A Post About Writing Tips

August 31, 2009

Today’s post can be found at http://magicalwords.net, the group blog on the business and craft of writing fantasy that I maintain with fellow authors Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, and C. E. Murphy. The post is called “Eleven Tips for Beginning Writers,” and it is intended to answer the question I am asked more than any other: “What advice do you have for writers who are just starting out?” Here’s my answer. And it’s a good one; it goes to eleven…. I hope you enjoy it.

Teddy Kennedy

August 26, 2009

I’m not looking for a fight or an argument.  I know that Ted Kennedy was a flawed human being, that his flaws cost a young woman her life, that he hurt his children and his first wife and others with his drinking.  I don’t presume to make excuses for him.  He had to live with his flaws and following the tenets of his faith, he believed that he would have to answer for them before he would find rest.

I also know that he made this country a better place.  The countless pieces of legislation he authored improved people’s lives.  They brought justice and freedoms to those who were desperate to throw off the burdens of prejudice and poverty; they shone the light of education into places darkened for too long by ignorance and neglect; and they offered comfort and healing to those who couldn’t have afforded a doctor’s care or a pharmacist’s cure without the government’s help.   He was the very embodiment of public service.  When Republicans turned the word “Liberal” into a epithet and Democrats ran from the label, fearing for their political lives, Teddy Kennedy proudly embraced it.  He remained committed to his ideals throughout his career.  He was a patriot in the truest sense of the word, devoting his life to his country, criticizing her leaders when they deserved to be criticized, and fighting always to protect the weakest and poorest and most vulnerable among us.

I slept better at night knowing that Teddy was in the United States Senate working tirelessly for causes in which I believed as passionately as he.  I wish he had lived to see the passage of a health care reform bill, and I hope that when the bill does pass that it will bear his name.

The world is a slightly darker place tonight because he’s gone.

Today’s post can be found at http://magicalwords.net, the group blog on the business and craft of writing fantasy that I maintain with fellow authors Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, and C. E. Murphy. The post, called “Five Works of Art,” discusses five pieces — a novel, a movie, a painting, a photograph, and a piece of music — that have influenced my approach to writing. I hope you enjoy it.

Today’s post, “Learning to Teach Writing,” can be found at SFNovelists.com.  SFNovelists is a group blog maintained by over one hundred published authors of fantasy and science fiction.  I hope you’ll visit the site and enjoy the post.

Tom Ridge Comes Clean

August 20, 2009

Former Bush Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is now saying that he felt pressured by others in the Bush Administration to raise the nation’s terrorism threat level on the eve on the 2004 Presidential Election.  The only thing I find surprising about this is that anybody could be surprised by it.  The worst kept secret in America during the seven years four months between 9/11 and the end of George W. Bush’s Presidency, was that the Bush Administration used fear of another terrorist attack as a political tool….

But good for Ridge for finally speaking out.

To Congressman Lincoln Davis (D-TN4):

I attended your town hall forum today in Winchester, Tennessee, eager to hear what you had to say about health care reform, hopeful that you might offer some much needed clarity in a debate that has been muddied by lies, distortions, and misinformation. I cannot begin to describe for you the disappointment I felt when I left the forum a mere fifteen minutes after you began speaking.

You were asked about provisions that are supposedly in the pending health care bills that would grant government funded health care to illegal immigrants. You were asked about provisions that are supposedly in the bills that would allow for on-demand, federally-funded abortions. You were asked about provisions that are supposedly in the bills that would euthanize elderly patients who were deemed by government bureaucrats to be too ill to warrant treatment. In other words, you were presented with the full panoply of lies currently being propagated by opponents of health care reform and conservative critics of your party’s President.

It’s true that each of these questions was greeted with applause. Approximately half that people in that room believed the things they’d heard from Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. But you had an opportunity to present these people with the truth. You’d made a point of telling us all that you had read the bills currently under consideration in the House of Representatives. You know what’s in them; that’s what you told us. You could have stood before us all and answered the lies and distortions head on. You could have said, “There is no provision in any of these bills that would give health care to people who are in the country illegally. There are no provisions that would provide free abortions to anyone. There are no death panels. There is no talk in Congress of euthanizing anyone.”

That would have been the courageous thing to do. That would have demonstrated true leadership.

Instead you pandered. You took the coward’s way out. “I will not vote for a bill that allows government money to pay for abortions,” you said. “I will not vote for a bill that gives government health care to illegal aliens. . . I won’t vote for any bill that would allow anyone to be euthanized.” And the people applauded.

Then you said, “There are 47 million people in this country who don’t have health insurance, and to tell you the truth, I think most of them want it that way.” People clapped for that, too. I couldn’t take any more. I left.

You took several minutes at the beginning of the forum to tell us that you’re neither a conservative nor a liberal, that you rank right in the middle on the National Journal’s ideological scale. You said it with pride. You’ve also made a point of declaring yourself undecided on the question of health care reform. Apparently, you equate vacillation with strength; you believe that by following the vicissitudes of public opinion you show yourself to be a leader. You’re a political weather vane who thinks he’s a meteorologist.

Sometimes, sir, a politician has to show some backbone. Yes, you were elected to represent us in Congress. But you were also sent to Washington to educate yourself on the issues and then to educate us in turn. And if we refuse to learn, then it is up to you to act on our behalf. If you read the history of our Constitution, if you read the FEDERALIST PAPERS, you will find that Madison and Hamilton saw a dual role for members of Congress. You were to be representatives AND delegates. You were to represent our views, but you were also to act on our behalf when issues were too complicated to be readily understood by the people at large. Sometimes you must do what is right, even if it is unpopular, even if it might cost you an election.

You had an opportunity today to show us what kind of leader you are. It turns out, you’re not a leader at all. You are Tennessee’s Cowardly Lion. You are an empty suit. You don’t care about doing right, about making decent laws that will actually help the people of your district or state or country. You care only about what will prove to be good politics. I am ashamed to call you a fellow Democrat and embarrassed to have you as my representative in the United States House of Representatives. You will not have my vote next year or ever again.


David B. Coe

Today’s post can be found at http://magicalwords.net, the group blog on the business and craft of writing fantasy that I maintain with fellow authors Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, and C. E. Murphy. The post is called “Creating Magic,” and it grew out of a question from a friend about creating magic systems. I hope you enjoy it.

An Update on my WIP

August 13, 2009

Thought I’d give an update on my work in progress, since I haven’t done that for some time now.  Usually I’d show one of those fancy progress bars that I like so much — you know:  actual word count versus projected word count.  But for a couple of reasons that doesn’t really work with this current project.  For one thing, I have no idea how long the book is going to be when it’s done.  It could be 100,000 words; it could be 130,000; it could (and probably will) come in somewhere in between.  I just don’t know.  Also, this is a book I’m rewriting (the first incarnation was 124,000 words, by the way).  Parts of it I’m writing again from scratch, while other parts will remain almost exactly as they were in the original version.  I’ve changed the magic system entirely, I’ve changed the core conflict that dominates my main character’s life, and I’ve changed the fundamental narrative thread that drives the story in this particular book (it’s the first of what I hope will be a series of stand alone mysteries with a strong fantasy element).  I’ve kept many of the peripheral characters and their interactions with my protagonist, because they were, along with my main character himself, the strength of that original book.

I’m probably two-thirds of the way through the rewrite and I love the way this thing is coming out.  I loved the original book, but have known for some time that it needed to be reworked before I could sell it.  I believe that when this new version is done, it will be marketable.  In fact, I think it will be as good as anything I’ve ever written.  Rewriting in this way — fitting major new elements into a book I already love — has been a challenge.  At times, as I’ve had to jettison some of my favorite scenes and moments from that first book, it’s been incredibly hard.  At other times, as I’ve seen it coming together into something new and exciting, and yet still familiar, it’s been deeply satisfying.

Along with not knowing for certain how long this book will be, I also don’t really know when I’m going to be done with this rewrite.  It could be as soon as the end of this month.  It could be late September.  It’s flowing well right now, but on Monday it was giving me fits.  I’m sure I’ll cycle through a whole range of emotions several times more before I’m done.  Right now I’m just happy to be working on a project I love, making progress, and watching it gel into what I think could be something very special.

A Post About Time

August 10, 2009

Today’s post, “Time Really Is On Our Side,” can be found at http://magicalwords.net, the fantasy blog on the craft and business of writing that I maintain with fellow writers Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, and C.E. Murphy.  Please visit the site and enjoy the post.

I’m back from two weeks of vacationing up north, and in getting back into the swing of everyday life, I’m also getting back into checking the news more regularly.  And I’m shocked and disgusted by the tone of the health care debate.  This issue is too important for our nation’s health, for our children’s future, and for our economic stability.  We can’t be basing decisions on the egregious lies being put forward by right wing critics of the Obama Administration, NOR can we allow distortions and exaggerations from the left to shape whatever legislation Congress eventually passes.  The status quo is unacceptable.  We have to change our current system.  That old cliche we hear all the time from our politicians — “America still has the best health care system in the world” — simply isn’t true anymore.  Whether measured in cost (as a percentage of GPD, or on a per capita basis), efficiency, access, or the health of the populace (infant mortality, disease rates, etc.) our health care system rates no better than average when compared with the systems of other industrialized nations.

So I would urge all of you to go here:  http://www.politifact.org/truth-o-meter/subjects/health/

Politifact.org is a nonpartisan, Pulitzer prize-winning web site that is devoted to separating fact from rhetoric.  As you’ll see when you visit the link above, the site points out distortions from Democrats and Republicans.  It points out the places where Barack Obama has said things that are false, or instances of flipflops on the President’s part.  It also points out lies from the right (which have been far more frequent and serious on this issue).  If you are serious about debating health care reform, go here first and get your facts straight.  Is the program proposed by Congress going to be expensive?  Absolutely.  Do we know how it will be paid for?  No, not yet.


Will illegal immigrants be given free health care?  Absolutely not.  Will Granny by put to death to save costs?  No.  Is the Democratic plan “Socialized Medicine” based on the British system?  No.

Read up.  Learn the truth.  Then talk about it.  Speak TO people, not at them.  Let’s do this like grown-ups.