Eventful Times: Ask Me Anything

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 13.266% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Well, it’s been All News in the old Casa McJuddMetz, and we’re sorely in need of some distraction.  Usually, I’d write some blog post to try to attract the Dance Of Intriguing Comments, but time’s been squeezed lately thanks to Rebecca’s latest medical upheavals.
(Interesting fact: We met with the Meyers for dinner after Rebecca’s latest MRI, and they never actually told us what Rebecca’s results were.  However, given that Eric and Kat had an appetite and were eating, we knew the news was not awful.  The overall arc of their daughter’s health can be plotted to a large extent by their caloric intake.)
(Why didn’t we ask, you might ask?  Because frankly, when someone’s struggling with a potentially fatal illness, one of the worst things you can do is to reduce their life to that illness.  There’s a tendency in people to think that it’s somehow disrespectful to discuss anything else but The Trauma, going, “Oh, I don’t want to complain about work when you have pancreatic cancer.”  No, seriously.  Complain.  Let your friends bathe in the trouble of your problems for a while, share what happinesses you have; give them a little oasis of normality when you can instead of reducing their lives to this one disease.  Last night was pretty much just a dinner out with the kids, and I for one was pretty happy about that.)
In any case, caught between the Scylla of Rebecca’s struggle and the Charybdis between things I cannot say yet, I’m gonna default to an old habit of mine:
Ask me a real question. On any topic. I’ll do my best to answer honestly. 
(Fake questions like “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck?” are neither clever nor useful.  You can do it; it marks you as the kind of person who doesn’t realize the joke is so obvious it’s been done a hundred times before, and I’ll think less of you for being tedious.  Hey, I told you I’d answer honestly.)
All other questions will be answered politely, and to the best of my ability.  To answer your most burning question, I try to pull the lazy “Ask Me Anything” blog entry only once every three months to avoid blog-clog, and yes, I do Google to keep track of the last time I did this.


  1. Nathan Hughes
    Mar 26, 2014

    Who is the worst Magic writer you have come across? How about the best? Substitute Magic with Science Fiction?

    • TheFerrett
      Mar 26, 2014

      I actually wrote an article about this once on SCG. The worst Magic writer was someone I doubtlessly rejected and didn’t think about twice. What you’re asking is probably “What’s the worst consistently published writer?” and that alone indicates an ability to be good enough to not get tossed on his ear.
      But the writer I disliked the most was a guy called Deranged Dad, who’s still in the SCG archives. Inherited him from Omeed. Really did not enjoy his style.
      Best was either Geordie Tait or Rizzo. I go back and forth.
      As for sci-fi, couldn’t say. I’ve been reading sci-fi for years and have tossed away a lot of books, and unlike my time as an editor, I was never forced to read anyone I didn’t personally enjoy. So I wouldn’t have developed a “worst,” I just would have stopped reading.

      • Nathan Hughes
        Mar 26, 2014

        Enjoyed the answers. Never really read much of Geordie’s stuff but Rizzo is amazing. 🙂 thanks, Ferret.

  2. Nicholas Sabin
    Mar 26, 2014

    How might one go about picking out a proper hat?

    • TheFerrett
      Mar 26, 2014

      Come to Cleveland and have me bring you to Mike the Hatter’s.
      It’s how I do it. They’re awesome.

  3. Squirrelly
    Mar 26, 2014

    What advice do you have for an aspiring writer trying to break through “the wall” on their first novel? Someone who’s written 90% of the manuscript and trying to figure out the ending.

    • TheFerrett
      Mar 26, 2014

      Oooh, you’re really glad you didn’t ask that on Twitter.
      Endings are hard, but there’s a couple of tricks you can use:
      1) Most stories are, at heart, about a lesson the character needs to learn. Thinking about what that lesson is points you to wondering how they might learn it, and that in turn leads you to an ending.
      Usually, if the character gets what they wanted at the beginning of the story, it’s a tragedy. If the character gets not what they wanted but what they needed, it’s a happy story. But reread the opening and ask, “What does my lead character need to learn about life?” Sometimes, it’s that life is cruel and short and s/he dies, but often it’s about something that you believe is true about the world, and that usually makes it better.
      2) Go back to the beginning and reread it closely to see what threads you’ve started, and see whether you can bring them in at the end again. If you’ve started in the old sewing machine factory, ask what could happen to end it at the sewing machine factory. If you started by having a conversation with your broker, see what it’s like if you have a similar conversation with the broker now. It’s a cliche, but having the same thing happen twice often demonstrates exactly how the character is different.
      3) Write a list of ten potential endings. Ten is actually hard. By the time you get to six, you’re usually in the realm of ridiculous. Keep throwing ideas out and eventually they stop being ridiculous and start being unusual.
      4) Don’t be afraid to do violence to your story. That 90% is not concrete; it’s liquid. Nothing is set in stone until you’re done. When contemplating, don’t be shackled to What Has Happened; rather, look at it as a kind of rough framework as to what might have happened. Your best ideas will often require total rewrites, changing locations and themes and whatnot. Go with them.

  4. BenjaminJB
    Mar 26, 2014

    Are you still enjoying podcasts? Have you abandoned/downgraded any old favorites any or picked up any new ones?
    And if you had the time/energy/equipment to make a podcast (say, a magical hour that could only be used for podcasts), what would your podcast be?
    (My prediction: That’s going to be the new “What type of tree would you be?” question.)

  5. Chris
    Mar 26, 2014

    What was the most unexpected and/or interesting experience of your trip to New York?

    • TheFerrett
      Mar 26, 2014

      Tasting what Italian food really tasted like, specifically pasta. I now know what al dente tastes like. Surprisingly tricky. Don’t know if I could explain it.
      (And my Godson bursting into tears when I surprised him in NYC, but they were happy tears, as it turned out. Thankfully!)

  6. Wendy
    Mar 26, 2014

    What ever happened to “My Name is Might Have Been”?

    • TheFerrett
      Mar 26, 2014

      Neglect and a loss of the overall plot. I keep searching my hard drive and email, hoping that the plot summary shows up so I can post it, but that never happened.

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