When I was five, I had insomnia. I have this memory of my frazzled parents tucking me in, and suggesting – probably in a fit of sleep-deprived desperation – that I make use of the time by making up stories.

This seemed like a good idea to me, so I made up a story about a dog and a cat who fell in love and got married, and had a nice little house on a nice little street with a nice batch of genetically interesting children. I didn’t get rid of the insomnia, but I did learn to entertain myself, which I suspect was the main point of the exercise.

After many, many decades of making up stories, I finally thought “Well, let’s give this a shot.” And that’s what I’m doing now. I sleep better these days, but I still make up stories as I doze off at night.

Up until recently, I wrote code for a living. Now I’m writing full-time, which also seemed like a good idea. Only time will tell.

15 thoughts on “About

    1. Stream-of-consciousness. Just write. Don’t worry if it makes sense, if you have a consistent set of characters, whether it’s SF or thriller or ghost story or literary or some random genre nobody else has invented. Don’t worry about plot or pacing, or if you’re going to be able to finish it. What I got most from NaNo was the habit of sitting down and dumping my brain on to the page at regular intervals. Editing comes later.

      Good luck with your November!

  1. Thank you for enjoyable hours of reading Looking forward to more hours to be spent in the company of your imagination

      1. I too enjoyed the first book and eagerly anticipated the second. It was worth waiting for, but now I’m experiencing trepidation about the third. I was heavily invested in both Greg and Elena, but by the end of Remnants that was shattered. Certainly Commander Shaw, while extremely competent, is in no way fit for command. I don’t know what her demons are that specifically poison her attitude toward Greg, but they are both tiresome and debilitating. I guess I’m more interested in her growing up than I am in the comeuppance for Ellis or the dysfunctional Admiralty. If the third book doesn’t achieve that you’ve lost me.

      2. Obviously I hope the third book will work for you. There’s no way to directly address your concerns without spoilers, so I shall say only this: that I write stories I like to read, and that all of the arcs (relationship and otherwise) have been planned from the beginning. If the third book loses your interest, I highly encourage you to explore the rich and diverse field of science fiction – military SF in particular! – and give other authors a chance. If you don’t find there what you are looking for, then do write your own. There’s something immensely satisfying about being able to tell exactly the story that you choose to tell.

      3. Thank you for your prompt reply (two below) Liz. Since I have told you that I thoroughly enjoyed the style of writing you’ve used in your first two books, that you can even entertain the possibility in your mind that the third book might lose my interest kind of answers my concern. Based on my own life experiences my heart bleeds for Greg.

      4. I had to read the last 10 pages of #3 Breach of Containment before I would commit to buy it. So then I did. Thank you lizmonster for adhering to Joseph Campbell’s ideal journey for both Greg and Elena.

  2. I read your Portalist essay on writing military SF, and the following stuck out:

    “And paradoxically, when we define soldiers as bigger than life, it makes it easier for us to point fingers if something goes wrong. They’re trained. They should know better. It can’t possibly be our fault.

    It is our fault. It’s always our fault. War is a choice. But the more we blunt our perception of the people we send to do this work, the easier it is for us to abdicate responsibility for how serious the decision really is.”

    And very often, they *do* know better, but the choice to go to war isn’t theirs. It’s made by the politicians running the government they serve, who *don’t* know better, and send men and women out to die without listening to the advice of those they send as to whether it’s the best way to deal with the problem, and if it is, whether the orders they are given are the best ones. (We are likely lucky if the ones giving the orders even comprehend what the problem really is.)

    Sometimes there is no other way to deal with the problem, and fighting occurs.

    I’ve been reading SF for *many* years, and have read a fair bit of military SF. The stuff I prefer does exactly what you want done, for the reasons you want it, and the protagonists are people, not one dimensional caricatures. In the best of them, even the bad guys are honorable people, fighting for their polity, and just happen to be on the wrong side. You admire them, even while hoping they lose.

    There’s a reason why senior officers from opposite sides have become friends after hostilities are concluded in real wars through history. No on else could really understand what they’d been through or why they did it.

    Thanks for the articulate post as an antidote to unthinking dismissal of the genre.

    And out of curiosity, what sort of code did you write before turning to writing prose? (Long time IT guy here…)

    1. Hi Dennis,

      First, thanks for reading the article. I’m glad it seemed to say what I wanted it to say – I have a lot of thoughts on the genre, and it’s not always easy to hit the right notes when I have a word count limit!

      I do think there’s a great deal of good milSF out there. There have been some good films recently as well. As is often the case, fiction does a better job of telling the truth than the news! As a larger culture, we still seem fairly blind to subtlety, and it’s frustrating. Military issues are complicated – everything from why we have a military to begin with, to (as you point out) choosing when fighting becomes necessary. And it’s not the sort of experience that most people have in their lives. It’s always too easy to caricature things we don’t know.

      I know less about my grandfathers’ careers than I’d like to, but from what I’ve read one of them was a bit of an arguer. 🙂 It’s not clear that all of his ideas were successful, but he was always thoughtful. I don’t believe for a minute that he was unique in that.

      Code-wise…how far back do you want me to go? 🙂 In college I wrote Pascal and TOPS-20 assembly language. The first stuff I got paid to write was DCL, and then (eventually) C. I went from there to Java, and then to front-end stuff. My last job was primarily Javascript, which I fondly think of as the rickety suspension bridge of languages. If I’m ever in need of a rush of adrenalin, I think about how much of the web runs on it. 🙂

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