Author Archives: Kelly Swails

This May Go on Your Permanent Record

So, you guys remember how I’ve blathered about my world domination book? (No? Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged in general and even longer since I’ve written about that book in particular, so I can’t blame you. Here, go read about it. I’ll wait.) Sounds cool, right? Well, now’s your chance to buy AN ACTUAL COPY OF THIS BOOK. Ahem. Yes, this is one the books that Silence in the Library publishing is putting out. Five bucks gets you and ebook. Thirteen gets you a trade paperback copy AND and ebook. And for the low, low price of $25 you get an ebook and an trade paperback signed by yours truly. It’s almost gift-giving season–surely there is someone on your list that wants to read about a prep school for the world’s next leaders. Plus there are three other books in this kickstarter that might interest you. Follow this linky here to get in on the action.

Happy reading!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Demons, Werewolves, and Zombies, Oh My

I didn’t quite know what to expect when I took on the challenge of editing the Monsters! anthology. I knew I’d get some solid stories by talented authors, but the depth and breadth of those stories impressed me. The stories that play with familiar tropes like zombies and demons do so in unique ways. Several stories touch on the idea that the real monsters in the world reside within us. Some make you laugh, some make you think, and they’re all worth your time. It was an honor to edit these stories, and it makes me happy to see it out in the world. Be sure to back the kickstarter so you can be one of the first to discover how this group of authors tackle the monster theme.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

I’ll Just Put This Announcement Right … Here

I’ve signed the contracts, which I suppose makes it official enough to announce: Silence in the Library will be publishing two of my novels this year. The first is a YA set in a school for World Domination, and the second is an urban fantasy set in Prohibition-era Chicago. Both will be out later this year. SitL uses a unique model; they run a kickstarter to cover initial publication costs, so be prepared. I’ll be blathering about these books again soon enough.  

Leave a comment

Filed under writing

Watch Bad Movies to Improve Your Craft

Bear with me.

So the other night the husband and I watched Kick-Ass 2. While the third act is pretty cool action scene, the movie overall isn’t great. I watched it mostly because I loved the original Kick-Ass so much. As I lay in bed (and honestly, again the next day) I kept thinking things like, “you know, if they had cut out the X storyline and made the Z storyline that felt tacked on into the main storyline, it would have been much better and would have nodded to comic-book tropes, too” and “or they could have made Kick-Ass the main character and Hit Girl the protagonist, like they did in in the new Mad Max,” that sort of thing.

My writer brain wanted to make the story better. My writer brain recognized what wasn’t working in the story and thought of ways to strengthen it.

We storytellers usually talk about how reading good writing will help make your writing better, and that’s true. One should definitely spend the bulk of one’s time consuming good story. However, there is something to be said for reading/watching/experiencing a subpar story so you can recognize it when you see it and think of ways to make it better.

Come to think of it, that’s good advice for editors, too.

1 Comment

Filed under editing, writing

Another Day in the Salt Mines

And I actually enjoyed it!

Progress on the current WIP–the novel set in 1920’s Chicago I’ve blathered about before has hit a few stumbling blocks.

  • My kitten chewed through my laptop’s power cord, not once, but twice; each time meant a week away from the novel.
  • I traveled for work and was away from home for a week.
  • After living in Chicago for two years, we finally stopped paying for our storage unit, which means we have to clear it out and find homes (which mostly means the garbage) for all the stuff.

All of which has shown me that having consistency in my environment is a crucial part of my process. I tried writing on other laptops while mine was out of commission, but it just wasn’t the same, mostly because that laptop didn’t have Word and so I had to use Office online and work through a saved version of my manuscript on Dropbox. Great in theory. Horrible in execution. I just kept thinking “but this isn’t the real document” and I got thrown off my game. Apparently I’m not one of those writers that can write anywhere, anytime, and with anything. My recent experiences makes me appreciate and respect those sort of writers even more. Also, when my normal environment is in chaos–like, say, having a room filled with boxes of junk that need to be parsed–I can’t concentrate. I can layer of dust on the shelves, apparently, but not a lot of clutter.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under editing, writing

Recent Deaths and the Permanance of Twitter

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and if that’s the case, I’m sorry; it sounds quite uncomfortable), you know that the science fiction genre has lost two icons: Leonard Nimoy and Terry Pratchett.

Their last tweets–undoubtably written by assisstance or family members–are poignant and clever and endearing and give us, the fans, something to hang on to.

I have a feeling my last tweet–if twitter is around when I die, and I’m sort of hoping it’s not, because that means I’ve outlived the internet or at least twitter’s usefulness–will be something inane like: “kellyswails: I haven’t driven the car in two months and the first time out I hit a squirrel. #karmafail” or “kellyswails: Some motherfucker ate the last goddamn thin mint. I think I might be that motherfucker. I hate me, sometimes.”

It’s the difference between knowing the end is nigh or being suddenly ripped from the world. I don’t know which is better. I don’t know if there is a “better.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Lots of News but Nothing to Report

I have lots of news but I can’t share any of it yet because contracts aren’t signed and blah blah blah. Annoying? Yes. Exciting (for me, at least)? Also yes. Stay tuned.

In related news, my upcoming deadlines are somewhat relaxed and we’re fully moved into our new condo. Which is good, because the ever-present Origins and Gen Con work is kicking into high gear. I’m thinking of picking up the guitar again. And of course I need to do a few book reviews for Black Gate. Basically, I’m not stressed but I’m still busy, which is a good place to be.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Publishing Income and Sexism

<soapbox>

No, this isn’t a post about how women make less money in publishing (I suspect that’s true, but I don’t have hard-and-fast data; if you cared, I’m sure other bloggers have written about it). This post, really, is nothing more than an observation.

Several writers publish their writing income each year. You know that dream you had as a kid about getting to school and realizing you’re naked? Yeah, I imagine publishing your income is a bit like that. I’ve seen a few men post their incomes–and to be honest, I’m not sure if every single one of them post their day-job income along with their writing income. Regardless, they post their earnings, and the vast majority of comments I see are “hey, thanks for sharing,” or “that was super-informative, thanks.”

Yesterday, a writing acquaintance posted about another writer who had posted their income (including both writing and day job). The acquaintance’s post was basically “yeah, boo-hoo, I’m so sorry you’re only making X dollars a year.” The first comments on this thread were of the “the author shouldn’t be complaining,” ilk. Two points: 1) just 20% of the author’s income comes from writing and b) the author is female.

Now, I’m not usually one to beat the sexism drum. I think it’s like anything else: if you believe the world is nothing more than one big ball of sexist fascists, well, you’re going to think everything comes down to sexism. In general, I don’t see the world that way and so my first reaction typically isn’t “well, he’s a guy, so …” or “of course that happened, she’s a woman …” Having said that, I have to say this: what in the fucking fuck. Really. A man posts his income and folks are like “thanks for sharing;” a woman posts her writing income and folks are like “quit complaining, you should be happy to make X.” I mean, come on. 

</soapbox>

 

1 Comment

Filed under writing

The Great Book Cull of 2015

So the husband and I are moving into our New Chicago Condo this week. Moving sucks for everyone, but it really sucks when you’re a book lover. Seriously, if we didn’t have books we’d have ten boxes and a few couches to move. (Okay, that’s hyperbole, but you get the idea.) We ditched a lot of books when we made the move to the Second City, and I’ve culled even more during the moving process. It’s an odd feeling. Anyone who is a book lover can attest that books are friends. Lovers, even. They keep you company on cold nights and hot vacations. They open your mind–if you let them–and allow you to see the world in new ways. The good ones stick with you long after you’ve bid them good night. The great ones keep you up all night until you’ve finished.

Going through a book collection is akin to going through old diaries. Oh, this is from my Dean Koontz phase. Oh, Tess Gerritson–I read her when I wanted to be a forensic pathologist. Brust–ah, yes, Brust–I got into him when I first moved away from classic epic fantasy. This shelf is full of books written by friends. This one includes stories written by me. The collection a visual (and a heavy, pain-in-the-ass-to-move) representation of the my journey as a person, and more recently, as a writer. Some of them are easier to part with than others. Some I’ll never give away–the Harry Potter series, my Stephen King collection (including a copy of The Stand that has been read so much it’s falling apart) (yes, I know it has a duex ex machina ending, I don’t care, I love that fucking book so much), the Wheel of Time series. But the Tess Gerritsons, some of the Dean Koontzes, the Patricia Cornwells? Those are going in the donation pile.

Leave a comment

Filed under reading

Editing is a craft

So it turns out that editing is a craft, too. I don’t mean editing your own work or critiquing others–though that certainly applies, too. No, I mean editing several stories for an anthology.

This is the third year I’ve run programming for the Library at Origins Game Fair and edited the accompanying anthology. While I have certainly edited the previous editions–made suggestions, asked for changes, etc.–this year I’ve done that much more. Cut 2000 words! Your story starts here, not there! I like the story but not the structure–is there a way we can fix that?

Why is this?

Mostly, I’m feeling more comfortable in my editorial skin. I know what I want and I’m not afraid to ask for it. I respect all my authors enough to know that they are capable of making any change I request. I’ve grown as an author, too, so I see more issues with story than I did before. It’s been an enlightening and fun process.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under editing