Moving in

I’m in the process of moving my blog over to this site because the old one was becoming too much of a pain to maintain when I no longer post that much.

Thought for the day: WGTOW

There’s a kerfuffle now and again about MGTOW: Men Going Their Own Way. That an increasing number of men have decided that marriage is too expensive, the risk of divorce far too high, and have given up to live their own way on their own instead.

But I think that’s just a subset of a wider movement: Westerners Going Their Own Way. Be they male, female, single, married, young or old.

I’ve seen a lot of discussion in the last few years about Americans quitting their city life, taking their money and moving somewhere remote and rural where they can live cheaply. And it seems to be spreading.

Which makes sense. Why work to pay taxes to fund a government that hates you? Why not pull out and watch it go bust?

Particularly as cities continue to decay and impose higher and higher taxes and crazier and crazier rules on those who live there. Someone has to pay for all those public-sector pension promises, and the people paying for those pensions can’t be allowed to live the way they want to live without constant nannying by those whose pensions they’re paying for.

This trend is only going to accelerate over the next couple of decades as cities become less and less important, and we can make more and more things at home.

Thought for the day: Starting A Story

I think it’s pretty easy to ensure there’s a story worth telling. Just start with:

1. Two characters.
2. With conflicting goals.
3. Who can’t just run away.

At some point, they’ll meet, then they’ll fight, then one will win (or both may win, in a genre like romance). Story over.

If there are interesting characters in an interesting situation, something interesting is going to come out of it.

I do have a bunch of half-written novels, but that’s just because I easily get distracted by the New Shiny and start writing something else even though I shouldn’t. I’ll get back to the others sooner or later.

Writing to an outline bores the heck out of me. In the last novel I published under this name, I had an idea of what the end would be when I wrote ‘Chapter One’, but didn’t even end up sticking to that. The novel before, I had a vague idea that the main character would be robbing a bank half-way through the book, but he went off and became a suicide bomber instead (just not a very good one).

That said, in some other genres I write under other names, it is nice to know that the genre has defined the basic structure and I’m just finding an interesting way to get from ‘Chapter One’ to ‘The End’ within that structure. It does eliminate some of the banging-the-head-on-the-table moments writing SF and horror.

Thought for the day: Romance Writers Stuffing Amazon Categories

It’s really not that hard to tell whether a romance book is supposed to be in an SF category, in most cases. Taken by the Alien Alpha Barbarian is not Military SF just because it’s set in space and the barbarian beats up a few people.

If the romance is central to the story, and the spaceships just a backdrop, it’s a romance, If the romance is a subplot and the spaceships are the focus, it’s sci-fi. I’m not sure why this is hard to understand. Just think about which part of the book you can remove without destroying the story, and it should be pretty clear which category it should be listed in.

Yes, there’s a grey area where you’re exploring romance in a radically different sci-fi world. But those stories are a) relatively rare, and b) probably sci-fi.

No-one’s complaining that there are girl cooties in SF novels (well, OK, a few nuts might be). They are complaining that they go to the SF bestseller list and find that 50% of them are romance novels in spacesuits. I stopped bothering to check the list a year or two back, because it was so stuffed with romance books that there was no point any more.

And, as others have said, a large part of the problem is that Amazon use the keywords to pick categories, rather than just letting authors do so. If you put ‘space barbarian’ in the keywords for your romance novel, it will probably end up somewhere in SF. If you put ‘romance’ in the keywords for your Military SF novel because there’s a romance subplot, it will probably end up somewhere in romance.

Thought for the day: Sensitivity Readers

Apparently trade publishers are forcing writers to submit their books to ‘sensitivity readers’ so as not to offend people. But every time they tell a writer ‘you can’t write that character like that’ and force them to change, I suspect they lose more readers than they gain.

I think there is a place for a service to help authors make characters more authentic. For example, I have a half-finished novel set in a small community in the North of Canada, and I stopped writing when I realized I needed to do a lot more research into the lifestyle up there before I could finish. I wouldn’t be averse to paying someone who knows more than I do to read through it when it’s done and let me know what I got wrong so I could fix it.

But we all know that’s not what’s going to happen here. They’re trying to build the new Soviet Socialist Realism, where only approved ideas with approved characters can be published (and have nothing to do with Realism).

Windows 10: Crap Or What?

What moron decided to switch a LAPTOP screen to portrait mode with an arcane key combination? Particularly one that’s RIGHT NEXT TO CTRL+ALT+DEL?

What possible reason I would have to switch a laptop to portrait mode, when the freaking keyboard is attached to the bottom of the screen? All it achieves is to leave people wondering ‘WTF just happened?’ and trying to figure out how to use the mouse sideways so they can open a web browser to return the screen to the right damn orientation.

Hint for anyone who found this through Google: its CTRL+ALT+Arrow keys.

I so hate the tabletization of computing. And I absolutely despise Windows 10. There’s a reason our last remaining Windows machines run XP and Windows 7.

DRM for writers

Do you hate your readers? Do you think they’re thieves? Would you rather they downloaded the book for free from a pirate site, so they can read it wherever they want, rather than be restricted to using the Kindle app?

If so, add DRM.