Nothing to See Here…

I’m sitting here racking my brain for something to write that will entertain and enlighten (what? Well, it might!) you all. So far I’m coming up empty. I thought about editing, but that’s been done a lot. I’d been asked by a friend how I would recommend starting in this Independent Author thing, and I sent her here. We’ve covered Cover Art, and marketing, and branding

Someone asked recently if buying books for research was tax deductible. As always, disclaimer: I am not an expert. However, the answer is yes, but check with your local rules and regs. And this is something you should be prepared for, folks, you are now a business, if you are independently publishing, and you need to be keeping records accordingly. No, I don’t want to hear “but my book isn’t selling…”because while it isn’t NOW, the next one might take off like a rocket. Get in the habits at the beginning.

Speaking of Rocket, I don’t think I mentioned how watching Guardians of the Galaxy gave me an epiphany? I’ll go back a little, and say that I rarely watch movies. I even more rarely watch them in the theatre. The last one before GoG was taking my kids to see The Avengers. However, my First Reader and I went to see this one on the big screen, because I wanted to. Who can resist a talking raccoon with a really big gun? The movie was frothy and predictable, and very fun. As we left the darkness and walked into the bright summer light, we were talking about it. I’d been working on the very beginning of a science fiction novel, and struggling with it. He’d told me that he didn’t like the main character (I don’t think he said, Die, die! about her), but it was clear I needed to find a way to make the story as I’d started it more appealing. Which is why GoG gave me an epiphany. I needed the leavening of humor in order to help the bleakness of the opening along. I’d done it with Pixie Noir, deliberately, and it worked well.

Here, I was writing a character hitting bottom, and she was coming across whiny, which is just a really bad idea. Readers don’t like whiny. You know that person in your life who complains all the time? The one you edge away from at parties, or dread when they come stand in your cubicle and talk to you? Yeah… by adding a bit of humor this character could avoid the fate of becoming that dreadful bore. I think I’ve written about adding humor before here, but like I said, I was stuck on what to write.

I’ve been busy enough with school I’m not doing the reading I usually do to keep up with industry news. And while I have no qualms about blogging about school on my personal blog, I don’t think giving you all my pull quotes and thoughts on Roach’s Four Models of the Criminal Process is really going to be all that interesting. Although this article might get a story idea started – it fits right in with the one I’m writing.

I’m reading David Pascoe’s Baptism by Fire, Cyn Bagley’s Norn’s Judgement, and T. Kingfisher’s Toad Words this week, if all goes to plan. Last week I read Kevin Anderson’s Death Warmed over and Lois McMaster Bujold’s Winterfair Gifts (yes, it did take me ten years to get around to it, and yes, I cried).

By the way, I finally broke the writing drought, and I’m going to be starting into the second chapter on the SF novel. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep writing during school, but so far it’s working if I just do a little at a time when I can manage.

So… what questions, comments, or sheer hare-brained ideas have you all?

31 thoughts on “Nothing to See Here…

  1. Yeah, I’ve got a Character who starts out whiny and finally realizes how to turn her problem (unnoticed and unregarded) into an asset (smuggling–yes, she’s that unnoticeable) But how do you get the reader _past_ that whiny part? Since she’s in my main universe, I’m trying to figure out how to add her a quarter of the way through another book, as a minor thread. She can be awesome on her own later. _If_ I can make her story relevant to the main plot.

    Sometimes I just have to admit that the first few chapters I’ve written are world building and however useful to get the details settled in my mind, not something that should be inflicted on a reader. I really hate cutting out tens of thousands of words, but sometimes the reader just needs a little whiff, not a five course meal.

    1. I usually have the opposite problem, like in this book, starting and not giving the reader enough cues to be able to fill in the blanks. Sigh. I just got told I need to go do backfill on chapter one!

      1. Well, if there was a market, I’d probably just create one odd world after another, forget the bother of having a plot. And Characters. They’re easy. Don’t I just wish I could work out the plot and storyline ahead of time and have it last past the second chapter.

  2. I too went and saw GOG in a theater. Great fun. Mindless entertainment.
    I think the last time I’d been in a movie house before that was to see Serenity when it came out. Hit the early matinee second week after it premiered and there were maybe five of us in the theater, a relief to me as my main reason for no longer going to movies is that folks cannot seem to get it through their pointy heads that, no, they are not sitting in their own living rooms, and, no, chatting amongst themselves is not appropriate behavior.

    1. I don’t go to movies because my usual response to most film experiences is to read a book at the same time. I’m paying attention – I used to get quizzed by an irritated person who thought I wasn’t – but I need more than just the film to keep my brain happy.

      1. You my dear are a natural multi-tasker. Some folks just have the knack, some can be trained into it, and some will never believe that anyone can process two things at once as they find the whole concept impossible.
        In a former life I ran a team that did ground support to manned space operations. The job demanded that you monitor from 6 to 8 voice loops simultaneously. Some took to it naturally, others eventually got better at it, and some simply requested transfer to a different non console job.

        1. Waitaminit…you mean all those after-dinner multithreaded arguments at my German great-aunts’ house were really training me to do ground support for the space program?? It would have been nice to know that at the time, (she says, grumbling) Or, the space program could have hired them out for training. (The formula is given N great-aunts or uncles you get N-1 arguments. At the top of my form I could channel-surf all of them)

  3. I loves me those whiney characters. They dress up so pretty in those bright red shirts right before I kill them off in some horrible fashion.
    Much of writing after all is about expectations, and one never wants to leave the reader unsatisfied. Wanting more, yes, of course, but never unsatisfied.
    Why? Because you always want the reader to feel slightly sad when they reach the end of your book, but that the journey they’ve just finished was worth the price paid, both in time and cash. Achieve that and you’ve just created yourself a new and loyal fan.

    1. Yes, but it’s so hard to predict that reaction while you are writing. Also, one reader might like it, while another wants more… sigh. It’s like feeding kids. No sooner is one meal over than they are demanding more. Do I have to feed you guys three times a day or something? LOL

      1. For the perfect real world example one need look no further than the ravening hordes clamoring for the latest eARCs from Baen. I swear Jim was the original Evil Lord of Evil, long before Larry C. Sarah, and whoever else has made the list. Take the unedited final submission of an author’s latest work and turn around and sell an electronic copy of it to folks for full hard cover price. I suspect Jim is now happily in business selling clouds to heaven and fire to hell.
        I really miss that guy.

  4. I just read an Historical romance with a thoroughly unlikable heroine, on purpose, not by accident, and the author pulled it off. And she started with humor. She also had the heroine do many kind things in secret. She also suffered the consequences of her behavior right from the beginning. I haven’t cried so much reading a romance in a long time because of those consequences, the way her need to be liked left her lonelier than ever. But I also haven’t read scenes to my husband out of the romances I’ve read in a long time because I was laughing so hard I had to share.

    One of those scenes I read to my husband was the first funny one where she’s presenting herself as prim perfection to her uncle she’d never met and a young man who followed her from the ship she took from America started wailing up at the mansion at the top of his lungs. Surely she must have encouraged him? Of course not, she says, and finally comes up with the explanation that he’s, er, Italian… and everyone nods in understanding as if that makes perfect sense. It was done so well, that when the inside of her head confesses that not only did she lead him on but she worked very hard to lead him on because she *needs* to be adored… you like her *anyway*. (The other was toward the end when the author managed to have the hero bellow, “I do not have syphilis!” in a crowded ballroom.)

    Had it all been played straight it would have been impossible to like her.

  5. I’m currently working on a different character, taking a break after finishing book two in my series, I have some ideas of a ‘problem’ the character has, more a physical than mental problem. The question is, how much detail/backstory is needed or let the reader fill in the blanks themselves.

    1. The answer to that is “It depends” and it depends based on various things. Fantasy, especially high epic fantasy can get away with gobs of backstory. If you’re writing something that is supposed to be faster-paced, throw in a handful of clues, and let your reader fill it in. Actually, I’m thinking Heinlein’s Friday might be a good one to read for this specific problem you’re having, to see what he did with her (very little) and how much he left to us to extrapolate.

  6. Currently working on illustrating and designing a simple cover for an ebook (the short story I wrote for the Baen contest) and am tossing up on selling it for 99c in it’s original form, and planning to expand the story (95% of my beta readers said that while they understood that I had a limit to work with, it left them wanting MORE; and roughly 75% of my readers said they wanted sequels. That’s promising, right?) I’ve had 3 or four folk advise me ‘sell it for 99c’, and one saying I should wait till the expanded, illustrated form is out.

    Shoved into the backburner on lowest simmer is the first book in a series, while I reformat and tidy up a fully finished co-authored novel for ebook release. (This is largely why I’m not around of late. I’m busy reformatting stuff. It’s redonkulously time consuming!)

    But it’s nice to be busy like this, oddly enough. Even though one feels like there isn’t enough time.

    1. It’s always better to be busy than bored, although you have to watch for exhaustion after a certain point. Which is why I have scheduled days off this fall, a first for me.

      Let me know if you want help with the formatting, I’ve done it a few times now. What program(s) are you working with?

      1. Using Libreoffice on Debian. Thanks for the offer; but the one that’s currently giving me the irrits is largely because for some reason, the document lost ALL italics, so internal dialogue and emphasis went poof. I have to read through the whole thing to discern where internal dialogue goes. ;_;

        I mix up what I do to keep me from going nuts and burning out. The document pissing me off? I draw. The current image is annoying me / need to take eyes off it for a while for fresh look in maybe thirty minutes? I doodle something else. If I’m making no headway with the above, check email / reply to blogs. It helps that my setup lets me kind of spin around to separate work. But when it comes to knuckling down to write I actually move away from here to a wee little netbook – the small screen and small keyboard area is just right for me to focus on and keep typing for a long while. (Small hands.)

        I’ll have to take a picture of my whole work setup sometime.

        1. Sounds like you have a great system. I just went to two computers on my desk, because my Mac is dying. And we bought me a new desk that fits in the corner so I can swivel from one to the other.

          1. I’m actually surrounded by computers. Each of them has a specific purpose – one for art, one for writing/editing/general communications and surfing, the last is a Windows gaming machine that isn’t seeing much use of late.

            I sent you an amusing little photo of some figures of encouragement; but I’ll try to take a nicer photo of my whole workstation (bit of a mess today.)

  7. I’m in a similar spot to SD/C, I’m planning to expand my Baen contest entry too. Although I can’t say that I’ve gotten nearly the same kind of feedback. *snif* But that’s not going to stop me.

    The big plot issue is: Okay, they’re going on a road trip so they can get to one place where they can get to the Demon world without the Demon Lord snatching control of the portal and ending the world, then they have to hike back to the place IN the Demon world where they can get rid of the skull without getting caught. Escaping afterward would be a nice bonus.

    Nifty, but where’s the conflict? Where’s the rising danger, and where’s the climax?

    The realization is, that’s NOT the plot. The road trip is not the story, it’s the SETTING. The real story is about the characters. What happens to Benita and Cisi as they travel, the danger to their relationship and how they overcome it. And figuring out a good SOURCE for that danger. And I think I’ve got it…..

    Hell, the worst that can happen is I labor in obscurity and watch it compete with Kiwi to see who can hit the million mark first.

          1. I get pretty awfully bloody-minded in the Dr. Mauser stories. Actually one of my sticking points on the novelization is getting him from his origin as an ordinary guy to being evil enough to do what he does best, and yet still make him the sympathetic character.

            (He discovers that his heat ray actually functions at low power as a stunner. He finds this out while trying to figure out why S.A.B.R.E. agents don’t scream satisfyingly enough when he immolates them. And this is okay because as official Good Guys, S.A.B.R.E. is the worst.)

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