Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

ARC: Sly Mongoose

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Thanks to Tobias Buckell for providing me an advanced copy of his upcoming science fiction novel, Sly Mongoose. I hope to have finished reading the novel within a month (yeah, I'm slow) at which time I'll make a follow-up post to include my review.

I'll admit I've never read anything by Buckell (pronounced 'Buck Ell' not 'Buckle'; from the author's web site), but I've seen his other works around town, namely Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin.

As for Sly Mongoose, this excerpt I pilfered from the author's site had me hooked from the start:

Welcome to Chilo, a planet with corrosive rain, crushing pressure, and deadly heat. Fortunately, fourteen-year-old Timas lives in one of the domed cities that float 100,000 feet above the surface, circling near the edge of a monstrous perpetual storm.

Oh, the possibilities stemming from that are virtually unlimited, so I'm eager to see where Buckell takes it.

One last comment: My intentions are not completely unselfish here. The current novel I'm slaving away on also features a roughly fourteen year old protagonist, so I'm curious to see what life Buckell breathes into young Timas for purposes of comparison if nothing else.

Tor Free E-Book: Starfish by Peter Watts

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This week's Tor Free E-Books Giveaway is "Starfish", by Peter Watts.

"Starfish" is the first book in the Rifters Trilogy. Amazon reviewers give it 4 1/2 stars out of 5. You can find out more about Peter Watts at Rifters or on his wikipedia page.

A synopsis (from Amazon):

Set in the early 21st century, Watts's debut describes a future when the search for energy leads to the tapping of geothermal sources deep in the ocean, as in the Pacific's Juan de Fuca Rift, near Canada's Northwest coast. The maintenance workers of the dangerous underwater power plants are selected for their psychotic tendencies, which enable them to forget their previous lives on dry land, and are then surgically altered to survive the intense pressure of the sea's abyssal depths.

Of course, it sounds as if things don't go so well for our maintenance workers, though I also didn't get a vibe that this was another Abyss. The use of technology is "superb", and the workers are as much a part of the salvation as they are the destruction of the people who live at the surface.

It sounds like a worthy read.

For a running list of all of Tor's free e-books, go here.

Dealing With Distraction

We live in a connected world. Once you've sat down in front of your computer, you've got access to it all.

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Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, email, blogs. They're all popping up notifications or beckoning you to check for new comments or to see what's new. Even blogging comes with its own set of distractions.

But what if you're at your computer with the intention of getting some real work done? "Real work" for purposes of this blog is writing, so let's focus on that.

Start by asking yourself a simple question: Am I a creator or a consumer?

Chances are, you're both. But spend too much time on one and other suffers.

Jennifer Murphy Romig, a legal writing and research instructor at Emory University School of Law, notes that interference with writing has always been present. A few years ago, it was computer solitaire, she said, and before that it was the old-fashioned crossword puzzle. But she describes today's distractions -- including texting, e-mail, BlackBerry messages and online news alerts -- as "more aggressive."

Agatha Christie once said, "I enjoy writing in the desert. There are no distractions such as telephones, theaters, opera houses and gardens."

Distraction. It is the bane of those who want to get "stuff" done.

I'm as guilty as the next person. Digsby pops up a new twitter. Or I see that there's some new blog entries to read through. What began as anticipation of a good solid hour of writing becomes an hour wasted.

So how do we keep from being distracted?

You can go old school: turn the computer and cell phone/blackberry off, and go find yourself some nice white paper and a pencil. But there are diminishing returns for such an approach, as in you're giving up your word processor. I don't know about you, but I can't write without my word processing software, not to mention all the outlines, notes, and other reference material I keep on my laptop. I'd be lost without it.

Instead, try something a little less radical:

  • Close your email application.
  • Shut down your IM client.
  • Turn off your cell phone or other device.
  • Stay away from your browser or RSS feed reader.
  • If you want to go a little more extreme, unplug your network connection.

All of this requires self-discipline, of course. Stay focused on what's important--getting your work done. The other stuff isn't going anywhere.

Twitter Revisited

Last week I blogged about how I just didn't get Twitter. To put it plainly, I didn't see the point.

As I write this now, I have to retract my initial opinion at least partially. I'm still not 100% convinced it's the next best social medium, but I'm coming around. I started tweeting since I wrote that last post about Twitter and, I have to say, I'm marginally hooked.

Is it fun? Yeah, a little. Exciting? Ah, not really. Interesting? Yeah, it is actually. Informative, too, because people aren't telling me about what they had for lunch, they're passing out links to useful software information, tips on how to make better use of Twitter, and there's this guy who does inning-by-inning updates of the San Francisco Giants games (I've been a Giants fan for about 30 years now).

My advice: don't be like me--don't knock Twitter until you've tried it.

If you've already jumped on the Twitter Bandwagon or are just getting started, you can follow me here. I can't guarantee I'll be nearly as interesting as some others, but who knows--maybe I'm under-rating myself.

Happy Tweeting.

What This Site Is About, or Where I'm at in My Writing

This site is about my writing, of course, and my attempt to get published.

The short of it is that It remains a work-in-progress. The long of it? I'm about 65 pages into editing my second book.

This is just the first run-through. The goal at this point is really just general clean-up: tie-up any loose ends I left dangling, clean things up, make sure everything is whole and consistent, and, most important of all, hack and slash anything--anything!!!--that doesn't fit into the main storyline. It's all well and fine to have sub-stories or other plot devices that help build your characters up, but I've got a 135,000 word monster on my hands and, as a new writer, I help my chances of getting published by lessening the door-stop quality.

Anyone differ on that assessment?

The second and subsequent revisions will refine some of those points but it really becomes an iterative (or repetitive?) process at that point as I work closer towards a finished product.

Need to finish up some work, then I'm out of here. Have a good weekend, everyone.