Archive for August, 2019

Sample Covers Continued

So, I got a lot of feedback on the covers, and none of it was consistent, aha.

(I am aware I posted yesterday. Shhhhh.)

So I made covers for the first three books so I (and everybody else) had a better idea of what they’d look like as a series, and here’s what I have now:

But I also realized that I wasn’t 100% on the titles for the first two books. Which do you like better:

  • How to Find Story Ideas
  • An Easy Guide to Finding Story Ideas

And:

  • How to Outline
  • An Easy Guide to Outlining

I unfortunately was not consistent in my titling when I was doing the revisions, so most of the books are one or the other (Easy Guide goes with Story Ideas, Outlining, and Working on Multiple Projects, How to goes with Consistency, just plain Guide goes with Submission and Publication, and then Common Writing Mistakes and Writing Around Life are just off on their own anyway). I should probably pick on or the other.

I like “How to” cuz it’s straight and to the point (and probably what someone will type into the search bar). But I also like “Easy Guide” because it implies that these are easy, short reads (which they are, except for the submission book which is a monster) so people know what they’re getting.

Minutiae, gets you every time.

Anyway, I’d love your feedback!

Playing With Covers

Howdy, squiders, how’s it hanging?

I’ve been fairly productive, all things considered, mostly on the nonfiction front. I have my second SkillShare class ready for filming (yes, even the PowerPoint slides part), and I spent some time today doing research on nonfiction book covers (specifically writing how to books) and then making some.

I’d thought I’d show you guys the covers and see which ones you like (if any) or what elements are working. The idea is that I’d use the same template for the entire series, switching out titles, subtitles, and images as appropriate. Oh, and colors.

Anyway, what do you guys think? My spacial acuity isn’t the best, so I need all the feedback I can get.

How are you guys doing? Any big news on your end?

The Internet Marches Ever Onward

I’m putting together a cosplay, squiders.

It’s been a while. The last time I cosplayed was when I dressed up as Amy Pond from Doctor Who for Denver Comic-con back in 2014. That was just a closet cosplay (meaning I just wore clothes I already owned) so it didn’t take a lot of work.

(It also didn’t work particularly well on its own. One person recognized me the entire day, and she was dressed as River Song. One friend I ran into thought I was Mary Jane from Spider-Man which, fair. What’s one redhead in normal-ish clothes from another?)

The last cosplay where I actually made costume pieces and whatnot was when I did Agatha Heterodyne from Girl Genius for WonderCon back in 2010.

But before that, I was a big cosplayer. I’ve been that person who’s spent a couple hundred dollars and six months of their lives on a single costume. I’ve made props, armor, shoes. I’ve styled wigs (though not well, ahahahaha). I’ve made my own patterns. I’ve embroidered and appliqued.

That was before, though, when I was still employed and childless. And, to be honest, I haven’t really had the inclination to recently either.

But anyway, I was kind of remotely thinking about cosplaying, and then a friend said, “Hey, that sounds fun, I’ll do this other character,” so now I am definitely cosplaying and have the main part of the costume put together.

But it has been a while, and this costume makes use of something I’ve not done before, and that’s FX contact lens. These are contacts designed to make your eyes look inhuman in some way, either by changing the shape of the pupil, or being a weird color, etc.

(These are otherwise normal in size/shape. The whole eyeball kind are called “scleral contacts” and are apparently very uncomfortable.)

I am extremely nearsighted, so I will need prescription lens, of which there is a very limited supply, boo. But I thought I’d go to my old cosplay hangout and check out the forums to see if people knew other alternatives I might have missed.

The hangout in question is cosplay.com, which is a lovely website that not only has a forum, but allows you to keep track of and display your costumes.

Or, it did.

Admittedly, it’s been a while, and I haven’t been on the site much except to show pictures of costumes to various people every now and then. So I was very surprised to find they’re in the middle of revamping the entire thing, and half my costumes and most of the forums are MIA.

(It doesn’t help that it seems like it’s been revamping for several months.)

Have you ever had that happen? You go back to some place you used to hang out at all the time to find everything has changed?

Anyway, I’m out of the loop and looking for a good cosplay community to hang in, if you know one. Otherwise, I suppose I’ll flounder about and do the best I can.

(Alternately if you know stuff about prescription FX contacts, hit me up.)

How’s your Tuesday, squiders?

Library Book Sale Finds: Barbary by Vonda N. McIntyre

Good morning, squiders! I finally stopped checking a million books out from the library, so I’m getting back to reading books I actually own.

And, as such, I dug into my big pile of library book sale books from a few summers back and picked out a book.

(It was on the top of the pile. That was the deciding factor.)

Vonda N. McIntyre (the usage of the middle initial in her author name interests me, since her first name is fairly unique. Maybe it was to match the convention of other scifi authors at the time?) I’ve read before. (Oh no, I just Googled her, and she died in April. Rest in peace.) She wrote some Star Trek novels, which is where I know her from. Most notably (for me, probably not for other people, since she also wrote the movie novelizations for Star Treks 2 through 4) she wrote Enterprise: The First Adventure, which I picked up because it sounded like total crack–for its very first mission, the Enterprise has to transport a space circus, complete with flying horse–but it was actually really well done.

She also won a Hugo in 1979 for Dreamsnake, which I’ve not read, but sounds cool. And another Hugo in 1998 for The Moon and the Sun.

There’s some spoilers in the discussion, because unfortunately I can’t really discuss the plot without revealing something that the book keeps secret for the first few chapters.

Title: Barbary
Author: Vonda N. McIntyre
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication Year: 1986

Pros: Quick, easy read; includes a cat and aliens
Cons: Ends a little abruptly

We meet Barbary (a 12-year-old girl) waiting, on Earth, yet again, as she attempts to get a shuttle to a space station to meet her foster family. (She keeps getting bumped off for more important people.) Barbary doesn’t really read like a 12-year-old most of the time–I’d put her a little older, maybe 14 or 15–but I suppose the argument could be made that she’s had to mature a little faster due to being in the foster care system for so long. (There is a point, later in the book, where her new foster father, a friend of her mother’s, is upset about something, and Barbary fully expects him to hit her, because that’s what she’s used to, which is heartbreaking.)

Adding to the complication of getting off Earth is that Barbary is smuggling her pet cat, Mickey, with her. Mickey, or Mick as Barbary normally refers to him, is a major motivation for her as well as a plot driver, and directly contributes to the climax of the story.

Once Barbary manages to catch a shuttle and get off Earth, she learns that there’s an alien ship approaching Earth, which is why it’s been so hard to get off-world (all the politicians and so forth keep taking priority). It’s on a course to the station Barbary will be living on.

This was a quick, easy read, one that was enjoyable. There’s not a lot of depth to the plot, but that’s fine. Barbary is a fine viewpoint character, mostly concerned with the wellbeing of the people/animal close to her and making sure she doesn’t get sent back to Earth (though the wellbeing does trump that). The alien ship is important but in the background for most of the story, which makes sense since, as a child, Barbary is more interested in things closer to home. There’s some nice, logical discussion about moving and living in space, and the technology predictions (we’ve talked before how older scifi tends to be good at predicting societal trends and bad at predicting technological trends, or vice versa) are not particularly jarring.

I’d recommend it overall. And if you haven’t read anything by Vonda McIntyre, you probably should.

Read anything by Ms. McIntyre, squiders? Read Barbary?

Decisions, Decisions

Good morning, squiders!

If you’ll remember, in February I finished up my serial scifi story in one of my writing communities, a story I started in January of 2009 and hence had been working on for 10 years.

(I really should back it up in a word document and see what the final word count is. I’d bet it’s about 70K or so.)

I don’t think I’ll do anything with the story–it kind of feels like I’ve spent enough of my life on it already, and I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily worth the time to revise and so forth to try and publish it.

Plus it wasn’t my favorite story idea to begin with. I just felt like I needed something, a story I could work on periodically for said writing community (you’re supposed to post at least once a month), and so I put it together off a weird dream I had once.

I requested a few months off after the completion of the story, which I was readily given, but it’s now six months later and I find myself at a crossroads.

A couple, actually.

The first one is: do I want to stay in this community?

It’s a LJ writing prompt community that I joined back in 2006. In 2006 I joined a lot of different writing communities–I was fresh out of college and living in a new state where I knew no one except my significant other, and I found myself falling into a depressive spiral. So I threw myself into writing as a coping mechanism, which worked pretty well, all things considered. I made a lot of friends, many of whom I still talk to today, and it’s really the point where writing went from a hobby to a more serious pursuit.

And the community has generally been great. The other writers are talented, so it’s nice to read their stuff, and the feedback and encouragement I’ve gotten over the years. And it has been a good way to ensure I’m writing somewhat regularly, especially if life has been otherwise problematic.

But is it still helping me meet my goals? Would it be better to use the time I spend every month on something else?

The community has quieted down lately, too, with only a half dozen people actively posting, if that.

The second question is: if I stay in the community, what do I write?

Do I start another novel-length serial story, posting 600-1500 words a month for the next ten years? Do I actually rely on the prompts and write little drabbles and shorts that I may or may not want to do something with? (That’s what I did for the first few years. There’s some I like, but not enough to do anything with.)

Do I use it like the RaTs system on WriYe and focus on writing drabbles in universes that already exist?

Do I go for a serial, but something shorter, something designed to only last a year or so?

I’m not sure. Nothing’s jumping out at me. But I feel like I’m reaching a point where the decision needs to be made.

Thoughts, squiders?

Foundational Books: Harry Potter Series

Happy Friday, squiders! This week we’re going to talk about the Harry Potter series. Like LOTR, this is perhaps a bit obvious, but hey, it’s still true.

(We’ve discussed Harry Potter here before–I think the first readalong we ever did was HP. Waaaaaay back in 2011. First post for that is here. We had discussion questions back then.)

I am not one of those people who grew up with Harry. I came into the series a few months before Goblet of Fire came out (so 2000) when I was 17. My mom (an middle school English teacher) passed the first three books along and the rest, as they say, is history.

But HP is perhaps more foundational not because of the books themselves (though I am a great fan of the books) but because of the fandom that sprung up around them.

I was not new to fandom–I grew up a Trekkie, went to my first Star Trek convention at the age of 12 (where, in the middle of a panel on the Dominion War, the panel was invaded by a bunch of Klingons wielding a Cardassian skull) and had fully integrated my friend group into the madness by 16 (when my high school boyfriend and I were finalists in the dance contest at the Federation Ball while dressed like Vulcans), and did a ton of online roleplaying online between the ages of 14 and 19.

But the HP fandom was different and new. For once I was surrounded by people my own age (Trekkies skewed older at the time, though I think that is no longer true with the advent of the newer movies), and it was huge. It was the first fandom I ever read fanfiction for, looked at fanart for, joined fan communities for.

(I even made a Gryffindor uniform in…2003? I don’t remember which book release it went along with. I still have my tie just in case I ever need it again. And my Slytherin tie. Both of which are somewhat amusing, because if I am honest with myself, I am neither a Gryffindor or a Slytherin.)

(I am Ravenclaw.)

Between books six and seven I even ran a LiveJournal community dedicated to exploring a new theory every week until Book 7 came out. I couldn’t tell you what it was called anymore, but even though I was some random person on the fringe of the community, people were more than willing to engage with me.

But the weird thing about being so involved in the community and so involved in the fandom is that, when Deathly Hallows came out–it read like fanfiction.

There were theories that I had brought up in my community that turned out to be true, and I’d read fics that had correctly predicted portions of the book. It was surreal.

And after Deathly Hallows came out–the whole thing kind of died. Oh, not that there isn’t a Harry Potter fandom, or that there still isn’t great fanfiction or fanart being put out for it, but there was a fever pitch in there for a while that I’ve never seen matched since.

Fandom is a bit cyclical anyway–they rise and fall, based on if/when new material comes out, and while I still do occasionally read new HP fanfic or favorite a fanart piece on tumblr, I’ve never really gone back to it. But man, for those seven years (2000-2007, when Deathly Hallows came out), it was really something.

And to actually talk about the books, I do admire the pure amount of characters JK Rowling manages to juggle and make feel alive, and the way she introduces plot points books before they’re actually relevant. It’s pretty damn amazing, from a plotting and worldbuilding standpoint. And while we can argue all day about the weak and strong points of the series (and, believe me, I have), you can’t deny that they, perhaps more than any pop culture phenomenon since, made an impact.

Thoughts on Harry Potter, squiders? Favorite character? What’s your house?

Looking Back at 7DN

Good morning, squiders! I hope you’re doing well! I’ve been sick, which has not been awesome, but I think I’m on the mend now.

I mentioned a few times that last week WriYe was doing a challenge called Seven Day Novel (or 7DN for short) where you’re got a week to write a novel or novella (WriYe has a 15K minimum) which I decided to take part in, both because I’ve had this scifi/horror novella I’ve been wanting to write, and as kind of a test to see if Nano would be doable this year.

And the results are…mixed.

You obviously have 7 days for 7DN, but I only ended up with 4. I knew Sunday/Saturday were unlikely to be usable and so had only planned for 5 days (with 3K a day), but Friday I woke up with really bad vertigo and hence lost it too.

An added issue was that I have a story for an anthology that I’m also working on, which takes precedence because Deadlines and so forth.

So, in the end, I ended up with 6.5K on the scifi/horror story, plus another 2.5K on the anthology story. So 9K for my four days, which is not bad at all. Obviously not quite at the goal, but not bad.

So I think I will do Nano this year. I haven’t tried since 2014 (and I did win that year) mostly due to the small, mobile ones, but it wasn’t too hard this past week to get 2K+ words a day, and school will be back in session in November (except for Thanksgiving break, but oh well).

Of course, making that decision now has come with some unintended consequences. Mostly ones of the “YAY I GET TO WRITE A NEW STORY WHICH ONE SHOULD I WRITE” variety.

Which…no, brain. We’re not there yet. We’ve got to focus on the current projects first. We can pick a story idea in October, or maybe late September if I’m feeling generous.

(Though…maybe this is the year to try my non-protagonist narrator story? I’ve technically written the first chapter already, but I’ve had it planned for close to a decade now and I should probably get on it.)

(No, bad Kit. Focus on your current stuff.)

Got too many things going on as it is.

I might try running the 7DN challenge again on my own. Maybe once a month or so? It’s a good way to get a word count boost, and I think it’s good for your soul to do some creating in with all the other administrative and logical things (revising, marketing, checking contracts and doing market research, etc.).

Anyway, quite pleased with the experiment overall, except for the getting sick part. And now on to other things for at least a little bit.

How was your weekend, squiders?