Friday, January 23, 2015

On Secret Identities (or problems I never realized I’d have)

I’m currently juggling two secret identities as well as two public identities, and for the record this gets confusing because these identities are all secret from each other.

I don’t talk about my work here (seriously though, snore fest). I don’t talk about my home life at work. And I have book contracts under two different pen names. Talk about problems to have! :-)

Obviously, this blog is hosted by one of my pen names, and my other pen name doesn’t have any internet love. No blog, no twitters, no facebook. Which brings me to my dilemma:

I’ve seen that most writers have two names that they’re very upfront about, the name they publish traditionally with, and the name they use for their self published stuff. I’ve seen that system work pretty well, where authors go through and very openly acknowledge both writing aspects to make it easier for fans to find their other works.

But that’s not the case with my two names. They’re both traditionally pubbed (though through a small press), but they are a bit night and day. One is magic and explosions, and chase scenes, and the other is awkward teenage moments leading to a rip-your-heart-out-break-your-soul tragedywell, at least, that’s what I’m aiming for, but I think I’m a bit wide of the mark.

But really one book is all: 
And the other book is a little more:


So the question I pose to the gallery is what would you guys do? Would you build up a whole separate online presence around the second pen name, or would you tack the contemporary pen name onto an already existing social media network?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

That moment when I give my first in person interview...

... and realize that the teenager interviewing me has maybe thought more about the process of writing than I have.

I know, that sounds bad, but there I was and she was asking questions--deep questions--and I'm dying to say "I just like when stuff blows up."

But nope, she asked so many great questions like "how do you build flaws into your Main Character?"

To which I responded. "Ummmm."

Okay, I maybe sounded more convincing than that, but I feel like our flaws are such an integral part of us that they aren't something that could be added or taken away. So what are my MC's flaws? I was taken so off guard that I've been wondering what flaws I've given my characters. And what flaws have I seen in other characters that I liked? Needless to say, I'm suddenly feeling very anxious about my characters, like are they any good? Have I written a bunch of novels featuring a bunch of Mary Sues?

So in a bit of a panic, I scoured through my MCs and found that they had flaws just like the rest of the world. At least, they had flaws like the people in my life have flaws. They're built in, such an integral part that I hadn't realized they were even there. I have always taken flaws for granted in the same way I take air for granted. It was a great wake up call.

And in other news, I was interviewed! How crazy is that?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Another thought on visuals

So this was posted at my kid's school.

It's supposed to be a warning to keep your head up when you walk, but the visual says something other than the words. The words say Look Where You're going. The visual clearly says "OMG, there's a Monster with LASER BEAM EYES Behind you! RUN AWAY!" Or maybe it says, "LASER BEAM Guy already got Freddie. Run Faster!"

I guess this one goes directly into the cautionary files. Be sure your graphics really say what you're trying to say. Or, you know, Laser Beam Guy is coming for you!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Worth a thousand? Then I only need 49k more...

Well, now I feel like I've led you here under false pretenses. I'm sure that with a picture like that one, you were expecting something. Maybe something cute and funny, but what I'm actually going to discuss for a minute is cover designs.

Because, let's face it, covers sell books. I pick up books and buy them based on the covers all the time (okay, the blurb and title help, too), but this is a big problem for me. I always feel like my pitch is just shy of being a commercial for a used car salesman.

So covers sell books. Titles sell books.

But where does it end? Do covers raise false expectations that make readers turn on the writer? I'm familiar with the idea that a bad cover is the kiss of death, but can a cover make a reader never pick up a book by that writer ever again? There's a trope on TV tropes called For Instant Awesome Just Add Dragon (no I'm not linking, you'll have to use google--this is for your safety and productivity, TV tropes will eat your whole day). On that page, there are examples of times people have added a dragon for awesome, including a book with a dragon on the cover. No dragon in the book, no mention even, and there was a dragon on the cover.

I have bought books based on there being a dragon on the cover.

I have been disappointed in a book's lack of dragon (based on cover expectations) and blacklisted the author, and now I'm starting to wonder:

Do cover expectations lead readers to blacklist writers? Or was I a particularly snobish reader to blacklist writers who had dragons on their covers with books that had nothing to do with dragons (not even as Heraldry!)?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year--Old Insecurities

It's time to follow the ninja captain into the great hive of fear and insecurity, and I'm not talking about another Lucas lead remake where Han's morals are retroactively toyed with. I'm talking about another Insecure Writer Support Group meeting! This month's awesome Cohosts ar Elizabeth Seckman, Lisa Buie-Collard, Chrys Fey, andMichelle Wallace!

Jump on the Linky and join us! 


You know what, I got nothing new. I’ve tried to boil my current insecurities into something meaningful and…nope. Everything is “OMG, WRITING IS HARD,” or “QUERYING IS SO CRAZY!” or even “I DON’T UNDERSTAND PUBLISHINGWHY? WHY?”

This might be extreme, but basically, I would like to check D for All of the above. I don’t understand publishing. I’m worried people won’t love my work. I’m being chipped apart by the “great writing, but the story just isn’t right.” And of course, I’m worried that my book won’t do well, won’t be read, won’t sell well, will look horrible and basically be the stinking carcass of a stone tied around my writerly neck (one I gladly tied there, I might add).

And all of these are basically the usual suspects. Usually, they’re sort of the dull roar of an audience at a sporting event between periods. They’re sometimes loud. Sometimes they shout. Sometimes they hold their breath, but no matter what, the audience is there. I can’t get them to leave, but maybe I can shoot some cheap t-shirts into the crowd.

The problem with the audience, is that like sports, those insecurities are louder the more important the event seems. Close game? Lots of yelling. If it’s the playoffs, the audience is REALLY LOUD. But sometimes the audience gets a wild hair. So I’m in a late season game, working my way to the playoffs, and all the insecurities made sure to get tickets to help rally me into the playoffs.

Funny that this audience means things are going better in general, but at the same time they slow me down. One way or another, it’s time to direct the crowd. Maybe a bobble head giveaway? That always seems to work for real sporting events. Though if I wanted to really get their attention, I’d offer free beer. That works at sporting events, right? It totally calms them down and makes them very thoughtful and considerate.

Anyhow, anyone else feel like their securities never quite leave them alone? Ever feel like you’re sitting at the bottom of a bowl and everyone is watching you, commenting?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Good Bye to another year

Another year has passed, and things have been...

I honestly don't know where to start. Some of the best moments of my life, some pretty crappy moments, and some moments I don't even know how to take yet.

I guess, like all things, a year is a hard thing to judge in the dark of the long nights that cluster around the solstice. It's too complicated to say "this year sucked" or "This year was great!" To be honest, choices I made this year have yet to bear fruit. I could be sitting on even bigger changes (plus or minus) than all the years previous.

Officially, with regards to 2014, I feel I'm still too close to make a judgement. It's been sublime. I have more friends than last year. I have more opportunities than I had last year. I learned things. I grew--sometimes forcibly--and I have a wild suspicion that life is changing in a positive direction. It wasn't easy, by any means.

Was 2014 a bad year? No, not really.

Was it a good year? Meh, some years are perfectly serviceable, and someday I'll look back at this time and wonder why I didn't shout from the rooftops how incredible the past year was. I lived. I basked in the glory of the universe.

On the other hand, life is always so fragile. We dance the knife's edge between triumph and ruin, and they both lurk behind closed doors we didn't even know were there. I'm glad to be moving forward, but not because I'd like to cast the last year aside. Good things are coming--some obvious, some that seem like inconveniences now, and some I have no idea are hiding in my future.

While I might not know what to think of 2014, I do know what to think of 2015:

Bring it.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Baby Jesus, Action Hero!

In my family, there's a nativity set older than I am (and yes, that's old), but it's made out of a kind of plastic that is--for all intents and purposes--indestructible. Now, this nativity isn't brightly colored. It's wan at best, drab at worst, but the baby Jesus is holding up his arms in some sort of delight.

Children in my family have taken this to mean that the baby is excited and having a good time. And if Baby Jesus is having a good time, then he must be doing something more exciting than laying in the pile of hay. Children in my family--young to old--have been playing with action figure Baby Jesus every Christmas since the nativity came home.

Baby Jesus has starred in plays, watched movies, rescued the wise men from evil robot dinosaurs and done all the things any great sidekick toy could do, and more. MUCH more.

In fact, the desire to play with Baby Jesus has resulted in a number of years where Baby Jesus went missing for a period of time, but through luck (or miracle) the figure always finds it's way home. Even from the garden.

The adventures of Baby Jesus have resulted in very strict play regulations as follows:

Baby Jesus may not ride in the Ferris Wheel, especially not fast enough to be launched out (Yes, Baby Jesus always wins the height contest; no, Baby Jesus may not participate this year).

There will be no feeding of Baby Jesus to the dog.

Baby Jesus may not, under any circumstance, be dipped in food. This does not improve the taste, and no, Great Aunt Gertrude did not poison the potatoes, so this step is unnecessary to render food safe for eating.

Baby Jesus may not be buried, and even if he were buried, no flowers would grow.

Under no circumstances is Baby Jesus to be put into a catapult. EVER.

Baby Jesus may not go for a swim in the pool, the hot tub, or even the bath (and no, dunking Baby Jesus in your drinking glass does not turn the water into holy water--OR WINE!).

And those are just the highlights. Hope everyone is having a great Holiday whether it involves three flies up with Baby Jesus (no really, we've seen that in our household), fire duels with menorahs, Kwanza wishes, or whichever winter holiday you celebrate!  

A Happy New Year just around the corner.