Friday, March 25, 2011

Team Writer FOR THE WIN!

The debate between indie and traditional (trad) publishing has heated recently and it's created a lot of animosity that I just don't understand. I feel like a divide has been growing - Team Indie vs. Team Trad. And before I delve into this, I feel the need to say that just because I'm happy to be Indie and I do things like Indie Authors Relief Fund, doesn't mean that I'm all "GO TEAM INDIE!" That I think every writer should be indie and you're stupid for not doing it my way.

I do support my fellow indies. I think it's a brave, progressive and sometimes lonely route to publication. So I cheer on those of us who do it.

But I don't think it's the only way. Just as I obviously don't think trad is the only way. The world has given us many opportunities and paths to take to get our books into readers' hands. And that's the goal for all of us, right?

With success stories of indie authors such as Amanda Hocking, unpublished writers recently seem to feel the need to justify why they don't want to go indie. Very opposite what it was like when I decided over a year ago - when writers who did go indie were the ones feeling the need to justify. People on both paths can become quite defensive in justifying their reasons.

Both roads are full of pot holes and detours that are frustrating, but the writer has good reasons for fighting their way through. Unfortunately, sometimes their points are made by emphasizing how much worse that other road is. Which only sparks angry retorts by some who chose that other road because they feel the need to defend themselves. Both sides feel like they're being personally attacked. Thus, we have this great divide.

Then there are those who decide to publish a book independently because, for whatever reason the universe had at the time, it didn't sell traditionally, and the author feels like they gave up...or gave in. That by going indie, even if just with one book, means they're admitting failure. Or, at least, defeat. I've had these same feelings on occasion. But why should we feel down?

A trad book sale requires so many things to come together perfectly that the odds just aren't in the writer's favor. But that doesn't mean it's a bad book, bad writing or a bad author. And it doesn't mean that readers don't want to read it. So what is wrong with getting that book out there for readers to enjoy? It's better than a good story sitting in the dark corners of a hard drive.

We're at an exciting point in time where writers are empowered to choose. And choosing one way doesn't mean we can't ever go the other way. Several long-time authors who have been trad published for years, even decades, are going indie. And more and more indie authors are getting trad contracts. The breaking news this week is that Amanda Hocking has a reported $2 million deal with St. Martin's Press. Nice job, Amanda!

She discusses here a little about why she would even consider going trad when she's doing so well as an indie. She has excellent reasons. Her story - as well as some of her points in that blog post - support what I said back in July in a guest post here. That writers now have the opportunity to reach readers directly and build a fan-base...and that trad publishers will eventually take notice.

In fact, Amanda may be the case-in-point (or at least the poster girl that she didn't set out to be but nevertheless is) that this route just may be the best for everyone in the industry: writers indie-publish and start a following and then publishers can grow that fan-base exponentially. Readers get to be the gatekeepers - the ones who decide which books and authors they want to read. Which is really a great thing for everyone.

But what I like most about Amanda's post is her point that we shouldn't be taking sides. That we should all be TEAM WRITER. Because we're all reaching for the same goal - to see our books being read. The journey to achieve that goal is different for everyone and we shouldn't be criticizing others for the routes they take. We should be supporting them, cheering them on, helping each other along the way. Because each new path forged is one more way for others to follow. Another choice. Another way to empower the writer.

It's time to stop criticizing each other and ourselves for whichever path we take. It's time to embrace the amazing possibilities before us. It's time to stop throwing rocks and insults at the person on that parallel road to publication and start throwing chocolate and woo-hoo's at them. We're all on the same team!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spank Me

I know, mama blog, I've been a bad blogger. I haven't posted here in a while and I really don't know why. Except that I'm writing a novella for MarNo. And editing book 3. And trying new marketing ideas for Promise and Purpose. And running two businesses. And cooking and cleaning (well, one of those is a lie). And planning a high school graduation...and sports...and prom. And somewhere in there, I basically collapsed from exhaustion.

Wait, before you get all excited and mama-worried, I didn't actually collapse, as in fall down, faint, etc. But my body and brain pretty much told me, ENOUGH! I mean, it absolutely refused to function more than absolutely necessary for nearly a week. I wrote a few words, took care of clients and cooked a meal or two, but that's it. The rest of the time I slept and read. I had no energy to do anything more.

I've never had that happen before and I'm still trying to recover. I almost wonder if it's more than exhaustion, but I have this thing about doctors. I should probably go, but...well, maybe soon. ish. If things don't drastically improve.

I can say the afternoon at the spa certainly helped things. I've never done that before - go to the spa - and OMGoodness - ALL goodness - do I recommend it. I just wish I could do it again. Like right now. Much rather that than the doctor. And it probably costs less than the doctor, too. sorry I've been a bad blogger, mama-blog. If you think I deserve a spanking, go for it. Maybe it'll wake me up.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Men Who Don't Wear Pants & Other Lessons I'm Learning

As I mentioned the other day, I'm working on a novella for the March Novel Writing Challenge. This was going to be a Top Sekrit Project because I'm still not sure how it will turn out. I mean, at this point, I'm not even sure it'll be a novella; it may end up being a full-length novel. Also, it's very different than Promise, Purpose and Book 3, yet some things are familiar because it's kind of part of the Soul Savers Series. And since I'm not good at keeping secrets - obviously - I can provide some insight because I'm learning a lot.

First, the "real" books of the Soul Savers Series tell Alexis's story. We're always in her head with 1st person POV. This new WIP, however, tells three people's stories with 3rd person, changing POV. Because I've been so obsessed busy with Tristan (and Alexis), I haven't written in 3rd person in a very. long. time. And I can't remember ever trying to write with changing POVs. It's excellent writing practice. I just hope I can pull it off. The main lessons to keep in mind with changing POV:
  • Don't change POVs in the middle of a scene unless you have good reason and you're a complete mastermind writer.
  • Use the POV that best fits the scene. Usually this is the character who has the most at stake in this particular scene.
  • Use POV switches to add tension. Leave one character dangling in a tree to go see what the other character is doing. Of course, this has to be done carefully. The scene switch must be necessary, not just a hat trick to add suspense.

Second, the main Soul Savers books are contemporary - take place right now. Well, Promise was 9 years ago, but that's not exactly major history or anything. This WIP, however, is historical. As in ancient history. Seriously. It takes place around 300-100 BC in the Ancient Greece/Roman Empire era...and location. And this is freakin' hard!

My mind wants to keep going to the Medieval Ages or to Braveheart or the like and I have to tell myself, "No! Further back!" I'll need to reacquaint myself with Troy (no problem there!), Gladiator and possibly Passion of the Christ because I'm having a hard time visualizing what they wear, what weapons they use and where they live. I've been doing lots of research and here's what I've learned so far:
  • Historians have very little in the way of clothing artifacts from that time. They have jewelry and art. The art does portray people in clothing, but it's still hard to see what the subjects are wearing.
  • Men dressed more ornately than women. In fact, men's clothing demonstrated class, whereas women pretty much all wore the same thing, regardless of class or status. They displayed wealth by adorning their hair and clothing with jewels. Women wore togas in very early Roman times, but later, the only women who wore them were prostitutes. So the toga was like their scarlet letter - a mark of disgrace for the woman, but a mark of honor for a man. Go figure.
  • Everyone wore two basic pieces of clothing - the peplos or chiton and a himation. The peplos and chiton are like tunics and the himation is a cloak. What does this mean? Remember those movies mentioned above? Do you recall seeing anyone wearing pants? Well, they don't. Not even warriors wore pants back then. How did they keep their legs warm and protected??? I guess in all their brilliance, they didn't figure that one out. Men without pants makes writing a somewhat romance quite interesting. Kind of like writing about the Scots.
I don't know if any of these lessons have been useful for you, but maybe they've at least been enlightening. Have you learned anything interesting this week for the sake of your writing? Please, do share!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

MarNo - March Novel Writing Month

So Dawn Embers twisted my arm and promised me cupcakes if I did the March Novel Writing Challenge (aka MarNo), so I thought very hard about it, chewed my fingernails off as I worried about the consequences of failure and spent many sleepless nights debating whether or not to participate. Okay, that's all a lie.

Actually, she just happened to mention it on Twitter last night (because like a bad follower - who's been on deadline, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it - I didn't catch it on her blog). And I said, cool, that's actually something I can do.

My plan was to write a novella this month anyway. Even after finishing the first draft of Book 3, I'm still in the zone. That ever-elusive creative place that I don't want to waste just because I finished a WIP. And this novella was next in line anyway and I figured while I write it, Book 3 can "rest" before I go back for revisions. The characters are starting to speak loudly in my head, so I'm ripe for this project.

I've never been able to do NaNoWriMo because November is just a horrible month for such insanity and last year it was right before Purpose's release. All my free time was spent on the business and marketing side of being an author. So I'm excited to participate in my first major group write-a-thon.

My goal: Finish the novella or, if it turns into a novel (because the ideas have been flowing so heavily, it just might), at least 40K. I'd go more, but I do have to do some editing on Book 3 by the end of the month.

Want to join us? Dawn has a sign-up here. You don't have to write. You can revise instead. And your goal can be whatever you want it to be. Just have one and share it so you have something to work toward.

If you sign up, I'd love to see your goals in the comments!