Game Writers for SFWA

So….

I stumbled on this interesting article.  Essentially, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America are working to accept, as members, scribes for video games.  Based on this article and a few links, there seems to be some confusion over the criteria, which Cat Rambo (SWFA’s Prez) is working to smooth out.

This seemed inevitable to me.  A lot of the older crowd may still look down on gaming as “kid’s play,” but that only ignores the omnipresence of gaming in American life.  (Has anyone not heard of Pokemon Go, recently?)  There a lot of gamers out there and there a lot of games written with some really killer plots-n-scripts.  Bioshock.  Dragon Age.  Mass Effect.  I could go on.  Is there any reason why this medium shouldn’t considered writing?

Sounds like they will even (eventually) be eligible for their own awards.

Anyway, I  thought this was something worth sharing.

Daily Update #29

So ….

Been a few days since I posted.  Not a whole lot has gone on lately but this is probably my last entry before the end of the month; I'll be taking a sabbatical for a few weeks to do some heavy renovation on the ole' homestead and will probably be too exhausted to do much writing.

– I've been unusually prolific in my submissions, with about six stories out in the last week.  No responses back yet but you have to start somewhere.  One of them is from my writing exercise (see this entry), a fun little YA-level tale involving witches and high school.  The storyline has potential for expansion.

– I'm trying a writing exercise in second person this week, first time I've done it in a long time.  It's … a struggle.  I might post it up here once done, for comments.

– Evil Dead remake.  I saw it.  Meh.  As usual, it is often best not to mess with classics – even cult classics.  They are known as classics for a reason.

– I just read via NeNe Thomas's blog that artist Quinton Hoover passed away a few weeks ago.  Damn, that sucks.  Hoover was only only 49 and had a very brisk style that I much appreciated.  The fantasy art world is poorer for his passing.  It's been a rough couple of weeks; former SFWA president Andrew Offutt also died a few days ago.

– I still have yet to get caught up on watching Game of Thrones.  Driving me batty, since some of my cube-mates insist on talking about it in loud tones on Monday mornings.  I usually choose that moment to grab my coffee and take a brisk stroll.

– I was at a going-away party last night for a friend.  A bunch of people made fun of my cell phone cover (seen here), specifically because it apparently is not "manly."  They all ended up calling me "Aquaman" due to the color.  I care not; I like the cover and I am keeping it.  Besides, Mrs. Axe appreciates that I am capable of running power tools and hanging drywall one moment, and accessorizing my phone the next.

(Muse:  What does that have to do with writing?)

Nothing, I just like the story.

Anyway, dear friends, hang loose and perhaps I will drop in sometime in the next few weeks.  Cheer-i-o!

Cat Speaks Wisdom

No, not the four-legged variety (unless there is something she isn't telling us).  In this case, it would be the inestimable Cat Rambo, who has forgotten more about this business than I am likely to ever learn.  She made a post at SFWA on improving one's central Author page at Amazon.  Considering the source, I think it's all very good advice.  Mostly common sense but the longer I trod this world, the less common such sense feels.

Full disclosure:  this is a much a reminder post to myself as anything else.  I want to set up an Amazon author page and this is good advice I'd rather not lose.

(Muse:  So you're abusing the good will of your readers for selfish ends?)

You make it sound sordid.

[Edit:  I hate LJ's new posting system, and the option to use the old one seems to have vanished.  Breaking my balls….]

Bribery? Really?

So as I have been trying to get myself back in a good writing rhythm (pretty hard when working 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week), I have also been getting caught up on reading.  I found this at SFWA and all I can say is that some people have balls … giant brass balls … to go with the lead between their ears.

A reminder:  it is easier to hate people in advance.  It saves time.

Daily Update #24

Ah, another Daily Update.  As usual, not so much on the "daily," but more on random randomness of randomosity that is my writing world.

– Over at SFWA, I read an interesting post by a young lady named Amy Sundberg.  (I tracked it back to her blog Practical Free Spirit).  The post concerned how we as authors deal with our brothers and sisters in the writing world and how that tailors our expectations when dealing with the non-writers.  Interesting thesis and I can relate to quite a bit of it.  Check it out.

– Is it just me or is steampunk more popular than ever?  This is cool and a bummer at the same time:  cool, because I enjoy reading it and having more stories in the genre is a plus.  A bummer, because I haven't gotten off my can to write the steampunk-iest novel I have rattling around my melon.  Does this happen to other folks?  More ideas than you can shake a stick at – or have time to write?  Yeah ….

– Speaking of novels, Pilgrimage to Skara, is right around 70K words right now.  The last couple of months have been tough and the next five weeks or so will be tough, too, though things should settle down in March.  Goal is to finish the first draft by April.  That's two months later than originally planned but will be better than the last one.

– Back to the previous thought, some time ago I placed a notebook next to my writing desk and started writing down all of my ideas, concepts, five word blurbs, and anything else that leads to a story.  Some are great teasers and prompt the entire story arc into my brain the moment I re-read the words on the page.  Others are so cryptic, I don't know what the hell I was thinking when I first wrote it.  For example, one blurb in the notebook reads, "Girl meets Indian with worms in his brain."  I have no idea what that means. 

– I've been reading around in Arcane, where my last story was published, as detailed here.  On the whole, the anthology is pretty damn dark.  Of the ten stories I have read, maybe two had an upbeat ending.  The rest were bittersweet or downright downers.  That's fine and I love the bleakness of the whole thing but it's a lot to absorb at once; I find myself interspersing some comic strips of Pearls Before Swine just to break up the gloom.

– Sometimes, I really wish Amazon published sales statistics.  When my story is in the anthology is one of those times.

– I'm in the middle of playing Elder Scrolls V:  Skyrim.  Outstanding game, and a relatively challenging one to boot.  One of the things I have really enjoyed so far is the wealth of lore and knowledge in the game; books and histories of the realm abound.  Some of the books have game-changing effects, such as raising your skills, but I enjoy them just for reading the stories and now I hoard books in-game, just like the collecting fool I am.  The game's programmers were even savvy enough to include bookshelves in the homes you can purchase, where you can store your libraries.  So what happened?  I filled my shelves and have stacks of tomes on the floor and elsewhere.  Art imitates life.

Okay, that's enough for now.  Monthly stats tomorrow will be a mixed bag.  G'night, all!

Success != Sell Out

If you thought my last post was rabble-rousing, this should go over well.

I read this post on SFWA by a Monica Valentinelli, an author of whom I had never heard.  In short, she basically asks the question, "Why is having a sale-able novel a bad thing?  Having read the entry, I can't say I disagree with the thrust of her premise.

I understand this is supposed to be a "pure" profession.  I see that many approach this from the angle that they will not compromise their artistic integrity.  I get all that.  But really, why the attitude?  Artists (and writers) who insist on producing work that is artistically pure usually fall in one of two categories.  One, they have – in the fashion of Renaissance artists – powerful patrons who provide for their needs and keep them well fed enough so that they can subsist on their artistry.  Two, they are dirt poor and starving, unless they also happen to have what the real world calls, "a job."

Being a writer is a job.  I think we've covered that before.  Well, when you have an employer (in this case, the book-buying public), you have to meet a certain level of performance standard – in other words, you have to do what your boss directs, at the risk of being fired if you don't.  Well, for a writer, that means you have to often give the people what they want to read.  I saw here that Salvage the Bones, a critically-acclaimed fiction about a dysfunctional family enduring a hurricane, had an initial print run of 18K copies, with an additional 50K copies going to print.  I am happy for the author (seriously).  That's cool.  Meanwhile, the Twilight series is somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-20 MILLION copies sold.  Quality work vs popular work?  There you have it.  You can see the same dynamic play out across most forms of entertainment and while there is intersection, those appear to be the exception.

I think it comes down to one of two things.  What is more important to the author:  following their calling or making money?  I don't think it's a bipolar answer but more along a sliding scale – and only an individual can say where they fall on the spectrum.  There's no right or wrong answer – just what's right or wrong for the author in question.

And allow me to clear up a potential misconception.  I've ragged on certain authors on this blog.  I've called out what I consider to be crappy, insipid work.  That, however, is just my opinion.  The old chestnut about trash and treasure has meaning here.  And I – a committed capitalist – never deny anyone the opportunity to make legal money.  I think Valentinelli's point that starting with a sale-able concept is a valid one.  I don't always follow my own advice – but then, I am partially in the first category above, in that I make enough money from other sources that writing money is bonus money, even when I work really hard at it.  Besides, what do I always say, anyway?

(Muse:  "I am an idiot?"  "I am a hack?"  "Next to me, guinea pigs look well hung?"  Any of these hitting the mark, Skippy?  )

Never mind.  I say, "Anything that gets people reading is a good thing."  Granted, if I had a personal preference, I would want people to read something a little more enlightening, something that caused them reflect a little … or better yet, read something I wrote.  But in a day when more people watch TV, when people have attention spans defined by the soundbite, by the Tweet, then can I really complain if someone chooses to read "Twilight" or some other fluff?  I mean, I'll bitch about it but at the end of the day, I'm glad they are doing that versus staring at the boob tube.

Glass half full, and all that.

I don’t like you! Boycott!

Now this kinda stuff just pisses me off.

The folks over at Writer Beware (an off-shoot of SFWA) are a pretty good group of people.  I don't necessarily carry water for SFWA as an organization; I'm not a member and given the difference between my writing style and most of theirs, I may never be one, regardless of future success level.  I do, however, believe they are well-intentioned, not evil, and generally interested in promoting the best speculative fiction possible.  Writer Beware is, as their mission statement puts it, "the public face of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s Committee on Writing Scams."

Well, much as Bizarro rose to oppose Superman, a group named "The Write Agenda" has come online, to contest Writer Beware.  I trolled around their site for a while and I have to say, it was bizarre in the extreme.  Disjointed ramblings, pictures on their Facebook that suggested members of Writer Beware should die, and a list of boycotted authors.

Really?  Who the fuck does that – boycotts books and authors?  Grow up.  Go out to their website, if you like.  But hopefully, you have a strong stomach.  I think The Write Agenda is in over their head.  Worse, they are going in diametric opposition to a group that has credibility while they, to date, have none.  I don't care that they waste their time.  But I do care if some innocent writer gets scammed, which is what Writer Beware works to prevent.

I won't ascribe specific motives to the members of The Write Agenda but at best, their diatribes read to me as though someone has a personal axe to grind against members of Writer Beware.  Not persuasive.

You can read much more about it from the Writer Beware people here (with comments) or here.