Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Week Without Writing

Scott D. Parker

Last week, I successfully completed my version of NaNoWriMo in which I drafted and completed a novella in the month of November. The manuscript clocked in at just over 30,000 words and will be available next year, likely in the first half of 2015.

I considered it a good success story and an accomplishment to have reached that goal. I am striving to find new ways to be more efficient at completing first drafts. As I start my new publishing company, one of the things I need is inventory. With the completion of this manuscript, I now have seven manuscripts in the bank. I'm aiming at publishing at least four of them next year.

Since I am working on content for my new website, I didn't plan my next story. In fact, I had given myself permission to devote all my spare time in December to getting the website up, editing manuscript #1, getting my cover design, logo design, and web graphics fixed, and formatting the first book in advance of my expected publication in January.

But I strangely found myself at a loss this week, especially during my breaks at the day job. You see, I didn't have an active story. Sure, I used those precious minutes to work on my mission statement and book blurbs but those things don't have the sexiness of plowing through a first draft of a story. I've now written 2.5 stories while at this new day job since July and those breaks--where I write on my stories--are awesome. I look forward to getting back to the stories even if it's only for five minutes. Couple that with the walking I do while I'm writing and it's a win-win.

Which means I'll have to come up with my next story by Monday so I can have my oases of creativity during the work days.

Yeah, but I need all those pieces for my website before I really need to draft a new story. Such are the multiple hats I get to wear now that I'm an indie author/publisher. So I've come up with a fun idea, at least until I complete the web content: set aside my 5am hour for business content and allow my breaks to be for drafting a new story.

We'll see how well that does for me.

Do you ever feel the absence of a story when you are in between projects?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Random Thoughts after Launch Week (and Book Week Scotland)

Russel D McLean

With the launch of CRY UNCLE in the UK (is it the last McNnee? Its certainly the culmination of my five book plan) I've been reading the damn book all over Scotland. Crowds (or at least two people) were present in Gilmerton, Dundee (three times!) and Glasgow have now heard the opening chapters to the book (Including my impressively bad Hungarian accent, which caused me to corpse terribly during the Glasgow event). Its been great fun, reading the book. It always is. I like reading. I like (badly) acting when I'm reading. But I know that reading isn't for every author. I limit myself when I do read because, frankly, I tend to lose track of author readings at the best of times. I much prefer someone talking with passion about their book or about anything.

But it has left me wondering about events. Are single author events worthwhile? The most fun I had these last few weeks - and they were all fun - was pairing up with other authors. Jay Stringer's impromtu quizzing of my knowledge of Mel Gibson's films was great fun. Realising that Chris Brookmyre was the new Shakespeare at Kirkcaldy was a highlight. And I think it adds atmosphere to an event, too, when writers with good chemistry pair up. It becomes more of a show than someone talking about something of interest only to them.

I also started to think about the mechanics or reading your work. Its strange to see your own words there in front of you. I find that - for my own amusement more than anything - I start to edit or adapt as I'm going along; changing small lines of dialogue, speeding up and slowing down sequences. Its part of the experience of writing for me; a book is never finally finished. It gets published, but if I was allowed to, I would tinker forever at the nuts and bolts of sentence structure and word choice.

Author events are strange things. Authors are not natural performers, but I think that if we are going to go out and talk about our books in public we should be. One of the nicest moments this week during a solo event was a librarian, after I was done, saying she hadn't had readers laugh quite so hard with an author in a while. I know I write hardboiled crime, but honestly, that one moment summed up everything I love about doing live events: its a show, its entertainment, its supposed to be interesting and entertaining. And entertaining doesn't just mean funny. It means it has to be interesting to the audience, it has to grip their attention the same way reading a book does. If a live event doesn't do that, then, really, what's the point?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Novel Interiors

by Holly West

Short post today since I got a new filling about an hour ago and have you heard I'm moving in two weeks? Lot stuff to do.

But in the midst of all this chaos I bought a book I want to tell you about. Novel Interiors by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti with photographs by Ivan Terestchenko marries two of the things I love most in life: books (of course) and beautiful interiors.

I'm not going to get too geeky with the interior design stuff here because I know that's not my audience, but if you or someone you happen to know is into literature and pretty pictures of lovely rooms, then I think this is a perfect gift.

From the Random House website:
For those who have ever lost themselves in the stylish worlds of novels like Sense and Sensibility, The Age of Innocence, Wuthering Heights, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and countless others, this design book embraces the fantasy of time and place, showing you how to bring some of those elements into your own home.
I like that line--"embraces the fantasy of time and place." Isn't that one of the reasons we read books? Because they transport us other times and places? This is one of the main reasons I wrote the Mistress of Fortune books. I wanted to transport the reader to a time and place in history that I love, the way I've been transported by books over the years.

Okay, so Novel Interiors isn't going to change the world or anything, but it sure is nice to curl up with it in front of the fire with it and browse through pictures of beautiful rooms. I'll admit the book is just the tiniest bit pretentious but honestly, not as much as I thought it would be. Although it kind of shames me because I've only read a couple of the books it features. It's another painful reminder that I'm not nearly as well read as I'd like to be.

But that's the subject of another post.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hey, That’s not Realistic!


At a recent Bouchercon panel the writer Ken Wishnia made the comment – after a complaint that cops aren’t presented realistically on TV – that no one’s job is presented realistically on TV.

High school teachers watch Glee and say they don’t break into song nearly that often, delivery guys watch Law & Order and say they’d stop unloading the truck for thirty seconds while talking to homicide detectives, and I’m pretty sure zombies watch The Walking Dead and say, come on, we’re not that easy to kill.

But this is a blog about crime fiction so our concern is how crime and criminal investigations are presented in fiction so—no wait, that isn’t right. This is a blog about fiction so our concern is storytelling.

Story rules.

The distance to which the characters and events in fiction stray from the realistic portrayal has everything to do with story.

Everything serves the story.

So I think most of the time when the criticism is that the characters aren’t realistic the real complaint is that the story isn’t working.

And for me, what usually causes the biggest problems with the story is when I’m not completely clear on exactly what story it is I’m trying to tell. Part way through writing a novel I usually get lost and end up throwing a lot out as I make my way back. And sometimes, I guess, I don’t make my way all the way back enough.

Anyway, after meeting Ken at Bouchercon I read the first of his “Filomena Buscarsela mysteries,” 23 Shades of Black and now I’m going to read the rest of them.

They’re very realistic.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

IRL - In Real Life Friends

By Kristi Belcamino

I'm going to say right off the bat that pretty much any dribble I come up with after Jay Stringer's post about Joelle Charbonneau's project to donate books to the Ferguson Library is going to be tagged as #goodproblems #firstworldproblems #whinywriterproblems.

In fact, I would actually suggest you go back and read Jay's post rather than this one. Here it is:

So, you've been warned.

This is about some of the differences I've found in begin a published author and the sudden request for friends on Facebook. (Stop reading now if you like.) I'm going to continue in case anyone has any suggestions.

So, here is the deal:

A while back I converted my personal Facebook page to an "author" page. The day it happened, I panicked. If you only have an "author" page you basically exist in a black hole. You can only see pages you "like" in your newsfeed and if you have friends who aren't authors or don't have professional "pages" they are invisible.

So the next step is to set up a personal page.

I did so mainly to keep in touch with my friends IRL (in real life) and my family across the United States. I also have a few friends that I've interacted so much with on social media, I felt like I knew them even though we had never met in person. So, I was pretty happy with my personal page, and focused all my attention on my author page and then checked in on my IRL friends and family on the other page, but rarely posted on that page.

Cue six months later. I was a total wimp and approved, oh maybe 100 people as friends on my personal page that I had never met, and several I had never even heard of. As a result, I shied away from more personal posts, including pictures of my two daughters (If you question why, you obviously haven't read my first book.)

Well, yesterday I cleaned house. Anyone I hadn't met IRL or anyone I hadn't had significant social media interaction with was deleted. It seems fair, right? I'm sure many of them are awesome and I would love them if I met them in real life, but since we haven't yet met and I'm never on that personal page ANYWAY, I unfriended them. Makes sense, right?

So, why do I feel like such a bitch?

I do. Absurd I know. Like I'm not some special person that everyone is dying to be friends with on Facebook and yet I'm shining them on, but still.

It made me feel like a heel. Like a snob. Like a jerk.

All because I only wanted friends on my personal page that I had met IRL or who I had significant interaction with on social media. Is that wrong?

Will everyone I unfriended tell all their friends to never buy my books? Will I lose out on the chance to make a great new friend at the next conference I go to because they are irritated I unfriended them? Am I worrying about something totally absurd and ridiculous when there are so many other things in this world and this life to even spend time thinking about? Well, yes.

So, my question to my fellow authors is how do you handle this delicate dance?

Because on the one hand it is ABSOLUTELY FREAKING AMAZING that strangers want to interact with me because of my BOOKS. NO FLIPPING WAY. Seriously the coolest thing ever.

And in fact, many of my "new" IRL friends I met at Bouchercon, were ones I had "met" on Facebook. But these are the ones I would've kept as friends even if we hadn't met in real life because we've had significant back and forth social interaction and I feel as if I know them.

I want to be able to have a personal page where I can put up pics of my kids and personal details to share with my family across the country without feeling as if I'm sharing private moments of my life with people I've never met and may never meet.

And here is a whole different side issue to this: how much do you as authors post about your family and private life? If you have kids do you have qualms about putting their names and faces out there or is it just me because of my interactions with the worst of the worst pedophiles?

I welcome any thoughts on this.


Thanks for indulging me.