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Posts Tagged ‘serialization’

There are a couple of reasons why I want to talk about first-person point of view today.

The first is that my Weird Oz Story is my first attempt at novel-length first person point of view. I don’t actually think that’s why I’m stuck on that one–at least not directly.

I’ve written a couple of short stories (novelettes, really)–“Heart of Oak” and “Becoming Lioness”–in first person, but never a novel. There’s a reason for that. The shorter stories could be told from a single point of view. “Heart of Oak” really had to be told in first person, so much of that story was internal. And I just started hearing “Becoming Lioness” in first person in my head–after the first draft had already been written–and I decided to go with it.

The main reason I’ve never written a novel in first person is that I usually write from more than one point of view. (MAGE STORM being the only completed exception to date.) In my young adult stories, specifically, I usually write at least from the points of view of the girl and her love interest. Sometimes, the antagonist, too. That’s hard to do in first person.

I’ve read several published novels with more than one first-person point of view character and almost universally I’ve been struck by one thing–all the characters sound the same. They don’t have individual voices that distinguish them from each other, sometimes even when the characters have wildly different backgrounds. They should speak and think differently from each other, but I have to check the top of the page to know which character is using the pronoun “I” in a particular chapter.

I don’t want to write like that, so for now I’m sticking with a (hopefully) invisible third-person narrator when I have more than one point of view character.

On a brighter note, I have finally read a story in which multiple first-person point of view characters actually sound like different characters. It’s Alchemy, by some fellow writers I “know” from Hatrack River Writers Workshop. That seems to be at least one key to doing this right–three different writers each writing a different character. It’s a really, really good story and only $0.99. You should check it out.

In other news, the Chimeria Omnibus edition (containing both BLOOD WILL TELL and BLOOD IS THICKER) is now available just about everywhere. For a limited time (but probably at least through Christmas), it’s the same price as either book alone.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image10567743

Also, another chapter of BLOOD IS THICKER is available free on wattpad.

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Time to confront the truth. I’m stuck on my Weird Oz Story. I can–and probably will–finish Chapter 10. After that, I just can’t see my way ahead. I know where the story needs to end, but I don’t see how I get there.

I’ve only been in this place with a story once before. That was SEVEN STARS, the original version of FIRE AND EARTH. The reason then was that I had just gotten the story wrong. (In retrospect, it was a real stinker, too.) I wasn’t able to move ahead and produce a story I liked until I took a step back and reimagined it. A lot of things about that story changed when I did that, but it ended up so much better. That, after all, is the goal–a great story, well-told.

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

So, I’m going to have to take a step back and try to reimagine my Weird Oz Story. Let my subconscious play with it and see what ideas float up out of the depths. I suspect part of the problem was with the initial idea–throwing my Dorothy into Oz alone.  One character by herself can only stay interesting for so long. Chapters 9 and 10 were about getting her some company, but I think it’s just too late. The point was to force her to take charge, but I just don’t thnk it’s working.

Meanwhile, for now, I’ll be doing some revisions to DESERT ROSE (formerly MAGIC AND POWER) and probably working on revisions to the rewrite of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. That’s the great thing about multiple projects: you never have to be idle.

In other news, I’m getting antsy, so I’ll likely move the publication of the combined edition of BLOOD WILL TELL and BLOOD IS THICKER up to next weekend (about ten days earlier than planned.)

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image10567743

Meanwhile, another chapter of BLOOD IS THICKER is available free on wattpad. Or, you could just buy it and get the whole story all at once.

Blood Is Thicker Cover

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Story ideas need time to ferment and grow. That’s just one reason why it’s not recommended to follow the newest shiniest idea right away. It needs time to germinate and build–usually in the subconscious.

The idea for my Weird Oz Story started a year ago, but I’m starting to question whether it’s really quite ripe yet.

On the other hand, Adventures in YA Publishing this week reminded me of something else:

“E.L. Doctorow said once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.” 

That’s just about as far ahead as I can see right now–if I drive really slowly. Usually, that’s enough for me.
 
So, I’m not ready to give up and put this away for a while yet. However, I am likely to start splitting my writing time. Maybe start working on some revisions.  That might be just a bit tricky, because I’ll be switching between third-person narrative and first-person, but I think I’m up to the challenge. And if I’m not, maybe I need the practice.
 
Hmm. I haven’t read BIRD BY BIRD yet, but it’s been on my list for a while. Maybe I need to move it up.
 
In other news: Another new chapter of BLOOD IS THICKER is up on wattpad.
Or, of course, you could just buy it for $2.99 and read it all without waiting a week between chapters.
Blood Is Thicker Cover
 
If you haven’t read BLOOD WILL TELL yet, the promotional combined edition will be out in just a couple of weeks.
http://www.dreamstime.com/-image10567743

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I’ve mentioned before that I’m a discovery writer. Actually, I consider myself a modified discovery writer. Modified because I did once manage to write 100,000 words that didn’t come out to be a story. (I’m embarrassed to admit how many tries it took me to figure out why it wasn’t a story and fix it.) So, now I like to have at least a few stops along the way to my destination.

I’ve heard the idea floated that even those of us who claim to write by the seat of our pants are actually outlining; we’re just doing it in our heads instead of on paper. I think there’s something to that. Of course, if we’re holding the outline in our heads, it’s not as detailed or extensive as some of those written out. And it’s also more subject to change. That’s just the nature of the two methods.

I tried outlining a couple of times early on. Once, I spent way too much time revising the outline–time I could have been spending on writing the story. The other time, I wrote the outline and then never looked at it again. I think the story diverged from the outline in the first five chapters and never came back again. I haven’t made a serious attempt at outlining since.

However, every story is different. And even I–confirmed discovery writer that I am–am starting to think about outlining. I’m still only on chapter 7 of my “Weird Oz Story” and that’s partly because the story is just developing that slowly in my head.

So, maybe it’s time to drop back and punt. Open that copy of David Farland’s MILLION DOLLAR OUTLINES on my kindle, and try a different method. Maybe this is a story I need to outline. Learning a different way is always good, even if I never use it again.

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Last Sunday, I posted about how much trouble I was having starting my Weird Oz Story (real title to be determined). Well, I’m still not exactly burning rubber but I think I am beginning to build momentum. I think it’s clear that this is just going to be one of those stories that takes a little longer, for whatever reason.

That happens. Every story is different. BLOOD WILL TELL just poured out of me in about a month. THE BARD’S GIFT took about six months to write. Most stories fall somewhere in the middle. Just because one story is slow coming out doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong. Some stories are just like that. And you can’t really rush the ones that want to be slow and steady.

Some, like BLOOD WILL TELL, appear fully formed like Athena in my head and all I have to do is open the floodgates and let them out. That’s a wild roller coaster ride when it happens, but they’re not all that way. Sometimes I just have to let a story take a little more time.

It also doesn’t mean that I should worry about my productivity. It bears remembering that this is actually my third project for this year–so far, not counting  revisions.

  1. I completed MAGIC AND POWER (likely to be retitled DESERT ROSE) earlier this year. That’s the one that was supposed to be only a novelette or novella, but turned out at 85,000 words.
  2. I completed a rewrite of one of my earliest novels, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. It still needs work, of course, but that’s what revisions are for.
  3. And now I’m working on Weird Oz.

Well, that’s still pretty darn good for a single year, especially when you add a revision/partial rewrite of MAGE STORM and the revisions to BLOOD IS THICKER to get it ready for launch next month.

Note: A new chapter of BLOOD IS THICKER is now available on wattpad (or you could just buy the whole thing.)

Blood Is Thicker Cover

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Sometimes I feel like I have a split personality. I’m working on so many different things at the same time (well, not at the some minute, but you know what I mean). And that doesn’t even count, you know, my ordinary life.

Querying MAGE STORM, trying to promote both FIRE AND EARTH and BLOOD IS THICKER, getting feedback on DESERT ROSE (MAGIC AND POWER), and trying to write the first draft of my Weird Oz Story (no title, yet).

I wonder if that’s why I’m having a hard time getting started on Weird Oz. I’m only on Chapter 3. (Here’s a teaser, Chapter 3 is titled “Pixie Spiders”.)

Could be that, or it could be that this is a bit of a departure for me. It’s the first novel I’m attempteing in first-person point of view. I’ve written a couple of shorter pieces (“Heart of Oak” and “Becoming Lioness”) in first person, but never a novel. It’s also a very different story to what I’ve been writing recently.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t completely built this world in my own mind yet. I’m a discovery writer (somewhat modified), so I’m generally okay with that. I can fix anything in revision (except the empty page I’m staring at right now). And sometimes the only way the ideas will start to come is when I start to write.

It’s also occurred to me that this may turn out to be a middle grade story instead of young adult, as I’ve currently envisioned. Well, I can fix that, too. But only if I get the story down first.

Well, once I get it well and truly started, hopefully it will start flowing better. Forward, ho!

In other news: Check out Clean Romance Reviews on Tuesday, September 10th for my first ever author interview. I’ll try to post a direct link on Wednesday. She did a very nice review of FIRE AND EARTH.Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

Also, a new chapter of BLOOD IS THICKER is up on wattpad. Or, you could just buy the book.

Blood Is Thicker Cover

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It’s much better than moving backward, in general.

Joking aside, this seems to be a week for making decisions. I decided earlier in the week to go for a blog tour for BLOOD IS THICKER.  There are still a couple of things I need to take care of before I attempt to finalize that.

Blood Is Thicker Cover

This morning, I decided to go ahead and send THE BARD’S GIFT to a small publisher (as in, not an imprint of one of the big six–or is it five, now. I’ve lost count.) I thought of one I trusted and that could be right for it. (With smaller publishers, you have to weed out the well-intentioned start-ups that might not be around long enough, the ones that are already on shaky ground, and the ones that are just thinly disquised rip-offs. There are good small publishers out there, but you’ve got to do the research. This particular press has published titles and authors I recognize and is listed as a qualifying market for SFWA. Good enough for me.)

So, that’s what I’ve been doing this morning before I got around to blogging.

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I’ve just about made up my mind to do a blog tour in November for BLOOD IS THICKER. There are a couple of reasons for this:

Blood Is Thicker Cover

  1. I need to learn and get comfortable with more forms of promotion for my book launch. As my father would have said, “I’m not going to do it any younger.”
  2. It seems to fit this book. I’m actually trying to promote both books, BLOOD WILL TELL and BLOOD IS THICKER. A blog tour will give me a better platform for this.
  3. Frankly, trying to find potential reviewers for the second book in a series is hard and it’s making me crazy and affecting my ability to write the next story–which is always the most important thing. I really want to be able to concentrate on my weird Oz story, now.
  4. It’ll also give me a great venue for a giveaway of the combined ebook.
  5. It’ll also give me a chance to switch some of my effort back to promoting FIRE AND EARTH, which deserves more than I’ve given it so far.

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

I’ll also do a Goodreads giveaway of both books. (I just ordered the copies this morning.) And I’m considering doing a special Goodreads forum.

Meanwhile, another chapter of BLOOD IS THICKER is available on wattpad. This one threatens my dragon characters (who cannot lie under oath) with the possibility of having to testify in a criminal trial. More fun. Which is what these stories are all about, really.

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Today, I decided to talk about cover art, because, I don’t know, some of you may be thinking about e-publishing or just starting to and wonder about cover art.

Now, I’m currently forced to do this on a shoestring budget, so I make my own cover art. I’ll confess, my first covers were dreadful. Awful. And it does make a difference. Here’s my very first cover for the Novelette “Heart of Oak”:

Heart Of Oak Cover

Now, this isn’t my worst cover, but it’s pretty bad. It’s actually from a photograph I took several years ago.

Look at it in gray scale:

HeartOfOakCoverSmallBW

I didn’t realize at the time that you have to worry about that too. A lot of e-readers are still black and white. (Mine is.) This is what the cover looks like on those readers. Make it as small as a postage stamp too and even the color version is just shades of green.

Here’s the current cover:

h

So much better.  Isn’t that image just about perfect? Here’s what I did.

There are a lot of sites out there that allow you to purchase the right to use art–photographs and other images. I like Dreamstime, mostly because I have better luck finding what I’m looking for there. Also because the licensing agreement specifically says the images can be used for book covers. That background image cost approximately $13. For that, I purchased the right to use it 10,000 times.

Again, I’m working on a shoestring here, so I use GIMP (a free download image manipulation program) for the titles, etc. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of say, PhotoShop. I can’t easily do drop shadows on the text, for example. But it does everything I need, if not everything I might wish for.

Occasionally, I do a few other manipulations with the background image, like adding the dragon silhouettes to the covers of BLOOD WILL TELL and BLOOD IS THICKER. The background image for BLOOD WILL TELL was landscape orientation. I had to rotate it to make it work for a book cover, but that’s easy. The right to use the background image for BLOOD WILL TELL cost approximately $17.

Blood Will Tell Cover

I had a couple of false starts on the cover for BLOOD IS THICKER. I purchased images that I ultimately didn’t use before I found the right one, partly because I’d let myself get focused on one idea and only looked for images that fit that idea. (I wanted to use magical skies as the backdrops. What’s more magical than an aurora?) You have to open yourself up to other possibilities. Who knows? I might find a use for those images, later.

Blood Is Thicker Cover

That yellow sky is pretty magical, too. And I knew it would work for the silhouettes because there was another photo in the same group with geese in silhouette.

My favorite cover so far, hands down, is for the combined edition. After a couple of false starts, I figured out how to clip the cloud images from the background for the BLOOD IS THICKER COVER and overlay them on the background for the BLOOD WILL TELL cover. Then it was just add the dragon silhouette and the titles. But the deep blue and gold skies are so striking together.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image10567743

Isn’t that a huge improvement over that first “Heart of Oak” cover?

So that’s how I do it.

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A little of this and a little of that, today.

I have started  looking for potential reviewers for BLOOD IS THICKER. Not nearly enough yet, but sometimes just getting started breaks the log jam. It’s certainly the first step.

Blood Is Thicker Cover

I got my proofs for the paperback version. I might make one change before launch, but I haven’t decided, yet.

Meanwhile, my first review for FIRE AND EARTH went live. Check it out, here. There’ll be a giveaway on that site next week and an author interview in early September.

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

In other news, I’m extremely excited that my middle grade fantasy, MAGE STORM, got second place in the pitch+250 contest on Adventures in YA Publishing. I’ve just started querying this and I find this a very auspicious beginning. Besides, I get a critique from one of the judges. Who knows?

I’m almost finished with the paragraph-by-paragraph rewrite of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. If nothing else, this has been a great learning experience. I’m confident this story will see the light of day one way or another before too long.

As always on Sundays, a new chapter of BLOOD IS THICKER is up on wattpad for free. This one is one of my favorites. What if a couple of dragons in disguise arrived in our world just before Christmas, and had to go shopping for clothes? Well, take a look and find out. Or, of course, you could just buy the book. (Click on the pretty picture of the cover above.)

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