Wednesday, October 31, 2012

publishing news

My author friends are all a-twitter about Penguin and Random House combining to form the world’s largest book publisher. Of course, any deal that big will be subject to regulatory approval. The deal should close in the second half of 2013, and the new firm will be called Penguin Random House.
There's a really nice article over at as well as several related articles such as What the Random/Penguin Merger Means to You. Certainly, some employees of these two companies will lose their jobs. But probably if you're a writer with one of these publishers--and you're selling--the merger won't affect you. Why? Because authors produce the product, and there is no publishing business without them. Also, frankly, authors aren't that expensive. It's not like they give us health insurance or anything like that.

This deal is a symptom of the chaotic publishing industry and I'm sure it won't be the last big change we see. As a bibliophile, I really, really hope publishers and paper books continue for a long time.

What do you think? Are big publishers an endangered species?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

dialogue tips from a master

I went to a fun conference this past weekend: MileHiCon, the annual Denver science fiction conference. A highlight was the dialogue workshop taught by Grand Master Connie Willis. Here are some of her tips (in no particular order):
  • Dialogue is not like real-life conversation. It's more concise. Omit all those 'hellos' and 'goodbyes' and 'ums.'
  • Don't use too many dialogue tags. Use as few tags as possible, without confusing the reader.
  • Authors shouldn't write more than about four lines of uninterrupted dialogue. No soliloquies unless your name happens to end in Shakespeare.
  • Characters should never talk about things they both already know. For example, a character should never say, "As you know, Bob, we've been married forty years."
  • The exception to the above rule is: unless it's in a fight. For example, in an argument you could say something like, "Bob! We've been married forty years and you've never once picked up your socks!"
  • Dialogue should serve a purpose such as moving the story forward, giving information, and/or contributing to characterization. The more it accomplishes, the better!
  • Create subtext in your dialogue. How? Use non-verbal communication to suggest something different from what the characters are actually saying. Willis used some movie clips as examples. In the 1966 film Walk, Don't Run a couple sits in the back of a cab. The woman talks about how wonderful her fiancee is, all the while gazing in infatuation at the man sitting next to her (not her fiancee). The man starts kissing her and she kisses back and talks about wonderful fiancee "Mr." Haversack. It's a fun and effective scene.
That's all I remember for now.
What are your dialogue tips?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

author discovery

I discovered a new author recently: K.A. Bedford.
K.A. Bedford has a very good series which starts with Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait. I know, how could it not be good with a title like that? The hero is Aloysius "Spider" Webb, a disgraced police officer, who fixes time machines and hates his job. The story really begins with Spider finding a time machine hidden within another broken time machine containing a dead body. What starts as a simple curiosity that his former police training can't ignore, grows to encompass alternate time-lines, future versions of himself... Well, I don't want to give too much away. Suffice it to say, the plotting, world-building, and characterization will have you hooked.
Paradox Resolution continues the adventure. The blurb says, Aloysius ‘Spider’ Webb fixes time machines for a living. He’s a hard working ­Australian bloke — a good man in a bad ­situation who is willing to do almost anything to regain his self-respect and the affection of his nearly ­ex-wife, Molly; a mad sculptress on her way to international fame and fortune. Spider’s new boss at the Time ­Machines Repaired While-U-Wait franchise needs help: his ­secretly built, totally ­illegal, ­radically over-clocked, hotrod time ­machine has been stolen, and Spider is the right man to get it back before it falls into the wrong hands, or worse, inadvertently destroys the entire universe.
You can even read chapter one here.
Have you discovered any new authors lately?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

quantum fiction

I have a confession: I love quantum physics. So, as you might imagine I'm pretty jazzed that a scientist from one of my alma maters just won the Nobel Prize in Physics. The Nobel Prize in Physics 2012 was awarded jointly to Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems". Read all about it on The Novel Prize in Physics site.

So, of course, I also love quantum fiction and often write it and read it. In case you aren't familiar with the term, Wikipedia says Quantum fiction is a literary genre that reflects modern experience of the material world and reality as influenced by quantum theory and new principles in quantum physics.

Last week I discovered author Paul Melko. His novel The Walls of the universe is quintessential quantum fiction and so good. John Rayburn, an Ohio farmboy, is tricked by his own doppelganger into using a broken universe-hopping device, sending him on a one-way trip to a dozen other, bizarre universes. He must use his wits to find his way back to his home universe, without running afoul of the mysterious forces afoot in the multiverse.
His novel Broken Universe is also very good. John and his friends have been trapped in a parallel universe while they try to build dimension-hopping transfer device, and when they finally get back to their home universe, they find that the Alarians have exploited the homemade transfer device john left behind. John and his team have got to stop them before they use the transfer device to unleash themselves upon the multiverse. Along the way, John and friends recruit an army of their doppelgangers to help them build a transdimensional company.
Besides the awesome plotting and really cool quantum physics ideas, these novels work because the protagonist John is extremely likeable. The novels also address the whole nature versus nurture paradigm. Do we all contain good and evil? Exactly what would it take for evil to win out?

What good books have you read recently?