Author Archives: Gerald Brandt

Carl Sagan Day

Carl Sagan at the VLA

Carl Sagan was a Professor of Astronomy and Space Science and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University, but most of us know him as a Pulitzer Prize winning author and the creator of COSMOS. That Emmy and Peabody award-winning PBS television series transformed educational television when it first aired in 1980, but now, thirty years later, it’s gone on to affect the hearts and minds of over a billion people in sixty countries.

No other scientist has been able to reach and teach so many nonscientists in such a meaningful way, and that is why we celebrate Dr. Sagan, remember his work, and revel in the cosmos he helped us understand.

Critiques of 'The Courier'

I sent out my last novel to a wide range of readers for critique.  My writing group of 2 (myself and Sherry) was a bit too small of a cross-section to get good feedback.  Sherry was the only one to read the first draft, but the final (ha!) draft needed more readers.

And the end result — well — wow.  Boy did I get a cross-section.  Two readers never finished.  They both got about 40 pages in (more on that later) and called it ‘first draft material’ and ‘needs a lot of work’.  Neither are published (which isn’t that big a deal), but more importantly, neither read in the genre.  Reading that back, it makes it sound like genre writing is somehow ‘less’ or ‘lower quality’ that other writing.  That’s not what I’m saying at all.  What I am saying is that there are certain tropes that don’t need to be explained in detail if you are already familiar with the genre.

Two other readers greatly enjoyed the book.  One to the point of forgetting she was supposed to critique.  That makes a writer feel good.  The other almost cried at the end.  The ‘almost’ kinda got me.  I’ll need to work harder to get that from an almost to a definitely.

My fifth and final critiquer (sp?) also never reads in the genre, but she approached the critique from more of a line-edit/consistency point of view.  Very helpful!

The end result is that I need to strengthen the opening, add a bit of detail to make a stronger image of the city in the reader’s mind, and tweak the ending and a few conflicts in the novel, so that the ending has a more emotional impact.

It sounds like a lot, but it’s really not.  Just tweaks here and there.  Sheila Gilbert from DAW has asked for a full, so once I get these changes done, and have two new readers look at it, it’s off.

Now, back to my previous point of two readers only making it to page 40…  Before I send out my work, I ALWAYS spell check and re-read it.  I want to make sure things are as good as I can get them.  I don’t know what happened, but the document I checked is nowhere to be found.  I didn’t discover that until some of the beta readers came back to me with comments.  None of my spell check corrections were in there, and page 40 started a scene that was a duplicate of one on page 200 or so.  The thing is, it belonged on page 200.  The readers read it on page 40, and became completely lost.  And for good reason.  That scene needed the previous 200 pages in order to make sense.  It was embarrassing, to say the least.  And I still can’t find my good copy.

Now back to work.

Keycon 2010

Keycon 2010 is over.  Three days of interesting fandom, meeting old friends, making new ones, and being Patient ‘0’.

Canvention (the Prix Aurora Awards) was part of Keycon this year, which usually means a fabulous writers track.  Things went a little wrong, and many of the visiting writers ended up with no panels.  I can’t complain though, because I wouldn’t be able to do the programming, so kudos to all those that try — they are better than I.

Robert J. Sawyer won the Best Novel Aurora for Wake, beating out the 4 other nominees.  I’d read 3 of the 5 nominees this year, so I felt good with voting this year.  Sorry Rob, if you read this, I voted for Hayden Trenholm.  At the rate Hayden is going, I’m sure his third (and final?) book in the series (Stealing Home) will be nominated next year.

The awards banquet was well done.  Thankfully they ran out of desert before they got to Sherry, Adria, (and here) and I.  We all had a fruit plate instead, and were the envy of all.

Sheila Gilbert , editor at DAW was there.  A pitch session was scheduled, which was great.  It wasn’t incredibly well done, those of us waiting to do pitches could hear the people making pitches.  Not great.  We tried to keep our conversations a bit loud, to create a bit of privacy for those pitching.  My pitch went okay.  Sheila asked for the full, but I have a feeling she asked for a full from anyone that pitched something that was completed.

Conventions usually drain me, and I end up sick for couple of days after the con.  This time, I went in with a sinus cold.  I was patient ‘0’.  If you got sick at Keycon, it’s my fault.

Along with the regular panels, I managed breakfast with Hayden and his lovely wife Liz, a ‘before banquet’ drink with Rob Sawyer, Virginia O’Dine of Bundoran Press, Edward Willet, Hayden Trenholm and Liz, Sherry, Adria, a couple more I can’t recall right now.

Overall, a great weekend.  I had fun.