Thursday, 4 May 2017

Canva covers continued

Further to my experiments with cover making, I have now finished a ‘cover’ for all of my fanfics.

I obviously couldn’t use the picture that inspired the Casper story. It was nsfw. *grins*
I posted them all on my Pinterest page and I reckon they look pretty good. I certainly don’t know enough about this to design my own book covers, but for fanfiction, they look fine. If you do use images like this for book covers, make sure a commercial use is allowable. All of the images here are free for all uses, unless they come from the movies themselves.

What I notice now is how many things out there are made from the same templates. I see them everywhere from podcast headers to some real covers on Amazon. I know how to do that for myself.
And as an added bonus, I’ve noticed a few more hits to some of the stories that usually don’t even get one in a month, like my Vin Diesel one.
So, all round, it’s been fun and educational.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Wattpad and publishing

This week I got a lovely review on Wattpad for ‘I’ll be Home for Christmas’.
[Thank god, I mean 10,400 reads and only two reviews… don’t get me started on Wattpad.]
But in any case, this is what they said.

And this confused me.
It’s not my story. It’s fanfiction. This is as published as it will get. The characters belong to Stephenie Meyer while the story - beyond the canon of the books - is mine.
Did they not know they were reading fanfiction? It’s clearly marked as such. The cast is listed as the people who played the characters in the movies, with some extra additions of my own.
Do they not understand that fanfiction cannot be published when the original work is within copyright? Not without pulling the names and changing everything. I write too close to canon to do this. And I feel it’s wrong, in any case. [I’m looking at you 50 shades]
I don’t know what they were thinking and I didn’t ask. I just reminded them it was fanfiction and thanked them for taking the time to review.
I can always write my own original stories. Assuming I can finally get around to getting them published. Still got no idea why that is more of an issue for my original stuff than it is for my fanfic.


Sunday, 9 April 2017

I am the number 25 top reviewer in Australia on Goodreads

Yay, me.
I’ve worked hard on typing up reviews for everything I read and a few that I can’t even finish. I put in quotes from the work to support my critique. I think I’ve learned a lot about writing from doing this and sometimes I can see why a book fails for me. I only read genres I like. I’m not tossing out one star reviews for things I don’t have a taste for. That’d be mean.
But it is a personal thing. I am more likely to be critical of a book where the character expresses behaviour I don’t agree with. I saw a title on Bookbub this week where the author had got the racism right upfront in the book summary. Ewww.
One time, giving a one star rating and a long review that listed just why it was so awful attracted the attention of a sock puppet who then argued with me and gave ALL my works one stars in retaliation. What a dick. [Don’t sock puppet your readers. Don’t be a dick.]
Goodreads has a star rating system. According to the site, the stars have the following values:
  • 1 star - I did not like it
  • 2 stars - it was OK
  • 3 stars - I liked it
  • 4 stars - I really liked it 
  • 5 stars - it was amazing.

There is one negative star. Four positive to one negative, if you want to look at it that way. I don’t give everything five stars either; that’d be equally pointless. My average rating is 3.39. I really hate the idea that you should be nice just because someone published a book. But what’s making me think about this is recently I’ve heard the same message from several different sources.
* Rachel Abbot says never give negative reviews because you always seem to run into those authors at book conferences, or trade meetings. She was talking to Joanna Penn in a video interview and she agreed.
* Dean Wesley Smith argues that every book critic is a failed writer. They turn their inability to finish and publish successfully into criticising others.
* Austin Kleon’s rule #8 was: be nice, the world is a small town.
* There was an article in the Guardian from an anon who had tried to write two books and had given up. In their letter they badmouthed female British literary writers. The next week’s opinion piece told them off for it, said the writer community supports each other, and pointed out two books was nothing. They called the anon a quitter not a failed author, and suggested they’d need a tougher hide if they really wanted to succeed. True that.
High level book reviewers get free advance review copies, publish their reviews on their own sites and (hopefully) earn some kind of return on their investment. I’d do it for free books! If I somehow managed to get through my ‘to be read’ pile first. But being a book reviewer isn’t my dream. I want to be an author.
So, maybe the issue is that if I want to be an author I can’t be a book reviewer as well? It’s like having a foot in both camps. There are a few people I follow on GR who do this but they’re in the early days of their writing career when the people listed above are all past that stage.
Plus, now Amazon owns GR, it is starting to send you a direct email with parts taken out of the reviews from people you follow for a book you just completed yourself. First off, I don’t understand this. I’ve finished the book. Why are you sending me other people’s views on it? I already saw them when I posted the review. Are we supposed to discuss it amongst ourselves? I don’t know that I want my reviews sent right to others. Some I even untick the twitter box so it doesn’t go out publicly.
I have always said that GR is for readers, but I also use GR as my ‘books I own’ record system; a failsafe so I don’t duplicate purchases. I am especially hopeless at updated covers; I see them as a new book. I can look up GR on my phone at a second hand sale and avoid that. My other book database is about to go offline and I’m looking for a replacement but not having a lot of luck so far.
I’d better keep looking.
Dean Wesley Smith - the Essentials workshop week 2
Austin Kleon Steal like an Artist
The Guardian - you're a quitter

Monday, 3 April 2017

And then what happened?

This week I have been listening to Stephen Fry read the complete Sherlock Holmes.
One story, the Adventure of the Crooked Man, tells a locked room mystery. The husband is found dead, the wife is in a brain fever, there are mysterious animal prints in the room, and the door key is missing.
Spoiler warning.
After some investigation, Watson and Holmes discover that the couple were happily married, childless, and that the husband doted more on the wife. Nancy is described as ‘striking and queenly’. She had been into town to a church meeting with her friend, come home, had an argument with her husband that the servants could hear some of, and then the disaster struck. The local police think the wife hit him with a poker. ‘Coward’ was a word the servants overheard her shout at him.
On questioning her friend, she confesses that they met a disabled man in the street. The wife and he had quite a conversation that she did not overhear. He was new in town and did magic tricks for the soldiers.
The autopsy exonerates her. James died of shock. After some more digging, they track down the man she met and question him.
Watson says: “The man sat all twisted and huddled in his chair in a way which gave an indescribable impression of deformity; but the face which he turned towards us, though worn and swarthy, must at some time have been remarkable for its beauty.”
When Nancy was a young woman she had two suitors; both in the army. One was a sergeant James, and the other, more handsome one Henry, was a corporal. Her father, a colour sergeant himself, thought Henry was unsuitable as he had a reckless youth.
During the Indian mutiny, the town was under siege. Henry volunteered to try and get out a message for help. He discussed it with James, who betrayed him and then reported to her that Henry was dead. She and James married and thirty years later, are stationed back in England where he is now a Colonel.
Henry tells them how he was treated as a slave, tortured and punished each time he tried to escape, until he is the crooked man of the title.
The animal? “It was a mongoose!” Holmes cries as if that was the big issue, and off they go back to London.
It is famous for being the story where Holmes ALMOST says, ‘elementary, my dear Watson.’
But my writer brain wants to know what happened next.
Did Nancy and Henry reunite? How could she possibly compensate him? Can he claim decades of lost Army pension? Does she still love him? Can he forgive her for marrying his rival?

That’s the story I want to read. Sighs… maybe I’ll have to write it myself?

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Update on the witch story

from this blog post: march 5th 

After many days scribbling and typing I am up to 77322 words or 86% complete. There are a few things that need filling in, and a couple more scenes to write but it’s pretty close to done. First draft, of course, and I’m not sure it will reach 90k words. But that doesn’t matter. There isn’t a target or a minimum word count required. It will take exactly as many words as it takes to tell the story.
According to Scrivener, that comes out at more than 200 pages, or a pretty standard novel length.
I started off well, but lost it a little in the middle, as I often seem to do, but knowing myself a little better, when the words wouldn’t come I went back to writing with pen and ink - typing it up later. It seems to keep me from wandering off to ‘just look up this’ or ‘just check twitter’ or whatever.
And on one day I didn’t write a single word. If I had kept up with pacemaker I would have been just under 10k words ahead of where I am.
So, all in all, not bad.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Why do I keep writing small town settings?

I just finished a book set in a tiny town. It occurred to me that I have recently set a few of my own stories in small towns, and I got to wondering why.
I guess it’s easier to keep track of everyone. There is the bloke who runs the store, the lady who has the gift shop, the kid who works at the gas station, and so on. There’s a limited population. One of each trade, unless having two is a conflict point.
What happens when a second real estate agent opens? Or a rival gift shop, or whatever.
The rivalry thing is a common romance trope. Or the one-upmanship of your daughter’s wedding must be better than the neighbours’ daughter’s wedding. I’ve read a few of those. They can’t work in a huge town with dozens of weddings every weekend. At that scale it doesn’t matter as much.
Making characters up is hard work. They have to be different, sound like themselves, have their own backstories and so on. Each character is the hero of their own story.
And it’s easier to make them care about other things, or to show them caring.
Their community is smaller and a change of attitude is more noticeable. If they dislike the protagonist because they’re new in town, that’ll show. If that protagonist does something that brings new industry and economic growth to the town, the locals will really care. Some may oppose it if they’re change averse. Others may love it and adore the protagonist for ‘saving’ the town.
It’s harder to write or show that interaction in a population of thousands or millions.
I was born in a tiny town. It currently has 211 people.
I have lived in all kinds of places from a town that small to the second largest city in the world. Jakarta’s current population is 31 million.
That’s a lot of stories to tell.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Stop trying to save me, inner critic

I scheduled reminders in my google calendar so that I don’t forget I have a blog. As opposed to forgetting I have a website; that one’s a deliberate task avoidance issue… sighs. Yeah, yeah… I’ll get to fixing that. Soon…
I was listening to a new podcast - I know, right. It’s so unlike me. Petal to the metal is from J Thorn and Rachael Herron. They ‘met’ talking on other podcasts or being interviewed by Joanna Penn or … god, I don’t know, somewhere in the web realm.
This week they were talking about FoMO - or fear of missing out.
Wikipedia defines this as:
Fear of missing out or FoMO is "a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent". This social angst is characterized by "a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing".
I’ve told you before that I am the worst (best?) book hoarder. Especially if they are free for a limited time, or price reduced or whatever. I subscribe to all the ebook notifiers like BookBub and Freebooksy. I will grab a free boxed set not having read a word of the author. That ‘normally $X.XX now $0.00’ label gets me every time.
I adore books. I believe that you cannot have too many of them. But this also stems from an incident where I did indeed miss out on a price reduced copy. And I was annoyed with myself. So now I will grab it and rationalise that I can delete it later if it turns out to be unreadable.*
But the FoMO isn’t what my brain gets the heebies about. I’ll give you an example from my current work in progress. I was jammed for the last couple of days on the idea that my witch main character, works hard, pushes herself, upgrades her powers and finds a previously untapped power of fire. And she uses that in the final showdown.
My issue is that I am concerned that some reviewer will say ‘yeah? So there must be skeletal remains left’.
I’m worried about a non-existent review for a book I haven’t even finished writing.
Yeah. It isn’t logical.
I’m writing a witch and a shapeshifter. Neither of which is logical.** And a shapeshifter that wears a suit when he’s human to match his cat markings.***
The bad guy disappearing in a flutter of ash is a common trope in TV witch shows like Charmed or Bewitched. It’s arguable that people might even EXPECT it to happen in a witch fight.
So why do I latch onto that as a fear? Probably because it’s my inner critic trying to ‘save’ me again and it’s chosen to pick that particular thing to be problematic about.
Stop trying to save me, inner critic.
* this is how you end up with two thousand ebooks jammed in your kindle app, AM.
** please don’t @ me with comments about how witchcraft is a valid belief system. I'm talking book witches.
*** shapeshifters keeping their clothes on… well the trad Hulk does. Twilight wolves busted out of their clothes when they shifted but never seemed to be naked when they turned human again. What? Seeing Alex Meraz’s ass was high on my list of things to do. I say ‘was’ because my wish was granted in ‘Never back down 2’ And yes, I own it on DVD. Smiles.