28 January 2011

Time Sucks

I'm supposed to be finishing up the final edit of Stray.  And I HAVE been working steadily through it, but slowed down by a sudden rash of "this could be better" which means I'm editing almost every paragraph - and, well, Civilisation V.

I played the first Civilisation when it came out, enjoyed it mildly, but have never really gone back.  I'm not that into strategy games and while I find Civ fun, I can safely play it and know I'm not going to run through it more than a handful of times.  But a handful of times is quite a lot of hours.

MAJOR lack in Civ V though - in the original Civ when your citizens decided they loved you, they built you a bit of palace and you got to pick out what it looked like.  That was the best part!

23 January 2011

Coupon Week!

Time for a coupon promotion!  This week you can get my e-books at 50% off at Smashwords using the following coupon codes:
  • Champion of the Rose: KN45D
  • Stained Glass Monsters: PJ57V
  • The Silence of Medair: KA23G
 The coupons codes are not case sensitive, and are good until 31 January 2011.

17 January 2011

Snip Snip SNIP

Editing can be a never-ending process.  No matter how many times I read and correct a piece, I will on a re-read spot an extraneous word, or think of a cleaner expression.  It makes re-reading any of my released books an occasionally teeth-grinding process.

"Stray" poses additional challenges, as I wrote the first draft in a casual mode quite different from my usual work.  I've already done two end-to-end edits, one focusing on consistency and the other to remove ten thousand examples of my writing tics.  This edit I'm focusing on pace - which usually means cutting entire sentences and paragraphs because I've been repetitive, or over-explained.  I keep putting myself in the reader's shoes and trying to spot when I would start skipping text or thinking "bored now".

Diary is an especially difficult format to maintain urgency or interest.  Inevitably most entries are "tell" not "show", and there is a lessened drama to any "they could die" situation if the reader knows that the person in danger is subsequently writing about the events in their diary.  The opening of Stray is even more challenging because Cass is alone, not bouncing off other personalities.

Obsessively revising and re-revising the first twenty pages of Stray means my publishing timeframe is beginning to slip, but I'm beginning to be satisfied with where it's at.

12 January 2011

A Fine Point of Etiquette

As my first reader reviews trickle in, I find myself wrestling with the nebulous etiquette of the internet.  One thing I've seen over and over the past couple of years is an increasing resistence to self-promoting authors.  Authors who send friend requests to everyone who so much as mentions their book.  Authors who comment on reader reviews (or, worse, argue with them).  There is a thin divide between networking and pushing.

I quite understand the desire to show up wherever discussion of my books arise, all hyped with eagerness and offering to answer any questions.  Or to just go "thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou" because someone managed to read something I've written.

So far (fortunately for my fragile little ego) my first few reviews have all been overwhelmingly positive (I particularly enjoyed book-blogger Alana's review at her Sunshine and Bones blog; she handed me one of the best compliments I've ever had).  And, gosh (golly gee-whiz other non-expletive exclamations) it is HARD not to jump in and squee at people.

So this is a generalised, non-pushy, hopefully the right side of internetiquette THANK YOU to those who have read and especially those who have said Nice Things about my books.

I am smiling.

10 January 2011

A Quarter Million To Go

The next thing on my to-do list is a final edit of "Touchstone".  It's a story I really love - practically a comfort read for me - but it is massively different to everything else I've written.  Character from this world.  Young adult.  Diary format.
The tone is very free-flowing, full of slang and Australian-isms, and I don't want to clean it up to the point I lose the voice which has emerged, but I do need to tune the lazier sentences, and strengthen the overarching theme.  Clocking in at more than 250,000 words, it's a daunting edit to embark upon.  Thankfully the decision to split it means I can work on it in two neat sections.

The story is such a significant departure from my other work it poses something of a marketing challenge.  Do I warn those who like my fantasy novels to look before they leap?  Will the diary format work against me?  In some respects this is the closest I will ever come to a "high concept" novel - tons of hot young men and women in tight black uniforms, the ghost of a love triangle and plenty of angsting from Cass.  But I can't see psychic space ninjas derailing the vampire/steampunk juggernauts.

08 January 2011

Tangled

A lovely movie.  I was so/so on whether to go see it, but am glad I did.  I liked most how artistic Rapunzel was, which made her chameleon companion very appropriate, and there were some spectacular visual moments in the movie which reminded me strongly of "Spirited Away".

The humour worked very well, the male lead was not as obnoxious as he sounded (and thankfully through his actions believably left his thieving ways behind him).  The horse was hilarious.  I can live without singing in movies, but the songs weren't too tiresome.

What really caught my attention was Rapunzel's relationship with the witch.  Rapunzel here is not a prisoner, but a beloved and over-protected daughter.  But 'Mother' is a toxic one, keeping up a grand show of a loving relationship, but constantly criticising, sniping and making cruel remarks - then laughing them off as a joke.  She's what I think of as Sugar Evil.  I can't help but wonder whether the witch felt anything for the 'daughter' she'd raised for so many years, and whether her insistence that the world was a cruel place which will destroy dreams had any explanation - did she have her hopes crushed in the past, and fail to find a new dream to replace them?

05 January 2011

Demon of the Pharmacy

Reading bunches of Golden Age mysteries means occasionally encountering words and phrases which have mutated or fallen out of fashion.  One of these is "dope fiend", which is a vastly more interesting term than "drug addict", conjuring all manner of pharmacological daemons - hallucinatory mists, possession in a pill, creatures with syringes for teeth.

Chalk up another idea for an urban fantasy I will never write.

04 January 2011

A New Year's Launch

Just hit Go on the e-version of "Stained Glass Monsters" over at Smashwords.  I've hit Go for the print version as well, but that takes longer to process so it will be a week or two before I'm able to go ahead with my next Goodreads promotion.
I particularly like the detail on the SGM cover, and it is both spectacular in thumbnail and well worth the full view - it would be a  pity to miss out on the lovely glimpses of Eferum-Get in the background, or the way Rennyn's ribbons are twined around her fingers.  This time I even managed to make the title legible in quite small thumbnails.

My launches are all quiet ones, since self-publishing doesn't really lend itself to big launch parties.  You press Go, you wait for approval, and then you wait several weeks more while the book's listing trickles out to other sellers.  You don't really want to make too large a fanfare if readers can't even find the book listed.  Medair and Champion still haven't reached The Book Depository, which is my benchmark of "available" (since that's where I buy most of my books).  And, of course, there's only a limited amount of fanfare you can indulge in as a self-pub without making yourself obnoxious.

Still, the quiet approach gives me time to adjust to the learning curve involved in all this.  And, of course, edit the next release (Touchstone!  So BIG!).