Sunday, February 3, 2008
Saturday, February 2, 2008
...not the stuff you write about, or read about, but the way it really is.
A couple of weeks back, when it just kept raining, my husband and I went to our favorite Japanese noodle place for dinner. We were the only people in the place, but we chose the booth way at the back. We sat side-by-side on the brown vinyl bench and watched the rain fall through the big plate-glass window beside our table.
Cars drove by outside. Their headlights illuminated the falling rain and the slick black streets. Couples on their way to dinner and a movie scurried past the window. They walked walked close to the building, slowing when they passed under the awnings, happy to be briefly out of the rain. They wore winter coats and gloves and hats to stave off the chilly high-forties temps. They cuddled together beneath the same umbrella as they walked, awkward as they tried to match their strides to the movement of their partners' bodies.
The owner of the restaurant must have been in a pensive mood that evening, because he'd replaced the usual soundtrack of 1980s American pop with sad love songs in Japanese--the kind of songs you hear over the credits of movies with bittersweet endings. My husband and I, we ate our steaming bowls of nabeyaki udon and curry soba. We didn't talk, but instead watched the steam from our bowls trace curls and swirls into the air in front of us, and condense on the window beside our booth.
When we finished eating, we sat back, warm and full and happy. We didn't say much. We held hands, listened to melancholy songs in a language neither of us really understands, and watched the rain fall.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Whew. The day job turned my brains to mush, and I left a few things hanging. For instance, the Create a Contest Contest. Isabelle Santiago is the winner, and her "What Kind of Thief are You" contest will run on February 12 with my guest post at Beyond the Veil. (Isabelle, if you've purchased Like a Thief, I'll send you a MB&M gift certificate. Sorry about the delay.)
Also, last week, Jane at Dear Author wondered whether the ePublishing's reputation for erotic fare was driving away potential readers. She used Like a Thief in the Night as an example, since neither the interest Ember might have garnered from The Serial, nor Sherry Thomas 's public french-kiss--er, enthusiastic review of Ember and Like a Thief last week generated enough purchases at MBAM to put Like a Thief on their top ten bestseller list.
An interesting discussion of the perception of ePublishing resulted. Mrs Giggles blogged her thoughts. Nice Mommy/Evil Editor Angie started a weekly series at her blog highlighting Samhain's non-erotic romances.
Another interesting result? It's over there on the left.
What do I think of the whole thing? Aside from being thrilled to see Like a Thief in such great company (Hi Shiloh! Hi Bonnie!) I commented briefly on Dear Author, and in more detail at Mrs. Giggles's blog. In an overlarge and overlong nutshell, my thoughts are these:
The thing I like about ePublishers is that they seem a little more willing to take risks and break genre rules. Like a Thief has plenty of sex and even more violence, but those aren't the tough selling points. Like a Thief features a heroine who is, by her own admission, heartless, and the story crosses several genre lines--I call it an a sci-fi paranormal action-adventure erotic romance. Bit of a mouthful, eh? And its only 28,000 words long--roughly a third the length of the average single-title romance.
Writers writing for New York know what New York wants. Just as writers writing for ePubs know what sells. I knew going in that M/M and menage were hot categories. I knew Like a Thief's violence and the heroine might be a turn-off for some readers. But I wrote the story I wanted to write, and Samhain published it, and I'll always be happy about that.
I didn't expect to see Like a Thief on that list. It's my first novella. Ever. And the first thing I ever submitted anywhere. I expected a polite rejection from Samhain. Everything since then has been an awesome surprise. I did rather expect to see The Valentine Effect and Erotics Anonymous on the list on day 1. Both Bonnie Dee and Veronica Wilde have written some excellent and very well-reviewed stories. They have fans (I'm one).
The Strangers in the Night stories came out on the same day as the three stories from Samhain's Court Appointed M/M anthology. All three stories from the M/M anthology are on the list, along with two menage stories. At the time of this writing, the top 5 books are M/M or menage.
What does that mean for new authors? Or for authors that don't write erotic, much less M/M or menage? It means we are being subsidized by the more popular categories. The success of those subgenres is what allows ePubs to take chances on the next hot-selling subgenre.
So, while I think it's a shame some readers are put off by the more exotic and/or sex-centered offerings, I'm won't complain if my books' sales numbers get trumped by shapeshifting threesomes or hawt gay lawyers. Popular erotic subgenres fund the risk-taking I admire in ePubs.
I'd like it if more people appreciated the diverse offerings available from ePublishers.
And, like Jane, I'm going to do my best to remind people who think ePubbed books are all erotic romance and/or pr0n that ePublishing offers a diverse array of genres and content.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Christmas at our house was like the "Gift of the Magi," except, not stupid. Hubby and I, we bought each other video games. Two sets of video games, and only one PS3. ::sigh:: Anyway, We've finally managed to play through our respective sets of games, and I thought I'd write some reviews. Maybe one a week. Here's the first and the best.
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
If you have a PS3, you need to own this game. You need this game like you need air, food and water, because this is the game your PS3 was made for.
For a long time, video game makers have been touting the cinematic qualities of their games. But in the video game world, "Cinematic Qualities" usually add up to long, talky cut scenes and movies with awkward dialog, and Parappa-style button-pushing sequences that get annoying real fast. But watching someone play Uncharted is like watching an Indiana Jones style adventure where the main character sometimes dies, and restarts the action sequence.
Aside from a tendency to push you into shoot-outs after cut scenes, Uncharted offers a great blend of platforming elements and third-person shooting (which I much prefer to 1st person shooters). The graphics are realistic, yet painterly, the animation is superb, and the dialog and story are better than half the action movies that came through the theaters last year. Nicholas Cage and National Treasure, Eat your heart out.
There are a hundred things I want to say about this game, but time and space are limited today, so I'll wrap up with the following
- Game Play: It's a baby bear game--everything is just right.
- Character design--superb! The main character, Drake, is easy on the eyes, and the female character, Elena is strong, capable and so realistic looking. Don't let the tank-top and shorts fool you, she's like the anti-Lara Croft.
- Voice acting--awesome. Really. Nicholas Cage should watch and take notes.
- Environment--beautiful. The texture artists deserve a raise and a trip to an island as beautiful as the one they created in the game. And the programmers who did the water need some sort of medal proclaiming that they have designed the Best Water Effects in the History of Video Games. Evah! I got shot a couple of times because I was distracted by the ocean, or the pretty, pretty waterfalls.
- Chutzpah: This game is a platform shooter about lost treasure, Spanish gold, Nazi experiments, curses, zombies, modern-day pirates and germ warfare. It really has something for everyone, and it juggles every aspect in a most entertaining manner. I can't recommend it enough.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Here's something I just don't get: RWA Contests. I've heard they're a good way to get your novel noticed--especially when the prize is prime placement on an editor's reading list. But, specifically, the judging seems counterintuitive.
I've heard several stories of writers who entered contests--agented writers, writers who have been published, and writers who IMHO turn out high-quality writing no matter what--and were given good marks overall, but received exceptionally low marks and persnickety, nitpicky comments from one or two judges. And, usually, the judges getting their hate on are unpublished, or have only a couple of publishing credits to their name.
Maybe it's because I'm new to all this organized writing business, but right here is where I start not getting it. The judges mark all these categories and are supposed to judge the readability and saleability of the submission--but how can they do that if they haven't sold much, themselves?
And if the writers doing the critiquing don't have a solid string of sales under their belt, what is their opinion but the opinion of a reader who may or may not like the type or style of story the contest entrant writes? What special insight do they have into the industry that can benefit the contest entrant? Now, if Nora Roberts or some other luminary of the genre were judging the contest, the whole setup would make sense: Experienced, successful expert offers learned opinion and judgment. But otherwise?
If I were judging a contest, my opinion would and should be worth exactly as much as the average reader's. Sure, I'm a writer, but I don't have any great string of credits under my belt. I don't have any experience, except my love of the genre as a reader, that makes me qualified to judge the saleability of a story. And as a reader, I've never quit reading a book over minor details, plot points I think should have been included, or the occasional punctuation error.
If anyone reading this has entered a contest, I ask, honestly, earnestly, humbly, "Why?"
- Are contests helpful?
- Do you feel like the critiques of the judges are useful?
- What usually prompts you to enter a contest?
Filed Under: RWA, Things I think About When I Obviously Need to Be Sleeping, Writing