Jungle Beta Coming Soon!

Okay, so the bad news is there’s no normal weekend post today.

But that’s because I’m hard at work on finishing the Jungle Alpha. There are only a couple of chapters left, and then I’ll make the final blitz pass on Monday to finish off any loose ends (ie areas that I fixed that were awaiting feedback that got it, I just had already moved on to another chapter, etc). Once that is done …

Well, I’ll start uploading chapters for Beta. Beta invites will go out.

Yes, you read that correctly. Beta read invites will go out next week! And then while that takes place, I’ll start work on the cover and well … Jungle is getting close folks. Really close.

So those of you that have been Beta Readers in the past? Get ready! It’s coming! Those of you that are fans, also get ready. And anticipate a serious ride. Because Jungle is coming this fall. And if you thought you had a handle on things after Colony … Let me tell you, you’re in for a ride.

Anyway, I need to get to it so that the Alpha is all but done by Saturday night. I’m pulling some long hours getting this one ready folks. So be prepared! It’s coming! The trio, Jake, Anna, and Sweets, is BACK!

Novel Submission Update

All right readers! Update here! So, many of you may recall a few months back at the beginning of summer how I spent two weeks working on an unsolicited Halo manuscript sample? Which I fired off at the 343 folks?

Well, as of yesterday, I have an official response. They’re passing on it. In fact, they’re not even open to looking unsolicited manuscripts. Their process (mostly) is to tell their current publisher they want a book, wait for that publisher to pick an author from their internal stable, and go from there. So they automatically deny unsolicited manuscripts.

Why post about it if it’s just (effectively) a rejection? Because I know from comments that a number of you were really curious about it and looking forward to news on it. Well, I’m sorry to bring sad news to you, but the offer has been passed on. The rights holder isn’t interested, and that’s that.

Which does, sadly, mean that the sample manuscript will likely never see the light of day. Granted, I could always do the “file off the serial numbers” thing but … No. There are people that do that, simply re-purposing something written for one work and setting into another, but … I’ve got to be honest, that wouldn’t sit well with me. It’d just be an obvious mirror, and that’s not my style. Plus, writing a whole book in that mirrored style? I’m sure you guys would rather see [REDACTED] all the sooner.

So yeah, those readers that were excited by the idea of me maybe having my name on the cover of a Halo book, well … That’s publishing. At the very least, you guys have got Jungle coming this fall (look for a cover coming soon, by the way), and Fireteam Freelance plus [REDACTED] coming after that. So I hope you stay excited for those. And don’t stop reading some of those Halo books, because a lot of them are quite fun (as is the setting, part of the reason I wanted to contribute to it).

So yeah, they’re passing, which means the manuscript goes into that quiet, sunless vault of “stuff you won’t see.” At the very least, I got a fun week out of writing it and my Alpha and Beta readers got to enjoy a neat jaunt through a different setting from ColonyJungle, or Shadow of an Empire.

So, now you fans know it’s not going to happen. I’m still working on Jungle, which is definitely looking at a fall release now, as summer is almost over. This one is going to rock your minds, folks. Look for more on this one soon, and even preview material to start the hype train rolling before long.

That’s it, the news is up. Gotta get back to work on Jungle. Also, if you’re a Dusk Guard follower, note that the new chapter will be up in a few hours, since it’s Tuesday!

Being a Better Writer’s Summer of Cliche Writing Advice: Never Use Adverbs

Hello readers on this wonderful, sunny (if your weather is like it is here) Monday morning! I’m here to alleviate your Monday blues with this week’s Being a Better Writer! Which, you may notice, is still in the grips of our summer special, the Summer of Cliche Writing Advice! Week seven of the feature, no less!

A bit of background if you’re unfamiliar with this or BaBW and encountering it for the first time. Being a Better Writer is a weekly series all about, well, as the title says, becoming a better writer! Running now for almost six years, BaBW has discussed hundreds of topics from developing characters to working out subplots to keeping pacing fresh. If you’re new to Unusual Things, then congratulations, because you’ve just stumbled across one of the web’s better writing resources for fiction.

But what about this “Summer of Cliche Writing Advice” stuff? Well, that (or this, rather) is a special summer feature. One thing you may have noticed if you’re a writer of any experience is that the moment you become a writer, it feels like the whole world descends upon you to give you advice … regardless of any actual experience in the territory.

Actually, scratch that. It doesn’t feel like it. The world does descend on you. From Facebook, at family gatherings, in conversation with ordinary people … Everyone has some sort of advice to give you. Usually in the form of a short, quick saying that “everyone” seems to acknowledge as writing advice of some kind.

But is it really? Because a lot of advice that’s been shortened and trimmed down to a single, quickly repeated and easily remembered phrase has the issue of being, well, too short to be of much value. Or in some cases, ended up with exactly the opposite meaning to the original well-intended advice.

In other words, some of this advice writers are flooded with is advice so often repeated that few bother to question if it really has any worthwhile meaning, only assuming that it does. But …. does it?

That’s what the Summer of Cliche Writing Advice has explored these past two months. Each week, we’ve taken some of this advice, from “Show, don’t tell” to “There’s nothing new under the sun” and tackled it in-depth, digging into what it means, what it teaches, whether or not that’s useful to a new writer—and if not, what a new writer should learn instead.

This week? That trend continues with another bit of oft-repeated advice all writers hear. So let’s get down to it. This week, we discuss a tricky one. This week, our bit of “advice” is:

Never use adverbs.

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Why You Should Watch … Galavant

mv5bmjewndcymdk4of5bml5banbnxkftztgwndkymjm5mze40._v1_Today’s post doesn’t have much to do with reading. The title, admittedly, gives that away, but I’ve been around long enough to know that sometimes even I skim over a title in my haste to read the article (and surely, I can’t be the only one?) so … Yeah, today’s post isn’t about a book. Or a series of articles.

Today’s post is about a TV show.

Now look, I promise I won’t do this often. Mine is a site dedicated first and foremost to writing and fiction.

But … sands and storms did this show never get the credit it deserved. At all. Personally, I think it had somewhat to do with the medium. Premiering on a cable network that likely had no idea what to make of it, it seemed a hard sell on an audience that is shrinking by the year (cable TV). I suspect that had Galavant shown up on some other network, like Amazon or Netflix, right off of the bat, we might have seen three, four, or even five seasons rather than the meager two it ran on ABC.

Why? Well, personally, I’m not sure execs knew what to make of Galavant. Or the general television audience. It’s … not a normal show. It’s a show that would stand out perfectly on Netflix or Amazon as a show that’s made for an audience that’s always looking forward. But for a more traditional, status-quo seeking cable network audience? It’s kind of a hard sell.

Okay, enough beating around the bush. What is Galavant? Well … are you ready? Galavant, as I would describe, is:

*Inhales* A musical, meta, fourth-wall aware, fantasy comedy. And yes, I mean musical in the sense that everyone breaks out into song and dance with astonishing regularity. Several times per episode, actually. And they’re aware they do it (see the “meta” tag). Sometimes they’re even aware that there’s been a commercial break, or that most viewers only Tivo the show for later and aren’t watching it live (fourth-wall what?).

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Being a Better Writer’s Summer of Cliche Writing Advice: Read a Book

Welcome readers, to another installment of Being a Better Writer’s Summer of Cliche Writing Advice! We are rolling right along and into week six of this feature, and the cliche advice just keeps coming.

Okay, really quick let’s have a brief aside here for the new folks who haven’t encountered Being a Better Writer or the Summer of Cliche Writing Advice before. What on Earth is this?

Pretty straightforward, really. The Summer of Cliche Writing Advice is a feature running this summer on Being a Better Writer. BaBW, by the way, is exactly what it sounds like on the tin. It’s a weekly dose of writing advice on a variety of topics, from pacing, to plotting, to character development (sorry, had to break the alliteration there). Running every Monday save holidays for almost six years now, it totals hundreds of articles to browse through and learn from.

The Summer of Cliche Writing Advice, on the other hand, is a special temporary feature. If you’ve ever told someone that you’re writing a book, or even thinking about it, you’ve doubtlessly had the experience of “Oh, well be sure you do …” followed by some bit of quick, cliche advice that seems to follow writers like a lawyer follows an ambulance. Even if it’s your second, or third, or twelfth book, you’re practically guaranteed to have one of this cliche sayings tossed at you, usually from folks that have never written anything, but they heard it somewhere. Sands, my part-time job did a book launch for a world-famous author a year or so ago, and I would fully expect that had anyone in the office talked with them, they would have immediately started spouting off this sort of advice.

It’s pervasive. It’s everywhere. Social media, random conversations. If you announce you’re writing, you’re going to hear something like “Oh, show don’t tell,” “nothing new under the sun,” or “kill your darlings.”

So here’s what the Summer of Cliche Writing Advice is all about answering: Are any of these sayings actually useful? Because one of the problems with one-line, easily repeated advice is that over time it can come to mean the opposite of what the original saying went for. It either loses context, meaning … or maybe it doesn’t?

That’s the trick. With all these easily and oft-repeated sayings out there, how do we know which ones are worth paying attention to and which ones aren’t? Are they all good? All bad? Somewhere in the middle? Well, the Summer of Cliche Writing Advice is here to answer that question as we tackle saying after saying, digging into it, seeing what makes it tick, and how much of it is really worth paying attention to. And as for this week?

Want to be a writer? Read a Book.

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The Price We Pay – Are Book Prices too Much?

Honestly, I was going to hold off on a second post this week until Thursday (I’m blitzing through edits on Jungle right now) but this post had already been on my mind, and then a discussion yesterday online regarding MacMillan’s continued crusade against libraries basically poured gasoline over the spark and, well … Here we are.

Look, something that I see brought up constantly online, including in the very post that kicked this whole chain of thoughts off, is the price of books. It’s a hot topic anywhere. There are a lot of people who see them as too expensive, to overpriced, whether digital or not.

And you know what? I think they’re wrong.

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Being a Better Writer’s Summer of Cliche Writing Advice: Don’t Be Boring

Welcome readers, to the fifth installment of Being a Better Writer‘s Summer of Cliche Writing Advice! That’s right, this is entry number five! For some of you, you know what that means, but there may be some newcomers here (as this summer series has pulled in a number of new readers) saying “Hey, what is this?”

It’s pretty straightforward, really. One thing you’ll notice as an author or even just as a fresh writer starting out is that once you openly declare yourself as such, advice just comes out of the woodwork. Everyone and their dog (and possibly their cat) just starts tossing advice at you that they heard … somewhere. Most of them probably couldn’t say where, or they’ll ascribe it to someone famous they’re fairly certain wrote a book. But they heard it, and they’ve been told it’s good advice, and when they hear that someone is planning on writing, well … they share it. They share all of it.

In other words, authors new and experienced often face a deluge of writing advice in the form of short, easily remembered phrases. Phrases that can quickly be read and repeated at a moment’s notice. Phrases that sound pretty helpful.

But are they really? That’s the real question here, and what Being a Better Writer‘s Summer of Cliche Writing Advice is all about. Are these short, simply sayings worth repeating? Are they useful to a new writer, or even an experienced one? Or are they the equivalent of a passer-by telling a mechanic to “check the brake pads” while they work on a transmission problem?

Each week, we look at a different cliche saying that writers hear constantly or see repeated online. We break it down, examine it, and see if it’s really worth listening to, acknowledging, and passing on … or if it’s something that does more harm than good, something that sounds good, but really isn’t helpful.

With that said, let’s get to it! And this week, we’ve got a classic to look over. This week, we discuss …

Don’t be boring.

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