Three removes equals one fire

Once upon a time I had electronic and paper copies of all my early sales (as well as a great many stories that never sold).  Over time, old files got packed away and, in the course of various moves, lost.  Computers which held the electronic copies died and backup disks and tapes either turned up missing (one Zip disk of a set that had a computer backup as a spanned zip file–bad move on my part) or proved unreadable.

The result is that a lot of that early stuff, including all my published fiction from before 2005, is g. o. n. e. gone.

A writer friend of mine recently suggested that I might want to gather together my published fiction and put it together as an anthology.  Self publishing or small press is a lot easier now than it was when I started and if I can do it it’s basically found money.  But since I don’t have readable electronic copies of any of this stuff I basically have to type them all in again (I do have copies of the various magazines).

But aside from the published stuff, a lot of my early stuff is completely gone.  Much of it is probably better off that way but some of it may still have had possibilities or could at least have been mined for ideas.

So my advice to writers is to back up your work.  Make backups of backups.  Have “off site” storage of backups.  Have multiple off site storage locations for backups.  Back up in more than one form.


Killing your characters

Sarah Hoyt has a good piece on killing characters in fiction.  Go read it:

No.  Seriously.  Go read it.

I haven’t done a lot of killing of characters in my published fiction.

I’ve killed, oh, I think three people in my published fiction (well, four if you count . . . but that was a Heroes in Hell story and he was already dead so I don’t know if that counts. ;) )
The first one was in the opening scene of a story and was basically intended to set the stakes for the plot: If they don’t solve the problem people die. The other two were in “Time for Tears” (Sword & Sorceress XXVI–available now from Amazon and other fine booksellers ;) ). In that one the deaths were the climax of the story, were heavily foreshadowed and, frankly the story may have gotten a little maudlin (but the check cleared so I can’t complain too much). ;) 

Free sample

Janet and Chris Morris write the “Framing stories,” the lead and trailing stories, for the Heroes in Hell series.  These provide the setup for each volumes theme and overall story arc.  For Lawyers in Hell the lead story is “Interview with the Devil”.  The Morris’s have made it available as an individual ebook on Amazon.  Now available for free for a limited time.

Go and check it out!

Dealing with bad reviews

I’ve had a couple over the years.  Not many because, frankly, I’m not big enough to come to the attention of most reviewers.  Still, the question sometimes arises “what do I do when I get a bad review.”  The usual advice is to ignore it or even be grateful for a review (a number of writer friends of mine report getting about the same bump in sales from a bad review as they get for a good one).

Still, sometimes that’s not enough and one feels the need to do something more.

Isaac Asimov had a method of dealing with bad reviews.

  • Write a clever, witty, rebuttal to the review that discusses the reviewers lack of intelligence and breeding in the most scathing of terms.
  • Read over your rebuttal.  Chortle over the best bits.
  • Share the rebuttal with your significant other.  Laugh together over how thoroughly you skewered the reviewer.
  • Print it on 100% rag paper.  Fold it neatly into thirds.
  • Put the rebuttal into a #10 business envelope.  Address it to the reviewer.  Put a stamp on it.
  • Tear it up and throw it away because you’ve gotten all the benefit you’re ever going to get out of it.

I heartily endorse this method.