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A Brave New World: Setting Expectations


I have never liked defaults. High school? Nah. College? I had better things to do (like start multinational businesses). So given my lifelong disdain for default settings, why on earth would I start with the default WordPress “Hello World” blog post?  This is my alternative. It’s meant to accomplish one goal: Set Your Expectations.

To do that, I’ll answer the questions that I usually ask when I start reading a new blog:

  • What’s the purpose of the blog?
  • Who is the blogger? Why should I care?
  • What can I expect from the blog?
  • What the heck does the blog’s title mean?

What’s the purpose of this blog?

I’m writing this blog to join in conversations about literature, science fiction, fantasy, horror, anime/manga, video games, etc. I’m looking for other consumers and creators of the art that I love so that I can discuss the speculative world with them. This blog is a tool to do that. It’ll allow me to share my thoughts on directions in the field, reviews of what’s out there, and to engage in discussions with other readers and bloggers out there on the Interwebs.

So why this blog? Because art of any kind is a conversation, and I want to have one with you.

Who is the blogger? Why should I care?

My name is Chris, and at the moment that’s the only name you’ll get from me. Like most of you, I have a day job. In that day job, I run a software company. As a result, I’ve got clients and journalists Googling my name every day. If they were to stumble across my musings on speculative writing and discover that I’m trying to break into publishing…well, their perception of me would change. And the sad fact that any aspiring writer must face is that most people’s perception wouldn’t change for the better. :-(

In the (hopefully near) future, I’ll have some stories / books picked up by pro or semi-pro markets. When that happens, my fiction will be Google-able and my secret double-life will be outed. And while I may feel defensive about being outed before I’ve got sales under my belt, my pride at breaking (slogging?) through the slush pile will outweigh my embarrassment. Editorial validation is a wonderful thing. So until then, I’m afraid it’ll just have to be Chris for now.

I live in New Jersey, with my beautiful girlfriend and two guinea pigs. I’ve got to say, being an aspiring writer living with a professional editor gives a lot of perspective to both the art and business of writing. Though she doesn’t deal exclusively in speculative fiction, our conversations give me invaluable insight into the practical realities of the publishing world (believe it or not, editors are people too!), the commercial reality of the publishing industry (living off genre writing is like winning the lottery), and every now and again highly detailed feedback on my writing.

Now, because I don’t want her to get into trouble, she’ll also be anonymous. Our guinea pigs (who are cute, plump, spazzy, and squeaky) won’t be anonymous: their names are Thisbe (the plumper one) and Gumdrop (the spazzier one). Because the Interwebs are ruled by cute, I might post some pictures later.

Now, as to why you should care: the easy answer is because I’m a charming guy. But that’s crap. The real reason you should care is because I’m an extremely well-read fan who thinks about what he reads. This is just part of my library:

Image of 2 out of 7 walls o'books in my library

Those shelves you see in that picture? They are just my science fiction and fantasy shelves. There’s another wall of nothing but YA, and a whole other room with critical theory, mythology, anthropology, non-fiction and classic literature. In case you can’t tell, I love to read. I love to think about what I read and consider the art and craft that went into it. And that’s what I hope to spend a lot of time discussing with you on this blog.

What can I expect from the blog?

Writing demands discipline. So here’s what I promise you: you’ll have at least one blog post per week, every Tuesday night. Some weeks (depending on my workload during the day job) you might get more frequent posts, but at a minimum you should check back every Wednesday morning to see what I’ve put up. You can also subscribe to my blog using the form on the right or the RSS feed.

As for what the posts will contain, I’m going to primarily focus on the following areas:

  • Genre Observations. These will be my musings on trends in genre, especially trends in speculative fiction. I might talk about industry trends, I might talk about stylistic choices, I might talk about critical theory. You should check out these posts if you like to think about the genres that you read, and if you like to consider the craft and industry that supplies you with your reading material.
  • Reviews. I’m a pretty voracious consumer of speculative media. Books, movies, video games, comics. I’m into most everything. I’ll post reviews of various things that either strike my fancy or don’t, provided I have something remotely interesting to say about them.
  • Writing. I write short fiction and (like everybody else) I’m working on a novel or three. I’ll be posting various thoughts on the technique and craft of writing, and on my own trials and tribulations on the road to editorial validation.

Of course, there will be other posts with random thoughts and observations, but I’ll try to keep those to a minimum and focus on what I think really matters: genre and art.

What does the blog’s title mean?

The blog’s called The King of Elfland’s Second Cousin.  This is my own little homage to a turn-of-the-century (I guess that’s the last century) Irish/British author/poet Lord Dunsany. He was enormously influential in the field of fantasy literature, and arguably laid some of the foundations for weird fiction (à la HP Lovecraft) , adventure fantasy (Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber), epic fantasy (Tolkien, Lewis) and even contemporary fantasy (Neil Gaiman). He wrote a beautiful short novel entitled The King of Elfland’s Daughter, and this blog’s title is a respectful allusion to that.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. I demand pictures of fuzzy cute things!
    But seriously, great start and good luck!

    Really, though: fuzzies.

    September 8, 2010

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