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Saturday, December 09, 2006

New review of THE FACE IN THE DOOR

Canadian writer and columnist Clayton Bye has posted a very nice review of my short-story collection THE FACE IN THE DOOR And Other Stories...

Review quote:
"All the pieces have some element of horror, but I also found Yngve writes with a sort of tongue-in-cheek, understated sense of humour. This takes the edge off endings which rarely turn out well and also allows the readers some breathing room to think about the ideas we're being offered."

Bye's review appears on the Gotta Write Network, one of the few sites I know that actually reviews Print-On-Demand books. My book was published as an e-book and then also self-published in paperback format through CafePress, so it's hard to classify as either category -- but he received a paperback review copy.

The CafePress edition of THE FACE IN THE DOOR is still for sale at CafePress, at the outrageous price of $19.99. The text is in large print, suitable for nearsighted readers (like me).

Monday, December 04, 2006

On Writer Feuds

Writers are not necessarily friendly with other writers all the time. What with the competition for sales and prizes, some good-natured professional rivalry is to be expected.

If you write fiction for an extended period of time (up to a decade or more), it is almost certain that at some point in the future, some other writer will pick a fight with you. Not a REAL fistfight, that is, but with words.

So writers get into feuds with each other. The examples are many, all of them embarrassing. Why squabble when the stakes are so small? Why do great minds succumb to petty impulses and get involved in long, bitter feuds -- often over tablescraps?

When things go really wrong, writers sue each other. The authors of HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL sued Dan Brown for allegedly stealing ideas from them. The poor fools lost the case and a great deal of the profits they had earned as a direct consequence of THE DA VINCI CODE helping sales of their book.

Writer feuds are mainly about pride, not money -- and thus they extend beyond the grave! When a writer dies, especially a successful one, jealous rivals will come out and badmouth his/her memory. When a long-dead writer receives some public honor, a jealous colleague will dish out some dirt on the dead rival, in the vain hope that it tarnishes the glory.

There is no law stating that you must treat all other writers' work with reverence, no matter what -- after all, if you make your writings public, you do give others license to criticize.

But avoid feuds. They get too personal, and suck creative energy out of your life that should have been used for better things. If another writer tries to pick a fight with you, simply ignore him. Don't get mad! It's not worth it.

If you have resentments and grudges, you can always channel them into your fiction...
;-)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Christmas Starts Early!

Ho-ho-ho!
Jay Tomio has posted a whole bag of goodies that'll last you all December: A collection of links to essays, rants and articles on the how and why of genre literature.

Especially read Poul Anderson's excellent essay "On Thud And Blunder", a guide to creating consistency and realism in fantasy fiction.

And there's more. Much more!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Great Penis Robbery

Are you short on ideas for a story or a novel? Then read the news.
It's amazing what outlandish and plain bizarre ideas you can find there...

I mean, just look at this: "Penis Panic". A mass hysteria occurred in Sudan as recently as 2003; men were gripped by the hysterical belief that a special comb or magic handshake would make their penis disappear.

Priceless quote:
"No doubt, this comb was a laser-controlled surgical robot that penetrates the skull [and passes] to the lower body and emasculates a man!! "

Sounds like a "high concept" for Michael Crichton's next bestseller: The Great Penis Robbery.
(*SATIRE*)

How To Approach Publishers.

Again and again the question comes up: "I have a manuscript. How do I send it, with a letter to the editor, so that the publisher will actually read it?"

Others can give more extended advice than I, but it's really quite simple.

Try and imagine yourself in an editor's place, receiving a manuscript from an unknown writer. Then use your common sense:

"If I were the editor,what kind of manuscript submission and accompanying letter would make me want to read the manuscript?"

Yes, you need to know the formalities (correct line spacing on a document, begin your letter with "Dear Mr/Mrs." instead of "Yo", locate the correct address of the editor you wish to contact, etc.)... but more than that, you need proper attitude.

1. Be polite. It won't kill you, and it certainly won't kill the editor.

2. Be honest. If you haven't finished writing your book, then you shouldn't send three chapters to a publisher and pretend the rest is already finished. Don't try to be something you're not. They Will Find Out.

3. Be aware of the competition. The bigger the publishing house is, the more manuscripts will flood it every day of the week, every year.
Think of it as the competition among astronauts in training: the seats on a spaceship are SO few, the candidates are SO dedicated, SO 100% focused on success, the odds are naturally stacked against you.

In other words, it doesn't help to write a desperate plea: "Pl-pl-pl-PLEEEASE publish my book! I'll do anything!!" Prepare to be rejected... but don't let that make you cynical, either: "I'm sending you this manuscript even though I know you'll reject it, you money-grubbing bastards."

4. Do your research. There's no point in me listing all known publishers here; the publishing landscape is shifting fast. Make a Web-search. Find the small-press houses that operate in your area/country. (If they haven't at least got a webpage, they're not worth writing to.)

5. Be a cheapskate. Publishers are mostly a conservative bunch. They may demand that you send a printed, double-spaced manuscript, and a stamped return envelope... which means postage and paper expenses for you.

DON'T DO IT. Ignore those publishers until they have learned to accept electronic submissions.

6. Be lucky. I hate to admit it, but there is an element of blind chance. No matter how good you are, there are too many unforeseen circumstances and whims of publishers (not to mention all that competition).

Some people say that the bookstore market is glutted with too many titles anyway. This may or may not be true (at least for Western markets). Are you sure you want to contact a publisher?

7. Fail, then try again. So what if you were rejected? Find another publisher, and try again. If you're not a patient soul, this business may not be for you.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Helpful How-To Articles About The Writing Craft

Writer Sherry Wilson has written and gathered a collection of how-to articles on the fiction-writing craft.
Go HERE to find them.
The articles offer solid, no-nonsense advice about "craft issues such as point of view, story structure, character development, grammar and syntax, etc."

Use them!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Support Your Local Library!

Libraries are a great benefit to writers everywhere.

Way back in the mists of pre-Internet history, libraries were the just about the ONLY places you could locate books that were no longer for sale.

Today, when people can download or order practically any book online, physical("meatspace") libraries are still an asset to writers. The library is often where people first come in contact with books - a loyal following of readers might be born there - and each library copy is read several times by different people.

Librarians can spread good (or bad) word-of-mouth about books, invaluable to writers. So support your local library!

If you have just released your first novel, you should donate a copy of it to your neighborhood library.

Ask your library if they are interested in arranging a meet-the-readers session, where you can get the opportunity to read from your novel/book and generate PR.

But be polite! You must never cross a librarian, or THIS might happen to you...
;-)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

? Donde Esta El Homepage Update?

Hòla, paisan! This week's homepage update consists of:

1. Chapter 9 of the serialized sci-fi spoof "The MSTing Of DARC AGES".

2. The re-opened SHOP, where you can order my brand-new merchandise. Check out the wide selection of posters, framed art prints calendars, t-shirts, clothing, mugs and more. Solve your Christmas shopping problem!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Shout-Out: Buy Weird Al's new album STRAIGHT OUTTA LYNWOOD

Yo-hoo! I just got my copy of Weird Al Yankowicz' new album, Straight Outta Lynwood.

Buy it! Buy it! Even if you've heard several of the songs on YouTube - support Al! It's a Dual-Disc release with DVD and videos on the other side.

Among the many tracks on this CD/DVD is the unforgettable "Don't Download This Song" (animated video by Bill Plympton).

Buy it, or Earth is DOOMED!
DOOMED, I say!


DOOMED, in case you didn't hear me the last time!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Starting Your Xmas Shopping Early?

Can't come up with an original Xmas present?

Visit the
SHOP on my homepage, and see what you'll find.
We've got prints, posters, books, t-shirts, mugs and more.
How about this framed art print I made myself?

The Magic Key To The Publishing Kingdom: Revealed!

It's so simple. Writing, publishing and selling books is all about location, location, location.

Think about the last time you were traveling by bus, train or airplane. You wander into a tiny airport bookshop or newsagent's shop, and pick some reading material from the rack/shelf -- quickly. Lots of people do.

Or think about the last time you "wandered" into Amazon.com and got lost among the infinite shelves. It's a different shopping experience entirely.

At the airport, you have limited choice and time, so you MUST decide fast or spend the journey with nothing to read.

If online bookstores are like vast caverns you can go spelunking in for days, then airport bookshops are more like disarming a ticking bomb in a moving elevator: "Pick the blue book! No, the red book! Hurry! We're almost there!"

So from a writer or publisher's standpoint, you want to get into those "bottleneck" locations where the potential reader won't have too much choice or time to think.

Problem is, the well-known commuter bottlenecks are expensive locations and pretty much occupied already (by Stephen King, Danielle Steel and the usual suspects).

There must be some other, unexploited "bottlenecks" where potential readers are simultaneously bored, stressed and frustrated, and are about to enter a period of forced passivity -- similar to when they are waiting to catch a plane or a train ride... and would buy a book if they had a limited selection.

I can't come up with one, but maybe you can...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Jon Stewart Explains "The Question Mark" Trick

Now, this is not only a hilarious clip from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart... it also points out a figure of speech that writers must avoid.

If "phrasing a statement like a question to cover your ass" is a stupid trick on FOX News or CNN, then it's also a stupid trick in fiction:

"Was Blast Hardcheese a fifth column for the Thesaurians?"

"Had the whole sequence of events been masterminded by Aunt Petunia's poodle?"

"When she cried 'No, no' did she really mean 'Yes, yes'?"

Just. Don't. Write. Rhetorical. Questions. You don't want to sound like a talking head on TV.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Finnish Zine Reviews Swedish Writer Who Writes In English -- In Swedish

The Finland-based zine Enhörningen (="The Unicorn") has posted reviews of my books THE FACE IN THE DOOR And Other Stories and the chapbook THE ARGUS PROJECT.

Review quote, on THE ARGUS PROJECT:

"Trots att det när det kommer till kritan är en rätt så underhållande berättelse som onekligen har sina meriter ger den av någon anledning ett lite platt och intetsägande intryck The Argus Project kan inte påstås vara speciellt orginell [sic], spännande eller djupsinnig."
Translation:
"Despite being, in the end, a rather entertaining narrative which undoubtedly has is merits, for some reason it gives a somewhat flat and empty impression The Argus Project cannot be said to be particularly orginal [sic], exciting or profound."

Review quotes, on THE FACE IN THE DOOR And Other Stories:

"I samtliga noveller är hans engelska utmärkt både ur ett språkligt och stilistiskt perspektiv. Novellsamlingen som helhet är både välbalanserad och välskriven."
Translation:
"In all the stories his English is excellent both from a linguistic and stylistic viewpoint. The story collection as a whole is well-balanced and well-written."

"Yngve kommer till sin rätt då han skriver noveller, The Face in the Door and Other Stories kan verkligen rekommenderas!"
Translation:
"Yngve is at his best when he writes short stories, The Face in the Door and Other Stories is heartily recommended!"

(Both reviews by Jan Ray. Thanks to Cecilia Wennerström for the tip.)

Now, THE FACE IN THE DOOR (for sale as e-book and chapbook paperback) contains my story "See"... which I've sent to the podcast zine Variant Frequencies. (It should appear there in early 2007.)

Writer and podcaster Matt Wallace has read "See" and comments on his weblog:

"I was REALLY taken with it, man. It's sort of hard science but not really. Isn't bogged down by pages and pages of technobabble. It's more like Ted Chiang. Concept science. It's more literate, though. The prose is better. And it's got this fanciful kind of quality that I dig, something about human perception. It's sorta why I'm so into space travel. Mind-expanding ideas, the big abstract "What if's", the limitless possibilities of the universe. All that jazz.

"Yngve has a couple of novels out in Sweden and assorted other stories I haven't checked out yet, but I plan to. If you dig sci-fi, and don't mind it being clean and suitable for younger readers (I know. A lot of the time that turns me off, too), then check him out."

I can't make a living off this writing racket... but the reviews make it worth the effort.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Die, Cliché, Die!!

SCENES I'D LIKE TO SEE, #1:

Rock Hardpunch pulled away the bomb casing and saw a mass of wires nestled around the countdown timer. The time to planetary self-destruct was below 60 seconds.

In Rock's earpiece, Hack Sydekick said in his most nasal, urgent voice: "Rock, you must cut the red wire! Find the red wire and cut only that one! Or the whole planet blows up!"

Rock reached for his multi-purpose knife, when suddenly it dawned on him...

Oh crap, he thought, I'm colorblind.
----------------------------

Read the free issue #4 of SUBTERRANEAN Magazine. The free issue is dedicated -- in stories and essays -- to the subject of Clichés in science-fiction and fantasy.

In her in-magazine essay "Remarks On Some Clichés I Have Known Too Well," Teresa Nielsen Hayden writes:
--------------------
"Here's a cliché I can reduce to a rule: when a character is a member of a minority social group and was raised in that group's indigenous mystical tradition, but then went on to receive advanced training and have a highly successful career in mainstream science or technology, the conflict at the climax of the story will not be resolved until they abandon all that scientific training and call up on the power of their tribal spirituality.

"(If I were a literarily ambitious member of the First Nations, I'd be tempted to write a story about a white nuclear engineer who can't get an incipient reactor containment incident under control until he downs tools and calls on Saint Anthony of Padua.)"
-------------------------
Use the Force, Oppenheimer. ;-)

I've been guilty of a few cringeworthy clichés in the past (as proven here), but I try to be more careful nowadays. I pledge:

1. To never write a story about someone getting Three Wishes;

2. To never cop out with the "It Was Only A Dream" ending;


3. To never never EVER write a story with the "Adam & Eve" twist (two characters discover they are Adam and Eve, on Earth or some other world).


But why bother...? This isn't going to deter hordes of writer wannabes from thinking, "I can come up with a NEW twist on the Adam & Eve story!"

Your problem, young whippersnappers, isn't that it's 100% impossible to come up with a fresh take on the hoariest old clichés.

Your problem is that hordes -- real, living, slobbering HORDES -- of newbie writers will think exactly as you do:
"I am unique! I have come up with an entirely new version of the Adam & Eve twist!"
And then they send the exact same story to the overworked Editor, who rejects them all. The End.

Monday, November 13, 2006

"Physical Terror" In Small-Press Anthology SCHAKT 003

News for Swedes: The Swedish small-press horror anthology SCHAKT 003: KOSMISKT KAOS OCH ANDRA KATASTROFER is out now.

It contains my short story "Physical Terror" (previously released in English, in the e-book The Face In The Door), and several other horror shorts by Swedish writers. Guaranteed to scare you silly! It's a limited edition, so order now!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Update And Sad News

This week's homepage update is the very long Chapter 7 of The MSTing Of DARC AGES.
---------

Science-fiction grandmaster Jack Williamson, whose books you should order from Amazon.com right now, has just died...

Buy Jack Williamson's books:

Darker Than You Think

The Humanoids

The Legion Of Time

Wonder's Child (autobiography)

It is impossible to sum up in a single blogpost such a long career as Williamson's... read his Wikipedia entry instead.

Friday, November 10, 2006

As Usual, I'm The Last One To Follow A Trend

Darn! I should've thought of this earlier: Podcasting.

Anyhow... I have now made my first recorded reading of a short story, "See", (in shaky English)and donated it to the science-fiction podcast site Variant Frequencies.

As soon as the story is up, I'll post a link.

Advice to anyone who wants to record a story-reading:
--------------------------------

1. Are you sure you want to do this? Do you speak like Fran Drescher? Then don't.

2. Find a reasonably quiet space to work in. Wailing babies, low-flying aircraft and humming refrigerators may impede on sound quality.

3. Use the free sound-mixing program Audacity. You may have to edit out a lot of "err"s, "umm"s and stammers to produce a passable recording. (I did.)

4. Have plenty of free memory space on your PC, because these sound files gobble memory something fierce.

5. Use a real microphone, and wrap a sock around it to limit breathing noise.

6. Use the "Normalize" option in Audacity to improve the quality of the final recording.

7. Compress the finished WAV file to MP3 (there are some free utilities available for this online)...

8. ...then, if you've got the nerve, share the MP3 file with one of the many podcasting websites out there.
-------------------------------


I could make some more audio recordings of my short stories, but I'm not sure which ones are suitable. Any suggestions?

Actually, I feel really really awkward every time I do a reading in my "serious voice." I'm much more relaxed when I record a goofy spoof, like "Gollum's Love Theme"...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Das Homepage Update

Yep, here we go with another silly chapter of "The MSTing Of DARC AGES."

Let's see... how many simultaneous novel-writing projects am I juggling right now?

1. The third TERRA HEXA novel, to be released next Fall (writing Chapter 1)
2. An e-book fantasy-novel project for a Swedish publisher (I'm on Chapter 5)
3. The unfinished "futuristic military" novel THE TALE OF THE SOLDIESSE (about 78,000 words written so far)
4. An intriguing idea I just had for a new novel (writing an outline...)

This means some of the other, more ambitious Web-serials will be put aside for a while, as I focus on projects 1-4.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Jumping The Bandwagon

Yep, I've got myself a MySpace page. For the sole purpose of networking.

Charles Stross On Bad Reviews (As In "Stupid" Reviews)

Read this very amusing post and discussion thread on Charlie Stross's eminently readable blog, about stupid reviews.

I know, I know: it's futile to argue with critics. Writers are supposed to develop a thick skin. Everyone's entitled to an opinion, you can't dictate how readers are supposed to read your work, yadda yadda...

...but it still has to be said: Just as there are inferior books and incompetent writers, there are inferior reviews and incompetent critics.

Charlie found some truly telling reader reviews on Amazon.com:
-------------------
BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley:
Ashley Lue wrote:
"This was the worst book that I have ever read! The way that Huxley wrote the book was awful. He was writing about something that could never happen to our society. Back then he thought that our world would pretty much go to hell and the book portrayed the world that we should be living in today. Nothing that he said made sense. I don't understand why he would want anyone to live in that weird world that those people had to live in. People should have emotions and actual relationships. No one should be punished like that. I advise you not to read this book, unless you want to fall asleep!! :)"

ROMEO AND JULIET by William Shakespeare:
Son of Sammy wrote:

"i just read this book. everybody like always talks about how great it is and everything. but i don't think so. like, it's been done before, right?? soooo cliched. omg."

ThE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck:
Jef4Jesus wrote:
"So, I'm only on page 478 of 619, but I've been disgusted at the amount of profanity. So far I've found more than 500 uses of profanity! On average every page (with relatively big writing, even) has more than one swear. Yikes! I'm never going to read Grapes of Wrath again, and won't be recommending it to anyone. If you don't like profanity, be careful.""

-------------------

Read the rest.

If you publish, you'll have to be prepared not just for harsh reviews that you might deserve, but also clueless reviews: critics who barely understand what fiction is.

And of course, any writer will encounter the "Comic Book Guy" know-it-all type of critic who will explain, with great authority, how you should have done the job (but fortunately won't have to do it for you):
"Bellatrys" instructs Peter Jackson, with detailed storyboards, how he ought to have made the LORD OF THE RINGS movies.

You must listen to criticism. But you must also realize that you can only "reach" so many readers. Many of them are forever unreachable, for their own reasons.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween reading: "THE LAST WEBLOG OF JONATHAN LIPPINCOTT"

Want to hear a scary story, boys and ghouls...?
Have a frightful fun Halloween, with this little tale of tension I've titled...

"The Last Weblog Of Jonathan Lippincott"!

NYEE-HE-HE-HE-HEEE...!!

Monday, October 30, 2006

The U.S. Declaration of Independence, Quoted On Poster



This large poster (23 x 35 inches) quotes, word for word, the first three paragraphs from the 1776 Declaration of Independence of the original 13 United States of America. And underneath, the slogan: "Dangerous Words, Then And Now."

The poster is now for sale in Ye A.R.Yngve Olde Joke Shoppe.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Very Short Stories

WIRED Magazine hired some people to write super-short stories.

WIRED didn't contact me (gee, I wonder why?) but I came up with a few short-shorts:

1. "Her clone married her ex. Figures."

2. "I told Torquemada: "Time travel sucks!"

3. "Rain fell. The robot uprising rusted."

Why I Haven't Been Writing So Much Lately.

Because I've spent too much time watching this on YouTube.

Best line in the clip: Man saying into phone (to the man who's being eaten by a giant spider at the other end), "Mr. 'Oh my God, crunch crunch?' Look, spit out whatever you're chewing and start over!"

It All Fits!

A good story can be a bit like a paranoid conspiracy theory: every detail fits into the big whole.

(Real life isn't like that, of course, unless you are paranoid).

A good story can also be a series of vignettes and episodes... as long as the episodes fit into a major theme.

The world's first novel, Don Quixote, is a good example.

Once the theme - Don Quixote's madness - has been established, the story becomes a series of episodes where the traveling protagonist encounters different characters and situations. Every episode shows how his madness distorts reality and how people react to him.

It happens that writers try to "match" themes into a story or novel that don't fit together. It doesn't have to mean they are inferior as such, but they don't "gel" into a coherent whole and the narrative suffers.

For the reader, this is like trying to listen to two different songs at once: if the songs had been in sync, it could sound great, but if they don't you just hear a cacophony.

When the parts of the story support each other, like an orchestra, the whole of the story becomes a symphony.

Friday, October 27, 2006

"A Homepage Update That Would Change Their Lives Forever."

(Do you remember when every ¤&#/**# movie trailer contained that stupid cliché phrase "... that will change their lives forever"? What the hell does that mean?? How can a life be "changed forever"?)

This week's homepage update is another chapter of the send-up of my novel DARC AGES: The MSTing Of DARC AGES.

It is possible that eventually, the entire novel will be spoofed. (You can still read the "un-spoofed" original here.)

The writing of TERRA HEXA III (coming out late next year) continues... the Prologue is complete, and I'm compiling an extensive Synopsis of the remaining parts. I'm very excited about the third book in the series, because the advance work is running so smoothly: the synopsis is just bubbling over with fun scenes, cool characters, interesting environments and plot twists.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Mischievous Reader And The Unspoken Agreement

I was thinking about how I should have cut down the rather boring introduction from DARC AGES, when it hit me...

Who says the reader can't just skip the boring parts?

See, writers and readers have this silly unspoken agreement. It goes something like this:

UNSPOKEN READER-WRITER AGREEMENT
1. The Reader is obliged to start reading the Text from the first line of the first page, and read the entire Text to the last line.

2. The Reader is not allowed to skip to the ending, alter the Text, tear out pages or deliberately misread the Text.

3. In return, the Writer pledges to have removed any unnecessary words from the Text, and to include all relevant information in the Text.

And the unspoken agreement is totally bogus. Everybody breaks it.

In reality, readers DO skip to the ending (if only to check that the ending is worth the effort of reading the rest). In reality, readers DO skip the boring passages. They DO add their own comments to the original text.

In reality, writers DON'T edit down the text to contain only what is absolutely relevant to the context of the whole narrative. In reality, they DO omit necessary information.

So I thought: is this why books are so damned long nowadays?
To allow the picky reader to choose what to read and what to skip?
To what extent should I let the reader choose what to read?
And does this allow me to get lazy in my editing?
Are we all just pretending that people read the whole book?

What do you think?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Too Soon!

The Oct.22 homepage update is a bit early, and brief:

Chapter 4 of The MSTing Of DARC AGES

Enjoy... Now I can take the rest of the weekend off.
:)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ode To Japanese Movie Monsters

Posted in the Finnish-Swedish webzine enhorningen.net : "Drapan Om Japan", my ode to Japanese movie monsters.

Swedish original:
-----------------
Drapan om Japan

By A.R.Yngve

Stolt stod staden Tokyo, Japans stjärna.
Ur djupet steg Godzilla, monstrens konung.
Vrålade gjorde monstret, jättelikt att skåda.
Monstret stampade på staden.
Eld blåste monstret.
Den vise vetenskapsmannen gillrade fällan.
Monstret i fällan gick, det blev dess död
Tokyo var räddat, folket tryggt
Iallafall tills nästa film.

Svårt led Japans folk.
Under monstren som kom i följande filmer.
Farligt flaxade Rhodans vingar.
Hett brände Gameras flammor.
Festligt fajtades King Kong med Godzilla.
Slafsigt slamrade Mechagodzillas fötter.
Jämmerligt jollrade Baby Godzilla.
Återigen jämnades Tokyo med marken.
Åter och åter igen byggdes staden upp på nytt.
Undras varför japanerna envisades med det.

In English translation:


A Jape of Japan

By A.R.Yngve

Proudly stood the city of Tokyo, star of Japan.
From the depth rose Godzilla, king of monsters.
Roar did the monster, a behemoth to behold.
On the city the monster stomped.
Fire it blew.
The trap was set by the wise scientist.
Into the trap the monster walked, and met its doom
Tokyo was saved, the people safe
At least until the next film.

Severely the people of Japan suffered
under the monsters that came in films to follow.
Fearsomely flapped the wings of Rhodan.
Blisteringly burned the flames of Gamera.
Slapsticky slugged King Kong it out against Godzilla.
Clumsily clanked the feet of Mechagodzilla.
Bashfully babbled Baby Godzilla.
Again Tokyo was leveled.
Again and again the city was rebuilt.
I wonder why the Japanese kept doing that.
-----------------

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Write First, Think Of What Genre It Is Later


Among science fiction writers, readers and editors, there are two black holes which suck them in... and trap them forever in futile, endless debates.

The first black hole is called "How Do You Define What Is Science Fiction?"
(Abandon all hope ye who enter it!)


The second black hole is called "Why Don't We Get No Respect?"
(Any such debate inevitably degenerates into a hell-pit of self-pity, paranoia, resentment, despair and chip-on-the-shoulder superiority.)

Now, I write stories and books which can of course be labeled according to genre: science fiction, horror, adventure, satire, what-have-you. I sometimes visit "science fiction" conventions because I want to talk to other writers and meet my readers (or potential readers).

But you know what? To me, the label on what I write isn't important. Not anymore. I realized some time ago, that I write the kind of stories I want to write.

If, at some point in time, I decided: "Now I will write a story about a poor coca-farmer in Bolivia," or "Now I'd like to write a non-fiction book about a practical dieting lifestyle"... then what good is a label?

"You can't write that stuff, you're supposed to be a science fiction writer!"

If a genre label is riddled with prejudice and negative associations (Sci-Fi=juvenile crap on TV and in movies), then what good is it for me? Should I care to protect it?

If I were black, why would I call myself a "n*gg*r"? If I were gay, would I call myself a "f*gg*t"?

But that is what so many genre fans do. It's as if they so desperately need to make their taste an identity -- the way a religious fanatic defines himself primarily by his religion, not his personality or character -- it rules out any discussion. "If it has 'our' genre label, then it must be defended and I must force myself to be interested."

It's as if I, just because I watch ONE detective show on TV, have to watch (and defend) ALL detective shows on TV. It's impractical, unrealistic and quite frankly stupid.

The only practical reason I should use genre labels on my fiction is as a search function -- for the sake of easy Googling.

You, writer... when you sit down to write a new story, which is your first thought:
A) "I want to tell a story about people who..."
or
B) "I want to tell a detective/science fiction/romance/horror/thriller story"
?

If you choose B), then you have trapped and limited your imagination from the start. You should have ignored genre constraints in the first place.

Say after me: "I write what I want because I want, and it doesn't matter what they want to label it."

ADDENDUM: A debate about the SF genre has arisen and is quite interesting:
Steven Grant on How SF Ruined the Future (scroll down column)
Charles Stross comments, and much debate follows.
Lou Anders weighs in, here and here.

Monday, October 16, 2006

"In A Not Too Distant Future, Next Sunday AD..."

MST3K fans take notice! This week's homepage update is a new chapter of The MSTing Of DARC AGES.

(For the woefully ignorant: the MST3K primer on Wikipedia.)

Quote:
-------------
One of the figures bent down close to his ear, and asked in a muffled voice: "Can... you... hear... me? Do... you... understand?"

(Actually, the muffled voice sounded more like "Cunh uh h'muh? Duh'uh'ndh'tnd?")

A foreign accent, David thought sleepily. Italian? German? Asian?

(Yorkshire? Cockney? British Royal Family?)

He wheezed a pained "yes".

(The mere mentioning of the rock group Yes hurt.)

-------------

Notes, Photos & Videoclips From Imagicon / Swecon 2006 (Oct. 13-15)



I visited the Swedish science-fiction convention IMAGICON (a.k.a. Swecon 2006) over the weekend...

Here are some of my photos from the event.

It was great fun to meet and talk to other writers, such as the Guests of Honor Joe Haldeman and Geoff Ryman.

My standup comedy act got a mixed reception. Some of the jokes and routines bordered on the tasteless. The Harlan Ellison joke went like this:

"Has this ever happened to you? There you are, on stage, about to accept your award, when suddenly... Harlan Ellison grabs one of your comfort zones! Now you can come prepared, with the OLD BOY BUZZER!

"Simply attach the Old Boy Buzzer to any part of your underwear - bra, panties or longjohns - and the next time Ol'Harlan makes a grab, the Old Boy Buzzer gives him a thousand-volt shock that he will remember until The Last Dangerous Visions comes out!

Harlan sez: 'The Old Boy Buzzer rocks my woild!'"


Other people I met: Cecilia Wennerström (my publisher at Wela), the people from Catahya.net, Johan Anglemark, lots of nice people from Finland (their conventions are huge and have many more visitors, Finland is definitely teh roxxor in Scandinavian SF fandom!), many more ... and some guy named ANDERS (who bore an uncanny resemblance to actor Peter Stormare).

VIDEO CLIPS:
1. Guest of Honor Joe Haldeman humorously answers the question "What are your daily writing rituals?" (Scroll to bottom of page to find link)

2. Guest of Honor Geoff Ryman humorously tells about when the Home Office hired him and other British SF writers as "futurological consultants." (Scroll to bottom of page to find link)


BONUS: LOTR SPOOF


During the standup, I sang this LOTR spoof, "Gollum's Love Theme".

Friday, October 13, 2006

Review of DARC AGES


A new review of my novel DARC AGES has been posted on the website Catahya. (The review is in Swedish; a translated quote can be read here.)

I agree with the criticisms of the review: the book's flaws are obvious. But now that I have them pointed out, perhaps I'll improve with my next book. :)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Homepage! Now 10% Improved! With Moisturizer!


I've given the ol' homepage a slight visual "facelift"... what do you think?
(Note: The next homepage update has been pushed to Oct.16, as I'll be visiting Imagicon over the weekend.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More Offensive Moychandise!






Even more offensive merchandise is now for sale in Ye A.R.Yngve Olde Joke Shoppe at CafePress.
(As this is being written, I only have proof that I've sold one single item through CafePress, which brings my royalties to a whopping 2 dollars and 65 cents...)

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Importance Of Vision In Writing (2)

An addition to the earlier posting about visual imagery as inspiration...

I have a bad habit: I make mock-up covers of books that aren't finished yet. I can't explain or justify this... it just helps me imagine what the book will be like.

(This is the equivalent of first wrapping the empty package... and then creating the actual present that you intend to put inside!)

For instance, I have an interesting synopsis for a "science-fiction romance" with the working title THE CLAN SLAYERS. (Give me time... I'll come up with a better title.). And wouldn't you know it... before I have even started writing the actual manuscript, I made this mock-up cover...

Why do I do this? Why, why, why? Maybe for inspiration, or to remind me about an outline that risks being neglected in a drawer. Maybe the trick will work for you. I have no idea.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Importance Of Vision In Writing

Words and pictures go together, just like song and lyrics.

While the traditional "print book" is restricted to mostly text, there is no reason why the writer's imagination should imitate those (artificial) restrictions! Just like music can inspire your writing, images can.

Many writers can tell how they became inspired by some vivid image/vision in a dream. For example, Harry Harrison once dreamed of an immense waterfall, and this inspired his surreal, memorable short "By The Falls" (available for free reading in the SciFiction archive).

If you don't have a visual imagination (poor you!), then try and find inspiration in memorable art or film, or photography.

For example: I browsed Library of Congress' enormous collection of Public Domain photos of American cities in the early 20th century.
These aging photographs, with their eerie black-and-white urban landscapes, buildings that almost seemed monstrous and inhumanly alive, inspired me to write the Precinct 20 cycle of crime stories.

Find your vision.

Homepage Is Where The Heart Is.

This week's homepage update includes "only" Chapter 1.7 of the novel-in-progress THE TALE OF THE SOLDIESSE. This is a "military science fiction" story... but I'm not trying to imitate other works in that sub-genre. It's an experiment; maybe it'll work out, maybe it'll fail.

(Writing a novel is to some extent a leap of faith. You can't ever be 100% sure in advance of the end result. The best you can do is to go in well prepared...)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Come To Imagicon / Swecon 2006

I'll be at the Swedish science-fiction convention Imagicon / Swecon 2006 (Oct. 13-15)...

It will be a short stay (arriving late on Friday), but late on Saturday I will be there to do a standup comedy act in English (and hopefully Guests of Honor Joe Haldeman, Geoff Ryman and Martin Andreasson are present in the audience).

Now, should I make a Harlan Ellison joke during the standup show...? What do YOU think?
;-)

There should also be time for hawking books and signing a few copies of TERRA HEXA 1 & 2.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

T-Shirts To Offend Your Congressman!





Ye A.R.Yngve Olde Joke Shoppe has some new novelty t-shirts for sale (see pictures).
Now, who would disagree with a plain slogan like "Read The Constitution"? Who in the world...? And few historians would deny the claim that habeas corpus was unavailable in Roman times. Right?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Stephen King On "The Writing Life"

As usual, Stephen's latest essay on the writing life is full of golden nuggets:

Stephen King on The Writing Life

His non-fiction books STEPHEN KING'S DANCE MACABRE and ON WRITING are still recommended reading for all writers and would-be writers of fiction (not just horror).

Best quote:
-------------------------------------
"Dig this: The so-called 'writing life' is basically sitting on your ass."
-Stephen King
-------------------------------------

(Which is why writers should get up and excercise regularly, to prevent hemorroids. )
;)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Writers Are Crazy, But Some Writers Are Crazier Than Others

I was reading this discussion thread from a messageboard about science fiction and writing, when it struck me (and not for the first time): There are some seriously crazy people out there. And some of them aspire to be writers.

There's no space here for a philosophical treatise on "what constitutes madness," or researching its biological roots, so I'll just go on gut feeling: I know madness when I see it.

Paranoia is fairly easy to recognize. Schizophrenia is more subtle, but there are obvious clues (like seeing things that are not there, or referring to "voices telling me to do X"). Obsessive single-mindedness calls attention to itself (to put it lightly). Chronically depressive or aggressive people are... well, chronically obvious.

And when crazy people write, or write about their writing... boy, does madness show through.
:-(

My pet theory about crazy writers goes like this:
The less talented a writer is, the more blatantly his/her mental "issues" show through in his/her fiction writing.

You know the old cliché about "inspired madness"? It ain't true. Of all the crazy people in the world, only a small minority are creative or inspired in a positive sense. Most of them are mediocre, untalented and narrow-minded.

The truly mad and talented - like, say, Philip K. Dick or Vincent van Gogh - are very, very few.

Now, I'm not saying crazy people shouldn't be writing! Maybe it's therapeutic. I don't know. It's better than murdering people in the streets, I suppose. What really annoys me about crazy writers is just one thing: they insist on being taken seriously.

No matter what the specific madness is - a crank invention that doesn't work, conspiracy theories, persecution manias, psychotic bigotry, feverish hallucinations, or just bipolar mood swings - crazy writers demand that you keep a straight face, that their causes are Sacred, Gravely Serious Matters and Not To Be Taken Lightly.
(Isn't a sane pompous blowhard annoying enough?)

It's funny that the cliché of the laughing, cackling, wise-cracking, comedic madman ISN'T true. Most mad writers are guaranteed to bore you out of your skull.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

TERRA HEXA III - The Early Days

I am now in the process of writing the first synopsis for the third TERRA HEXA book.

This got going only once I had figured out a suitable "theme" for the story, something that can hold the plot and its threads together. And the theme is... but that would be telling. ;-)

I like to think of a novel in terms of levels:

-Theme (i.e. "idea")
-Plot
-Environment
-Character arc

... in that order. Theme and plot are more important than character arc. While characters matter, they alone do not carry a story. But that's just my opinion...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Hero With A Thousand Wrong Names

Let the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang teach you how NOT to name a fictional character... in this hilarious MST3K clip: "The Many Names Of David Ryder".

"Butch Deadlift!!"
"Blast Hardcheese!!"
"Punch Rockgroin!!"
"Dirk Hardpec!!"
"Big McLargeHuge!!"
(etc.)

:)

Monday, September 25, 2006

My Report From The BOK & BIBLIOTEK Book Tradeshow (Gothenburg, Sept. 21-24)



The BOK & BIBLIOTEK 2006 book tradeshow was a fun and inspiring experience. I met and talked to other writers - Richard Morgan, K G Johansson, Jorun Modén (pictured left), and Cecilia Wennerström.

I also met people who write about or publish my writings - Kent Björnsson from publisher Schakt; Lilian Wiberg and Robert Andersson from the magazine MITRANIA - and the very nice personnel from the shop SF-Bokhandeln (based in Gothenburg and Stockholm). People from the website Sci-Fi Nytt also dropped by say hello.

But most importantly... in my publisher's booth, and at the book-signing event at the booth of SF-Bokhandeln, I got to meet my readers face to face.

Most of the TERRA HEXA readers I met and talked to were in their lower teens - some no older than 10. It's my hope that they will follow the book series as they grow up.

I want to emphasize here, how important it is what readers say about books from small publishers.
Every reader matters!
Many of them think, "Nobody cares about my opinion."
Not true! Every little comment or mini-review of TERRA HEXA affects its sales and success. Only through the continued support of its fans can a book series reach a "critical threshold" where it becomes seriously profitable.
So if you want the TERRA HEXA series to continue past the third book, then please make your voice heard - on weblogs, messageboards, to your friends and libraries.

P.S.: And just like at last year's book fair, we had the traditional Weirdo Visit to the publisher's booth. (If a weirdo doesn't show up, I get worried... it doesn't feel like a real tradeshow without one.)

Tall Old Lady: "Have you got Märta Louise's (the Norwegian crown princess') book?"
Me/Publisher: "No, this is Wela. We don't publish her books."
Tall Old Lady: "I thought I heard you speak Norwegian. Do you sell Märta Louise's book?"
Me/Publisher: "No, sorry... but you could ask in the bigger publishers' booths, over there."
Tall Old Lady: "I'm looking for Märta Louise's book."
Me/Publisher: "Sorry, we don't know anything about it. But maybe the big publishers can help you."
Tall Old Lady: "You sounded like you came from Norway. Do you sell Märta Louise's book? I'm looking for her book."

Eventually she left, visibly disappointed that we wouldn't admit our secret Norwegian citizenship. That was a close call. She nearly uncovered the Norwegian conspiracy to infiltrate Sweden's publishing industry!!
;-)

First Photos And Movies From The BOK & BIBLIOTEK Book Tradeshow

Go HERE to see my photos from the trade show (with text).

Go HERE to see my short movies from the trade show (with audio).

A report will follow...

If This Is Romance...

Read Liz Hunt's comment in the Telegraph article "Can Men Write Romantic Novels?"... and then ask yourself, So to some women, love is all about finding a man who's wearing the proper attire at all times?

Seriously: how many of you women out there think the central point of a written love story is what CLOTHES the guy is wearing?

OK, I'm not alien to the idea that a shabby appearance says something about a person's mental state... but this doesn't seem to be what Liz Hunt is talking about.

Sure, men can get fixated on what women wear, and insist that they put on certain items... but then it's not called "romantic", noooo... then it's called a "clothes fetish"!

First, Hunt claims that only women understand how to write about deep, brooding, obsessive love for a single woman.
Then she quotes Charlotte Bingham, saying "that a soul, or heart might be longing to make the right kind of romantic sounds, but will be turned away for no better reason than that he has plumped for wearing fawn which, alas, doesn't do a thing for her".

It can't be a very deep or brooding love these two women are capable of, then. And this would explain why I can't write romance novels. I'm just not shallow enough.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Update on the Scandinavian Book Tradeshow This Weekend

My publisher Wela's booth at Bok & Bibliotek lies next to the café in the middle of the convention floor.

See you there on Friday, Saturday and Sunday!
:)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Even More TERRA HEXA Moychandise!


The Scandinavian Bok & Bibliotek book tradeshow is nearing, and I've added even more merchandise to my TERRA HEXA Shop at CafePress: posters, wall clocks, and whatnot!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Avast, Mates! Be Ye prepared For "Talk Like A Pirate" Day?

Ahoy! Don't ye forget, mates, that September 19 be TALK LIKE A PIRATE Day!

Be ye buccaneers, scurvy dogs, salty seafarers, wee jim lads, wenches or lasses, bring ye cutlasses and eye-patches... or ye be scurvy landlubbers, not even fit for Davy Jones' locker!

For the beginner pirate, here be the essential instruction film:
HOW TO TALK LIKE A PIRATE.

Harrr!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

It Was A Dark And Stormy Homepage Update...

This week's homepage update:

1. A new "Precinct 20" story, "Natural Enemy" (GRANDCHILDREN ADVISORY: Offensive To Little Old Ladies).

2. The READING BOOK, Chapter 14: "Old Age" (GRANDCHILDREN ADVISORY: Offensive To Old Farts).

3. A new greeting-card service.

The next homepage will come in two weeks, not one: I'll be busy with the Bok & Bibliotek tradeshow in Gothenburg (Sept. 21-24). Come visit our booth!

Meet Me At The Scandinavian Book Fair (Sept. 21-24)

If you are in Sweden during Sept.21-24, come visit the booth of my publisher Wela.

I will be there Sept.22-24 (Friday to Sunday) to sign books during lunch hours, meet readers, schmooze, hawk TERRA HEXA II, and check out other books.

Also present in Wela's booth will be the Swedish fantasy writers Jorun Modén (making a very impressive debut with the novel SAMAEL), K G Johansson (GLASTORNEN) and Cecilia Wennerstrom (SAGAN OM RAND).

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Unbearable Lightness of Crappy Generic Fantasy

September 15, 2006, is a day that will live in infamy.

On that day, for the first time, I read a few pages of a Robert Jordan novel. Then I stomped on the book in a fit of rage, and proceeded to attack it with a hammer. (Witnesses can testify that my feet missed the cover, but the hammer did not.)

Why did I get so mad?

Because that book was so terribly written. Almost all the sentences were awkward in one way or another; they seemed like a sloppy first draft. Some sentences were literally unintelligible.

A best-selling writer, dammit! Couldn't he afford a proofreader? Couldn't the publisher afford an editor? Books of that kind will surely read better in translation. It is almost impossible to translate them without improving the writing -- i.e. making it legible.

A friend showed the book to me. He and his fiancée, both intelligent people with a higher education, admit that Robert Jordan can't write. And yet they keep reading his interminable "sagas".

Why, God? Why?

This isn't about snobbery. It's about craftsmanship. If I bought a Robert Jordan book, I'd expect at least the basic requirements of a printed paperback to be fulfilled:

1. The manuscript has been edited;
2. The prose is coherent;
3. The customer will not feel ripped off.

One can write entertaining adventure fiction and at the same time pay a minimum of attention to clear, lucid language, functioning grammar and style. It's called "writing the second draft."

Then again, if readers are prepared to pay for the first draft, why try harder? If Robert Jordan is the measure of success, then why make the effort to write passable prose, or put any shred of creative effort into it?

In other words, why take any pride in your work?

"But he's made a lot of money," you say. "Money is the measure of success and quality."

I don't know why those books sell. Maybe reading them is like going to McDonald's: You know exactly what you get, and fast. The McBook. Maybe people are so overstimulated in today's world, they use Wheel of Time books to let their brains rest?

But no, that explanation doesn't quite work. Smooth, spare prose is easier to read than clunky, badly written prose littered with half-finished thoughts.

Can someone please explain to me why people pay money for the equivalent of a hamburger that's got worms in it?
And eat it?
And then ask for another worm-infested burger?

ADDENDUM:
But don't take my word for it. Listen to other critics here. And here. And here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Book Cover Artist Looking For Work


Now, I'm nowhere near
a great illustrator. I know my limitations (can't draw horses in motion, human anatomy tends to look a bit stiff)...
... but my Swedish publisher lets me create my own book covers, and I enjoy the work.

So I'm looking for book cover assignments. If you are a struggling small-press author and can't spend a fortune, but want a decent-looking, solid cover done... contact me! If you are really short on cash and I like your book, you can pay me with two copies of it.

(Please note: I reserve the right to turn down a job offer if I don't think the book is of at least passable quality, or if its subject matter simply does not appeal to me.)

Here are samples of my cover art designs.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Elizabeth Bear On Letting Go

Best-selling writer Elizabeth Bear blogs about when to quit working your manuscript.

Quote:
"They're all broken. Every one of them. Every novel I've published, every novel I've sold, every novel I've ever read has something wrong with it. Every novel I've ever loved is irretrievably [****]ing broken, all right?

Broken in ways that can't be fixed. It doesn't matter.

And no matter what you do, there will be people who dislike your work.

That's okay. In fact, I would venture to say that you can't write a book that some people will love unless there are also other people who will hate it. Strong emotion is not raised for the bland, my darlings."

Read the rest.

This Homepage Update Can Be Yours... If The Price Is Right!

This week's homepage update has nothing to with "the" 9/11. It consists only of another "MSTing" of a chapter from my SF novel DARC AGES.

To "MST3K" my own book is not only great fun. It has also highlighted the writing flaws in the "MSTed" chapters so much, that I'm now re-editing them in the CafePress chapbook edition.

Fortunately, it's technically very easy to update the POD(Print-On-Demand) chapbook...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

TERRA HEXA Books In A Book Club

My first TERRA HEXA novel was picked up by Swedish publisher Wahlstroms' fantasy book-club (see brochure image), and the sequel TERRA HEXA II has been included in the book-club's selection (see other brochure image) for this year. Thank you, Wahlstroms.

"Grope These And My Foot Will Grope Your Face"

I have just created this T-shirt design for my CafePress shop. Its slogan, "GROPE THESE AND MY FOOT WILL GROPE YOUR FACE," was inspired by a much-blogged "incident" in which a Well-Known Writer groped a female colleague's breast on stage during an awards ceremony.

ADDENDUM: And on another CafePress shop, someone has created these cool-looking Harlan Ellison Memorial T-Shirts.
I say "Shop Till You Drop."

Monday, September 04, 2006

Jenn Reese On The "Growth Cycle of a Writer"

Read Jenn Reese's list "Growth Cycle of a Writer".

Where are YOU in the 8 stages of the writer's growth cycle?

(Personally, I feel like I'm bouncing around between Stage 5: Chrysalis and Stage 6: Awakening...)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

"Oh No! We've Got Homepage Update Sign!"


Being a longtime fan of MST3K (Mystery Science Theater 3000) , I had a lot of fun when I read this MST3K-style "riff" of the infamous story THE EYE OF ARGON:

MSTing The Eye Of Argon

And to be honest, I'm a bit behind in my fiction-writing schedule. So in the spirit of my favorite TV comedy series, and in a desperate attempt to stall for time, I have made a MST3K-style "riff" on my own novel DARC AGES.

Snide comments and cheap jokes are inserted into the novel, as if some smartass was commenting on the story while you read. Without further ado, I give you...

The MSTing of DARC AGES

If you appreciate this kind of humor, and want me to continue the "MSTing" of DARC AGES, please drop me a note. :)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

How Writers Should Behave In Public

If you start to see a bit of recognition and success (and perhaps, eventually, some financial profit) as a writer, you will also discover a new and strange change in your life:

You have become two persons.

1. The Private You - the person who eats, sleeps, works, lives, goes to the bathroom and is pretty much like everybody else.

2. The Public You - the figure appearing in the media, who most people associate with your writer name/pseudonym.

Why is it important to keep these two roles apart? Why not simply insist, like Popeye, that "I yam what I yam and that's all I yam!"
Because you risk going insane.

Your "public persona" will be subjected to scrutiny of a kind that never happens to "ordinary" people. Complete strangers will make absurd claims about your personality as if they were close friends. This can be frustrating. If you do not explain to yourself, "They are talking about my public persona, a role, not the real private me," then you'll lose your grip of who you are.

Always assume about "well-known" people: "I don't really know this person. This is really a stranger to me."

Between the reader and the successful writer lies a veil of prejudices, hearsay, gossip, unrealistic expectations, fears, projections and desires. And the more successful a writer becomes, the worse this problem becomes.

Nobody expects Mr. Totally Unknown Writer to outdo himself with every new book. But Mrs. Bestselling Writer will always struggle against ever-rising expectations; no matter how well she does, someone will try to spin it that she's "not doing as well as expected" or is already a has-been.

Now, about the "public persona," the "you" who appears at conventions, book fairs, conferences and interviews.... I think that regardless of fame, it is possible to project a public "you" which combines parts of your genuine character with certain rules of conduct.

10 Rules of Thumb for your Public Persona:
1. Be sincere about your beliefs and convictions.
2. Avoid self-destructive behavior.
3. Be polite.
4. Be consistent.
5. Show a sense of humor (if you have any).
6. Do not lie.
7. Be considerate of other people's feelings (to a point).
8. Only lose your temper when no other recourse is possible.
9. Dress and groom your public persona with care.
10. Always keep your teeth clean and your breath fresh.

When I see photos of writers during various gatherings and functions, certain kinds of writers stand out from the crowd:
A) Those who are well groomed and smartly dressed;
B) Those who look like homeless people;
C) Those who have horrible beards.


What IS it about writers and beards?
In 90 cases out of 100, a beard does not make you look distinguished. Those few who do, look distinguished also without beards.
Big, stripy beards that seem like they're trying to escape your face are even worse.
Goatees should be reserved for the lead singer of Metallica.
A well-kept three-day stubble is OK, but four days marks the beginning of a beard.
Women's mustaches should be shaved at all times.

Shaving your head bald may work - but then again, only if you have a handsome cranium.

Keep a spare shirt available at public occasions. If you happen to spill something on your shirt, you don't want the big unsightly stain to follow you around the entire event.

Some people sweat a lot. (I'm one of them.) Industrial-strength deodorant, black shirts and frequent face-wiping might lessen the impression that you're enacting "Richard Nixon Losing His TV Debate Against JFK."

And please, do not grope women on stage.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Now Let Us Praise Homepage Updates

This week's homepage update is small... but not insignificant: the 13th installment of my ongoing serial of satirical verse, "A.R.Yngve's READING BOOK".

Chapter 13 is titled "Men In Uniform"... have a look.

Jumping The Shark

Hugh McLeod asks, in an interview with Seth Godin:

"As a cartoonist, I find myself quite surprised that very few of the more prominent bloggers out there are in the 'Arts'.
It seems we have lots of business thinkers, technologists, entrepreneurs, consultants etc, but why do we have so surprisingly few filmmakers, playwrites, novelists, musicians, painters etc at the top of the pyramid?"

My first answer might be: "Because the first category (business thinkers, technologists etc.) are Early Adopters, and the second category are somewhat less tech-savvy."

My second, sarcastic answer might be: "Because the second category is too busy working to blog..."

But McLeod is right. I will jump the shark! Here's an art sample (from my Web novel DARC AGES):

And here's a blow-up of my cover art for the 2006 CafePress chapbook release of the Web novel ALIEN BEACH:

There's more art over at my Gallery page...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Snappy Dialogue Or Cliché Hell?

Some sample dialogue from the Precinct 20 story I'm writing on:

------------------
They went to the local McDonald’s. She ordered a burger, salad and coffee; he ordered three Filet’O Fish, salad, a mug of coffee and ice cream.

“Your stomach must be made of pig-iron,” she remarked as Garris began to eat.

“You’re not scolding me for eating after a colleague just died?”

“I think you’re into comfort food. You didn’t drink much at the party.”

“So what’s your vice?” he said, and gulped down the last bite of his first fish burger.

Her face froze momentarily. Then, with a wry smile: “I’d never tell a colleague.”
-------------------

Yes, I know people don't talk like that in real life. But kitchen-sink realism can only get a story so far.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

How Do You Choose What To Read?

There's the Gutenberg Project, with an online catalog of over 18,000 free books (and growing, as ever more old books enter the Public Domain)...

There's Amazon.com, the world's biggest (and most accessible) bookstore...

There's all the good, established authors who are not only releasing a lot of new novels, but also releasing older books for free reading online...

And in addition to that, there are so many well-stocked bookshops near you - in train stations, shopping centers, convenience stores, and kiosks.

So I ask you, the average reader: How do you do it? Faced with this fantastic range of available books, all old books plus the recent and present ones... how do you choose what to read? More and more, I'm being overwhelmed by all this limitless choice.

And I'm starting to seriously wonder if it's pointless that I should write new fiction, when I'll have to compete with both the sum of all books written plus the flood of other new releases.

How do you do it? Please tell.
:-S

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Stuff I'm Writing...

I'm writing on several things right now:

-Work on my "Military SF" novel THE TALE OF THE SOLDIESSE is going very slowly. At least I have written over 70,000 words so far...

-I just completed a new short story (2,900 words) and sent it to this new zine. It got rejected about five hours later - a new personal record! - and I'm wondering whether I should rewrite it or toss it.

-Another "Precinct 20" horror-mystery story in progress, "Natural Enemy," is turning out much longer than I thought -- primarily because it involves more character development and scene-setting than previous stories in the cycle.
Perhaps I'll split it into two parts...
(I am already thinking of creating a chapbook collection of all the "Precinct 20" stories, to be sold here.)

-The third TERRA HEXA novel is still in the early planning stages. I am trying to figure out how much plot I should cram into it -- I have a tendency to put in a lot of plot.

I recently saw TRISTRAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY, the film based on the comic novel (or "meta-novel"). Great fun! See it.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Charlie Stross On Genre And Zeitgeist

The awarded and lauded science-fiction writer Charlie Stross has an interesting post on his weblog: "Genre Neurosis 101."

The central thesis of the post (and do read the debate in the Comments section) is that after the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001, American Science Fiction lost some (or much?) of its previous optimism about the future.

Stross notes:

"This turning away from the near future is going to be remembered as one of the hallmarks of the post-9/11 decade in American science fiction, as the chill wind of change blows through the hitherto cosy drawing room of the American century.

"The Brits aren't drinking the Kool-Aid — well, some of them are serving it up in pint glasses, but most of them have got better things to do with their time — and this is why just about all the reviewers in the field are yammering about a British Invasion or a British New Wave or something: it's not what the British are doing, but what the American writers aren't doing that is interesting. "


Read the rest.

What about countries that are not only lacking in optimism, but have none at all? Are there any active SF writers in, say, Iraq? (Or North Korea? Or Sudan?) I'd love to learn about people who try to write science fiction in the countries where you'd least expect it...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Can't We All Just Get Along With Crass Commercialism?

Allow me to mention that several new T-shirts and items are now for sale at my CafePress Moychandise Shop.... check it out.