Tag Archive for writing

Protagonist Speaks, a Police Interview with Alex Orlov

Alex doing research

Sometimes, when we finish reading or writing a story, the story is not done with us. Some characters linger in our thoughts and speak up and give rise to some other content and revelations. Mostly, such content remains private — I have tons of illustration, pages of story, and folders of research ideas that never made it into the final novel. But occasionally, I discover places on the Web where a bit of that background material can leak out and find an audience. The Protagonist Speaks is one such website. It allows authors to share interviews with their fictional characters, adding depth and dimensionality to those people who otherwise would be stuck on pages between the beginning and the end. Since my book “Twin Time” is currently part of the SPFBO 2019 competition (yes, as of today, it still stands!), I got to meet another competitor, Assaph Mehr. He runs The Protogonist Speaks, an award-winning fantasy blog that features these interviews. Here’s Alex Orlov interview with the police after the fire: “From the closed files relating to the Ms. Orlova’s house fire and the disappearance of Sasha Orlov: Transcript of Alex Orlov interview with Hillsborough police department’s Detective Hendle. (Additional…

Summer Writing and Reading and Editing

Girl Reading

Writing In July, I finally finished editing my latest book: God of Small Affairs (first three chapters are available here). It will be a while before it gets published, but it is nice to move into the next stage of this story’s life. I have a cover that I like…I have several! Here are two: Here is a book description that will definitely NOT appear on the cover of this book: Time is made out of threads. Pull one and someplace somewhere things unravel. We know how to pull on the right thread because we see the whole tapestry of life’s possibilities. That’s why we are so good at finding a good path into the future. I say a future because there is no such thing as the future. We are made of time threads — thick bundles of knots that can pull and twist and change the course of history. It’s all about connections — pull one strand, and the others twist with it. Like Newton’s second law, for every action, there is an equal an opposite reaction. But humans are small in relation to civilized time, planetary time, cosmological time. To make a big change requires a course…

Jew-ish Sci-Fi

Jew-ish Universe

This month, I’ve jumped in head first into dark and cold waters of book marketing. I’ve learned a lot that was new to me but was probably obvious to any salesperson — other people (unlike me) like to read very specific genres of books. For example, if you are into a billionaire werewolf romances, you are NOT into werebear billionaire romances. Yes, people like what they like and there are many authors who are happy to write for very niche audiences. But I read lots of different things, fiction AND non-fiction. I read WWII spy novels AND science fiction. I like action adventure AND historical fantasy. My taste in books is as broad as the stories I like to write. But apparently, that’s not good for marketing. My books are all so different that I’ve been having a hard time zeroing in on a unifying theme for my stories. And then it hit me — I write Jewish Science Fiction…or Jew-ish Sci-Fi. So what’s Jew-ish Sci-Fi? It’s a hero journey to save the world, where the hero belongs to a tight group of outsiders forced to make their way in the world by their talents and smarts and who are…

Searching for the story…

Stain Glass Window

I’m in the middle of two books now — one finished and ready for the fifth round of editing; and one that requires me to finally write an ending. Endings are hard… even when you know how things are going to end. But here’s a few insights from the book I’m finishing right now: God of Small Affairs. (No it’s not the first title I came up with… not even the tenth. Names are hard.) The Beginning I’ve started this particular story thinking it was just a short story, 5000 words max. By the time I got to about 17,000, I knew it was a book. But that was a surprise. This is not a first time a book surprised me into making me write it. The FATOFF Conspiracy was originally a short story too… and Twin Time. Short stories are very different from novel-length works. From the structure point of view, there are fewer characters, no subplots, and a lot less description of the setting and the characters populating the story. A short story simply doesn’t have room for world building… obviously. You grab the story with the first few words and don’t let go or digress for a…

Us and Them

Warm versus Competent graph

Of Doctors, Babies, Kings, and Zombies Before starting my journey as science fiction writer, I got a few degrees under my belt — astrophysics, mathematics, cognitive science, education, etc. It took a few decades (I’ve gotten married and had a family in there somewhere), but I got my doctorate and have used and still use it to help people think through complicated problems, mostly in product design. How is this relevant to writing, you might ask? Well, in addition to witnessing and surviving some amazing situations — always a good experience for a writer — I’ve acquired a few tools on how to think about situations and people. I would like to share one such tool with you: Us versus Them, a cognitive perspective. What people (and other animals) are very good at is dividing themselves into Us’es and Them’s. It’s a useful tool when we live in a divided world — how else do we keep clear of our allegiances to countries, sports teams, and political parties? But these divisions have neurological and psychological underpinnings. Consider a four square graph that charts competency versus likability (emotional warmth and approachability): We perceive (our) doctors as warm, personable, and able. We…

Radio Interview: Speculative Fiction Cantina

Speculative Fiction Cantina

On March 24th, I did a radio interview with the host of Speculative Fiction Cantina, S. Evan Townsend, and William J. Jackson, another indie writer. As it always happens in life, planning a speaking even several months in advance almost invites fate to give one laryngitis! I was luck to prepare my reading piece days in advance, and with the assistance of lots of tea and Advil went on the air. It was an interesting interview and I did manage to talk about ideas for creating sympathetic, diverse characters that evoked empathy among my readers. I am very grateful to Evan for this opportunity. Please visit the Speculative Fiction Cantina for many many interviewers with authors from all over the country. Evan has been doing these for years and has quite a library of conversations and readings. It’s worth the exploration — one never knows where your new favorite author will be discovered! As for my reading, here’s a little video of the first chapter from The FATOFF Conspiracy. You can read a few more chapters here, or get a free ebook from Amazon Prime. Enjoy! And thank you for listening.

Baby Killer

Baby Killers' Dinner

Baby Killer Brian was running away. He dumped his laundry basket into the trunk of his car, wrapped his computer in a towel and stuffed it underneath the mixture of dirty and clean clothes, and took off North. His college midterms went poorly and the paper he wrote for the world philosophy class was just dreadful. He was tired and haven’t slept in a very long time. Life had gotten to be too much lately and he had enough of it. He drove into the night. He liked staring into the passing lights, it was easy to lose oneself in the monotony of the highway in the dark — nothing to really see, just the passing the headlights, reflectors, and the lit highway signs. He drove most of the night. In the gray pre-dawn, he noticed a small billboard for a rest stop, offering hot coffee. Without making a conscious decision, Brain found himself turning off on a small side road and then into a parking lot of a medium-sized diner. Quite a few cars were already parked in a cluster around the front entrance. Soft yellow light spilled out of the curtained windows. Brian parked his car in the…