Andy Weir's The Martian already has more than 7,500 reviews on Amazon, so I doubt my review would be much noticed there, which is why I am posting it on my blog, instead. Yes, I know you've already heard about the book and that it is up for some major awards, but I thought I'd give you my take anyway, for what it's worth. Here goes:
Three Out of Five Stars for The Martian, A Good, But Not Great, Book:
Yes, I'm a fan of hard scifi (I love Mission of Gravity) as well as sof
Writers write for all sorts of reasons, but the general public always seems to want to create a simple dichotomy between writers who write for money and writers who write for the love of writing. Of course, then they generally sneer at the former and laugh at the latter.
As with most things, all is not as simple as it might appear to those who glibly gloss over subjects, rather than giving them any serious thought. Even with minimal thought (I like to think I'm efficient, n
In the midst of my Kickstarter campaign for Frame Shop, Gail Martin offered to let me do a guest blog post on Killing Off Fictional Characters. You should all go check out Gail's website at www.disquietingvisions.com. In the course of setting up my new website and transferring over my old blogs for ... er ... posterity, I include the text below: Many years ago, an amateur graphologist told a business colleague that I was, based on my signature, a serial killer. When she assu
During the Kickstarter for Frame Shop, Jennifer Brozek, a prolific writer and fellow GenCon Writers' Symposium panelist, let me do a guest post on her blog, Tell Me. Check her blog and her books at www.jenniferbrozek.com. Here's the text of that post:
Every once in a while, I see a t-shirt that says “Be nice to me or I’ll put you in my next novel.” My non-writer friends think it is funny. Heck, a few writers I know have worn such shirts. Truth is, those t-shirts really irri
Janine Spendlove let me guest blog on her site during the Kickstarter for Frame Shop because, well, she's generally a swell friend. Check out her site and books at www.ailionora.com. Check it out You may recall that Janine's book, War of the Seasons: The Human, ws one of the stretch goals Kickstarter. Here's the text of my guest post: You understand quite a bit about group dynamics already. After all, you went to high school. High school is all about group dynamics. How to re
As most of you probably know by now, I launched a Kickstarter today for my novella, Frame Shop. It’s a mystery/thriller set in a writers’ group and punctuated by violence, humor, and occasional writing advice. I’m hoping it appeals not only to my regular readers (“Hi, Mom!”), but to mystery readers in general, along with authors, NaNoWriMo participants, writers’ group members, and aspiring writers. If you haven’t checked it out yet, take a look at http://kck.st/YMyWaS and fee
This is actually a combination of two posts originally posted in August of 2014: GISHWHES, the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, is run by Misha Collins each year to bring people worldwide together for fun, camaraderie, and to assist in his charitable efforts. More about them can be found at https://www.gishwhes.com/.
This year one of the tasks (apparently number 78 on a long list) was as follows: "Get a previously published Sci-Fi author to wri
Summer is not only convention season--I am a regular panelist on writing topics at both Origins and GenCon--but it is also the season for outdoor cafe' readings and open microphone nights at local coffee shops and art galleries, which means that I have more readings scheduled than other times of the year. That's fine. I like reading and some people tell me that I do a good job of them. (Of course, most of those people are my friends, so their judgment is already suspect.)
There's no M. Night Shyamalan twist here. I'm not the world's best writer. Duh. I know that. As this blog proves, I'm not the world's best writing marketer, either. I will never write and, truth be told, have no interest in writing The Great American Novel. For one thing, The Great American Novel would probably have to be all literary and serious, which are not my natural inclination. For another, such a product would probably require a type of fanatic dedication to writing t
Finally got around to watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug via Netflix a few days ago. Why didn’t I go see it in the theater? After all, like many of my generation, I was a big fan of The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a kid (I, of course, also read The Hobbit) and loved Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy so much that I also watched the extended cuts and some of the commentary and making-of tracks (the one on armor was especially cool). But, I hadn’t really
Went to see Transcendence last night (a better than expected four out of five stars, perhaps because it is a thinky movie and I like that it shares some themes about uploading consciousness with my first novel, Forced Conversion and saw the movie trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, which not only looked cool, but featured the Blue Swede cover of B.J. Thomas’ Hooked on a Feeling, commonly known as the Ooga Chuka Song (or Hooga Chaka ... your spelling may vary), a number one h
Did you ever notice that some buskers (street performers) bring a box or milk crate to stand on while they perform? They do that so that more people can see them. Some people may choose to pass by without watching. Heck, some people may turn away after the performance has started because they don't think the performance is worth their time. But if passersby never see the performer, there's almost no chance that they'll stop and watch and maybe drop a few coins or a bill in th
It’s a staple of writing thrillers that the stakes and the difficulties for the protagonist must keep ratcheting up throughout the story. After all, if the protagonist is faced with a difficulty, comes up with a plan to overcome it, and executes that plan seamlessly, there’s not really that much tension/suspense. Heck, there’s not even much of a plot.
There’s a whole raft of things that can be done to thwart the protagonist’s efforts. He can have underestimated the difficul
Two quick knife thrusts skewering my gut, then the man in black leather twisted the knife and ran, but not before grabbing the McGuffin.
As I lie here on the floor, blood soaking into the medium pile carpet, my vision dimming as life flows out of me in crimson pulses, I wonder if it was all worth it. The betrayal, the confrontation, the plotting, and all the burials -- Jeez, it's a lot more work to bury a body than you think. And for what? Life was so simple, so happy, so v
I got my start as a writer by writing for shared worlds—and I don’t mean writing fan fiction (for my opinions on copyright theft, see my short story “Hell to Pay”). No, I started as a role-playing gamer. You know, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Top Secret, Boot Hill, Chill, Timemaster, Paranoia, James Bond, Cthulhu, etc.), playing in the many convention tournaments put on by The Role-Playing Game Association Network (RPGA).
In my career, I played more than 600 different chara
I was a debater in college and I coached debate when I was in law school, both at The University of Chicago. While UC was primarily on the Parliamentary Debate circuit, I also did a bit of national topic debate in my high school and college days and judged some national topic debates as a coach.
You know national topic debate. It’s the style where you get a set resolution for the year, like “Resolved, that the federal government should provide a comprehensive program of [in
I'm a writer, but I confess I haven't written a book in a while. I've written a number of short stories recently and two novellas under pen names, but not a full-length book recently. (I'm working on a mystery thriller now, but I'm not absolutely positive it will end up long enough to be a book, rather than a longish novella. Since it is a speculative piece of work, rather than written to the specifications of a contract, I'm flexible on how long I make it.)
Just so everyon
Despite the fact that I am heading off to my 34th GenCon shortly and that I was the world's top-ranked player of Classic RPGA tournaments for fifteen years (1985-2000), I've never really thought of myself as an early player of Dungeons & Dragons and, by extension, modern roleplaying games. After all, my first Dungeons & Dragons experience was in a camper in the parking lot of University of Wisconsin Parkside the night before GenCon XII in 1979, after I had already graduated f
I'm not much of a fan of umbrellas. It's not that I don't own one. In fact, I have one which is more than thirty years old at this point. I used it on a regular basis when I walked more than a mile to the train station everyday, rain or shine. It has a cane-like handle which makes it a good walking aid and is of sturdy construction (though I had to repair one rib with coat-hanger wire after I walked into a post and bent the rib). These days, though, it pretty much just sits i
Just watched A Good Day to Die Hard (Die Hard 5) a few days ago. This isn't a movie review column, so I won't go into why, despite the fact that the original Die Hard is one of the best action movies ever, the latest installment is a murky, boring, and unlikeable movie ranking as one of the worst action movies of all time (unless you have a car crash fetish). But it highlighted some of the thoughts that I had been mulling recently about the isssue of collateral damage in movi