Today’s post can be found at, the group blog on speculative fiction that I maintain along with a group of over one hundred published authors of fantasy and science fiction. It is called “Drawing on Literary Traditions: THE HUNGER GAMES and THE MAZE RUNNER as Case Studies,” and it’s about the ways in which older literary works often inform newer books and stories. I hope you enjoy it.

New Year, New Challenges

January 29, 2012

Four weeks into the New Year, and while I am on pace with the work schedule I set for myself, I am also struggling with my current project.  Creativity is not always something one can force, and right now I am trying to make myself come up with ideas for two new books.  Why?  I need to get in proposals to my publisher so that I can get to work on the projects, and in today’s market that means writing up proposals and synopses, regardless of how many books I have written and published in the past.  I might even need to submit a few chapters of the next book along with the proposals.  That’s fine.  I have no problem with that.

What’s giving me fits is trying to come up with the new ideas.  I know the general outlines of what I want to write.  I know where the books fit in with the larger chronology of the project, but beyond that . . . well, I’ve got nothin’.

I have been here before, and I know I’ll get through it.  The ideas will come.  But right now, its a struggle.

A Full Weekend

January 28, 2012

Exciting day in our household.  Our older daughter took her SATs this morning, and actually came out of the exam feeling pretty good about it. And our younger daughter is up in Nashville swimming in the regional Middle School Swim Championships.  Her finals are tonight, but she has already qualified in both her events (with personal-best times, I might add).  As I say, an exciting day.

So the older kid and I are going to celebrate with a sushi dinner (seems a good choice while the younger one is at her swim meet).

Enjoy your weekend, all!

Happy Australia Day!

January 26, 2012

We were in Wollongong, New South Wales, for Australia Day in 2006, and it remains one of my most vivid memories from our year in Australia. It was a great day — heaps of fun. Amusement park rides and a crafts fair at the waterfront, good food, some interesting entertainment, and then, once the sun went down, a spectacular fireworks display supplemented by fire-eaters and people juggling torches.  It was reminiscent of Fourth of July celebrations here in the States, and yet it was thoroughly Australian and different from anything I’d experienced before.  Wonderful times.

To all of my friends Down Under, Happy Australia Day!  Hope it’s a great one!

I have a post up today at the blog of my good friend Stuart Jaffe.  Stuart was with the Magical Words blog site for some time, has published a good number of terrific short stories, and is now turning his talents to novel-length projects.  He has been writing about the various things that influence our work as writers, and he asked me to contribute to the discussion.  My post can be found here.  I hope you enjoy it.

Today’s post can be found at, the group blog on the business and craft of writing fantasy that I maintain with fellow authors Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, A.J. Hartley, C.E. Murphy, and Kalayna Price, among others. The post is called “On Writing: What Are We Good At? What Can We Improve,” and it’s about assessing honestly the strengths and shortcomings of our writing. I hope you enjoy it.

Giants 20, SF 17

January 22, 2012

In overtime.  In a game they really had no business winning.  Wow.  Just wow.

Leaves of Flame, by Benjamin TateMy good friend Joshua Palmatier, who also writes as Benjamin Tate, has a new book out called Leaves of Flame, a follow-up to his critically acclaimed series opener, Well of Sorrows.  I have to admit that I have not yet read the book, but I can tell you that Joshua/Benjamin is a) an excellent writer, b) one of the nicest people you could ever want to meet, and c) also a terrific editor. (I worked with him and Patricia Bray on their anthology After Hours: Tales from the Ur-Bar.)  Joshua recently posted an essay at the Magical Words blog site about the magic system he developed for his series.  I urge you to read it.  It will whet your appetite for these books.

A Political Rant

January 18, 2012

They call Obama “the food stamp President,” and then they accuse Democrats of engaging in class warfare and of playing the race card.

They accuse Obama of following a foreign policy of appeasement, ignoring the fact that the man ordered the killing of Bin Laden in a raid that was so daring, so bold, it would have made other Presidents weak in the knees, and ignoring as well his Libya policy, which ALL of them opposed, and which ended the reign of Muammar Gaddafi.

They say he’s a socialist who is destroying America; and they also say that he is guilty of “Wall Street cronyism;” it almost seems that they don’t understand all the words that come out of their own mouths.

They say he has done nothing to save American jobs, and then criticize him for “bailing out” the auto industry and thus saving nearly a million and a half jobs that the industry supports.  They say he’s done nothing to save jobs, but ignore the chorus of economists who tell us that if the stimulus bill hadn’t passed, the unemployment numbers would have been far, far worse.  They say he’s done nothing, but don’t mention that for more than twenty consecutive months the private sector has added jobs — a total of over 3 million jobs added in that period — or that the vast majority of job losses in the recession occurred either a) before Obama became President, or b) in the three months of his first year in office BEFORE the stimulus took effect.

They call his a “failed Presidency,” but they don’t want you to know the following:

— He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that guarantees women equal pay for equal work.
— Through the Affordable Care Act he has prohibited insurers from denying coverage on the basis of preexisting conditions and canceling coverage when insurance policy-holders become ill.  The reform bill will also extend health insurance coverage to 32 million Americans who weren’t covered before the law passed.
— He has steered through Congress a Wall Street reform bill that prevents unfair lending practices and creates a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that (thanks to his recess appointment of Richard Cordray as the Bureau’s head) will help prevent predatory behavior by banks and credit card companies.
— He ended subsidies to banks and used the savings to double funding for Pell Grants to needy college students.
— He has placed two highly qualified progressive women on the Supreme Court.

Has Barack Obama been a perfect President?  No, far from it.  I wish he had fought harder for a larger stimulus and for a more far-reaching health bill.  I wish he was better on the environment (although his announcement today that he will NOT allow the Keystone pipeline to be built is welcome news).  I wish he hadn’t agreed to an extension of the Bush tax cuts.

But he has been fighting against an intransigent and unreasonable Republican opposition, and he has accomplished far more than they would have liked.  And he is so more more qualified to lead this country, so much more sincere in his concern for the well-being of average Americans, so much more committed to raising the tone of political discourse in Washington than any of the men who are seeking the Republican nomination, it is almost laughable.

I have had enough of listening to the vitriol and race-baiting and attacks on the most vulnerable in our society coming out of the GOP “debates.”  If the GOP field wants to continue to pander to the basest instincts of their Tea Party constituency, they can, but I won’t be paying them any attention.  Because fortunately we already have a President who is looking out for the rest of us.

Today’s post can be found at, the group blog on the business and craft of writing fantasy that I maintain with fellow authors Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, A.J. Hartley, C.E. Murphy, and Kalayna Price, among others.  The post is called “On Writing:  The Value of Ambition,” and it’s about different sorts of ambition and how they influence our writing.  I hope you enjoy it.