Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday Prompt: 2012 #5

Something blue & a little magical
This week do a little world building.  Pick a quality you want to highlight, such as magic is a pale sky blue color, and everything that has that color has some degree of magic connected with it.  Now build from this one premise by surmising what would be effected by this one fact and what sort of laws of nature and humankind would need to exist to respond to this single unique feature of your created world.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Books that connect us to life

Tennyson and my mother
While I was on Goodreads last week, a thread title intrigued me: Stories about books.  I had to check it out and I am glad I did. It was about how books become a part of our lives, imbedded in them and forever part of memories we take along with us through our lives.  I posted a quick story about a book and how it connected me to my mother.  Mike asked me if I would be willing to add my story to his website Stories About Books.  I checked out the site and decided I would very much like to do that.  Go post your story about a book that has become a part of your life.  Click on the link below to read my story.

My book story

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday Prompt: 2012 #4

Write about camping in an exotic place.  It could be a planet dedicated to campers of all types or a visit to the trout stream not far from your home or a desert oasis in a tent, RV or bed & breakfast.  Take your character some place for a change or imagine yourself there.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Along the lines of finding authors and books

Four of the masters
One thing that I have noticed as a reader in this new digital reading age is that the opportunity to meet writers behind the books that I like has changed.  And I think it is a good change.  I read some of Rachel Aaron's blog posts weeks before I decided to read her sample (a time difference great enough to have read the earlier posts before she updated her website, which, by the way, is quite nicely designed, and then her sample after the update.)  I like that I learned a bit about her and a bit from her before I took a look at a book she had written.  Her writing as a blogger convinced me she could write well and hold my attention, so I expected her books would do the same.  That is not how I used to select my reading choices, say Azimov or Bradbury.  And I found her as a writer finds another writer, not as a reader finds an author.

In the age of Azimov and Bradbury, who I found by reading books alphabetically down the shelf marked science fiction at my public library when I was twelve, I would have just jumped in (and did) and started reading because I believed that anything that got into print was clearly worth reading or else they would not have published it.  I think for the most part that was a reliable belief in the 60's and 70's.  It was not until about 20 years later that I finally ran across a book which made me wonder who in heck thought this was a good idea. Even so, I felt it was a fluke not a condition.

Times do change.  So I select a little differently now.  I read comments on Goodreads, read blogs by writers, check out what SFWA is serving up for interest and generally keep my ears and eyes open for a good read. Sometimes I wish I could just walk along that sound-muffled aisle, bookshelves twice as tall as I and the bookcases running along far enough to show perspective lines.  Even so, it's what is inside the books that I find most interesting though that memory of how I used to find them stays a pleasant one.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday Prompt: 2012 #3

This time write with a symbol in mind.  Focus in on it early.  For example, the first thing you describe is a clock: go into detail about the ticking sound it makes, its unique look (cuckoo, grandfather, a plastic sun or imbedded in the belly of a purple elephant), whether it is on time, slow or fast, not working at all.  As you move away from the clock, bring in the rest of the scene, but very carefully and subtly, also bring in other time-related items.  A worn sock, wrinkle cream on the dresser, a comic desktop flip calendar, a planner, egg timer, etc.

So pick your symbol and maintain the reference, gently, with care and not so it clobbers the reader over the head.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Writer and novel caught my attention with a door

This is a door, a very old, Swedish church door.
Very recently (and I mean just days ago), I read a sample from a book (The Spirit Thief) by Rachel Aaron on her website.  I really enjoyed what I read and took no time adding the book to my "to read" bookshelf on Goodreads.  Her writing really caught my attention as she quickly created character and interest in just a few pages.  Now I am reshuffling what I want to read next once I finish Pandora's Star and Shades of Grey.  (And for some reason I felt the need to add The Owl Keeper to my lineup of reading now novels, so who knows when I will select another book.)  But The Spirit Thief keeps working its way up the list every time I think back on what I read from the sample.  I love her opening event:  Eli Monpress talks a door into releasing him from prison!

And I am impressed with her as a person, too.  I have read a few of her blogs.  She is personable, knowledgeable without being an "I've got the answers" kind of writer, and humorous.  She takes her writing seriously and writes in a fun manner.  Nice combination.  So I found a new writer to learn from and a new series to read.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday prompt: 2012 #2

Two birds overlook a lake, near Stockholm
Today's prompt is inspired by Sandra Cisneros.  She wrote an anthology of short stories titled Woman Hollering Creek which had a story called by the same name.  What a fantastic title! I can imagine her coming up with it first and then writing the story about a woman who needed a place to yell out her angst: Urban legend and attendant name resulted.

So your prompt today is to come up with a name for some place, and then write the event/reason that led up to that name being attached.  If you cannot come up with an interesting name, use one of these.  Broke Toe Hollow or Two Bird Lake.

By the way, that book is great.  It makes you wince.  You end up wanting something to holler about because no one should go through life without a reason to scream now and then.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Perfect match: Smashwords.com

I graduated from a small college and now teach at a small school and live in an even smaller town.  I married my high school sweetheart and have one child with him.  I like the simple life and feeling comfortable with whom I am dealing with.

I graduated with high honors from that college, teach at a school where I am considered one of their finest teachers, and I know nearly all the parents of the children I teach.  I have been married to my husband for more than 30 years and would change very little of it (a miscarriage and a bout with Lyme disease, I could have lived without), and my daughter is a beautiful, kind, intelligent and creative young lady.  Even my dogs are smaller than their breed is expected to be.  (Their parents were huge, but somehow it didn't translate.)  But they have so much heart and loyalty, that they're bigger in what counts than any dog on the block.

That is why I chose to publish my ebook (and future books) with Smashwords. I knew I was coming in on the ground floor of greatness.  It keeps growing, and I know I am going to grow with it. Sure I probably gave up the power of the big boys by not going with Kindle at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, but Smashwords felt right to me.  I wanted small, where I feel good about the people I am depending on.  I wanted to gain expertise as I went along, and I wanted to see the bones behind the operation.  That's what I get with Smashwords.

I checked out Kindle and Barnes & Noble, but I found contract obligations where I wanted author-centered philosophy.  Limitation where I wanted possibility, and a tight grip where I wanted ease of use and access. Certainly  paper publishers have that greater experience which should not be scoffed at; it's what made them great. Those large distributors did not get this big by ignoring change; they will catch up, regroup and adapt to the power authors now can have.  But at Smashwords, Mark Coker is already looking at publishing and distribution with a fresh view. Smashwords was developed to build the relationship between author and distributor with the future of electronic publishing in mind rather than the process that was successful in the past.  I am at the start of my writing career, whatever depth of success I am likely to earn, and I think I am going to feel a whole lot better rising with the tide with Smashwords, learning how to swim in this publishing and distribution ocean with them.

I have bought numerous paper books from Bantam, Dell, Tor, Ace, Daw, Del-Rey, etc., etc., and I would have loved to be published by them.  I now own a Sony reader and read, almost exclusively, ebooks.  So here I am in the age of the e-book with the opportunity to publish my writing.  I can do that with Smashwords.

See Mark Coker's "Smashwords Year in Review 2011" blog post for all the other reasons why I think Smashwords is right for me.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tuesday Prompt: first of the new year

This seems like an appropriate prompt:  Take a few minutes to magine how things will be different for you this time next year.  Now do the following steps: First, describe yourself, your successes and how you achieved them, then what new ambitions you will be deciding on based on what you have accomplished at the close of this year.  Second, consider what it took to meet the goals and what had to be overcome.  Finally, can this insight into change be applied to a character and rolled into a story?

While you're digesting that last question, consider what you need to do first to head in the direction of this possible future.  Hey, why waste such useful thinking?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year, happy publishing

Today started with my usual check in at my blog, at my Smashwords dashboard and at Goodreads.  No one had visited my page, no one had downloaded my book, and I ran short of taking part in Goodreads due to family demands.  And then with this new year winding out before me, I had to stop and rethink where I was about to let my thoughts run off to.  You see, a year ago, I was telling myself that as soon as summer vacation started, I was going to rework the first book in my series of SciFi novels (all unpublished) and check out Kindle and Barnes & Nobel and see about self-publishing an ebook. I was telling myself every day that I was closer to putting my novel out there.

The first week of June, I researched Kindle, then took a look at Barnes & Nobel and on a whim decided to see what else was out there for an author wanting to publish an ebook.  I heard about Smashwords through blogs I read. And that name kept coming up, so I went to the site and looked at what they were offering authors.  I mulled things over for two months, redrafting the entire time.

In August, I finished that redraft, edited, prepared for publication and then uploaded my book to Smashwords, where I decided the best fit for me as an author was.  A year ago, I was not a published author.  This may be only one of three places I call myself one, but it is a place and name I did not have one year ago.  So only 16 people have downloaded the sample of my novel.  I could tell myself, and have, that they did not like my writing or changed their minds and have not even looked at a word I've written, but I can also say, that 16 people who would not have seen it at all, never mind download a sample have had the opportunity.  This blog has been viewed 151 times since I started it in September, and that is 151 times more than last year.

So this year my goal is doubled.  I plan to complete my edit on an anthology of SciFi short fiction and complete my redraft on the second in my Students of Jump series.  I intend to publish them both before this new year is out.  It is possible that the third in the series could be out by the end of the year as well.

So it is a very happy new year.  I wish whoever reads this blog has a goal as fulfilling as mine and gets to see his or hers grow to fruition.  Happy New Year.