Saturday, December 29, 2007

Being Reviewed

In my quest to attract readers to Scary Mary, I submitted my story to Pages Unbound. I'm not sure when this site began. It seems fairly new, but it appears to be growing very quickly with a pretty passionate crew. Pages Unbound allows users to review the stories listed, which I had not seen on other directories, like Free Online Novels. I submitted SM only a couple of days ago and have already gotten my first review. It wasn't unadulterated praise, but a very honest review which pointed out flaws that I thought were there, but well, nobody ever wants to think ill of her creation.

I'm always interested in what people liked about the story. This reviewer was the first to point out one particular bit of Mary's ability being a double edged sword that he found interesting. He's the first to point that out. And overall, he was complimentary of the story.

But onto his criticism, he sited length, or rather the lack thereof, as being the primary issue. SM is only about 35,000 words. Too little for most pro publishers. I have struggled with how slim SM is for a long time. Early in the writing/editing, I cut out half the book because it was a storyline I didn't particularly like or wanted to pursue. I also had a lot of flashbacks that I thought bogged down the story such as the memory of Mary's parents dieing. The reviewer said he wanted to know how they died. I think I only have a sentence now detailing what happened to the parents. (Drunk driver killed both while Mary was young. In the flashback, she is in the car as well, and the ghost of her mother stays with her until the paramedics arrive. It is her first ghostly experience.) I don't know if I want to add that in now, if I even can, or if it is that interesting, seems kind of movie of the week now. But his comment may make me flesh out that information in the sequel (even if the sequel is only a speck on the horizon). He says Vicky is a cardboard character, well she seems much richer to me, but in the current incarnation of the story, she may seem a little one dimensional. She's the damsel in distress in the sequel so we definitely see more of her and through her interactions with Mary, she becomes more 3-D.

Anyway, I may only have gotten a 7.3 out of 10, but I'm still pretty happy. The written comments are very helpful. But I don't know really what 7.3 means. I guess it's something like a 'C' in letter grades or possibly a high 'D'. And I should stop analyzing the number. I'll take it.

I'll be very interested in any other comments/reviews people make on the site.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Writing Process

An interesting discussion is going on over at Novelr about what are good novelogs: The forms they can take and interestingly, how they are written. Several people have said they are writing their novelogs as they go. They don't overly plan; they just write.

I'm not one of them. Scary Mary and Unicorn Bait are both fully written. The reason I serialized was to force myself to edit them and then to be done with them. I find that if I don't set deadlines for myself, I will endlessly tinker with something. Conversely, it helps to have myself on a schedule. I'm forcing myself to steadily edit my work. I'm not letting myself slack. Too often with writers and artists, we go through manic creative spats and then doldrums. It's not healthy and doesn't make our work better. A lot of writing books (like Bird by Bird) recommend writing every day, especially the days you don't want to, to make you a better writer. It's the same with editing. Edit steadily, and the editing gets done. It's as simple as that, but sometimes the simplest edicts are the toughest to follow. That's why I'm posting the stories in a blog.

That doesn't mean I had all this stuff planned out when it WAS written. Unicorn Bait was written mainly during Nanowrimo a few years back. I'm doing some serious overhauling of the plot now, and the reason I'm having to do this overhauling is because how the story began is not how it ended. Plot twists that cropped up at the end have to be hinted at or at least made believable. I couldn't do that if I were posting all of this as it were written. And I think the story would be less if I were posting it as it were written.

I'm not sure if I could write something by the seat of my pants, as wincing.at.light describes his process. My first drafts are just too mangled.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Googling Myself

Don't pretend you never have. I've been googling myself and my books to see where they come up in the search results. I'd given up on Scary Mary appearing on the first page because of this Mary Poppins remix:

Don't get me wrong. I love the revamped trailer, but it is hogging 7 of the 10 first page results. And I couldn't even find SM's site in the list of search results as I waded through the search pages. Imagine my surprise when I checked my stats and saw a couple of people had found the site through google with the search terms "Scary Mary". I don't know if it's due to reindexing or what, but I'm now result #8. That's a relief because I worried how anyone would ever find SM's blog if they didn't bookmark it or something. At least now, they have a chance with Google.

In case you were wondering, I'm hogging three of the spots on the first page for Unicorn Bait. Googling Windvein is frightening. Everywhere I may have ever left a comment or registered my username comes up.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Free Online Novels

During my googling for online novels, I found Jennifer L. Armstrong's site Free Online Novels. She has written three online novels herself which she offers in .pdf. Her novels are linked to at the top of the site, simply click on one of the covers. She also has an extensive list of other online novels and welcomes additions to the list. I submitted Scary Mary for her list, and she has kindly added it. I've received 17 visitors from her site since being listed two days ago. That's more than expected, especially with all the novels available for visitors to peruse.

I want to thank Ms. Armstrong for including me in her list. I hope her list grows and that more readers discover her books and all the others she kindly gathers into one spot for intrepid web surfers to find.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Unicorn Bait Updated

I posted chapter 2 to Unicorn Bait. One of the reasons I decided to post my stuff to the web with a self-imposed schedule was to make myself edit but not indefinitely. By posting, I force myself to not just mess up the text while I fiddle with it but also to fix the text to the point that someone else will understand what's going on, also it's a pride thing, if I put truly sloppy prose up, I'll feel ashamed so I work and make it look good. And I'm not sure that makes sense.

I've also spent a good portion of the night wrestling with code. It's not anything anyone will notice, but have you ever known what you wanted to do, but couldn't figure it out even though what you wanted seemed like the most simple thing in the world? I've been cursing my template a lot tonight.

Nights like this make me really feel like a n00b, especially after I saw Cheryl Hagedorn's blook trailer. What did I spend hours slaving over? Figuring out how to get my links to change color when hovered over or visited. Yeah, I spent HOURS figuring that out. She probably could've made 10 videos in that time.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Unicorn Bait has Begun!

Even though I'm still not happy with the banner image, I knew I had to start Unicorn Bait. The first chapter is posted, and I hope a few people will read it. I'm planning to update every Monday and Thursday, but I'm kind of leery of the schedule. Unicorn Bait needs a lot of editing, especially in the plot doctoring department. Hopefully I won't get into any strange plot quagmires.

Chapter 2 should be ready for Thursday.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Podcasting

I've been curious about podcasting fiction. Mortal Ghost has had some success with it. Offering material in many formats seems to be key to successful online fiction.

I came across this series of videos by a librarian that I found very helpful at Library Podcast.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Blogger wants me to cry.

I've been busy on Unicorn Bait and trying to get the template up to snuff before posting text, but it is not going well. Blogger is being finicky with my image banner. I can't get it to not pixelate, though it seems I'm not alone and there have been many other problems with images. This is highly frustrating since I do my editing through the blogger interface and am constantly previewing to see how it looks, but with the banner being glaringly wrong, I'm having trouble focusing. I'm glad I found out I'm not the only one, but I feel like screaming and running away from the computer. Plus it took me an hour to discover I'm not the one at fault. ARG!