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Friday, October 26, 2012

Pubit! Disappoints Again...

In the last year and a half since I began this experiment in self-publishing, I have put the best effort I could at every step. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t have done more, mind you, or that it was the smartest course. I parent my babies by the seat of the pants…

I have been watching for patterns in my reports and I have come to the conclusion that I can safely drop Pubit! It isn’t an extraordinary effort to publish for Nook, not anymore than it is to publish for the Kindle.

The problem is that Barnes & Noble makes me feel like a complete loser!

This is how my sales broke down for Period X:

Smashwords Premium CatalogueBarnes & Noble 19
Kindle 469
Pubit! 7

Yeah, so there’s that.

I’ll still sell out of B&N for Nook buyers, but what few royalties I get from that distribution channel simply do not seem to validate the work. Smashwords can handle that for me. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Let Me Creep You Out

Mike and Jess Morgan are a relatively happy married couple who, after winning a large lottery jackpot, purchase a lighthouse in an idyllic north eastern town to pursue their true passions. Soon the quaint and beautiful setting is marred by a series of increasingly unsettling and mystifying experiences . . . including the intoxicating sweet scent of honeysuckle. 

Just in time for All Hallow’s Read comes The Scent of Honeysuckle a simple tale, moody and creepy, isolated in a lighthouse.

I gave it a minimalist treatment and it lacks the gore of most contemporary horror porn.

I wondered, as I wrote this one, how exactly would unexplained phenomena really affects a couple in their relationship to each other and the world at large (one a skeptic and the other a lapsed Catholic).

Of course, the biggest question is whether there are unexplained phenomena or do we simply not have access to the right answers at the moment. Are we even asking the right questions?

I left many things unsaid because I want the reader to do a little work here. This ghost story should be a collaboration; so that in effect the reader brings in their prejudice to bear and run the story.

My first foray into the genre, I look forward to reviews (good and bad) of this work. As my first attempt, I wonder if I was able to hit the right notes at the right angles… Sure, Stephen King makes it look easy (and I do realize his work is not everyone’s cuppa).

As my experiment progresses, trying to publish in a variety of genres, of course one of the goals is t be able to accomplish it adeptly. The point of self-publishing is not to mimic the traditional publisher agenda to print just because there are enough words to hold a book together. It has to be of some artistic value as well.

Mostly, beyond the ghost story itself, I wanted to create moments that feel authentic. Will that be enough, I wonder…

You can download a sample or purchase a copy at Smashwords right now. E-book and paperback versions will become available at Amazon and Kindle Store this weekend. Other online retail outlets will follow in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Giving Good Tongue

Multitasking is not for everyone and certainly not for every writer. I do not recommend it for the novice because besides the time-consuming aspect, it can be an insane roller coaster of emotions and mixed metaphors (literally).

By intervals, I am finishing a contemporary ghost story, a thriller, and a steampunk fantasy. Plus, I started to outline the NaNoWriMo novel.

Sometimes it feels like there’s an editorial director/ringmaster saying, “Immaletyoufinishbut…”

The next challenge I am immersing myself in is dialect. Dialogue needs to ring to true and that means that characters must use the exactly right words. You wouldn’t have a hippie character in a 1972 story say, “Dude, WTF?” simply because that phrase didn’t exist colloquially yet. If a contemporary character found herself in the middle of 1972, she might think exactly these words to herself – that would make the dialogue (internal in this case) perfectly reasonable.

The steampunk series includes a contemporary character transplanted to a world that includes a class system that very much resembles Victorian England. I’ve determined that the “upper class” will have a Regency feel to it – because they’d be the established “old money” types in the story. And this rule makes me happy.

I could go a little grittier Dickensian for other characters, and develop a colonial dialect for yet another set of characters. Once this is established though, it is important to stick to it for consistency and to lend credence to that particular aspect of realism within the story.

Of course, I love research (because I’m a dork). To prepare for this I’ve engaged in several different activities. The authenticity of individual moments -- scenes, images, and bits of dialogue -- is what attracts me to the process in the steampunk series.

The Internet offers a fantastic resource at Joanna Waugh’s blog (including a book of names, panoramic images and maps, a dictionary of the vulgar tongue, fashion, food, climate, and traveling facts).

Netflix gives me such gems as Downton Abbey, Upstairs, Downstairs, and a host of beautiful period dramas for my inner girlie need for drag. My own collection of dramas gives me access to the full Merchant-Ivory collection.

The Kindle Store and the Guttenberg Project bestow the words of Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, and Oscar Wilde.

From Audible I feast on the auditory joys of listening to Richard Armitage read two of Georgette Heyer’s novels – and believe me I have listened to them to death! Shut up, it’s for research. Yes, yes, I love the sound of his velvety voice* and melt just thinking of it, but I keep listening because when I start writing and fleshing out some of the scenes necessary to finish volume 1 in The Chronicles of Ash, I need to have the right words, slang and cadence already in my head.

The work is not a romance, I'll never master that; but the romances do several things: they establish a very specific time frame, they combine peerage and rank, they move comfortably between city and country, they quickly paint the political picture of the moment. More importantly, the romance lives and dies by dialogue because unless the story specifically covers the underbelly of polite society with all its twisted perversions, the period folks (at least on paper) gave good tongue.

Right now, I’m all about giving good tongue. It’s all about the words: the right words. Therefore, I curtsy to the music of the spoken word in order to write it better.

(I may also walk around the house with a period head piece, but you need not incorporate cosplay into your research. Still, I hear that if you wear the right costume, the part plays itself...)

* I have Sylvester, aka The Wicked Uncle and The Convenient Marriage. Eventually I'll add Venetia to my collection. I'd kill for Bernard Cornwell's The Lords of the North, but the prices for it are freaking insane. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

There's a Crisp in the Air

October always begins a happy reawakening in me. Autumn to me clears the way for soups and stews and unobstructed creativity.

This year it also includes the beginning of the end as we enter the danger zone of this prolonged period of unemployment; but I can’t despair . . . only excitedly await the transformation at the end of this journey.

Then there’s Halloween!

Speaking of Samhain, my fiend Eliseo has written an e-book about The Celtic Moon Goddess that draws on a multitude of sources and makes way for his own personal discovery on the scholarship of Celtic mythology (which is faith or origin, depending on where you stand). Download a sample of the first few chapters at Smashwords.

Then there’s NaNoWriMo!

I already have the beginning synopsis, part of the outline and started the character study for my novella, May You Grow Old and Fat (click for details published at Kali’s Temple of Doom).

There are going to be large themes to tackle here: from religion to education; from civil rights and responsibilities; greed and power and how they intermarry to create a whole new monster that eats away not only at the souls of the afflicted but also poisons the society that draws from that well.

Of course, my state of mind pretty much guarantees that because I can’t punch someone in the face right now, some characters are going to get quite a beating.

Clarity through literary atrocities: it’s cheaper than therapy.

Then it’s December! 

That means several things from my birthday to Jesus’ own, but to me it means Armitage in The Hobbit.

Somewhere between now and year’s end, I want to release The Scent of Honeysuckle (ghost story =>  Halloween: seems like a natural), finish Poetic Justice or the first installment of Chronicles of Ash. Details can be found here.

The rest is life and I’ll do as I must until it self-corrects and I can overcome.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Inspiration for Independence Day

Go to your room or, so help me, by the Macaroni Monster, 
I'll kill you where you stand!

Independence Day is a modern day fantasy about motherhood in which a woman makes one last ditch effort to bond with her teenager, and one of the vignettes in Because She Was a Woman.

* ~*~ *

We had a friend who after an acrimonious matrimony and a contentious divorce, moved cross-country to be closer to her family and raise her children with a support system. She had not intended on becoming a single mother, but then few people dream of that particular circumstance.

As with parenthood in all its forms, there were good days and bad days and days when infanticide seemed like a viable solution.

We were visiting them once, probably around Thanksgiving, and the kids had been fighting for days before our arrival and the war continued after we were settled. Finally at her wits’ end, she screamed threateningly, “If you two can’t live together in peace, I’ll just have to separate you and ship one of you off to live with your father!”

We fell silent, horrified at the severity of that statement.

The boy understood immediately that they’d crossed a line with mom and quietly retreated to his room (to think about what he had done).

The girl though, she was different. Daddy’s girl, she resented her mother for being. First she had to compete for his attention with her, but then after the divorce, that woman took her away from the love of her life. And obviously, as any Daddy’s Girl will assert, he didn’t do anything wrong. He could do no wrong!

She too retreated to her own corner room and came back out some 20 minutes later with a well rehearsed message.

“Mommy,” she said. “I believe that because I am eldest, if you are going to separate us and send one of us to live with daddy, it should be me.”

Her brother looked shell shocked. I looked from her mother to my own mother and I saw heartbreak – pure and unadulterated heartbreak. The girl, for her tweenie part, looked at her mother defiantly, ready to argue her position and unaware of the hurt she’d caused.

How could she know? In her mind she was still the center of the universe. But her universe was out of whack, because her universe was her daddy. Children are infuriating that way; sometimes well into their mid-30s…

I wonder though, how many mothers fantasize about the ultimate comeuppance for their ungrateful children. Most would never act on it, I realize. Most, in fact, despite the overwhelming urge to kill their young, simply love us and try to set us straight without committing felonies.

There are felonies in Independence Day, but not the ones you presume.

Because She Was a Woman is available at Amazon and the Kindle Store, Smashwords, and CreateSpace.