Thursday, June 26, 2014

Suck it up, Buttercup

How many times have you heard, “I’d love to write a book/paint a picture/make a film/learn an instrument/learn how to weave baskets underwater, but I just don’t have the time?”  If you are someone who does any of those things, or many others (which also includes exercising, working out, starting a fitness plan), you probably hear it a lot. 
 It usually goes like this:
Me:  “I’m a writer”
Person at party: “Oh, I want to write, I just don’t have the time.” 
The implication being that obviously I’m doing something wrong since I do have the time and along with writing I am probably laying around eating bon bons and making daisy chains. The other person is ignoring the fact that I MAKE the time. (Usually)
 Time is like a vortex, you won’t have it unless you make it, unless you fight for the time to do what you must do for you.  This is the same if you have a day job, family, other time conflicts- you FIGHT for the creative time. You make your unmovable  obligations (job, family) then fit in everything else around them.  But you make them work.
That's sort of where I've been lately, evil day job taking over my soul again, and my little mental voice giving me excuses such as, "I don't have the time, I'm just too exhausted when I get home."
Well, I'm going to give that little voice in my head some hard advice, and advice I'd share with everyone who "doesn't have the time" (to write, paint, create, help a friend, whatever).
Yes. You. Do.
If something is important, you make the time.  The little time fairy has gone awol with the money fairy and they ain't coming back. Either you put your effort into making time (and yes, I'm talking to myself here as well--it's ok, I'm not sane anyway) or you shut up about it.  No whining, no bitching, no, "I'd really love too BUT...." You do it, or move on. 
People will always find excuses for why they aren’t doing what they really want, or what they think they should really want. Sometimes the excuses of not enough time are simply so the person doesn't have to face a hard truth.
But the bottom line is, we need to suck it up, make time for who we are.  Who we will be. 
 No Excuses.  (It's not just for jocks any more ;)).

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Readers get pissed when you lie

Happy Wednesday all!

Fairly short rant today, offsetting last week's long one ;).

No one likes to be lied to. Readers really don't like to be lied to.  I don't like to be lied to, and that's what I feel just happened with a book I just finished.

Writers can mislead readers, that's a big part of what we do--but we shouldn't lie.

In this case the author ( a NYT bestseller who is quite awesome even though I'm annoyed with this one book) set up a nice little paranormal mystery.  We had a small town with lots of who did what to whom in the past, murder, mayhem, possible satanic rituals.  Very well done.

Now comes the annoying parts- one- I figured out who the person behind it all way too early.  Two- I got it wrong.  Now I'm not mad I got it wrong, because I did get the right body- but the author did a body switch for a person of massive evilness in the main character's past. It was a cheat in my mind.

But what really annoyed me?  All of that "who killed who, who slept with who, why they did what they did", was all throw away.  ALL OF IT.  The evil one who took over the body was just trying to lure the heroine out. None of the people in that town meant a thing to the "actual" story.

So that left the reader (aka me in this case) feeling like I'd been working on a really great puzzle, then had all the pieces taken away because they didn't matter.

I was lied to by the author.

Now, like I said, this was a big name, very good selling author.  Will it put me off from all of her future books?  Probably not, I'll give her one more chance, but if this happens again, you betchya she's going into my "do not read" list.

Now what if this had been a new author?  Directly to the "do not read" list.  This was, in my mind, an awful thing to do to a reader and left a bad taste in my mouth about the author. 

So, fellow writers- DON'T LIE.  Nuff said ;).

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Freebies and thinking outside the box

Today I want to look a bit at the business side of writing- being as all writers are business people and Indie writers are even our own bosses.  (I really hope the self-publisher-me never has to fire the writer-me.)

I recently went to a convention, never you mind where, it could have been any show.  It was a full geek con: actors, artists, toys, and authors and books. LOTS of books. This convention had more writer interaction than some and a number of book publishers where there as well.

Two things really struck me in the marketing end of things.  My first observation was a tale of two publishers.  Both big names, both there with the idea to get folks excited about their books and grab new readers.

One publisher gave it all away- they must have shipped in tons of books as pretty much they were always running titles through their table- many times the author was there as well.  Smiling, chatting, signing, and putting that free book right in the hand of a reader.

The other publisher had a lot of "stuff"....stickers and whatnot.  And while they had books out- didn't really give them away.  One signing was a raffle, another I saw had a sad looking author sitting next to a man with a credit card machine-aka- they were selling the books.

Guess which booth saw the most traffic by a landslide? The one giving away usually first books in series, designed to draw us poor saps into to buy more?  Or the one who raffled off some copies and sold others? (Yes, I was stalking them. ;))

Now, don't get me wrong, as a writer I know we need to sell our books.  BIG TIME.  But which publisher do you think made the biggest impact on those thousands of readers?  I have found many a new favorite author through free books at conferences. (I am very excited about some of the free books I got, as well as those I bought at yet a third publisher). 

Free books, especially when the author is there signing said free item of book lovliness, make an impact on a reader- more importantly it makes the reader connect with the author and the publisher. Many times I hear authors say they won't give away their work- we spend a hell of a lot of time on a single book, and now we're supposed to give it away?  But once we have a few books out there, we (as Indie authors) can do what that first publisher did- give first books away to bring folks in for the long haul. Traditional authors might need to be more creative, but they might be able to work in free novellas or other items.

Even when I got a book that really wasn't for me, I was so impressed by the author that I made sure to find a friend who would really like it- by meeting that author, and having him put that free book in my hand, I felt responsible for it finding a good home. 

The second observation from this convention was a group of writers going outside of the box in their panel.  They had a "writing" panel that wasn't at all about writing- but about the Taco Church (not going to explain it here-go search them out  Basically, they had a lot of fun, pulled in a fairly full room of readers (many writers, but we're readers too) who got to see them NOT talking about their books. But being witty, articulate and sort of goofy human beings.

And guess what that fun, non-book, interaction did?  Made me want to find those authors and see if their books were my cuppa tea. Again, a connection with the writer, even outside of the book world, really acts to make a connection to the reader and makes them seek the books- even when they aren't even sure what that person writes.

Ok, this post was long, and it rambled a bit- but the main points here were 1) for all writers- traditional and Indie to realize their readers are people, not "fans" and to think outside the box for ways to interact with them, and that 2) free is good.  As the editor at the freebie publisher said, "the first hit is free".  But once a reader gets hooked, ya got them!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

IWSG: Crossing that line

Happy Insecure Writers Support Group day!

Once a month, writers from across the land set forth to shout their fears, concerns, insecurities, and joys into the Universe- come join us!
Today I'm talking about crossing lines.  More importantly, crossing the great genre divide.
Knowing what genre you write in is fairly basic and something a writer really needs to understand.  Many an agent or editor has bemoaned the "mystery/romance/SF/historical/adventure" manuscripts they end up getting.  And sometimes it is difficult to narrow it down.  If you have a classical romance story, with classical romance characters and plotting- you're pretty safe in knowing you have a Romance.
But there are books that subtly combine genres. Sort of like a Reece's Cup, they take elements of two genres (don't really know if more than two would work- never seen one, but you never know!) and combine them into something stronger.
Now, the traditional publishing world sometimes is ok with this as long as it's clear that one element is dominant (the chocolate let's say) and they know which side of the bookstore to go in.  They will label that book in that genre and package it accordingly.
But what of those folks from the other genre (the peanut butters)who might really want a nice mixed genre book.
Here's where going Indie has an advantage- Indies can promote in both.  Example- SF/Romance.  An author may be in the SF section (Linnea Sinclair is a great example) BUT not only would SF fans like her books, but some romance fans might as well.  However, they may not realize such a hybrid exists since they don't go to THAT (aka SF/F) side of the bookstore.
But an Indie can market it under both.
Which is very cool.  But also, after years of hearing "one genre only!" from the traditional publishing world, a bit scary.
I write fantasy, space opera, and steampunk with romantic elements. What that last part means is that while my books wouldn't live in the romance isle, they all have romantic sub-plots that are really essential to the books.  All of them.
I work character first- meaning, the people pop in my head then I start figuring out the story and how I can screw up my people.  And couples are always there.
I love reading books like that- the ones with a great plot, fun adventure, awesome characters and romance. But, as I approach next year, and the launching of my fantasy with romantic elements series, I start to wonder if crossing the genres is going to work.  Well, I'll keep writing them- but will others buy them?  Love some peanut butter in their chocolate?  I sure hope so.
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