Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Insecure Writer and Picking A Genre


Today is May's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because I don't not sure what genre my story belongs in.

You'd think this would be a pretty simple question to answer.  My story is a simple fantasy, not particularly ground-breaking in any way, but fantasy is too vague a term these days.  There are all sorts of sub-genres under the fantasy umbrella--urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and paranormal romance to name a few.  And based on what I've learned about marketing books over the years, picking the correct sub-genre is extremely important, especially if you're selling through Amazon. Pick the wrong sub-genre and you'll miss many of the readers who would like your work as well as outraging those readers who did read your book expecting something else. And outraged readers typically leave bad reviews. 

I've always considered my story to be urban fantasy.  It takes place in the present, in an urban setting. The heroine gets caught up in an alchemical war that's been raging on our world unbeknownst to the general public for centuries. And these alchemists have the power to manipulate chemical reactions. So far, so good.  Sounds like urban fantasy to me.

But there are other ways in which the story doesn't follow urban fantasy tropes.  There is no magic. Period. The powers wielded by the alchemists may seem like magic to the normal person, but they are never presented as magic.  In fact, there are very specific scientific rules concerning how those powers can and cannot be used--kind of like the powers in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series. Will urban fantasy readers be disappointed there aren't any spells?  

Another trope involves the inclusion of various fantasy creatures such as werewolves, vampires, wizards, witches, the Fae, dragons--you get the picture.  I only have one such creature, the tiny subatomic beings that work with the alchemists to give them their powers. That's it. Would not having any other creatures be enough for urban fantasy readers to turn up their noses at the story? 

This isn't an academic question. To be successful in today's market, the book's cover has to convey the sub-genre at a glance.  My inclination was to have a female character on the cover, much like other urban fantasy covers, but instead of having her glowing with magical energy (as most of those UF covers do, see below), I would surround her with chemical and alchemical imagery. 



So will having an urban fantasy type cover cause the wrong readership to consider purchasing my book? That's the question I'm struggling with as I finish my book.

Any comments or suggestions?


ChemistKen



Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Rescuing Mara's Father Blog Tour

Today, I'm pleased to welcome a fellow Michigander to the blog.  Diane Burton is an accomplished writer with many stories under her belt.  Although her usual genres are science fiction, suspense, and mystery--usually with a dash of romance thrown in for good measure--her newest book marks her foray into middle grade.  

Rescuing Mara's Father is about a young girl who will do whatever it takes to rescue her father. The fact that it takes place on another planet is the icing on the cake! Diane's style is relaxed and easy to read, and she does a wonderful job of capturing Mara's feelings. I highly recommend you check out her book. And don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of this post!




RESCUING MARA’S FATHER


A Middle Grade Science Fiction Adventure
By D.M. Burton
Approx. 75,000 words
ISBN:  978-0-9990452-4-4 (ebook)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9990452-5-1 (print)



  
Blurb:

Her father is gone! Taken by the Queen of Compara’s agents. Mara has to rescue him before the Queen tortures and kills him.


Instead of the kind, loving father she’s always known, he’s become demanding, critical, with impossible expectations—not just as Father but also as the only teacher in their frontier outpost. Mara would rather scoop zircan poop than listen to another boring lecture about governments on Central Planets. Give her a starship engine to take apart or, better yet, fly, and she’s happy. Now, he’s gone.


Never mind, they’ve had a rocky road lately.


Never mind, Father promised she could go off planet to Tech Institute next month when she turns fifteen, where she’ll learn to fly starships.


Never mind, she ran away because she’s furious with him because he reneged on that promise. Father is her only parent. She has to save him.


Along with her best friend, eleven-year-old Jako, and his brother 15-year-old Lukus, Mara sets off to find her father. Her mentor, old spaceport mechanic, seems to know why the Queen captured Father. In fact, he seems to know her father well. But, does he tell her everything? Of course not. He dribbles out info like a mush-eating baby. Worse, he indicates he’ll be leaving them soon. And Lukus can’t wait to get off our planet. Mara’s afraid they will all leave, and she’ll be on her own. Despite her fears, Mara has to rescue her father.


Excerpt:


At spaceport, the sound of voices, two male and one female, make me stop. They’re coming from the back side of ‘port and speaking Coalition Standard. Strangers. Nobody in our village uses Standard. After school hours, Father teaches those who want to learn Standard—like Lukus and Wilanda. He makes me stay, too, so whether I want to or not I’ve learned the language of the Central Planets.

The speakers pass within a meter of where I’m making like a statue. They’re so busy talking in low tones about the target and their mission they don’t even look my way. As they head toward the village center, I slip around to the back of the ‘port building. I gasp at what’s parked there. A sleek Gilean Cruiser. What a fine ship. Jako would go ballistic if he knew. I’d seen one before, just once when Magistrate from the Consortium of Mines came after the riot. Basco let me work on it.

Okay, not really. I got to hold his tools as he repaired a small leak in the hydraulics. Father thinks I don’t want to improve my mind. I sure do. I want to learn to all about starships like this. And fly them, too.

I linger for a moment, wanting to reach out and touch the shiny skin of one of the fastest ships in the galaxy. Only the thought that they might have left a guard on board prevents me. Reluctantly, I make for the hills and the safety of the scrub trees. They offer some concealment, especially now that the clouds are breaking up. Looks like no rain tonight. First Moon is setting behind the mountains. Soon, larger Second Moon will rise in the south. When it does, it will flood the farmland and illuminate the foothills.

Heavy footsteps come from the southeast. I crouch under the thickest scrub tree in the copse and hear grumbling. The Dunpus brothers. If they catch me out alone, I’m done for.

“. . . gonna get that Teacher’s kid, teach her a lesson.”

“Yeah, and the little brat, too.”

“It’ll take too long for that little brilium rat to come out of the mine tunnels. The girl is easier. We’ll wait outside her house, and when Teacher leaves . . .” The oldest one’s voice trails off as they stomp away.

I’m clutching the tree so hard I have splinters. Jako and I’d better make sure we see them coming or we’re going to be in deep planetary poop.

After I climb toward a mine that was played out years ago, I crouch behind a rock near the entrance. I don’t want to run into any packs—especially not the two-legged variety, like the Dunpus brothers. Gangs usually roam the village late at night, searching for anything people haven’t locked up or just wreaking havoc. I’m lucky I haven’t run into them. Whoa. Maybe that was why Lukus pulled a knife.

Jako lives in one of the tunnels. He would be good company. With Lukus at the café, Jako will be alone. Finding him is my biggest problem. I could search the tunnels, call his name. But then I might run into a gang roaming the mine. Or, the Dunpus brothers could return.

When I took off from home, I didn’t think about the dangers. I guess I didn’t think, period. Running away is a stupid idea. Coming up here alone is even dumber. It’s one thing to come with Father or to explore with Jako during the day. Everything looks different at night.

I square my shoulders. I can’t depend on anyone except myself now. Father forbid me to go to Pamyria, to the Tech Institute. I’m going anyway. I just have to figure out how.



About the Author:

The first time D.M. Burton saw Star Wars IV: A New Hope, she was hooked on science fiction and space travel. The Star Trek movies made her want to travel to other planets. Alas, she is still Earth-bound. D.M. and her husband live in Michigan, close to their two children and five grandchildren.


Join D.M. Burton's readers’ group on Facebook.


For more info and excerpts, visit D.M.’s website: http://www.dmburton.com


She writes adult fiction as Diane Burton, where she combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides writing science fiction romance, she writes romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries.


For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com


Connect with Diane Burton online.


Twitter:  http://twitter.com/dmburton72
Facebook:  http://facebook.com/dianeburtonauthor
Goodreads: Diane Burton Author
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/dmburton72/


Sign up for Diane’s new release alert: http://eepurl.com/bdHtYf


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Insecure Writer and Dreaming(Worrying) About the Future


Today is April's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because I don't know what my writing future holds.

I suppose every writer worries about their writing future. Heck, I'm pretty sure I've already used this insecurity in a past IWSG post.  But this month, my insecurity has taken on new significance. 

Before I lost my job, contemplating my writing future was mostly an academic exercise.  Although it would be nice to earn some extra money with my writing, I wasn't depending upon it as a source of income. But now that I'm working part-time and tapping into our savings, my outlook has changed.  

I've spent much of this month wondering where my writing career will be in ten years.  Will I learn to write faster and have five (or more) books out by then, or will I be struggling to finish my current WIP? (Don't laugh, it could happen!) Will five books be enough to gain traction in the marketplace? Will enough people enjoy my style of writing that the Amazon algorithms begin to take notice?

I don't expect to make a living based solely on my writing, but my hope is that it will provide an additional revenue stream sometime in the future. I just don't know yet whether that revenue stream will be more useful for paying off the mortgage or paying for a White Castle burger.  

Unfortunately, it might be a long time before I know the answer.



This month’s IWSG question is: If you could use a wish to help you write just ONE scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be? (examples: fight scene / first kiss scene / death scene / chase scene / first chapter / middle chapter / end chapter, etc.)

My first inclination would be to say the first chapter, because that's where an author has the best chance of hooking the reader. But that seems like the easy answer, so I think I'll pick a kissing scene instead, since I would probably have no idea how to write one without a ton of telling. Hmmm... I wonder if you can hire ghost writers who will write single chapters for you.

Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to stop by the other co-hosts this month:J.H. Moncrieff, Natalie Aguirre, and Patsy Collins!  

ChemistKen



Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Advantages of Sidekicks

Sidekick.  Get it?

What is this, you ask? Activity on this blog other than on the first Wednesday of the Month IWSG post!? Armageddon must be right around the corner. Sigh. 

Life has been busy these past couple of weeks, but I seem to be settling down into a somewhat chaotic routine where I alternate between online tutoring sessions for chemistry and working on my story. It’s not full-time writing, but it’s more time than I’ve ever had before. My hope is that with practice, this will translate into finishing my story at a much-accelerated pace. In fact, I’m bullish enough about writing that my critique partners and I have agreed to meet every other week instead of once a month. Ah, nothing like a little pressure to keep things interesting. 

Earlier this week, as I was reading over one of my earlier chapters, I suddenly realized that I could make the scene much snappier by replacing some of the main character’s internal thoughts with a few snippets of dialogue from the character’s sidekick. Instead of forcing the character to “think” about things so that the reader understands what’s going on, a few well-placed quips by the sidekick was more than enough to explain the situation. 

Although I have yet to finish a story (other than my fanfic), I’ve noticed a common theme among the partially completed stories littering my hard drive. I always seem to have a sidekick to ride along with my main character. It wasn’t a deliberate choice, just something that always happened, but over the years I’ve learned that having someone for my MCs to talk to makes my scenes much more active. When my characters are allowed to be alone with their thoughts for too long, my story stagnates and my writing becomes stilted. My prose degenerates into either sloppy telling or a convoluted mess of showing. 

Of course, I have to be careful not to rely too much on these sidekick conversations. My crit partners have dinged me in the past for overly long and bloated stretches of nothing but talk, with too much on-the-nose back and forth dialogue between the participants. Perhaps this tendency comes from having had to write detailed research reports at my job over the years, reports where I’m expected to explain everything. Regardless of the reason, there’s no denying my conversational infodumps are a problem. 

Still, there’s nothing like having a sidekick for the MC to bounce ideas off of. He’s the perfect vehicle for dropping subtle hints you don’t want the reader to notice until later in the story. The comedic value he can add to break up a tense situation can be invaluable. And the interactions between the MC and the sidekick is great for revealing character—for both of them. 

So, the next time you begin a story, think about adding a sidekick. Your readers (and maybe your editor) will love you for it.

ChemistKen


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Insecure Writer And Finding Time To Write When You're A Full Time Writer


Today is March's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because I've been thrust into the position of becoming a full-time writer much sooner than I expected.

Today's post is about four hours late, and that ties in with today's topic. Last month I revealed I had lost my job due to the company's downsizing and that I was about to become a full-time writer--whether I wanted to or not.  From a financial point of view, I think we're going to be fine. We have other sources of income, and I've started offering my services as a chemistry tutor. And to my surprise, it turns out the need for chemistry tutors, both online and in person, is higher than I expected.  We'll have to tighten ours belts a bit, but we'll be okay. 

Unfortunately, this tutoring business is more hectic than I realized. Adding new students, keeping track of my ever-changing schedule, learning the ins and outs of the various online tutoring interfaces, plus helping out more around the house is taking a lot more time than I expected. I postponed my critique group meeting twice because I mistakenly scheduled a tutoring session at the same time.  

I've had a couple of good writing days, but my writing has mostly stalled.  I know that when I adjust to this new life style, I'll once again have time to write, but in the meantime, it's kind of frustrating. Even now I'm hurrying to finish this post because I have a tutoring session coming up in 30 minutes. Sigh, seems like I had more time to write back when I had a full-time job.


This month’s IWSG question is: Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

Definitely the hero, because he/she is learning to become a better person as the story goes along, and I enjoy watching that progression.  I've yet to write from the villain's perspective, so maybe I just don't know what I'm missing.

Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to stop by each of this month's co-hosts too:Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClureErika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard! 

ChemistKen



Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Insecure Writer and Stepping Through My Very Own First Plot Point


Today is February's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?


Because I've been thrust into the position of becoming a full-time writer much sooner than I expected.


A few months ago, I mentioned that my company was downsizing. Yesterday, I was one of several thousand employees who were released in the process. 

Considering the job market in my area, I have serious doubts that I'll find anything that matches my skill set in the near future. I've applied for some local teaching and tutoring positions, but I have no idea how viable those options will be in the long run. Fortunately, we've built up enough savings over the years that we should be okay financially, though we'll definitely have to curtail our spending. 

Despite the financial burden this situation places on my family, however, I have to admit there's a part of me that is intrigued, a part of me that has always wanted to know if I could hack it as a full-time writer. Based on my part-time writing productivity so far, that goal seems rather daunting, but I'm ready to give it a go. In writing terms, I've just stepped through the one-way door that is the first plot point of my story, and I'm ready to move forward. 

I only wish I could skip forward in the book and see how it turns out in the end. 

Wish me luck! 

This month’s IWSG question is: Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you have?

To be honest, I spend almost all of my creative energy these days working on writing, so the answer is none. Sad, I know. Now that I have more time, I suspect I'll pick up a few new creative outlets, but what they'll be I have no idea yet.


Thanks for listening!


ChemistKen


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Insecure Writer and 2019


Today is January's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because I don't know if I'll be able to finally finish my debut novel this year or not.

One year ago, I set myself the goal of finishing my Hogwarts fan fiction and uploading the chapters to Wattpad by the end of the year. I accomplished this (barely), and it was such a huge relief. Ten years is long enough to work on any story.  This year, I’m setting a goal of finishing my urban fantasy by the end of the year. Since it’s over halfway finished, you might think this would be a piece of cake, but alas, I’m a slow writer, so I know it’s going to be close. Time has a way of zipping by at my house, with days turning into weeks, which turn into months. But I hit my goal last year, so I have some hope. Wish me luck.


This month’s IWSG question is: What are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing?

To be honest, the only people I tell I’m a writer are other writers. My family knows, but I feel no compulsion to mention it to anyone else. At least, not until I finish a book. In the meantime, I guess my least favorite question would be: When will your book be published? It's a question I ask myself all the time.

Happy New Year everyone!



ChemistKen