To Blog or Not to Blog…Does it matter as long as a writer writes?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

image: Graphics1796

So you’ve taken the first steps toward writing a novel. Congratulations! Holy carpel tunnel, what an undertaking!

Aside from a novella pubbed with a small house, and a self pubbed short story, I’m new to the journey of writing longer bodies of work. With a couple of novels closing in on completion, I thought it’d be a good idea to revisit the notion of blogging before your novel is finished.

So why blog at all? Why have a website before the writing is ready?

To answer, let’s measure some good points and limitations of blogging as a fiction writer, because if you’re like me-already writing every night-you need good reason to write some more!

Do you really need a blog or website?  I’m tempted to answer, “Hell Yes,” but that’s a short answer for a long journey. Asking two questions can help determine if having a blog or website is right for you:

  • Am I writing for myself or an audience?
  • What do I want the blog to do for me or my intended audience?

Well, consider what you are writing for.

If time spent at your keyboard produces content intended for just you or your friends and family: It is a closed circle of reader ship. In this case you’re probably fine without a blog unless you want to use it as a meeting place to share writing efforts. However, a blog is a great way to venture into new territory as a writer as well as learning time management.

A FEW TIPS

  • Get a timer. Dedicate a specific amount of time to your goal of writing daily, and don’t move from the keyboard until your designated time is up!
  • Explore other blogs for inspiration to hit the keys more often.
  • Link and share your thoughts and experiences with others beyond your current circle. Lots of friendly bloggers would enjoy reading your stuff…just enjoy theirs, comment and invite them to visit yours!

If you are a fiction writer, with an eye on publication: Whether you want to submit a 7,000 word short story for a magazine or anthology, or a George Martin-esque length novel, you want to begin building a name, a platform to launch your work and your presence. One of the simplest ways  is creating a public blog. As with a personal blog, a public blog can help you get into the habit of writing every day, as well as discovering an enormous community of online interaction and support for mutual interests and efforts.

When marketing my book *Stealing Time  I blogged and interacted with a lot of people. It didn’t feel like marketing, but a direct result of blogging vs not blogging was more book sales. *published under a nom-de-plume 2012 by Musa Publishing

A fiction author who blogs on a website and participates in bloghops and giveaways builds both brand and sales. Bonus: It’s fun!

  • A blog or website offers exposure. Your blog combined with email subscriptions is the marketing tool for your name.
  • Write a blogpost-geared idea every few days even if you’re not ready to post yet.
  • Once a week choose one of those ideas and expand it to around 50o words and you’ll have built a blogpost.
  • Balance Writing Goals: Hit your daily fiction writing goal first, then work in thirty minutes for your blogging goals. A timer helps.
  • Share what other writers and bloggers are doing that intrigues you. Post a link to their content from your site.
  • Build your blog audience through an email list; an email subscription button can make it easy for them to take action.
  • Consider creating a free newsletter to offer visitors who subscribe to your blog. ‘Cause giving back is beautiful. And you’ve learned so much from their blogs and input, too!
  • PS If you’re looking for my subscribe button, I’m in process of figuring how to add it and learn how it works using Mail Chimp. There is a Mail Chimp plug in, I believe, for WordPress that allows people to subscribe, and if I understand it right, maybe triggers a news letter message? I’ll tell you how this works in a post next week!

So. Now you are a blogger who aspires to submit fiction work for publication. Here’s the catch: You haven’t typed a short story in weeks. You have penned no poetry, and the deadline to submit it cannot be seen from your rear view mirror. Oh, and what about your manuscript? What manuscript? You’ve been so busy interacting and tapping away at the keys for your various social media sites that you forgot your original purpose.

WRITING

Blogging is a fantastic social/marketing tool. But best of all? It sucks your time away and you won’t even see it happening. Don’t let it be your master. Let it serve you while you write and serve others.

Unplug and WRITE.

Manage your social media time and don’t let it become a timesuck. Narrow your focus to one or two blogposts per week until your writing goals are completed. Your time will free up for finishing that 300 page doozy stewing in your brain. Hit the keyboard with an eye to target that submission deadline, or create an imaginary deadline because the person who submits is ahead of the pack.

Then consider blogging again.

If your brain needs a change of pace from the current WIP (Work in Progress) but you still want to write every day, that’s a perfect excuse to blog.

My own MS in progress is just past 150K words, earning me a late salmon supper and a bit of time to update this blogpost. Oh…and coffee. The writing is delicious when spiked with liquid roast-heaven in a cup.

Cheers!

Kate Dancey

Advertisements

Writers up! Stir up a plot with Kate Dancey

July-September 1941, Gross

Photo Credit~Anthony Gross 1941

Hey there, neighbor!

One week from my last post and I’m now seven fat chapters into my new novel. I  rewrote it from page one all this past week and it is much better developed with lots of new characters. Best part is, I know where my characters, whether bad or good, came from and where they are going, and what will happen when they get there. I have a subplot of a love story simmering nicely, a couple of comic relief characters, some truly scary moments for the protagonist where she is pushed to the sharp point of endurance mentally and physically, and she’s made some new friends along the way.

Save the Cat method of story telling using note cards and beat-sheet style of outlining to plot before writing truly freed up my mind and allowed for much more depth of story than my original, so the couple of weeks of writing time “lost” in plotting turned out to be a terrific gain.

This is very exciting, and thus far a fruitful venture in writing, and I hope you are pounding away at your keyboard and finding success, too! Did you purchase Save the Cat, yet? I promise I gain nothing from plugging the book. In fact, it’s brilliant author, Blake Snyder, passed on from this world, but he left a legacy of writing tips to his scribbling fans. I’m so pleased to be able to point the way to his book; just following his advice of giving back. So, yeah, I have two of his books, now, and Save the Cat Strikes Back is the perfect companion book to the first. Whenever I’m stuck, I just look to my STC note cards, pay attention to the storyboard, and write to the beats. Yeah baby! The long and short of it? Plotting with note cards and storyboard  is lump free delicious gravy for your word-count. I’m adding characters more easily, dropping them in just the right place ahead of time so that I can stir up some trouble with them later, and boy is it fun disrupting my protagonists life.

Too mean, you say? No it isn’t. One of the secrets to great plotting is telling how your character goes from being, say, a clumsy, allergy ridden and isolated lab biologist who spends her spare time building allergy-free, self-sustaining miniature gardens, to an environmentalist group leader selected as part of a crucial biosphere mission to spruce up planet Mars. You really want to set a lot of obstacles in your protagonists way, physically and mentally or spiritually if your character is going to experience growth. Just like I had to go back, regroup and stop writing the manuscript for a while to learn about plotting with a storyboard before continuing on. It was hard, but I did it (hey, even an writer can arc) and you can, too! The more hardships you shovel onto your protagonist, the more awful your antagonist, the more crap you pile on all of them equals a better story. The plot is carried forward with the arc of the character, and you as an author benefit from knowing exactly where each growth-spurt will occur. All from a little restructuring.

Now, if you aren’t sure about note card outlining, ala Save the Cat, here’s a great site from Rune Lords author David Farland‘s Author Advisory Conference Calls where a variety of authors speak about methods they use to achieve writing success. In this particular clip,  New York Times bestselling author Aprilynne Pike discusses her number line method to keep the story purring along, and your plot on track. Mr. Farland tirelessly devotes time to teaching aspiring authors how to launch themselves into the happy business of becoming first time novelists, as do the successful authors who lend their time to his programs.

David Farland’s Authors Advisory Conference Calls

Learn about how the pro’s do it, apply the methods to your own writing, and enjoy the experience of seeing your word count and character arc rise to new heights!

I’m at 25K words now. Not too shabby.

Cheers and Happy Writing!

Kate Dancey

Write that novel! Spring into step with Kate Dancey

CopyIMGP5a *peeps over fence*

Hey, neighbor! Spring is here; time to regroup, rethink and re-engage with the world on a fresh  trajectory in writing! Care to join me?

To celebrate Spring I’ve got a new website–glad you could make it–where I’m working on a new project and noting what it will take to complete a full length novel, then shop it out to agents and Get. It. Pubbed. Along the way I thought it’d be nice to share lessons learned in the process–and a few tricks I gleaned while learning what gets a reader to lose themselves between the covers…of books! The sweet stuff of life, comes when the writing is fun!

Have I done this before? Yes and no. I published a short story through a small, but traditional house. It’s 15,000 words and was submitted after lots of research to avoid the pitfalls of the Dumps Monsters kind (damned unscrupulous malicious publishing scammers–yes I coined that phrase; my article about those ugly folk is here) and without an agent. I got lucky. Got an offer, did a happy dance, and accepted–after reading the entire contract–which I hope you will, too, when you get the opportunity. In November 2012, I had my first signing with a book-club in Los Angeles. Pretty neat! But it isn’t a novel length endeavor, and I’m up for that challenge.

I began writing my current novel about a month ago, and I was zipping right along at the keys when things started to feel disconnected. Not enough characters, not enough plot, zero subplot, and a poor crooked spine on my novel. My poor seedling ideas had fallen sick and sagging.

There I was,covered with blight at only 3 scraggly chapters in. Not much to show for all my ideas you say? Fair enough.

I had to put aside my notions of story-telling, though I’m quite the pantser (term for a writer who writes by the seat of their pants instead of planning every step) and learn how to better craft a beginning, middle and end. More importantly, my readers deserve to know what happens in between those points, and want them presented in a logical order, but with surprises and turns at the write places that move the tale along. So, I stopped pantsing in order to plot it out. Now don’t get me wrong; I still pants it, but I can tell you from personal experience that the plotting process is worth learning, and it works like a dream. You can veer from it and enjoy a good, long pantsing session, as long as it flows along with the plot points and moves the story forward.

We’ll start with the beginning and end. How? Because they should be opposites. Your protagonist, villains, and all their entourage should arc (how a character grows and learns on a spiritual level is known as a character arc), and the image you leave them with on the last page should reflect that a change has occurred in their world. Who would bother reading a book if everything stays the same? Your audience experiences your story from point A to Z because things happen, and the more a situation alters…the better the story.

I employed lessons from a screenwriter’s guide, Blake Snyder‘s Save the Cat–which you should rush out and purchase today if you are an aspiring novelist, and which I will introduce to you here. I also hooked up with some fine folk at NANOWRIMO,  which we will discuss in future.

Why a book about screen writing? Because it helps you to learn how to break a story down into 3 sections, making it easier to handle, then it breaks  into 15 beats, and finally, 10 note cards per section that you use as a guide to craft a plot with no holes in it. In the STC method you have the ability to see how your character and his buddies arc and you can tell pretty quickly using the story board where the plot is wilting. Did I mention they have online pointers for free as companions to the book? Brilliant!

Now, I have my fifteen beats laid out on a storyboard so I can keep my spine straight, and my ideas growing are strongly toward the sun. I know what happens, when, and where, right up to how it ends…and on into the plot for book 2, and the beginning structure of book 3–all because I germinated those ideas in book 1. Got it? Go get it.

With the storyboard and beat sheet to guide me, I allowed myself to return back to writing this week, planting words in earnest. I’ve managed to include many original ideas, and reserve some seeds for future writing–planning ahead is an excellent practice and a lesson only recently learned! Agents love it when you have not one, but two books ready to go! So, I’m going full speed ahead with my tale about Native American Shamanism, old world tree spirits, water sprites, Traditional Paganism, and one lone practitioner who inherits some haunted acreage. It’s been fun writing her story, and when it’s published, I have high hopes that you will enjoy it, too.

I’ll stop to report my progress here from time to time, and give you tips and links on how to get that novel written! Then feel free to come along for the big blooming show as I shop it and get my agent. Spring into action with me and lets help this neighborhood garden produce lots of great stories. Oh, and NANOWRIMO summer camp begins in April!

Woot!

Ready? Spring for those words, and remember to Save the Cat!

Kate Dancey

March 22, 2013

Related articles

When your first work isn’t your best work, hone your writing as you go.

Floating Donut by Scarce at Wikimedia Commons

Hi there, Readers.

Have you ever hit the send button to submit your work, but then only moments after uttered a Homer Simpsonesque, “Doh! What have I done?”

Few authors will admit it, but I’m going to be honest here, trot out on a limb and present my “Doh!” moment for your perusal. It comes with highs and lows of what worked and what didn’t.

After sending my MS off to the publisher I realized that things were missed here, could have been structured better there. Timeframe might have been made clearer, etc.. Not to mention that my story strayed from the style of conventional books on the subject. I took a risk writing my novella, Stealing Time, in a non-traditional fashion, and wasn’t sure it would play out.

Formulaic lessons of writing generally call for a tidy wind-up in true Spielberg style; hero leading everyone safely over the top of the mountain, sun caressing shoulders, planes flying past in salute, and everyone beaming smiles down on a shining end.

Well, I didn’t want that.

My original goal in writing Stealing Time was to craft it with content and ending that you might find in the comic book series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, the original Watchmen. Their work left much to the imagination, some things hidden and simply not explained, and therefore open to delightful speculation.  A current example of the cliff-hanger style I wanted to replicate is Dirke Tiede’s manga-styled, Paradigm Shift. The author keeps me anxious to grab the next copy to see how it ends–or begins–come to think of it. Consider adding his series to your shelves.

But I digress; the desire to write in a way that was familiar to me as a reader, was harder to create as an author. I  ploughed my way inexpertly and inelegantly through my manuscript with plenty of “Doh!” moments. And yes, comments after publication on Amazon reflect those mistakes. Fortunately, most folk who read it liked it, but more importantly, they voiced complaints. What readers had to say provided a place to start in terms of improving my writing, even if it was after publication. So, what did I learn from the “Doh!” factor?

I practiced my art, writing to their demands to bring them an improved experience in the sequel. The readers  became my guides in bringing secondary characters into play, having them better developed, digging deeper into the plot, etc.. But, stubborn to the last, I kept true to my original vision, tried various techniques to explain just enough but not too much, because I remembered something else that shone through those reader comments.

Most of them wanted more.

Though my fledgling novel had holes in it, my goal to create a cliffhanger, something I haven’t often come across, succeeded because my readers liked it. It drove them crazy that it ended where it did. They were startled that not everyone had been saved, that questions went unanswered, that the plot thickened only to come to an end. The outcome? Mistakes of my first book were balanced by its success of keeping the readers engaged, turning the pages, and wanting more.

My point is, your early efforts might not be your Magnum Opus. Perhaps they fly in the face of traditional thought or style. Whatever your personal experience, consider a few questions: Can you know what your best work is if you haven’t yet written it? Moreover, how can a work with mistakes possibly be a success? By all means edit, and edit voraciously, but until you risk sending your book out into the world, how can you know if it will fly with your readers?

The answer lies in how you perceive success, and I have a theory that every book has an audience anxious to turn its pages, even through “Homer” moments.

*If a reads your work, even leaves a negative comment, if they point out where the author lost them, you have a map for your next efforts to impress Mr. Tough-Reader. That leads to working harder and smarter, which leads to higher knowledge and better acceptance from a tough audience.

*When a person takes the time to read your work and leave a comment, even if the comments are mixed, consider how many other books they might have read, and perhaps not commented upon. A great or mediocre response to your book means it is worthwhile to that reader, and their comments are an open invitation to hone your skills and delight them further in future.

*Finally, a book’s influence can be measured by what a reader takes with them when the last page is turned. You may not consider it your greatest achievement, but someone else may have an entirely different opinion. One of my favorite comments for Stealing Time, though not written on Amazon, was relayed to me through a bookclub. The reader said, “It angered me that it ended.” What a great compliment! Why so great? Because it touched off an emotional connect to the story and the characters and left him wanting more.

That’s more than enough encouragement for me to continue pounding the keys.

Write to Pub Wednesday: Traditional Publish or Self Publish?

That moment of self realization has come; you are ready to begin the publishing process. So self pub or traditional? Holymoly, this is a huge subject, and lately all over the news and the Net. How is a writer on the verge of discovery to choose which route to follow?

Let me begin by saying that my coming release is traditionally pubbed. That said, I’d still very much like to try my hand at self pubbing, too, just to have that experience. It is not whether one is better than another; it is more which one works for the present situation. It is about achieving the balance between life as an author and commitment outside a writing career. Choose the one that  suits your current position best, keeping in mind that the other stepping stone awaits should you decide to walk that path at a later date.

So why did I decide on traditional over self-pub for my book even though the traditional process takes longer? Chalk it up to inexperience. I can write, am a decent fact finder and edit with some success; but technology? Not my strong-suit. I decided to learn from the experience of going the traditional route and hone skills already present. Now, I have that knowledge to build on for self-pubbing later. Going initially with my strongest skill-set; learning and perfecting those before delving into self-pub is akin to an athlete changing their ultimate competitive sport. Could a swimmer make the transition to competitive rowing? Probably. Will the skills I’ve learned and perfected from traditional publishing transfer to self pubbing? Absolutely.

Balancing a day-job along with family needs left  little time to commit to another venture–but commit I did. While researching traditional and self-pubbed authors, the importance of scheduling time to write vs other needs cropped up time and again, mirroring my own situation. Having elements ready to go is like having a pre-made lunch packed for a long haul; very convenient and ultimately saves time and money.

Mastering the technology of self-pub appeared daunting for this newbie; I can barely program a cell-phone, let alone design cover art, format a manuscript into shape for an eBook or printrun, not to mention self-editing vs other people’s eyes making a huge difference in quality of the final product. The traditional publishing house was golden because they provided technical items such as no fee in-house editing, free cover artist, access to house-only master classes taught by seasoned professionals to better perfect writing and marketing skills, guides for style and content, a built in network of editors, and other authors for mutual support. All this leaves an author free to decipher the wonders of social media and set up a marketing platform for the book release. Did I mention that my publisher helps with that, too? The big picture here is getting a book to publication takes a commitment of time no matter which way you go. A traditional publisher can help free up your valuable time by providing a variety of services.

There exists the option of paying for most items listed, but funds were dear, and time to explore providers was being sucked up by my research for how to craft a better story, setting up and sending in a manuscript and to whom, learning about submitting to a big house vs a smaller house, and avoidance of predators within the business. Are you becoming aware that the true price of getting your work published involves a dogged perseverance and an Iditarod Musher’s drive? Good! Then we’re on to the next leg of our trip: Self Publishing.

You have some tech skills, are comfortable enough in the social media-sphere that set up comes easily, have a manuscript that looks like it is ready to go, and possess some knowledge about photo-shop. Sounds to me like you are a candidate for self-pub road-trip. There is a whole host of information about self-pub how to sites on the web,  in books, and even indie groups to help in setting it up. As with traditional publishing, there can be a lot of footwork involved in tracking down the right elements needed for your self-pubbed book, but there are plenty of authors who boast great success at it. Self published books are a hot ticket, if you do the research and put in the time to do it right, you can have your work in your readers hands the second you hit send. But wait! Before you hit that golden button, lets time out from the publication race to discuss proper execution of form.

What are the drawbacks of self Pub? The foremost gripe about self pubbing is the number of mistakes that appear in the final copy. Self pubbers need to allot plenty of time for rewriting. Run that manuscript by a handful of friends for critiquing, maybe join a writing group, hit up an old teacher for advice; anything to whip your manuscript into shape and catch errors. The downside of these books is that they have a reputation for poor content. I say rubbish to that. It isn’t a lack of good content; more it’s a lack of proper editing. The value of an outside editor is that they aren’t in your head.Your work comes across to them in an entirely new perspective because it is seen through different eyes. If your invited beta reader doesn’t get it, neither will your future audience. Time to chop sections that don’t work and rewrite until the meaning is clear.

Which brings us to the finished product–or does it? You have created your cover art, edited and polished your manuscript until it shines, consulted with indie groups for content and formatting, chosen where you are going to upload it for release day–what did you miss?

Marketing. Second to editing, for a self pubbed author, the trail of a social media platform through keen distribution plan is key to hitting a home run. In this arena, self pub is no different from traditional pub. Your name is your brand as much as your product, so getting it out there is what will make you visible to future customers.

So, which path is the best for you? If you research, train, and map out a good plan, there are multiple ways to reach the summit. Consider both types of publishing as valuable components in building your road. The short  answer is; each writer is unique; so their paths in publishing will differ too, but both have the same goal on the journey from writer to published author.

I’m very exci…

I’m very excited to have cornered “The Book Geektress”, aka Christina Castillo for an interview!Image
For many years now, The Book Geektress has been friend and companion on a trek to prove that real girls like comic books, eat Zombie movies for breakfast, like a good whiskey, and read horror novels before bedtime that would make Freddy Kruger share a bed with Frankenstein’s monster and sleep with the lights on.  Not only that, but she was the catalyst who got me to sit my ass in the chair and bust out a novel or two for publication; I couldn’t have done it without her!
On any given day you might catch her reading Harry Potter or Wil Wheaton’s ‘Just a Geek’, catching up on the latest ‘Preacher’ graphic novel, or turning the pages of the ‘Hunger Games’ to see if it holds a candle to ‘Battle Royal’ (not) …all while listening to io9 podcasts of her favorite authors and dishing the down low on her latest reads.  Come with me through the labyrinth of her library to meet her. Careful–don’t lean on that! The towers of books are most carefully balanced; this is not a game of Jenga.
Q: Book Geektress, Years ago, I had suspicions you were a book fiend with a dark penchant given that you were managing a gothic-themed coffeehouse named after a character in a book; namely, Lestat.  I know you’ve read Anne Rice’s books, but did you ever get to meet her?
Book Geektress:  You know, unfortunately I never did get a chance to meet her. I know she lived in La Jolla, CA which was about 20 minutes away from the coffee house, but I think she was a bit of a recluse. If she had come in I am not sure how I would react. I have served a few well known people over the years and being a attendee of San Diego Comic Con for almost 20 years I have had run ins with people I admire, but I really have never been good at the running into celebrity things. Last year at SDCC I didn’t know what to say to tv writer Jane Espenson, so I blurted out that I loved her! Luckily, instead of being freaked out she told me she loved me too! J
Q:  Lol! I love you more.  Something that struck me from the moment I met you was your keen sense of trend spotting whether it’s games, books, graphic novels, horror or technology. How and where do you find this stuff?
Book Geektress:  Haha! Trying to steal my secrets, eh? Actually to be perfectly honest I pay attention. I am constantly on sites like Facebook and Twitter and various blog sites around the web. I also listen to quite a lot of podcasts for my geeky news. I love research and that is basically what it all comes down to. I was always the kid that if I came across a word or a concept in a book I didn’t know I would look it up. The same applies today.
Q:  You have a penchant for reading books that walk on the darkside, and urban fantasy featuring heroines that not only kick butt, but have brainpower. What are a couple of your favorite darker reads?
Book Geektress:  Wow. That is actually a hard question because there are so many good ones. I really enjoy the Kim Harrison Hallows series. Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series is an excellent urban fantasy which has some dark tendencies considering you are dealing with some occasionally nasty fae. And if you are so inclined, Seanan McGuire’s alias Mira Grant writes an excellent series about zombies and government conspiracy. In fact, that is my next review for the site. Vicki Pettersson’s Sign of the Zodiac series is also good. Of course Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series is a must read. I could spend all day talking books and books suggestions!!!
Q:  Oh, Lady, I quite agree; books are food for the brain and soul, what’s not to like? For those of us who enjoy a classic Jayne Eyre along with our Zombies, are there any authors or books you can recommend to fill that need?
Book Geektress:  Well, there are the obvious ones like Pride Prejudice & Zombies, which incidentally there is a sequel too as well. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer was an excellent book. I can’t wait for the movie to come out! There is also a series of books starting with Jane Bites Back, where Jane Austen has actually been turned into a vampire. I haven’t read that one yet, but it is on the list.
Q:  Love the classics and the zombie twists! Jayne Slayer is another that comes to mind. Now, aside from books, I know you play pool competitively on a local scale, but are you still actively engaged in games such as Halo and —?
Book Geektress:  I am still an extremely avid video game player although admittedly it gets harder and harder to find time to do so. I honestly haven’t played Halo in a long time. My favorite series right now is probably the Assassin’s Creed games. And of course one of my all time favorites is the Resident Evilgames . There is a new one coming out this fall and I can’t wait. I love playing games that can scare the bejesus out of me!
Q:  Nothing like enjoying a good scare your pants off game or book! A geek-girl requires knowledge of all things Firefly and Doctor Who, both written and on screen. If you had to, which show would you give up? Lol! Come back here, I’m kidding!
Book Geektress: Hahaha!  I am glad you added that last line!
Q:  Blue police-booth lands in front of you, Time-Lord steps out and invites you inside for a few years of danger in good company with the right Doctor. Do you get in or play it safe?
Book Geektress:  You get in of course!!!! Can you imagine what it would feel like if you played it safe and went back to your boring old life when you could have gone to see other planets and the edge of the universe, not to mention the events in history you could be there for!? I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.
Q:  Correct answer. What’s your favorite Doctor Who quote, and do you own a sonic screwdriver?
Book Geektress:  There are so many good Doctor Who quotes!!! Here is a good one:
People assume that time is a strict progression of cause-of-effect…but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly…timey-wimey…stuff
I actually own a couple sonic screwdrivers.
Q:  Lol! The Doctor Who and Joss Whedon series feature some pretty adventurous heroines. What are some of your favorite book heroines and why do they hold your interest?
Book Geektress:  Alex Craft from Kalayna Price’s series by the same name is probably one of my current favorites. She is a badass witch who Death himself just happens to be in love with. I like her because she has a lot of power, but she isn’t perfect and some of the sticky situation she tends to get in reminds me of me.  [Kim Harrison’s] Rachel Morgan is much like Alex Craft; Badass witch who has a penchant for getting in trouble. But that is what makes her more of a real character.
I enjoy heroines who are strong and have a good sense of self, but are not all powerful and have certain vulnerabilities. Several of the characters in Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Underworld series are like this.  Phédre from the Kushiel’s Dart series is another one. She is a woman born to a certain circumstance that she cannot change, so she learns to live and work with it and it is all on her own terms.  Again, this list can go on and on, but I don’t want to bore you!
Q: Phaedre and Rachel are two of my favorites from your list, and immensely engaging! Okay, when you are not reading or doing book reviews, you listen to Podcasts.  What’s the draw, or appeal of Podcasts to the booklover?
Book Geektress:  Mainly to keep up with what is going on in the book world and finding out what interesting books that I may not have thought to look at before are floating out there. I really enjoy it when the Podcasts have author interviews. It is always fun to hear what the author was thinking while writing the book or how the idea may have popped into their head.
Q:  Nice. I listened to the Podcast with Cherie Priest: terrific, and I could get stuff done while listening! About your own site, you have some pretty detailed book reviews there.  What was the driving force behind making the decision to share your knowledge of the books you read with an audience?
Book Geektress:  Honestly, I love talking about books, thinking about books, being surrounded by books. I think if I could craft a bed made out of books I would do it! My office is a cluttered mess of books everywhere and I love it! It makes me feel safe. But, I mainly started the blog so I could focus on reading different types of books and put a bit deeper thought into what I was reading and to share my thoughts. I would like people to read what I am writing, but at the end of the day I did it for me as a catalyst to write more and to read more!
Q:  With all that you’ve got going on, do you see yourself hitting the keyboards with your own novel anytime soon?
Book Geektress:  I really hope so! I have a lot of ideas floating in this brain of mine that are just dying to get on paper, but it is a game of finding and balancing the time to do it. I honestly don’t know how other authors do it! I am in constant awe.
Q:  Well, I don’t know about you, but all this talk of books and Nerd-vana makes me ready for a good night’s read. Let’s share a nightcap to ease into a relaxing evening with a selection from the Book Geektress’ shelf; whiskey or wine?
Book Geektress:  Ha! Depends on the night (and the book). Tonight is feeling like a very red wine type of night.
Q:  Red wine it is. *clink!* It’s been lovely spending the evening amongst the towering shelves of your library, Book Geektress, I hope you’ll visit again very soon!
Book Geektress: Thanks for having me! Hopefully you won’t find me buried underneath any of those towering book shelves.
Q:  Stop it; you’re teasing the Zombies with delicious talk like that, pinned human and all sounds like dinner!
Now, how can we contact you and where do we find your book reviews?

http://thebookgeektress.blogspot.com

C.K. Garner: We’ll see you there! And remember; after you visit The Book Geektress’ Blog, check out my steampunk novella “Stealing Time” releasing August 10, 2012 at http://www.musapublishing.com

Can you take the Heat?

A good Critique hammers out the bumps in your manuscript!

If someone asks for a critique, or for you to go over their writing, should you?  Would you be kind or let ‘er rip and tell them what’s  not working for you? On the receiving end, how do you handle being Critiqued? Today, I read a  manuscript from an acquaintance, then related what I felt worked and what didn’t. Instantly I became public enemy #1.

In nicer words than those here, I pointed out a lack of tension causing the story to flag and my interest to wane. I tried for constructive criticism— because I want very much for my fellow writers to keep working at it and not give up– applauded parts that flowed to the concept of the tale; but mentioned disconnects between actions of the characters and the reader trying to comprehend the flow of the story. The key here is, what I took in was what the writer conveyed in their manuscript.

The writer decided I am too much of a novice to critique them and could not see the picture they conveyed. Au contraire; I was picturing Giovanni Ribisi, one of my favorite actors, in the Protagonist role, and I tried to see scenes in full realization as they stuttered past in my mind, Giovanni looking for direction. I presented a few suggestions that might improve the MS, but the writer rejected any alterations, fearing tidier segues would change it too much; if they introduced more  feeling of the place, tried to build a bit more on the characters, then it wouldn’t be their story anymore. Topping off the list of backpedaling the writer expressed they shouldn’t have to personally explain each scene for a reader to get it.

On the last gripe I agree. The writing itself should speak to me. Setting, conflict and resolution should convey to me, the Reader, what is happening in the story. Tension should keep me wanting to turn the pages to find out what happens next, and each scene should ease into the next instead of me flipping back and forth to find a connection; bringing to mind Giovanni: all apologetic, his character says, “I’m sorry, but can you point me to the nearest segue?”

I have come to the conclusion that some folks don’t really want a critique.  They want you to read their work and tell them it has points so well-formed they stab you in the eye while perusing the brilliance of their  DARLING bit of fluff, and now you must wear an eye patch and become a pirate, you are so blown by the wave of their stature.

Give me an effing break.  Better still, don’t ask for a critique if you can’t take the heat.

Here is my take on how to handle a Beta Reader‘s POV: Welcome the harsher voices, the gulls of Criticism if you will; their opinion is as valuable, perhaps more so, than the sweet voiced variety of Critique.

The best Authors and Writers, or at least my favorites, are happy to have people read and share their thoughts of the characters and settings and how these work with each scene.  Equally, they welcome the point where you fell asleep reading their  tale. This is because they want to kill that bit of needless fluff  to make it read better, and take their writing to the next level.  They crave, I crave (!) to know what interferes with the flow of the story, where the bogs are that suck away the action, when it is too candy coated and needs added complexity, or where the story has too much description and wants a good conversation between the prime characters, or even the comic relief to ease darkness, just a little, see?  A good Critique gives you possibilities.  

The best thing about encouraging your friends and acquaintances to read your work, to critique it, is that they are your first audience!  *applauds beloved Beta Readers* If you pay attention, really take their constructive criticisms to heart, you will discover that their eyes are invaluable, because they are not in your head. They are Joe Reader. If they get it, chances are your future audience will, too. If they are struggling to wrap their heads around a passage, perhaps you should revisit and make that concept clearer.

It is human nature to balk at criticism, but if we unplug from our initial negative reaction, we open ourselves to the Reader, gleaning that pearl of wisdom that makes our story have luster. So, leap into that boiling cauldron with a smile. Find some Readers to critique your work, then tell them to please, turn up the heat, you can take it. Your work will be better for it, and your naysayers will at the very least respect you for being able to swim in the deep end of the pool of magma.

Well folks, my manuscript calls…a great friend of mine red-inked the heck out of it…for which I thank her!  I’ll take the advice and change what needs tending, toss the rest…that, too is valuable. 🙂

Keep writing!

See You Around,

C.K. Garner