Friday, May 31, 2013

Novel Series #3: Model

This started right after The Harmonizer which was strange. Why was it strange? Well The Harmonizer and The Bonehemmer Princess are both high fantasy types with magic, half-human hybrids and other funky things. Model, not so much. This was written from mid-February until about March 2nd or 3rd. I can't remember.

Genre: Science Fiction

Word Count: 88,305

Prompt: Models uncovering a government conspiracy. Yep.

Main Characters: Cassia Thomas, Star Von Vette, Misaki Ito, Jay Thomas, Demon, Jammer, and Minko.

Minor Characters of Note: Cassia and Jay's parents, Eddie Mayers, David Fargan (I don't know where that last name came from), Keith Rander, and James Pearson.

Summation: Models Cassia, Misaki and Star stumble upon a government plot that wants to replace everyone famous in the world with a machine.

High Points: Star in general. He's freaking hilarious.

Low Points: The ending, more specifically the last chapter and epilogue.

The World: It's 2080 with hover cars, foldable computers, and cyborgs with a few normal things mixed in. Society is accepting of most people (except the random few) and the world is normal. No magic. No weird hybrid human/animals and full of technology.

Major Plot twist: Jay and Cassia find out something that changes them completely.

Thoughts: Star made this story awesome to write. It still would have been fun without him but he gave it that extra something for me. Jay, Demon, Jammer and Minko (the Hackers) weren't supposed to be as involved as they were but it works. Also there are four full relationships in the end which never happens with me.

Memorable lines:

“I didn’t claim to be homosexual. I strutted out of the closet and haven’t looked back. I won’t ever be interested in a woman in that way.” (This is probably my favorite line out of the whole book)

“Right, right. Okay. So your friend’s a cyborg.”

“Demon, it’s not nice to go around asking people if they’re a guy or a girl.”

“I think this is what they call girl-talk. You know the stuff you fail at despite having the double X chromosome.”

“Well it’s a good thing we know the God of Hackers.”

“Get out now Jay. I can handle this. I am God.”

“Okay, that was one for the record books. You just fought yourself.”

“Oh yeah, she totally caught the gay from me.”

“You know there’s this cool new thing people are doing. It’s called slowing down.”

“Yeah, no one’s perfect. I mean, they’re close, but no one’s perfect and that’s a good thing.”

“It’s the freedom to be who I am without repercussions, without judgement and without worry.”

“It’s because of you that we’ll always be human.”

Next up will be The Dragon Knights which went back to fantasy. I like to bounce around a lot. Good or bad?

Friday, May 24, 2013

The "Said" Debate

Some authors will say that when writing the only dialogue tag that should be used is the word "said." This confuses me mainly because when I was taking Journalism my teachers told me the same thing. I believe that journalism (reporting the news) and being an author (telling a story) are different. In fact, I remember reading a quote from a famous author (I can't remember who) saying something like: "All journalists have a fiction story inside them. That's where they should keep it."

If that's the case why are we as authors told to always use the word "said" in dialogue? Why are we being told to be like our news-reporting cousins? The answer to that is usually: 1) the reader ignores the dialogue tags anyway and 2) the familiarity of said prevents it from drawing attention to itself.

That second part of that is fine but the first part is irksome. Why should we as authors who have spent weeks (months or years) writing, re-writing, editing, scraping, and re-doing our novels be okay with letting someone ignore part of what we've written? Why should we be fine with readers ignoring part of our hard work and dedication to our craft? Why are we being told it's okay to ignore a tool in our author's tool kit?

Letting all dialogue tags be "said" is like a plumber ignoring his wrench. Dialogue tags are part of our word counts, they're part of our stories and we should pay just as much attention to them as we do to pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, sentence structure, plot, characters and everything else.

If the reader skips a dialogue tag it's not good enough reason for authors to simply replace all of them with one word. Some readers skip over description of places or certain scenes, so should we stop writing descriptions or certain scenes?

I'm not saying that every dialogue tag should be a word different than "said." I'm saying to mix it up a bit. Used "whispered," "muttered", "uttered", "grumbled", "whined", "shouted", "told", "informed", "described", "voiced", "answered", "responded", "exclaimed", "cried", and "mumbled" occasionally. Throw in a few "said with a(n) *insert action here*." These words give feeling to what the character is saying and the description that comes after the dialogue amplifies it. Besides, if we all just "said" things, we'd be talking like monotone robots all the time.

There are many that would disagree but even Stephen King has used "exclaimed", "told", "repeated", and "amplified" all within a few pages (51-55) in his book Thinner. A more recent example is Under the Dome pages 277-279 where "whispered", "shouted", and "cried" appear. There's also a "said dully" and a "said eagerly" mixed in among the "saids."

Dialogue is all about balance and I think a constant repetition of the word said (or no dialogue tags at all) will stifle it. Balancing it with other dialogue tags and a few describers makes for more interesting reading. "Said" should always be the most common dialogue tag as various ones would get too distracting but there is no problem with mixing it up a bit.

I have to admit the reason I wanted to write this blog was because of a thread in the NaNo forums. Some authors there agreed with the prospect that "readers ignore the dialogue tag anyway" and were telling (see what I did there?) other authors that "said" was the only dialogue tag that should be used all the time. One even went so far to say it was the only dialogue tag used besides "told" if (s)he wanted to mix things up. I ask (again): why should we allow (and be okay with) readers ignoring part of our work? It is because it's convenient for them? Is it because we're in this fast-paced world and reader's want to burn through books on their eReaders? Those are not good enough reasons.

Our characters, plots, dialogue tags, scenery, and slew of others elements are equivalent to a plumber's wrench, snake, screw drivers and pliers. If plumbers ignore tools of their trade the result could be disastrous. I'd like to think the same applies for authors.

So what do you think? Should authors obliterated every word but "said" from our dialogue tags? Should it be a mix? Why?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Novel Series #2: The Harmonizer

The Harmonizer is the sequel to The Bonehemmer Princess, described in the Novel Series #1. Orginally there was not supposed to be a sequel but as the story progressed I learned more about what or who the Harmonizer was and how horrible the Kings of the world actually were. I couldn't leave it as I did and trying to tie up the issue with the Kings would have made for either an excessively large book or a rushed ending. This was written in February

Genre: High Fantasy

Word Count: 107,411.

Prompt: Continuation of The Bonehemmer Princess

Main Characters: Raven, Aspen Bonehemmer, Maverick, Havoc and Solara Liores.

Minor Characters of note: Adar, the Princess, Alexia, Audra, Mikin, Yahanna and King Graymore.

Summation: Aspen and Raven are essentually forced to work together with the other clans to stop the Kings from destroying the world.

High Points: Raven and Havoc talk to one of the Monks about the religion differences between the Clans and Humans.

Low Points: Everybody dies. Not really but there is a lot of death in this one.

The World: Same as in The Bonehemmer Princess.

Major Plot twist: Solara Liores is intergral to the plot.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed how Aspen transforms again in this novel. She goes from horrible person to responsible leader. I like the older version of Maverick as well because he's great for comic relief as well as a good equalizer in the final battle of the book. Raven and Havoc work well off each other and despite being a minor character, Yahanna has a nice scene that shows people how much the clans (and Aspen) are changing for the better. This is also probably going to be one of the few novels where I have a full-fledged couple from beginning to end.

Memorable lines:

“I am not having this discussion right now. It’s late, I’m cold and I’d much prefer to be in my nice warm tent, lying in my nice warm pillows with my hot man right here. Good night.”

“I love him. He makes me happy. I’d rather live alone in a cold dark cave, blind and deaf with him then in this clan without him.”

“Watch it, fluffy. I can kick your ass.”  

“We don’t condone selling your body. Our bodies are our temples but temples have to be worshiped from time to time or they rot. Who does that worshipping is not the High Mother’s concern as long as the worshipping is wanted.”

"You can’t erase the past; it makes you who you are. You can only forge ahead to the future and try to live without regret.”

“People change, the world keeps spinning on its axis, and can we enter a room and talk privately?”

“The situation must be dire if the Harmonizer is taking his Oaths fully to heart. Vita est mors et mors est vita. Life is death and death is life. We shall not kill unless there is no way to change the mind of the one disrupting the balance.”

“I’m the Harmonizer. Doing things that are impossible for others is expected of me.”

"Belief and talent go hand in hand. If you don’t believe in your talents then you don’t have your talents.”

“Deep down everything is simple. If you think it’s difficult than you’re not thinking the right way.”

“Who knew a little belief could change everything?”

“You were blinded by things that no longer cover your eyes.”

Next up in this series of sorts will be Model which means I went from High Fantasy to Sci-Fi. Yeah. I got confused too and for the first few chapters wondered why there wasn't any magic.

Comments, questions, remarks (good or bad), you know what to do.

Friday, May 10, 2013

How NOT to promote

Every time I go on Twitter (which is every night) I see multiple tweets about promoting, self-publishing, blog tours, etc, etc, etc. I usually click on the links, read the blog and think: "Okay, you said the same thing so-and-so said. This isn't anything ground-breaking." I sometimes think: "Hm, book promo. Hm, cheap book promo *bookmark* I'll check it out later." I can't begin to tell you the amount of sites I have book-marked for cheap promotions or editing.

Do I use them? If I did I wouldn't be working a 9AM-5PM job still. I'd be sitting at home writing all day with a following and loyal readers. I know you're wondering why I don't use these sites if I have so many.

There are lots of reasons but the main reason is: I'm not a promoter. I'm not an editor. I don't have money to afford quality of either.

What this means is that I'm a writer through and through. The best thing for me to do is sit in front of my computer and whack out stories. I've spent countless hours (that I could have been writing) on trying to figure out how to promote but for some reason I just don't get it.

I've read John Locke's book, Russell Blake's book, hard copy books on marketing and probably every blog out there about promoting. I'm not good at it. Unfortunately, I'm one of those writers that would benefit from big box printing houses so they could do their marketing magic and I can sit at home and write.

So, why this blog? Well, because in trying to promote I've learned a lot of things you SHOULD NOT do when attempting to get your name out there. And because I enjoy talking about these things I've complied them into a list:

1) Don't pay someone to make your social media sites. Seriously: don't. I'm with a self-publishing company (that's being sued right now) and when they said they would get me on social media I figured they'd show me what it was about. They didn't. They made up my usernames, emails and passwords, all of which I've changed and half of which I don't even use. Then they told me to have fun. This cost I believe $500. Anyway, if you want to be on Facebook or Twitter as an author, go to both sites, put in your info and go for it. Giving someone money for ten minutes of your time isn't worth it.

2) Don't sign up for EVERY social media site out there. This breaks up your focus and will confuse the heck out of you. All you really need is Twitter, Facebook and maybe Goodreads. There might be a forum or two you can join (I suggest the National Novel Writing Month forums just cuz) but you don't need an account with MySpace, Reddit, Instagram, DiggIt, and every other social media outlit under the sun. Focus on the three above because 1) they're the most popular and 2) Why do you need a second reason?

3) Don't take long breaks from social media. I'm HORRIBLE for this. I can't remember the last time I logged into Facebook and I should really sync my tweets to my Facebook statuses. Seriously, if you take breaks, you lose fans, friends and people who might be that one really good connection.

4) Don't forget to thank people for mentioning you. I kind of suck at this too but I'm getting better. It's just common courtesy to say "Thanks" after someone does something nice.

5) Don't think you're going to be popular overnight. That doesn't happen no matter what anyone tells you. I've been working at this off and on since March 2010 (more off than on but hey) and I haven't made much from it.

6) Don't worry or take it personally if you lose followers. Yeah it bites when people decide not to follow you anymore. It's like knowing the complete stranger at the table beside you isn't interested in what you have to say. See what I did there? I hope so. So what if someone stops listening to you? Big whoop. You're guaranteed to lose a few people because everyone does.

7) Don't spend EVERY update promoting. I absolutely HATE seeing people promoting their blog, their book and everything else in EVERY SINGLE TWEET. It's why I like my "screw promotion I'm just going to say what I want to say" approach. If you want to promote, keep it at a minimum that works for the people following you. Constant promotion is what will get you unfollowed in a hurry. I'm pretty sure I read that somewhere.

8) Don't make every tweet a repeat of the last. There's this account I follow (I don't know why actually) that repeats the same 10-15 tweets every day. Are they interesting? The first time yes. Will they keep being interesting the next ten times I read them? Nope. I'm not sure how this person has the amount of followers they have because their entire stream is the same few tweets.

9) Don't make an online persona for yourself. Be you, be the REAL you and don't worry what others think. I tried to come across as sane but it doesn't work so well. I'm not normal, I'm not a promoter and I'm not going to force myself to be something I'm not to make a few sales. If people don't like me for me, they won't like my books for being my books.

10) Don't worry about bad reviews. I nearly died when I got my first review back from a reputable reviewing company. The first half was great and the last half made me depressed for a week. I still cringe when I see some reviews on Have a Bloody Christmas. It helps to read the reviews and comments from beta readers that loved it though. You have to remember: you're an author. You're putting your work out there and people will criticize it. Not everyone will love it or you. Read it, decide whether it's constructive (most of mine are a matter of opinion I think, it's been a while), and go from there. Ignore the "this sucks" and pay attention to "this could have had more of this." If that last one is repeated constantly, fix it. Look at a bad review as helping not hindering.

11) Don't go with a self-publishing firm. Or any firm that expects YOU to shell out exuberant amounts of money to get your book out there. You don't need it. A good cover can cost $500, a good edit depends on a editor and self-publishing companies will only ask for more money to bring you to an event that in the end won't help you. Trust me, I know from experience. Putting out almost $10,000 on Tale of the Twins has gotten me nothing in return. Yeah, it's because I don't promote but I don't know how and figured out I'm virtually incapable of finding that secret. If you're going to spend money, spend it on someone else promoting your work. Heck, My Sweet Valentine and Have a Bloody Christmas have had more exposure Tale of the Twins and neither of them are through a self-publishing firm. I don't even like the cover of Twins.

12) Don't publish something you hate or aren't comfortable with. If you don't like it, you're not going to promote it, people won't see it, you won't make money off it and you'll hate yourself. Then you'll stop writing because of self-doubt and you'll question why you thought you were an author in the first place. It's a whole big downward spiral that's tough to come out of.

13) Don't worry. That's right, I said it: Hakuna Matata (shush, I'm showing my age ;) ). Don't worry that people aren't responding to you right away. Don't worry that even though you're promoting people aren't listening (for this try something new). Don't worry about bad reviews (go back and read number 10). Don't worry that you're not an over night (or even a four month) success that some of those other people have promised you'll be if you follow their steps. Trust me, they're NOT telling you all their secrets. If they did, I'd be up there with them. Proper promotion is all about timing and word of mouth. It takes time to get people to talk about your work and it takes time for people to begin to like you. The best thing you can do is keep plugging along and write.

I hope this list finds a happy little home in the cyber world. In the end, that's all we have: Hope. So good night, good day (or whatever it is where you are at the time of your reading) and Hakuna Matata.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Novel Series #1: The Bonehemmer Princess

I know I don't normally post much but I'm going to try and remedy this. Since I'm doing Milwordy again I will be attempting to write a million words by November 30th. My year is running from Jan 1 to the end of NaNo2013. It's a well known fact that I'm a bit crazy. I've decided that because I'm trying to write so much this year that I might as well give a brief glimpse into what I've worked on.

Each novel I've completed will get its own summation post similar to this one. Hopefully, in between these Novel Series posts, will be other posts about other things. Let's not hold our breath on that shall we?

Anyway, first up in the novel series is The Bonehemmer Princess which was written in January 2013:

Genre: High Fantasy

Word Count: 107,701. I just realized now that is a palindrome. Ha.

Prompt: Good guys are bad and bad guys are good.

Main Characters: Raven, Aspen Bonehemmer, Gold, Maverick, and Ulric Bonehemmer.

Minor Characters of note: Adar, the Princess, Alexia, Audra, Havoc, and Joab Bonehemmer.

Summation: Aspen Bonehemmer is next in line for the Chief-ship of the Bonehemmer clan. It has fallen to her to bring in the Illegal, Raven, and rid the world of his disregard for the rules of the Kings. Unfortunately for her, Raven unintentionally saves her life. Now she must protect his to return the favor.

High Points: Raven gets startled by a giant spider, falls off a cliff and lands in water.

Low Points: Two of the main and one of the minor characters die. I'm not saying which but it won't be hard to figure out when The Bonehemmer Princess' sequel is described.

The World: Magic based society with a heck of a lot of rules for said magic. Raven is a Bead Master: one who can control multiple elements by channeling power through different colored beaded bracelets. Bead Masters are only allowed six beads but Raven has, well, a lot more. Fun fact: when a Bead Master learns to control all 16 elements (yeah, there are that many) they become a Harmonizer. Because of the rules, there are no Harmonizers left in the world.

Society does not accept homosexuality as it goes against the humans' higher power. The Bonehemmers are part of the clans, that is, human/animal hybrids and don't believe the High Mother cared about homosexuality enough to ban it. Society is also degrading to women (have to be married at certain age or a husband is found for them, can't take certain jobs, etc) and the disabled. The countries (and world) are run by Kings who are corrupt and ascend to the throne by birth-right.

Raven not only Illegal for having more beads as he likes men too. Interestingly enough Aspen doesn't understand why society's rules are so restricting.

Major Plot twist: Aspen finds out that through an odd twist of fate that her position as Chief could be threatened through no fault of her own.

Thoughts: This was a lot of fun to write solely because of how much the reader's perspective of Aspen and Raven will change from beginning to end. Aspen starts off as a "good" character who is trying to bring in someone who's broken the law and ends up in a position where people might outright hate her. Raven starts off as this law breaker who didn't really do anything too horrible to anyone. It turns out that he's a decent guy.

Memorable lines:
“Life is what you make of it. I wanted excitement so I went out to find it. I wanted freedom so I achieved it. I wanted mushrooms for breakfast so I’m eating them. It’s really all about what I want.”

“Shush, I’m sleeping now. I’m frolicking in a dream land with big muscular men who are hung like bears.”

“An idiot is one who does not do what they enjoy in life.”
“You two are released from my services. Go carefully and do not get yourselves into trouble. I will have to see for myself what has become of my daughter.”
“Anyone stupid enough to willingly break the law should be punished. There are other ways to get food or shelter then breaking the laws set out by the Kings.”
“You’ve got a lot to learn about life and this world. Everything is gray and nothing is ever so black and white. There are things that make people truly bad and it has nothing to do with rules some pompous King sets out. Remember that.”

“It’s all about balance, really. One must be strong in the body, mind and spirit in order to manipulate the world around them.”

"Who am I to take the life of someone else to better my own?”

“I know but life isn’t about what we want. Life doesn’t care what we want or need, it just pushes us into the direction we have to go in even if we’re kicking and screaming at it not to. We have to go with it and hope it knows what it’s doing.”

“I’m going to force you to see even if it takes my life to do it.”

“Life is death and death is life. The Harmonizer’s oaths make sense in ways the laws of the Kings never could. Life is about balance and the Kings have disrupted that balance. "
The next Novel Series post will be about the sequel: The Harmonizer. That one's interesting solely because The Bonehemmer Princess was supposed to be a stand-alone book. Technically there could be a third but I feel like these two have said everything that needed to be said in that world.
Feel free to leave thoughts and questions. I'll answer where appropriate. Until next time: Remember, ninjas like to hide in closets.