Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Reader vs Character

Okay, not in a fight club, battle to the death with Original Star Trek fight music blaring in the background type of way--but still, a fight of sorts.

Writers need to always keep in mind what the reader probably knows from the real world. This can be a problem of focus: don't step by step me on how to start a car unless there is something new or unique about it, or the car is going to blow up, fly, or vanish. Most people know how cars work. When an author focuses on a mundane, everyday thing, I'm waiting for something NON-mundane to happen. When it doesn't, I become peeved. Peeved readers bad.

Another problem with reader knowledge is common and assumed myths. Even though the author has created a world different from ours, they can't shut off what readers know. I just read a book where the main character (who knows vampires) can't figure out why the vamps keep insisting she invite them in. This popped up four times--each time I kept saying in my head, "No, don't go there, author--everyone knows you can't invite a vampire in your home!" I was annoyed that something that is common myth to most readers was going to be a plot point.

And it was.

Now, first off, vampires don't exist--yes, I do know this. But, for folks who read or watch stuff with vampires--having to invite them in is fairly common. So, me as the reader "knew" what an expert in vampires didn't in the book.

Also to be fair, at nowhere in the book had that topic been introduced, and it appears to be limited to a type of vampire. Logically, the author was fine to do what was done. She didn't break her story mythos. But it still bugged the crap out of me as the reader because I knew what was coming.

The author could have found a better way to make the character be in the same pickle, without annoying readers.

Even when you make up your own worlds, you can't shut off reader knowledge.

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Sapphire Manticore is LIVE!!!

Okay, the eBook version is, hopefully there really isn't a manticore made of sapphire roaming around the countryside. That would be bad.

BUT, if you're a fan of The Lost Ancients fantasy series- Book four is ready and waiting! The print version will take longer due to proofs, mailing, and whatnot.

AND if you know someone who hasn't read the first three books yet, there is an ebook set of the first three for only $4.99! Just for a few days only!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

#IWSG-Hanging on to the good

Welcome to another monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! We gather once a month to post our hopes, dreams, and fears- join us!

The beginning of a year is always a great time to look forward, figure out what awesome and amazing things you're going to do in the next 12 months.

For me, a big part of that is examining the good that has already happened. Writing is hard. Just plan hard. I can't imagine my life without it, but that doesn't make it any less brutal.

You are creating worlds from nothing, characters from nothing, EVERYTHING from nothing. You're forging a path that is both very well trod, but also unique to you. Even writers in the same genre, time frame, etc are not going to be on the same exact path as each other.

But there are always chances for celebrations. Last year I had some pretty awesome thing happen in my writing career. But, it could have been easy to discount them as "not enough". And in the past, I might have discounted them. I might have felt that I wasn't hitting the same goals and kudos as other writers.

Lately though, I'm holding on to each one--each good review, each time someone really loved one of my books, goals I've reached. I'm hanging on to all of them. No mater how small, each one is part of my path, part of my journey. Each one will help defend my soul from the sometimes brutal world of publishing.

So, whether you're a writer or not hang on to all the little rewards of your journey--they do count.

Happy IWSG day!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Things I’ve learned

Ah, the ending of another year, and time to reflect.

Here are a few tips taken from my past almost two years of being a published author:

    1) Believe in yourself, or just be really, really stubborn. Some folks will shoot you down, even people who mean well. ANYTHING big in your life- writing, art, whatever, is going to change things with you and your relationships with others. This can be threatening to some folks. You have to hang on to the dream that got you on this path—and don’t let go. Setbacks will happen and so will crippling self-doubt. Hang tight and push through.

    2) Think long term when naming things that will be around—long term ;). I love the name AsarlaĆ­. It’s different, cool, and fun (it is also stolen from another language- wanna guess which one? ;)). It’s also a pain in the butt to have to keep correcting that accent mark at the end.  Had I thought about it, and the number of things that word would have to go on, I probably would have found something less problematic.

     3) A six book story arc series is hard. Okay, The Lost Ancients started as two trilogies. The print book of book one still says that. But as I wrote book two, I realized it was one big-ass story and splitting it like that was artificial. However—six books in a single story is FREAKING HARD! Curse of having big-ass stories in my head I guess. But moving forward, going to really try to stick to stories that will fit into three books at a time.

    4) Not everyone will like your books and that’s a good thing. I had a woman come up at an event and demand that I sell her on my books. I asked her what she liked to read—she said dark, angsty, tragic, love stories. I smiled, and took my book out of her hand. I told her she would probably not like my books and explained why. She nodded (she’d really wanted me to give her a hard sell) then she said she did have a friend who liked more of what I wrote ;).  Know what you write. Accept some folks won’t like that, and even some who do like the sub-genre, may not like your book. I had one person who looked like they would like what I wrote, write that The Glass Gargoyle was too complicated for them to read, but would probably make a good movie. (Somewhere in there, I’m thinking is a compliment?)

    5) Pushing yourself is good. It is so easy to let yourself find a way out of doing difficult things—even ones we really want to do (or have done).  Get your self-nagging hat on, and cut the TV time, get up early, work during lunch. To quote one of my favorite people, “Make it work”.

    6) Be sure you have awesome people behind you. I wouldn’t have the books out that I do without all of my amazing beta reading/editing friends. People who emotionally supported me or let me bounce ideas off them. Not to mention the people I found and hired-artist, editors, formatters. People who believe in you are worth their weight in chocolate—always value them.

     7) Dates may be closer than they appear. Yeah. Even after four books out, I still think things will get out faster than they do. Life happens. Reality changes. Same for folks who are helping you get a book done—they have lives too. I was hoping that The Sapphire Manticore would be out in December…then it became very very late December….now we’re looking at January (hence my posting the first chapter over in my pages section on the right side). Part is doing a book this time of year is hard. Part—this is a big book and everything takes longer with big stories. Part is reality changes sometimes. But the fact is, I want this book tight, clean, and ready to ‘wow’. One more round of edits to come back (and I’m still doing more too), then it’ll go to the formatters (who also have to make the full print cover out of the art my artist made).  So….it will get here, just not when I’d hoped.

     8) Enjoy the journey. No matter where you are, what you’re doing—enjoy the process! If you don’t, none of this is worthwhile.

Merry Christmas, Peaceful Solstice, Happy Hanukkah, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

#IWSG- Book Domination Wednesday!

Welcome one and all to another episode of how the writer’s world turns—aka the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Once a month, writers from all over the globe gather online and share our thoughts, fears, and hopes.

Today is that day!

The suggested question for this month, is where do you see yourself (writing wise) in five years. A fair enough question.

I see a drunken faery on every bookshelf and a pissed merc at every desk!  World book domination!

Okay, so maybe not.

Part of answering such a question is to look back at where you've been.  In March 2014, I decided that I was going to take my writing career into my own hands and self publish in March 2015.

March 26th, 2015 The Glass Gargoyle came out.

I am now working on final edits for the fourth book in that series (my fifth book over all since I started publishing).

Within five years, I would love to be able to leave my day job, to spend all of my time wandering around all of the worlds that live in my head. If you read my books, you’ve seen two of the worlds, but there are many more beyond those.

If, however, I still have to maintain my day job by then, I see myself still getting my worlds out there—just not as quickly as I could as a full-time writer. 

At my current pace, I can probably hit 2 and a half books a year (based on that, if I were a full time writer, I’d say it would be closer to 4 a year).

At least 10 books—probably more. This would mean, The Lost Ancient’s original six book series would be finished; The AsarlaĆ­ Wars trilogy would be done. The steampunk series would have launched and be a few books in. At least two other series would have started. (And most likely some short stories or novellas from the two finished series--nothing is ever REALLY finished ;)).

My writing and book processing routine probably won't have changed--but with each book my skill and knowledge would hopefully have grown.

In five years I hope to be a better writer, with more books, that are enjoyed by more people. Aka doing more of what I love.

Happy IWSG day!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

NaNo Fail

Well another NaNoWriMo has come to a close--and for a second time in a row I didn't make it. But a lot of my friends DID make it- some are listed to the right ----all those folks who have over 50,000 words won. If you've never tried doing 50,000 words in one month you might not know the epic achievement that is. To make it easier to see--that is completing between 175 and 200 PAGES in a month (depends on word counts per page ;)).

That. Is. HUGE!

So for all my NaNoing friends who won- CONGRATS!!! 

Now for the folks like me, who hit the wall.

Totally not making excuses here, but I did know it was a long shot since I was editing The Sapphire Manticore at the same time I was NaNo-ing Victorious Dead. But I love the excitement and madness of NaNo, so I tried it anyway.

Sadly, the combo didn't work as well as had been hoped and I also hit an emotional wall Thanksgiving week.

But even though I didn't win, I am so glad I did it.

NaNo 2016 Round up:

Victorious Dead is now at 159 pages (I had some words down prior to NaNo)--I wouldn't be that far, especially while in edits, without NaNo.

I still love all the energy around NaNo. Seriously folks, it's the one time of year writers can spend a month with folks who are as crazy as they are--if you write, you should try it at least once.

I will most likely go for it again next year--even if I am doing something like editing another book. Not everything created during NaNo is usable--but I always find parts that are.

339,407. That is the number of words I have done during my NaNo lifetime (they keep track--I sure wouldn't have known. )

This was my 8th year- I won 5 out of those 8. Last year was like this one where I just knew that there was no way I could catch up without killing myself. That day job I have doesn't understand, "Can I take a week off to just write? I'm behind on my NaNo."

Even if you don't write- find something to push yourself!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Okay, I just made up that word. It’s not a misspelling of scheming, it refers to schema (psychology’s usage) “A schema is a mental concept that informs a person about what to expect from a variety of experiences and situations. Schemas are developed based on information provided by life experiences and are then stored in memory. Our brains create and use schemas as a short cut to make future encounters with similar situations easier to navigate. “

What all that says, is that as we build more experiences and repeat situations, we begin to form expectations about a situational outcome in similar situations.

For writers and readers that means if you pick up a book with a demure 16th century maiden on it, being clenched by a big burly highlander, you are NOT going to be expecting a slasher scene in the middle of the book. Or anywhere in it.

People who design covers, whether it be the author themselves, someone they hired, or a publisher and in-house artists, strive to make sure the cover is appealing, but also targeted to peoples’ schemas for the book’s subject matter. If I want a historical romance with a good-looking Scot, that book I mentioned above is perfect.

When we pick up a book based on the cover, then read the blurb, maybe a page or two, more of our schemas engage. A word might through us off and we think of other books that we didn’t enjoy based on a concept or wording that seems similar.

So what has this to do with writing you ask? Everything.

If I am writing a slasher book, but no one gets slashed until page 130, I have a problem, and any readers have probably dumped the book in disgust.

Same thing if I were writing something with a lot of sex—I’d better let the reader know up front (through cover, blurb, etc) and I better not wait until page 200 for the action. Inversely, if I’m not writing graphic sex, springing it on a reader at the end of a book, or in a later book in the series when it hasn’t been in evidence at all previously, can shock a reader.

Working with schemas doesn’t mean being predictable—we all read for new adventures—it just means falling within the expectations of the reader.