie Meierz (author) and Beverly Bambury (publicist) discussed the ins and outs of self-publishing your books. ...