I am highly amused. In the last month and a half during the writer’s workshop, I’ve been bringing chapters of Tuatha de Rising for feedback. Today one of the other authors at the table said that he doesn’t normally like books geared towards a younger audience, but he is loving this one. Then he described it as “Harry Potter on mescaline.” I am thoroughly amused.
I’ve joined a new writer’s group, and we will be submitting writing every other week. We’ve just had our second critique session, and I like how the group is going.
I have to admit, though, I was bad. I started this blog in part to help me stay focused on the Tuatha de Rising writing project, but I decided to send a different non-YA writing project to the group that is closer to completion. I am still debating things like how much I should say on the blog about other writing projects. I would hate for someone to read one of my YA books and say “That’s great, I’m going to read this author’s other books” and then have them find this project, which has more of a gritty, dystopic setting and some themes that I consider not-age-appropriate for YA audiences.
After a computer algorhythm discovered J.K. Rowling’s new publication under a pseudonym, however, I’ve found myself debating about how much it is possible to keep my “adult” vs “children’s” writings separated by little more than a pseudonym and separate blogs. I figure people aren’t likely to subject writings to that level of scrutiny unless I strike an extraordinary amount of commercial success with Tuatha de Rising.
For reasons of my “day job”, there are reasons I would want to distance myself from certain of my writings via pseudonym for fear of them being scrutinized by potential employers. Tuatha de Rising is something I would feel comfortable connecting with my real name.
I am curious about your thoughts on writers maintaining multiple pseudonyms, and the logistics of keeping such alternate identities separate. How many of you publish (or plan to) under pseudonyms vs. your real name? How do you maintain your pseudonyms, especially if you have multiple pseudonyms for writing?
I finished Kelly Link’s book Magic for Beginners today. The short stories in the book are rich with detail and oddity. Sometimes I had to set the book down to get a break between the stories and clear my palate for the next one. Each of the stories dealt with unique “What if’s” and led to some wonderfully imaginative stories. I was initially surprised at some of the language and adult situations in the book because the friend that asked me to read it presented it as being a YA book. There wasn’t a lot of that though.
There are some of the stories I found particularly compelling, like “The Faery handbag” and “Magic for Beginners.” I was amazed by the variety of voices each short story was written in. There were some stories, however, like “Stone Animals” that seemed to drag with the pacing. It sometimes felt like the author was throwing in a lot of weird stuff just because it was weird, but didn’t have a satisfying direction for it. There were a few stories where I found the endings unsatisfying, with too much unresolved by the end. Overall, though, I did enjoy the book.
The friend who recommended it to me did so after hearing me do oral storytelling on a short story I wrote about ‘how Fiscassia got her name’, so I view it as a pretty big compliment that my story made her think of Kelly Link’s work. *Happy Dance*
I was on a trip this past week and had the opportunity to speak with Lola Karns, the author of Winter Fairy. Her book doesn’t exactly meet the “myth meets modern” kind of theme I’ve been trying to go with on this website, but I found it enjoyable nonetheless. I loved the ways that the young child in the book tried to establish interaction with the fairies, even though there was no direct appearance of fairies in the book. I also felt the way Lola handled the additional challenges involved in a widower entering the dating scene was consistent with the experiences that one of my widower friends has had: both with the adjustments he had to make, and the additional fears and insecurities involved for potential partners who knew that he still loved his wife and would still have been with her if she hadn’t passed on. The plot was pretty standard for a romance novel, but the execution was rich with detail and made for an interesting read.
Anyways, Lola and I also discussed blogs and book reviewing, and one thing she mentioned was that Goodreads regularly has contests for receiving prerelease books. Winning such contests is more likely if it is from a favorite genre of books that someone reads and reviews. I would love to post some more prerelease reviews for you, so I entered more books on Goodreads. I must say I’ve been amused to see that Goodreads felt my selection of books was more eclectic than I realized. I tend to think of myself as a lover of science fiction, fantasy, mythology, children’s books, and crossovers thereof. So far, Goodreads says that I like Biographies, Classics, Contemporary, Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, History, Historical Fiction, Horror, Memoir, Mystery, Nonfiction, Paranormal, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion, Romance, Science, Science Fiction, Spirituality, Suspense, Thriller, and Young Adult. Come to think of it, it would be shorter to list the genres it thinks that I don’t like.
I recently got my paws on an advance copy of The Arrivals by Melissa Marr, so I thought I would post a review. The basic premise is that people from different times in history get transported to a new world where deaths are usually a temporary thing. The story follows a small resistance group fighting the power of a man who is steadily gains control over this new world as well as the “arrivals” from other times. I know this blog focuses on “myth meets modern”, but this was more of a modern (along with western, gangster, and all the other genres that the resistance band represented) gets thrown into myth. Its not a genre I normally read, but I found the touches from different timeperiods interesting, particularly when it came to the explanation of the villain’s motives.
I recall a lot of authors grumping about the cover art for their books. I recall Mike Resnick being annoyed that one of his books got slapped with a cover of some sort of satellite floating in a starscape when the closest the characters ever got to space in the book was taking an elevator to the 20th floor of a building.
I hadn’t really thought about it until spotting this compilation of terrible novel covers, but I guess part of the advantage to self-publishing would be that the author can create a cover that isn’t totally misleading about what the book is about. Then again, I suppose that misleading novel covers can be a strategy for boosting sales, but it seems like those that get duped might be irritated about it afterwards.
What are your thoughts on cover art for traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? Or do you have some more examples of terrible cover art to share?
Phoenix Comicon has a whole slew of programming for authors, and two of them were Writer’s Critique groups. It required signing up in advance, and the queue formed an hour before sign up would begin. Authors would have two minutes to read a short piece or excerpt from a larger work, then would get feedback from professional authors. The wonderful authors that volunteered for this were Sharon Skinner and Tom Leveen.
I was working with a first draft of a section of Tuatha dé Rising
that focuses entirely on a performance delivered only through movement. My first concern was whether I had hit the right balance of describing movement so that the reader could see what was happening, without getting into such intricate detail that the pacing slogged. My second concern was that the scene was viewed from two different visual modes: One from the audience and one from a character seeing the world through the sight of the supernatural beings in Tuatha dé Rising
. The second concern I wanted to address was whether the way I chose to present the visual differences created the effects I was hoping for. Trying to strip down the draft so that my two minute reading could present both of these concerns was a valuable exercise in itself.
My hubby and brother-in-law are playing Injustice: Gods Among Us. This is a new fighting video game that features the Superheroes from DC Comics. (Yes, this is the same brother-in-law that practices the magical art of Beavermancy). During one of the fights, Aquaman breaks one of the glass walls of Atlantis and allows the ocean to rush in at his foe.
B.I.L.: If Atlanteans can breathe water, why do they keep building underwater buildings that are dry?
Me: So they can read books!
Hubby: There’s lots of advantages to having dry areas, like paper and drinking out of cups.
Heee, I’d never even thought about the difficulty of drinking out of cups underwater. And maybe a little telling about me that my first thought was about books. I am told that they do make waterproof books for adults now, but there isn’t much of a selection.
Later, in a combat with Batman, B.I.L. paused the game after Batman took a hit that broke his leg.
B.I.L.: Did you see that? He just broke his leg! Now he’s going to while like a little baby and go into retirement for 8 years. Oh, I hurt my leg, I can’t possibly continue fighting for Gotham when I have an ouchie!
I won’t say that Dark Knight Rising made Batman a household joke. We still have a lot of respect for Batman, just lost some respect for Christopher Nolan’s vision of him. Batman may be a lot of things, but a quitter is not one of them, not with his psychological issues. Batman Beyond had it right, with an elderly Batman wearing a robotic suit to compensate for his loss of physical prowess, still unwilling to give up his fight against crime even when getting heart attacks on the job.
Any funny moments you’d like to share? Has anyone tested out these waterproof books?
I have been traveling through New Mexico, and I kept grinning when I saw signs for Moriarty. I was going to have to stay somewhere overnight anyways, and after 12 hours of driving so, Moriarty was seeming like a really good place to stop. I am so disappointed, though. I haven’t seen a single Sherlock Holmes reference here. Someone really missed an opportunity.
On the upside, the Comfort Inn I am staying at has a bathtub in a configuration I haven’t seen before: It takes up a triangular corner of the bathroom, with a shelf in the actual corner, leaving this strange trapezoidal tub. I am amused by this and am subjecting it to rigorous scientific tests.
I hate doing this, but I have realized it is time for me and this book to part ways. It was a rocky relationship from the beginning. The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht started out with a prelude chapter of the main character describing her earliest memory from when she was four years old. In four pages of rich detail, the main character describes how they get to the zoo, everything that everyone was wearing, what they say, and what they packed for lunch the day that she went to the zoo and saw an accident where a tiger mauled a zoo employee.
That was the first time I put the book down. Nobody remembers their ‘earliest memories’ that clearly. I can understand that seeing a tiger attack would be memorable, but the amount of information that would get stored from that day that is clear enough to remember decades later would be a few brief moments surrounding that vividly gruesome event.
There are a few reasons for this psychologically. One is called “weapon focus” and is something that affects the accuracy of all eyewitness testimony: If there is a weapon involved in a scene, people get hyperfocused on the weapon itself and it becomes much more difficult for them to remember any other details about the scene clearly. They are focusing on the gun and whether or not it is pointed at them, and they aren’t as likely to notice little details like what the perpetrator looks like. In this case, the weapon is the tiger’s mouth and claws. She recalled lots of details about the attack itself and that is realistic, but chances are she would be so focused on what was happening with the tiger that she wouldn’t have noticed which other people in the crowd had turned away from the scene and which had watched. Even if these are things she sees in her peripheral vision at the time, it would not get stored in her memory because her attention would be on the tiger. That’s how memory works. It isn’t a video camera that records everything in finite detail: We tend to remember the important parts.
Second, and more importantly, people’s earliest memories are usually pretty brief moments in time, with not a lot of detail. I’ve done a lot of reading on the psychology of memory, but just in case I was misremembering, I asked several people what their earliest memory was: how old they were, and what happened. Most people had a hard time placing their exact age when the memory occurred and could relay the entire memory in 1-3 sentences.
One of my earliest memories was opening up a hardback book about dinosaurs while my sister was at swim lessons. I was sitting on the bleachers with my mom to my right and I could see the pool just above the top edge of the book. I remember being really excited about that book because I really loved dinosaurs, and being surprised at how the page was so white and had so many words on it.
It took three sentences to describe that memory. I don’t remember what my mom was wearing that day or what I was wearing that day. I don’t remember the car drive to get to the swim lessons, or the walk into the building, or anyone else being around. I don’t remember what I ate for lunch that day or what the weather was like. I don’t remember anything that was said to me before, during, or after opening the book. Early memories are short and tend to focus on something very important: What I remember was the moments where I first cracked open this amazing book and began to read.