Stephen's blog

Music as a weapon - too silly an idea?

I’m at a bit of a crossroads with the novel I’m writing (hereafter referred to as WiP - short for ‘Work in Progress”). I had an idea for an alien race that I thought would be different. I built a plot point around that difference. Then I saw something similar in a movie … and I thought it was stupid.

What to do? What to do? Do I re-write the WiP to eliminate that plot point? Do I remove it entirely? Or is it OK?

Anyone who knows a writer knows that we’re very insecure about our writing, fragile, even. So what do we do when a plot point appears ridiculous? Panic. Stop writing. Have long breaks while we try to understand how we got into this terrible dilemma.

Or maybe we ask for help. Read on

Livestreaming the world's wind

I am absolutely addicted to this site, Windyty.com. It shows you wind patterns live (maybe a 30 minute delay) for anywhere in the world. Above is peninsular Malaysia, where I live. Also, when you go to the site, note the controls on the lower right side - try clicking a few, like "Waves, Sea", and see how the map changes. I'm totally hooked on this. READ MORE to see another cool live map.

Putting the Cart Before the Horse - Malaysian Real Estate Style

When I first arrived in Kuala Lumpur, my employer gave me a list of real estate rental agents to contact - these are people used to helping foreigners, and who apparently "know what we want.” I thought that was odd at the time, but just dismissed it as expat hubris. Three years later, I completely understand those remarks. READ MORE

Transformative cover songs

One thing that my partner and I disagree on is cover songs. As often as not, her first exposure to an old song I love is through a cover version made popular much later. Again, as often as not, I find the cover version to be lacking any transformative soul. Often I find them to be desecrating a great old song.

I don’t know how many times we’ve started listening to a song, and she’s said, “I know this song. Sarah Brightman sings it!”

To which my invariable response has been, “Maybe she does, but she didn’t sing it first, and she certainly didn’t write it. How about we enjoy the original singer-songwriter?” READ MORE

What Can Scalzi’s First Novel Teach New Authors?

Whether you love him or hate him, John Scalzi is incredibly influential and is probably the highest-paid science fiction writer today. in 2015, Scalzi signed a ten-year, 13 book, $3.4 million deal with Tor publishing.  Part of my learning process is to deconstruct successful novels to see what I can learn from them. It makes sense to look at John Scalzi’s first book, Old Man’s War. READ MORE

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