For Your Amusement

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

A trio of links:

These people have developed a blight-resistant American chestnut tree, and are now crowdfunding a project to plant 10,000 new trees and start the work of bringing the species back to American forests.

Here are some nifty pictures of spherical layer cakes frosted to look like planets – complete with proper planetary cores.  And here’s a link to a tutorial on how to make one yourself at home.

And finally, in honor of the upcoming holiday, a link to NASA’s cornbread dressing recipe.

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Wheels and Gears

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

I’m not going to talk here about “plot-driven” versus “character-driven” stories, because that’s a distinction made by critics, which is to say, from the outside looking in, whereas most writers find plot and character to be so thoroughly intermingled that talking about one as though it excluded the other feels pointless.

It is fair to say, though, that some stories have more in them by way of external incidents than others do, and that one of the tricky parts of writing a story like that is fitting all of the incidents together into a smoothly-working vehicle that carries the reader to whatever place it is that the writer wants them to go.  (Where that place is doesn’t really matter; it could be a quiet moment of personal epiphany, or it could be the final battle in the desperate struggle against an invasion of machine intelligences from an alternate dimension.  What’s…

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I Just Want to Say…

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A Writer’s Mind is a Strange, Strange Place

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

Last night I dreamed I was at a science fiction convention, and was trying (as one does) to juggle prepping for my final panel of the con, packing up and checking out before the hotel deadline, and finding my co-author to make certain that he had all of his packing done so that I didn’t have to do it for him in a tearing hurry and risk losing something crucial.

Which would have made for a simple, if boring, dream, except for the point where I suddenly discovered that I had left all my clothes someplace else — as is usually the case with such dreams, my mind didn’t supply a further explanation, just bam! naked — and had to make my way back to my hotel room on the eleventh floor, and presumably to some new clothes, with nothing to preserve my modesty but a large crockpot which I…

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You Should Probably Go Read This

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

Especially if you’re active, or intend or hope to be active, in the greater science fiction/fantasy writing community:  sf writer Laura J. Mixon (aka Morgan J. Locke) provides an exhaustive investigation and analysis of the work – if that’s the appropriate word – of a “new, young” writer who turns out to be a well-known internet troll with a long-term record of personal attacks and community destruction.

(No, I’m not giving that person’s name(s) here; I have no desire to give them any more Googlejuice, or to set myself up as a target for somebody to punch full of holes.  But the blog post at the link will provide.)

As far as writing advice and philosophy go, two associated points that are more directly in line with the concerns of this blog:

First, this person’s personality and their pattern of bad behavior do not stop them from being a good…

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‘Tis the Season


Can’t beat this deal. Especially since this is NaNoWriMo.

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

NaNoWriMo season, that is.

And if it’s NaNoWriMo today, then it’ll be the winter solstice and all its associated holidays tomorrow, at least in the northern hemisphere.

As I’ve done before, I’m offering a seasonal gift for the writer in your life:  Purchase a gift certificate for a round of my editorial services for them any time between now and the 24th of December, and they can redeem that certificate later at the time of their choice.  I’ll even throw in a snazzy PDF gift certificate form that you can print out and put into an envelope with a bright red bow on it, if such should be your desire.

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A Student Does Well

Claire Humphrey, a 2008 graduate of the Viable Paradise writer’s workshop, has sold the book she workshopped “to Quressa Robinson at Thomas Dunne Books, in a nice deal.”

Good job, Claire!

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Sounding Brass and Clanking Symbols


Myself, I like to use numerological symbolism….

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

To a lot of readers, literary symbolism is that thing in high school English class that the teacher went on and on about instead of talking about the story.  Then some of them turn into writers, and come to the understanding that literary symbolism isn’t some sort of academic game of  “Gotcha!” – it’s just another tool in the toolbox, a way of deepening and enriching the theme of the story without having to take the reader’s attention away from the plot and the setting and the characters.

Sometimes the gun over the mantelpiece literally goes off in the third act.  And sometimes the gun over the mantelpiece is there to keep the reader aware of something else in the story that goes off in the third act instead.  That second gun is a symbol.

There are two sorts of symbols.  One sort consists of symbols drawn from several…

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Yes, We Write Short Fiction Too

La Belle Winery in Amherst, NH, is hosting a Short Story Slam this Sunday, 02 November 2014, from 4:00 – 6:30 pm (1600 to 1830; eight bells of the noon watch ’til five bells of the second dog).

Doyle and I will be reading an all-new story, “Late Train,” (which you hope you’ll enjoy).

If you were wondering “What are we going to do this weekend?” this is the answer.  Just an hour (by car) north of Boston.  (Dress warmly, please.)

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Today’s Cranky Observation


I lost IQ points just reading Yglesias’ post.

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

If ever I needed to present any evidence that this blog post by Matthew Yglesias was mindboggling in its sheer wrong-headedness, this quote alone would do the trick:

Transforming a writer’s words into a readable e-book product can be done with a combination of software and a minimal amount of training.

It appears that even noted bloggers on politics and economics aren’t exceptions to the widespread belief that novels aren’t so much made objects as they are the naturally-occurring fruit of the fiction tree.

There are a whole lot of things that have to happen to an author’s manuscript before the printer, or the e-book producer, ever gets hold of it, and surprise, all of these things involve the services of people who expect to get paid for their labor.  Yes, the author could do these things him-or-herself,  or could hire other people to do them for him/her – but…

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