October is coming!

 

 

Tomorrow marks the beginning of my favorite month of the year; October. There are a variety of reasons why this month holds a special place in my heart, for instance, Halloween (Read: better than Christmas imho). It also means a number of awesome things are upon us. For one, Nanowrimo.

Now technically Nanowrimo is a month long novel writing competition which occurs in November, but October means that I’ve only got 31 days left to plot my next novel and get my characters and their worlds under construction. It used to be that I would start November with no plot or characters and I’d just start typing at midnight, and while it was fun and I’ll probably do it again, this year I’ll be working on the sequel to a book I’m currently editing and therefore, I have a very real deadline before me.

While I’m chomping at the bit to get to work, I haven’t been actively writing fiction for the past four months while I battled illness, travel and the edits of the first book in this series. So what does this mean?

Well I’m a little rusty.

Or at least I feel that way.

So this month, I’ll be participating in a flash fiction challenge with a friend of mine and after each session I’ll be posting the results. That’s the plan at any rate.

If you’d like to join us we’ll be writing one piece of 500-1500 words in length each day of October to prep our brains for nano.

Do you have any writing traditions that you’d like to share? Are you excited for Nanowrimo? Leave a comment below and otherwise, have a happy end to September.

 

 

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An index card to my heart

I had planned to write a  glorious post on the joys of writing or perhaps the infinite wisdom behind trilogies, but alas, today you get index cards.  This is in part because, aside from a writing instrument of some kind, index cards are probably my most useful and necessary writing tool, and also in part because my mind is otherwise distracted at the moment with the loud cries of the South Park cast from a nearby television, and my illness weakened state. Which is really just another way of saying, my brain is mush, I’m sick and my fiance likes South Park.

So, index cards are suddenly vastly important. While it entirely possible that this is only so because of my child like attention span at the moment, but upon closer inspection of my writing work space, I think that it may in fact be a true statement. Index cards are important.

Inspirational quotes from my favorite authors are inscribed upon them and tacked to my bulletin board.

Their silken carcasses lay scattered across my desk and notebooks reminding me of character details, books to add to my good read to do lists, and actual lists of plot points, groceries, tidbits I’ve seen somewhere and need to look up or log for further investigation. And it doesn’t stop there.

Inside my notebooks both personal and project specific, note card of details, or questions to ask of my characters or scenes are taped within the pages so as not to be lost or forgotten, as well as to document future plans. For instance, most of my blog posts have their own numbered and titled cards taped in the pages of my personal notebooks, where upon I detailed the major points I wished to hit on any topic I was preparing to discuss. And if I missed an idea or there simply wasn’t room for it, as my posts tend to be on the longish side, then that segment was highlighted for future use.

Basically, for me at least, index cards are my equivalent of post- it notes. While I do in fact use both, index cards seem to have so many more advantages. For one I can write on both sides and while they don’t stick to things, they do have quite a bit more surface area for writing or listing off important things. What’s more, they can be very ugly and messy, or they can be quirky and a nice tool for brainstorming.

Even better than all that, you can use them for creating a really colorful line for scene plot guide for revising your work!

Or just your average line for scene index while working on the first draft of a project when things like scene order and whose narrating what scene are still up for debate.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I love index cards. Although let’s be honest, what writer doesn’t have a somewhat strange love of office supplies?!

Have you got any quirky uses for index cards that I should know about? Please feel free to comment below.

Serials on Kindle?

So this was brought to my attention after yesterday’s post about self publishing in a comment by mlfables who said, 

I think the third option may be serial novels (the latest book selling technique from Amazon).

Serial novels (where readers pay upfront for the first three chapters and then recieve the subsequent chapters over time) may suit me better than having to write three whole novels then going all out on promotion (which is the most effective way to promote self-published ebooks).

My initial response was huh? Serial novels… on Kindle. And then my curiosity got the best of me and I soon found myself trolling all sorts of pages for the low down on this new form of digital publishing. Of course, as we all know, serial novels aren’t a new thing, but the idea of these being added to something like Kindle is. And the whole idea made me start to think about… well, a lot of things actually. 

 

My second response to serial novels on Kindle wasn’t a thought so much as an emotion. Specifically that of confusion and annoyance.

Now I’d never had much cause to give this type of publishing style a thought before, but I’ve realized something. To me, from both the perspective of a reader and as a writer, serials novels just tick me off. 

 

As a reader my immediate response is No. Capital N o. I am a fast reader and I like to devour my books. I don’t want to sit around waiting for the next installment. When friends recommend book series, my first question is, “Is it completed, or in progress?”. If I’m going to have to wait a really long time, I would rather wait until all if not most of the books are completed and on the shelves of my nearest book store. Why would anyone want to wait for a book to be completed, chapter by chapter? That just kills the experience. I’ll forget things, it will grow dull in my mind, I’ll move on to other works. If I can’t read it in entirety all at once, why read it all?

Looking at this topic as a writer, I’m equally baffled. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a lot of information about this process, and please feel free to correct me in the comments if I’m wrong or missing some piece of information, but I just don’t see how this is a good thing at all. 

If the piece is not complete, and truly is being written while it’s being published, there are a number of concerns that I have. Namely, consistency. My personal favorite kind of books are filled with layer after layer of nuances and details which are carefully drawn out through the whole piece. Symbols and sub plots abound, and make these books worth reading again and again because each time through offers some new experience or detail to notice. How can someone possibly create and manipulate a rich environment and stimulating characters when each chapter that’s published, limits the authors ability to revise and insert these elements?

More over some books can take years to craft and complete, and some never see a final product. Do you as a reader want to wait months or years for something to play out, or run the risk of it never being completed at all?

Now I know that the really big “plus” for serial novels, is that it give the readers a chance to have some input on the process of story telling and while this may be a draw for some, I find the whole idea appalling. 

The words be careful what you wish for come to mind. If your readers really only care about so and so hooking up with whoever, or Captain whoever catching the bad guy, then by all means, cut out the thirty chapters in the middle and just cut to the final chapters. But they’re not going to be any more satisfied than you will be with the resulting product. 

The idea that someone’s comments could or should have an influence on my stories is outrageous. It’s my story. I’ll write it how I damn well please and if people like it great, if they hate it fine. As long as I’m happy with it, then that’s all I care about. I’m not writing for people I’ve never met, half way across the world, I’m writing for me and while sometimes those two things over lap, I see no reason why someone else should have an influence on how my story is told. 

After the fact, when the story has gone through it’s own edits and has grown into something I’m proud of, then I’ll take the comments and suggestions from others. But when the story is fresh and immature and still expanding, it’s too fragile and precious to let the masses latch onto. 

While I appreciate feedback on my work, I don’t need or want someone messing with my creative process, and though knowing who likes who and who hates this character or what have you is interesting, it won’t make me change my work. I refuse to let others tell me how they think things should go in my own world because if something is happening, or if someone says something, it is because I meant it too. It has a reason for existing and ugh… 

 

I didn’t realize when I started this post how angry I’d get by the end of it. But clearly I’ve met my mark, said more than I needed to I’m sure and if you lasted this long dear readers, I apologize. In any case. 

 

I now need a fourth option for publishing cause clearly I’ve got enough angst to fill up the first three. 

 

As always if you have an comments or care to rant back with me please leave your thoughts below. In regards to this particular topic, if you would like to offer up some explanations as to why this does or doesn’t work for you as a reader or an author, please let me know. I’m interested to see what others think about this topic and how they view the process and their readers. 

 

Traditional publishing, self publishing. Can I have a third option?

Once upon a time, traditional publishing wasn’t traditional. It was the only way to go. But no longer.

Self publishing has been getting a lot of press time on blogs across the web as well as in connection to the rise of ereaders like the Kindle or the Nook. And while I own a Kindle, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading ebooks on it as well as my iphone and tablet, I’m not really feeling this new pressure to see everything digital.

As I gaze along the road of my future plans, I see many books being brought forth into the daylight and hopefully into loving hands. But I’d like those hands to be gripping paper backs, not ereaders.

This consumer likes the ease with which she can carry all the books she loves around with her, however that’s about where her love stops. 

I love to have a real book in my hands. I love the weight of it, and the smell and even though ebooks are cheaper, almost everything I’ve bought digitally, I will buy again in hard copy, just so I can have them at my finger tips. Literally. 

Thinking about publishing is something which I dread. I, like many writer’s I would imagine, would love to make a career out of writing however, so publishing in some form is sort of unavoidable. 

Now for years, I’ve thought I’d only ever go toward traditional publishing, but some of the more recent articles about self publishing have made me question that decision. In fact, the more I think about the whole process, the more leery I am of both options. 

 For me personally, the pros of self publishing are 

– No waiting. ( On agents, publishing houses, seasons, editors, whatever) I’m a particularly impatient person so this, one really means a lot.

-The ability to reinvent yourself and write in a variety of genres. It seems I’m only just beginning to discover that not falling into a niche could be a problem. But I write all over the place. Horror, urban fantasy, dysotopian sci-fi, Children’s fiction, YA fiction, Adult fiction. I like to explore it all, and I’m going to write what I want, how I want to. 

Cons

-Marketing. This is a naive thing to say, although since I’m aware of it, I suppose it could be worse but, I don’t want to market my work. I don’t want to have to make a twitter account, or another facebook or  whatever, just so that people can thumbs up my photo. I want to write. I just want to write, and whether anyone discovers what I’m writing, is something I’m not concerned with. With a career in mind, I should be concerned, but honestly, I just don’t give a damn about marketing.

-Do people really buy unknown authors ebooks? Now I can only speak for myself but I don’t. There are already an outrageous number of books on my to read list that I don’t have the time or the need to go searching for obscure new gems. With that in mind, I don’t really like my chances of someone finding my books online. 

-Snobbish tendencies. I can’t take self publishing seriously. I know it’s this whole revolution and it let’s authors beat the system or whatever, but I just can’t get over my negative perceptions of self publishing. All I can think of are fan fiction sites when I imagine self publishing and I’m immediately covered in goose bumps from poor spelling, ill conceived plots, and lack of ability. And this coming from someone who loves fanfiction. Despite what I know about it, neon flashing signs inside my mind blare ‘cop out’ whenever I even consider going the easy way out.

Unfortunately the pros of self publishing are the cons of traditional publishin and visa versa. 

So this is my plea to you, fellow bloggers and hopeful authors out there. Where’s our third option? 

I would like to choose door number three and not look back. 

Sigh. 

I’m just glad that I’m not at the point where I have to make this choice for real, because it just makes my head dizzy. 

Do you have preference for one kind of publishing or the other? Why do you feel the way you do? 

Please leave a comment and let me know.

 

Percy Jackson and the Olympians (series review)

The more serious I get about my dreams of being a full time author, the more time I spend reading children’s novels. Doesn’t seem to make any sense?

But wait. It does.

You see, I write urban fantasy and dystopian sci-fi for ages 10 – 25. While this is intentional, I should also mention that my mother who is nearly 60 has no problem reading anything I’m working on and often passes it off to her friends too. That being said, my focus is on influencing children.

So much of who I am and how I deal with the world was impressed upon me between the ages of 10-18 and from YA fiction. Of course that doesn’t stop the looks I get at the library when I walk away with Percy Jackson or Midnight for Charlie Bone. Looks don’t stop me from doing whatever I intend to do though, so I’m happy to report that this morning I finished the fifth and final book of Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

Despite what you may think of reading books whose main character is about twelve, this series rocked! Still that’s not much of a recommendation, so I’m going to give you my (NUMBER REPLACE) list of reasons why you should give this series a try.

1. Mythological Madness! – I don’t about you, but I’ve always been fascinated by mythology of any kind, and so, naturally I’ve spent a lot of time reading about Greek gods and heros. I even studied Latin for three years, which was basically a lot of translating those same stories. But I know what you’re thinking. So, if I’ve read all about this stuff than why did I care about reading it all over again? Well because the author Rick Riordan knows a hell of a lot more about Greek myths than I do. For as many stories or monsters or gods, as I knew, there were that many that I didn’t. And now I have a huge list of these very things to look up and read the original tales.

2. Masterful use of subplots – This is a particular favorite of mine, in books like the Harry Potter series or in Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind and The Wise man’s Fear. When an author introduces something or someone seemingly meaningless, books ahead of when it will come into use. It shows a great ability to plan and the forethought to create magnificently complicated things. There are a number of times when this genius (or at the very least, incredibly organized sense of planning,) comes into play in this series and I found myself in total shock and joy or anger as these things were resolved in the final book.

3. Delightful characters – This is not to say that all of the characters are good. No. That would make for a terribly boring story. In fact, most of the characters are very bad at following the rules and screw up marvelously. Even the villains surprise and taunt in new and creative ways which never seemed outlandish or unbelievable. Even the most minor characters had distinct personalities, but more importantly, their dialogue styles were dissimilar from other characters.

4. Prophecies – Yet another thing which, when done well, is spectacular in my book. Since we are dealing with the modern day interpretation of Greek myths, it isn’t surprising that there are prophecies in this series. However, these ones are so beautifully crafted that their lines have stayed with me days and days after I finished the books. Of course when prophecies are issued in novels, it is often too easy to discern what will happen in very little time. I’m happy to report that one of the joyful things about reading this series, is that for every prophecy made, there are a dozen possibilities in which it can be applied and every new scrap of information which you receive, along with the heros, leads you to believe that you know exactly what is going to happen. I certainly did. And you know what? Every single time I was wrong. I’ve never been so thoroughly duped in all my reading days. Which leads me to number 5.

5. Seriously unpredictable – More often than I’d like, in both adult and children’s literature, I find my ability to predict what’s going to happen, along with the how and why, far to accurately. I’m rarely confused, or surprised and while I still enjoy what I’m reading, I haven’t felt so completely unsure in a long time.

6. Life or Death – Tying in with the last, it is generally safe to assume that in most cases, no matter how likely, the main character of a novel won’t die. It’s hard to pull off and it generally pisses off your reader so it’s not a good thing to do. That is even more predictable in children’s work, because far too often, children’s books shy away from death. Not the case in this series, not at all. A great many characters die, some of which I cried for, but more importantly. After about midway through the second book, I was almost positive that the narrative would have to be switched midway through the series to a separate character or the main character would have been narrating from a totally different physical perspective, like as a ghost. Now I won’t confirm one way or another how this series ends, since I was surprised, but with the conclusion of each of the four other books I continued to be baffled that the main character was still alive. I never experienced the feeling of certainty which I felt while reading Harry Potter, that Harry would win and make it to then end. Nope, I didn’t believe in you Percy.

Well I had another couple of things on my list that make this series awesome but I think if I haven’t convinced you to read it yet, well, it may not be your cup of tea. At any rate I loved it. If you’ve read it and have any thoughts positive or negative I’d love to hear them. If you haven’t read it. Go. Read.

Technology blunders…

We all have these moments, I’m sure, where you’re writing something, or you already have it saved somewhere, and technology fails you. And it sucks.

I’d been contemplating what to write for a couple of days now, for my newest entry and I finally settled upon writing some flash fiction. So I fired up my desktop edition of Write or Die, and voila.

For those of you who don’t know what this is, it’s a program which threatens you to keep writing. You set a word count goal and a timer and off you go. But if you stop writing for too long the scream slowly fades to bright red and then it plays horrible sounds, like screaming babies, and the devils violins and Hannah Montana. Just kidding about the last one. In any case, it forces you to stop worrying about being perfect and to simply write. The program can be used for free online, or if your like me and don’t always have internet, you can buy the offline copy for ten bucks.

 

So, thinking I might need a prod, I turned on the program, and I wrote a few hundred words. And then it turned against me. It decided that even though my time was up and even though I’d gotten as many words as I’d hoped to, I didn’t need to get put of the program.  So I copied the work and Ctrl Alt Deleted my way out.

 

So what’s the problem.

 

It didn’t copy.

 

Pfff.

 

 

One of the most common complaints I hear from other writers is computer woes, they lost their backups, the computer was fried, the program failed, etc. etc. etc.  And yet it seems we never learn. Although at one point or another, in this day an age I cannot see it being possible to completely forgo computers, but are there better methods?

So I ask you all, what has been your biggest technology blunder?

The Sound of Silence- Ideal writing conditions

How do you write? With music? Lyrics or soundtracks? Silence? In busy cafes?

If your environment is not ideal how does your work fair?

This topic seems to be of particular importance to me today because in the USA, it’s labor day weekend. Which boils down to hanging out with friends and family and possibly, if you’re like me, trying to work on a project amidst the chaos.

I personally required music, whether it has lyrics or not doesn’t matter, for the first fifteen to twenty minutes of my prep time/ organizing my thoughts etc. After that I work best with non lyrical soundtracks or silence.

So naturally, someone is watching The Little Mermaid one room over, another is watching YouTube videos next to me, there are dogs barking down stairs and outside, and loud music is pulsing throughout the house so that it can be heard outside by the cluster of very loud, happy intoxicated folks on the lawn…. As you might imagine, my productivity as well as my nerves are wearing thin.

So I come to you today with the question, how do you deal with working in your least ideal environment.

I for one generally take my headphones however at this level of chaos I’m unable to turn it up loud enough to drown out the noise while retaining my powers of intelligent thought to work effectively…

So please, let me know in the comments what your ideal writing conditions are and what you do when they aren’t ideal.

I am seriously dying to get some suggestions on this one.

Happy (attempted) scribbling.