Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Links of Interest

CUTTING WORD COUNT:
HISTORICAL RESOURCE, QUEEN VICTORIA’S JOURNALS ONLINE: 
HISTORICAL RESOURCE, “LIBERTY MAGAZINE” 1924-1950 (free trial but paid resource):
HOW TO AVOID HEAD HOPPING:
MARKETING, GROWING YOUR EMAIL NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBER LIST:
SPLITTING IMPORTANT INFO DUMPS INTO DIFFERENT SCENES:
FOUR PLOTTING TIPS:
A NEW TOOL AGAINST COPYRIGHT PIRACY:
WRITING MULTIPLE BOOKS A YEAR:
TWO SURVEYS ON PUBLISHING, A DEFINITE READ, PARTICULARLY FOR THOSE WHO ARE CONSIDERING SELF-PUBLISHING:
WRITER’S BLOCK:
DEEP POINT OF VIEW:
LIST O’ LINKS:
FILLING IT IN LATER, A WAY TO KEEP YOUR WRITING MOMENTUM:

WHAT A PUBLISHING CONTRACT COVERS:
FREE PLACES TO PROMOTE SELF-PUBLISHED EBOOKS:
MARKET NEWS, WHAT CARINA PRESS WANTS:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Stranger in a Strange Land, Science Fiction Cons for Newbies

Question:  I’m a guest at a science fiction convention this weekend, and I’ve never been to one.  I’m on some panels.  I write paranormal romance, not science fiction.  What can I expect, and will the natives be friendly?
I've done cons for years.
There's no great trick to it.  Show up on time to your panels and have a copy of your book so you can display it in front of you.  If it’s an ebook, have a nice graphic of your cover printed and pasted on heavy cardboard with a means to set it upright.  
Have some water or a bottled soda on hand.  Be natural and funny if you are able. 
Have something intelligent to say about the panel topic and don't just talk about YOUR book because sf fans have an aversion to blatant PR. If you know nothing about the topic, admit it if anyone asks you a question and ask a question or two to the panelists who do know something.  
It's also a good idea to read the bios of your fellow panel members so you get some sense of who they are and what they write.  Most con programs or websites provide a bio of each guest.
Having bookmarks or some other freebie for the con’s freebie table rarely is worth the money, most end up in the garbage at the end of the con, but do have a business card or postcard which is printed with your book information, your name, and website to hand to people who express interest in your book.

An alternate business card with your complete contact information is good to have to pass along to other pros or someone you want to keep in touch with.
If you do a reading, pick something short and understandable and practice beforehand.  If you have time left over, ask for questions or just chat with your audience.  
As far as dress, casual business will do.  A nice pair of pants and a blouse.  Maybe a dressy jacket if the hotel is cool and most are.  
SF fans are much more open to paranormal romance and woman writers than they once were.  The memberships tend to be dominated by women who usually read paranormal romance as well as urban fantasy, etc.  Those who don’t will be doing something else when you do panels so don't worry about them.
In your free time, network like crazy with fans and other writers and attend some panels you aren't on.  
Many of the fans will be wearing neat or silly costumes but don’t be deceived.  Most are highly intelligent, educated, and have jobs that pay more than yours does.   To start up a conversation, ask them about their costume.  Remember that you are the alien (mundane) here, not them.
If the con has some professional publishing guests like agents or editors, you can usually find them in the bar or their private con party suite.
If you don't read sf, fantasy, or urban fantasy, a good topic of conversation is sf/f media if you are a genuine fan.  You can also ask for reading recommendations, and the dealer's room is usually full of books as well as other neat things.
Mainly, enjoy yourself.  Cons are a lot of fun.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Links of Interest

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF ABOUT CRAFT AND CAREER:
FORESHADOWING, WHAT IT IS AND HOW TO USE IT:
USING WORD LISTS TO EDIT OUT THOSE ANNOYING WEAK WORDS:
RESEARCH RESOURCES, HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS FROM 19TH CENTURY NEW YORK AND THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR:
HOW TO GET YOUR SELF-PUBLISHED BOOK INTO BOOKSTORES:
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE EDITING CLAUSE IN BOOK CONTRACTS:
SHOWING YOUR TWITTER HANDLE FOR FAME AND PROMOTION:
FIVE THINGS NOT TO DO AT A CRIME SCENE:
THE CHALLENGES OF WRITING A COZY MYSTERY:
CHART COMPARING DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PRINTING/PRODUCTION COSTS, INCLUDING PAPER AND EBOOK:
POV, HOW TO STAY IN IT:
LIST O’ LINKS:
CREATING THE DETAILS:
INTRODUCING CHARACTERS IN A SCENE:
REVISING A FIRST PARAGRAPH TO MAKE IT WORK:
BOOK TRAILERS:
ADVANCES:
DEVELOPING A STORY IDEA:
SOCIAL MEDIA AND SELLING BOOKS:
MARKETS, MAINLY SHORT STORY AND MAGAZINE:
NAMES:
MAKING YOUR CHARACTER TERRIFIC:
MAKING A BOOK LONGER:
ROMANCE MARKETS:
THE PUBLISHER’S EDITING PROCESS:

Monday, May 21, 2012

What is Urban Fantasy?

In the late 1980s, a number of fantasy authors began to write about the various creatures and tropes of fantasy like elves, other supernatural beings, and magic in contemporary times in big cities rather than the past or in mythic places.  
The Encyclopedia of Fantasy defined these urban fantasy novels as “texts where fantasy and the mundane world interact, intersect, and interweave throughout a tale which is significantly about a real city.”
Authors like Charles de Lint created stories where the real urban world and Fairy met.  Other writers during this period include Emma Bull and Mercedes Lackey.
The heart of these stories are folkloric in tone with a sense of a fairy tale being retold in modern terms.  The language of the novels is lyrical and poetic, and events from the main characters' point of view have a sense that something may or may not be happening.
This type of urban fantasy is now called traditional urban fantasy, and a current writer is Neil Gaiman.
In the late 1990s and beyond, a different type of urban fantasy began to appear.  These novels had their basis, not from fairy tales, but from the horror and mystery genres.  Other media influences included the TV show, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.  
These contemporary urban fantasies were popularized by Laurell K. Hamilton with her Anita Blake novels.  They have a strong protagonist who has some form of supernatural power.  
The narrative is usually in first person, and the world has a strong sense of good and evil.  
The real world is the gritty reality of the big city where the natural and the supernatural mix, often to disastrous results.  The main character usually has a probable sexual and crime-solving partner who is supernatural and a forbidden sexual partner either by society or by her/his own standards.  
The main driving plot is a mystery which the main character must solve to prevent chaos, whether it be preventing bad supernaturals from harming humans or some form of disaster from occurring.  
Most often, the main character is in law enforcement-- a police officer, a private detective, or a bounty hunter.  
Mysteries by themselves have many varieties including the cozy and the detective novel, the police procedural, the spy novel, and the thriller.  
Each type of mystery has an urban fantasy equivalent.   Here are some examples.
COZY:  An amateur detective solves a murder with minimal blood and violence involved.  (Think Miss Marple or MURDER SHE WROTE)
Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse/TRUE BLOOD novels.
PROFESSIONAL AMATEUR DETECTIVE:  A professional in a specific setting uses his insider information to solve a crime.  The Dick Francis novels about horse racing are a good example. 
 Marjorie M. Liu's   "Hunter Kiss" series. The heroine's job is to kill demons, and she must solve mysteries involving them.  
POLICE PROCEDURAL: Think LAW AND ORDER or any serious cop show. 
Keri Arthur's Riley Jenson series
Anton Strout's DEAD series.  Paranormal NYC government agency which takes care of paranormal threats and covers them up. Hero Simon is an ex-thief who uses psychometry to read objects.
CE Murphy series. Shaman cop Joanne Walker.
PRIVATE EYE:  
Many of Kelley Armstrong's "The Otherworld Series."   
Kat Richardson's “Greywalker” novels.
Jim Butcher's "Dresden Files."
THE FORENSICS MYSTERY:  CSI:Magic Division.  
Laura Anne Gilman's HARD MAGIC.    Magic (the current/electricity) is seen as a science with spells.  A group of young Talents is brought together to create the first forensic magic investigative team. 
THE SPY NOVEL:
Simon R. Green's Eddie Drood novels.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Beware the Dreaded Ing


QUESTION: On another list someone said that "-ing" words are weak, and should be avoided. It is a list of mostly published authors. I had to submit material to be included on the list, and now I'm reluctant to tell them I've never heard of this rule. Is this common knowledge among writers? Have I missed something somewhere?

Pick up the average book on writing style or editing, and you'll see that "-ing" phrases have a bad reputation.

As part of an introductory phrase, it's overused and prone to misuse.

Misuse -- Picking up the gun, she walked across the room and shot him.

The introductory phrase happens at the same time as the verbs in the sentence do so the sentence above is impossible.

Proper use -- Grasping his shoulder, he fell.

The verb and the introductory phrase can be done at the same time so it's correct.

Overuse -- Too much of them weaken the writing as any overuse weakens writing.

I'm prone to using them to avoid having too many sentences beginning with "he" or "she." That's where rewriting the rewriting comes in.

The other common overuse is attaching the "-ing" phrase to a dialogue tag. "I don't like it, " she said, shaking her red correction pencil in my face.

In my first few years of serious writing, I kept a large index card by my typewriter then computer. On it, I kept a list of my most common writing weaknesses, and I used it as a rewriting checklist.

Back then, my favorite book on editing was GETTING THE WORDS RIGHT: HOW TO REWRITE, EDIT, AND REVISE by Theodore A. Rees Cheney. It's been reprinted a number of times with different names. Use the author's name to find the book.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Monday, May 7, 2012

Voice

I've read somewhere that an author doesn't have a voice or true style until they have written over a million words. This is true to a certain extent. By the time we've written that long, we've stopped trying to copy our favorite authors or second guess ourselves, etc., if for no other reason than we're tired of doing that.
Some writers don't read the kind of fiction they write while they are working on a book for fear that they will start copying a writer's voice instead of using their own.
Voice is more than just the use or misuse of metaphors, etc. I know I choose the language I use because of the character's viewpoint I'm in. (I write strict third-person viewpoint.)
One character might see a plane wreck and describe it in my narrative as
The plane's pieces were scattered over the valley like clothes dropped by a drunk on the way to bed.
Another character who is more analytical would think
The gouge of earth left by the plane's moving fuselage led him to a boulder. The left wing tip lay against it. The furrow veered violently left there, and bits of wing then fuselage littered the area around it. When there was nothing left of the plane to break apart, the gouge ended.
The author must also choose voice by the genre expectations of the readers. Choosing the wrong voice can be quite jarring.
Can you imagine a romance novel written like a "noir" detective novel.
I can say this for Lord Garven, he was built, built like Cleopatra's Needle, but I walked away alone in the dark, dank London fog. I had my partner to avenge, and he had a date with Lord Southby.
One big mistake I've seen used by beginning writers is emulating the wrong writers, especially writers from the past.
A friend had this thing for Sinclair Lewis who wrote in the early 20th century, but I had to explain to him that Lewis' style was hopelessly outdated with its languid pace, florid style, and sentence structure, and with the current tastes of editors and readers, he would find no readers.
It's equally disastrous to emulate the current literary style of the moment like writing in first person immediate tense or second immediate tense.
I look at Lord Garven. He is built. Like Cleopatra's Needle. But I shake my head no and walk through the door. I must find my partner's killer. 
or 
You look at Lord Garven. He is built. Like Cleopatra's Needle. But you shake your head no and walk through the door. You must find your partner's killer.
By the time you're publishable, the moment is long gone.
What I'm saying in a very unfocused way is find the right voice for each work, and your own voice will emerge.