Meliora - Transmogrified

Aug. 17th, 2017 04:15 pm
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Title: Meliora
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Okay, I yield

Aug. 15th, 2017 09:48 am
dragovianknight: closeup of a green dragon (Default)
[personal profile] dragovianknight
I have fallen under the Indie Slush Pile, and I can't get up.

Rec me!

What I am looking for:

1) Not tradpub (Edit: This one and #4 are the only non-negotiable ones, see my reasons in comments; #2 can extend to SF or any similar genre, but I don't read many mysteries or much contemporary)
2) Fantasy - sword and sorcery or some other action sub-genre preferred over politics
3) Prefer a female main character
4) Competent writing, for the love of all the gods

I am honestly starting to think it's not possible to have a well-developed independently published story. Please show me I'm wrong.

And then of course

Aug. 14th, 2017 06:33 pm
dragovianknight: closeup of a green dragon (Default)
[personal profile] dragovianknight
There are the books where chapter 1 feels like the DM is setting up the campaign world for you. *sigh*

Is the current trend in YA really the "I am incompetent at everything and also clueless about my surroundings" character? Or is this just people trying to ape Harry Potter without going the necessary step of putting their MC in a world they genuinely have no way of knowing anything about?
dragovianknight: closeup of a green dragon (Default)
[personal profile] dragovianknight
And therefore, I am always annoyed when I pick up an indie book that looks good, has an interesting premise, and then turns out to be shallow, half-developed, and powered entirely by the idiot ball.

This applies to YA just as much as books allegedly aimed at adults. Thus was I really fucking disappointed in A Quest of Heroes (Amazon link), which I am pretty sure I picked up because it was a) free and b) the title seems like a perfectly good phrase for a group of adventurers, amirite? A quest of heroes, a murder of crows, a pack of wolves...

Sadly, the book was not nearly so clever as that, and the worldbuilding was tissue thin. And I don't want to say the main character is dumb as a box of hammers, but his awareness of the world around him extends for about six inches. This might be accurate for a fourteen year old, but it makes for a damn boring MC.

Most importantly, the ways the book is bad are very much self-absorbed Mary Sue-fic bad. Not because the MC is practically perfect in every way, but because the world shapes itself around him. You can tell the villains because they Instahate Our Hero Thor (don't name your hero Thor, people, unless your hero is Thor). The designated Good People equally Instalove him. He is deeply confused why he is hated! And why he is liked! In fact, Thor spends a great deal of the book clueless, conveniently has magic powers as the plot demands (but the Mysterious Magic Man won't explain jack shit, he just shows up to make Mysterious Pronouncements), receives the gift of a magic falcon maybe-familiar from the King roughly five minutes after showing up at the capitol, finds a probably-magic white leopard on a hunt, etc etc.
In which I complain at length. )
In short, Thor doesn't earn things so much as he bumbles his way into being in the right place at the right time, meeting the right people, and then managing to blow it all through sheer lack of sense. The people who oppose him oppose him for no good reason. The Evil Gay Trope offends me less than the sheer lack of sense or intelligence demonstrated by LITERALLY EVERYONE. Declaring your book YA - and I question that, given the whole "getting Thor drunk and buying him a whore" part - doesn't absolve you from basic logic and sensible character development.

The book ended on a cliffhanger, but frankly, I choose to believe the end of book 1 is the end of Thor's story. I'm certainly not going to pay money for the rest.

SFWA Market Report For August

Aug. 11th, 2017 12:06 am
[syndicated profile] sfwa_feed

Posted by David Steffen

Welcome to the August edition of the SFWA Pro-rate Market Report. Please note: Inclusion of any market in the report below does not indicate an official endorsement by SFWA.

NEW MARKETS

Mother of Invention

OPENING MARKETS

Arsenika
Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores
Deep Magic
Pseudopod
Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide Series

TEMPORARILY CLOSING MARKETS

Aliterate
Diabolical Plots
Escape Pod
Story Seed Vault
T. Gene Davis’s Speculative Blog
Women Up To No Good Anthology Series

PERMANENTLY CLOSING MARKETS

Agents & Spies
Intelligence in Fiction
Pirates & Ghosts
Strange Beasties

UPCOMING MARKET CHANGES

Cast of Wonders‘s “Artemis Rising” Limited Demographic Window: Women/Nonbinary authors begins soon.
Escape Pod‘s “Artemis Rising” Limited Demographic Window: Women/Nonbinary authors begins soon.
Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF) opens soon.
Mother of Invention permanently closes soon.
PodCastle‘s “Artemis Rising” Limited Demographic Window: Women/Nonbinary authors only begins soon.
Pseudopod‘s “Artemis Rising” Limited Demographic Window: Women/Nonbinary authors begins soon.

 

The SFWA Market Report is compiled by David Steffen, editor of Diabolical Plots, and co-founder and administrator of the Submission Grinder, and publisher of the Long List Anthology.

July Books

Aug. 7th, 2017 04:14 pm
kay_brooke: A stack of old books (books)
[personal profile] kay_brooke
Eight books read in July. As usual, stuff under the cuts may contain spoilers.

1. City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett - 4/5 stars. The last book in the Divine Cities trilogy. I wasn't too onboard with Sigrud being the POV character in this one, but I ended up liking it a lot. Maybe the middle dragged a bit, but the ending was satisfying.

2. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill - 2/5 stars. One that's been on my TBR list for a long time, finally crossed off. And really, that was about all that it was good for. I plan to give Joe Hill another try; this was his very first book, after all. My Goodreads review under the cut:
Read more... )

3. The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost - 5/5 stars. I mean, if you're into supplemental material to TV shows, this is pretty good. My only complaint was that some of the "handwritten" notes were difficult to read in the e-book version I had.

4. Roadwork by Stephen King - 2/5 stars. Meh, another drab Richard Bachman book. Sad, entitled white man has a midlife crisis, yawn. Two stars because I liked some of the side characters, like the crime boss.

5. The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy - 3/5 stars. Do you like pointless meandering? Then this is the book for you! Goodreads review under the cut )

6. The Eyeless by Lance Parkin - 4/5 stars. A Tenth Doctor book where he's without a companion, which means he's a bit darker than in earlier books. The plot was surprisingly complex, but the ending wasn't very satisfying.

7. The Kind Folk by Ramsey Campbell - 2/5 stars. Goodreads review )

8. Breath of Earth by Beth Cato - 4/5 stars. This is apparently the first book in a series, though my notes say it's a standalone. The second book hasn't come out yet, but I plan to check it out when it does. Goodreads review )

Currently: slogging my way through a Stephen King book that is just not keeping my interest.

Guest Post: Instagram For Authors

Aug. 7th, 2017 03:29 pm
[syndicated profile] sfwa_feed

Posted by Editor

by Mary Rosenblum

How can I advertise my book with photos?

I hear that all the time when I suggest Instagram to author clients, followed by the sound of the exit door slamming on the author’s heels…

But Instagram is a huge and well established social media platform, and if you’re writing for teens through mid-twenties readers, this is the social media you want to master.  Even Forbes Magazine has taken note of Instagram’s role with an article Can Instagram Keep People Reading Books?

They can and do.

And, yes, it is all about visual content.  Photos.

Now, before you think that “visual content” for a writer consists of nothing more than a picture of a laptop with a work-in-progress on the screen or a picture of your book — which really do work, more on that in a moment — it means a lot more.  Yes, it can be a shot of you holding the book at a signing, but your audience wants communication through pictures, not just a poster.

Let whimsy guide you.  Don’t be nervous about ‘am I doing this right’ and have fun with your fans. They’ll appreciate it!   What about a snapshot of a little old  lady selling hand made brooms at the farmer’s market who really reminds you of one of your characters? Tell viewers why you posted it — with a link to your website or ‘buy page’ of course!   What about pictures of the old abandoned house that is so like the house in your story?  A picture of a full and spooky moon that sets the tone for your dark urban fantasy?   It’s all about the brief line of communication that goes with the picture.  The mug your sister sent you to celebrate finishing your first draft beside your open laptop really works.   Behind-the-scenes research or travel photos or even a quick link back to your blog are all good.

Go beyond a writer’s desk or book signings.

Author Appearances

The staged author at signing table shot is borrring…  Take selfies with other writers, at the sushi tasting making faces, with one of the guests, just do something interesting.  If others are in a shot with you, find out if they’re on Instagram and tag them accordingly. Post pics of the location, fun things you do, and, of course, your book anywhere you can sneak it into the scene! Stage it in some fun places.  How about on the subway turnstile, tucked into the fruit basket on the banquet table, or perched on the railing above the tiger habitat at the zoo?

The Cover Reveal, Book Launch, or Event

Ready to reveal your book’s cover?  Ready to launch?  You can create a banner for the launch and send out the picture of your cover.  The post can point back to your blog, a link to pre-order your book, a free download link, or to another place on the Internet. You can also create original artwork publicizing special events—a crowdfunding page, a charity anthology, or an upcoming appearance. DIY it if you’re good with Photoshop or one of the other graphics programs, or get your cover artist to make you an image that reflects your brand.

Your Writing Life

Your desk, your open laptop, computer screen, or pad and pen, piles of printer paper with your cat asleep on top, your well used coffee mug next to the work in progress on the screen…images like these really do connect with readers, especially with a brief personal note about the image.   What about images from the walk you take on your breaks?  Or the dog chasing the ball in the back yard when she finally pries you away from the computer?  How about a closeup of the chapter title on the screen, or a big The End at the bottom of the page and a glass of champagne sitting next to the laptop?  Include glimpses into all parts of your writing life.  Readers love it.

Tie In Themes

Is your romance heroine a pet sitter with a love for dogs?  Cute dog moments are everywhere, just waiting for that snap and post.  Dogs,  cats, baking, cooking, hiking, camping, car races, canoe races — if it has a place in your book or your character’s and readers’ interests, it has a place on Instagram.

Book Reviews

Take a snap of that book you just finished, either as a print book or an ebook cover on your ereader, tablet, or phone screen. Why not pose the book or reader in your favorite chair, next to your empty dinner plate, wherever you read.  Take a selfie of you reading wherever —  in the airplane gate area, on the bus, under a tree in the park.  Post the blurb for the book on your website and send the Instagram viewer to it with a link.  Remember — sending viewers back to your home page is your goal.

Contest Contentment

Competitions are a great way to increase your number of followers on Instagram, but don’t go this route until you have at least a small following. It’s hard to make a splash if only a few people are following you.

Instagram is nice enough to spell out rules for promotional guidelines and you must follow the rules.  You cannot ask your readers to inaccurately tag content or people in their entries. All promotions must have a note from Instagram that releases the company of responsibility, and all entrants must point out that Instagram is not endorsing, sponsoring, or administering the contest. Instagram will not help out with your promotion nor give you any advice pertaining to it. Finally, you must agree that you are running the contest at your own risk. Keep those guidelines in mind while you design your giveaway.

A popular contest is readers posting a selfie with your book. Posing with the book in a costume related to the book, or at a location related to the book are also good choices.

In order to fit in all the rules, prizes, and directions for entrants into a post, you should create a post or page on your blog or website. You then put this URL in your Instagram post. The hashtag that you are using to keep track of entrants should be included as well.

Before launching the competition, make your own competition graphic to post on Instagram, and make sure it contains the hashtag you have come up with.

Don’t forget to spread the word about your competition through your other social networks.  Here’s a great Instagram Contest How-To from Hubspot. 

Hashtag It Up!

If you’re a newbie to Instagram, you can import your Facebook friends to follow, but you’re there to reach out to new potential fans.  How?  Start browsing hashtags.  #amwriting is a common author hashtag with genre variations:  #amwritingfantasy, #amwritingfiction, #amwritingromance.  You want readers, remember, so try reader hashtags: #bookstagram, #amreadingnow, #amreadingfantasy, etc.   You want to use hashtags to get your picture in front of people who might be interested if they click on it. But you also want to create hashtags for your own threads – #marysuewriter or #wolfworldseries.

You want follows.  The more intriguing your image is, the more likely you are to get a click.  At that point, the viewer sees your text.  Keep it very short and engaging.  Think of Instagram posts as a series of hooks designed to get the viewer to your website and/or ‘buy links’.  No wordy explanations,  curiosity is your friend.  Browse around and learn what works.  Which images stand out to you and why?  Click on some and read the text.  How often were you hooked?  What bored you?  Learn from it!

Hey, how about posting a short short story in a series of images with a few words of text?  I bet that will get you some attention, especially if you share it on other social media.

I dare you! If you do it, send me the hashtag.  I’ll follow you for sure and advertise it through my Twitter and Facebook platforms!

If your readers are Instagram users, you need to be there, too.  Don’t be intimidated by it, it’s there to have fun on.  Spend some time looking around to get a feel for it, then whip out the phone, camera, or your graphics program and have fun with it.  See what gets you followers and what doesn’t.

Hey, it’s a nice break from staring at words on a page, eh?

Go for it!

•••

Mary Rosenblum has won the Compton Cook award for Best First Novel, the Sideways Award, and has been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and just about every other SF award.  She has returned twice to teach at Clarion West and currently writes and works with new authors, editing and offering publishing and promotional support at New Writers Interface, where this post first appeared.

The Dark Tower (movie)

Aug. 6th, 2017 08:33 pm
kay_brooke: Stick drawing of a linked adenine and thymine molecule with text "DNA: my OTP" (Default)
[personal profile] kay_brooke
I have actually seen the movie twice now, because my brother wanted to go with me on opening night but he had to work too late, so I went with him on Saturday.

So obviously I didn't hate it.

First, a note about me and adaptations: I really, really don't get precious about them. I literally do not understand how a bad adaptation can utterly ruin the source material for some people. I tend to approach adaptations the same way I do fanfic: this stuff is firmly Not Canon and I can enjoy it without it intruding on canon or trying to relate it to canon at all. I guess I'm just good at compartmentalizing.

So what about the Dark Tower movie? My quick take: on its own terms as a movie, it's good. As an adaptation it kind of sucks balls. And it makes me sad that it's only ever going to be viewed as a sucky adaptation instead of a fun fantasy action/adventure flick with quality acting, effects, and production.

More under here, probably spoilers )

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