Sunday, December 18, 2011

Author Etiquette Rule 4

Where did the week go?  It slid by with alarming quickness.  So fast, in fact, that despite my intention to write a mid-week entry and go visit the other blogs on the Twelve Days of Christmas list, I sit here today grouchy and out of sorts.  Well, that is one of the reasons.  The other reason is that New Baby has hit a growth spurt, AGAIN, and decided eating is more important than sleep.
Readers, let me tell you, it is amazing how quickly this boy grows.  At 3.5 mths, he has now made his way into the 6-9 mth size clothing.  How is this possible?  His brother was a chunky one, yes, but did not grow out of his clothes nearly so fast!
I have moved past the mourning phase of my character's death.  It still saddens me, and that is a great place to write from, but it no longer has me halted without words.  I'm up to 138,000 words.  I meant to get up to an even 140,000 on Aeris this week, but I've needed a nap every day, and with New Baby's schedule being off, I find that my writing time has become very limited.  It's catch-as-catch-can these days.  Ah well, I knew it would be.
I would just like to thank the reader who sent me the lovely email last week, telling me she was willing to wait, even if the book didn't come out till spring.  Those are good words to hear, because even though I'm almost(yes, almost!) done with Luka's story line, I still have Zyander to tackle and he has been a bit difficult this time around. :)

So, on to my next rule for authors, and this one, IMHO, applies directly to the indies of the world.  Remember that forums count as an online presence.

Now it's certainly true that we all have our own private(ish) online handles that we use when we go forum hopping.  I am a recovered Sims addict, and back in the day I would spend hours online discussing it with other Sims addicts.  But then there is the "author persona" we adopt when we go online as our author selves.  I've been to a few different places online where authors interact, but I'm going to use MY favorite, and the one I've mentioned a few times on this blog: Kindleboards.

Ah, Kindleboards, land of the kindle reader, spicy soup of the hopeful author.  When you go to the Writer's Cafe, which I have frequented, you will find a variety of things, as a reader, that will make you CRINGE.

1) The "Woe is me, I got a bad review, readers suck" post.  Let me just clarify... sometimes these can be hilarious posts, filled with self-deprecating humor and good will.  When that happens, you come off looking great.  But when your post is filled with the whiny complaints of an author who can't STAND to see someone hate their book, you don't look so great.  Not everyone is going to like your book.  If you can't accept that now, then this is SOOOO not the industry for you.  When you put your books in a public forum, you have to accept that they will be praised and reviled publicly.  Instead, focus on reaching YOUR AUDIENCE.  A few good reviews by people who actually like your quirky book on leprechaun love stories will go much farther than a one star review where someone says, "This book is for people who don't like good books."  If I were a reader, I wouldn't take it seriously.  Remember that readers CARE what you say about them.  As a reader, I pay attention to what writers say.  A surefire way to turn me off of you FOREVER is to B-I-T-C-H about another reader.

2)  The "come visit my blog, I'm awesome" post.  Kindleboards have pretty strict rules on where you can advertise your book or blog.  But there is a space where you can toot your own horn, so to speak, and invite people to read your newest post.  I guess if you're an awesome blogger, like Robin Sullivan, you could do something like that and still be awesome.  If you're Joe Schmoe writer who I've never heard of?  You just come off as arrogant.  Instead of making empty posts that really only point back to yourself, make it a point to visit other bloggers and engage with THEM.  It's what I talked about earlier.  Care about others and it will come back to you, I promise.

3)  "I'm posting something I hope people will argue about" post.  I made the mistake of doing this myself, once.  Ooops.  In my case, it was an honest mistake, as I was linking to a Konrath post I thought was interesting.  I forgot that his subject matter can be quite radioactive sometimes and inadvertently started a firestorm of posts.  I posted the link that morning and later that afternoon, came back to about 7 pages of people arguing over it.  I was shocked.  I was also shocked by the vehemence of the arguing.  It was almost as if these people had forgotten that READERS visit the writer's cafe.  Yes, that's right, your sniping and carrying on, your pettiness, all those are being witnessed by potential readers, so let's all try our best to NOT engage in that.  It just doesn't look great, unless you can do it in a way that isn't going to seem negative, which is hard to do when arguing a point.

4) And the fourth and final no-no... posting about sales  (or talking about it too much in someone else's post).  And no, I don't think there is anything wrong with a healthy celebration over good sales or talking about trying out different price points.  We are in a business, after all.  It's actually pretty healthy to view yourself as a business entity, because it helps you to take the sales rise and fall cycles with a grain of salt.  What I'm talking about are the people that post OVER AND OVER (and yes, if I wanted to, I could name names) about their lackluster sales.  "I only sold 2 books this month."  I see the same person say that every time someone talks about sales.  I get that it is disappointing, but first of all, saying you are barely selling doesn't make me want to take a chance on you.  It makes me think there is a REASON you're not selling.  Whether it's because your book sucks or it's just in a niche genre I wouldn't be interested in.  Second of all, when you talk about it ALL THE TIME on EVERY FORUM, it seems like you have your head up your ass.  Sorry.  That is frank talk, but it's the truth as I see it.  And again, I want to reiterate that there is NOTHING WRONG WITH TALKING ABOUT YOUR SALES OR LACK THEREOF.  It's just the obsession that doesn't come off well.

I could go on and on with this, but dinner calls.  There may be another post on this one.  :)  Hope all of you are hitting your goals this close to the final days of ROW, and that you have a Merry Christmas.  (or whatever you celebrate this holiday season!)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Accidental Death

First, a confession... not much written on the book this week.  I've been working overtime on Christmas prep.  I may as well give up, because the rest of December is going to be just as crazy.  Not to mention the fact that I just got the new Kindle Touch for an early Christmas present.  It is much easier for me to use than the regular Kindle (I guess I'm just lazy, hahaha) and I've been squirreling away books using my birthday money.

I had a hard week with writing, I'll admit.  Not just because of the Christmas rush.  I had to kill off a character this week.  I was determined not to do it in this series, because I HATE it when my favorite characters die in books.  Even in George's books.  But despite my resolution, one of my favorite characters died this week.  I was sick to my stomach and as heartbroken as if I had seen it happen in front of me.

My brother scoffed at me when I was relaying my sadness over the loss to my mom (who I talk about ALL my books with).  He couldn't understand how I could "let" that happen.  I'm the author, shouldn't I be in control of what happens?  No.  No, I'm not.  I'm still reeling over it.  When a story takes over, as it does for many writers, I believe, I seem to have no control over some things that happen.  Editing only goes so far and only when I know that a story line gone off on the wrong track.

So, that was hard.  As I said, this was a much loved character for me and I'm sooo sad.  Oh, and sorry if that is too spoilery for anyone.  (Claudia)  So writers, does the story take over for you, or are you in control of everything that happens?  Have you ever had to kill off a character you loved?  Or readers, have you ever lost a character you love?

I meant to write an entry on my favorite cliches, but I don't have the heart today, so maybe I'll write a Wed. entry for a change!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Author Etiquette Rule 3

Well, hello all.  I hope you're enjoying this fine Sunday.  I am, as I sit curled on my parent's couch in front of the fire, New Baby slumbering in his chair at my feet.  It is a glorious and sunny day, but freezing, so I'm happy to be inside.  After this, I'll be working on Christmas presents, but I hope to get in some writing today (possibly tonight) so I can bump my sad little word count for Aeris, up past the 134,000 count.  December is a busy month for me, but I'm hoping to finish up Luka's story line at least and then head into Zyander's.  Zyander requires the most rewrites, so I'll have to go back and do some rewriting before I finish out his story, to reflect the changes I talked over with my sister.  And now, on to my entry!

We're switching it up a little this time, any instead of talking about how authors present themselves with their marketing endeavors, let's chat for a minute about how we present ourselves with our writing.  Setting aside the very real need for proofing and proper English, let's instead consider the characters and the stories.  I hadn't intended to talk about this for a while, but it's something that IS on my mind, as a writer and more importantly, a READER.  Then, one of my favorite reviewers, Kat Kennedy, wrote an entry on it, and I just couldn't help myself.

Here is the link:

Essentially, the gist is this:  authors, please consider your overworked stereotypes.  I agree with this premise, but move it to a more blunt statement.  Authors, please don't consider your readers to be stupid.  Sure, we see the "Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader?" moments in the media, where we all start to think that humans have gone backward in development and we all watch TV waaaaaaay too much.  But despite the reading world's love of Twilight, we are still smarter than the average bear.

For instance, one of my LEAST favorite archetypes for women is not the slut or the evil female.  Mine is the Damaged Loner.  We've all seen her in a cop show, usually one that has a woman as its main character.  Here is her story:  Someone was killed in her past, leaving her bruised and grieving.  Swearing revenge, she focuses her entire life on become a part of the system that will bring justice in such situations.  She could be a cop or investigator of some sort, but the outcome is still the same.  She is emotionally stunted, unable to have a single healthy relationship, she works WAY too much and has no life outside of what she does for a living.  There are a string of men, needy and gentle, who fall for her, but she breaks them one by one in her endless need to prove that she has what it takes.

I can name a dozen TV shows and books that feature this character and let me tell you, I am SICK TO DEATH of her.  Gimme a break, writers of the world.  Switch it up, will ya?  Give her a family, a husband that she loves, or make her seem human somehow.  Just stop expecting me to stand by and watch while she destroys her life piece by piece.  Boring.  And let me just say, as a reader, I'm smart enough to get that this is LAZY writing.

Here's another that I can't stand, though it's not a character, but merely a plot point that is so popular in YA fiction: The Love Triangle.  GAG.  I understand that putting some difficulties in the way of the main character's love story helps keep the drama alive for those teenage readers, but really, how fun is it to read about two really likeable characters where one of them gets their heart broken?  Apparently, barrels of fun, since almost every YA book features a deliciously tragic love triangle.

Hmm... this is turning into a reader rant. hahaha  Just consider who your characters are and what they accomplish.  If anything is possible in writing, then why not pretend that there is a world where gender has nothing to do with anything?

I'm not saying you have to go that far, my dear authors, but at least, as Kat says, consider changing them once in a while.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Break...

I'm a December baby, one of those embittered souls whose childhood consisted of birthday/Christmas combos and leftover Christmas wrapping paper (because that was all they had, you see).  Luckily, thanks to my awesome parents and my own general ability to ignore stupid people, I LOVE Christmas.  Or you know, whatever you call this "Holiday Season".  To me, it's Christmas, with Douglas Fir trees, homemade gingerbread cookies with buttery frosting (yes, I make them myself!) and crammed stockings.
My favorite part of Christmas, however, is what my family did every year as I was growing up —pile into the family van (there were 8 kids, so yes, it was a VAN) to drive around and look at the Christmas lights.  I don't know how it got started, I was probably too young to remember, but I do know that as we drove around the city, oohing and ahhing over the fairy colors and pulsing brightness, I wished it would last all night.  Starting at the top, with my Dad, each of us would pick a favorite Christmas Carol to sing as we went along.  It was sort of a game to see how long we could keep going until we couldn't think of any more.
My Dad invariably picked "Joy to the World", my mom "O Little Town of Bethlehem" or "Silent Night".  My favorite song, hands down, was and always will be "The Twelve Days of Christmas".  What isn't there to like?  The song has everything, plus when you get towards the end you can sing it faster and faster until the words spill out of your mouth till you can hardly pronounce the words.
I hope to share that Christmas Tradition with my own boys, someday.  Here's hoping you find your own to share!

Be sure to read all the entries for the Twelve Days of Christmas blog event!  Use the link on the top of my blog.
Happy Reading!