Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cliffhangers: is there a double-standard?

I was looking for some books to read on my new Kindle this evening when I noticed some interestingly condescending reviews referencing an author's decision to use the literary device of a cliffhanger leading into a future installment in a series. Note: I haven't actually read this book, as I just recently purchased it, so I'm not sure to what effect this device was used, but I'll let you know.

Regardless, it got me thinking. In perusing the many self-published selections available on Amazon, I've noticed many authors do tend to work in trilogies or even series. Typically the first book is discounted, or even free, and the second and third installments are priced slightly higher - perhaps a dollar or two more.

And, personally, that's just fine with me. The books are still discounted compared to their mainstream counterparts, and making up a dollar or two after gaining a reader with a discounted price is just good business sense that places value on the author's hard work.

Yet, I do see the reviews that criticize this kind of practice. A book ends without a full wrap-up of the remaining issues, and suddenly the author is accused of just trying to sell more books with the next installment.

My response to this: Well DUH.

Let me back up a bit. I am all for "write for the love of writing, not for other people." I think that's a great philosophy. But I'm also a fan of being able to feed myself, pay my student loans, and, OH YES, support myself so I can write more in the future! I'd love nothing more to be able to support myself on writing alone. And in order to do that, I need to sell books. And I'm sure many authors feel exactly the same way. It's tough to be an author + something else; so turning it into a self-supporting system is often highly ideal. There aren't many other industries where people get accused of the crime of trying to make a living.

Furthermore, it's an interesting double-standard. Is there criticism out there of mainstream authors that are accused of just trying to sell more books when they write in a series format? I'm sure there's some, particularly with the really big names, but I haven't heard that about the stories I like to follow.

I'm sure this post sounds far more defensive than I mean it to be. Part of that is a product of PMS. But regardless, I think my main point is this: even if you love your craft and you write for that primary reason, writing is still a bit of a business. And that's okay! Better to be in business for something you love than something you don't.

Monday, April 23, 2012

"I'll do it later" syndrome

My fatal flaw is that I am the ultimate procrastinator. I procrastinate because I'm constantly overwhelmed by the amount that I have to do, and it's easier to ignore it and do something else.

For example, when I'm about to start cleaning, I will survey my condo and note all of the things that need to be picked up, wiped down, vacuumed, and tidied. I then realize that doing all the things I need to do will actually take me a few hours, rather than the 20 to 30 minutes I wanted to dedicate to the project. So, instead of rolling up my sleeves and diving in, I stress and fret for that 20 to 30 minutes, then wander off and find something else to do.

The same is true of my writing. I am editing right now. As a result, my condo is very clean, and I have a fridge stocked with all of the food I cooked yesterday for the week. Because the amount of editing I have to do is intimidating the hell out of me. So of course I'd rather do anything but that.

So. This here is some smack talk to my subconscious.

Do you REALLY think you are going to become a writer if you keep waking up miserable in the morning because you got nothing done the night before? And then it's time to go to work, right? And you spend the entire car trip with knots in your stomach while you go to a job that - let's face it - you don't hate, but you just don't have the passion to do for the next 40 years of your life. So to pep yourself up, you go right ahead and picture yourself as a successful writer. What kind of lifestyle you'll have, how you'll get to spend your time. As if it's possible to dream yourself there. When really you know what's going to happen - you're going to sit at your desk and pray to God no one finds out you're as incompetent as you feel. You're going to exhaust yourself with stress and worry, because that's what being a lawyer is good for. And then you'll go home, have a scotch, sulk, watch lame-ass TV, and write it off as just "not feeling inspired enough" to work on your novel.

And then you'll do the exact same thing again the next day.

And the next.

Well, guess what? I'm really sick of that whole mess. It's time to stop pouting and feeling sorry for yourself. There is no magic gadget that is going to make writing easier when you actually, God forbid, sit down and really work at it for once. But you want to do it, so it's time to actually do it. Stop making excuses, stop procrastinating.

You edited for all of an hour tonight. Just one hour, but look at the progress you made! The first five scenes of your novel, the first 8000 words of your novel - edited! Not to perfection. No, we are working in layers, because that's what we do. But you cut a lot of chaff you were fretting about. You tightened up some language. You corrected some crap grammar. AND you thought of some new things to add to replace the 700+ words you ended up cutting! And they're good things. Good ideas.

Can you commit to doing an hour tomorrow night? I know you'll probably get home late. You're going to have to make up for sneaking out a little early this evening. But there is a plus side - the kitchen is clean. The fridge is full of food that you just have to heat and eat.

And, OK, hell, you can use your new voice dictation device thingy you bought for your car. So instead of fretting, maybe you can actually do something useful with your time while you drive.

Now if only you could actually get your fat butt to the gym once in a while.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Recent Soundtrack

Here are the songs I've been in the mood to listen to all day:

"Feel Like a Rock Star" - Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw
"Born This Way" - Lady Gaga
"Big Star" - Kenny Chesney
"I'll Be" - Edwin McCain
"Would You Go With Me" - Josh Turner
"Hell Yeah" - Montgomery Gentry
"I Will Buy You a New Life" - Everclear
"Make No Sound" - Gomez
"Movin' On" - Good Charlotte
"Good Riddance" - Green Day
"Smooth" - Santana feat. Rob Thomas
"Kiss This" - Aaron Tippin

Clearly I am schizophrenic. At least I'll always have company.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Savoring Reading

This past weekend I decided to start reading another set of popular books that I heard about on the radio, 50 Shades of Grey. The people that talked about it said it was pretty graphic, but I got through the first 60 or so pages and was starting to wonder what on earth they were talking about. Then I found out.

Then I found out even more.


My foray into reading books containing such graphic descriptions of sex has usually been in the romance genre; and then, it's usually two or three scenes in a 400ish page book. I've lost count of the amount of sex these people have had in the 6 week time span that the first and second books cover. And each scene is depicted in great detail.

I don't know if this is a romance book or not. Are there specific guidelines to follow in defining a genre? This series is probably better defined as erotica. I've just never seen erotica go so mainstream.

But, back to the topic of this post (which, incidentally, is not about savoring erotica) - I find myself sprinting through this book. And it's made me think that I tend to sprint through a lot of books. Once I start reading a book that actually holds my interest (regardless of quality), I simply can't stop until I'm done. I've seriously contemplated calling in sick just to finish reading books that I'm currently working on. Twilight was a problem for me - I started reading it in the midst of final exams during my first semester of law school. I still did well, but I wonder if I'd've pulled off straight A's if it hadn't been for Stephenie Meyer and her sparkly vampires. Harry Potter almost decimated my GPA.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I think it's a bit of both. In some cases, the subject matter has managed to hold my interest, but then I find the story lagging, so I skim, just because I want to know how it ends. In other cases, I'm just that enthralled in the book. In many cases, I'll end up re-reading them over and over again.

I don't think Shades of Grey falls into that last category. I'm finding it entertaining and interesting, but I'm not sure if I'll re-read it. Parts of it have become pretty redundant. Really, I just want to know what happens? But don't ruin it for me - I plan on finishing out the trilogy.

Do you like to savor books a page at a time, or are you a sprinter?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Thought of the Day: 4/14/2012

 n serving the wicked, expect no reward, and be thankful if you escape injury for your pains.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thought of the Day 4/13/12

It's Friday the 13th. Did you know this year has four Friday the thirteenths?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

From beyond the grave...

OK, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration. But, yes, I've been inactive posting here for a while. I got a new job back in March and I've been working some very long hours. I'm writing this as I prepare to scarf a Jimmy Dean D-Lights breakfast sandwich and some coffee on my way to court. Yes, I'm a lawyer.

And the one thing I've started to learn about this job is that, to be a lawyer, really, all you have to want is to be a lawyer. You can't really want to be anything else, because there is no time for it. So you'd better love what you do.

I don't know many people who feel that way about their work. And it makes me wonder what will happen during other phases of my life. My husband and I plan to have kids some day. Will I be able to be a lawyer at the same time? I'm not really sure. 

I'm still trying to maintain my writing aspirations, a little bit at a time. After spending all day at a computer, the last thing I want to do is sit down at one again to write, so I got a notebook and I'm just scribbling away before bed each night. It's actually been pleasant. 

But the one thing I've really done is made a decision. I'm currently working on my dream book. The One Idea that I've had since I was 14 years old, that I've been imagining and jotting things down about for years. 

It breaks my heart to say it, but I don't really have the time or energy to dedicate to my dream book right now. When I do it, I want to do it right (write?). 

But that's not going to stop me. I wrote another book a few years ago that I love. It was a crazy project for me - way out of my usual genre - and I loved every minute of writing it. It's been sitting on my hard drive since 2007, waiting patiently for me to finish editing. Yesterday, it made a huge demand. I was nonchalantly driving to work, thinking about motorcycle season, when WHAM. The title came to me. And, honestly, I love this title. 

Clearly, this book wants to get off of my hard drive. And, lawyer or not, I need to make that happen.

I wish I had some more fanfare or a cover to share or something like that. I'd like to sit on the title for a bit until I have something spiffy to go with it and give it the presentation it deserves. But the book itself is just fun. It's a chick lit. And it's about the softer side of motorcycles.

More to come soon!