Sunday, April 29, 2012


I was dreaming last night about my WIP, which woke me, which made me think about my dream, which had my characters in it talking about something that had nothing to do with my manuscript.  But then that got thinking about a scene and anyone who has insomnia from time to time knows that once you start thinking in this way sleep is not coming back.
     I blame it on the characters
     Our creations can be quite vocal sometimes.  You can hear them grumbling and moaning and laughing. I’m just glad they can’t talk to us directly or I would get no sleep at all. I can imagine many conversations:
     “Dude, are you going to leave me there with this guy talking about Forest Gump? Just kill me.”
     Or someone else would complain about how they’re not getting enough page time. Or someone else would complain about how I’d made him or her less kind, more kind, weaker, less intelligent, mean, not mean enough.
     Characters are demanding. A writer has a hard time getting them out of his mind when they start making noise.  They’re the life of the story. I suppose they have the right.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Excited to post the Publisher's Marketplace announcement of the selling of my new novel, Utopia. Nothing against dystopia but I'm going another way this time. Unfortunately, everything isn't idyllic in Utopia either. That's life in a novel. Sh*t happens. 

ALIEN INVASION author Brian Yansky's UTOPIA, set in a quirky small Iowa town where the strange is normal, about a 17-year-old who has the gift or curse, depending on how you look at it, of being able to talk to dead people, and finds himself caught up in the mystery of two murdered girls, murders that lead him to town secrets long buried, again to Kaylan Adair at Candlewick, by Sara Crowe at Harvey Klinger (world English).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

grammar and fiction

One day I was out with everyone from my Extreme Birding Club. In this club we not only spot the birds, but we capture them and make them tell us a secret. The more rare the bird, the more rare the secret. As everyone knows, at least where I live, birds are stubborn about revealing secrets. They know a lot of them. I won’t say we’re above pulling out a feather or two in order to get the bird to spill. Still, we don’t kill them. We don’t eat them. You could say it’s kinder than buying a chicken at the grocery store and pretending it just appeared there out of thin air. You buy the chicken. You’re part of the chain of events that causes the chicken to be born for his solitary purpose of being consumed by humans You eat the chicken bought from the store. Me, too. I’m not criticizing—just saying. Don’t judge me.
Extreme Birding isn’t for the faint of heart.
After we get our secret we always give the birds some food and send them on their way.

Extreme Birding will make you thirsty and so the group often goes out for a beer. While having a drink someone said, “I just called my wife and told her ‘the whole group of birders drink Shiner Bock' and she corrected me and said it should be ‘the whole group of birders drinks Shiner Bock.’ Who is right?”

I decided to give the Grammar Guru a call right then and there. It turned out he was in the middle of chanting. Gurus chant a lot.

“What were you chanting?”
“Old Marx brothers quotes.”
“What’s one?”
“Outside of a dog a man’s best friend is a book. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”
“Good one.”
“What is your question grasshopper?”
“I wish you wouldn’t call me that.”
“Another Marx brother quote is ‘wishes are like buttocks. Everyone has one.”
“That’s not a Marx brothers quote.”
“Ask your question.”
I asked: Is it “the whole group of birders drink” OR “the whole group of birders drinks.”

“Ah, he said, "Group noun problem. A group is considered singular. It’s like a class or a flock or a committee. If it is considered one, it’s singular. What’s confusing here is that the writer added the “of birders’ which made the writer think the subject was birders (plural) which would mean the noun would have no “s” on it. (They drink/ It drinks). However, since the subject is group, it’s singular (it drinks) so the sentence should be ‘the whole group of birders drinks.’”

Here are more examples:
The class learns.
The class of students learns.
The flock flies overhead.
The flock of birds flies overhead.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Branding--just say no?

I know many writers worry about branding, which I understand as promoting your fiction in a certain way so readers can think of it as a brand. Should we worry? It may be helpful in the sale of fiction but I wonder if we, as writers, should allow ourselves to think of our work as a certain brand. I mean, I'd hate to feel that I have to write a certain way in a certain genre just because someone has said my brand is X. What if I want to write Brand Y or Brand Z this time around? As a reader, I like to read science fiction, fantasy, realistic fiction, magical realism, and all kinds of fiction that mixes these and other genres. I am often drawn to fiction that is genre bending, in fact. So as a writer I'm going to write different kinds of fiction. I love the feeling of starting a new novel and not knowing exactly where it will go. I love trying different things. I realize the idea of branding is just a way to attract readers and, lord knows, there's nothing wrong with that. However, as a writer, I don't want to get too cozy with the idea that my work fits neatly into a "brand". I want to be open to write what excites me. Or so I think today.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012



What does it mean to be a failure at writing fiction? To me it means you’ve said you want to be a writer and you don’t write. You give up on writing. That’s the only way you can fail to be a writer. A writer writes. He writes well. He writes badly. He writes in-between the two.

There are setbacks, like writing and rewriting a work and still knowing deep down it doesn’t work. There’s writing and rewriting and sending a work off again and again and getting rejected. There is writing a book, getting an agent, selling the book to a publisher, seeing it go to bookstores, seeing it disappear from bookstores a few months later, and looking at less that stellar sales. None of these are failures. They’re difficult and they’re things that most writers go through, but they aren’t failure.
Failure, to me, is one thing. It’s giving up. Whether this happens before you finish your first novel or after your third or fourth manuscript. The only way you can truly fail as a writer is by stopping writing. Some do. The rejection gets too much for them or they realize they don’t love writing enough. There are a lot of highs and lows in writing. Some people can’t tolerate these. There are many reasons to give up, I suppose.

But there’s one compelling reason not to. If you’re doing something you love, you’re very, very lucky. It’s hard to find things you love. It’s hard to find work you love. If you love to write, it’s something you can do your entire life. We’re lucky.