Month: March 2012 Page 1 of 3

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-03-25

  • When "raising the stakes" is a waste of time: http://t.co/qZ1To3Qg #
  • Copyediting checklist, part one: the technical stuff. http://t.co/SC5s75qI #
  • The stuff that nobody wants to read but everyone needs. Siiiiiiigh. #
  • Think you have problems coming up with book titles? Try naming a TV show… http://t.co/YxoBfSc5 #
  • Will Google will ever get that a search engine is not how to discover books if you don't already know about them? http://t.co/uNxqkfzF #

Powered by Twitter Tools

The Bitter Little Squirrel of Critique Partners…

Ms. Marshmallow of This little author should be writing books, not blogging linked to my blog on handling critiques and commented,

The final item on the list covers a lot of ground, including that modern dilemna of the “strong female protagonist.”  People really have a lot of ideas about how women and girls should act.  In real life and in fiction.  Male characters get away with a bit less judgment (in my opinion).  People who are idealists are some of the toughest critique partners, as they will turn all your characters into Mary Sue types if you let them.  Don’t.  You’ll please the Mary Sue people, but you’ll hate yourself in the morning, unless, of course, you have just written the next Hunger Games, then you will laugh your ass off to the bank.

I can be a bitter little squirrel, but I think over time I’m getting more useful as a critique partner, as I tone down those squirrely tendencies.  I’m going to revisit Deanna’s article frequently so that when I’m doing critique, I can be more like example #1.

I have been through bad critiques…I have given bad critiques, where I have an axe to grind (and am unwilling to admit it to myself until later).  I wonder, though, if I’ve ever tried to turn a female character into a Mary Sue, and what kind of character she would be.  I’ve had to pass out some critiques where I was like, “Look…the women in your story?  They don’t actually do anything meaningful.  I don’t think you’ll be able to appeal to a female audience with that story.”  But I don’t ever remember going, “Hey, you should make your female characters less self-confident, like me.”

The first one was in college, actually; I was in a one-act play as the female “lead,” and I finally had to tell the guy, “Look, I realize that this story is about a fracturing in the guy’s psyche; his wife is really dead, and the character is just his hallucination of her, his anima.”  (None of this was spelled out in the play.  At all.  I just knew him, and he agreed with my assessment up to that point.)  “Don’t you think that what happens to her in the end is just a little shitty?  I mean, in effect he’s killing off half of his own soul.”  “That’s not what I meant!  I meant [blah blah blah]!”  “Well, when you let her die off (again) with the main character just going, ‘Oh, well,’ that’s what it says.  Buh-bye soul.”  He did not agree; he thought he was “releasing” his character from guilt over, um, just letting his wife die after she went crazy during her pregnancy and lost the baby due to unrecognized preeclampsia (if I remember right, they were in a foreign country on top of all that); the main character had just assumed that she was having a mental breakdown and abandoned her.  “Abandoning your anima is supposed to ease the guilt of being an asshole?”  I was even less tactful then than I am now, and he was one of those people who were like, “I dare you to criticize me, for I am mighty,” so I thought he could take it.

Luckily or unluckily, we were too close to the performance for me to be replaced.  The (female) set designer complimented me on standing my ground later, but we were all kind of scared of him, and he wasn’t even the director.  And, of course, my character died multiple times, so I’m sure he felt better by the end of the run.

Alien Blue out in Print!

I am so wiped out this week, and still trying to understand the effects of all my messing around wtih Alien Blue over the last few weeks, so I’ll sit on the updates for that for a bit.  Also, I’m going to be tied up next week, so posts here may be, um, a bit scanty until April 2.

A month later, Alien Blue is finally out in print.  Copies should be up at Amazon in the next week or so, and other online sites within six weeks.  IF you want a signed copy, contact me directly, and I’ll get it headed your way.  Ebooks are available from Amazon.com, and copies will be up at other websites starting May 20. Read the free chapters here.  I’ll also be bringing copies to Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference.

Bill Trout didn’t set out to get involved with aliens. He just wanted to run his damned brewery and heal up from being abandoned by his ex-wife. But that ain’t the way things worked out, and now he has some bodies to bury, an alien kid who’s wanted for murder—mass murder—to hide, and a planet to save. But Bill won’t go down easy.

Fortunately, the aliens, who are a blue ooze that takes over your body and are real hard to kill, have no tolerance for alcohol. So now Bill has a new beer on tap: Alien Blue.

He just has to be careful who he serves it to.

The great beer epic…okay, honestly, beer can’t solve everything.  And in fact it can cause a lot of problems, especially when you have a bunch of body-jacking aliens around and being less than sober is the only way to defend yourself. But sometimes all you really need is to put your feet up and enjoy how messed-up the world is, and this the book for that 🙂

Alien Blue out in Print!

I am so wiped out this week, and still trying to understand the effects of all my messing around wtih Alien Blue over the last few weeks, so I’ll sit on the updates for that for a bit.  Also, I’m going to be tied up next week, so posts here may be, um, a bit scanty until April 2.

A month later, Alien Blue is finally out in print.  Copies should be up at Amazon in the next week or so, and other online sites within six weeks.  IF you want a signed copy, contact me directly, and I’ll get it headed your way.  Ebooks are available from Amazon.com, and copies will be up at other websites starting May 20. Read the free chapters here.  I’ll also be bringing copies to Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference.

Bill Trout didn’t set out to get involved with aliens. He just wanted to run his damned brewery and heal up from being abandoned by his ex-wife. But that ain’t the way things worked out, and now he has some bodies to bury, an alien kid who’s wanted for murder—mass murder—to hide, and a planet to save. But Bill won’t go down easy.

Fortunately, the aliens, who are a blue ooze that takes over your body and are real hard to kill, have no tolerance for alcohol. So now Bill has a new beer on tap: Alien Blue.

He just has to be careful who he serves it to.

The great beer epic…okay, honestly, beer can’t solve everything.  And in fact it can cause a lot of problems, especially when you have a bunch of body-jacking aliens around and being less than sober is the only way to defend yourself. But sometimes all you really need is to put your feet up and enjoy how messed-up the world is, and this the book for that 🙂

Google Play and Ebooks?

After finding out a few days ago that some independent bookstores were using QR codes and Google Books to sell ebooks, Google Books has been on my radar.

I have one ebook up for sale through Google Books, because it was such a pain in the butt to get it up there that I stopped there.  I feel leery of using it, because no matter how brilliant the setup may be, it’s just awkward trying to find out what I’m supposed to be doing.  My first books uploading on Smashwords, B&N, and Amazon were nerve-wracking…but not terribly involved.  Putting the ebook together was the learning curve, not the uploading.  Not so with Google Books.

And now Google Books has scootched over to Google Play:

Now, the company has announced, eh, it’s […] folding the ebookstore intoGoogle Play, a portal that will also sell movies, music, and Android apps, andmaybe audiobooks. As Laura Hazard Owen puts it in a report on PaidContent, “The message is clear: Books are just one type of content that Google sells, and the company wants to offer them as part of an iTunes-like ecosystem rather than as a separate storefront.”

Wiredreport says it’s not only about being like iTunes, but being like Apple AND Amazon, and even Microsoft (remember them) in that Google Play is — God, are you sick of this word yet? — cloud-based. (We wrote about the cloud war in a MobyLives report yesterday.)

All of which could mean, oddly enough, and despite the stupid name for the program, that Google is finally, genuinely serious about selling ebooks, if only because the move seems to mark the company’s realization that, well, it has to if it’s going to compete with Apple and — especially — Amazon.

Read the rest of the article at Melville House.

I checked out the Google Play site, and I’m not impressed.  These books, they aren’t discoverable past the ones that everyone has already discovered.  Okay, sure, maybe it’ll help bookstores stay away from Amazon and still be able to sell ebooks, but…if you dive down into the genres, all you get is a page of staff recommendations.  Not bestseller lists, not up-and-coming lists, not the weird and wacky, just a collection of evergreen classics that everyone knows about already.  You can’t even filter your searches by genre.

Maybe they’re just getting set up, but really?  Anybody can find a book they already know exists; they just google it.  The separate website doesn’t feel like it’s for ease of consumer use at all.

Think you have problems with your book titles?

Try naming a TV show.

“I put Everybody Loves Raymond on the original script. What I loved about it was that it was like I Love Lucy, and I was trying to do an old-fashioned show — a traditional sitcom to break out from everything hip and edgy at the time. Plus, it had that specificity: Once you knew the show, you got that the title spoke to sibling rivalries, problems with parents, problems with your wife. Before I turned it in, I showed it to Ray. He said, “You can’t call it that because then we’re asking for it. I’m named Raymond. I don’t want that pressure of everybody having to love me. The next thing is, ‘Oh yeah? I don’t.’ ” I said, “Let’s turn it in and see if the network even likes it.” CBS liked the script enough to go to pilot, and the whole time Ray is calling Les Moonves, saying, “You’ve got to change the title.” And Les was like, “Ray, you’re not even on the schedule yet. Don’t worry about the title.” Then we get picked up to series, and Ray goes nuts. He calls Les: “Thank you for picking up the show, but you’ve got to change the title.” Les responds, “Ray, if you become a top 15 show, you can call the show anything you want.” Ray says, “OK.” By that time, Ray has come up with a list of his own titles. There was That Raymond GuyRaymond’s WayWhat’s With Raymond? They were all terrible, which he admits now. He wrote them on a piece of paper, which we then framed and put up in our office. We do become a top 15 show, and the moment we crossed the threshold, Ray calls Les and says, “Can we change the title now?” And, of course, Les says, “You can’t change the title now. You’re a top 15 show!” Every introduction for the rest of Ray’s life will be, “Here’s the guy that everybody loves.” I’m happy for the success we had together, but I do feel guilty that he has to live with that until he dies, and probably after.”

Read more here.

The article has a lot of good examples…and some good tips that explain the logic behind how the names get picked (or don’t), along with some exceptions that prove the rule.

Editing for Indie Writers: Copyediting Checklist Part 1 (Technical Considerations)

The indie editing series continues (starts here but the collective posts are here).

It’s helpful to literally print out a copyediting checklist and check off boxes as you complete steps, but it’s not necessary.  Personally, I recommend going through everything in this blog post first, using a checklist, then going back and doing next week’s checklist along with the style sheet.  At this point, you should put all your material in the document and in order, although not necessarily formatted correctly.  Some people like to format first and copyedit second, then do the proofreading once during the galley/proof stage; if that’s the case, make sure you review the formatting steps as noted and make sure you do the formatting checklist at the same time (this will come later).

Headers/Footers (If formatting before copyediting)

  • POD: Headers/footers on first pages of section correct (may differ than other pages).
  • POD: Headers/footers on even pages correct.
  • POD: Headers on odd pages correct.
  • POD: Page numbers in correct location, formatted correctly, and in order.
  • POD: No header/footer information on title/copyright pages.

Front Matter – Title and Copyright

  • Title matches exactly in all references in and to the work.
  • Byline matches exactly in all references in and to the work.
  • Copyright date, symbol, and copyright holder present and correct.
  • Copyright information for all images and design work present and correct (may be located in back matter).
  • Publication date present and correct, if desired.
  • Publisher name, city/state/country, and additional contact information present and correct, if desired.
  • Any front matter disclaimers present and correct (e.g., the Smashwords blurbs, safety notices, permissions for lyrics, “no resemblance to persons living or dead,” etc.).
  • POD: ISBN correct and listed, if desired.
  • POD: Library of Congress information correct and listed, if necessary.
  • POD: Edition notice (e.g., First Edition)  present and correct, if desired.

Front Matter – Table of Contents

  • Table of Contents title present and correct.
  • All necessary items listed, in the same order as in the text, numbered sequentially.
  • At least two items must be present at each level of the outline in order use that level of outline.
  • No two items in the same level of outline may be the same unless they are sub-items to different items.
  • Ebook:  All links working (if formatting before copyediting).
  • Ebook: If using an abbreviated TOC at the front of the book and the complete TOC at the back of the book, both sets of TOCs present, correct, etc.
  • POD: All page numbers correct (if formatting before copyediting).

Front Matter – Other material

  • All other sections of front matter present and correct, as desired (e.g., List of Illustrations, List of Figures, Preface, Foreword, Dedication, Acknowledgments, Errata, Frontispiece, Introduction, Pull Quotes, Blurbs, Also Available).

Main Text – Links

  • Ebook: All hyperlinks present and correct.
  • POD:  All hyperlinks formatted consistently and correctly, for ease of use by readers.

Main Text – Images

  • All figures present and correct, including captions (in order).
  • All tables present and correct, including captions (in order).
  • All illustrations present and correct, including captions (if using).
  • No two captions may match.
  • Formatting for captions is consistent throughout the book.
  • All figures/tables/illustrations aligned consistently.
  • Ebook: All initial caps created as images present and correct, if using.
  • Ebook: All headings created as images present and correct, if using.
  • Ebook: All additional text created as images present and correct, if using
  • Ebook: All glyphs created as images present and correct, if using.
  • Ebook: All images with correct dpi/maximum dimensions.

Main Text – Section Titles

  • All section titles present, correct, and sequential (check for missing numbers).
  • All subsection titles at the correct level, present, correct, and sequential.
  • If sections have individual author information, all sections’ author information is present and correct.

Main Text – Notes

  • All notes present, correct, and correctly numbered.  I recommend writing out the exact format for citing references and include it in your checklist (e.g., Lastname, Firstname.  That One Book: A Really Useful Reference, Edition.  City, ST: Publisher, Copyright Date.
  • Ebook: All notes in correct location and all links working, if using.
  • POD:  All notes in correct location.

Back Matter – Appendices

  • All appendices are present and correct.
  • Appendices are titled correctly and in order.

Back Matter – Author Information

  • Section title present and correct.
  • Author photo present and correct.
  • Author biography present and correct.
  • Author social media information present and correct (e.g., blog, email, and other contact information).

Back Matter – Publisher Information

  • Section title present and correct.
  • Publisher photo/logo present and correct.
  • Publisher information present and correct.
  • Author social media information present and correct (e.g., blog, email, and other contact information).

Back Matter – Additional Work

  • Section title present and correct.
  • Cover image present and correct, if using.
  • Blurbs present and correct, if using.
  • Additional Work material present and correct, if using.

Back Matter – Bibliography

  • Section title present and correct.
  • Bibliographic entries all present and correct (exact matches on title/authors, titles correct, publication/edition information correct, correct city/state/country, exact publisher name, correct copyright year, correct pages cited, if any, etc., as required by your style guide).  I recommend looking up the correct format for your style guide and write it down in your checklist.
  • Bibliographic entries alphabetized by author’s last name, then by title, as required by your style guide.
  • Bibliographic entries indented correctly (if formatting before copyediting).

Back Matter – Misc.

  • All additional back matter is present and complete, as desired (endnotes, glossary, index, colophon, etc.).
  • Ebook: Links in all sections of back matter present, working, and correct.
  • POD:  All hyperlinks formatted consistently and correctly, for ease of use by readers.
  • POD:  All page number references correct.

Let me know if you end up checking for anything else, technically speaking, and I’ll add it to this part of the checklist.

Next Week: Copyediting Checklist Part 2 (The Six Cs)

Update:

Auuuuggghh!  Bullets and lists!  What was I thinking!  I updated the images section (more on captioning) and the TOC section (more on not duplicating titles).  Also added notes about making sure section titles (chapters) are sequential.  Thanks, Holly G!

Main Text – Ordered and Undordered Lists

  • All lists where the order of the items is significant are ordered (numbered) lists and that all lists where the order of items is not significant are unordered (bulleted) lists.
  • Punctuation in lists is consistent.
  • Numbering/bulleting in lists is consistent.
  • Indentation in lists is consistent.
  • Level of indentation in lists is correct.
  • Two items must be present to make a list (except ironically), and two items must be in each level of the list.

When “Raising the Stakes” is a Waste of Time

Richard Lee Byers writes in Astrojive:

In the “Conan” movie, the Cimmerian is out to avenge the murder of his father and the slaughter of his clan. In the “John Carter” film, the hero is a Confederate veteran who lost his wife and child in the war (right, just like the dude in Hell on Wheels) and has come to believe no cause is worth fighting for.

Neither concept comes from the original stories. Howard and Burroughs didn’t weigh the heroes down with emotional baggage. They made Conan and Carter adventurers, and that was that.

Now, I’m a writer, and I understand the conventional storytelling wisdom the screenwriters followed. (In my stuff, I often follow it myself.) Giving the hero a personal stake in the story conflict and/or psychological problems can enrich his characterization and intensify the drama.

But the flipside is that by now, all of us moviegoers have seen the vengeance-driven and/or grieving hero many times. Instead of deepening and individualizing a character, such traits can make him seem clichéd. Maybe movie Conan and movie Carter fall victim to that perception.

Read the rest of the article here.

I haven’t seen the new Conan yet, but we saw John Carter last night, and let me say: the extra junk was annoying.  Did we have to see all that crap with the Army in Arizona?  And what the hell was all that junk about the so-called religious leaders who were really out to destroy planets?  All that crap about Carter having lost his meaning in life got in the way of his Southern Charm, which, in the book, I found charming but here was almost non-existent.

I hate it when I read books where the characters have sufficient motivation to do something–and then the author has to stack up other crap on top of it that add nothing, waste my time, and turn the story from a story into a MESSAGE.  (Not that stories shouldn’t have messages, but any message shouldn’t be in flashing, 150-point font with arrows pointing toward it.)  And that’s what happened with Carter: a perfectly good movie that you have to mentally edit, because parts of it–the parts that were meant to “raise the stakes” for the characters–are just a waste of time.

 

The Secret to Never Getting a Bad Review Again

Some people suffer pain. Other people mock it.

What’s the secret to never getting a bad review? This is a question authors get asked a lot. Hell, I’ve asked other authors the same question. “I don’t know. I don’t read reviews,” some say with a benevolent smile. Others shrug their shoulders and say, “There is no secret.”

Oh yeah? Wanna bet?

I’m about to let you in on the secret to NEVER getting a bad review again.

1) Find out where the reviewer lives and plant large quantities of meth in their closet, and then make an anonymous call to the cops.

Read the rest from j.a. kazimer here.  Or check out her new book, Curses! A F***ed-up Fairy Tale and help her find solace before she gets herself put in jail, or worse.

Ebook Kiosks?

I went to a bookstore opening for Back to the Books on Saturday and talked to author Bill Hubiak, who was there signing.  We brushed on the subject of ebooks: he’s selling some, and had color business cards giving the web addresses of place where people can buy the book.  I asked him whether he had any other ideas on how to sell ebooks at a book signing–but no dice.  Fast forward to today; thoughts about the booksigning are still running through my head.

So how hard would it be for a bookstore website to set up affiliate links for book purchases?

Well, that depends on the bookstore (and the state).  But let’s say that a) the bookstore already has a website, and b) the bookstore uses the website to promote author signings.

It should be doable to set up a page for the author’s signing that provides affiliate links to purchase the ebook versions of any of the author’s books.

And it should also be doable to have a booksigning computer: a small desk with a cheap computer on it with the browser open to the bookstore’s website…specifically, to the website of the author that’s signing at the moment.

At a bookstore and want to buy an ebook?  Great.  Sit down at the kiosk and buy it.  Then have the author sign a printed cover of the ebook (or postcard, or what have you).  Now you have an attractive souvenir and an ebook.

The bookstore isn’t making as big of a cut as they would if they were selling the book, but they’re not leaving money on the table.  However, it would force them to work with non-indie bookstores, and I think that would gall more than  a few of them.  Of benefit to the reader would be having the book available from their ereader’s bookstore (if they like), so it’s in their collection on the cloud: from my experience, this is a real benefit.

I’ve heard the idea of making scratch-off plastic gift cards to sell ebooks, and I thought it would be a good one, but the idea hasn’t taken off–mostly because it’s difficult with the way the systems are set up for authors to give out gift certificates.  Smashwords is great…but they’re a bridge too far for some readers.

Update:

Stephen Blackmore writes:

Actually, you just need a QR code. Mysterious Galaxy also sells through Google Books & has the code below the book on the shelf.   It’s on the bookstore’s end if the book’s available through Google. Here’s a list of indies that do it.

This is fantastic!

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén