My first Signing Event: Coffee, Books, and Tesla Coils


746px-Tesla_colorado

Nikola Tesla’s Laboratory in Colorado Springs circa 1900: Photo-Wikimedia Commons

On November 14, 2012 I had the great honor to participate as guest author for The Final Frontier Sans Polyester Book Club! This was my first ever signing for Stealing Time, my e-Book short story, and I was blown away by the experience! I’m such a lucky writer to have met these fifteen delightful ladies–all home school moms–and even a few of their kids.

The event was held at the Catalina Coffee/Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in Redondo Beach and I’m pretty sure we ate up all the chocolate in the place, and tried every conceivable version of latte or frufi  coffee on the menu. I wound up the evening with a wee cramp in my fingers and a permanent smile which months later, is still in place.

What does an E-Book author sign, you ask?

Everything! Just kidding; I signed lots of bookmarks featuring Stealing Time’s beautiful cover art. Thanks Kelly Shorten at Musa Publishing!

The event was a splendid experience all around, and a special thanks goes out to Talitha Sherman, home-school mom extraordinaire, for inviting me to visit with TFFSPBC!

As promised, here is a link to building your own smaller version of a Tesla coil.

***Parental Supervision Required!!!

***  http://www.scienceexperimentsforkids.us/tesla-coil-experiments-for-kids/    ***

***Parental Supervision Required!!!

Tesla Coils are a real bit of science that I used in a fictional context in Stealing Time; leylines combine with Tesla coils used to power Time Traveler Pods. Well, that never really happened, no leylines, no time travel. Leylines were something that people in the late Victorian Era were interested in proving, or disproving. In contrast, Nikola Tesla’s Coils were actually invented in 1890, and the science behind them is quite real. Tesla coils were used in wireless transmission and can receive electromagnetic impulses.  Tesla Coil Receivers can be used to charge a storage device with energy, which can be used to operate various machinery.

I hope you’ll visit the link provided to learn more about Nikola Tesla’s experiments, but be sure to have parent, teacher, or a great group of home-school Moms as supervision for the experiment!

Cheers!

C.K. Garner 02/27/2013

Write to Pub Wednesday: Give it Away Free for e-Book Market Visibility


Give it away at a Bloghop!

Greetings All,

You’ve got your book marketing platform built, blog or website in place, buy-links to purchase your e-Book accessible and user friendly; but still you have one question; where are all the customers? Where are the other authors for mutual support and camaraderie in the field?

The answer is: If you build it, you must get out there and mingle and put your work into their hands; then they will come. You can do this on the internet or in person, just as you would in any face to face environment. Once you’ve built an online reputation that is welcoming and shows a genuine interest in supporting your fellow scribblers, they will come. Readers, however, sometimes need a little bit more to sweeten the pot before they come out of hiding.

Let’s face it; people like free. Doesn’t matter if someone is hawking an old stick. The question becomes, “What will it cost me?” And if the answer is , “Here, it’s free!” I feel safe in saying that in a crowd, someone will imagine all the things they might create with that old stick. Polish, carve, paint it, whatever; the point is they will step up and say, “I’ll take it!” But people are like a flocks of birds. We are creatures of habit. That same person may return to see if there is anything else you’re handing out, and so will the crowd in general; after all did you see the fantastic cane that guy made from an old stick? As a new author, or an up and coming author, how about enticing them with a free copy of your book for a limited period of time, or perhaps a gift card to Amazon for visiting and subscribing to your blog?

One of the best ways to earn a following is to reward your readers to be. Post a free excerpt on your blog if it is copyrighted. If you aren’t worried about copyright, post work just for the enjoyment of writing it and inviting people to read it. One of my favorite blogs belongs to a friend, author Nishi Serrano. For a glimpse of a great horror author in action, she posts free samples of her writing a chapter at a time. Essentially, people who visit regularly get to read an entire book for free just for showing up. How cool is that? There’s a cracking good horror tale in the works right now, just scroll down past the fun and creepy cars of horror films, over the pics of cute animals, and there you will find a lovely little tale called the Bilge. I’ve read it and anticipate the next installment with bated breath–and with the lights on. Check it: Author Nishi Serrano

Giving a way a title for free now and then creates interest in your brand. Another way to do this is joining a blog hop or two. Bloghops seem complicated to a noob, but they are simply a way for authors and readers to find each other. A site hosts a bloghop, sometimes based around a theme. Authors prepare a writing or a welcome for the given day and post it to their blog or website. All the sites are linked through the bloghop host, and all authors give away a prize of some sort; generally a free copy of their E-book or paper print book to one lucky hopper.  I participated in a blog hop before my book ever came out! It was fun meeting all the authors and visiting their sites, too. I even won a book myself! Not too shabby. For that hop, with express permission from my publisher, I gave away in advance two copies of Stealing Time. Now that my book is released, I’ll send them their copies as a download. That’s it! I found the bloghops well worth my time. Connections I made through participation in that hop are invaluable. I’m participating in another hop coming this October.

Many authors out there will balk at giving away their work for free, but there are an equal number who swear that a giveaway for a short length of time pumps up their readership and sales; this is true for traditional-pub or self-pub authors, but if you are with a traditional company, check with them first to see if you can. Self pubbed authors can do it whenever they feel the need to stir up some interest in their books! Here’s a site to read it for yourself: lindsayburoker 5 reasons to consider giving away a free ebook.

There is a money guru by the name of Suzy Orman who is constantly saying that to receive money, you have to be willing to release that money back into the universe, you must give back to society to keep the money flowing to you. At least that is the gist of what she says. I believe her. I might not have a lot to offer right now; but I can giveaway a free read every now and then, and I have traveled the long road form writer to published author. It is my mission to give back to all of you who still travel this road and help me have a better understanding of the best in human nature, and to share it along the way. Remember to be nice because you are making connections, not burning bridges; share what you learn, give away a little bit of yourself and your brand, and mingle at the bloghops!

Cheers!

C.K. Garner

Shopping Out Your E-Book: Are you covered?


Hi Writers!

I discovered an interesting surprise today. Many of you are aware that my first E-Book, Stealing Time released just two days ago. A friend told me yesterday that it was up on Amazon. This seems obvious, I know, but I was paying attention to sales from my publishing company’s site rather than thinking about other venues. Today, curious as to how far across the boards I could find my book, I did a little bit of digging. It is a wake-up call to see how many markets a book crosses to get it in front of the viewing public.

Some might view it as checking out the competition; but that is an incorrect assumption. Perhaps the venues compete with each other, but for the author having your work available across a wide range of venues increases your chances of being picked up by a new reader. That is good marketing at its simplest form whether you are a self-published author or with a traditional company. Make sure your readers or even just the curious can find you with minimal effort–every click is a potential sale. So where can you find a copy of Stealing Time? Check this out!

Stealing Time on Amazon only $0.99 cents!

Stealing Time on Smashwords only $0.99 cents!

Stealing Time on Barnes and Noble only $0.99 cents!

Stealing Time on Manic Readers only $0.99 cents!

Stealing Time on Musa Publishing only 0.99 cents!

I only covered five venues, but you’re getting the idea, right? Make sure that your readers can easily find you across multiple websites. Market wherever and whenever you can.

Thanks for reading, now go and check to see where your readers can find you, and add a site if needed. Remember to come on back for Write to Pub Wednesdays!

Cheers!

C.K. Garner

Write to Pub Wednesday: A Social Media Market List


MARKET DAY!

Hi Folks!

When you take a trip to the local market do you have a habit of tossing a motley group of unconnected items into your basket? What’s the problem with that strategy, you ask?

Purchase too much or too little and you wind up spending your time and money on random things that don’t work together to make a good meal, or you wind up with lots of  spoiled goods, which is like tossing money into the trash bin. For a better way to shop just make a list before you hit the market.

The same strategy can work for your visibility as a new author, or as a writer on the road to publication. You want to develop a marketing platform which can bring you into the blogo-sphere and put your name out in front of the world! So what do you need to achieve this feat? A MARKETING LIST.

List One: BLOG

Start with something cost effective. If you can get it free of charge, even better. The simplest way to keep your promotional costs low and get into the habit of engaging with your future audience is with a BLOG. There are several great sites in which to explore this arena. Try one of the following sites to nab a free blogsite and begin building your web presence and your brand.

http://www.wordpress.com

http://www.blogspot.com

http://www.weebly.com

Choose a blogsite, build some content and personality into it, set a schedule to post regularly, and you are on your way to Web visibility, where before you had no connection at all. My advice is to keep it free for as long as you can. Many successful authors are content with just the blog service itself; however, when you are ready to invest a few dollars into it, consider buying a DOMAIN. Most sites will do this for a small fee, converting what you already have on your blog service into your own personal WEBSITE.

Here’s an example of a regular blog address–  http://www.bathtublub.blogspot.com   –kind of long isn’t it?

This example reads like a domain address–  http://www.bathtublub.com  –much easier on everyone involved.

The value in owning your domain is the simplicity in which people can now find you in a search. It is also easier on you as a writer whenever you need to type it out, and looks cleaner on a business card or connected to other social media.

List Two: TWITTER

Signing up for a Twitter account is easy, and once again, cost effective because it is free! Did you notice I didn’t put Twitter on the list of Blogs? Twitter is in itself like a mini-quick blog to tell the world about yourself. The great advantage of Twitter is that if you are short on time, because all posts on Twitter are a mere 140 characters or fewer, you can spend the minimum of time getting the maximum from your efforts. If you allot time to re-tweet and connect with other writers and authors, really just be happy for them when something goes right, sympathize when the crap is hitting the fan, and enjoy the mutual company; all else will follow. The key is to support your fellow Twitter users, and they return the favor. Trust me; this works better with Twitter, but can apply for blogging, too!

So once again, what is the difference between Twitter and a blog besides shorter content? Currently Twitter doesn’t show all you might need to post as an author. You can link to cover art, or content for instance, but not show an image unless you use it as your avatar. You might also want to post excerpts form your published works, or tales that you don’t intend to publish, thoughts you pen for sheer enjoyment of the act, writing practice, and don’t mind sharing to an audience on the Web. A blog allows for you to post content of a variety of lengths, cover art, hold discussions, guest-host other authors and writers, post excerpts, and whatever else you want to do with the space.

List Three: FACEBOOK and GOOGLE+

Okay, this is where I diverge on usability and visibility.

Facebook appears to be a great reach-out community, but with the new arrangements in visibility on the part of the folks who run it; getting your brand out there can be a daunting task. I can say that being with a small publishing house came with some advantages; we connect to each other and therefore have a built in mutual audience. On the other hand, I’m not sure that the average Joe, unless he is already well connected is going to reach an audience unless he goes with one if its pay versions. Since my experience with this is still in an experimental stage, I will explore it further and report back to you.

Google+ is a new experience for me, but I find it easy to use, and it is beginning after only a couple of months to pick up speed as a viable social media tool. One of its best features is the Google Alert. The Google alert, once set up, will send a notice to your inbox anytime someone searches for you on Google! How’s that for staying on top of your social loop? I’ve only been using Google alerts for a week and already it has sent several messages to me. Some folk searched for me by name: C.K. Garner, and others by my website blog title: Blog, Paper Scissors. That surprised me. My book, Stealing Time, goes live in two days. I have just set the parameters for Google to alert me if anyone searches for it; very exciting!

So how do we make these items work together?

List Four: LINK IT!

Every one of the above mentioned formats can be linked to each other through an APP.  The simplest description for the function of an APP is that it enables a person to easily share content from one site into another. You can easily connect your BLOG or WEBSITE to your TWITTER account, FACEBOOK, GOOGLE+, and where ever else you’d like to connect your marketing platforms together!

So this is your final checklist for Try it Thursday–or later depending on when you read this!

Social Media Market List:

BLOG

(or)WEBSITE

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

GOOGLE+

LINK WITH APP
These are the beginnings of what I hope will be a successful marketing experience for you as Writers and Authors. Well, I gotta go now; need to post this to my other social media sites and get my brand out there! Oh, and remember; my E-Book Stealing Time, a steampunk novella, releases August 10, 2012! Come on back and I’ll have a purchase link posted!

Cheers!

C.K. Garner

Odyl and Facebook Marketing: Worth it for Authors?


Image

For my next act I will gargle peanut butter!

What does it take to get your FB page noticed as an author? How can you market your brand name as an author and make book(s) more visible to fans and potential new readers?

Here is a company that appears to have a solution. Odyl has its eye on authors. From what I can see, it markets not only to the big six, but also to smaller publishing sites and indie authors through a fully integrated Facebook platform. What does this mean for authors? Take a look at what author J.T. Ellison has to say in a guest post on Odyl website. She’s not the only one touting its virtues. I scouted around the web and found several authors using Odyl to boost their visibility and sales.

I’m interested in seeing what it might cost for such a grand scheme. Sent a note to Odyl to have a look at prices and see if they have something manageable for new authors. I’ll let you know the results.  Have a look at the article from AllFacebook.

Facebook Marketing Tool Odyl Boosts Authors

Yea! I’m getting published! What Happens Next?


Howdy Peeps,

Yes, it’s been a long, lonely time since I posted to my wonderful followers about cuttin’ through the red tape to the gettin’ published finish line, but here I am, and I am happy to say that I’ve finally crossed and broken through the ribbon*drum roll please* I’m getting published! Musa Publishing  accepted my manuscript, Stealing Time for publication in their Urania Speculative and Sci-fi imprint. Stealing Time is scheduled for release August 10, 2012. Can you say walkin’ on air and thus giving my tootsies a break? *big grin*

So, now that I’ve found a publisher, submitted my manuscript, had it accepted, and signed the contract I get to sit back and ride the magic carpet to success as an author, right?

Well, I’m afraid that is dead wrong, my friends. It’s time to get back to reality, here.

Getting accepted by a publishing house, large or small is just the beginning. There will be blood. Okay, maybe not blood, but there are blogs, email accounts such as Blogger and WordPress, Twitter, and Facebook to set up and link, author groups within your publishing house to take an active role in further honing your craft, author interviews to set up  for yourself, and interviews by you for your fellow authors, taglines and blurbs to write and rewrite that will help to sell your book, descriptions for the artists to consider when creating your cover, and supporting your fellow writers in their endeavors, and so much more. Not to mention writing your sequel, ahahahaha, that’s the  part we love!

Those of you who thought you were entering a cakewalk, or are just plain chickening out may leave the building. We don’t condemn you, seriously, who wouldn’t balk at that list? Of course, it does make one wonder if all writers and authors aren’t just a little nuts, because here we are, ready to get cracking!

Okay, all those still in the game are go. Let’s have some liquid courage before we get into the new round of discussions, you can never get enough caffeine in you if you’re in it for the long haul. *pours various forms of highly caffeinated beverages all around* 

Next Blog:

Square One: Why I chose an E-book publisher over a traditional format publisher.

Submitting without submitting: Becoming the Hunter to Get Published and Avoid Predators


Howdy readers.  So, the time has finally come.  I’m shopping my short story around for publication, checking out various sites for submission into the hallowed grounds of first time Publication.  I’d like to say that I found a whole bunch of opportunities for legitimate submission, great gobs of contests, and publishers just aching to grasp my tiny tale and get it into print at first bite.

The truth is, it wasn’t very hard to find the welcoming trail bread crumbs. However, the more I looked into things the more confused and wary I became of the offers. If it sounds too good to be true, is it really? Are those sharp teeth and claws I spy on those happy websites with their clutching hands?

To wit: I saw calls for submissions and contests where the fee to enter is $15.00 (US) and the awarded prize is $20.00 to $60.00, but only if yours is pick of the litter. I also saw publications that were foreign, inviting submissions for free, but with no information to be found, and several US companies already on the watchdog sites of Preditors and Editors, Absolute Write, and Writer Beware lists as badguys.

It is typical for Indie Publications to charge an entry fee for their contest, but they trend toward the manageable, which is good news.  Some journals and magazines indicate calls for submission with no fees involved, at least not that I saw outright. To clarify whether these would be a good start for a noob, I headed over to Writer Beware (WB), that great website like an eye in the sky keeping new Writers and Authors out of  the clutches of the Damned Unscrupulous Malicious Publishing Scammers (DUMPS) for any advice. (yes, I just coined that acronym this evening!)

I learned to research EVERY SITE because the Dumps monsters will bite the unwary and uneducated, and received advice to not click on any links within sites, but instead do a direct Google search (http://www.blahblah.com) to confirm information on a prospective publisher.  I learned that publication of a short story could be equally good or a nil sort of venture, depending on the publication.  Here’s the link to the page where I questioned WB, and their responses: 2011-Writer Beware Retrospective  Under 2011 WB Retrospective discussion, scroll down to comments to C.K. Garner (se Moi!) asking a question, and read Victoria Strauss, Author and Co-Founder of Writer Beware and Grace Peterson of WB Blogs, answers and advice.

Once in their website, I highly recommend clicking around. The advice contained in Writer Beware is an invaluable resource for you. Just in case you are skeptical, these fine folk are part of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.  They do this as a community for free, to aid other Authors and Writers. So check them out, you can lose the monster DUMPS and get some sound footing to navigate the path out of  the woods!

We must, do the assignment of protecting ourselves by asking the questions and then following through to find the answers, and using the proper resources before submitting to any contest, or Journal, or publishing entity.

So, how well do you know your intended publishing company?  When you are ready to send in a submission, have you done research on the Publishing company? Did you check with Writer Beware first?  Did you run them by Preditors and Editors, or check with Absolute Write? Did you Google the company to see how much you could find out about them, and find other Authors who have used them?

I need to sign off now.  I’ve got a lot of work to do before I send off my short story for submission.  Good luck to you, and have fun researching those prospective publishers! Here Goes…

C.K. Garner

Publishing on your blog…Don’t unless you already have a copyright in place!


A friend of mine, Nishi Serrano, a featured Horror author in the Hellfire Book of Beltane Anthology (yes, that is a shameless plug for her frightening tale “Old Looshi”  in that Anthology) on occasion puts up an excerpt of her work in progress or a segment of already published material in her Blog.  When I asked her if I should do this, too, her answer was a resounding, “NO!”

She explained that the segment she crafted utilized a character for whom she already had copyright protections in place  or she wouldn’t have done it.

Putting up segments of your own already copyrighted work, is fine, as long as the publishing house you are with, you and your agent all agree on what limitations, if any should apply.

Use caution with your work, and make sure that if you put it on a public site that you own the copyright for your characters.  But be aware ,too, that some publishing houses won’t touch work that already has a copyright, including those published on a Blog or Facebook, Twitter, etc., by their own Authors.  The legalities and risks are changing somewhat with e-publishing business coming rapidly to the fore, but again, use caution and do a bit of research to protect your writing and your interest of same, to do otherwise could be a scary experience fit for a horror novel!

Can you take the Heat?


A good Critique hammers out the bumps in your manuscript!

If someone asks for a critique, or for you to go over their writing, should you?  Would you be kind or let ‘er rip and tell them what’s  not working for you? On the receiving end, how do you handle being Critiqued? Today, I read a  manuscript from an acquaintance, then related what I felt worked and what didn’t. Instantly I became public enemy #1.

In nicer words than those here, I pointed out a lack of tension causing the story to flag and my interest to wane. I tried for constructive criticism— because I want very much for my fellow writers to keep working at it and not give up– applauded parts that flowed to the concept of the tale; but mentioned disconnects between actions of the characters and the reader trying to comprehend the flow of the story. The key here is, what I took in was what the writer conveyed in their manuscript.

The writer decided I am too much of a novice to critique them and could not see the picture they conveyed. Au contraire; I was picturing Giovanni Ribisi, one of my favorite actors, in the Protagonist role, and I tried to see scenes in full realization as they stuttered past in my mind, Giovanni looking for direction. I presented a few suggestions that might improve the MS, but the writer rejected any alterations, fearing tidier segues would change it too much; if they introduced more  feeling of the place, tried to build a bit more on the characters, then it wouldn’t be their story anymore. Topping off the list of backpedaling the writer expressed they shouldn’t have to personally explain each scene for a reader to get it.

On the last gripe I agree. The writing itself should speak to me. Setting, conflict and resolution should convey to me, the Reader, what is happening in the story. Tension should keep me wanting to turn the pages to find out what happens next, and each scene should ease into the next instead of me flipping back and forth to find a connection; bringing to mind Giovanni: all apologetic, his character says, “I’m sorry, but can you point me to the nearest segue?”

I have come to the conclusion that some folks don’t really want a critique.  They want you to read their work and tell them it has points so well-formed they stab you in the eye while perusing the brilliance of their  DARLING bit of fluff, and now you must wear an eye patch and become a pirate, you are so blown by the wave of their stature.

Give me an effing break.  Better still, don’t ask for a critique if you can’t take the heat.

Here is my take on how to handle a Beta Reader‘s POV: Welcome the harsher voices, the gulls of Criticism if you will; their opinion is as valuable, perhaps more so, than the sweet voiced variety of Critique.

The best Authors and Writers, or at least my favorites, are happy to have people read and share their thoughts of the characters and settings and how these work with each scene.  Equally, they welcome the point where you fell asleep reading their  tale. This is because they want to kill that bit of needless fluff  to make it read better, and take their writing to the next level.  They crave, I crave (!) to know what interferes with the flow of the story, where the bogs are that suck away the action, when it is too candy coated and needs added complexity, or where the story has too much description and wants a good conversation between the prime characters, or even the comic relief to ease darkness, just a little, see?  A good Critique gives you possibilities.  

The best thing about encouraging your friends and acquaintances to read your work, to critique it, is that they are your first audience!  *applauds beloved Beta Readers* If you pay attention, really take their constructive criticisms to heart, you will discover that their eyes are invaluable, because they are not in your head. They are Joe Reader. If they get it, chances are your future audience will, too. If they are struggling to wrap their heads around a passage, perhaps you should revisit and make that concept clearer.

It is human nature to balk at criticism, but if we unplug from our initial negative reaction, we open ourselves to the Reader, gleaning that pearl of wisdom that makes our story have luster. So, leap into that boiling cauldron with a smile. Find some Readers to critique your work, then tell them to please, turn up the heat, you can take it. Your work will be better for it, and your naysayers will at the very least respect you for being able to swim in the deep end of the pool of magma.

Well folks, my manuscript calls…a great friend of mine red-inked the heck out of it…for which I thank her!  I’ll take the advice and change what needs tending, toss the rest…that, too is valuable. 🙂

Keep writing!

See You Around,

C.K. Garner

Get into Character!


What a Character!

Do you start your story with all of your characters already written out?  Do you know how they will act, what they might say?

I am a person who sucks at dialogue; but now, because I’m dabbling in character creation, I feel like I’m learning, or they are teaching me… it is as if the characters, once created are speaking for themselves, each with a distinct voice to suit his actions.

The fun part of writing is pushing the situations just little bit, or a whole shove from the norm, at the same time as  trying to keep it real.  The characters can help you along, or you can create a character grid, and make sure to follow closely.  What might a character do?  How far should you push them?

For Example, if I think a character is vain, I really get silly with that vanity, i.e., I try to take it way beyond what a normal person might do.   I’ll have them missing conversation, irritating people, and losing weight because they are so engaged in their reflection in the dinner plates they forget to eat!  If a person is clumsy, I have them tripping all over the place.

Are they an evildoer?  They are going to take a shot at your baby sister’s baby bunnies, drag the key down the side of someone’s car, blow up pigeons for fun and chuckles, and generally wreak havoc.

Same goes for nice.  Made of sugar, but sometimes spice is the answer there.  As for the middling ones, it helps to shove them over either edge to see how they will handle the drop.  Sometimes a character will grow if you push them, this is especially true if you shove each into the other!  The characters will tell you what they will and won’t do along the way once you start getting them down on the page.

I like to take them to extremes because it makes the story better, even if I tone them down later.  It’s just fun to have a character go beyond the bounds of what is the accepted “norm”.  The lengths to which you can manipulate your characters into a twisted tale are endless, and even impossibilities are, well, possible if you decide they are real enough to write them down!

For the rest of the month I’ll be catching up on all of the possible goofs I have missed in adding the new characters.  I want a seamless blending where I have added them in, which means line by line editing.  I take the time when doing this to catch dropped punctuation, spelling errors, grammatical no-no’s, etc..

It is also a good time to check and see that your characters are showing, speaking, and acting it out rather than you telling the story.

Believe me, no matter how many times I go over it, I catch a couple more errors, and kill them off, hiding the evidence, so that by the time I get to the end, I will be ready for the next batch of revisions from Friends, Beta Readers, Agents and Editors.

I recommend you  try adding a couple of characters and see what happens with your story.  I’ll bet it grows in ways you didn’t expect.  Have fun playing in your world, the company is great!

C.K. Garner

More On Audience:


Don't know who your audience is? Find the perfect fit using character and content!

I commented to a recent blog:  Foetal Positions in an attempt to explain why I blog to an audience, but it got lengthy, so I decided to expand on the manuscript portion of my answer here.  For me, content  and character are  high on the list in choosing my audience,  and you might consider examining this for yourself if you elect to have an audience at all.

I thought I was writing a fantasy novel for adults, but it may be a young adult novel instead, or perhaps a young adult dark fantasy book, due to its content and character development leaning in that direction.

Though the situations may be a bit dark,  young people live in a much harsher reality than society gives them give them credit for understanding.  By the time they are teens many are exploring darker imagery.   However, beyond the darker side of life and pushing boundaries, my manuscript is growing into a coming of age story on its own, but I think that it can be enjoyed by adults, too.

Now, this was not really my initial plan, but rumor has it there is an audience for YA fiction, and lets face it, who amongst us wouldn’t want to have our scribblings published, perhaps be successful enough at the game that we can, if not quit our day job, ease up on those hours and devote more time to writing?

I have another manuscript started, a horror novel.   This second enterprise is definitely adult in content, moreover involves murder, sex and violence, and it is already holding steady in the adult audience position of its own accord, the characters dealing with adult situations more graphic than in my fantasy novel, even as they grow through solving the mysteries and murders, and evolve in their character arc.

My audience with the first novel, when I’m published, will likely be adults at first; those who have guided me on my journey, and those friends who will buy one to show support, but I’ve a feeling my young adult audience will trickle their way through to find my bit of work, and with any luck, come back for more.

The second novel will pull in a mature audience, and have a following in perhaps both the horror and dark fantasy genres.

Here is one thing to keep in mind when writing to your  audience, and your intentions and responsibilities toward them:  This quote by agent Jon Sternfeld“All genres are mysteries…” 

What this means is that you, as a writer are attempting to engage your audience, your readers in a play of, “Hey, there’s a mystery to solve here,” or a dilemma to overcome, etc., and you promise, as an author to give them a bit of a peek, a chance to anticipate, participate, and unravel the clue, to care about the characters, and solve the problems presented, regardless of genre.

http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.comblogAgent+Jon+Sternfeld+On+Engaging+Your+Audience.aspx

Ode to a Brainstorm


storm cell #9

Brainstorm!

A couple of Blogs back I promised that this week would be add a few new characters week for my manuscript.  I played with a few ideas in my head, none of them bearing real fruit until I had a waking vision.  I was munching my dinner in my car when suddenly my mind opened up with a great picture of  a creature; a scary, but beautiful night creature.  Yeah, yeah, I know you’re all thinking Vampire, right?  Nope.

I have been re-reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which I mention last Blog.  Ala J.K Rowling‘s experience on a train, no pen or paper handy with the idea for Harry Potter in her head, there I was with no pen or paper available, only my mind for a page.  To make matters worse, my dinner break was ten minutes from finished.  What to do?

I brainstormed that new character in my head for that ten minutes until she looked completely fleshed out and real.  I drove my car back to the job, thinking hard about those ideas of her made whole, got out and locked the car, walking a little blinded by the vision in my head. I was so desperate to hold onto her.  I could see her eyes becoming more and more real.  They haunted me until I was through the doors of my work.

So, my vision stayed with me.   My lovely one grew taller.  She gained hair and skin and a lithe physique.  Her eyes were her best feature, but all of her, well, I think I’m in love, like a parent of a new daughter I just wrote into being…except I hadn’t written her down, yet.

By the time I left work, headed home in a happy, calm mixture of thought, she gained personality traits, had a way of moving about, something of her very essence was captured.  She now existed.

So, after a start with no paper or pen, last night I finally wrote her character into my manuscript.

I added this character so readers could connect with my protagonist better, see her through the eyes of her newly created friend.  I went further to decided how she looks, speaks, acts, and interacts with my main character and the others thus far introduced.

She worked like a charm but for one thing; I love the new character so well I’m afraid she’ll take over the story!  But, if J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter could function well with such appealing characters as Hermione and Ron Weasley, okay, Ron was comic relief, perfect foil for serious Hermione, maybe I’ll be okay with this new creature just as she is.  And perhaps later on she’ll get her own story.  Could happen…

Manana I’m adding one more character to the mix, a villainous type, and perhaps two other minor characters for this book, that will grow into their own in this and the next book.  Yes, Virginia, there is a sequel to the manuscript I haven’t finished…yet!  I realized that to tell the story I have brewing, I will need more than one book unless I want it to be two thousand pages long.  Thus I’m splitting the tale as I write it into two sections.

I have yet again, through close reading of Harry Potter and a bit of knowledge about J.K. Rowling, moved ahead in my manuscript.  J.K. Rowling really does have a touch of magic…if you look into her first Harry Potter Book long enough, you will find everything you love about a good tale…and then you get to keep it and apply that magic hand to your own writing.  I could find it and keep it, and even apply it, you can, too.  Tag, you’re it.

Well, gotta add more characters, and work on catching them all up into the tale.  Cheers!

C.K. Garner

J.K. Rowling plays nicely with all the tropes and genres..


Our love worn copy of Harry Potter

I’ve been thinking about Harry Potter today in relation to writing my own novel.  I dusted off my son’s battered old copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, abandoned now that my son is twenty and moved out into the muggle world as a young adult, and began rereading it, with an eye for what drives this little volume that started a worldwide reading frenzy.

After a few chapters, I caught up on a few things that I had seen before in many, many books happily read over the years.  At the most obvious, this is a classic coming of age story.

Harry has the ability to grow, and the reader, if he starts reading this as a child, will mature right along with him, can relate to him from every aspect of what it is to be a kid.  From what he is required to eat as opposed to what he wants to eat, from  the tedium of studies, to happiness with professors  he enjoys, and the schoolyard bullies, lurking around the corners, kids, and adults who remember being a child, can relate to him.

Then there are the friendships that develop as Harry gets to know Hermione Granger, Ron and the whole Weasley clan, and learns how to relate with the other students.  He goes from a lonely child to a boy with close friendships.

Finally, there are the adult figures.

Harry has absolutely no experience with adult characters beyond the Dursleys, and he has no reason to trust any adults.   But with the arrival of childlike, if intimidating Hagrid, Harry begins to see adults in a new light, and this will continue as he grows and meets Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, and the rest of the cast, keeping in mind, he meets the not so nice ones as well, but chooses who he will associate with, once he has freedom of choice beyond the Dursley House.   Thus, Harry Potter comes of age before our very eyes through his interactions with humanity, or rather Wizards and Half Bloods and Muggles who touch his life, and change him mostly for the better.

Next, Harry Potter is a rags to riches story.   He sleeps in a cupboard, and lacks bedroom, pets, toys, friends, family and good inside or outside activity.  He has no one who sees or cares what is happening to him at the Dursley’s hands.  Creature comforts as simple as a decent bed and a good meal are denied him.  Just a couple of chapters in, he is eating savory sausages,  has a protector and companion in Hagrid, and finds a new place, richly vibrant and alive in contrast to his life with the Dursleys.  The money wealth is only secondary with all that comes his way.

Last, but only because this is such an involved subject, the tropes available just endless, Harry Potter is the classic tale of Good against Evil, and the struggle of our protagonist to learn about himself, the sacrifices his parent made, the eventual knowledge that his father wasn’t always the nicest kind of guy, the ambition to push forward and become a leader, albeit reluctantly, and the battle against the Ultimate Foe, one who goes after children…well, the need to choose between the good and the ugly and the middling ground in between lay in at the door of this classic Genre series.

So, what to do with this deluge of information?

I take it as a lesson that my novel doesn’t have to fall into just one category or subject arena.  Sure, it’s nice to bust out with something original, but the tropes laid down in stories past are still going because they are beloved familiars.  I can twist and tweak them at will just like J.K. Rowling did and does.  The good guys can become bad, the bad good.  The rich can become richer, and the poor stay poor, or the poor can gain wealth to no good end.  The lonely find a host of company, or just the reverse, find delight in the art of being alone.  It’s all up to me, and to you, the writers.

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