Last updated July 5, 2016
Try as I might, I have never been able to track down just why this page is traditionally called the “blog roll.” The image that comes to my mind is that of something in the pastry case of the local internet cafe… Ah well. I suppose I don’t need to know the origin of the name. I merely have to supply one – and endeavor to keep it fresh.
I originally had a “placeholder” page here when I started the blog – because there truly is an embarrassment of riches out there. There are an absolute multitude of blogs on writing, on publishing, on cover art, on business… You could spend the remainder of your life just trying to visit all of them. If your favorite is not yet on my list, send me a link, please!
So, here you will find links to other people’s blogs – or other places on the web – where I have soaked up most of what I currently know about this business of writing, among other things. The people that share their thoughts on these sites have brought me to where I am today – note, though, that they are not responsible for the failings that I still have. The learning process is also never done, so expect this list to expand as time goes on.
Here shall you find a motley crew of people, and an occasional guest – all of them independent types, irreverent, humorous, sarcastic – but the main thing they all have in common is a deep knowledge of writing and publishing in the rough and tumble world of today. Oh, and they are generous to a fault in sharing that knowledge. There are posts on writing – plotting, developing characters; posts on publishing – whether with a “traditional” publisher or going the “indie” route; posts on marketing – which the modern writer finds himself or herself doing more and more of, no matter how they are published; and, mixed in with these, posts on what is going on in the battlefields of science fiction and fantasy. The Mad Geniuses are on my daily read list for very good reason.
I first stumbled into Sarah Hoyt’s blog during one of those “white nights” that periodically come upon a computer programmer – yes, it was that long ago, in that not-quite-far-away-enough life of mine. I was wandering around PJ Media, and her series on making covers looked interesting… Hooked. Landed. Had to find out more about this woman.
Sarah’s blog is on the daily check routine, although there is some filtering to do to find things specifically about writing – most of those posts are over on Mad Genius Club, where she is a founding member. But for sheer encouragement to keep going, you can make it – her words cannot be beaten. Actually, Sarah can take a great deal of credit – but don’t assign her the blame! – for my transition into this business.
A note: Right now – well, soon – is probably a good time to acquire the Hoyt Habit. Sarah’s posts have been rather hit-and-miss for the last year (something to do with the fact that she has packed up and moved her household three times in that period) – but she is settling down now, or so her many friends hope. Despite this, Sarah’s blog is still on my check several times a day routine – because she has gathered about herself some of the most intelligent and interesting people you’ll run across in our “social media” world. Sarah can throw out a three or four word “I’m alive” post, and Hoyt’s Huns will pick up the ball and head for the goal line – with quite a bit of broken-field running, mind you. Fair warning, the puns emitted can get somewhat deep at times.
Taking a first look at Max Florschutz’s blog, you would probably say – “Huh. Another newbie writer.” Well, yes, Max is a relative “newbie” at professionally publishing his science fiction and fantasy – but don’t mistake him for a newbie writer. There is a whole other world of fiction writing out there called “fan fiction” – you can’t get paid for it, because it is set in someone else’s world; but the gamut of this writing runs from yes, the truly abysmal right up to the highest levels of “professional fiction.” Max’s work is definitely among the latter. He’s been writing, and helping other writers, for many years now. On his blog, I particularly recommend his “Being a Better Writer” series of posts – where you will find a wealth of practical advice on the actual craft of writing effective fiction. You will also be rather shocked, if you are a new graduate of a formal “creative” writing program – but keep an open mind and you will unlearn several bad habits that will only hamper your career in fiction writing.
Kristine Rusch has done it all – writing, editing, publishing. In multiple genres. Under at least five different pen names. She runs her own business, teaches workshops, writes this blog on a regular basis to provide her readers with free short stories (do not miss these) and extremely cogent advice on navigating through the perils of the industry, particularly agents and contracts. Her biography claims that she sleeps occasionally – but I have a hard time believing that. Kristine is a must read for anyone aspiring to be a successful professional writer.
Kristine also has a husband – this guy, Dean Wesley Smith. A fitting match. I honestly believe the local electric company has a high voltage power line run to their home, just in case they ever need an emergency supply for the State of Oregon. Dean runs the workshops. He oversees their bookstores (yes, they have their own bookstores, plural). And he writes. Oh, Lord, does he write. He’s closing in on the fourth year of his “Writing in Public” blog posts, where he tells you about how much he writes – this isn’t braggadocio, it is an example of what a highly successful writer must do to make a good living, and keep it. You may be inspired, or even a bit intimidated – but I check these nearly every day. He also kills off the sacred cows of publishing on a regular basis. Read those posts if you read nothing else here; they are designed to keep you clear of much of the false mythology that has grown up around our profession.
You might wonder why I include Cedar Sanderson’s blog on my regular list. There’s an occasional post on the writing business here, but, like Sarah Hoyt’s, most of those end up on the Mad Genius Club, where she is also a regular contributor. However, while I call this the writing “business,” it is still at root a continuous act of creation – and Cedar is one of the most creative people I have ever run across. She writes, she takes the most wonderful photographs, she does graphic arts, she makes fantastic little “crafty” things, she puts covers together, she studies criminal forensics (um, yes, a true polymath here). But I must admit that I mostly visit Cedar’s place for a (not so) guilty pleasure – the woman cooks. Cooking is one of those things that I dabble with when a bit of writing is driving me up the wall, to exercise the other parts of my brain, as well as the taste buds – and Cedar not only posts her own recipes, but ones that she wheedles out of other writers. With step-by-step directions, and pictures, as she makes them herself (sometimes with interesting variations). You must always remember that there is a life outside of writing – and Cedar’s blog is a good place to receive a healthy infusion of this life every so often.
Like the Mad Genius Club, this blog is another group effort. Now, these people do not write in the genres that I do – or even in genres that I normally read in – but there are always those things that cross over. Particularly the problem of keeping your writing “real”; i.e., ringing true to your reader. The contributors here are experts in several real world things – medicine, the law, mixed martial arts – and you can get several specific pointers in those areas. But even if you don’t have elements of these in your writing, as of yet, soak up the attitude. I don’t care what genre you write in, that “willing suspension of disbelief” has to be achieved in any piece of successful fiction.
A daily production of “The Passive Guy.” Who just happens to be a lawyer, a former business executive, and a writer. You should click on his blog at least daily, if not more often. Absolutely not because you will find much directly about writing here; PG performs the vital service of digging through the continuous flood of news and opinion about our industry, sharing with us what he sees as the most important of them (with links to the original articles). And the man sees with laser-sharp vision. This is the place to keep up with the industry.
All right, this one is not a blog. It is the commercial portal for Baen Books, a publisher of science fiction and fantasy. Why do I include it on my “must check” list? Well, if you write in either of these genres, Baen publishes most of what I consider to be the finest examples of current work in the field. They also make a goodly portion of that work available in the Baen Free Library. Some of the most skilled authors you can find today have books there – as well as many, many essays on science, the realities of military organizations, et cetera.
There is also Baen’s Bar – which should really have a large red “Danger” sign plastered on it, because it can soak up an absolutely amazing amount of your time. If you elect to pass through the doors of the Bar (yes, it is a members-only club, although we’re not at all exclusive), you will find forums on the latest developments in science, several wildly popular ongoing science fiction and fantasy series, and a great deal of discussion (sometimes argument, sometimes heated argument) about all of these things. To keep your focus, though, I do recommend staying out of the “controversial” forums, at least at first. When and if some of my longer range writing plans mature, you may even stumble across a fantasy novel of mine there, in the “Slush Pile” forum.