Achievement Unlocked! 2011 Publishing Goals Complete.

Cthulhu Scribe by Drew Pocza

Sooooo… I’m a little embarrassed today because for the past few weeks I went through this “Oh, crap. I didn’t achieve everything that I wanted to.” mood. Even though I didn’t finish revising and writing the three novels I have simmering on my machine, I did manage to accomplish the goal I set out to do. That goal for 2011 was to write, revise, polish, and publish more fiction. I talked a little bit about why this was something I wanted to do when I wrote The Queen of Crows: A One Year Retrospective and when I addressed the question: What impression does your website give?.

The reason why I had to pursue this as a goal? Free writing advice, business tips, and/or social networking is not a substitute for telling stories or designing games. Remember, I even went offline for 100 days to test what would happen if I wasn’t around.

Well, the effects of this goal did not go unnoticed in both positive and negative ways. I was trying to figure out why the hell I had to deal with so much crap this year. (See keeping the wolves at bay to understand the context.) I believe this is why, because suddenly I went from nigh-invisible (Oh, hey… Monica’s giving out free advice) to being a threat (Oh, hey… there’s another author out there who’ll steal my readers and focus less on me.) Mind you, I think the entire attitude of writers-as-competitors is complete and utter bullshit. A reader for ONE author doesn’t just read THEIR books. Besides, this is me we’re talking about, who’d rather share a beer / give good cheer / and not jeer. Sheesh!

However, the good things that have come out of my renewed focus on my work are immeasurable. There simply is no substitute for writing, revising, polishing, and submitting. Screw the doom and gloom of the publishing industry. I’m an author and 2011 was the year I started acting like a professional one.

I’m guessing this post is a little more ranty than I intended, but don’t worry! There’s a lot of positive things I want to cover when I post about my 2011 in review. The thing is: I’ve been trying and trying and trying to come up with the “what is me” voice for my blog for some time. There’s been the authoritative voice and the educational voice but the personal voice was on other, more causal websites. This? Talking about the good and the bad and how the two coincide? This is me and I hope my experiences will help you in your own journey as an author, a reader, or as a human being on Planet Earth.

Carry on. (Bring a towel!)

    Mood: Post-Christmas recovery
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Don’t ask.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Lifting fork to mouth.
    Word Count Logged Yesterday (not including day job): Unknown. Uploaded/organized ARGENTUM via Scrivener.
    In My Ears: Angst playlist on iTunes
    Game Last Played: Farmerama
    Movie Last Viewed: Robin Hood
    Book Last Read: Carpe Jugulum: Discworld by Terry Pratchett
    Latest Artistic Project: Byzantium chainmail bracelet with soft pink and black rings
    Upcoming Release: Strange, Dead Love for Vampire: the Requiem

Merry Christmas! Free Comic, Recipe, Story and New Release!

That mean old Mr. Grinch has had a change of heart. Here’s a ton of freebies for you on Christmas!

Free Comic!

monica@onebookshelf.com

Drop by DriveThruComics.com between now through January 1, 2012 and download a free comic from Dork Tower!

All digital comics are on sale for twenty-five percent off, too! Visit DriveThruComics.com for details.

Free Story!

A Stark and Wormy Knight by Tad WilliamsEnjoy a free story from famed fantasy author Tad Williams. THE SUGARPLUM FAVOR (A Christmas Story) is available on FlamesRising.com for free! This story is part of Tad’s celebration of his new collection >A Stark and Wormy Knight.

Free Recipe!

What’s that you say? In a bind for something sweet but can’t figure out what to make? Monkey Bread is ridiculously easy and very festive!

Monkey Bread

Ingredients

(2) Rolls of large refrigerator rolls
3/4 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon (I use Penzey’s)
1 c. packed brown sugar

In a bundt cake pan, grease the bottom and sides with non-stick spray. Grab a 1 quart plastic bag and mix the sugar and cinnamon together. Cut the rolls into three or four pieces. Take a couple of pieces, plop in the bag and shake vigorously. When they’re good and coated, stick them in the pan and repeat until you’re done. Take a minute and arrange the pieces after you’re done to avoid any glaring gaps. Then, melt the butter and add in the brown sugar. Drizzle melted concoction over your dough. Bake according to directions.

It will be very gooey, but oh… my…

New Release

Slices of FateDebuting on December 23rd, download Slices of Fate: the Collected Works of Eddy Webb from DriveThruFiction.com. We’re working on adding new digital versions which will be free to anyone who buys the PDF. A print edition is currently in pre-press, too!

Read FR Press Announces Slices of Fate, the Collected Works of Eddy Webb for more information.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Happy Holly-Days!

Happy Holly-Days! I hope you find time to enjoy the season regardless of what you celebrate, whether it’s Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Solstice, Saturnalia, New Year’s, etc. We’ve been busy gallivanting around town, attending festivities, and exchanging gifts so the day of Christmas gives us a chance to relax and enjoy each other. I sincerely hope you get the chance to do the same.

Click on the image below for a recipe and Christmas greeting from John!!

Happy Holidays from DorkTower.com

Best to all!

Being a Writer is Exactly like Being an Actor

Darkwing Duck

The other night I was chatting on Twitter (as one tends to do when doing laundry). Authors Shiloh Walker and Yasmine Galenorn were talking about no matter how hard you try, you may not be successful as a writer. I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but the subject came up (might have been from L.A. Gilman) about how writers were a lot like actors and I quipped something about not being able to plan for fame. Rather than quote the whole conversation, I’d rather dive in and explain why this is absolutely the case from my perspective.

Actors and actresses make a living by acting and off their personal image. They get paid for their celebrity status in addition to their craft and have to work their asses off to be in the public’s attention at all times. It’s their job to look good and eat right in addition to working long hours and, at times, sacrifice personal relationships and social activities. When they’re not on the set? They still have to maintain their image and network to find the next gig. In short: most actors and actresses are usually working, even when they’re not.

Even though being an actress sounds glamorous, the reality of Hollywood is not the red carpet. There are literally thousands of actors and actresses that never make it to an award ceremony and thousands more that never even get paid (or credited) for their talents. Some get bit parts for years on end, hoping to catch a break, but never do. Some are stunt doubles; these folks are literally invisible on screen yet we appreciate what they do because they provide us with the suspension of disbelief. Many actors and actresses are what we would consider middle class. They act, they’re not loaded, but they manage to eke out a living and continue to get work. Sound familiar?

Writers are exactly the same way. Not every author can be Neil Gaiman or Charlaine Harris. Now, both of these authors didn’t wake up to a life of fame and fortune. They both worked and worked and worked until they caught a break (or a series of them, depending upon how you look at it.) Yes, talent has a lot to do with it, but success in this industry doesn’t just come from talent. It comes from making smart career choices, honing your craft, meeting the right people, being in the right place at the right time, and reaching readers who will gladly plunk down money for your work. Writers cannot budget based on what money they haven’t earned yet or what fame they may one day achieve. Unless you’re lightning in a bottle? Chances are you have to work and work and work. Or, in this case, write and write and write.

To use the acting analogy, many authors would love to be the next Angelina Jolie or Tom Cruise. Fine. Let’s use both as an example. Angelina? 41 credits as an actress, 3 as a producer, 2 as a director and 1 as a writer. She was in eight full-length films before HACKERS and thirteen before GIA, which I consider her breakout hit. Tom Cruise. 37 credits as an actor, 15 as producer, 1 as director and 1 as writer. RISKY BUSINESS was his fifth full-length feature film and TOP GUN was his eighth.

The point I’m trying to make, is that neither celebrity woke up one day and was instantly famous. They had to work at it. Even then, next time you have five minutes of your free time, write down how many actors and actresses you can name off the top of your head. Then go back and list your favorite movies and compare the two. Which actors/actresses did you forget to add? Actors constantly have to seek out media attention (whether they want to or not) before they’re forgotten in lieu of the next micro-trend or reality TV star. For women, it’s even worse because age is a factor in getting gigs, too.

It’s a little different for authors because you’re creating a work of art with words, not images. You could be a supreme asshat, weigh 1,000 pounds, be uglier than sin, and still pen a good tale that people will voraciously consume. Author platform aside, you typically don’t have all the jobs an actor does because the story is the performance that occurs without you being captured on screen. Your weight and your looks really doesn’t matter as much.

After I published my post, author E. E. Knight also pointed out this great bit of insight, too.

Writers have a lot more avenues that are still in the craft that generate income. A writer trying to sell a novel can still earn some money writing professionally (my first real money writing was for nonfiction). Actors usually have to work outside their craft while waiting for a paid role.

I’ve always said (and will continue to say) that every author has to make their own choices. It’s your path, not mine. As you continue to hone your craft, I feel you have to face yourself in the mirror one day and ask yourself what you really want. Would you rather be pining away on a street corner while secretly jealous of those on the red carpet? Or would you rather be getting paid for what you do and focusing on your next step?

I may not be a very famous author, or so I often joke, but I’ll tell you what. I’m a working one and I love this job to pieces. Of course, I wouldn’t turn down fame and fortune if it came a-knocking. I may be pragmatic, but I’m not a fool. Regardless, I know what I can and can’t control. I’d rather focus on what I can work on than what I can’t. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. 🙂

    Mood: In Technology Awe.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Averaging about three a day. Today looks mild-to-temperate.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Didn’t, because I pulled a muscle.
    Word Count Logged Yesterday (not including day job): Sacrificed writing time for new computer time! And cleaning office time!
    In My Ears: Mortal Kombat Soundtrack
    Game Last Played: Farmerama
    Movie Last Viewed: Red
    Book Last Read: Carpe Jugulum: Discworld by Terry Pratchett
    Latest Artistic Project: Byzantium chainmail bracelet with soft pink and black rings
    Upcoming Release: Strange, Dead Love for Vampire: the Requiem

Oh, Green Lantern.

Scrooge McDuck

Last night, I went to a Solstice celebration replete with a Labyrinth, candles, and the perfect Christmas cookie. I’m not talking about no namby pamby almond cherry monstrosities that can only be salvaged by coffee, either. Picture a chocolate covered ball of goodness that just happens to be crushed up Oreos blended with cream cheese.

Said cookies were so magical, so tasty, I wound up rewriting the Green Lantern movie in my sleep. I wake up, thinking that I, too, have millions of dollars at my disposal to create… the work… and then…

Reality strikes. DOM DOM DOM.

So instead, I posture said changes here, because what Green Lantern offers comic book fans is the desire to be him. He is the every man’s superhero and, quite possibly, the every woman’s. The ring chooses whomever is worthy — regardless of race/class/creed/gender/etc.

The biggest challenge Green Lantern faces is divulging too much world too quickly. The point of discovery and wonderment is part of what might attract new fans and also wow old ones. The setting is cool, but too much too soon and I expect that for the whole film.

So first things first? I’d cut the dreaded “Tell” in the introduction. When that’s taken out, it removes the set up. Instead, I’d put a cut scene where Abin Sur is being chased in the opening credits by the unknown assailant. Period.

Here’s where things got interesting for me. I felt that Hal’s “daddy issues” were too much in the distant past. They felt stale to me. They’re not real, because he’s dealing with a ghost we cannot relate to. For my opening scene? Since canon is only loosely followed in the film anyway, I’d have a present day tragedy that Hal accidentally causes because of his arrogance. Maybe he takes his nephew for a joy ride, takes him out for a spin, and they get into a serious accident. Or better yet, the love interest, Carol. Right there BAM! there’s the crisis of faith. Then, as he’s beating himself up, even though shit happens and it wasn’t his fault? That’s when Abin Sur crashes right in front of him. Not wanting to feel responsible for yet another injury, he feels compelled to help whoever crashed and realizes Abin Sur isn’t human. When Abin Sur dies, we still see the close-up of the yellow infestation, the ring flies off and hovers in front of Hal and leaves, as if Hal is not worthy of wearing it yet.

Wait, before you get all “That’s not how the ring works” on me… That’s when Sinestro shows up and accuses Hal of killing Abin Sur. Right when Sinestro starts to pummel him, the ring starts to circle back to Hal, but the two continue to fight. Sinestro knocks Hal unconcscious at the same the ring chooses him. In a moment of hesitation, Sinestro remembers his place and returns to grab his friend’s body. Unfortunately, the military has shown up and he’s forced to return to Oa with Hal.

The moment of discovery for the audience happens when Hal lands on Oa. The tension is also there because now there’s a mysterious assailant that killed the best of the Green Lanterns and there’s a lot more room for active internal conflict rather than passive. The audience, not being as stupid as you might think, would probably suspect a demon-looking alien called Sinestro of doing some very. bad. things. In this movie, though, Sinestro is the red herring. He’s not the bad guy, but he’s a good candidate for one, and it’s a great set up for the sequel.

There is one detail I would change in particular, I would ensure that the audience knows Hal was not the first human to become a Green Lantern. This removes the speshul snoflake from Hal and hints to the long, proud tradition.

So meanwhile, back on Earth, we have the meek scientist slowly affected by the yellow element. I’d take his daddy issues right out of the effing picture. I mean, no need to have two characters with stale issues. Creepy scientist is scary enough. Anyway, I would circle back to the love interest and focus on her. The scientist, now able to read people’s minds, visits Carol to see if he can confirm her feelings for him. She doesn’t, he gets pissed, but Carol puts him in his place and and tries to find Hal — who isn’t there. Carol believes he took off again, running from his problems, because he can’t face the reality of “the accident” and the fact that Hal’s actions have consequences.

Meanwhile… The yellow scary thing keeps coming…

And the Green Lantern ring starts to pulse! I mean, they established that there’s a warning sign when something bad is happening. Hal isn’t done with his training, but a few of the Green Lanterns go with him to check out the very. bad. thing. They fight Parallax and lose badly. Hal is told he has to return to Oa, but he can’t when he realizes it’s heading for Earth. Sinestro tells him he has to choose. Is it warn Earth or do his duty? Hal wants to warn Earth so he gives up the ring and wakes up at home. The yellow thing is still coming, but it’s not there just yet. Hal takes the opportunity to find love interest, beg forgiveness, have the slow scene, and confesses where he’s been. They have their moment, go to the party where he can warn military chiefs what to watch out for, and creepy scientist guy kidnaps love interest and flies off to welcome his master.

Hal, being a pilot, steals a plane to meet Hammond head on before he has a chance to warn the military. Again, highlighting his impulsiveness. Only, yellow thing causes turbulence, his plane is about to crash, and he’s rescued by Kilowog and Tomar-Re who gives him his ring back and defies Sinestro’s command. The three of them fight off Parallax back into the atmosphere. Hal has to make a choice. Leave Carol on the ground with Hector or element the bigger threat. This time, Hal has to decide whether or not to sacrifice the one (his true love) for the good of the many. There’s a moment when he tells Carol to not be afraid, to use that to fight Hector. She goes on fighting/running because she’s not afraid. She has faith that she has the ability to escape mostly unharmed. (After all, my female characters aren’t going to fall apart in a ball of goo because their man isn’t there to rescue them…)

They separate, Hal does his sun damage thing (Wonder what kind of SPF you’d need to block that…) he returns and finds Hector’s weakened, but not out. They duke it out, Hal reinforces his faith in the ring, says the oath and blammo! L’il scientist bits everywhere.

Amid the screaming sirens of military vehicles and cop cars, Carol says: “Well, that was fun.” Without hesitation, he grabs her, gives her a big smooch, says “Be home for dinner,” and flies off into the stars.

Oh, and that last scene with Sinestro? A yellow ring flies off of Parallax’s finger and lands in the palm of his hand.

Yep, I think I totally nerd-ed myself out. Sigh.

    Mood: Effing Awesome.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Two, but will divulge in more.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Off day
    Word Count Logged Yesterday (not including day job): Sacrificed writing time for cleaning time. In a cleaning groove. Watch out dastardly dust bunnies!
    In My Ears: The Jack Pack 2 for Nightmare Before Christmas
    Game Last Played: Farmerama
    Movie Last Viewed: Red
    Book Last Read: Leaves of Flame by Benjamin Tate
    Latest Artistic Project: Byzantium chainmail bracelet with soft pink and black rings
    Upcoming Release: Strange, Dead Love for Vampire: the Requiem
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