Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Geography


This is what I call it when I can't envision the placement of the scene. I tell the members of my critique group that I need more geography. Where is the bookcase in relation to the door or the stairs? Where is the stream in relation to the path?

So it struck me funny when I got the critique in return.

What makes it even worse is that my geography is on another planet. So, I'm taking a step back from rewriting so I can build my geography. I printed some pictures of Greek cities, because they are old and the terrain is similar to what I envisioned for one place. I'll print some street maps also, to help me see the sprawl of the city.

As I started to lay out the physical structure of one city a slew of ideas surfaced about what might be there - parks, and subways, trams, where the government buildings should be and access. How to people get where they want to be.

World building is hard, but it can be a lot of fun.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Inspired by Sting



I love music.

Sometimes, I think I forget that. During the day I work as a bookkeeper. I need to concentrate on numbers, so I like a quiet work space.

I like to sing along to music. That means I can't concentrate while listening to my favorite songs. It's either classical music on NPR or nothing.

The other night I watched a show with Sting and a Country Western singer whose name I can't remember. And they played some of my favorite Sting songs. And I remembered how much I love those songs. But the thing that stood out, was Sting himself.

"He thrums," my sister said. And that was very true. He exuded energy. He was buzzing with life. Bouncing on his toes as he sang. It didn't feel like he was hyped up on a drug. It felt like he was just bursting with life. Wow.

And a little voice in my brain said, "You need a character like that in the book."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The obligatory gratitude post

Being vegetarians, today will not involve any dead birds for us. But we do plan a big meal and yummy desserts.

I am a cynic when it comes to commercial holidays. I hate being told when to be grateful and when to be compassionate. And Black Friday is an event that makes me embarrassed to be American.

That said, I am grateful for where I am today. I have a lovely little house in a wonderful, older, very quiet neighborhood. My small yard keeps me busy year round with gardening, composting, raking leaves and mowing the lawn. My job gives me time to write. And I work out of the house, so I can garden on my breaks.

I've got a supportive family and a great critique group.

I'm not rich or famous (yet), but I've lived the starving artist lifestyle for so long that I don't know what I'd do with a lot of money. Buy the really expensive chocolate? Get massages more often? Maybe buy a fancier car? Meh. I can live without it.

So, when it comes down to it, I'm grateful every day for the simple life I have.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Anne McCaffrey - a major influence

I think one of the reasons I started writing was because my favorite authors didn't produce fast enough and I wanted to play in their worlds. Pern has always been a favorite for me. And some of those characters, all these years later, still resonate with me. The dragons, the fire lizards, Harper Hall, fighting thread...such a completely realized world. I guess that's what makes it so inviting to return.

I didn't know her or much of her life, but her writing deeply touched me. And I am grateful to have visited with the people in her head.

Thanks for everything, Anne. I hope you're on a new and greater adventure now.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

More Thoughts on books

Well, I finished the book on the moon - Ben Bova's Moonrise. I have to say that after the protag is killed, I lost a lot of interest. I finished the book, but the characters seemed stuck. 18 years passes, but no one grows, the technology is the same and the son takes over the personality of the character that was killed.

I found the life on the moon base and  the interaction of the people interesting. I also found the research into nanotechnology interesting. The political backlash and rise of the ultra conservative society felt tacked on. It was something that apparently developed very quickly in the background.

In the final confrontation when the son has to save Moonbase (which he sort of doesn't) a minor character is killed for no apparent reason. That aggravated me. It should have made me sad, right? She was a very sympathetic character, so her death should have touched me. Her death is collateral damage. So I guess that it is supposed to underline the evil of the antagonist. Didn't work for me.

The characters start spouting the same dialog over and over. OK. I got it. They're driven. Now tell me something else. Many reviews of this book say that the second book, Moon War is much better. Not sure if I will read it.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

He killed off the main character!

Half way through the book I am reading, the author killed off the main character. 

I finished the chapter and thought, what now? I was invested in him. I wanted him to beat the odds. The first page started with his challenge, the obstacle he had to overcome. And he didn't. Bummer.

The book became the story of a dynasty, not just a person. Which was sort of interesting. Because the main character's son basically became him. And the time shifts to 18 years later. I'm not sure that it's working for me. The book is science fiction, but it's really about corporate politics - on the moon. But I'm still reading, so something is working. I have to think about this for awhile. When I'm finished I will give it a fuller review.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Did it again...

Here it is, over a week into November and I have hardly written a thing.

Putting Catburglar up on Smashwords seems to have swallowed me whole. I've spent my spare time reading articles on marketing and self-publishing. When I should be working on the SF novel.

I knew this was going to happen. I wrote out a schedule of writing and marketing and taped it to the wall. Then promptly stacked  a bunch of things in front of it. Looks like I'd better go back and take a look at it.

It's so easy to get caught up in the kerfuffle. There are the authors that want you to know self-pub isn't a vanity press, and the ones who have made it and want to share their plan (for a fee) and the ones who think it's all crap and the ones that respond with statistics and forecasts. Sheesh. My head is so full I can't think. So let me go sit in the corner with a nice cup of tea and just breathe for a bit.

Catburglar is still pending approval for the Premium Catalog. It has been available for less than a week. I don't think I need to spend ALL my free time learning about marketing right now. Whew. I needed to say that.

Right. So now on to the fun bits - writing.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Is the formula not working?

I just finished reading the third book of a trilogy and it really didn't work for me. It was standard epic fantasy with the reluctant messiah and the quest sort of thing. But the character that was the reluctant messiah was so full of self doubt - pages and pages of it - that I just wanted to give him a slap.

And the whole back end of the book was a long and boring journey that didn't do anything. But that's the formula, right? Reluctant messiah has to go on a quest with a few chosen travelers to find the magical whatsit to save the world. This story didn't have the mentor/gods/benevolent teacher in it. So the RM just had to figure it out as he went. That didn't bother me. The pages and pages of whining about how unprepared he was to take on such a burden of responsibility was really annoying. I actually skimmed some pages. I felt like the author needed some filler and just repeated what he'd already said.

Some of the peripheral characters were more interesting.

And I could see every twist a mile away. Am I too jaded? I don't mind seeing the twist coming if it develops into something good. But I guessed the betrayers and then doubted it because it was too easy. So that confused me. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and them to be cleared. Nope.

Oh well. There is an new Brandon Sanderson book out this month that I have been waiting for - The Alloy of Law. That's bound to be good.

In other news - I sold 2 copies of Catburglar to friends. Thanks Bob and Michael! And it is still pending the Premium Catalog.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Done!

I did it!

Catburglar is up for sale at Smashwords. I fixed all my errors and it worked. Very exciting. I am still waiting to see if I will be accepted for the Premium catalog. I saw on one blog that it could take up to 2 weeks for that to happen. OK.

Now I guess I need to think about how to get people interested in my little story. I posted it on Facebook. But that's mostly just the cousins. So I can't expect any sales there. Maybe just a congratulatory post or two.

Now comes the other hard part...marketing.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Catburglar on Smashwords

OK, toe in the water.

I tried my first self-pub on Smashwords. It's an illustrated flash. I created the cover in Gimp. And it would not load. Funny, but if you read the directions, it works better.

The cover was too large. So I compressed the file and darned if it didn't load right away.

And I assigned it an ISBN. Wow. I have an official ISBN. Makes it feel more real somehow.

Then I got the message that I had failed the epub format conversion. That means the Apple Store won't carry it. So I followed the directions and plunked it into the Threepress epub validating site to find out what was wrong. I think it's because one of the illustrations was scanned as a PNG instead of a JPG. So I re-scanned, reinserted and reloaded.

I am presently 407 in the queue! I was 473 when it first loaded. Amazing. So many people producing work. Now I just need to be patient. Updates tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What makes a comfortable read?

And I don't mean a sappy, saccharin sort of thing.

I just finished reading The Inheritance by Robin Hobb. It's a collection of short stories. Usually, I don't like short stories because they are too short. I like a tome. A book so large it makes my hands hurt to hold it. (Looking forward to upgrading to an e-reader soon.) But these stories were wonderful. I slipped into each world easily and walked along with each character.

Maybe it's her worldbuilding.

Or her well rounded characters.

Or the fact that I've already been in some of her worlds and know what they're about.

But her books are so comfortable to read. I don't notice the individual words on the page or the time passing or noises in the room...huh? What did you ask me?

How does that happen? I want to do that, too.