Friday, 13 February 2015

If you don’t care about your book why would anyone else?

I’ve read a couple of articles recently where people talked about their experience as an e-book writer and self-publisher. Each had a friend who made a success of it and raked in the money and they were inspired to give it a go.
Confessions of a failed romance novelist
One male, one female - each throwing up an e-book with the sole desire to make money and they attempted this because they were desperate. One chose romance, the other erotica with shape-changing dragons, and neither should have been writing in either genre. He describes it as embarrassing and an uninviting stew. His research was asking one ex-girlfriend what she read as erotica.
She spent an inordinate amount of time generating a fake persona and opening twitter accounts in that name. But she has an agent who says her book got readable after the 135th page and clearly doesn't normally represent romance novels at all given the way she said ‘she understood’ that they had simple plots.
If it only gets readable at page 135, I have serious doubts about the whole thing; or is that the whole thing? *snorts* It got readable when I could see ‘the end’ on the page.
They slap some awful cover on it and load it onto Kindle expecting the money to roll in.
And *spoiler alert* it doesn't. One sells 18 copies and the other 3 or something.
I consider my books and my stories as wordy babies. I love them. I cry with the characters. I fall in love with them. I have honestly sobbed when I have killed characters off or broken their hearts. And if the sex I write doesn't turn me on, how the heck will it turn anyone else on? Why would I be ashamed of them? Why would I shove them out poorly dressed and prepared for the world?
Is it worse that they fail after I have put my heart and soul into them? Maybe. But I will know that I did the best I could for them.
They are both so ashamed of the book they have written that they don’t put any care into marketing or releasing them. I’ll bet that they aren’t tagged correctly. I can’t imagine they put much effort into writing a summary or teaser pitch for them. Her book doesn’t sound like a romance novel at all given she says it is super angsty. Romance readers expect a HEA or HFN (happy for now) ending. There is a formula and she hasn’t researched it and she doesn’t know that because she doesn’t read the books.
Their products must reek of the desperation they exude. Unlike their friends’ efforts.
They can both clearly write. They have funny, self-deprecating articles published on webpages. And I hope they got paid for it.
So where did they go wrong? I reckon they both chose genres they didn’t understand or care about. They don’t read in the genre they chose to write in. I don’t read military fiction, why would I try to write it?
And they missed another big marketing opportunity. In each article, they don’t say what the book was or give their penname and they don’t give a link to it because they are still so ashamed of it. Thankfully, Beverly Bush is a fake penname because if it was real you’d be ruined right off the blocks for romance writing.
A few people who read the article might have gone to buy the book or read it on their Kindle account to see if it is as bad as the authors say it is. That’s some more sales and reviews they didn’t even try to get.
In the world of self-publishing right now, you have to be everything; writer, marketer, editor, agent and promoter. And if you can’t do all of that by yourself, find people who can help you, even if you have to pay them.
Because if you don’t care about what you produce, no-one else will. 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Real life

I have been wrestling with a life decision. I do that. I agonise over things. Having an over-active imagination is awesome for writing, and not so good for dealing with real life. But what if THIS happens???? Cue panic attack.
I wrote out a table of for and against, as I like to do. I mean it when I say I agonise over things. The for column came out ahead but I was still worried.
And then I went for a long walk to think it all over. And I started singing an Amanda Palmer song in my head. She’s been in the news a lot lately for her tedtalk on ‘the art of asking’ and the book she was asked to write subsequently. She believes that giving things away comes back to you in the end. I was thinking that I can be more like her, too. Even if I suck at the ukulele.
Then, when I got home I made myself a drink and sat at my PC. My tumblr feed is a mix-up of a myriad of things; mostly TV shows and the sites of fans and writers. I do not follow photography or travel sites. And there was a photo of the city at the centre of the issue I was struggling with. Fine.
I switched to Twitter. I usually have the ‘What's happening now, tailored for you’ tag open so that I don’t get flooded with stuff. Another shot of the same city. Okay, that’s getting weird. It’s not even in the news right now.
I tried Google+. There it was again. And it is all different shots. Seriously?
I go to make dinner. Watching TV with kid 1 after dinner we tuned into a new Australian show called ‘Judith Lucy;is all woman’.
She’s a great Aussie comic and in one scene she was jelly wrestling another woman in the name of feminism. You’d have to watch the show to understand this.
I will give you one guess who that other woman was… yep; Amanda Palmer. Jeez. What are the odds?
I know most it is probably search engines throwing up what they think you are interested in, but maybe I should take nudges when I get them?
Fine, universe; I get it. I hear ya.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Worth the wait



A picture says a thousand words. Write them.
Mission: Write a #story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a critique about this picture. Write something about this picture.
Be sure to tag #writeworld in your block!
http://writeworld.org/post/104026127445/writers-block-a-picture-says-a-thousand-words
As she climbed the stairs to her apartment, she glanced to the right and saw him. He was sitting on the bottom step of the next flight of stairs clutching a bunch of flowers. He had obviously been there for a little while. Stopping in front of her door, she fumbled in her bag for her key.
She sighed, and then she spoke to him, “Are you waiting for Cleo?”
“Yes.”
“Ah...” she fiddled with her key and then turned to face him. “She’s not here. She went away for the weekend.”
“What? But she said-”
“She left on Friday afternoon.”
“But... I don’t understand, she said she’d have lunch with me.”
“She might have forgotten?” she suggested carefully, but Cleo did this all the time. She was constantly seeing men ring Cleo’s doorbell. This one, with his hopeful bunch of flowers attracted her sympathy.
“I don’t think she forgot.” He looked crestfallen. He stood, and shook himself. “Who did she go- No. Don’t answer that, I don’t want to know.”
She waited.
“Who?” he asked again, looking terrified that she would answer.
“Charlie.”
“Ah. She said they had broken up.” A pause. “I know... she lied.” He looked at the flowers in his hand as if he didn’t know what to do with them. He thrust them at her. “You may as well have these.”
“Um... thanks.” She took them but in doing so, she dropped her keys. He picked them up and handed them back to her. “Did you want to come in?” she asked him.
“For?”
Her face fell. “I was just trying to be nice. Forget it, then.”
“I’m sorry,” he said. “This has been a disappointing day.”
“Sure.”
He looked as if he wanted to touch her arm. “I apologise. Please ask me again?”
“It was just going to be a drink and probably only a mug of tea at that.”
“That would be great.” A pause. “And you could put the flowers in water.”
She gave him a tentative smile. “Yes.”
After half an hour he admitted that he had tickets for a play that night. Two tickets.
They went together and it was the start of their relationship.
He always laughed that if he hadn’t hung around waiting for Cleo that he would never have met her.
And she was worth the wait.


Sunday, 8 February 2015

The grass looked like it hadn’t been mowed in years.



In one sentence is the spark of a #story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag #writeworld in your block!
http://writeworld.org/post/107410021540/the-grass-looked-like-it-hadnt-been-mowed-in
The grass looked like it hadn’t been mowed in years. There wasn’t a garden although there had been in the past; a long time ago from the look of it. It was an older style house in an older style area and it didn’t look like a paintbrush had been anywhere near it for a very long time either.
The family stood there and looked at the house with expressions ranging from horror to awe.
The youngest, the daughter, clearly thought it was awesome and all part of an extraordinary adventure. The son had a moue of distaste. The father just looked battered and defeated. The mother looked utterly horrified. “It’s a squat,” she choked out.
“We’ve got a key,” the father suggested.
“If it was a squat, it wouldn’t have a lock,” the daughter pointed out.
She got a look for that.
The paint was peeling on the front door. She picked at it with a fingernail and saw at least three colors underneath.
The lock worked and the door opened into a long hallway tiled in black and white tiles with a curving set of stairs leading to an upper level. There was stuff everywhere; all over the floor. “Whoever lived here left in a hurry,” suggested the son.
“They said he had to move urgently,” the father said.
“Even people who move pack their stuff,” the mother noted.
“I bet he was killed,” the daughter said with relish.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” the mother argued. “They would not have put us here if there was any danger.”
“”If he’s dead, the danger has passed,” said the father.
“You always manage to find some good in things, don’t you, honey?” She kissed him quickly and a look of relief crossed his face. It was clear that he was the cause of this unexpected move. He was frightened that his family would blame him. He went to pick up a bag and winced. He was clearly carrying some sort of injury.
“We’ll get those,” the mother suggested.
“Yeah, you think the cops could have arranged someone to show us around,” said the son. “While they were arranging everything else.”
“This is our only option,” the father said for the hundredth time.
“I didn’t cause this,” the son hissed at him. “You did.”
The man sighed. “I did... yeah...”
“We don’t have a choice,” the mother said.
The daughter tried to be conciliatory. “Can we just go see upstairs? Can I have the room with the tiny balcony? Is there a name for those?”
“A juliet balcony?” her mother said, distracted. “Really?” She loved renovating and had always wanted to do up a Victorian terrace. She looked at the house with new eyes.
Her father hugged the girl and winced again. “Of course you can, love.”
“Is it actually ours?” the mother asked. “Or is it just temporary?”
“I think this is a long term thing,” the father suggested carefully.
“Ugh,” the son said, and pushed past them and started up the stairs.
The daughter chased him, shouting, “Don’t you take my room.”
The father gave the mother a nervous smile.
Maybe this witness protection thing would work out?


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Writing excuses season 10 master class Ep 5

Episode 5 boring main character

http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/02/01/writing-excuses-10-5-what-do-you-mean-my-main-character-is-boring/

I only did two thirds of my homework... bad AM

Writing Prompt: Take three different characters and walk them through a scene. Convey their emotional states, their jobs, and their hobbies without directly stating any of those. The scene in question: walking through a marketplace, and they need to do a dead-drop.

The older man stood, looking at the table of china figurines and odd pots, his clothes were dishevelled; a tweed jacket with elbow patches, tan trousers and tan brogues. They had clearly lasted him some years and had been good quality when he bought them. The patches were necessary not decorative. He had a badly wrapped brown paper parcel under his arm. It was held together with twine or jute; that rough brown fibrous thread. He picked at the corner of it with his fingers. The other corners already bore signs of his inattention.
Glancing around he clearly didn’t see the person he was obviously waiting for and turned his attention back to the pottery. With a cry of delight he dumped the parcel on the table and picked up a plain flat plate with a slightly rounded edge.
“See this?” he asked the stallholder. “Clearly Song dynasty.”
“Uh, huh.” Eyed him off sceptically.
“It’s only small… about 6 inches… what is that? 15 centimetres… never can get that metric system.”
The stallholder frowned. “Is it worth something?”
“Oh, about 15,000 I should think. But I am only an amateur.”
A man brushed past him and scooped up the parcel.
“Dollars?” the seller checked.
“Yes.”
What? You are nuts.”
“No… really. It probably dates from the 12th century.”
“Twelfth? Yeah, right. Don’t waste my time. Are you going to buy it or not?”
The man patted his suit pockets, pulled out an assortment of detritus; a button, a broken pencil, a whiteboard marker with no lid, an aged piece of chalk, several receipts and finally a scrunched up note. He smoothed it out on the table and offered it to the seller.
“That’ll do.” The seller collected both the note and the plate. “Did you want it wrapped?”
“Yes, please. I have a bus to catch back to the campus.”
It was only as he was wandering off, still looking around distractedly that the stallholder noticed he didn’t have the parcel. And then he thought he must have been mistaken.

*******
Purple was clearly her favourite colour. Her skateboard, all her clothes, her lipstick and eye makeup, and her hair was dyed purple too. And spiked. The only thing that didn’t match was her black canvas satchel. It hung low over her shoulder and banged into her hip as she strode through the car boot market in her boots. Purple.
The security decided she was a potential shoplifter and had been following her since she arrived. It didn’t seem to upset her. She turned suddenly and shouted ‘boo’ at the man who jumped nervously. She cackled.
But as she spun back, her skateboard clipped a wooden lamp and knocked it off the edge of the stallholder’s fold up table. It landed on the grass.
Shouting ensued.
“You’ll pay for that,” said security.
“It isn’t damaged.”
Security ignored her. “How much?” he asked the seller.
She plonked her bag down and rifled in it for her wallet, leaving it open on the table as all three heads leaned over to examine the lamp. An old lady shuffled past and took a small packet out of the girl’s bag.
“It looks fine,” the stallholder said, eager to get them all away before they scared off any real buyers.
“It looks ugly,” she said.
“Hey?” He brushed some grass from it. “Just clear off.”
Security looked offended and frustrated.
“You, too,” the stallholder suggested to him.
The guard let out an annoyed huff. “I’m watching you girlie,” he threatened, as he did a sign with his fingers pointing at his eyes.
She just cackled again, shouldered her bag and strode off.
She darted back and handed the stallholder a cd with scrawled writing on it. Also purple.
“What’s this?’ he asked.
“Mix disk.” She shrugged awkwardly. “For your trouble.”
He looked at it doubtfully but placed it on the cashbox. “Thanks.” A pause. “Punk?”
She grinned. “Yeah.”
He nodded. “Cool.”

******


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Chuck Wendig flash fiction challenge - three things

This week is easy enough:
Roll randomly on the three tables below, and you will select three things that must be contained within your story. A story that will be 1000 words long, posted at your online space, and linked back here by next Friday, noon, EST.
That’s it. Easy.
Use a die or a random number generator for the tables.
TABLE 1
  1. A spider
  2. A pocketwatch
  3. Betrayal
  4. A murder
  5. A journal
  6. Poison
  7. A strange bird
  8. A talisman
  9. A library
  10. A sword

1.  

TABLE 2
  1. An assassin
  2. A lost comic book
  3. A found dog
  4. True love
  5. The end of the world
  6. Survival
  7. A divorce
  8. A shopping mall
  9. Public drunkenness
  10. A vampire

TABLE 3
  1. War
  2. A magician
  3. A bomb
  4. A horse
  5. Resurrection
  6. A cave
  7. A forbidden tryst
  8. A gateway
  9. A shoebox full of photographs
  10. A prison

1.
I rolled 7,1,2 and here's my attempt. It is too late for the challenge... oopsies
*****
It was the show that everyone wanted to see. The Great Magnifico the magician. Magic shows were all the rage at the turn of the century. As 1900 ticked past into a new century, Sydney was a city with places to go and a burgeoning reputation to go with it.
The newly rich, courtesy of the goldfields, crowded into theatres in their best dressed to see all the new shows.
There was enough talk of this new fangled science stuff, but people still liked to see a bit of magic; be wowed by a bit of dramatic performance. A bit of razzle dazzle.
And they queued up for the Great Magnifico.
The crowd watched as things disappeared and reappeared with a wave of his wand, a flourish of fingers, or a magic word and a drape of fabric.
Tonight’s performance was marred as a woman close to the front stood up. The people behind her shouted at her to sit down. When she pulled out a gun they fell quiet.
She pointed it at the magician.
The crowd was confused; was this part of the show? A few people clapped nervously but she shouted at them and waved the gun around before targeting the magician again.
He said something to her that only the first few rows could hear. Police questioned them later and it seemed that he had said, “Oh, Alexandra. No.” Or perhaps it had been, “No, Alexandra.”
He was in the middle of the disappearing canary trick. He had already placed the tiny bird inside the little cage and he was about to throw the cloth over it and make it, and the cage disappear. It chirped happily at the delay, as the magician appealed to his assassin.
He waved at the cage and asked, “May I finish?”
Her voice shook, “The last of your tricks?” she asked. It sounded like an accusation.
The crowd held its breath.
He said the magic incantation and everyone felt that it was somehow different. An usher who had seen the show several times before said that the words were different and that he usually slapped his hand on top of the cage and it vanished, but this time the box under the fabric grew larger.
The Great Magnifico yanked away the fabric with a flourish that threw his arm and the scarf towards the assassin. An enormous bird of prey rocketed towards her. It screeched at her and she screamed, the gun fired, the audience shouted and all the house lights dimmed.
When they came back on, the woman stood looking utterly confused; Magnifico and the bird were gone. The stage was empty.
The audience applauded until someone shouted that a man was hurt and to call the police. Then the crowd understood that she had shot him and that she was not part of the show.
The police arrived before any real harm was done to her but she did have a scratch on her arm. She told them it was the bird. She thought it was an eagle. He didn’t believe her.
The theatre owner packed up the rest of the magician’s gear and locked it in his storage room. A few days later when the police asked to see it, he unlocked the room for them to find it empty.
He shrugged. “It’s magic,” he said.
The policeman rolled his eyes.


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Writing excuses season 10 master class Ep 4

Episode 4 Q&A on ideas

There was no homework for episode 3… I swear there wasn’t.
But for episode 4 it is: Audition five different characters for one of your story ideas.

Change the sex, age, jobs, ethnicity, or have different levels of experience.
Find some way that they can fit in your story.

Hmmm… I am going to choose the role of the detective in the widow time travel case.

1. older and experienced man of colour

All I can think of is the movie se7en, or Lethal Weapon, so my older, world weary detective is Morgan Freeman - he’s an older man of colour, well read, and he has weeks before he retires. But he trusts his instincts and this case has him smelling a rat. He is open to ideas of time travel because he has always had a cheap scifi paperback in the pocket of his trench coat. As a result of his reading, he has absorbed a few rules of science and quantum mechanics. He has Internet friends at university labs that he chats to online and can ask ‘hypothetical’ questions.
So… he actually believes the widow and knows that her husband's murder can’t be written up as solved, but he wants to travel through time. Maybe it’s on his bucket list?
Does his time trip change the case somehow? Does he solve the case and then retire in the past? Or the future? Does the widow want the time machine? Or would she give it away?

2. young and inexperienced

And female? Such a massive chip on her shoulder to prove that she is as good as the other detectives, but they have deliberately given her the freaky weird, rich guy case thinking that it will be too difficult and destroy her, or that she will bring down a legal case against the department from the widow, or have Internal Affairs all up in her business, or that she will fail so badly she will go back to uniform. They will take any of these options. And they have made themselves scarce to leave her to her fate.
She, on the other hand, more than needs to solve it. She HAS to solve it. Her own self-worth is pegged to this case. It’s a rookie mistake but she’s a rookie. She gets emotional about the kids and the widow, gets protective of the widow against the insurance company, angry with the widow’s lover; gah this girl’s got issues… lol.
How does that spin it when the case looks like being unsolvable? Is there a way she can get a result? If so, how? Does her emotions help solve the case?
Who is her partner? Are they on sick leave or something that leaves her alone all the time. Who is the murderer? And what is their motive?

3. male, geeky, young CSI dude

He’s not supposed to investigate the case but just try and stop him when those weird lab results come in. He keeps going out to the house to redo tests. He feels sorry for the kids / widow, and pushes the investigation. Does the tests the detectives haven’t even ordered. Generally gets too involved in the case. 
Sticks his hacker nose into bank account records. Checks up on the widow’s lover.
Or does he start with the odd blood tests from the victim? He can’t get it to add up - the rare illness, the symptoms/residue (whatever time travel does to your blood) and the way he was murdered. He may discover that the kids are not the victim’s children and when the widow tells him she was encouraged to find other fathers for them, he gets dragged into it.
Does he invent some techie machine that reads temporal residue or chromatic particles or whatever (makes it out of cast off lab equipment) and it goes crazy at the house. He finds and identifies the time travel device himself.
Maybe he has anxiety issues similar to the victim’s fear of the dark?

4. shady antique dealer

Imagine if a crooked antique dealer got hold of a time machine? You like Hepplewhite chairs? I can get a set of eight for you … but it will cost.
No, wait - that’s a whole new story.

5. MacGyver /Jim Rockford detective

Or Michael Weston of Burn Notice for the modern viewers.
He’s a rule breaker detective, never does his filing or types up his own reports. He flirts with the widow, cuts corners, knows all the shady types but has a heart of gold and takes the hopeless cases and solves them in his own way. Has legion of people he has helped before who can assist. They follow the lover and the insurance investigator.
He hates guns.
Make him a different ethnicity; Spanish or Italian or North African. Maybe he has family connections that he uses all the time, too.
What MacGyver would do with a time machine is another whole novel as well… bwahaha.

But the big issue is working out the why and whodunit of the murder, before I go crazy on the detective options. Or, do I do a Christie and have several options, any of whom could be the murderer and decide at the last minute.