Archive for the ‘Links’ Category

Linkee-poo Follow Its Bliss

WIlliam Jones talks about what it means to be “published” and the differences between “self-published” and what that means for book store penetration. And here he unveils the work of the distributors (and regional sales people, when book publishers had actual regional sales people) and how critical they are to your success as an author. He also touches on the rise of the “pay for print” business model within “traditional” publishing houses and why the probably aren’t going away.

Barbarienne’s Den on why ebooks really aren’t that much cheaper to produce. I’ve tried to make this similar point in many places, but I feel it’s fallen on deaf ears. Here is a little backup on the subject. Hint: ink on paper, in quantity, isn’t all that darn expensive. Cost per unit is a measure we use to try and get our customers to order in a quantity that actually makes economic sense for them (but, hey, if you really want to go to press every quarter to print exactly the same thing and re-incur all the setup costs four times instead of once, since I’m now on the press side of things, by all means please do so). Now, just as devil’s advocate, she doesn’t cover fulfillment costs (shipping, storing, distributing, returns, remainders, and rot), but it doesn’t add all that much (when you factor in economies of scale). Really, much of the cost of the individual book (cost per unit) is not in the production. This is why I get sorely pissed when presses get cheap with paper and stock material (sure, when you’re printing 10,000 units, scrapping $.05 off each unit adds up, but the benefits of those “extras” are well worth it, I had to debate buying my latest Ray Bradbury purchase because the production values were so cheap). But anyway, yeah, what they said. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Pier Anthony talks about some common misconceptions about writing humor. Seeing as one of the things I’m getting psyched about ending the current novel is that I might go back to writing the Post-Rapture romantic comedy novel. (Grokked from Todd Wheeler)

S.C. Butler holds forth on writing what you like. While the often given axiom is “write what you know” (which, just like the sound of one hand clapping, really isn’t about what you might originally think it’s about), I’m hoping that as I progress in this here career and I get to help youngsters, “write what you like” escapes my lips far more often than “write what you know.” There’s been plenty of side conversations I’ve had lately with other writers, some open, some personal, and I’ve always come back to this point. You have to love what you’re doing, because that’s always, always, always going to be your greatest reward. If you think Dan Brown, JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Stephen King or any of them are thinking, “Oh boy, this is going to make the bucks roll in” while they’re writing, you’re fooling yourself. Or, as another person I respect (Joseph Campbell) once said, “Follow you bliss.”

BILL MOYERS: Do you ever have the sense of… being helped by hidden hands?
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time – namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.

I once thought I was a SF Writer. Then I tried fantasy and my voice got stronger. Then I tried horror and it got even stronger. And now I mix into dark fantasy and I’m having a lot of fun (even if I might question that my writing has gotten a little too close to my military past which makes me a little squishy) and my voice sings out. It also does the same when I write bitting humor (can you tell). I’ve told all my nieces and nephews that simple phrase, “Follow your bliss.” It’s, IMHO, one of the greatest lessons we can impart. (Get me talking about programming and career choices one day if you don’t believe me on this, also look at the pay rate for short fiction and the average advance for genre novels, if you aren’t doing this because you enjoy it, you might want to rethink your strategy).

A SFWA Journal article by Chuck Rothman on hunting for an agent. He also outlines some reasons why you want an agent and how to find one (just a hint, he goes on about “sending the full manuscript”, however I advise you to follow the submission guidelines for the agency you’re trying to land, playing by the rules is something your agent will appreciate and wants to know you can do). Also with agents, John Scalzi is pimping his. Frankly, looking at Scalzi’s career, one could do worse than having Ethan Ellenberg representation. If I had my manuscript 1) finished and 2) in a submisible condition they would be seeing a package from me. And just in general, I follow a bunch of agents’ blogs (not all are prospects for me) so I can learn what to do and what not to do. I don’t often comment on their blogs, but it’s a good place to learn the industry. Just saying.

And here I’m assuming you’ve all seen the bruhaha surround Peter Watts and the US Border Patrol. Let me just point you to Dave Kletcha’s take on it. What he said.

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More Writerly Links

Jim Hines is starting up his holiday book drive to benefit a local domestic violence shelter. I full endorse this. Our local shelter is our main charity. Over the years we’ve given clothes (new as well as used), bedding, toys, household products, an Xmas tree, paper and office products, and money. If you have new books to give (this year Jim is cutting the used book portion, as he explains that the shelter’s bookcases are bursting) I highly recommend this.

A Making Light post with a letter from the RWA (Romance Writers of America) concerning Harlequin’s new business venture into vanity/subsidy press work with ASI Solutions. As Jim Macdonald says, “They really do take their role as author advocates seriously over there.” Let me reiterate that RWA is an excellent organization. They don’t do everything right, but they do the vast majority of things right. Back when we were all discussing SFWAs problems, RWA was the organization plenty of people pointed to as to how to structure and run a Genre Authors Advocacy Organization. RWA are good people. They care about what they’re doing and, my God, do they give support and encouragement to new writers (I’m one).

SC Butler is musing about the future of brick and mortar bookstores. The more I learn about this business the more I learn just how screwed up the distribution model has become. Instead of “we sell you what you want” it’s been turned around to “buy this crap everybody else is buying.” What would be very good for bookstores is to have a new player in the distribution and big box store (who gets “local tastes” and understands cooperative cross marketing, ie. your sales don’t have to be just in your store). Unfortunately the barrier to entry is exceedingly high, so I doubt that will happen, or than Ingram, B&N, and the other one (I forget what it’s called) dump their idiotic MBA approved business plan and get back to the business of actually selling books. Because, yeah, if I need to order the damn book, I’m going to Amazon (they typically have a lower price, and their shipping policy is better).

The incomparable Justine Larbalestier and her equally incomparable married significant other Scott Westerfeld continue with the NaNoWriMo tips (which, BTW, aren’t just for NaNoWriMo). I admit I’ve fallen behind in keeping up with them, but the ones I have read are good stuff (even if the advice doesn’t work for me individually). Again, the generic “try it, if it works, keep it, if not, dump it” applies. And what works (or doesn’t) for me might not work (or be fabulous) for you.

Now back to fixing Chapter 32 and maybe getting on to 33.

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Writerly Linkee-poos

“Want a child-friendly way to introduce your little one to the traditions of the Old Cult?” So begins the Adventures of Lil’ Cthulhu Had to watch this without sound, but what a friggin’ excellent cartoon. Much laughing was had. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

Scott Westerfield give some tips on writing for NaNoWriMo, Tip 1 Dialog Spine, and Tip 3 Dialog Spin Analysis. Justine Larbalestier wrote and hosts Tip 2 The Zen of First (Zero) Drafts and Tip 4 Word Count Is Not Everything. Lots of good stuff there. I’ve done the Dialog Spine thing for short stories (although I didn’t know it had a name). As for the Draft Zero thing, yeah. It certainly helps. As to word count, I put my own up here as a personal whip to do more. It’s also a way of saying, “Hey, I don’t do 1500 words a day, but I am finishing my stuff and sending it out.” If I can find time with two jobs and a freelance gig, most people can (the one thing I don’t have is kids, they would take up a lot of that time).

Joshua Palmatier discusses the dread monster, exposition. He ties it into POV and a few other things. Exposition is one of those things I end up doing around the third draft, although I’m getting better and including some of it earlier. I know for my writing it leads to my first reader(s) going, “I don’t get it.” Take for example, the “cell” in my WIP. Yes, it is based around a cell phone, but that’s not all it is. One of the commented I received in the first round of edits was, “This is supposed to be in the future, but I’m not seeing a lot of future tech” (well, that’s the paraphrase). Well, in this world Silicon Valley never happened (California, mostly destroyed and economically crippled, remember?). So tech went a different way. The “cell” as I envision it is like an iPhone, but is a real computer. Making calls on it is the least of it’s capability. When we encounter actual computer towers we call it “server porn” because most people, as they have personal computers now, use their cell. And I hope the flashback chapter worked well. People seemed to like it, although without italicizing the kata moves, it left some people a little confused.

A cartoon’s humorous take on NaNoWritMo. Ha! I like NaNo, never been able to participate, but I think at heart it’s a good idea. But, yeah, this is funny.

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Halloween Hangover Links

Ever wanted to know what to call a bunch of ghosts? Wonder no longer. Wondermark with an excellent table of Supernatural Collective Nouns. Probably not gospel, but certainly good for a laugh. Although I personally like “a rage of orcs” and “a flurry of yeti.” Although “an exigency of wendigoes” is growing on me. (Grokked from Jay Lake).

Writing Excuses releases their podcast on How to Write Without Twists. One of the things I had planned on with this book was a fairly straight plot. We may swerve from side to side, but it’s a fairly straight “we start here, and end over there” concept. So, food for thought. I’m going for the “watch the interesting character grow/progress” and “watching people who are good at something doing it” (the satisfaction argument).

Mer Haskell talks about collaging here book. This is obviously a thing people do, not that I was aware of it. I don’t know, to me (and it may be my degree talking here) it feels a little too much cat waxing (me, I’d do 500 thumbnail sketches, but that’s me). But you know what, if it helps you (and it seems to have helped Mer) it’s definitely worth it. I know people who create whole notebooks filled with images for their novel. They include images of the characters, pictures of what they’d wear (includes catalog descriptions), pictures of their ideal living space, where they’ve vacationed (or liked to), all sorts of things. That might have helped me, I don’t know.

World Fantasy San Jose is over which means it’s time to get my membership for World Fantasy Columbus. That’s just down the road from us. Also, according to their website, registration goes up soon. An extra $25 will pay for some books, or at least a dinner out with friends. The year after that WF goes back to California. Hopefully I’ll have a book to flog and can justify the expense. (Oh, and to the Columbus committee, hey, San Diego has their theme, would be nice if you posted yours already)

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More Links

In case I’m not on the internets this weekend (I’m trying to limit myself as part of a “stop rewarding the procrastination and get more work done” plan, seriously, I haven’t even posted pictures from VP yet), have a good Halloween everybody.

eBear (matociquala) discusses the progress of novel writing. Yeah, and all that.

Ken McConnell is having a book release party tonight. Good luck with the book, Ken.

Stewart Sternberg just sent off his novel to the editor. He also talks a little about how writers in movies end their novels and how writers in the real world do it.

Agent Kristin talks about some changes to contracts regarding e-royalties. Macmillan isn’t a publisher one can sneeze at, so if they’re trying to push something it might become “standard” across the board. Yet another argument of why you want an agent.

Eric over at Pimp My Novel talks about chasing trends. Sigh. And I really wanted to work on that Zombie Apocalypse Averted by Christian Vampires novel next. (Actually I’m wondering if the Post Rapture Industries novel may fall in there somewhere). Anyway, Eric’s post is why you should write the novel you want to write and not worry about what’s hot and what’s not. Write the best damn novel you can. Of course this is contrary to John Scalzi’s story of how he got into writing military sci-fi. I think the difference here, though, is one is theme and the other is gimick.

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Rachelle Gardner discusses the process of getting and agent from the agent side. Knowing both sides of the board can certainly help your chances of success.

Agents do more than sell books, a post form the BookEnds agency. Yes, and this is why you want an agent. Sure, there are some authors who do the whole thing themselves. And there’s the occasional author who doubles as their own agent (sometimes with a fake name, sometimes not). But, just like I really don’t want to negotiate distribution contracts, an agent earns their 15% by doing a great many things, both what is spelled out in the blog post and much more.

Since this seems to be an agent linkage post, here’s Agent Kristin with some author behavior that doesn’t normally get mentioned. And then she has a follow-up here. What she said. If your agent isn’t working out, definitely find another route. I’ve seen getting an agent compared to marriage, and it’s close. You and your agent are relying on each other. If either side isn’t carrying their water then cut your loses and move on. However, just because you have an agent, this doesn’t mean you can stop paying attention to the markets and the business end of publishing. As she says, things are tough all over.

Justine Larbalestier talks about hopes and goals. What she said. Yes, most writers have two fantasies in their heads (and here I’ll speak for you all, you’re welcome). The first fantasy has to do with being so incredibly successful that media outlets contact you for interviews instead of having to beg for them. The second fantasy has to do with being so incredibly successful that you ask people who come to your signings if they want your to supersize that order, or would they like an apple pie.

And this may seem like a random interjection, but it’s about a book, so I think it’s good.

Glenn Beck’s website (yes, I know, but it’s good to keep tabs on the person who may go postal, just saying) is now promoting his new book “The Christmas Sweater: A return to redemption.” There’s now a landing page on his site that is basically a big ad for it. I guess we’re all going to get mind control sweaters this Xmas and suddenly we’ll all be conservatives again. Or a few good sweaters will end the “War on Xmas.” Or something like that. I guess “Xmas Shoes” were all ready spoken for.

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Elmore Leonard spills his rules of writing. The subtitle sums it up, “Easy on the adverbs, exclamation points and especially hooptedoodle.” (Grokked from Astrid)

Justine Larbalestier muses on hating female characters. That’s an interesting ponderable.

And then there were two (Cat Valente sells Fairlyand for publication as a YA book). Two do not a trend make, but it’s interesting. And no, I don’t think I’m going to put Bladesman on the blog anytime soon.

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Writerly Linkee-poo

The Staffordshire Hoard Flickr set. I love stuff like this. It gets my hack and slash geekery on. Of course, this year’s gift of choice for the little curtain pee-ers? Metal detectors! I expect to see a few hundred of those things in garage sales next year. (link grokked from Making Light).

Justine Larbalestier pontificates on excuses white writers use for not writing non-white characters. As someone whose stories are filled with hispanic surnames and latest novel has Chinese dropping from the skies (not in a “real” sense but in a “that’s easy, they’re all around us” kind of thing), and I’m not either, that I also struggle with. The best I can do is make them real people. Sure, many are fodder for the sword, but the other people do all the interesting things people do (one Chinese side character speaks perfect English, but when confronted by obnoxious police conveniently forgets they know how, many are shop owners). But it does require knowing “something” about the people you’re writing about (name conventions are especially important, not just picking appropriate names but knowing how to put them together, such as the daughter is Kasandra Bonita, not just Kansandra or Kassie).

New stalker meat writer I’m following on blogs (Harry Connolly) writes something I’ve also dealt with. Hope is the mind-killer. I had a whole different commentary for this, but then I had some work to do, and my brain engaged. For me, this reaction is a defense (and therefore a part) of the big D. When you’re raised to judge yourself harshly, say by someone who is a perfectionist or abusive, you try to eliminate all possible avenues of criticism (differing from writing critiques, this is self-destructive criticism I’m talking about). If I’m hopeful, if I succumb to the siren song only to have that hope swallowed by the Charybdis, the gremlin voices grow louder. It’s better to skirt the rocks of the Scylla accepting there will be losses. It part of what I struggle with to live a somewhat happier life.

McSweeney’s with their comments written by actual students extracted from workshopped manuscripts at a major university. “Apes, aliens, then dead vampire family = too much Sci-Fi.” ha ha ha ha (grokked from Jay Lake, I think)

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Friday linkages

Josh Olson tells just why he won’t read your fucking script. You know, even at this point in my writing career I’ve had to adopt this philosophy as well. I have enough writing friends, and I include among those the critique group I belong to, that taking on more from people I don’t know personally is just too much. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

Jay Lake talks about his time allotments and schedules. Here’s another writer who says, “I get a lot done, and I’m a very busy boy.” How? Well TV is out. For Jay it’s way out, for me it’s mostly out. I don’t have a gaming system (although that’s changing, more on that later), I don’t do lots of social activities. Even with that I have less than two hours to write in a day (normally). It can be frustrating, especially when I realize that I need to clean the bathroom (and if it’s bad for me, I can only have sympathy for my long suffering wife) and the home projects that lag in time (still need a final sand on the hole in the wall project). It’s a matter of what your priorities are. Above all are friends and family, after that the things that bring in the cash (day and night jobs), then writing, then cleaning, watching TV, seeing a movie, etc.

Jim Hines talks about self publishing myths. My own position on self-publish has softened in the previous years, mostly due to friends like Ken McConnell and Matt Mitchell who have gone down that road. However you can read the hard work they’ve gone through on their blogs. Many of the myths Jim talks about are those used in publishing schemes (which, just like POD books, we need to delineate are different from self-publishing). The self-publishing model isn’t for me. I’ll probably use it the way Scalzi does (to get limited edition books as a way to share), but I don’t think I have it in me to go the whole way.

Closely related is Kelly McCullough’s self-promoting authors anonymous. Or, letting go and letting marketing professionals help. One of the reasons I go to conventions and read successful writers’ blogs is to learn this kind of stuff (to see what works and what doesn’t). Really, people have been down this road before. What works for them may not for you (really, who else is John Scalzi?), but it’s all grist for the mill.

Last night the missing part of chapter 22 came to me. I wrote it out long hand before going to bed and will key it in today. Maybe and extra 300 words. It might seem like I’m obsessed with wordcount (if you read my other blog), but I’m not really. It’s a hand metric to say, “I’m progressing.” If I would get my real milestones I’d be getting all spoilery with my own novel, and I might tempt the fates to make it all go wrong. And if I said, “Hey, last night as I was writing Chapter 22, I realized just why (this thing) happened in Chapter 21, which makes the world of New Frisco that much richer and enhances the depth of the characters. Also, and interesting side plot which reveals some history of the Disaster and can lead to some good situations, humor, tension, and motivation down the road.” That probably wouldn’t be helpful to you at all.

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Writerly Linkee-poo

Dean Wesley Smith is dinning on the bar-b-qued remains of publishing myths. This one is about rewrite. There’s a lot in here I agree with, and a lot I disagree with. I think the point would be, “don’t be so critical of yourself.” As to his rant on critique groups, I agree. You shouldn’t write your work to appease your group, instead you should find a group that will point out things like, “So why don’t they have radar in this far future story, so they could see the rockets coming” (that’s one made on one of my stories, and the truth is I didn’t tell part of the story correctly so they misunderstood what was happening). Don’t go to the groups that say things like, “Maybe if you had this person do this instead” or “You’ll want to use this word here.” Those are death. At worst (or best) the group can say, “This would have worked better for me if…” and then you take that with a grain of salt the size of Utah. (grokked from Jay Lake)

Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s notes on Wendy Loggia’s speech “I Wanted to Love This: Seven Reasons Why Your Manuscript Gets Declined.” Good reading. This goes back to the, “Once you’ve gotten the mechanics down it still doesn’t mean you’re writing a story.” And as Stephen Kings says, “It’s all about the story.” (can’t remember how I got there, sorry who ever pointed this out)

Jim Hines spills the beans about Neil Gaiman. Which includes the excellent, “#9 Neil Gaiman is the reason nobody teaches “I before E except after C” anymore.”

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