Wednesday, March 28, 2012

To A or not to A?

I'm currently hard at work on my latest book, which has the working title of either "A Mouth Full of Ashes" or "Mouth Full of Ashes", depending on how I feel that day. This has become one of those things that I find enormously burdensome. To include the "A" or not include the "A". I'm currently leaning towards including the "A". But that's right now.

It's a difficult book to write in some ways, because - as much as I love and am very connected with the characters and the storyline - it requires me to delve into a very dark place every time I revisit these characters. Coming home after a hard day's work and diving into someone else's personal hell isn't always easy.

Maybe I should just turn on the TV and relax with an episode of "The Real Housewives of...

Or maybe hell is just a relative term.

Incidentally, should hell be capitalized? Heaven always is. And let's face it, they're both pretty big. I'm unsure of their current populations, ratio-wise - I'd have to look it up on Wikipedia - but I'm guessing it's around 50/50.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Be Cents-ible

Strange Tales of the Curiously Uncommon is a featured book today on the CENTS-IBLE eREADS website. It's a pretty new but fast growing site that's a great resource for bargain book deals, special offers, giveaway contests, freebies, and, of course...much, much more!

So do the cents-ible thing and head on over there the next time you're looking for a great read at a bargain price. You know it makes cents!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Author's Lament

Author Eloise J. Knapp, the niece of one of my fellow KBers, has put together a little Youtube video entitled "Author's Lament: 5 Emotional Stages of a Bad Review". She'd asked that it be shared around and I'm more than happy to help do just that as I think it's hilarious and rather brilliant.

Yes, negative reviews, 1 star reviews, they are, unfortunately a part of a writer's life. They come with the territory...that territory being the land where you'll never please everybody, no matter how much you wish that were possible. Sometimes, your work will end up in the hands of someone who is not part of your target audience (especially true when doing giveaways or low price promotions), and when that happens...well, it's often not pretty.

Here's part of a 1 star review I recently read on Amazon: ""None of the characters were likable, there was no character growth, and it rambled." What was this particular critique aimed at, you ask? It was for Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, for which there were a total of 68 1 star reviews for it. Yes, indeed.

Anyway, I do hope you'll take the time to view this short video as it's well worth it. And be sure to click the expand button in the lower right corner to view it full screen so you don't miss what she types on her computer.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Gender Genre Bender

Conventional wisdom (which, from my experience, is usually anything but) has it that writers should write in one genre and stick with it, gradually building an audience who enjoy that particular genre and who will eagerly await each new release, all the while knowing exactly what to expect. And of course, this does work very well indeed for the Stephen Kings and John Grishams of this world. But that same "wisdom" would have it that to do otherwise is sheer folly, confusing your readers at best, angering them at worst, and making brand building nigh impossible.

This thought has troubled me in the past, not least because not only have I never written in strictly one genre before, I also don't think I ever could. But I have come to the conclusion that, for me at least, this will not be a problem, despite the dire warnings from above (the above paragraph, that is, not the Almighty).

Everything I have ever written or ever will write comes from a point of inspiration that has (or will have) pushed me into telling a story and creating a world born from that initial idea. I can't write to order, and in order to write strictly in one genre I would undoubtedly find myself having to manufacture ideas within the confines of that genre so as not to stray from what is expected. For me, that would be unbearable. It would turn writing from an art form into a sterile, by-the-numbers chore. I simply would cease to write.

I also believe that plenty of readers enjoy reading in more than one genre. I do, just as I enjoy different genres of music and movies. I can't conceive of listening solely to one type of music or watching only action films, for instance. Imagine how much I'd miss out on! Yes, I know there are fanatics out there that are like that, but I think most people enjoy mixing it up from time to time.

Anyway, if a reader likes a particular book I've written, I like the idea of giving them the opportunity to read something else of mine that's different than what they just read. Not everything I write is different from everything else, of course. Just about all of my work falls into either contemporary fiction/realism or a dark humor/absurdist category. Getting much more specific than that, though, is challenging.

So anyway, I feel quite comfortable writing across genres, in different genres, and any which way in between. As long as what I put out is good I don't see that I have much to worry about, and as long as I'm not constrained by the limits of a single genre, feeling like I have to write to order, the ideas will stay fresh and the writing will make its own case.

Finally, think about this: The Hunger Games has so far sold approximately 23.5 million copies in the U.S. alone. Are all of those millions exclusively readers of YA novels? Of course not. It's simply the most popular (and how!), so most people want to see (read) what all the fuss is about.

And that is exactly what will happen with Schism and The End of the World...just as soon as I've fine-tuned the marketing strategy! (But don't quote me on that.)

By the way, the photo above is of Marilyn, who some (very, very few) will remember as having had fleeting success as a pop singer in the early 80s with a song called "Calling Your Name." Ahh, those were the days...cheesy, tacky, but somehow still kind of sweet.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Facelift For Your Anniversary?

It may not be the most romantic gift for an anniversary - although The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills would probably disagree - but that's what I've given The End of the World. Yes, it's been almost a year (on Monday, to be exact) since it was published, and I decided to celebrate it by giving it a makeover.

That book's cover has never been a simple thing for me. When I first started out I really didn't have any idea what I was doing. Then I learned the rules of what you were "supposed" to do. Then I threw out the rules and did what I wanted to do, which is what you see here.

The difficulty in trying to find the right cover for the book is as difficult as trying to categorize it. I generally list it as a contemporary fantasy, which, by strict definition of the genre, it essentially is. However, most books in that genre are nothing like The End of the World. But trying to place it somewhere else is nigh impossible, as it simply doesn't fit anywhere properly. And that, I think, is a good thing...except when you need to categorize it or need a cover that gives you some idea of what it's about.

The first one I liked, but I don't think it was particularly impacting. The second one was certainly more striking, but I think it rather gave off the wrong impression of the book, in that it seemed like an End of Days end of the world, rather than the creaky, cranky, somewhat freaky otherworldly inn that it actually is.

The image for this new (and hopefully last) incarnation is actually taken from the book's trailer. Since it seemed to sum up so perfectly what the inn should look like in that little film, it seemed rather inane not to use it for the cover. For me, that was The End of the World.

In other news, I read this lovely article on Gilbert and George in the Guardian today. It completely made my day. Interestingly enough, I've only ever seen one exhibition of Gilbert and George's work, and that was about ten years ago at a gallery just up the street from where I worked at the time (I went on my lunch break), and that was in...Beverly Hills.

Don't you love symmetry?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

To Hell in a Handbasket

"Going to hell in a handbasket", "going to hell in a handcart", "going to hell in a handbag" and "sending something to hell in a handbasket" are variations on an American alliterative locution of unclear origin, which describes a situation headed for disaster without effort or in great haste.

That's from Wikipedia, and it's where I'm probably going (not Wikipedia, in case there was any confusion), since my New Year's resolution was to post more often about real life matters and shill my books far, far less.

But you know, the thing is, I've always maintained that rules were made to be broken. Is that an out? I guess it depends on your definition of it. Or your definition of "it" as Uncle Bill used to say.

Either way, "Hell in a Handbasket" is also the name of the latest album from Meat Loaf, and since he sold around 43 million copies of "Bat Out of Hell"...well, no arguing here.