Sunday, June 15, 2014

The BIC (Big Inner Critic)

Lots of writers talk about their inner critic.  For most of us, it's that loud, cranky voice the comes in objecting to every word of the current manuscript we happen to be working on.  In my case, it's the annoying harbinger of doom that comes around whenever I'm editing.  And kicks my butt the entire time.


The good news is, I have completed the first markups of my rough draft for Terris.  The bad news is, I haven't made any changes yet.  Oh Lord.

But since I've put in multiple hours this weekend, I'm now giving myself a mini-break in the form of imparting my editing wisdom to all of you.

1)  If you have a Kindle, USE it. (No, I did not get paid by Amazon for this promotion.  Although, wouldn't that have been nice!) It's often way easier to read these things in book form and get an overall idea of where the plot is going rather than line-by-line in a word processor.
Yes, a lot of authors print out their work on paper and do it that way.  Okay, that's good, but it might cost you a pretty penny if you're an indie author like me and your book is 130,000 words long, like mine is.
2) Why use paper and a red pen when you have Kindle Touch and highlights?  OMG, highlights are the best!!! They're like a red pen, except you can add notes to them.
3) Which brings me to my next point... hey, guys, did you know about Kindle's word completion software for notes?  It's awesome!  Let me explain how it works.
You highlight a passage, and add a note and type in what you want.  But Kindle's word completion software has a memory for your most used words.
So if I type in "rewrite" into kindle and select it when the word comes up, it remembers my choice for next time.  Now all I have to do is type in "r" and rewrite pops up right away.  So it's pretty much perfect for editing, as long as you remember what everything means.
rewrite, repetitive, more, huh, confusing, transition, new (for new line)  I use these words all the time for my editing, and I do it only having to type in one letter before the word pops up. So great.
4) If you're not sure about how the words sound, then you need Free Natural Reader.  As the title suggests, it's free.  What it does is take text and read it out loud to you.  If I'm not sure about a passage or I'm worried that I missed something in a conversation, I put it in natural reader and I can tell where the rough parts are.

So that's my technique for silencing the Inner Critic through hard work and toil.  Next up comes beta reader feedback and then my next set of edits. (yay!)  Finally looking like this book may get wrapped up.

Happy Reading!

Friday, April 18, 2014

How Self-Publishing Fosters Diversity

I've got my angry-pants on today.  (Please don't confuse these with my snarky-pants or my fangirl-pants.)
I got angry because I read about a bazillion articles on the internets this week about diversity in the publishing industry (diversity doesn't make me mad, but lack of it irks me something awful).  These reports come out every year, and for like a week everybody and their brother is all, "Oh, that's awful.  Something should be done. We should do something."
And then, literally nothing happens.  EVER.


Oprah and I agree on this one.

And GAH, it is so annoying.  I mean, really.  This is what I'm reading, over and over again.
If you’re a parent of a child of color, finding relatable kids’ books can be something of a challenge. Just ask Lori Tharps, an African-American journalism professor and the mom of three bilingual, bicultural children. “I’m not trying to make my kids read about slaves all the time,” she says. “A black wizard story would be nice. Flat Stanley could be Asian or Latino. But they’re not there… at least it would be one less blond-haired, blue-eyed heroine or hero to worship.” A survey of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013—out of a total of 5,000—found that only 67 were by African-American authors, and only 93 titles centered on black characters. That’s the lowest number of black protagonists since 1994, when the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison began tracking that data.
If the percentage of black citizens in the US is about 13%  , then that means that to be properly represented in our country, the number of titles centered on black characters should be more like 400 (if we go by the originally surveyed 3200) a year in the children's book market.
Daniel Jose Older writes:
The disproportionally white publishing industry matters because agents and editors stand between writers and readers. Anika Noni Rose put it perfectly in Vanity Fair this month: “There are so many writers of color out there, and often what they get when they bring their books to their editors, they say, ‘We don’t relate to the character.’ Well it’s not for you to relate to! And why can’t you expand yourself so you can relate to the humanity of a character as opposed to the color of what they are?” 
And again, in Publisher's Weekly:
“We regularly beat ourselves up about this. There’s no one in the industry who’s not aware of this,” said Karre, who was interviewed on the topic by NPR in 2013. That program discussed the growing disconnect between the demographics of children’s book authors and characters, and that of young readers: 50% of all children in the U.S. under age five are identified as non-white. “This is not some parochial concern," he said. "Everyone’s conscious of this – or they should be.”

WHY IN THE HELL ISN'T THIS CHANGING FOR THE BETTER?  I mean, what do we need?  Do we need to talk about this for longer than a week?  Start a petition?  Make our displeasure known?

I'm not naive.  I understand the power structure at work here.  I know that agents and publishers choose manuscripts.  And that publishers and their marketing people decide how the book cover/description should look in order to "sell the most copies" or whatever.  But the thing that pisses me off is that they do some tiny focus group (maybe?) and just assume they know what readers want.
Like, they haven't asked me.  They haven't sent me an email and said, "Hey, we noticed you read YA.  What would you like to see more of?" No, they just make the decision for the readers, which is almost as insulting as denying diversity a spot on the playing field.

And it's kind of a big deal that most of what is available to us the readers is white characters with a limited perspective.  Because the truth is, all we readers have is the power of the purchase.  If none of the publishers put out books featuring Hispanic main characters, how can we support them?  How can we vote with our dollars?  The obvious answer is that we can't.
We can get on twitter, we can rant from our collective blogs, and we can talk to each other, but OBVIOUSLY SOME BIG PEOPLE AT THE TOP JUST AREN'T LISTENING.

So I'm going to go all rebel now, and I might just throw around some grown-up words, because:

Let's take the middle man out of this equation!  Just Self-Publish.  Screw the system!  Go around them!  Let the readers decide what we want to read!!!  I'm so freaking sick of someone else deciding what goes in my local giant megamart bookshelf/library/big chain bookstore.  I'm so tired of seeing the same old plots over and over and over again.
Self-Publish, and no one will tell you what you can write.  You can make your cover as diverse as you like.  You can make your characters whoever you want.

The thing is, I fully and completely DENY that most readers give a crap what color or ethnicity their main character is.  It's not like we look at a book and think to ourselves, "I don't know if I can relate to this main character because they're Asian."  We don't care, as long as it's a good story.
We like good stories.  We like learning about how different people (even aliens from outerspace) live their lives.  We like exploring new worlds.  We like being totally and completely removed from the boring old world that we normally exist in and being given the gift of altered experience.

So, if you want to write about your lesbian MC who loves rollerderby, do what Red Tash did, and SELF-PUBLISH.
If you want to have a gay MC in outerspace, do what Hugh Howey did and SELF-PUBLISH.
If you want to have a kick-ass black woman an urban fantasy world, do what Kenya Wright did and SELF-PUBLISH.
If you want to write about Korean culture in relation to Kdramas, do what Girlfriday and Javabeans did and SELF-PUBLISH.

Are you getting my point?  Just. Self. Publish.
Let me give you my money and together we can show the world what readers REALLY want.

Sincerely,
One Angry-pants Reader.

Sources HERE HERE and HERE.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

So Excited I've Been Spouting Gibberish All Day!

Well, you might have a guess about why I'm so crazypants excited today, readers.  Terris is finished.  Yes, FINISHED.  Yay for me.  I'm awesome.  Oh yeah.
Liz Lemon says, "High Five for you, Kate!"

Seriously though, I know this has been a long wait for you, so thanks for hanging in there with me.  (And for emailing me several times to ask when the third book will be out.)

But it's not all sunshine and roses, I'm afraid.  Right now the book is in three different files (which I have to admit went way better.  Will definitely be doing that again next time.) so I have to put it all together.  Then I'll be rereading the first two books (which is hardly a trial or anything.  lol).  Then I do a first read through of Terris, and look for any parts that make little to no sense, or don't work for the flow, or contradict stuff that I wrote before.  You know, the parts where I sucked at writing.


After I've gone through to make it at LEAST understandable by humans, I'll be sending it out for some plot feedback from my team of people who enjoy telling me all the ways in which I've failed.  (Alright, they're actually very nice people.)

Then comes yet another plot edit.  This is more of a fine tooth comb sort of thing, but I'll still be looking at plot issues, if anything of note comes up with the betas.

Finally, the MS goes to the proofreader for red pen work, and then it will be formatted and uploaded on various sites.

So, we're honestly still looking at August, if I want to be realistic. Or maybe July, depending on how busy I am this summer.  My kids will be gone at their grandparents' for a week, so hopefully I'll be able to push hard during that time period. :)

But I'm thrilled, beyond thrilled to be done.  I'm excited where this book has gone, and ecstatic to pick it up for the fourth edition.  I'm over halfway done with this series, and I'm both happy and kind of sad.  I've devoted so much time and energy to these characters that I really hate to leave them behind.

For now, however, Nikka, Luka, and Zyander are back and they are happy to hold your attention for a bit.

Happy Reading!




Saturday, March 8, 2014

George, Mary Sues, and Epic Fantasy

I think I've mentioned before that series are HARD WORK.  If you didn't read that post, I'm just gonna sum it up for you: whining, bitching, moaning, and a little resolve toward the end.  Or if you like that sort of thing, here's the gif:


The hardest part, though, is keeping track of all that character growth that's supposed to be happening.  As I get to the end of the third book (OMG, did I just say the END?  I did.  Check out that wordcount on the sidebar, readers!), I start to think about what the character is going through.  I have a nice peek at where they've been and where they might be headed in the next couple of books.
But mostly, I wonder to myself: What Would George Do?  That's right, when I think about character work, I always go to the definitive expert (in my humble opinion, of course).  He can take the most sniveling, backstabbing character and turn them into a hero by the 5th book.  So, what would George do?


Wellllll... let's just say he likes to make things difficult for his characters.  So, okay.  Why?  Because that's how we grow as people, right?  We grow and we change and we face hardships that melt us down and purify us and turn us into bright, shiny versions of ourselves (or horrifying nasty versions, too).

Luka is probably the best example of this, but let's look at Nikka, who is kind of the reason for this series.  Nikka is a fun character to write, but let's be honest, she can get a bit Mary Sueish.  I mean, she scores a 27 on The Mary Sue Test.  Which, you know, isn't the highest score she could get (50+), but definitely in the mildly Mary Sue range.

And what's so wrong about being a Mary Sue, you ask?  Besides the fact that she pisses off reviewers everywhere?  Nothing much.  I mean, in reality, people will give you crap about your heroine being a Mary Sue, but if she works in your story, you won't hear me complaining.  

Anyway, the reason I don't want a Mary Sue in my writing is because a lot of times, she can turn out flat, if you're not careful.  I consider it my job, as the writer of this series, to keep her from heading down that road, to make things difficult for her.  

I keep George in mind when I decide what to do with Nikka.  I push her, pull her, make her question herself, her abilities, her relationships, and even her gut.  Because even though she is obscenely powerful and full of sass, she is not infallible.  She sometimes reacts too quickly, or has too much confidence in herself and it turns out that she can't just do anything she wants with the powers she's been given.

So yeah, gonna have to keep that in mind during the editing I'll be doing very very soon.  (Hopefully.)

Happy Reading!




Saturday, February 15, 2014

Progress is Progress

It's kind of a good news/good news day around here, for once!  First of all, sorry about the lack of updates.  I don't know what that's about.  It's certainly not because I've been watching Kdramas instead of blogging.  Nope.


Seriously, though.  I've been sick twice in the past month.  Like lay on the couch, cry for mommy, pray that my children really WILL watch another episode of Yo Gabba Gabba, sick.  Then we were gone for a weekend, then the in-laws came up for a weekend.  Basically my new weekend writing chunk of time took a huge nosedive.

I know what you're thinking here.  What exactly is the good news here, Kate?

Welp, this morning I was sitting down, mapping out some newly changed details for the rest of the book, and I realized I only have about SIX CHAPTERS LEFT FOR EACH CHARACTER!!!  And okay, that's about 60,000 words, which is like another month straight of really stellar writing, especially when you only have your lunch break to write during.  (Wow, I'm really bringing down the good news here, aren't I?)

But there's another bit of good news!  I have successfully coaxed the children (with the use of a very clever wake up alarm) to sleep in to the reasonable hour of 6 am.  It took some doing, and it isn't always perfect, of course, but it works well enough that I can get up at 5 now and write for an hour before they wake up.

So that is my second bit of news, I've added an hour on to my writing time.  It's fabulous.  And it works so well, because mornings are when I'm at my best, creatively and mentally.

So yeah, 63% done, 6 more chapters of each character left, added an extra hour of writing time most mornings!  Yay!

Keep visiting and hopefully the news will just get better. :)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

It's WOTY Time!

Every year about this time, I make myself a mini-pledge of a sorts.  I pick a word that I want to exemplify my writing life and stick with it like a goal, to spur myself through another year of ups and downs, stops and starts.  Last year, if you recall, my WOTY last year was FEARLESS  (with Fighting! being a close runner up, of course).  I tried a lot of stuff last year.  I also failed at some and succeeded at some.  I put out four audiobooks, I wrote some obsessive kdrama fangirl fiction disguised as contemporary fiction.  I wrote over half of Terris, the next book in my Five Tribes series.  I got a new job.  I wrote Buzz Worthy News for Cuddlebuggery while they were on hiatus.  And it was fun.  So fun.  I had a great time last year, for sure.

This year, my Word Of The Year is FLEXIBLE.
If only.  I pretty much suck at yoga because I'm the total opposite of this girl right here.
A short explanation: since getting my job, my time has been really limited in the writing dept.  I have lunch break and naptime on the weekends and that's about it.  I don't have time to sit down and lose myself in the world I've created as I did in the past.  And that's cool, you know.  I'm rollin' with it.  But I need to let go of the idea that writing has to be done a certain way, at a certain time, with a certain plan in mind.
This year is the year to let freedom reign.  Let my preconceived notions of what being a writer means GO, once and for all.  My task for myself is just to be as flexible as I can be with the writing times I've been given.  Do I have an hour, here or there?  Awesome, I'll just squeeze some words in, if I can.
Overall, my goal this year is to FINISH TERRIS.  Because of my writing, I hesitate to give an actual set in stone month deadline (as I have a feeling that will lead to epic amounts of FAIL), but here's hoping that by say... August, I've got the rough draft done.  If I can just get to THAT point, then the rest will follow.  I'm also hoping to have one more CR under my belt by then, but if it doesn't happen, then it doesn't happen.  I'm fully committed to Terris, at this point.

Anyway, that's all from me, for now.  Happy Reading, all!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Suspending Disbelief

A bookish friend of mine (a person who is only a friend in the sense that we communicate online and commiserate over books) recently read a book that I love and well... let's just say she didn't enjoy it as much as I did.

And while I try hard not to take it to heart, it does have me wondering why she didn't like the book.  Specifically, why wasn't she able to get lost in it, like I was.
The thing is, in her review, she talks about a lot of details the book has: the magical characters use wands when they don't seem to need to, the prophesied main character seems to be insanely good at everything (she plays a perfect game of cricket when she just picked up the paddle), etc.
And these are all valid notes.  In fact, when I read her notes and thought about it, I realized that I had completely overlooked all of these in my own reading.  I was so immersed in the story that I didn't care about the little plot problems along the way.  I had suspended disbelief somehow and gotten lost in the story.
But, see, I care about plot problems, too.  The book Across The Universe by Beth Revis, had all sorts of issues that drove me CRAZY when I read that book (causing me to revoke its 'scifi' label), but my bookish friend read it and loved it.  None of its issues were a problem for her.

So what is it about a story that connects with our imagination, our heart, our deeper self, and has us clamoring for more, even when the story itself isn't perfect?  And why did I read the entire Twilight series, when there are several eye-rolling aspects of it that made me want to punch the wall?

The answer?  I really have no freaking clue!  I wish I knew, because that would be a freaking gold mine.  Not the sell as many books as Twilight thing, but the 'what makes people love a book despite all odds' thing.

Something I will be thinking on for a while, I can assure you.

I have not been writing over Christmas break.  I have been planning and stewing and germinating, but not writing.  Hopefully it will pay off when I go back to work next week.  Also, the Cuddlebuggery ladies are back from their hiatus, so I'll have like 6 more hours a week to write.  This is good.

One final thing, a present for the new year...

I now have copies of Aeris to give away, too!  I've still got a few copies of Compis audiobook left, if you want to get on board with a copy of both for free!!!  The audible books cost $15 bucks a piece, I think, so this is a pretty good deal.  And already I'm hearing rave reviews about my voice actor, so that's good, too.

Happy Reading and Happy New Year!