Friday, November 30, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update #5 - The End?

Well, it's the end of National Novel Writing Month. How did I do? Pretty well, I think. I made the 50k word goal. I actually finished the book at 62k words. I've even done a quick round of editing and have the book posted up at Smashwords. I'm going to leave it up there for a little. I think it's a good representation of what a first draft is like. I'm rather proud of what I accomplished in one month and I think it's great that so many people wrote so many words.

I'm going to take a little break from this book and then give it a thorough editing before deciding what to do next. Right now I'm thinking of getting some professional help with the editing and the cover and probably self-publishing. It's a good story if you don't mind lots of bad things happening and lots of bad people involved. I was asked the other day if it has a happy ending and don't think I can say yes, but the bad people get what's coming to them and there is some hope. Maybe not happy, but it makes me feel good.

Here's the final excerpt of mine and please follow the links below to the updates from my fellow Absolute Writers.

A Daughter's Revenge: A Necessary Evil Tale (Chapter 14 excerpt)

“Ya come closa an I cut im.”

I shake my head. “He’s not really my brother. I just want the purse.”

“Wa purse?” 

Great. The stupid man doesn’t even know why he’s robbing the kid. I look to the boy to see if he has any thoughts.

“If you save me, I’ll show you where I hid it.”

So he hid it during his flight. Smart. I could try to track his route and might be able to find it, but it could be anywhere. If he’s any good it will be somewhere no one else will find it. It will be much easier if he’s alive to show me.

“Okay,” I say to the kid, “you duck and I’ll take care of the old man.” I catch the kid’s eye and look down at his feet, hoping he’ll take the clue.

“Wha?” The old man is confused and tightens his grip on the boy’s coat.

The boy stomps on the man’s foot and twists away from the knife. At the same time I lung forward and stab into the man’s shoulder. He squeaks and drops the knife. He also loses his grip on the kid who tries to make a break for it. I expected that too and I swing my blade into his knee. I use the flat so it only knocks him to the ground.

The old man is clutching his shoulder and I only lunge at him to make him run away. I bend down and pick up the knife lying on the ground before walking over to the kid who’s sitting up grabbing at his knee.

“I think you broke it,” he complains.

“Shut up,” I tell him. “I don’t care if you have to hop, you’re going to show me where you hid the purse. Then I’m going to take it. If I’m real happy about what’s inside it, I’m going to let you live.”

List of AW participants:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Booking Through Thursday - Being a Reader

This week's Booking Through Thursday question is a little deeper. Here's what we've got:

I was talking to a co-worker the other day about a book I’d read recently, and realized how very, very few people I can do that with. In my daily life, it seems like almost no-one reads anything more than a newspaper or a fashion magazine. I only have one person I can truly chat about books with … and yet, being a Capital-R-Reader, I simply can’t imagine going through life without a book constantly at hand, or shelves of them proudly displayed downstairs. I’m proud of being a person who not only reads, but who reads a lot–not just in volume but in variety. I like having an inquiring mind. I like exploring new ideas. I love following an intricately plotted story (the more layers the better). I love BEING a reader and simply can’t imagine what it’s like to go through life without being one.

Am I the only one who feels this way? That wonders at how other people can simply NOT do something that should be so essential? Who feels almost sad that so many people seem content to go through their lives without stretching their mental wings at all?

Can you imagine NOT being a Reader? How does it shape your life? Your perception of it?

How does being a Reader affect your relationship with all those folks who are looking at it from the other side and simply can’t understand how you can sit and READ all the time?

Here's my response and don't forget to check the comments on the BTT site for everyone else's.

I think I approach this a little differently than most writers. You see, I am a reader, but not with a capital R. I've read a lot in the past and I love books. I go through periods where I read one book right after another. But I also go through periods where I don't read at all. The more I write the harder I find it to read - I'd rather lose myself in the world I create than what someone else created. My reading has become more about research and technique than pure enjoyment.

When I was a kid, escaping into the characters' lives was one of the greatest joys of reading. Now, as an adult, I'm pretty happy with the life that I have. I don't think I'm too busy to read, but when I have free time I'd rather be doing something active. Outside. With other people. I don't have to escape to a different world - I really enjoy living in the real world I have. There are so many aspects of life that enrich, challenge, educate, enthrall, amaze and entertain me. I don't need to read to get that.

I still do like to escape now and then. I couldn't imagine never reading. But what I get out of reading I also get elsewhere. I think many people do. What's most important is that people learn and grow, stretch their minds and experience new and different things, understand the world beyond themselves. Books are such an incredibly great way to do that, but they're not the only way.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Vanity? Publishing

So Simon and Schuster announced a partnership with Author Solutions to form a new company, Archway, geared to help authors with self-publishing (article here). It will be a 'premium' service that offers packages of editing/cover design/etc. Nothing really new there except that it's one of the big 6 trade publishers that's getting into the game. But what surprises me is that I've already seen a couple industry professionals refer to this as vanity publishing (in a clearly dismissive way).

Now, I do get the concept of vanity publishing. If you write a book and try to get someone to publish it and everyone rejects you and you decide to publish it with your own money anyway - there could be some vanity involved. But to consider everyone who believes in their own work enough to self-publish is only doing it because they're vain just flies in the face of reason.

Trade publishers provide a service (editing/marketing/cover design/etc.) and they charge you money for it (you don't have to pay up front, but you definitely pay). Self-publishing can involve the exact same things except that you pay the people who perform those services up front and directly. It's a very simple business proposition - you can choose to accept the financial risk and pay for things yourself in the hopes of getting a greater return. This same situation and choice happens in pretty much every industry out there. Why is it considered such a bad thing in the literary world?

My opinion - and take it for what it's worth - is that way too many people in the publishing world think they're special. That books is different than widgets. That it's not an industry but a calling. That they are doing important works. They are necessary and vital to the betterment of society. I think they're wrong.

(For the record, I think many writers think they're special and are wrong for all the same reasons. I believe I am special, but not because I write, not because of how I earn a living, but because of who I am and how I interact with the world and the people in it. Writers and publishers (and agents, editors, cover artists, etc.) might be special, too, but not because of their career choice.)

I have self-published some things. I plan to self-publish more. My main writing goal is still to go through a trade publisher (hopefully a big 6) and utilize their valuable services. I like their business model. But the arrogance to suggest that it's the only way and anyone who believes enough in themselves to spend money on their work is to be looked down upon - well, that's just vain.

Monday, November 26, 2012

NaNoWriMo Special Bulletin

Just a quick update because it's kind of an important one: I finished the book! I know, it's just a first draft, but it still feels great to have a complete story. I'm going to spend the rest of the month (all five days) doing some editing. I want to see just how complete a product I can produce in one month. Then I'll take a break from it to get some perspective.

If you're interested in checking out the book, I have the finished draft up at Smashwords. At the end of the week I'll upload the edited version. I'll probably take it down in a little since my plan right now is to send it out for professional editing, get some cover work done, and self-publish it as a real book. So if you want to read it before it comes out (and for free) you should get on that  soon.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Para Blog Hop

So I've been graced to join a little blog hop by my friend Christina Jean Michaels at The Muse of My Imagination. NaNoWriMo has consumed my world (I'm so close to finishing...) but I'm taking a little time out of my writing schedule to hop along. The idea is to share a paragraph from your work that contains the word (or idea of) longing. Along with that comes a little information about the author. Before we get to me, I'm going to share a paragraph and some info about the person who tagged me. So here's a little about Christina, in her own words:

A little about Christina:

When I was young my mother said I hated words. Now I can't imagine not writing. I became an avid reader when I was thirteen and discovered the wonderful world of the Sweet Valley series. About a year later I realized I could play God and write about my own characters. I've been writing in some form ever since.

Now as I tackle completion of Epiphany, I moonlight as a wife, mother, and a part-time student. I’m hoping to release Epiphany by May, 2013. And in the spirit of sharing and exchanging paragraphs, here’s a paragraph from my WIP, titled Epiphany:

His words found the bulls-eye of my heart, began to patch over the hurt that had lived there for so long. I opened my eyes and found my longing mirrored in his. I couldn’t speak. I wouldn’t know what to say anyway. I did the only thing I could think of—the only thing that felt right. I kissed him.

Sounds like a great read, doesn't it. Here's a little about me (Blair):

I'm actually fairly private so you won't find a picture of me here. Or anywhere. I love to share my writing and interact with people through my blog, but I don't think the rest of my life has anything to do with my writing. I'm happy to let my work speak for itself and have people approach it without any preconceived notions. My writing (and my reading) range quite a bit. Right now I've been working on a rather dark fantasy story for NaNoWriMo that might be YA (it has a teen protagonist) but probably isn't - the themes are more adult. I'm also working on a SciFi book that is definitely YA and very positive, filled with good people struggling to overcome adversity. I've also written a modern love story that has good and bad. See, hard to categorize it all together. But since I'm all about NaNo at the moment, here's a paragraph from my project. I'm pretty happy with how it's turning out and most likely will publish it sometime in the unknown future after much editing and revision.

A Daughter's Revenge: A Necessary Evil Tale

He is a good man. He’s offering me a life, a real life. A chance to have children and raise them and grow old and die. He’s not much different than Tomas was and my life might be harder in the city but it wouldn’t be so bad. But he said it himself: I don’t have a father. Nor a mother. Nor a brother, nor two sisters. No family at all. I’m not alive for myself; I’m alive for them. I can’t let myself see Charlie’s look of longing and devotion. I see Jaken's cruel grin, Falton’s beady eyes. I can’t care about Charlie. I care only for revenge.

Finally, here's a couple folks who I'm passing the torch to. Check out their great blogs now and hopefully get a little paragraph from them next week:

Alex at Excerpts From Nonexistent Books
Randi at The Emotional Process of Writing a Novel

NaNoWriMo update #4

I win! Well, that's according to the rules of National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50k words of a new novel all within one month. I started on November 1st and I've now written 52k words. Technically, that's a win. But my goal is to write the whole book - seems to be what the name implies. So I've still got a little work to do (but I have a little time to do it).

I think I have another 15k words to go, but I also just added a chapter and changed some things so I have to go back and rewrite a previous chapter. The changes are well worth it as I've weaved together a few separate plot elements and wrapped up some secondary story lines. I've also worked out the path to the end and a slight change in the ending that gives it all more depth. I can see the finish and I'm heading straight for it.

If you haven't seen my previous posts, be aware that I've decided to use Smashwords NaNoWriMo set up in order to keep publishing my work in progress. As I write this, it's complete through chapter 8. I hope to have through chapter 10 by this weekend. You can download the entire thing for free here:

Here's a little excerpt of mine and please follow the links below to the updates from my fellow Absolute Writers.

A Daughter's Revenge: A Necessary Evil Tale (Chapter 11 excerpt)

He dances with me. He spins and flows like a leaf on the wind. It only makes me madder and try harder. I remember the trade and counter-trade with Arinal and I attempt to draw him in, to use his own speed and strength against him, but he never over commits, is never off balance. I use the most complicated attack I know but he uses a Rota I’ve never seen before that spins the blade out of my hand and leaves me defenseless.

“But I must have my revenge.” I drop to my knees with my arms open before him, putting myself at his mercy.

“Then sell yourself to a brothel,” he says. “Learn the art of the whore. Become a courtesan and after the evil lord has his way with you, slit his throat with a dagger.” He describes it coldly. “Or learn the bow and shoot him as he rides in the woods. Dead is dead.”

“But I must learn the sword.” I know it’s the only way that will work, the only way to get to both Jaken and Falton. “I will kill them honorably, unlike the death they brought to my family.”

“Honor?” He says the word like it’s acid in his mouth. “There is no such thing as honor. Honor is the lie the aristocrats use to justify their selfishness. The poor use honor to console themselves for their miserable lives. We are all dying in this world, fast or slow, through starvation or sword, it matters not. Make of that what you will.”

He nods to a pair of the guardsmen and they step forward to seize me. They pull me to my feet and towards the exit of the yard.

“Give her her sword. Both of them. And show her to the gate,” the Master calls out after us.

The pair turns to question him. “Shouldn’t we lock her up?”

The Master looks at me when he answers. Is that pity in his eyes? Disdain? “No. Send her on her way. If she comes again I will kill her.” There’s nothing in his eyes.

List of AW participants: