Monday Morning Wrap Up: 3/29-3/30

Yeah, yeah, I know it's the afternoon...so sue me for having a lot of work to do this morning. ;-)

I Did Do Some Writing On Friday...

But, alas, it was on Evil Editor's blog (word buddies, flog me; I can take it, I think ;-)), doing one of his Writing Exercises. It's a bit raunchy (with curse words and stuff ;-)), so those who are squeamish...eh, don't bother looking. Everyone else...enjoy. :-) (And don't forget the other entries, as mine is Number Five.)

I Was Feeling A Bit Out of It

At the end of last week, and into Saturday, I was feeling kind of blah all over. I feared I'd picked up a cold at work, what with one boss taking meds, another at home toughing it out, and another one nearby who kept coughing every five minutes or so.

But at least it wasn't a cold: It was that time of the month (yeah, I tend to go through some pretty crappy times where that's concerned).

BTW, if you can't figure out what I'm talking about, just skip it. ;-)

Company, Again

I'll be having company again come Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. If you're in the know, you'll know what I'm talking about.

If you haven't a clue...well, I'm just going to remain all mysterious on this. A little mystery is good for you, ya know? :-) (Unless, of course, you want to go back through the archives...)

So, Did I Do ANY Freakin' Writing?

Yup. :-) Did some writing late last night (Sunday), which is weird for me. Which is why word buddies is good for me. They're helping to hold a lit match to my butt, and it's working: I'm almost finished revising Chapter 5.

But the middle of the story is coming up soon, and I know I'm going to have to rip out a lot of it, as most of it sucks lemons. Oh, the horror! ::shudder::

A Few Good Posts

Seems like some of my latest posts have gotten me some new people to the blog. Ahoy, Richard Hoy from Booklocker.com (that's pretty bad, isn't it? ;-)), and a shout out to Tia Nevitt from Fantasy Debut.

Which reminds me - I have to update the Blogroll here (I'm using Blogger's version of it, which is still in draft).

Anyway, that the wrap up for this weekend.


Self Publishers and Amazon

After going through and reading some of the stuff eBay is up to, I was kind of surprised to see Amazon up to some tricks, too.

If You Use Lightning Source Instead of BookSurge

I'm sure you know Amazon bought BookSurge about a year ago or so; they' a self-publishing option for those who want to go that route.

Well, it seems that if you use Lightning Source (PublishAmerica, anyone?), Amazon will remove the "Buy" button from your book; books printed by the aforementioned PublishAmerica (PA) have already had the Buy buttons removed.

But...There's A Catch (Isn't There Always One?)

The catch, the way I read it, is you have to agree to Amazon's contract and use BookSurge.

An informative page about this whole Amazon/BookSurge thing is at the Writer's Weekly site (Angela Hoy, who also runs the epublisher, Booklocker). Here, specifically, is what the fuss is all about:
Mr. Clifford [of Amazon] said authors of those books could participate in the Amazon.com Advantage Program, meaning they would have to pay Amazon $29.95 per year PLUS 55% of the list price of their book, as well as buy and then send those books to Amazon directly for them to warehouse and ship to customers.
More and more fees and stuff. Doesn't seem right, especially as a lot of authors want their book with Lightning Source, as it uses Ingram as a distributor.

And something else in favor of Lightning Source:
Amazon/BookSurge would make money two ways on Amazon.com sales - first the fee for printing the books, and then 48% of the list price of each sale through Amazon.com. Lightning Source allows its customers to set their own discount rate for Amazon and other retail sales, and does not force POD publishers or authors to pay "48%."
So...What to Do?

I'm not in the self publishing boat, fortunately. Ms. Hoy is seriously considering moving all of the books in Booklocker to Barnes and Noble. But that'll take time, as she has lots of books up at Amazon.

For those published by bigger or smaller presses...it looks as if everything is okay right now. (If anyone comes up with anymore info, feel free to post your comment; I'll probably blog about it at some point.)

But who knows? I'm currently an Amazon Associate, although I haven't taken advantage of it all that much (I post books on reviews is about the extent of using it).

I wonder if B&N has a similar program?

Since this seems to have happened in just the past day or so (talk about fast), I'm sure more things will shake out about this.

One Thing Is For Sure...

I hope Amazon reverses itself on this. My feeling is that maybe they're not getting enough people to go with BookSurge, and they think only force can provide them with the moolah they want?

Oy vey. Not liking this, FWIW.

~Nancy Beck


My Word Counts

I've joined the Writing Buddies site (I'll get more info about that tomorrow or next Monday), but I wanted to put down my writing for the prior days of this week since I forgot to sign in over at that site:

Monday - 123 words (approximate, as these all are)
Tuesday - 1,200 words (yay me! :-))
Wednesday - 380 words (no comments ;-))

And, of course, today came out to be about 350 words.

I'll admit that the 1,200 words day was for my Finish the Sentence thingie, but I'm including it anyway, as it is writing.

Right now, most of my writing is deleting a lot of useless crap. It's the middle of this WIP that's going to be the challenge (oy vey).

Happy writing!

~Nancy Beck

A Crossover Nomination For a Well-Known SF Author

I'm talking about Linnea Sinclair, and the nomination is the 2008 RITA Awards.

The RITA awards, in case you don't know, are from the Romance Writers of America people. But since my blog is supposed to be about fantasy (which is part of a triumvirate known as speculative fiction, which includes fantasy, SF, and horror), I'll just give an extra couple of claps to Linnea for the nomination.

The book nominated? Games of Command.

Want to know a little bit more? Kristin Nelson's blog has more about the other nominees, including a link or two.

And, yes, some of her clients are nominees (including Linnea).

Congrats to all! :-)

~Nancy Beck


Finish the Sentence #4

Whoops - I'm off on my days this week, as I usually do these Finish the Sentence thingies on Tuesdays.

Oh well.

Here's this week's Finish the Sentence. It's another Connie Willis one, from her book, Passage. The basic premise here is a female psychologist specializing in near-death experiences. In this sentence, she's sitting next to a patient named Carl in a hospital (I'm not sure at this point if the psychologist is related to Carl in some way or not; I'll get around to reading this at some point, but not right now).

But she sat on, watching the monitors, with their shifting lines, shifting numbers, watching the almost imperceptible rise and fall of Carl's sunken chest,[...] from page 14, Passage, by Connie Willis

Although I didn't work on my WIP yesterday, I did do this exercise:

But she sat on, watching the monitors, with their shifting lines, shifting numbers, watching the almost imperceptible rise and fall of Carl's sunken chest, when she thought she heard a rumble.

She looked up, gazed at the door, at the windows, back at Carl. Where'd that come from? She went silent, listening, listening. There it was again, this time louder. Still, it was a soft whump, as if someone had thrown a snowball at the window.

Must play in the major leagues, she thought, to hit the windows up here on the fifth floor. She sprang to her feet, pulling down on the metal blinds. But she didn't see any leftover snow clumped against the window.

Am I losing my mind? she wondered. When she heard the whump for a third time, it came from the bed.

Mind reading wasn't her specialty, so she wasn't sure if maybe the sound she'd heard was in her own mind. But she wasn't going to wait any longer; she sat down, closed her eyes, and concentrated on Carl.

It was murky, unsettled, swirling; then the fog in Carl's mind lifted. Lights, what she took for car lights flashed and were gone. She could almost feel the leather under Carl's fingers as he gripped the wheel; panting, her heart hammering, something headed straight at her--

She screamed. Or she thought she did. Her eyes flew open, her right hand on her chest, trying to get hold of her breath. She swallowed twice before her breath resumed its normal pace.

My God, she thought. Is that what poor Carl went through to get to this hospital bed?

Okay, another not so bad (and about 1,200 words to boot; yeah, me!). Some things would need to be worked on if I wanted to work this into some sort of story.

Have at it, if you wish.

~Nancy Beck


Redundant Expressions

I was just over on the Daily Writing Tips blog, checking out some of their older posts, and came upon one about redundant expressions.

You know 'em, and probably cringe when you find 'em in the revision stage:
  • free gift
  • reiterate again
  • green-colored car
(Daily Writing Tips had something similar to the last one in my bulleted list, and I'll admit that my first thought was, "Huh?" That was soon followed by "D'oh!" My further response: More caffeine dumped down my gullet. :-))

What Works and What Doesn't

One of the ideas when you're writing is to choose the correct words; usually, the fewer the better. This is hard to do until you get in the groove of writing every day. Then, over time, word choices will become easier, as you get a feel for what works and what doesn't.

Redundant expressions, like "army soldier," are of the "not-works" type, in case you hadn't figured that out ;-).

Slashing and Burning In the Revision Stage

In the creative stage, the first draft stage, I think you should just go for it; let the typos and other mistakes fly. The important thing is to get the basic story down, even if you've outlined it first.

The revision stage is when you allow the inner critic into the mix. You know, it's that PITA voice that says stuff like, "There should be a comma here," or "This scene really doesn't work," or "Give this guy a name already, will ya?" I don't think you should allow it free reign because then it might stifle your enthusiasm for the story (this is something that's happened to me; oh brother, has it ever!), but allow it in enough so that it can catch stuff like these types of expressions.

I remember going back to a story months, sometimes years, later and finding stuff that made me flinch, including these expressions (which are called pleonasm); jeez, did I really write that?

Um. Yeah.

In Summary

So try to eliminate "navy sailor" and other types of these expressions wherever you can. If you don't feel you've caught them all, have a writer friend look over your story; sometimes fresh eyes can pick up stuff that you can't.

~Nancy Beck


The Cipher

This isn't quite yet a review, but it's getting close to it. Friday I went and visited a certain someone, who looks quite fine (and will be coming home soon).

Anyway, I decided to turn off the TV and read, so I picked up The Cipher, by Diana Pharoah Francis (isn't that a cool name? :-)). And I read. And I read.

You get the idea.

So I'm about two-thirds through the book, and enjoying it very much. I think I've guessed a thing to two about...a thing or two ;-)...but when I've read the end of this particular book will I know for sure.

One thing I've noted is that I'm loving the maritime theme of this story. I guess being a Gemini/Cancer baby (yeah, I'm right on the cusp), I think I read somewhere that people born under one or the other sign are attracted to water (or maybe it's both signs; I'm not really up on that). This has been true of me since I was a kid, enjoying summers down the Jersey shore, hanging out on one of my cousin's sister's husband's (whew!) boat down in Brick, or just splashing around in a pool.

Water, water, everywhere.

It has a real authentic feel to it as far as slang is concerned, and, indeed, Ms. Francis says on her website that she did a lot of research into boat terminology and whatnot (her MC is a ship customs inspector).

I'm hoping to finish it sometime this week.

~Nancy Beck

Easter...and An Interesting Offer

Well, The Mom is already here, and The Oldest Brother is on his way over a little bit later, so Easter has begun.

I have to admit that I haven't been doing too much in the writing department, especially this week (surrounded by two bosses with colds, plus a dude who coughs every five minutes or so), I've felt a bit rundown.

Which Leads Me to...

Liz, at the Real Joined Up Writing blog (you can click on it in the Blog Roll), sent me an email with a very good offer. The idea is to write 100 words per day, by having bloggers post if they've reached their target my having a sort of group pep rally (or flog whipping, if you don't live up to the bargain, heh ;-)).

I have to admit, I'm tempted to join, once Liz has the group blog thingie up. One of the toughest things to do for anyone working on a novel is to keep writing; keeping the juices flowing, keeping yourself in the groove, can help you become a better writer, as you can then look at things and say to yourself, "Hmm, that really should go in Chapter 4...That needs to be deleted..."

That sort of thing, among other things. :-) It's like a painter painting every day; once he's done enough landscapes or whatever it is he/she paints, he/she begins to select the correct colors to use and the right techniques to put across what it is someone gazing at the painting should get out of it.

And my guess is that a painter can paint faster, because he/she has more confidence.

I believe that confidence for the writer begats better word choices, a more critical eye (in the revision stages), and more creativity.

I'll post more information as soon as I receive more.

Thanks to Liz for coming up with a good idea...that I just might have to take her up on! :-)


Why I Finally Saw the Light On Some of My Writing Prejudices

That goes for reading, too.

I think every writer - published or not - has a writing prejudice. It could be against an entire genre - romance or fantasy, for example - or it could be just against a certain group of writers (more on that in a moment).

My Epiphany

When I speak of a group of writers, I'm not talking about racial groups or anything like that. What I'm talking about are writers who write for shared universes or shared worlds.

Think Star Trek and its various iterations.

And, I just happen to be talking specifically about one such writer who wrote in the Star Trek universe.

This writer wrote on either a writers' board or somewhere; unfortunately, I can't remember where I read this nor the writer's name, except that this oerson was definitely male.

Once I went whole hog into the writing gig, one of my main, smug assumptions was that anyone who wrote for something like Star Trek couldn't be a writer worth his or her salt.

The Eye-Opening Post

This writer's post open my eyes, big time.

We're talking about 2-3 years ago. What this guy wrote impressed me no end, and completely changed my mind about those writing in an already-established world.

Think about it. We, as writers, get to create the story and characters - and the world those character inhabit.

Writers in a shared universe don't have that luxury. They have to remember on-going characters' names. They have to remember situations that came before. They have to remember whether a character would or wouldn't do certain things, considering that character's past. Certain "logics" of the world are already supplied, and the writer can't deviate from those logics. (This comes into play if you have a series, certainly; but you, the writer, still get to make it up for Book One.)

Tough Stuff

Those were some of the things this particular writer pointed out - and I had to give it some serious thought.

I felt he was right, and I was wrong.

Remembering all that stuff and coming up with a story that the publisher/whoever can live with, is tough, in my mind. At least with characters and situations I've come up with - they're my creations. Although this might be "easy" money in a sense - the characters and the world is already there for ya - I don't feel it's easy to come up with a coherent story. Yet, writers are regularly signed up for these sorts of gigs all the time, and they can be quite popular. (I can only think of the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises, but I'm sure there are others.)

So I slowly changed my smugness into respect. It was hard for me to do, but I had to be honest with myself, especially after I let the idea roll around in my head for a while.

Then There's the Entire Genre Bit

This one is as old as the hills. The literary people don't like the fantasy or SF genres because it's "not really writing" or it's "not based on the real world."

Or there's the thriller crowd (or fill in whatever genre you want) who thinks romances are all "bodice rippers."

Eek!! Enough of that stuff. Did I have my prejudices against reading certain genres? Damn right! Yup, had a thing against romances, had a thing against literary, yadda, yadda, yadda.

So what did I do, once I got past that bit of snobbery?

I decided to start reading some romances.

Now, I have read one, The Smoke Thief, that had fantasy elements in it, and I thought it was a Very Good Read. I have two other ones that have fantasy elements in them, but I've only read a couple of chapters of one; haven't yet started the other one.

But I didn't want to just read those types of romances: I wanted to read other types, just to see if I'd like them. So I picked up an historical one, this one set at sea for the most part (I'm such a water person, you wouldn't believe!); the first half of it was quite fun, with the heroine dressing up as a boy, but eventually being found out (yeah, I know, it's one of the usual tropes of romance). Even though it sounds like the same-old, same-old, it was still a lot of fun to read.

Once they landed, not so much.

Especially as she still loved him after he kidnapped her.

But I wanted to read books with unusual twists - HEA (Happily Ever After) is fine with me, I mean, duh, that's what to expect in most romances, ya know? :-) So I picked up a couple more, after reading some reviews of them.

And, Your Point?

My point is, even as writers, we have to keep on guard about our prejudices. It really helps, I think, for us to read in other genres from time to time. (Ask me about my Stephanie Plum mysteries obsession. I triple-dog dare ya! ;-)) I think it helps us to grow as writers, giving us insights into certain things that we can incorporate in our own stories.

Or we might even come to like that particular genre.

Or we might just like that particular writer's books.

My take on it is to keep your mind open to new things. I dispensed with the idea of there shouldn't be such-and-such genre by rethinking it as: If there's a whole bunch of people clamoring to read it, why not write it?

If that's what interests you, that is.

So keep your mind open. You never know what might wiggle in - and for the better of you and your writing!

~Nancy Beck


Finish the Sentence #3

This sentence is taken from debut author Nathalie Mallet's The Princes of the Golden Cage. (I reviewed The Princes of the Golden Cage in this post.)

The princes of an Arabic king are locked in a cage - a palace of sorts. But they can't leave until the king decides which one of his sons is going to be his heir. Once that's decided, the rest of his sons can go - killed, that is.

One of the princes, Erik, is blond haired; Prince Amir (from whose POV the story is told) is at first distrustful of this blond brother. But they eventually become friends.

Onto the Sentence

Erik has found out a secret about the palace and its grounds, and he shows it to Amir. Erik is leaning against wall, somewhere in the bowels of palace, when:
The sound of stone grinding stone filled the air, then, right in front of us... page 38, The Princes of the Golden Cage

If you've read the book (and I encourage you to do so), you know what happens next.

Whether you do or don't know what comes next...take a stab at finishing the sentence. What does happen?

Nancy Gives It a Whirl

I haven't thought about this, so here we go:

The sound of stone grinding stone filled the air, then, right in front of us, the wall crumbled, sending bits of red brick flying in a million directions. I expected to see a door or a tunnel or maybe, a path leading me out of the cage. But, no. What lay amidst the rubble twinkled; gemstones? Here, within the walls and debris of the palace?

That was my question: Why?

Hey, you know, that's not too bad. (This doesn't follow the book, BTW.) This off-the-cuff thought - not much of one, to be honest - doesn't sound too bad. Don't worry if your stuff sounds like crap to your ears; that's what revisions are for. :-)

Give it a try. Maybe it'll unstick your brain, hmm? :-)

~Nancy Beck


Curiouser and Curiouser

And I ain't talking about Alice in Wonderland.

This post on the PublishAmerica thread at Absolute Write is quite interesting.

Class Action

Apparently, this man has managed to file a class action lawsuit in Florida. He says, in post further down from the one mentioned above, that the suit:
is based on not only breach of the contract but also fraud and deceptive trade practices that are violations of Florida Law.

Now, I am not a lawyer, nor do I portray one on TV. ;-) But could this be something that finally breaks PA?

This Is Not the Only Thing Happening to PA

And it couldn't happen to a better bunch of people. (Excuse me while I heave.) This is right on the heels of PA suing Dave Kuzminski, who runs the wonderful Preditors and Editors website, so writers can see which agents and publishers are/aren't legitimate. (Don't forget the Donate button I have in the sidebar.)

I mean...PublishAmerica...erm...the lawyer dude PA hired will have to open up his records in court. And now with this lawsuit against them...the business itself will have to open up its books.

Hmm. Kind of sounds like Germany during World War II, when they had two fronts (that's including the infamous Russian front, in case you didn't know).

You know how that turned out, right?

Not looking good. Ah, well. You sow bad karma, you pay for it somewhere down the line.

~Nancy Beck


And I Thought I Was the Only One

I thought I was the only who visibly shuddered when punctuation is used incorrectly.

Apparently, though, I'm not.

This article, Celebrating the Semicolon in a Most Unlikely Location, is about a New York City subway placard that gets it right as far as semicolons are concerned. The man who wrote the public service blurb thought someone was complaining when his supervisor told him a reporter was inquiring about who was responsible for the semicolon.

Others have commented on, and applauded, Mr. Neches for his correct usage.

Imagine that. :-)

~Nancy Beck


Is That Why I React the Way I Do to My Double?

Well, I've never actually seen someone that I thought was my doppelganger.

Then again, I've had to deal with my hubby's delusions (no, seriously; he truly believed a lotta stuff, including truly believing he saw celebrities and political figures around town, plus he also truly believed one alternative recording artist had several bots around, just waiting for him to find them).

So, writtenwyrdd's post on this syndrome, called Delusional Misidentification Syndrome, piqued my interest in two different ways. One way is noted above.

The Second Way - And, Yes, It's Related to Writing

When anyone decides to write fantasy in any of its many genres, we generally write about beings, etc., that are figments of our imagination or are taken out of myth: Think vampires, think gods and goddesses of different cultures.

For instance, in my current WIP, I have a minor Roman goddess transporting the MC back in time to the 1940s. The MC wants to find her birth mother, and, as a goof, decides to petition this minor goddess, since everything else she's tried hasn't helped.

Of course, the goddess helps her. But how does she react to the goddess?

Since she's in her old bedroom in her adoptive mother's house, there's no one except her to react to the strange goings-on. And she freaks, naturally; who the hell wouldn't, especially when she opens up the bedroom door and something (not the goddess herself) is not quite right out in the hallway... ;-)

The twist I have is that another character sees the goddess in the flesh. The MC figures she's going to get that character - that the other character is going to faint dead away.

Except, the other character doesn't.

Which makes the MC almost faint.

There's another story there, but I ain't tellin' it. Might turn into a prequel of sorts (if I can just get the damn story in the shape I want it to be in).

But I digress.

So What's This Syndrome All About?

I'll writtenwyrdd describe it briefly:
The nifty thing about DMS is that describes a bunch of monoschematic delusions, which is to say, that they think one thing is changed in the delusion and otherwise reality is pretty much normal.

I have a fantasy tales from around the world book at home, and at least one of the stories is the old chestnut about a woman giving birth to a perfectly-normal baby only to look again in the morning or whenever and see that it looks differently.

Ah, yes, the changeling.

The story I'm thinking of is from Ireland; the basic idea is that sometime during the night or day someone that the mother pissed off in faery (or wherever) decides to get back at her by taking away her newborn and replacing it with a changeling (looks similar to the human babe but not exactly).

Something excellent that must be considered by fantasists. Because, let's say a vampire pops up in front of a cop on the street: How is that cop going to react? How is the MC going to react? Others can react in different ways, too, depending on their backstory (as noted in my own example).

~Nancy Beck

The Tolkien Line Continues

This came from yesterday's Publisher's Lunch:
JRR Tolkien's grandson Simon Tolkien's THE INHERITANCE, in which an aging police inspector decides to travel from England to France to delve into a possible World War II theft and crime hoping to save an upper-class student set to hang for murdering his father, an Oxford historian with a questionable military record, to Peter Wolverton and Thomas Dunne at Thomas Dunne Books, in a two-book deal, by Marly Rusoff of Marly Rusoff & Associates (NA).

I wonder if this is the same guy who went to Peter Jackson when they were filming some of the last scenes of The Return of the King - and received a bit part in that film (I mean, how could they say NO to someone with the last name of Tolkien?).

Of course it has Oxford in the mix, considering that's where Professor Tolkien did his, um, professoring. :-)

Actually sounds quite interesting. I hope he can deliver the goods!

~Nancy Beck


Tuesday Morning - Finish the Sentence #2

Thought I'd forget or wouldn't be able to come up with something, huh? (Me, too. ;-))

Anyhoo, this one's not going to be from off the top of my head, which tend to suck (at least at this point in time). This time, I'm taking a line from Connie Willis' Dooms Day Book.

Of course, I haven't read it, as yet, lol. ;-) I did a quick scan, and it sounds like a hilarious book (and it includes time travel - yum!).

The Connie Willis Finish the Sentence

In my quick skim, I was able to figure out that Kivrin is a woman who's being prepped to go to medieval times (1300s, I believe), while Gilchrist is the man who's prepping her. The setting is some sort of laboratory. Another thing: Kivrin is wearing what a woman would have worn during those times...but I'm not going to tell you what that was. (You can be sure it wasn't jeans and a T-shirt.)

The prep-room door flared open, and Kivrin and Gilchrist came into the room...
pg. 11, Dooms Day Book

What Happened?

Did Kivrin have on a long skirt, get wrapped up in it, and fall on her face? Did Gilchrist laugh her, where she cursed him out? Or maybe she got up calmly and punched him in the nose.

Or maybe something else happened...we're talking time travel here, so maybe somebody zapped into the laboratory from the 1300s, drew his sword, and lunged at them...

Let your imagination run wild; I'm sure Ms. Willis won't care ;-), and I ALWAYS attribute stuff I take out of stories or non-fiction.

Have fun - and I hope this helps to unstick your brain!

~Nancy Beck


Why You and I Should Be Ticked Off At This "Advice"

I have a publishing credit from a few years ago (a short story), and I haven't yet cracked the publishing world on the novel end of things. (All in due time. :-))

I subscribe to a feed for the Daily Writing Tips blog, and the blogger's post about a certain published author's "advice" left me a bit ticked. Not the blogger; she couldn't believe what this author said.

The Author's "Advice"?

So what the heck did this author say, making it sound like some sort of rule?

That you, the writer, should only write in the Point of View (POV) of your gender, and that you should only write a POV character with your own past experiences.

To which I respond: Bullshit.

To Write or Not To Write In Your Own Gender

A few months back, I came up with an idea for a story set in a town not far from where I live. Just for the heck of it, and since I had never tried it before, I wrote from a male perspective.

I revised the first chapter a couple times, curious as to what people thought of it. I submitted it to Evil Editor's blog, received a really funny continuation, and it ended up in EE's first Novel Deviations book (OF COURSE I bought it :-)). Anyway, if I remember correctly, there were 2 comments that said it sounded as if the male MC sounded more like a female. Heh. :-) Made me grin and realize I had a lot to work on. I've since put that aside, but I'll continue to experiment with male POVs just because can, nyah, nyah, nyah!

Guess what? That's a personal thing with me. I would never, ever offer that as writing advice. And it's obvious why: Plenty of authors have written POV characters that weren't in their own gender. And have done well with it. J. K. Rowling immediately comes to mind, as I'm sure other writers will come to mind, too. (A recent author, who writes mysteries, is J. A. Konrath, a man writing as a woman. On his site, he readily admits to getting advice from his wife and mother, and knows that if he gets something wrong, he'll get whacked for it. :-))

So...don't be afraid, if you're a woman, to write as a male, and vice versa. Maybe it'll suck, but maybe it'll be brilliant. Who knows until you've tried? :-)

Me? That's something I have to work on!

As For Using Only Your Past Experiences?

More horse hockey.

If by past experiences, this particular author means work and personal experiences (bringing up kids, working as a brain surgeon, bungee jumping off the Eiffel Tower, etc.), again, I feel this is something particular to her, and not a rule or guideline.

For instance, in my current WIP, I have a POV from a woman who has 4 kids (I don't have any) and from a woman's POV character who works as an editor at a small publishing house (this part is set in 1940s, BTW).

Now, according to this woman, I CAN'T write about a mother and her kids because I don't have any. Baloney. I remember how my mother treated me (and it's specifically between this woman and just one of her kids, a daughter), plus I have an imagination and can imagine how this woman would feel in certain situations (especially when the woman is tricked into leaving her daughter...)

As for the other...there's a writers' website I've frequented where I feel I've received quite an education about the publishing world. True, it's about the publishing world as it exists today, but I can't imagine it's too far away from the 1940s (huge discounts for bookstores and the agenting thing notwithstanding). Besides, the people running the publisher have no idea what they're doing, the woman-POV character doesn't what to be editing the types of books she wants to edit, etc. And any ineptness feeds well into the storyline.

The other part of the storyline, setting most of it in the 1940s, is because I have an insatiable interest in the 1940s. Setting in and near Hollywood during that time is also near and dear to my heart: I have the movie studio books to prove it (and have read through them hundreds of times over the years).

Do Want You Want...and Do It Well

The thing to remember is to write characters that are believable, whether they tie in to your past experiences or not. Maybe you've come up with a character that has a profession or passion for something that suddently piques your interest. So who's stopping you from writing about that person, whether it's a he or a she?

Yourself, of course. And you shouldn't let it, just because some multi-pubbed author has problems with it. That's her problem, her business.

Persist, have fun with it! Don't let someone else's problem become your problem.

~Nancy Beck


Laura Bush Loves Books More Than Her Husband!

Talking to the AAP (which I figure is the American Association of Publishers - but don't quote me on that ;-)), and as reported in the free Publishers Lunch Deluxe (which I get delivered into my email box on a daily basis), First Lady Laura Bush said:
"So many of you are responsible for the greatest love affair of my life--books." Her main message was to link reading with thinking, and "literacy and liberty."



Me like her. :-)

As for her husband...I plead the Fifth (as in Amendment, y'all ;-)).

~Nancy Beck


Overrated and Underrated Books

I saw this thread over on FantasyBookSpot and was intrigued. They, in turn, were intrigued by a post somewhere else (read the link in the very first post).

I'll admit...I've only heard of one person mentioned (Borges), but I've never read any of his stuff.

Meh. No big deal.

Anyhoo...this stuff is in no particular order.

Overrated Books

Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card

Although I finished it, it was tough going. I don't remember much about it, except that it alternately bored and angered me. I think the main thing was that I couldn't connect to the main character of Ender. I've read other reviews of this book, and it seems that the younger you are, the more you "get it". Or something.

American Gods, Neil Gaiman

This wasn't an easy one for me to pick, because I loooooved Neverwhere; I will go back and read that one at some point. American Gods, though, was a disappointment. What I remember from this one is that this one god, who is now physically on earth, loves sex like there's nothing else to do on this planet. (My guess is a lot of men feel that way, ;-), but it should be interesting than what I read.) Mr. Gaiman also throws in a lot of product placements, which ticked me off. The most annoying thing, believe it or not, was the endings of the few chapters I read: I loved those! He expounded on old gods and goddesses and what they might think about the physical world...but that wasn't the main thrust of the story. Too bad. If the chapter endings were the actual book, I think I would've enjoyed the story. Bummer.

The 4th book of the World of Time series

I know, I know, it's probably not nice to put this down, what with the author no longer in this world. (May he rest peace.) But after reading the first 3 books - in fact, the 3rd book was exceptionally well done - I opened the 4th book with relish. Round about chapter 4 or 5, I just couldn't take it anymore - Nynaeve (I think) pulling on her braid endlessly, and the huge descriptions of everything known to man and womankind - it was just too much, and I put the book down, never to open it again. Maybe his later books were better, but after trying to get through that book, and I just couldn't be bothered with picking up where I left off. (I eventually gave away all of the WOT books.)

Underrated Books

This is a tough one for me. I've only come up with 2 books (one's a series, the other eventually will be a series).

The Fifth Ring (trilogy), by Mitchell Graham

I saw this on Amazon, and I bought it because...well, the cover looked kinda cool. ;-) Not the best thing to go for (because wonderful covers can make up for a crappy story).

But it proved to be a good buy. It's the typical reluctant hero who comes by a darkly magical ring, etc. The difference is in the writing - it's super, with finely realized characters, mostly unstereotypical (a battling priest, who's very good at fencing, is one of the most interesting characters I've come across). The 2nd book in the series, The Emerald Cavern, I didn't find quite as good as the first, but it was decent. And the last in the series, The Ancient Legacy, was also quite good. BTW, by "finely realized characters" I mean that the characters made mistakes; characters that are all-knowing (read: Mary Sue) are irritating to me. I mean, who the heck out there is perfect? (Besides me, I mean. ;-))

Magic Lost, Trouble Found, by Lisa Shearin

I'm not sure if this is underrated in the entire fantasy reading world, but I feel like it might be. This is my favorite book that came out last year (and I read a few debuts last year; something new for me :-)). I couldn't get over the quick pace, the humor, the kick-ass heroine, and the overall writing skill of Lisa Shearin. Raine is an elf who gets caught up in something she shouldn't have gotten caught up in, something that could cause her death sooner rather than later . (Check out the reviews on Amazon, and my own review here .) It doesn't sound like much, but it's a must read as far as I'm concerned. It's so well done, I can barely wait for the 2nd book to come out in April. And this from something I bought on a whim because, again, I liked the cover. ;-) If there was any hype about this particular book, it was well deserved.

What About You?

Any books that you think don't live up to all the hype? What about those that you think should get more attention?

~Nancy Beck

Anthology to Help Preditors and Editors

Here's an update on the Preditors and Editors situation.

Some fine people have decided to have an anthology printed up, with all proceeds going to help Dave Kuzminski at P&E.

What a wonderful idea! They're taking all genres, and, as stated, everything will be sent to P&E's defense fund. So if you're in a short story writin' mood, why not consider sending something their way?

Rather than just give out a link, here's what Dave wrote at Absolute Write:

Charity Anthology:

Calling all authors:

In February, it was learned that the business practice known as Publish America is now suing P&E (Predators and Editors)

Predators and Editors is a valuable resource for aspiring writers and publishers on who are who and what is what in the Publishing industry.

I am fully engaged in helping the fight against Publish America and what they are doing to authors across the nation:

David Kuzminski who runs P&E needs your help: His group has been receiving donations for the legal case.

I, Eric Enck and David Kuzminski am asking all writers of any genre to give us some stories. They can be fantasy, horror, SF, bizzaro, romance…it doesn’t matter. We want good stories to put together an anthology for purchase in the beginning of May 2008.

Every cent will go to Predators and Editors for the legal case.

Please send submissions in double space 12pt font (Times New Roman preferred) to


The cover is being illustrated by renown artist, Danielle Serra.

Deadlines for stories is April 5th 2008.

Love that submissions email. :-)

If you have something, send it in and support the cause. Or click on the Donation button up on the right. Or wait until the anthology comes out and buy it.

If you're short on funds (like me, at the moment), just blog about the whole situation, and put up the Donation button on your own blog or site. (Send me an email, and I'll send the code to you; it's quite easy to figure out.)

Go get 'em, Dave! :-)

~Nancy Beck

Tuesday Morning - Finish the Sentence #1

I've been getting into the idea of writing prompts and the like as a way to kind of kick start my writing. It's amazing to me how your brain can get into writing mode when actively participating in these things.

So I've decided to start a Tuesday morning thingie and designate it as Finish the Sentence morning. I'll probably resort to lines out of older books at some point, but I thought I'd try extricating something out of my own brain first.

Herewith is the 1st sentence you can try to finish (or not ;-)):

Billy ran out into the snowstorm with only his T-shirt, jeans, and a scarf on because...

The idea here is to scribble down the first thing that comes to your mind, and see where it takes you. From my own slightly mildewed brain:

Billy ran out into the snowstorm with only his T-shirt, jeans, and a scarf on because his mother was only two steps behind him, swinging an axe. What the hell's gotten into her? Billy thought, as he skidded and slipped down the sidewalk. Already his fingers had trouble bending in, and his feet felt as if he'd stepped into an ice cube bath.

Stopping, though, wasn't an option.

Not exactly the greatest, but that's not the point. Will this help you unstick your brain in some way? Maybe it will, maybe it won't, but at least you'll be getting in some sort of writing today, eh? ;-)

Tune in next week...same Bat channel...same Bat station. (Can you tell I loved all those goofy 60s shows like Batman, The Addams Family, and The Munsters?)

See ya soon! :-)

~Nancy Beck