Archive for February, 2014

Local Author Showcase Afterthoughts

So, I know we were going to do Foundation today, but I’m delaying that because when I was looking for information last week, I found a fat lot of nothing, and there are probably other authors out there with similar question.

So, on Saturday, I participated in a Local Author Showcase hosted by my local library district. There were four of us, and we were each offered ten minutes to talk, and after the talking, there would be a book sale and signing. It was my first time doing any sort of author talk, and so I took to the internet for advice.

Author Showcase

Nada.

If I were selling some sort of motivational book, there’s resources for that. If I was just sitting behind a table while people browsed, resources for that too. But there wasn’t anything I could find for when you were one of a set of authors and had only a few minutes to yourself.

So, in the interest of helping my fellow authors, here’s how I spent my ten minutes:

  • Short introduction of myself
  • Short introduction of Shards (genre, publisher, publication date)
  • Short Shards synopsis
  • Intro for reading
  • Reading (Beginning of chapter 5, for curious people)
  • Short note of interesting things about Shards (mostly mythology related)
  • Wrap-up
  • Questions

The majority of the time was spent on the reading (which took about 5 minutes). The other authors had similar set-ups, though they varied a bit. (For example, the nonfiction author talked a bit about where he got his materials, and the historical fiction author talked about why she had chosen that particular time period.)

The audience was fairly engaged, which is to be expected, I would think, of people who are willing to spend their Saturday afternoon listening to authors talk, and they asked a lot of questions, such as things like inspirational books and movies, writing process, submissions and querying, and why the author picked the viewpoint they did.

I practiced both the reading and the non-reading parts before hand, and printed out a sheet of notes to help keep me on track. It was basically a list of bullet points, with some being more explicit than others (for example, my intro essentially said “intro” whereas I wrote my summary out word for word.)

For the sale and booksigning, I brought a couple of nice pens (I sell autographed copies through the website, so I already have special booksigning pens), a bit of cardstock to make sure the pen didn’t bleed through the title page, and a display stand. I also set up a credit card reader on my phone (through my Paypal account) and programmed in the price of the book. About half of the people paid with cash, but the others seemed pleased to have the credit card option.

Plus I had Shards bookmarks, and business cards for both my writing and my editing business.

Overall, it went quite well, and our librarians were so excited about the whole thing, and very enthusiastic about the books. Plus, Shards was sitting front and center in the new book section.

Shards at the library

 So hopefully that’s useful to someone. The library showcase was a good first talking experience–people who were interested and excited, not a huge amount of people, and good exposure to people who write other genres. If your local library offers one, I recommend participating.

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The Progression of Playlists

While we’re on writing processes this week, I’ve run into an interesting issue with my playlist for my current project. (We’ve talked about story playlists before, but to sum up, I tend to make playlists for each story project with songs that fit based off lyrics, tone, and whatever floats my boat at the moment.)

I’ve had a playlist for the trilogy forever, with songs that reflect different points of all three books, and some that are reflective of characters. Occasionally I add songs, but I’ve never taken a song off.

But now, when I’m working on the third book, the playlist suddenly isn’t working. It turns out that, while listening to book three songs while working on books one and two worked just fine, I can’t listen to books one and two songs while writing book three.

On one hand, I guess it’s good that the books have gone through enough of a progression that the songs don’t work, but on the other, I don’t have enough book three-specific songs to keep me going for more than about twenty minutes.

Writing a trilogy is a bit like writing a longer novel. The points that you hit in a novel–the initiating point, the turning point, the dark moment, the climax–all happen in a trilogy as well, just on a bigger basis. (Well, and each individual novel still needs to hit them too.) So I guess it makes sense that, while a single playlist might work all the way through a single novel, it might not work for a trilogy.

But, for now, I’m going to need to spend some time trolling the airwaves. Anybody have any artists to recommend?

The Downside of Plotting (and a ROW80 check-in)

Well, Squiders, I’ve been working on the third book of a high fantasy trilogy recently (passed 50K this past week, hooray!). I’ve been working on this trilogy on and off for a lot longer than I like to own up to, and it’s very exciting to finally be working on the conclusion, and to finally get to write some scenes that I planned out forever years ago.

One thing that’s been planned forever is a certain character’s death. There’s plenty of reasons to kill this character off, in terms of characterization, plot, punching the readers right in the feels, etc.

And I’ve reached that point, that bullet point in the outline.

And it is not working.

I can’t quite figure out the scene in such a way to make it the poor guy eat it.

So I’m stuck in a bit of a dilemma. I could just let him live, but then I need to find another catalyst for a rather major plot point. I could kill him anyway, but I know that’ll feel forced, and since I hate “because the author says so” plot points, that’s not really a winning idea.

A third option would be to bring my big bad into the confrontation. That would definitely take care of the killing, but it would also make it so I have to re-plot the entire rest of the book.

The problem here is that I can’t tell what’s more important–killing this character? Keeping my big bad out of it for now? And I probably won’t be able to tell until I’m done with the book and can look at it objectively from an editing standpoint.

I keep telling myself that this is why God invented first drafts.

Doesn’t really help with the actual writing, though.

As for ROW80, we’re what, just about halfway? And I’m actually about a week ahead at the moment, which is brilliant, because I’m behind on some other things and because I have a booksigning on Saturday that I need to prepare for. (Anyone ever do a booksigning? I get a few minutes intro before hand and I have no idea what I should talk about.) Halfway on ROW80, halfway on the book–it’s all lovely.

(And, randomly, for those of you who are interested in my Doctor Who binge-watching, I finished Season 4 and the specials with Ten last weekend, and am now poised to dive into Eleven whenever I have free time/the inclination again.)

Adaptations, Expansions, and Twists

Just FYI, I’m delaying the discussion on the first Foundation Trilogy book a week, so we’ll discuss on Feb 25 instead of the 18th.

So, over at Turtleduck Press this week, I posted about a conversation with my mother and how it’s interesting who can read stories based off of other stories, and what sort of changes authors can make before it annoys someone, and how everyone’s annoyances are different. (I, apparently, don’t like people to touch my 19th-century women-written literature, for example.) And I also talked about the ways people can change or expand on those stories, and how different people have different preferences in regards to that too.

And I got a comment asking about so of my favorite book-to-book adaptations, and instead of writing a giant comment over there, I thought I’d share with everyone over here. My brain is admittedly a little fried, so I’m also going to list some non-book adaptations that I’ve enjoyed.

Books

Redshirts by John Scalzi – This is technically a TV-to-book adaptation, I guess. It’s not Star Trek, but it’s also not not Star Trek. Redshirts is a very interesting look at the structure of fiction and what the background characters go through. It gets a little overtly meta in places, but it’s definitely worth a read.

Ironskin by Tina Connolly – Ironskin is a retelling of Jane Eyre set in a universe with a very interesting magical system and background. It is, at times, a bit obvious about its source material, but it’s worth it for the worldbuilding.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer – I haven’t gotten a chance to finish this yet, but it is essentially Cinderella. With cyborgs.

Other Media

Namesake – Namesake is a beautiful comic with an awesome and very intriguing storyline. While it kind of co-opts a number of stories (including the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, etc.), thus far it’s really only delved into the Wizard of Oz in any great detail, and, unlike a lot of Wizard of Oz adaptations, it utilizes the events and characters in the entire series. There’s also been a bit of expansion into the Alice in Wonderland universe, and I gotta say, the Cheshire cats (yes, plural) are my very favorite.

Hook – Yes, the mid-90s movie with Robin Williams and Dennis Hoffman. For those who are unfamiliar, the movie takes place after Peter Pan has left Neverland and grown up. It may be because I was the right age at the right time, but I love this movie a lot.

Lost in Austen – This is a BBC miniseries about a modern girl who switches places with Elizabeth Bennet and manages to almost single-handedly ruin the entire narrative. This admittedly gets dangerously close to my don’t-mess-with-my-19th-century-women-written-literature issue, but it’s so brilliant in places that I have gotten around that.

Tin Man – SyFy’s version of a modern day Wizard of Oz has a nice added sibling storyline and a lot of fun almost steampunk aspects to it. Plus the cast is ace. I would listen to Alan Cummings read the phone book.

Epic Mickey – A Wii game that came out a while ago, Epic Mickey is based on the concept that everything Disney has gone horrifically wrong. There’s a shadowy Magic Kingdom and dark versions of classic songs. And it’s nice to see Disney twist its own standard fare. It’s got an interesting gameplay method as well, if such things are your cup of tea.

And then there are, of course, things like Sherlock and Sleepy Hollow and many more television shows that I am not going to list.

I can’t seem to think of any true extensions–prequels, sequels, or the same story from an alternate point of view–that I liked off the top of my head. Can you think of any, Squiders? I certainly have some on my list to read–a couple of P&P related novels about other characters, and a Sherlock Holmes story called The Seven Percent Solution.

Shadow Prince Cover Reveal and Miscellany

I love my miscellany, Squiders. I’m sorry, I can’t help it.

I’m wearing brown Converses today, and every time I look at my feet, I, for some reason, think I’m a Time Lord. Very strange.

Anyway, I apologize because the posts this week (and possibly next week) are going to be a little off-topic because I, in my infinite wisdom, picked up too much freelance work and, while I am getting paid handsomely, I may explode. So this cover reveal has lovely timing.

Now, if you’ve been with me for awhile, Squiders, you know that I like science fiction and fantasy. And so, when I read the blurb for this book, I thought it sounded pretty cool, and agreed to be part of the cover reveal. And, in terms of stress levels, this is lovely, because they have written a post for me and I just have to post it in.

So, anyway, enjoy.

Shadow Prince cover

This prequel novella will be FREE and available on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble on March 25, 2014!

Every sacrifice has consequences.

Sixteen-year-old Rowan has spent most of his life living among the mortals—learning to control the element of fire, impatiently awaiting the day his vengeful mother, Queen Prisma, will abdicate her throne. When he finally returns to Avalon for his coronation, his mother insists he must first prove his loyalty to the court by completing a secret mission:

Kill Kalin, the half-human, half-elemental daughter of the air court king.

Willing to do anything to remove his mother from power, he agrees to sacrifice the halfling. He returns to the mortal world with his best friend, Marcus, determined to kill the princess. But as he devises a plan, he starts to question whether or not he’s capable of completing such a heinous task. And what price he will pay if he refuses?

Add to Goodreads.

Stacey O’Neale started her career in publishing as a blogger turned publicist for two successful small publishers. She loves to write stories with swoony paranormal heroes, snarky heroines, and lots of kissing.

When she’s not writing, she loves blogging and fangirling about books on twitter. Occasionally, she leaves her computer to go outside.

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Working Toward Improvement

It’s been one of those weeks, Squiders. I suspect all creative types have them every now and then, the ones where you wonder who you’re kidding. The ones where you wonder why you bother. The ones where you consider giving up said creative activity and becoming a hermit who lives in a cave, spouting vague and incomprehensible advice to all who venture too close.

It’s really hard to get anything done when I’m in a funk. Write? What’s the point, no one will buy it. Edit? What’s the point, no one likes what I write anyway. Blog? What’s the point, no one is getting any insight out of anything.

Even reading’s been sucked in, as I ponder how much better the rest of the world writes, or, alternatively, how some of this drivel gets published, blah blah blah.

It’s depressing. I don’t even want to be around myself.

What I find helps is doing something proactive toward bettering my skills. If I’m not happy with where I am, then do something about it.

I’m considering two options for my current funk. One is applying to one of those writing workshops, where you and however many other writers hole up somewhere for a week or such and people tell you what you’re doing wrong and how to improve your writing. (My inner critic likes to jump in at this point and say, “Yes, but that’s assuming they even accept you and your crap writing.”) The other is a flash fiction course being offered by a woman that I have taken other writing courses from. I am not so great at flash (which is generally described as stories under 1000 words, though it varies by publication)–I’ve only become decent at short stories in the last few years–so maybe giving it a try will help.

What about you, Squiders? What helps when you’re in a self-depreciating funk? And do you have any recommendations to help me get out of mine?

Point of View

Ah, point of view. So essential and yet, sometimes so hard. As a quick recap, point of view determines who is telling the story and how close the reader (or watcher, as movies/TV shows/etc. also have PoV) is to said character. Related is tense, such as present or past tense. So stories generally have a PoV (or multiple) and a tense, and these tend to be consistent throughout.

PoV is loosely divided up into third person (they, he, she), second person (you), or first person (I, me). Third is further divided up into close/limited third or omniscient third, depending on whether the story still stays close to a single character or is more like someone is observing the whole thing from on high.

(Omniscient third is very hard to do correctly, because if you get too close to a character, and then get too close to a different character in a short period of time, it’s extremely jarring to the reader.)

Now, me, I typically write limited third past tense. It’s what I like to read, and it makes the most sense in my brain. I do occasionally write first person, or present tense, if a project works better that way (short stories, anyway), but for all intents and purposes I write limited third, and limited third is my default.

So you can imagine my surprise when I had a writing session last week on the high fantasy story I’ve been working on, and my brain desperately wanted everything to be in present tense. 35K into the book. And it was, for some reason, really hard to not write in present tense. (I read back through the next day and found a few instances where apparently my brain won.)

It was, even more strangely, just one of my PoV characters that wanted to be in present tense.

(Aside from your type of PoV, you can also have multiple PoVs–not at the same time. I’m reading a book right now with two, one of whom is in third person and one of whom is in first person. I read a book once that had a ton of PoVs–eight, maybe?–and they were all limited third past, except for two of them, who were first person present. But normally all your PoVs are the same PoV type. I typically have two or three viewpoint characters per book.)

Let’s review.

  • Point of view determines whose eyes we’re seeing the world through, and how intimate we are with that character
  • Tense determines what time frame things are happening in (past, present, future)
  • You can typically only have one viewpoint at a time
  • You can have multiple viewpoints in the same story, and they don’t necessarily have to be the same
  • My brain is a strange and unfathomable place

What’s your PoV/tense of choice, Squiders (for reading or writing)? Any stories you can think of off the top of your head that do really lovely things with PoV (or tense)?