Monday, November 14, 2011

Blog Notice

You might have noticed I didn't post a snippet yesterday, Sunday.  The reason was I was sick.  Although I'm knocking back the Zicam cold melts, I don't foresee being up to par by Wednesday.  So, the Wednesday post will be skipped this week.  Hopefully, I'll be ready with a new Roderis/Letters of the Dead snippet on Sunday, though.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Social Media Strategy: Outside Content

Entrepreneur magazine's Chris Brogan writes,
You don't just want to beat people over the head with your own products or services.

Rather he suggests finding

interesting information that applies to their tastes and share that, too (296). 

I feel this information is helpful for writers' social media strategies.  Twitter posts shouldn't just be about your product.  Blog posts shouldn't either.  Some of these posts should include outside information worth sharing, information your readers will enjoy.

But still, you should tie this content into your blog or brand.  For example, if you write fantasy, post fantasy links or tidbits or fantasy book reviews.  This way, it doesn't feel off-topic or send a confusing message concerning what you are about.  This way you are providing content your readers will like without beating them over the head with just your own works.

Cites: Brogan, Chris. "You Are a Media Company." Entrepreneur Nov. 2011: 292-297. Nook Edition.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Writer's Patches

In Three Minutes to Success, I ran across an interesting quote from author Jim Blasingame:

A small business is more like a patchwork quilt than a gilded security blanket. Some patches represent good things and some not so good; some patches are about the business, others are about the owner, and some are hard to tell. The happiest small business owners are those who find a way to feel successful regardless of which patch is before them. (80)

That's a great philosophy to have, especially for a writer.  Maybe sales aren't going well.  Maybe a project is giving you trouble.  Perhaps an agent passed on a partial.  In those cases, it's time to switch to a different patch.  It's time to think: What beyond the obvious are the advantages and values you see in being a writer?

For me, one is the ability to create and share characters or worlds or situations that won't leave me alone.  Another is that this job, being a writer, especially a self-published writer, fits nicely with my other job.

What about you?  What else do you value and appreciate in your chosen occupation?

Cites:  Blasingame, James. Three Minutes to Success: 52 Classic Small Business Lessons You Can Read in 3 Minutes. Aflac Special Edition. Florence: SBN Books, 2006.  Print.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The One Who Sees: Masterpost

The One Who Sees
Jodi Ralston
Copyright 2011 Jodi Ralston

Links:  Master Post | Notes | 1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. 

 Short Blurb:  After nearly drowning in a magic lake, young Osan can see the souls dwelling inside people, and he discovers they are in the wrong bodies and have been so since birth. Mythic Fantasy Novelette, 18,000 words approx.

As mentioned in the Notes post, from November 1, 2011 to November 13, 2011, this novelette was posted in its entirety.  As of November 14, 2011, it has been reduced to a sizeable snippet.  Enjoy!

Purchasing Availability:
This story is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble currently.  I am working on a Smashwords version as well.  The price is $0.99.  If you enjoy The One Who Sees, please consider purchasing a copy or spreading the url.  Thanks!

The One Who Sees: Chapter 5 of 13

The One Who Sees
Jodi Ralston
Copyright 2011 Jodi Ralston

Links:  Master Post | Notes | 1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. 

 Short Blurb:  After nearly drowning in a magic lake, young Osan can see the souls dwelling inside people, and he discovers they are in the wrong bodies and have been so since birth. Mythic Fantasy Novelette, 18,000 words approx.


Rood's tent looked larger than Tomar's, and it had more designs of power and rule--designs fresh as blood. That made Osan think of Tomar's soul and Tomar's dead body and of Tomar's soul in Rood's body. And that made Osan wonder whose soul would feed the Soul Eaters for this family-killing? Rood's, wherever it was? Or Tomar's? Then it was easier to not think on that at all.

Osan stepped inside Rood's tent, clenching Oki's blanket, and he saw something that stood out amongst Rood's possessions of hanging flutes, smoke pipes, feathers, antlers, and beads. He saw a great, spotted shell hanging from the ribs of a tent; inside it something moved and glowed.

Not decoration: Lakeface.

A bodiless soul.


It quivered; it couldn't do much else in the cup of the shell. Help me, it said, sounding male, sounding Enemy, but it looked like a glowing soul, looked like a brother. I don't know where I am.

Osan reached for it, touching the water. "Brother," he whispered.

The One Who Sees: Chapter 4 of 13

The One Who Sees
Jodi Ralston
Copyright 2011 Jodi Ralston

Links:  Master Post | Notes | 1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5.

 Short Blurb:  After nearly drowning in a magic lake, young Osan can see the souls dwelling inside people, and he discovers they are in the wrong bodies and have been so since birth. Mythic Fantasy Novelette, 18,000 words approx.


Osan understood, slowly, yes, but he understood. Villagers, both large and small, young and old, wilted under his attention as if he were Shaman--Eldest Shaman-- ready with a curse to match any small insult. They did not speak at all, as if afraid to know him.

Family--his body-family--met his gaze with wooden faces. Met his greetings with wooden voices. Called him Shaman.

Not Osan, not family.


Perhaps because he was not family. Long before Osan was born, Eldest Shaman had been someone else: Tomar's wife's twin-brother. Then he was reborn and was not Ula's twin anymore.

Osan had been reborn.

He must not be Osan anymore.

Then who was he?

What was he?

And what was Olas?

His questions and his feet both took him to where he was alone but not alone. The great wooden figure of First Brother stood there in the field, taller than any canoe. Osan had never stared into the protector's eyes before; hadn't dared.

Time had softened First Brother's face just as time had shrunk the Lake. How could First Brother see anything, much less watch over the entire village? Why did no one do anything to stop this destruction?

Perhaps First Brother had always been this way, blind from the first moment He stepped into the Lake, when it had been vast and deadly without Lakefaces. From when he stepped into the Lake and became more than a flawed man. From when He prayed to became wood to bear His sister, heavy with His niece, away from the slaughter of their village and toward the safety of their distant cousin-tribe of legend. Or perhaps it happened after, when she hauled Him from the water and planted Him in the village before giving into labor pains. Or perhaps it happened when no one would look Him in the eyes anymore, not the cousin-tribe who came and believed First Sister's tale of a simple man's sacrifice and not her husband or her children or her children's children. It happened when no one saw Him anymore.

When He lost His name.

That was how Rood found him, staring up at First Brother who could no longer stare back, looking for answers he was too dense to find.

"Come with me," Rood said, rubbing his chin hard: not pleased. Disciplining a daughter must be trying; being someone you were not was always trying, after all. At least, though, Rood did not speak wooden-voiced.


Links:  Master Post | Notes | 1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5.


Purchasing Availability:
This story is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble currently.  I am working on a Smashwords version as well.  The price is $0.99.  If you enjoy The One Who Sees, please consider purchasing a copy or spreading the url.  Thanks!

The One Who Sees: Chapter 3 of 13

The One Who Sees
Jodi Ralston
Copyright 2011 Jodi Ralston

Links:  Master Post | Notes | 1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5.

 Short Blurb:  After nearly drowning in a magic lake, young Osan can see the souls dwelling inside people, and he discovers they are in the wrong bodies and have been so since birth. Mythic Fantasy Novelette, 18,000 words approx.


Osan woke in the mud. He was still not wood, but he was alone. No lying Lakefaces whispered or flopped in the yellow flowers and green leaves.


Not entirely alone: that was Oki's voice.

But when he lifted his face to look up the steep bank, it was not Oki he saw but a monster in a young woman's body. A thing with two faces--one of soft light and the dimmer, body-one looked like Oki's. The faces lay atop each other. That made his eyes water.


The thing was coming closer, a furry blanket clutched in her arms.

The One Who Sees: Chapter 2 of 13

The One Who Sees
Jodi Ralston
Copyright 2011 Jodi Ralston

Links:  Master Post | Notes | 1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5.

 Short Blurb:  After nearly drowning in a magic lake, young Osan can see the souls dwelling inside people, and he discovers they are in the wrong bodies and have been so since birth. Mythic Fantasy Novelette, 18,000 words approx.


Osan fell alone for so long he feared he would not stop.

He fell.

And fell.

When the Lakefaces returned with their pale light and touched him, he saw he did not fall at all.

He also saw he did not breathe.

That--everything--was wrong.

He flailed and flailed until the Lakefaces calmed him with touches and light, and they gave him their bubbles.

When the first passed his lips, he saw differently. He saw far away, saw his family, saw others' families--some familiar but most in unfamiliar colors and clothing in lands unseen.

The One Who Sees: Chapter 1 of 13

The One Who Sees
Jodi Ralston
Copyright 2011 Jodi Ralston

Links:  Master Post | Notes | 1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5.

 Short Blurb:  After nearly drowning in a magic lake, young Osan can see the souls dwelling inside people, and he discovers they are in the wrong bodies and have been so since birth. Mythic Fantasy Novelette, 18,000 words approx.


The village slept that cold night, but Osan did not. He walked past the rows of tents on the path that he should follow tomorrow.

That kept him awake.

He walked the path to the forever-protector, First Brother, a path he had never walked before and should not walk until tomorrow.

That kept him awake.

The One Who Sees: Notes

The One Who Sees
Jodi Ralston
Copyright 2011 Jodi Ralston

Links:  Master Post | Notes | 1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. 

Posting Note: 

Earlier, I was undecided about whether to post a large snippet of my first ebook, The One Who Sees, or to post it free briefly.  I decided on both. 
From November 1, 2011 to November 13, 2011, this novelette was posted in its entirety.  As of November 14, 2011, it has been reduced to a sizable snippet.  The entire work is about 18,000 words, and it is mythic fantasy; the remaining snippet is about half that size.

Title Page and Front Matter:

The One Who Sees 
by Jodi Ralston

This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.

Copyright 2011 by Jodi Ralston.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.

Original cover art image by nuttakit. Cover by Jodi Ralston.


After nearly drowning in a lake, young Osan of the First Sister tribe gains shaman-sight, the ability to see the souls dwelling inside people. In doing so, he discovers the secret shamans have kept from everyone: the souls are inside the wrong bodies and have been so since birth.  More than that, the soul of his dead brother is still alive, inhabiting the body of the enemy chieftain's son. This is the very soul the shaman of Osan's tribe holds hostage in order to start a war. The shaman does not care that the souls are misplaced, that souls of the First Sister tribe live on both sides of the battle line, that in essence family will end up killing family.  He just wants to expand his domain and gain more power. He wants the enemy dead or enslaved.

But Osan knows, and it draws on his greatest pain:  Several years ago, fear of the shaman prevented Osan from seeking the shaman's aid when the enemy's plague swept the tribe.  Osan's family died because of his cowardice.

This time, Osan won't let fear stop him from doing what is right. He will steal his brother's soul and return it to its current, foreign body. He will do this even if it means he will never see his brother again, even if it means exile, even if it means death. For that is the only way he can stop the war and the killing, and it is the only hope he has to reveal the truth about souls that the shamans hide.

Purchasing Availability:

This story is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble currently.  I am working on a Smashwords version as well.  The price is $0.99.  If you enjoy The One Who Sees, please consider purchasing a copy or spreading the url.  Thanks!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

SampleSunday: Letters of the Dead (Beginning, Part 3)

I'm falling behind on my schedule of getting Letters of the Dead grammar-edited and formatted, so I hope doing #SampleSunday starting from the beginning will force me to work harder, work more.  So, this is still a work-in-progress.

Previous Snippets:
  1. SampleSunday: Letters of the Dead (Beginning, Part 1)
  2. SampleSunday: Letters of the Dead (Beginning, Part 2)


Snippet from Letters of the Dead, a work-in-progress fantasy novel, by Jodi Ralston:

The carriage slowed, then stopped.  Traffic must have been light in the City today.  I put away the letter, and while the cab waited, I took in my destination.

    Outside the window were the manicured lawns and hedges, the coiffed flowerbeds and military-stanced "domiciles"--a fit scene for the clatter of perfect hooves on perfect horses and the rumble of perfect carriages.  No string of houses here like a segmented millipede.  These were the grand houses of gentry wishing to live with the convenience of the city but the illusion of the country.  These were the grand houses of those who thought the aristocrats lived in perfection and tried to mirror it, painfully so.  My destination's "domicile" had four stories, not counting a basement and cellar and attic; those stories hurt the veneer of rigid prettiness by hinting at actual work.

    A heavy gate presided over a short walk to the front door, but it was neither open nor attended by more than a single bell.  The baron would have approved of the structure.  He had loved barricades, rows of them between home and world.  But that was nothing new; even back in his earlier, clearer days, back when he was Queen Corva IV's personal physician, he had recommended extra gates for her.

    Even so, this was wrong.  While the baron remained unburied, the gate should be open to allow in mourners both hired and true and to welcome in the psychopomp with the deceased's soul.  There should also be some grey bunting--or rather, fresh grey paint for the well-to-do.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Update on Publishing Goals

I had intended to get Letters of the Dead's grammar edits done this week, but I ran into a chapter that needs a little more help, and it affects other chapters.  So, as nanowrimo and November nears, I've decided to make some changes.

  1. I am pushing LotD's go live date to early January.  I will continue editing on it during nano time.
  2. I am going to proof the One Who Sees novelette tomorrow and work on its formatting and such this weekend.  I will continue editing on it during nano time.  My goal is to have it go live early December.
I still plan on posting the first few chapters of LOTD on Sundays.  I even know a good point to leave it off on, for it's kinda hooky.  Also, I still want to post OWS on the blog, but I'm no longer sure if I will post the entire piece on the blog for a week before it is published or just post a good chunk and leave it up.  I'm leaning toward the last option.

Anyway, I am a little disappointed that I can't reach my original goals, but I'm certain this will work out.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Blog Notice

The normal Wednesday post will be absent this week as I work on two major goals:
  1. Finishing ALL grammar edits on Letters of the Dead.
  2. Completely prewriting my nano2011 novel.
Normal posting--plus some extras, I hope--should resume the following week.  Thanks for bearing with!

SampleSunday: Letters of the Dead (Beginning, Part 2)

I'm falling behind on my schedule of getting Letters of the Dead grammar-edited and formatted, so I hope doing #SampleSunday starting from the beginning will force me to work harder, work more.  So, this is still a work-in-progress.

Previous Snippet:  SampleSunday: Letters of the Dead (Beginning, Part 1)


Snippet from Letters of the Dead, a work-in-progress fantasy novel, by Jodi Ralston:

I had read the letter in fits and starts half a dozen times as I walked to the make the train, and upon boarding a second-class car, packed elbow to elbow, I found out the past could pack in closer.  Even before the train Forevermore wrecked and sealed its memory not in the durability of iron and genius but in the loss of lives and struggle of the survivors, even before that accident, I had never been comfortable with trains.  Now, with this letter, clenched inside my pocket, I felt even less.  Normally, I would pull such a letter out and use my time wisely re-reading it; after all, the dead were ever difficult to understand.  And I had plenty of room to so in, for as I had learned early on, folk dressed in suits of all grey, without a hat, and radiating discomfort were rewarded more room than necessary.  But yet, the letter never left my pocket.  The dead might be difficult to understand, but the baron came with additional . . . complications.

It was not until I left the train behind, and my past with it, that I could try to make the sense the dead and the psychopomp desired of me.  But first, a few last, necessary distractions.

    At the destination station, I hired a cab.  Three miles left to reach the baron's daughter, and it would cost more than the hour train ride and take just as long.  But a mourner didn't arrive on foot before such society, particularly Corvish gentry, not in this country anyway.  At least, it gave me the privacy and better steadiness to finish my cover.  I pulled out from my pants pocket a small tin and twisted off the lid.  A wide window of metal shone at the bottom, rimmed by little grey face paste.  Something else I needed to buy, but didn't have the money for.  Not that long ago, less than a year ago, it had been new.  I pulled off my glove, scraped some paste onto my finger, and drew the tear mark on my right cheek.  Smaller than usual, but still good.

    What was not good was my scar.  Tinged by grey rather than concealed, it stood out ever the more sharply: a royal crest branded on my fingertips from a single ring and its defective magic.

    My mistake.  I should have used my left hand, I thought, as I cleaned it.  Usually I did, but the letter and its contents hadn't moved far enough from mind.

    Nor had another letter in the same my pocket, a letter which I wished I had the sense to leave home.  I closed my eyes to avoid staring at the past, both here and oceans away, wishing to avoid thoughts on scars of all kinds as I pulled out the baron's letter.

    Not easy, but it was time.  I put away the tin.  I put away my distractions.

    I found that easier to do once I broke the letter down into its parts, of which there were many.

    The letter had been written over twice and only once post-mortem.  The original letter was not the baron's, but another's.  A clandestine love letter to the baron's daughter using the address of a woman as cover.  A letter long in declaring affection.  In just as long a fashion, asking her to meet him, to elope if nothing else, her "father and all else be damned."  I would have blushed if not for the date and the man.  A bad date, the day of the Forevermore disaster that claimed too many lives.  Including that of Princess Hartlyn II, the young lady who was born thanks to the baron's special magicum, but thanks to his assistant, this writer, she had appeared a couple of months after her death in her namesake colony.  Appeared in my father’s preserving room, stuffed with illegal, traceless magics for the underground revolution.  A fact which fortunately no one knew save my family, this court doctor, and the dead.

    I just hadn't realized the strength of connections between this traitorous former assistant and his master’s family.  But the baron was a man of connections that reached too far, even in death, and were always complicated.  And that part, this part of the letter, was of the past that had taken me a year, an ocean, and a now an hour train ride to leave behind; I did not need to add any more to it.

    So, I smoothed the creases in the paper with my left hand, my scarred one being bound up in a fist, and I focused on the next part.  Turning the letter sideways, I saw more to disturb.  The baron, while still alive, had written a message to his daughter, crosshatched over the love letter, and he had written it a few days after the Forevermore tragedy.  The baron needn't provide the date; his erratic hand and the . . . complicated nature of the words themselves told more than enough:
Beatris, I chanced you would listen to a letter from your "true love's" hand.  I am not sorry I separated his correspondences from your attention.  I am sorry for the pain he caused you, for the pain I caused, for the pain this may cause; yet Terrible Work is at hand and of Greater Importance than what we feel and regret.
Someone feels dispatching me is worth the Risk of what I Own, is worth the Risk of all Humanity.
You no longer trust my promises.  But this goes beyond promises.  You no longer want anything of me.  But I must give you This:
    Here the baron's post-mortem request of me rendered a foreign word, perhaps a name, barely discernible.  I deciphered the word best as: MAL'A'NYE.

The remainder of the letter, despite its content, proved somewhat easier to read:
For Five Years hence your Receipt.  That is the length of time that is safe.  That you will be safe.  Five years.  The Others will help you to understand, but trust them little.  Trust history best.  Trust I know you better than you know your own sentiments, your own weaknesses and strengths, and that I want only your safety.  Five Years.

Now, shred this letter.  Burn it.  Bury the ash.

Be Safe.

Your Father, Baron Poole
    Lastly, came the request penned--or rather, dictated--from the Afterlife: DELIVER THIS TO HER--BARON POOLE.
    So there it was.

    I folded the letter, closing up the little world I have been . . . I smiled . . . enveloped in.  The present world, that of this road trotting past, though, did not offer as much to smile about.  This letter . . . this letter, such fragments from life and death: an old lover letter and an apology, inseparable--was I supposed to believe my mission would be that simple?  A mere delivery of a letter never sent?  And why write this apology over this letter of Sir Wilhem Wrossen's?  Why insist on writing this apology in the first place?

    Because.  Because.  I ran my fingers on the edge of the fold.  Because his world consisted of little more than that of a child trapped in a nightmare.  He did not realize how his words would appear to her, that they would give his daughter two different pains to agitate: that involving an old love and that of her father's . . . mind.  Not to mention other pains attached to that lover’s name and connection.  Attached to that past.

    So, no, it would not be simple.  His wounds could not be healed without adding some to another--or rather, reopening another's wounds.

    I could not believe he intended that.

    Nor the psychopomp.

    I'd deliver the intent of the words, not the letter, and see what mending could be done.

Related Links:  

F/SF/H/Hist #SampleSundays of Interest (no particular order):

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What Are You Selling?

According to What Clients Love, Harry Beckwith says that the best salespeople sell (in order):  "Themselves.  Their company.  Their service or product.  [Then] price" (106).   By contrast, ordinary ones sell (in order):  "Price. Their service or product. Themselves. [Then] their company" (Beckwith 107).

Weirdo me, that got me thinking on how that can relate to writers, and I came up with, for the first list: Author, Company, Individual Book or Story, and Price.  But I believe most readers don't care about the company.  So, I thought a better substitute might be Brand, what you, the author, is known for.  For example, if you think of Stephen King, you know what to expect from his stories.

Either way, going back to the list, Beckwith puts salesperson first.  In the case of authors, especially self-publishers, that means putting author first.  I never considered that before.  I always thought it was best to minimize the author's presence, such as on a webpage or even in a query letter.  It's kind of interesting to flip that belief on its head, but I'm not sure if I'm sold ;-) on the idea.

Even so, while I'm still on the fence about the idea of selling the author first, there is one takeaway of note:  price shouldn't be the first thing you sell.

What do you all think about it?  What do you sell first?

Cites:  Beckwith, Harry. What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business. New York: Warner Books Business, 2003.  Print.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

SampleSunday: Letters of the Dead (Beginning, Part 1)

I'm falling behind on my schedule of getting Letters of the Dead grammar-edited and formatted, so I hope doing #SampleSunday starting from the beginning will force me to work harder, work more.  So, this is still a work-in-progress.


Snippet from Letters of the Dead, a work-in-progress fantasy novel, by Jodi Ralston:

    For someone who received letters from the dead, I was quite the coward at opening the living's mail, or rather, opening mail from home.  Currently, the week-old letter occupied my pocket, out of sight, but not far enough from mind now that I had finished making my aunt's pills.  Even without letter before me, I could see my sister's handwriting.  I could imagine her at the writing desk, smiling despite each word.  I could imagine my brother leaning over her shoulder, investing himself in each line she penned, speaking loudly with or without a single word--so loudly that even oceans away I could hear, ringing in my ear, his censure and disappointment for his errant little brother.

    No.  No, the letter and home was never far enough from mind.  Things of mixed emotion rarely were. 

    I pulled off my work gloves and set them beside the pill box painted like a red flower.  Inside it were the pills I had made.  I picked up the container, a little too harshly it turned out.  The opium-mix pills, covered up in pretty shells like pink candy, rattled inside.  Far from innocent but pain didn't bear such considerations in mind.  Pain was a fire, burning where it would.  Sometimes these little pills offered the only help left.

    I stood up, pills rattling, ready to take them upstairs to Mrs. E's bedroom so Mr. E didn't have to.

    But circumstances conspired so I did not have to yet: Mr. E stood in the doorway linking kitchen to the mixing room.  How much had he witnessed?  The smile on my uncle's face said, Not much.  That smile was like a warm day in a long winter, not common enough.  That smile was more than enough to wipe away earlier thoughts and to bring better in their stead.

    "Son," he whispered as he placed the letter beside my discarded gloves on the worktable.  "You meet more misses at funerals than most find at dances."

    A miss?  It must be a dead letter.  Like the postmen, Mr. E saw what the deceased wanted casual outsiders to see: directions to me and my location, not to where the deceased intended me to go.  That didn't stop others from seeing the actual return address.

    "With such luck," Mr. E was saying, "maybe I should hire myself out to mourning as well."

    Then he seemed to remember the real recipient of his josh laid abed upstairs.  Worse, he saw the unintentional morbidity and portent in his words: he sank in on himself as he stood there, hiding his apprehension by stroking his mustache.  You had to look closely or share familiarity to notice that the mustache--more grey than blonde now--had grown as thin as his voice.

    He needed distraction.  "Mr. Elandris?"  I picked topic mundane.  "What do I owe you for the postage?"  I touched his sleeve.  "Sir?" 

    "Eh?  Oh.  Oh, yes.  Don't bother yourself about it.  Did you finish the scripts?"

    "Yes."  But he didn't refer to the customers.  "Yes." 

    He took the pill box from me.  Opened the lid.  Counted the week's worth of medicine, all twenty-eight--doubled from last month.  But he didn't see pills: he was seeing symptoms and a cure-all for the incurable migraines that led to attacks . . . that might lead, someday, to another stroke. 

    I saw not a cure at all.

    Morbid, Roderis.  Morbid.

    "No, son," Mr. E said, as he closed the lid.  "You go on."  He turned from me.  "I can handle any arrivals and appointments without my assistant for the afternoon."

    But I preferred he wouldn't be alone.  "Is Miss . . . "  What was the latest maid-of-all-work's name?  They turned over so quickly.  "Is the maid coming in?"

    "No."  A tightness had entered his eyes and grip.  "She worried Mrs. E's nerves."

    Few were the reasons for dismissal in this household.  One being too present, too noisy, distressing Mrs. E's sensitive ears and triggering her headaches.  The other being talks on things the Elandrises rather strongly wished they wouldn't.  If I recalled correctly, despite my best advice, the maid had a passion for the non-human slaves, the Possessions.

    "But they are only myth--"  I had said once when the dinner table sat three, not two.  And Mr. E let nothing more be said.  Not even that much would be tolerated now.

    "Sir, we can look in the ads for a new help tonight, if you want?  Or perhaps," I said, hoping he would take a nudge of advice, "we could invite . . . "  The nearest relations lived in the country, and even if one cousin were in town, they were too full of sympathy and a caution to accept an invite.  But maybe it wouldn't be so for others.  "We could invite your friend, the one apprenticed the year before you at your master's.  I've seen him and his wife several times now; they must have moved closer.  I'm sure they would welcome renewing your acquaintance in person rather than over letter?"  More than that, Mr. E could use some fresh companionship and Mrs. E could do with some careful, mindful same.  "He might be able to offer a good recommendation, besides."

    "Perhaps. . . .  You go on now, son."  His voice was half-here, half-up-there with Mrs. E, even before he turned away.  "We'll be fine."  He tiptoed out of sight.

    Nudge not taken, but perhaps his friend could be found and a conversation struck up, steps taken to bring change into his household.  Change for the better.

    But for now, I was left with letters.  The new one, at least, I could do some good . . .

    I picked it up off the work table, and a name stared up at me.  Poole.

    . . . or maybe I could not.

    A miss had directed this letter to an Honorable Beatris Poole.  Poole was common enough a name.  Surely, it need not be tied in any way to the late Baron Poole.  Surely.


    Yet, after almost a year of receiving the dead's letters, I had developed intuition.  Or rather, my scarred fingers had, fretting over the name without command from my consciousness.  Mr. E had his tic; I had my own.

    Rarely had I opened a dead letter here, in this place, in this home.  Not so much a superstition as a desire to keep lives separate, like the partition that divided kitchen from mixing room, home from work, the recovering Mrs. E from the succumbed baron, the living from the dead.  But hadn't the boundaries already been crossed?

    Crossed just over a year ago.

    By a single train wreck that had scarred both of their lives--and so many more.

    I held the letter, considering that.

    I held it, knowing superstition held me back--but I would not read all of the letter here.  I just needed to see.

    I cracked the red seal--never quite sure who re-pressed that wax.  The dead?  Or the soul's conductor, the psychopomp who directed--or rather, misdirected--their mail to me?

    Focus, Roderis.  Deep breath.

    I opened the letter.  Over the original letter, the post-mortem script read:



Related Links:  

Thursday, October 13, 2011


While researching Norse myths to inject into my dragon culture for nanowrimo, I came across the draugr.  According to They Bite: Endless Cravings of Supernatural Predators, these ghost-vampires "reanimate the corpses" of dead Vikings and are "virtually indestructible killing machine[s] able to withstand any weapon" (Mayberry and Kramer 69).  Both that book and Wikipedia mentioned they were greedy, guarding treasure hoards ("Draugr"; Mayberry and Kramer 69).  Sounds a little like dragons, don't it?

Wikipedia goes into more detail on the killing machine traits, such as incredible strength and the ability to increase size at will (and thus weight).  And they can drive animals and even people mad.  Some other abilities include shape-changing, weather-control, and seeing into the future ("Draugr").  That last might be useful to avoid slayers ;-)

They Bite doesn't go into details on how Draugr are created, but Wikipedia gives an example of a man being killed by one to rise as one the next night ("Draugr").  However, despite the lack of details on how one is made, it is not so with their death.  Draugar can only be killed by heros, and bare-handed at that (Mayberry and Kramer 69).

Those resources go into more detail, but draugar sound interesting.  Although, I'm afraid, just like with the Norse legends where dragons weren't exactly the good guys, I'm going to some twisting of the legend to create a special kind of dragon.  One my dragon-main-character doesn't want to turn into. 


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sun Tzu and Project Weariness

Image from Wikipedia;
image author vlasta2
Long ago on another blog, I started an elit campaign: one public domain ebook for every letter of the alphabet.  For A, I was doing Art of War by Sun Tzu.  As I've been trying to get into it again, I am reminded of  an interesting quote:

When you engage in  actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their  ardor will be dampened. [When] your ardor [is] dampened, your strength exhausted and treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. (Sun Tzu 36)

This works with projects today, too.  No matter how passionate a person is about a  project, he or she can experience "project  weariness."  Then "other chieftains" or rather distractions will spring up and pull the person away.  In fact, I'm suffering from all this now, on my first ebook-to-be.

The easiest cure for project weariness is not to get into the situation in the first place.  How?  By following other Sun Tzu advice:

The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. (35) 

Lots of writers set up deadlines and goal dates based on what they think they can do or other  external pressures.  But something else should be included in that deadline:
  • how long the writer can stand working on a project before he or she gets "project weary" and
  • what activities cause the weariness.
Everyone's answer will be different.  As for me, the gal with the attention span of a flea on ADHD?  I tend to super-focus on one project.  So, that means three or four months of obsession is as much as I can bear on a novel before I need a sizeable break from it (read:  a  year or so).  However, I don't count prewriting in that time frame.  That tells me I should be doing as much work possible upfront while keeping in mind that too much might produce its own form of project weariness.

And thinking over past novels, I realize that the revision phase is a major, major area of project weariness for me.  That means I need  to continue developing my ideas on rolling edits so I have one month of edits instead of a three-month block of them. 

So in the end, it's a fine balance.  But when setting a deadline on a writing project, it is important to keep personal stick-to-it-ness in mind.  This will help guide the writer's actions, so the writer is doing most of the work when passion is high and before other distractions set in.

Cites:  Sun Tzu. The Art of War. Trans. Lionel Giles. 1910. Project Gutenberg, 1994. Epub Edition.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

SampleSunday: Letters of the Dead: Roderis Meeting Malanye

I heard about #samplesunday on the Writer's Cafe on the Kindleboards and read more about it here.  This Sunday I decided to join in.  Some setup.  Letters of the Dead is currently undergoing grammar edits (haven't reached this section yet) and will be my first self-published ebook once done.  The main character (narrator) Roderis receives letters from the dead, sent by the psychopomp (a conductor of souls).  Roderis has received one from Miss Poole's father, Baron Poole, but is confused about what the baron wants.  Roderis is disguise as a hired mourner.

Snippet from Letters of the Dead, a work-in-progress fantasy novel, by Jodi Ralston:

We had arrived, the butler showing me into the mourning room.

I almost believed one of us were mistaken until I saw the open casket near the wall.  By it stood a Corvish gentleman of black hair.  He was dressed in even more somber black, arms folded behind his back.  I hadn't time to ask of his identity; the butler was already gone.  The casket and a griever might be here, but seeing the state of this room, I didn't believe a psychopomp miracle or my help would be welcome here.

Gaslights blazed about the room instead of grey candles.  Not a pinch of funerary incense burned to soften the scent of preservative magic in this room.  Uncovered furniture crowded the space.  And not a single picture paid vigil over the deceased much less the room; in fact, if any of the lady of the house once graced this room, they had found a new place.  However, the worst lack lived on here as it did elsewhere: the absence of grey.  Nothing on the door, window, curtains, furniture, casket, anywhere--

No, wait, there were specks of grey on the gentleman.  On the scant trimmings of his dress coat's sleeves, on the waistcoat, and on the knee breeches.  I had overlooked it at first, the almost Colonial style mourning in the Motherland.

Who was he?  A more congenial survivor of the dead?  Colonial?  But really, his clothing's style didn't wash as my home country's, too many details out of place.  So I pushed that distraction from mind, and focused on other details.  Such as, he didn't appear interested in me, hadn't even looked up.  Was he one of the body's escorts?  One of the baron's guards?  Last I heard, he had one for every corner of every room and matched them to the decor.  But even baron wouldn't dress them this well, would he?  Or like . . . this?  Surely, he still remembered his homeland's mourning colors.

Either way, this gentleman could mourn albeit subtly.


He must be involved.  And in view of the statement of this room, this denial of a man's last rites, where hate colored the walls instead of grief, I believed I knew why the letter had sent me here: I needed to make sure the Honorable Miss Beatris Poole received the message the deceased most wanted to impart: regret and love.  Simple as a delivery and just as hard.  The gentleman's presence hinted that it wasn't impossible.  Whoever he was, he was important to Miss Poole and trusted by the baron.  He was likely this Mr. Mal'a'nye from the letter.

A bit reality from a scribbled mess of confusion.

Someone to bridge the chasm between parent and child, or to bandage the wound.  A welcome hand of help, either way.

Time to accept it and do what I came here for.  I moved toward the gentleman and coffin.  But after a few steps, I smelled the preservative magic, and although my lungs did not try to close, my mouth and stomach burned.  If anyone knew what that magicum tasted like on the return. . . . I dabbed with my sleeve at my mouth, but didn't leave it pressed there.  Not a good idea to give offense.

At least . . . at least Miss Poole had done that much, probably more for her own nose rather than for her father's benefit.  Without a doubt, she had not ingested the magic opiates and cast that spell herself.

Good for her.  Bad for the ready-makers she purchased it from.

Morbid, Roderis.

I cleared my throat, but the gentleman didn't even look at me.  Maybe he wouldn't, not until he heard what I had to say, us being strangers and, obviously, of different circles.

Though no one else waited in this room, I edged as close as I dared to the gentleman, moving past the slight swim of the head until a heaviness threatened my lungs.  At the center of the room, I could move no more.  Too much magic and too much powdered magic opium added to fuel the preservative.

No further.  I had to trust I was close enough that my words would move him.  "E-excuse me, sir--"  I coughed and rubbed my head.  "Sir, I--that is, you are . . . Mr. Mal . . a . . .nye?"

His head turned at that.  "Yes, I am, Owner."  

I stared.  Owner?  He had called me--no--I must have--I misheard.  Possessions, they weren't real.

(end snippet)


In case you were wondering, a Possession is an enslaved being with great magical power that is different than the magic most humans use.

Links to some SampleSundays I found interesting, in no particular order:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Do You Warm Up before Writing?

An experiment conducted by Dutch researchers, as recorded in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, might have some relevance for writers.  In this experiment, students were to answer 42 questions from the Trivial Pursuit board game.  Half took a few minutes beforehand to think about "what it would mean to be a professor and write down everything that came to mind."  The other group sat and thought about "soccer hooligans."  The results?  The professor-thinker group answered 55.6% right.  The soccer-thinker group, 42.6% right.  The difference between the two groups?  The professor-thinkers were in a "'smart' frame of mind" (Gladwell 56).  This is one example amongst many in the book that shows the effectiveness of priming.

When I read this chapter, I remembered a news story months ago about warming-up and exercise.  The newscast mentioned it might not be necessary, that it didn't really minimize the occurrence of injuries and the like.  But after reading this chapter, I wondered if warm-up affects performance in a different way, like the experiment above.  Maybe it primes the exerciser to do better.  Maybe warming-up can prime a writer to write more effectively.  Perhaps simply going over yesterday's work, reading an article on writing, or looking at grammar from a book can help a person get in writing frame of mind faster and more effectively. 

It's worth a shot.  As I am currently revising the grammar in my novel, I'm going to start by reading about grammar before I work on my novel.  If nothing else, it might force me past that procrastination hurdle currently plaguing me.  Maybe it can do the same for you.  If  you try it, let me know how it works out for you.

Cites:  Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking. New York: Back Bay Books, 2005. Print.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What Makes Your Book Unique

There is an interesting thread at the KindleBoards about what makes your book unique.  Here is what I wrote: 

In my case, in the fantasy genre, I try to write what piques my interest at bookstores or at online ones.

In a nutshell, for my fantasies, it's male main character(s).  The significant relationships are usually one of the following:  bromance or buddy-fic, family-pairing, or loner against a male antagonist.  This usually means little to no undercurrent of romantic relationships for the main characters.  Finally, I need weird settings, plot, and/or magic.  Sometimes the weirdness is in the background, but it still affects the rest of the novel.  Also, many times I borrow from real cultures or time periods for ideas or framework.

Goal-Setting Tips: Companion Piece to "Be Specific and Aim High"

In my last post, I mentioned the importance of being specific and aiming high in your goals.  Here are a few more tips that can help you achieve your goals:

  • Write your goal down. 
  • Give yourself a deadline.
  • Do daily affirmations.
  • Have a visual goal.

Write your goal down.  Napoleon Hill says the act of writing your goals down "crystalizes your thinking" and creates "an indelible impression in your memory" (152).

Give yourself a deadline.  Hill goes on to say that this step is important to motivation.  A deadline will "set [you] out in the direction of your goal and keep [you] moving toward it" (152).

Do daily affirmations.  According to Barbara Stanny, affirmations are "positive statements expressed if they've already happened" (102).  Work with them, saying them aloud or writing them down, keep them in sight and in mind.  This way you'll internalize them (103).

Have a visual goal.  According to a recent article on ScienceDaily, Rajesh Bagchi and Amar Cheema conducted a study on visualizing goals in abstract contexts.  They found that an easy to visualize goal is a strong motivator.  Cheema says even drawing a graph can help (Virginia Tech).

So, there you go, a few more techniques to help you achieve that specific, high goal of yours.


Goals: Be Specific and Aim High

In the book Secrets of Six-Figure Women, author Barbara Stanny believes that the
path to higher earnings is paved with decisions. [And that these decisions go much easier] when you're purposefully headed in a particular direction toward a specific destination.  Every time you act on your decisions, keeping your promise to yourself by honoring your intention, you build self-esteem. Stronger self-esteem only enhances your chances for success.  (93)
Your intentions are powerful, and so is specificity of  destination.  It keeps you moving forward.

Although this book regards women seeking high incomes, it is relevant for many people.  Because, let's face it, most of us would like to make a decent living from our work, and many of us dream of hitting it big.

So, not only do you need to be specific on your monetary goal, you shouldn't fear to aim high.  Why?  For one, according to Napoleon Hill in Success through a Positive Mental Attitude, it is just as easy to aim high as it is to aim low.  Not only that, but the higher your goal, the more concentrated your effort will be to achieve it (152).

I believe that if you set such goals, your mind automatically tries to fill in the gap between your starting point and the finish line.  Specificity focuses you far more than "a lot of  money," and the high goal drives you to work hard and be creative with the tasks and sub-goals necessary to meet your main, high one.  That is key, making mini-goals and working hard at them.  After all, this isn't wish-setting-- it's more active than that.  Wishes may come true by luck or providence, but goals need you.

So, don't be afraid to aim high, and don't be disappointed if you don't reach your goal.  Instead, learn from it and keep at it, and you'll improve your chances for next time.

  • Hill, Napoleon, and W. Clement Stone. Success through a Positive Mental Attitude. New York: Pocket Books, 1977.  Print.
  • Stanny, Barbara. Secrets of Six-Figure Women. New York: HarperBusiness, 2004. Print.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Update: One Who Sees

It is official.  I have pulled One Who Sees, my mythic fantasy novella; it will not be published with Drollerie Press after all.  I have mixed feelings about it, but we parted on good terms, so there is that.  But I am behind schedule on Letters of the Dead, my first short fantasy novel that I plan to self-e-publish.  So, I cannot work on OWS yet.  It still needs one edit pass, a proof, formatting into ebook with cover, and one final look-see-over.  I hope to get it up mid-November, though.  Just as I hope to get LotD up by either Halloween or, more likely, by October 8.  I do know that when I get OWS up, I'll briefly post it for free on this blog.  Briefly meaning it should go down in January.

It's a plan, anyway.    

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You-Can-Do List

I love serendipity, God's little nudges in my life.  This one came about as I was looking for something to post about today, Wednesday, and I was coming up blank.  Then, I thought of Dan Miller and I remembered how inspirational his books where.  Not only is his work uplifting, it actually inspires me.  In fact, after reading his No More Mondays book I had some out of the box thinking in regards to marketing in the like, back when I wanted to be a freelance nonfiction writer.  But I couldn't find my notes. 

So, I went online to his blog, to see if he had anything that might prompt me there.  And I found this post on excuses.  It worked like a shot of optimism, but still, no go on the post.  Back to the book.

I was flipping through it, looking for an index, and found in the back a recommendation list.  On this was a book whose name sounded familiar.  Lo and behold, in my 61 Mile Yard Sale Finds pile, I found it, The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz, Ph.D.

Flipping through Thinking Big, I found a cute chapter entitled "Vaccinate Yourself Against Excusitis, the Failure Disease."  And as I began to take notes on it, I discovered I suffered from it.  Pretty badly.  Then I read this:

"Had I been drilled a little more in why a small business can succeed, I'd be better off in every way today." (Schwartz 35)

This is me to a tee.  I'm a born-again optimist, but it is a struggle to get out of the swamp of negativity I surround myself in.  But that passage really struck home.  Why?

Because I rephrased it as:

Focus on why something can succeed, not why something can't.

Then I thought to myself, I know why I can't succeed as a self-published writer, but what about the reasons why I can?

And when I first asked that, I drew a blank.  It was so easy to come up with reasons why it wouldn't work, not so easy to come up reasons why it can work.  Like the book says, I'm using my intelligence in the wrong way. 

So, I asked myself again, and I came up with a tentative list.  It's a start, but sometimes that is all you need.

So, what about you?  What are the reasons why you can self-publish?

Cites:  Schwartz, David J. The Magic of Thinking Big. 1959. New York: Fireside, 1987. Print.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Update: Letters of the Dead

After a sick break and pre-nano distractions, I am finally back on track with my novel, Letters of the Dead.  I hope to finish my current touch-up tomorrow, and then take a brief break to work on test formatting that novelette I was talking about.  Still haven't heard word from the e-publishers, though.  So, I don't expect to get it done for my birthday after all, but I will check up with them then.  But it will be good practice to format that piece as an ebook.  So that covers Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Friday, however, I will also resume working on LotD.  It will be a pure read-through, just to make sure it is indeed ready for the grammar pass scheduled to start this weekend.  After that, I'll use what I learned from formatting practice on the novelette and begin formatting LotD.  One last proof in that format, then it should be ready to upload on Halloween.

So, though it might be a tight deadline, I can still make it.  And I will be glad when it is done.  Just this year alone, since I decided to focus on this novel as my first ebook, I've clocked over 80 hours on its revisions.  But the novel is so much better for it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dean Wesley Smith's Creative Self-Publishing Experiment: Book Cards

Dean Wesley Smith has a neat concept for those doing self-published ebooks--a book card.  This book card includes a cover, back cover blurb, snippet, and a gift-card like piece inside (which includes a download code).  He mentioned the idea earlier on his blog, but I think this is the first time he actually did it, and he posted results too.  I find the whole concept innovative and well worth watching to see how it develops, because I really think creativity like this is going to be important to success of self-published ebooks, and maybe even ebooks in general.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

99-Cent Pricing: A Good or Bad Idea?

According to a Science Daily article, Robert Schindler, professor of marketing at Rutgers School of Business-Camden, has spent years studying this marketing strategy, and he says that people pay more attention to the leftmost digits in prices.  There is a larger perceived price difference between just-below pricing like $19.99 and $24.99 than when it is between round pricing like $20.00 and $25.00.  So, consumers feel they are getting a bargain.  However, this just-below pricing may be tied to low or questionable quality in the consumer's mind.  For instance, when it comes to luxury goods, most people are concerned with quality over price.  So, when it comes to luxury goods it may be best to avoid the just-below pricing (Rutgers University).

The question then is where does a fiction ebook fit?  Should it be priced at $1.00 instead of 99 cents?  And how will your round pricing hold up against the just-below pricing? 

The answer might be in an older article at Science Daily, in which a price comparison experiment was conducted by Kenneth C. Manning and David E. Sprott.  When two pens were priced at $1.99 and $4.00, only 18% of participants selected the $4.00 pen.  There was a larger perceived price difference when comparing the cheaper, just-below price and the larger round price.  However, when the prices were $2.00 and $3.99, 44% of the participants chose the $3.99 pen.   The difference between $1.99 and $4.00 is $2.01.  Between $3.99 and $2.00?  $1.99 (University of Chicago Press Journals).  Only a couple pennies difference, but the perceived difference was much greater than two pennies worth.

It sounds like an interesting experiment.  I'll have to do some more research into the vendor's side of it, but it might be worth it to try pricing ebooks with round numbers.  Though, I don't think it matters at the $1.00/99 cent pricing level, because cheap is cheap.  But what about above the one-dollar level?  Is it better to price at $3.99 or $4.00, for instance?  How much difference will that one penny have on your readers?


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Deliberate Practice and Successful People

 Water The Bamboo: Unleashing The Potential Of Teams And Individuals

I was going to write on an entirely different topic today, but I came across a book at the 61 Mile Yardsale entitled Water the Bamboo: Unleashing the Potential of Teams and Individuals by Greg Bell.  I picked up the slender paperback with the attractive cover on Friday, but on Monday, I randomly opened it to see if it were something I wanted to read that day, and I came across the name Ericsson (the same from Ericsson from Gladwell's Outliers), the words "deliberate practice," the Ten-Year Rule (or according to Outliers, the 10,000-hour one), and the belief that successful people are born, not made (Bell 101-102).

As I'm not one to ignore serendipitous nudges such as these, today's topic will expand on my last one about it taking 10,000 hours to becoming a star in the writing field--or a master, as Bell's book entitles such people.  Commentors on my last post had heard of this theory, and they brought up the very important point that isn't just practice, but deliberate practice that is the foundation beneath the 10,000-hours/10-years rule.  Deliberate practice is systematic, "designed to improve performance.  It pushes you beyond your comfort zone, provides feedback on outcomes, and involves lots of repetition" (Bell 101).  But this practice is not just sheer repetition.  Rather, it involves "working on an aspect of the skill you want that's a little bit outside of what you already know" (102).  In other words, it is pushing yourself and your boundaries, deliberately and steadily.

How can you do this?  Well, Water the Bamboo brings up three ways.  They include putting in the hours of deliberate practice, practicing on something outside your comfort zone, and working with a coach who mastered the skills you want and who can give you specific feedback on how to improve (Bell 102).

This isn't exactly new to writers.  After all, haven't published writers, agents, editors, and et al. been saying to keep working on your skills to grow them?  To push outside your comfort zones?  To get outside opinions on your work?

But what do you think on all this?  About the nature of success?  About pushing yourself?  About feedback?  And if you do agree with some of this idea, what do you do for deliberate practice?  What areas are you pushing at?  What are you doing with your feedback?

Cite: Bell, Greg. Water the Bamboo: Unleashing the Potential of Teams and Individuals. Portland: Three Star Publishing, 2009.  Print.

Update: The One Who Sees

Due to unfortunate circumstances, The One Who Sees will not be published with Drollerie Press.  Yesterday, I had to email them about cancelling the contract I have with them.  I believe in signs, the novelette wasn't going to be ready to publish by its two year anniversary of acceptance/contract signing, and so I think God was telling me to move on.  I'm going to give it a week, and if I don't hear back, I'll try another contact at the publishers.  But I hope to make this my first self-published work.  In fact, I would like to try an experiment and post it for free on my blog while I work on getting it uploaded, and then leave it up for a while in celebration of my first successful upload.  My goal date?  My birthday, Sept 25.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mother Goose is Dead Anthology (Ebook version) is Now up for Sale

The ebook version is live now, on its own page at Damnation Books.  Right now the price is marked down from $6.95 to 75 cents a variable discount that changes, but that is only for the first 24 hours, which started at midnight Wednesday.  So far, from the proof copy, it looks great, full of interesting reads spanning over 112,692 words.  Wow :-)

Anyway, a print version is coming and so are ebooks on the different vendor sites like Kindle and B&N (and more).

Enjoy all.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Negative Criticism Thoughts

At Absolute Write, I shared what I blogged about below on Holly Lisle's post.  In response?  Some interesting comments on negative comments, and how important it is to listen to them.  I won't post about that yet, but I wanted to share that--and read a little more.  Likely, I've come up with my next Wednesday's post, and yes, it will bring in some insights from another Malcolm Gladwell book.

Supernatural -- Its Influences -- And Thoughts on Season 6/7

 Supernatural: The Complete Fourth Season

One of the few shows I watch any more is Supernatural.  The other main one is AMC's the Walking Dead--when the hell will they bring it back?  Or did it die?   Anyway, I don't know if I admitted it before, but I'm a Castiel fan.  Heck I'm a Destiel fan:  Love the relationship between Dean and Castiel more than Dean and Sam.  Mostly because it provides a reverse--it was always Dean doing the majority of the caring about Sam, Dean needing Sam, not vice versa.  Then Castiel came, and at some point Cas was pulling a Dean in the relationship boat. 

There were many other things I enjoyed about the whole Castiel thing.  Actor's hot--gotta thing for blue-eyed, black-haired men--the humor is great.  And I liked that Cas could go BAMF when needed.  But still, I loved him best when he interacted with Dean.  It seems like none of the three main characters do well on their own.  This show is about relationships.

Though it hurts, I loved the last few eps of Season 6.  And I had faith that they will restore Castiel to the good guy we love to watch.  Then I read about how mum TPTB are being about the status of Misha Collins (Castiel's actor).  

10,000 hours to Writing Success?

Outliers: The Story of Success 

Does it take 10,000 hours of practice to become a star in the writing world?

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell gives the example of a study done by K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues at the Academy of Music in Berlin. Violinists were divided in three categories of stars, good, and those destined to just be teachers. And it was discovered that the stars practiced more than everyone else (Gladwell 38). That the "elite performers had each totaled ten thousand hours of practice" (39). The good, eight thousand. The "future music teachers"? Just over four thousand. Basically, Ericcson didn't find any people that were born stars, bypassing this number, nor did he find people who put in the hours but just couldn't cut it. It was hard work that made the difference, and as Gladwell points out, the stars work far harder than anyone else (39). Ten thousand hours, after all, is a lot of hours.

But that is the figure researchers come across time and time again as necessary to excel at performing a complex task like violin performing . . . or fiction writing (Gladwell 40).

To me, that is inspiring, especially with the crushing expectations of today. While TV shows like Undercover Boss push the message you have to be excellent on day one, able to compete against the vetern of ten-plus years, Gladwell's research comes like a breath of fresh . . . realism. It takes hard work and a lot of hands-on experience to be decent and a great deal more to be excellent. We all have to put in the time.

But having a spark of talent, a lot of passion, and some success sure makes it easier to reach that number.

So, the question is, have you done your 10,000 hours yet?

Cite:  Gladwell, Malcom. Outliers: The Story of Success. New York: Back Bay Books, 2008. Print.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Holly Lisle on the End of Publishing -- And Some Good Ideas on How Not To Die -- And Link Craziness

Author Holly Lisle has a blog post up that is definitely worth reading due to its good sense.  I didn't read the article she is responding to yet, but I plan on it.  But some of the good points (and excellent marketing ideas) out of several she makes include

And I especially love this tip:
And finally this one:

I bring up this last point because it ties into a blog post of mine set to appear tomorrow, and I thought this point might make a good introduction to it.  Writing is not for the lazy.  It takes a lot of work to succeed, and a lot more to excel.  How much work?  Well, come back tomorrow and you'll read one person's take on how much. Until then, enjoy the rest of Holly's blog post--and that piece which she is responding to.

Monday, July 25, 2011

GWESPE: Two Lessons Well Learned

The Grand Sophy 

Lesson #1:  Pick a work that you can finish quickly and will keep you actively engaged no matter what.  This way, if you have the attention span of a flea with ADHD, you are less likely to raise the white flag and move on to some other project you won't finish ;-)

Lesson #2:   To perk up flagging interest, read reference works or fiction that serves as such for your work.  This way, when you get obsessed with others' works, you can at least mollify yourself that "it's research."