Monday, October 25, 2010

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away....

Barbara A. Barnett talks about her experiences being a female science fiction fan and writer.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

On Excuses

I tend to adhere, as do many writers, to the philosophy that writing is like a muscle- it requires continuous daily exercise to grow as strong as possible, and will atrophy with disuse. I think studying and taking in worthwhile works in the interim can help, but the process of writing benefits by writing regularly.

That said, I've not been doing so.

There have been various perfectly good reasons: funerals, recovering from surgery, being out of the country, starting a new and unexpectedly demanding career training. There have also been fairly weak excuses: being tired, not being sure what I want to write, having work (I currently have a pretty undemanding job), being sure I'll get to it later (see excuse number one), unpacking and cleaning that wasn't important to me until I needed to procrastinate, gearing myself up for national novel writing month.

I get accused of being too down on myself, but even at my gentlest, I think I've had a pretty appalling lack of discipline recently.

So what I need to do is work out how to best manage my priorities. My schooling is going to have to come first, and work comes second out of the necessity of it being done so that I can continue having a place to live, and my third priority needs to be setting aside time when I have the energy and mental freshness to put out a good thousand words a day.

I think the first thing I need to do is manage my sleep schedule better (I work nights and drift toward vampirism if left to my own devices), and make sure I have a morning routine that provides a reliable framework for time to write.

In short, if I'm serious about this, and I like to think I am, I need to start getting up earlier and stop making excuses.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lovecraftian Lovesong

"Heartache over Innsmouth" by Norm Sherman

This is the best Lovecraft send up I have ever heard.

Visit Norm's Podcast, The Drabblecast, here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Yanked out of the closet

I'd like to preempt the people who are about to roll their eyes and say "gosh, Lesli, I wish I had your problems"; yes, I love my supportive family and friends and I'm very lucky to have the success I've had.

That said, my supportive family and friends are making me very nervous.

My father has a framed picture I did when I was eight. Both of my parents have always encouraged me to write. When I told them I had been published, they were overjoyed. The only problem is, I'm not sure I adequately prepared them for what I had written.

My writing, even when I'm not aiming for horror, has a tendency to go dark, weird, and morbid. In person I'm actually pretty happy and mellow. I think I get on well with people, and certainly my acquaintances think nothing letting me play with their children. I'm a little worried that won't survive a published work of fiction that involves murder, suicide, cannibalism, dismemberment, vivisection, torture, the undead, and/or witchcraft (I think I average about 2.3 of those per story, even in comedy). I'm worried that this sort of thing will upset or alienate the people who love me, or that they'll see themselves in some terrible thing I've written.

I know it's a problem a lot of horror writers have, and I imagine there are currents of the same in crime and romance fiction. I also know a lot of it is me getting myself too worked up.

I don't think my father has read my story yet. My mothers have, and they've been leaning on all of their friends to read it too. Nothing's gone terribly wrong yet, but there's a part of me that's still very clinched up about the possible fall out when people get a look at what I do with my spare time.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pimping!

Friend, excellent author, baker of delicious cookies, and all around rocking person Erika Wilson was published today in Everyday Weirdness! Check it out.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Please Feed Duotrope

Duotrope.com is one of the best resources out there for writers, with a very comprehensive list of publications sortable by a variety of qualifiers including the lengths of works they accept, their pay rates, what medium they print in, whether they accept electronic submissions, their response times, and so on. It's updated frequently, it has suplimental features like interviews, and it allows you to maintain a bank of your own stories which tracks where they have gone, how long they've been there, and how it relates to that magazine's average response time.

And it does all this for free.

It does, however, ask you for donations to cover the cost of bandwidth and man hours. Duotrope hasn't met their goal on donations since December of last year. I know most of us don't have much in the way of spare cash, but this is a really wonderful service that shouldn't disappear from the face of the web.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thoughts on Creative Commons

"Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy." - Tim O'Reilly

I've been listening to the straight run of Mur Lafferty's "I Should Be Writing" (my paying job involves up to six hours of driving in a day). It's been helpful in terms of tips and information, especially with regards to publishing, and once every four episodes she interviews an established author (including Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, and Connie Willis).

Ms. Lafferty's a big supporter of new media, and an institution within the Podcasting community. She's released two books in free serialized audio format, both of which I believe she later sold as print books. Thanks to her dedicated fans and her new media marketing campaign, she was able to bump her first printed novel up to #16 on Amazon.com.

Obviously, new media and giving away work for free can help develop a critical mass of audience you need to sell in today's competitive market place, especially for novels.

These are the pros of the approach:
  • The single greatest advertising force, especially for something like books, is word of mouth.
  • People tend not to be willing to invest $7-20 in a new author they've never heard of before, but they are often willing to invest $0 and a little bit of time, especially in a format like audio that they can listen to on the road or at work.
  • Numerous authors have demonstrated people will buy a physical print version of a product they've already gotten for free (Doctorow, Lafferty, Siegler).
  • People who aren't going to buy your book for more than free would usually not have bought your book in the first place, but if they like your free copy, they may be willing to invest in your next.

That said, and despite the fact that paying work pays very little more than free, I'm not ready to pursue the free approach quite yet. For one thing, this kind of plan takes a very serious and constant media presence I'm not sure I can maintain. For another... it's going to sound a bit arrogant, but I think I can succeed in the traditional market, at least enough to meet my needs. I want the validation that comes with getting into the gated community of paid publishing. I also tend to write more short stories, which are not exactly moneymakers at the best of times, so marketing has a limited possible cash turnaround, and I suspect will actually hurt me in terms of selling the products themselves.

I think as I expand my library of finished (and ideally published) works, I will very likely make my back catalogue available for free, but I don't currently have a volume of work that satisfies the requirements of a media presence style of marketing. That's a running leap I plan to take after I've had a little more practice walking steadily.

One step at a time.