Wednesday, February 28, 2018

2nd Person Point of View

You open a novel, expecting it to be told from a third person ("She said something") or perhaps a first person ("I said something") point of view. Instead, the narrator addresses, you, the reader, directly. But is that true? Are you sure the narrator isn't talking to one of the other characters, perhaps even herself, and you're eavesdropping on the conversation? You're never really sure how to interpret this book, even as you force yourself to finish it.

Does this sound like a Choose Your Own Adventure book from the 80s and 90s? Those books were also written in 2nd person point of view, where the narrator talks directly to the reader. I recently read a more contemporary book where part of the story was told in 2nd person, and the point of view didn't work for me. I never felt that I was really the one being addressed, and at times the constant "you" was distracting. Maybe that's because second person is an uncommon point of view, at least in the books I read. There might be other stories where it's more effective.

Did you read the Choose Your Own Adventure books when you were growing up? If not, are there other stories you've read that you thought worked well in second person? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Short Story Markets

One of my goals for 2018 was to submit at least three short stories to anthologies, magazines, or e-zines. I'm happy to report I've already reached this goal, though I don't want to say too much about the stories or submissions out of the (admittedly irrational) fear that I'll jinx them. Of course, any stories that do get rejected can be sent to other markets or indie-published. (I will say that two of the stories are set in my Season Avatars and Catalyst Chronicles worlds, so it might make sense to indie-publish them if they get rejected.) In the meantime, I thought I'd discuss briefly how I've been learning about and selecting markets.

I'm a member of the Facebook group Open Call: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Pulp Markets. As the name suggests, it's a place for publishers, editors, and writers to share open calls for the specified markets. Many of the listings that I see are for themed markets that pay subpro rates. If the theme inspires me or aligns with a story world I've already developed, then I'll look at the pay and rights requested. If they seem reasonable, and if there's still enough time before the deadline, then I'll write the story and send it out.

I've been writing and submitting short stories for several reasons, but the two most important ones are to develop my writing craft and to potentially find new readers for my novels. (Working on short stories also allows me to work on other projects besides Dryads to Discover, which has been slow going. I'm not sure if working on other projects is helpful or harmful with this novel.) I would say more, but as I took a break from writing this blog to take care of a few things in the kitchen, I got another idea for a short story. This one's geared toward a professional market that closes March 15th. There are only a couple of openings, so this is very much a long shot. When you're not typing, please keep your fingers crossed for me!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

False Birthdays in Real Life and Fiction

George Harrison's birthday is coming up in a few days--but exactly when is it? For most of George's life, he thought he was born on February 25th, but family documents later shown he was born on February 24th--at ten minutes to midnight. However, if you look at official online biographies for George, they all list February 25th. I guess the best thing for a devout Beatles fan to do is hold a two-day celebration for George.

While there are real-life instances where someone claims to have been born in a different year, I'm hard-pressed to think of an example where someone changes the date. The best example from fiction I can think of is from my own work. The mother of one of the Season Avatars deliberately registered her daughter with a false birthday to  hide her magic potential from her father. (More details are available in Scattered Seasons.) I suppose other fictional reasons for hiding one's true birthday would be to change when one is or isn't ready for school or the draft. It could also be part of a larger plan to disguise one's identity.

Have you ever come across someone who found out later in life that they'd been celebrating the wrong birthday? If you had the chance, would you want to move your birthday, and if so, why? Feel free to share in the comments.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Beyond Barnes and Noble

Last week, Barnes and Noble conducted its own version of a Saint Valentine's Day massacre by laying off many of its most experienced employees--including receiving managers, the people who keep the shelves stocked. While this move is meant to save them money, my gut feeling is that it's a desperation move that isn't going to save them. Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader gives the chain nineteen months before they go under. I'm not that optimistic; I think they'll declare bankruptcy in less than a year.

Before I got married, I used to hang out at my local Barnes and Noble when I wanted to get out of my apartment for a while. It was nice to browse, buy some books, and get a drink and a treat at the cafe while I wrote. These days, I seldom make it to the bookstore, and I don't spend as much there as I used to. Many of the books I buy are ebooks, and when I do order a paper book, I tend to get it from Amazon or at a convention. So while I'll be sad to see Barnes and Noble go, losing it won't have a big effect on my daily life. It'll be much more difficult for all the people employed by Barnes and Noble, and for authors who see a drop in sales through no fault of their own.

That said, when Barnes and Noble goes, there may be more opportunities for local bookstores, especially if they can host readings and other activities. Personally, I think Amazon will continue to be my default book store due to convenience and selection.

What kind of bookstores do you have in your area? Would you be affected if Barnes and Noble goes bankrupt? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Favorite Literary Couples

Happy Valentine's Day! I'm doing better, though it'll probably be a couple more days before I'm feeling 100%.

In honor of the day, I thought I'd mention some of my favorite literary couples. In general, I like reading about relationships where there's more focus on witty banter than body parts and the love develops over time. For banter, I like Benedick and Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing (particularly since I've seen the movie version a few times) and Alexia Tarabotti and Lord Maccon in Soulless. (In my opinion, their banter is best in this book.) I also liked The Time Traveler's Wife, since we see Henry and Clare's relationship develop over time (though it does feel a little odd that she developed a crush on him as a child).

What are your favorite literary couples? And would anyone be interested if I wrote a four-part series about the couples in the Season Avatars series? Let me know in the comments.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Cupid and Psyche and Romeo and Juliet....

I was originally planning to post this on Wednesday for Valentine's Day, but I got the flu over the weekend. Although I'm doing better now, I wasn't up for blogging much on Sunday, so I decided to switch the schedule around a little. Hopefully I'll be ready to post something longer on Wednesday.

Anyway, if you're looking for something to read for Valentine's Day, why not consider my short story "Letters to Psyche"? Here's the blurb:

When the Greek god Cupid visits Verona, he foresees no problems uniting the Montague and Capulet families. But when Elisabeth Capulet and Giovanni Montague's love ends in tragedy, Elisabeth places a powerful curse not on just the families, but Cupid himself. Unable to visit his wife Psyche, he sends her letters detailing his efforts to undo the curse. Can the two of them save another generation of lovers, or will Cupid and Psyche be forever parted?

Available today (and always) for $0.99.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

IWSG--Genre Love

February's post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group is hosted by Stephen Tremp, Pat Garcia, Angela Wooldridge, Victoria Marie Lees, and Madeline Mora-Summonte. To learn more about the IWSG, check out their website, Facebook group, and Twitter feed.

For this month, we've been posed the following question: What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

 I write both science fiction and fantasy, though the majority of my work is fantasy. One of the main things that drew me to both types of speculative fiction is the chance to escape the everyday. Part of my author tagline is "A sense of wonder," and that's what I seek in both my writing and reading. Wonder is an underappreciated emotion, something many of us lose forever once we're past childhood. Without wonder, we take the world for granted. These days, I tend to experience wonder most in science or in museum exhibits; I've read so much it's a rare book or author that can surprise me. I still strive for wonder as a way to unleash curiosity and creativity.

Speculative fiction, particularly fantasy, is a flexible genre. It can be set in any world imaginable, tell any type of story, and be blended with other genres. You can ask any type of "What if?" question and create your own answer. Themes can range from so-familiar-they're-comfort-reading to revolutionary ideas that inspire scientists.

Finally, fantasy and magic can feel very empowering. Who wouldn't want the ability to cast spells like Harry Potter or Hermione, wield lightning like my Season Avatar Kay, or bond with a magical telepathic horse as in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books? Many fantasies employ a "Chosen One" motif, but there are others where an ordinary person is able to have an extraordinary adventure.

What's your favorite genre? Feel free to share in the comments.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Maintaining Author Websites

Every time I publish a new work, I try to update my website. I maintain it myself. (I'm switching back and forth between this blog and my website as I write this post.) I'll feature my latest work with the cover, blurb, and buy link on the landing page and update any notes I've shared about work in progress. I'll also add the book or story to the appropriate page. If any of my links are broken, I fix them. Sometimes I also change the background or theme to freshen my website's appearance.

Authors, how often do you update your website, and what do you do to it? Readers, what are you looking for when you visit an author's website? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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