Monday, December 31, 2012

Cover Reveal: Seal of Trust

So I've been working with the remarkable Tom Edwards for a little while now on a new cover and I thought I should share. Now, I know some people might be asking about the last cover I revealed for "The Doomsday Door". while I can say that I've finished my draft and early revision stages of that book, which was meant to be my debut, I must also say that it's a long way from being coherent and concise enough for an editor or alpha reader to delve into.
A symptom of a bigger, newb related problem? Inability to finish a project or to power through the tough parts of a novel? Perhaps, but in this case I don't think so, while I will freely admit that has been an issue with previous work I've started.   
Doomsday Door right now is a complex issue, maybe unnecessarily so, and during practically every minute I worked on it this year I struggled to not think about the story behind this post and the new cover: Seal Of Trust.
Seal Of Trust (SOT) takes place in a distant future on a colonized world where a peaceful people have been enduring a long standing occupation from a hostile, fascist government. Our main character is a one time fearless and idealistic young man raised in a peaceful and beautiful world who met the enemy, one he had always fantasized about fighting in glorious battles as a youth, only to come away a scarred and broken survivor when his planet actually needed defending. Many years later he's a quiet and humble servant to the tyrants who've all but destroyed his people and his home world.
Here's the current blurb if you're interested:
The colony world of Garma had only known tyranny and oppressive rule by the fascist, militarized government known as the Faction for decades. An isolated settlement, the peaceful people of Garma had no hope when heavy war cruisers orbited their world, bombarded their small defense force and landed a mechanized army that had never met its equal.  
The invasion ended almost as soon as it began and the occupation followed.
Many years later, Garman born Desmond Ranier is known as a Red Seal, his years of loyal and obedient service to the Faction proven with a coveted marker grafted to his hand, its color signifying the highest possible level of trust granted. Because of this Desmond enjoys responsibility and privilege few Garman people know as a utility shuttle pilot. After living so much of his life under brutal Faction rule he has accepted his place; aiding in the ongoing subjugation of his own people and the continued desecration of the only home he’s ever known.
Until he sees a beautiful face from his past, a prisoner on his shuttle bound for a horrid fate in the internment camps. A woman who reminds Desmond of a life before the invasion, one he had forced himself to forget in order to survive the living nightmare his home world had become.
She reminds him of who he once was. And what he once believed in fighting for.  
In short, Doomsday Door was becoming incredibly difficult to mold and shape into what I know it can be and this shorter, much clearer story (in my head anyway) was haunting me day and night. So, on the shelf  DD went and we're full speed ahead with SOT. What I can say is that I'm very excited about what will now be my debut and that I'm much closer to "hitting the button" now with SOT than I was at any time working on "Doomsday" We'll see how it works out.
As for the cover:
I'd wanted to work with Tom Edwards for some time now after seeing his work on other indie Sci-Fi books and having some email contact with him. If you've never heard of him I suggest you click on the links below and take a look at his work over on his site or on DeviantArt. He's a brilliant young designer in the UK and I predict that you'll see his amazing work on the covers of best selling video games and novels in the not too distant future.  he was extremely effecient, reliable and professioanl throughout the whole process, which went a little like this:
I sent him an initial sketch (more of a scribble really, frustrated graphite artists here as well) and he took it from there through a number of digitally painted renditions. We went back and forth tweaking and tuning until we agreed on the final version you see above. I'm thrilled to death with the finished product and will show it on Kindle Boards to get some broad based feedback.
Here's the links I mentioned to learn more about the amazing Tom Edwards. If you're writign Fantasy or Sci-Fi work I don't think you could do much better than to have him work on your cover projects:
More on SOT to come in the near future.
Feels good to post after a long hiatus, due to real life, and I want to wish a Happy New year to everyone as well.
Good times. 


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Guest Blogger: Scott Fitzgerald Gray


Today we have a Fantasy and SF Author, Scott Fitzgerald Gray joining us for a discussion of his insight and experiences from his years of writing. Scott comes to us today as part of a blog tour to help promote his High-School coming-of-age SF thriller "We Can Be Heroes". After perusing Scott's available works, and visiting his blog, I was very excited to have him stop by for a chat. My comments are in blue. Enjoy.
Thanks for coming by Scott. First off, where do you get your ideas... just kidding, don't mail me anything that ticks or has white powder in it! Seriously, what is it that attracted you to (and keeps you passionate) about your chosen genre(s)?

The current postage rates do a very effective job of keeping me from mailing any serious threats, never fear. (Sending out bad vibes isusually all I can afford.) But what initially attracted me to fantasy and speculative fiction — and what keeps me writing there — is an easy one to answer. Imagination. I’m not a genre snob by any stretch, and I love well-written books in just about any genre, including a lot of classical and mainstream literature.

But fantasy and SF have always had a special place in my heart because they represent a degree of freedom of imagination that goes beyond what most mainstream fiction can do. Now, the downside to having genres of unlimited imagination is that it’s easy sometimes for fantasy and SF to go off the rails, layering in imagination so thickly that any hint of a real story gets lost. But when fantasy and SF really work, they do so in a way that few other genres can match.

Regarding what would become your first published work: how was that process? How long? What personalor creative ups and downs did you have?

Well, I started out in screenwriting originally, so the definition of “published” gets kind of wonky. Like a lot of writers, I yearned to be a writer from a very young age, and I went through a phase where my skill as a writer was coming nowhere close to the kinds of stories (specifically, the kinds of novels) I wanted to write. However, I discovered inadvertently that my writing style and my focus on visual narrative lent itself to screenwriting quite nicely, so my creativity shifted in that direction while I left prosefiction on the back burner. Screenwriting is unique in being the only form of writing where you can make a reasonable living without ever getting anything produced (a scenario that I first heard described as “the velvet rut”). But for me, even as I was making a living and getting frustrated because I wasn’t getting anything made, I was cranking out literally hundreds of thousands of words and becoming a much better writer and storyteller in the process.

It took about ten years, I guess, for me to decide that I’d had enough of screenwriting. But during that time, I managed to learn a whole hell of a lot about storytelling and structure, which let me overcome the hurdles that sandbagged my initial attempts to write a novel. The first novel Iever completed was finished in 2004, but hasn’t been published yet. (It’ sawaiting a rewrite, and will hopefully be out later this year.) The second novel I wrote was “Clearwater Dawn” in 2007, but it took three years of trying to shop it through traditional publishing before I decided I was ready to goindy with it.

According to your offerings on Amazon you have written or contributed to thirteen works since 2010, mostly in 2011. Some are shorts and others are promo samples of novels,but regardless, with all that's required for an indie release, that's an unusually high amount of output for anyone. How do you structure your writing day/weekand and what are your production goals and personal deadlines like? Are you an"outline" guy with endless notes and 3x5 cards all over the house or do you open a doc., freestyle, and let it fly.

My work kind of divides itself along three lines these days —working on my own writing, editing and story editing fiction for other people (sometimes film scripts; sometimes novels), and editing and designing roleplaying games. How much writing I get done in any given week typically depends on how many other projects and commitments I have to deal with. But for the most part, I try to nail down at least a thousand words a day when I’m busy with other people’s stuff, and at least four thousand words a day on the rare occasions when I’m only working for myself.

As far as actual process goes, I am the most fundamentalist, hardcore proponent of outlining you’ve ever met, and you will be too once I’ve had my way with you. I love outlining — not just in the sense of saying,“This is a valuable tool,” but in the sense of actually enjoying the outlining process more than any other writer I’ve met. Outlining to me is the most primal, fundamental, joyous kind of writing because it’s like you’re working with story in its most raw, uncut form. One way or another, I’m always messing around with an outline — like right now, I’m writing one new novel from outline, I’m working on the outline for the novel I’m going to write after the current novel, and I’ve got a couple of short stories that I’m sketching out ideas for, and which I’ll write in the odd hours in between the two bigger projects.

It’s important to stress that the outline is never the final story, however. A lot of people who look down on outlining talk about how they can’t see any point in writing a story that they already know the shape of, but that’s the wrong way to look at it. Outlining is first ideas, and as most writers know, first ideas are almost never the best ideas. The outline is thus always an organic, evolving kind of document. It doesn’t define the story in its finalform — it simply defines the potential for what the story can be.

Having said that, however, I do think that one of the most important things we can do as writers is try to challenge ourselves creatively.I’m such a heavy-duty outliner that I usually outline my short fiction inaddition to my longer works, and as a reaction to that, I set out late last year to try to write short fiction in the more traditional (for many writers) approach of New Document, Rough Idea, and Go! Three of my more recent shorts (“TheTwilight Child,” “Daeralf’s Rune,” and “The Game of Heart and Light”) were all written totally raw that way, just throwing ideas down and shaping them only through the writing. And I confess that as a lover of outlining, that process was excruciating for me at times — but totally worth it because I know it’s made my writing process better.

Back to your insanely busy 2011... why didn't we see you on the news being tasered and cuffed after having gone postal somewhere?

I try to get all my rage and social anxiety out on the page rather than letting it explode into real life. But I’ve only ever been partly successful, so if you do an assessment of how much rage and social anxiety is in my fiction, you’ll probably get a bad feeling about how much is still waiting tocome out…

I noticed you're a film guy. I'm a film heart anyway as film school was a long time ago.You have anumber of your film projects listed on your site and, I'm assuming as there are no pics or vids, that these are under development. As a said movie guy I haveto ask; how are your projects coming along and will you see production on any?

As far as anyone would notice, I’m effectively retired as ascreenwriter at this point, so the projects on the website are a kind of creative archive as much as anything else. Part of the reason for that retirement, as mentioned above, is just having spent a lot of time working as ascreenwriter and deciding it was time to do something else. But part of it also is the absolute mind-deadening, soul-crushing process of being a screenwriter, and deciding at some point that I could do better. I still do a fair bit of work as a story editor and script consultant working on other people’s film projects,and I still get called on to do actual screenwriting work from time to time, and I have older projects generate interest and occasional option money.

However, it’s not something I pursue with the same level of passion that drives my prose fiction right now. As far as I still subscribe to the dream you cite, I’d be much more interested at this point in adapting one of my novel projects for film or television than working on original film material. (There’s an off chance that might happen with the above-mentioned first novel I ever finished,which a producer I know is interested in optioning when it’s released.)

You're clearly an independent author now but do you have any traditional publishing background?Any agent/editor stories, good or bad? What is your stance on traditional publishing now? Aside from a million dollar "Hocking" deal, would you ever accept a trad-publishing offer, or are you one of those guys on a Big-6"deathwatch."

Outside of my writing and freelance work, my professional work experience has actually been mostly focused in publishing — just not inBig Six book publishing. At different points, I’ve been involved in magazines, alt-weekly newspaper publishing, daily newspapers, indie small-press book publishing, and new media, working jobs across just about all aspects of production, editing, and content creation. Thus, when I talk about being an indie author-publisher, I’m approaching it not just from the perspective of a writer who wants to bypass traditional publishing — I’m a writer who understands the publishing process to some degree, and who knows how much work is entailed in actually being an indie publisher.

I don’t have any particular hatred for traditional fiction publishing, and if a publishing contract landed on my desk tomorrow I’d look atit the same way I look at any business opportunity — weighing the good and the bad and deciding whether it made sense for me. But as an indie author, I’m of the opinion that traditional fiction publishers need to stop treating writers as the least important part of their process, and that unless the so-called Big Six publishers get their collective head out of their collective ass, their industry is in serious trouble. Ultimately, though, people like Kris Rusch do a much better (and much more well-informed job) of talking about those issues than I ever could.

My agent/author stories are all on the screenwriting side of things, and don’t bear repeating (at least until the restraining orders are alllifted…). 

Last question about trad-publishing, don't want to degenerate into a indie vs. legacy post here, but what future do you see for traditionals? Should aspiring newbs or dropped andout of print mid-listers even bother pursuing agents and editors anymore?

It would take a full frontal lobotomy or some manner of alien brain parasite for me to ever take on the services of an agent again, but that’s just one guy’s opinion. Like many writers, I think the advantages of indie author-publishing are pretty clear — but maybe better than some, I also understand how much work is involved in publishing properly. Hitting “Send” on the Amazon KDP product page isn’t the sum total of the publishing process. It’s the very last and least important step in the publishing process,and indie writers need to get a handle on all the other more important steps — content, editing, more editing, proofreading, cover design, marketing — if they plan on publishing their own work. And that’s not totry to dissuade anyone from making that leap of faith in themselves as indie authors. It’s just to try to make people understand that being an author-publisher is two very different and equally challenging jobs.

As far as the traditionals go, I think they have a potentially great future — but only if they recognize that the past is dead, and I don’t see that happening for the most part. Again, other people talk about this subject with much more cred than me, but traditional publishing seems dedicated more than ever now with trying to desperately hang onto astatus quo that’s not simply crumbling — it’s already gone.

Sort of yesterday’s news but I still like to ask: Team Edward or Team Jacob...just kidding again, Seriously though, was Twilight even readable for you? Having been at this for along time, what do you think about those writers who find huge, breakout success with the mass audience with works that are largely condemned, en-mass,by other writers?

I’d have to give Edward the edge over Jacob just by virtue of the fact that Robert Pattinson can act (though only in films other than the“Twilight” franchise, apparently). I confess that I’ve never read the books,though. I’m grateful to have a family that loves reading, and my older daughter assessed the “Twilight” books as starting off well but getting horrid by the end. As such, it’s hard for me to commit to the idea of working through the entire series.

To the larger question, though, I don’t begrudge any writerany amount of success, and I admit to a certain amount of antipathy for writerswho publicly bitch about other people’s work or success. There are plenty ofbooks that I personally don’t like, but I’ve never been enough of an asshole to assume or insist that my not liking something means that it’s objectively bad. If someone doesn’t like a book, they should just stop reading the damn thing and pick up a book they do like. And even beyond that, it’s important to remember that people like books for different reasons. If someone wants to say that Stephanie Meyer’s writing doesn’t hold up to Virginia Woolf, I don’t expect I would argue that point. But writing works on a lot of different levels, and Meyer’s ability to tell a story clearly tapped into a narrative need held by a large number of people, and I’m okay with that.

Back on Aug 1 your Blog tour stopped off at Ty Johnston's page HERE  and you discussed your affinity for SF (vs. Sci-Fi) or, as you put it, "Speculative Fiction." You admit to having a strong technical ability inherrent between your ears (the kind that escapes most of us) which allows you to not only comprehend a lot of the hard science concepts in the more demanding SF works, but to also find entertainment from it. 

Which makes you a perfect candidate for this question:

In one of my first posts here, on my widely un-read blog, I mentioned a Locus magazine roundtable headed by Gardner Dozois about Fantasy and Sci-fi book performance vs. movies. The crux of their discussion was how the top grossing movies, year after year, and the all time record setters, are almost entirely Fantasy or Sci-fi related, while this performance in not reflected at all (save for outliers of all time: LOR and HP) in book sales.

Meanwhile, many of the more popular Fantasy and Sci-fi books (movie, TV and game serials ironically enough) are often not considered to be the "serious" or "real" works of their genres. Do you consider these break-out hits to be "lightning in a bottle" with genuine, quality elements that resonated with readers and viewers, or do you think there's a "fast food craving" mentality at work? Or, as any harsh critic would tell you; a "dumb" factor, driving popular sales?

Certainly, it’s clear that there’s an obvious disconnect between quality and popularity in film, television, and fiction. But having said that, I think people read fiction for lots of different reasons, and thepopularity of many “break-out books” reflects that. Some books are challenging; some books are comfortably familiar. And nine times out of ten, comfortably familiar will win out over challenging, because comfortably familiar is more inclusive.

A familiar book provides more reasons to read it, so the greater thechance that any individual will find a reason to read it, and that’s just theway it is. Talking about “Twilight” again, for better or for worse, the storythat Stephanie Meyer set out to tell resonated with certain types of readers on an emotional level, and it’s impossible to quantify an emotional connection to literature. Someone can say, “I find Stephanie Meyer’s prose flat compared toAnne Rice,” or “J.K. Rowling’s plots in the latter Harry Potter books were frustratingly pedestrian,” or “China Mieville obscures his stories with a writing style that’s too self-consciously intellectual,” or what have you. But we can’t ever say, “You’re liking that book in the wrong way,” because what people like is always a personal thing.

With the quantity and quality of your work present, and the fact that you've sustained yourself with it for some time now, you're clearly a success story. What rules, mantras oradvice would you give to others struggling to improve their writing careers, or to even get started?
Nice of you to say, so thank you. A big part of any moderate success I can cop to involves the idea that I’ve always done a number of different things, so not putting all one’s eggs in one basket is good advice for any creative endeavor, I think. It’s really hard to make a living solely as an independent author. It’s really hard to make a living solely as a script consultant and story editor, or as a freelance fiction editor, or as a roleplaying-game editor or designer. However, combining all of those things into a kind of unique Me, Inc. creative enterprise, I do okay. Another important thing is to love what you do. Not just enjoy it, not just feel good when you do it, but be absolutely freaking passionate about it. Especially for writing, if you don’t have the passion — if you’re writing primarily to try to suck up to a particular market or audience, or if you’re only in it for the promise of success — the work will show it, and the work will most often fail.

And lastly, as regards writing specifically, always move forward. To be a writer, you have to write. You have to read. You have to keep writing, keep generating new material, keep reading — especially outside your chosen genres. You need to make sure that everything you write teaches you something about your process as a writer, as was true for me when I decided to approach short fiction last year in a way that I normally never do. Everything we write needs to be better in at least some small way than the last thing we wrote. Because only by moving forward as writers do we have any chance of getting to where we ultimately want to be.

Scott Fitzgerald Gray has been flogging his imagination professionally since deciding he wanted to be a writer and abandoning any hope of a real career in about the fourth grade. That was the year that speculative fiction and fantasy kindled his voracious appetite for literary escapism and a love of roleplaying gaming that still drives his questionable creativity. In addition to his fantasy and speculative fiction writing, Scott has dabbled in feature film and television, was a finalist for the Jim Burt Screenwriting Prize from the Writers’ Guild of Canada, and currently consults and story edits on projects ranging from overly obscure indie-Canadian fare to Neill Blomkamp’s somewhat less-obscure “District 9” and the upcoming “Elysium”.

Scott’s latest works are the high-school coming-of-age techno-thriller "We Can Be Heroes and the anthology  "A Prayer for Dead Kings and Other Tales".

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What are Traditional Publishers going to do about their future?

It's inevitable. The unanimous belief is that it will be decidedly digital. And it doesn't take an industry analyst to tell it's definitely going to be different.

Here are some clear attempts at traditionals takinig stabs at figuring out what that future might be:

Macmillan recently announced, what amounts to a massive paradigm shift in its business plan, to begin an experimental shift from a publishing business to what seems like that of a tech company. With a high profile hire of a former e-book company CEO and a bag with (reportedly) more than $100 million dollars in it, this new venture will consist of Macmillan acquiring smaller ed-tech start-up that will operate autonomously under the Macmillan banner on new technology

As is often the case, a great discussion of it is offered by Passive Guy here
In another interesting story, bestselling Sci-fi author, John Scalzi, will have his latest work released by Tor as a serialized e-release.

In what the publisher is calling a “unique new project,” Tor Books will publish The Human Division, the next book by bestselling science fiction author John Scalzi, as a weekly serialized e-book, before releasing it as a complete hardcover and e-book. The e-book serials will begin in December 2012 and run through February 2013. The print and full e-book editions will be available in the late spring or early summer.

Called an “experiment” by Tor senior editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden, the editor also described The Human Division as an “episodic novel.” He explained that the book will be published “like the episodes of a good high-end cable drama, each one will have enough internal integrity to work as an enjoyable chunk of story on its own, but each will advance a ‘season-long’ storyline as well.”
See the articles about the release here at PW and here at Galleycat.
While serializations are nothing new, particularly in the indie e-pub world, it's a pretty big departure for both an established author like Scalzi (who doesn't really need marketing gimmicks, which you could argue this is) or for one of the most prominent Sci-fi publishers out there.
With unrestricted freedom in e-pubbing, many indies take advantage of serializations and shorter works not generally represented by big publishing. Accomplished writers such as Blake Crouch and Barry Eisler seem to do pretty well with them, but if you read a lot of shorts (as I do) you may have noticed that there's more than a smaller percentage of other readers that don't seem to care much for them, as is evident by  the many Amazon reviews where buyers often complain about short length, disclosed or not.
The Scalzi/Tor release will be something I'll follow and discuss later.
Good times. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Official Cover Reveal

I posted a small, watermarked sample of this before from my artist, so the final reveal shouldn't be all that surprising to anyone who's been here before. But now that I officially own the full sized version of it (with some minor tweaks made to it) I decided to share for any possible last minute feedback.

Somewhat nervous doing this as it's bought, paid for and pretty much the final version. Hoping someone doesn't point out some basic design or conceptual flaw that makes me realize the whole cover, in fact, sucks.

Even if so, no worries. Indie publishing is a big learning curve for every first timer. Even if that's the case this is still extremely exciting for me.

After some twenty odd years of writing, aspiring, writing and then aspiring some more. I have my name on a book cover.

Yes, it's a home designed cover I paid someone in Australia to do on her computer and, as of right now, only exists on my laptops pic viewer, but for right now, that's completely irrelevant to me.

I have my name on a book cover.

I'm sure some of you know what I'm feeling right now because I bet you felt the same thing when you opened your attachment from your artist for the first time and saw your own little baby.

Now, off to finish my latest draft. Have a word challenge to catch up to.

Good times.


Friday, June 1, 2012

June: 60K Word Challenge

I'm back, for anyone who may have noticed.

Personally, the last several weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind, we've moved out of our house, re-located the kids with relatives at the Jersey Shore and I triumphantly ended 8 months of unemployment with a new active duty Navy assignment in Maryland.

All in all, good things

But the writing has suffered. Badly.

No more. This June I'm picking up a ball I dropped when I jumped on a month long blog challenge from Dave Gaughran back in February to do 60K in 30 days.

Why the sudden urgency? Because a personal writing resolution (not one I posted back on my resolutions post) is about to go out the window; to have "hit the button" and been self-published before turning 40. As it happens, I'll be turning 40 in only ten more short days.

Nope. Not gonna have my work ready to roll out by then. No way. Fail.

But, I have my cover finalized, picked my editor and have my outline finally sorted out. So I haven't been totally unproductive. All that's missing now is the good, ole fashion sweat equity.

I recognized long ago that truly productive writing needs to be treated like work. Just like cleaning out your garage, painting that dingy looking room and starting to get yourself back in shape and/or dieting; sometimes you need to put a hot iron to your own ass.

30 days in June; 2k words a night starting right now. That's all I have to say for now.

Wish me luck, I'll keep you posted.

Good times.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Doomsday Door; Cover Reveal

Apologies to all that may have stopped by here and seen absolutely nothing new since Feb. So far I'm well on track to violating virtually all of my 2012 writing resolutions, including not keeping my blog updated and active.

In my defense, no matter how dedicated and hardcore one is, it's genuinely hard to focus on a creative, non-paying venture when you have Backdraft type fires to put out at home.

Whining now concluded, I do have something new to share that's very exciting (to me anyway) and that's the proof for my "Doomsday Door" cover!

The pic to the left is a collage proofs I got from my artist. The "semi-finished" thumbnail in the top left corner is the cover itself and the other samples are blow ups of particular areas. Me and the artist are both new to this so excuse us if this seems out of the ordinary. She's Yobtaf on Deviantart (her name is Mel) and she's somewhere in Australia.

I do have some changes to suggest to her but would love any feedback that anyone has to offer. Once we finalize the design we'll resolve some business and then I'll have my "cover" box checked off!

Me personally, I can only think of one or two things to change and I'm completely stunned by the cover so far. I'm contemplating blocking out Mel's info on the bottom so I can put it up on KB for feedback as well but I think I'll ask her first what she would like. I'll also let her know that with her info visible she may be in danger of getting a deluge of requests for cover art! I think she's that good, anyway.

So, here it is in all it's post-apocalyptic glory. Good or bad, let me know what you think.

Good times.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

First million words of CRAP...DONE! On to the second million! can check out this blog I discovered; a collection of contributions from 11 established thriller writers.

I've read through a couple posts and am automatically a big fan of this blog. It's limited to story and craft. No indie "biz" reporting, DIE-BIG 6-DIE, rants or Legacy publishing deathwatches here, just great essays on writing.

The current post from Joe Moore is, I think, a must read for Newbs as it deals with common problems with first novels. Makes for a really good checklist of what NOT to do!

Now, I'm not a huge, or a well read, fan of the most popular genre out there; Thrillers. Traditionally I've read thriller blurbs and thought: Seriously? How many jaded, verteran (and HOT) detectives can possibly be targeted over and over again by genius, sadistic (and handsome) serial killers? How many times can the worlds greatest spies always end up on blacklists, left out in the cold and hunted at every turn? Doesn't it cost a fortune to train these guys? They seem to get thrown away a lot.

I don't mean to critisize the genre and any of its writers, Sci-Fi has just been my preference and in the past I've generally been disinterested with most thrillers. I'm sure non Sci-Fi/Fantasy readers feel the same about our favorites.

But I've been reading a lot more (great) thrillers lately and am being inspired by some really strong writing. I believe that every genre work out there, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Pananormal, is made either good or great with suspense. Too often I think writers in the fantasy fields (especially us Newbs) rely on our tech, creatures, apocalyptic stakes and exotic settings to excite and involve readers while disregarding some valuable mechanics.

In Indie works (which can vary greatly in story quality, even among many top sellers that I've started and not finished) I've all too often found myself reading long portions of narrative description (among many other negatives listed in Moore's post) and simply stopped caring about the story and its characters.

I think there's a lot to learn from the folks who create suspense and excitement without monstrous hordes, unstoppable alien forces or immortal, mythical creatures that threaten their heros. They have to make do with what we have here in the real world.

Good times.