"There are only two important elements to a great novel. The first is an interesting character. A character that you thoroughly know and feel will go a long way toward attracting a readership.

The second element is an interesting problem."

— Walter Dean Myers, with advice for a young writer. (via lettersandlight)

(via thisisevenharderthannamingablog)

Today marks the publication of the 50th review in my ImmerseOrDie indie book review series. For those who don’t regularly follow it, the premise is simple: every morning I step onto my treadmill, open a new indie ebook, and begin my daily walk, reading the book for as long as I can maintain my immersion. When that immersion has broken three times, I stop, and write up a short report of what caused my attention to wander. This article today is a reflection on the first 50 such reviews, and a synthesis of A) whether or not I’ve been consistent in my evaluations, and B) trends I’m seeing in the causes of those immersion breaks. Read the rest >

A couple of points I think he missed:

  • I need an emotional connection to the character, and I need it fast. I try to give a book until the end of the first chapter … I often fail to get that far.
  • Nowhere did I see it explicitly stated how import it be for the stakes to be high. I find that very important. In a recent story I tried to read the stakes were the hero/heroine loosing their job, or being reprimanded by their boss. I couldn’t really care. If the stakes were maybe losing their marriage, the world ending, maybe I could have cared? 

Key Takeaways:

  • The point about too much exposition at the beginning is good. I’ve been nailed for this in I Bring the Fire in two reviews, but other people feel like I gave just enough detail. You probably can’t please everyone. I do think dog lovers liked the opening scene because they identified with it immediately. Whose dog hasn’t taken a roll-bath in something disgusting? 
  • Also, I like what he says about characters behaving out of character. That WILL drive me out of a story no matter how far along I am.
  • He counts grammar problems as being one of the top things that drives him away, but there is no where in the article that I can determine how picky a grammarian he is. I’ve read some indies with atrocious grammar and marvelous story lines/characters, so I stuck with them. The book I’m thinking of is currently a best seller.
  • He hates present tense! (not in this article, but I saw a link at the bottom to an article on that topic. So perhaps he has not read my books!)
"Subplots bring realism to your main plot simply by existing – by interrupting the flow. Why is this? Because life doesn’t move forward all at once. Interruptions happen, change rushes in, we juggle three or ten balls at once. Readers don’t expect continuous narratives."

Elizabeth Sims (via writingquotes)

I must not let the subplots runaway with the story!

(via thisisevenharderthannamingablog)

Anonymous said: ETA on ragnarok? Also, isn't it fun to say "Ragnar rock"?

Hello Anon,

ETA on Ragnarok is probably around about Christmas Time. I’ve been told that releasing right BEFORE Christmas is a bad idea because people are too busy to buy for themselves. So maybe right after Christmas, or the beginning of the new year when everyone has their Amazon gift cards and brand new Kindles?

(Of course, I thought that Warriors would be out at Christmas time and I finished it before September!)

Thank you so much for contacting me!

P.S. I’m having fun with the name Ragnarok already!

99 CENT SALE ON 2nd IN SERIES UPDATE

So, back in June I did a 99 cent promo of Monsters, my second in series. I’ve seen more and more authors set their 2nd in series to 99 cents permanently, and I wanted to see if it would be a beneficial strategy for me. I did earn more money in June compared to July, but I dug a little deeper into the numbers:

  1. When I compared $ earned per free downloads of my first in series, I made more in July compared to June. I just happened to have more downloads in June than in July due to my promo schedule.
  2. The 99 cent sale had the most impact the first week, and then the effectiveness really plummeted, and I had to advertise the 99 cent book as well as the permafree first in series.

So, would I do it again?

Yes, IF I get a BookBub promo. And I’d blast all the cheap and free advertisers of 99 cent books at the same time. FYI: Here are all of the free and cheap 99 cent advertisers that I know of:

Because I would expect the BB promo of my 2nd to lift my first in series on the free rankings a bit I’d ALSO hit up a couple of the heavy hitters for permafree first in series the same day: Freebooksy, ILoveVampireNovels, Pixel of Ink, and BKknights.

It doesn’t look like a permanent 99 cent price for Monsters is a good idea for me, but it is possible if the price was launched by BookBub sales of my third in series on up would remain high longer. I’ll have to apply to BookBub and see.

fuckyeahsouthasia:

Two 15-year-old school boys have developed a device that will enable a shoe to charge a mobile phone while walking. Anand Gangadharan and Mohak Bhalla, both students of south Delhi’s Mount Carmel school, have invented a compact attachment, which, when attached to the heel of the shoe, will automatically act as a portable mobile charger.Named ‘Walkie Mobi Charger’, this gadget generates electricity up to six volts, as against five volts released through a plug point and ensures that the phone battery is charged at a faster pace. So if a plug-in charger takes half-an-hour to charge a phones up to 25%, the walking device will charge 40% of the battery in the same time………..The device functions on the principle of electromagnetic induction. The compression and relaxation caused by walking creates pressure on the sponge attached in the middle which produces electricity.Two LEDs, blue and red, indicate the supply of electricity and battery charging, respectively.The device is equipped to charge several models of phones. All one needs to do is connect the charger to the shoe while the phone rests in your pocket. “This is an effective way to utilise an alternate source of energy and is also a healthy way to decrease your electricity bills,” they said.

Hmmmm … I already have the guys and gals in Ragnarok using a gravity based charger for lights. I wonder if cold temperatures would cause problems for these? Meh. It’s sci-fi fantasy. I can do what I want!

fuckyeahsouthasia:

Two 15-year-old school boys have developed a device that will enable a shoe to charge a mobile phone while walking. Anand Gangadharan and Mohak Bhalla, both students of south Delhi’s Mount Carmel school, have invented a compact attachment, which, when attached to the heel of the shoe, will automatically act as a portable mobile charger.
Named ‘Walkie Mobi Charger’, this gadget generates electricity up to six volts, as against five volts released through a plug point and ensures that the phone battery is charged at a faster pace. So if a plug-in charger takes half-an-hour to charge a phones up to 25%, the walking device will charge 40% of the battery in the same time………..
The device functions on the principle of electromagnetic induction. The compression and relaxation caused by walking creates pressure on the sponge attached in the middle which produces electricity.Two LEDs, blue and red, indicate the supply of electricity and battery charging, respectively.The device is equipped to charge several models of phones. All one needs to do is connect the charger to the shoe while the phone rests in your pocket. “This is an effective way to utilise an alternate source of energy and is also a healthy way to decrease your electricity bills,” they said.

Hmmmm … I already have the guys and gals in Ragnarok using a gravity based charger for lights. I wonder if cold temperatures would cause problems for these? Meh. It’s sci-fi fantasy. I can do what I want!

(via diamondfeet)

cgockel:

ibringthefireodin:

Yes, Sometimes I Like Literary Fiction …
This story broke the mold of what I usually like—there were many POV not separated by any sort of break in the text. Also, the POV flowed from character to omniscient and then back to the characters. But I still loved it just the same. The writing is incredibly lyrical and I got drawn into it. 
My only quibble was that I felt like the final confrontation at the ending could be drawn out a little more—maybe Trajan could of reflected on the lights of his city and the omniscient narrator could have commented on how much the night time view had changed, but how different peoples and cultures were still butting up against each other…I don’t know, it would just have been nice to have something that would have drawn up all the pieces full circle.Still that is a tiny quibble. 4.5 stars rounded up, because I didn’t ever have the urge to skim or jump ahead.
Get it on Amazon >

Something I see a lot in fanfiction, and self-published authors attempting to sell books is shifting POV. I usually like to show at least two POV in my work but I always separate it with a section break and try to stay in one person’s/thing’s head for at least a page. 
Why I do this? Because shifting POVs are disorientating, and can make a story difficult to understand. Also, a lot of times it destroys the tension. If you know that character A is scowling because she’s worried about character B it gives you, the reader, a sort of omniscience that is unrealistic, and also kind of boring. No mystery arises in your mind—you don’t want to read to the next chapter to see if A is an ass or misunderstood.
Is that a hard and fast rule? No. And the Unheralded Hero of Preston Plains Middle is a beautiful example of that. The author handles it so smoothly that instead of being jarring and confusing it’s like sitting in a flowing stream of multiple people’s consciousness. It’s beautiful and lyrical — whether that is appropriate for action and adventure, I’m not going to say. Maybe someone out there can pull it off.
Anyway, if you want to incorporate shifting POV in your stories, I highly recommend reading it to see how the author weaves the POVs together.
Another story that pulled it off is A Broom With a View. The shifts are a little less frequent than in Unheralded, but still well handled.

cgockel:

ibringthefireodin:

Yes, Sometimes I Like Literary Fiction …

This story broke the mold of what I usually like—there were many POV not separated by any sort of break in the text. Also, the POV flowed from character to omniscient and then back to the characters. But I still loved it just the same. The writing is incredibly lyrical and I got drawn into it.

My only quibble was that I felt like the final confrontation at the ending could be drawn out a little more—maybe Trajan could of reflected on the lights of his city and the omniscient narrator could have commented on how much the night time view had changed, but how different peoples and cultures were still butting up against each other…I don’t know, it would just have been nice to have something that would have drawn up all the pieces full circle.

Still that is a tiny quibble. 4.5 stars rounded up, because I didn’t ever have the urge to skim or jump ahead.

Get it on Amazon >

Something I see a lot in fanfiction, and self-published authors attempting to sell books is shifting POV. I usually like to show at least two POV in my work but I always separate it with a section break and try to stay in one person’s/thing’s head for at least a page. 

Why I do this? Because shifting POVs are disorientating, and can make a story difficult to understand. Also, a lot of times it destroys the tension. If you know that character A is scowling because she’s worried about character B it gives you, the reader, a sort of omniscience that is unrealistic, and also kind of boring. No mystery arises in your mind—you don’t want to read to the next chapter to see if A is an ass or misunderstood.

Is that a hard and fast rule? No. And the Unheralded Hero of Preston Plains Middle is a beautiful example of that. The author handles it so smoothly that instead of being jarring and confusing it’s like sitting in a flowing stream of multiple people’s consciousness. It’s beautiful and lyrical — whether that is appropriate for action and adventure, I’m not going to say. Maybe someone out there can pull it off.

Anyway, if you want to incorporate shifting POV in your stories, I highly recommend reading it to see how the author weaves the POVs together.

Another story that pulled it off is A Broom With a View. The shifts are a little less frequent than in Unheralded, but still well handled.

Tags: writing

If you self-publish, do your book covers have to be more obvious? This is a question I have to face as I embark on a book cover redesign (it will probably happen next year). Above are the top books in my genre. The number one book is self-published. It features a HUMAN. The other books are all traditionally published. Their covers are not as sexy, they are more conceptual. I wonder if what I really need for my covers is just a photorealistic “human being” (or Frost Giant as the case may be). Maybe I need to find a workable picture of Loki? A close up, perhaps with something as simple as his eyes showing fire?
I’m not sure. I’ve got a few months to think about it, but I’ve heard of book covers being the PRIMARY thing readers look at, and lately, I find myself drawn to covers with figures and faces.
My work is most often compared to Neil Gaiman (sometimes even favorably) and his covers are very simple. But everyone knows Neil Gaiman, and I’m an unknown. Maybe my cover has to work harder.

If you self-publish, do your book covers have to be more obvious? This is a question I have to face as I embark on a book cover redesign (it will probably happen next year). Above are the top books in my genre. The number one book is self-published. It features a HUMAN. The other books are all traditionally published. Their covers are not as sexy, they are more conceptual. I wonder if what I really need for my covers is just a photorealistic “human being” (or Frost Giant as the case may be). Maybe I need to find a workable picture of Loki? A close up, perhaps with something as simple as his eyes showing fire?

I’m not sure. I’ve got a few months to think about it, but I’ve heard of book covers being the PRIMARY thing readers look at, and lately, I find myself drawn to covers with figures and faces.

My work is most often compared to Neil Gaiman (sometimes even favorably) and his covers are very simple. But everyone knows Neil Gaiman, and I’m an unknown. Maybe my cover has to work harder.

Anonymous said: Here's a big tip if you're starting to write science fiction--keep a running list of all your planets, planetary systems, species, types of ships, weapons, you know the drill. (A big three ring binder, filled with loose leaf notebook paper, works best) It also helps to put a sort of reference section in the back if you invent any new terms. I don't know how long you've been doing sci-fi, so PLEASE!!!!! do not be offended by me giving you this tip. Anyway, welcome to sci-fi wonderland!!!

Offended? Hell, no! Sounds like a good idea! (But I might use a Google Spreadsheet).

Thanks for the advice and the welcome.