Category Archives: Alternate Reality in Literature

Author: Juggler in disguise

As an author, I often feel like a juggler, tossing a multitude of balls around, trying to get everything accomplished.

First ball that gets thrown into the air is the time needed for the actual act of writing. Many experts suggest delegating specific segments of time each day to write.

Doesn’t work in my life.

Sometimes my creative juices are flowing and the words pour out. At other times, I stare at the wall wondering what is going to happen next, or I have other events that demand my attention. Yesterday, I was at the dentist.

That’s when Larry Brook’s outline suggestions help me move to the next chapter. When I start a book, I spend time laying out an outline that encompasses his plot points and pinch points. I have an idea of the overall scheme of the book. The devil is in the details as to how it is all going to happen.

But how do I know to do this?

Research.

That ball of time is important, but it takes time to learn about the writing game if you’re planning on being good. Hundreds of websites offer helpful advice of how to improve your writing. I have to balance what will make me better against what will confuse me. Not all advice is right for what I write. I have found that science fiction is written differently than, say, fantasy. Readers of science fiction want fast moving action with lots of tech toys and interesting science. The best stories also include relatable characters and an interesting plot. Fantasy leans more toward elaborate descriptions of time and place. Characters often have a mentor who guides an acolyte fighting against evil creatures. Often a magic system is in place. Rarely does it happen in a futuristic society. Romance readers require a still different format. Taking the time to understand your genre is critical.

Then there’s editing that bounces into the picture. I doubt there is any author that gets it right on the first draft. As for me, I have my writing group edit, I edit, and often a professional editor goes through it. I spend hours using the search/find on words such as that, was, looked, and lately some. I love to repeat words and often need to tighten up my sentences. So a lot of time is spent in the editing penalty box… And still I find errors. I also edit over fifty pages a week for my writing group as a reciprocal for their edits. However, I find editing others’ work helpful to understand what makes my stories sing.

The third segment that I have to juggle around is blogging and reading other websites. I love to blog about my favorite books and read what other authors are doing. (hence, this blog) I spent a huge chunk of time on Utube watching Brandon Sanderson’s lecture series. It was helpful. I should interact more on Facebook, Twitter and others, but it takes so much time because I end up going down the garden path. You know what I mean. You start to read one article, and next thing, hours have passed and you’re asking: How did I end up here, and where has the time gone?”

I spend a major part of a day on my blog, but I can’t even begin to blog until I’ve read the book that I want to suggest. Have you seen how long some books are? Actually, it’s my own fault, as I like to submerse myself into a world. But keeping up on the reading is a major commitment.

Then there’s marketing. Gah! Now with this time sphere, you can vary your involvement. A signing or attending a convention takes a huge portion of time and money. Signing up for an ad takes only money and a little bit of time. An author has to weigh the results to his bottomline. Time needs to be spent researching the best avenue for marketing according to the author’s resources and situation. An author with a bestseller and an eager publishing house may spend days traveling and attending conventions or signings while a self-publisher with a modest pocketbook (like moi) may be more limited. Each individual has different options available. I attended a craft show and sold very little, but a fellow fantasy writer in her own hometown where she was well known sold sixty paperbacks at a Christmas open market. Seasonality can be key. And a book about a dog’s journey might sell at a vet’s, or an advice book sell in a small boutique, whereas science fiction might not sell well there.

Side note here is that next Friday (after Easter is over) my book Cosmic Entanglement will be advertised on Freebooksy and be offered free for a limited time only on April 20, 21, and 22. Although this is the third book of the series, it can be read first.

Time travel stories will let you do that.

Last Friday Free Kindle Books and Tips advertised Caught in Time. They just wanted a mention in my blog and here it is. So check them out. In March I advertised with Book Barbarian. They take only science fiction and fantasy, but I sold the whole series to a couple of readers.

You can buy the series and get a special price on Amazon. Amazon provides several ways that help authors sell. Check out my Author’s Central page under Sheron Wood McCartha.

Which brings me to the business part of the juggling act. Yes, if you are serious about the time commitments that you will need to make, then you should take the time to rough out a business plan or at least a business direction. We all know that if you don’t know where you are going, often you’ll get lost or end up in the wrong place. How many books do you plan to write this year? How much do you need to sell to pay for a cover? And, gosh, who’s going to do it? Do you keep track of sales? Do you even control that information? How are you going to publish and distribute? A big publisher? A small publisher? Self publishing? And how are you going to decide?

While you’re pondering that momentous decision and reading blogs about it or talking to colleagues, the laundry is beeping, you’re running out of food, and the house needs a vacuum. Maybe you have delegated some of these chores to a significant other, but life and family still come rolling in and want attention. I have a smallish social life, but Sunday I’ll be attending a family and friends get together. I spent two hours at social security today so my daughter’s married name will be legal on her taxes.

Juggle. Juggle.

And finally, (or maybe not) is that ball with the great big word job. Whether you’re a mom, and your job is raising kids, or a wage earner out in the business world, that ten-ton ball can be hard to juggle around. You’ll have to reshape and be creative with your tosses.

It can be quite an act for anyone wanting to be an author.

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This week I picked an unusual book for me.

I warned you.

I’m not one for fairies and such, but trans-dimensional worlds were involved, and again it was a Powell’s reading selection. I’m trying to keep up in my reading group and writer activities also.

It turns out that Tinker by Wen Spencer was delightful.

Tinker is a feisty, petite orphan who scratches out a living in a junkyard located in near-future Pittsburg, which now exists mostly in the land of the elves. A trans-dimensional gate built by her father is responsible for the situation. When a pack of wargs chases Windward, an Elven noble, into her scrap yard, she saves his life and becomes entangled in the royal elven court, which is full of intrigue. Tinker is one of very few who is able who understands the science involved in building the gate that brought Pittsburgh to the land of the elves. When certain enemies discover that, she becomes vulnerable to kidnapping by those who want to control or destroy the gate.

Possessing genius level mental ability, steel-toed boots, and a “take no prisoners” attitude, she takes on the NBA, the Elven court, technology smugglers, and an amorous, but powerful, elf out to change her life in disturbing ways.

A delightful, fun romp with engaging characters and non-stop action, Tinker takes everything in stride, including her first kiss.

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Filed under Alternate Reality in Literature, Alternate Universes, Best selling author, fantasy series, Marketing and selling novels, modifying humans, Paranormal Romance, Self-publishing, the fae, Wizards and magic

Zany Alternate Reality Science Fiction

Image 1Is it me, or are characters are not behaving properly nowadays?

By this I don’t mean loose morals, heavy sex, betrayal and murder. That’s been going on for centuries. I mean jumping out of books or TV shows within a book—not staying put in their storyline .

In 1969 John Fowler wrote The French Lieutenant’s Woman and offered up three different endings—reader’s choice. I hated that. For me, what had been a rich believable story got flattened into fiction when the ending became optional.Redshirts

Now John Scalzi’s wins the Hugo for…spoiler alert…Redshirts, a story in which the protagonists discover they are merely characters in a TV show whose lives are manipulated by the writer. A parody on Star Trek, anyone found wearing a redshirt on an away mission should count himself in grave peril.

So the main characters hie off to Hollywood to take back control of their scenes, er, lives. For me, the book got a little silly.

Now this week I read the Eyre Affair and ran into a similar theme—but this time it had a lot of silly in it.

Jane Eyre Affair

Thursday Next is a member of Special Operatives in literary detection known as SpecOps. She’s like FBI for literature. The story takes place in a surreal future in Great Britain where time travel is routine and cloning commonplace, although the big cloning feature are pet Dodoes. Of course, Thursday has one. Naming the main character Thursday Next should have been the first big giveaway.

In the story, literature is taken extremely seriously, and forging Byronic verse is considered a felony. A continuing argument is who really authored the Shakespearean plays, and audiences participate in certain well-known theater productions, such as Hamlet. Thursday’s aunt Polly actually gets lost in Wadsworth I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, and the big bad corporate villain searching for the ultimate weapon is named Jack Schitt, no shit.

 Thursday Next is called in when the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewitt is stolen and a character is rewritten throughout every subsequent copy. Archeron Hades is the main villain out to extort money and mayhem by threatening to change famous literature. Thursday confronts him during a robbery, but he gets away.

As you might guess, Jane Eyre becomes a target, and Thursday Next finds herself trapped in the story, trying to track down Hades and his accomplice, Felix. Felix gets killed a lot, but keeps wearing the same old face on new bodies. Meanwhile, there is a side romance that rather parallels pieces of Jane Eyre involving Thursday and her ex-boyfriend.

Okay, so you have a taste of the zany story where characters, such as Mr. Rochester, step out of the story to help Thursday while the narrative is elsewhere in the original manuscript.

There are readers who love this chaos, so I am mentioning the book for them, but I’m more of a traditionalist and want my characters to remain in their stories. I struggled through this one.

Lost in a Good Book

As a writer, I must admit that my characters often take unexpected turns and sometimes grow bigger than called for in my original plot. There is an organic quality to my writing, although I outline ahead of time and know what my ending is going to look like. But everyone stays in the story. No one walks through my office door and demands a rewrite.

Do you control your characters or do they run lose throughout your story?

If you need help, and who doesn’t, Jay Lee, runs the Choosy Bookworm and has forty websites that he recommends. Several I have already mentioned in previous blogs, but they are worth mentioning again.

If you’re new to the game, hbpublications has a comprehensive blog on book launching marketing methods that might offer some helpful ideas.

https://choosybookworm.com/resources-for-writing-marketing-books/

http://hbspublications.blogspot.ca/2014/03/your-book-launch-marketing-methods-and.html?m=1&utm_content=bufferbcd0b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

My new banner is of the deepest image ever in the universe. The Hubble Telescope took a totally dark spot in space and pointed its telescope there for an extended period of time. Thousands of galaxies we had never noticed appeared.

Makes you think.

Enjoy your spring.

daffodils-737979-1




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Filed under Alternate Reality in Literature, Amazon publishing, Best selling author, Book within a Book Science Fiction, ebook science fiction, Hugo winners, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction, Science Fiction Detective Story, Self-publishing, Writing Tips and Lectures