Doomed By Self-Publishing?

This was a great little piece I found on Janet Reid’s blog. Will Self Publishing Doom ME? I think it is a question facing many new unsigned authors. I have fielded a few myself and I never felt that I have doomed my writing by self-publishing. Notice I didn’t say career, my career is still in the library, mostly because I am not that good a sales person. You know self-publishing is only the first step. To have any measure of success you need to invest time and money into marketing and selling your book. You need to make contacts and pound the bricks. None of these are my strong point so I’ll just bask in the reviews and good word of mouth my books have afforded me and put off worrying about stellar numbers. Follow this link to read Janet’s take on this question:

Villainous Thoughts

The good guy may get the girls but it’s that bad guy that keeps the pages turning. I find writing a compelling villain is tougher than a book’s lead character. Male or female it is that villain that will be the measure of how good your protagonist truly is. Even when that antagonist isn’t a person, you must write about their actions that the reader can make no mistake about their villainy. Myself, I like cunning villains more so than overly powerful ones. I also like villains who have a morality too. Huh?

Think about it this way, in Marvel’s X-Men, Magneto is the villain to Charles Xavier. Yet all Magneto is interested in is the well being of his fellow mutants and protecting them. His methods vary drastically from Professor Xavier’s, but the moral compass for both points in the same direction. The challenge in writing about a character such as this is making sure that his or her actions remain true to that morality.

Another fun type of villain is the off the rails amoral variety. The sheer chaos of writing for one of these characters is demanding. Still the end result can be very rewarding as your hero rises and meets every nefarious deed. Yet all is not lost even for these types of villains. I’m thinking about Godzilla here. Obviously he or she was the villain of the first movie in 1954 but latter movies would see the unstoppable force of nature become the hero protecting humanity. That he or she had to destroy half of Tokyo to do it is another matter.

In both these examples you can have a wide range of villains that combine components of each, though like I said before I like my villains morally guided if not socially minded.

For Information’s Sake

Those who know me, know that by day I am a librarian. You may not know that librarianship covers a wide range of disciplines. My main draw to librarianship was, and still is, studying how people interact with information. The events of the last year have really given me concern over that choice.

Recently we’ve been beset with information to the point that we can’t possibly take the time to process and evaluate it all. Worst of all we have taken to tuning out any information that would give us cause to reexamine our opinions. This is anathema to everything I’ve worked for and stand for as a librarian.

As I see it there is no such thing as fake news. There are facts and there are conjecture. Willing one to be the other so that your opinion is validated is the utmost in ignorance. Yet we accept this every day. Have you seen Facebook? Why is this? Is it just that much easier? Do we need so much validation that we are perfectly happy locking ourselves in our own echo chambers oblivious to when we are being lied to? Then again that just may be my inner librarian talking, but at times this is what it seems we have fallen into.

The academic in me is interesting to see how this experiment plays out. The librarian in me screams at every meme that passes disinformation off as fact. Never mind truth, because that is often in the eye of the beholder. A democracy lives or dies on the ability of it’s people to make informed choices. Sadly I  fear information has taken a back seat to opinion. Until that is recognized we can only slip further into our self defined fog.

If 6 Was 9, Ambiguity Will Get You Every Time

With all apologies to the Hendrix estate, there is a funny meme on the internets with two figures standing on opposite ends of a large painted number. One argues that it is a six while the other argues that it is a nine. The moral is both are right according to their perspective. A followup meme points out that one is definitely wrong because whoever painted the number set out to paint either a six or a nine. Both made me chuckle and both told me there is a lesson in them for writers.

Ambiguity is the bane of communication. It can often crop up in our writing because we know what we mean in our heads but sometimes the words leave it open to interpretation. Nothing you write should ever be open to interpretation, this isn’t painting. Then there are the little things that you don’t even recognize someone might have a question over. For example, does your scene take place at night or day? It might not mean a whole lot at the point in the story but a scene or two later could be ruined if your reader thought it was daylight and your reader is in the nighttime hours. Ambiguity in the details you reveal makes it harder for the reader to connect with and buy into the story. Most of these will come out in beta readings or from your editor. Still, always being aware of instances where what you say can be taken a couple of different ways will make your writing that much stronger.

Will I Finish a Book In 2017

It’s that time of the year when we make our predictions for the new year. For writers, it often involves a project or two. For this writer in particular, there are several. Now, as anyone who’s been there will tell you, writing a book and finishing one are two entirely different things. I have no doubt I will finish the current book I’m writing, The Prince of Zero. My story of a teenage son of Lucifer is coming along nicely. Will I finish the other ones I have in the oven is another matter. What do I have so far…

The Fourth Prometheus is still being edited, but my Steampunk take on Frankenstein is coming along, still.

The sequel to Undead Heart is written and just needs to go under the microscope as is my urban fiction Midnight Detail.

Broken Toys is an other early one that I’ve been thinking of reworking, (a lot), and getting out. It was kind of spooky when I wrote it back in 1989 so hopefully it still is.

Either way 2017 could be a very productive year or I just may be sitting her writing the post, 2017 – What the Hell Happened?


A Funny Thing Happened When I stuck My Head Outside for Some Truth

truthThe internet has been full of articles about fake news lately. Just what is fake news? It’s not as black and white as you may think. Speaking of that analogy, there is a video game by Treasure, called Ikaruga where you toggle between a white and black spaceship, while in the white state you absorb bullets that are white but die if you touch anything black, and vice-versa. We’ve become pretty much like that little spaceship, absorbing what we match and reacting violently to anything we don’t. So naturally the the journey to anything resembling truth is a perilous one. I could go on but I think Nathan Bransford summed it up perfectly in this article.

A democratic society depends on information, but more than that it depends on information that is delivered equally. That equality is currently under attack. Even as writers of fiction we need truth in small pieces to help us sell our readers the more fantastic bits. That bit of truth creates a common ground for the reader and pulls them into the story. What happens when we don’t agree on what that ground is? We get confusion and right now we have a lot of confusion. In the past we relied on truth to give us a common point of reference. Now, not so much. Our differences and our opinions are the new truth. It kind of gives me an idea of a story where no one experiences the same reality. Wait a minute, according to Quantum Theory that’s what we do every day. So then is truth overrated?

How to Tell If You’re Having an Agrument

With all the nonsense of another election season behind us I thought I’d reflect on something I’ve recently come to notice. There appears be a disconnect on what is the difference between a debate and an argument. So I think I’ve uncovered the secret to knowing if you’ve had an argument or a debate.

If after both parties discuss their view and still cannot see the merits of the other side you have had an argument. If after discussing both sides and you agree that there is merit in exploring both sides further you’re having a debate. Here’s to hoping we will see more debates and less arguments in the near future.

The Personal Touch

In the past, I’m talking before email, querying agents meant either typing up or printing 30 letters or using some kind of mail merge program to put in the names and addresses. There wasn’t much room to add in any personal remarks. Email has made that process much simpler and as a result many have taken to personalizing their query letter for the agent. Is it helpful? Will it make a difference? Who knows. For myself, I do usually begin my query with a sentence saying why I am sending the letter to that specific agent. But then again why go by what I do? Here is what some professionals in the field think about personalized query letters. In particular here is a blog post from Nathan Bransford replying to a post from Janet Reid, on that very subject.