Sunday, May 27, 2012

Thank You!

Updated May 28, once we got the flag up.

This post in honor of the veterans who have given their lives, their health, frequently their futures, to protect the way of life many of us take for granted. Thank you seems so small a thing to say...

I served in the US Navy for just over 4 years, back in the day. I was fortunate to be assigned, first to a school where I learned a trade I could parlay into a career, and then as part of Uncle's support of NATO, I went to Naples, Italy, for over two years, where I had the great good fortune to meet my wife. A first date on Capri was magical - must have been, 'cause she's stayed with me since! Closing out my experience was a year aboard a minesweeper, wintering in the Caribbean. While I served during the Vietnam conflict, I was never in a combat situation, nor in any danger I didn't bring on myself.

Many of our vets are not nearly so lucky. They die. They loose limbs. They suffer, from PTSD, from being away from friends and family for months or years at a time or from unemployment once they do get their papers.

Thank them.

Support elected officials who support Veterans Rights and programs to assist with medical issues, and with resocialization.

Support elected officials who will work to prevent the necessity for young women and men to die for what they believe.

It's ever so much better to live for what you believe.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pantsers Forever!

But I am left with a question.

A dedicated pantser, I begin to see some of the issues which arise when characters are given fairly free rein. One thing that happens, to me at least, is the cast list grows, sometimes pretty remarkably. Or maybe that should be uncontrollably?

For example, the fantasy epic I've been working on.
Part one is about 41K words, and has about 16 named characters.
Part two is about 82K words, and has about 28 named characters, of whom seven are common with part one.
Part three is about 18K words, and has 24 named characters. (A lot of world-building going on.)
Part four is about 83K words, and has 31 named characters, of whom four are common with part three.
Part five is about 200Kwords and has about 58 named characters. Fortunately, I think, all but four or five of these have been introduced before the first half is done.
Part six is an embarrassment; at 170K words, it is no more than 60 percent complete, and still has almost 90 named characters. Probably 20 of these are common with part five, but still.
Part seven is three short stories wound together, and runs just over novella length at 52K words. There are less than 30 named characters.

Because it is a series, a small set of the characters appear in most or all of the parts. Fewer than ten, however, so I can't use that as an excuse. One thing I should mention: the order of creation was 1, 4, 2, 5, 7, 3, 6, although except for part one, they were all written contemporaneously. Parts one and two are packaged together, as are parts three and four.

Along with the cast lists, the word counts grow. I suppose that's unavoidable as each of those character clamors for his or her bit of the action. Part seven will likely grow, but no more than a couple thousand words. I have yet to apply any effort to part five, but my goal there is to get to 160-170Kwords from the 200 it's at now. There's a lot of drivel, and if I recognize that, just wait till my readers get hold of it! Similarly for part six, I have to finish it and keep it at about 160K words. That's easy: just cut a word for every one I add! Glad I thought of that.

This little introspection brought to you courtesy of my trying to figure out how to deal with part six, to bring it into a manageable length. I fear this means excising one or more of my wonderful sub-plots. But the first part of that task is figuring out what exactly I wrote (while the muse twiddled her finger in my ear, and the characters ran amok!). An exercise I have to thank one of my friends for: synopsizing each chapter, will be of value as I find out where the story has gone, and what transpired to make it go that way. And which of the alleys should be bricked up and left for dead. Or for a different story, at least.

So, in a sort of conclusion, I'm left with this cautionary note: if you follow the ways of the pantsers, keep track of where you're headed. Keep your mind clear, and don't hesitate to tell a character that her or his deviation may be important to her or him, but by damn!, it's not to the story. Otherwise, you'll be left with unhappy characters picketing your muse and keeping her from working with you until the furor dies down.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Make Good Art"

Updated May 24: The video is now available subtitled, in a bunch of languages. Click here and choose your language.

I think this needs to be seen more, so if somehow you've missed it, take the few minutes to watch this through.

Then, be yourself by following Neil's precepts.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Back Again, With Questions

Last night, about 8:30, we arrived back home - whew! - after 4400 miles and 21 days, one graduation from US Army basic training, one wedding, visits with brother and aunt, not to mention Gramma's azaleas (not going to mention...).

I published Mercenaries: A Love Story on March 21. So far, it's sold two copies to people who are not family or friends - or if they are, they haven't admitted it. I hope that's not the case! It's in the Select program, but no borrows, so far.

This leads to a question: on Amazon, is there a way to see what the book's page views are? On Smashwords, the samples downloaded stat hinted at that, but I haven't found that for Amazon yet. If there are no page views, that would lead me in the direction of trying to increase visibility, but if there are page views that don't get converted, that implies that either the cover or the blurb aren't doing their job. Or at $4.99, the price is too high. Different things to fix. If there are page views, reviews might help, but there aren't any of those as yet.

With 35K words (about a third) of one WIP being looked at by a beta reader, and 130K words of a second WIP going out to a second reader, I have a minute or two to think on these things. If only I knew what to work on... If any readers feel they could provide an opinion on either the cover (visible to the right) or the description (below), please feel free. I won't hold anything you offer against you. Of course, you could say, work on everything... but I'd like to focus.

Mercenaries: A Love Story

Beckie Sverdupe, typical high-school student and accomplished equestrienne, has a best friend, a younger brother, and no plans beyond homework and the upcoming pep rally.

Then, she is kidnapped to be buried alive. Her strength and resourcefulness during that ordeal causes the enigmatic young mercenary, Ian Jamse, to ask for her help in rescuing another abducted girl. During spring break, she and her best friend play exotic dancer in London and, within a day, find themselves being massaged in a Italian villa! The sex-trader is thwarted this time, but he continues to ply his evil trade in San Diego by hijacking a middle-school school bus.

Beckie chooses to put herself back on the stage, within the slaver’s grasp, to free the California girls. Jamse sees financial gain. The two of them chase the fiend from London to Arizona to Thailand, where Beckie learns what she really wants from life.

This is Mercenaries: A Love Story complete. All four stories are here in one volume.
Bonus! An excerpt from Freedom No Matter, the next book in this series.
Mercenaries: A Love Story is recommended for 16+ for language and mature situations

The book is just over 153K words and it's not available in paper. Does anyone think having a 500 page book available would add to its success?