Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Aside from the market and agent listings in the back pages, the October issue of The Writer was pretty much another waste of dime. Short version: Vampires are over, zombies are the next big thing; craft way-cool characters with only 4, count 'em, 4 steps; self-publishing's all right for nonfic or niche; bitching over the worth of writer blogs; plus the usual roundup of successful Names to tantalize us with their success. Right. Thank you.

My issues with this issue: Vampires have been over for what, two, three years now? And zombies, well, if you're the author of a how-to on writing zombies, sure, you'd want them to be the next big thing (I want genetically-enhanced superhumans to be the next big thing; should I write an article saying they are?) And apparently there is zombie erotica out there, and I need that phrase soldered out of my brain, immediately. Seriously, I say write whatever makes your readers happy, but if reanimated rotting corpses getting it on truly are the next big thing, then PBW is going back to ghost writing. Or maybe ghosts will be the next big thing. Somebody, go check with Jennifer Crusie, see what she thinks.

Know what? I'm tired of the next big thing. I say let's figure out what the next little thing is going to be. Or the next weird thing. Or the thing that has no buzzword. That would make a cool opening pitch line, wouldn't it? "Enclosed please find my proposal for The Vampire Brotherhood vs. The Promiscuous Zombie Chicks, which I believe will be the next thing. What that thing is, I can't really say. It's a closely-guarded secret. You understand."

But I digress.

I regret to say that in my experience (which is fairly extensive) it generally takes more than four steps to create a decent character. I've never counted but I think it takes somewhere around 4,967 steps. Maybe 4,968. On a good day. And sure, there is promo and platform and fanbasing in blogging, and of course, there are a gazillion blogs and there is no money in blogging. Evidently there is money in writing generic articles about the pros and cons of writer blogs, but I'll guess the market is glutted now.

Naturally I could be wrong, but then again, I just do this for a living. I do know that when I find myself arguing out loud with the articles I'm reading, it usually means I must stop renewing the subscription (or, in this case, quit picking it up from the newstand.)

You guys reading any writing advice 'zines out there lately that aren't leaving your eyes blinking in disbelief?


  1. Back when I first realized I had the potential to write professionally, I picked up a couple of writing mags at Borders - I honestly can't remember which ones - and found them pretty much useless. There was nothing, not one article in either mag that explained something I didn't already know, or gave an insight that I hadn't already have. I have not spent one cent on writing magazines since. Even the ads sucked - they all seemed to be 'Spend big money on my service and be a breakout hit!' Again, totally useless to me.

    I've had similar luck with writing books. So far, the only one that I've found helpful was Stephen King's On Writing, not so much for the information he provided, but for the realization that my work and my process isn't as screwed up as the other how-to books would lead me to think.

    Shrug. I've just never seen the reason to spend the money. but, then again, maybe I'm just cheap.

  2. Zombie... erotica???

    Pass the brain bleach! Stat!!

    Yeah, 'love you to bits' takes on a whole new meaning...

  3. ...and there is no money in blogging.

    I am not sure this is right, if you have a fan-base. I made me some 12 bucks last month in blogging, by using <a href=">Flattr</a>. Just sayin'...

    (I actually made people pay to have their own character in my novel, too. I made considerably more on that little experiment.)

    Other than that, I totally agree with your points. :)

    Oh - and it's cool to have you back online! I rejoice whenever I see that the blog-reader has something new from PBW! You rock! (But you already knew that!)

  4. I don't read writer mags much. So no, I can't say I've read anything that has or hasn't left me blinking in disbelief.


    reanimated rotting corpses getting it on truly are the next big thing

    As I'm just getting over a virus, I must thank you (not) for this scarring image and stomach twisting... blech. :OP

    Yeah, I keep hearing that zombies are the next big thing and I've seen/read a few books with zombies, although zombies/sex/romance? DO NOT WANT

  5. I stopped reading the writer mags many years ago, and I'm glad I did. Between every ad being for one or another vanity publisher, and the pretty much useless articles, I was done.

    So where do I get my information now? Writers and agents who blog. I learned much more that way.

  6. Liz B8:48 AM

    There is zombie erotica. My friend and I came across some when spent about half a day looking through a bookstore for nothing in particular. It was like a car accident; we found it both horrifying and fascinating. We didn't buy it, or read it (which would have been more horrifying, I'm sure), but we did have a good laugh reading the back of the book which talked about guys wanting you for more than just your body, but your brains as well.

  7. I pick up Poets and Writers once in a while, but mostly I don't read writer mags. I think maybe it's getting to the point where it's healthiest to write in a vacuum and go learn to sail instead of reading about the state of the biz.

  8. First of all blech - Zombies the next best thing --- I don't think so! True their fun and some authors have utilized them well but romance and zombies -- yuck! Really who wants to get hot and heavy with someone that eats flesh to stay alive!

    Vampires will never die! Literally and literally!

    Second I hate it when articles are written that try to steer people into something. The next big thing! Well for me that could mean a SFR or contemporary quirky novel or a murder mystery (okay maybe not)!

    Geeze - maybe the next big thing will be for all of us to ignore the next big thing and go eat some chocolate chip cookies!

  9. Andrew Mills10:19 AM

    I don't even know what's available in the way of magazines for writers here in the UK.

    Magazines generally pitch to a certain level, and if we're not already "above" them, then we will outgrow them after a while. It's like Amateur Photographer magazine - I used to read it years ago, yet if I read it now I'd find most of its content obvious, boring or possibly even just stupid. It's OK for the beginner who perhaps is not experienced enough for the more advanced stuff.

    That's not to say that certain magazines and their articles aren't just a waste of the paper they're written on.

  10. Oh shucks, there's no money in blogging? I just started a couple of days ago and thought I'd enough extra cash to buy a soda.

    I haven't found any articles that have been helpful in writing. I think if anyone has good how to's, they are holding out for a late night infommercial.

  11. Well, I make a living writing boring nonfiction stuff while I dream of the day when I walk into B&N to see my fiction work there on the shelf ...

    and when I want to read about writing, I forego the magazines and read this unbelievably informative and inspiring blog by an amazingly giving author named Lynn Viehl. PBW or something like that, it's called.

    And geez, thanks for that writhing, roting flesh image by the way. Saved me some calories b/c those carne guisada breakfast tacos (I'm in San Antonio) aren't so tempting now. Eww.

  12. Zombies + erotica = one way to get me to stop reading. (Or at least to switch genres.)

  13. I'm so turned off by the idea of zombies that someone had to give me a gift of Plants vs Zombies to get me to try it (fun game, to a point).

    I don't care how much money there is in zombies, I have zero interest in writing it (or reading it) no matter what they're doing. If that's my only choice, I'll continue subsisting on my retirement income.

    Don't read any writing magazines. I follow some blogs, and JA Konrath is making more and more sense these days. Not that I'm about to begin advocating his way as the only way, but I can certain see where it is "A" way.

  14. Anonymous2:09 PM

    And apparently there is zombie erotica out there, and I need that phrase soldered out of my brain, immediately.

    Well, there’s Married with Zombies, but I don’t think it features zombies as romantic partners. (And that might be part of the appeal, for people who are tired of the monsters-as-mates genre.)


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