Thursday, August 21, 2014
I just finished reading a novel that used way too many creative metaphors. At one point it threw me out of the story. I wished that the author said "big" or something similar. It felt too forced for all of the excessive descriptions that filled up the scene. I didn't need a metaphor. I was firmly in the world already.
That's the goal. To ground the reader in your world. If you say: "Her thoughts circled like gulls over a trawler." You reinforce a theme of sea, maybe fishing, boats, waves. If that helps remind the reader that your world is a small fishing village, it's icing on the authorial cake. But if it all feels that way:
"Her thoughts circled like gulls over a trawler. The air was colder than the winter sea in an artic blizzard. She staggered like a drunken sailor across the sand that stuck to her shoes like tar balls thrown up in the ever-churning waves." It slows the action. Even worse, it distracts the reader.
Writing is like painting, you need to concentrate on the focal point. If the entire image is equally embellished, the image becomes bland. In art they talk about negative space. The space outside the image that defines it. So you put emphasis on the dew drop on the pear in the still life and let the plate blur slightly. Unless you want to point out the plate. Then you can blur the fruit. But if everything is clamoring for your attention, you see nothing.
In writing, if you emphasize everything, the reader gets confused. I read a chapter from a work in progress that had the life story of a waiter in it. When I asked what relation he had to the story, the answer was - none. So why did I just spend my time learning all about this guy? Didn't push the plot forward, didn't enhance my understanding of the world, didn't affect the main characters at all. It was an odd little vignette that the writer had come up with for no apparent reason.
That's the way I felt about some of the metaphors in the book I read. They distracted more than they informed. In a couple of cases I would have preferred a plan old adjective like big. Sometimes simple is better.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Captain Kirk taught me to delegate. He never really did anything (other than romance women and posture at aliens) Scotty fix the engines, Sulu get us out of here. Bones take care of him. Spock find a solution. He had people do what they were good at.
When I found myself in a managerial position, I realized I needed to delegate or clone myself. Since the cloning wasn't going to happen, I had to learn to delegate. Then I remembered Kirk.
Assigning work to people that are good at it, and giving them the responsibility to do it well is an art. It takes a long time to learn. And you have to be lucky enough to have the right people for the work you need to have done. I stumbled along for awhile, but I think ultimately I did it well enough.
I actually had an employee tell me - "I can't be held responsible for my actions!" And he wondered why he ended up with all the scut work.
The Shoemaker and the Elves taught me economics. Aside from the elves and the magic, the story boils down to a simple lesson of quality sells. The shoemaker puts out fine materials to work on the next day. The elves deliver a great pair of shoes. He sells the shoes for a profit which he reinvests in more quality materials, from which the elves create more shoes. From one good product a solid business is grown.
The other important side of the story is that his wife makes clothes for the elves. She sees their need (they're naked) and supplies a solution. Recompense for artistry. A symbiotic relationship. They produce for the shoemaker and he takes care of their needs.
Whenever I am starting a new endeavor I think of them. His success was built one pair of shoes at time. One customer at a time. A slow process that builds over years. Sometimes that's frustrating. Sometimes I hope the elves will arrive in the dark of the night.
Friday, August 8, 2014
My very first review of Lethal Seasons was a bad one. Put me in panic mode. Oh no! What should I do now? The correct answer is: nothing. It's out there. Nothing I can do to change a person's opinion. And the review itself was a bit of a mixed bag, I think the reviewer sort of liked the story but really did not like the characters. Which will totally ruin a story for you.
But then I thought, is this a rite of passage? All my other books have gotten good reviews. Not many, but all good. Which I know will always make readers suspicious. When I see a book with only good reviews I wonder if it's all just friends and family. I feel like I need disclaimers on my reviews - This is a total stranger! Really!
So now I have a bad review. And I am oddly proud of it. I handed out the novel and got honest feedback from someone I never met. Obviously, not my target audience...some of what the reviewer disliked will, hopefully appeal to someone else. I am thankful that the reviewer explained why the book didn't appeal.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Reading is very subjective. I created a "shelf" in my Goodreads account called "Not my cup of tea" specifically for books that were well written, but did not appeal to me. I do try to point out why I don't like them so that other readers can decide if those elements are ones they'd enjoy. Tastes vary. As my great-uncle used to say - that's what makes horse racing.
In other news - I ordered my first batch of print books. For all the folks who won the Goodreads Giveaway - thanks for your patience! I hope to have them in hand by next week and in the mail soon after.
And now it's time to get back to work on the next book!
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Lesson 1 - build in more time for the proofing. The best way to look for errors is to read the book aloud. That takes a lot longer than you think. And when reading, you fall into a rhythm and can easily lose focus or start scanning. So you need to stop, walk around, get a beverage, whatever. Proofing this book took me almost 2 weeks.
Lesson 2 - proof before you format. I thought my final doc was very clean. I was wrong. As a result, when I split it out to format for Smashwords, KDP and CreateSpace, I created 3 different docs that had to be corrected. All of the errors that I found in the print proof had to be fixed in all of them. More time needed for that!
Lesson 3 - keep notes! There were a couple times that formatting went awry and I couldn't figure out what I had done previously to fix it. I created worksheets this time to help keep notes as I went through each format.
Lesson 4 - It's all okay. The longer I worked on it, the more doubtful I became. Is this a good book? I got good feedback, but will people like it? Whew. Just power through and get it done.
Lesson 5 - Take your time. A couple times I was tempted to say - good enough - and rush through a step. But there is no reason for that. I would only cheat myself. The deadlines I set are mine and I can change them if need be. Take a breath, calm down and proceed with care.
These are the things I'm sharing from this round of publishing. One more week till Lethal Seasons is released!
Thursday, July 24, 2014
This is the Czech Black Hot Pepper. Fairly prolific and very striking in the garden. The ripe peppers are supposed to turn a garnet red. We've eaten a couple black ones, haven't had the patience to wait. They are very mild with a good flavor.
Hungarian Pink Oxheart tomato. A huge, meaty tomato. This is one of the smallest and it weighed in at almost 1/2 a pound. Last year the blight got them all. I am being more careful this year and spraying with an organic fungicide. This is the first ripe one. I'm looking forward to making a lot of sauce with these.
Ground cherry or tomatillo. This is a tiny tomatillo, about grape-sized, with a sweet flavor reminiscent of pineapple. Yummy in a salad or just snacking. The husks turn tan and papery when the fruit is ready. The last time I grew these they were so prolific I was giving away baskets of them. But they are very hard to start. I tried three times before I got a couple very tiny, very fragile seedlings. They do not like cold weather at all.
The past couple weeks have been rainy and gray. I am worried about the tomatoes getting blight. The drying tomato I like best - Principe Borghese - is very susceptible. But it is also the sweetest, yummiest dried tomato ever. I hope to get a good crop this year. Last year I lost all the tomatoes to blight and was forced to buy dried tomatoes for the first time in years. Very disappointing.
So far it's a good garden year. Fingers crossed that it continues!
Friday, July 18, 2014
First of all, here's a wonderful flyer that Alex made for me.
The Goodreads Giveaway ended. I think it was very successful for getting the word out - 913 people signed up for it and 453 people put it in their "to be read" file. I am expecting the first proof of the print book next week. I hope to have copies in hand, to mail to the winners, in another week or so.
And as promised, here is an excerpt from Lethal Seasons:
Just a little taste to get you interested! Lethal Seasons ebook is available for preorders at a discounted price of $2.99 at iTunes , Barnes and Noble , and Kobo through August 8, 2014. The price will go to $4.99 on the 9th.
Paperback will be available at Amazon on August 8, 2014.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
If you want to check it out go here SlideShare.
Marketing. Well. What can I say? I am reading tons of advice and boiling it all down to what I can handle - skill-wise, time-wise and budget-wise. There are so many options out there, and I haven't a clue which ones will work. This SlideShare thing was one of the new things to try. It's free and very easy- my kind of thing!
I sent out a press-release about the pre-orders to one site. I am curious to see if I get any feedback on that. Hopefully all of these little things piled on top of one another add up to something in the end. I think a lot of it is being in the right place at the right time with a quality product. So fingers crossed and full speed ahead.
Newsletter! Yes, it's true. I have started a newsletter. I will only send one out when I have something new - a new book, a sale, discounts, whatever. So it won't be going out every month. For the few of you who received the first one, I'd love some feedback. And please pass it on to any other Scifi or Mystery fans you know.
White Lies and Unintended Consequences ebooks are on sale at 50% off at Smashwords.
The Goodreads Giveaway runs through to midnight on July 18. I am giving away 8 books.
And now I get to start formatting Lethal Seasons for all the various publication platforms. This is the trickiest part. I lost my patience on the last book, rushing it out before it was perfect. I will try to be better with this one!