Monday, November 28, 2011

Ebooks and Piracy

Because I love my kindle so much, I have an interest in the growth of ebooks. It's been estimated that Australians are expected to spend $150-$700 million on ebooks by 2014, which is huge for us Aussies because last year we spent $35 million. In terms of percentages, that's 1.5% of the total value of book sales in 2010 and anywhere between 6-24% in 2014. Yikes, that's a huge increase in a short amount of time.

This of course, raises the real concern of piracy. Many authors and publishers have shied away from distributing work via the ebook format for fear of getting their timbers shivered, as ye olde pirates say. This, in my view, is a tragedy because there are many books I simply won't read because they aren't available in ebook format.

Yes, piracy is a real issue, but there are ways of minimising the losses. Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology has been created to protect artistic and literary work. It prevents access, copying or conversion of work to other formats. One such company that offers ebook capability with full DRM is Palmer Higgs. They've even launched the first ebookstore with DRM in Australia. I find this encouraging.

Of course, there is the other view on privacy--that it's a good thing. Neil Gaiman has witnessed how piracy has actually helped his sales. People, who would not normally have read his books, read pirated copies. As a result, these people went out and bought his other books. I believe it's also why many authors offer free copies of their books in the hope of readers 'discovering' them.

Personally I think the problem with piracy is the loss of control. If I want people to have a free copy of my books, then I'd want to be the one to offer it to them.

What are your thoughts on piracy as a reader or a writer?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

6 Things I'm Thankful for in Writing

  1. I'm thankful I have the opportunity and freedom to write.
  2. I'm thankful for a sense of humour--I couldn't complete a novel without one.
  3. I'm thankful for computers--the thought of using a typewriter to write a novel makes me shudder.
  4. I'm thankful for an excuse to put off the house cleaning--my deadlines are more important.
  5. I'm thankful for the writing community and all the support and encouragement it offers.
  6. I'm thankful for YOU.
What are you thankful for in writing?

News: Peggy Eddleman has signed with Random House for her Middle Grade novel, "Through the Bomb's Breath." Congratulations, Peggy!

Giveaway: Michael Di Gesu is having a 500 followers giveaway. Pop on over and help him celebrate his one year blogiversary.

NaNoWriMo: I'm on track for my November writing goal of 50k words in 30 days. I'm getting really excited about the story too. It's a science fiction young adult.

Monday, November 21, 2011

6 Steps to Building a Strong Team for your Writing Career

Turning a good story into a great one requires team work. That's right: team work. As writers we need the help of critique partners, beta readers and editors. For those of us who want to go the traditional publishing route, we also need agents and publishers.

As the authors of our work, we are the leaders of our team. We are the ones who have to make the final decisions on where we want our stories to go. For this reason we need a strong team around us to help us make the right decisions.

Steps for building a cohesive team:
1. Don't be a loner. While the process of writing is a solitary one, this doesn't mean we should isolate ourselves. It's better for our writing (and our mental health) to join writing communities, to seek encouragement and support from like-minded people. This will help us find the best matches when seeking critique partners and editors.

2. Do your research. If you pick for your team the first person who shows an interest in your work, without doing the research to find out whether or not you'd work well together, then you may not find the best match. It's worth spending the time to find the people who have a similar vision for your work.

3. Nurture the relationships. Every relationship benefits from open communication and nurturing. The better you know your teammates, the more able you'll be to understand where their suggestions are coming from.

4. Trust your team. You've done your research, found a good team and got to know them well. Now it's time to trust them. This team of people want excellence for your stories. Trust they will offer their best opinions and experience to improve those stories.

5. Trust yourself. While trusting your teams is important, it's just as important to trust yourself. Sometimes you may get so many editorial changes that you'll be in danger of losing your voice to the tune of another. Sometimes you may need to make a stand.

6. Be professional at all times. No one likes a foot-stamper and pouting went out years ago with Mae West. If you don't agree with certain changes, then come up with valid reasons why you think those changes shouldn't be implemented. Understand that professionalism includes flexibility so you'll also need to learn to pick your battles.

Can you think of other steps towards building a strong team around you? Which steps do you find the hardest and which are the easiest?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Quick tips for Writing Dialogue

Number 1 tip of the day: Avoid dead dialogue--as much as we want to make dialogue realistic, we don't want to bore the reader with standard niceties such as, 'Hi, nice to meet you', 'How are you?', 'Goodbye'. Make sure what your character says has purpose.

Dialogue should do one, preferably more, of these things:
  • Tell us more about the character
  • Push the plot forward
  • Entertain us
  • Keep us engaged
  • Reveal backstory without lots of exposition
  • Deepen conflict
And remember, it's often more important how something is said rather than what is actually said.

Do you find writing dialogue easy? What are some tricks you use to write dialogue? What books have you read that have great dialogue?


And the WINNER of Tahlia Newland's giveaway is:


Congratulations, Denise

Monday, November 14, 2011

What makes a good book?

Guest post by Tahlia Newland

Today a fellow Aussie, Tahlia Newland, is here with a guest post. She writes young adult/adult urban fantasy with a touch or more of romance and a focus on challenging readers’ perception of reality. A Matter of Perception, her anthology of urban fantasy & magical realism stories, is available on ebook. ‘Realm Hunter,’ a Diamond Peak novella, will be released in December.  I have an ebook copy of her short paranormal romance, ‘The Drorgon Slayer’s Choice’, to give away. Just leave a note in the comments if you are interested and I'll announce the winner on Thursday.

Find almost any book on Goodreads and have a look at the reviews and you’ll see that not everyone agrees on what makes a good book, but regardless of our personal preferences, a truly good book will have the following elements.
  • Dramatic tension – two or more of the following:
    • Conflict
    • Mystery
    • Suspense
    • Surprise
    • Tension in relationships
    • A task to complete or not
    • Humor
  • Three-dimensional believable characters.
  • A well-paced, unpredictable plot with a satisfying ending.
  • A vivid setting
  • In fantasy - a world that makes sense within the parameters of that world.
  • Creativity
  • The awesome ones will also be moving, inspiring or thought-provoking.
  • Good writing
But what is good writing? 
A publisher friend of mine said something like - Beautiful writing is when every word is the right word, in its right place and there for a reason. There is nothing extraneous. The words flow so smoothly that the reader is transported beyond the words. They even forget they are reading. So if any of the words pull you out of the story, it’s likely to not be very well written.  

Things that good books don’t have are:
  • Boring bits.
  • Scenes, plots and descriptions that go on too long or wander without purpose
  • Plot holes
  • Characters acting out of character
  • Unrealistic dialogue
  • Formula or predictable plot – acceptable to some degree in romance.
My personal dislikes are:
  • Unpronounceable names
  • A convoluted plot
  • Language written in a strong dialect
  • Heroes and heroines that do really stupid things or talk about their clothes, hair or how sexy their boyfriend is all the time.
  • A world that is so dark and miserable that it’s painful to read about
  • Cliffhanger endings
  • Plot holes
  • Poor writing
I can put aside my personal dislikes and still give a book a high rating if I cannot fault it on any of the elements a good book needs. An example of this is Hunger Games; this is a great book, but I didn’t like it because I didn’t want to spend time in that cruel repressive world, but that doesn’t make the book bad, just not to my taste.  

What kind of books do you like? Can you separate your personal taste from your evaluation of a book?  

About 'A Matter of Perception'  
Do you see what I see? Take a bunch of supernatural beings, a battle of magical light, a mysterious hole in the pavement, a dream of a future past and a pair of rose-coloured glasses, mix them with a little romance and a smidgen of philosophy and you might be left wondering if it isn’t all just a matter of perception. This thought-provoking collection of urban fantasy and magical realism stories includes ‘The Drorgon Slayer’s Choice’ and ‘The Boneyard’, a semi finalist in the Aussiecon 4 Make Ready fantasy/scfi competition of 2010.  

About 'The Drorgon Slayer’s Choice'  
Julia witnesses a dramatic battle between what should be invisible aliens and the gods that have come to earth to slay them. James, one of the gods, offers her the chance of a relationship, but the commander of the Drorgon Slayers plans to eradicate her memory unless she can convince him that she will let James leave the earth when their team has completed their mission.  

Author links - if you read Tahlia’s books could you please help her out by posting a short review on Goodreads and Amazon. Thank you.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

When Writing a Novel seems Insurmountable

On the weekend I attended a Speculative Fiction Writers' Festival which was held at the NSW Writers' Centre. It was a brilliant gathering of like-minded writers. One of the questions asked of the successful novelists on the panels was whether or not they had to give up anything to pursue their careers.

In summary, here are the answers to facing the mammoth task of writing novels for a living:

Expect hard work. You have to know what you are getting into from the start. Don't get sucked into the romance of becoming a novelist. It's a lot of hard, slow, lonely work. Going in with eyes wide open, will help prepare you for what is to come.

Get organised. If you are organised and set yourself priorities, then you won't have to give up anything. The only thing you may have to do is cut back on some things when a deadline is looming.

Hold onto the Joy. Try to remember why you started writing in the first place. Try not to think of it as a chore, but a creative outlet.

Take short breaks. If a large project is causing you difficulties, allow yourself a break from it. This doesn't mean you have to stop writing. Try writing short stories or articles.

And, in extreme circumstances when a story begins to stagnate:
The Traffic Light Rule: One author says she uses the theory that if she isn't passionate enough about a novel that she isn't thinking about it when she's doing nothing eg sitting at traffic lights, then it might be time to let the story go until she can find the passion for it again. I will add, this isn't for everyone and sometimes Grim Determination is what it takes to finish a novel.

How do you get over the huge task of finishing a novel?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Interview and NaNoWriMo Progress

The first week of the National Novel Writing Month is almost complete and I have written about 10k words with another 2k or so to write today. I'm pleased with my progress considering this weekend I attended a Speculative Fiction Writers' Festival, which was brilliant (more on that in a later post).

Today, however, I'm pleased to announce that I'm being interviewed by the lovely E.R. King at Get Busy Writing.

Please, head on over and check it out HERE.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Writer Support

Guest Post by Alex J. Cavanaugh. 

A huge thank you to Alex for taking the time to write this post. You are a true Ninja Captain Extraordinaire. Take it away, Alex:

I was honored when Lynda invited me to visit her blog. Her posts on writing are so full of wisdom and guaranteed to make you think. However, writing tips are not what you want from me! So, I’ll give you something else writers need - support.

It’s a struggle for anyone in a creative position. Every step of the writer-author process is full of frustration, doubt, and anxiety. We throw ourselves to the world, desperate for acceptance and full of uncertainty. No matter what our strengths or ability to endure, we simply can’t do it alone.

Recently I launched the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. A casual comment in an email sparked the idea. Would a group make a difference? The tone of some of my fellow bloggers’ recent posts told me there was a need though.

Taking the initiative, I set up the group and announced that the first Wednesday of every month would be our official posting day. Those who signed up were to post either insecurities or words of encouragement and visit at least a dozen other writers on the list.

What’s happened since that time is incredible! Now three months old and over two hundred strong, the group has taken on a life of its own.

So many have poured out their hearts and voiced their deepest fears. In return, members have left strong words of encouragement and consolation in their comments. Everyone discovered another writer in a similar situation or one who was further down the path and could offer guidance. Bloggers seemed to connect on every level possible.

This is why we are here - to offer support and encouragement. We face so many uncertainties as writers. We all need support and someone to tell us it will be all right.

I’ve been blessed by this group. The countless comments and emails from fellow writers, offering thanks and appreciation for the group, tell me that it’s all worth it. If I accomplish nothing else in life, I hope that I’ve given others a way to find hope.

Whether it’s with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group or the help of other writers, bloggers, or friends, every writer needs support. We may write alone, but we are not in this alone!

Alex J. Cavanaugh is known online as Ninja Captain Alex. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. An avid blogger, he hosts blogfests, other authors, and the Insecure Writer’s support Group. His first book, CassaStar, was released October 2010, and the sequel, CassaFire, comes out February 28, 2011.