anthony dobranski online


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Sexual tension in fiction

My guest post for the Fictorians, a site on writing fiction, discusses sexual tension and its different roles in different stories. It’s part of the Fictorians’ month-long Tension series.

Read it at: 

http://www.fictorians.com/2017/02/24/sexual-tension-in-fiction/


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Sticking to my knitting (opinions)

As Facebook gently reminded me —

2017-fb-little-while
my professional media have been stale. It was less a writer’s block than a blind alley. Perhaps others will find my thinking instructive.

Like everybody, I have opinions about the world, and in these contentious times, it’s very tempting to share them. Everyone else is, and I talk prettier than many. Why not join the fray? Ooh, ooh, you’re discussing politics, or climate change, or guns? I can do that too!

I drafted three different posts on things political. One even got into my WordPress dashboard, until I deleted it.

Truth is, I just don’t want to be a public intellectual.

It feels irresponsible to say this. In the face of the great activists of the past, and today’s popular writers who still manage worthy columns (or at least snarky tweets) – and often get slagged by some fans for voicing opinions they don’t like – it seems weak to say, nah, I’m out.

I’m out. While it might feel good to get something off my chest, people aren’t waiting around to hear what I have to say about today’s crisis. Or, if people are, they don’t just want it once. If I start down that road, I have to stick with it, have to make it a bigger part of my life and thought.

Perhaps this would be virtuous, but it wouldn’t be singular. Many good people already discuss the state of the world, plainly and well, after actually investigating it and reporting on it. If I want to change the world in favor of my political beliefs, I’m better off writing checks.

Or, writing novels.

Not that I’m going to be ripping tales from today’s headlines. That’s not my thing. More to the point, the political power of good fiction is often indirect. Fiction can say complicated things to culture, often better than it says simple ones. There are political ideas in my novel The Demon in Business Class, but they’re neither immediate nor partisan.

The “messy ground where the worldly meets the divine,” as my back-cover text promises, is a place in the mind. My characters in their big world might inform your opinions about tomorrow’s crisis, whatever it is, but only by example and analogy.

That’s my contribution. We’ll see if it’s enough, over time.


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Love your pile of words (first drafts)

I love my current first draft.

This is a shocking and unfashionable thing to say. Everyone laments their first draft. It is the shoals of mediocrity on which our dreams founder, or at least so tells every clickbait online writing workshop. Complaining about the horror of that first draft is required. Even really successful and also good writers do it, and always have.

I love mine. I banged it out for NaNoWriMo 2015, in fewer than my allotted thirty days. Yes, I know that’s a long time ago (I sold a book in the meantime!), but that length of time is supposed to make clear how awful the first draft is, as the scales of hope fall from my more jaundiced and persnickety eyes.

Alas, I love it, blazingly. I have reread it more than once, with comments from my writing dojo NoveltyDC, and each time I am in a better mood.

It’s got half-finished ideas that I now can’t remember, areas that need major restructuring, a lot of plodding exposition. Some of my best supporting characters – like the smuggler with a tail – are on far too briefly. Late ideas may turn out to be organizing principles. No doubt I will rewrite almost every sentence in it, reorganize it, wrestle it. I may occasionally kick it. It will take a lot of work. Even then it will be niche, strange, uncommercial and standalone.

It’s going to be great.

What is wrong with me? How did I get to this place? How did I find joy and wonder in my work while others gnash teeth and tear hair? It isn’t my success to date, which is tiny; nor is it my upbeat disposition, which is pure fakery. So what is it?

Here’s a thought – I love it because it’s a draft. It may be made of words, but it’s not a novel yet. It’s been work of course, the work of felling trees and forging nails, but this is the lumber and hardware and cleared ground, not the finished house. It’s a pile of words and ideas, and for that, it’s just fine. Well, maybe I will need a few more words.

The draft is the start, the lumber and blueprints. It will not house or warm you, not without a lot of work to come. It’s just a stage.

Get excited. And get to work.


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Regaining the writing habit (hours not words)

I think it’s official now: I have fallen out of the habit of writing. I don’t mean to say “I’m not writing” or #amwriting – just that over the past year it’s been an ad-hoc effort, when the mood takes me.

I’m not in a panic – I have a new project, and I am even taking a class so that I have a talented writer to hold my nose to its grindstone. I am simply surprised not to be more weird about this.

I suspect it’s because the effort to market Demon turned out to be so creatively interesting – something akin to the difference between writing the play and acting in it.

Plays close, of course. Demon, I hope, will keep going. Perhaps the better analogy is to a previous album, songs on which I will perform for years after – but I’m more likely to perform the old songs if I keep coming out with new ones.

I don’t know if it will rise to the level of a New Year’s Resolution – and that would be a telling thing if it had to – but I need to start cultivating a writing habit again. That means approaching it with scheduled regularity for the next long while.

For me that means hours, not words. My colleagues often post their daily word counts, but that method never worked for me, probably because I don’t just write while I write. Like Penelope, I undo my work as I go, though unlike her I do it first thing in the morning. Even during the headlong charge of NaNoWriMo 2015, I couldn’t keep myself from editing, especially once I was three-fourths of the way to the 50K word count. People who write productivity books cluck and ruffle feathers, and isn’t that an analogy that’s not going anywhere kind to them? Stepping back….

I feel a pressure to keep it neat, akin to a bricklayer making sure to scrape away excess mortar. Perhaps that comes from the huge amount of words I threw out of early Demon drafts, and my desire not to write so inefficiently again. Perhaps I am just afraid the words will dry.

Perhaps, in my process, whatever it is, words can dry, and I’d be a fool not to respect that – whatever reality or self-indulgence that woolly concept implies to my number-crunching colleagues. They write them and I write me and I dry.

I get the rest of this week to play and shop. On Christmas night, I have to make a schedule. Maybe I should throw in a little time to exercise too. Or maybe that’s the New Year’s Resolution!


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Demon release update – PhilCon and Writer’s Center

Thanks One More Page Books for hosting my first reading for DEMON last Wednesday – and to the many people, friends and strangers, who came out!

This weekend, Nov 18-20, I am paneling and signing at PhilCon!

My next reading in the Washington DC area is Thursday December 1, 7pm, at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD.

*Free posters and trading cards* at both events!

Rather buy the ebook than paper? Show the ebook on your device (or a purchase receipt) and get a signed poster and a card!

See you in Philly and in Bethesda!


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Demon Events, Fall 2016 – with free stuff!

This fall, WordFire Press publishes The Demon in Business Class, an international modern-day fantasy by Anthony Dobranski.

Meet the author at these upcoming appearances and readings:

Sat Nov 5 – DC Library Author Festival, MLK Library, Washington DC
Fr-Su Nov 11-13 – Rhode Island Comic Con, Providence RI
Wed Nov 16, 7pm – Reading & SigningOne More Page Books, Arlington VA
Fr-Su Nov 18-20 – PhilCon Cherry Hill NJ
Thur Dec 1, 7pm – Reading & SigningThe Writer’s Center, Bethesda MD

*Each print copy of Demon sold during these appearances comes with a free  poster!*

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**While they last, get a real Demon trading card, printed from the virtual set running on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.**

The nine Demon picture cards

For up-to-date news on events, visit More Demon! The Demon in Business Class info page


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Hello CapClave – Trading cards now REAL!

I’m paneling and reading starting today at CapClave in Rockville MD. It’s a very different kind of personal appearance than my work at convention booths, with panel discussions of literary topics, and a half-hour Saturday morning to read my work.

In celebration, my social media promotion has slipped the surly bounds of cyberspace and achieved card form!

The nine Demon picture cards

It’s only the 9 picture cards, not the complete set of 55, which is still being published one a day on my social media: Instagram & Twitter @adobranski, Facebook @adobranskiauthor

It’s also a small test run of this promotional idea!

Any intrepid and review-minded readers who buy an Advance Reader Proof from me at CapClave get a card along with the posters I also gave buyers in Cincinnati. (And if you bought a book in Cincinnati, get in touch on Facebook or by email to dobranski outlook com and I’ll send you one!)

Here’s my CapClave schedule – for full details, see CapClave.org and find me under “Participants.” See you there!

Fri 6p – Whatever Happened to the Standalone Novel?

Fri 8p – Who’s the Bad Guy in a World Without Absolutes?

Fri 11p – How Graphic is Your Novel?

Sat 10:30-10:55a – Reading

Sat 11:00-11:25a – Author’s Table

Sat 4p Politics in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Sat 5p – Global Climate Change in Science Fiction