Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Call.

Last day of a bad year/decade. It's pretty impressive when an entire decade sucks. I haven't experienced that before. But it was basically a write-off from beginning to end. Except for my sister's new family, of course. They are the bright stars of the Uh-Ohs.

And off to the Tweens and Teens! The exclamation mark was just to cover up how completely exhausting the idea is. Ten more years? I think I may start rooting for the Mayans. Because the Georgian calendar keeps ending and nothing happens. Bummer.

In writing news from the penultimate time zone, I restarted work on my new book. I should note that the last change date on the file was October 27, 2008, so there is a bit of catching up to do. Oddly, the one thing that eerily interfered with the writing the last time flared up again and ended my work day today. No point in explaining what that thing is, but I'm impressed by the irrational link. Not a health matter, but a large object with a life of its own.

More work tomorrow. Hope the interfering object does not get hit by an asteroid. Too bummed to think of champagne. Perhaps an early bedtime and end to 2009.

To the Uh-Ohs. You could not suck enough.

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Adult? (From an Old Adult).

Looks like we have a new genre on our hands: New Adult. Presumably it is an offshoot of the fantastically successful Young Adult. New Adult seems to come after YA and before, well, A. The problem is, what does it mean?

There was no YA in my day (that's a good story, Grandma!). We were shunted directly from the children's section into adult fiction. Some of us got no farther than Science Fiction for some years, but most were left to wander the wide world of fiction in a Joycean peregrination. If we could get past the librarian (no small feat), we could take home anything that caught our semiliterate fancy.

Not so much, these days. The library where I volunteer has a Teen Room where the YA is kept. What happens to teens who make it to twenty? They are left to face all of fiction. Or were, but now we have NA...

Who are New Adults? Twentysomethings? Just those in college? Or is it just for vampires in college? Does my library have to build a new room for them? Very confusing. In any event, there would be no NA if some marketer somewhere didn't think he or she could reach potential readers and sell to them. That is the name of the game. Unless someone, somewhere believes a genre or book will sell to readers, that genre won't exist and that book won't be published. So we'll see where NA goes.

Bonus Answer: Know why there are very few books and movies set in the college years, compared to the years before and after? Because storytelling focuses on people in situations where they feel trapped. Readers and audiences want to watch people struggle to overcome their problems and strive for freedom. Think a high school student or employed person raising a family will feel sorry for a college student's problems? Yeah, nope.

Remember this reaction: "Wow, that person's really in trouble. I wonder how he or she will get out of it." Let that inform your writing. And your query letter.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Big Writing Suggestion.

Here's an idea: Never, ever, never ever ever, start a piece of writing with a character waking up in the morning. We've all done it. We've all seen it done. Many, many times.

Start anywhere else. Be fascinating: skip to the morning trip to the toilet. Nobody goes to the toilet in fiction.

Maybe that's why it's fiction.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Well That's Evil.

PublishAmerica has a series of new goofball lures to try to entice their writers to buy their own books. Get this claim: if a PA writer buys X number of their own overpriced paperbacks, PA says they will send copies to:

1. Walmart.
2. Oprah.
3. Soldiers in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. For Christmas.

Shall we say I doubt the veracity of these claims? I don't much care about the extra effort involved for the staffs of Walmart and Harpo to carry such books to the dumpster. I'm sure that's a regular part of the gig. Honestly, folks, do you believe that either enterprise selects books that arrive in the mail? Did you ever think that there might be folks who buy books for Walmart (and Costco, Target, etc.) as a career? Nobody knows how Oprah picks out her melodramas, but it's not like this.

And sending books to soldiers for Christmas? Lovely idea. I've sent books (not my own) to soldiers in Afghanistan. The deadline this year was December fourth. So PA is what, fibbing? Or are they just uninformed? Shocking! Or is there just possibly a chance that PA is not printing and sending these extra books anywhere? That the whole thing is a fabrication? If they're going where PA says they're going, I want pics.

In short, folks, if you want to know how something works, whether it's publishing of selecting books for Walmart, at least Google it. If more people would just do that, I might not have a PA to rail against.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Weird Theory.

Anyone who has read this blog for a while (hi, Mom!) will know that I have a bit of a hobby-horse going on the subject of self-publishing. I love the blog Self-Publishing Review (, and its rule that the reviewer will only read a book until he or she encounters fifteen errors. In most self-published books that does not take many pages.

Self-published writers tend to be defensive about their printed errors. Indeed, in self-publishing forums I read, I hear a common refrain:

"There are lots of mistakes in commercially-published books, too!"

Maybe I'm reading the wrong books, but no, there are not. I'll confess that I rarely read genre fiction. For the most part, I read literary fiction. So maybe times are tough in the genres. Maybe there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth amongst the editorial staffs in romance, horror, and science fiction as mistakes slip past their overworked blue pencils. But somehow I don't think so.

How's this for a theory? Writers who are driven into the questionable embrace of self-publishing, writers who produce the books with the requisite fifteen errors in three pages, just perhaps those writers are seeing errors that aren't there. Books that I would read and find no errors, these folks would read and find many. Because, and follow me closely here, they're wrong.

Startling, ain't it?