The other day I read a great blog by Angela Scott (no relation to Corona!) called Whimsy Writing. In her blog she discusses how crazy you have to be to become a writer. I agree heartily with the points she made.

First of all, writers don’t make much money. Such dreams are sheer fantasy to all but a tiny handful of writers. And most writers are complete unknowns. So much for fame and fortune!

And for all the non-rewards we receive we must suffer the slings and arrows of disgruntled readers, unappreciative editors, and unimpressed reviewers. All writers ( without exception! ) will experience some form of rejection: from publishers, from indifferent readers, and from the constant struggle to promote our own books.

Why, Angela asks, why would any sane person subject themselves to this abuse?

The consensus, according to the comments on her excellent blog, seems to be that writers write because we must! We have no choice in the matter. It’s either write or be driven insane by the voices in our heads. Several comments referred to characters as “the little people in our heads”.

Well, my “people” aren’t little, and I don’t think they’re entirely in my head, but I understand completely what other writers mean by this. My characters seem to lurk just over my shoulder, frequently telling me in no uncertain terms what they want to say and do next. From time to time, when I err, I seem to hear their voices: “No, no, no! That’s not me! I would never say/do that!”

Writers of fiction, especially, must live in a reality that isn’t real. We must create worlds that have never been, invent characters who have never lived, yet feel “real”. We must envision scenarios that most likely will never happen. Are we truly crazy?

Maybe so, but on the up-side, writing is fun, it’s challenging, and it’s rewarding in ways other than monetary. I regard writing as a calling that connot be ignored, an inner flame that cannot be quenched. But unless you are absolutely driven to write and to write your best possible work, you should probably stay safely sane and stick to the next best thing: reading!

All for now,

MRTighe

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Why do I love science fiction and fantasy in all media?

Reality has certain hard and fast rules so you pretty much know what to expect. For example, if someone falls off a hundred-foot bridge, there’s a high probability that the person is going to die. But in SF&F any number of different outcomes is possible.

He or she may suddenly sprout wings and fly away or be halted in midair by a device that stops time. Superman, or some other superhero, may fly in at the last moment to rescue the poor soul. Or perhaps a vampire catches the victim in his arms and devours him or her! There’s no end to the possibilities, some of which might make perfect sense and some not.

What happens in SF&F is limited only by the author’s imagination. The reader/viewer/player can travel anywhere in time or space, do impossible things. It’s sort of like playing a game of chess in which the rules of play are suspended and anything goes. Therefore, the players must invent a new game with its own rules, its own goals. The game becomes fresh, exciting ( or certainly should be! )

I think that those people who “can’t get into” SF&F are the type who want/need absolute rules that can’t be bent or broken. They can’t, or won’t, suspend their disbelief in alternate outcomes long enough to enjoy the story being presented to them, to appreciate what imagination has wrought. To them, it’s all nonsense. They just cannot allow themselves to be swept away by anything that isn’t “real”.

I feel badly for them because these folks are missing out on a heck of a lot of fun, as well as on new ways of looking at the world. But I understand that’s simply part of who they are. No matter what you enjoy reading or writing, keep on with it!

MRTighe

Cardinal sin #1: being plain old boring! If all your main characters do, day after day, is ordinary things like waking up, showering, eating breakfast, dressing, going to work or to the gym, getting coffee, etc., etc. why the heck should anyone be interested? We all do those things! Nothing new here! Take us where we’ve never been before; let us experience something we’ve wished we could do, go places we’ve only dreamed about. Do not bore the reader to death: You need every one you can get!

Cardinal sin #2: confusing the reader! If you have a cast of characters longer than the Bible ( and they’re all named Erin, Eric, Eamon, Edward, Aaron, etc. Eek! ) you have a problem. Oh, and do not use unpronounceable names, a pet peeve of mine. Also, make sure the reader knows to whom your pronouns refer, ie:” He took it to him, and he grabbed it from him.” ( Say what? )

Cardinal sins #3,4,5, and 6: using poor grammar, using incorrect punctuation, not correcting your spelling, and not checking what every word you’ve used actually means! These errors can be easily remedied by doing a little research and by not depending exclusively on spell-check to find them!

Cardinal sin #7: being laughable when you aren’t intentionally writing comedy! It isn’t a compliment if your readers go into hysterics over your work when it’s intended to be serious. A for-instance: My daughters almost died laughing when they read this line I wrote in Judgment on Tartarus:” Grasping his dar’dul-adz firmly in his right hand…” Needless to say, I immediately changed that passage to be less laughter-provoking! ( This is only one of the reasons I advocate getting away from your novel before going back and looking at it with fresh eyes. I bet you’ll find yourself saying, “Oh! I didn’t mean to say that!”

And, finally, cardinal sin #8: being long-winded and rambling on aimlessly, adding nothing to your plot! In her Vampire Chronicles, Anne Rice tends to dwell on insignificant details, such as the architecture of New Orleans, for page after page, but she’s not writing a travelogue! A writer in one of my groups interspersed her love story with straight-from-the-encyclopedia facts about birds! Spare me; if I wanted to read all about birds, I’d be reading a bloody bird book!

Hopefully, this blog has helped you watch out for some of the pitfalls a writer must navigate around. We all make mistakes, no matter how experienced a writer we may be. Writing is a life-long learning experience. So keep on writing,

MRTighe

A national newscast recently featured a piece during which both the anchor and the reporter expressed stunned disbelief that some U.S. corporations are actually looking into—of all things!—asteroid mining! Horrors!

This led me to wonder, Have any of these people ever read science fiction? As far back as I can remember, and probably long before that, SF novels and short stories have been predicting that we would eventually be forced to mine asteroids, as well as other planets, in order to replace our dwindling natural resources and to obtain elements that aren’t found on Earth. I was shocked that these apparently intelligent individuals would be so astonished by the prospect.

Mining asteroids seems to me to be an entirely logical, practical solution to some of our most pressing problems. I’m all for it. In fact, asteroid mining is featured in my current WIP, a space opera about future humans living in another solar system. Asteroid mining will also be mentioned in the prequel to my Tartarus Trilogy. I think it’s a given—dangerous work maybe, but any endeavor in space is bound to be dangerous. It goes with the territory, as they say.

It may take a few years to develop the technology needed, but I’m sure the day will come when asteroid mining is a reality and taken for granted

Keep on reading.

MRTighe

All three books in my Tartarus Trilogy are technically classified as science fiction, but I prefer to define them as either “soft” sci-fi, space adventure, or character-driven sci-fi. My plots aren’t driven by advanced technology or scientific theories, so they definitely aren’t hard sci-fi. Neither are they what’s usually referred to as “literary” sci-fi. And I wouldn’t classify them as space opera either, though perhaps to some people’s minds they might be.

I consider my stories to be “character driven” si-fi. My characters are people of their own time and place; if you were to take them out of the context of their environment, they would lose much of who they are. But they still have typically human failings, feelings, and problems, have their own individual reasons for doing the things that they do. Even the so-called “aliens” in my work are very human in that regard.

Whatever sub-genre of SF you may decide that my books belong to, I hope readers will give them a try before jumping to conclusions based upon what genre they think my books might be. To me, the story being told is almost everything—not to discount good, solid writing and judicious editing, which are both extremely important. I believe that the majority of readers find it extremely important to easily identify with the characters in the story and to have the desire to go along with them on their journey.

But whatever type of sci-fi my readers may think I write, that’s not nearly as important as the fact that they enjoy my stories. So far, I can tell you truthfully that all of the reviews and the feedback I’ve received for my Tartarus Trilogy has been positive. Feel free to check out the reviews that are posted on amazon.com. You can also make use of their” Look Inside” feature for all three books and even download the first chapter of each of the Kindle versions for free.

Thanks for reading,

MRTighe

During a recent trip to one of our local Barnes&Nobles, I noticed what seems to be a significant decline in their science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romance offerings. Usually, a large section of the bookstore is devoted to these subjects. Now those sections have shrunk appreciably to a few aisles.

I found that a bit alarming, since I write science fiction, space opera, and related genres. So I’m always interested in what exactly is currently being published. Until recently, I had noticed a preponderance of reprints: old classics by such authors as Asimov, Clarke, Bova, et al. On this trip, however, I didn’t see as many reprints. I also noticed a lack of books based on TV’s Babylon 5 and fewer Star Trek titles. The Twilight books were almost completely lacking.

So I can’t help but wonder what’s going on. Why have these popular genres and subjects been downsized while others, such as Romance, are burgeoning? It could simply be that demand for Romance is greater than that for SF, which is definitely a niche that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Maybe the sale of books in general has suffered because of the downturn in the economy. Or perhaps, after a long spell of publishers reprinting classics, readers are looking for something new and different. I really don’t have the answer.

But I suspect that the current trend may be due to the availability of SF&F books online. Following the path of least resistance and seeking relief for their wallets, many readers have decided to shop online. Who could blame them? I shop online myself, and my books are available online. But given my druthers, I prefer the experience of shopping in a bookstore!

Any ideas, comments to offer? Keep on reading,

MRTighe

Now that Book 3 of my Tartarus Trilogy will be published and available online in just a few weeks, here’s a sample: the back cover “blurb”:

There’s a traitor on the planet Tartarus!

With the insider’s aid, Dar-kan hira-Gurd—the beautiful, sadistic, dangerous Ghendarian commander—invades the City of the Ruler. She usurps the throne of Ahn-eld, then plots her long-awaited revenge upon Malkis of Tartarus.

Acting on a gut instinct that the planet is under attack, Richard Hughes, commander of Astrella II, risks battling Ghendarian warships in a desperate attempt to rescue Malkis and Rona.

But in order to save his wife, his world, and his friends from the brutal and merciless invaders, Malkis is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice!

So that’s it, folks. Again, just a reminder that each book in the Tartarus Trilogy can stand alone. I don’t particularly like books you have to read in order just to be able to understand what’s going on. Or books that leave you in a “to be continued” cliffhanger! Okay, it would probably be more fun to start with Judgment on Tartarus, then proceed to read True Son of Tartarus before Ransom of Tartarus, but by no means is it absolutely necessary. Read whatever takes your fancy!

Hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing,

MRTighe