Archive for March, 2014

The End of ROW80 and Moving Forward

Well, ROW80 round 1 ended yesterday. And I believe Round 2 starts April 7th and runs through the end of June.

As we’ve previously discussed, I set a goal of 50K on my current writing project, the third book of a high fantasy trilogy. And I managed my 50K at a rather reasonable time on Tuesday evening, so that was lovely. Didn’t have to panic about it or anything. That leaves me probably around 26K to go in the draft (the document’s sitting at just over 74K now).

Having now completed ROW80, I’ve got to say I enjoyed it quite a bit. It doesn’t have the frenetic energy that Nano has, but it worked well with the level of responsibility and work I currently have in my life. And I feel very accomplished. Plus, I enjoy the check-in system, and it was nice to occasionally get visits here at ye olde blogge from other people participating in the challenge.

That being said, I’m going to sit round 2 out. One of the things that I’ve learned from many, many years of writing challenges is that it’s not worth it to stuff one into your schedule just because of the principle of the thing. It stresses you out and makes you unhappy, and why do that to yourself?

I’ve only got 26K left in the book (or somewhere around there unless it blows up unexpectedly here). That’s not enough for 80 days, and I don’t like to do multiple projects during one challenge because 1) it becomes increasingly difficult to keep track of your progress and tell if you’re on track, and 2) experience tells me that, if I finish something, I tend to take a break rather than move on to the next thing.

Plus, my husband and I are taking a trip in that timeframe (to Japan! ūüėÄ ) and that just adds another kink.

So, I’ve signed up for Camp Nanowrimo instead. I’m not a huge fan of camp; I’m not wild about their cabin system, especially because this year they’ve made the cabins enormous. But it will probably help keep me on track for what I want to accomplish.

Once I finish this draft, it’s off to the betas and I probably won’t touch it for several months. I figure I’ll jump into editing a YA paranormal novel of mine, and can probably use that for Round 3, depending on my progress there. (Round 3 I assume goes sometime from early July through the end of September.)

Did you do ROW80, Squiders? How’d it go? Jumping in for round 2 or Camp? What are you working on, and how is it going?

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Happy Release Day for The Shadow Prince!

Hey, squiders! I’m pleased to help celebrate the release of Stacey O’Neale’s new book, The Shadow Prince. Not only does it sound like fantasy after my own heart, but you can read it for FREE. So have at it!

Available for FREE on Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Also available in PRINT from Amazon

Shadow Prince coverEvery sacrifice has consequences.

Sixteen-year-old Rowan has spent most of his life living among the mortals‚ÄĒlearning 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?

(There’s a rafflecopter giveaway as well, but the blog keeps eating it. You can see it at Kit Campbell Books here.)

Stacey O’Neale lives in Annapolis, Maryland. When she’s not writing, she spends her time fangirling over books, blogging, watching fantasy¬† television shows, cheering for the Baltimore Ravens, and hanging out with her husband and daughter.

Her career in publishing started as a blogger-turned-publicist for two successful small publishers. Stacey writes young adult paranormal romance and adult science fiction romance. Her books always include swoon-worthy heroes, snarky heroines, and lots of kissing.

Stacey loves hearing from readers. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and GoodReads. You can also visit her blog at http://staceyoneale.com/.

Reading’s Influence on Writing Style

Have you ever noticed that sometimes reading or watching something changes the way you talk or write? For me, I can’t help but notice that every time I sit down to write after watching Doctor Who that some British phrasing tries to slip its way in. It’s not the slang or the vocabulary differences, no, but the way the British phrase things is just slightly different than the way Americans phrase things, and this is what I notice trying to slip in.

(Once, as a teenager, I typed for three hours in pseudo-Shakespearean on the internet. When I got off for the night, I found I couldn’t stop and was doing it in real life as well. My mother thought I’d gone mad. I figured it was just best to go to bed and hope it wore off overnight.)

(Which, obviously it did, or this blog would be much more of a chore to read.)

(Verily.)

I’m kind of a horrible sink for this sort of thing. If immersed in an accent/dialect I pick it up almost immediately. My family can sometimes tell what I’ve been reading lately based purely on speech patterns. One time, at Space Camp, the entire group managed to pick up a Mississippian accent that became especially pronounced during periods of stress. (Admittedly, nothing is funnier than a Pakistani kid with a sudden Southern accent. Oh man.)

Voice is a very important thing for writers. It’s something that defines not only your story but you as an author. I’ve been doing this madness for long enough that I can tell when I’m messing up my own voice (say, with British phraseology), but I also sometimes find it fun to try on other voices and styles for size. It’s a neat exercise, especially for short stories.

Because I’m a sink, I only have to immerse myself in a style or voice I want to copy for a short while. If you’re a writer, you might give it a try as well. Not only is it an interesting exercise from a voice/style standpoint, but it can reveal things about your writing and your thought process that aren’t immediately apparent from your normal procedures.

Anything that gives you a better understanding of yourself as a writer and the craft in general can’t be bad, right?

What about you, Squiders? Do you find yourself changing your speech/writing patterns after being exposed to others? Is there something specifically that gets you every time? (Austen and early 18th century novels in general are a weakness of mine, voice-wise.) Have any fun voice/style-related exercises to share with the class?

Pi Day, What’s In a Name, and a ROW80 check-in

Happy Pi Day, squiders! As an ex-engineer, it is one of my favorite random math holidays. (I am also fond of Talk Like a Pirate day. Less math-related, though. But with more parrots.)

As you guys know, I’m working on the first draft of the third book of a high fantasy trilogy. I did most of my worldbuilding and planning a long time ago, and have the years have passed, it’s become apparent that some names will not work. Some character names are too similar to each other, and some worldbuilding elements will need to have their names changed as well.

The most apparent example of the latter are a type of tree I made up for the story, which I named Tinyurl trees. This was way before tiny URLs became a thing, but of course, now I run into trouble. I’m pretty sure every beta I’ve ever had has pointed it out at least once.

The thing is, I know these things are are issues. I’ve known for a long time. But I also know that if I stop now and change things, when I’m still technically in the middle of the story, that I will only confuse myself. I’ll either forget what I changed things to and change them multiple times, or I’ll change them and then forget and go back to the original, or an assortment of other combinations of issues.

So instead I’ve started a list. And on said list is every character whose name is too close to another’s, and every worldbuilding element whose name is confusing, and also every character that is missing a last name at the moment. (I have a couple characters that I didn’t originally think would be important enough to warrant last names, but alas, I was wrong.)

And when I finish this draft, I’ll go through and make changes in a nice, organized manner.

As for ROW80, I’m mostly caught up, finally. I have run into a bit of an issue where I need to do some major outlining before I go on–and probably outline until the end of the story. Hopefully that won’t take too long.

I’m a little lost about whether or not I should sign up for the next round of ROW80 or not. I’ll only have about 25K left in my story, which won’t take the whole time, and I’m worried that if I try to do multiple projects I won’t be able to keep track of what I’m doing on each in a manner that will allow me to judge my progress.

Nano has camp going in April, which might work better, though I don’t know if I can manage 25K in a month. In the old days, before I had children, sure, wouldn’t be a problem. But now? Who knows? Maybe I should do it anyway, just to see how it goes.

What are you up to, Squiders? Can you change names in the middle of a draft and not confuse yourself? (Do you remember to go back and fix things before you let people read it?) Any writing plans for April and beyond?

Writing Process Blog Hop

I like you people. Sometimes you make blogging really easy. (Which is sometimes necessary, because you occasionally have days where you’re crockpotting dinner and it’s been in there for two hours before you realize you never turned the crockpot on.)

(Sigh.)

Siri Paulson has tagged me in a writing blog hop that’s making the rounds. There’s four questions to be answered, and then you tag three other writers at the end of the post to answer the same questions. (Be the way, feel free to tag yourself if you’d like. I admit I’m somewhat terrible at knowing who reads my blog on a regular basis. It goes EVERYWHERE.)

Anyway, on to the show. Questions are about writing process and so forth.

1. What am I working on?

I’m writing the first draft of the third book of a high fantasy trilogy. I have been working on this trilogy for a full half my life which is, quite frankly, a little ridiculous. I hope to have the first book ready to go out in search of an agent/publisher by the end of the year, but I think that’s probably wishful thinking. After I finish the third book here, I want to do a round with betas (I’m hoping to get a few to do just the third book, and a few to do all three) and then I’ll need to do an entire edit on the first book. (Well, and the other two eventually. But probably not before the first book goes out.)

I’m also continuing the very slow work on my serial science fiction, which I have been working on for something insane, like three or four years. This is what happens when you write a scene a month. I think it’s somewhere between 40 and 50K, word count-wise. It will never be finished.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is an interesting question because I tend to write all over the place (mostly high and urban fantasy, but also occasionally science fiction, paranormal, and horror). I also think it’s a little too broad. I mean, I can tell you why a specific work is different from its contemporaries, but how my overall body of work differs? Yeah.

I mostly write in what is now being called the “New Adult” age range, which is aimed at people between the ages of 18 and 25 or so. There’s not a lot of “typical” NA books because the categorization is so new. So I don’t really have a lot to say here.

But to go back to the question at hand, if we take my fantasy trilogy, it’s different because while there are humans in this world, my main characters are not human. And my serial science fiction is what I’ve taken to calling “stealth” science fiction, because the science fiction elements, while foreshadowed throughout the entire story, don’t really become apparent until about halfway.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write stories because I want to know what happens. And I write speculative fiction because, I’m sorry, I get enough real life most of the time, and I don’t need it in my entertainment as well. Also, if I want to have venomous wolves in my fantasy, nobody’s going to tell me no, dangit.

4. How does my writing process work?

I am a terrible person and change my process all the time. I feel like each story needs different types of preparation, and different amounts of it, so I’m kind of all over the place during the writing stage. Sometimes I outline from the beginning, sometimes I outline from the middle. Sometimes I do research. Sometimes I do worldbuilding.

Editing is a more standard process that requires a lot of left-brained work right at the beginning, where I look at character arcs, plot, setting, worldbuilding, etc., identify what’s wrong with each, what needs to be changed, and outline the heck out of the story.¬† And then I go back and essentially rewrite half the book, cuz that’s how I roll.

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Smashwords’ Read an eBook Week and Free eBooks (and a ROW80 check-in)

So, last week, Smashwords sent out an email to all its minions to let them know that this week was going to be Read an eBook week, and that we could discount our books and join in if we wanted to.

(As an aside, we at Turtleduck Press make great use of Smashwords. They distribute to almost every ebook retailer, which a lot easier on logistics if you are an independent author or small press. If you’re self- or indie-pubbed and not on Smashwords, you should get on it.)

And there never seems to be any reason not to play in specials, so I signed both Shards and Hidden Worlds up. You can discount the books by 25, 50, 0r 75%, or go hog wild and go all the way to free.

Which is what I did.

I figured what the hell, it’s only for a week, and I have heard interesting things about offering your books for free, though admittedly usually related to Amazon.

It’s been interesting thus far. The promotion started on Sunday, but didn’t sign up until Monday night because I cannot get my crap together this week. (Also I forgot about it until I was cleaning out my inbox.) Shards is “selling” pretty well, a copy every hour or so (and someone “bought” one and seven gift copies, which is somewhat fascinating to me). Hidden Worlds is “selling” pretty well too (although on a 1 to 5 basis with Shards), which I find a interesting, as it’s older and in a niche subgenre.

But it will be interesting to see what happens in the long run. My husband rightly points out that people are probably going through and binge-buying any free book that looks interesting. In the end, it make take forever for these people to get around to reading my books, if they ever do. (I am the poster child for downloading free books and then forgetting to read them.) From a marketing standpoint, anything you can do to get your book in front of more readers is a good thing, but if those readers never get to it, does it still count?

Also, my husband and I have a bit of an argument going, and I’d like your input. Do you think people judge free books harsher because they didn’t have to pony anything up to get their hands on said book? Or do you think people judge free books more leniently (…because they didn’t have to pony anything up to get it)?

As for ROW80, I have fallen into a pit and am about a week behind on word count. This is related to the fact that I’m drowning in freelance work. I’ve found that my writing stuff has fallen by the wayside, unfortunately, because everything else has to be done and the writing technically does not. It is a sad state of affairs, but I hold out hope that I shall climb back out before the challenge is over later this month.

Foundation Trilogy Readalong: Foundation

First of all, I’m sorry this is a little later than I said it would be. From here on out, we should be good with a book a month. (Especially because the books are a nice, reasonable length, and fairly readable.)

So!¬†Foundation¬†is the first Asimov book I’ve probably read in at least 10 years, but there is a reason why Asimov is my favorite of the “classic” science fiction authors. To be honest, I’m not sure why I haven’t read the trilogy before, because I went through a definite Asimov phase as a teenager. I even read his collection of fantasy short stories. I don’t recommend that one.

But, onto the book. I really liked it, Squiders. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t read any decent science fiction lately, or if it’s just because Asimov and I get on, or if it was just awesome, or some combination of the three, but I enjoyed the experience.

I’d say stop here if you don’t want to be spoiled, but I really think that, after 50 years, you don’t get a warning anymore.

I also thought it was interesting how the book was set up, with the time jumps. I mean, I guess I should have expected them, because I’ve read things like¬†I, Robot¬†and¬†Bicentennial Man, but I honestly went into the trilogy having absolutely no idea what the books were about. Apparently the parts of the trilogy were originally a series of short stories, so it makes sense in retrospect.

Also, Asimov has always been quite good at developing characters in a short period of time. A lot of older scifi is so focused on plot and science that the characters become unimportant, but that’s not Asimov. So, you know, even though you only get characters for 75 pages, you remember them and understand them.

I wonder how it went when he was writing the stories. Did he just start with the one and thought he was done? Or did he lay out all thousand years (and beyond) from the beginning, expecting to slowly dole out the stories as the urge hit him? I almost feel like it might be the first, that he had the first idea, with the psychohistory and Hari Seldon and the founding of the Foundation, because the tone of that part of the story read a little different than the rest.

But it’s rather ingenious, really, how one thing flows into the next, from the intellectual, to the religious, to the capitalist. (Though I admit I was a little skeptical about how quickly and fanatically the religion set in. But not enough to really care about it.) I’m interested to see where we go from here in the next book. After all, we’re only 150 years into the Foundation, and we’ve only had three Seldon crises.

Have you read¬†Foundation, Squiders? What did you think? What’s your favorite Asimov story, or who’s your favorite “classic” scifi author?

We’ll discuss¬†Foundation and Empire¬†on April 8.