4.0 – Peak Star Wars

January 8, 2016 1

It’s time to discuss Star Wars: The Force Awakens! But first we share our fun picks for this week. They happen to be: Moebius Models, Hellboy Library Edition Vol. 4, Plotted: a Literary Atlas and the Merrily Watkins series.)

Then turn down the volume, non-moviegoers, for it’s *SPOILER ALERT* time! We discuss the new Star Wars movie from every angle (ring composition or rehash?) and reach our own conclusions. May the Force be with y’all!

TheSiths_un

Unreliable Mail: How do I become a writer and a podcaster?

December 31, 2015 0

Dear Unreliable Narrators:

For my 2016 New Year’s resolution, I’ve decided I want to grow up to be a writer and a podcaster, just like all of you are. What are my first steps?

***

I’m glad you asked that, Unreliable Listener! This is Cath, and the other Narrators can respond in their own unique way, but I have a couple of ideas on the subject.

The first thing you have to do, aspiring writer, is to write. You have to write a lot. And you have to write a lot of crap. Words do not come out of your pen fully formed like Athena in her armor. Even when you’ve written a long time, the first words you birth will be scabrous and malformed. It is essential at this point that you write some more. All writers will tell you that first drafts are formative. They do things to your self-conscious. They deviate from outlines. They are as wiggly as worms on a fishing hook. But keep writing and don’t be critical of yourself until the right time, which is when you feel a first draft has given you as much as it can. For some people that point is at the end. For others, it’s a constant scouring of the last section they wrote before they move on to the next one. Most people are somewhere in between.

Find a way to separate the creator from the editor. Don’t do both. I’ve pretended that I can create and edit at the same time, but I was just living a lie.  If you let the editor look at your work too soon, you might not be able to stomach your scabrous words, and quit, or you might lock yourself into a structure which keeps your story from bearing fruition. However, if you don’t let the editor in at all, your words will remain nasty.

My process varies from book to book, but usually I write a first draft, which usually collapses to almost outline form by the end, and then I laboriously go back in and unpack a lot of the stuff I wrote before. I also think through changes and re-outline. I also talk to my friends a lot about what I’m doing (a good writing group is another post) and bounce ideas off my husband. Sometimes an inspirational light bulb will appear above my head when my subconscious makes me realize something I’ve been doing all along.  Eventually the mass of words comes to resemble a short story or a novel, or whatever it is I’m groping towards.

The point is to write, write often, write with freedom, expect little from those first drafts, and turn a critical eye on the beastie when the time is right, but not before. As you come to know yourself and your writing, you’ll come to know when the time is right.

Now, I’m sorry, aspiring writer, all of this does not guarantee that anyone else will care about your magnum opus, or that you will get an agent, or riches.  But it does mean that you will engage in an art form and produce the stories you want to produce, hopefully your level of skill improving as you write and write and write and write and, well, you get the idea.  There’s a whole ‘nother part of this, the business end, but again, that’s another post.

As for being a podcaster, well, that one’s a bit easier. You get some friends and a tape recorder, you sit around and talk and put it on line. We usually line up topics in advance and appoint a moderator, but you don’t have to.  If you’re very lucky, one of your friends will make a swell theme song and another will do liner notes and all you’ll have to do is contact the occasional person and write a snarky post or two on the blog. At least that’s how I did.

Hey, let us know how you’re doing out there, Unreliable Listener! On the eve of 2017, you should write back and let me know how it’s going with that first draft. Or you could talk about it on your podcast.

3.0 – Good Riddance 2015

December 31, 2015 0

un3Another year bites the dust! We reveal the New Years resolutions we plan to keep (and those we probably won’t). Then we share the stories we’re most looking forward to in 2016. (Spoiler alert: The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley, Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal, the new Black Panther series by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Marvel’s Doctor Strange movie)
From there we move on to the year in writing, and finally what we’re reading right now. (More spoilers: Hostage to the Devil by Malachi Martin (see George’s review here), Grace of Kings by Ken LiuVermilion: The Adventures of Lou Merriwether, Psychopomp by Molly Tanzer, and Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal)
Also, R.I.P. Lemmy Kilmister.
As an added bonus, we also discuss Dark Age, Lego Dimensions Wonder Woman, and My Amityville Horror. So many links, so little time.
Happy New Year! Unless you’re listening after the fact, in which case we hope 2016 is treating (or has treated) you with favor.

Book Review: Hostage to the Devil!

December 27, 2015 0

Say-tan take my hand

One of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time. According to the author, Say-tan (one of this book’s many gems is learning the correct way to say the Devil’s name in case you’re ever at a Black Mass) has been a busy boy. Among other things, the author believes that the Satanic Ritual Panic of the early 80’s really happened; one of the many signs that far from writing a serious religious treatise, he has penned a crackpot New Age book. There is quite a bit of material about the Satanic Scare of the 80’s written by psychologists and law enforcement agents. The author either didn’t bother doing his research or just chose to ignore it. This is not surprising. I get the impression that he will pretty much believe anything, as long as it’s couched in religious jargon.

Most of this book is spent railing against the fact that the Earth has entered the 21st century. Goddamn kids these days are such easy prey for Say-tan. The stories of the exorcisms are pretty much pure fantasy. I’m not belittling what these people (if they even exist) went through, because mental illness isn’t a funny thing. I seriously doubt they were possessed by anything, although the author himself harbors no such doubts.

Mr. Martin would have been a great horror writer; and I mean that as a compliment, not an insult. He pulls off the neat trick of linking the exorcists with the possessed; in these ‘case studies,’ the victims aren’t even important. They are set pieces to test the exorcists’ faith. For example: one of the exorcists blasphemously believes in evolution. The demon uses this crack in his holy armor to hammer at his faith. Luckily, the exorcist discards this belief for something more suitably Middle Ages, and all is well again!

My only quibble with this book is that the author’s prose sometimes flies off into flights of crapulastic verbal ecstasy, making one worry that he himself has been possessed by a bloviating devil.

Say-tan would be so proud!

2.2 – ‘Tis the Season

December 25, 2015 0

un_02Back already? It’s the second half of our Christmas Week session. We discuss our plans, or lack thereof, and wax enthusiastic over this week’s picks: Paul Cornell‘s This Damned Band (check out the Spotify playlist, too!), the SyFy renaissance, Silver Age Flash and Karen S. Weisner‘s Writing the Fiction Series.

Plus check out Chris and Cath reading on Adventures in SciFi Publishing. And marvel at the “hellish nightmare” that has resulted from a decade of Civ II. Don’t forget to cheer for our pal, Miranda Suri. Then stick around, of course, for Chia’s reading of A Golden Treasure. Merry Solstice!

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