Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Other sources for research

Jas Townsend and son is a company who sell period clothing and equipment to reenactors covering about 1750-1840.  They are an awesome source to use when writing a period book.  Ever wanted to know what that chamber pot looked like?  Did you know that there was a regency equivalent to a dry erase board?  On top of all the items they sell they have an excellent youtube channel. There are videos about cooking, building ovens, setting up tents, making ink.... I've found them very helpful in my current project.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Good news for self publishers (and everyone else)

Amazon is working to ban the "spam" ebooks that have been littering the kindle lists.  Hopefully this will reduce the people who reprint things public domain or plagiarize other people's books so the real books on the kindle will have a better chance of being seen.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


You may have noticed the blog has been a little quiet of late.  I've been in the middle of first drafting.  It's not going easy.  I find that I can balance about three sometimes four things in my day with out feeling utterly stressed out.  Top slot is being a Mom/ babysitter.  Next comes the basic housework so I don't drown in dishes or diapers. I'm trying to squeeze writing into that third slot, the one that is usually filled with cooking, shopping and gardening.  It's not working very well. 

You'll notice everything else on my daily list has to do with making things nicer around the house for my family.  I'm particularly prone to falling into that trap, until recently my "me time" was dancing on Monday nights and an occasional weekend away where I was cooking for thirty people. 

It's hard to think of writing as a job when you aren't being paid for it yet.  It's hard to push things aside, even dull things like laundry or sweeping the kitchen floor because if they aren't done I feel guilt that I'm not getting everything I need to done. 

Finding that balance has been really hard.  If my blogging lags for a bit here I'll be back again soon.  This time at least the silence hopefully means that work is being done behind the scenes.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Monday Monday

Today is a total Monday.  Have you checked out the latest Writing Excuses podcast today?  They are going into details about projects that they have written and go into detail about how it was created. 

We also have a nifty infographic of how a book is created from idea to publication.  Enjoy and I hope your Monday is sane!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Agent brain

Have you ever wanted to see how an agent reads a slush pile?  Nelson Literary agent Sara Megibow weekly posts a 10 queries in 10 tweets on Tursday.  Here's the link!  https://twitter.com/#!/SaraMegibow

Everything is done as anonymously as possible and not maliciously.  Check it out.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How do you avoid a bad situation....

Last week the story of Undead Press and their "editing" practice was released on the internet.  If you missed it the story is here.  Today Writer Beware has an excellent post on how to minimize you chances of something like this happening to you. (Caveat I don't have the contract, undead may have this language and ignored it.  Theses things are like locking the doors of your car, they might not prevent you from getting broken into but they should at least help lower the odds.)  As always reading and understanding your contract is at the heart of the matter.  I recommend yesterday's post and checking through their archives. Pub Rants has an excellent section on publishing contract 101.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Shit hits the fan

I don't bleep curse words here.  Every word is a tool and poo has an entirely different connotation then shit or excrement or turds.

Regardless things are a little crazy at Casa de Cricket so on that subject here's a good post about writing through the craziness by Nathan Bradford:  How to keep writing when the S*** Hits the fan.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Scams and Shams

There is a new scam out there in the Epublishing world. A company called e-Publishing Revo is offering to publish your ebook for the *sarcasm* low price of $299.  Or for an extra hundred bucks they will "edit it" and "market it."  Revo's parent company has a reputation for it's "marketing", or as most people would call it mass spamming.

We revert back to Yogg's law on this one.  Money flows from the publisher to the author, never the reverse.  There is a full write up on this scam including some great information on author royalties at WriterBeware.

And don't forget to check out this week's Writing Excuses.

Monday, May 14, 2012

How to write a novel

I am exhausted from the weekend so here's a great post by someone who isn't brain dead. I'll talk to you tomorrow. How to write a novel by Lani Taylor. Steps 6-8 are particularly important.

Friday, May 11, 2012


I am off for the weekend so here is Ira Glass talking about storytelling. There are four parts.
Part 1
Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Crazy town....

After 3 mights up till about midnight sewing I can see the end of the tunnel. I'm still plugging away to get my word count done before the weekend though so today's post brought to you by a couple of links on what it costs to make a book:
Profit and Loss by Anna Genoese.  The article was written in 2006 and she includes some updates here

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


First, if you haven't seen it and don't want to be spoiled, DO NOT READ FURTHER!

I am assuming you either don't care about spoilers or you already saw the movie.  Last chance for fluffy bunnies. 

First I loved this movie.  Marrying six characters, four of them who already have had their back stories written out and keeping them all interesting is no easy feat.  The first act of the story was more drawn out then some of the previous films out of a need to establish all six main characters, Loki and Shield for the audience.  One regret I had was that Agent Maria Hill felt a little interchangeable as a character, it felt as if any random soldier could have filled that part.

On the reverse side of that the Black Widow subverting the helpless damsel trope was brilliant.  I find the idea that in rage someone exposes themself as much or in these cases more then the "victim" is an interesting and empowering idea.

This brings me to one of the best things Joss managed.  Every single character got a moment where the audience literally applauded.  Hulk stole the show though.  "Puny god."  There was less of an arc with the main characters.  You can't move them forward too much because of the limits of the franchise.  Ironman 3 is in some form of production now and Thor and Captain America sequels are in the pipeline.  Still Steve Rodgers ended the film more comfortable with the world outside.  Tony Stark and Rodgers push each other in the development so that Stark ends up more selfless and Rodgers more willing to look at the world with out the idealized view of his past.  Thor ended up with very little development. His interactions with Loki were limited, in my opinion because if he was the proactive force the movie could have ended up being Thor 2 instead of an ensemble. Bruce Banner continues the journey echoing Rodger's acceptance journey and Stark's quest to do the right thing even if that sacrifices himself or in Banner's case his need to keep control.

Whedon's trademark is his witty banter and it keeps the very expected journeys from becoming trite.  The villain's journey is one of the more underdeveloped.  Loki's backstory and motivations are implied with his interactions with Thor but not explained.  Whedon's other trademark is to let you grow attached to a character so that when he's killed you feel it. Agent Coulson's role was just that, a brutal moment just after a moment of strength.  His last words were a very meta reference to the heroes needing his death to motivate them.  Fury twist the knife even further taking the death to the point of mellow drama when he
doctors the cards with blood and flings them all on the table.

The third act of this was dynamite. Let's be honest.  We knew generally how this was going to end.  You can't have a movie called the Avengers with out knowing that our heroes are going to team up and defeat the bad guy at the end of the day.  The brilliance of the third act is that even though you know they will win you don't care. You don't need the mystery to keep engaged with the story.  We know Hulk is going to come back. We know that Tony isn't going to die, although the earlier death allows you to worry about Black Widow and Hawkeye who don't currently have movie franchises behind them.  But the action is good, the lines are quotable and hilarious, and the ending satisfies the story.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Writer's groups

I've been looking for a good writers groups for a while now. This week, in the midst of all my other chaos, I am going to check out a local group to see if we'd make a good fit.  Every group has it's own rules but here are some of the rules I follow for critiques:

  • If you are the one being critiques don't speak unless there is a direct and specific question asked of you.  Don't defend or justify your work.
  • As the critiquer start with something positive.  If you can not find anything positive you probably should critique.
  • Don't be personal in your critique.
  • Don't say how you would rewrite it.  No "you shoulds."
  • Find a middle ground between nit picking grammar and word choice and painting in broad strokes. "I liked it," not helpful.  "I liked X because of Y," is much more informative.
A lot of my material comes from Brandon Sanderson's course.  Go watch the video, he's got some great stuff in there. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

This week is going to be crazy!

This week I am prepping to feed about 25 people over the weekend and sewing a costume for my RCSD troop demonstration the weekend after that.  It's made life nuts over here so I may be in and out this week.  Blogging should be more or less back next week as normal. 

So check out this week's Writing Excuses.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Making promises

Writing a story is making promises to your reader.  You set up your characters and your world and you reveal questions about them.  Then over the course of your story you give the audience the answers.  Now every question does not and should not be answered, but your readers will expect certain questions raised by your story to be answered for them to feel satisfied. 

A perfect example of this is Pat Rothfuss's King Killer trilogy. *Spoilers ahead for the first 2 books*  Rothfuss sets up Kvothe's story as a story literally being told in the book.  Present day Kvothe has become an innkeeper by the known by the name of Kote and Chronicler has come to hear his life story.  At the end of chapter seven in the first book, The Name of the Wind, Rothfuss tells us most of the promises that he will pay out over the course of the story.
 "I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the city of Trebon. I have spent the night with Fellurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age then most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to gods, loved woman, and written songs that make the minstrel's weep.
 You may have heard of me." -The last 2 paragraphs of chapter 7 in the Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss
Here you can see that Rothfuss has made a promise to his readers.  There will be a princess who is stolen, perhaps an implicit rescue.  Kvothe will burn down a city.  He will explain who Fellurian is and Kvothe will spend the night with her.  Kvothe will go to University and be expelled. He will talk to gods. The name of the series is a question the book must answer; The Kingkiller Chronicle.  We learn that Kvothe is living in isolation and he's lost his magic.  For the story to be complete we should have most of these questions answered. 

In the first book we learn that Kvothe is accepted into the university.  We see him burn down the city.  The genius of the story is that even with such bold promises, "I burned down the city of Trebon," Rothfuss pays them out in unexpected ways.  Trebon burns by accident and Kvothe all but kills himself trying to contain the fires. In the second book, The Wise Man's Fear, he reveals the story of Fellurian and he opens more questions.  Why does Kvothe feel responsible for the war? When the third book comes out we should receive the answers but the questions keep the reader interested enough to move forward in the story.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Query Tracker

I have an inner type A personality.  It might not be apparent when you look at my house right now (toddlers are walking tornadoes) but I love organization, tracking numbers, and spreadsheets.  This hits all my buttons right now.  Query Tracker

Query Tracker is a website that lists agents and lets you create an online database of agents to submit to.  And it lets you enter your submissions to an agent, track their responses, look up their average response times, etc etc. etc.  The best part.  It's free. Your inner type A's can thank me with housework :-p

This video explains the system much better then I did.  Check it out.
Please also remember to double check any agency or publisher with Writer Beware or Preditors and Editors.  Yogg's Law, and don't feed the scammers. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

On the matter of research...

I've been in full on research mode over here. My local library is pretty small and I haven't found a lot of books on the shelf that fit my needs, but my local library is hooked into OhioLink. I've been able to pull out some books from university libraries. The expanded selection is wonderful! Now I just need enough time to finish all of them!

Selecting the right books has been important. I'm working on something with a historical setting. One of the very best material I've found is actual period books. Right now I'm working through the Mirror of Graces written in 1811. I've found similar books on Project Gutenberg and Google books. On a side note I feel that for books that are out of copyright such as the Mirror of Graces or The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (both written about 200 years ago) a free download is appropriate, if it's still in copyright though proceed with caution and common sense and don't pirate.

Another way I've been able to select the best books for my research is by asking a history majors. I've been lucky enough to be friends with one who as a focus in my current time period. I've had recommendations from other authors writing in the same period. Going through Wikipedia and checking their sources is another way to find information. And finally asking your local librarian. Happy reading.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

And still with the sick....

So here are a few more links.  But since I am feeling slightly more human then yesterday there are a few actual words to go with them. 

First up is a link to a blog which is going through a class that Brandon Sanderson taught on writing. The class was videoed and the segments are being posted online slowly.  There is also a group of people who are taking this class through the videos over the summer.  I have not actually read any of Brandon's work yet.  You can revoke my nerd cred at any time now.  I need to pick up some of his non World of Time stuff someday.  Right after I finish the primary and 2 secondary sources I've got on loan for the library.  But that's a different post. 

Next we have one of my favorite story tellers Pat Rothfuss who joined with Felicia Day, John Scalzi, and Amber Benson for a google hang out to promote Geek and Sundry. 


Last I have a podcast on Josh Whedon, another of my favorite story tellers.  http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/joss-whedon/id470019885?i=113058390   http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2012/04/11/popstuff-show-notes-episode-58-joss-whedon/

Enjoy and perhaps tomorrow I'll have something more witty.