Thursday, February 14, 2013

Gotta Catch 'Em All!

I was talking to my friend Sunny Frazier, acquisitions editor at Oak Tree Press the other day, asking about a friend of hers who has a mystery novel coming out soon. I asked if her friend was working on another book, and she said "Yes, but it's erotica and Oak Tree doesn't publish that."

I think a lot of people fall prey to a couple different idea. One is that they should write whatever they want. And while that is true I think it's followed by the assumption that whatever self-indulgence we write will be published. Especially if we are already published.

The second idea is that we SHOULD be writing in a wide variety of genres, either for the purpose of sowing our writing wild oats, or the idea that if we throw enough out there eventually something will stick. I'll never forget being at some writing thing and someone asked a man "What do you write?" his answer was "I write everything, from splatter-punk to children's books." And in my head I was thinking "Whaaaat? Are you insane?"

Bear with me while I dissect each idea.The problem with idea number one is that while the market is wide open, especially if you're looking for a smaller independent publisher, you need to consider the sellability of each book you embark on. If you have a publisher who publishes primarily X-Genre and you write a book in Y-Genre which your publisher doesn't publish, then you are left to start over. Find a new publisher in Y-Genre and try to get the book out there somewhere. This is a process which may take years to complete IF the book ever comes out at all. Doesn't it make more sense to write something at least vaguely in the same genre, or in another genre that your publisher already publishes?

Now, we all want to try new things, stretch our wings a bit. But, how badly do you want to start over? A lot of authors establish themselves in one genre and then branch out. Some continue to write in one genre their entire careers. Neither option is better or worse than any other. The thing is that when starting out if you're all over the map, the likelihood of anything you write getting published is lower than if you keep a narrower focus.

I know a lot of people who also don't want to be pigeonholed as JUST a mystery author, or JUST a fantasy author. But, I'm not sure why it's so bad to be thought of as JUST anything. I want to be known as a fantasy author, because even though I may be writing adult fantasy like my novel Tea Times Three, I also have children's fantasy like my WIP The Bird Fairies. There is a lot more leeway within genre than people  think too. Mystery has a myriad of sub-genres, all of which cross-over with one another and allow exploration.

Now for idea number two. My big problem when I heard the guy say I write everything from splatter-punk to children's books was this: My first thought was, "Well how appropriate are your children's books?" That may not be a fair thought but it was the first one I had. If you're an author known for scorching erotica how easy a sale is a children's book going to be? When the agent or publisher asks about your prior experience and you list Naughty Nuns will the next publisher- the NEW publisher-- who doesn't know you- give you a fair shake?

Also there is no opportunity to cross market such works. You can't say to people "Well if you like my Teddy Bear series you should check out Naughty Nuns."  That isn't going to work. Same in the other direction. If your known as a children's author it's hard to recommend your violent spy thriller to your fans who are ten years old.

Does that mean you can't build a fan base in multiple genres? No, not at all. It just means that you need to be careful, and considerate especially early on. You can follow your passions, but follow them wisely. I think those who want to be known for everything are in reality known for nothing.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


My friend Sunny Frazier has been poking me (badgering with a large stick actually) about "PLATFORM". Yes THE platform. The dreaded AUTHOR PLATFORM without which no book is sold!

So! Here I am! Attempting a reboot of my blog!! It was already here and I can't afford Wordpress!

So! Watch me fail at platforming! Watch me post things- perhaps erratically... I need to find some more of my friends on here...

I will also reboot my Facebook page. Well, not reboot, so much as post art from DA where I am spending 90% of my time online these days.

The better place to find me and my work than this blog is I have been drawing SO MUCH lately! I'll try to post my art here too!

I am still writing of course so that will continue to be a focus... but I'll get to that later! First things first! Baby steps as it were..

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Get off the fucking internet.

I feel very strongly the internet is 99.9% noise. Just clamor and discord, a stadium full of people all shouting "Look at me!" And that includes artists. The internet has brought a lot of artists to people who want their work in one form another. But it has also stiffened the competition a great deal. A mediocre artist like myself hovers on the fringes, never good enough to make money but not terrible enough to make alternative auto-bio comics.

But maybe some where out there is money waiting for me to make it!

I think this quote exemplifies the internet and all it holds for us. Which is basically bullshit. The internet cannot help you! It will not help you! It will distract you from everything that is really important in life. It will lie and tell you Facebook is REAL HUMAN CONNECTION when it's not. It will keep you from reading. It will keep you from quiet contemplation in which REAL thought is born. It will keep you from thinking and assimilating what you've read. It will keep you from forming your own opinions. It will keep from turning knowledge into wisdom or ideas. It will keep from going outdoors and experiencing life first hand.

Those commercials for "Learning sites" on NickJR enrage me. The computer WILL NOT TEACH YOUR CHILD ANYTHING! How about actually interacting with your own damn kid! Read them a book! Their a fucking toddler- EVEN YOU CAN TEACH CHILD MATH! Take them outside! Talk to them and they will learn language, discuss with them and they will form ideas.

Rant over.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Take time and describe

Most everyone has seen this an article by Theodora Goss that Cat posted. But I wanted to comment I sometimes find myself struggling to get into words the finer less tangible emotions. In my short story "Fight or Flight" (STILL have not re-titled it and subbed to BCS), the main character Fiala kills a large predator that is trying to eat her. The whole story she has been following the orders and whims of others and by the end of the story she re-unites with the one character who has faith in her. Fiala feels 'saved', rescued in a way she has never felt before and she's crying even though the other character has had nothing to do with helping her kill the creature. And trying to get that nuance of emotion has been giving me fits.

I can FEEL the feeling I want to convey but without stopping the action and going into a long paragraph explaining the feeling I don't know how to do it. And then there is the problem of how much explaining of emotion, how much description of the characters interior lives do you add.

On one hand so much "advice" now-a-days is to describe only the characters actions. The outward manifestations of their emotions, but at the same time "frowned" and "smiled" are verboten. Description in general is often counselled against unless you can convey something with total economy and in the shortest space possible. All to avoid slowing down the Action.

In total contrast to what 'everyone' else is reading, lately I've been working my way through "Jude the Obscure" by Thomas Hardy and I have (in just the past few days) been struck by how deeply Jude's feeling and impressions are explored in the book. Paragraph after paragraph talks about his feelings toward and opinions of Christminster, his state of isolation, and the growing love for his cousin. And because of this description- not in spite of it- the reader knows Jude. Knows his goals intimately, and can feel the coming doom of his relationship with his cousin. And there is nothing to do but watch the inevitability of his life going down the drain. Part of the tension in the novel is that the reader knows from the beginning Jude will never achieve his dreams. Not his dream of scholarship and not his dream of love. But we are helpless to warn him. So we watch as he continually and helplessly shoots himself in the foot.

But now the style of prose is a rapid fire race to get to the next thing. Get to the next action sequence, the next sex scene, the next explosion. It's trying to get a Michael Bay movie onto the page. Everyone pleads short attention spans. No one wants to linger on lovingly crafted sentences of description and emotion. It's regression to caveman basics: kill-screw-flee-fight and repeat. Everything may be faster but its also infinitely shallower.

On the other hand in my WIP, the one I described the first class about the doctor who gets a fungal infection from stealing the god of leaf-cutter ants I can extract barely any emotion from the character. Eventually I'd like to run that one past the Spec Fic critique group to see if anyone can help it out. But that won't be until I have a few more iterations.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Good news is good news

So a short story- well technically flash piece- of mine is going to round 2 of submissions at the e-zine I sent it too! It feels good to have good news, it's been so long. Here's hoping it gets accepted!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What do you sign in the age of e-books?

As e-books rise and paper books decline I think a big question is 'What will authors sign?' Like any reader/writer I have a collection of prize Signed Books. Those books that I've taken to or purchased at conventions, packed and lugged to one event or another in order to receive the prize of an author's signature on the end papers. I have signed books from Jacqueline Carey, China Mieville, Garth Nix, Nalo Hopkinson and many others, all of which have a pace on my permanent bookshelf.

But what do you sign in a digital age? I think it's a token/memento which will always be important to collectors and devoted fans. I know I wouldn't part with signed books. They are special. they are touched.

I think there are a few possibilities for signatures in a digital age.

1- being e-readers adding a touch screen so that authors signatures can be collected. Who knows, there is probably already an app for that... And if not I demand 50% of your profits!!

2- Comes from Japan. Manga artists often sign shikishi boards at events. They are wonderful mementos and can be displayed in frames and wall hangings

Since I can draw I vote for shikishi boards!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Well I'm still working! I'm writing on my YA and getting ready to edit the Carmine novella and in the meantime I thought I'd post a little character questionnaire I did for Irissa, the main character of my YA. It's a Regency-esque romance with lesbians, secondary world fantasy, and a murder mystery (in all likelihood...) As usual I have no outline!


Irissa (Last name TBA)

1) List four things you like very much – Science, logic, books, reading

2) List four things you dislike very much- mages, religion, ignorance, emotion

3) Did you have a happy childhood? Yes. My parents were very loving, I had all the books I wanted, siblings I cared for deeply and an excellent school.

4) Describe an incident in your childhood that you think most affected you. - I don't like to talk about it but some girls at boarding school fancied themselves mages and summoned... creatures one of them attacked me and it was a horrific incident I don't care to dwell on.

5) Describe your mother and how you feel about her. - My mother doesn't understand me but I know she cares. We disagree on a regular basis and frankly I find her trying at times. She reads silly books and is far too polite.

6). Describe your father and how you feel about him – Father understands me a great deal. He always gave me books on science and philosophy. He has encouraged my education my whole life.

7) what is your favorite pastime? – Reading, translating books from their original languages, and... well, not much else is there?

8) What person do you think has influenced you the most? – My Father. And perhaps my older brother.

9) How do you feel about sex? - Well, it's a normal function of biology. no real mystery to it. Certainly not worth the drama and emotion people invest in it. What do you mean I shouldn't pass judgement because I haven't had it yet?

10) What is your religion and how important is it to you? – Religion is for superstitious fools.

11) What is your philosophy of life? – Ask questions, find answers.

12) If you could have any tangible thing that you wanted what would it be? I would like to keep the seaside cottage in the family.

13) Have you any physical difficulties? - I wear spectacles...

14) What kind of education or training have you had and how did you feel about it? – I have a classical eduction. Speak three languages and read competantly five.

15) How do you think people react to you as a person? – According to my mother I am too impolite. According to my cousin I am too unsentimental. According to my Father I am a bit hard around the edges. According to my classmates I was irascible.

16) What are you proudest of? – My intelligence.

17) What are you most ashamed of?- My freckles? Maybe. According to my mother (again) I have no shame.

18) What is your deepest fear? - Mages

19) How do you feel about food? - I like good a great deal and bad food a good deal less. Almond cake is my favorite dessert.

20) What do you dream about? - Academia.

21) What makes you feel good? - Using logic to solve problems.

22) What do you try hardest to avoid? – People

23) What makes you angry and how do you react? – Ignorance, foolishness, silliness and stupidity. I have no patience for any of the above even in myself.

24) How athletic are you? – Not at all.

25) How methodical are you? - Extremely.

26) What are you chief taboos? – Aren't those akin to superstations?

27) How much traveling have you done? – Unfortunately little.

28) Describe a situation in which you feel you have behaved courageously. - I probably haven't...

29) Do you see yourself as a self-centered person? – According to my mother extremely.

30) Do you see yourself as a loving person? – More sentiment and nonesense.

31) Do you see yourself as a popular person – The opposite but I don't really care.

32) Do you see yourself as potentially having an important influence on the world? - Maybe.

33) How artistic are you? More stuff and nonesense.

34) How do you feel about material things? – I like nice things and I like books and want a nice place to put those books. I'm used to, if not material things at least the respect accorded by my family's standing.

35) What are your plans for the future? – I don't know anymore.

36) How idealistic are you? – That's a stupid question.

37) How realistic are you? – Is there anything else?

38) How successful are you? – So far not very.

39) Name the four things you most often object to in other people. - Silliness, ignorance, sentimentality, and inanity.

40) Name the four things you most often object to in yourself. – When my emotions get the better of me. I don't read people well. I'm not as observant as I would like to be. I'm not as in control as I'd like to be all the time.

41) How gullible are you? - Not at all.

42) How intelligent are you? – Extremely.

43) Do you believe that the end justifies the means? – Frequently yes.

44) How attractive are you physically? – Well, I nave good bones if you can see past the freckles and the spectacles.

45) Do you believe there is anything worth dying for and what led you to this conclusion? – I don't know. Maybe.

46) What do you worry about the most? – Not having enough time to read.

47) What makes life worth living for you? – Books. And quite possibly the almond cake made by my cousin Owenee's chef. And no, I am not joking.

48) What is the difference between good and evil? – I'm not sure.

49) What kind of person would you most like to be? – Smarter than I am now.

50) How do you relate to animals? – Not well...