Everyone who publishes short fiction knows that we have to write a lot of bios. Some just repeat, but every so often they have to be updated. The first few are fun. “Talk about the glory of ME? Sure!” But somewhere around the 40th or 50th you realize “OMG, I’m even boring myself!”
The work’s never boring to me, and I hope to (almost) no one else, but talking about me? That gets old quick. I totally understand the impulse to just make s*%t up (“Richard Parks’ hobbies include breeding racing slugs and teaching Tai-Chi to polar bears.” You get the idea). Interviews, on the other hand, are a bit different. Especially when the people conducting them have done a little homework and ask interesting questions. I’ve written a lot of bios in my time but I’ve done very few interviews for obvious reasons. So it was a bit disconcerting when, over the space of a week, I wound up doing three: one general and one story-specific interview for LightSpeed and another for SFSignal.com. Mercifully short ones in both case, and I’ll put a link up for anyone who cares once they’re online. One of those for LightSpeed will be in conjunction with a reprint of “The Man Who Carved Skulls,” probably in the May issue. They asked such good questions that even I, the sole living authority on that story, had to really think about it.
Sure, it’s flattering and all when someone pays attention to us as writers, but what really floats our little boats is when someone pays attention to the work. Otherwise, we’re just talking to ourselves.
On Wednesday, January 30th, (tomorrow, as this post fits in linear time. Which is an illusion, but let’s not go there right now) Scott Andrews at Beneath Ceaseless Skies will be doing one more giveaway of a signed copy of Yamada Monogatari: Demon Hunter , this time on Twitter. You can see the full rules here, but basically all you need to do tomorrow between 2 and 6 PM Eastern Time is tweet the title of your favorite Lord Yamada story to Scott at @BCSmagazine. This will enter you in the contest, and the winner will be drawn at random.
Here is the list of Yamada stories that are available online at BCS, though of course you can name any in the series you want:
“The Mansion of Bones” (BCS #19; Podcast BCS 017)
“Sanji’s Demon”(BCS #38-39)
“Lady of the Ghost Willow” (BCS #53)
“The Ghost of Shinoda Forest” (BCS #63; Podcast BCS 055)
“The Tiger’s Turn” (BCS #79)
“Three Little Foxes” (BCS #105)
I’d enter, but I already have a copy. Though I probably will monitor the Twitter stream and make rude noises where appropriate. (Sorry, I went to a Blue Man Group concert last night and I’m feeling a bit fey at the moment. It’ll pass.)
I’m breaking my relatively normal late week silence to announce that Scott Andrews at Beneath Ceaseless Skies Magazine is giving away two (2) signed copies of Yamada Monogatari: Demon Hunter. I’ve only signed three copies total and Scott’s giving away two of them. All you have to do for a chance to win the first copy is leave a comment on the Contest Page listing the title of your favorite Lord Yamada story, and why that’s your favorite. Scott has helpfully given links to all the Yamada stories that have appeared in BCS, so if you haven’t read any of them, you can correct that immediately for your chance to win. The second giveaway will be through a contest on Twitter. I’ll give details when there are any, but the first one will probably be the easiest to get in on.
Contest aside, BCS has rapidly become the premier venue for literate adventure fantasy, so if that’s your cup of tea, you’ll find a neverending pot brewing there. Check it out.
…has put in a belated appearance. Tor.com (MacMillan) for the ebook version of a story of mine they published a couple of years ago, a cheerful account of what happens after the Apocalypse, called “Four Horsemen, At Their Leisure.” We’re only talking one story here, so, as you can imagine, that 1959 Les Paul Goldtop I’ve had my eye on will have to wait a bit.
Still, when one thinks of writing-related correspondence especially, there are far worse things that could waiting in your mailbox than an unexpected–albeit small–check. A good day to check the mailbox.
I’ve been thinking about first lines. Yes, you want to hook the reader, or at least have them think that oh, maybe this story won’t be a complete waste of my precious time. Yet there’s a fine line there between hooking the reader and false advertising, which is the same thing as cheating. And we’ve already been over the subject of cheating the reader, and all you really have to remember is this–don’t. Not ever. So I approach the subject of “first lines” with a mixture of fascination and unease. I’m kind of with Damon Knight on the whole notion, which I paraphrase: “The problem with starting a story with a really killer first line is that writers often spend the entire balance of the piece trying to justify it.” With the implication being that they’re doing this “rather than telling the darn story.” I think there’s truth in that. Yes, you want a good opening hook, but that hook is usually set in the first paragraph, not the first line. Even an impatient reader will trust you that far, if no farther. What you want is a first line that will lead the reader to the the second line, which leads them to the third and, well, you get the idea. A first line is important, but you don’t necessarily need it to grab the reader by the scruff if you can lead them by the hand. It is, as we’ve talked about before, a matter of trust. The first line has to convince the reader to trust you enough to read farther. The first line has to carry the implication, the hint, that you know what you’re doing. You may not believe you do, and that’s fine, nay even realistic. You’re trying to convince the reader. Continue reading