Guest Post/Story: The Letter, by Emma Newman

In 2013 the marvellous Angry Robot books will be publishing three Split Worlds novels, the first is out in March and called Between Two Thorns. This story is part of a crazy thing I decided to do before I got the book deal and was forging ahead with the project on my own: releasing a new story every week for a year and a day, hosted on a different site every time, all set in the Split Worlds. I wanted to give readers a taste of my kind of urban fantasy and have the opportunity to build in secrets and extra bits for those people who, like me, love the tiny details. It’s also been a major part of my world-building work alongside writing the novels.

This is the forty-seventh tale in the year and a day of weekly short stories set in The Split Worlds. If you would like me to read it to you instead, you can listen here. You can find links to all the other stories, and the new ones as they are released here. You can also sign up to get the stories delivered to your inbox, one per week for a year and a day.

Full story is behind the cut. Thanks, Emma!

The Letter

The letter had remained unopened for precisely fifty-four years, six months and three days. She had decided to break the seal, today, at sunset.  Continue reading

Invisible words

“Run!” he screamed.

“I am running!” she retorted.

“Then keep running!” he ejaculated.

These words are called “said bookisms” – identified at the Turkey City Lexicon.

Artificial, literary verb used to avoid the perfectly good word “said.” “Said” is one of the few invisible words in the language; it is almost impossible to overuse. Infinitely less distracting than “he retorted,” “she inquired,” or the all-time favorite, “he ejaculated.”

I get some emails from authors who worry about using the same word over and over. If they’re using a lot of dialogue, they think that SAID SAID SAID SAID SAID jumps out from the page, so they try to throw in different words to “spice” up their work.

If you use a word, like a noun or a verb or, Thor forbid, an adjective or adverb over and over again, those stand out. “Richard ran to the hospital. As he neared the hospital, he noticed the footprints of others who had run to the hospital before him. Why were they running to the hospital? he wondered.”

(Incidentally, this is a mistake I commonly make.)

But the words that are invisible are words that we skim over, we may not even read them in our heads, they are simply there to anchor us. If we didn’t have “he said” and “Regina said” and “Algernon said” then we would lose the trail of who was talking. Other words that serve this purpose are pronouns. If you have two people, one male, one female, in a conversation, you need use their names only a few times, “he” and “she” will do fine from then on. *

If the conversation has two of the same gender, or more than two speakers, the you need to use names and pronouns, and possibly other descriptors (but be careful, this can lead to overuse that is like a said bookism, Calling a man “Carl” and then “the big man” and the “the retired fireman” and then “the half-caucasian, half-Indian with a limp” and then “the alcoholic” can be very distracting from the story.)

People can get really, really hung up on these things, and there’s no need for it. Because this is something you can fix in edits. Have someone read it, go over it yourself, see what sounds weird and forced and what flows so naturally that you don’t even see your invisible words like “he” and “she” and “said.”

* Unless the character is neither male nor female, or they are both. If you don’t want to assign them a binary gender, you can use their name all the time, but it’s difficult to do. See John Scalzi’s The God Engines for an example of this done expertly.

Fabulist Update

Hey all you Ink Splattered Fabulists!

I’m currently working on a spreadsheet to put all y’all in there nice and cozy, then I’ll be emailing you some information on how we’re going to continue. And don’t worry. We ARE continuing. It may not be pretty, but it’ll happen. Watch your email box.

If It’s Good Enough For Wil Wheaton…

Welcome to the Murverse Annex.

This is me waving the white flag.

I give up.

The site has had problems for over a year, and I’m frankly exhausted. It’s been little more than a “yes, I still exist” footprint for a month. I’ve posted no new content. I’m so damn tired of it, I’m not even going to explain the problems I’ve been having.

So welcome to the new Mur homepage. What will you find here? Information about me, yes. Links to podcasts, yes. My old blog from Murverse, ISBW, and Princess Scientist? No. That’s gone.

Well. Not gone. I’ve got XML and SQL and LMNOP files with that information, and perhaps when I Make It Big (TM) I will be able to afford a webmaster and I can just throw the content at them and say, “here, fix it.” In fact, my awesome hubby of 14 years might help me out with it. It’s not erased forever.

But I’m done fiddling with it. It’s defeated me. I’m tired of fussing over the site instead of the content within it.

Considering I’ve been coming up on my 8 (!!) year podcast anniversary, there’s a lot of content to deal with. So here’s the info you need.

  • My ISBW feed is hosted through Libsyn, those lovely people. That will not change at all.
  • The Murverse feed is hosted through Feedburner, and I hear rumors that it’s dying a slow death. I recommend subscribing to this site’s feed.
  • I’ll have archives of all content posted soon.
  • If you are a Fabulist subscriber, I will be in touch via email. That program will NOT stop, I just need to figure out how to keep that going.

Thanks for all your patience here. I’m going to punch a gin bottle after I get this thing going.

Apologies to Wil Wheaton for stealing his idea of running away and starting a new site.