Tidbit Thursday, 7/18/13

Hello, everyone!  Been swishing some ideas about what to update on the blog, so make sure that you stick around for the next couple of months to see what might be popping up.

The prompt for this week is #93: “Slow”.  Enjoy!

-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-

She wanted to be miffed at his disappearance, but the still sorrow around him brought her up short.

“You know, they love to sing.  They sing of all sorts of things, of joy and its inevitable demise.  They sing of weddings and funerals,  the legend of gods and heroes and the tragic ways in which they fail and fall.”

“What happened?”

“She’s dead.  I was too slow.”

Sword’s Blessings Cover Reveal!

Are you guys ready for this?  No, really, are you ready?  This may be the most epic book cover yet, so I just want you to prepare yourselves.

Ok?

Great.

Sword's Blessing by Kaitlin R. Branch

Folks of the blog, this is Giselle, the heroine of Sword’s Blessings, the second book in the Cinereal Series.  The soft spot I have for her is immense, because throughout the book she does the most changing (and just look at her!!).  Samantha and Eli are still around, complete with their easy going dynamic, as well as Cyrene and her delicious madness.  Plus, a new hero, Armand!

It’ll be February before Sword’s Blessings hits the waves (we’re currently on the second editing pass, which is where all the editorial griping was coming from) but it’s going to be an exciting time!  In the mean time, I’m going to take this opportunity to remind you that Valeria and Pandora’s Ring are both out, as well as One Cog Short of Paradise, in the Spark Anthology.

Ok, what do you think of the cover?  Renee is pretty much epic at this, isn’t she?

Paid Fanfiction? Wait what?

So after my rant on fanfiction last year sometime, I about swallowed my tongue after reading this.  

Apparently, Amazon has acquired permission from a few TV shows (among other platforms, if I’m getting the insinuations right) to allow people to be paid for the fanfiction which they write about that particular show.  

I’m pretty sure Amazon is an evil marketing genius.  This is amazing.  I’m not saying that everyone wins, in fact I’m pretty sure that authors stands to lose a lot.  As understood so far, if the parent company like the fanfiction author’s ideas, they can pretty much just lift it straight off without so much as a note, and use it for their own devices.  However.  I do think this is a fabulous idea for a fledgling, and even a practiced author, as well as for the company.  

First, it gives the company free advertisement, world expansion, etc.  This is kind of important, because rabid fans are rabid fans, and this has the potential to take some pressure off to make more show when there are no ideas, no money, no time, anything like that.

Second, I’ve always said that fanfic was a good place to get your feet wet without really risking a whole lot.  That’s still going to hold true, except now it’s also a market to practice with money as well.  Is it fair that the company can lift the author’s ideas about the show with no compensation?  Ehhhhhh, intellectual property is really wibbly wobbly.  I think it will encourage authors to  use critical thinking with their plot points, ala ‘do I want to use this mode of plot twist here, or do I want to save it for my original things?’  It may also have the opposite effect though, to the tune of ‘I get paid either way.  So I will put my best writing forward.’  Which is an awesome attitude to have.

Finally, my hope is that it gives those authors who pour heart and soul into fanfiction (Looking at you, Cassandra Claire)  and have thousands of readers, to get recognition and pay for their entertainment without having to resort to shady publishing practices (see: Twilight Vs. 50 Shades of Grey)

What do you think of this?  My jaw is kind of on the floor about this.  

Some Links and a Video!

First of all, here are some of the artists Michael and I really loved and commissioned.  I’m putting two here now, but there’s a few others who will be added later because I don’t want to link dump on you guys :)

Serena Guerra was probably my favorite, not only because her art was fabulous (to be honest, we have one pic from her… but I’m totally in love with it.) but also because her and the person who was at the table with her (and now I am horrified to realize I didn’t get his name) explained the process of creating a comic, an idea Michael and I have been developing for the bits of The Athele Series which won’t fit in the book proper, but we still really want to see the light of day.  Check out her coloring on The Mice Templar.

The other Artist I was a total fan of, did several commissions for us (bless their hearts, these artists who put up with our gigantic list of characters…) was Grace Allison.  It was pretty funny, Michael had mentioned he had a commission for someone.  I walked past her booth and thought “Yes.  That artist has a style I love.” and went to ask her about commissions.  She said that she was open for it, though she did have another colored piece to do ahead of mine.  As I glanced at the description of it, though, I found it was none other than Michael’s commission.  Ha!  

Finally, and possibly most exciting, I’ve got the youtube video for the Nanowrimo panel!  It’s really fun and enjoyable, though it’s 30 minutes long.  Still!  Please feel free to share with all your friends who don’t know what Nano is, and even those who do!  

Sometimes Your Gut is WRONG

I had an interesting experience with the second book of The Cinereal Series.

You see, book 2 did not write itself nearly as easily as book 1.  Book 1 was a breeze.  It tripped off the tongue.  It just laid itself down and all I had to do was put it in a straight line.

But book 2 was hard.  You see, I wrote Book 1 thinking it was a stand alone novella, so I didn’t really plan, and I didn’t do all my visionary stuff of “Oh, and that’ll come back to bite them in the end!!”  I just wrote, and wound up with a handful of characters and a plot that was done but not finished.  There was still something going on, beneath the surface.

What the heck was wrong?  As I read through again, I realized that I’d set myself up for a sequel before page ten.  Way to go, me.

However, trusting my own subconscious  I started to write on the second book.  And at first it tripped off the fingers just like book one.

And then promptly ground to a halt.  What in the world was I doing!?  How did these characters know each other?  Where was this character going to come in use?  What was this character’s motivation and this one’s issue, and where was I GOING with all of this?  ACK! It was maddening.

I went back to book one, labored on because despite all the confusion I knew I had a good story brewing somewhere, but it came in fits and starts and I kept having to go back and check my information, my skeleton, and my inspirations, as well as research some of the character’s backgrounds before finally, creepingly, writing.

It came, and it came slowly.  Like molasses   In a freezer.  In the arctic.  At least, that’s how it felt: in reality whenever I sat down to write I made a respectable 1000 words.  But it felt SO HARD, and every time I thought about it or looked at it all I could see was the jumble in my head and thus, all I could think was “this is such a mess.”

Now, let me pause here to assure you that I’m not whining here.  I’m trying to get you into my head, or back into your head so that you’re in this feeling with me.

Finally I handed the manuscript to Michael and just said “oh it’s awful but you’ll tell me how to fix it.”

He read it.

“So, did you read it?”
“Yeah.  It’s fine.”
“What?  How?  No it’s not.”
“No, it’s fine.  Maybe a few sentence mishaps with wording, but it’s good.”

And that’s how that conversation went.  I didn’t believe him, so I went back, intent on ‘fixing’ it.  Only, I couldn’t find anything to fix.  The plot flowed one thing to the next, everyone had their motivation, everyone had their arc.  But my gut still said “SOMETHING IS WRONG KEEP LOOKING.”

Thankfully, my finely tuned Nanowrimo editor security measures, plus Michael’s continued assurance that “it all makes sense, duh.”  Stayed my hand long enough to enlist the help of my mother, who reads more than anyone I’ve ever met (burning through all five Game of Thrones books in 2 weeks) to tell me what was what.

I was shocked.  She liked book one, but told me, plain and simple, “Book 2 is better.  Like, way better.”

Say what?  Even now, my gut is going “GAH NO YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.”

The point of this post is two fold:

#1 If you are NOT a beginning writer, and you have written something you hate, before you do anything drastic, get a first reader.  A sentence here, a paragraph there, no biggie.  But switching plot points and slash/burning pages might get you confused, or worse, losing really good material.  Ok, first readers are ALWAYS helpful, and maybe you’re too embarrassed to show your ‘this is terrible’ work to anyone.  Fine, at least take someone to coffee and run it by them before completely trashing it.  Give the idea a chance.

#2 Sometimes your gut is wrong.  After THREE people have given me a raving review of this second book, I’ve finally figured out that in reality, I’m getting a false reading.  As I said, there is NOTHING wrong with the piece.  I know it’s strong plot wise, I know it’s got the happening, I know it’s pretty awesome on the big reveal and darn it, I love the main character.  But if I’d followed my gut instinct, I would have trashed, or horribly twisted, the story and I don’t really think I could have done better.  So be suspicious.  Not dismissive.  Just suspicious.

Now, I’m bringing you this post because I have gotten the final confirmation that my gut was wrong: that being a shiny new contract with Lyrical Press to Publish Book 2 of The Cinereal Series, ‘Sword’s Blessings’.  Hooray!

Has your gut ever been ‘Just that wrong’?

The Apocalypse is Coming!

Hey all, my publisher just sent out a tip off for an awesome sale.  Y’know that whole end of the world thing (that everyone freaked out about this last year and then forgot by the time fall happened?)  Well, Lyrical Press has decided it’s a perfect time for a Doomsday Sale!

Inline image 3

So if you’re looking for a time to buy books (especially Valeria!) hop on over to Lyrical’s store on the 21st for epic deals.  http://www.lyricalpress.com/store/

Lyrical is a romance house, but it mixes with practically any genre, so Steampunk Romance, Paranormal Romance, Western Romance, you name it.  They also happen to be awesome.

When You Get That Niggling Feeling…

Have you ever been writing on a story and you sort of get the niggling feeling that something’s wrong?  It’s not that you aren’t writing well, it isn’t that you’ve messed up a word or anything.  There’s just something not quite right about what’s going down.  You decide to keep writing and see if it shakes itself out, but it just won’t.  You’re five pages into this story and you just haven’t found the groove yet.  Something is horribly wrong.

I write about this because it just happened to me this week.  School is on it’s week long summer vacation (Korean public school gets like, five weeks, but the privates are almost completely year round.) so I resolved to write a lot.  As much as I could.  I was angling to get at least half way through The Cinereal Series, and I had a good lead.

But then about Saturday, I was reading over my two pages and my messy outline and realized that something just wasn’t right.  I couldn’t figure it out, so I stuck a thousand words on and decided to let that settle in before I took a good look.  Thankfully, I have another project going (an inbetweener story for The Athele Series) so when I found myself unable to write on the Cinereal story yesterday, I had something else to do.

But what in the world was wrong?  I mean, I have my meta plot – the over arching idea of the series, and I knew that wasn’t what was wrong.

So today I’d like to share with you a list of things which could be giving you that nasty feeling of “something’s just not right here.” like when Arnold’s in the bunker in Jurassic park and you’re all ‘oh there are SO raptors in there.

http://www.stantonmartin.com/2011/06/7-things-i-learned-from-jurassic-park/

Hold on to your butts…

#1 Are you in the correct Point of View?

Many stories are really cool, but they suffer from a distinct problem of being told by the wrong person.  If something terrible is happening to Sally, I really don’t want Alan to be telling me the story.  Conversely though, the point of your story might need Alan to be telling me about Sally’s trouble.  So give your story a really good looksie and decide: who and what is this story about?  Do you need to shift the action over to Sally, or should it really be with Alan?

#2 Wrong/Extraneous Character/Focus

I’ve told you about the time I started writing a story with two characters and then realized that it wasn’t them at all.  There are other ways to pull that trick though, and find that you’ve got the wrong characters happening in your story.  For instance, you might be trying to focus on one character (or a relationship) who actually has no business being focused on.  You might have an extra character in there who is really throwing off the groove.  Check your characters.  Again: who and what is this story about?

#3  Did you start in the right place?

I once wrote a story which began with the main character staring dourly at his new teacher and wondering how he’d gotten dragged into his situation.  A professor read it and said that while the story was getting there, he thought that I had started in the wrong place.   Now, I was really only a sophomore in college, so I was tired and didn’t have my big writer girl britches on.  I didn’t wanna write more and construct more and then fit it in with the plot.  *sigh* To only have a time travelling frying pan.  You have to start in the right place.  You might have started too far into, or too far in advance of, the plot.  Check it. Think about it.  Heck, try out a hundred words in both directions and see how it feels.

#4 Maybe you just don’t know where you’re going?

It can be that simple.  Believe me.  Stories can start out as one thing and become something totally different.  If you’re trying to force out a story about the ethics of tapeworm farming, and the plot wants to detour into angler fish loving, you are never going to feel right until you’ve done a major rehaul.  Likewise, some people can’t drive into the distance and trust it’s going to be ok. You might not have a theme to write towards (one of my stories has stalled due to this) or not know the ending.

On a related note, “Just keep swimming” is great advice for all situations… sometimes you just have to swim a little faster than others.

#5 It’s just not this story’s time.

It’s ok.  Really.  Maybe you just aren’t feeling passionate about tapeworm farming this month, and you’ve been looking at Angler fish pictures on the internet once your mother’s gone to sleep.  Whatever.  Maybe you just don’t know that character well enough to write their story yet (this happens to us ALL THE TIME in getting The Athele Series down.)  Sit back.  Do some research.  Have a talk with your co-author about reasons and motivations and values.  You’ll get it.  But unless it’s about to publishing time, don’t force it (any more than you’d force yourself to sit down at the computer, anyway).  Now, if you’re on a deadline, you’re gonna have to take that character or that story out for dinner and do a little seducing, because forcing it into anything is only going to make it worse.

Good luck with that.

So there are some tips and tricks from my last few days.  I’ve got a few other blogs kicking around, but next up should be Michael’s Tidbit Tuesday!

Do you have any tips for when you get stalled out in a story?  Any recent revelations?  Let us know and see you soon!

Genre For Dummies

With thanks to TheFutureOfHope for the idea, today I will present you with a guide to choosing the genre of your latest masterpiece!

Now, the actual list of genres is pretty big, and the list of sub-genres even bigger.  But I do intend to give you a reasonable run down, and I shall add to this list in the future.  I hope.  (Heh.  Heheh.  See what I did there?)  And so without further ado: Genre For Dummies!

1. Does your piece involve straight magic as a part of the plot?
- Yes: Fantasy
- Good and Evil: High Fantasy
- A Group of Adventurers: Sword and Sorcery
- No: Keep going

2. Is your main plot line romantic?
- Yes: Romance
- With Magic? Fantasy Romance
- With Ghosts? Paranormal Romance
- With Cowboys? Western Romance
- Are we supposed to think it’s funny? Romantic Comedy
- No: Keep going

Alternatively: Does your cover have a nearly shirtless hunk and a dainty maiden of some flavor?

3. Does your book have any sort of theme or moral?
- Yes: Keep Going
- No, not really, and that’s the point: Absurdist Fiction

4. Does your book involve Cowboys, shoot outs, or the old west?
- Yes: Western
- Cowboys Necking? You’re writing Brokeback Mountain.  Unless your name is Annie Proulx, edit.

I'm sorry, it was just too easy. (Also, the story is worth the read.)

- No: Keep going

5. Is the point of your book to be funny?
- Yes: Comic Fiction
- Are you making fun of something? Keep going.
- Using imitation? Parody.
- With the intent to make a point? Satire.
- Do terrible things still happen?  Black Comedy
- No: Keep going

Parody. Satire. Black Comedy.

6. Does your book use history as the base for it’s plot?
- Yes: Historical Fiction
- No: Keep going

7.  Is your main moral focused on a particular Religion?
- Yes: Religious Fiction.
- No: Keep going

8. Does your story focus a lot on technology of any sort?
- Yes: Speculative Fiction (aka Sci-fi)
- Victorian Age Technology?
- Yes: Steampunk!
- No:  Keep going

That’s all I’ve got for now.  I hope you enjoyed this little offering, by all means add some of your own.  I’ve been duking it out with the edit and a post that just refuses to cooperate, so I figured I’d pull this out.

Have a great weekend!

Why, Hello 2012

See how much we love you guys? We brushed our hair at 10am.

First of all, yay for the first post of 2012!  Supposedly, this is the year we all die over a guy who said “eh, 2012 is probably far enough for now.”.  I dunno about that, but it is the year that Sleight of Spirit comes out, kicking off the beginning of The Athele Series, and that I can completely deal with (other than the hair pulling, teeth gnashing and so on of Kaitlin feeling she has a million things to do).

As for 2011, it was a pretty cool year.  Writing was awesome, and to ring in the new year, Michael and I were the most boring people on the planet by sitting at home with some wine for me and coke for him, writing and playing video games.  Because we’re awesome and it’s freezing outside, that’s why. :)

I’d like to share a funny thing that happened yesterday.  You remember that short story I was wrestling with last week sometime?  Well, I figured out the problem.

Now, I had started this story, and gotten about 4k in before I sort of ground to a halt going “no, no, this isn’t right” at which point I wrote this post, talking about the things that I did know I needed to do.  Limit characters, Hit fast and hard, streamline, limit your story.  I’ll be honest, it was as much for me as for you guys.

I had a hard time figuring out what was wrong.  It took me a whole week. Originally, I thought I had it all figured out with a story I’d written awhile ago.  I knew the world they were in, I knew the characters – why wasn’t it working?

Once I just shut up and let the story rattle around in my head, I started to think that maybe I was in the wrong place.  So I mused and thought about other stories, in other worlds.  I could go here, or here, or maybe a Steampunk version of Rapunzel?  No, nah, ehhh, I’m not sure how I could finagle that yet (even if I love the idea).

And then, on Thursday night, while sipping my soju (Korean Rice based vodka) I had a sudden brainstorm.  Maybe, it wasn’t the world that was the problem.  Maybe it was the characters.  

I looked back over my characters and what I knew of them.  Weird, I realized, I know these characters and their back story, and yet I’m not even writing them as themselves.  Now, there is such a thing as re-writing characters and changing their personalities, but this wasn’t even under that realm.  Holy crap! I said to myself, That’s not them!!

I was writing different characters.  I didn’t know them, I’d never named them, I hadn’t even thought of their existence as a possibility.  And yet there they were, on my page, interacting and showing me their personaltiy, provided that I’d just quit thinking they were someone else.  Does this sound strange?  I know that I’m not alone in thinking of characters as “people”, but I’ve rarely been so confuzzled over writing one character thinking it was another.

In any case, that was my New Years revelation – so now I’m going to spend the first day of the New Year with a cup of coffee (provided the shop is open, yikes!), happily tapping away at my shiny new story, with Zombies, Magic and Dystopian-esque worlds.

May your New Year be filled with as much awesome.  It’s already 2012 in South Korea, and so far it’s not looking too shabby.  Also, now I get to tell you late this year as the release date for Sleight of Spirit, rather than late next year.  Hooray!!

And because hey, it’s a nice set up (good job, WordPress!) here’s the annual review for The Athele Series blog  Really, considering we only got ourselves rolling in August/September, I’d say we’re not doing too shabby!

As to the twitter campaign, we’re getting there!  At 272 new followers since beginning, we’re starting to get on the final stretch.  I had wanted to get the 500 before the New Year, but had said that the drive goes until January 10th.  So, until the 10th it shall go!  Ten days to get ~230 followers?  Sounds like a New Years challenge to me.  If you’ve got a twitter, please consider joining us and retweeting!  1$ goes to Nanowrimo for every new follower.