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My drug of choice is writing--writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Reminder About The Tone of the Rebels

Remember when we all respectfully told England that we didn't like their taxes and could we please get some representation if it wasn't too much trouble? And we didn't do anything that wasn't taking the high ground or making our points in the most academic and non emotional manner. We never let incendiary rhetoric shut down "real communication." And the Brits listened and never had to tell us that we weren't doing ourselves any favors. They listened because we didn't ever let our more strident members be so militant or affect the discourse with their toxic rage. Our tone was always above reproach and England really respected that moral high ground as we debated it out through proper channels and with excellent diction and grammar. That's why the loyalists and the French stuck with us–because we never alienated our allies by being too angry. We certainly didn't destroy property or disrespect the law, the government, or those agents of England who were just doing their jobs. And in the end, England just LET us be self governing because we peacefully, rationally convinced them of the merits of our argument.

Today we are the United States and we celebrate our independence because we never hurt our own cause by going "too far."

Happy Fourth of July my ever respectably politicked America!!

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Wallflowers Have Ears

Or perhaps more properly titled The Vampiric Wallflowers Have Ears

Last Saturday I went to do my vampire LARP.

Let me be absolutely honest: I did not "stretch" with this character. Max is what I call a "comfortable jacket" character. Like your favorite jacket that you know exactly how it fits and how much warmth you can get from it. I was being a lazy roleplayer when I made it, and I knew it. Sometimes when I create a character, I know they are going to be a role playing challenge or that they will take me far outside my comfort zone. I've hit on everything that moved before or been almost non-verbal and wild eyed, both of which are almost exactly the opposite of me.

Then there was the character with the orgasm gun...

Max, on the other hand, is easy. He's got some tougher aspects to roleplay for me (like psychopathy and thrill seeking) but they aren't always immediately obvious, and it tracks that they will become more apparent as time goes on.  I didn't know a lot of people at this game before I went, and I have to admit being more interested in seeing my friends than in the game itself. It's not that Vampire LARPing doesn't have an appeal I recognize (clearly I'm getting sucked back in, pun fully intended), it's just that before I stopped playing in about 2010, I had been doing vampire for just about twentyish years. Larping for a decade, and the old White Wolf tabletop game before that. So I wrote a character that wasn't going to be a push for me. I had a built in, character reason to be timid (I was not yet acknowledged). My character is a journalist (a writer). He's not gregarious or outgoing. I even have a reason to open up my laptop and do some writing with earbuds screwed into my ears.

And I pull a lot of my "writer tricks" as Max. Especially the eavesdropping one. Honestly, it's a wonder I didn't make a blogger named Chris just to turn the lazy up to eleven.

You should know that I eavesdrop a lot. Not on people I know--that seems rude--but on people I've never met, I'm constantly listening into their conversations and trying to hear their stories. Most people in this world are too self-absorbed or distracted to realize JUST how much you can pick up in a room if you take the time to pay attention. Conversations across the room can be focused on without particular trouble. Interesting conversations can be "filtered out" of background noise. Particularly with a computer in your lap, you just kind of blend in, and with headphones in your ears, people pretty much assume that you can't hear them.

Saturday night I heard a number of conversations that were...interesting. Nothing Earth shattering--no plans for praxis seizure or to murder the seneschal or anything--but interesting nonetheless. Lots of status disputes, at least one elder rivalry that is probably going to end badly regarding the wanton disrespect of one character to a couch prince of a small city. There are status bids and boon worming going on. And perhaps the most interesting conversation I heard was regarding my sire being considered somewhat inappropriate as a harpy because of his lowly Malkavian clan status.

Being performative about my "writerly aspects" is a great way to remember that they're there and suggest that other writers put them in their own tool boxes. Writers spend a lot of time working to make rich and detailed characters, believable dialogue, and plausible escalation of conflict. They could do worse than to spruce up their lives with a little eavesdropping.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Oh, the PAIN of publishing!

The actual publishing of a book takes a long time. I don’t mean the editing and copy-editing part. I don’t even mean the proofreading part. I mean the complexity of getting a work up for sale on various direct to reader sites, getting it out to all the distributors, getting it into all the countries and stores where readers can find it. That can take FOREVER!

As of now, The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy Book Two Chasing Dreams is KIND OF published.

Amazon Kindle is (after several days of nonsense) UP at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B010F01B52.

All e-formats (every single one) are UP at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/554066. Getting into THEIR system was really tough this time.

It’s even up on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25825574-the-toki-girl-and-the-sparrow-boy-book-2-chasing-dreams. That was surprisingly easy, but you can’t buy books there, only review them.

BUT: It will take about three weeks for hard copies to become available at Amazon (that link will work and connect to both books) as I still have to proof bound galleys and submit corrections, if any. It will ALSO take three to four weeks for it to appear in the iTunes store, on Kobo, at B & N for direct reader purchase, and ALSO be available for purchase by brick and mortar stores, schools and libraries.

Advance Review Copies (ARCs) are mostly out, and reviews are the nicest thing you can ever do for an author. Just takes a minute, but good reviews mean more marketing on the part of the actual booksellers, and the hardest thing I’ve found about publishing (Big House, Small Press, Tiny Indie Press) is actually becoming visible to readers. Reviews help! Please review! If you buy on-line, you can review right where you bought the book.

Since distribution (bookstores, libraries, schools and readers can FIND the book to buy it)  is available without a Big House now — small presses often do not provide much in the way of distribution — one does have to ask if working through a Big House is worth it. IME, they didn’t do much more than that in the publicity line. But they DID take a lot of the pain out of actually getting the completed book into print. I'd STILL have to proof bound galleys, though, and I am the World’s Worst Proofreader.

The past three weeks, as well as the next three weeks, will be filled with urgent emails telling me everything possible has gone wrong, though it shouldn’t have. They’ll be filled with cuss words as we (and I am doing this WITH professional help) try to figure out what they’re even talking about, much less what they want.  Files will be uploaded over and over, in response to NEW error messages. We’ll hear patent untruths and have to figure out ways to get around them. I’ll be ripping my hair out at midnight.

I hate this period of being neither here nor there, of dealing with constant errors and revisions — NOT in the book, but in getting it out to distributors and retailers. But would I trade it for the ease of having someone else do this? WOULD someone else do it, if I had a Big House publisher? They’d do some thing. It would take much longer. In many ways it would be easier. It would be someone else’s job to rip her hair out at midnight. But she’d be calling me at six a.m., since she’s in NYC and I’m in California, and wanting ME to answer questions about which I haven’t the foggiest. It’s a trade off.

Sure, I’d go back to a Big House if I felt like it would benefit my books. If I thought I could get better distribution. If I thought I could get better publicity. If I thought I could get an editor who understands my vision, and not one who wants to impose hers. If I thought the factor-of-ten lower cut I get of the proceeds would be compensated for by an increase in sales.

But even though I am in the middle of publication hell, I tend to think not. The Big House is going to have to show me some benefits. I haven’t seen any so far.

Claire Youmans:
blogger extraordinaire.
P.S. This is a REALLY GOOD BOOK for middle-grades and up, a fantasy-adventure set in Meiji-era Japan, featuring siblings who can turn into birds. And monsters, of course. Lots of monsters.

If you'd like to join Claire in blogging for Writing About Writing either regularly or as a one or two shot, please take a look at the guest blogging guidelines (which include the fact that you can get paid, but probably won't get the numbers to make more than a few cents) and then drop me a line at chris.brecheen@gmail.com.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Best World Building (Poll: Semifinal Round 2)

What is the best world building in Fiction?   

Our first semifinal round is over, and we're on to round two to see who goes on to the finals.

This poll will only be up for a little over two weeks.

Everyone will get four votes (4). The top four names will go on to the finals. Before you simply vote for your favorite four, consider that, as there is no ranking of those four votes; each vote beyond one dilutes the power of your choices a little more. So if you have a genuine favorite--or pair of favorites--it's better to use as few votes as possible.

The poll itself is on the left side at the bottom of the side menus. 

Don't forget that the Polldaddy program tracks the ISP you vote from for only a week. Since I can't stop people from voting twice, I might as well work it into the system. Vote early! Vote often!

Best Worldbuilding (Semifinal Round 1 Results)

And the winner is....


Congratulations to Hogwarts, Dresden, PERN, Westeros, and Earthsea. They will be going on to the final round (in a couple of weeks). 

Magical England, Known Space, Darkover, and Black Jewels did fandamntastic just to get on a poll with so many nominations.

Look for the poll for the second semifinal round–going up later today.