Friday, December 30, 2011

Finishing up 2011 and looking forward to 2012.

Whew, it's been a busy year. Let's see: I wrote four books, two of which will actually see the light of day at some point. I started this blog. I took a novella that I had written a year and a half previously at that point, decided to give it a thorough scrubbing and self-publish it as an experiment, and then promptly spent nine months and four drafts whipping it into shape to be a novel. (And got my face eaten off with all of the secondary characters' stories along the way.) I learned more about editing than I ever would have thought possible, and I discovered that Twitter is actually pretty fun and that formatting is not that hard. Not bad, all in all.

I'm not usually one for New Year's resolutions, but I am a Type A who loves making lists, so here's to 2012! I will:

1) Complete the editing on Fire with Fire. The second draft will be completed in a few weeks, after which I'll deliver it to my critique group and then eventually my copyeditor for a Spring 2012 release. Second drafts take nearly as long as first drafts for me (and FwF has several structural issues in its current state), but things thankfully move faster after that.

2) While the critique group is ripping apart Book Two, start drafting Book Four. (Book Three was my NaNoWriMo and needs another month or two to sit in a drawer and think about what it's done.) I'll keep using this leapfrog method throughout the year to get Books Two, Three, and Four out before 2013 rolls around.

3) Meet my Get Your Words Out 2012 pledge. I've chosen a less ambitious goal than in previous years, given the amount of time I'm going to be spending on editing and promoting, but it's still going to be a tall order.

Oh, and I'm gonna read some books. Here are five of my favorites from 2011, and I'm hoping that you can make them your favorites in 2012:

Heroine Addiction by Jennifer Matarese. This book is a clever, cracktastic, and utterly hilarious take on the superhero genre. It's the only book I've ever read in which a zombie outbreak is something that you look at and shrug over before getting back to the plot.

Seed by Ania Ahlborn. Charlotte is one of the creepiest and most tragic children I've ever encountered.

The Jakarta Pandemic by Steven Konkoly. Fantastic, claustrophobic examination of how easily the world can go to hell.

Sugar&Spice by Saffina Desforges. In addition to making me realize that I know way too much about serial killers, it's just a flat-out fantastic and well-researched thriller.

Jenny Pox by JL Bryant. I probably won't have time to do a full review before the first, but I was quite simply blown away by how fantastic this book is. Pick it up at your first opportunity.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

REVIEW: Optical Delusions in Deadwood

Hi, guys, welcome back! I was hoping to have this review up sooner (and I just realized that I screwed up the title in my last review post: my apologies, Ms. Charles!), but that figgy pudding thing got away from me for a few days. The next time a caroler shows up at my door, I'm just going to make them a sandwich.

Description: Someone is spreading rumors around Deadwood that Violet Parker likes to chat with dead folks.

With her reputation endangered, her bank account on the verge of extinction, and her career at risk of going up in flames, Violet is desperate. When the opportunity to sell another vintage home materializes, she grabs it, even though this "haunted" house was recently the stage for a two-act, murder-suicide tragedy.

Ghost or no ghost, Violet knows this can't be as bad as the last house of horrors she tried to sell, but sexy Doc Nyce has serious doubts. Her only hope of hanging on to her job is to prove that the so-called, ghostly sightings are merely the eccentric owner's optical delusions.

But someone--or something--in the house wants Violet stopped...dead.

My Thoughts: Ann Charles delivers another charming mystery/romance with just a touch of the paranormal. What I like best about Violet is how of an Everywoman she is, and yet she remains such a (albeit slightly frazzled) badass. Sure, she gets knocked out and drugged a time or two. (Who doesn't?) But she always comes up swinging and is well on her way to saving herself before Mr. Dark 'n Dashing shows up to get the testosterone flowing.

I did mention in my last review that some of the shine comes off Doc Nyce in the second book, and I'm afraid that I have to stand by that judgment. What was an air of mystery in the first book becomes straight douchery in the second, right down to Doc knowingly refusing to tell Violet information that could keep her safe while also thinking that he has some kind of claim to her behavior. I'm sorry, Doc, but only Batman can pull off being Batman. (And then only barely.) Violet, however, is so engaging on her own that I know I'm going to keep coming back.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Freeeeeee (or cheap) books for your ereader!

Erica at The Book Cellar has assembled an extensive list of free or steeply discounted ebooks here, while JA Konrath is offering 23 of his own books for free for the next three days. I'm going to try to keep this face to a minimum, but I'm honestly not promising anything:

And then of course my own book, Super, is now available for $2.99 at Smashwords and Amazon, but I still have thirteen copies that I'll give away completely free to anyone who comments on my blog, emails me at, or drops me a line on Twitter. I'll probably still make the lizard face, but you won't have to see it. :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Super is finally here!

Available on Smashwords for $2.99 here and Amazon here, with links to follow on B&N, Sony, etc. just as soon as those versions are live. (And I've vetted them for errors, of course. I've checked the .mobi and .epub versions on Smashwords itself, but of course you all know how the saying goes: measure twice, cut once, and then your house doesn't fall down around you while your neighbors point and laugh and you curse the fact that your cute underwear is all in the laundry...I possibly over-think these examples.) BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! I'm going to give away a free copy to the first twenty-five people who respond to this post, give me a holler at, or DM me on my Twitter account. No obligation on your part, but I would of course be delighted if you pet my hair and tell me I'm beautiful leave a review on the site or sites of your choice if you like what you read.

I chose to do the Smashwords Meatgrinder for this book, at least, and I have to say: not nearly as scary as it's portrayed. I'm terrible with technology, and I still got it done in under three hours with the Style Guide holding my hand and passed the Auto Vetter standards on my third try.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

REVIEW: Nearly Departed in Deadwood by Ann Charles

Description: The first time I came to Deadwood, I got shot in the ass.--Violet Parker

Little girls are vanishing from Deadwood, South Dakota, and Violet Parker's daughter could be next. She's desperate to find the monster behind the abductions. But if she's not careful, Violet just might end up as one of Deadwood's dearly departed.

My Thoughts: I purchased this book during a general binge at the Indie Book Blowout Christmas sale. (The efforts of which basically meant that I had books for a dollar at my fingertip during one of the most unproductive work weeks of the year. Sorry, Boss Man.) I was expecting a quick, fun trash read of the paranormal romance variety; what actually arrived on my phone was a witty mystery-comedy that makes the comparisons to Stephanie Plum and Janet Evanovich seem much less strange in retrospect. Violet is a hilarious and real everywoman sleuth torn between the time demands of protecting children in general, her own children in particular, and maintaining the "But I have a BRILLIANT PERSONALITY!" facade that will help her land a sale and keep her job. Doc Nyce is an engaging male lead as he provides the dollops of romance that the book does contain; he makes a lamentable turn into a bit of a jackass in the next book, Optical Illusions in Deadwood, but I'll get to that after taking a short break in order to figure out what figgy pudding is and why the hell you would want to eat it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tentative cover reveal!

I was a busy, manic, giggly girl last Saturday, because I was scampering about Bricktown with Audrey, Tanner, and a beautiful model named Brittany who was really very accommodating, considering she was working with crazy people. (And then we didn't even use the shot that she kinda had to risk her neck for. I'm not going to mention that part to her, or else I'll find a way to dress the hell out of it.)

Picture taken off of my phone because she was humoring me:

Now taken by an actual professional:

Now with digital magic thrown in:

I've asked that the quote marks be taken off the tagline and the title itself be moved down a bit more, so that's not the final final version, but I'm still wiggling so hard over here that you'd think I was part lap dog. How do you get a cover like this? Hang out with geniuses, which is why my inevitable DIY book on self-publishing will include extensive stalking how-tos. (Lesson One: Expect the Unexpected, or Bring Your Own Pee Bottle.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

REVIEW: The Clockwork Giant by Brooke Johnson

Description: It's 1881, the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Chroniker City, the global hub of technological advancement in the modern world. Based off the British coast, the city is home to the most prestigious polytechnic university worldwide, a center of mechanical ingenuity teaching everything from clockwork mechanics and thermodynamics to electromagnetism and electricity. Petra Wade, self-taught clockwork engineer, dreams of one day becoming a member of the Guild, an elite group of inventors and innovators who envision a future fueled by technology, but her ambitions will only come to fruition if she can find a way into the illustrious university—an institution reserved for men only. When she meets Emmerich Goss, an accomplished engineer newly recruited into the Guild, Petra discovers that he needs help building a top-secret, government-sanctioned automaton, and she is just the girl to help him. Together, they craft the clockwork giant, and as the deadline for its completion nears, Petra finds that she can love more than gears and mainsprings.

My Thoughts: This book is delightful! I'm fairly well-read in YA, but I don't read much in the way of steampunk; however, I loved this. The plot zips along, the world-building is rich and detailed without becoming overwhelming, and Johnson does a great job of constructing a heroine that pings with a modern audience without losing sight of the very different social mores that a proper Victorian young lady would be expected to follow. Petra is a fun, proactive protagonist that had me rooting for her the whole way, and Emmerich would have drawn many a swoon from me when I was thirteen. I wanted to take him by the lapels and shake him a bit when it was all said and done, but in a generally benevolent way: he's capable of being better. Can't wait to see where Johnson goes with this series next.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Look, the internet gave me a Christmas present!

GetYourWordsOut: Back for a 4th Year!
Pledges & Requirements |

Once again: this is a fantastic comm to join if NaNoWriMo doesn't work out for you due to school, family, etc. The mods are fantastic and supportive, and the monthly check-ins also work on the honor system. It's one of the best and most gentle spurs to keep your writing goals on track that I've encountered yet.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

In which I am a good daughter.

I went to pick up my mother's Christmas present recently, which was...well, let's just say that it was a bit of an adventure into an unfamiliar culture. Since she owns a handgun, I bought her a year's membership to a shooting range.

It was like entering a whole new world full of wondrous and previously unseen technologies. Apparently, you can purchase a holster to keep a gun between your breasts. No, really, it's a thing:

Uh, "between my breasts" is one of the worst places I can think of to stick a presumably loaded weapon, but I've also seen way too much dudes keeping guns in the waistbands of their pants without stopping to think about just how wrong that arrangement can go. Stupidity knows no gender distinctions. However, taking a gander at how flat-chested every mannequin displaying such a holster has been so far: that carry ain't nearly as concealed as you think it is, honey.

REVIEW: A&E presents Stephen King's Bag of Bones

I have to get this right out front: I am in love with Bag of Bones the novel. I reach a height of fangirling with this one that's even higher than my normal Stephen King fangirling, and the normal level sometimes makes strangers ask why I'm allowed to roam the streets unaccompanied. King is fairly well-known as a seat-of-the-pants writer who makes things up as he goes along. This makes the mystery and ghost story that makes up the book even more remarkable, if King is to be believed when he saws that the bones--sorry--of it were there right from the first draft. By 1998, he had also been at his game long enough to develop a grace and restraint in his writing without which the eerie, largely psychological tale would not be nearly so powerful. I did a little dance when I found out that A&E was going to be adapting it into a miniseries.

Alas, it was to be a disappointment in the end. Brosnan was an odd choice to play Mike Noonan right from the beginning, much too patrician for Noonan's Everyman. He also chose to keep his British accent...but his brother, Sid, is still American. The fault doesn't lie solely with Brosnan; part of the reason Bag of Bones resonates so strongly as a book is the paranoid interplay between Noonan's grief and love for his wife, and his fear that she might have been cheating on him before her untimely death. That would be a steep mountain any screenwriter to climb. The one in charge of this adaptation had Noonan muttering to himself a lot.

That being said, there was one actor who stood out from the rest of the cast by several big steps. I always root for Sara when I reread the book (and had a literal LOL moment when The Green Lady popped Mike one for thinking than an apology was going to make gang-rape and murder go away, because I probably would have done the same know, if I was a decades-old spirit driven mad on grief and pain), and Anika Noni Rose's portrayal of her was spectacular. Sara is primarily a mood in the book, a figure seen from the corner of the eye and gone by the time that Mike turns around, but Rose made the most of every single moment she was onscreen in portraying Sara's fury, grit, and defiance. Easily the best part of the miniseries, though a runners-up nod goes to the music people for contriving so many different ways for Sara to speak her piece through song when she wasn't visible. I also have to say that I laughed, albeit a little bemused, when the big denouement boiled down to Sara and Jo yelling at each other for a few moments. Yes, Bag of Bones was written just as King was beginning to put the Dark Tower mythos into everything that he wrote, but I promise, the audience would have been able to follow a nod or two.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Indie Book Blowout is doing a fantastic 12 Days of Christmas sale for all of your reading needs, but it gets better! They're also giving away a Kindle Fire or a $200 Amazon gift card: entry details are here. It looks as if you need to be a member of Facebook to win, so if you are (you poor bastards), be sure to stop by and give it a look-see. Everyone likes free stuff!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

REVIEW: The Lost Life of Eva Braun by Angela Lambert

I hesitate as I start out in the writing of this review, because to attack The Lost Life of Eva Braun feels almost as if to attack Angela Lambert herself. In retrospect, this should have been an early warning of one of the book's deepest flaws, that Lambert is acting as such a deeply and personally involved interpreter of events rather than pretending any kind of objective distance as a historian. She admits from the very first pages that she has an agenda in defending Eva Braun from a slew of male historians who dismiss her as a "bimbo" or any number of other gendered insults by offering a female perspective on Hitler's mistress. She also states that she seeks to understand her own German mother, who was born in the same year as Braun and only miles away, and was understandably very reticent to talk about her experiences growing up in Hitler's Germany. Anecdotes about Lambert's mother and aunts litter the book; this is a problem. One cannot give an objective account when the historical subject has become aligned with one's own mother and, increasingly, the entirety of German womanhood over the period between WWI and WWII.

Eva Braun was Hitler's mistress; even that statement seems to cast aspersions, doesn't it, implying looseness of sexual morals (in a time period where slut-shaming was seen as right and good) and psychopathy by default because, well, he was Hitler. Shouldn't she have just known? Shouldn't she have sensed something? The only explanations for her long-term fidelity to one of the twentieth century's greatest monsters that many can accept is that she was either an equal participant, or so stupid that it's a wonder she managed to cross the street without guard. This is a dangerous strategy to take, for it places Hitler above the realm of man and into a fairytale monster, makes it inconceivable that any right-thinking person could have been seduced by him. As history can attest, his type is not actually that uncommon.

Unfortunately, Lambert, in trying to overturn both of these views of Eva Braun, only winds up further condemning the woman that she was trying to save. Braun was Hitler's long-term secret, known only to a handful of those in his inner circle. As such, there is very little information on her save for oral history carried (and tinged by) her family, whose surviving members Lambert was lucky in being able to interview before they passed. That's still not a lot of information on which to base a book. There is enough before Braun fell under Hitler's sway to paint the picture of a naïve, vivacious young woman who was eager to please and not terribly troubled by being dominated, a personality profile that psychopathic men are drawn to often enough. For every serial killer who lived alone, there is another who has a spouse standing in the wings and swearing against all evidence that their loved one could not possibly have done such things. This was Eva at 17, however; she was thirty-three when she committed suicide with Hitler, and had been living in the seat of power for much of her adult life. In her zeal to prove that Eva wasn't the ditz that Hitler's perpetually jealous and backbiting inner circle wanted to dismiss her as, Lambert does her job a little too well: no, Braun was not stupid, however much she became very good at playing compliant and passive in order to accommodate Hitler's whip-crack moods. She was surrounded by the most powerful men of the Reich and their wives, many of whom, contra Lambert's assertions that the women were deliberately kept in the dark, knew very well what was going on, and yet is supposed to have been blithely innocent of any knowledge. (As Lambert herself admits, largely by Braun's own design.) Lambert attempts to counteract this by pointing to Eva's sweet nature and usual gentleness (and that of Albert Speer, who himself ain't no great shakes as a human being) as if knowing the difference between right and wrong makes her better than the likes of Goebbels, Eichmann, et. al. even as she passively refused to act upon this enlightenment. At one point, in fact, Lambert also attempts to deflect blame from Eva by stating that many Jews who knew that something was very, very wrong at the end of those trains even if they didn't know the full extent of it still chose to stay rather than face the difficulties and uncertainties of fleeing to reluctant asylum nations. At that point I had to put the book down for a bit and go play with the cat until my temper could cool. It's a rare misstep for Lambert herself; on the whole, while I doubt her historical conclusions, she's very careful not to diminish the sufferings of the Jews or the ordinary German people throughout the war.

Lambert also attempts to say that heroism is something to be lauded when it is displayed, not condemned when it is not, and in that sense she is correct. One gets the impression, however, that she is moving beyond trying to redeem Eva Braun and into an attempt to redeem her own mother and perhaps every adult woman of Hitler's Germany as a whole. Lambert's mother married an Englishman and was living in England during the war, where by Lambert's account she was treated very cruelly by her in-laws on the basis of her nationality. She might or might not have had the knowledge, but she certainly didn't have the power to do anything about it; she needs no redemption. As it is extremely gray as to how much the average woman in Germany knew at the time, we cannot condemn them out of hand, either. (Though it is curious that Lambert, in nearly the same breath as she says that we cannot expect heroism as a necessary component of decency--rightly, or most of the human race would fail outright--eagerly lists the number of German women who did go above and beyond to protect Jews while it was a struggle to keep immediate family members from starving to death.) But they weren't enjoying the fruits of power (Lambert also excuses Braun's increasing high-handedness with her own family as the strain of maintaining a relationship with a psychopath, while dismissing elder sister Ilse's coldness towards Eva as jealousy rather than ideology; Braun's family was ardently against the anti-Semitism of Hitler's policies), they weren't putting a relationship with Hitler above all else as late as 1945, when there was little not to know.

It's an odd sort of historical biography wherein the most interesting personality in the stew is that of the author herself. One gets the sense in reading this book that in every portrait of Braun Lambert is actually seeing Ditha and trying to redeem her in spite of a paucity of evidence suggesting that she did anything to put her in need of redemption. Darlin', your mother ain't the one that did it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

REVIEW: Seed by Ania Ahlborn

NOTE: I'm going to be very giggly and flaily during this review, so I won't be taking much care with spoilers.

Description: In the vine-twisted swamps of Louisiana, the shadows have teeth.

Jack Winter has spent his entire life running from something no one else can see. His childhood is his darkest secret, but after a near fatal accident along a deserted road, the darkness he was sure he’d escaped rears its ugly head… and smiles.

But this time, he isn’t the only one who sees the soulless eyes of his past. This time, his six-year-old daughter Charlie leans into his ear and whispers: "Daddy, I saw it too."

And then she begins to change.

Faced with reliving the nightmares of his childhood, Jack watches his daughter spiral into the shadows that had nearly consumed him twenty years before.

But Charlie isn’t the only one who’s changing.

Jack never outran the darkness. It’s been with him all along.

And it’s hungrier than ever.

My Thoughts: This is a fantastic book, probably the best piece of horror that I've read this year. Ahlborn takes several well-known elements such as creepy children, evil passed from generation to generation, and the particular aura of the Deep South, and puts them together again in novel and terrifying ways. Charlotte is one of the most terrifying characters I've ever met, and most of her creepiness comes about in subtle inversions of normalcy well before she actually becomes violent. (Many reviewers cite the scene with the dog, but it took at least half an hour to get my goosebumps under control after Charlotte and her mother in the girls' bedroom.) One of my favorite aspects of the book is the ambiguity of the evil itself. Is it demonic, or is it mental illness? Jack's mother was emotionally disturbed, but she didn't become violent. Did she and Jack's father pair to brew the perfect cocktail of recessive genes in Jack, which he then passed on to his daughter? If not, what was the deal with the cemetery, where did the evil come from, and what does it want after the book concludes? These unanswered questions would be evidence of sloppiness in another writer, but Ahlborn turns them into the shivery sense that the "game" is not over yet...and that any of us could be meeting Charlotte very soon.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

REVIEW: Sugar & Spice by Saffina Desforges

Description: It's every parent's worst nightmare: A child fails to return home. As hours turn to days, all they can do is hope. Some children never come back...
Driven by the need to know why, a mother confronts the man accused of her daughter's murder, He presents a compelling defence, convincing Claire not only that he is innocent of harming her daughter, but that his previous convictions were not what they seemed.
Teaming up with a second-year psychology student and a fourteen year-old truant schoolboy, Sugar & Spice is the story of a mother's fight to bring one man's reign of terror to an end.

My Thoughts: I have never read a book in which so many sympathetic (at least at the onset) characters are pedophiles. It's a bit of a mind-screw, actually; if not for the fact that the authors are not American and that the book was written well before the Penn State scandal broke, I would swear that one in particular was based off of an intense study of Sandusky. This book is tautly plotted, fantastically researched (only mistake I noted was that Jack the Ripper was much more likely to be a disorganized offender than an organized one, and even as I type I realize that being able to pull this info off the top of my head says something about me...), and features a young profiler who fast became my favorite new character of the year. (A place previously held by Lisbeth of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.) It's incredibly disturbing in places, and I never thought I would encounter an arc where chemical castration would actually constitute a happy ending, but Sugar & Spice is an altogether engrossing and deeply layered ride. A definite recommendation.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The F Word

This is actually a post that's been building for awhile (title and everything!), but two recent events slammed into each other to make it a reality rather than a "you should probably maybe kinda do this at some point, you know, if it's not going to be too much trouble." The first was the dismissing of Amanda Hocking's work as "basically Twilight fanfic", and the second was a Twitter acquaintance of mine fretting over the fact that she has completed over 200,000 words of writing in a single universe, but it's only fanfic and thus people are (rightly) going to make fun of it. So, once again, here we go.

I wrote fanfic, or fanfiction, or transformative works, or whatever the hell else label you want to slap onto running gleefully through the wilds of someone else's creation for personal satisfaction rather than profit for more than ten years. I didn't stop doing it because I realized the error of my wicked ways and am now buckling down to suffer artistically in a garret somewhere (I'm actually writing many of the same tropes as erotica under a pen name and discovering that people aren't lying when they say that the internet is for porn; people want to talk about sex, bay-bee, they want to talk about you-and-me…), I've stopped because I flat don't have the time any longer. I don't think that there is anything wrong with writing fanfiction, or that you have to choose between one or the other in order to be a "real" writer outside of the tyranny of spare time. (At least one prolific writer of fanfiction enjoys regular comfortable positioning on the New York Times' Bestseller List, and a handful more still get published regularly while continuing to use fanfiction as a way of blowing off steam.) It's a great way to develop craft-related muscles if you want to write original fiction, and a wide and welcoming avenue towards a fun and quirky community and great friendships if you don't. Frankly, I'm just tired of "fanfiction" being used as pejorative with a built-in escape hatch. That being said, there are still certain skills that you can learn from the writing of fanfiction, and then there are others that it definitely allows to atrophy. Let's just get the bad out the way first, mmmkay?

The Weaknesses:

All of your skills at building new worlds—you know, those things that make readers believe that vampires can sparkle and dragons have some kind of influence of sexual orientation—are going to wither and die. Don’t freak out right away, they can be rebuilt. But the what-if impulse in other people's worlds that makes fanfiction so cool makes you absolutely crap at creating those worlds yourself. I'm not decrying fanfiction itself, but that's a skill that you're going to have to relearn. I certainly did. Luckily, fanfiction also teaches you a great deal about the art of dealing with criticism when you inevitably screw it up the first few times. (That is, if you choose to learn. I mean, someone has to keep Fandom_Wank going so that the popcorn farmers can make a living. You could be doing a public service.)

A built-in audience can lead to an overestimation of your own abilities and a consequent swelled head if you aren't very, very careful. Maybe you're the only person out there writing Nikita/Harry Potter crossover AUs set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, and these works really hit the buttons of a select few. That doesn't mean that you're ready for publishing yet, self- or otherwise. (Of course, if you can make the tragic romance of Alexandra Udinov and Blaise Zabini as they struggle to avoid Robespierre's men work, then you clearly have talent to which the rest of us can only aspire.) It doesn't mean that you're not, either, but bear in mind that fandom works off of a gift culture that encourages people to be very, very happy about works that they would have sent back for another round or two with a beta reader if they were published as original fiction.

The Strengths:

You will become better at distinguishing between individual characters' internal voices without a word of dialogue being spoken better and faster than you ever would have thought possible.

Snagging your reader so hard that can't dream of turning away within a page, two pages if you're feeling frisky. My very first beta reader gave me the best piece of writing advice I've ever received (that is, outside of "Just take my advice, damn it", but that's fairly context-dependent): get them fast, or don't get them at all. All that someone has to do if a piece of fanfiction doesn't agree with them is hit the back-button. Most ebook sellers offer sample chapters before you commit to buying, and even in the pre-Kindle days I knew a lot of people who read the first chapter of paper books in the bookstore before they made a decision and went to the register. I've lost contact with that beta reader over the years, and I regret it, because I don’t think that I ever adequately told her how much she taught me.

Learning to work with editors and accept criticism gracefully. As the existence of 4Chan more than adequately attests, the internet has a special gift at turning otherwise pleasant, reasonable people into that old woman on The Simpsons who throws cats at people and frequently appears to be chewing on her own face. You will get bad reviews. You will get people who think that the high crime of writing a book or blog post they didn't like is grounds for calling into question your intelligence, family lineage, and species. There is no good way to respond to a bad review. I have a bit of a temper, and it took me a several years before I learned how to walk away from the computer and do my ranting in offline spaces where my words wouldn't be preserved forever.

Fanfiction is just another form of storytelling, and it doesn't deserve any more or less scorn than the novel did during the eighteenth century. Get down with your bad selves and don't let anyone make you feel ashamed if it's your preferred writing form. If you want to move into original fiction someday, take heart in the skills that you're building, because they'll serve your forever.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Get Your Words Out 2012!

More information here.

I love GYWO. It's a yearly challenge community dedicated to hitting a certain word count over the course of twelve months. I dig it because it's a type of low-pressure NaNo; the highest possible word count is 350K, and you have 365 days over which to spread your rough patches rather than 30. I've been playing since the comm was founded, and it's a great tool to keep you on track and working steadily if NaNoWriMo falls at an inconvenient time for you. The mods are also super-sweet and keep the comm well-stocked with inspirational exercises and writing prompts. Definitely looking forward to my fourth year bopping along!

NOTE: You do need a Livejournal in order to participate in this challenge, but signing up is free, and the mods don't particularly care if it's an active journal or not just so long as it's there. Makes it easier for them to keep track of participants.