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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

We are like a child,

who, upon entering a feast spread with 200 gourmet courses, attended by all the most interesting people in the world along with all his friends, with the greatest musicians of every genre invited to play, and the greatest artists of every art style on display, turns to his Father with a scowl and asks, “is that all?”


#church #GardenofEden #KingdomofHeaven #vss

Saturday, March 18, 2017

How do we think about #mentalillness in #sciencefiction? Review of "Caresaway" by @DJ_Cockburn

I appreciate a solid first paragraph, because in this day and age, when books have to compete with so many other distractions, I want to know what kind of character I'm going to hang out with for the next 35,000 words. I mean, now-a-days, I could spend this valuable time crying over an atonal Netflix special about spilt milk, or failing at Starcraft games online while jerks yell at me, or pillaging an English village in the name of my ancestors.

DJ Cockburn is a man who knows how to start a story right. Edward Crofte, a strong, cruel, cutthroat businessman, walks into the CEO office he just took over. Cockburn wisely skips the board room set up, and starts the story right where the world's changing. A new antidepressant, “Caresaway,” has taken the corporate world by storm, and everyone's using it as a performance drug. Has Caresaway made Edward the “uncaring” man he is today?

Read the rest of the review, and find out what's wrong with over-simplifying mental health issues, over at Tangent Online. Writers should use it to learn about proper pacing and first sentences.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

My pet peeve: lazy-ass writers. #writetip #writerslife

Yo, you need to get something through your head.

Writing is WORK. Writing is not a hobby, a game, or "the love of your life." It is not a person, or a way for you to hang out with your imaginary best friends without owning up to the fact that you're a grown-ass person with imaginary best friends. (Dude, just play pretend in the open air like all the other kids do. I do it. #noshame)

Writing is a calling, and a calling requires WORK.

That means that when someone says your story could be better, and in your logical brain you know there's a really specific way you can make that better happen, and it requires rewriting an entire chapter or even rewriting the whole book from scratch, you don't settle for good enough. You say YES MA'AM and you drop and give twenty--twenty thousand words! Forty! Eighty! However many it takes! When you revise, don't just read your thing--retype your thing in a new blank document while you read it! Print it out and read it aloud! Break down the plot points into index cards and throw them around your room until you find order! Write your outline, fix it, write it again! Yeah, that's a lot of work, but do you really think you can coast by on "good enough" in a day and age when everyone and their pet cat is writing a book?

Work means that when you know something's wrong with your characterization, and you can't figure it out, you sit down and break out the thirty questions to ask your character. Then write other interviews with your character. With her friends, and family. Then you write a short story about your character, totally separate from the novel. Write and write until you figure out what's wrong, and then bring that fully-fleshed, living person back into your novel. Yeah, I'm saying that sometimes you might have to write several tens of thousands of words that don't even make it into your novel in order to make a person. It took all-powerful God seven days to get around to making one dude, and he started with the dude's settings, the dude's job (animals and plants), and the dude's timeline (stars, molecules, everything that would ever impact nature vs. nurture) before even touching the dude himself. And before that, God sat on eternity conceptualizing the dude! You, not almighty, can take a few extra days to make your imaginary dudes better.

And finally, when your publisher sends you ARCs, I want to see you promoting that shit with all your heart and soul. Yes, that's your job! It's your job to make sure your shit gets read! And no, not spammy auto-tweets forever with your cover, because that's not work any more than spraying your pee is work. Any animal can mark its territory with speed-droppings. Actual work? That's researching reviewers and contacting them individually with cover letters geared towards their individual interests--no, no NO, stop trying to find a way out! You cannot send a mass e-mail to all reviewers ever! Each reviewer gets his or her name at the top of the cover letter, each reviewer gets digital copies according to their format preferences, and each reviewer gets at least one line that about their own preferences. "Because you like science fiction where bunnies murder anthropomorphic cyborg carrots..."

Yes, you have to do your homework!

Why? Because it pisses me off if you don't. 

(Geez Jen, is this all about you?) Ha, slowing down here now, yeah, a little bit. Sorry about that, friend. You know how we hate in other people what we've seen in ourselves? I have to confess, I really missed out in my earlier writing life because of laziness. I really hope you can do better. That would be awesome! And I really don't ever want to work with you if you're lazy like I was (am), because great works don't come into being like that, and because we need to promote together if we want people to read what we write. When it comes down to it, do we really want our epitaphs to say, "Just good enough"?

Or do you want it to say "Burned out in a flame of blood and hope creating the most awesome works ever known to man and elf"?

I know what I'm aiming for.


Monday, March 6, 2017

New feature: Random #WriteTip and Random #freereads of the day!

Hey guys, haven't had a chance to go through all the archives? Well I've got new news for ya: now, on Twitter, every day at 12 PM and 1 PM EST, you can get a random #writetip and a random #flashfiction free read! Go to twitter.com/petr3pan to follow me and sign up for that.





Inspirational but Edgy Superheroes! I'm in a diverse super-anthology.

Carl's a Puerto Rican engineering student struggling to hide his Multiple Sclerosis so he can keep working to earn enough to put himself through school. As his disease progresses, that becomes impossible--but when he invents a solution to his weakness, he soon discovers he's not the only person who could use it.

Hierro, by me, is one of the short stories in the upcoming superhero anthology by The Crossover Alliance, a small publisher committed to marrying spirituality with dark fiction. They're tired of weak "inspirational" fiction that avoids cursing and hardcore topics in the name of God--they want to deal with the real world and its real problems, while still putting unabashed faith front and center.

You can pre-order the anthology at https://www.thecrossoveralliance.com/tca-anthology-v3; if you like me, and want to help me out, you should know that I get royalty off the sales, so buy many copies, haha. In the meantime, in honor of this release, I'm giving you free stuff! One lucky person gets three free books, and a professional critique of your query letter, short story, or novel first five pages. All you have to do is Tweet that Tweet I ask you to Tweet, and follow the publisher, @CrossOverAlly, on Twitter. Giveaway ends March 29th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Seven stories from Mothership Zeta -- Telling You What To Think About #Scifi (#writetip)

Do you like being told what to think about #scifi? Of course you do, you live in the internet age. 

Well, here I talk about seven stories from Mothership Zeta, and what makes them work or not work! Writers, take note, and once you're done reading, come back and tell me why I'm wrong!


Thursday, February 2, 2017

To Eat a Pig



Hey whoa, I'm a quarter-finalist in a screencraft #shortstory contest. https://screencraft.org/2017/02/01/2016-screencraft-short-story-contest-quarter-finalists-announced/ Wish me luck for the win! #scifi


It's a story about a couple college students who get trapped underground while steam tunneling and think about eating each other to survive. If it wins, it gets turned into a movie.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Project Emerald: Part 1 #scifi #freereads


Skye awoke with a pounding headache inside a Faraday cage, suspended over obsidian air.


“Well it’s a good thing I’m not afraid of heights,” he muttered. His fingers clutched the grid of wire floor as he stared between them into the darkness. No ground below the cage. No anything, really.


“No vat of lava,” he said, keeping positive as usual. “I could have been suspended over a vat of lava.”


That’d already happened to him four times this year, in variation: molten iron, toxic waste, bubbling chemicals that’d burned some supervillain’s face and now he wanted revenge...


Totally not trembling at all, Skye tore his eyes away from the abyss to inspect the room around him. The lenses in his mask adjusted to infrared; in the pitch darkness he wouldn’t have seen anything without them. As dorky as mask lenses had sounded to him, Skye had to admit, again— Carl had been right to install them.


There wasn’t much to see, though. More darkness...in the far distance, walls, gears, and dangling chains.


“Holy—!” A hooded figure floated in the darkness just outside the cage, staring in at him.


“Well hello there!” Skye said, totally not freaked out at all, and totally not reconsidering his belief in ghosts. “What’s up?”


“You are.” The figure’s mouth twitched; he smirked. “But what matters more is what’s down.”


“Always nice to meet a kidnapper with a sense of humor,” Skye said, looking down again and pretending not to. “What’s your name, man?” When you’re friendly with your captors, they sometimes start sympathizing with you and mess up—everybody likes to beat down a defiant little snot or a sniveling crybaby, but you feel bad torturing a regular nice guy.


But the hooded man didn’t offer his name. He smiled, and disappeared.


Crap. Skye put two and two together: with the fuzzy infrared he couldn’t see right, but the smooth jazz voice and the disappearing thing—he’d only encountered that once before. And that guy didn’t f ’ around.


That guy was supposed to be dead.


Skye opted not to remember more than that.


The other parts of this story are available for Indiegogo perk members only--you can get them for just $1.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Minny: The Curse of Sentience

There was something different about that car.

Skye blew hair out of his eyes as his boots touched down with a sccrrrrtch on the cement building-top. He peered over the edge of the roof to watch the Mini Cooper parked under the tree below him.

Something was off. It smelled like the exhaust had perfume in it? Or maybe it was the shine--no one kept their car that clean in this part of town. It was practically askin' to be jacked.

A figure got out of the car, closed the door, walked around it, and then got back in, as the engine started.

"That's weird."

Skye adjusted his mask and followed as the car left. You couldn't be too careful. Since his fifteenth birthday--the day he mentally called "The Scary-Ass Universe Shift"--the world had suddenly become a much scarier place for no reason: supervillains who used to make him laugh now made him want to curl up in a closet and scream. The whole world seemed painted with darker, grittier colors. Oh, and ice cream tasted saltier now.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Journey of the Soul Linker 11: You Get Your Unicorn



It's his fault when you get lost.

But it's your fault that you don't know why you're here.

The sun shines on the sea to the right as your hiking boots crunch on the sandy rocks and fresh leaves underfoot on the trail along the cliff. A soft breeze tickles the dust off the wall of rock to your left; your hand presses against it, but you resist the urge to grip and claw. This rock's not terribly stable, and to your left it drops off into the woods below.

You just want to get down to the town.