Posts Tagged ‘Shards’

Ignorance IS Bliss

Last night I finished reading my July writing book, called How to Write a Page Turner: Craft a Story Your Readers Can’t Put Down by Jordan Rosenfeld. It was one of those books that delivers a ton of information, way more than you could conceivably absorb in a single go (which is why, halfway through August, I was still working on July’s book).

Additionally, yesterday, in one of my writing groups, someone posted a video about why creative types tend to be their own worst critics, and one of the points the artist doing the video brought up is that the more you know about something, the more you can see what’s wrong in your own work.

Which is kind of what reading How to Write a Page Turner felt to me.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but as I’ve understood the craft of writing better, the harder it is to just write.

Fifteen years ago when I was completing my first novel drafts, I had troubles, sure, like not plotting where the story was going or not being sure how to logically get to the ending I wanted, or changing tone halfway through a draft, etc. But the actual writing was okay.

Now, sometimes, I get hung up on sentence length and whether I’m using a variety of sentence structures so the writing doesn’t feel stilted. Am I using enough imagery? Am I using too many filter words? Am I telling when I should be showing, or vice versa? Or, perhaps, I’m taking too long to get to the next plot marker, or not enough time, or…

It’s a miracle anything gets written, honestly.

I didn’t necessarily learn anything new from How to Write a Page Turner (though I did think it was a well-organized book with good information in it), but it did remind me of issues I know I have, or am at least going through with the first draft of the changeling story. Stuff like not completing the action in a single chapter (which kills forward momentum) and description (never a strong point of mine–August’s book is actually Description and Setting). Or keeping a tight enough point of view.

I felt kind of called out.

But, to go back to the video, the artist’s point was that being able to see what’s wrong in your own work is a good thing. It means you have attained enough mastery where you understand and can see how to fix things. Before you reach that point, you’re just kind of flailing in the dark.

And all the issues the book brought up that I see in the current draft–it’s all fixable. It’s all stuff I know how to fix. Heck, if I can turn poor ol’ Shards into a publishable draft, I suspect I can fix just about anything.

(Remind me, sometime, and we can talk about the process of getting Shards from what it was to what it is. It was quite an undertaking. To go back to the point about shifting tone wildly halfway through a book.)

I do wish I could…turn it all off while I’m actually writing, though. It would certainly make things easier.

Hey, squider, got any pointers for focusing on doing something without all the “are you doing this and this and this and this right?” thoughts intruding all the time?

(As an aside, Shards could probably benefit from a cover upgrade. Hm. Something to consider.)

Ill-advised Interludes

Ah, Squiders. I may be doing something very stupid, but I’m going to do it anyway and see how it turns out.

You guys know I’ve been working on a rewrite for a while now. Well, I worked on getting ready for the rewrite for several months, and then at the beginning of the year, I started the rewrite itself.

And you guys know it’s not been going well.

In fact, it’s going so poorly, I haven’t touched it in over two weeks. Aside from this blog, I haven’t done any writing in two weeks. (Well, I wrote a synopsis, but that doesn’t really count.) And that’s a waste and it’s driving me mad.

So I’m going to take a week or two off and work on something else, and then come back to it and see if I can’t figure out how to make it go better.

I pondered what to work on for a bit. A short story or two would seem to be the logical choice, but I’m a little burnt out on that front. It feels like, for every short story I sell, I have five floating around in limbo. Do I really need any more floating around right now?

Things related to the rewrite would be another logical choice. Maybe by working on related shorts, or drabbles, or something along those lines, I could shake loose whatever’s blocking me from getting work on the rewrite done. And I’m not against doing that, if something comes to me, but the thought of potentially hitting my head against more brick walls isn’t terribly appealing.

So, you may be asking, what did you decide, Kit?

I decided to start another novel. One completely unrelated, completely different in tone, etc., etc. I’ve been joking about writing this for about eight years now, so maybe it’s time to finally get on it. I always thought it would be a novella, maybe 30K, though my outlining is implying that that’s wishful thinking.

It’s the same universe as Shards, with some overlapping characters. It includes a frame story, which I’ve always wanted to try my hand at.

While I understand that it’s a bad idea to start another novel while in the middle of one already, I’m hoping that this will at least get me moving again. And if it doesn’t, well…

Hopefully it does.

I’m going to skip Thursday, Squiders, so I will see y’all back here next Tuesday. I hope your Feb/March cusp goes well!

The Evolution of a Book Description

We talked in May and June about an older novel of mine, Shardswhich came out in December of 2013, and how I suspected my book description for it was doing a terrible job of selling it due to a mismatch between the description and the actual contents of the book.

And then we talked about how long it was actually taking me to re-write the description. But I am pleased to say that I am done, I have the go-ahead from the lovely people helping me re-write it, and that it has gone live on Amazon and Smashwords, and I assume will trickle out to the other distributors in the near future.

(I also have changed the keywords on everything, and some of my categories. We’ll see how that goes.)

(Also, apparently if you change the description on Smashwords, but not any of the actual content, it still reconverts everything, and you have to reapply to premium distribution. Which is ridiculous. I didn’t touch the book itself!)

Now to see if 1) this improves sales at all, and 2) if this improves review quality, since readers should go into the book with a better idea of what they’re getting.

But I thought you guys might like to see the change. So I present, without further ado, the original description, and then we’ll do the new description.

Original:

Eva Martinez isn’t sure why she’s pursuing a master’s degree in religious studies, except that something about the material resonates in the depths of her soul. But when her dreams start to be invaded by lost gardens, forbidden fruit, and a strangely familiar mystery man, even she has to wonder if she’s taking her schoolwork too seriously.

Then Eva starts to notice the strangeness seeping into everyday life. The man from her dreams is real and Eva feels a curious connection with him. Her classmate, someone she’s known for years, starts to act increasingly volatile. And it seems like everyone, including her bosses, is keeping secrets…secrets that have something to do with her. Eva’s determined to find out what’s going on, how it involves her, and why she’s transforming into someone buried deep in her memories.

The deeper in that Eva gets, the more she feels like she should understand what’s happening around her. The secrets conceal real dangers, and if she can’t untangle them and find the truth in time, she–and all those she’s come to care for–will face defeat at the hands of an ancient enemy, one who recognized Eva long before she learned to recognize herself.

New:

Every night, Eva Martinez dreams about the same man. During the day she tries to convince her mother she knows what she’s doing with her life—but it would help if Eva actually believed it.

It’s been centuries since Michael has had a real reason to live. After the loss of his love, nothing keeps his interest for very long—not even his friends, dabbling at being human.

When Eva and Michael meet, it awakens something in both of them. Eva’s dream-man-turned-real completes her in ways she’s never thought possible, and Michael feels his fire start to return.

But Michael’s kind—angels—are forbidden to join with humans. And Eva has attracted the attention of Michael’s ancient enemy—the one who took his first love from him. He couldn’t protect her, so he’s determined not to let the same fate befall Eva. But can their relationship survive all he’s not telling her?

Ta-da! Now we wait and watch, and see what comes of this all. Also, just a reminder that Shards is on sale for $1 at Smashwords through the 31st, and Hidden Worlds is free.

New Directions

Oof, squiders. Yesterday was rough. On top of it all, our one-day book blitz ran, so I needed to stop by the many many blogs throughout the day to respond to comments and whatnot. Oy vey, that’s tiring! I’ll give you guys an update on how our new marketing things are working out thus far next week. Probably Friday.

We’ve got City of Hope and Ruin on sale for $0.99 for the blitz, and our giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card is still open for another 12 hours or so. All the information you need to enter can be found here. Also, you should totally pick up the ebook while it’s on sale, because it’s $4.99 normally. 80% off! Woo!

So, marketing for CoHaR is winding down, though there’s still some stuff to do–we’re doing a longer blog tour in July/August that will need guest posts and interviews written, and there’s book stores/libraries to talk to, and the like, but in general, I can move on to other things.

I thought I’d talked about this here, but I don’t see it anywhere, so maybe I just talked about it over at Turtleduck Press. At the beginning of the year, I made a spreadsheet of all my writing projects for the year, with the dates I thought I’d work on them and some basic notes about current status. And then working on CoHaR ate everything and I found myself extremely behind on the whole idea.

At first I thought I’d just catch up on everything, but then logic caught up, so I decided to just pick the most important thing on the list and make sure that got done, and everything else could get done as there was time.

So, I’m revising/rewriting the first book in my high fantasy trilogy. You guys probably remember me talking about this here. (I thought I had a tag specifically for it, but apparently I don’t and that’s dumb.) I wrote the first draft on Book 3 in 2014. The current draft of Book 1 was written 2009/2010, and ew, is it bad.

Like, really really bad. Hence the rewriting part of said revision. I’m sorry I asked people to read this version, which is saying something, because I was really sorry I made people read the original version (written 2004/2005, and my first finished novel draft).

You know, if I ever get this book done decently, I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life.

So, that’s the current plan! Revising/rewriting. I did get slightly sidetracked by the whole Shards thing (and also looking a language building class), but I’m focused again now.

How was your Thursday, squiders? Big plans for the weekend?

Doing Your Own Marketing

Ah, Squiders. How I long for the days when all you had to do as an author was write the books, and someone else would sell them for you. I am not a good seller. You guys have probably noticed that.

Last week I mentioned how I would be re-reading my 2013 novel Shards in an attempt to tweak some of its marketing, specifically its book description. Well, I finished Shards. And then I skimmed through it two more times because, as is probably expected, seeing how I wrote it, there were some parts I really liked.

(Some people can probably write books they don’t have emotional/intellectual connections with, and more power to them. It turns out I can’t write books I wouldn’t want to read myself. I tried ghostwriting once and it was an abject failure.)

(Coincidentally, reading Shards has put my brain into overdrive on plotting out two related Shards!verse books, neither of which are on the schedule until the end of the year at the earliest, so that’s less awesome.)

(I mean, awesome, because said ideas haven’t really gone anywhere in the six years since I originally wrote Shards, but not awesome because I’m working on editing something else at the moment. We’ll talk about that Thursday.)

(Right, out of the parenthetical statements.)

And, Squiders, I was right. The current book description for Shards does not match the book. At all. The current book description makes it sound like a big mystery, when in reality there’s very little mystery at all. No wonder people were disappointed. As I said, I do like the book, but it’s more adventure/romance/mythic romp. The mythology is not subtle. No mystery.

I think I must have been so focused on making the description draw people in, that at the time I didn’t consider that I was doing the book, and its marketing, a disservice by being misleading. I don’t even think I realized I was being misleading.

It’s a learning situation, that’s for sure. Now I know how careful I need to be about this sort of thing. And hopefully I’m getting better about the whole thing. I certainly think the book description for City of Hope and Ruin is much better and more appropriate, though admittedly I had someone else to work with on that.

And I have to write a new book description. Groan.

Someone should invent a service where they write your book descriptions for you. They would make a buttload of money.

Marketing or description thoughts, Squiders? Collective moaning about how we wish someone else would do this for us?

Revisiting Published Stories

Morning, Squiders. I hope you all had a lovely long weekend (for American Squiders), or that you at least didn’t get stung by a bee and fall down the stairs like some other people I know.

In slightly related news, how do you tell if you are allergic to bee stings?

Anyway, on to the topic at hand. There seems to be two camps when talking about books you’ve published. One camp says leave ’em alone–they’re out in the world, for better or worse, and you’re likely to just drive yourself crazy fixing things if you don’t just cut yourself off.

The other camp says, if you have access to your books, why not fix them? If there’s something consistently wrong, according to your reviews, and you can easily upload a new version, why wouldn’t you do it?

Personally, I find myself more in the first camp. Perfection is something we all hope for in a book, of course, but it is something that is hard to obtain, and even if you think it’s perfect, there’s no guarantee that anyone else will agree with you. Why drive yourself crazy tweaking this thing or that?

(One exception, I would say, would be nonfiction books. Then I say update, because it’s important to have the best information out there.)

That being said, I’m not against some tweaking, and it can be fun to go back through a book, to remember the writing journey and so forth. And it’s not a bad idea to occasionally read through and remind yourself what the story is about and what you love about it, so you can talk to the book if someone asks you about it.

(And I advocate reading through a book if you’re planning to write a sequel or related story, so you can recapture tone/characterization/etc.)

Last night I started reading through Shards. If you’ve been with me for a while, you were probably around when Shards came out in December of 2013. Shards is kind of off-genre for me, and it’s proven to be the most mixed of my books, in terms of whether people love it or hate it. Part of that, I think, is the book description, which I think may be somewhat misleading.

So, I’m going to rewrite the book description and see what that does. But, to do that, I have to remember what the book is. So, reading.

I’m only a chapter and a half in, thus far. So far, I’m enjoying it, though that is probably to be expected. I have noticed that the writing is not as tight as my more recent stuff, but that is also probably to be expected. One does hope that one gets better over time, after all.

Have you ever revisited a story that’s already been published, Squiders? Are you in the let it free and leave it camp, or the update as necessary camp? Any thoughts on Shards or its book description? It might be handy, if you haven’t read the book, to read the book description and then let me know what kind of story it sounds like so I can tweak appropriately.

Writer Problems: Too Much Research

So, my husband and I were chatting last night, and he repeated something someone had said about guardian angels.

Me> Did you know that the Muslims believe that you have two shifts of guardian angels? And people are most at risk at dawn and dusk during the changing of the guard, as it were.
Husband> …what does that have to do with this conversation?

Research. I’ve talked in the past about how it can enhance a story, even if you’ve got it set in the real world in modern times. And I think, to some extent, that writers really like research, because it seems like we tend to go overboard with it and end up with way more than any sane person would ever logically need.

Part of that may be because we’re not quite sure what we’re looking for (with Shards, which is of course why I know random guardian angel trivia, some of the stuff I researched directly impacted the entire plot and worldbuilding, but it was not stuff I was aware of beforehand), part of it may be that we want to be as informed as possible (because I’ve noticed when other authors get things wrong about things I know about in their books), and part of it may be that we just like learning, and if we’re writing a book on a related subject, it’s probably already something we’re interested in.

But, anyway, writers do more research than necessary, in most cases. And then you can’t actually put it in a book. You use your knowledge to create the right atmosphere, to make sure your characters are acting appropriately, maybe twist it into your plot, but most of that information just sits behind the scenes, necessary but not really there.

But you, as the author, knows it, and then it tends to come out at inopportune times, like dinner parties or to your extremely religious relatives that probably don’t want to know how the Bible was constructed or when, and how Moses probably did not write the books attributed to him because there’s four distinct writing styles AND the whole thing was probably written a good thousand years after Moses lived, and…

…you get the point.

Any research that tends to seep out into your normal lives, squiders? Do you have any embarrassing, random knowledge stories? If so, please share.

Autumn Sale–Everything only 99 cents!

Sale Banner

So, exciting news, science fiction and fantasy lovers! Turtleduck Press is having a sale for the next week, and the ebook version of everything–all their anthologies, novels, and chapbooks–is only 99 cents! This includes both Shards and Hidden Worlds, as well as our newest anthology (which I have a story called Drifting in) Under Her Protection: Stories of Women to the Rescue.

Here’s a quick rundown of what you can get:

Definitely a little something for everyone, so grab the books now while they’re cheap! Because, alas, on October 8 all the prices go back up. So buy some for yourself, buy some for your friends, buy some for your dog–sorry. Got carried away.

And enjoy!

Betas’ Memory (and How Trappings Color Readers’ Experiences)

My family seems to be very slowly making their way through ShardsIt seems like every week a different cousin or aunt or uncle is reading it, which is honestly a bit flattering, that everyone’s bothering.

Last week my mother told me that she’d read it, and she said that she was really glad I’d added Thor into the story, that she had really liked him.

The weird thing is–Thor’s been there the whole time, and my mother read the first draft of the book. In fact, I barely touched him at all in my edit, aside from adding an epilogue scene (which of course has other characters in it as well and isn’t focused on him) and having a few other characters mention him before he actually shows up so it wasn’t out of the blue.

It’s interesting being a beta, and then reading the same story in later drafts or after it’s released. You have a memory of how the story went, but most of the time specifics don’t stick unless they either annoyed or pleased you more than usual. You spend a lot of time kind of peering at the text, remembering something slightly different, or wildly different.

But it’s also weird how much you forget, and how much changes in the story can change a readers’ perception of what’s happening. A few paragraphs of description can change the feel of an entire scene, or moving dialogue from one character to another can give the words different meaning.

In this particular case, apparently a few mentions and a new scene–no changes to the original scenes or dialogue–made a character much more memorable for my mother.

Have you ever come across a situation, either in your own writing or through reading something in multiple stages, where an easy change made things wildly different?

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.