Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

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Amberlough takes place in an fantasy world roughly equivalent to Weimar era Germany. It’s part John le Carre, part Cabaret. A fascist candidate who isn’t doing well in the polls fixes an election to beat the female candidate who should have won by a landslide. The inhabitants of Amberlough are worried about this since the Ospies intend to outlaw homosexuality, crack down on drug smuggling, and keep anybody from criticizing them, and they’re willing to use violence to get their way. Sure, Amberlough isn’t perfect. There is a lot of corruption on the police force and there’s certain parts of town you don’t want to visit after night, but the Ospies’ solution for this entails eliminating undesirables and taking away everybody’s freedom, so the cure is worse than the disease. Continue reading

Learning from Bad Writing

I recently read the first chapter of a poorly written book which shall remain nameless. My first instinct was to delete it and move on, but then I remembered you can always learn something from other writers, even if it’s what not to do. So I read the first chapter again and tried to pinpoint exactly why I thought it was poorly written. Continue reading

Everything Change

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“It’s not climate change- it’s everything change.” -Margaret Atwood

This is an anthology of science fiction that deals with climate change, or cli-fi as it’s sometimes called. These stories take place all over the world and demonstrate different ways global warming will change human lives in the future. Some of the stories have hopeful endings, some are depressing. Continue reading

LTUE Part 5

This is the final post in my series recapping the Life, The Universe, and Everything 2017 writer’s conference held in Provo, Utah earlier this year. Here’s Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Jana S. Brown Presentation: Traditional vs. Self Publishing: Epic Throwdown

Another great presentation. Jana S. Brown made the point that writers aren’t in competition with each other since readers can read lots of books each year. Another important thing to keep in mind is that 85 percent of book sales (for both traditional publishers and self publishers) go through Amazon, so you have to make sure you don’t get on their bad side no matter which publishing route you take. Continue reading

LTUE Part 4

This is the fourth post in my series recapping the Life, The Universe, and Everything 2017 writer’s conference held in Provo, Utah earlier this year. Here’s Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

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Michaelbrent Collings

Michaelbrent Collings Presentation: Horror and Comedy: One Side of the Same Coin

Michaelbrent Collings’ mother was sitting on the front row and introduced him as, “My son” which was nice. Collings says comedy and horror are similar in that both are physical responses to socially unacceptable behavior. One makes you scream and the other makes you laugh. Low brow horror/comedy are based on physicality: slapstick, scatological, slasher, blood and guts, sex. High brow horror/comedy are more verbal, psychological, based on relationships. Continue reading

LTUE Part 3

This is the third post in my series recapping the Life, The Universe, and Everything 2017 writer’s conference held in Provo, Utah earlier this year. Here’s Part 1 and Part 2.

“A scratch and sniff erotica book isn’t for everyone.” – Overheard at the conference.

Dr. Lauren Fowler and Dr. Sally Shigley Presentation: Literature and the Brain

Dr. Fowler and Dr. Shigley spoke about a study in which people watched Wit, a play about cancer. It turned out physicians had less empathy than other people. However, this is actually a good thing, because nurses and physicians with more empathy burn out faster than those with less. Also, physical fatigue can cause residents to have less empathy. Another interesting fact is that patients need less pain medication if their doctor is empathetic. So being empathetic is better for the patient, but worse for the doctor. (This reminded me of when my grandfather died and one of the nurses was crying. It made me feel a little better that she was empathizing with me, but another nurse chastised her for it.) Continue reading

LTUE Part 2

This is the second post in my series recapping the Life, The Universe, and Everything 2017 writer’s conference held in Provo, Utah earlier this year. Part 1 is here.

Tackling Sensitive Subjects

This was an interesting panel addressing the question of how writers should deal with sensitive subjects in their fiction. (Hopefully, I haven’t misrepresented anyone’s views due to my hasty note taking.) The first point is that things that don’t matter aren’t sensitive subjects, so if you’re writing about something that matters, there’s going to be potential for readers to get upset and you should be prepared for their reactions. Continue reading

LTUE Part 1

I attended the Life, The Universe, and Everything 2017 writer’s conference in nearby Provo last weekend. It took place between February 16-18. The only event I’ve been to before that’s similar is Comic Con, so I couldn’t help comparing the two. Like Comic Con, there was a game room and a few artists there. There were even a few steampunk cosplayers. This event focused on novels instead of geek culture in general though, so it was less crowded. They didn’t have any big name celebrities, although I recognized some of the names. Continue reading