Tuesday, July 24, 2012

There's a Fine Line - Ch 04 is Live!

In line with their recent speediness, Literotica has posted Chapter 4 of There's a Fine Line about 24 hours earlier than expected. If you'd like to leave a comment or vote, check it out over there. If you prefer the blog, I've posted it here as well. I like comments, so feel free to scribble here even if you hated it...or especially if you hated it. It's the only way I'll learn. This is the first opportunity to see Malphas in his true form as well as get a hint as to his plans for Alicia.

I'm almost finished with Chapter 9 and I know it will cause several issues and potentially lose me a lot of readers. Therefore, I'm going to take this opportunity to say that, in my world, bad guys are bad. Sometimes just a little bad; sometimes a lot bad. And then there are those that fall into the "make your skin crawl, take a shower in battery acid to remove the disgusting feeling" bad. Malphas and his crew fall under that last umbrella of bad. They are demons. They are evil. They will do things that are extremely unpleasant to read (just as they were disturbingly unpleasant to write). Never believe that all bad guys are simply misunderstood. Some bad guys are pure evil and enjoy being evil and wallow in their evil. My demons are that kind of bad. You are warned.

In other news, I've joined a few other writing sites in the hopes of making my writing better. I'll be applying some of what I'm learning to (at least) Chapter 09. I might go back and rework earlier chapters if I have time or may simply go forward. I haven't decided yet. A lot will depend on any kind of writing block - if I get stuck, that would be an excellent time to review/edit an older chapter to get me back into the flow. Hopefully, the writing will have changed for the better. I'd hate to think it'd get worse lol

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Thursday Morning Snippet

So, we all know I'm impatient, right? I tend to post things early, submit things early, and generally screw up my own schedule. Just to stay true to form, I did the same thing today. Chapter Four of There's a Fine Line will be submitted to Lit on Sunday (Sunday, I tell you! I am NOT going to do it Saturday...and definitely not Friday. SUNDAY!) *ahem* anyway, so I'm throwing out an early Chapter Four Teaser because I can. Which means I might submit the chapter early...or not. Depends on how busy my weekend is. The teaser is fairly short, as is the chapter, but it does show another side of Blake and Alicia's growing relationship. The chapter itself will reintroduce our antagonist, General Daevas Malphas, and the reader will finally get to see him in all his evil glory even if the protagonists remain clueless for the time being.

The rest of the story is plugging right along. I'm currently working on chapter nine and have about a third of it in very rough draft form. Some ideas have thrown me off track and I spent several days trying to decide if I could incorporate them into the story but I'm not sure I can. The only way I feel that I can work in certain aspects that were suggested is through a Deus Ex Machina and I'm determined not to pull that. It's trite and overused and an insult to the readers' intelligence. While I loved many of the ideas and suggestions of what Alicia's other half actually is, my favorite will have to remain a thought for another story.

So, for now, enjoy the snippet and I'll try to get back to working on Chapter Nine!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Where do your protagonists live?

Warning...Rambling post ahead...

Ok, so I get some of the strangest ideas just after going to bed...no, not those kinds of ideas, Tan, behave yourself! Well, ok, some of those too but that's another post for another time. Last night's thoughts centered around story locales and how they affect the reader, the characters or the story in general. I'll explain.

Location in stories rely upon the same rules as most real estate in the real world - it's all about location, location, location. For example, you wouldn't place your billionaire hero in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere without a reason because of what is generally accepted as billionaire living arrangements. Most billionaires are generally portrayed as living in the lap of luxury in a resort town, tucked away on an acres-wide estate near a suitably large metropolis and the luxuries they crave, or at the top of the tallest skyscraper of their conglomerate empire. They do not live in tiny podunk villages surrounded by peons without a good reason: reclusive, hiding from the mob, blood-thirsty vamp looking for a town to enthrall, etc.

So...if you are, like me, actually from one of those little blink-and-you-miss-it towns, where do you situate your protagonists if you want more options than the local Wal-Mart and the Carmiked 12?

1. Use a real city - aka 'Research Like Mad'. This is either the easiest route to take, especially if you live in a goodly sized city that would support your story (like NYC, San Fran, Paris, London, etc), or the hardest. If you aren't from the area, you run the risk of getting minor details wrong and simply annoying your readers (that shopping mall was turned into theme park years ago!) or getting major details wrong and alienating your readers (WTF? you have no idea what you're talking about *insert rant here*). Since I live in a rather small central Alabama town of only 35K, I rarely use real cities as evidenced by the fact that I've only done so in three of my stories thus far:
  • Emeralds & Ice was set in Victorian era London. I spent several weeks poring over appropriate era maps of the city and had to return to them often in order to get street names, etc, correct. This was easier, in my opinion, than in using a modern-day London simply because there's no chance that the building listed on the map I'm using is no longer in business (though some are) or doesn't want to be mentioned in my story and will thus send me a C&D. It's hard because there are people who get degrees in the history of that era and could easily tear my descriptions to shreds.
  • Innocent Deceptions is the second that was set in an actual city: Paris of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Though the protagonists rarely leave Erik's underground home beneath the opera house, there were roads that had to be verified as well as surrounding cities in order to lend the illusion of accuracy. And it is an illusion. This one was far less researched than even Emeralds and wouldn't stand up under intense scrutiny.
  • The Other Half is only partially set in an actual location and only in the latter half of the tale. When I settled on how to perform the mating ritual between Micipsa and Kris, I had to find an active volcano which led me to Mount Kilauea in Hawaii. It's the most active volcano on the planet and has been erupting since the 90s. Amazing stuff but I digress. Once I'd decided on that, I spent months researching the area - cities, activities, airports, the volcano itself. I learned more about that area of Hawaii than I know about my own state. But it could easily be torn apart by someone who actually lived there because I haven't.
I see using a real-life city as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, many people will love to see their home town immortalized in a story and will be able to relate more personally to your tale. They may feel a bond with your protagonists simply because they're from the same old stomping grounds. HOWEVER...these will be the same readers who will crucify your story if you deviate too far from their idea of how their city should be represented. Couple that with poor research and your tale is doomed from the outset. It's why I use them so sparingly.

2. Create a city - different from #3 below in that you create an entire city from scratch with a name, streets, industry, entertainment, etc. You are the master of SimCity to the Nth degree and your protagonists live happily in their Pretendville. From what I've seen and read, most Pretendvilles are based on larger easily-recognized cities like NYC or London without the worry that someone will discount your research or lack thereof. A New Yorker could argue that NYC doesn't have a harbor deep enough to hide a Soviet submarine; however, their argument is invalid if you use Pretendville even if it's blatantly based on NYC. The problem here, as I see it, is one of time vs reward. How long will it take to create Pretendville vs how long it would take to simply research an appropriate existing city? How long will it take you to convince your readers that Pretendville isn't just NYC-lite? Will you even try?

I've yet to try this though it will be done eventually in There's a Fine Line. As much as I could care less about my hometown, I don't think I want to place them under the sway of a violence demon just yet. It will also be used, by necessity, in Laelah's Folly. Since there isn't a planet of Malar for me to visit (dammit), I have to not only create the city, but an entire planet. It's a daunting task.

3. Be Ambiguous! - ok, so maybe this is the lazy way out but it's the route I've chosen to take for most of my stories. Essentially, you don't create a city, you don't use a city, it just is. Your city isn't named or described in many ways except those parts you need for the story. I say it's a cop out and believe it is even if I use it. It's a cop out because it requires the least amount of effort on the side of the writer. An ambiguous setting places no restrictions upon a writer because it can have anything and everything the hero or villain needs. An ambiguous setting adapts to the story instead of the story adapting to the setting. It is my goal to eradicate ambiguous settings in my stories some day but until then...just know that my heroes and heroines, villains and villanesses all live...somewhere.

Monday, July 9, 2012

There's a Fine Line - Ch 03 is Live!

Lit is on fire with its posting lately, this time taking just around 48 hours for the third chapter in There's a Fine Line to go from submission to live. This chapter is pretty steamy with some revelations for our Dominant vamp and his mostly human mate. The reader will get a bit more information as to what she's capable of doing as well as a tantalizing glimpse into what he'd love to do to her. You'll also see a bit of Blake's more tender side as he comforts his mate in a time of great confusion.

This is also the point where I state that if you don't like any or all of the aspects of BDSM, you might want to search for another story.

I fine tuned this chapter quite a bit with help from both my sounding board and brainstorming buddy, Mokkelke, as well as one of the first authors I ever favorited on Lit: Jaisen. Both of these ladies ensured  Blake and Alicia's play time was both "hawt" and believable and for that I can't thank them enough. As I stated before on this blog, I think one part in making a fantasy element in a story really work is to ensure the rest of the story is as believable and true to life as one can make it. I'm really hoping I succeeded with this chapter.

Please, read, comment, vote, review, whichever suits you best. Good or bad, I read all comments and try to respond if needed.

FirstWind Publishing

This is a reposting of a thread, with some additions, that I started on Lit. Since not everyone reads the forums there, I decided to move it here as well. Recently, I was contacted through Lit's feedback/contact page with the following email:

Hi, I've been perusing some of your work on the site here, and wow! You really know what you are doing.

I represent an independent publishing consultancy firm, FirstWind Publishing. We have extremely powerful publishing strategies which, combined with the right author, are capable of generating astronomical sales figures on Amazon, B&N, and SmashWords.

I want to make an investment in you in the form of hiring an editor, format conversions, graphic design, promotion, and execution of my publishing strategy. I'll take care of everything so you can just focus on your writing.

Sound good? Get in touch with any questions you have. I look forward to hearing from you!


Adam Miller
Managing Partner, FirstWind Publishing
Granted, at first I was tickled pink; however, we all know the old saying: "If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is." So, after I did a tiny dance, I sat down with my good buddy Google to discover just what kind of publishing house FirstWind truly is.

The first thing that tipped me off was a distinct lack of internet presence. The publisher had no website that I could find, not even a free blogger style of site, and no Amazon presence. I did manage to find two sites that carried what I assumed to be their business model and I was unimpressed. They were both identical descriptions (not a problem) but one was at CraigsList and the other at a site called Booksie. What I read over at Booksie was definitely not the sort of publishing house I'd ever wish to use.

They are looking to glut the market with mediocre to good work, valuing speed and quantity over quality: I am looking for good writers who can produce good stories fast, not great authors who produce great stories slowly. [...] I can't stress enough the importance of being able to produce good content at a good pace. I'm not talking deadlines here, you just need to be able to keep good content coming in without huge gaps in production. The more stories I can get out there the more money we make, and there is nothing else required on your end except to keep creating easy-flowing, novel content.

They will not publish under your name or even your chosen pen name but under one they choose: The content will usually be out there under branded pen names, not under your real name. The titles will be reconfigured in most cases to generate maximum immediate interest.

Now, under this profile, there is nothing listed in the "Published Books" tab which makes me wonder just how he knows that he has "developed a skill for marketing and monetizing medium to high quality fiction (and some non-fiction)." If he's not published anything, then this is all theory, not fact. If he has published something, then list it.

I posted on Lit because it appears he's data-mining Lit authors. It is my guess that he's targeting those in the "Hall of Fame" segment as I know of a few other non-human authors who have received similar emails from this individual.

I am not discouraging anyone from utilizing this publisher if that is your desire but this is not someone I would ever dream of using.

I have also responded to his email with my concerns over copyright as well as pointing out that I didn't feel we were compatible. He did not respond.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

It's a red-hot snippet!

Since the weather down here is hotter than Satan's balls in leather pants, I've decided to post a hawt snippet of Chapter Three of There's a Fine Line. Blake and Alicia are going on their dinner date but things get a little sidetracked. You'll get to see their dynamic at work as well as learn a bit more about what exactly Alicia is. I wanted to give the teaser a bit more time before the story went live so it won't be submitted until Sunday. Try not to kill me for that. :)

As for the story, I finally got over my massive block with Chapter 8 so everything is still on schedule as long as NaNoWriMo doesn't totally set me back.