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Posts Tagged ‘Learning’

I had my plans all made. After the next book in line would be MAGE STORM, kicking off a new series.

Mage Storm

Then about a week ago, a new, bright, shiny story idea bounced across my path. It’s not really a new story, exactly. The idea has been around for a while, but it wasn’t ready. There were pieces missing. Especially the world building. And then, one night, there they were, all shiny and new.

The conventional wisdom at this point, is to right down all that inspiration, so I won’t forget. (That’s a lesson most writers have to learn the hard way–including me. No matter how much you think you’ll remember because it’s so wonderful–you won’t. Write it down.) And then go ahead with the original plan.

That’s . . . sometimes easier said than done.  I’ve written down the inspiration, but I still really, really want to write MEADOWSWEET, too. (Just like stray puppies and kittens, it’s a really bad sign when the get named.) My heart may already have gone over that fence.

MEADOWSWEET would be a fairytale retelling–a subgenre I’ve never done before. In another post I may go into which fairytale and why I chose that title instead of one more closely tied to the original fairytale.

So, what’s likely to happen next is me trying to write two stories at once. I’ve been that crazy before and it’s worked out. (Though I do have to be really careful to keep the characters and character names in the right stories.) It can work out. When one story hits a place that needs more thought or inspiration to break through, I can just switch to the other for a while. Given the trouble MAGE STORM was giving me a month or so ago, that might actually be a good thing.

Meantime, while I try to force myself to do that research on launch strategies, I’ve started the polishing edit on BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

StormCover2

Maybe that’ll give me a little more distance from that bright, shiny story temptation.

 

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Changes

The second round of final revisions to BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM have gone well, so far.

StormCover2

Just two more.

The first of those I thought was going to be more extensive. But, on reflection, I’m thinking maybe not. I don’t know that that particular meeting needs more emotion. Not that it can’t be refined a little, but I don’t know that it should be deeper. Although these two characters are half-brothers, they’ve never met before, so I don’t think their emotions need to run really deep–yet. I’m going to give that section another read through and then decide.

The second is a place where another character (not a POV character) really should have an emotional reaction to something and currently doesn’t. But since he doesn’t have the POV, it will only the obvious, external reaction. Well, and the effect that has on the POV character.

So, it’s looking really good to complete these revisions soon. Then I think I’ll let it rest just a little before I start the final polishing edit. I think I’ll spend the time doing some research into launch strategies and see if I can’t give this one off to a better start than the last one. There’s always something new that can be learned and a chance to do things a little better with each book.

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I will be working on figuring out keywords for some time, I’m increasingly sure. In my last post, I mentioned making a couple of changes to my keywords. It’s still really to early to tell whether that had any impact–though my sales have gone up this week. There’s some reason to think it had nothing to do with the keywords. Still, at least it’s a change for the better.

The change I made was to pick out my two lamest keywords for each book–and lame is the only word I can think of to describe some of them–and replace them with NobleBright or Noble Bright (to cover both possible spellings).

Why’d I pick that? What is this NobleBright?

Well, NobleBright, like its opposite GrimDark comes originally from the world of gaming, from which it cross-pollinated over to books.

In GrimDark fantasy, the setting may be more . . . grim. More importantly, the characters are mostly out for their own self-interest–material or personal gain or revenge. More like the characters from some Sword and Sorcery than like classic epic fantasy. G. R. R. Martin’s SONG OF ICE AND FIRE series (more popularly known as GAME OF THRONES) is a pretty good example. Quite a lot of recently published–especially traditionally published–fantasy partakes of at least some of this.

NobleBright fantasy may–or may not–have a setting that is less grim (some have coined the term NobleDark for that), but the main attribute is that at least one of the principal characters acts out of noble motivations.

There’s an argument to be made that GrimDark is more realistic and more accurately portrays what a medievalesque world would have been like. I won’t dispute this. I will say that if I want reality, there’s 24/7 news on cable TV.

I think there’s a much better argument–perhaps especially in our current world–for stories about characters who behave more nobly. For characters who just maybe make us aspire to be better and to make the world better.

In any case, that’s the kind of story I write. So, maybe they’ll find a better and bigger audience with those keywords. I can hope.

 

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I received an e-mail earlier today from Amazon that their x-ray feature had been activated or was at least available on my books. X-ray provides a function somewhat similar to the dictionary where you can get a description of a character or term in the book. Overall, a very good thing in a fantasy story, I think.

So, the first thing I did when I got a chance was to check THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. Sure enough, x-ray was enabled.

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But what they list as the description is just the very first sentence to contain the character’s name or the term. So, this means I need to go through all of that and change it to something actually useful. And then do the same for all the other books in the series. And then check all my other books.

Like I didn’t have any writing to do. I’ll squeeze it all in somehow. At least I have a four-day weekend coming up.

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I’ve been trying to figure out how to share a sample from the audiobook of The Shaman’s Curse.

TSC Audio

Of course, you can listen to the sample right there on Amazon, but I wanted to share it more broadly.

Unfortunately, WordPress won’t let me share the audio, here. (Well, they would, if I was willing to pay for the privilege.) And Facebook doesn’t let you share audio, even though you can share video–which makes little sense to me. But anyway. Then today I was watching a podcast from ACX University where it was suggested to make a video by just using the audiobook cover and the sample.

Well, that diverted me into getting the software (free) to do that and create said video. Of course, I still can’t upload that here. But I can upload the video to Facebook–it just takes a really long time, for some reason.

I’ve been waiting for Facebook to finish, which is in part why this post is so late. But it’s still thinking. Eventually, you may be able to listen to the video on my Facebook author page. I hope.

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I’ve finally gotten through that part of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING that I’d already done in first draft.

becomeblue

The last few chapters are still a bit rough–as rough drafts are apt to be–but I managed to confine myself to only making changes for consistency.

So now, I’m ready to move forward with new chapters and try to actually get through to the end of the first draft. That’ll be fun!

In other news, the audio version of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE is finally here!

TSC Audio

I’m planning out how to promote that, which will be a new experience for me.

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. . . because it’s been that kind of few days.

First, I wrote that scene in BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING that I’d been fretting over in my last post. becomeblueUnfortunately, I think I’ll probably end up deleting it in the revisions, but that’s for later and by then I may change my mind.

Second, I haven’t done much writing or critiquing for the last few days. It’s just been too hot here (and humid, which is unusual for this area). My brain just doesn’t function as well in that kind of weather. Let’s face it, when making the bed brings out a sweat, it’s time to stay indoors (near a fan, if possible), drink lots of water, and not move around much. So, I’ve basically wasted the last couple of days on computer games. Fortunately, it feels like the weather is shifting back closer to normal–at least for a few days.

Third, I have also been trying to work out why a particular story I just read didn’t really work for me, as writers do. (No, I’m not going to mention the title. Stories are very personal and subjective things. What didn’t work well for me might be a book you really enjoy. And why should I take that from you?)

In this case, it’s the latest book in a series I’ve really enjoyed, so the question of why I didn’t like this one as much might, possibly, shed light on some greater story-telling truth. Unfortunately, I really think it mostly comes down to two things.

The main character being out of her usual milieu–not out of her comfort zone, that happens in just about every book. But outside of her usual stomping grounds–and away from the people she usually interacts with–her general snark just can’t shine as much. There have only been three books that took her away from home and I only really enjoyed one of those–the one in which at least one of her usual friends and relations went with her.

But I think the main reason is withholding–when a point-of-view character knows something (or would have to be deaf, blind, and in a coma not to realize something), has every reason to think about and react to that knowledge, and doesn’t. Withholding is one of the two issues that can cause a knee-jerk reaction that makes me want to pitch the book against the wall (impractical in this case, anyway–I was reading on my computer). This wasn’t that bad, but I think it did pretty much ruin the book for me. It made this POV character–fortunately not the main character of the series–feel inauthentic, which he never has before.

Now that the weather is improving, maybe I can get some more real work done.

 

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