Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Kid extra

I have to type quietly. I have acquired an extra kid. I know right, at my age? Who would have thought it? I had this pipe dream that as my children got older they would move out, but clearly it is not to be. But it does squish my muse quite a lot. Hard to write or research sex for my writing if I have an audience. (… what? Porn IS research.) 
He’s not really a kid; old enough (just) to be a legal adult in Australia, and he was thrown out of home. Kid 2 asked me to pick him up and he has been sleeping on our sofa since then. He has nowhere else to go. I didn’t hesitate to offer him a bed; even if it was only a sofa-bed. He’s a good kid. He attends uni, has found himself a job, or two, and he’s really trying not to be a burden on the house.
His mother is trying to charge him to ‘store’ his things at her house, but if we try to go and collect them, she threatens to call the police and have him charged with trespass as he is ‘no longer her son’. Sigh.
Kid 1 likes him because they have a lot of similar interests. This is important because kid 1 is autistic and any change to his routine or home life is a big issue for him - and thereby for all of us. Kid 3 likes him because he fixed her PC.
I was talking to a friend on twitter and I joked that this is the second time that something I wrote ended up happening in my life. Life imitating art, eh? I suggested that any minute now Paul ought to be showing up. I wrote him; he’s mine… where is he?
But if I see kid extra’s mother I know just the speech to say to her.
“Where is he going to go?” Sam asked Quil.
“He can come with us,” stated Charlie.
“You collect strays now?” Tiffany snarked. “He sneaks out at night you know… he’s in a gang with them.” She waved a hand at Sam and Quil. Charlie looked at them. It wasn’t the first time he had heard about Sam’s ‘gang’ but as far as he could tell, they did good things; even chased off a drug dealer on the rez, he had heard. In his opinion, the world needed more gangs like Sam’s.
Charlie managed to look menacing without actually moving. “For the record, that hokwat your son is with would be MY daughter. If he has nowhere else to go, he is welcome in my home.”
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” she spat at him.
“And if he is a nice kid, I won’t be complimenting you either,” Charlie told her. “Doubt you had much to do with it.”

Friday, 10 April 2015

Lifeline book fairs

There was a flyer in my letter box for the Lifeline Book fair. Lifeline is an Aussie charity.
I emitted an excited squeal. I love books. And I still love actual physical paper books. I have embraced e-reading with a Kindle app on my PC but I still haven’t quite got to the e-reader stage. There is something about holding a book in my hand while I am reading that adds to the experience. Turning the pages, feeling the paper, smelling that new book smell, smelling that old book smell… I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that I move away from my PC to do it? It’s a kind of location break and feels like a real break. Curled up in a chair with a mug of coffee, or snuggled under my quilt in bed.
But others, who have whole heartedly embraced the e-reader revolution, are getting rid of their paper books. And they give them to charities like Lifeline.
Years ago a charity bookshop was full of bad Reader’s Digest expurgated editions or ten copies of whatever book was big that year and turned out to be rubbish. But these days that is not the case. I have picked up entire series for one dollar a book.
So on that date I’ll be there with my cash and my granny trolley - you know the pull along shopping carts. Voice of experience here… man, I can pack some books into that thing.
And if I have to pile them high on top of my already full bookshelves, I don’t mind. I might need a bigger house, though.


Saturday, 4 April 2015

Pinterest secret boards

I am currently doing camp nanowrimo. I have set myself a total of 80k words for the month. It’s a big project and that is only part of it. It is also a very visual project. In scrivener (my writing program) I can load in pictures and I can have a split screen open. So that as I write, I can see the photo I have as inspiration for my lover, or a sexy image, or a travel photo of where they are, or whatever.
You get the idea.
I have been searching for a program that would allow me to make a kind of scrapbook of inspirational images that help me to write. Most of my photo websites didn't really do that and the last thing I needed when I am pushed for time was to start trying to learn Gimp again to make my own collages. Really… I've tried and it is too hard for me. *lip wobble*
I knew of Pinterest but I avoided it because I imagined that I would just get caught up in pretty images or feel guilty about all the fabulous house projects I would ‘pin’ and then never make. Also some of the images I need may not be final things. I might have three options for my love interest and change them as I write.
And then I read an article. (link below**)
And then I saw another article.***
And then I gave up and joined Pinterest.
And I think I am sold.
And the secret is… well, it’s a secret. Pinterest lets me keep a ‘board’ of images secret. I am the only person who can look at them unless I specifically invite other people to see them. I can make as many boards as I like. I can make them public, but obviously, can’t undo that action once I have done it.
If I can’t find things on the site, I can google search normally and pin them very easily with a tool added to my browser. Almost too easily.
If this project gets off the ground, I can share my board with a cover-maker and they can see exactly what inspired me, or where my characters visited. And maybe, one day, I can make my boards public and readers can see what inspired me.
As I write, I can open a pinned image, and the program keeps the link attached. If I want to check how tall my model is, I click on the picture and go to the original website. What do the bathrooms look like in this hotel? Click. And I'm there. It is very easy to remove pinned items from a board if I change my mind.
And it is really working for me.
Now all I need to do is stay away from the public boards and those craft projects.
Yeah right… that can’t be hard?
Ooh… quilts…

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Camp nanowrimo

I have not done a blog post for a little while, nor have I written any publishable flash fiction as I was working on a new project. *rolls eyes at self* I know, I know… finish one of the old projects, AM.
And… in order to get a big chunk of this project done, I have signed up for camp nanowrimo. I hit deadlines when they are not set by me, and oddly having the separation of the word target held by nanowrimo, I will probably hit it even though I was the person who said I could write 80k in a month.
No. I don’t understand my brain, either and I have lived with it way longer than you have.
Wish me luck.
No… not with the brain… with the writing.

Friday, 13 March 2015

New Wattpad stats

I loaded up a few stories on Wattpad a while ago and just recently they have updated their story statistics. In case you haven’t used Wattpad, it is designed to be read on phones and mobile devices. So, each chapter loads in a number of smaller parts and the stats record if readers read all the parts of each chapter, or if they skip ahead.
It looks like this for “I’ll be home for Christmas’.

It looks pretty good. Most readers read all of each part. The story kept their attention.
I will admit to scratching my head at the huge dip for chapter/part 1 but then I understood; if people start a new story and they don’t like it for whatever reason, they stop reading. I was trying to work out if they had read it before somewhere else. So I guess that is a record of how many people gave up.
At part 9 you can see 20% of readers didn’t finish that section.
This is kind of neat for writers. I can go to that section and try to work out why I lost readers. I have to guess; they aren’t telling me. For nearly 3,000 reads the story has 127 stars and 8 comments (4 of which are me replying). Wattpad stars are the equivalent of Ao3 kudos or Facebook likes.
Now I can’t see what they don’t like about ch9; it is Bella meeting up with the pack after her absence of five years. And there are some later chapters that they didn’t read all of as well, but if one really dips then perhaps it is worth rewriting it?
The stats also tell me which parts got stars and on what dates they were given, and it also reveals the demographics of my readers.

Oddly, the numbers don’t show unless you hover over it but the lavender half is age range 13-18, the green quarter 18-25 and the brown private.
In gender, half is female and half private.
I do love stats and I think this is all useful. It will even tell me when I got new readers as it knows when people reread. So if I do a promotion, I can tell if it worked. I only have 14 followers here and I have been very lax at posting anything, (I’m not writing fanfic at the moment) but I also haven’t been reading and commenting on other people’s stories either. And that is the way to be a real participating member of a community.
So if you are reading, take the time to review; writers need to know what you liked and what you didn’t.

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.