Showing posts from August, 2013

The Perfect Retirement

I was taking a walk on my break at work the other day, and for some reason I was thinking about that old SNL skit where Chris Farley tells the kids that if they don't straighten up, they'll end up "living in a VAN down by the RIVER." So I'm thinking of this skit, and I think that a van down by the river might not be so bad. It's cheap. I bet it's quiet. And when you're tired of the place you can just drive somewhere else.

Sunday Short

This week I have a short story for you. I used the Story Generator at Seventh Sanctum to get the ball rolling. My prompt was:

The story ends on the ocean. The story must have a wolf in it. The story must involve a ring in the beginning.

Now on with the show:

She looked at the ring on her hand, a simple band in white gold that circled her finger, and glinted in the sunlight that beat down on her from above. The water surrounding her was murky, completely unlike the crystal clear waters she had frolicked in during her youth. Looking down into the water, she wondered how much longer the wolves would wait.

It had been stupid to untether herself from the others - she knew that now - but in the heat of the moment, when the wolves from below had started attacking, rising up from the deep, crashing into the rafts made of logs lashed together with vines, she didn't think. Using the little knife she always carried in a sheath at her side she had hacked through the vines holding her portion of the flotilla. As she floated away she tried not to listen to the screams of her comrades as they fell into the water, and were torn to bits by the wolves in the sea.

She looked up from the dark water, and gazed back at the flotilla that still drifted far from her. On the rafts, the survivors were struggling to paddle quickly, to catch up to her, but she was caught in a swift moving current that bore her away from them, as if the ocean was trying to steal her away. Her own paddle was gone; something had reached up out of the water and snatched it from her hands, leaving a painful friction burn across her palms.

She watched her friends and her family, as they shouted and paddled furiously, trying to reach her, and she wanted to shout at them to go back. Instead, she felt a strange calm come over her. She knew that this was the end for her. There was no way the others could catch her, and even if they did, they would be caught in the same current, drawn away from the safety of the islands, and out into the open ocean where things even worse than the wolves lurked.

Choosing Your Genre

This past week I planned to write - and then did everything in my power not to write - my query for Weaver. Aside from the usual boil your book down to 250 words (or whatever word count) panic attacks, I hit a block on the genre.

When I write, I don't really think "Today I'm going to write a Historical Fantasy with Romantic elements". Generally, I think "I'm going to write a story and it's going to be weird." Because weird is what comes out 95% of the time. If it doesn't come out weird, it's a nice little surprise.

But I digress...

It's important to have a sense of genre at some point in the process. Whether you're trying to publish traditionally, or independently, you need to be able to put a label on your baby. Agents want it so they know whether it's something they actually represent, publishers want it so they know how to market it, and readers want it because they want to know what they're getting themselves into. Even if you're planning on self publishing, YOU want to genre-fy your story so that readers can find you on Amazon or Smashwords, or where ever. Situate yourself near books that have similar elements and you have a better chance of readers discovering and enjoying your story. Situate your Western in the Fantasy section, and you'll get one star reviews simply because the reader was expecting cowboys and got unicorns, no matter how good the book is.

You have eight basic genres to choose from:

Science Fiction

Ok, easy enough. Yet under each genre are unlimited possibilities of sub-genres. Often genres blend together.

In the end I did went to my good friend, Google, for help. I came up with this list from Writers Digest, went down the rabbit hole that is Wikipedia, and found this flowchart. In the end I went with plain old Fantasy, since that seems to be the best, easiest match for now.

Now I just have to find some other writers/books to compare mine to, so that I can narrow down what sort of Fantasy I'm selling here.

IWSG August: How finished do you have to be to be finished?

“If you are ever completely satisfied with something you have written, you are setting your sights too low. But if you can't let go of your material even after you have done the best that you can with it, you are setting your sights too high."
-Terry Brooks

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.”
 -Philip Roth

What am I talking about here? Well, I've been working on my first novel for over a year now, and with a few tweaks here and there, I'm going to start querying in the next couple of months. I finally realized that it's never going to be perfect. I realize that it's not likely to win any awards, or have critics oozing praise all over it.

What I do have is something that I - mostly - liked writing, and something that I think - hope - people will like reading. In the end, that's all I really want to do.

So insecurity for the month: Letting go.

It's one thing to allow other people read your novel and have them tell you what they think. It's a completely different thing to send it out, knowing that you may have to put up with rejection after rejection, before acceptance finally comes in...if it ever does.

So for the next month or two, I'm going to work on my MS and growing a thick skin. I'm gonna need it.

Inspiration Monday

So much to be inspired by this month.

I finished Camp NaNoWrimo last month. It was the most frustrating thing I've ever put myself through. The biggest problem I had was that I set my goal at 50,000 words, and that was a big mistake. It came down to a lot of rambling and writing in circles to make that goal, and I'm really not happy with the finished project. It's my fault, not NaNo's, but if I ever do it again, I will choose a much lower word count.

On the plus side, I did find the heart of the story - which I don't think I would have been able to do without the pressure - so at least I have something to work around now. I also came up with the working title: The In Between Place. It sounds kind of vague, I know, but really it does mean something in the context of the story.  I'm going to let it sit a while and come back to it in a month or two to see if I really have something there.

I got some great feedback from beta readers/critique partners on Weaver. Even after all this time, I was afraid that there was some fundamental flaw in the story that I couldn't see, but all the notes I'm getting point to small bits and pieces that are easy to fix, and won't require an entire rework of the novel. After the comments I'm fairly confident that I can start looking forward to querying (cue simultaneous joyful clapping and terrified facial expressions). QueryCon is going on  in September, and I'm thinking of joining in. I'm terrible at selling myself (resumes and job interviews are nightmares for me) and the chance to learn how to write a query and get critiques on my query is awesome.
I'm still planning on dipping my toe into self publishing, either by the end of the year, or early next year. I had originally planned to expand upon a few of my A to Z stories, but they keep getting longer and longer, so I'm slowing down just a bit to figure out where to take them. I know at least one is begging for the full on novel treatment, but a couple of others are definitely threatening to take me into the 20,000 word or higher level. Whether that's a function of the story, or a deficiency in my own editing skills, I have to figure out. In the mean time, for anyone who has self published, what's you experience? Good, bad or indifferent?
Last thing, offering advice from someone more successful than me:

Book Review: Wind Through the Keyhole

As promised, first Sunday of the month means book review.
For my first review in several months, I went with the biggest name author you can get, Stephen King. I hadn't read anything by King since Full Dark No Stars (great collection of novellas, if you haven't gotten around to it yet), and I was a bit wary of him revisiting Mid World after he had wrapped everything up in the Dark Tower. But I shouldn't have been worried at all.

The distinguishing trait of this novel is its structure. It's a story within a story, within a story. The framing device features characters that are familiar to many, and takes place between Wizard and Glass, and Wolves of the Calla. If you're unfamiliar with the Dark Tower series, this won't mean anything to you, but it really has no bearing on the story anyway. It's a stand alone novel that doesn't have much to do with what came before, or after in the series, so if you've haven't read the whole series - or any of it for that matter - you aren't missing anything.

The Ka-tet of Roland, Susanna, Jake and Eddie, are caught up in a fearsome, once in a lifetime storm, and to pass the time, Roland tells them a tale of his youth.

Sent to investigate tales of a "skin man" terrorizing a small town at the edges of civilization, the young Roland finds the only survivor and witness to a massacre is a young boy. To calm the frightened child he tells the boy a story about another boy who embarks on a quest.

Tim Ross lives with his parents at the edge of the Endless Forest. When his father dies under mysterious circumstances a dark and mystical stranger appears to offer answers. Tim embarks on a life changing journey into the depths of the deadly Endless Forest. This third tale makes up the bulk of the novel.

The Wind Through the Keyhole is a surprisingly quick read. Because of the many problems I had with the latter half of the series (if you've read all seven books, you probably know what I'm talking about), I was afraid that the story, particularly with this type of nesting doll structure, would get out of hand. I quickly found that I didn't have anything to fear. I had a lot of trouble putting it down, even when I knew I only had five hours before I had to wake up (and I'm useless without a full eight hours). Many of the "quirks" that would mark a story out as a Stephen King novel are missing, making it a refreshing change.

In short, I would recommend The Wind Through the Keyhole to anyone within shouting distance.

Award, Scheduling, and Something Else...I forgot.

A couple of things to catch up on today:

Melanie Shulz has honored me by sending the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award:
It's an award just for us gals (no boys allowed!) and, thankfully, unlike some of the other awards floating around, I don't have to answer a bunch of questions (yay). I just have to point the award to a few other people. So here we go (I suck at these things):
Vicki Orians at Page after Page - Vicki has done some critiquing for me and was instrumental in helping me realize that just because it's fun to write, doesn't mean it's actually belongs in the novel. She's always got writing and critiquing tips handy, and is obviously passionate about her writing.
L.G. Keltner at Writing off the Edge - I'm sure a lot of you know L.G. She's probably the most prolific writer I follow. I don't know where she finds the time or the energy.
The ladies at Falling For Fiction - I can't say enough about the service they're providing to our little corner of the interwebz. Query critiques and tips, CP matchups and general cheerleading.
Next on the list: Red and Blue Makes Purple Blogfest
Click Me
This blogfest is courtesy of Melanie Shulz. Short and sweet: 500 words on a military theme to be posted September 2nd. All entries will be collected into an anthology ebook that will be available on Kindle, all proceeds go to Operation Purple which sends children of service members to camp. Click above for full details and PRIZES!!!

Thirdly: New, Real, Live Posting Schedule. I've tried to do this before, and of course it's all fallen apart. But I really want this blog to have value to people other than myself, and having a schedule, I think, will help with that. Instead of spelling it all out here, I've created a page up there for you to check at your leisure.