masqthephlsphr: (word)
I published a book last year. I made some dough on it. Not a lot, but enough to generate two 1099-MISC forms from Amazon and Smashwords.

This week, I went to the TurboTax website to do my taxes. 1099-MISC with an amount in box 2, it told me, is either property rental income or business income. Plz to be proceeding to fill out a Schedule C.

I have a business?

So I start in on the schedule C. Business name, business address, business type code. This all seems rather silly. I write fiction from a chair in my living room. Some day, God willing, I might be a self-employed writer, but not right now. I have the proverbial day-job, a full-time job in an urelated field that brings in the majority of my personal income. Now onto the deductions. Oh, yes, I paid some money to get a personal website put up to promote my writing and book. Enter the expenses on that.

Suddenly, my refund, which was not itty-bitty due to mortgage interest, doubled. What. This can't be correct.

Now, ask some people, this is all perfectly legit--especially if Turbotax lets you do it leads you down the garden path right through it. But I'm not keen on the idea of being audited. So I spent an hour plus today waiting in the queue for TurboTax's free CPA chat. Schedule C is correct, says my Free CPA. "But it's not a business," type I. Free CPA disappears for a moment, then gives me this useful info dump )

Yeah, legally a hobby, for now.

So I return to Turbotax, enter an expenses write-off equivalent to my sales, and wipe my hands clean.
masqthephlsphr: (muse)
A lot of people don't like doing New Years resolutions, and I don't blame them. Each year of our lives has a particular flow, and the flow we are in in one year is different than the one we veer into in the next, and therefore the expectations we develop from one may not apply to the other at all. We can't always control the way our lives flow.

But I think those of us privileged enough to have some semblance of control over at least part of our time ought to at least visualize how we'd like to spend that time, even if other stuff comes along to divert us from those visions. 2012 was a case-in-point year for that.

Read more... )



2012 had a lot to commend for it. And more than one place to improve.

The Plan

Nov. 2nd, 2012 03:53 pm
masqthephlsphr: (Default)
I am in the throes of NaNo-Envy, but I am still happy not to be doing NaNo. Yes, a contradiction, but I love the social energy this month brings in what is often such a solitary activity. OTOH, I am still feeling under the weather, and I finished the first draft of my novel last Sunday, so... not great timing for me this year.

But I am in earnest planning mode on the second draft and the general outline for the trilogy of novels that is going to emerge from my first draft. I've actually been thinking of turning the novel into a series for a while now, because I see a lot of possibilities and stories in the world I am building (still building. I think my story-world was a bit thin in the first draft).

Back in July, I came across an online writing school, the bill-paying day-job of author Holly Lisle, http://novelwritingschool.com/. Other than a one-on-one writing coach and writer's workshops, I have not taken any "writing classes" in the sense of instruction since I was a teenager/twenty-something. At that age, I was obsessed with learning "how to write fiction" and so never did any actual writing. Experience is the best teacher, IMO. I learned more from writing my first novel, Dis/inhibition, and The Destroyer series than I could have learned in a hundred writing classes. But I figured Lisle's "How To Write A Series" course might have a few pointers.

I got through the first two of four lessons in July, then RL got in the way. The lesson videos and exercises guide you through the process of identifying what kind of series you will write, planning how it will unfold, etc (although I must say the video transcripts included are FULL of typos....)

So finishing that course is one goal I have set for my post-novel time. I also plan to work through The Plot Whisperer Workbook. Both of these are merely tools to help me focus on plotting and locating strong and weak story elements for the purpose of revision and expansion.

I reviewed the first two lessons of Lisle's course this week, and realized quickly that a lot of the course exercises could benefit from me gathering together all the "future draft" notes I tucked away while working on the first draft--changes to plot points and characters I envisioned, ideas for expansion. So that is what I am working on now. I've got some good ideas brewing, and a LOT of research work ahead of me in physics, folklore, and random bits.
masqthephlsphr: (kehleyr)
I am a partner in the Google Books program, and have my book listed on Google Play. The book listing on Google Play has no plot description, no genre information, no information at all except a brief bibliographic listing on the right hand side:

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Nancy_E_Shaffer_Disinhibition?id=2K3MnYi_ZE8C&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDEsImJvb2stMkszTW5ZaV9aRThDIl0.

I have TRIED and TRIED to find somewhere in Google help to add information to the Google Play entry. I was contacted by Google Books support. They seemed to think my issue was with Google Books entry on my paperback, or the Google Books entry on the eBook. IT IS NOT. This is my eBook entry on GOOGLE PLAY only.

How do I change the content there? Where the hell do I go? I wasted $25.00 setting up an Artist's Hub on Google Play until I realized it was for musicians only. That money has now been refunded.

The step-by-guide for help with Google eBooks offers four options, NONE of which is applicable (ISBNs,ePubs,Prices,PDFs), as these have already been completed successfully.

My book has been up for two months, it's not a matter of waiting for it to be fully loaded.

Nothing in the Google Books Partner Program maintenance addresses the Google Play issue.

Please give concrete assistance on the issue I am asking about,

Thanks,

Nancy Shaffer
masqthephlsphr: (disinhibition)
I found these this morning while googling:

http://www.adlibris.com/se/product.aspx?isbn=1105603709
http://www.libri.de/shop/action/productDetails/19400201/nancy_e_shaffer_dis_inhibition_1105603709.html

There is still an issue with getting the book cover on some of U.S. sites, but I am told that's being worked on.

"Inhibition is nature's way of keeping you from doing something really stupid..."
Valerie Running Deer is a brash, brilliant neuroscience graduate student. Elizabeth Baldwin is her uptight, control-freak advisor. Elizabeth and Valerie's relationship has always been a battle of wills, but when Elizabeth hands over one of Valerie's original research ideas to another student, Valerie fires the shot that turns their cold war into a hot one: she makes a pass at Elizabeth's daughter Lisa, a coy, impetuous teen who has been harboring a crush on her.

Valerie's spiteful impulse is diffused when she starts to fall for Lisa behind Elizabeth's back, but a confrontation is inevitable. Valerie's tumultuous journey towards it will entangle her in the circuitous dance of the relationships around her as friends, colleagues, and family struggle to balance need and trust, impulse and restraint. Control freaks. Hot heads.

Timid artists. Impulsive kids. Dis/inhibition explores the complications of self-control both outside and inside the scientific laboratory.



Buy the book

| Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Books-a-Million |

Buy the eBook

| Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Apple iBookstore | Smashwords | Kobo |

The book is also available at Amazon UK and Amazon Canada.
masqthephlsphr: (compgeek)
I think the most difficult, grief-inducing part of self-publishing is formatting. I say that because I am still getting into the marketing part, but stay tuned, because I might change my tune later. But I spent a good two months getting my manuscript into a form--no, I take that back--THREE forms--that would deem it acceptable to book distributors.

The three forms are (1) print, (2) eBook ePub, and (3) ePub mobi. Print is pretty self-explanatory, although not easy, necessarily. ePub is the most common eBook format and you can find services that will turn your manuscript into an ePub file, but you have to do some work upfront to not have aforementioned manuscript kicked back to you as "not ready to be turned into an ePub yet." mobi is just a fancy word for the format used by Amazon Kindle, which in their infinite near-monopoly wisdom is different from every.other.eBook.seller.everywhere, who of course all use ePub.

Print Formatting )
masqthephlsphr: (disinhibition)
[personal profile] mamculuna did a very nice review of my novel, Dis/inhibition, here.

Reminded me that there are several ways to get the book now. I am awaiting print version distribution on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound, but you can purchase the paperback on Lulu:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/nancy-e-shaffer/disinhibition/paperback/product-20230154.html

Ebook formats:

Kindle:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0088IKGLE

B&N Nook:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dis-inhibition-nancy-e-shaffer/1111816322?ean=9781105831959

iTunes:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dis-inhibition/id538126817?mt=11

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/172095
masqthephlsphr: (masq)
Someday soon, I will have an author website. It's in the works. One of the things it will include is a page on atpobtvs.com: my attempt to ride on my own coattails and associate my writer's "brand" with a previous "brand" already established on the internet.

And since I have yet to receive any reviews of my original fiction writing (nor have I gone actively looking for them; it's on the to-do list), I am trying to drum up a few for ATPoBtVS. I had a lot of kind (and not-so-kind) words said about that website over the years (years!), and all the kind ones and constructively-critical ones are appreciated, but I am on the hunt for complementary reviews by academic-types that will look Uber Impressive on the website.

In order find a few, I scoured old emails, and I googled the name of my site. One amusing thing I came across was a prof using my website as an example of how to do college paper citations for web pages:

http://web.williams.edu/wp-etc/acad-resources/survival_guide/CitingDoc/CiteWriteMLA.php

Amusing mostly in how (1) I will forever be "Masquerade" on the internet no matter whether I tie that name to my RL name in the new web site, and (2) the quote (s)he attributes to me is actually me quoting someone else. I always cited my sources, but they were as anonymous internet-psuedonymy as me, and the fact that they were written by someone else sometimes escaped people.

Sometimes it didn't; I have old emails asking, "Who is this 'Rattletrap' person and is he the same person as this student of mine who may have plagiarized his work?"

You know, all my original fiction is going to take place in academia. I know that. You can take the girl out of university, but you can't take university out of the girl. The love is still there. But as much as I wish I was doing software development on some campus somewhere, I am glad I'm not a professor anymore. Hats off to all of you who are: that skill set in its entirety was beyond me.
masqthephlsphr: (disinhibition)
This is an interesting blog entry on what the writer calls "Self-rising characters"--characters who weren't in the original outline or conception of a story, or who were but were minor at best, who become (spontaneously) fully realized as you are writing because the story needed them, or at the very least, they were a voice inside you somewhere that needed to speak:

http://bookviewcafe.com/blog/2012/06/27/practical-meerkat-returns-on-self-rising-characters/

I never thought of these characters as being a Mary Sue danger, however. And as the author points out, we use that expression way too much and too lazily. There are very few characters labelled 'Mary Sues' that actually are one by the actual definition, and sometimes, even if they ARE one, so what? Sometimes, that's the whole point of the story/character.

But that's a digression. I have always seen self-rising characters as awesome, because they come from that "Shut up and let the subconscious do the driving" place where your story actually lives. This is why I am a pantser, at least during the first draft, and find outlines so antithetical. The story I really want to tell, and the characters that really need to inhabit it, are locked in a vault on the right side of my brain I can't access during the very left-brained, top-down, before-hand outlining process.

The main character of my first novel, Valerie, was a self-rising character, stepping out from a cast of a dozen names and descriptions to take over the story and make it her own.

In my new story, I had a young man appear out of nowhere to become a love interest of sorts for one of my main characters, who was supposed to eventually get involved with another guy--a guy who as the story evolved developed no chemistry whatsoever with her.

Self-rising Young Man didn't appear spontaneously in the story in order to be a love interest, he entered the story to spy on Ms. Main Character, which he did by seducing her. And then they sort of fell for each other. And doesn't love/lust/hate always read more convincingly when it isn't forced on a character?
masqthephlsphr: (disinhibition)
Most folks in the writing/publishing bag probably use the term "Indie publishing" to mean small, independent presses that are, for all their smallness, still publishers in the traditional sense: they accept submissions, chose what works they will put out into the world, and then produce and promote them for the author, either in print or electronic form or both.

But I am seeing the phrase thrown around a lot now to signify those who are really self-publishers, authors who do all the work themselves, or at least arrange for and pay for it to be done: writing, formatting, distributing, and marketing.

I chose the self-publishing route for my old novel, Dis/inhibition, mostly because it is over-written and the amount of work it would take to cut it down to a size acceptable for traditional publishers would be counter-productive at this point. I have been working on the novel for 15-20 years now. It has evolved and changed as I have; it has been workshopped, writing-coached, grammar-and-punctuation picked, beta-read, updated for the 21st century, and fact-checked over and over. It is not a perfect piece, but it is a good piece, and needs to see the light of day so I can move on to my current writing projects. That is long overdue.

But ironically, if I had attempted to self-publish it even five years ago, it would have been a whole different experience. Self-publishing isn't what it used to be. In the age of the eBook, with a little smarts and perseverance, you can get a book out there to a lot of readers and by-pass traditional publishing outlets all together without ending up a "lifetime 15-units sold" dilettante.

I am going to blurble on to anyone who wishes to read about the journey I have been on to get this book out the door, but not all in one entry like I planned 'cause as it turns out, it's kind of involved. And it's not even nearly done yet. I had planned to pimp my book in my journal once it was "out there", never counting on all the various stages and steps of "out there" there are. Dis/inhibition is still half "out there."

The Kindle version is available, and has been since the first of the month, because their Direct Publishing service means I did not have to rely on a Print On Demand service to distribute it, like I do the version for the Nook and iTunes. The iTunes version is also out there as of this week. Apple is quicker than Barnes and Noble at adding new releases. I also have an "ePub" eBook format version live on Lulu.com (my POD service) and Smashwords.com--although the book sample on Smashwords is giving me format grief at the moment.

Incidentally, you will see a print version of the book at Lulu, and you can buy it if you want, but I have not approved it for distribution beyond Lulu at the moment, due to printing issues with the cover.

More on that to come. I am going to write separately about the four stages of grief: writing, formatting, distributing, and marketing a self-published book in later entries.





* Self-published authors can also self-coin terms to their advantage. There's a whole community of self-published authors out there now who swap tips and pimps and build websites for the same and call themselves "Indies." Who needs the big Publishing Houses, or even the itty bitty ones (online or off) anymore? Not these guys, that's for sure.

As for my next book, I am going to make every attempt to find an agent and a publisher.
masqthephlsphr: (Default)
First off: I can't believe it's been a year since my fabulous south-of-the-border vacation. Next year, I have a trip planned to the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland. Geez, I still land-trip like I'm on a friggin' cruise.

But 2012 is 2012 and a totally different ball game, kiddies. This is the year I kick my first-born out of the house Once and For All. Which is why I've been so scarce on the intertubes lately.

Okay, confession time: I broke down and hired a professional website designer. I was just ready to pop a blood vessel trying to do it myself. The technical aspects I'm good with: programming, getting widgets to work. Just give me the manual and I go. The content, I can pull together with a little sweat equity. But the graphic design I suck at. SUCK AT. And those do-it-yourself website design platforms do require some design savvy, no matter what they say. Unless you're prepared to live with one of their templates exactly as is.

But see, here's the thing: the technical aspects and content are interdependent with the design. You have to know what you're doing with all three, or none of them proceed very quickly.

April was mostly spent getting my print book cover finished. I doubt I'll sell many of those, they're too pricey. So May was spent getting the eBook together, and now my head is swimming with mobi's and ePub's and toc.ncx.

Don't ask, it's a Writer-slash-computer-geek Thing.

How do other people do it?

Oh, right, they're not as big of control freaks as me.

Another thing I tackled in May was moving all the writing and philosophy of pop literature entries from this LJ/DW over to WordPress to set up a "professional" blog. The design of it sucks right now, it will be better when the website designer integrates it into the main site. But if you're remotely curious, the URL (for the moment) is InfiniteDoorways.com. And it doesn't mean I'm leaving LJ/DW. I need somewhere to bitca and moan off the record.

Also, somewhere in all of this, I'm banging out the first draft of my new story. Just got done chapter 17 of 22. Go me.

And somewhere else, else, in all of this, I still have a full-time job.

And somewhere else, else, else, I still have a GF and my family and a house I'm trying to spiff up in jerky jumps and halts.

And somewhere else, else, else, else there's me and the Sleep Thing that plagues me every spring. That has its bad days. Is it June yet? Oh, it is.
masqthephlsphr: (nt)
This is going to be my California Year. The Sculptor and I are going to L.A. in July and San Francisco in November. And I am being extremely mental about the whole thing, because both these areas were my home at one time or another. She wants to check out the art scene in each city. I want to show off the Stomping Grounds of Old to her.

I have not posted much this month 'cause I have been swamped with my personal projects--getting my old novel out the door, working on the website to promote my writing, working on my new story... Oof, I'm tired. And, of course, it's Spring, which means Major Insomnia time for me, and that makes me More Tired.

I'm supposed to go in for one of those overnight sleep studies in May. Sounds creepy to me, sleeping in a strange bed with electrodes strapped to your head. But at least my current doctor is interested in helping me with my insomnia. The doctors back in SF just gave me a list of "behavioral changes", patted me on the head, and sent me on my way.

Web design

Mar. 23rd, 2012 04:44 pm
masqthephlsphr: (disinhibition)
I have tried googling this, searching etsy.com, and looking it up on NaNoWriMo.org to no avail, but I have a lot of writers on my flist, so maybe one of you has some suggestions. I am getting ready to grab a web domain for my original fiction, and need a good web designer. One of the biggest criticisms of atpobtvs.com was the design and readability. I just threw that thing together with spit, kleenex, and html circa 1999. I figured it was all about the content, not the aesthetics. I've watched enough HGTV at this point to know that the way something looks is as important for getting people to go there as the content is, whether that's fair or rational or not.

Initially, I have no ambitions to turn this website into a writer's "platform", although that's what it will eventually become, I suppose. And I want it to be creative, not look like I'm selling widgets or posting my resume. And yes, it will include a way to buy my books. But initially, it will just be a promotional site for the book I have coming out.

The problem isn't finding web designers, it's figuring out who's reliable and good at what they do.
masqthephlsphr: (disinhibition)
Among the things I want to accomplish in 2012 is finally, FINALLY, getting my old novel, Dis/inhibition, out the door and into the world. I decided to go the self-publishing route, which is a lot of work (for me). In addition to formatting the manuscript/book itself and getting to to places that can sell it, I need to do all the promotional/marketing work as well, or at least arrange for it to be done.

One of the things I hope to do is a website. I hired an illustrator last year to do some images of my characters. The plan is to put these on the site, along with some quotes from the story, either by the character in question, or about the character in question by another character, along with information about me and about how to buy the book.

What sort of people do you imagine these are?

Character Illustrations )
masqthephlsphr: (Default)
Dis/inhibition: Finished illustration #5 with the artist. Haven't given her the description or reference pics for the sixth and final one yet, though. And did no work on prepping the manuscript this week. NaNo is upon us.

New story: Finished my NaNo prep on Thursday. Work has been a bear, so that's sucked up the interim time. Sort of nervous about NaNoWriMo this year, or should I say, InsaNoWriMo. I am working overtime hours at work lately. Not sure when I'm going to be able to squeeze in those actually thinky-requiring 50,000 words. But plunging on I am.
masqthephlsphr: (NaNoWriMo)
Dis/inhibition: I did NO work on the manuscript this week. Work has been an utter bear, and any spare time I have has been devoted to NaNo planning. The artist resurfaced, and we are back to work on illustration 5 of 6.

New story: I am trying to get everything prepped so I can just dive in Nov. 1. I was worried this week I might have to cancel NaNo altogether because of work, but in my mind, my job exists to support my life and my writing, and if it actually starts to prevent me from doing the things I want to do, than it's not a job I want. So NaNo proceeds, and I will try not to go completely insane.

Oh, yay.
masqthephlsphr: (word)
Dis/inhibition: still formatting the book's interior. I figured out how to do a lot of things in Word that make it look like a professionally-published novel, including having the author name/book title alternate in the headers. And I finally figured out how to use Styles in Word properly. I'm learning a lot, if nothing else.

Still working on the 5th character illustration, artist has been busy as well.

New story: I shoved chapter 7 out the door to the Sculptor on Friday, but have not been able to dive into NaNo Plano this weekend due to work-work stuff. I am so friggin' exhausted when it comes to work. I know the stuff I'm doing there right now will save time in the long run, but it always seems there's some new thing to take the place of stuff that used to be the old time suck.

Which is why it's important that work insanity or not, I go through with my NaNo plans. If you don't hear from me in December, check my local funny farm.
masqthephlsphr: (draft)
Dis/inhibition: I finished my proofreading on Tuesday and uploaded the manuscript to Lulu on Wednesday. Funny how seeing the novel in something that resembles "published" form suddenly makes you notice all sorts of flaws in your word choice, font choice, etc, even though I spent an entire day prepping it for Trade Paperback layout in Word before uploading it. I am studying the general format of some books I think are well laid out before finalizing the manuscript and moving on to the cover layouts.

New story: Chapter 7 continues to be a challenge, but I'm still shooting for the 15th to finish it. I have been tackling each chapter of this new story in "layers." I start with a broad outline (a few sentences) of what will happen in the chapter, then I write the first layer, which is the dialogue. Dialogue is the easiest thing for me to write, and tackling it first helps me transform an intuitive idea of what happens in the chapter into the beginnings of an actual narrative. Dialogue, for me is like the "back bone" of a story.

The next layer is blocking, including action, facial expressions, and where the characters are in physical space. Next, I add in descriptive material--the details in what the setting and characters look, smell, or sound like. The final layer is introspection. I generally already have a good idea of what characters are thinking as write the dialogue and action, but I don't include it until I have the "what you'd see/hear if this was on TV" part done first.

That's my usual process, but I must admit, it hasn't really worked for me this time. As I was writing the dialogue and blocking, I kept being dissatisfied with it, and realized I needed to get in the character's heads simultaneously. Which makes sense, I guess, I still don't know the characters that well, and as I enter the crucial middle chapters of the story, I need to know how their inner worlds are changing.

So for this chapter, I am doing layering of a different kind. I have three point of view characters, four characters total, and I am layering in each character one at a time. The other characters are still there, but they are vaguely written as I concentrate on just the one character's actions, words, and thoughts. I may have to go back and change that up a bit once I layer in the next character's details, but that's art for you.

This story is proving very challenging to construct, which makes me wonder how I'm going to pound out 50,000 words next month without having to stop and think and plan for five days at a stretch between writing bouts.
masqthephlsphr: (nt)
Dis/inhibition: I decided I just wanted this final proofreading over, so I set a goal of doing one chapter a day (and twice on Sundays!), and today I'm on chapter 40 out of 43. So go, me. Still on the fifth character illustration, though. Those I just get picky about, lol.

New story: I started to make good progress on chapter 7 after spending some extra time on figuring out mythology and backstory, then I hit another snag. My old novel, Dis/inhibition took place in a fictional town quite a bit like my home town, but not actually my home town. I prefer fictional settings, because if you need a particular location, you just invent it. My new story takes place in San Francisco, and while there's a bit of play possible, if you go naming actual streets and intersections and then claim there's a building/bridge/park there, or that a building/bridge/park was there a century ago, you can't do anything too wildly untrue.

Well, I suppose you could, but the further from reality you are, the more you are writing about alterno!San Francisco rather than real San Francisco. And I always had the impression that one of the tools of urban fantasy was to use the accuracy about the real world settings to make the fantasy elements seem more compelling, more as if they could be true as well. And I don't want to veer from that, not if I don't have to. So I am having to step back once again and think through every setting I use--do I need it in the story? Really need it? Do I need it to be there?

I want to get this chapter done by mid-month so NaNo prep can start. Back to it.
masqthephlsphr: (Default)
Dis/inhibition: I am currently editing chapter 32. There are 43 chapters, so I'm getting this done. Artist on illustration 5 out of 6.

New story: the plan was two new chapters before NaNo planning had to begin in earnest, but srsly, chapter 7 came to a grinding halt when I realized I really needed to step back and give some thought to my larger mythology/back story before even attempting to write it. Otherwise, I risk writing a chapter that will just have to be scrapped and rewritten anyway. So that's what I've been doing when I have the time. Work's been a bear.

The NaNo plan is pretty much to put a 50,000-word dent in the story, even if I have to count planning notes as words.
masqthephlsphr: (draft)
dis/inhibition: Still doing final clean up. I am now just past halfway done that. Also working on the 4th out of the six illustrations for the website.

New story: Finished chapter 6 and sent it off to the Sculptor. Now working on chapter 7, which is presenting a new challenge. I indicated in chapters 4 and 6 that there was this particular location I needed to send my characters to, and now's the chapter where they're supposed to go there, only I don't think the location I chose is going to work out in the larger story. It needs to serve multiple purposes, and it's the wrong place for that, I think. What annoys me is I didn't realize that before hand. I don't have a problem with changing the location, but boy, if I were still writing The Destroyer, where I post the story publicly after each episode, I'd be stuck with that location.

Of course, that sometimes forces one to be creative, but I'd just as soon allow myself the prerogative of the first draft to change my mind.
masqthephlsphr: (disinhibition)
Dis/inhibition: Still working on final polish edits of manuscript. I just don't get time for it as often as I'd like with a new story to write and work being busy. I really want to get this out the door before year end. Still working on the website illustrations with the illustration artist. We are up to illustration 3 of 6.

New story: I think asking the Sculptor to read the chapters of the first draft as I write them was a good plan. I have noticed that things I might have gone ahead and "just done" if I'd been writing it on my own I think twice about with an audience. Chapter 5, which I finished this week, is a good example. This chapter brought in two new characters who know a LOT more about the unfolding mystery than other characters I have featured, and for a while now, I have been angsting about how much of their point of view to bring in, because it would spoil the mystery.

As I mentioned last week, I threw out about 2,000 words written in the point of view of one of them, because he knows too much. Most of what he "knows" is guess work, but he's too much of an insider for his guesses to be all wrong. The other new character, though, is supposed to be the third in a trio of main characters who solve the mystery. His POV is unavoidable. But he had this one "close encounter" in his past, that if recounted too soon, gives too much away.

I went ahead and wrote that encounter anyway as part of chapter 5, then set aside what I assumed was the final version of that chapter I would give to the sculptor. That has been my practice up to now: finish a chapter, but don't send it off to the Sculptor before I look ahead a little and see if there is anything else I need to establish in the current chapter. It didn't take me too long to realize that the gradual mystery that's unfolding in future chapters would be ruined by what's revealed in this guy's "close encounter." So I could either have him just conveniently not think about an encounter that changed his whole worldview, or decide it didn't happen to him after all. And I didn't want to do either of those.

Then it occurred to me to fall back on a(n albeit rather tired) storytelling device that could make it so the close encounter happened, but he doesn't have to think about it in the chapter: amnesia!!1!1 Which sounds lame, but then I realized that was what most likely would have happened to him. He had this amazing experience, but see, there's this faction of characters who I've already decided go around covering up proof of their existence. And since they have supernatural abilities, they can cloak human memories. And if, as I had already written, my character runs into one of these guys towards the end of his close encounter, that is most likely what the guy would have done to him anyway.

So the problem I angsted over for a year during planning/outlining was solved in a day because I actually started writing the damned thing. It's like I'm always saying: You can outline ahead of time until the cows come home, but when you start writing? It all changes. Your story becomes the story it was meant to be.

And now I can have my character gradually "remember" his experience, providing Yet More Clues to the Mystery.
masqthephlsphr: (Default)
Dis/inhibition: Still working through the final read-through. The artist has finished the first of six character portraits for the webpage. Now that we've worked out what information she needs to complete each of these, hopefully, the rest will go quicker. The plan after that is to design a small promotional website, and a Facebook page for the novel.

New story: Finishing up chapter five. It has been a bear. I introduced two new characters and wrote from both their points of view, then realized one of them just knew too damned much to let the reader into his head this soon. Cutting his bits didn't take anything from the chapter, and kept it from being one and a half times longer than the other chapters so far.

As it is, the remaining character's POV reveals quite a bit as well, information that maybe it's too soon to reveal, but that's just one of the tightropes you walk in a first draft--figuring out the pace at which you should offer up clues to an unfolding mystery.
masqthephlsphr: (draft)
Dis/inhibition: Started my final read-through of the manuscript for typos and hired the cover artist runner-up to make the character illustrations for the promotional website. Things are moving along.

New story: Working on chapter 5. It is proving to be a big challenge, because I am introducing a new character and fleshing out another character who has so far has only been seen in passing. Not only do I have a lot of ground to cover introducing them to the reader, but they both possess a lot more knowledge than the other two characters I have featured, and I have to decide how much it is they know right now, because it's bad form to have a character aware of something you don't want the reader to know and deliberately have them "just not think about it" for chapter after chapter until you're ready to reveal it. On the other hand, an info dump to the reader doesn't make for the most entertaining chapter. So tippy-toes.
masqthephlsphr: (word)
My old novel, the one I'm trying to get out the door now like a twenty-something child that's overstayed their childhood, has a few plot points and characters in it that people will assume I pulled from own life.

And they'd be wrong.

For example, there is a Quebecois character who predates my teaching stint in Quebec, who predates me even imagining I'd ever live there, by three years. And I have scientists using MRI scanning in their brain research that predates me working for MRI brain scientists by six years. Now, I'll grant you that these weird life coincidences were an unexpected windfall for researching story elements that already existed, but since the life experiences were jobs that I managed to get out of the blue, it's not like I took those jobs to do research for my novel.

There are other things people might assume I know very little about that I didn't read in a book, like the Native American character who is based partially on my old live-in girlfriend of four years.

So where did I get the idea for a French Canadian character and using MRIs as a research tool? Who knows, I honestly don't remember. But I'm sitting here this morning bemoaning the fact that one of the major plot points of my new story appears to be a major plot point of Season 4 of True Blood. Now, granted, I can't say that for sure yet, having only seen two episodes so far, but there will be people who will assume I took my plot from that, even though it predates the season by two years and was an attempt, when I came up with it, to turn a common fantasy trope on its ear.

There are no new stories, I guess, only new angles.
masqthephlsphr: (disinhibition)
Dis/inhibition: I have finished going through all the editor's comments/edits, and tentatively chosen Lulu as my publishing platform. Now comes the job of formatting the manuscript and going through it one more time to check for stray issues. The covers are done, and this is the one I am probably going to go with. Next up, I want to design a small promotional website for it, and I'll need more illustrations for that.

New story: Finished up chapter 4 and sent it to the Sculptor. I already started poking at and organizing chapter 5, so now that is the new focus.
masqthephlsphr: (word)
Dis/inhibition:

I am working a little bit every day finishing the edits on this story, and when I am done and I have the cover art chosen, I suppose it will be time to pick a self-publishing venue. At some point last year, I went to several self-publishing/print on demand websites and asked for an information brochure. It's funny how many of them took that as meaning I was signing up for their service, rather than shopping around for one. I don't want to be rushed into making a choice, since I have heard some horror stories about these places and I want time to do research, which I just haven't done up until now as I finish the manuscript. Enough time has gone by that most of them have stopped calling and emailing me, all except XLibris, which has this one persistent salesguy or whatever you call them. I think "agent" would be a misnomer here. They keep having sales on their services and he is trying to use that as a wedge to get me to sign up.

New story:

I had a heck of a time "outlining" chapter 4, by which I mean, cobbling together the various elements I want in the chapter into a coherent narrative. I am trying not to have a 185,000-word manuscript when I am done, which means those dozens of long, leisurely scenes in which my archeological investigators go about uncovering the clues in the main mystery of the novel are a luxury I can't afford. I need to cover big chunks of their investigation as paragraph-long "this already happened" summaries that bring the reader to a present moment where an intriguing puzzle is set that defines the current action of the chapter.

I managed to get that done. Then the next challenge was that I decided to write the chapter, which is formatted as a four-scene day-in-the-life of my main character, not from her own (limited third person) point of view, but from the (limited third-person) point of view of a different friend or colleague she interacts with in each of the scenes. While I might not keep the chapter written that way in future drafts, this is really helping me bring out what a pain in the @$$ my character is supposed to be, which is what I want to explore. I may well keep the chapter this way, even though three of the four characters whose points of view I feature may not appear "on stage" again.
masqthephlsphr: (word)
Dis/inhibition: I tackled all of my editor's substantive comments except the ones related to race. This is a tricky area. I want to take my time considering what she has to say, understanding that she isn't a person of color, either, and so whose instincts matter here? Her comments have certainly given me a lot to think about, and there will be some rewriting, mostly to change back things I had already changed before she read them, and to rewrite some stuff I was never that comfortable with anyway.

New story: I finished chapter 3 and sent it off to the Sculptor. Last weekend, I took a break from it to start thinking through what I want to do in the next few chapters. I am tackling this story like I did The Destroyer: I have a general idea where I want the characters to be at the end, but I only outline a few chapters in advance of the one I am writing, and even that is subject to change if I get a better idea.

This week's goal: make some progress on chapter 4.

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