Crying about drama

As a general rule, my favorite stories (usually films) are the ones that can consistently (ie: when I watch/read them again and again) make me cry. It doesn’t happen often; there are only a few films I’ve found so far, only a couple of books, maybe an episode of a TV-show here or there. Thinking back, the only book I can think of, specifically, is a graphic novel, and I think part of the emotions I had tied up in it were from the film adaptation.

Despite the fact that I write books, books don’t seem to “do it” for me. I read a lot of books, lately, and there were periods here and there in my youth when I read a lot of books, but … I don’t think I like books as much as book-lovers do. When I was younger, there were a few books I would read and re-read and re-read. The one graphic novel was one of those, I read it at least once a year during my teens. Then there was that period where I wasn’t reading much, and since I began reading again, I haven’t had time. I feel like there aren’t enough hours in my life to spend them reading books I’ve already read. It’s hard to even spend 2 hours watching a film I’ve already seen, at this point; I built up a collection of over 300 DVDs before something happened in my mind and now I can only make time for films I’ve never seen – I probably only see two or three of my hundreds of owned-DVDs a year, despite watching at least several hundred hours of films and TV on DVD each year. The films I re-watch, even now… they’re the ones that I know will make me cry. And I’m up to a rate of reading over a hundred books a year, but it’s difficult for me to imagine wanting to re-read any of them. (Though I’ve just realized that there was one small thing in The Hunger Games that made me cry and which, when the sequel made an allusion to it, very nearly did – if I ever went back and re-read The Hunger Games, I might cry at the appearance of that loaf of bread again…) So maybe books *can* affect me as much as films, and I’m just reading the wrong books?

Anyhow… my favorite stories tend to be the ones where I become so emotionally involved that I am overcome, usually exemplified by the tears in my eyes. It occurred to me today for the first time (no, it never occurred to me before (though now that I’m thinking back on my own books in this context, I’m realizing that there were parts of Untrue Tales… Book Six which already did, which -over and over again as I read and re-read Book Six to edit it, and to record it for the podcast- brought me to that level of emotional involvement and, a few times, to tears)) that I might want to try, with the ‘utopian’ book of the duology I’m trying to ready myself for, to strive to reach that pinnacle. It’s been becoming, increasingly in my mind, a potentially very emotional story. This girl’s story is very difficult, a real challenge, and if the reader doesn’t buy fully into her experience of it, they won’t be able to believe the interpretation of reality I’m trying to present. I’m still not convinced I can write it in first-person perspective well enough; I haven’t the practice with first-person. (Though I suppose I’ve got to write in it to get better at writing in it, like anything else, so avoiding it because I’m not yet good means avoiding ever getting better.) Alternatively, I’m not sure I can create the required level of emotional involvement without using first-person perspective. Perhaps a narrower form of the narrow third-person perspective I normally use, which hovers close, practically over the shoulder of the protagonist, rarely venturing anywhere away. …but probably it’ll have to be first-person.

Perhaps spending half a year or more on ‘research’ (read: thinking about what I’m going to write before attempting to write it) wasn’t such a great idea; almost every time I resolve another aspect of what these books must be or what I’d like to attempt, the challenge increases. Doing better, doing things I’ve never tried, striving toward greatness… Perhaps without so much forethought I might be less disappointed with whatever result I end up with. Or perhaps with enough planning, with high enough goals and sufficient passion, I might achieve something worthwhile. The only thing to do is to keep working on it. Keep thinking. Keep dreaming. Keep striving. Keep feeling. Keep crying.

…and when the time comes, I suppose, try to make other people cry, too…

Studying Dystopia

Quick summary of recent events: My Kickstarter fundraiser didn’t get funded. I’m not working on the ‘my experiences writing & publishing’ book right now, not as my primary project – it’s been on a back burner of my mind for years, and it’s much closer to the front of my mind now, but there’s no urgency in me for its completion. It’ll get written, just not ‘by memorial day.’ I am working on my vampire duology. Which is the subject of this post:

The core idea I have for the books is in the world I’ve been building in my mind, where vampires are an accepted part of humanity, using their supernatural gifts to benefit society as a whole, fed by the regular blood donations of the general population (opt-out, not actually mandatory) so vampires aren’t required to be murderous fiends to stay alive, or to live in the shadows, though they most certainly don’t sparkle (and they probably can’t go out in sunlight). I haven’t nailed down all the details yet, though I’ve got quite a lot of detail mapped out that I’m not even hinting at here. The structural concept I’m working on for these books is to write two books, one which presents this word as Utopian, and the other which presents the same world as Dystopian. I want each book to totally buy into its own point of view, for all its evidence, even when questioned my its characters, to come to the conclusion that it is correct, the world is [wonderful|terrible]. I’m structuring each book to be a valid demonstration (think Euclid), proving each book’s position by evidence and argument. I want readers to be so convinced by whichever book they read first that when they read the other book they get angry at the characters in it for being so oblivious/wrong.

As I did with my attempt to write ‘a real zombie book,’ where I read a stack of the popular zombie books before attempting to write my own ((though I still haven’t managed to read World War Z – I kept having people promising to send it to me or lend it to me, so I kept not simply buying it for myself or checking it out of the library, and eventually I wasn’t reading zombie books anymore, and I never got back around to it)), and since the idea for these books was inspired (in part) by my reaction to reading some other dystopian books (isn’t that always the way? You read a book and think “I could do better than this!” so you work hard, study hard, and write your own, in your own way), I’m doing the same thing with dystopian books. I’ve told you before about my not being well read, and dystopian lit mirrors that phenomenon; I haven’t read most of the classics. I read Brave New World in high school for a book report / project, but I never read 1984 or Fahrenheit 451 (or even watched the films). I had never read The Handmaid’s Tale before last year, and it was the dystopia I disliked so much I was inspired to write a better one. I read and watched Never Let Me Go as well, last year, and it was generally quite excellent, also inspiring me to write better books (though in a different way than much-loved yet terrible books do). This year, in addition to trying to read my own books, then, I am trying to read as much recommended dystopian literature as possible.

Continue reading Studying Dystopia

Author Self-Interview

Okay, so I stole these questions from Pat Bertram, to answer on my own site… so it’s only partially a self-interview. I’m pretty much too shy to actually do interviews, but answering questionnaires, that I can do! Of course, I could have then sent my answers to Pat & pretended she’d interviewed me, but I’m almost too shy to actually make contact with people – I mostly keep to myself, these days. So… instead I’m just posting it here. Because so many of the questions assume I’ve only got one book to talk about (though really, I’m putting my 15th book out this month, along with paper-book re-issues for the entire Untrue Tales… series, and I just launched a Kickstarter project for yet another book), I’ve selected … the entire Untrue Tales series as “my book” for the purposes of this “interview.” Also, Pat suggests answering 10 or 15 of the questions, and I’ve answered every one. That’s 46 questions, and this post is over 4300 words. Enjoy.

  1. What is your book about? I never know how to answer this question about my books, and that failure is probably the biggest reason my book sales are consistently slow and low. If I had to answer, without going into great length, I’d say perhaps that the Untrue Tales series is about watching reality unfold around you and the uselessness of trying to control anything. Ask me again in a week/month/year and I’ll probably have a different answer.
  2. How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story? Ooh, this is a good question, for this series. I actually started “working on” what became the Untrue Trilogies over twenty years ago. All through my youth (I can’t be sure when it started, but perhaps age 10 or 12?) I was a storyteller, often with myself at the heart of the stories. Rather than writing my stories down, I practiced oral storytelling, and I told my stories as though they were true stories about my life – and believe me that trying to tell the story of how I accidentally bested Satan at age 12 and was forced to take over the day-to-day operation of Hell in a realistic and convincing way was a learning experience. All the basic threads of story which ended up in the Untrue Trilogies (and quite a few which didn’t) were part of these overlapping narratives I developed primarily during my high school years (roughly age 12-16), which I then adapted into a new story, not about me, beginning in 2004.
  3. What inspired you to write this particular story? I guess I partly answered this, but the development of these stories was in large part an attempt to gather people’s attention. Prior to high school I had been largely an outcast and picked on to the point that it got me kicked out of school (you can read a modified/compressed/fictionalized account of this, buried in my first novel, Lost and Not Found), and when I finally got back into school, a new school, I was determined to do things differently. Developing these stories, largely in collaboration with the friends I was making, seemed to help cement my role in several social circles. Years and years later, after I’d written a couple of novels, I decided to try to resurrect those stories, rather than allow them to be forgotten, and thus began the seed that led to these six books.
  4. How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book? Around the time I wrote Untrue Tales… Book One I was likely to be heard saying that all the characters in all my books are me, and that’s still true, in some ways. Without giving away the ending of the last book, I’ll say that there’s quite a lot of me in Trev.
  5. Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why? My favorite character? Is it cheating to say it was my daughter? Err… Trev’s daughter, Neyal’h… Except, she almost isn’t in these books at all. She’s practically peripheral, the entire journey, despite being central to all the action in most of the books. Why is she my favorite? Don’t you love your daughter? … If you check with me here in “reality” I don’t even have a daughter, so I suppose this answer doesn’t make sense. But if you’d read the stories I was writing, all the way back to when I began writing stories, you’ll find her there. Maybe someday I’ll re-release an updated version of The Vintage Collection (everything I wrote as a teen, which I’d made available in paperback for a few years), and you can see for yourself. Continue reading Author Self-Interview

Oops, my new books are available

As I posted about recently, and as expected, my books are available now, well in advance of their “official publication date” of April 1st, 2011. They’re currently listed at full list price at Amazon, and at a 42% discount at Barnes & Noble, and they’ll be popping up at other online retailers’ sites in the next week or two, mostly between those price points. If you can’t wait, you don’t care about supporting me (the author), or whatever, you could order both trilogies right now. OR:

I’ll have my copies of the books this Thursday (March 10th, 2011), and will make them available for purchase from as soon as possible after they arrive. As detailed in my last post, I’m planning on offering them at the following price points:

  • $50 for both Untrue Trilogies, unsigned
  • $50 each ($100 for both) Untrue Trilogies, signed

No additional shipping/handling charges, sent via USPS Priority Mail with delivery confirmation, packed and shipped by the author… signed & personalized by the author, if you pay for it. Is my signature worth that much? Maybe, but that isn’t the point: The point is to give people the option of becoming a patron / benefactor / philanthropist / supporter of an independent creator, rather than just a blind consumer looking for the best price. If you want the best price, currently $28.92 for the pair, go buy at B&N (or wherever), and I’ll get about $13.88 of that. If you order unsigned from me, depending on what shipping costs me (I don’t have the final weight of the books yet, and it depends on where you live, but it’ll be somewhere from $6-$11 for the pair), I’ll net $25-$29. If you order the signed copies, I’ll net $75-$80. See how that works?

Oh, and in case you didn’t read my last post (because it was over 2k words long?), you may have missed that I’m giving away FREE copies of the full Untrue Tales… series. You can enter right now on Goodreads, or you can go back and comment on that post and have a much better chance of winning. (Currently, I’m the only person eligible. Maybe I’ll win copies of my own books…)

New books, coming soon!

I used the covers as shown, so I’m not going to re-post them here. I worked hard, I found a lot of errors, I made a lot of small changes and tweaks and improvements, and I got 6 books ready for print publication last month. (The official release date isn’t until 4/1/2011.) I didn’t quite reach all my over-the-top goals; I didn’t finish recording & editing the Book Six audiobook in time to listen to it while doing a very-close-read through the text to find even more errors. Though I did use that technique with books one through five, and I did record 40% of Book Six. Plus, I got the books done in time to make the LSI deal for free setup and justified (in my mind) the cost of ordering 50 copies of each of the two trilogies. Continue reading New books, coming soon!