Monday, August 25, 2008

Industry News Links

Lots of useful articles and interviews have appeared online in the last week. Here are some of the best.


An article on some agents' pet peeves in the opening pages of a novel.

Agent Laura Bradford is interviewed here on Wednesday, August 20th.


Crit Partner Match, all genres


The Bookends Agency blog defines publishing terms, Thursday, August 21st


The Bulwer-Lytton Winners of 2008

An international literary parody contest, the competition honors the memory of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). The entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels.

See the winners here:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sex and the Single Space Alien, WORLDBUILDING

Alien love interests are a tricky business, especially if the author wants to have sf readers enjoy her book instead of tossing it across the room. You also have to deal with those of us with logical minds.

Aliens, according to many scientists, probably won't look like humans. You can create a reason why aliens do look like humans if you want to. I did for my race, the N'Videri in THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN.

In my worldbuilding, the N'Videri protected and nurtured those races who looked like them and pushed evolution for bipeds on certain planets so that they would have living camouflage for their own secretive presence in space. Humans, unlike many space races, were protected from conquest or self-destruction so they went safely into space.

It is extremely unlikely that a human and alien could produce a child. Human DNA has more in common with Earth grass DNA than it would have with any alien.

Alien differences would also make breeding unattractive. For example, find two old pennies that are made of real copper. Wash them really well then put them in your mouth for five minutes. The seriously nasty taste is what kissing Spock with his copper-based blood would taste like.

Aliens that are essentially humanoid forms of Earth animals have their own problems. Fish reproduce outside of the body. (The female lays the eggs, and the male dumps his sperm on them then.) That's not exactly wild or possible sex for a human female. Lizards and snakes have a much cooler body temperature than we do. Part of the sexual excitement of the act involves heat. A cold-blooded male in a hot-blooded female would be uncomfortable for both parties.

Aliens based on mammals have the danger of bestiality to be considered. Most of us are repelled rather than excited by reading about a human sexual encounter with a dog, cat, horse, or whatever. Werewolves and other were-animals also have this problem unless they change into human form for sex.

I'm sure some people get their sexual buzz from all the above, especially in erotica which has little to do with logic or scientific accuracy and probably shouldn't have, but any writer who wants their books read outside of a narrow category of readers has to consider such things.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Killing Off Characters

In romance a writer shouldn't kill off a favorite secondary character unless it's absolutely necessary. Romance is essentially the fantasy of happily ever after, and death of a loved character jars the reader's expectations.

If a nice character dies, it should be a noble death to save someone else's life, not a senseless death. The finest example of this is Sidney Carton in Dickens' TALE OF TWO CITIES.

Science fiction, fantasy, and mystery have a harder edge, and readers are more willing to accept a character's death. In fact, if no one dies, many sf and fantasy readers consider that a flaw in believability.

I must admit to an intense dislike of having the major character's longtime love interest killed, not only because I become attached to the character, but also because this is often writer laziness at its worst.

Usually, the love interest softens the major character, and the writer doesn't want any softness or mushy stuff. (Oh dear, someone might think I write those stupid romances so I'd better kill the love interest!) To bring the main character back to the way he or she was at the beginning of the series, the writer kills the love interest.

Of course, the most suicidal thing a writer can do in any genre novel is kill a beloved fictional pet or child. That will definitely drive readers away in droves.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Market news and updates

I've been reading many of the blogs about RWA National which was held in San Francisco. Few have been more than "my feet hurt" and "I met this person or did this," but I have found this interesting comment on the paranormal market courtesy of agent Kristin Nelson. You'll find it here: It's the July 31st blog.

In a blog last week, Jessica Faust of Bookends talks about her views of what is happening in the romance market. It's well worth a read. You'll find it here:

If I find more market news in blogs, I'll pass it along.

A science fiction and fantasy editor for Del Rey, Liz Scheier, is interviewed here:


As luck would have it, PSYCHIC KIDS disappeared off the A&E schedule right after I talked about it as a research source for psychic characters. I've learned that it will be back August 9th. It is also available at iTunes. You can find information here: Click on the schedule button for more showings.

If you'd like to read an author who gets it right with a Southern setting, read Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series. Every element of Sookie's upbringing and the Southern life and its "rules" is pitch perfect. This author obviously writes what she knows.