A Writers Index to Making Light (2001-December 2006—originally posted at the Wyrdsmiths blog)

Not to be mistaken for The Making Light General Index a non-comprehensive topical index of Making Light posts. Nor for James D Macdonald’s Excellent Index of Medical Posts. BTW, though there is some material that’s gone into both of my indices, there is stuff in the Writers Index that is not in the general index and vice-versa, so the completest would be advised to check both.

This is an ongoing project and readers are welcome to suggest additions (ideally set up in the same format as the rest of the index with link info included) and corrections in comments. At this point I have not put in pointers to particularly useful comments in the threads, though it would be lovely to have them, as the threads are a vital and important source of information and entertainment. As I move forward through time I will continue to update the index, so please stop back from time to time to check and see what has been added. Also, at some point I’d like to add Elctrolite to the mix.

All posts from before May 22nd 2005 are by Teresa except where otherwise mentioned.

The current categories are as follows but are open to suggestions and to change as the project’s needs dictate:

Agents
Bad Advice for Writers
Conventions
Copyright
Fanfic
F&SF As A Genre
Grammar, Punctuation and the Copyeditor
Lawsuits
Literary Scams
Misc
Plagiarism
Publishing Industry
Submission, Rejection and the Slushpile
Vanity Press
Whining About Publishing
Writing Craft

Agents

“On the getting of agents”. 179 comments Feb, 2004.

Writing Advice. Teresa discuss the bad to some extent and points to some of the good, including a link to stuff she wrote and sent to Neil Gaiman about the getting of agents. I feel compelled to note that there is one thing that I disagree with in the latter, and I would welcome Teresa or someone else explaining to me why I am wrong, because it would reassure me enormously if I was. The advice I don’t buy is this: “If you’re writing fiction, the True Secret Answer is “get an offer.” If you’ve got an offer, you can get an agent. If you don’t have an offer, you don’t want the kind of agent you’re likely to get.” I think that 10 years ago, and maybe even 5 this was great advice. But the number of places that will look at unagented manuscripts has plummeted since then and with it your odds of being able to work this trick. 149 comments Jan, 2005.

Bad Advice for Writers

A couple of book on writing F&SF by a bunch of folks who haven’t actually sold much…with predictable results. Sigh. 162 comments May, 2005.

Conventions

Absolutely fantastic advice for both the seasoned and novice con-goer. 326 comments Aug, 2004. With bonus Nielsen Hayden World-Con schedule content from Patrick plus thread discussion of how that sort of thing works. 147 comments Aug, 2004.

Publish America does actual service, by generating this thread wherin there is much of use to writers on how not to behave at cons. 133 comments Nov, 2005.

“How to throw a large room party at a science fiction convention.” Teresa’s manual for same. Indispensable tool for the pro or fan looking to run a room party. 253 comments Aug, 2006.

Copyright

A whimsical take on poor man’s copyright (mailing a copy to yourself and leaving it unopened) and it’s pretty much complete lack of effectiveness beyond the strictures of copyright already provided from the minute you set stuff down on the page. 36 comments Sep, 2005.

“The life expectancies of books. An essay on shelf life, afterlife, immortal prose, and how that interacts with extension of copyright to ludicrous lengths. Immortal books are very very very rare, and not a good model for law. 235 comments Jan, 2006.

Perpetual copyright, a perpetually bad idea. 348 comments Feb, 2006.

Fanfic

Star Wars fanfic writer makes grave copyright error and publishes and attempts to sell unauthorized novel-length Star Wars fic. 211 comments Apr, 2006.

Teresa commenting on the nature and (very long) history of fanfic. Very smart stuff. 893 comments Apr, 2006.

F&SF As A Genre

Defining Speculative Fiction and other genre thoughts. 0 comments Dec, 2001.

Science Fiction Experience being built in Seattle or SF goes respectable. 39 comments Apr, 2003.

Michael Berube lays the smackdown on Harold Bloom in re: Harry Potter and literary snobbery. Heh. 168 comments Jun, 2004.

An F&SF primer for beginners–Yes Mr. literary reviewer, those zombies really are zombies. No, not metaphors, zombies. really. It’s not that hard to figure out. Oh, come on. 399 comments Aug, 2005. And as a bonus follow-up post in the same vein, Teresa’s introduction to New Magics: An Anthology of Today’s Fantasy. 98 comments Aug, 2005.

“The Visual Index of SF Cover Art” Just what it sounds like. Go look. 41 comments Nov, 2005.

The tension between the fantastic and the quantifiable in F&SF. 232 comments.

John M. Ford on the non-predictive nature of SF. 113 comments Aug, 2006.

The Common Fantasy Tongue is created. 50 comments Nov, 2006.

Grammar, Punctuation and the Copyeditor

Don’t blame the copyeditor. “inter-ballistic missile” and other follies. 89 comments Jan, 2003.

Diagramming Sentences, or Visible Grammer. 26, comments Jan, 2003.

Copyediting post. Teresa on a not very good copyeditor’s blog. Much of interest in the thread that follows. 167 comments Aug, 2003.

Excerpt from on Onion post on copyediting the great American novel and Teresa’s reaction to same. Fun stuff. 49 comments Jan, 2005.

Better bad sentences, a Bulwar Lytonesque contest that better reflects an editor’s sense of the disasters in the slush pile. 103 comments Aug, 2005.

“Phonetic near-misses” a long list of things like “passed history not with standing.” 464 comments May, 2006.

Lawsuits

“Shameless rights grab by Marvel and DC” “trying to push the idea that they’re joint owners of the term super hero.” 54 comments Feb, 2004.

“Harlan and the pirates” The AOL case. 58 comments Jun, 2004.

Literary Scams

The Quest: “to write a poem so awful that that perennial scam, the International Library of Poetry contest, will turn it down.” The result “Wocky Jivvy, Wergle Flomp” or it’s just not possible to be too bad for these people to take your money. 28 comments Jun, 2003.

When you’ve been scammed by a phony publisher…what can you do about taking back your publishing rights or some facsimile thereof…It might go a little like this, or so says Teresa’s anonymous correspondent. Built out of a PublishAmerica flap. 64 comments Jun, 2003.

A new variety of vanity press publishing scam. Simple version: expensive books and low production costs = writer buying copies of their own work for a big markup. There’s a lot more to it. Worth a look. 286 comments Jul, 2003.

A literary scammer busted by the Mounties. “Prose and Cons”. Links to several useful sites for authors looking to not get conned. 64 comments Nov, 2003.

Manucript on ebay. First time author meet AuthorHouse. Scammers who prey on the dreams of writers make me want to throw things. 372 comments Sep, 2004.

Linguistic markers for publishing scams. A thorough dissection of advertising language and how to spot a scam publisher. 290 comments Sep, 2004. Round two, more linguistic markers. 79 comments Sep, 2004.

Publish America and Atlanta Nights. For those unfamiliar with Atlanta Nights, it’s an intentionally awful novel written in collaboration by a bunch of SF and fantasy writers as a sting operation aimed at PublishAmerica. According to Teresa “…it’s also a meditation on the many ways a novel can be bad.” 227 comments Jan, 2005. There is a follow up post on the topic here. 193 comments Jan, 2005. And another, including Teresa admitting to chapter 15. 81 comments Feb, 2005.

More Atlanta Nights including Free homework on same. Oh my. 82 comments Apr, 2005.

By the careful application of one scam as club with which to slug another over the head Teresa has concocted a poem that passes the Wocky Jivvy, Wergle Flomp test for failing to be picked up be the International Library of Poetry. Wow. Go Teresa! Hysterically funny riffing on the Nigerian email scam. 314 comments Jun, 2005.

Martha Ivery goes to jail and the world is slightly better place. Who is Martha Ivery? One of the worst lit agency scammers in recent history. 25 comments Dec, 2005.

The Screenplay Agency and fee charging scams, an analysis. 94 comments Feb, 2006.

“The perfect uselessness of Warren Whitlock” A truly dizzying mix of literary and general scammer and purveyor of bad advice for authors is taken apart in detail. 261 comments Mar, 2006.

Teresa singles out Barbara Bauer as the “Dumbest of the Twenty Worst” agents when BB starts throwing around legal threats. Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware posted WB’s list of the 20 Worst (literary) Agents, one of whom (BB)decided to stop into various venues on the web, which has the side effect of drawing all kinds of google juice to her place on said list. 124 comments Apr, 2006. The action continues when BB mistakes Making Light for an official Tor website and threatens legal action against Tor’s parent company. 75 comments Apr, 2006.

“Tina Adams wants to sell you something”…bad advice on writing romance. A selling the sekrit formula for success scheme. As usual with these things Tina hasn’t ever actually had any of the success she claims to sell. 133 comments Apr, 2006.

Absolute Write, a leading site for information on writing and publishing, is temporarily shut down by complaints from Barbara Bauer about her place on the 20 worst agents list–see posts above for details on BB and the 20 worst. 898 comments May, 2006. With follow up on salvaging data from the old site for the new one. 239 comments May, 2006.

Airleaf Publishing. The latest incarnation of Bookman Marketing a scam publisher that preys on author hopes. 263 comments Nov, 2006.

Teresa posts on new YADS* website which is an online forum ostensibly designed to bring new writers to the attention of editors, but really a content generation machine that uses aspiring writers as fuel. Amateur writer will critique other writers–which is actually a great way to get started and publishing professionals won’t get anywhere near it. *For more info see writer beware on manuscript display sites. 123 comments Dec, 2006.

Misc

Aboriginal Magic and Movies. A set of “rules” for how it will affect plot, etc. 26 comments Nov, 2002.

Collective and collaborative art a discussion centered on Japanese prints–ukiyo-e. 12 comments Jan, 2003.

A Mary Sue generator. Oy. Also found in “Mary Sue” 9 comments Mar, 2003.

“Varieties of insanity known to affect authors” Hilarious list of author neuroses. 197 comments Dec, 2003.

Teresa finds out that the 3rd edition of Making Book got made from the wrong copy. A painful reminder that bad things happen to good books. 87 comments Feb, 2004.

Literary Life Cartoon Links from the Guardian. Very funny stuff. 18 comments Apr, 2004.

The intersection of Publishing and Politics streets. On George Bush, the culture of motivation, and doubt. Observations rooted in seeing a lot of writer responses to rejection. 222 comments Oct, 2004.

“Jeff VanderMeer dreams of Tor” Literally. And yes, it’s as strange as it sounds. 51 comments Mar, 2005.
The birth of a new SF movement via David Moles: Infernokrusher! 156 comments Jun, 2005.

Book Expo America and the Tor Giant Weenie Suit. A publicist’s work is never done. 75 comments Jun, 2005.

Some notes on the PR industry as a driver of news and culture. Interesting from both a general cultural perspective and from the point of view of a writer interested in publicizing their own work. 77 comments Jun, 2005.

“Fiction scientifique” The 2005 Hugo awards scrip. Fun stuff. 10 coments Aug, 2005.

On Tim Clare, and “Everyone Does Not Have A Novel Inside Them” 164 comments Aug, 2005.

Life is a really strange place. Teresa comments on the “Bay Area public access cable show called Fantasy Bedtime Hour. Each episode is the same: two bubbleheaded and ostensibly naked girls, Juliana and Heatherly, lie in bed and read a four-page selection from Stephen R. Donaldson’s Lord Foul’s Bane, then try to figure it out.” I’m dumbfounded. 90 comments Sep, 2005.

Everything I need to know about survival in a fantasy landscape I learned from traditional folk songs, or something like that. 400 comments Sep, 2005.

Plagiarism

A couple of posts on the plagiary of a student at the University of Kent: Part one. 112 comments Jun, 2004. Part two. 93 comments Jun, 2004.

Publishing Industry

From the annals of a Harry Potter infringement case. Has lots of stuff on obscure corners of the publishing industry. 11 comments Sep, 2002.

Four Theories. See #3 on the neverending flow of people who don’t understand publishing but believe that they do. Precious for the phrase “editorial ronin” among other things. 63 comments Feb, 2003.

Teresa talks about Back Yard Publisher, and “interesting misinformation” and in the process gives much genuine information on publishing, printing, etc. 71 comments May, 2003.

A link to an article and discussion of self publishing and vanity publishing with discussion of same. 35 comments May, 2003.

Absolutely fabulous post on how books sell. Halo effects, Harry Potter, and books as advertisements for other books, among other things. 87 comments Jul, 2003.

A history of typesetting post. Cool stuff. 68 comments Jun, 2004.

Teresa talking about what “may be the single most staggeringly wrongheaded essay about typography I’ve ever seen” The democratization of the font making process-the horror, the horror. 43 comments Jun, 2005.

Epublishing, Cory Doctorow’s creative commons experiment and Patrick speaking on same. Interesting stuff. 33 comments Jun, 2005.

In publishing non-fiction/=true, an industry oriented discussion in light of the James Frey mess. 242 comments Jan, 2006.

F&SF models and the ever changing world of style. From the Tor art department, don’t forget to update your models. 106 comments Jul, 2006.

Amazon allows comments on reviews, or, as Patrick puts it “The End of Author Productivity In Our Lifetime” What a really bad idea. 103 comments Sep, 2006.

In response to the WSJ Teresa talks about the non-bestsellers part of the book biz. In which she coins the term okaysellers and dispenses much wisdom on publishing. If you are a writer you should read this. 129 comments Oct, 2006. You should also read the follow up post which continues the discussion. 64 comments Oct, 2006.

““Doctor Who” Explains Modern Media Consolidation To You”. Satellite Five episode. Woot. 115 comments Nov, 2006.

Submission, Rejection and the Slushpile

Cover Letters. The good, the bad, the bizarrely misguided. 60 comments, Oct 2002.

Random _blank_ generators and a note on catching the eye on the slushpile. 16 comments Mar, 2003.

A quite charming “what ever happened to my book” note. 67 comments Feb, 2004.

“Slushkiller”. Pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about the slushpile and rejections. Indispensable reading for the would-be publishing professional with tons of useful commentary in the comments. 750 comments Feb, 2004.

“Bad Advice on Cover Letters. Really bad advice thoroughly dissected. 129 comments May, 2004. with a follow up in which the man giving the bad advice attempts to defend himself–rather painful to watch but quite instructive on subjects such as threatening lawsuits without legal grounding. 411 comments May, 2004.

TOR and the IRC heap. That’s International Reply Coupons, and what happens to them if they aren’t dealt with regularly and promptly. If you’ve ever snail-mailed a submission to a foreign publisher this is worth a read. 62 comments Nov, 2004.

Slushpiles and the naming of names. Short form: Be careful what you call things. 216 comments Jun, 2005.

A decisive takedown of the the old standard “test,” where someone retypes a published book and sends it around to various publishers and agents. To what should be no one’s surprise, it’s rejected all over town. 151 comments Jan, 2006.

Vanity Press

The Writers’ Collective–just another vanity press. 386 comments Jun, 2004.

PQN (Print Quality Needed) as the latest iteration of attempts to make vanity publishing sound like it’s something else. 61 comments Dec, 2005.

Author House guilty of publishing libelous material. This is what comes of not actually reading your vanity press material before publishing. 22 comments Aug, 2006.

Whining about Publishing

The death of the independant bookstore an installment of National Whine about Publishing Month. 238 comments Mar, 2004.

Link to a Salon article in which much whining about publishing happens despite the fact that the author’s doing a hell of a lot better than average. Color me appalled. Live link. 153 comments Mar, 2004.

Writing Craft

Plot tricks…or the evil overlord devises a plot. Silly/useful plotting exercise. With follow up plot generator post. 49 comments June, 2002.

Reviewing Fiction. 22 comments Jul, 2002.

On writing Genre fantasy. 147 comments Oct, 2003.

“Elmore Leonard’s ten rules” Teresa says “If there’s a better set of rules for writers, I don’t know it. Read this, it’s good for you.” Her link was broken here’s a current link. 147 comments Feb, 2004.

Advice from Stephen King’s National Book Awards acceptance. Truth in writing and a defense of genre among other things. 75 comments Feb, 2004.

Scalzi on writing. Lots of good, acerbic advice. 83 comments Mar, 2004.

Fanwriting and prowriting, slash and squick and squee. A link to and discursion on a livejournal post on the resonance of slash–“sex, power issues, identity issues, physical or emotional violence, revelation, transformation, transcendence, violent catharsis…”etc. Much useful discussion of writing to be had here. 278 comments Dec, 2004.

When suspension of disbelief fails. A note on losing your passion for a book. Good stuff for both writer and readers. 240 comments May, 2005.

Art and dogma. Writing to a manifesto, maybe not such a good idea. 62 comments May, 2005.

Writing Advice. Teresa discuss the bad to some extent and points to some of the good, including a link to stuff she wrote and sent to Neil Gaiman about the getting of agents. I feel compelled to note that there is one thing that I disagree with in the latter, and I would welcome Teresa or someone else explaining to me why I am wrong, because it would reassure me enormously if I was. The advice I don’t buy is this: “If you’re writing fiction, the True Secret Answer is “get an offer.” If you’ve got an offer, you can get an agent. If you don’t have an offer, you don’t want the kind of agent you’re likely to get.” I think that 10 years ago, and maybe even 5 this was great advice. But the number of places that will look at unagented manuscripts has plummeted since then and with it your odds of being able to work this trick. 149 comments Jan, 2005.

Michael Swanwick Clarion Stories as retold by Teresa. “writing is a matter of finding the appropriate balance of dinosaurs and sodomy.” A trick played on Gardener Dozois who taught after him? Or valuable writing advice? Your decision. Go read it. 116 comments Oct, 2005.

“The Defence of Duffer’s Drift” Patrick links to an online copy of same. Excellent introduction to the basics of combat and tactics for writers. 15 comments Nov, 2005.

Fantastic post linking to an article on “Economy and efficiency as motivations in fiction”. In essence it talks about the problem of the evil overlord and the really inefficient mechanism for achieving his plans, and applies the argument much more broadly. Teresa adds a great discussion of why this happens. Go, read the whole thing. It’s really useful. 388 comments Jan, 2006.

Teresa highlights “Keith Snyder on Novels in Progress” an absolutely priceless post on how to write and revise a novel. Must read. 87 comments Dec, 2006.