Ditch Diggers #43: Care and Feeding of your Author

We are together again talking about care and feeding of the author inside you! Sadly, with technical difficulties.

Care and Feeding Show Notes

  • Fuck hemingway. And a pierMatt and Mur come to you live, actually in-person (well, the two of them are, anyway) from Morgan Freeman’s Outside OBGYN Clinic.
  • Matt’s fictional uterus and a brief history of why we’re talking about it on this episode.
  • Actually, Matt and Mur are at their yearly retreat in the backwoods of Ohio with friends and family, several of whom are in the audience during the recording of this episode.
  • Matt and Mur introduce the topic of this episode, “the care and feeding of your author” (a topic suggested by Matt’s fiancée, Nikki).
  • How writers and the writing industry/community emphasize doing the work over taking care of yourself, physically.
  • Mur talks about how we romanticize the Hemingway-esque and Poe-esque stereotypes of the alcohol-soaked, depressed author and why that is obviously wrong and harmful.
  • Self-care, how alcohol and writing don’t mix, and Matt’s unabashed love for Mott’s for Tots apple juice and how it can replace the former habit.
  • Mur and Matt talk about smoking and drug abuse, citing writers like Joe Ezsterhaus and Stephen King as examples of how both invariably go disastrously wrong when you mix them with your career.
  • The episode is cut abruptly short, and Mur explains why (and offers apologies, although we did the best we could).

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[P1] Bell the Cat

The Page One Project / June 29, 2017

Bell the Cat“Maybe we can use prisoners.”

The eager-faced private was probably a little older than most recruits, but carried herself well as she refilled water glasses in the war room.

Admiral Kang looked around slowly, murder in her eyes. “Did someone ask your opinion?”

“Er, no ma’am, I just thought if you can’t find someone to risk their lives in the barrel, then you could perhaps send a prisoner in there to do it.” The private swallowed nervously and her hand tightened on the water jug.

“The weapon will probably kill them during the test fire. That’s what happens when you’re in a barrel of a giant weapon. If they face death on the outside why would they face death on the inside?”

“Well, you said it would ‘probably’ kill them. If the weapon doesn’t kill them, then you can promise to release them?” the private said, her voice dry.

Admiral Kang briefly considered this. Then she shook her head.

“The problem, I think, is the weapon’s design,” Captain Folda said, leaning back in his chair his feet lifting slightly off the floor. “Test fires are suicide. Who thought it was a good idea to place the diagnostic computer inside the actual barrel of the weapon?”

Kang glared at the short man. She hated the way he spoke, unsure and hesitant, always saying “I think” when it was bloody obvious that when he spoke, he was thinking the words that came out of his mouth.

“Of course it’s in the design. That’s why we can’t fix it. That’s why we need a workaround,” she said. “I wish I could put the actual design team in there to fire the weapon. That would be fitting punishment.”

“All are dead but one,” said Dr. Wu, the physicist who oversaw the project. He looked at a tablet and scrolled through some names. “One of the designers: an Aleksandra Zielinski. A prodigy, it seems.”

The private had begun to slink from the room, obviously hoping to escape now that the focus was elsewhere.

“Private,” Admiral Kang barked. “What did you say your name was?”

What happens next? That’s up to you.

Read more about The Page One Project here.

Creative Commons License
The Page One Project by Mur Lafferty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Links are affiliate.


ISBW #378: Preparations

One day late, nearly back on schedule!

I’ve decided I need some simple lists to help me when I travel and record, and figure those kinds of lists might help with writing, too.

Next week, Ditch Diggers!

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ISBW #377: Brain Weasels

I know I know I know I always say these supportive things but sometimes it’s hard to listen to myself. Recently – without realizing it! – I’ve been suffering from “first draft must be perfect” syndrome, and had to step back and actually look at myself and what I was doing.

First drafts don’t have to be perfect. Write it 100x on the board.


Created at http://www.addletters.com/bart-simpson-generator.htm#.WUgG2tgzpQM

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Ditch Diggers #42: The Freelancer’s Rebuttal Guide

Foxes fight, quote from show, rebuttal guideIt’s time for some role playing and rebuttal action as Matt and Mur bring you some FINE acting shit.

Rebuttal Guide Show Notes

  • Matt and Mur come to you live from Morgan Freeman’s Debate Club practice room, and Mur remembers to say the show’s tagline for once.
  • The Ditch Diggers try to decide whether this episode takes place two weeks or five minutes after the last episode.
  • Matt asks Mur what she’s been up to, and the answer somehow involves John Without Garfield (edit- it’s actually Garfield Minus Garfield.)
  • Mur talks about being in the oft recurring “proposal period” of a writer’s career, sending pitches out for multiple projects including novels and interactive media, hating outlining, and learning new skills.
  • Matt talks about finally finishing his first (anti) epic fantasy novel, working on the final Sin du Jour novella, reaching the end of his current book contract, and what comes next (including a middle grade novel).
  • Mur unintentionally segues into the topic of today’s show, which is The Freelance Writer’s Rebuttal Guide, a Matt Wallace Technology (Mur makes fun of Matt for this last part, and rightfully so).
  • Matt and Mur role-play The Freelance Writer’s Rebuttal Guide, with Mur’s snarky and insightful annotations throughout.
  • Matt encourages freelancers to submit new scenarios to the Guide, which is different from emailing Ditch Diggers questions (Mur explains).
  • Email questions! Topics include freelance writers and social media, publishing rights, and how to best keep track of pending submissions.

Other links of note:

Garfield Minus Garfield, October 2016

Garfield Minus Garfield, a particularly creepy one.

As always, Matt and Mur shill their books, GREEDY PIGS and RENCOR and SIX WAKES respectively, and remind Hugo voting listeners Ditch Diggers is up for best fancast, so vote for us!

Affiliate links to our books!

Site Housekeeping

I was on vacation last week and missed posting the latest ISBW. So there will be a new Ditch Diggers later today, ISBW later this week, and ISBW next Monday to make sure we’re caught up. Then a live DD the following Monday cause I’m seeing Matt in person soon.

And I’m cooking up something cool for the live DD at WorldCon! And I will NOT mess up the recording this time! Cross my heart and all that.

I am working on a redesign to my site (OK, Pablo Defendini is working on the redesign, I’m just watching) and in cleaning some things up, I have broken others (mainly the Ditch Diggers site). This will be fixed when the new site launches.

Simpsons- old man yells at cloudSpeaking of things that I broke: many of you have told me that the Ditch Diggers feed isn’t updating, and I’m sorry about that. I have gone into iTunes and put a new feed for ITunes to grab, and it should be fixed within 24 hours or so.

<— Aside- BACK IN MY DAY fixing your feed within iTunes was nigh-impossible. Once you told iTunes what your feed was, you were stuck. I wasn’t too optimistic about this fix, but then found out iTunes has changed in the past 10 years. Who would have thought?

So the Ditch Diggers feed should be fixed shortly. Crossing fingers.

HEY did you know that you can win a copy of Bookburners from Goodreads? It’s true! Enter the giveaway here to win the glorious doorstop of a book with stories by me, Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, and Brian Francis Slattery.

I hate to toot my own horn, but who’s gonna toot it if I don’t? Last week Six Wakes got awesome coverage in Popular Mechanics! They listed Six Wakes as one of the best SF books of 2017 (so far). Seriously.

[P1] The Gentlemen’s Cemetery

The Page One Project / June 9, 2017

Image Desc: Dapper man with story quote They told me that all of society’s walls – class, racism, sexism – they fall after death. When I pressed for details, no one could give me a good answer. Holy men and women don’t like it when you press for details. They fall because reasons. They shatter because our bodies are the only things that indicate our working class, our brown skin, our sexual preference, our genders, and now they are gone?

They were wrong about so much. It was hard enough being dead without having to unwrap all of the lies the churches (and atheists) shoveled into us. There was no bright light. I haven’t found any family members or friends. I have not ascended to heaven, fallen to hell, or had a desire to haunt anyone. I don’t even know if I’d call myself a ghost. I don’t feel like a monster.

Wait, I did find one friend: Harry, my friend from childhood, but since we both died in our forties we didn’t have a lot to talk about. The conversation went something like, “Harry? From Mrs. Draughn’s fifth grade class?”

“Holy shit, it’s you! How, uh, well, did you have a good life?”

“Not too bad. Ended too soon. You know.”


“…well, see you.”

You do learn dead etiquette pretty damn fast; no one cares how you died, and it’s considered pretty rude to talk about. I stopped offering the information pretty fast.

I lost a big sense of self after I died. I wandered a lot. I think most of us did. You can go anywhere, but you lose a lot of desire to spy on the living. In fact, I think that old play Our Town was probably the most accurate view of the afterlife.

I had little desires but to wander, until the day I wandered into the Gentlemen’s Graveyard and immediately was cast out.

That gave me something to want.

What happens next? That’s up to you.

Read more about The Page One Project here.

Creative Commons License
The Page One Project by Mur Lafferty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Links are affiliate.

Ditch Diggers #41: HOT BUTTON TOPICS

What Are People Mad About Today?
Ditch Diggers 41: Hot Button Topics

  • Matt and Mur come to you live from Morgan Freeman’s 24-hour news network control room where we are discussing the latest hot button topics on the news! (Mur has a new applause machine, but it’s not working right now, so you’ll have to infer the applause.)
  • Sound f/x as the new vernacular, and addiction to sound f/x machines.
  • Mur and Matt are tackling ISSUES on this HOT BUTTON EPISODE of Ditch Diggers. AKA heatedly discussed topics recently on writer social media.
  • Matt explains (poorly and too meta, according to Mur) what hot button issues are and how they come into being.
  • Mur explains (far more eloquently) the nature of click-bait and how it drives/poisons discourse on the internet.
  • Hot Button #1: The infamous “if you don’t write every day you’re not a real writer” article and the larger “real writer” myth.
  • Hot Button #2: The “don’t you dare smack talk your copy editor on social media” debate, and the larger issue of how important discourse gets derailed by pretense and false premises. We also discuss the difference between discussing issues and discussing individuals, and authors criticizing other authors.
  • Hot Button #3: “Literary” magazines publishing genre fiction, and also not paying authors.
  • Matt and Mur go on a tangent about the detriment of labeling fiction and how the market has shrunk.
  • Returning to the hot button, Matt and Mur talk about the difference between the business of “literary” and SFF magazines.
  • Twitter Q&A! Questions include outlining book series, “bonehead” things aspiring writers do again and again, and knives.

Matt and Mur shill their books, GREEDY PIGS and RENCOR and SIX WAKES respectively, and remind Hugo voting listeners Ditch Diggers is up for best fancast, so vote for us!

Affiliate links to our books!

[P1] The Daughters’ Pact

The Page One Project / June 1, 2017

“Dead at school or alive in the woods,” Darla had said. But she had wanted to meet at night, and Serena’s closest experience with nature had been her mother’s window flower box.

Right before she was ready to panic, give up, and pull out the forbidden phone, Serena spied a light flickering through the trees. She breathed a sigh as she finally found her bearings. She hurried toward it, trying not to make a lot of noise to attract the wrong kind of attention, but trying to make enough noise to avoid sneaking up on the others.

Jasmine stood by the fire, holding her hands over it and staring at it. A stuffed backpack sat at her feet, leaning slightly against her calf. Her tight braids hung around her face, and only her eyes were visible.

Darla gathered more tinder for the fire, looking up at Serena when she arrived, acknowledging her with a nod, and then getting back to work. Her limp was less pronounced in the woods. Why had Serena never noticed that before?

HD sat leaning against a log, her hair short and dirty, face twisted as if pained. Her hand clenched on the sack on her lap: a fraying vinyl bag that said Carolina Mudcats. Its thin straps, no wider than thick yarn, drooped over her legs, and Serena wondered how much it hurt to carry it.

HD’s eyes flicked to her as she joined them. “You’re late,” she said. “Did you bring them?”

Serena nodded. “All I could find, anyway.” She dropped her leather backpack on the ground and opened it. Trying to hide her distaste, she reached in and grabbed the bundle of bloody rags, drawing them slowly out.

Darla watched her, transfixed. “Do we really have to do this? If my mother ever finds out-”

“Sure, your mother is what we have to worry about here,” HD interrupted. She rubbed her face, leaving a smear of dirt. “Your mother is the least of our worries.”

What happens next? That’s up to you.

Read more about The Page One Project here.

Creative Commons License
The Page One Project by Mur Lafferty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Links are affiliate.

[P1] Announcing The Page One Project

The Page One Project Logo
A few years ago I was blogging a creativity exercise I called The News from Poughkeepsie. I would post a daily writing prompt, character sketch, MacGuffin, setting, etc that people could use in their own writing. I did it to push my own creativity, as well as prove that ideas are cheap, and anyone who held onto their precious jewels of ideas for fear of them being stolen was only hurting themselves.

Today I’ve decided to go one better. I’m launching The Page One Project, a weekly gift to you. 250 – 500 words of the beginning of a story, and you can do with it what you will*. Continue the story. Edit the heck out of it and make it a poem. Use it as inspiration for your webcomic. Make it the beginning of a bestselling trilogy. Quote it in interpretive dance. I don’t care.

ALL you have to do is mention the work began as part of The Page One project and include my name. That’s it.

Today, launch day, it’s free to everyone. After this, Patreon supporters will get the pages before everyone else, but they will eventually all be posted here.

This is the most free use of a Creative Commons License I’ve ever done, and it’s exciting. The official license is the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (don’t worry, it’s a human readable link below, not fifteen pages of EULA.) If you have any questions, please check that page before you ping me, it really is plainly spelled out.

Page One for June 1, 2017, The Daughters’ Pact, is coming later today!

* Incidentally, so can I!

Creative Commons License
The Page One Project by Mur Lafferty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.