Tuesday, February 25, 2014

SFWA? More like STFU. WTF?

The wonderful world of writers, like every other organization, has fights. And back stabbing, back biting, and other backwards thoughts, ideas and concepts.

Then there's the SFWA, the Science Fiction Writers of America.  If you haven't been brought in on this round of inside baseball, the SFWA has started appealing to one small, particular demographic, namely the political left.

Now, before you start leaping down my throat, it's not Democrats I'm talking about, it's the really, really left. The hard left that would make Bill Clinton go "Um, no."  This is a very narrow translation of liberalism that most liberals would look at funny. EG:  One story that meets these standards includes a world where the universe is filled with subservient men, the women rule everything, and there is peace throughout the world ... a story that has every woman I've told it to laughing themselves sick.

Apparently, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for good fiction to meet SFWA standards.

This is a bit of business that has some old-school (and new) SF writers pissed. Names include Harlan Ellison and Mike Resnick, Sarah Hoyt, Cedar Sanderson and Harry Turtledove, and those are just the ones I know.  And the first two are no conservatives.  But then, they are old school liberals, the type where they may hate what you're saying, and they'll yell at you, but they also expect you to yell back (well, Harlan Ellison does, at least).  The current "liberals," for lack of a better term, seem to be interested in nothing but shutting people up.

Author and former SFWA member Sarah Hoyt has chronicled the entire downward spiral of the SFWA and their nutbars, and it caused me to wonder exactly how far down this rabbit hole goes.  I'm not brave enough to go spelunking into that particular asylum.

However, I noted something in Hoyt's column, that the SFWA got pissed off over a book with women in chainmail on the cover.  Well, one, if it's fantasy, what else are women going to wear? It's either chainmail, leather armor, or platemail (the latter heavy enough to tip someone over like a turtle on their back, so I don't recommend it for anyone).

Then, something occurred to me.  Could this hissy fit have been over Chicks in Chain Mail? For those of you who don't know this classic comedy series, it's laugh out loud funny stories in fantasy universes, like the Suburban fantasy anthology Witch Way to the Mall, Strip Mauled, and Fangs for the Mammaries.

The two series have something in common.  Two somethings, in fact.

1) They're all edited by Esther Friesner.

2) They're published by Baen books...Sound familiar?

Does anyone else have a bad feeling about this?

And if you don't want to go by the Sarah Hoyt version in gifs, the pure text version of what's been happening is even LESS reassuring.

Now, there are a few problems with everything the SFWA has been pulling.  Using feminism as authority structure creates pedantic drivel in favor of a false narrative of multiculturalism (ie: we're going to shove this down your throat, and you will like it, because. Just because). They want writers to effectively write stories about "womyn," gays, transgenders, african-Americans, native Americans, gays, Asian peoples they have no idea about "but hey taoism sounds cool and namaste,yo."

Okay, that last bit was a quote, but we'll get to him in a moment.

You can view this a few ways.  The rabbit hole, making a "women only" race course, putting a Stalin-ish leash on their editors to make certain they're publishing the "right" things, or redefining "literature" as whatever supports the current tint.  No matter what you call it, it's not good for writing, storytelling, or the genre. If you wanted to say they're trying to destroy the genre, well, you wouldn't be the first.

Now, my friend Jason has another thought on the matter, namely that Baen is busy taking over the universe of science fiction, and we just can't have that.

She has a sword.
No chain mail.
Still sexist.
Baen, for those of you who might not know, is filled with interesting people.  Many of them are conservative, but also Libertarian, and at least one card-carrying Communist, Eric Flint (he pulled out his card at a DragonCon one year, before I started writing reports).  Unfair, but balanced might be a way to put it.  Each person will bring their own politics and philosophies to bear in their own novels, but usually not in a way that would piss me off. I've read Flint, and he's quite interesting. They also have John Ringo, David Weber, and Timothy Zahn, who are conservative-ish, if not outright conservatives.  And then there's Tom Kratman, who I don't know what to do with, but his books are fun.

And they are making TONS of money.  Metric tons. They are everywhere, and always publishing.

So, a libertarian press making money? And making money with something like Chicks in Chain Mail?

If Jason is right, then this SFWA brough-ha-ha is really a purge in response to Baen.  After all, with nimrods this ideologically pure, Baen is downright heretical.  So we have the "conservative" juggernaut of Baen versus an ever-more left-leaning SFWA... If Jason's idea is true, then the SFWA has a problem.  By catering to smaller and smaller elements of their own preconceptions, they're just throwing good money after bad. Like all of those horrid anti-war propaganda films from 2001 on, I'm sure it makes the producers and writers feel good, but who's going to see it? For every five films like Syriana, they still couldn't match the profit of 300, Iron Man, or Captain America.

Cally's War (Posleen War Series #4)
Character design
by Julie Cochran.
Cedar Sanderson, another author, noted how there are kickstarters dedicated towards making these politically correct nightmares in print. "Women destroying science fiction," is the actual title of one such stupid project. This, of course, is a stupid idea for a book series, anthology, novel, what have you, if only because of actual SF written by women.  Let's look at JD Robb, aka Nora Roberts -- her In Death series is a fun science fiction murder mystery series set in the 2060s. How about Julie Cochran, coauthor to John Ringo? Or Jane Lindskold. Tamora Pierce, who's doing some good YA fiction, or Naomi Novik, who's got her own Horatio Hornblower with Dragons? I have yet to dodge JK Rowling because she's a woman. Laurell Hamilton was a good writer for about 8 books, then it became smut, but at least it wasn't feminista drivel.

As some of you may know, I escaped from a PhD program not too long ago. Academia is rife with the sort of PC crap the SFWA is doing, but I haven't noticed it in too many POPULAR books or movies. Sure, Hollywood cranks out this drek endlessly, but who watches all of it? 300 was a January release, and it made so much money, they started a sequel immediately (it only took forever to write and produce). So, certainly, people are teaching this stuff in the halls of academia, but when it comes to where the metal hits the road -- where people spend their money -- Batman, Superman, 300, any Marvel film, outperforms that sort of drek every single time. And if The Dark Knight Rises had a feminist message beyond "Anne Hathaway looks good in leather," I missed it (I actually thought the message was "Occupy Wall Street = Bad").

Burning at 451-degrees F
and they have the gall
To even talk of Bradbury.
Oh, and as I write this, the Huffington Puffington Post has written an article saying that JK Rowling is destroying writers -- because writing is a zero-sum game, don't you know?  Because if I buy everything Rowling prints, I will never buy Jim Butcher .... heh, no.
Isn't it nice to see that writers can be as petty as everyone else? Then again, I became a writer because I don't like dealing with people as a rule.

My takeaway from all this? Write good books, and no one will care what gender you are. Honest.

I, for one, won't even NOTICE what gender you are (You can't imagine how long it took me to sort authors by gender, you really can't).  If you write bad books, no one will read them, and the SFWA will just start burning its cash, and its credibility -- assuming that hasn't already gone out the window.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Music to write to: Crysis 2

No, I didn't post anything last week.  I'd say no excuses, but... come on, it's not like anyone reads this blog during federal holidays anyway.


I have a volunteer gig over at CatholicMom.com where I write video game reviews.  For that, I've been playing through Crysis 2.  Thus far, the story and gameplay are your basic, average, first-person shooter fair.

There are, however, two things that is has to commend it.  One is the graphics. And oh my dear God, those graphics are beautiful.  It's the best video game New York I've probably ever seen.

The next thing to commend is is the soundtrack, written by the great and powerful Hans Zimmer.

Everyone say it with me now: HHHHHAAAAAAANNNNNSSSSSS!!!!

Okay, if you don't know what I'm talking about, you should stop whatever it is your doing, and go what the last ten minutes of Die Hard. If you've never seen Die Hard before, where have you been, a cocoon?

Anyway, the main theme from Crysis 2, by Hans Zimmer. Feel free to turn up the volume and blast your neighbor's doors off.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Who wants a free book?

So, how do you get a free copy of A Pius Legacy?
Well, you remember how free Kindle copies work?  I set a specific promo day for everyone to download a free copy.  Those copies downloaded count on Amazon in the "members who have bought X item have also bought Y."  Well, while that's all well and good, Amazon does not allow that to happen until you get 40 reviews on you novel. Yes, you heard me, 40 reviews.  And I'm going to take a wild shot in the dark that all the reviews had better be good ones.

Right now, I'm halfway there.  Last year, over a thousand (okay, 1400) people picked up a copy of A Pius Man via the free Kindle day, and I've gotten 20 reviews.  Count 'em, 20.  And some of these I've had to ask for, some of them have been really recent.

So, if you want a free copy of A Pius Legacy .... just review A Pius Man.  The point of free Kindle copies is to drum up PR. Let's start, shall we?

I start the free promo days on A Pius Legacy right after I hit 40 reviews on A Pius Man.  Preferably positive. :)

This doesn't necessarily mean you have to wait.  Go write a review, post it at Amazon, and come back here and comment, or email me at DeclanFinnInc@aol.com and I will personally send you a Kindle copy of A Pius Legacy.  Those 20 people who have already read it have gotten (or will be getting) their own copies, one way or another.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Writing "A Pius Legacy"

So, as I mentioned yesterday, A Pius Legacy was book two of the 800-page monstrosity that was the original A Pius Man.

You want to know the real interesting part? A Pius Legacy was actually only 60 pages of the original book.

At which point, you have to wonder, "Um... did you just admit you padded 60 pages of plot with 200 pages of nothing?" Not really.

Keep in mind, a book becomes a very fluid thing after a while.  Especially when you're breaking up one book into three. You can't just pull a Lord of the Rings, write a one-page summary of book one, and then keep going with book two. For those of you who didn't read the novels, the movie Fellowship of the Ring ended where the novel The Two Towers began.

So if I can't do that, what can I do without making the first half of book two a retread of book one? Legacy follows hot on the heels of A Pius Man, so it's not like I can say that it's "a few months later."

However, I can tell the story from someone else's point of view.  Remember, a lot happened in APM, and a lot of people were shot at.  Not everyone knows everything. So, if I take the same events from a different point of view, I get a fresh perspective.

Second? There's the United Nations aspect. Remember who the ultimate villains of A Pius Man were. If you didn't read it, well, let's just say that these aren't people you just arrest. You have to have a heavy hitter take them down. You need an international authority to go after international villains. Could the United States do it? Nope. Why? For five different reasons. Some involve the villains themselves, some involve the individual politicians in this universe. We have to make the case for action.

So, the recap is done. Check.

Now what? Here's where the politics comes in. When you're essentially dealing with national enemies, public relations will be key. However, I have to use the right person as the public campaign for what happened in A Pius Man, or we're going to have a lot of problems. Let's face it, some of these people are as subtle as a sledgehammer. Some of them are spies who can't afford to go on MSNBC, CNN or Fox.

Oh, yeah, and remember, the other side uses mercenaries who have no problem killing civilians who get in their way.

When I write, I try to give new meaning to the phrase "killer interview."

How else to expand the novel? Simple -- A Pius Man had enough characters for Fellowship of the Ring, surely I can give them their own subplots. I killed family members in the last book. I killed friends. I shot one of my main characters half to pieces. There's a double agent that hasn't really been dealt with. I have tons of people to play with, areas to explore, and really mean things to do to my characters.

What do I do to these poor, unfortunate souls that have the misfortune to land in my novel? You'll see.  But it's going to hurt.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Pius Origins: A Pius Legacy.

[Not many spoilers for A Pius Man. Really.  Oh, we did get a new review. It was good.]

Think of this as a continuation from my original Massive Origins Story.

The journey into A Pius Legacy starts with A Pius Man.  If you remember (and Lord knows it’s long enough that even I forget) A Pius Man was initially an 800 page monster of a novel that shouldn't have been published by a first time author. It went on forever.  Why? Because a character got away from me—namely, the villain—and the bastard wouldn't be stopped even by death. I did everything but drop a house on this guy, and he just wouldn't go down.

So, I let it ride. I wanted to see where it would go.

The answer is straight to Hell.

When A Pius Legacy opens, APM isn’t quite over yet.  People who read the book will remember that it opened with the murder of an academic doing research on Pope Pius XII.  There was also another researcher who was attacked, by the same conspirators and for the same reasons. His name was Matthew Kovach.  Kovach and his fate are the introduction to A Pius Legacy. And there’s still a boatload of blowback involved. 

Remember who the bad guys are from A Pius Man … no, not the gunmen, the people who hired them, and ran them.  How do you deal with people who are, essentially, governments?  You can’t assassinate them, especially not with the Catholic church involved. And if you did… well, that would make my Catholic thriller end like the Godfather, with massive assassinations scattered around in a montage-like sequence of death.

As I am not writing The Godfather, I don’t think so.

So, how do you bring justice to people like this?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Review: Stealing Jenny

Remember once upon a time, when I mentioned that someone at the Catholic Writer's Guild came up to me, asked if I was lost, I introduced myself, and her eyes lit up and she said she was honored to meet me?

Ellen Gable wrote a book called Stealing Jenny, and mentioned that it would be free on Kindle early last week, and we could grab a copy and review it.

I shrugged, figured "If she likes my book, how bad could hers be," and decided to go for it. Lord knows enough people "Oooo"ed and "ahhh"ed over it while I was at the CWG conference. Might as well see what all the fuss was about.

So, where does one begin with Stealing Jenny?  [Below the break]