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Guess I’m in the 21st century now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Nice article on The Rise and Fall of the Techno-Thriller on this month’s Internet Review of Science Fiction.

Is this thing on? Anyone still here?

Well —

I got to preview Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel, and the first lesson is pretty good! I dug out the original copy of Freedom that I got bound in that offer Lulu.com gave back during NaNo 2005 to use for my revision. That book has given me more fits than any other one I’ve written, so I figured it’s a good test run as to whether this class is any good. ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you want to be in the first class in January 2010, just go to the link above and sign up to be on the announcement list for when enrollment starts.

Ever wonder what a place actually looks like? You can use Google Earth, but that’s not updated all that often.

I found a site called Weather Bonk that collects live webcams of various places. This one is of a California freeway, for example, but they have ones of all sorts of places, from beaches to residential neighborhoods. And the webcams are updated fairly frequently.

Holly Lisle hasn’t announced it yet (I got a note from her affiliate manager), but she’s closing the How to Think Sideways novel-writing class to new members on October 9th, so she can work on some other projects. She plans to open the class to new members twice a year; the next time will be sometime in 2010.

So if you’ve been thinking about taking the class this is the time to join.

Right now, I’m on lesson 14 (yeah, I’m behind, but it’s okay, since you just pay for the lessons and they’re available for as long as you like), and wow. That’s all I can say about it.

It sort of goes like this: you ever write, going along great, and something weird pops up? That’s your subconscious putting a hint of something about your story that – if you want – might make your story REALLY good. Holly shows you how to use that.

(which of course means I’m now going back through all my stories to put this into practice!)

So go at least take a look.

How’s everyone doing?

Since April, my sons have started high school band (they integrate the 8th graders in at the end of the year), my daughter has graduated high school, and the house is all in a flurry because she’s getting married next month.

It’s bittersweet to be losing a daughter (yet gaining a son, so to speak), but they seem to love each other, and she’s continuing with her education. So I’m pleased about it.

I’ve been working on the garden (which has really perked up this year), taking care of home and rabbits, driving kids places, and working on the Think Sideways class. I’m a bit behind, but learning A LOT.

Each class builds on the one before it, so it’s a bit difficult to explain, but the homework for this lesson is to split your planned story into scenes then write a one-sentence blurb for each scene. For example, the Council of Elrond in Lord of the Rings could be summed up this way:

The Council of Elrond meets, and after much controversy, appoints Frodo and eight others to go to Mount Doom and destroy the Ring.

As you can imagine, this homework is taking me a while to do. But it’s a great way to get a handle on the book before you write it. I had an idea of where I wanted the story to start then realized that I really needed to start the story a few scenes earlier. Also, doing this has shown me where I need to do research (anyone know how to sail?) and where the logic holes in my plot are. All this before I spend weeks writing this thing.

So I’m very happy about the class.

What have you been up to? Anything good going on the rest of us need to know about?

There has been a huge discussion over on LiveJournal about race and cultural appropriation, and one thing I’ve noticed is people saying, “Well, if I just wrote about [what they are], then it would be boring!”

Which made me laugh, because none of the things they put in the brackets sounded boring at all … unless they wrote mainstream, which puts me to sleep.

Seems to me that writing about what you know about, with a bit of tweaking to make it not exactly you, might be just what you need.

Take Tobias Buckell, for example. He grew up in the Caribbean. If he had said, “I can’t write about what I know, that would be boring!” then his whole damn freaking awesome series wouldn’t have come about.

Now I know what you’re thinking: the Caribbean is WAY cooler than, say, Hoboken or Seattle or Dallas. But no, it isn’t. Because if you honestly write what those places and people are like, someone from somewhere else is going to find that interesting.

And Tobias didn’t just write about Caribbean people. He wrote about Caribbean people in SPACE, with aliens and immortals and interstellar wars and blowing shit up.

If he had written it mainstream … well you see where I’m going here.

(apologies to mainstream writers … it’s just not my thing)

I say this as I prepare a story set in the Los Angeles basin. Just so happens it’s in the future. Most of the LA basin is underwater due to global warming, gangs run the place, and our heroine is wheedled into working for a guy obsessed with finding his way off Earth.

But it’s LA, I grew up around there, and I’ve driven that damn basin so many times I could practically do it blindfolded. That doesn’t mean someone might not be interested in what it might be like, a hundred or so years from now. Especially if it involves blowing things up. ๐Ÿ™‚

So the adage to write what you know still seems right on.

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