The Objectivity Challenge (link and comment)

As you grow as a writer, you’ll naturally become better and better able to evaluate your work on the fly. Once you have a few years’ experience weeding your writing of tangents, flowery descriptions that sound nice but don’t really fit your streets-of-Detroit family saga, and the tendency to characterize every guy who wears his hair in a bun as villainous because of that one a-hole bunhead you dated, well, it’s a little easier to spot and eliminate those issues as you go. Still, assessing the good and the bad (and the ugly, the shameful, the repetitive, the stunningly worded, the aptly metaphored, etc.) of your work as a whole can be tough. Tough but possible.
—Hanna Eason
Tags: Writing, Writing Advice, Objectivity

I think it’s really difficult to disentangle one’s ego enough to be objective about one’s writing. Which is a pity, because I think it’s one of the most important skills for a writer to develop. It’s right up there with close reading. I like Hanna Eason’s suggestions for cultivating objectivity, they are a nice combination of “carrot and stick”. I believe that I’m reasonably objective, but I couldn’t tell you how I achieved that objectivity. Perhaps it’s because I read so much before trying to become a writer. Perhaps it’s because I’m a programmer and being objective about one’s code means that it is more likely to work, computers being far more unforgiving than any reader.I believe that a number of realizations on the part of the writer will contribute to their objectivity. Among these are:

  • You can’t write for every reader
  • The experience of writing is distinct from that of reading
  • Ultimately, it’s about the reader’s experience
  • Every reader’s experience is different

It’s not a coincidence that the reader features in all of the these realizations. Nor is it a coincidence that Hanna Eason’s advice for achieving objectivity revolves around reading one’s work in a context that disrupts one’s normal perspective of the work. It’s because we are the writer that we are so close to a work and our perspective is distorted.

Assume that everything about your story is open to an interpretation different than the one you intended. (I deliberately did not use ‘misinterpretation’ as it shifts focus from the writer to the reader.) This runs from the assumed genre to the freshness of the plot to the accessibility of your prose to the likeability (or lack there of) of your characters.

I’m going to assume that as a writer, like me, you include inside jokes and references that you know are meaningful to you that you hope will create an ‘aha moment’ with readers who read carefully and share some background with you. As an exercise, think about any given aspect or element of your writing falls into this category.

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Novel number 4 is officially beta

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Novel number 4, Parallel Visions: City of Angels City of Demons has officially gone beta as of 2015/10/30.

Where a sufficiently advanced entertainment system is indistinguishable from magic.

Vance Coreman wakes in a bathtub full of ice water fully dressed, with no memory of how he got there or even who he is. He finds a scarlet-skinned and devil-horned woman in neat business attire standing over him telling him he has an appointment with a potential client and to stop lazing around. Miss Doolittle, his secretary, tells him that, yes she is a demon and that his name is Vance Coreman and that he’s here to undertake investigations. The client turns out to be a beautiful angel fearful of her sorcerer husband and wanting to recover an artifact before her husband discover that she has stolen it. As Coreman tracks down the brazier he must also find out who he is and why someone trying to kill him.
Parallel Visions: City of Angels, City of Demons is an urban fantasy novel with a twist, and is the first of the Parallel Visions stories featuring Vance Coreman and his quest to uncover his past and those who stole it from him by retracing his path through the varied and fantastical Realms of AMBR.

You can read the first chapter here.

Announcing Liberty IV Newsletter

Liberty IV Newsletter logo

To celebrate finishing the first draft of my fourth novel, Parallel Visions: City of Angels City of Demons I’ve decided to burn more of my copious spare time by starting a newsletter. While the underlying goal of the Liberty IV Newsletter is to provide updates on the status of my fiction as various stories as I publish them, I intend to focus the majority of each newsletter’s content on things that interest me that I hope will be of interest to the readers. The inaugural issue contains:

  • An Augmented Reality (AR) reading list
  • A handful of short reviews, including Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014) and Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds
  • Ann Arbor Area Writers Group news
  • A short introduction to Inkscape (an open source / free vector graphics program)
  • As well as a links and news items that I find worthy / interesting / exciting

The wiki version of the first newsletter is here.


You can sign up here.

Wiki version

LibreOffice 5.0 stands out from the office suite crowd (link)

The latest version of LibreOffice is out. I’ve upgraded and am checking out the new user interface features (a bit of bummer that they haven’t fixed the “stickiness” of the Styles and Formatting view in the sidebar when restarting Writer).

A few more quick links:

Here’s a screenshot from LibreOffice v5 Writer showing the new WYSIWYG Styles and Formatting sidebar.

LibreOffice v5 Writer example.(screenshot).jpg

If you’re interested in writing with LibreOffice, check out Authoring Novels with LibreOffice.

Wiki version

Ancillary Justice (review)

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

I really wanted to like Ancillary Justice (2013) (Kindle, Paperback, Audio) by Ann Leckie, but, alas, it was not to be. Let me rewind. I picked up the audio version of Ancillary Justice in early September of 2014. I had heard that it had won a Hugo, Nebula, and an Arthur C. Clarke Award and was curious about a novel that had won all three awards previously noted in one year by a debut author. Very impressive indeed. I was also intrigued by the idea of an AI main character that was a fragment of its original self. I started listening. And listening. I wondered what all the fuss was about. Honestly, if Ancillary Justice hadn’t won the awards it did and I hadn’t been listening to an audiobook, I wouldn’t have made it past the first few chapters. Why had this book won so many awards? I was bored, but I persevered, hoping that I would stumble across a plot or find some reason to care about the main character. Or any character, frankly. The writing was good, at least a sentence and paragraph level, but it lacked the ability to engage me. I should note that I enjoyed the challenge of the non-gender pronouns. Ann Leckie handled the challenging issue of translating a non-gendered language into the gender-encumbered English form. The most interesting part of Ancillary Justice was the worldbuilding, and that was tepid at best. I reluctantly laid it aside and pursued other reading material.

Continue reading the rest of this review.

Wiki version

Ask me why I write…

Every so often you run across something that makes your day, or even your week. When I do, I head back to the keyboard with renewed vigor and an intent to get that next story done and out the door…

“Believe us, reading self-published and small press novels can be an eye-rolling experience. But slowly over the years we’ve discovered a few good writers swimming in the murky waters of indy publishing. Robert T. Jeschonek, Fritz Freiheit, and Casey Glanders come immediately to mind.” — Eric Searlman —

#writing #whyiwrite #quote

7 lines from page 7 from PVCACD

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Go to the 7th line of the 7th page of your work in progress, and post the next 7 lines. Then tag in 7 friends. (See Google+ post for comments.)

Following in the traditions of Mike Reeves-McMillan and C.J. Brightly, I’ve posted complete sentences rather than being strict about line beginnings and endings.

My current WIP is from Parallel Visions: City of Angels, City of Demons (apparently a detective noir urban fantasy), the first in the Parallel Visions series chronicling the amnesiac Vance Coreman’s efforts to escape assassins in his quest to uncover his past by backtracking along his own path from realm to realm before he lost his memory.


7 lines from page 7

I tried to grasp her proffered hand, but my palm passed through hers as if it was air. “Well that would explain why you couldn’t help me out of the tub.”

Chapter 3 — Did You See That?

“Would you mind pivoting around?” I said.

“Yes, I have a tail,” Miss Doolittle said. “That is what you wanted to confirm, isn’t it? Or did you want to ogle my behind?”

“I’m too tired to ogle anyone’s behind,” I said. “But, yes, I wanted to confirm that you have a tail.”

Tag 7 friends

Example of telling rather than showing from Dispensing Justice

Dispensing Justice (cover).png
When high school freshman Michael Gurrick’s father is killed by supervillains, he takes up his father’s supersuit and seeks justice (or will it be vengeance?) against his father’s killers.

Sometimes it’s better to tell.

Writers are frequently bombarded with well-intentioned advice. The admonition to show, don’t tell is one of the most common writerly forms of critique. The idea behind this advice is, more times than not, quite sound. Unfortunately, when “show, don’t tell” is treated as a rule rather than a guideline, the storytelling tends to suffer.

This chapter is from my novel Dispensing Justice (don’t worry, it’s only 1000 words or so) where I do a lot of “telling”. Further commentary follows the chapter.

Continue reading…


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Bethany Neal’s My Last Kiss released

My Last Kiss
My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal

I’d like to announce the release of Bethany Neal‘s My Last Kiss. Bethany is a member of the writer’s group I have been known to frequent. If you’re into YA paranormal romance with a murder mystery plot, I then I suspect you will like My Last Kiss (the book, rather than something I might do with my lips).


What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy?

Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss–the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died–is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn’t a suicide as everyone assumes. She can’t remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she’s worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.

If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she’ll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made–good and bad–that led to her last kiss.

Bethany Neal’s suspenseful debut novel is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart.

My Last Kiss at Amazon

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