Archive for the 'Process' Category

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write what you don’t know

doctor-whoOne of the most common pieces of writing advice we often hear as beginners is “Write what you know.” But what does that even mean? And is it actually good advice?

If I had taken that suggestion literally, my first novel would have been about a man in his late twenties with a day job as a media coordinator at Lifetime Television who was writing a novel about the action-packed world of file transfers, video conversions, and women’s programming. Riveting. Perhaps readers would have been drawn in by the rich cast of characters based on my wacky co-workers, friends, and family–who I’m sure would have been flattered to be included. You see the problem. Worse still, my second novel would have been exactly the same, and my third…

I read fiction for experiences completely different from my own, to see with other people’s eyes, so why should writing fiction be any different? I love science fiction and fantasy because in the right hands, an author can make the impossible seem real.

[Read the rest of this post at The League of Extraordinary Writers]

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embarrassingly late review of the original nexus 7

I’ve been promising to write up my thoughts on the original Google Nexus 7 tablet since it was released last July, but it always took a backseat to blogging about other things. With the Nexus 7 Mark II coming out this week, this post is as outdated as it could be, but I like to finish what I start (this post has been in draft form for at least six months). And if you’re considering getting the new Nexus 7, some of this may still be relevant.

The Nexus… From Star Trek VII

So when the original Nexus 7 was announced, I had been considering the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 as a birthday present to myself, primarily for use as a non-proprietary eReader. The prices and specifications were roughly equal for a picky but not-obsessive media consumer like me, but the Nexus 7 had a few other things going for it:

  • It was a Google device running the latest version of Google’s Android OS, with the promise of superior support and not needing to wait long for future updates.
  • The Nexus 7 was designed in partnership with Asus, which had produced my very first netbook (and perhaps the first true netbook), the Asus 7, which I was very happy with. I think I wrote a couple of novels on little Zim. (What? Don’t you name your devices?)
  • The Nexus 7 uses a standard micro-USB port for charging and connecting to a computer vs. a proprietary port for the Samsung.
  • The Nexus 7 had a slightly higher screen resolution, which was important since I intended to read on it.

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Quantum Coin: The Next Big Thing?

My friend Elisa Ludwig (author of YA books Pretty Crooked and Pretty Sly, which is forthcoming in March 2013) just tagged me at her blog to answer “Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing,” and who am I to pass up an opportunity to blather on about my next book, Quantum Coin? I’ll tag a few other authors at the end of this post, to hopefully keep the game moving along.

What was the working title of your book?

Once I started writing it, it was always Quantum Coin; my editor actually asked for something punnier, but I couldn’t come up with anything. Shocking, I know. My earliest working titles for a two-book series about a magic coin and parallel universes were Heads, You Win and Tails, You Lose. Obviously, those are terrible.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Part of it was suggested by my research for my first book, Fair Coin, which explained quantum events in terms of flipping a coin: in a very basic sense, there are two possible outcomes to a coin toss, but only one of them (heads or tails) can be observed. And part of the idea was suggested by Fair Coin itself; I didn’t set out to write a sequel, but while writing it, or during my first revision, I knew where the story could go next and I was excited by the potential. So of course I had to go there.

What genre does your book fall under?

Quantum Coin is pretty firmly science fiction, which is kind of a refreshing for me. And it’s young adult, of course, but the first book found a nice adult audience, and I hope this one will do the same.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Joel Courtney, photo by Mark Brennen

I’m not really up on teen actors, but when I saw the film Super 8, I thought Joel Courtney was perfect to play Ephraim, and he’s about the right age, too. Dylan Minnette (from the show Awake) would be a good choice for Nathan, and he already has some experience with stories about parallel universes. Victoria Justice could play Mary and Shelley Morales, and maybe Hailee Steinfeld from True Grit for Jena and Zoe Kim. Then there are still all the adults to cast…

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Seriously? One sentence? Um… “Ephraim ends up on the worst double date ever, when his girlfriend’s identical twin from a parallel reality drags them both away from their prom in order to save the multiverse.”

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About seven four months. I started writing it when I began querying literary agents, and I finished the same day just before I got an offer of representation. It was an excellent way to keep myself distracted through that whole process.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

This is always a tricky one for me. I’m not just being lazy or worse, arrogant, when I say I don’t think there’s anything quite like these books. I’ve read a lot, and I still can’t think of anything. I keep falling on movie comparisons, so this is Back to the Future rolled up with Star Trek and the TV shows Lost and Fringe (though I wrote the book long before that series came around) and a little bit of Sliders, with some of the wackiness of William Sleator’s books and just a touch of The Twilight Zone. But if you’re looking for recommendations for other books that deal with similar themes and plot elements, the closest and best are Ian McDonald’s Everness series (Planesrunner and Be My Enemy, also from Pyr) and Paul Melko’s Walls of the Universe. And Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Young Hugh Everett, via newscientist.com & Mark Everett

I was inspired first of all by the characters in Fair Coin, who I wanted to give one more adventure. And going way back, I was inspired by physicist Hugh Everett III, the father of the theory of multiple worlds. In some ways, I wanted Quantum Coin to be a small tribute to him and his contribution to quantum mechanics, which went largely unappreciated in his lifetime.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Fair Coin was a standalone novel, but this is very much a sequel, and you won’t find any cliffhanger endings here.

Hmm. That’s only nine questions. *shrug*

Now to wrap things up, I’m going to tag a few willing friends of mine, who will tell you about their work over at their blogs:

Gwenda Bond, author of Blackwood

Zoraida Córdova, author of The Vicious Deep

Kim Curran, author of Shift

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the value of teamwork

One of the most common writing myths portrays the lonely author, struggling in solitude to create art. There’s some truth to this–at the end of the day, it does all come down to a writer sitting down and committing words to the page, putting pen to paper or tapping diligently at keys. And I’m sure there are many writers today who do write in a kind of void, all alone with their thoughts and/or nature.

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penny for my thoughts

As a belated celebratory present to myself for selling FAIR COIN, I finally ordered a new netbook last month. My previous netbook was actually the first of the netbooks, the Eee 701 PC, which I purchased back in January of 2008. That was some time ago! I wrote the first draft of QUANTUM COIN on that, and two other novels after that, before finally retiring it. I still keep it around for some light web surfing and some potential emergency, but the mouse buttons are buggy, the software is outdated (I somehow broke the Synaptic Package Manager, so I can’t download anything), and the 7″ screen frankly isn’t cutting it anymore–certainly not for novel revisions. And until recently, there was no Scrivener for Linux, which was the real clincher for me.

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