Showing posts from August, 2010

Leviathan - Book Trailer

Here's the book trailer of the day. It's another fancy-schmancy one. Wow.

The Inadequacy of Emotions to Capture Words: Flash Fiction

Tobias suggested it, after Mark died. "It's not crass," Tobias insisted. "And you need the money for the kids. You know Mark's life insurance and the money you're getting from Unemployment isn't going to enable you to keep the house. No one I know has had more tragedy in her life than you. You should share your feelings with people." Still, she didn't do it right away. She nursed her grief quietly, inside, alone, until she thought she might burst of it. Then and only then did she admit Tobias was right. She needed to share this feeling with someone, or go mad. She read about a call for feelings and showed up at the audition, feeling like a fool. Hundreds of people waited in the line, which she had somehow not expected. Many of them were weeping openly, or disfigured physically, something else she had never expected. After two hours, she entered the audition office, a cramped, dark room divided by a wall of one-way glass. On her side, a single cha

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter: the Book Trailer

I love book trailers. Not everyone does; I get that. But I love 'em. I've always loved movie trailers, and thought that books should have their own trailers...and now they do. Now that I've finally learned how to embed a video on my blog, I'm going to share more book trailers. They won't all be as high budget at this one, but I will pick books or trailers that kick ass. If you've made a book trailer or want to recommend one, let me know in the comments.

Upcoming Bloggery

Damn, I guess I should stop complaining in my blog about my family.... It appears that I have family members reading this blog. Please disregard all that stuff I told you about my sisters. Ahem. Me? Complain about my family? That would never happen. Anywhoo. I've started school again, so in all likelihood, I won't be able to blog daily. Unless you're all reeeeeeeally dying to hear about postmodern literary criticism, which I doubt. You might get some anyway, if I just can't help myself, but I will try to spare you. Nonetheless, I would like to keep up regular blogging, say, once a week. And I had so much fun interviewing Michelle about Cinders, I've decided to do more reviews. I won't have time for a lot, one a week at most, but what I would like to do is especially highlight indie books and small presses. Because there are a lot of awesome small presses and indie books out there. Also, I'm going to invite more guest bloggers. In September, I'm going to

Expectations on Novel Sales

How many books should you expect to sell if you publish a… Vanity book? 33 Self Published book? 99 Small Press book? 500-1000 Another way of looking at it is that if you sell less than the average for your category, you will be considered a loser. But you never know. The numbers could be on your side. 1000 - The number of books in the first run of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, half of which were sold to libraries. $2,500 - advance for Stephan King's first novel $105,000 - the US advance for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. 1.3 million - number of copies sold on the release day of Breaking Dawn 15 million - number of copies sold on the release day of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 17 million - number of books sold for the entire Twilight series 400 million - number of books for the entire Harry Potter series Yeah, yeah. We know. Mifty-gazillion books sold by I.M. Famous and thirty books sold through Publish America by Ikaint Ritegood. But what is a

Handling Short Scenes

In film and television, a scene can be extremely short and still feel complete. The visual medium helps. The eye can take in the whole setting, while also tracking the action. But I'm having a hard time with short scenes in my novel. I don't want them to waste many words, but how do I make them feel "complete" -- not rushed, or sketched? One trick I've tried is to think of the scene as a piece of flash fiction. Flash also can't be longer than 500 or 1000 words, and yet it needs to be even more independent than a scene in a novel. Any other ideas? I'm scratching my head. UPDATE: I was too tired to give examples earlier, but here's what I mean. In a movie script you could have two short scenes in a row, like this: EXT. WOODS - NIGHT. A DARK FIGURE runs through the trees. DISSOLVE TO: INT. THE WAR LEADER'S COMPOUND. WARRIOR He's taken the bait. LEADER Send someone to follow him.

Social Media - The Cult of You

Social media has been called "the cult of me." It encourages each of us to cultivate our own little cult, to gather around us a circle of "Friends" and "Followers", sometimes even "Minions." Seems like the ultimate in self-indulgence, doesn't it? But does social media really encourage selfishness? Is worrying about what other people think of you is a form of selfishness, or is it a matter of not giving enough consideration to your own self-integrity, obsessing instead over pleasing others? Jane Steen warned in her blog post on 5 ways to make your twitter time more productive that the surefire way to make your twitter (or facebook) posts deadly dull is to tweet all about yourself (and your kids, pets, wordcount). Actually, I think posts about oneself, even about one's cat, can be interesting -- there are more pictures of cats on the internet than porn! -- as long as the poster keeps one motto in mind: It's not about you. This is the

Fantasy Titles

Courtesy of Orbit books: Full Disclosure: I have a wip entitled, "Arena of the Dragons." Yes, "dragon" is the most common word in fantasy titles. *grin* Here's some other ideas for titles using these popular words (why not go with what works?): Blood of the Death Dragon's Shadow God Edge of the Dark Red Zombie Wolf Bite of the Black Elf Angel of the Sin Spells Queen of the Iron Dragon Fire Map of the Rising Ghost City Tomb of the Seeker's Daughter Kill the Assassin Princess of the Silver Storm Bound to the Witch Hunt Cheesy? Sure! But look what happens when you try to come up with titles that don't sound traditionally fantasy: An Accountant's Guide to Taxes Things to Wear with Shoes A Big Green Garbage Can The Best Restaurants in South Carolina Now, those may be great books, but if you were looking for sword and sorcery, they wouldn't be very appealing, would they? How about the straight-forward approach: Dudes With Pointy Sticks Kill Each Ot

Fiction After Marriage

Romances usually build up to a climax. And you know which climax I mean. Or maybe you don't. The classic romantic story is about falling in love -- following the ups and downs, ins and outs, togethers and aparts, of a couple as they approach physical and emotional intimacy. They may have one or the other, but until they both lust for and love each other, the romance, for the novelist, is not "consumated." I love romance, and I love this traditional formula for creating romantic tension and satisfaction in fiction. The formula is not just a part of the romance genre, but usually also helps structure the story arc of any genre fiction -- fantasy, adventure, espionage, action, mystery. I want to emphasize also that I love genre fiction and don't use the term "formula" as a derogative, any more than I would use the word "sonnet" as a derogative term in poetry. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I had a fight with my husband, whom I love. And, poor ma

Bad Morning

I am not having a good morning. I've been working on updating my website. No big deal. I should have done it a long time ago, but I was quite busy last year. All the more reason to get it up and running before school starts. Rrrrrrr. That is me growling. For some reason, this resulted in a big fight between me and my husband. He's furious with me, I'm furious with him, it's just not pretty. UPDATE: Marital discord successfully channeled into a scene in Dindi Book 2. Woohoo! Suffering = Inspiration. No wonder writers are prone to manic-depression.

Too Artsy?

My first born is also available for human sacrifice. Just give the word.* When I started this blog, I had no readers, so I was free to treat it as my diary, and just jot down whatever I liked. I think I once wrote a post about swine herding in Papua New Guinea. I found it fascinating, anyway. Now that I have huge numbers of readers (eight? twelve? depending on whether you count the people who googled for the soft porn, "Kama Sutra," and got me instead) I have to treat it as a professional thingymabob and sound all grown-up and stuff. Agh. The catch is, I would like to share my ongoing career (ahem) as a writer, but I'm not sure where disclosure crosses the line into unprofessional. No, I'm not going to inflict TMI about my bladder, or my cat, or my cat's bladder. (Although if I had a cat and that cat had a bladder, you'd better believe I'd be blogging all about it.) I have my book out on submission with a publisher I am very excited about. (And by "

Sketches of the Hero

Here I've attempted, rather poorly, to capture the hero, Kavio. I'm not very good at guys. Also, I still need to master the art of drawing crackling lightning.


Puddlepaws, Dindi's kitten. Because every book should have a kitten.

Sketch of Dindi and a Pixie

Busy, busy, busy! Writing. Facebooking. And sketching. Here's a doodle of Dindi. Thanks to faestock at deviantART for the stock photography. I think she really is a faery.

The Duel Between Plot and Wordcount

The nemesis of plot is wordcount. Their epic enmity plagues all my stories. First, plot is ascendent, racing ahead, leaping, punching, kicking ass. Then wordcount pulls out the secret weapon -- "You can't get that published unless you get it past me! Two hundred and fifty thousand words? Are you mad? I spit in your face! Bwahahaha!" Then the bloodletting really begins, what with the slashing and slicing, until plot has lost both arms, a leg, and occasionally a head. (Plot often has many heads, so sometimes this is a good thing.) Wordcount cackles, sure of the last laugh. But plot is not dead... bloody fingers rake the grass, dragging the torso forward.... Plot throws a hidden dagger, and wordcount topples over one hundred thousand words.... with more and more words gushing out all over the page all the time.... It's ugly.

Imminent Death Inspiration Flashes

My Summer of Fiction Love is running out. *indescribable sadness* You know how right when you think you might die, suddenly you have all these flashes of inspiration? I am having Imminent Death Inspiration Flashes right now. I've been moping about, blaming some reject letters from earlier in the summer on the fact that Paranormal and YA are Trendy and Adult Epic Fantasy is not. (Lame excuse, but we all gotta lie to our ego somehow.) But I am not a Trend Chaser, I told myself. Don't get me wrong. I am not against Trend Chasing because I loathe people who write only out of their grubby greed for money and fame. Long live grubby greed! Naw, it's just that it doesn't work. You can't cage moonlight, no matter how much it would sell for on eBay. So I didn't bother trying to think of a Paranormal Young Adult story. I guess you can see where this is going. Yeah, I flashed on a cool idea for a Paranormal. Two actually. Young Adult... I'm not sure. One I envision inv

Many Bothans Died to Bring You This Video

So. Very. Wrong.

Hopelessly Devoted to You, WIP

It's been ten years since I started writing Dindi. I'm in even worse shape than Susanna Daniel, who wrote on this a while ago in Slate. This means that the time from my novel's conception to its appearance on store shelves adds up to a staggering 10 years. An entire decade. Between, I graduated and spent a year on fellowship (during which I wrote a lot but only half of it was any good); then there were the teaching years (during which I wrote very little, hardly any of it good); then there were the Internet company years (during which I barely wrote at all). Stiltsville is in good company, which is reassuring. There are oodles of novels that took a decade or longer to write—including some famous examples, like Junot Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Díaz spoke in interviews about his own decade of active non-accomplishment. He said that five years into the process, he decided to give up on the novel and start a graduate degree (in what, he didn't say). H

Stop Calling Me, Newspaper Phone Spammer!

For nostalgic reasons, we received a print newspaper for a long time after we bothered reading it. Finally, we tired of putting unread newspapers straight into the recycling and cancelled. Ever since, the newspaper has been phone spamming us three to five times a day, begging us to renew. My mom, who cancelled the same newspaper, found that they continued to charge her credit card for months afterward. Finally, frustrated after months of this phone spam -- we asked them politely and officially to stop calling us several times -- I answered the phone by snapping, "There's this thing called the internet. Look into it!" Not really fair to the phone jockey at the call center, but I was super annoyed. The discussions I saw about the move of Dorchester to epublishing were all negative, as if moving to epublishing were a sign of shame and failure. I guess, if it was brought on by financial difficulties, that's true. But I wonder if we aren't seeing the beginning of a pr

Not. Goofing. Off.

I'm not goofing off instead of writing. I'm SOCIAL NETWORKING. Instead of writing. Damn. I better get back to work.

Tech stuff

LiveJournal will not let you make a comment without making you watch an ad. What's up with that? I went back on Facebook. I had sworn off it for a while because of the privacy scandal. And sure enough, this time, when I signed up, it knew all my writerly friends. How did Facebook know the names of my friends? Huh? I specifically DID NOT let them access by email. Anyway, of course I friended everyone. Creepy, but convenient. The story of our age.

Three Questions for Michelle Davidson Argyle about Cinders

Michelle Davidson Argyle's beautiful novella debuted recently, and I invited her to answer three questions about it. 1. This story works on two levels -- as a fantasy, it has magic, sprites, elves (O Kale, you sparkly elf hunk!) and fairies. In a lot of ways, it follows a fantasy story structure. Cinderella has to find three objects to make a spell work, for instance. However, it is really a literary story in the guise of fantasy tropes. Were you conscious of writing a story with a theme? There are several, ahem, men in Cinderella's life. Do the different forms of love she feels for each of them relate to the theme? Do you see the men as representing different choices not just Cinderella, but any person, could make? You're right about Cinders parading around as a fantasy when it's really a literary story. It's almost entirely character driven, although there is also some fun outside action and tension. Yes, I was conscious of doing this, and I was conscious of writi

Overly Poetic

I'm editing. Again. Joy. It's funny. The first time I edited the draft, I found prose which was lifeless, stilted and dull. I added a bit of poetry, a touch of spice. This time around, I'm toning some of that down. You could call it purple prose, but that's not specific enough. It's more like odd twists on words. I love to turn verbs into nouns, nouns into verbs, play on puns, throw in alliteration and even rhyming! Sometimes it works (in my opinion) but sometimes I think it detracts from the story by calling attention to the words. I'm trying to find the happy medium. My goal is simple, clear, translucent prose.

Chronological Out Order Of

I believe the structure of a story should reflect the theme. Sometimes that means not telling events in chronological order. Instead, events are fitted together like pieces of a puzzle, where they best serve the story, and time lines are plaited like hair in a braid. I may have mentioned before an excellent example of this is Ursula LeGuin's Dispossessed. The story is about a scientist raised in an anarchist utopia who becomes disaffected with his homeworld. He travels to another planet where his genius is recognized and applauded, though eventually he realizes this society, too, has a dark underbelly. He is a physicist who has invented a device -- the ansible -- which makes timespace both simultaneous and sequential, thus allowing instantaneous communication across lightyears. What's amazing about the book is how the structure mirrors this theme of events being both simultaneous/sequential. There are two story lines, told in alternate chapters. One tells of the main character

Behold My Invention, the Wheel

You know what I've just discovered? My manuscript doesn't have to be perfect the first time. I can start out with this thing called a "rough draft." Get the main shape of the plot down on paper. Then go back with a finer brush and paint in the details. Whoah! Did I think of that all by myself? Man, I'm a genius! Ok, ok, this is Novelwriting 101. I am a big dork. Sometimes you have rediscover basic rules for writing over again. As the saying goes, "A fool can be told something 1000 times and never learn it. A genius need be told only seven-hundred-and-twenty-six times." * * * Speaking of trying something 726 times, I have again re-arranged Dindi (the series). Quick history: The project started as one 200,000 word book with 7 sections. That was too long, so I thought, what if I make each section into its own book? I wrote an additional 90,000 words for book one. Then I decided that I wanted the series finished, whether Book 1 has sold yet or not, and 7 bo

Losing the Details

I've noticed something about how I write. When I begin a book, I pay loving attention to the details of the setting and the poetry of the language. However, as the story begins to grip me, I start chasing down the action or dialogue so fast, the setting becomes a blur. The language also grows clunkier and clunkier. Soon, my nuanced, delicately painted world is dashed out in broad strokes of primary color. Beta readers have complained that middle chapters in my book feel like they take place in empty space compared to the earlier chapters. Does this ever happen to you?

Synopsis, My Ongoing Loathing Of

I have to write a synopsis, and I am squawking and squeaking about it like a rusty bike in a rainstorm. I know I shouldn't be such a big baby, it's just one more petty curse authors have to put up with, but ugh, I would rather lick toads. Why, synopsis, why must you be so hard to write? Why must you be as dull as dust? Why must you somehow forget to mention major plot points, thus making it seem as though the ending makes no sense? WHY? WHY?!