Monday, February 27, 2012

and Five More Don'ts for Writers

11. Don't take rejection personally.  Publishing is a business.  Despite all the horror stories out there, editors are not power hungry, grumpy, or sadists.  They are people dealing with hundreds of stories, a magazine to put together, deadlines, and publishing and marketing--and sometimes a day job on top of that.  They don't have time to be mean to you.

12. Don't justify what doesn't work.  Your editor says you need to change something, then unless you can prove they're wrong (and yes, sometimes editors are), think long and hard about what they are asking.  Remember, they have the advantage of experience and outside perspective you lack.  Ditto on critique:  don't argue about it or waste time trying to explain it.  Like my husband once told me, "It's not the editor's job to understand the author.  It's the author's job to be understandable."

13.  Don't compare yourself to others.  That doesn't mean you can't use other authors or books as markers:  "I'd like to write books as funny as Pratchett's," is a goal.  "I will be the next Terry Pratchett," however?  Well, that can set folks on edge.  For one, (as Terry commented on his website) he had no idea there were so many future hims around.  For two, it can set editors and agents on edge ("The next Discworld, eh?  We'll just see about that.")  For three, you want to be Pratchett--you want to be you.
I just read a magazine editor who said we are a decade overdue for the next breakthrough in literature.  You'll never be that breakthrough if you are busy comparing yourself to the established greats.  Finally, comparing yourself to others can be very discouraging.  You might be every bit as funny as Pratchett, but you did not have the same circumstances as he has, and thus you'll have a totally different experience.  It might be even better than his, but will you know if he's your yardstick?

14. Don't expect the words to just "flow" (and thus stop when they don't).  Athletes warm up.  Musicians warm up.  Even chiropractors warm up!  (Mine told me that he's much more fluid and his tactile senses are stronger at the end of the day.)  So why do we expect that writing only "works" when the words flow from brain to fingers like a Muse gently whispering?  Forget it.  Sit down. Start writing.  Let it be clunky. If you stall, start again.  Keep going until you hit that stride--and if you don't, keep going until you hit the goal and start the next day.

15.  Don't be afraid to take chances.  I saw an interesting note by a magazine publisher.  he said we are a decade overdue for the next groundbreaking thing.  Could it be you?  On a lesser scale, I've seen (and written) books that break conventions by using forum posts and social networking styles to tell the story.  Yes, complete with bad grammar, getting terribly off topic, and more.  Even if it doesn't work out, and you need to rewrite, you exercised your creativity and had some fun--and maybe next time, it will work.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Notes on Homilies: Every Temptation is a Choice.

These words of Father CY stuck with me:  Every temptation is a choice.

Really, that's what it boils down to.  We don't HAVE to sin.  Very seldom does someone hold a gun to our head and force us to sin; and even then, as the martyrs have shown us, there is still a choice.

So just think about that.  Every temptation is a choice.  That means you have as much freedom to say "No" as you do opportunity to say "Yes."

We don't have to live life on automatic.  We can choose.  Got a bad habit?  Remember: each incidence, each temptation, is a choice.  You don't have to break the whole habit.  You just have to make the right choice that time.  The next time, it will be easier.

Every temptation is a choice.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Novel's Journey: Old Man in the Void - On a New Track and Full Speed Ahead!

To think just a few weeks ago, I was wondering if I'd make it to 50,000 words on this novel.  As of this writing, I'm at 70,000 and charging ahead with 3,000 words a day average.  The funny thing is, the writing took off again when I came to the end of the outline.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway ends when the fisherman, Santiago, arrives back at his fishing village with nothing but his life, his boat and the carcass of the marlin he'd fought so hard for.  Nonetheless, he is revered for his efforts, wins back his apprentice, and goes on with life as before.  That's really how I intended The Old Man in the Void to end, too, except for one thing:  It's not as easy to escape a black hole with your life and your ship intact.

Dex, my "fisherman" woke up in the hospital after major genetic surgery to combat the spaghettification effect, and his ship--or, more precisely, his AI, Santiago--nowhere to be found.  Thanks to time dilation, he's also 500 years into the future.  Not exactly a good recipe for picking up where life left off.  But I planned it, I really did.  A young man fascinated by the past and the Disk was going to help him acclimate, find Santiago and marry him to a new ship, and they'd be on their way.

I couldn't do it.  It was too easy, too dull and didn't let Dex be the hero of his own story.  No, Dex had new challenges to face, and the first was finding Santiago.

Now Dex has found his beloved AI, but only by putting himself and his friends in grave danger.  Now Dex and Santiago are teaming up again to beat the odds and save the day (and this time, with greater success.)

I'm off the track and writing blind, but the funny--and thrilling--thing is, everything I wrote using my careful outline is naturally playing into the rest.  A couple of times, I've even been able to better understand (and revise) what I'd done based on new events I'm writing now.

I am so excited to finish this book. It's been a great challenge.

Note:  I actually wrote this blog on Friday, Feb 17.  On Feb 19, I finished the book.  77,000 words or so and a very different book than the one I intended to write.  Like I've joked with friends: I never really planned to rewrite Hemingway; I'd be horrible.  I wanted to write Hemingway-inspired Fabian, and that I can do.  I'll blog next week on things I learned with this experiment.  Until then, SQUEEEE!  I FINISHED!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lenten Promise Leads to Award-Winning Devotional, Why God Matters

Lenten Promise Leads to Award-Winning Devotional, Why God Matters

Layton, UT; Pueblo, CO— In 1996, Karina Fabian, mother of toddlers, made a Lenten vow that launched her career as a writer.  Years later, it led her to share that joy of writing with her father, as they collaborated on an award-winning devotional, Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life.  This year, she hopes to share the joy of Lent through her book and the Why God Matters website.
Deacon Steve Lumbert and his daughter Karina Fabian share their stories of how God led them from casual belief to deep devotion, and offer tips and exercises to help you see God's hand--and take it.  Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life is published by Tribute Books and won the Christian Small Publisher Award for best book on Christian Living.  It has over 40 reviews from readers of many Christian faiths who recommend it not only as a book to read, but to go through slowly, doing the exercises to strengthen their relationship with God and to be more aware of His presence in her life.
This year, Fabian and Tribute Books are opening the Why God Matters website to faith stories by others, especially Lenten faith stories.  “I believe that Lent, and Lenten vows, can change lives,” Fabian said.  “I’d like to share that hope with others, and the best way is through sharing our stories.”
Fabian credits her 1996 vow with giving her life its direction.  She had always enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t until the Lent after leaving a career in the Air Force that she took it up professionally.  “I was home with the kids, and getting a little stir crazy as Lent was approaching.  I try to not only give up something for Lent, but to take up something to better serve God as well.  So that year, I decided to give up reading fiction and take up writing.”
By Easter, Fabian had a job with the Wyoming diocese newspaper, and freelanced for several parenting and local magazines.  She also wrote some slice-of-life stories, but seldom sent them out, and eventually moved more into writing fiction.  However, in 2009, when Tribute books was seeking someone to write a short devotional of personal stories, tips and quotes, she felt God calling.
“I was a little intimidated by the project though.  I felt something of this magnitude needed someone with a theological grounding, too.  Then I realized, my father is a deacon—and he is full of terrific stories.”
Deacon Steve Lumbert, who came to faith while Fabian was in college, had never written a book, but was excited to collaborate with his daughter.  Working on this book brought a new level to their relationship.
“God continues to bless me through that Lenten vow,” Fabian said.  “Not only will I cherish having worked with my father, but the book itself has touched so many lives.  People have written to us that it’s helped them understand their faith better , brought them closer to God, or touched them when they really needed it.  I hope this Lent, through the website, we can do this some more.”
Fabian is also willing to speak to book clubs and parishes through telephone or Skype.

* * *
Photos, interviews, and more information available on request or by visiting or

Monday, February 20, 2012

Five more things authors should not do

6. Don't concentrate on making those first three chapters sing.  Make the whole book a symphony and those three chapters will take care of themselves.  So what would the first three chapters do?
  • Grip the reader by the throat
  • Make them want to read about the character
  • Give just enough world to bring the reader into the story

7.  Don't try so hard.  A lot of times, writers aim to write in the beautiful flowing style of the authors they adored in college.  They write long, glowing descriptions rife with metaphor and imagery that comments on the state of man.  There's only one problem.  They're writing a fast-paced thriller.  Beautiful prose has a place in any novel, sure, but in the middle of a gunfight is not the time to contemplate the beauty of the sunset, or expound on the pathetic fallacy of the hailstorm.

8.  Don't jump to self-publish.  The boom in self-publishing has in some ways hurt both readers and authors, I believe.  It's so easy to self-publish now, that a lot of people aren't putting the amount of work into their book that they really should.  I know--personally, even!--some authors who are very successful and happy with their self-publishing experience, but they put a lot of time and yes, even money, into doing it right by hiring an outside editor, making a professional (not just pretty) cover, and doing the marketing.

9. Don't forget to stretch,  Sitting at the computer is not good posture, even with the best of ergonomic furniture.  In particular, your shoulders curl in, causing the muscles to shrink, overcompensate and get knots.  Just a couple of stretches that open up the pectorals every half hour or so can help.  (Advice I need to remember myself.)

10.  Don't feel that you must focus on a genre, topic, novels, etc.  This one, I took from Chuck Wendig.  Here's how he put it:
Diversification is the name of survival for all creatures: genetics relies on diversification. (Says the guy with no science background and little interest in Googling that idea to see if it holds any water at all.) Things are changing big in these next few years, from the rise of e-books to the collapse of traditional markets to the the galactic threat of Mecha-Gaiman. Diversity of form, format and genre will help ensure you stay alive in the coming entirely-made-up Pubpocalypse.
 If you look at my website, you can see why I stand firmly behind this idea.  I have written in multiple genres, fiction, non-fiction, even craft books.  I write school calendars, I teach classes, I have newsletters and websites.  Some of my most successful stuff has been the left turns I would not have taken if I'd followed the advice of keeping my "brand."  (Those who do like to stick to brands can use pen names for that purpose.  I would not be able to keep track of all the new social media a second (third, fourth) pen name would entail, but I know a few authors who do this very successfully.)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Notes on Homilies: Are we afraid?

Today's gospel was about the four friends who lowered the paralytic man through the roof to Jesus and that Jesus forgave his sins, then commanded him to walk.  The priest spoke about how Jesus is always ready to forgive us and that forgiveness is life changing.  "I wonder if that's why so many do not come to the Sacrament of Reconciliation; forgiveness means change, and they are afraid that they will have to change their ways."

I need to go to Confession.  I need forgiveness, but even more, I need change.  How wonderful that Lent is around the corner; it's the perfect time to shuck some bad habits and take on some new ones.  How wonderful that I can start by knowing God forgives me, and receiving that forgiveness in a very tangible way through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

What about you?  Do you hold onto bad habits, wrong thinking, or sin because it's comfortable, easy or socially approved?  Are you afraid to take these things to God, even knowing he will forgive you and take you back, because it means taking the harder road of change?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Novel's Journey: Old Man in the Void - Surprise!

One day last week, I wrote 6300 words in a day. goes to show what happens when characters take over.

I had a terrific writing week, one the shows that no matter how deeply I outline, my characters just have to hit me with something new.

For those who have not read previous blogs about The Old Man in the Void, I am writing this on the challenge of my husband, Rob.  Rob suggested I pattern a sci-fi novel on the classic, The Old Man and the Sea.  To prepare, I read the book and a literary analysis of the themes and critical points, and carefully outlined my adaptation to the book.  The primary change, of course, was to put it in a deep space/far future setting, so Dex Hollister and his ship the Santiago hunt the relics of ancient starships from two civilizations that destroyed themselves in a war that created a black hole.  When one of the ships they capture becomes operational, it drags them across the event horizon, where the war is still being fought, and Dex and his ship have to find a way back out, preferably with the captured ship, before they are killed themselves.

It's a pretty straightforward book, actually, and I didn't know where it would take me.  As you've seen if you've been reading along, Dex is not like Hemingway's fisherman.  Dex has more moods, more frailties, and more relationships that affect him, even though the people he loves are not with him.  And he and his ship are a team.  Santiago (the ship's AI) has a definite personality and does his best to protect Dex as well.  Even more fun, I introduced myths about the species who fought this war (only automated warships are left, continuing the battle) and in the process, Dex has some very vivid visions during the conflict.

Well, this week, in the big climactic scene reminiscent of Hemingway's Santiago fighting off he pod of sharks, my Santiago and Dex fight off drones and escape the black hole--at the destruction of both the captured alien ship and the Santiago itself.  That, of course, was in my outline, and from here, it was supposed to be a simple wrap-up of Dex awakening in a hospital, finding he'd lost everything yet returning to his life as a relic hunter wiser for the experience.


  • Dex woke up in a hospital, all right--as an Elomij/Human hybrid.  They could only save him by introducing alien DNA to repair his.
  • The historian brought in to re-introduce him to modern times hired a kind of private investigator to find out what happened to the wreckage of the ships.  Dolon is smart, savvy, and attractive, and Dex starts flirting with her.  
  • All those visions?  Not just his imagination!  There's a whole book of myths about Huntradex, the mortal spirit who dared defy Hudon and turned down Elomij's affections.  
  • He meets a navigator who might have a lead to finding the hardware that houses Santiago's AI program.

I'm telling you--these are NOT in my outline, were not in my plans, and just sort of came out as I typed.  And I love them all.

So, now I'm in a quandry.  I could attempt to according to my outline--or I could let Dex explore his new world, get into a little trouble trying to track down Santiago on his own, and have some romance with an alien.  It will change the book, and I may need to go back and revise some of the original if I do so.

I think you know what I plan on doing.  I've never been good following outlines, and I never intended to rewrite Hemingway, but to write Hemingway-inspired Fabian.  I'd be lousy as writing Hemingway, anyhow.  But when I let my characters live their stories, I write really good Fabian

Monday, February 13, 2012

Announcing the DragonEye, PI Serial Story, World Gathering

I'm doing another serial story.  This is the precursor of Magic, Mensa and Mayhem: shorter, rougher, and lots of fun.  You can find it at In the meantime, Vern shares his feelings about World Gathering and Magic, Mensa and Mayhem.

Karina has written up some of our more harrowing cases, so I was surprised by her choice for the first novel.

"Why would you want to write up that one?" I demanded. Actually, but the tone of voice, I really meant to imply "Not that one. No. never!" but I'm working on being a kinder, gentler dragon. Often, that just comes out as passive-aggressive, but I’m working on it.

However, Karina got the implication; she just chose to ignore it. "Come on, Vern.
It's funny."

"It's embarrassing. One fiasco after another--"

"I snorted coffee out my nose, it was so funny when you told it. "

"Because it's embarrassing."

Then Grace had to step in on her side. "But it is funny, and you know it."

"Oh, so you think she should publish it? You, know, you weren't exactly on your best behavior, Sister Magic-Grudge-Match." I don't normally resort to calling Grace names, but I was in a mood and I could already see where this argument was heading.

She had the (pardon the pun) good graces to blush at the memory of her duel with the Green Muse Euterpe, but she also fought back a grin. Even nuns are human. "It was funny."

We argued more, but well...

Magic, Mensa and Mayhem
came out in Amazon from Swimming Kangaroo a few years back.

Print: http//

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Notes From Homilies: Outcast

This is a quick one tonight, but the gospel was about the leper that Jesus healed and sent to the priests.  He told him to tell no one that he'd healed him, just to go present himself; however the man told everyone he saw, and as a result, Jesus had to leave town because so many people were flooding him with demands, and still people came to him.  Our priest noted that lepers were the outcasts of society, but by healing the leper, Jesus brought him back into the community at the expense of being outcast himself.  Jesus will be an even greater outcast during his crucifixion, yet he did it so all could be welcome to the Community of God.

Something the priest didn't note, however, was that even after Jesus left the town, some people went after him, and these he healed.  Let's face it: Jesus is God.  If he head wanted to, he could have stood on a porchstep, faced the crowd and said, "Whatever ails you, be healed of it."  He could have just walked through town and let people touch him.  But instead, he left, and healed those who took the time and effort to pursue.

The leper made a big effort--and took a big risk.  As one unclean, he wasn't even supposed to be in town, much less pursuing a great and popular rabbi.  But he did, and was rewarded for his efforts.  When Jesus left the town, some people took the effort to pursue him, and were rewarded.

What effort do we make to meet Jesus?  or do we expect that since he is God, he will just give us whatever?

Thursday, February 09, 2012

My Novel's Journey: Old Man in the Void - The Alien Mind

One of the fun things about science fiction and fantasy is getting into a mindset totally different from your own.  It's challenging, too, because you have to still make the alien (or fantasy) species understandable to humans. 

I've been having a a lot of fun with the warrior species in The Old Man in the Void.  Only known as "The People,  they are not one species but two, caught in a war that led not only to the death of every living being, but also the destruction of both their star systems.  Nonetheless, their battles continue on in the automated warships they created.  One of those warships drags Dex and his ship, the Santiago, across the Event horizon.  Dex and Santiago must master the ship and use it to pull them back to reality before enemy drones, the damage to the ships, or the enemy drones destroy them as well.

Now, as you know, I was inspired to this story from Hemingway's The Old Man in the Sea, and so it's probably no brainer that the species are my literary nods to the marlin and the sharks.  So I wanted the People to have a different view of killing and death, something more analogous to the Law of Nature, but I wanted sentient, emotional beings, too.  So rather than fighting out or hate, suspicion, greed or any number of human reasons, the People view each other as a brotherhood in competition, conflict being a beautiful thing full of honor and bringing change. 

From that, I developed the mythology:  Hudon, god of war, woos Elomij, the goddess of beauty and change.  In doing so, he manipulates the world, twisting it from her own plan, but convincing her in the end that he's improved it with his bloody motives.  In the end, however, they will fight and she will leave him, but not because she repents of what they've done, but because she finds constant war boring.  She will form a new people, while Hudon finds a new consort--Lady Death.

Since all the People are long dead, we can only see this in the myths and the machinery left behind, so that's been a fun challenge, too.

Another reason for having an alien mind is to contrast it against the human one.  Just as we learn by being exposed to new things, so do our characters--and often, the point is so they can learn about themselves, whether they use that knowledge to make a change or not.

A robot passed him by, silent and uncaring, apparently programmed to ignore anything that didn't pose a direct threat.  Intent on its mission, the same mission it had been fulfilling for God-knew how long.  Had the People been the same way, moving from conflict to habit to instinct, until neither species stopped to actually notice the changes, the carnage, around it?  Had they traveled mindlessly into oblivion with the same inevitability of their spaghettified systems spiraling into the singularity?  Had there been no Dukochev zones in their entire history, when they had a moment of stability to stop and wonder why they were so intent on slitting their brother's throat?  Did they hate so much?
Or did they hate at all?  Hudon's words came back to him from when he'd told the God he'd hunted both the People and the Worthy Foe:  "Is there a difference?"  And the myths of the Elomij, if indeed, they related to their ancient roots in this system, never differentiated between races.  They chose to be brothers, yet they chose to place victory in the conflict over everything, even their own survival.
Is that what I did?  Am I in this mess because I was too stubborn to put my own life and Santiago’s safety ahead of victory over some artifact?
The map on his faceplate was signaling a junction ahead he needed to take.  Time enough later to examine his conscience.  Right now, he needed to survive--and that did mean victory over the drones on their way to destroy this ship and them with it.  Victory, or at least a draw that would allow them to escape.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Five things writers should not do.

I saw this article 25 things writers should not do. The language was foul (though sometimes, kind of funny) but most of the ideas were sound. So I thought I'd come up with a cleaner version of the don'ts I've learned in my life.  However, I'm going to take them five at a time, and do not promise to come up with twenty five.  (Check out his article but brace yourself for the profanity.)

1. Don't make excuses. If you want to write, write. I know people with dyslexia and other learning problems who can't handle grammar, but they write, and get someone to edit.  Terry Pratchett has Alzheimer's; he has someone type in his stories.  I've read of famous authors who wrote their novels in the bathroom, the only place they could get a few minutes of privacy and peace.  Several famous novels were written on library computers.  Holly Lisle wrote her first breakout novel to prove to her demeaning ex that yes, she could write something someone would read.  So quit making excuses, and do it if it gives you joy.

3.  Don't put it off until you can (concentrate for an hour/write 1500 words/get into the story).  A sentence a day or 5000 words--who cares? The important thing is to do it. Incidentally, my book, Mind Over Mind was written in a year with the promise of just a sentence a day, though I wrote more when I was inspired.  Make some time, even for a sentence.  You'll also feel a lot better about yourself knowing you accomplished even just that much, and it will lead to writing more.

3.  Don't think your idea is stupid.  Let's face it, any idea can sound stupid--or remarkable.  And any idea can sell.  "Guy goes fishing and a marlin drags him to sea.  (The Old Man and the Sea).  "Two teens fake their deaths so they can run away together, but accidentally kill themselves instead." (Romeo and Juliet)  even "New girl in school falls in love with a vampire."  (Twilight--and regardless of your opinion, it's a huge success)  How you treat the idea in the story, how you sell it, and how you combine it is what makes a stupid idea a great story.

4.  Don't procrastinate.  Your book will not write itself while you scroll through Facebook, do e-mail, make a snack, etc.  For pity's sake, if you want to write a story, sit down and write it.  Here's a song for inspiration:

5.  Don't let your internal editor stall your creative flow.  Personally, I tend to fix things while I'm writing.  For example, this week, while writing The Old Man in the Void, I realized I'd contradicted something I'd written earlier.  I stopped where I was, and went back and rewrote the older scene before continuing with the new one.  That's not what I mean when I say not to stall in your creative flow.  If you are in the middle of a heavy scene and can't remember (or think up) a new character's name, just write some generic (ARGUINGGUY) (REDSHIRT1) and keep going.  Later, you can search for that tag and replace it.  Can't think of the right descriptive word?  Just write WORD and keep going.  and DO NOT let doubts stall you.  I've known writers who never get past the first chapter because they are so full of doubt about a particular metaphor or description or...  Sometimes, that first chapter will jsut get axed anyway; it's warm up; so keep moving forward.  You'll warm up to your characters, learn their ways of thinking and acting, and when you are done, you'll have the knowledge you didn't have in the first chapter to help you go back and revise that first chapter.

Notes From Homilies: Be still

My take-away from yesterday's homily:  Dedicate time to be still and pray

Now that isn't exactly what Deacon Tom said.  He said that we need to take time, because we're all so busy, and we often feel like if we're not doing something, then we're not worth much--and somehow, praying doesn't seem "active" enough.  And I found myself agreeing with him at first.  But then I thought about all the time I spend scrolling through Facebook or playing games on the computer or watching some television show because I have a "free hour."  It's not that I'm too busy to pray.  It's not that I can't making the time to do it.  I'm just not taking the time I have and putting some of it to prayer.

The gospel story told how Jesus left in the early morning hours to go pray before returning to spread the Word and heal this sick and drive out demons and all his other wondrous deeds.  I know many who follow His example.  Even if we don't however, we can still find those quiet moments: 
  • Driving in the car, we can pray along with a recording of the rosary or the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  (Get the CD here:
  • Before going to sleep, say a quick thank-you for what's been good, and apologize to God for your failings. 
  • Get the Daily Gospel delivered to your e-mail and take a couple of minutes to read and contemplate it:  ( 
  • Keep a prayer journal of intentions--people who are sick, those who are dying, groups needing help.  Sometimes, it's easier to pray when we are doing it for others.
  • Put a prayer on the refrigerator.
What are some of your ways to make sure you dedicate some of your day to God?

Thursday, February 02, 2012

My Novel's Journey: Old Man in the Void - Hitting the books

I've talked before about how writing The Old Man in the Void is stretching me as a writer.  I'm writing in a fairly new genre for me--hard science fiction (or maybe medium since I'm not going to do the math on the page for you.) The nice thing about it is that it's illuminating areas where I need to grow that I hadn't seen in my other books because the pace is different and the focus is elsewhere.

Lately, I've been writing fast-moving, fun stuff, heavy on emotions or humor and light on setting and extrapolation of fact or theory.  As a result, I can "get away" with things in those books that I can't in The Old Man in the Void.  For example, while I describe taking ATVs through a jungle road in Live and Let Fly, I can still depend on the reader to understand vehicles, driving, even jungle.  However, when I say "Santiago rode the swarl in the accretion disk," most readers will be left drooling unless I've made it clear what a swarl and an accretion disk are, and how one rides them.  Even more fun, swarls are made up, but not accretion disks (which is the donut-shaped disk of matter surrounding a black hole), so I have to make my imagination make sense in that world and be plausible in ours.

But that's not the only thing.  As I'm dealing with a tone and characters different from my usual stuff, I'm realizing that I've gotten limited in my writing.  I tend to fall back upon favorite phrases, ways of showing emotion, scene progression.  While those have served me well in my fantasy and comedic horror, they stand out and even stall me in the genre of hard/medium science fiction.  It's intimidating, and sometimes, I just want to chuck it and write Gapman or something fun.  But it's because it's intimidating that I know I need to rise to the challenge.

So, in addition to continuing to write the book, I'm also taking extra time to study writing, not by reading writing books, but by reading the great authors in my genre.  I've got a notebook where I'm taking notes of phrases, getting ideas for educating readers on the world, and watching how they put in information. My best discovery to date:  David Drake and David Weber do a lot of what I'd been warned against as "info dumping," but they are such masters that you read right along and enjoy it.  I honestly think it has to do with genre, too--military/political sci fi, especially when you're deep into a series, benefits from those "dumps.  As a result, I'm no longer as afraid to stick a few extra paragraphs of important information in the dialogue.  In fact, this week, I went back and added a lot, and I think it's stronger for it.

While I might not apply all the methods I'm learning here to my other books, I'm definitely coming away from this experience a stronger writer, so the lessons in this are
1. Branch out--don't just stick to "your genre" or "your brand"
2. Read widely, especially authors that hit your weak areas.  Take notes.
3. Admit your weaknesses, then find tutors to get past them.