Monthly Archives: March 2013

A Drive By Blogging…Getting Ready for Betas

I’m nose to the grindstone, getting Knight ready to go out to betas at the end of this weekend, so I’m going to be pretty absent from everywhere until I can click send. I have to say, my critique group has been invaluable in both smoothing out and catching issues, but also in showing me that maybe I am capable of writing a good story. This chance to go back through the whole story all at once has been good for my temper and better for my sense of self-esteem, which always takes a beating at this point in the process.

Still, it’s a tiring process and I’ll be glad when it’s done and I can take a bit of a break. I have my story for the Goodreads MM Romance group to work on and I’m hoping to hear back about Nuts About You in the near future. There’s also the research for The Courtesy of Knives, and the planning for If/Then. Plus a few shorts I’m considering shoehorning into the schedule.

One thing that happened with Knight, that I’d like to avoid in the future, is that I ended up posting actual first drafts in the critique group. It wasn’t something I was happy about doing, but running out of time sometimes makes you choose avenues you wouldn’t have at other times. So, I think I’m going to avoid calls with due dates, excepts for shorts with a significant lead time. I want to make better use of the expertise to be found in my group and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s disrespectful of me to throw half-assed work up and expect someone else to take time out of their writing to fix errors I should be catching. So, I’ll be writing a long, eloquent apology letter to my group in the near future.

But not until I’ve sanded a few more rough edges off of Knight.

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Fifty (Easy) Shades–make millions at the click of a button, or maybe not

I wasn’t going to do this, but I’m in a weird mood today, which is always dangerous. Maybe I caught rabies. Or distemper. I sure have been cranky today. Anyway, don’t say you weren’t warned.

http://www.fiftyshadesgenerator.com/

Go on, click the link. You know you wanna. 🙂

Tuesday Tickle: Knight meets Hunter

You know, that moment when you take the new squeeze out and all your friends come to inspect the goods? And there’s always that one friend that feels that they have to make sure of the new squeeze’s intentions, like it was the 1850’s and you’re some virginal young thing without a brain cell to call your own?

Yeah.

“So, Ben, what do you do for a living?” Hunter leaned out to flag down a waitress, then brought his eyes back to Ben.

“Hunter,” Ross said in a warning tone.

Ben patted the hand still on his arm to let Ross know it was okay. “I’m a cop.”

“A cop. That’s interesting. Bet it’s a pretty exciting job.” Hunter twitched, shot Ross a funny look, then grinned back at Ben, who shrugged.

“Some days.”

“Oh, do tell,” Hunter crooned with a flirtatious wink. Ben hid behind his glass of coke to camoflage the grin trying to escape because the look on Ross’ face was priceless. Damn, he’s cute. And obviously mortified by Hunter’s behavior. The look he shot Hunter would have withered a five year veteran of the force.

Hunter, it appeared, was made of tougher stuff than that. “Do you ever have to wrestle anyone to the ground and, like, hold them there?”

Yep, totally appalled.

Bill Geist and Mommy Porn

Okay, this made my day. You have to watch him–he’s hilarious! But when he starts asking about putting ordinary guys on the covers of these books, watch the male model–what an expression!

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50143476n

Sorry I can’t embed the thing–if it was Youtube, apparently this would be no problem.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel on Knight–let’s hope it’s not a train!

What’s the fuss about violent video games?

Hubs and I were chatting this morning about that shooter video game that has people in Vancouver all worked up because someone made an uploadable map for it that is an exact replica of a school in that city. And it got us talking about why people think that violent video games are a problem.

Here’s my take on it–I don’t think it’s the violence that’s the problem. I think it’s a problem that is based on two things:

1. it’s first person: the brain processes it as an actual experience. Your brain is learning that you can do these things. If it is in your POV, it is more immediate. Just like when you read a book written in 1st person. Author’s use 1st person to immerse the reader in the experience of the POV character. 3rd person carries with it a certain distance. So, if your book or your video game is in 1st person, your brain thinks it’s actually doing these things. It initiates all the physiological responses, including learning, that go along with any activity.

2. there are NO consequences for actions in a video game. You run over a pedestrian, you laugh and gain a few points. You shoot an alien, you gain points. You don’t shoot the alien and the person you’re trying to save dies, you reset. You shoot the wrong alien and it turns out that you were supposed to save them, you reset. You die, you reset. No matter what you do, or fail to do, nothing ever happens to you–there’s no arrest, no one loses a mother or a child or a friend or a lover. No one misses meals because someone stole their grocery money. No one loses their job because someone stole the money they needed to put gas in the car to get to work. No one has to live with the fear that any stranger could be the person who beats, shoots, stabs or rapes them.

And, just as in point #1, your brain processes this as an experience. It learns from it. We have a whole generation who understand, on a completely unconscious level, that everything is undoable and that there are no consequences. People who, at a totally instinctive, gut level believe that there’s no ‘after’. Because they’ve trained their nervous system, by many more repeptitions than we put into the times tables or into learning the difference between your and you’re, that after the big finish, they just turn off the system and go on with normal life. And that scares the hell out of me, because a good bit of our judicial system is predicated on the ability of people to predict and be deterred by the consequences. But knowledge ingrained at the instinctive level will never be deterred by consequences, because it’s not conscious enought to be recognized or argued with. It’s at the base of the “Why did you do something stupid like that?” and the “I don’t know.” response.

These are the people that will be checking medication in hospitals and pharmacies, designing and building our cars, determining whether a new product is safe to use or will make us sick. Don’t we want them to go the extra mile? Or at least as far as they should go? Don’t we want them to believe that their choices have very real consequences?

Sometimes the lessons we teach our children are not the ones we think we’re teaching. And the risks we worry the most about are not the ones that are the most dangerous.

Tuesday Tickle: A Knight in Shining Kevlar (again!)

Oops! I almost forgot! I’ve had my head down, added 4000 words today (We’re past 80,000 now), and only just realized what time it was.

Slightly longer section this week. We meet Michael again, and one of Ross’ coworkers, Marie.

“Is that him? He’s cute.” Marie nodded at the big glass doors, where Ross could see Ben coming up the steps.

“Yes, and yes,” he said gratefully, feeling his mouth spread in a broad smile. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Michael stand up and tug his coat into place, so he hurried forward to meet Ben just inside the door. “Hi, perfect timing.” He could almost feel the vibrating rage coming off Michael from across the foyer, despite the pleasantly neutral expression he wore. Some little devil of perversion, and maybe the hope that Michael would leave him alone if he saw that Ross was with a cop, prompted him to tilt his head back and press the tiniest of kisses on Ben’s mouth, even as some part of him gibbered in terror the whole time. You’d think I’d have learned by now. He felt the warmth of Ben’s hand land on his hip and saw Ben’s smile, and it all became worth it.

Marie cleared her throat behind him.

“Ben, this is Marie. Marie, this is Ben.” He made the introductions as quickly as he could, then took Ben’s arm and turned him back toward the door. “Let’s go.”

“Am I escaping an interrogation?” Ben chuckled as Ross hurried him down the concrete steps.

Ross nodded. “Something like that.” He glanced over his shoulder and saw Michael in the doorway, wearing that calm, intent expression that Ross had learned to dread. Because there was no way to win when Michael looked like that. He turned back to Ben. “So, where are we going?”

Yeah, I gotta go wash again…

What do you do if you’re not ready for the big leagues? Or too darn scared to try?

My friend, MC Hana, and I both responded to a post on Absolute Write about a week ago. In it, someone was talking about fear of writing and a number of different issues were discussed around the kinds of fears that writers, particularly beginning writers, have to deal with as they work through the process of improving their craft. She wrote a post later on her blog, in response to something I had said.

Now, here’s my take on this–I have no problem with someone who knows that their stuff isn’t ready for the big leagues picking a smaller–well researched and reputable–publisher to sub to. Or for whom the thought of trying to produce a manuscript, one that might make it even to the point of a personalized rejection, creates a kind of writing stasis mediated by fear. Not everyone can be a Scalzi or a Sanderson (although, Brandon Sanderson wrote 12 novels–count ’em, 12!–before he got offered a publishing contract.) The way I look at it, I know I can sub to the Big 6, if I’m willing to wait to make it through all the slush piles. That’s not the issue.

What I was talking about was fear, which is a very real issue that many writers face on a daily basis. Some people would say that if you can’t overcome your fear of the rejections you will surely receive, then you shouldn’t be writing. I call shenanigans on that. The business is difficult enough as it is–there’s no need for us to be eating our young.

Yes, some people shouldn’t be writing and submitting. They don’t have the proper command of grammar or vocabulary, or maybe they haven’t yet developed the complexity of mind necessary for a riveting narrative. But, there are a lot of people out there who are close, so close, and they shut themselves down because they can see that they aren’t quite there yet and they need someone to guide them those last few feet. I know a surprising number of writers who fall into that category. And this is where I feel these second tier publishers can be of use to us.

You can learn a lot about the mechanics of writing good, entertaining prose through courses, in critique groups, while chatting on forums and from books on craft. But the real learning, beyond the self-training that occurs in those other arenas, is when you have to rewrite your work to suit your market. There are things I will never do again, because I’ve had to rewrite for a market. For those struggling with the fear of rejection, an acceptance even to a smaller market may be what keeps them in the business, despite school, home life, jobs and all the other things with claims on our time. And all those big, well-respected publishers had to start somewhere. There are a number of them out there now that didn’t exist ten or fifteen years ago, markets I would love to get into.

Just be sure you check them out, either on Writer’s Beware, or on Absolute Write (in the Bewares and Background Checks forum), before you send anything out. Check out their authors, read a few of their books to see what you’d be getting. Talk to people publishing in your genre and see what their opinions are of the smaller publishers. Do your homework, just the same as you would research for your book. This is your baby, after all. And don’t start at the absolute bottom, but a little higher than you think you can reach. We are our own worst critics.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t respect yourself if you submit to a publisher that isn’t Random House’s main imprint, or Tor, or Penguin. Everyone has their personal goals and it’s your right not to be ready for that yet. Be aware that you will be sacrificing sales in exchange for a smaller pool to be noticed from, but it’s not the end of the world to publish in a smaller press first. After all, there’s a reason we call them plot bunnies…you can be pretty sure there’ll be more. And when that truly special one comes along–we can hang out together in the slush pile with all the other soon to be big dogs. 🙂