Month: October 2011 Page 1 of 5

Review of Tales Told Under the Covers

Miss Emma Honeyball reviewed Tales Told Under the Covers: Zombie Girl Invasion & Other Stories for me and had such nice things to say…

These are stories where the kids are in charge. The cohesive family unit is important, but the kids are the ones who are empowered to save the world. The adults are largely helpless. Astra’s Dad is physically helpless, he’s been injured and can’t work, which forces his daughter to take matters into her own hands. Neil’s parents don’t know the right way to kill zombies. Cat’s parents are frozen with horror as the Sushi monster attacks and Marina’s parents are eaten by Nibbles the giant rabbit. These children can walk into a world of the unknown and come up with a way to win. probably the best example of this is Connor, who is absorbed into a world of robots and works out how to win their war. De’s characters are flawed, vivid and real. They are gutsy, intelligent and brave. I loved every one of them.

Read the whole review here, at her website, In Potentia.  I should blush.

Review of Tales Told Under the Covers

Miss Emma Honeyball reviewed Tales Told Under the Covers: Zombie Girl Invasion & Other Stories for me and had such nice things to say…

These are stories where the kids are in charge. The cohesive family unit is important, but the kids are the ones who are empowered to save the world. The adults are largely helpless. Astra’s Dad is physically helpless, he’s been injured and can’t work, which forces his daughter to take matters into her own hands. Neil’s parents don’t know the right way to kill zombies. Cat’s parents are frozen with horror as the Sushi monster attacks and Marina’s parents are eaten by Nibbles the giant rabbit. These children can walk into a world of the unknown and come up with a way to win. probably the best example of this is Connor, who is absorbed into a world of robots and works out how to win their war. De’s characters are flawed, vivid and real. They are gutsy, intelligent and brave. I loved every one of them.

Read the whole review here, at her website, In Potentia.  I should blush.

 

Review of Tales Told Under the Covers

Emma Honeyball reviewed Tales Told Under the Covers: Zombie Girl Invasion & Other Stories for me and had such nice things to say…

These are stories where the kids are in charge. The cohesive family unit is important, but the kids are the ones who are empowered to save the world. The adults are largely helpless. Astra’s Dad is physically helpless, he’s been injured and can’t work, which forces his daughter to take matters into her own hands. Neil’s parents don’t know the right way to kill zombies. Cat’s parents are frozen with horror as the Sushi monster attacks and Marina’s parents are eaten by Nibbles the giant rabbit. These children can walk into a world of the unknown and come up with a way to win. probably the best example of this is Connor, who is absorbed into a world of robots and works out how to win their war. De’s characters are flawed, vivid and real. They are gutsy, intelligent and brave. I loved every one of them.

Read the whole review here, at her website, In Potentia.  I should blush.

 

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-10-30

  • Ugh. Yes, exactly. @EmmaHunneyball spent last night awake worrying that the year is running away and I can't keep up. … #
  • Finished Exotics 4 (Exotics 1 is the next book on the publish list) yesterday, getting ready to finish Guinea Pig Apoc this week. #
  • RT! @AshleyMcCollum Yup! True love. RT @rskovach: Love misuse of commas? You'll like this then! http://t.co/QC98TVOf @AshleyMcCollum #
  • Woot! @inkyelbows
    Launch 2012: Move Books to focus on MG fiction for boys, may expand to pb, chapter bks, nonfic: http://t.co/hYSbhvAP #

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Kid Writers: Stuck for ideas?

So you want to write a story, but you don’t know what to write about. What should you write about when you don’t know what to write? Should you just sit around and wait for a story idea?  Boooooring.

There are all kinds of ways to find writing prompts, or things to get you started writing.  However, it’s not so easy to come up with ideas for stories.  How do you turn a journal idea about staying at your grandparents’ house into a story?

Here’s one way:

  1. Find out if you have any rules for writing the story, like “Write a ghost story” or “Write a story of 500 words” or whatever.  These can be rules set by your teacher, your parents, or even you, like “I want to write a romantic story about zombies.”
  2. Think if there’s anything you have been very interested in, upset about, or that has been bothering you lately.   Start a list of these things and write down a bunch of them, at least ten.
  3. Find some random ideas: a writing prompt, something someone at school said, something from a TV show or song, a holiday, whatever.  Spy on other people’s conversations and take ideas from them:  “My mom said I had to clean my room or I wouldn’t be able to watch the special on dinosaurs…” Dinosaurs it is.  Start a list of random ideas, at least ten.
  4. Combine your two lists; you should have a lot of ideas on it.  Go through and pick the two that are the best together.  You will  know which ones are the best together because they start giving you story ideas, or they make you feel a strong emotion, like happiness, sadness, worry, or laughter.  (If none of them work like that, just pick any two.)  It doesn’t matter which list the ideas came from.
  5. Start a list of story ideas, no matter how smart or stupid, no matter whether they fit the rules you set out in #1, no matter if you think nobody will like them.  The story ideas have to include both the ideas from your lists.  For example, the ideas “dinosaurs” and “grandmother’s house” together might give you ideas like: dinosaurs attack grandmother, grandmother raises tiny dinosaurs in her basement, grandmother has a recipe book full of dinosaur recipes, the whole world was suddenly covered in dinosaurs while you were visiting grandmother’s house and you can’t get back home, etc.  Make a list of 20 ideas.
  6. Pick the best idea.  If you have to, change it a little so it fits inside the rules you set in #1.

The reason you should come up with so many things on your lists and so many story ideas is that it’s usually pretty easy to think up the first idea that you come up with, so pretty much anybody can think of the same idea.  It’s like getting teased: everybody thinks it’s so funny to tease you, but you’ve probably heard it all before, right?  The same thing with stories.  The story “zombies come and kill everybody, the end” is something that anybody could come up with.  But if you write down a lot of ideas, then you will probably come up with something that nobody else could think of somewhere in that list.

And don’t worry about breaking the rules. The important thing is to have that story idea when you want it. So if you come up with something totally different, use that instead!

Fiction: The Woods Behind Grandmother’s House

Now available at SmashwordsOmniLit, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com.

The Woods Behind Grandmother’s House

by DeAnna Knippling

Warning: Strong language and adult situations.

I set this behind my grandparents’ house–actually, it’s behind my great-grandmother’s little house, across the road from my grandparents.  The roses come from the other side of the family, though.  The places I played as a kid have become abandoned as generations of farmers stop farming.  It’s very sad.

Ellen warned her fiance Philip not to get involved with the Rockford brothers. But now he has gone with them down a dark path heavy with deadfalls and demons, and only she can bring him back.

In life, we follow some paths we shouldn’t; we open some doors we were never meant to go through; we acquire regrets as though they were limited-time collectable figurines and line them up on the shelves of our hearts, dusting them on a regular basis. I’m not sayin’ that I’m above all that. I’m just saying, if you open a door, you better know how to shut it. I learned that one the hard way, in the woods behind Grandmother’s house.

To sum up, my brother Jim and I were playing back there and dug up under the rotten old leaf mold. It was spring, and I think that’s what saved us, because the long winter was over, but it wasn’t warm enough for all the grownup to be out in the fields. The door was a bare tin cover with an iron lock on it, only the iron had rusted through, mostly, and we beat it the rest of the way off with a piece of granite that had worked its way up from under the soil, out in the field. The edge of the wood was lined with those things, as they got chucked out of the fields.

We were able to open the door, only because we’d happened to read a certain book earlier that morning. But I’ll describe that more later. We climbed down the worn metal ladder bolted to the side of the hole, down a long dirt tunnel, and into a magical world: to us two kids, it was a candyland where we ate pink happiness and drank blue sky and bounced on marshmallow clouds of joy.

Fortunately Grandmother caught up with us and set off her old travel alarm clock, which rang to wake the dead, right in our ears. In a second we could see just where we’d gone: straight to Hell. There are places where pieces of Hell come up to the surface, like hard pieces of granite in the field. Some folks get rid of ‘em. Some people keep ‘em around, in case they’re needed, like a pile of hard rock. And if you’re one to argue that nobody ought to keep pieces of Hell around and can’t understand that they might be needed, this story ain’t for you.

The demons fell on us as soon as they saw that we could see what they really were—screamin’ and hollerin’ the way we were, no wonder—but Grandma had a bit of fire in her hand, blue and bright, and she tore bits of it off and threw it at the demons, who flinched back from it. Why demons shimmering with heat and thick with scales and horns should have been afraid of that blue fire, I still don’t know, but that’s the way it was.

She got us back up through the door and out, and shut it. To sum up, my ass hurt bad for a few days after that, and the door got a new lock. But it wasn’t never buried under the leaves again, not while Grandmother was still alive.

 

Fiction: The Woods Behind Grandmother’s House

Now available at Smashwords, OmniLit, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com.

The Woods Behind Grandmother’s House

by DeAnna Knippling

Warning: Strong language and adult situations.

I set this behind my grandparents’ house–actually, it’s behind my great-grandmother’s little house, across the road from my grandparents.  The roses come from the other side of the family, though.  The places I played as a kid have become abandoned as generations of farmers stop farming.  It’s very sad.

Ellen warned her fiance Philip not to get involved with the Rockford brothers. But now he has gone with them down a dark path heavy with deadfalls and demons, and only she can bring him back.

In life, we follow some paths we shouldn’t; we open some doors we were never meant to go through; we acquire regrets as though they were limited-time collectable figurines and line them up on the shelves of our hearts, dusting them on a regular basis. I’m not sayin’ that I’m above all that. I’m just saying, if you open a door, you better know how to shut it. I learned that one the hard way, in the woods behind Grandmother’s house.

To sum up, my brother Jim and I were playing back there and dug up under the rotten old leaf mold. It was spring, and I think that’s what saved us, because the long winter was over, but it wasn’t warm enough for all the grownup to be out in the fields. The door was a bare tin cover with an iron lock on it, only the iron had rusted through, mostly, and we beat it the rest of the way off with a piece of granite that had worked its way up from under the soil, out in the field. The edge of the wood was lined with those things, as they got chucked out of the fields.

We were able to open the door, only because we’d happened to read a certain book earlier that morning. But I’ll describe that more later. We climbed down the worn metal ladder bolted to the side of the hole, down a long dirt tunnel, and into a magical world: to us two kids, it was a candyland where we ate pink happiness and drank blue sky and bounced on marshmallow clouds of joy.

Fortunately Grandmother caught up with us and set off her old travel alarm clock, which rang to wake the dead, right in our ears. In a second we could see just where we’d gone: straight to Hell. There are places where pieces of Hell come up to the surface, like hard pieces of granite in the field. Some folks get rid of ‘em. Some people keep ‘em around, in case they’re needed, like a pile of hard rock. And if you’re one to argue that nobody ought to keep pieces of Hell around and can’t understand that they might be needed, this story ain’t for you.

The demons fell on us as soon as they saw that we could see what they really were—screamin’ and hollerin’ the way we were, no wonder—but Grandma had a bit of fire in her hand, blue and bright, and she tore bits of it off and threw it at the demons, who flinched back from it. Why demons shimmering with heat and thick with scales and horns should have been afraid of that blue fire, I still don’t know, but that’s the way it was.

She got us back up through the door and out, and shut it. To sum up, my ass hurt bad for a few days after that, and the door got a new lock. But it wasn’t never buried under the leaves again, not while Grandmother was still alive.

Indpub: DRM

What with one thing and another, I hadn’t run into DRM problems until a couple of weeks ago.

I bought a book I wanted to read that was only on Amazon at that point, downloaded it, and went to convert it to .epub so I could read it on my Nook.

No.  Calibre would NOT convert the file for me.

Now, I had previously thought that DRM was something I didn’t approve of, because I’d rather have my work read than not.  Someone steals a copy?  Considering how hard it is to increase my numbers at this point, I’m flattered.  You want to steal my work?  You’re very sweet.  Plus, I think it would be hypocritical of me:  when I first started reading manga, I read it using scanlations, or scanned versions that had been translated by volunteers into English.  When I started reading it, it was really hard to find any manga at bookstores – now there are tons of shelf space for them, even in used bookstores. Hundreds of dollars later, I can say that had I not read those pirated versions, I would not have spent anything on manga.  Eh.  Manga.

Plus, you know what’s a great way to get people to start reading your stuff?  By putting it up for $0 on Amazon.com.  Whether it’s officially free or pirated, it seems to have the same affect on my wallet:  I spend money.

So there I am, looking at the results of that file conversion.  I forget what the error message was, but “file protection” was involved, I think.  I saw red.

THAT BOOK WAS MINE.

I PAID FOR IT.

THERE WERE NO OTHER OPTIONS OTHER THAN TO BUY IT IN A FORMAT MY READER CAN’T READ OR TO NOT BUY IT AT ALL.

I will never read a book from that writer again.

Well, okay, it was good but not great (I ended up reading a novel on my phone, which was a pain and made my thumbs tired), so I probably wouldn’t have tracked the sequel down anyway.  But there are enough things for me to read out there that I don’t need to get tagged by someone else’s paranoia.

Yeah, I could have found a way to strip off the DRM.  But I don’t know where to look, I didn’t want to spend the time looking, and I didn’t want to risk going to a jerky site to get it.

Sure, there are cases where it gets forced upon you by your publisher, and there are cases where authors are systematically being ripped off (by people taking their files and publishing them under different names and titles, etc., and I’m pretty sure those bastards don’t care if they have to remove the DRM from your files, and they can).  Do I care?  No.  I can read something else.

 

Alice Timeline

I am GOING to lose this otherwise…saved by the Internet!

A timeline of events I consider relevant to the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There books (and to the book I’m writing, Alice’s Adventures in Underland).  Ages approximate.

1832 – Charles born.

1846 – Charles goes to Rugby (age 14)

1849 – Charles leaves Rugby (age 17)

1851 – Charles is accepted at Christ Church; his mother dies two days after he arrives (age 19)

1853 – Alice Liddell born

1855 – Henry Liddell becomes Dean of Christ Church

1856 – Charles gets a lectureship at Christ Church (age 24)

1856 – Charles first sees (Alice) Ellen Terry as a child actress (age 9)

1856 – Charles takes first photos of Liddell girls after going to Deanery to take pictures of scenery (C 26, A 5 or I think 6)

1858 (18 April) to 8 May 1862 – Charles’s diaries missing, probably destroyed by family after death.

1860 – Queen Victoria stays with the Liddells at the Deanery.

1861 – Charles is ordained a deacon, taking a vow of celibacy (age 29)

1861 – [I think] The point where Charles starts to become outspoken in criticism of Dean Liddell

1862 – When Charles’ diaries resume, they are full of prayers to keep him from sin.  Die down by 1872-3.  Seems doubtful that they have anything to do with the Liddell girls, as tone changes completely in diaries when referring to them.

1862 – July 4 boat trip to Godstow  during which the core tale of AAiW is told.  Present:  Charles, Rev. Robinson Duckworth (instructor & governor of Prince Leopold at the time), Lorina (Ina) (13), Alice (10), Edith (9?)

1863 – Mrs. (Lorina) Liddell forces a break with Charles and the family; June 27-29 diary page missing, probably destroyed by family after death. Later note found stating reason for break with Charles is that Mrs. L. thinks he’s using the children as a method of courting either their governess Miss Prickett or Ina; provenance unknown/unprovable. (C31, A 11)  (Alice’s parents had 15 years’ difference in age.)

1864 – Charles gives Alice a handwritten copy of her story (C 32, A 12)

1864 – Charles meets Ellen Terry in person (she’s 17); the same year, she marries a much older man but splits with him after ten months.  Charles stops speaking to her (Victorians were not supposed to divorce) until much later, after she remarried.

1865 – AAiW published after several years of production issues (Charles 33)

1866 – Charles starts writing TtLG toward the end of the year

1868 – Charles’s father dies (Charles 36).

1870 – Mrs. Liddell brings Ina and Alice to be photographed (the girls look miserable in the photos) (C 38, A 18)

1871 – TtLG published (with 1872 publication date) (C 39, A 19)

1872 to 1876 Prince Leopold studies at Christ Church; at some point, he and Alice seem to be romantically attached, but the Queen gets him married to a German princess instead.

1874 – Penned parts of the Snark while caring for Charlie Wilcox, a cousin, who was dying of tuberculosis.

1876 – Hunting of the Snark published (Charles 44)

1876 – Edith dies (age 22) of peritonitis or measles

1880 – Alice marries Reginal Hargreaves (C 48, A 28)

1880 – Charles stops taking photos.

1881 – Charles stops teaching (C 49)

1882 – Leopold married.

1884 – Leopold dies (he has hemophilia).

1889 – Charles writes Sylvie and Bruno (57)

1898 – Charles dies of the flu and pneumonia, just before his 66th birthday

1928 – Ellen Terry dies

1932 – Alice Hargreaves visit the US for to commemorate Charles’s 100th birthday (age 80)

1934 – Alice dies (82)

When is a story ready to be submitted?

The question came up yesterday–how do I know when I’m ready to submit a story?

Okay.  The answer is very scary, difficult to accept, and goes against what lots of people will tell you.

  1. Write the story as close to straight through as possible.
  2. Put the story in standard manuscript format (I used to do this first, but I’m using Storybox to write in, so now I do that afterwards).
  3. Spell-check.
  4. Read through for oopsies (light editing).  I do not change the plot, characters, beginning, ending, etc.
  5. Sometimes, send through critique group and incorporate changes, if I like the suggestions – usually, it’s logical inconsistencies, the equivalent of the shirt being buttoned in one shot and unbuttoned in the next.
  6. Select market and read directions.
  7. Follow directions.
  8. Send story.

You can stop here; the rest is just justification.

Here are the reasons it’s starting to work, after a year and some:

  • I write a story a week and multiple novels every year, on top of my freelance work.  I’m always writing.
  • I take the attitude that a story is a transient thing, something that comes out of whatever you happen to be thinking and feeling at the time–it would have been different, had you chosen to write it six months earlier or later, or even a day earlier or later.  It is not immortal, unless the readers like it.
  • I will rewrite a story, if I see a fatal flaw in it later and it’s been rejected a number of times, or if I’m getting personal rejections coming to the same thing.
  • I will rewrite to editor request–up to a certain point.
  • Working as a slush editor, I know that the job is to make the readers happy–not the writers.  If I get rejected, it’s not about me.  If I get accepted, it’s not about me.  Oh, it feels like it’s about me, but it’s not:  that’s pure vanity.  Did the story do the job the editor needed done?  No?  Then move on.  Yes?  Then move on.

Why this works:

I’m learning how to trust myself and trust the reader (and editor).  If a story doesn’t sell:  I have at least another 24 stories out at any given time.  I resubmit to somewhere else, or I e-publish.  I have been bootstrapping myself up in writing quality by sitting down and writing, and writing, and writing, and reading, and reading, and reading.

No, none of my stories is perfect or even all that good.  Yes, every time I think about them, their imperfections come to mind.  Yes, I’m tempted to fiddle with them over and over, and on a couple of them, I have.  I’m not any happier with the fiddled stories than I am with the ones that I wrote, cleaned up, and sent.  Yes, I viciously attack myself on how terribly I write on a regular basis.

But a writer cannot survive on writing one novel every ten years, or even one novel every two years.  You do not train yourself to spend six weeks editing a short story or two years editing a novel, sell, then suddenly become so good that you can write two novels a year, or fifty short stories.  If you try to do that, you may end up massively dropping the quality of your stories, because you don’t have enough time to edit them to the same standard.  You can go broke being successful that way.

Yesterday I mentioned that imperfections were okay…as long as your story was decent and you sound like yourself, and as long as it was what the editor was looking for.  Because it will sound like you, and only like you:  unique sells.

Let’s say it takes you two years to write and edit the perfect novel.  Then it will take you another two years to go through the submission, editing, and publishing process.  (You might write another novel during that period, but you probably won’t, with the extra work that trying to get published piles on you.  Say you do.)

By the end of those four years, you might have written two perfect novels.  Or you could have written:

  • 8 decent, unique novels at the rate of two a year.
  • 200 decent, unique short stories at the rate of one a week.

…while holding down a full-time job (I write more novels with my extra time).  If you had learned to trust yourself and let yourself write instead of edit.  Life might get in the way…you might only get 150 stories and 5 novels done, and only half of them were decent.  If writing is what makes you a better writer, then there’s no way that fifth novel is going to be as good as the first perfect novel.  It will be better.  Because you showed up for practice, day after day after day.  You did the work.

There is no magic secret to getting published:  there is only the work.

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