Thursday, February 20, 2014

To boy or not to boy

On top of the editing (which I'm trudging through, I swear. I haven't just tossed the manuscript into a wood chipper and pasted together what came out) us Wrimo winos have to begin thinking about how we're marketing our books. If you're never had to summarize 100K to 200K words down to 300 while keeping the spirit of your book alive AND convincing a jaded audience to fork over 99 cents for it, I'll level with you, it's about ten times more difficult than writing those 100K in the first place.

I have a unique problem in trying to pitch my novel. The King's Blood has a dual lead, no obvious hero and leading lady, or clumsy heroine and hot piece she marries. While Aldrin is my own spin on the spare to the throne struggling to find his own way, coming to accept his power and rising to the occasion, it's Ciara that's the greater divergent from the typical medieval fantasy novel. She's a she for starters, she's black, she's not there to be a "prize" for finishing, and she's the courage behind their whole quest to save the country from a deadly Empire. So Ciara is my greatest "See, not like every other fantasy novel at all. Okay, it also never takes itself seriously until I start offing people" but she's not marketable.

This is not some magical fairy world where everyone's equal, where books featuring female protagonists get the same clout, the same attention, the same store front as male protagonists. To pretend otherwise is to delude yourself. It might be 2014, but Cartoon Networks still cancel shows because girls are getting to into it and the SWFA once again falls into a controversy where members think women and POC are a fringe freakshow who shouldn't be mucking up their very serious business of being he-man woman haters.

If you held a gun to my head I'd probably say Ciara is the main character by a smidgeon, but is she really the best choice for me to base a synopsis off? I don't know. I adore her, as well as Aldrin, and Isa -- my terrifying asian witch who is not a ninja, or a geisha, or an IT girl, and will seriously screw you up if you mess with her. If I craft a synopsis around Aldrin I might get more eyes that never would pick up a book about a WOC, but it feels like lying.

To drizzle another layer of syrup on this crawling anthill, I'm also about 95% certain I want to drop my first name and go by my initials. Hiding my "fragile" gender is an old practice by female writers, all the way back to the creator of Sci-fi herself, Mary Shelley, and for damn good reasons that I doubt I need to explain to another woman. Here's an example hitting the web in the past day. Do not tell me that "I have a pretty name" or I'm "being silly." I could pull up historical and current examples until we both die from old age. The only downside is that I already published two books with my first name so there could be a bit of search problems if I actually get a reader or two that want to read more (as if that will occur). At least that wacky Z name will stand out.

So I'll be over here, being a traitor to my gender while I edit this monster and struggle through the best synopsis I can. Please send jerky.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Liebster Award

Today I was gifted the Liebster Award and not for crafting intricate lies about lobsters.

It is courtesy of Mr. Tony Noland of Verbosity's Vengeance fame.

But like all awards it comes with some caveats.
Luckily, I don't have to go back in time to kill Hitler with a T-rex (all I have are anklyosaurs'). I have to answer 10 questions and then ask ten more of my next victims, I mean nominees also in the wordsmithing business.

So allow me to introduce you to:
  1. Monica Marier - She of webcomic and real life word-in-book fame. She's the yang to my fire I just started on accident, I swear.
  2. Sue London - Who's a spinner of entertaining and smile cracking historical romances involving haberdashers. They go to 11.
  3. Joi - She crafts adorable My Little Pony dolls and writes realistic science fiction.
Now, to the questions you must answer before the first full moon or face the wrath of the shadow ghouls.
  1. What's your favorite character?
  2. Is there a character that you were going to kill/write off but something changed your mind?
  3. Are you more of a plot/character/idea/throw words against the wall like spaghetti author?
  4. What's the stupidest idea you've ever had?
  5. What's the best idea you've ever had (writingwise, though if you figured out how to turn wine into gold, I'd love to hear that)?
  6. Out of all your settings, which would you most like to live in?
  7. What's your biggest writing win? (I'm stealing this one. No one said I was lawful good).
  8. Do you have a specific genre or do you like to bounce around freely?
  9. Favorite spot to write?
  10. Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?
Okay, now it's my turn to answer the questions Tony put me too. Strap in, this is gonna get interesting. I mean tedious. Best to stop reading now. Nothing to see here, move along.
  1. When did you start writing?  The smartass answer is something like kindergarten after I stopped eating the crayon. What drove me to pick up this noveling idea was a contest to win a sword based upon creating fanfiction for a video game series. (totally won a sword, too) You know, just like Hemingway.
  2. Has anyone ever actually told you not to quit your day job? People don't like to talk to me in general. It's really for the best. Don't feed the beast.
  3. Is there a favorite food you eat that gives you inspiration to write? Cheerios, but only when I'm working on my ghost soliloquies.
  4. Microsoft Word: love it, hate it, or something else? Either this software goes or I do. *launches nuclear bomb*
  5. Do you own an reader, or use software? If so, what kind? If not, do you see one in your future? I do have a Kindle and I have used it to check the formatting of my own books. And I have bitched the one time it had a major hiccup and I couldn't read a book. Telling me to buy a real book will get you sucked into the shadow vortex (see question 2).
  6. You're given a book promotion opportunity to sit in a bookstore window and write. People passing by will be able to read your work as you produce it. Do you agree? Sure, though people should be warned I will be talking to myself, grabbing me hair, and occasionally throwing things. Part of the "Why won't you stupid characters do what I stupidly told you to stupid do" process.
  7.  Is there a crowd/gang/posse/support group of writers you belong to, either in person or online? Not really, there are a few online friends but it is unrelated to writing. I guess there are the 10 of us gathering together to survive this Lets Go Wrimo madness. This is the stupidest way to go about it, by the way. The only people who seem to buy books are other writers. Make all the writer friends!
  8. What's your minimum length for a novel? I cannot go under 80,000 words. Even when I think "oh, there's no way it'll be longer than 75K" it'll hit 90K before I'm done. All those jokes eat up time.
  9. "Write drunk, edit sober." Is this good advice? I've never been drunk, so I hope not. I may be an alien. Shhh...
  10. Can you have a strong opinion about an author's personality, political views, social positions, etc., without having that color your opinion about the author's work? Well it would depend upon if they use that within the work. So much of writing is slicing off a piece of ones soul and stapling it to paper, which isn't to say there are not writers who are aware of their own personal demons and use that. There are no absolutes, except for that vodka I cannot get drunk off. Alien!

A little sacrilege

"Be not afraid, for we bear glad tidings."

"Okay, okay, cool..."

"Er..." the angel paused in its recitation as the unhumbled mother wound her hair around her fingers and flipped across her phone. "You have been blessed with child."

"No shit," she said, gesturing to her exposed midsection.

"And one day he..."

" la la," she dropped her phone, covering her ears and shouted loudly, "I don't wanna know. We're gonna have a big party with a colored cake and balloons and everything."

"He will be called Eliso."

"If it's a boy I'm gonna name him Thunderstick."

"Thunderstick?" the angel struggled through the implications of how that holy book would read.

"Rean for a girl."

The angel sighed and continued its script, "But he..."

"Could still be a girl!"


          "La la la, can't hear you..."

"...shall be the great one, the savior of your people, the messiah."

    Her fingers dropped from her ears and she paused, twisting her lips up in thought, "Nu-uh he's gonna be a model/rock/movie star. And we'll all live in a giant tree house with a cheese wiz fountain."

The angel turned to its silent companion who only came for moral support. It shrugged its wings, uncertain what to make of such a monstrosity.

The mother of the future Thunderstick messiah, picked at her teeth to remove a popcorn kernel and returned to her phone. "Are we done here?"

She didn't look up as the blinding light assumed the angel's back to their domain. The final peel of the angel's voice dissolved into the air, "Someone needs to convince the big guy to stop using teenagers."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Imposter Syndrome

I am a terrible winner. Not because I run around shouting "I am the GREETEST! Now I'm leaving Earth for no raisin." It isn't an over-enthused self esteem that makes me a terrible winner, it's actually the opposite.

Because it's easier for me to assume that everyone is better than me at whatever I attempt, I start to look for the trick, the reason that I edged someone else out for a prize. Which means when normal human behavior dictates that I act grateful and happy, I'm quiet and cynical, contemplating where the catch is and how it's not that good of a prize. (See also cynical as hell).

As I, and my husband, crack into the behemoth manuscript struggling to get it to something of a publishable state, a leviathan lurking beneath the surface threatens to steal away my barely beating mojo. I'm an imposter.
This had nothing to do with imposter syndrome, I just thought it was cute. Also, that's a Golden not a Lab. Totally missed the pun mark there.

Imposter syndrome is when someone feels they're about to be found out as a fraud then have to go on the lam with an adopted french daughter. Much virtual ink has been spilled about women that feel they don't fit in, can't possibly meet the standards set by society for their job, and how someone will call them on it. 

It's a bit like a slow acid, nibbling away at self confidence until all that's left is a pile of goo where a person used to be. And I've got it pretty bad. As I read over words that don't flow perfectly, descriptions that fall flat, and dialogue that tumbles off a cliff I keep thinking "How in the hell did anyone like this? There has to be a huge mistake." I wish I had time to freak out over it, hide in my den and lick some mental wounds but there isn't any.

In order for the books to make it to New York for a something something, they have to be edited and formatted by March 15th. A little over a month to do what I'd normally spend 2-3 months doing. Brain, you really need to freak out after March. How about we pencil in all of April? It'll probably be stormy and raining then anyway. A perfect month for mumbling into the void.

For now there are grammar demons to slay.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Lets Go Wrimo

This is going to take a little bit of explanation so please slip on your werefur and bear with me.

Back in November, aka the Lost Month, I once again took a crack at National Novel Writing Month. As often happens, a few companies teamed up with NaNo to advertise their products, get all that lucrative writer lunch money and what not.

One of the deals was through Lulu dubbed LetsGoWrimo, one of the old vanity presses from before Amazon and ebooks became the Nom de Plume of everyone without a publishing contract. They had a contest of sorts where everyone who entered also got a Myers-Briggs type assessment of their manuscript (Mine was hilarious and about as off as calling me an extrovert) and a free hardback cover.

I entered for the free hardback because, damn it, I am proud of my YA tale and I wanted it in fancy print. It's also over 600 pages, and I'm kinda afraid the paperback version wouldn't get the proper gnome smashing dimensions down.

Pretty, right? I was happy, I took some pictures, I put it on a table and forgot as I struggle through the Dwarves in Space debacles.

But I still got a few e-mails from LetsGoWrimo telling me they were still slogging through over 3,000 entries to pick 10 winners. I even got a mass e-mail telling me "So sad, you were not chosen, but keep trying." The same boilerplate every publisher and literary agent uses across the centuries. "I do not want your book, but keep trying" is probably etched into Mayan temples and Sumerian pottery.

Then, a very funny thing happened on Friday. I get a simple e-mail addressed to Wrimos. As it'd been a week since I'd wadded up the contest and tossed it in my mental trashbin at first I assumed this was about Winos and a really weird spam, then I opened it.

Addressed to me and 9 others was an explanation of what was expected of us to get our books into shape for the Book Expo in New York at the end of May.

MP3 Scratch

What? What?! WHAT?!

Swear to cheese, my first thought was this has to be a scam. I checked over the e-mail address it was sent from, that seemed to be legit with very few numbers in the name, then I scoured the tweeters asking if anyone else entered this contest. I was still is disbelief until the others from the contest started e-mailing back, trying to get to know everyone, asking info, and then starting up a facebook group so we could freak out together.

Okay...maybe this isn't a trick after all.

My best guess is that one of the original ten winners dropped out, and I was slotted in place bumping up from number 11 to 10. This happens surprisingly often in my life, one away from one arbitrary cutoff so I'm back to the dregs with everyone else. It still would have been a little nice to have a pretend "we totally meant to include you in the list, oops, ha ha ha."

So since I'm one of the winners of this contest maybe I should probably figure out what it all entails.
Yep, still just as confused as I started, but it looks really impressive.

What it means for now is that I have to get my 200K work manuscript, that 600+ page monster, into not only edited for human consumption but also formatted and covered in pretty art and professional looking in a month.

I am so screwed.

I've opened up my manuscript twice now, stared at it in disbelief and closed the file (while cursing a storm up at Word and threatening to destroy its children). There is still a map I started that I have to finish, book art I half assed for my copy that I have to get serious about, and font choices. Oh how I hate font choices.

So, this is maybe a congratulations? Possibly a "get the hell out of my way, my head's on fire and there are electric eels down my pants legs." Either way, it shall be interesting.