Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Publisher Lessons: Any Questions?

First let me congratulate the folks who've been NaNoWriMo-ing this past month -- today's the last day and you've gotten through the month! It doesn't matter if you've "won" or not, the important thing is that you tried.

I don't have a plan for this post (speaking of which I really need to consider that), so I thought I'd open the virtual floor up to any questions you might want to ask. I'm open to queries about ... well, queries, submission guidelines, whether to send chocolates or not, and basically anything else you might want to ask someone on the "other side of the desk" as it were.

Agented or un-agented, published or un-published, I'm sure there's things you're itching to know. So have at it, and I'll take a stab at answering starting next week.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Final Stretch

Tomorrow is November 30, which means I have a little more than 24 hours (OK, 29 hours to be exact) to add 3.5k to my WiP in order to reach my 15k goal for this month. Isn't that sad? Also, I have a work event tomorrow night so I will be lucky if I get 1k in after that.


I'm also smack dab in the "dreaded middle" and it is a bit dreadful. Then I look at all of the other people doing NaNoWriMo and achieving their 50k goals and I feel a bit ashamed how I'm struggling to reach just 15k. Stupid day job and super long commute, and my own lazy butt! But then I remember that I've been working on this since February. I am a very SLOW writer, and I've written more than a third of this WiP in the last few weeks alone. Plus it's my very first WiP ever so it's bound to be tougher.

Maybe I can be proud of the progress I've made this month. Even though I've heard this a million times, I shouldn't compare myself to other writers. Maybe I'm more like the turtle than the hare, but didn't the turtle win the race? Not that the hares out there can't win the race sometimes too. (Maybe I should've chosen a different metaphor?)

Anyway, sorry for the slightly whiney post today. I really liked L.T. Host's post yesterday about what you guys want to read about on this blog. And it's nice to meet some of the lurkers out there too. You like us, you REALLY like us! *throws candy*

What do you do when you find yourself agonizing over other people's successes? Or finishing their first draft (yay Adam!) or getting an agent or being in the "groove" and hammering out 10k in a day? Is the answer chocolate? (Please say it's chocolate.)

I better get back to it if I'm going to reach my goal. Good luck if you're working on a (fake) NaNo project too!

By the way, either next week or the week after I am going to have a guest on my post. She is self-pubbing her book and is doing a blog tour. I can't wait!

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Cyber Monday, which means you should all be online, right?

Oh, you're here. Good. I have a question for you.

I've been struggling with this blogging thing lately. And I'm going to be honest with you-- my attention has been seeping elsewhere. Twitter, mostly, because I can read it a lot faster than I can read blog posts... but I think part of the reason is that I just feel disconnected. I don't know what you want to read anymore, if you even read blogs...  I mean, some people are following us, obviously, but I don't know how many of them actually bother with reading us.

So help me out! What are your favorite elements of the blogs you DO read? Do you like contests? Reviews? Writerly advice? Humor? Nothing writing related at all?

Help me re-connect, friends!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Eat-Too-Much-Food-And-Go-Into-A-Coma Week!

I am grateful for a lot of things, my dear Alliteratus. Especially you. I am also grateful for free time and therefore am giving us here at the Archives the week off. Enjoy food, friends, family, and even more food. See you next week!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Busy busy bee

So yeah ... between the dayjob, getting Doctor Fantastique's Show of Wonders back up after the switch in webhosts, getting Issue Three of the print magazine out, and all the other things I do on a daily basis -- including Super Sekrit Projekt Alpha Seven ... my brain is teh fried. Henceforth instead of intelligent bloggery, I leave you with ... Lolcats:

And that is all. Next week, I promise there will be intelligent discussion about ... something.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A painful post to write

Guys... Alliteratus...

You've been here for me through thick and thin. You've watched me struggle with my writing, celebrate joy, a new job, a marriage, and been great friends. That's why it hurts me so much right now to admit that . . .

I've made the switch.

When I started this blog, I was a die-hard pantser. You could pry my keyboard out of my cold dead fingers when I was writing, but I spent most of my free time trying to think about where I would write myself next.

Now, though, something has changed. Something I'm afraid to admit-- ashamed, even. It's not that I think plotters are in any way shape or form inferior, just that I was so proud of my pantsing for so long, and now--

I'm one of you, plotters.

This manuscript I'm currently working on has an outline. A detailed, thorough outline. It's handwritten, which maybe made it a little less painful for me to do, but it's an accumulation of thought all the way through the story's climax. I know sub-plots, secondary characters, conflicts, motivations, scenes, and settings.

And I freaking love it.

Why did it take me so long to make the switch? Well, a large part of me was afraid that knowing where the story was going would take all the fun out of writing for me. But the fun's still there. I still look forward to writing the awesome scenes, but now I have structure for the ones I'm not-so-excited about. I still have some surprises cropping up-- like a whole new character that appeared out of nowhere, but solved my secondary conflict issue. But the best part is that I'm motivated, and I can keep going and going and going as long as I want because I don't have to stop and take long breaks to figure out where the story is going next.

And I LOVE drafting. It's my favorite part. I love letting the story surprise me-- which it's still doing-- and I really, really love this world that I'm crafting.

Ah! I'm getting the itch even now!

What do you think? Are you a die-hard? Would you consider making the switch?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dover Beach

For some reason I can't get this poem out of my head today. It's been a good six months since I last read it but I can't stop thinking about it today. I probably should offer some kind of insight or analysis or question pertaining to writing but . . . nothing is coming to mind so I'll just let you contemplate it yourself. Enjoy :)

By Matthew Arnold
The sea is calm tonight,
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Agean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Publisher Lessons: You've Got to be Insane

Remember last week I said I'd share what went on behind the curtain of being an independent publisher? Well this is the first one of those little Publisher Lessons I've decided to share with you. It's also easily one of the most important things I can impart to anyone who wants to self-publish or possibly go down the road that I have and found a company.

You've got to be absolutely, 150% bonkers.

I'm not talking "hide the sharp objects" crazy either. No, the type of bonkers I mean is the one where for some God-only-knows reason you've got a driving faith in your own abilities to make the enterprise work. Because I've got to tell you -- doing what I've done isn't for those who can't handle stress. Or multi-task like the Dickens. Or be chained to your computer 24/7. Or be willing to act as counselor, confidant, and taskmaster all at the same time.

Running a media company, even a nascent one like mine, is godawful tough work. There's emails to answer, manuscripts to edit, money to spend on things like websites, ISBNs, cover art, registering your company, software programs, and so on. It's been a lot of cash outlay in these opening months, and so far any money I've managed to make has gone right back out again into something else.

Lucky for me, I've got a crack staff of writers, web folks, designers, marketers, and yes even interns helping to make this venture work. They all believe in the vision I've created of a media company designed around the principle that artists should be able to make a living off their work. I could repeat the manifesto I wrote for The Doctor Fantastique Company, but why would I do that when you can visit and read the sucker for yourself?

I say you have to be crazy as the first lesson because let's be honest here: Publishing is not a get-rich-quick business. If you want one of those, study engineering or become a doctor. Publishing, and by extension many of the creative services industries, is very much a labor of love. Especially for me here in the early days of the organization.

I love doing what I'm doing with The Doctor Fantastique Company, and I'm confident that I can turn into a very profitable business down the line. It's the love of it that keeps me going right now though, and I'm sure that should you begin to self-publish your books or try going down my path you'll find that you either love every second or hate every minute.

But to be successful? Yeah, you've got to be crazy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Unicorns Are So Distracting

I'm sitting in a meadow, admiring the beauty and meandering through the wildflowers. It's a familiar meadow, comfortable. If I just keep strolling along, I'll reach the other side. That's my plan. It's a promise I made to myself. I just need to focus and not get distracted. And then...

Ohmygoshohmygosh!! A sparkly unicorn!!

It promises me adventure and candy-coated dreams. It says we'll fly off to an enchanted land, just the two of us. We'll see a world I can only imagine, it says. It entices me with a shake of it's head and a wink. And a swish of that flowing, shiny tail.

So shiny.

But I can't, not when I made a promise to stay in my familiar meadow. I dream of seeing the other side someday. It's something I set my mind to and I can't stray now, not when I've gotten this far already.

Or can I?

My meadow is my current WiP - familiar and comfortable. I've thought about so many possible plot turns, the major steps along the way. I want to see the other side of the meadow. But that unicorn - it's just so tempting. It's this shiny idea that's been sneaking into my thoughts. It's so distracting and so exciting and how I just want to hop on it's back and ride to that magical new land.

*flails* What do I do? I'm afraid of leaving this story - one that I love - and not ever coming back. I could write a few pages of the new idea. But will that satisfy? Will I want to keep going deeper until I can't find my way back to my old WiP?

Worst of all, this happens right in the middle of NaNo month when I made a pledge to write 50 pages this month. And now all I can think of is this shiny idea, and my old WiP has lost a bit of its luster in comparison.

How do you handle a shiny new idea with bad timing? Seriously, it's so inconsiderate.

Monday, November 7, 2011

In honor of NaNoWriMo, how to write like lightning

Those of you who know me well know that I am known for writing, well, I guess you could say . . . quickly? I hear a lot of lamenting when people find this out about me. "Why can't I write that fast?"

Well, firstly, don't despair, my more-normally-paced writer-friends. Your way ensures far fewer revisions, I'm certain. Your way also probably allows you to have a normal life among the chaos of the ever-present story. Mine doesn't (sort of).

There are pros and cons to every writing style, but I thought that in honor of NaNoWriMo I'd share a few tips on how to write like me-- that is, so ridiculously fast you're embarrassed to share exactly how fast. Because I am embarrassed. I always feel that when people see how fast I wrote something they'll just judge what I wrote as utter crap-- and with some reason.

But, without further ado, although some sarcasm, a bit of sincerity, and a touch of aplomb, here's how to write with lightning speed:

1.) Let go of everything but the book.

Okay, so I'm starting with a doozie. Basically, the number one thing that helps me write so fast is not something I can really pass on to anyone. But please promise me you'll keep reading, because the rest of the tips WILL help you write fastER, even if you don't wind up writing quite like me.

The biggest reason I write so fast is because I get completely obsessed with my story. I think about it when I'm falling asleep. I think about it when I wake up. I think about it in the shower, on my reeeeeaaaaaallllly long drive to and from work, when I'm bored in class, and even when there's a cheetah staring me in the face. I think about it in asides when I'm talking to my husband. "Speaking of timing belts, I bet a belt would be a good plot device in this scene."

I carry a notebook with me wherever I go to write down little notes and thoughts that come to me during the day. I get a new notebook every time I start a new project, so each one has its very own place. This lets me get as messy with my notes as I want because no matter which page I scrawl them on or how legible they are, they all go with the same project.

And I write and write and write in every. free. moment. I have, often much to the annoyance of my husband, friends, mother, in-laws, and animals.

This obsession is the number one thing that helps me write so quickly. I wish I could pass it off to you because believe me, sometimes I don't want it. But there are some things you can do to help yourself.

And now for a completely mechanically-sound tip that hopefully doesn't make me sound like a vain jackass:

2.) Learn to type faster.

Seriously. I'm not judging you on your typing skills, but increasing the speed that you can get the words out of your head and onto (virtual) paper will make a huge difference. Find a free online typing game and play it to improve your words per minute, and you'll see an improvement in how fast you write, too. I have a bit of an innate advantage here because I play the piano, and have since a young age, which I think has helped my typing immensely. But typing games? Whole 'nother level. Even if you already type pretty fast, it can never hurt to learn to do something faster, right?

3.) Know where you're going, even if you only know the next step.

So there's a whole extra blog post out of this one, but I will say that I've recently been converted to outlining. (I know, I know... GROAN). I'm not saying YOU need to outline, but-- I'll share a secret with you. I write slowly sometimes, too. I call these my writer's block phases, where I may not touch my WIPs for days, weeks, or even months. And it's always a plot problem that stops me. If I don't know where I'm going next, I can't write. Sometimes it's enough to let the story just capture me and sweep me away, but with major plot points, it's better to know how the dots connect at least a few steps ahead of where you are.

Once you know where you're going, all you have to do is write yourself there.

And now to completely contradict myself (but it will make sense, I swear):

4.) Let the story sweep you away.

No matter what you're writing, write it because you want to. Because it speaks to you. Because something there makes you feel all tingly and giddy inside when you think about it, because your sweet old neighbor asked you to, because you know you have the words to shape and mold and twist into something beautiful about beautiful things. This is the closest I can get to passing my obsession on to you. Let the story, whether you're excited about it or not, speak to you and pull you in. Something there is just for you-- something needs YOU to tell it. So tell it.

The second novel I wrote was a story that came to me in a very weird way, during a very weird time. When the idea first hit me, I thought, "Oh, that would make a great book. Someone should write that." But I didn't think I was "qualified" to write the story. I thought people would think I was crazy, writing that story.

Except no one else was going to write it. So I did. And I am so glad I did, because writing that first terrifying story that wouldn't leave me alone (my first novel had been very safe), opened me up to a whole world of possibility.

5.) And finally, let go of perfection.

You know what? I'm going to go out on a limb here and act like I am someone that anyone listens to. And I give you, yes-- YOU-- permission to let go of perfection. Use adverbs. Mix tenses. Forget you're in first/ second/ third person and mix them all up. Stick in a prologue. Heck, have three prologues. Start every sentence with a character's name. Forget dialogue tags. Use the same word six times in a paragraph-- or a sentence.

In other words, throw all the rules we're all so used to following out the window and just WRITE for once. Let the story pour out of you, messy and glorious. You know why?

You can always fix that stuff later. (Isn't that what December is for?) (Somewhere, four hundred literary agents all just reached for the scotch).

Let it out, my friends. In public, if you must. Let it all come out.

*I am not responsible for any arrests and/ or criminal records that may result from this blog post.

**I am also not responsible for any carpal tunnel. Ow my wrists hurt.

Got questions? Ask and I'll answer in the comments.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Joy thief! Come back with my WIP!

So I found a quote the other day that just about slapped me senseless:

(free printable courtesy of

Confession: I compare. I compare with others way too much. And when I compare with a million other people, I'm bound to find the very best, the flukes, the sudden successes and whatnot and---WITHOUT regards to the fact that everything between me and the other person is completely different except the fact that I like to write or insert other endeavor here---I'll think:

"Why am I not as good as them?"

"Why can't I write a book in 9 days? Or 17? Or a month? Or even six months?"

"Why do they have a agent/book deal and I don't?"

"Why do they have 10,000 followers and I only have 13?"

"Why won't anyone buy my painting/e-books/ad space/serialized webcomic/selflessly self-published self-help book?"

And of course, somewhere on the internet someone is making a mint over it and people are lauding their brilliance and talent.

And we think to ourselves: "WHY NOT ME?"

But as Theodore Roosevelt said (why am I not president? Wait, no.) "Comparison is the thief of joy." When I think crappy questions like that, I'm taking a heck of a lot away from the good things about my art and writing. Maybe I can't write a book in ten days, but I can do in in ten months. That's better than nothing! And maybe I don't have a million followers...but I know every follower I do have and I adore them to death. And who am I to pick and choose what I compare? Maybe they've got a seven figure book deal, but they don't have a lick of artistic talent. And they don't have my cute kid. And they don't have any idea how to make my killer spicy spaghetti sauce. Since when are we allowed to pick and choose when comparing a life? Are we not a culmination of everything we do?

As NaNoWriMo gets under way, comparison seems to be the thing to do: how far am I along today compared to writer A, B or John Green? If this gets you motivated, by all means keep going. As former agent Nathan Bransford said, it's good to have deadlines with teeth. If those teeth of comparison make you a better writer, by all means go on with your bad teethy self.

But if comparison is making you slow down, get jealous and stop all together, put out an APB and haul that thief in. There's enough out there keeping you from being happy. Don't let writing be one of them.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

When Chocolate Talks

This is what my chocolate told me during lunch today:

You may have to be female to understand this or you may not but when chocolate talks you had better listen. There isn't anything else to it.

And boy did I need that chocolate. This morning was . . . one of THOSE mornings.
You know? The ones where nothing seems to go right and no matter what you do you're going to end up three steps behind the ball?


Not fun. Especially since I had planned on participating to some degree in NaNoWriMo this year and haven't been able to get started on it yet.

And then my choclate tells me to challenge myself and seek inner peace and I think "Hey that's what NaNoWriMo is suposed to be all about."

Actually it's what pretty much anything is about. Sure we want to be challenged and push the limits of our strength but ultimately its about being at peace within ourselves, not end results or what others think about our acomplishments. It's about what we think of them and whether they satisfy us.

So here's wishing you good luck in your NaNoWriMo endeavors and reminding you not to stress out about it. Enjoy it, learn from it. Be proud of it.

Do you know what else my chocolate told me?

And there's no arguing with cocoa beans.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Publisher Lessons: The Introduction

As many of you know, I'm the owner/publisher of an independent media company focused on the Punk genres. Primarily Steampunk for right now because, well, I know that one the best, but we're expanding into the other -punk genres slowly as time goes on.

To that end, I decided to start a series of blog posts here at the Archives elucidating the things I've learned from becoming a publisher of fiction, magazines, radio plays, and graphic novels. The second two are just getting off the ground, and the first two are a little bit further along.

I'm going to write these posts, starting with next Wednesday, about the things I've discovered as I go along running The Doctor Fantastique Company and the sorts of things I wish I knew before I started. These lessons will, I hope, help people who want to self-publish as well as the folks who are going through the process with a legacy publisher and want a little bit of a window into how that world works.

I'm also doing this because I'm still a writer at my core, and knowing what goes on "behind the scenes" has made me a better one in that it's made me more accepting of certain practices that publishers have. I still might do things differently, but I can understand why certain pathways are taken over others if I look at it with my "publisher" hat on as opposed to looking at it with my "writer" hat on.

I want you to feel free to ask me questions as well, so feel free to ask me anything. If it's not proprietary or I can't talk about it for whatever reason (i.e. it's not a 100% sure thing yet), I'll say that and just hold off.

I hope we can all learn something from these posts, and I encourage you to join the discussion.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Oh My, Your Scene is So Big

If you've been anywhere in the blogosphere or Twitter today, you'll know that it's the start of NaNoWriMo!

Last week I pledged to add 50 pages to my WiP this month. I realize this is a small goal compared to a 50k novel that the regular Nano-ers are doing. But considering this is my first one, I thought I'd start out with a modest goal so that I have a good chance of reaching it and hopefully blowing it out of the water.

On each week's posts this month, I will give you a word count update. Today I will start at writing at the 20,624 word mark. I hope to reach at least 36k by November 30. I'm sure I will learn some lessons along the way. This is still my first novel, after all.

Which brings me to what I'd like to discuss this week: writing the big scenes.

Last week, I came to a pivotal moment in my WiP. It's the moment my MC's world comes crashing down around her (it's actually where I'm going to pick up writing after I finish this blog post!). Here is what went through my mind:
  1. (Weeks prior) How should she find out? Who should tell her? How? When? ...
  2. *thinking, thinking, thinking* *weeks pass*
  3. OK, I should just start writing and see what comes out.
  4. *thinking thinking thinking* *puts it off* *slowly writes scene leading up to BIG SCENE*
  5. (Last week) *starts writing BIG SCENE*
  6. Hm, she ends up at this location with this person. OK, I'll go with this for now.
  7. Oh dude! Look who just walked in! (Yes, I frequently surprise myself)
  8. OK, so what should they say to each other?
  9. *thinking, thinking, thinking*
  10. *writes some awkward dialogue* (awkward for the characters - not awkward writing, I hope)
  12. Yes! She finally knows! *dances in chair*
  13. Aww, poor MC *sad face*
  14. How should MC handle this news? Scream? Cry? Laugh? Go on a shooting rampage?
  15. *writes MC's inner torment* *re-reads scene*
  16. *thinks writing stinks*
  17. Dang it! This scene is MUY IMPORTANTE. It has to smack the reader in the face!
  18. *fidgets* *adds a sentence or two*
  19. *whines to self*
  20. Should I come back to it later?
  21. No, no, no. I should make it GREAT the first time through. Don't be so LAZY.
  22. *stares at screen*
  23. Think like a best-selling author - what would THEY do?
  24. *squirms some more*
  25. That's enough for today. *closes WiP*
So that's where I am now. About to embark on step 26 and make this BIG SCENE and BIG BRILLIANT SCENE. Or, make it a solid scene and move on. (More likely the latter)

There's always the editing process, right?

Good luck with your NaNoWriMo endeavors!