Saturday, November 18, 2006

View Point

The writing group I'm in is fun. We do all kinds of different writing projects. One of those is exchange of novel pages we're each working on. This has been a real eye-opener for me on the subject of view point. Now, I'm a stickler when it comes to this subject because not only do I write novels, I also read a lot of them for review at yetanotherbookreview.com. But it's come to my attention that romance writers have an entirely different opinion on the subject. Their stories switch heads in the same paragraph! Sorry gals, for the screeching, but this reader doesn't like that.

It is my opinion ANY story can be made stronger when special consideration is made for view point. Years ago when I was writing my first novel, I wasn't happy with a particular scene, so decided to rewrite it from the other character's point of veiw. Wow! --that turned out to be the best scene in the book [a manuscript that now collects dust on the shelf and probably won't ever see publication]. I'm reminded of an old cliche: "Don't criticize someone until you've walked 10 miles in his shoes." You have to LIVE that OTHER character even if your background work remains in the background. Spend time in that other character's shoes. Then come back to your story and watch it blossom! I enjoy reading romance, I really do. I especially like it when I can understand both main characters, and feel like each one is a real person. Any story that reads like all characters are just props for the main character is a flat read and doen't hook many fans. This is especially true when head-hopping writers have trouble SHOWing the reader whose head we're in at any given moment.

Need an example of good view point? Rudyard Kipling's CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS is a good example; so is the recently published author Sarah Monette [MELUSINE; & THE VIRTU]. In film I can think of two good examples: the ancient but still worth watching FATHER GOOSE; and ROMANCING THE STONE. These are incredible examples of view point. Please list more....

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Invisible Trip-Wires

Submitting a work of writing for publication is difficult to start with, then the publishing industry has to go and make it harder by creating inivisible trip-wires to cull the unsuspecting beginner, except even those of us who've been at this for awhile still get tripped up. Case in point: I submitted to a NYC agent. His webpage said: Contact Information--and gave an email address. I followed the Guidelines, then queried electronically. A month later, still no feedback, so I ask a friend who's already with that agency. He questioned me on how I sent it, then he said, "Ooo, bad form; you should have sent it snail." Okay, if that agent wants it snail, then how come the Contact Information doesn't give the snail address? Because it's one of those hidden trip-wires. I sent a copy of the query snail, but now I've gone and dirtied my nose by doing something that's secretly Bad Form. But just last year I found out that a publisher that I'd submitted to in hardcopy preferred it electronically--and that wasn't written anywhere either!

Writer Beware--even when you follow the Submissions Guidelines, you can still fall into a dark hole!

Monday, November 13, 2006

final scent

Last thoughts on the con....

One is a memory that at more than one panel the pros were discussing how readers affect the story. I know this is true, because I've stopped reading three very good fantasy authors because their wonderful stories did not fulfill my expectations of what I wanted to read. At the con, this topic was discussed. Some pros try to adjust their stories to fit the expectations of their readers--writers beware, this doesn't work, according to the pros. But what to do? Accept it as a fact, they say. Every reader brings expectations to the story that the author cannot write around.
The other thing I'm remembering from the con was a wonderful "Reading Session" by Lee Modesitt. Sometime next year, I believe, he's going to have an Anthology of his own short stories coming out. He read one to us. This is what happened: First, we were late into the room because the previous person had run long, so Lee got a late start. So--when it came time for the next panel to enter our room, we were still busy listening. AND WE ALL REFUSED TO MOVE OUT OF THE ROOM UNTIL HE FINISHED! Yup, that sounds very much like a winner!

Friday, November 10, 2006

vapors

As the memories of last weekend simmer on the back burner of my mind, vapors rise and demand attention. Things like: I found out that I'll need one pairing of agent/publisher for my female protagonist books and another pair for my male protagonist books--they probably won't sell in the same place [huh! go figure]. Another thing that bubbled to the surface was the discovery of why TOR probably turned down two of my novels. It seems Tom D. prefers black and white characterization "because it sells" and I'm not into absolutism. Oh well, guess I won't be submitting there again. And on another topic: one of the guest speakers who has at least 35 books out said that he doesn't believe his publisher has read more than two of them--now I believe that [have you ever read a stinker from a Name? --that's why--the Name sells, and only the author cares if the writing is any good or not...hopefully the author cares; I think I've read a few books where I think the author stopped caring]. Rumor has it that another famous author put out some stinkers because he made the mistake of listening to his fans and doing what they wanted and multiple inputs destroyed the vision [whoa!].

The convention really got me fired up, but horror stories abound. Like this one: One published author had an editor ask for a book "through the agent" but the agent wouldn't forward it because "it won't sell" even though the author already sold it, but the editor wouldn't take it without it going through the agent and that took a lot of fast talking to get the stuborn agent to Send It! Can't remember the names on that story, but seem to remember that the book won an award once out. Of course! :)

Monday, November 06, 2006

World Fantasy Convention

Wow!

My mind is still spinning. This "convention report" won't be extremely detailed because I didn't take notes. I just ABSORBED. Ahhh, it was wonderful! I figure to let most of the details simmer on the back-burner of my mind, then I'll bring each topic forward on future posts.

The World Cons are a class unto themselves. It is my guesstimate that the average accomplishment level of most people there is a masters degree in something or other, and at least three books published. You go to panel discussions with different expectations than to your average local con. [Wish I'd brought a dictionary--and I thought my vocabulary was extensive!] The main differences between the World Fantsy Convention and the World Science Fiction Convention are: -1- The science fiction convention has about 10,000 attendees where the fantasy convention only has about 1,000; -2- topics of conversation at a science fiction convention might be over astronomy or artificial intellegence, whereas topics at fantasy conventions are more literary in nature; -3- and the best difference for the fantasy convention is Friday night's Signing Party. The pros sit at tables while the rest of us "smooze", drink in hand, getting books signed and having a spectacular time. I walked the room, glancing at name plates because I don't know faces like I do the names. I see one of the names I'm looking for, a very well published TOR author, and look up to see his face. "Why hello, Casey," Lee Modesitt says to me casually, then turns to the author sitting next to him and introduces me as one of his supporters. Well, I do have 17 reviews of his work AND an interview up at yetanotherbookreview.com for him. I smile big, chat, then move on to look for the next name on my list. Eric Knight was just as friendly, so friendly in fact that we chatted about all kinds of things that we have in common that have nothing to do with writing.

The next morning I had breakfast with an editor friend of mine who told me woes I cannot legally reveal in a public forum, just: O.M.G.! --the publishing industry is soooo cut-throat it's terrifying.

Let's see... I volunteered for the convention, put in 12 hours, most of them in Registration where I got to greet many people with a genuine smile of pleasure. The world-famous literary agent Don Maass handed me his card--ga! A writer I've done reviews for in the past loaded me up with another stack of free books to review. Oh, and speaking of free books--when you walk in the door of a World Fantasy Convention, you are always handed a book bag full of books [not exactly free since it isn't cheap to join the convention, but the great thing about this is the "exchange table" where you can trade books with other people who got a different assortment in their bags than you did]. Working Registration also earned me the friendships of three very cool people that I hope to keep up with through the Internet and the years to come.

The highlight of my trip was the Awards Banquet. It was well worth the $50. Not only was the food good, but the person sitting next to me--who started out as a stranger and is now a dear friend--caught me up in her pitch to a publisher she aimed at, and I got to pitch too, and.... might have sold a book! Though "send it to me" isn't the same as signing a contract, it still feels grand to have an editor take an interest in your work :)

The only other really important thing that happened was an intriguing panel discussion contrasting Blogger with Live Journal. It was described to me thus: Blogger is like standing at a podium--you speak to people and they can answer you. Live Journal, which is apparently FOR writers and other artistic types, is more like sitting at King Arthur's Round Table. Discussions are more robust, I'm told. If you want research done, name your topic and within twelve hours you might just have your answers [ha!]. Anyway, Live Journal has a way of spreading you around better, I'm told--you get more Internet exposure that way. So, when I get an extra minute this week, I'm going to start a Live Journal account. Anyone already there: pass the word to your "friends" please :) From the words of one of the guest speakers, "Live Journal is an online continuation of the convention, a way to take the communtiy feeling home with you." I'm in!

I'll post more comments on the convention as my mind sorts it out. It was an amazing experience and I've already signed up to work Registration next year in Saratoga [so the price of my attendace will be only $40, AND I can meet many more great people!]