Archive for the ‘Discussion’ Category

It’s Okay to Self-Publish

Okay, squiders, we’re back in the old blog post drafts again. This one comes all the way from 2010, almost a full (yikes!) decade ago.

Back when self-publishing was, while not the weird and stigmatized thing of elder days, still not as accepted as it is today.

Here are the notes I left myself:

  • Doesn’t mean you’re a failure
  • Put out the best product you can
  • Be aware that you’re fighting an uphill battle
  • Harder to get traditionally published

Let’s unpack this while I channel Kit of nine years ago. Man, that was a very different life.

Doesn’t mean you’re a failure

Interesting. Was I assuming people were only self-publishing because they hadn’t been able to get a traditional deal? Back in 2010 I’d participated in…at least two indie-published anthologies. Was I defensive? Maybe so. Or maybe I was trying to let other people know that it was okay, that traditional publishing wasn’t for everyone or everything, and that each project should be evaluated individually.

Now, of course, some people actively choose to self-publish without considering traditional publishing, since you retain greater creative control and better royalties.

Put out the best product you can

Still true, of course. A well-prepped self-pub is indistinguishable from a traditionally published book. Yet I still pick up books all the time that I can tell are self-published almost immediately. The most common indicator I see is grammar–bad punctuation, run-on sentences, clunky writing. All stuff any editor worth their salt can help clean up. Then there’s general bad writing, inconsistencies throughout the story, and bad plotting. Haphazard covers. Awkward book descriptions.

I’ve heard it said that you have to either put in time or money, depending on what’s easiest for you. But you do have to put something in.

Be aware that you’re fighting an uphill battle

Hm. Did I mean because you don’t have a marketing team behind you? Maybe. But a lot of traditionally published authors these days still have to do their own publicity.

Did I mean in terms of legitimacy? (i.e., whether or not you’re a real author, if a self-published book is a real book) I’m betting that’s what I meant. I think, if you put in the time (or money) mentioned above, this is less of an issue than it used to be.

Harder to get traditionally published

I’m not sure this was true back then, nor now. Someone probably has numbers somewhere.

Publishing is such a weird industry and really anything could happen. Is a publisher really going to turn down an excellent book because you self-published some cringe-worthy badly-disguised fanfiction five years ago? Probably not (though maybe they’ll ask you to use a pen name).

Alternately, people have gone on to traditional publishing deals because they’ve self-published. So it really seems like you should do what it’s right for a particular project and not worry about it.

Thanks for joining me for another addition of “Kit digs out half-written blog posts from the past,” squiders! Thoughts on my thoughts?

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Alternate Universes

Morning, squiders! The bigger, mobile one has a “virtual day” today, which is the worst. Basically, when the district declares a delayed start, his school just has everyone stay home and do work on the computer. Let me tell you how self-motivated a first grader is.

(Hint: Not especially)

So, since I have an added complication today, I thought I’d dig up another of those old, old saved blog drafts. Today’s comes to us from Dec 2010, where my notes say:

“ALSO AWESOME”

Once again, this is so helpful for deciphering what I wanted to talk about.

(Also, this begs the question, if this is “also awesome,” what was the thing that was originally awesome?” Alas, that knowledge is lost to time.)

I did go back and look at December 2010 and who knows. There’s a post about Turtleduck Press (which launched in Dec 2010, so that makes sense), a bunch of link round-ups, and the periodic rant about how I’ve tried to do much. It might potentially be about the lunar eclipse. The word awesome is used.

But, hey, alternate universes! I wonder if I meant “alternate universe” in the Sliders sort of way, where characters travel to universes that are essentially ours with some tweaks, or more in the “Man in the High Castle” or “Iron Moon” sort of way, where something in history went a different way and changed everything that went after it.

Or maybe I wanted to talk about the fanfiction concept of alternate universes, where you take characters from a book or a movie or a TV show and stick them somewhere else. Like, instead of galloping about the galaxy on a spaceship, everyone’s in high school. Or vice versa, for that matter.

Anyway you look at it, alternate universes are kind of fun, and a mainstay of science fiction. A lot of science fiction comes from “what if?” questions, and alternate universes are a direct response to that. What if Columbus didn’t find the Americas? What if we discovered space travel in the 1850s? What if gravity wasn’t automatic? What if the United States had rejected capitalism?

They’re good for fantasy too, though they work differently. Alternate universes in fantasy tends to be more synonymous with portal fantasy, where characters are actively traveling somewhere else, often using magic.

But, really, you can’t go wrong.

How do you feel about alternate universes, squiders? What’s your favorite example (of any kind)?

Library Book Sale Finds: The Glimpses of the Moon

Howdy, squiders! I dug back into my collection of library book sale books and came out with The Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton, circa 1922.

This is another one of those books where I try to imagine what I was thinking when I picked it up. Did I like the title? Did I think I should read something by Edith Wharton? Who knows?

Title: The Glimpses of the Moon
Author: Edith Wharton
Genre: General Literature
Publication Year: 1922

Pros: Beautiful writing. Just, really pretty.
Cons: I wanted to strangle the male lead for 75% of the book.

As a caveat, I use “general literature” for basically everything that’s not an obvious genre. This is a story about two people, married on a lark with an agreement that they can divorce if something better comes along for the other. They are fringe members of society, spending time with the wealthy, but not having money themselves.

This is not an overly plotty book, so I won’t spend a lot of time there. What it is is a look at the opulence of the twenties and what is important, and how relationships work in a world where you can buy anything you want. A lot of social commentary. Somewhat reminiscent of The Great Gatsby (which I despise) but less likely to drive you to depression.

I do take a bit of umbrage with the male lead, Nick. (See?) He has a mild crisis of morals over something the female lead, Susy, does, and instead of doing anything useful, runs off and doesn’t talk to her for the next five months.

Dude. You suck. I know the whole point of the book is about love and realizing what matters and blah blah blah, but you are trash.

I admit I got so mad at one point that I flipped to the back of the book, which I NEVER DO, to make sure things were going to get resolved, because if I had to read 250 pages of shenanigans with him just running off for good, well, it wasn’t going to happen.

The writing is so so pretty. The characters are so so frustrating.

So! Would I recommend this book? Not sure. The writing is gorgeous, the human study is great, the moral is…iffy. There is kind of the implication that whatever Nick did in the interim is okay because he came to his senses in the end, which maybe was a good message back in the day? But I really just wanted to slap some sense into him.

So! Up to you, really. You know what you like. I thought it was okay, but I’m not going to be picking up other books like it for a while.

Movie Round-up

I don’t get around to a lot of movies (a combination of small, mobile ones combined with just not liking to sit still for that long in one go), but I have actually watched three in the last week. Madness, I know. And since movies seem to be more of a common element than books (i.e., a person is more likely to have seen the same movie than have read the same book), hey, let’s talk about them.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

While we are generally Star Wars people, we didn’t go to see this last summer, partially because summer was very busy, and partially because the hype around the movie was very lukewarm. (We did however, get tickets to go sit in the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit.)

But I actually really liked this. I thought the story was fun and while the guy playing Han doesn’t look like Harrison Ford, he did sound and act like him. And I ♥ Chewy. So if you missed this for whatever reason, I’d give it a try. I’d watch it again.

Lego Movie 2

So, hey, my sister-in-law got us tickets to a special preview showing of Lego Movie 2 (which comes out on Feb 8). In general, I liked it. It’s about what you’d expect, though I had this weird feeling for a bit, like, uh. How to explain this. Like, the Lego Movie is self-contained and I’ve seen it so many times (it is a favorite of the small, mobile ones) that it felt like the existence of a sequel was some sort of weird fever dream. I missed part of it because the smaller, mobile one had to go to the bathroom, but I don’t think it was anything terribly important.

Also, there are Lego velociraptors.

The Greatest Showman

The husband came home and was like, “I ordered us a movie from the library!” Like, weirdly excited. This is the movie from 2017 with Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron, which is honestly all I knew about it going in (and I think I also knew it was about P.T. Barnum but I’m not 100% on that).

Guys, I enjoyed this stupid movie so much.

The music is amazing. And the story itself is mostly fluff, which I appreciate in a time when it seems like everything has to be gritty and realistic. I have already watched it twice.

(I got chills during the first number, which probably means I have to buy the movie now. That’s why I own the 2004 version of Phantom of the Opera. Have you seen that? When it goes from black and white to color and the Phantom theme starts…that’s my favorite part. Sometimes I watch just that part. The last time the play came through they’d taken that part out of the musical which is SACRILEGE.)

(I’m not a huge Phantom fan–I think the characters are dumb, except for Meg–but I do like the music. And the beginning.)

ANYWAY, that’s what I’ve seen lately. Watched anything good yourself? The new season of Star Trek Discovery has started, so I need to get on that ASAP.

Epcot and Expectations

Happy Tuesday, squiders! I am so glad to be home! (Although I am behind on everything, but what else is new?)

You see, last week we took the smallish, mobile ones to the most expensive happiest place on Earth. I would like to say that it was a fantastic family bonding experience (and, to be fair, sometimes it was), but good Lord. My eldest is on the spectrum and I don’t know if I just forgot how overstimulating Disney World is or if I just never knew, but it was…overwhelming.

(I do not have sensory issues myself–aside from styrofoam, screw that stuff–and Toy Story Land about put me over. The noise and the lights and the colors, they will haunt me.)

I went to Disney World three times as a kid, when I was 8, 10, and 14, so it’s obviously been a while. But when I was little, I remember loving Epcot above all the other parks (though, to be fair, there were less of them then). I’ve always been a nerd, so I loved the science and technology aspect of it, and looking at what the future might bring.

(I am also fond of the World Showcase, though the last time I went as a kid, we got some chocolate dessert in Norway which was just the worst. I don’t remember what exactly it was, just that it was sacrilegious to the idea of chocolate. But, seriously, the World Showcase is a nice companion to the future world part of Epcot–the world as it is next to the world that could be.)

This time around, however, I found Epcot to be…disappointing? Languishing, maybe. Aside from Spaceship Earth, everything from when I was a kid is gone. (Well, Journey to Imagination is still there, but in some weird, less awesome form.) That’s not necessarily bad–it’s supposed to be about technology and the future, and that’s changing all the time!

But it doesn’t feel like they’ve replaced them with anything worthwhile. Like…it became too hard to keep up with the future, and so they just…gave up. Most of the buildings in the future world section are partially or mostly empty. The Innoventions buildings, which I remember being full of cool science things, have nothing but a small section labeled Colortopia (which was cool, not going to lie) and a handful of character meet n’ greet spots, most of which feel like they were put together at the last minute.

The two newer things, Mission: SPACE and the Test Track, are neat and fit in to the general idea of Epcot, but they’re a couple of things surrounded by empty buildings. The Seas and The Land Pavilions feel dated and are in bad repair. And the new thing they’re working on–a Guardians of the Galaxy-themed rollercoaster–feels completely out of place.

I mean, on one hand I understand. Epcot has no doubt been hard to merchandise, since it lacks the connection with Disney properties like the movies and TV shows. It’s also probably expensive to maintain, since rides and exhibits date themselves faster than at the other parks. (Hell, they’re still doing the SAME Indiana Jones stunt show that they we’re doing when I was 14 at Hollywood Studios.)

But on the other hand, the little kid in me that loved science and technology and dreaming of the future wants to cry. I remember Epcot as being this glorious celebration of science and space and dinosaurs and energy and the future. A tribute to what humanity had been and would be capable of. And it’s hard to see that anymore.

But hey, maybe my nostalgia is coloring my memories. Maybe Epcot has always been poorly realized and/or half-empty. I mean, my husband told me that Walt Disney had wanted to build an experimental future community (EPCOT stood for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), and so Epcot’s beginnings were already off-track before the park was ever built.

Anyway, thanks for reading my rant. Any thoughts on Epcot, squiders? Want to talk about rides that have been?

Why Science Fiction/Fantasy?

I was ditzing around the blog and discovered a variety of draft posts that never got written, for whatever reason. This is the earliest, from 2010, right after I started this blog up.

No reason to let things sit around forever, right?

Here are the notes I left myself for this post:

“Why I write scifi/fantasy

Including points:
-why read the real world?  It is sad and depressing
-you can do anything with scifi/fantasy (not even the sky is the limit)”

Good job, Kit. Very useful.

Maybe I felt like I had to explain myself, back then? I know that sometimes people who write genre get pushback from “literary” types about how genre stories aren’t real literature or whatever. I don’t think I’ve ever really run into that in person, so I don’t know if that was it. (2010 was an awfully long time ago.)

Since this was from the beginning of the blog, maybe it was as an introduction? Kind of a “here’s what you’re getting yourself into” sort of thing. I think I’ll go with that one.

In my case, the question wasn’t ever “Why Science Fiction/Fantasy?” I don’t think there was ever any other option available to me. I watched Star Trek with my parents before I could talk. My parents were huge scifi fans, and that definitely rubbed off. And when I found and read my first real epic fantasy book in sixth grade (The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks), well…I’ve never looked back.

That’s not to say I don’t like other genres. You guys know I love mysteries, and I’ve read my fair share of classics, romance, historical fiction, thrillers, horror, etc. But there’s something about science fiction and fantasy, about the possibilities, that has always stuck with me. In most cases, there’s a sense of wonder, a sense of possibility, even in the bleakest of storylines.

Plus, you know, dragons. And spaceships. Oooo, maybe dragons on spaceships?

It’s probably for the best. When I try to write something without fantastical elements I get a little melodramatic.

So the question isn’t “why science fiction/fantasy?” It’s “Why wouldn’t it be science fiction/fantasy?”

How about you, squiders? Why do you write/read your genre of choice?

November Plans and Learning Options

(First of all, I’m going to move our discussion of Red Mars until next Thursday, Nov 8. I don’t know if you guys are reading this along with me, but I’m having a hard time getting into it. And I keep getting distracted by mysteries.)

(Speaking of which, I HIGHLY recommend The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, which is a mystery with a scifi bent. EXCELLENT BOOK.)

(In other news, if I get my act together, this post may be accompanied by a landsquid later. But I suspect the landsquid will have to wait until Friday, because it’s Halloween, and I have small, mobile ones who have school parties that I have to deal with.)

(Happy Halloween!)

Now that the parentheticals are out of the way, let’s talk about November. (It’s also Nano Eve! Happy Nano Eve to everyone doing Nano. The kickoff party for my region is at a coffee shop less than 10 minutes from my house, so I’m tempted to make up a fake novel and go mingle and enjoy the mad burst of creativity that happens at midnight. But I also have to get up at 6:30 tomorrow, so, you know…)

My programming class is over. It was good for me, but it was also intense, so I’m not going to look at doing another one until probably mid-January. My workout challenge is also over. So aside from my major editing job, my time is mine again! BWHAHAHAHAHA. I have celebrated by writing an entire short story this morning. (Admittedly, it was due tomorrow and needed to be done, but hey, it IS done.)

There’s still some other things that need to be done. Our ballot is MASSIVE and I am mostly done with it (I’ve got a couple of mill levies and some of the smaller position elections still to be, but have done the 12 amendments and propositions–what the heck–plus important elections like congresspeople and governor) but that needs to be finished up, and we’re planning a super-secret vacation to Disney World. Which, Lord, takes more planning than expected. We’ve got airfare and hotel done, but you’ve got to do reservations at the restaurants or you’re out of luck. And apparently for character appearances, though we’re too early for that. My husband super wants to eat at Cinderella’s Castle, but so apparently does everyone else, so he’s hoarding reservations at bad times and is checking daily to see if better ones open up.

But I should have writing time back! Hooray!

I’m still pondering Nano. I mean, I WANT to, but I am completely unprepared to start a novel project, and I don’t have any other novel projects that need enough words to Zokutou clause it. I wonder if I can do a time-based goal instead, because I have a ton of things that are ALMOST done that could stand some work, including:

  • Space dinosaur novel (~5K left)
  • Anthology story (~4K left, due Nov 10)
  • Serial story (~5K or less left, been working on for nine years)
  • CoHaR (at ~17K, so needs more, though also depends on how fast Siri’s working)

And there’s a lot of other stories that need to be poked:

  • A couple of shorts that keep getting personalized rejections with feedback that might need a bit of tweaking to finally sell
  • I’ve gotten quite a bit of feedback lately on the YA paranormal I’ve been querying, so that could probably use some tweaking as well (probably not a minor undertaking, though)
  • I need to look at what I have for the nonfiction series and what I still need, and make a plan for moving forward

Or, I have a ton of new stuff I’d really like to get going on (though none are outlined/ready to go for tonight/tomorrow):

  • I have a couple of ideas for chapter book series (Space Cat and one based off a series of short stories I wrote in middle/high school) that could be partially illustrated and probably would be super fun. The average chapter book is about 10K, so in theory I could write a whole series for Nano. >_>
  • I’ve been slowly plotting out a paranormal mystery series with a modern day witch as the main character. By plotting I mean “hoarding resources to read at some point and occasionally jotting down random thoughts like evil shadows.”

And, I mean, a ton more, but those are top of the list.

I’m considering taking on a non-programming class. Skillshare has a ton of classes (you pay a flat fee per month) and I’d like to learn how to color/shade, which I am terrible at (which is why you get line art here on the blog). I’m still learning, but hopefully it won’t be as intense as the programming class, and it’ll be useful if/when I do get to the illustrated chapter books ideas.

What are your plans for November, squiders?