Five good reasons to shut up about your Nano plans

1. They don’t matter. NaNo novels aren’t finished products. They’re hideous messes. Yet, it’s a popular activity that many published authors engage in (probably). Why? Because they prove something to you. The social aspect of having a website and hashtag and, well, Interweb just obscure the fact that NaNo is as personal a venture as anything can be. It doesn’t take a village to write fifty thousand words.

2. Remember that “writing” thing? There’s no reason to write nothing until November. If anything, now is a perfect time to figure out your voice and practice with sketches or exercises so you don’t fizzle out and spend the rest of your month whining or looking for prompts on the forums. Plus, speaking from experience, you need a certain amount of detail in mind to reach novel length.

3. Performance anxiety. NaNo is about quantity, not quality. If you get everyone and their mom hyped up about your idea, how easy will you find crapping out the first draft of that story?

4. You need to be excited through November. Okay, maybe you are self absorbed enough (or… fine, have a long enough attention span) to still be excited and fresh on November 29. But for the rest of humanity…. Make yourself anticipate. Rev up the engine, don’t burn half your fuel half a month out.

5. No, seriously. I don’t care. Finished products are where it’s at. If you can’t deliver, don’t make the promise… and it’s not deliverable until it’s done.

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Book Review: ‘Up Jumps the Devil’ by Michael Poore

Up Jumps the DevilUp Jumps the Devil by Michael Poore

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The premise is straightforward: Mr. Scratch—better, and more frequently, known as the Devil—has just been shot up a bunch during a filming of his hit reality show, soooo how did he get there? Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Parasite’ by Mira Grant

Parasite (Parasitology, #1)Parasite by Mira Grant

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Review is from the ARC version. Yes, I’m aware this book is released now. u:

I always feel obligated to qualify my opinion about biology in books where there’s lots of it, so here goes: after taking every single available neuroscience course (except the 9-hour-a-week graduate one), I did two quarters of immunology at the University of Chicago. The second one, “Immunopathology,” was basically an entire quarter of tearing apart journal articles for the slightest hint of inaccuracy, and analysing the two major theories around how the immune system operates.

So what does this do when I run into fiction that extrapolates a world where the hygiene hypothesis (it’s explained in the book) has led to people having parasites surgically implanted for health reasons? Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Redshirts’ by John Scalzi

RedshirtsRedshirts by John Scalzi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Important note: I don’t like metafiction. Last time it came up I thought it was because the protagonist wasn’t a BAMF, but I liked the protagonist in this one. Anyway, the point is that I’m not wholly the target audience for this, and if you do like metafiction you will like this a lot more than me. (The only time I’ve even liked fourth wall breaking was in ‘Deadpool.’ Violence makes everything better.) Continue reading

Guest Post by Luke Murphy (author of ‘Dead Man’s Hand’): Good vs Likeable Protagonists

Imajin Books, October 2012

Imajin Books, October 2012

Do all protagonists have to be GOOD guys?

‘Dead Man’s Hand’ is a crime-thriller set in the seedy underbelly of Las Vegas. It takes readers inside the head of Calvin Watters, a sadistic African-American Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.

Many people have asked if I can make any real connections to the main character in my novel. The answer, as for my connection…no, I have never been involved in a homicide investigation, LOL. The plot is completely fictional. Although I am not a 6’5”, 220 pound African-American, I’ve used much of my athletic background when creating my protagonist Calvin Watters. Watters’ past as an athlete, and his emotional rollercoaster brought on by injuries were drawn from my experiences. His mother died of cancer when he was young, as mine was. There are certainly elements of myself in Calvin, but overall, this is a work of fiction. I did not base the characters or plot on any real people or events. Any familiarities are strictly coincidence. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Hydrogen’ by John S. Rigden

Hydrogen: The Essential ElementHydrogen: The Essential Element by John S. Rigden

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

At the start of this book, I thought it was geared at a more general audience. I think that might have been the aim, given the frequency of well-written summaries at strategic points in the text—shortly before the focus shifted to a new principle, usually—but I wouldn’t recommend this one to someone who didn’t take any physics in high school at the very least. Although I can’t imagine why you’re interested in this book if you don’t have any background in physics whatsoever. This is a lot heavier on the hard science than the more philosophical vein of physics books. (A good litmus test: do words like “partial differentials” scare you?) Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Gulp’ by Mary Roach

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary CanalGulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve enjoyed everything else by Mary Roach I’ve read—she tends to focus on the unsung heroes of science, the ones that explore the weird niches that are either not glamorous enough for media attention (Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void) or that explore areas affected by societal taboos (Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, this one). Continue reading

Book Review: ‘The Windup Girl’ by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Windup GirlThe Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

It’s been a while since I read something with so much worldbuilding, and initially I found the density of information unappealing. But Bacigalupi has a lot to cover: the whole story is set in Thailand, which is going to be an unfamiliar setting for most readers, and on top of this setting most of the characters are Asian (Japanese, Chinese, Thai) as well as Buddhist (Chinese, Thai), and on top of this we’re in a future that is a blend of pre-Industrial Revolution and the crazy futureness you expect from a good science fiction story. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Welcome to the Urban Revolution’ by Jeb Brugmann

Welcome to the Urban RevolutionWelcome to the Urban Revolution by Jeb Brugmann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You should read this book for the perspective alone. Unlike a lot of the nonfiction I read, Brugmann isn’t a reporter coming at the topic as an outsider. Instead, he’s bringing decades of experience in the profession of urban planning (I think that’s the term) to this book, and a lot of his sources are primary, based on interviews and people he spoke to. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization’ by Steven Solomon

Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and CivilizationWater: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization by Steven Solomon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Any book that takes a mere thirty pages to mention Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ probably has a strong economic angle. I wasn’t surprised to see that Solomon writes for economy/business publications: this book is very centered around economic gain and exploitation. It’s not an unexpected view, but if you were looking for something entirely around the use of water in an engineering, ecological, social, or other scientific context this isn’t the book for you. Continue reading