Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Price Drop

For anyone who thought I priced Mercenaries: A Love Story Book One too high, I've dropped it back to  $0.99.

It will be interesting to see what difference it makes, if any. At Smashwords, they track the number of sample downloads in addition to the number of sales, and while there have been several samples downloaded there, none have converted to sales. Oh, well. My experience is likely to have a slower start than Derek Canyon, for example.

The image to the right will take you directly to Amazon. If you prefer a non-Kindle version, the Smashwords page is here. Read the blurb and the reviews. If it looks interesting to you, try it out. You can comment here, too.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo Update

Not good. This has turned out to be a poor month - not that any month would be better, I suppose. It's a matter of discipline, and not having other tasks that seem more... time critical.

I have logged just under 2200 words, which makes me feel really sad when Becka tweets that she's just under 25,000.

I'd be higher if I counted the words I put in the blog, or the words I put in critting others' work, or, or, or. No, I'm honest. I've been doing those instead of Freedom. It's a conscious choice. I'll put more words into Freedom, but I'm also editing (if that term can be applied to a total restructuring!) Mercenaries Book Two - see my previous post - hoping to get that completed early next month.

Words of encouragement gratefully accepted. Those of you who felt your word counts were low, take heart: someone is lower!

Keep writing!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Wonders of Beta Readers

I have two correspondents that I consider beta readers. We share and comment on each others' work, and I know that I've gotten a significant benefit from it. I hope they have received at least some benefit in compensation.

Hopefully, a writer eventually gets to the point of thinking "Okay, this draft is it!" We've reached the whole "Ok, I'm gonna send this ms off... to other people! Not me." place in our novel's life. I faced that part early on, and I'm mostly ok with it now. The upside is a comment like:
The scene where Rebecca is trying to explain to her mom and dad why she has to do what she is doing actually, and really, brought a tear to my eye... When you get to editing, treat this passage with respect, please.
 Of course, there are far more of these comments: "This is a little confusing." "This is a statement that confuses me." "Who is this girl?" "I don't see any point to the parts in blue." (The parts in blue comprised 60% of the preceding paragraph!) "Does this impart vital information?  All of this is irrelevant to the story at this point in time." Perhaps you can see a common thread; I surely can.

While the upside comments are welcome beyond belief, the other ones are the ones I live for. Live for, but don't particularly enjoy, since they point out likely mistakes. They tell me where I've gone astray in communicating with the reader, and may also give me a direction to follow. But that last, while helpful, isn't the goal. The goal is to see where I went in one direction without giving the reader sufficient information to follow, at least without backing up and saying to him- or herself, "What? Where'd that come from? 'Who is this girl?'"

I am grateful to have two people I trust for this help. Each of them see different things while having a remarkably coherent view of the story. I think having one more would benefit me, and I'm working on that. I hasten to add: in addition to, not in place of, the two I have now.

Perhaps you already have readers, no matter what you call them, that you trust to  point out the blemishes in your story. If not, I can't recommend finding one or two highly enough. I think they need to be someone you can go back and forth with, not always agreeing (because disagreement is the root of all that's good and wonderful, especially after resolution is reached), but always respectful of one another and as important, respectful of the story and the need you as author have to tell the story you want to tell. On the other side is your responsibility to consider suggestions seriously.

Trust me, if you truly believe you've written the perfect novel, you won't find beta readers helpful.

Trust me also that when you read a comment like "I also wondered, last night actually, if Cari's travelogue story was in fact there only to introduce Jean-Luc," and realize that the implication of that being correct is that 20000 hard written words are going to be recycled because we don't yet need to introduce Jean-Luc, and so that whole arc doesn't bear on the story at all, it gives you a queasy feeling in the tummy. (Now there's a wonderfully run-on sentence!) Maybe I shouldn't be so much of a pantser after all! However, I would never have realized that plot arc didn't belong without someone to say, "Look at this, will ya." Maybe you are different, but I get invested in my words and little plot elements, and without intervention, it's hard to look at one or more of them with an eye toward eliminating or reducing. I hope that will come as I gain experience, but right now, my beta readers ask the hard questions and deserve the good answers.

One thing I have to be careful of, at least in my mind, is a tendency to justify my past (plotting, word choice, whatever) decisions rather than give a hard look at suggestions. I think I'm doing better at this; I managed to avoid it in business after all. However, there there was not quite the emotional connection to the decision that there is in writing. Do your best to be honest with yourself when you read a suggestion, or critique, or review. With few generally easily detected exceptions, the author of the suggestion is stating an opinion that they believe will improve the work. My experience is - and this may reflect my lack of skill as a writer - many of these do improve the package.

Conversely, you are under no obligation to use all, or even any, of the suggestions you receive. With that in mind, I offer a suggestion: Be honest with yourself about the comments you receive. Use them when you think they improve the story; don't reject them out of hand. Don't reject them until you've made a rational decision that another option - including leaving the piece as is - is actually better. But I think that requires an honest evaluation, not one colored by 'how could he/she mean that? It changes everything!' feelings of doubt and betrayal. It may change everything (but likely not).  Sometimes, it may change everything. Perhaps that will be a better solution. Also, treat the reader supplying feedback with respect and, yes, wonder that they are willing to invest their time and energy in your work. Maybe even love them a little.

Alright, then. This has been a long-winded thank-you to my beta readers, with a discourse on the benefits I've seen which I hope you might find beneficial as you pound out those words and then lovingly shape them into a finished product.

Your thoughts and experience are more than welcome.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I waited till day two of NaNoWriMo to sign up, thinking that, in spite of being a procrastinator of the highest water, I could use the effort to get at least most of a draft of Freedom No Matter (working title), the sequel to Mercenaries: A Love Story complete. I had blasted about eight thousand words on flights to and from Hawaii - nothing like writing to keep your mind off the fact that you're five miles over nothing but water, and you're not in a seaplane - and another fifty thousand would move that into striking distance of the 80 - 100 Kwords I'm hoping the story can be told in. I've not sat down for today, and yesterday only offered about ten words, so I'm well behind the benchmark! But I can make up the ground.

Tune in next time when I talk about Beta Readers, and how no writer can be without them. Or how I can't at least. YMMV.