Friday, May 28, 2010

Self-Publishing ... ?

I have heard off and on from some individuals that, because it is so easy to self-publish, and because anybody can promote their work with Facebook and Twitter, the era of the large Publishing House is nearing it's end. Part of this post is due to an e-mail that was sent to me, a link to an article by Garrison Keillor. I grew up with A Prairie Home Companion. I folded clothes with my mother and laughed at Guy Noir. But just because young people (myself included) blog, write a ton, and invent knew textual slang to reduce the formality and impact of the written word when conversing online or through texting, does not mean we can all do this in a very business-minded way.

The difference between writing and publishing is in part mindset, and in part knowledge application. While writers interested in having their work published need to apprach their writing as a business, this means to apply a certain objectivity and practicality to the process of receiving critiques, sending out queries, manuscripts and the like. It means treating the others in the industry with respect. But it is my opinion that the writers advocating the future of publishing wherein only self-publishing exists, do not understand all that goes into a successful release.

Why do I have this perspective? My writers' group self-published last year and we intend to do it this year. I find that I have to explain many things multiple times to my friends and colleagues, because of the difference in mindset. When we gear up to self-publish, my brain switches from "writing mode" to "business mode." I start planning: How are we going to get the funds? How regularly do we need to hold fundraisers? Who can volunteer what time to what effort? How do I build awareness through social media and print media? Who will be the best editors? Who will judge what art goes on the cover? Who will do the cover design? Rejection letter, if there are stories that don't fit with our theme: "Folklore?" Or don't tackle the theme in a professional way? Copy editor? Editor? Who will decide what method of self-publishing will be most suited to this year's efforts and schedule? Who will arrange for the publication? Should we attempt e-books? What about deciding what budget we're working with? Press releases? What are the best regional blogs to contact? Will we have money for ads? Can someone design banners and badges to host on websites and blogs?

I did a lot of this by myself last year, with a bit of help. But to give the anthology a fair shake this time around, and generate the local buzz we're seeking to (in order to inspire a more pronounced literary community in our city) we need to work as a team. But the writers around me, for all their ;love of community, tend to be intensely independent workers. They don't work well with others when it comes to a business enterprise. They want a clear set of duties that they can take off into their own little corner and be certain they can get everything done. And they do, oftentimes, get things done. But that process can inspire stress that detracts from writing.

So when it comes to publishing, each book deserves a team's effort. But that team need not always be writers. Some of us can switch between the two, but I don't think it'd be fair to ask all writers to do so. More than that, I am strong believer in the fact that writers should not have to be independantly wealthy vto succeed, but a self-published author (if they are not surrounded by a team of volunteers)must hire their team. That's a lot of commissions to pay. That's a lot of ads to send around. Our marketing efforts, while in-house, are not going to be comparable to what a large publisher can muster. But part of the purpose is to learn what it takes to publish a book.

That said, I do think the era of Large Houses may well come to an end soon. But Publishers won't go away. I think the interdependence of real life/internet will lend itself better to small publishers. Small publishers don't have as much overhead, and may well be able to sell e-books more cheaply than do the big guys. But in order to bring in enough of a stream on cash to justify this, the small presses will have to change business models, too. The internet does open a new world of writing and I think readers and writers are still figuring out the best way this media can be used to compliment and promote fiction.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Net Neutrality and the Writer

First: The musician for whom i wrote the treatment loved it :D My brother said he wasn't going to change much, and that I had a very solid story board going on. So, I am happy. Success! $200...well, it's something.

That said, some legal issue was brought to my attention and I think it's relevant because books are media/entertainment. With the increased popularity of e-books, video streaming, and all this talk about "enhanced e-books," what is being taken for granted? Computer bandwidth is, thank you. The ability for the consumer to access what is available. There is a threat to this system, however. The telecoms, lead by AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon are seeking to create an internet superhighway. they want us to pay for "premium internet" like we would "premium cable." This would limit (or prohibit) video streaming (Netflix, Hulu), voice-over IP (Skype, Vonnage and the like) and force consumers to use the applications sponsored or developed by your Internet Service Provider.

As E-books are downloadable content, and enhanced-e-books *may* contain audio and animation, I would imagine reducing connectivity to dial-up conditions could severely hinder consumer experience.

That said social-media, blogs, and other forms of communication are becoming integral to promotional efforts. Authors are doing Virtual Book tours, selling short-stories from their sites. Visual appeal is becoming synonymous with success, or at least essential in achieving it. So if our capacity to access or communicate online is limited, it can affect our careers negatively. Do some people promote themselves and their books without internet? Sure. But for those of us who are "wired in" and have been growing more wired as the technology progresses, it can prohibit us in reaching our audiences the best way we know how.

Just saying. I'm concerned. If you're interested and living in the US, here's a place to voice your opinion:

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Little Project

I'm excited to stretch my skills a bit with a new (if small) project. My younger brother, Brandon Moore, is trying to get into the music industry. He's not as interested in being a musician as he is in recording and making music videos. He is starting to get a few commissions and so slowly enter the field. That said, when this new R&B song was handed to him to create a video for he came to me to compose the "Treatment." (I hope I'm getting the jargon right :P )

I'm compiling the "story" that he will express visually. It feels more like creating a visual poem than a true story, because there isn't a real story arc. Instead, it's compiling a string of scenes that go together, convey a message that compliments the mood of the song. It's a little funny for me to think this way. I always feel that my descriptions are lacking in my stories. My first drafts are full of dialog and people doing things (plot, I love plot) but the description isn't penciled in until the revisions. Or at least, I feel it isn't fleshed out fully until that point.

So here's hoping that thinking in images will help fiction writing :D

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tagline/Logline Blogfest

Hello, again!

I'm posting a little late because I had a full day. My writers' group held a rummage sale this morning, which went well. We are raising money to self-publish our second anthology of short stories. Our city kind of thinks itself a small town and so we're trying to generate activities, events, and such to create the more literary community we're all craving.

That said...thanks Bryan! My tagline/loglines for Silver Mask are below. Silver Mask is my current Manuscript (though in the midst of a revision). Let me know which works best! Thanks!

1)Kyr's family and title collide after his sister's murder, and suddenly he must champion a rebellion against the fragile Empire or let his niece die.

2)After Kyr's sister is murdered he must reconcile family and duty to protect his young niece, but this requires him to lead a rebellion against the fragile Empire.

3)When his sister is murdered, Kyr places the protection of his young niece's above all else, despite her life hinging on his ability to lead a rebellion against an already fragile empire.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

For "Let's Talk"

Here's my dialog heavy scene for the "Let's Talk" Blogfest. It's something that may or may not actually make it into a WIP... but I always wanted to see the interaction of these two characters. They met four years ago in another land, when Endoric went to assist the Lord Kallikenne against an invasion from an army from across the ocean. The enemy comes from Loysa's homeland and for her the battle is a continuation of a political disagreement started between her Uncle and Emperor a decade prior. Now, the enemy is a guerrilla organization living in the same land Endoric and Loysa (with friends) mostly saved. Mostly, because the enemy obviously isn't gone yet and now Endoric's home is threatened.

Loysa set her pack just inside the tent, then secured the hide flap. What now? She thought, surveying the camp. She had received a look from the sentry when she requested to join, but he hadn't denied the request.
He said, “Take it up with our leader.”
She wasn't anxious to see Endoric again. It had been a long time, and it had taken her even longer to figure out he wasn't dead. Not that it had been a bad thing for the survivors to adopt nicknames. Loysa knew from her own experience just how effective images were. Titles and names could create symbols. She hadn't seen through his, not until Tati and Ahgi left to settle in the town. Then she had had a reason to look again.
“What are you doing here?” Endoric demanded.
Loysa forced a smile as she turned around to face him. “Heard what you were up against, and thought you could use some help.”
Endoric stepped around her, opened the tent and grabbed her pack. “Not needed,” he said in a gruff tone.
He tossed the pack at her. She caught it against her chest. “Glad to see you too.”
“Loysa. I have a little sister to raise. I--”
“Here is no place for a child.” Loysa slung her pack over her shoulder. She didn't plan to actually leave, but it didn't hurt him to think she would do as asked. For now. “And I should know.”
“That is no excuse.”
“Excuse for what?” she asked.
“You—are not...who you were then.” Endoric stepped around her, with all the intent of leaving her right there. Outside the tent.
His men had started to take notice. The men sharpening swords moved their hands just a little slower. Men whittling arrow shafts from branches set their knives aside.
“So, it's going to be like that then?” Loysa didn't care who heard. She raised her voice. Even the whetting stones were set aside. None of the men looked up.
Endoric didn't take another step. His back was rigid. He didn't turn around. “Four years, Loysa. A lot has happened.”
“Tell me about it. I was in the middle, right from the start.”
“Not since Dermiy fell,” he said quietly. Still, his deep voice managed to cross the distance between them, and carried a biting edge, too.
“Don't be so sure, Endoric.”
“Right. You helped the Mieseon army.” He stalked toward her. His brow creased, just a bit. Enough for her to know he was angry. “The same ones who wouldn't help when the enemy crossed the border.”
“I wasn't headed there, not originally.” She dropped her pack at her feet. It landed with a dull thud, followed by a cloud of dust. “I was headed for Dermiy. But the town wasn't there by the time I got to the border.”
His shoulders relaxed. But his brow was still creased. He stood close now. She lifted her chin and refused to shy from his anger. He had every reason to be, as she saw it. She just had to wait for it to spend itself out.
“And you wound up--”
“With the Miesons, yes. But we gave the mutual enemy a good go.”
“And now you're here.”
“You're not dead. You left Dermiy. And what ties I had with the Mieseons just settled down for a less bloody life in a little town on the border.”
“Shouldn't be less bloody on the border,” he returned.
“Shouldn't be,” Loysa agreed, planting hands on her hips. “But you and I know that what we're fighting now is the same as back then. And they are anything but conventional.”
Even the brow began to relax. He still wasn't comfortable with her presence, but at least he wasn't angry. “Their strategy has changed.”
“It's easier to prevent your people and the Mieseons from uniting than it was to separate the groups in the north.”
“You still have insight?”
“And once you're stuck with...what you're stuck with...”
“You're stuck with it.” He meant the Silver, the magic of her people, which allowed her to alter perceptions around her. She didn't use it often, it was quite taxing, but the enemy used it on the battlefield. She could counter it, and they were none the wiser. In her homeland across the oceans, even her family thought she was dead. Here, they couldn't determine how or who fought them at every turn. But Endoric's people, with their legendary ability to control metal and kinetic energy, were generally blamed. Loysa always liked that she could make her allies appear even more powerful than they actually were. Symbols, after all, were everything.
So there was one more lie she held. One more illusion she had to break. Would he trust her again? If she told him?
“Your sister is alive,” Loysa blurted.
He took a step back. He looked so pained for a moment, and then hope followed. Once, he'd had five sisters. Now, she didn't have to tell him which one she meant.
“Tati,” he said.
“She's in the town you spoke of?”
“And her friend?”
“Ahgi too.”
He stared a moment. Then he knelt, gathered her pack and returned it to the place in the tent. Loysa remained where she was. He'd have to sort through what all this meant. His sister had been with the Miesons. She had gone to Larnen to seek help, and in doing so had run off before the attack.
“Tell me--”
A horn sounded from the edge of the encampment, interrupting him. Endoric cursed.
Loysa grinned. That was what she remembered.
“Tell me everything,” he finished. “Later.”
“Later,” she agreed.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Flirt Scene

Cora did her best not to look up from her meal when John entered. They weren't supposed to have met already. Father couldn't know. But she did listen as John traded pleasantries and was seated at the other end of the long table. He was introduced to the Lady Emmaline, their gracious host, and her daughters.
Meanwhile, Cora and her father were seated with other merchants, far from the Lady and her honored guests. That didn't mean appearances had no merit.
Cora dipped her spoon in the soup, raised broth to her lips, and tasted nothing. She listened for his voice, and caught a word or two. She kept her eyes down cast, and said nothing.
The courses passed her by. Eating felt like an act. She pretended to eat, when really she listened. She pretended to converse, only when spoken to. She would make her father proud that she tried. She did her best, then, to ignore John. She concentrated on eating, and the act grew painful.
Father spoke with Barry, who owned the shipyards to the east. It seemed they were haggling about something. Cora was glad it distracted her father. She no longer felt like pretending she enjoyed these outings.
A servant set a glass before her. She could not imagine eating another bite, so she stared at the pudding. She contemplated dessert as the others scraped their dishes clean. Laughter and conversation made it seem to Cora that everyone else was done. She still could not seem to lift her dessert spoon. Lady Emmaline stood. “My daughters and I would like to thank all our friends and guests for observing Vera's birthday. If you would now join us in dance...”
On top of this meal??? Cora thought.
She did not look up, not even as laughter seemed to grow further away. The others left for the ballroom. Cora decided the pudding matter. She stood, and about bumped into John.
“What are you doing here?” he said by way of greeting.
Cora reddened. “I was invited.”
“We're alone, no need to whisper. But we'll be expected in the ballroom soon.”
“I wasn't going to say anything,” she said. Cora was mildly annoyed that she could not seem to raise her voice above a hiss. “You didn't have to approach to me.”
“Hardly. What am I to know of it? I only met you that once--”
“But I knew who you were. I did nothing with the knowledge.”
“It wouldn't look good for either of us.”
“There is that.” Cora noticed how close John stood. It was precisely like the other day, when the guard had chased them. The ban on spell-casting had been city-wide. The guards had been out in force, and they knew precisely where to look.
Apparently, while John and Cora hadn't known of each other before that day, they had been doing precisely the same thing. Mind, they were at opposite sides of the city, and hadn't known of each other. The guards, by chance, had chased both to the center of the city.
“This is a far better place to meet someone than an alley.”
John chuckled. He tucked her hand through his arm. “You are here to dance, yes?”
“According to my father, I'm here to seek a husband.”
“But not to you?” He led Cora to the ballroom.
She couldn't drag her feet if she wanted. She couldn't protest. She was trapped.
Together they passed through the archway into the ballroom. John took her hands and spun her onto the dance floor. He skirt spun about her ankles. She knew she would trip. She would stumble over her feet. She would fall on her face.
It was then she saw that everyone watched them.
“You aren't the only one leading two lives,” he said
“I don't want either,” she returned.
“Well, now we're in it together. You have my secret, and I yours. No going back.”
“Fine.” Cora forced a smile. Everyone would expect a merchant girl to be pleased to be dancing with a lord.
“At least, you provide an out for me,” he said.
Cora decided he was a better actor than she was an actress. His doting smile almost seemed real. He leaned down, so that his breath tickled her neck. “I'm going to call on you, Mistress Cora.”
She was ashamed at the sudden weakness that made her miss a step. She could feel his smile against her cheek.
“I take it you won't mind?”
“I'll mind,” she forced out. The words had more bite in her thoughts. They had fallen off her lips to gently.
When the music stopped, he kissed her hand. His lips lingered long enough to give her butterflies and inspire the beginning of evening chatter.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Look

I guess I wanted something new to look at.

On the technology front, news of the HTC Evo 4G permeates my house at the moment. I know phones don't seem to correspond with writing, but I'd argue that's all surface. More and more, people with smart phones do their reading on the phone. Blogging, tweeting, Facebook...all of these instant communication media are made easier by the smart phone. I know that my favorite time to be "in communication" is when I'm on the go. I know this doesn't work for drivers, but for me--I walk to the grocery store and that's a 15-20 minute walk. Good for a phone conversation or texting. The ability to scan blogs on my trips to the farmer's market and Trader Joe's is addictive as an idea. I can't stop thinking of the prospect.

The train ride to midtown/downtown will lose all monotony. In order to write, I feel that I have to keep up with the news. But other responsibilities keep me from spending the hours and hours online researching, catching up on my favorite blogs and the like. A phone! A phone! It will be the answer.

Wait a month, lets see if I've pinned hope in the right place.