The Most Inspirational Thing For a Writer I’ve Ever Heard: Writing Excuses Season 5 Episode 27: Perseverance

Every writer, whether published or aspiring, has had that low moment in their writing where they’ve mentally and emotionally hit rock bottom, and have felt like quitting and never writing another creative word again; just giving up; some may have had it happen to them on multiple occasions.  Often, during those low moments, you need something to pick you back up and get you back writing away at the keyboard again, seeing life and hope in your work.  There are numerous books that can help, various public speakers . . . But honestly, I just think you need to listen to one fifteen-minute episode of Writing Excuses to make you realize your talent and love for writing and to get you back into the typing seat.

If you’re not familiar with it, Writing Excuses is a great and entertaining podcast to help aspiring writers, with each episode around fifteen minutes long, featuring the talented minds of bestselling authors Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells, and popular web-cartoonist, Howard Tayler, on a particular topic about writing.  In Season Six, author Mary Robinette Kowal joined the casters.

The episode of Writing Excuses in question is from Season Five, Episode 27, entitled “Perseverance.”  The episode features a guest appearance from New York Times bestselling author Sherilyn Kenyon, know for her very popular paranormal romance series.  The subject of the episode was actually suggested by Kenyon, and its highpoint is when she tells of her driving battle to first get published, which involved countless rejections until the point when she admitted she would never do it again for her own good, and then stole a postage stamp off her husband (which they could barely afford), and it was with that query that she got her her first publishing contract.  She also tells the story of how in the mid-nineties publishers stopped accepting and publishing paranormal romance, and all of a sudden she had no career and her family was poor once more, until she climbed her way back up to become the bestselling sensation she is today.

Sanderson also shares his low-point story, which was after he continued to receive nothing but rejection for his twelfth novel until he was almost ready to give up, and then three months later got a publishing contract.  Dan Wells’ story is a little different, as it happened after he’d published his first novel, but it hadn’t done as well as he’d expected, compared to other bestselling authors like his good friend, Sanderson, but he soon realized that his was what he loved to do and nothing was going to be make him stop.

Ultimately it comes down to this: even when you have so many other things like jobs and family and social lives happening constantly day-to-day for you, if you’re still making that time to write because it’s something you love to do and will always be doing no matter what happens, then you’re a writer.  There’s nothing else to it.

And for when you’re feeling a little down about your work and wondering if it’s all worth it, or whether you should bother writing anymore because nothing’s really happening with it; give this episode a listen, it’s always available online (or you can download it and have it ready for these particular situations), and you’ll find yourself inspired and excited about your ability and typing away at your keyboard in no time.

And in case you missed it in the post, here’s the direct link to the episode.

04/26 On the Bookshelf . . “Chronoliths” & “I Don’t Want to Kill You”

Chronoliths  I Don't Want to Kill You

A new reissued paperback from an older book by Robert Charles Wilson, Chronoliths.  But since I can’t seem to get enough of this guy after enjoying Mysterium and Julian Comstock, as well as working my way through the incredibly mind-blowing Spin, I’m certainly looking forward to this one.  We also have the third and perhaps last in the serial killer series from Dan Wells, I Don’t Want to Kill You.

2011 Hugo Award Nominees

We’re now well in to 2011 and as we begin passing through the days, weeks and months, we’re also counting down to Renovation in August with the 69th World Science Fiction Convention in Nevada. On August 20th, at the convention, the winners of the 2011 Hugo Awards will be announced. And the nominees are now out and listed below. A number of the books listed have been reviewed on BookBanter, as well as a number of the authors interviewed, and are linked below, simply click on the name of the book or author to read the review or read/listen to the interview.

Best Novel
Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)
Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr)
Feed by Mira Grant (Orbit) [You also might want to check out this post and this one.  And you can find the interview with Seanan McGuire here.]
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

Best Novella
“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Magazine, Summer 2010)
The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Subterranean)
“The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” by Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All New Tales, William Morrow)
“The Sultan of the Clouds” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s, September 2010)
“Troika” by Alastair Reynolds (Godlike Machines, Science Fiction Book Club)

Best Novelette
“Eight Miles” by Sean McMullen (Analog, September 2010)
“The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s, June 2010)
“The Jaguar House, in Shadow” by Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s, July 2010)
“Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s, December 2010)
“That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone (Analog, September 2010)

Best Short Story
“Amaryllis” by Carrie Vaughn (Lightspeed, June 2010)
“For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010)
“Ponies” by Kij Johnson (, November 17, 2010)
“The Things” by Peter Watts (Clarkesworld, January 2010)

Best Related Work
Bearings: Reviews 1997-2001, by Gary K. Wolfe (Beccon)
The Business of Science Fiction: Two Insiders Discuss Writing and Publishing, by Mike Resnick and Barry N. Malzberg (McFarland)
Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea (Mad Norwegian)
Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, Volume 1: (1907–1948): Learning Curve, by William H. Patterson, Jr. (Tor)
Writing Excuses, Season 4, by Brandon Sanderson, Jordan Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells

Best Graphic Story
Fables: Witches, written by Bill Willingham; illustrated by Mark Buckingham (Vertigo)
Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse, written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
Grandville Mon Amour, by Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse)
Schlock Mercenary: Massively Parallel, written and illustrated by Howard Tayler; colors by Howard Tayler and Travis Walton (Hypernode)
The Unwritten, Volume 2: Inside Man, written by Mike Carey; illustrated by Peter Gross (Vertigo)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, screenplay by Steve Kloves; directed by David Yates (Warner)
How to Train Your Dragon, screenplay by William Davies, Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders; directed by Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders (DreamWorks)
Inception, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Warner)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, screenplay by Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright; directed by Edgar Wright (Universal)
Toy Story 3, screenplay by Michael Arndt; story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich; directed by Lee Unkrich (Pixar/Disney)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
Doctor Who: “A Christmas Carol,” written by Steven Moffat; directed by Toby Haynes (BBC Wales)
Doctor Who: “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang,” written by Steven Moffat; directed by Toby Haynes (BBC Wales)
Doctor Who: “Vincent and the Doctor,” written by Richard Curtis; directed by Jonny Campbell (BBC Wales)
Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury, written by Rachel Bloom; directed by Paul Briganti
The Lost Thing, written by Shaun Tan; directed by Andrew Ruhemann and Shaun Tan (Passion Pictures)

Best Editor, Short Form
John Joseph Adams [interview coming later this year on BookBanter]
Stanley Schmidt
Jonathan Strahan
Gordon Van Gelder
Sheila Williams

Best Editor, Long Form
Lou Anders
Ginjer Buchanan
Moshe Feder
Liz Gorinsky
Nick Mamatas
Beth Meacham
Juliet Ulman

Best Professional Artist
Daniel Dos Santos
Bob Eggleton
Stephan Martiniere
John Picacio
Shaun Tan

Best Semiprozine
Clarkesworld, edited by Neil Clarke, Cheryl Morgan, Sean Wallace; podcast directed by Kate Baker
Interzone, edited by Andy Cox
Lightspeed, edited by John Joseph Adams
Locus, edited by Liza Groen Trombi and Kirsten Gong-Wong
Weird Tales, edited by Ann VanderMeer and Stephen H. Segal

Best Fanzine
Banana Wings, edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
Challenger, edited by Guy H. Lillian III
The Drink Tank, edited by Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon
File 770, edited by Mike Glyer
StarShipSofa, edited by Tony C. Smith

Best Fan Writer
James Bacon
Claire Brialey
Christopher J Garcia
James Nicoll
Steven H Silver

Best Fan Artist
Brad W. Foster
Randall Munroe
Maurine Starkey
Steve Stiles
Taral Wayne

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2009 or 2010, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).
Saladin Ahmed
Lauren Beukes
Larry Correia
Lev Grossman
Dan Wells

BookBanter Episode 37 with Dan Wells

Dan WellsPhoto by Micah Demoux Eyeris

Dan Wells is the author of I am Not a Serial Killer and the recently released Mr. Monster. He likes to begin his readings with: “I am not a serial killer. My book is an autobiography.” His protagonist, John Wayne Cleaver, is a fascinating teenager who has his own issues to deal with, but when there’s a serial killer on the loose, John pushes these thoughts aside and does what he does best: gets into the mind of a cold-hearted murderer.

In the interview, Wells talks about how he got started writing, where he got the idea for John Wayne Cleaver, how many other books there will be, and a little on what else he’s working on. You’ll find out the unusual location of his everyday writing office and what hobbies he likes to get up to in his free time.

To play the episode go to Bookbanter; to download, right click on THIS LINK.

Until next time, keep reading.

Alex C. Telander.


“Mr. Monster” by Dan Wells (Tor, 2010)

Mr. Monsterstarstarstar

John Wayne Cleaver has a secret, kind of like Dexter: he’s a sociopath with twisted, obsessive thoughts about how he can kill people.  He’s studied serial killers for most of his life and he’s only sixteen.  He even has dreams of performing an autopsy on the girl he likes.  He’s also the town hero.  He recently saved his neighbor’s life and stopped a serial killer from terrorizing Clayton County.  Everyone knows what a brave boy he is.  Only he knows the true story about the serial killer he stopped, who wasn’t human.

John feels like he may just be getting a handle on things, with his specific rules that keep his obsessions and urges in check.  He ignores one of his rules to ask out the girl of his dreams and she says yes.  Everything is going just great until they find the body in the water.  Then more are found and it looks like there might be another serial killer on the loose.  John’s mind starts working and calculating as he tries to work out how there could be another killer, and if it’s like the last one.  Meeting with the FBI agent in charge of the case, he goes over his experiences with the previous serial killer and then tries to help out with the new bodies.  But something’s not quite right about this guy from the FBI.

Wells continues with his interesting and unusual character, creating a new mystery to keep the reader hooked, and then taking the story to whole new levels with an unexpected twist.  Mr. Monster is a good strong sequel to I am Not a Serial Killer, leaving fans wanting more from John Wayne Cleaver.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on October 29, 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.

“I am Not a Serial Killer” by Dan Wells (Tor, 2010)

I am Not a Serial Killerstarstarstar

John Wayne Cleaver is not a serial killer.  Yet.  He’s a fifteen year old boy with a lot of problems.  He’s obsessed with serial killers.  Not so much in the type of people they are necessarily, but in how they kill, how they see the bodies, how they feel when they kill, dismember and destroy.  It’s an obsession of the worst possible kind, because his imagination fills in the details when he sees family and school acquaintances, as he imagines how he might kill them.  He only really has one school friend, which he has to seem normal.  If he had no friends at all, he’d raise suspicion.  He also has a set of rules he keeps to, like saying nice things about someone when he has bad thoughts about them.  So far, these rules are keeping “the monster” – as he refers to it – in check, behind this wall of rules.

Maybe John Wayne Cleaver’s problems might have something to do with his father who he never sees; hasn’t seen in years.  As a matter of fact, the last time he received something from him was last Christmas, in the mail.  Or maybe it has something to do with the bullies at school.  Or perhaps it’s the fact that he helps his mother at the mortuary where she and his sister work.  But then he needs to help them with preparing the bodies, it’s part of his protective wall, keeping the monster at bay.  He also regularly sees a therapist, for all the good it does him.

Except now the bodies have started turning up in John’s hometown and his serial killer mind immediately starts working, calculating, using the clues to create a profile for this killer to find out exactly who he or she is.  Then he catches a glimpse of one of the killings and realizes this killer isn’t human, and its going to keep on killing unless someone stops it.  John Wayne Cleaver is going to have to break down his protective wall of rules and let the monster out.  His greatest fear is that he might not be able to put it back up.

Dan Well’s debut novel, which is the first in a trilogy, is a fresh new voice in the world of horror and despair.  John Wayne Cleaver is a deep and complex character, similar to that of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, who is doing everything he can to seem normal and fit in – unlike that of Bateman – while inside he’s the next Jeffrey Dahmer waiting to happen.  I am Not a Serial Killer keeps the reader thinking they know what’s going on until about half way through the book, when things take a change for the fantastic, making it necessary to get to the last page to just find out what this serial killer is, and what John Wayne Cleaver plans on doing about it.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on May 4 2010 ©Alex C. Telander