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Posts tagged ‘writer’s life’

Kaleidoscope of Chaos

I remember playing with kaleidoscopes as a kid. There were more than one kind, but they all operate off the same basic principle of three mirrors in a tube that reflected what was at the end of the tube into fascinating fractalline shapes. One kind had little plastic shards that when you turned the tube, fell into new patterns. This one wasn’t as cool as the other, that had a clear glass marble at the end and whatever you pointed it at made up the pattern. The world became art, with that kaleidoscope. Read more

Priorities

The boy-child is at vacation Bible school mornings this week. This is good, as I was starting to look for itinerant entertainers interested in taking on apprentices. It’s good to start them early on such things, right? Anyway, the life of a temporarily single parent is no joke, and the real single parents out there have my utmost respect. This $&%# is hard.

Case in point: the younger one is rotting her brain (yeah, I’m not really happy about it, either) while I type this. There’s simply no other way – right now – for me to get anything done without it taking two or three times as long, and exhausting me completely. And even then, it’d probably get dropped for something more urgent.
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Get Out Before It’s Too Late

Actually it’s never too late to cut out these associations, but the sooner you recognize them and do so, the less risk you run of getting hurt. Some of them can be damaging to your health, most of them to your career, and all of the ones I list will waste your time.

What? Oh, I’m talking about writers’ groups, of course. Those voluntary associations so many people encourage you to join. Your fellow writers, they say, will cheer you on when you’re experiencing an enthusiasm sag, will warn you if your story seems to be taking a wrong turn, will brainstorm with you over a sticky plot point, and – if necessary, which of course it wouldn’t be for any readers of this blog – gently explain the difference between imply and infer.

Oh, wait. I can take care of that last one right now.

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All Upsot

They say you should write what you know. Many writers seem to interpret this as only writing about things they have experienced, which would be very limiting. Me? I’d never have written about a midair conflict between a Roc and a bush plane, or the cerebral battle between an old woman and a relentless alien foe, or… What I do is take things I have observed, or gone through myself, and weave those into tales that are set in other worlds, on other planets, but told about people (no matter their shape or color) very much like ourselves. Write what you know ought to be interpreted in a way to spin the certainties of life into new stories that come to life in reader’s minds with their elements of shared humanity. Read more

Lights Out

I’m sitting here typing early on a Saturday morning, and by early I mean Oh-dark-thirty. I’d intended to write this yesterday, and in fact was sitting here staring at the blank screen trying to dredge up the brilliant idea I’d come up with in the middle of the day while I was at work (why didn’t you write it down? I can’t make notes at work, and besides, my hands were full) when the lights went out.

Sometimes you have to take things as a sign. I took that one as a chance to sit down and finish my paper book (as opposed to the ones I’ve been reading in ebook on my tablet and phone. Now, I could very well have written this post on my phone – I’ve done that before – except that I’d allowed my son to play a game on it and it was nearly out of battery. I posted on facebook to make sure friends I’d been chatting with knew why I’d disappeared, and I shut it down.

It was very, very nice to just sit and read. I couldn’t do anything I’d planned to do that evening, as there wasn’t enough light to make dragons, I didn’t want to make frosting without my stand mixer (I can, but I’d mopped both labs, among other things, and my shoulders were telling me OH H*!! NO! at the idea of creating stiff decorating frosting), and I couldn’t write this post. I have to admit the feeling of freedom and relaxation was a bit giddy.

When I was a girl, one of my mother’s favorite books was Swiss Family Robinson. We read it aloud as a family (more than once) and I grew up wishing that there was a deserted island somewhere I could go live. I still think that from time to time. No work, no worries, no demands, no people…

Last night wasn’t quite like that. I do have kids, and a husband. The kids were discussing how long they could make their electronics batteries last, and lamenting they had not the forethought to charge battery packs. I just picked up my paper book, got under the window over my bed, and read until the light was too low to see well. We have candles, and oil lamps, but there was no need to break them out. When I’d read it dark, about eight in the evening, I curled up and went to sleep.

After a week of fighting exhaustion and feeling fatigue constantly, it was rather nice to wake up with a bright mind and cheerful constitution. I highly recommend it.

What has this to do with writing? Very little, other than the idea that if you don’t take care of the writer, no writing will be done. That, and sometimes stepping away from the screen entirely is refreshing. Nothing new or ground-breaking here. Just the musings of a morning after a sound night’s sleep.

As I get older, and boy, do I feel older recently, I’ve been musing more and more on the passage of time, and how to get everything done I want to get done. Sometimes I think I need to step back, and try to get nothing done for a little while.

Jade Star, the prequel to Tanager’s Fledglings, will be going on sale this weekend. If you liked Tanager, you might also enjoy Jade, although you don’t have to read one to get the other.

 

jade star ebook cover

Click here to buy or read sample

Jade is determined to die. She is old, and useless, when she points her tiny subspace craft at the cold stars. She wakes up in the care of others who refuse to grant her death, and instead give her a new mission in life.

Jade isn’t happy, and she only gets angrier when she learns that her mysterious new home hides a horrible secret. It’s time for this old lady to kick butt and take names. Aliens, death, destruction… nothing trumps the fierce old woman who is protecting her family.

 

What do you want?

As a reader, what do you want when you pick up a book? Does that change from genre to genre, or even from fiction to non-fiction? In other words, what do you think makes a book “good”? If you could talk to publishers, what would you tell them you want?

As you can tell, my brain has decided not to get out of bed today. I can’t blame it. Yesterday, was one of those days of tedium. I am pretty good about making sure I keep to writing schedules and get my e-books out without much delay. I fall down on promotion, something I am working on. But I absolutely suck at making sure I get print versions out and I know I need to get better. So yesterday was spent doing the preliminary formatting of four books and then locating the formatted files of another five that, for various reasons ranging from new covers to changing the internal format to be consistent with other books in the series, need to be looked at. What I discovered is that some of my final work product is scattered over various different drives and I figured I had better get it all together so I don’t spend hours looking for it at some later date.

I also open an account with ACX, (Audible), with the idea of doing audio books as well. I’m not sold on the latter but figured it was something I needed to at least try. Who knows how it will work out. I’ll keep you posted.

You might ask why I took time to do all this when I would much prefer to be working. Part of it is simple business. A number of readers still look at a book’s product page and think it isn’t a “real” book unless it has the different formats available. That’s not their fault. It is what they have been trained to think by traditional publishing. Look at almost any traditionally published book and you have at least two editions — mmpb or tpb or hardcover and e-book. Some have multiple versions of the print edition as well as the e-book. Those the publishers peg as being worthy get audio books.

So that means we, as indie authors, have to ask ourselves if we shouldn’t follow at least some of that example and the answer is yes. Even though the vast majority of my readers prefer e-books, I have some who want the print versions of my work. So, it is my responsibility to make sure I do everything I can to deliver it. That is why I spent yesterday — and will spend much of the rest of this week — getting the print versions updated, proofed and ready for sale.

Another reason, just as important as the above, why I am taking the time to do the print versions is that I had been on a two week writing binge and hadn’t realized it until I hit the wall. During the back and forth with Amazon over the file mix-up for Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3), I was writing. More than that, I was writing like a fiend and wound up with a very, very, very rough draft for the next book in the series. It currently weighs in at approximately 84,000 words. It will expand at least another 20k words before it is done. But I need to step away from it for a bit before sitting down with a critical eye and finishing up the “real” rough draft. That makes it a perfect time to sit down and do the nitty gritty stuff I hate doing.

Probably the most important reason, and the one that leads back in a roundabout sort of way to my original question, for immersing myself in the detailed work of formatting and designing cover flats is the Hugo debacle. Yes, debacle. There is no other way to describe it. Whether you support the idea that the Hugos are a fan award (which I do since you buy a membership to WorldCon in order to vote and anyone with the money can do so) or a “literary” award (which, to mean, would require it to be a juried award in some fashion), I think we all can — or at least should — agree that Hugo should not be exclusionary. If you can afford the money for the membership, you should be able to vote and your vote should have the same weight as the next person’s. Until the rules are changed, that is how it should be.

So imagine my surprise yesterday when I was looking through Facebook and came across a post from one of the puppy-kickers — and I am looking straight at you, Mr. Amazing Stories — saying that the committee should go in and look at all the ballots. Any ballot cast by a puppy should be thrown out. (And he even adds to his comment “screw privacy”, which had been one of the concerns last year’s committee had when they were asked to release the voting data.). But that’s not enough for him. He advocates never letting a “puppy” buy a membership to WorldCon again. There’s more but you can go look for yourself — assuming the post is still there. It is dated April 26th and was posted at 7:24 pm.

Needless to say, when I saw this, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Laughter because these sorts of comments show the hypocrisy of those who are “fighting the good fight” against those evil Sad and Rabid Puppies. We are called all sorts of names because, as they claim, we want to exclude message and “marginalized” people from the genre. Yet here one of their most vocal supporters is doing exactly what they claim we are doing. He is saying we should not be allowed into the same room with the Hugos. Note, he is not only saying that we shouldn’t be allowed to vote for their beloved award but tat we should not be allowed to attend WorldCon.

Sounds pretty exclusionary to me. How about you?

And that brings me back to my original question: what do you want when you pick up a book? What is important to you to find in that book?