Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hey Stoopid!

OK, watch that if you want, it's just Mr. Cooper reiterating how stupid some people can be. Why did I call this post Hey Stoopid? Well, that's what you are if you don't do research!! How many of you have read a book and realized the author didn't have a clue about the subject they were writing about? Kinda gives authors a bad name, huh? 

Here's a quote from my author buddy Blaze McRob:
"If a story is really bad, I don't finish it. Some tales are left to the imagination, but others need some basis in fact to bring the believability out. I get pissed and would love to pound the holy shit out of the person who wasted my time with inane garbage. I loved reading the old Mickey Spillane novels because he knew the city he wrote about and what happened there."

So do you really wanna waste you hard-earned pennies on a book that's gonna suck? NO! And would you wanna waste someone else's hard earned pennies on your book? I would hope not. As authors, our job is to strive to put out the BEST quality work you can. So what if research takes time, so does writing the book in the first place. Why not take a little extra time and make it right? Even Science Fiction has some research that needs to be done. 

When I started writing my first novel, Project: Dragonslayers, I started it when there was NO internet! (Yeah, I really am that old) If I wanted to do research, I'd have to either dredge around on the entry hall floor of the house to find the right encyclopedia (you know, those big, heavy, dusty books no one reads anymore) or I had to climb on my bike and ride 6 miles to the local library and try and find what I wanted using the Dewey Decimal system. It sucked! So I made up a lot of stuff. It was a good thing for me that novel got shoved in a drawer for quite a few years before I unearthed it and decided to finish it. Now, there was the magic of the internet at my fingertips! Oh, the amazing amount of information I gleaned from the masses of electronic pages. I was in heaven!! Things that I had written about that I thought were "science fiction" were indeed, "science fact." A whole new world was opened to me. 

Don't be afraid to use the internet. Wikipedia is one of my favorite starting places. Starting, yes. Not all the information there is 100% correct, but many times there are links at the bottom to other pages which are very handy. They may take you on a wild goose chase and dump you at the Holy Grail of your chosen source information. Another of my VERY favorites is Google Earth (GE). It can be a royal pain to download, but once on your desktop, is an invaluable tool for finding locations. I've never been to Yemen, nor do I care to go there, but I was able to give a pretty accurate description of the dormant volcano on the tip of the Aden peninsula. GE will even let you measure distances in a variety of lengths. So cool!

And my other way to find information, just use a search engine and type in roughly what you're looking for. I needed information on nanotechnology, well, I knew MIT was working on stuff, so I poked around their website and another called MIT World, and found this:  
and this:     both are super cool!

Now, I didn't use the technology exactly how they described, but it gave me enough information to be able to have my characters employ the nanos in a slightly different, but plausible manner.

To sum it all up. You don't want to sell your readers short on your hard work. If you do, and they aren't happy, then they won't buy any more of your books. Give them a bang-up story with juicy, realistic morsels and they'll come back for more, and maybe dessert! Speaking of, I'm off to get some dinner before this beer really goes to my head!  I can see the headlines now: "Blogging on Boddington's."

Until next time, my creatively obsessed friends,


Next installment: The Plot.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"I write-therefore I am" Right?

Ah, a lovely, warm spring day. The birds are singing, the kids in the neighborhood are screaming, dogs barking, and I'm seriously wondering how I managed to get a nap!

All things aside, let's delve into the next part of this "I-don't-know-how-many-part blog"-- Are we writers, or are we authors? Hmm, let's see what the good ol' dictionary has to say:

a person who writes a novel, poem, essay, etc.; the composer of a literary work, as distinguished from a compiler, translator, editor, or copyist.
the literary production or productions of a writer: to find a passage in an author.
the maker of anything; creator; originator: the author of a new tax plan.
Computers . the writer of a software program, especially a hypertext or multimedia application.
–verb (used with object)
to write; be the author of: He authored a history of the civil war.
to originate; create a design for: She authored a new system for teaching chemistry
a person engaged in writing  books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist.
a clerk, scribe, or the like.
a person who commits his or her thoughts, ideas, etc., to writing: an expert letter writer.
(in a piece of writing) the author (used as a circumlocution for “I,” “me,” “my,” etc.): The writer wishes to state….
a person who writes  or is able to write: a writer in script.
Stock Exchange . someone who sells options.
Scot. a lawyer or solicitor.
Hmm, is it me, or do they, with minor variances, sound the same?
So, you wanna be a writer/author? What's it gonna take? 
First of all, you need to have ideas--lots of 'em. Why? Cause you need to have enough to last the length of your chosen work- poetry, short story, novella, novel, or series.
OK, so you got this fantastic idea burning a whole in your brain, and you gotta get it out. How? Well, you can sit down at a computer, or grab some paper and let it flow. This is good for getting the basic idea out of your head. Sometimes I have to do this or the idea just keeps haunting me until I do. What do you end up with? Sometimes it's a nice little synopsis, other times, it's just an idea with maybe a few plot points and some great character names. But either way, it's cool, just let it be for a few days. Why leave it alone? Because your brain will sooner or later decide to add to that info. Now you're getting the basis for a story. 
What next? Well, your idea needs to take shape. You as the author have to decide just where this story is going. How will it end? Yeah, having an ending in mind is nice, but I can honestly say I've started writing a book and really didn't have an idea how it would end. And I've heard from several other authors who do that too. It's all good, either way. But you must decide the main aim of your story- what is the character's mission? It may not sound like it, but there's a mission in every book. So, for now, you need to make a rough outline of what you think will happen in the book. Don't worry about chapters, page or word count, just let it flow.
It takes time to grow as a writer. You must study the trade like it's a school class. Find a few books on grammar, and ones on how to write in which particular format you are aiming for- novel, short story, etc. Do a little reading up. It also helps to read some of the folks who your genre is based in-- Okay, okay, I know, I'm probably the WORST about that last point. I tend to write more than I read. Yes, shame on me! But most important of all: find your own style. Your work will be unique to you, let your inner creativity shine. We're all tired of movie remakes, right? So don't remake someone else's book. It's your own baby!
Next post: Research. I can't tell you how many times I've read a book (or someone else read a book and told me) that whomever wrote it didn't do research into their chosen subject. Does that irritate you? It does me!
So, until next time my creatively obsessed friends...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Why Indie?

OK, well first things first. I'm sure you're all wondering who the hell I am. Yeah, I ask myself that very same question every weekday when I get up and put on my uniform. I've done that for the last 20 years, and I still don't always know who I am. I wear green (on Mondays, blue) I'm in the United States Air Force and reside in the eastern time zone. Shortly, I'll be retiring to greener pastures (literally) and becoming a farmer-- you read that right- a farmer.

But that's not all that drives me. I have this incredible urge to download all the stories that are crammed in my brain. Some just don't understand what it mean to be a writer. Most can't figure out how I get past the blonde (or in my case, strawberry blonde). But I do, and when I get on a story, I can't stop. It's like a disease that you can only cure by pouring your heart out on paper- or more commonly- a computer screen. Your cure is getting to the final page and typing "The End." And it seems to be a life long disease, affecting young and old alike.

So, you ask, what do I do with the stories I've downloaded from my brain? Simple, I turn them into books. No, not that simple. Why do I do this? Because I think people might enjoy what I write. Am I in this to make a load of cash? Most likely not. 99.9% of self published authors never get that lucky break. We keep producing because that's what we love. Do I hope one day to get noticed? Heck yeah! But until that magical day happens, I keep writing and producing books.

Why did I decide to stay Indie? Several reasons:
1. I suck at doing query letters. A self published author doesn't need to do that- you are your own publisher! Is that a lazy attitude? Partly. And partly because I don't want to sit on my work for YEARS before someone decides to publish it. Life is a fleeting glimpse- we must grab it while we can.
2. I have TOTAL control over what goes in and on my books. Call me a control freak, but you know how it goes when you get a idea in your head- it's your idea and you want to see it come to fruition- not someone else's interpretation of your idea. So I have full control over what I publish. Is that hard work? Oh, very much so! I've had to purchase and learn several different types of software just to make my dream come alive. It can be totally frustrating when PhotoShop Elements doesn't want to do what I want it to do, but I chalk it up to a learning experience.
3. Royalties. No, I don't find them good at all. I think my entire publishing career I've made $300-400- max. What have I put out to fund this venture? Thousands! And the money right now doesn't matter. But to hear the sad stories of someone who poured their heart out, got published, and not paid is pretty un-cool. I'd rather be the one to take the hit for my own losses- at least I know it was me.
4. Rights. If someone loves my work and wants to make a movie from it- come talk to me! Let's leave the middle man out of this and see where we go. Here we are back at the control freak thing again. -- I promise you, I'm not really that bad.
5. Contracts. My first book was published by a vanity press. OK, I didn't know any better back then- I do now. A contract binds you to that company, and you have no freedom to do what you want. The contract can last for YEARS, keeping you under their thumb, and not allowing you to find other avenues to work.
6. Agents. Mmm, I sometimes think it would be nice to have one, but then again I'm reminded of my first point: I don't want to wait forever to get published. Yes, an agent can shop your manuscript, but that can take ages.

All right, I guess that's enough for now. Until I get a few would-be victims to interview, I'll be posting the steps I used to get self published. Mind you, there are hundreds of avenues out there to get you work in print, or eBook. But I'll share mine, and you're free to explore more options. Who knows, you may even find a better route than me.

Until later, my fellow creatively obsessed friends,


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Well, this is something new!

OK, I'm totally new to this blogging thing. I've got 3 books in print and in eBooks, but this blog thing has always escaped me.

Well, if you're in cyberspace, drop by my Face book page and say Hi:!/pages/K-Rowe-Author/136794706391542