When I was a fledgling author wife, one of the NYT-bestselling author wives took me aside, and warned me that my days of accomplishing the honey-do list were over. “You’ll have a week to two after he finishes a book. But right when he starts unpacking the garage, he’ll get that distracted look in his eyes, and then start wandering off to write.”
All I have to say is, she was right and I was wrong. So if you’re blocked and don’t know what to do, ask your spouse what the to-do list entails. I’m willing to bet plots will spring upon you when one third of the carpet is shampooed, characters will come when a quarter of the lawn is mowed, and subplots thrive on the way back from taking the first load to the dump.
And for all the folks trying Nanowrimo for the first time – yes, the urgent need to write that scene striking when you’re up to your elbows in soap suds is perfectly normal. So is figuring out the plot twist in the shower, or right when you are raking leaves but before they’re bagged.
…now, for real life imitating art, I have found that The Great Author does foreshadow. You see, earlier this year, a friend of mine died. In his final months, he mentioned several times that he really wanted to get a maine coon kitten, because he loved the breed, and the elderly cat needed company. However, he knew the chemo was a holding action, and wasn’t going to burden his mother with a kitten when he went.
The pouting about lack of kitten, however, was flamboyant enough to drive his friends to plot how to make one appear on his doorstep. Another few months, and we might have pulled it off.
Well, when his friends gathered for his memorial, and the last practical jokes decreed by the will, between all of us we also ended up taking home four kittens, all abandoned by their barn cat mothers and hand-raised on the farm. Three of them are black with silver underfur, and the fourth is a tabby coloration, and completely fearless.
In a surprising yet inevitable moment, google image search has revealed that my black and grey kitten is, at least partially, a “Black Smoke Maine Coon.”
This is me, looking up at the Great Author, and going “Really? REALLY? That’s your plot twist? One last practical joke, that you two were in cahoots to play on us?”
…anyway, excuse me. I’m going to be wrangling a three-month-old kitten almost the size of my adult cat, and already fluffier than her.
And, tangentally, on reverse-engineering your subcategories and targeting ads, here’s an interesting interview of Chris Fox by Joanna Penn here http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2016/10/24/sell-books-with-data-science/
(There’s a transcript below the audio, for those who prefer it that way.)
One of the parts that caught my eye was the analysis of what subcategories are underserved, or “hot” – and the identifying the common tropes and expectations. While most of us here aren’t writing to market, the same process can be done in reverse when trying to identify where to put your books. What tropes do they have? What subcategories do they fit? Of all possible choices, which ones are markets with a lot of eyeballs?
In other notes, two great books are out for you to read. The first, by a good friend Tom Rogneby, is free this weekend:
Tales of the Minivandians
Tom has taken tales of everyday life with a wife, husband, a house whose drains don’t always work, and a small boy who delights in mischief (and dogs with muddy paws), and retold it in a series of short stories cast in High Epic flavor. It’s hilarious, heartwarming, and an altogether delightful read. It’s also free today, with a sequel coming soon. Pick it up and enjoy!
The second, by the inimitable Mad Mike, is the fresh debut of the latest in his freehold universe:
Angie Kaneshiro never planned to be a spy. She was a veteran of the Freehold Forces of Grainne, and was now a tramp freighter crew-woman who hadn’t set foot on the dirt of a world in ten years. Angie was free, and that was the way she liked it.
Then the war with Earth started. One thing Angie knew was human space. She knew where the UN troops garrisoned, the methods they used to scan and chip their own to control them. Even better, she had a mental map of the access conduits, the dive bars, and the make-out cubbies people used to get around restrictions.
The UN forces may hold most of the stations, the docks, and the jump points, but now the Freehold of Grainne has its own lethal weapon. The Intelligence branch sends a freighter crewed with Blazers, special forces troops. All Angie has to do is lead them through the holes. Responsibility for the explosions and wreckage will be theirs. But war is complicated, and even the most unwilling of heroes can be forged in its crucible.