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Virtual Overlords: A (Mostly) Comedic Take On The Future of Digital Publishing

e-book

By Liberty & Steven Montano

Here’s a glimpse at what the world will look like in 20 years thanks to e-publishing.  Please be warned that while a lot of these ideas are possible (perhaps even probable), we do end up going off the deep end…

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1. Because of Google Glass, people will literally read all of the time, because they’ll have the power to load books directly in front of their eyeballs 24/7. Unfortunately, due to the rewiring of our brains thanks to excessive internet usage, we’ll retain only a fraction of what we actually read.

2. Self-driving cars will allow us to read while commuting. Ironically, texting while driving will still be banned in most states.

pill

3. Building on the success of the Alzheimer mouse trials, scientists will produce books in pill or gum form for easy consumption.

4. In defiance of e-publishing, the world will see the rise of dangerous paperback gangs who smuggle rare printed books.

5. 3D printed custom book covers will go viral. The book gangs will not be happy.

6. Virtual reality (oculus rift) will lead to holographic novels and new heights of book addiction.

eye tribe

7. For a short time, all E-Readers will utilize Eye Tribe, and the resulting eye fatigue will increase sales of Google glass.

8. Creating an e-book will become part of school curriculum, and will become an expected skill in the job market.

9. Publishing houses will give way to marketplaces, resulting in the death of bookstores.

10. Overhead displays + “erotic material” will become a problem for law enforcement.  Porn book cafes will replace head shops.

11. Legislation to end book printing will be introduced by environmentalists. The legislature will fail, but the decline in printing continues.

12. The price of e-books will level out. People will reminisce to when a book only cost $.99 $4.99 $7.99.

13. The sale of bookshelves will plummet.  IKEA stock prices will take a hit.

14. The internet will tell you what to read based on a complicated algorithm that determines the “right” book for you. More often than not, the internet will be right.

15. The rise of holographic novels will render book-to-movie adaptations redundant.

cat vs. dog

16. Books/media created for pets will hit the virtual shelves. The war over whether dogs or cats are better rages on.

17. Implants will allow a person to completely write a book in their head. Intellectual copyright lawyers find themselves in huge demand.

18. Classic e-books will be upgraded to integrate with Google maps to provide a visual experience, while music appropriate to the setting will be embedded in the e-book data files.

19. Olfactory capability in e-books will lead to disgustingly cliche books being created for tween boys.

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20. Big media houses will perfect bot-written books, which quickly become the junk food of the literary world.

21. Obesity rates will fall as ingesting media becomes more interactive.

22. Elementary schools see a major makeover. Desks become less common, but the dependence on VR decreases interpersonal contact.

23. The human population growth rate slows, maybe even goes negative due to our escaping into VR media.

24. Radio stations broadcast book files instead of music.

25. The weekly release of serial novels becomes incredibly popular. NBC takes command of the book industry.

26. Access to the internet via implants allows for an unprecedented consumption rate of e-books. This also renders notions of traditional learning moot.

27. Implants remove the need for keyboard, televisions, and interpersonal communication.

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28. The increased consumption rate of hard scientific data will increase interest in theoretical knowledge, resulting in a dark era of mad scientists.

29. The third world will have an explosion of tech advances. The so-called first world will go out of fashion and “poor” living will become chic.

30. New mental illnesses tied to digital consumption will run rampant.

31. Implants will allow us to communicate with our pets, and later all forms of animal life. The number of vegetarians will increase exponentially.

32. The internet will become our collective subconsciousness.

33. Computer viruses will become a battlefield weapon, as all soldiers will have tactical implants.

34. Malls will disappear, replaced by virtual shopping. Demolition jobs will be in high demand, until robots take over that field.

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35. Once they take over the construction and demolition fields (and, thanks to big publisher “ingenuity”, writing the books that humans learn from), robots eventually take over the world.

36. A few stalwart humans refuse to accept implants and are driven into hiding. Every young man’s dreams of living in a Terminator-like future become a reality.

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37. E-books ascend to Godhood. Our collective digital consciousness is sucked into data clouds, leaving our bodies free to roam and wander like the primitive nomads we were always meant to be.

 

About the Authors

My wife Lib is pretty awesome. She’s also psychic. And she has pyrokinesis. So you probably don’t want to piss her off.

When she isn’t busy designing book covers, editing my crappy work or maintaining my website and social media presence, Lib ponders the future of E-Publishing, dog training, self-sustained living, and life as we know it.  She’s also the author of Novel Blogging: A Writer’s Guide to Blogging.

As for me, I do accounting and write books.  Learn more at my site, if you dare!

books

Put It On The Shelf

…or, the best way to fix your “baby’s” ugliness.

Ben’s post from last week resonated with me a lot for various reasons. Right now, I’m finishing up a B.A. in English so naturally I’m being exposed to piles and piles of papers written by other students. Sometimes, those papers aren’t bad. Other times, they would best serve as kindling.

This fact was most apparent in the “Writing Fiction” class that I took. I have no illusions as to the quality of my writing, but some of this stuff…

Anyways!

As a writer, there are so many different suggestions for how to go about self-editing, but one of the most effective ones that I’ve used to the suggestion to take your finished manuscript and put it on the shelf for some period of time. The most common suggestion is 6 months, but I’ve found that even 3 months can be enough if you have sufficient work to do elsewhere and you can change your focus.

With the end of the semester approaching, I’ve had so much on my plate that I’ve had no choice but to put The Hydra Offensive on the shelf. But with my time freeing up, ever so slightly, I’m back at the keyboard, editing Hydra.

I’ve found that leaving the manuscript alone and doing other work has given me a different perspective on the prose and has allowed me to make edits that I might not have made otherwise.

Do you use this method with your writing? How does it work for you? Any other suggestions for solid editing methods?

Casting Characters

by A.M. Justice

We’re two weeks in to the new season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, and I’m still feeling the love for this television adaptation of G.R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss continue to take the best from the books and put it on screen, with enough new characters and plot streams to keep the avid readers on the edge of our seats. I wonder, will we get to see where Sansa is going? In my recollection, she disappears from the novel’s narrative after Petyr takes her from the Eyrie. And Jamie Lannister most certainly does not hook up with Bronn and ride off to rescue Myrcella from Dorne.

actors_game_of_thrones_tv_series_tyrion_lannister_peter_dinklage_house_lannister_wallpaperGOT works because the writing is so solid and the cast is packed with great actors playing great characters. The casting choices are spot on. Peter Dinklage is too handsome for Tyrion (in the book, Tyrion’s ugliness—a sign of his Targaryen blood—separates him from his exquisitely beautiful brother and sister even more than his dwarfism), but we can forgive Dinklage’s good looks because he so perfectly captures Tyrion’s empathy, intelligence, and pathos. And it’s not Gemma Whelan’s fault the GOT writers and producers robbed Asha Greyjoy of all her swashbuckling joie de vive when they changed her name to Yara and made her sober and dour for the television show. This is the single misstep taken by Benioff and Weiss: Asha is one of the few fun characters in the books; on the show Yara is just another pissed-off noble.

What about other casting choices when books became films? In the early Harry Potter movies, I was disappointed with Emma Watson as Hermione Granger. At first, Watson wasn’t at all convincing as the rule-bound teacher’s pet smart girl. It didn’t help that she was far too pretty for the role, when much is made of Hermione’s awkwardness and plainness in the early books. But as the films went on and the children playing Potter and friends grew up, Watson came to embody the character, and now I can’t imagine Hermione played by anyone else.

MV5BMTIzMTIxOTg1NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTM0OTcxMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR8,0,214,317_AL_It’s been a while since I’ve been really incensed about a casting choice; I generally give film producers the benefit of the doubt. Back in the last century, when Neil Jordan picked Tom Cruise (Tom Cruise, of all people!) to play Lestat in his adaptation of Interview with a Vampire, my friends and I held forth for hours about how Top Gun boy could not possibly capture the blond, sophisticated, French allure of Lestat. Then we saw the movie and Cruise blew our objections away.

One adaptation that did get my blood boiling was the SciFi miniseries Legends of Earthsea. Ursula LeGuin is my literary idol, and Ged, the central character of the Earthsea Cycle, was my first love. When I was young, Ged epitomized what a man ought to be—intelligent, courageous, and loaded with self-awareness. (Luckily I found a man with those qualities, and I married him.) Ged is also not white, a choice LeGuin made because she wanted to create fantasy and science fiction worlds populated by diverse peoples, to better reflect the world we live in. The fact that the majority of Earthsea’s population looks like they come from earth’s Southern Hemisphere was a deliberate and important choice she made. SciFi tossed that aside and picked blue-eyed Shawn Ashmore (better known as Iceman in the X-Men movies) to play Ged. Not only was Ged white in the TV miniseries, he was too young, at least for the episode based on Tombs of Atuan. In the book, Ged is twice Tenar’s age. He mentors and rescues her, but he does not become her lover until much later, when they’re both adults and social equals. By casting a young, white man as Ged and turning the story into a romance, the producers undermined the entire spirit of LeGuin’s masterwork. Or, in her words, they wrecked it.

FanFour2015The next big casting brouhaha surrounds the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. I’ll say right off: the idea of Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm doesn’t bother me at all. Sure, he and blonde Sue Storm are siblings, but step-sibs or half-sibs or adoption are all perfectly plausible explanations for their phenotypic differences. It’s Kate Mara who worries me. After watching her smolder and brass her way through House of Cards, I can’t quite see her playing a Grace Kelly–type ice queen. But, note to Hollywood, when The Woern Chronicles are adapted for the screen, Mara would be the perfect actress to play Vic.

A.M. Justice amuses herself by playing casting director for her novels, when she’s not rewriting them. To keep abreast of her doings, sign up for her mailing list or follow her on Twitter.

Researching Fantasy

Guest Post by Michael Davies

I didn’t start writing fantasy because of what I’d learn along the way. The research I’ve conducted as I crafted my debut novel “World of Pangea: Path of the Warrior” has been an unexpected and decidedly enjoyable surprise.

How did I decide what to research? I live by a 4 general rules.

  1. I want my novel to be simultaneously fantastical and realistic.
  2. If I am writing a scene and I can’t describe something very well then I need to research it to describe it better.
  3. If I skirt away from something I want to use because I’m afraid it won’t sound realistic then I need to research it better.
  4. If any part of my novel sounds too far fetched, it needs to be researched and re-written.

I kept a document open at all times. In this document I made a list of the research I needed to undertake. Whenever I encountered something problematic I wrote it down and then started reading.

The longbow

PangeaBookArmed with this document I began my adventure. From the moment I decided that Idris used a long bow, research came into play. When did one first have to start training with the weapon? What is the difference between a long bow and a regular bow? How deadly are they?

Did you know that when long bows were at the height of their use, the average archer began training around age 4 and 5? If they didn’t train from such an early age then their muscles never developed well enough to use them consistently and with the necessary accuracy.

Did you know that they were only prevalent in warfare for around 100 years? This time period did of course lead to the famous victories of Crecy and Agincourt.

Did you know that several historians believe if the longbow had been used instead of the musket then the British may have won the American war of Independence?

All of these facts were extremely useful for inserting into my novel at various points and creating a believable protagonist and fantasy world.

Mythology

The World of Pangea creates its own mythology. I know that many fantasy novels have some sort of mythological backdrop but in a similar way to the Belgariad, Pangea’s mythology is woven into the story line and the gods are not behind the scenes but at the forefront of the story.  So I researched Greek mythology and Christian theology.

  • Both have a ‘fallen’ supernatural being. In fact, this is prevalent amongst a great many ancient traditions.
  • Both are dependent on a god or god’s for the continuation of this world.
  • Fallen angels play a part in ancient Christian and Jewish traditions, some writers believed they were the Greek gods of old.

From this I drew some ideas. What if the gods were real? What if there was a race like humanity that existed when our earth was a pangea and the gods walked upon it? How would the various cultures develop? The more I researched the more ideas presented themselves.

So I planted The World of Pangea within the ancient and proven traditions of classic Greek literature and traditional Christianity, combining it with the more modern feel of fantasy thrillers.

None of which was possible without research!Pangea_BookReveal


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Michael was raised in northern England. At age 19 he moved to the U.S.A. and currently resides in Fort Worth, Texas with his wife Heather, and their daughter Elianna. Growing up he used to write short stories for his younger brother while immersing himself in the fantasy realms of Middle Earth and Narnia. In college he penned his first idea for a full length novel, one which eventually became Path of the Warrior, the first book in the “World of Pangea” series.

Michael has had news articles and poetry published in several anthologies and magazines over the last decade, including an interview for BBC Manchester over his role with the refugees of Hurricane Katrina.

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If the Baby is Ugly….

You know that thing you do, that thing where you justify the reactions others have to your work?

I wrote a book once. Well, actually I wrote several books. None of them sold very well, and I took to saying “It is because my genius is not knowable.”

Have you ever said that? Really, now. You know you have. Maybe not in those words, and maybe not aloud, but you know what I’m talking about. People just don’t get it.

You know what that is? It’s the use of self-affirmation to ease the pain of what you perceive as different from what you expected. We practice this technique quite a bit, but some of where it starts is with the dissonance we feel when what we say may not be what we really mean.

Cognitive dissonance, defined, is “an internal state that results when individuals notice inconsistency between two or more attitudes or between their attitudes and their behavior.”

In English, man!

In simple terms, it’s that slightly uncomfortable feeling you get when the baby is ugly but you say “He’s soooooo cute!”

uglybabyIf the baby is ugly, the baby is ugly. Why do we say it’s not? Because the parents are friends and we don’t want to upset them? Yes, that’s probably the motivation behind the lie.

It’s the same with reviews, you know.

Think about that for a moment: Why say “This book is the greatest ever written!!!!1!” when you know the writing is horrible, the story doesn’t go anywhere, and you would rather watch paint dry than read another chapter?

You know why.

It’s cognitive dissonance and what you’re saying right now (“They are writer friends and I want to help”) is self-affirmation. You’re saying something to cover your butt, to make yourself feel better for leaving that five-star review on Amazon for a book that should be one (or fewer stars).

Who are you helping with that?

Are you disillusioning the writer or are you making yourself feel better by “helping” someone else out who is an independent like you?

If the baby is ugly….

Bruce Blake, who might be known to some here (*wink*), once edited a manuscript of mine. It had errors. There were problems and inconsistencies and “farthers” where there should have been “furthers.” Between his edits and Scott Bury’s (who might also be known to some here (*wink*)) were kind enough to say “you know, this baby is ugly.”

You know what I did with that knowledge? I edited my manuscript, breathed a little, and still published it. The book sold little, and in my head I thought “it is because my genius is not knowable.” So while there was honesty in the reviews, I still thought what others had to say was off the mark and practiced self-affirmation when I should have practiced rewriting draft 52 (or 53…I lost count).

So what is needed in our industry? What is needed, I think, is a bit of honesty. If a manuscript sucks, regardless of how many other published manuscripts an author has or the size of their publishing house, the writer needs to know their baby is ugly.

I wrote a two-star review of a David Morrell book once. It felt good. I didn’t lie.

Will he care? He’s Rambo. Of course not.

But if an up-and-coming writer really wants to improve, if they really want to give the baby plastic surgery so-to-speak, they need to know the truth and we (as readers and writers and reviewers) need to be able to tell them that truth.

Cognitive dissonance is a thing. Self-affirmation is what helps ease the discomfort.

In the words of Bob Newhart: “Stop it.

If the baby is ugly….


Benjamin X. Wretlind ran with scissors when he was five. He now writes. He is the author of A Difficult Mirror, Castles: A Fictional Memoir of a Girl with Scissors, and Sketches from the Spanish Mustang.

He also gets up before 4am to milk (words, not cows).

The Hidden Benefits of Being a Writer

by Autumn M. Birt

Ask any author the reason they write, and you’ll likely hear about overflowing ideas, addiction to that ‘aha’ moment of discovery as a plot unfurls, or a desire to create for someone else the love of discovering new worlds and people that they found hidden between pages.

But have you ever heard anyone mention they understand people better because they are a writer?

death of fictional characterOr a reader – of fiction specifically. I’m not making this up. There have been scientific studies, as outlined in this great article Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Still Read Fiction, that show readers are more aware of others’ emotions. Though it was only readers in the study, I bet that writers would show even stronger connections to heightened connectivity in the left temporal cortex. Whether we’d show more empathy is difficult to predict. We can do some very cruel things to our characters… but we feel their pain!

And I really agree with this. Writing emotions and working on ‘showing’ and not ‘telling’ really taught me to analyze body language and facial expressions (how to make movie watching ‘research’). Which resulted in learning to read emotions better in friends and family.

And that led to the realization that not everyone reacts the same way to an event. In fact, no two people – or characters – should exhibit exactly the same emotional impact. Responses are really a part of who a character or person is: some cry, some throw punches. That lesson helped improve the depth of my writing.

Discovering greater emotional variation and understanding is definitely one of the hidden reasons I enjoy being a writer. But it isn’t why I write. Nor any of the reasons I listed above, though all are accurate to some degree. I realized a while ago that I write because I like who I am better when I’m writing.

How does your emotional state play into your writing?

emotioncapture-300x201I know I’ve had some really sucky days where I end up thinking, “boy, this is going into my next novel.” Bad and tense days make great fodder for dark writing. And I leave the page at the end of it feeling purged of a lot of ick.

More than that, my mind is sharper when I’m working on a novel and developing a plot compared to when I’m surfing through life, just trying to juggle the day to day crap. I’ve joked that when I’m not writing my mind is like a little 4 cylinder engine where the valves are out of tune compared to when I am writing and I’ve got at least a well-tuned V8 humming away. Yeah, I like writing.

Can you get that out of reading? I think so, especially if you are reading a thriller or mystery and trying to unravel clues. Reading engages different areas of our brain compared to watching television. Do you ever think about what an actor is smelling on screen? Do you think about the crispness of a cold morning on exposed skin just because you see two people camping in the fall on a TV show or movie? Probably not. Not to mention when you read, you need to make up the scenery based on small details in the writing. And you can’t judge emotions based on the musical score… unless a newly emerging trend to incorporate music into ebooks takes hold (to which I’ll be muting my speakers…).

670px-Get-Over-the-Death-of-a-Fictional-Character-Step-1I’m very happy that people are still reading despite the multitude of other ways to immerse themselves. Not just because it means someone might buy my book, but because it means the world is potentially filled with slightly happier, emotionally more responsive people, who may even be more clever than average! I wonder if I can include questions on most recently read book the next time I have to hire someone? Hmmm…

So writers and readers make better friends. Even if they ignore you occasionally for the imaginary people in their heads or their favorite book. But hey, they’ll notice when you are upset!

Autumn tries not to take too much delight in the perils she throws at the characters in her novels, knowing if the situation were reversed she wouldn’t do half as well as they manage! Learn more about her epic fantasy series the Rise of the Fifth Order and check out her newest release, the beginning of a military dark fantasy series Friends of my Enemy, at AutumnWriting.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Real numbers: The truth about self-publishing

By Scott Bury

Last January, Digital Book World reported that nearly 80 percent of self-published authors and more than half of traditionally published authors earn less than $1,000 a year from their efforts.

That report has generated a lot of debate. Some very honest and brave independent authors have put their own statistics up against this argument:

Hugh Howey — arguably the most successful indie author these days — and another, anonymous indie author compiled statistical research and put the lie to the DBW claim. They point out that the DBW report is so broad as to be useless — it includes books of all types, and does not include ebooks sold by Amazon, the biggest book retailer in the world.

Howey and his unnamed partner dug deep and found that e-books account for 86 percent of all genre fiction, and that  independent authors outsell the Big 5 commercial publishers combined in genre fiction.  There’s a lot of analysis in the report, and I recommend you read it.

Toby Neal, bestselling author of the Lei Crime series and paranormal fantasy Island Fire, candidly revealed her own sales, revenues and cost figures on her books. While Toby treats the writing as an art, she approaches publishing as a business. She invested $12,000 in editing, design, production and marketing of her first book, Blood Orchids, and netted over $100,000. She still makes money on that book, and views all her nine books (with one more coming in March).
Independent author Jami Gold blogged about two more analytical reports that took apart the DBW claim about most independent authors making under $1,000. Jami’s original post was reblogged by book consultant Kristen Lamb. It turns out that professional independent authors, those who use professional editors and designers, market their books as a business and continue to publish several titles, make considerably more money.

 

About 50% of respondents make more than $10K when they have 4-7 self-published books available, and 20% make more than $50K. At 12-20 books available, over 50% of respondents are making 50K or more, and 30% are over $100K.

In short, independent writers who treat writing as a business or profession, rather than as just a hobby or game, can make a comfortable living at it.

What’s a professional writer?

Being professional means:

  • publishing regularly, developing a catalog of titles
  • using a professional editor – someone with background experience in the publishing industry
  • using a professional cover designer
  • marketing and promoting strategically and using professional services appropriately.

Getting into the category will cost money, but not as much as the 90% of book sales a commercial publisher takes, and certainly not as much as forking out thousands to a vanity publisher or something like one of those “become a published author” scams. And it won’t cost as much as you give up by not doing these things.

I have to admit, I’m remiss on one dimension: the regularity of my publishing my own books. It’s been a year since I published my last novel, Army of Worn Soles, and it’s going to be at least three more months before the next title is ready for publication.

It’s so refreshing, indeed inspiring, to get this honest number-crunching from some people who are making a profession from being independent authors, and showing us all there is a business model and a path that work.

Want to find more indie fantasy authors who are working the dream? In addition to those mentioned above, check out:

And many more that I just don’t have time or space to list here, and many I haven’t had the chance to read, yet. But keep coming back to the blog for reviews and interviews with independent authors.

Pic-ScottBuryScott Bury is a journalist, editor and writer living in Ottawa. His articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

Visit his bio page on Guild of Dreams.

Snowed in and Snowed under

Snapshot_20140802_2by Chantal Boudreau

This year, the weather has brought me ample fodder for story concepts. Be it imagined scenarios of the aftermath of a bus crash during an April snowstorm or co-workers sharing ideas of snow monsters taking over the world when winter never goes away (not someone who writes stories herself,) the massive snowfalls we have endured here in late winter/early spring seemed to have inspired some unpleasant icy fantasies.

But that’s the thing about fiction – genre fiction in particular. The stories are found in the unusual, not in the norm. You’ll rarely see a “day in the life of…” kind of tale when exploring the speculative unless it’s presented in such a way to highlight the differences between our mundane existence and the strange alien planet, or the magical fantasy realm or the dystopian future society. Everyday life doesn’t tend to make for an exceptionally interesting story unless there is something exceptionally interesting about the protagonist(s)’s everyday life. Even in literary fiction, characters tend to have their eccentricities and are moving toward some point of self-discovery or self-destruction not just adhering to the status quo.

The entertainment value of a fictional story comes from events that wouldn’t typically happen. They might be used by the author for some sort of social commentary or moral point, something not likely to happen as the result of a protagonist sitting there twiddling his or her thumbs. Whether a character’s involvement is proactive or reactive, the story results from challenges, accidents, ambitions or extremes – something beyond the average.

I’ve been subject to the extraordinary for years, accused of being a weirdness magnet and of knowing everybody everywhere on more than one occasion (because I always seem to bump into acquaintances in the strangest of places.) I think that’s why, unlike some writers, I don’t cringe when people ask “where do your ideas come from?” I’ll gladly tell them. My life has always run so far outside of the norm, even when I’m trying to be just your average old boring accountant/mom, that I can’t escape new story ideas. I see them in my family, my friends, my co-workers, my environment, my goals, my fears and my trials and tribulations. Sometimes they even show up in the floors, doors or walls. With all this plot material building up in my head, if I didn’t write the occasional story, it might just explode.

So despite my unhappy mutterings about the record-breaking snowfall we’ve had this year, it’s really not all that bad. It’s just another one of those unusual experiences I can file away to break out when I need fictional inspiration – as the urge strikes me.

Something to keep me busy the next time I end up snowed in or snowed under.

The Same Old Argument

By Bruce Blake

—–

I did something unusual this weekend…I had a Saturday off. If you heard angels singing, now you know why.

While it’s not typical for me to have a day off from the ole day job on a Saturday, it wasn’t a surprise. Mainly, it didn’t surprise me because I asked for the day off. Those guys sure  know how to reward good work.

038575440XI took the day off because a friend of mine who is a traditionally published author was doing a book signing at a local book store. My friend–Jordan Stratford, author of the fantastic Wollstonecraft Detective Agency books for young readers–has a very interesting story that we can all feel jealous of (check it out here), but that’s not the subject of today’s post. No, today’s post is inspired by the conversation Jordan and I had regarding the differences between being self-published or published by one of the Big 5. As many of you might recall, I’ve recently signed on to have my Small Gods series with a publisher, but that is a ‘small press,’ so I kinda still count that as self-published (but with a great deal of help).

Now let me qualify first…I don’t want this to degenerate into a ‘which is better’ post. My conversation with Jordan simply highlighted a few differences, so here they are in no particular order.

1. Editing – when I send my finished novel off to my editor, I generally have it back within a week. In that time, she  reads it twice (have I ever mentioned how much I love my editor? Ella is amazing!), makes notes and suggestions, and sometimes manages to make fun of me to keep my head from ballooning. Jordan told me that he sent the third book in the series to his  editor in August and recently found out it hasn’t been read yet.

2. Timelines – I write a book, it gets edited, it gets published. When I was writing full-time, that entire process might have taken only two months. It’s longer now that I’m back at work, to be sure, but I think 6 months wouldn’t be an unreasonable estimate beginning to end. The second book of the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series was finished in 2013 and is set for publication in August of 2015.

3. Money – he got an advance. He even gets to use phrases like ‘earn out.’ I didn’t and I don’t. Need I say more?

4. Promo – I don’t know what they do, but I did notice that Jordan’s site lists two publicists–one for the US, one for Canada. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t have a publicist.

5. Contracts – contracts?

6. Reporting – I can obsessively check the sales of my self-published books as many times per day as I want. Jordan can check his rank on Amazon but otherwise uses his time wisely for other things…like writing. A definite win for the big guys.

7. Media attention – When I Googled Jordan (unbelievable that Google has become a verb), I found articles publishedth1 about him and Wollstonecraft on such places as CBC (that’s the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for you non-Canadians out there), Yahoo news, Huffington Post, and Reading Rainbow. Google me and you find my blog and a nice note my  mom once wrote about me. Too bad, I’ve always wanted to be on Reading Rainbow. (It should be noted that, when Googling Jordan, I also came up with a story titled “Daredevil Stratford Pilot Becomes Jordan Princess.” I chuckled at that).

I’m sure there a ton of other differences, but those were my observations. You can easily argue one way or the other–both have their advantages and disadvantages. I think I like this place I’ve found in between–the small press. Maybe we’ll tackle that in another post. Or maybe I’ll see if we can get it right from the horse’s mouth.

What are your thoughts on self- vs, trad publishing?

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Bruce Blake is a writer.

EddardStark

How Flawed is Too Flawed?

(This post is partially inspired by this post at i09 “10 Authors Who Wrote Gritty, Realistic Fantasy Before George RR Martin”)

The dark, dangerous, and flawed characters of Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series haven’t always been the yardstick by which characters have been measured. Fantasy and Sci-Fi characters have not always had such a “realistic” feel to them. In fact, some of the first and most recognizable SFF characters started out barely flawed if at all (see: Superman).

But as society has developed, so too has our understanding of the Human condition and our desire to have our fictional characters mirror, in some way, our own reality.

On the one side of the matter is the “Flawed Hero”. This character is defined by their positive traits, but it is their character flaws that make them interesting and give them depth. The good-hearted scientist who has an anger problem and turns into a hulking green monster, the “Chosen-One” who sets aside his destiny until the very last minute in favor of exploration and freedom, or the hot-shot pilot who smokes cigars and has a temper. All are modern characters who have flaws that define them.

And it’s not always bad traits that are character flaws. Take Ned Stark from ASOIAF. In a world built on deception and back-stabbing, his loyalty and honor are his character flaws.

But what happens when character flaws go too far?

For those fans of The Walking Dead, Shane’s overly aggressive approach to situations and willingness to sacrifice anyone makes him a character whose flaws carry him into unlikable territory. Or Gaius Baltar from Battlestar Galactica; his drive for self-preservation and willingness to do anything necessary to save his own skin leave him in a place where viewers have a hard time empathizing with him.

On the other side of the coin is the Anti-Hero, who’s reality comes from their good traits rather than their bad. The Punisher being the poster child for the Anti-Hero, followed very closely by Deadpool.

So where is the line between “Flawed Enough to Be Realistic” and “Too Flawed To Like”? What are your thoughts on the current trend toward seriously flawed characters and realism?