Thursday, 31 March 2011

One Big Melting Pot

How did I first start writing Blue Star?

Well. It was years and years of accumulating ideas. The title and basic idea actually cropped up in a roleplay I tried making in...08? Sometime around then, I think. Anyway, that was a flop, but it was an interesting idea, so I hung onto it. ALWAYS hang onto your ideas. You never know when you might be able to draw them forth from the grave and give them new life.

I didn't work at the idea, though. I had other stories to write. So I let it sit and fester and ferment. In the meantime, I accumulated other ideas.

I read an article in WIRED magazine about the Russian Doomsday Device "Dead Hand" and thought, wow, scary and cool. Maybe I can use something like that. Tossed the idea in the stewpot and moved on.
There were images--a man standing in front of a strange creature; a train traveling through a desolate snowscape; a pair of people on a bus, one of whom was a strange messenger feared by the public. There was snow, lots of snow, and strange things that people didn't understand. Necromancy, and legal uses for it. And drugs. They all got tossed into the stewpot and left to simmer.

Finally, when I'd finished telling my other two stories, I decided to give this one a whack. My mind hadn't been in the best state for a while, and I felt like writing something...unpleasant. Something dark and evil. Something with death and drugs. Lots of drugs. Weird stuff. (I can't write normal things. It's a side effect of being me.)

So I jammed my arm into the stewpot, right up to the elbow, and stirred things around a bit. They'd fermented long enough at this point that when I withdrew my arm--well, you know that gooey corn syrup-flour-whatever mix? It's soft and sticky but peels off of you? Yeah. It was kinda like that. I started pulling at stuff and poking and things just sort of came together. I grabbed the beginning of something I'd just sort of plunked out during a rewards assembly for my sister (hey, it was boring, don't look at me like that) and got started.

What about you? Do you let ideas sit?

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Writing Contest 'Prizes'

So, I'm a twitter fan, just for the record. You can follow me if you'd like. This week, in the #amwriting and #writing hashtags, there is a sponsored tweet from inkpop for a writing contest.

Neat prompt: rewrite a scene or act from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Great prompt, my favorite of Shakespeare's comedies. So, of course, I'm a bit interested, just for the emotion.

Then I began checking out the contest. The prize? Why, you get your work in a real book! From a real publisher! Wowee! (Is the sarcasm too much?)

It's HarperCollins vetting these contest winners and the book is the 'Teen Classics Edition' of A Midsummer Night's Dream. I nearly choked. Really.

Look, folks, any writer who's put in the effort knows what it takes to get published. This contest is no easier than the real deal. And the real deal offers much better prestige and personal fulfillment. At least then the work will be associated with you and not one of the greatest English writers of all time.

I love the prompt, though, so here's my challenge: everyone take a shot at the prompt and link to it in the comments below. Let's see what a bunch of writers rewriting Shakespeare for our own amusement can do!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Judging by a cover? Experiments in the Bookstore

While browsing the YA section of the bookstore, as I often do for novel research purposes, I always take note of several things when observing the books on the self: placement, title, trends, and covers. Since this is the market I hope to publish in, scrutinizing the books has become an odd little hobby of mine. Personally, I DO judge books by their covers and its like a majority of the rest of us do as well, if we will admit it or not. While its not the sole determining factor if I will pick up a book or not, it’s probably a good 45% of the decision for me.

Simple fact, people enjoy aesthetically pleasing things. I am a very visual person myself and bright colors and interesting images catch my eye, and the same holds true for book covers. When I went to Borders last weekend, I walked with my eyes on the floor until I reached the YA section. Then, I looked up quickly and observed which books caught my eye right away:

The Witch and Wizard series by James Patterson
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Matched Ally Condie
Torment by Lauren Kate
And unfortunately…
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

With the exception of “Wither” the books that I noticed first feature a single, center image on a solid dark or light background. The title is easily visible with the author’s name below it, in a smaller case. These books were located in various areas on the shelf (in the middle, on the ends, closer to the floor etc.) but they stood out to me because of the clarity of the design and the simplicity of the title (which will probably be discussed in another post).

Here is the Amazon link to it to see what I'm talking about: http://www.amazon.com/Wither-Chemical-Garden-Trilogy-DeStefano/dp/1442409053


I found that covers with groups of people or a face just sort of blended together in my mind and made no lasting impression. The same goes for fantasy novels with a bunch of characters in front of a dramatic background…does nothing for me at all except to make me think of 80’s video games. -shrug-

Anyway, upon closer inspection, it became obvious that graphic design is a heavy influence on book covers. Personally, I’m not fond of all the lines and geometric shapes that house the name of the title and author in random places on the cover. It looks too cluttered. Some good examples of this appear on the link below:

http://bookcoverarchive.com/

And Then There’s This by Bill Wasik for example, is an interesting cover, but I don’t care for all the shapes.

Once Before Time by Martin Bojowald is almost too bright and distracting. I have to really concentrate to read the title and if I’m browsing quickly that’s not something I want to take the time to do.

“Wither” is my exception to all of these things I don’t like. It features a photograph of a girl in an intricate dress on the left hand side. In front of her, and off to the right, is a bird cage with a bird inside of it. The cage rests on a stack of books. There is also a strong element of graphic design involved in the fact that a series of interconnected circles and squares highlight different, key elements in the picture- the girl’s face, her hand, the “W” in the title, and the bird in the cage.

I was puzzled as to why I was interested in this cover, as it features everything I’m not fond of, but then I remembered something that my boss told me at the newspaper, where I work: When designing a page for the paper, it is important to balance the text and pictures in a manner so that your eyes do a dance; meaning your attention is shifted back and forth as you scan the entirety of the page. “Wither” manages this quite excellently.


Questions:
What types of book covers do you notice first in the book store?
Why draws you to them?
If your book was published, what would you like to see on the cover?

Monday, 28 March 2011

Bias

One of my favorite blogs that isn't writing-related is Less Wrong, which is devoted to rationality. It's started me on a kick to recognize and eliminate as many of my own biases as I can, since I'm big on self-improvement. I'm not there yet, but I'm making definite, if slow, progress, notably becoming much better at noticing when I'm behaving irrationally.

Since I started with those biases that most affect how I interact with other people, I haven't even gotten around to thoroughly cataloging my biases as regard writing. These are what I do know I have strong feelings about:

1: Self-publishing is awesome. I attach no stigma to self-publishing that is done in consultation with an editor and graphics person. Self-publishing makes things available to readers that might become their favorite book, and would otherwise be left totally unread. As I finish a novel, I am considering whether to even bother sending it to traditional publishing houses.

2: More books mean more reviewers, and ones who read the genre you write are more important than the ones in the Globe and Mail, since they'll have readers in the same genre.

3: Reviews in major newspapers still kick lots of ass.

4: Medium is less important than story. I read webcomics as much as I read books, and love them.

5: Web presence is mandatory for the modern writer.

6: Creative Commons and publishing your work online for free are not bad things. They are, in fact, excellent, as they can reach readers who might not ordinarily pay for an ebook and you still make money on the dead tree format (physical) copies of the book. They mean more recommendations to friends and accessibility to educators.

I think that covers the important bases, those core beliefs I hold that may mean you want to disregard my posts entirely.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

"He's Mother-fucking Sauron"

Hello, I'm unacclaimed, and hardly existent author J. Dwayne Peterson, unknown for various works of horror and psychological fuckery. In the real world I work for the United States Air Force, and am a student of actual psychology. On the internet I'm one of the original founders and, though almost not worth mentioning, the current administrator of the L.O.L.W.H.A.T.

After our previous hang-out went under a few of us came together and said “We can rebuild him. We have the technology.” So we did. With us came old friends and when we arrived, a few new ones, creating the functional group you see here today.

As far as this blog goes, you may find me somewhat unfocused, and my talks may stray into the real world, but I'll try to link everything back nice and neat to writing.


Now, as I like to keep these introduction things brief, I'll bid you good day for now.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Introducing a lazy bard.

Hello! I am Nicolette Anderson AKA dah fuzzinator of dewm!, and I am a struggling artist and student. It's not really struggling, it's more that I have a comically low demand for maintenance. I love the idea of a bard going into an inn and captivating others with his words, so that's partly why I became a writer. The other reason is because I wanted to tell stories for anyone who would listen to me.

Like the others here on this blog, I enjoy the LOLWHAT thread on a regular basis. I find online friendships to be important, so I am learning about the power of friendship by keeping an online group of friends. I guess it's like a Nakama, or a group of friends who trust each other.

What do I do besides write and fool around? I enjoy software troubleshooting, software design, art, drawing, housework, walks to nowhere and animal care. I am very reserved in my social life, but feel free to send me e-mails, if you like. I think my e-mail is in my blog,

I do like art and I want to blog about what interests me. So enjoy an example of my art. it's a wolvicorn.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Greetings from a local loon

Hello everyone, Rachel here, AKA: Scribbling Scribe.

As an only child for most of my early life, I learned to amuse myself by writing stories about mystery solving cats. I am an avid lover of adventures and I identify myself as an amateur ghost and treasure hunter. I have spent much of my time volunteering in a haunted Victorian mansion, which has provided lots of writing topics. I've moved around a lot, currently I'm a resident of the great state of Pennsylvania.

My life part one: I am currently a student, double majoring in English (Writing Emphasis) and Communications (Print Journalism). I also am an intern for my local newspaper, so writing is pretty much 90% of my day. If you are looking to learn about life, work for a small town paper for awhile. It's probably one of the most wonderful job experiences a person could ask for in the field of writing and I consider myself very lucky! I've met so many interesting people and have gotten to experience the behind the scenes of many events and social functions...not to mention that I have developed a deep love and respect for my town. I hope to work for a publishing company as an editor or agent and I strive to see my name on the bestseller list one day.

My life part two: My novel. I have been writing this odd beast of a book for about 5 years now and I hope to finish it in the next two. It is currently over 500 pages long and consumes much of my thoughts...and free will, haha. Feel free to ask me about it, but be warned you may regret it for I will never shut up. My writing style leans toward the Victorian dime novels with elements of the supernatural, mysterious and weird.


Things/writers/stuff that influences my writing:

  • Georgian Era
  • Victorian Era
  • Scary things
  • Marie Antoinette
  • Anne Rice
  • Neil Gaiman
  • J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Mary Shelley
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Oscar Wilde

I will be blogging about: Journalism experiences, my novel, whatever else comes to mind.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Just another lunatic.

My name is Jessica, but you can call me Shadow.
 
I'm not a student, at least, not at the moment. I barely write. I hardly belong here. I do read though, and I like to think I know what good writing is by now.
 
You might ask how somebody like me, who is obviously not as tuned in with the writing world as my cohorts, ended up on a blog like this. Its because I, like everybody else here, post on the LOLWHAT. We're close, and whether we practice it or not, we all love writing.

I read a variety of things. My end game in life is to end up with a PhD in Political Science, so I tend to read up on politics as often as possible. It can leave my library a little dry. In the middle of my reading fare is travel literature and light reality based fiction. I call them "beach reads". 
 
When I'm not entertaining myself with a good read from the literature or Canadian politics section, I read (and sometimes write) erotica. Its not something I tend to share easily, but it is something I know a lot about. I intend to explore that a little bit through this blog. Appropriate or not, it is who I am.

Introduction- Seth

Hello, audience. My name is Seth, and my personality comes down to three identities, that of a storyteller, a gentleman, and a friend. I don't think I can really cut any of those down to be more specific either, and I apologize for that. I've done story telling in about every medium that exists, including but not limited to poetry, short fiction, long fiction, oral narrating, and even essays. It's hard for me to say which one I identify with most, but on this blog I'll be discussing, mostly written fiction.

A bit about me, though, before I get too far off the rails: I grew up in Washington and Nevada, where I experienced the extremes of both rural and urban living. I grew up in a very religious family, and though I am not a devout or god-fearing individual by any means, the strong moral values of Mormonism and the intense loyalty and devotion of Native American religions echo loudly in my behavior today. When I'm not haunting the internet or my handy-dandy notepad, I'm usually off on a fast-paced and wild adventure, like walking to the library, trying to find a good camping spot, or working gods-forsaken hours at my job as a Telecommunication Assistant.

I am a member of the same Gaia Online group whose namesake is plastered upon this blogsite, and while I wasn't there when the idea of a blog came up, and I was and still am a little hesitant and nervous about this whole blogging experience, I definitely support the idea with all one hundred of my percents. I live in a constant state of awe with regards to the fellow writers on this blog, so it is an honor to be counted among them.

As far as my writing history goes, I've been writing in different mediums since I was about seven. While "Mario and Seth in Disneyland" was definitely not a literary masterpiece, I like to think that years and years of writing failures prepared me to, in my late teens, be prepared to write things of less-crapful quantity. Of course, I've got books of poetry that suggest otherwise, but we'll not get into that right now. I definitely still consider myself a student of writing, and I've got lots of improving to do, especially if I ever want to be published. Most of what I know of writing comes from that long history of failure, and from what I can learn through reading up on those more talented than I, so that will likely be a large portion of what you'll see from me.

And before I get into too much more unnecessary detail, I suppose I'll wrap this introduction up. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to writing for you all again.

Introducing Patrick Thunstrom

I'm a student.

Formally, I'm studying Management Information Systems, and having fun learning programming and business management. In the future I'm hoping to go for an economics degree as I find economics as a subject fascinating.

I'm studying game design in my spare time and applying it through my own independent projects in the roleplaying market. My gaming blog is available at Thunderstorm Game Design.

Less formally, I'm learning the craft of writing damn good fiction. In that effort, I've bought many books and follow many blogs in an effort to improve my skills as a storyteller and writer.

Finally, I'm a father of two great kids.

LOLWHAT blog is actually something I suggested, and am glad to be working with this great group of folks on a focused blog. My subjects will be on the structure of writing and how to use theoretical tools to improve your stories.

Introduction - Laura E. Bradford

Hello. I'm the author of Flyday, a new science fiction novel, and when I was asked to start blogging on a group site I thought: sure, why not. (I also thought of the domain, so they couldn't exactly turn me down.)

So now you're thinking: who is this new writer person? Well, I run an indie music blog over at Paisley Sound, and you can also catch me at A Writer's Notes, which is my personal writing blog. I'm all over the Internet, essentially.

I plan to blog about the following things:
  • research and writing
  • how one goes about epubbing a book
  • why my book is the greatest book ever (it is)
  • betas: care and proper feeding
  • and, how to write fantastic blog posts (like this one)
So, keep in touch. My day to post is Friday.

    Hello there.

    I'm also a student, as well as a "retail associate" at a theme park, AKA I work in one of the gift shops running the cash register. I write, occasionally and sporadically. It's something I'd like to do more often, but the creative energy often leaves me when I have the time to do so, and shows up when I don't have the time to write.

    On the internet, I am most often known as Ikaru. Sometimes the title OVERLORD is given (and this I do insist be put in all caps, simply because that is how the username is written), and sometimes the last name Kakou is added. I respond to all three, but prefer simply Ikaru.

    In some circles, Ikaru is known to have a Mexican split personality named Carlos. Carlos is a bartender. I have no explanation for this.

    As for what I write, most of my previous work was fanfiction, though I will proclaim that it barely counts, as in most cases I didn't use the characters or universes provided by the source material (it's fairly simple to do that with those fandoms, trust me). Currently, I'm writing what I supposed could be called comedic urban fantasy. I didn't set out to make it comedic (in fact it was supposed to be quite dark), but for the moment it seems to be coming out that way.

    I'm a fan of magic in almost any form (NOT the card game). I play Dungeons and Dragons, and my first character was a sorcerer (though currently I play a monk). My stories often involve magic to some degree, and I often have a very strong opinion about how magic works in a specific story.

    My thoughts are often very disorganized, as you can probably tell from this post.

    And now I am done with this post, as it is 11:30 at night here and I have to be at work in less than 11 hours. Huzzah for screwed up sleep schedules!

    - Ikaru

    Let Me Introduce Myself

    I'm a student. My passion in life is writing, but sadly I don't know that much about it all--the mechanics of afterwards, that is. I can spin a mean yarn.

    I am a member of the LOLWHAT. A fixture, really. Eh.

    I write fantasy, mostly, but I've dabbled in some science fiction and a lot of speculative fiction. My first novel and doorstopper was fantasy, urban; my second novel was space opera masquerading as science fiction. My third and current novel is mystery/thriller/urban fantasy. And no, I've never been published.
    Yet.

    Hello World!

    I'm not a software engineer, but I do blog about epublishing and the relationship between writing and the internet over at Author's Refuge. I'm an editor and writer in Victoria, BC. I do freelance editing, and am the Editor in Chief of Island Writer and the Managing Editor of Theory Train.

    Since I don't have the client list to freelance full time and the magazines don't pay, I also work in a bike store. It's a fun gig: I get to work in the other industry I love, meet new people, and use my body (lifting bikes in boxes over your head is a significantly better workout than tapping keys).

    When I'm not busy at work or in meetings, I spend my time in the online community I helped found, LOLWHAT, and write. I write primarily speculative fiction, generally near-future sci-fi and urban fantasy, though I've also written a short non-fiction guide to epublishing. I think a lot of publishing is heading more independent and online, and I think that's a good thing for the industry as a whole. It means more writers can reach more of the people who would want to read them.

    Google Books was just made back-end accessible in Canada, so I'm going to spend my weekend inspecting that and how it can be another tool in my kit for getting books to readers.