Friday, October 28, 2011

Learning from Bad Reviews

I got my first bad rating on Jez today from
I'm going to try to summarize her crits.
+ she liked the two main characters
+ it still kept her turning pages and
+ she wanted to know more about what happened to Daniel and Claudette at the end
+ too many unnecessary characters, in particular,
+ integration of the novella "Icarus Transformation" didn't work for her. (p 221)
+ too long. need to cut all filler not pertinent to the ending. less explanation of abstract ideas and Jezebel's ramblings

Self-check: My wife also complained that the transition to a whole new thread wasn't smooth enough. Are we ever coming back to the Jez thread? I was planning on addressing this when I did the paperback version.
I had one early crit that said I had too many peaks with two stories and not enough to explicitly tie the two parts together.

At this point, I like the second thread. I think it takes the story to another level. Cutting Icarus entirely at this point would  leave the story too short, with holes. But she's correct that the integration could be improved. I've had criticisms about too much techno-babble before (Scarab chapter 1). Non-tech readers reach saturation quickly. However, my wife said it passed her glaze-over test. So I need specifics to address this problem.

I asked for details and got none. So for now, I've concentrate on the transition. I'll probably make Jez ( one of the recipients of the email. By the time she gets PJ's message, she's already on her way to Vegas.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Advice for Beginning Fiction Writers

Jennifer Chonillo on Facebook asked writers to present 250 words of advice for new writers. That was a challenge. I decided to stick just to mechanics pre-release and did it in exactly 250. Free advice, worth what you paid for it.

Assume people are looking for a reason to reject your story, and don’t give them one.
1)      Get professional tools—Webster’s Unabridged, Word spellchecker, and a Chicago Manual of Style 15th edition (used), minimum. For basic dialogue/comma rules Strunk and White, or will help.
2)      Polish the first three chapters till they squeak—no one will read past “It was a dark and stormy night”. If you have to tell us “It gets better later,” then rewrite.
3)      If it doesn’t pay rent, cut it—Stephen King cuts 10 percent of each first draft. Any word that doesn’t need to be there or scene that doesn’t further plot/character/setting, remove. Write a one page summary of your story to help decide what is important. Publishers have a limit of about 80K words for first books, slightly more for fantasy.
4)      Read your book out loud, especially the dialogue—as a side-effect, you could create a Podio book episode of two as advertisement.
5)      Write a killer pitch to sell the story—if people won’t grab a free copy when offered, you’re doomed. This will take 20 or 50 drafts.
6)      Get a professional cover—or no one will read your pitch. is inexpensive and quality.
7)      Get criticism from someone not related or your friends—repeat four times. For those without crit circles, start on in the Brutally Honest Criticism Group.
8)      Get a professional to edit—nothing gives us all a bad name like a simple mistake.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The City of the Gods - Inspiration

I just hit the 98K mark on book 2 - the Question which Must Be Answered. I have the final 12 chapters outlined in a downhill run. At this rate, it should top out at 129K, plus the 136K (unedited) from book 1 = 265K of dark, detailed sword and sorcery. My only rule was : even the bad guys have to be convinced that they're the good guys. This all started from a photo of Mount Girnar and the song “While the Earth Sleeps” by Peter Gabriel and Deep Forest. I've been using them as a touchstone ever since. The one on the right has a similar feel and I've been using it for my authonomy cover.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blogging about other blogs blogging about me

Here's a link to an Indie article on the value of a good cover, by Stephen Hise. Since I collected data, my books got a mention -- whoo hoo!

Also, Coral (Alchemy of Scrawl) gave me a nice 4 star on her site, Amazon, and  youtube.

Let the buzz begin.

For any interested, this last weekend added 8000 words to Temple of the Traveler 2: the Question which Must Be Answered". This doesn't count the 15 hand-written pages and a napkin I spewed out during time with the kids (4H, sitting between them during math homework to prevent homicides, etc.). The zone feels good, and other stories are trying the nose in as I type.

Monday, October 10, 2011

fantasy maps

After contacting about 6 artists and being summarily ignored, I spent the $44.95 on CampaignCreator 3 (by profantasy), the map CAD tool. The examples looked professional and half the price of a third party.

My Jezebel surge has waned this week: 4 Jez, 2 others, 1 Foundation. but I'm hoping that news of the surge may have bumped me up in the queues for web reviews. One reviewer wants a paperback copy.  Since Tammy should finish her edit of the galley proof tonight, I can order two of the next galley after the changes are in. I can even send a copy to my sister, the librarian in hopes of making the Library Journal. Everything is still exciting.

My working title for book one of Temple of the Traveler was "Houses of the Holy." I'm thinking of changing this to "Where the Heavens Touch the Earth".  I had a Led Zeppelin fan complain. Song titles aren't copyrightable, but I also don't want to hack anyone off. I'm still on target for the December release. I just passed the 80K word mark for the second book in the Traveler series. One of the four threads is done. The characters and places came back easily, even after 10 years. Does that make me a geek?