Best Fiction and Writing Blogs

The week’s best “how-to” articles compiled by margaret

Jacqueline Seewald: Setting the Scene
Holly Lisle: Freeing Up the Subconscious in Writing
Grady Brown: SUPERPOWER: ENERGY MANIPULATION (I could use that!)
A Vase of Wildflowers: Links for Readers and Writers
Cindy Knoke: It’s Home to The Holler We Go! (Nothing like dazzling pictures of exotic wildlife to inspire you)
Nicola Alter: Accepting the Existence of Magic (How to do magic right in your stories)

Science Fiction for the Fourth Generation

There will be no more Gettysburgs; there will be no more Stalingrads. Gettysburg, the biggest battle to take place in North America, pitted the largest army in the world at that time against the world’s second largest. A massive and prolonged artillery bombardment — what Robert E. Lee hoped would create a Napoleonic “feu d’enfer” or “Hell’s Fire”– combined with a direct charge at entrenched infantry (Pickett’s Charge), and a total lack of appreciation for the implications of the rifled Minie ball made horrendous casualties inevitable. 50,000 soldiers would be killed or wounded.

And despite all that, the rules of engagement limited civilian casualties to one. Yes, you read that right — only one civilian died at Gettysburg.

Nor will there be another Stalingrad. The era of industrialized armies trying to grind each other into submission, resulting in a clear winner and loser, is also a thing of the past. We are now in the age of Fourth-Generation Warfare (4GW), characterized by non-State combatants fighting as much for hearts and minds as for battlefields — and “battlefields” are no longer places where tanks can maneuver; instead, they are chosen more for their public relations significance than military expedience. There will be no innocent bystanders in a guerilla/public relations battle for hearts and minds. Understanding the new way of war will be essential for policy planners, military strategists, and, yes, for writers.

So Vox Day’s latest venture, Riding the Red Horse, guarantees to be fascination reading. It combines sci-fi tales of future warfare with non-fiction essays on emerging trends in warfare, including work by William Lind, a leading scholar on 4GW. This review in TakiMag provides a good introduction:

Riding the Red Horse, edited by fantasy star Vox Day and Army Ranger vet Tom Kratman for Castalia House, is a tailor-made compromise for those time-pressed souls who find the consumption of unalloyed fiction to be too useless a practice in which to indulge. It’s also a treat for sci-fi readers who retain an interest in the world around them—and the two groups’ overlap is large enough to make it a very good idea indeed.

If you want to write realistic future battle scenes, this volume will be essential. I know what I want for my birthday.

Quote of the day

“Art has been marginalized in our culture by the mismanagement practiced on it by elites. In doing so, they have blocked access to powerful resources – denying our society the inspiration to live up to ideals, the encouragement to think and feel deeply, the yearning to harmonize with truth and beauty. As a result the mass audience has turned away, instinctually rejecting the superficial and nihilistic aspects of contemporary art championed by an imperious would-be ruling class.” The Remodern Review

A Conversation with Steve Himmer, author of Fram


Steve Himmer writes about bleak, alien landscapes and the surprising complexity his characters discover in those places. The critical quote:

“I guess I wouldn’t say we’re at odds with nature so much as befuddled by an insistence on seeing ourselves as the most important thing—the only thing, more often than not—that matters in any particular landscape.”

A Conversation with Adam Long of the Hemingway-Pfeiffer House


Here’s a little treasure for all of us Hemingway fans, an interview with Adam Long, the director of the Hemingway-Pfeiffer House. Mr. Long knows what he’s talking about. He comes to the job with a background in American modernism and a PhD in literature. Long shares his knowledge about the author’s time at his second wife’s family home, a period of Hemingway’s life many of us aren’t familiar with. Great insights into Hemingway’s writing habits and thought.

My only gripe with the interview is this prologue: “Hemingway once explained: ‘There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.'”

It’s very unlikely Hemingway said that. That vivid quote probably came from Red Smith, a sportswriter. Hemingway’s weapon of choice was the pencil (See A Moveable Feast), and he wrote standing.

Best fiction and writing blogs


The best fiction and writing blogs, compiled by reh

This edition features the best author interviews on the Internet. Enjoy!

Jacqueline Seewald: Interview With D.K. Christi 
A Writer’s Path: How Mark Lawrence Became Published
Fantasy Faction: Chris Evans Interview
The Paris Review: Michel Houellebecq Defends His Controversial New Book
No Wasted Ink: Author Interview: Jamie Maltman
Warrior Scribe: Writing dark fantasy, martial arts and travel with Alan Baxter

On Location: “Aztec Midnight”

Want to see pictures of the various sites where much of the action in Aztec Midnight takes place? Then you need to check out Pinterest.

Calle Revolución in Cuernavaca, the U.S. State Department headquarters in D.C., the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, the Tepozteco archaeological site in Tepoztlan — there’s even a picture of the magical lair where it all came together (aka, my humble little office). Check it out.


The power of story


Why do all human cultures create and pass on stories? We know that shared stories — histories — unite a people,  just as a person’s life history unifies one’s many experiences into a coherent narrative and defines that person. But that’s only part of it.

Now we are learning that a shared story creates a connection much deeper than we ever suspected.  Writing in Aeon Magazine, Elizabeth Svoboda tells us how neuroscience is uncovering how stories help us connect to other people:

In a 2010 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study, the psychologist Uri Hasson and his Princeton University colleagues had a graduate student tell an unrehearsed story while her brain was being scanned in an fMRI machine. Then they scanned the brains of 11 volunteers listening to a recording of the story. As the researchers analysed the data, they found some striking similarities. Just when the speaker’s brain lit up in the area of the insula – a region that governs empathy and moral sensibilities – the listeners’ insulae lit up, too. Listeners and speakers also showed parallel activation of the temporoparietal junction, which helps us imagine other people’s thoughts and emotions. In certain essential ways, then, stories help our brains map that of the storyteller.

We already knew stories let us break through our normal limits, allowing us to transport ourselves into deep space, the deep sea, or life as it was lived thousands of years ago. But they also enable us to free ourselves of those most alienating and harmful barriers, the self-made blockades meant to protect, but which actually isolate us from other people.

So it’s not just entertainment, and it’s more than imparting valuable lessons. It’s a basic human need.

I often have trouble speaking in public and getting up the nerve to meet people. But at certain times in critique groups, open readings, or when I receive kind notes from readers, I feel I’ve shaken loose my usual inhibitions and fears and have managed to connect. It’s a wonderful feeling.