Thursday, September 27, 2012

JK Rowling Gives Me Hope... and Depression

Casual Vacancy, JK Rowling's new book, is out TODAY! 


I am bummed out because I found out our Barnes and Noble opens at 9 and not 7 as I was (foolishly) hoping. I'll have to wait until like 4ish to buy the book....


BUT there is another reason I am excited for this, other than it is JKR (surprising, right?).

This book was like my reward, you know? Like, "Keep going till the 27th, just keep going, don't give up." It was like the deadline for me to really get my book amazing. 

I pictured finally reading the book to be an overwhelming experience, knowing it was for THIS book I worked -- and accomplished -- so much, and it was all coming to fruition.... JKR's book is almost bittersweet to me because my old MS ready is now on the back burner. I guess I didn't 'achieve' reading this book. It is a bit depressing knowing I will be reading this book, and I won't be close to my desired writing goal. My current WIP is also a mess.... I won't have the overwhelming experience I hoped for.

But this book will be like my dessert. It will be a treat, and I don't know if I earned it or not, but... sigh. I don't know. Will I ever reach my goal? Or am I just getting farther and farther away?

Hopefullythis book will motivate me to keep going. It's always a day-to-day living for us writers, right?

I am super excited, and sorry for the rant above, I don't know where it came from. I was supposed to be freaking out about the JKR book, gosh darn it!

BUT I AM SOOO EXCITED! Stupid US TODAY interviews keep teasing like freaking teasers.... and now BBC too! AGGG! I just want to read this book!!!!! I don't know how I'll be able to handle waiting till 4o'clock.... As you are reading this, the book is purchasable. I can't handle this.... I have to wait so many more hours. AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

I'm getting a little crazy as the book draws nearer.

Are you guys excited? I am. Just a little.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Warning About JK Rowling's New Book

Of course, if you don't know, The Casual Vacancy, JK Rowling's new book, is coming out in JUST 3 MORE FREAKING DAYS!!!

From the New Yorker Article

OBVIOUSLY, I've been stalking Mugglenet for more news about this fantastic author with this fantastic book, and I found out another interview had been released about her book.

Here is my warning:

This is not Harry Potter. At all.

Literally, I was in mild shock/giggles when I saw excerpts from the novel, taken from the interview:

 “The leathery skin of her upper cleavage radiated little cracks that no longer vanished when decompressed.”

'A little later, a lustful boy sits on a school bus “with an ache in his heart and in his balls.”'

And this:

“that miraculously unguarded vagina"

There is talk of a sex scene in the interview, and issues like abuse, prostitution, and heroin addiction. BUT, one cannot say JK Rowling did not warn us; this was, from the beginning, labeled as an adult novel. So, of course, it will BE an adult novel. Not a children one. I do think I shouldn't have been so surprised.

Jo (JK Rowling's nickname) even says,
“There is no part of me that feels that I represented myself as your children’s babysitter or their teacher. I was always, I think, completely honest. I’m a writer, and I will write what I want to write.”

And all my biases towards her aside, I have to respect her for the above quote. The Harry Potter books are not condescending, so it's not like Jo ever WANTED to be a mother to her fans. She's just another person, and she can write whatever she wants.

However, I DO know tons of young adults and children will be flocking to buy this book....

This, however, is not a fault of Jo. Is she to be punished for her success? No. Parents should be a little mindful when it comes to letting their children buy this book.

I, for one, am SUPER excited for this :) The characters seem INCREDIBLY vivid by the synopsis given in the interview (read it, read it, read it!), and I am excited to see more of her wonderful talents. I know this will be AMAZING! AHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ONLY 3 MORE DAYS!!!!!!!!


Please, if you buy or read this book (please, please do!), do so with an open mind. This book is NOT Harry Potter at all. Pretend it's another author or something. It doesn't matter. That might be what I'll have to do to get through some parts, but I know it will be worth it.

Jo should not be punished for Harry Potter. This is a big step for her as a writer. Respect her for it.

What do you think about this huge change in writing style? Is it something to be applauded, or something a big risky?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

JK Rowling on E-Books

First off, so, SO sorry for missing my post yesterday! I remembered late at night about 12.30 when I was in bed and I was like "Noooooo." Then I conked out.

I hope I can make it up by this post :)

So, in a recent interview (I know it's recent, because I've been stalking Mugglenet waiting for more information about The Casual Vacancy to pop up), JK Rowling, when asked, "Is the Kindle the future of literature, or is it the death of publishing?" replied:

"It's somewhere in between."

PLEASE, watch/listen to the rest of her answer in the interview. The answer starts at around 5:40ish. She goes into saying the Kindle has had a huge impact on the industry, and that reading is good on whatever device. But, she also says she will be "faithful to paper" but understands the "appeal of a digital book" as well.

Applause, please.

I have been waiting to hear what JK Rowling had to say about this current divide in our otherwise coalesced writing community. As she exemplified, it is NOT "us" against "them". We are a writing family, for gosh sake.

Just because people love e-books doesn't make them "bad" people. Just because people only read hardcovers doesn't make them "inflexible" (pun SO intended). Live and let live. Would you not like your future (or current) published book to be distributed in every format  possible?

One thing I REALLY don't like seeing is other writers getting upset or even angry about e-books. I'm truly sorry to break it to them, but they are GOOD. Nothing lives on in this world unless it is good. The bad will die out eventually, even if it takes centuries, because people are smart enough to realize there is something better in store. History is but an experiment.

No matter how much someone might hate them or get angry about e-books' popularity, who are they to get up in arms about something so many others love? We are writers, for Pete's sake. We WRITE. Does our joy lie in a published book or in the characters and world and plot which we love thinking about? True, publication might be our goal, but writing is our passion.

So can we not just write?

I am truly happy to hear JK Rowling's stance on this, because I love (love) paper, but I personally think e-books are pretty darn awesome as well. In fact, the book I DID download on my iPad (free classic), I went out and bought a paperback later on. Don't laugh at me: If I love a book, I want to hug it. Literally. It's less weird hugging a paperback than it is an iPad. But the iPad version was sooo easy, and so efficient to read.

Change is GOOD. Change is NECESSARY. Change is scary too, but it is beautiful as well. Embrace change.

For those who hate e-books, go out and try one. I thought I hated them but reading at night became so much easier, and it was FUN! Please, everyone, remember: we are writers, and we are in this together.

Thank you so much JK Rowling for helping me finalize the thoughts that had been going around in my head. (Except that interview spoiled some of the plot of The Casual Vacancy for me.... AGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!! But I skimmed it over because I couldn't not read it, so it might not be too bad.)

Thank you guys, and so sorry for missing yesterday's post. I hope I made it up to you today!

What do you think? Can the divide in our community be fixed? Can e-books and paperbacks live in harmony, or must one win?

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Secret to Character and Story Arcs

I posted this last Friday, and unanimously, everyone decided that characters are the most important (except Morgan did add on "But it's SO Important to me that the plot is whole and complete... Gah. The never ending trial of trying to balance everything... How's that for a political answer ;)")

Mrs. C also said that she doesn't like unfinished story OR character arcs, but she added on that she got really upset when one character did not grow at all during a book.

Unfinished Character vs. Story Arcs? Which sucks more?

Characters Arcs are FIRST, and SHOULD (I try not to say must) be completed.

They are the most important, and the most revered. If you do characterization right, your book will be immortalized. Because, the point of a book is NOT "Oh, the goal was achieved!" IT DOES NOT MATTER. What matters is HOW the goal was achieved -- and that lies with the protagonist.

Would you get upset if cheating-robbing-murdering Bob solves the mystery in the end by cheating-robbing-murdering?

Would you get upset if Sydney Carton, in the end of A Tale of Two Cities, sat lazily on the side drinking alcohol while Mysterious Stranger saved the person (whom I shall not name due to spoiler alerts)?

Would you get upset if Dumbledore sprang up and defeated Voldemort, while Harry sat on the side and clapped him on?

I would. More likely, I would get annoyed and slam the book shut. In the above scenarios, the goals were achieved, BUT, it must be that the character arc is fulfilled at the same time.

The story arc is just a metaphor for the character arc. In order to fulfill the story's goal, the character must undergo the change he/she is scared of. The story arc supports the character arc. The story arc must change and progress as the character does.

Both arcs are REALLY important, however, I have yet to find a book which I like involving an unfulfilled character arc. I've read unfinished story arcs, and this is literary fiction at its finest, even present in mainstream fiction like Harry Potter and Titanic in the form of Whisper Storytelling.

The point of a book is not that the goal is accomplished, but that the character arc is accomplished. THIS is the Secret to, "Which is greater? The Character or Story Arc?"

It is the Character Arc. But, how can you have a cathedral without its supports? How can you reach the ceiling without a ladder? Build a FANTASTIC story arc, and put your character on top of it :) Then, you will succeed.

Hope I helped!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What Sucks More? Unfinished Character or Story Arcs?

We were discussing this in the AQC chat two nights ago.

Which one do YOU think is more forgivable? An unfinished character arc, or unfinished story arc?

An unfinished story arc would be in the second Lord of the Rings where Frodo is taken by the crazy-black-cloaked-I-don't-know-how-to-spell-their-name-and-I'm-too-lazy-to-look-it-up-fine-I'll-look-it-up Orcs. (Oh. Right. I thought it was Nazgul or Ringswraith or something.) Anyway, in there, the story is basically left at a cliffhanger.

That's the type of story where you go, "WAIT, where in the world did the last thirty pages go?!?!"

An unfinished character arc, however, I have not seen an example of yet. That, I feel, says something, but more about that on Monday. The closest example I can find, which people seem to think, is the ending of The Catcher in the Rye where basically, nothing happens to Holden from beginning to end to technically change him. HOWEVER, I think that ending was the most beautiful ending of ever (except for Tale of Two Cities) so I would say there is a definite ending to the character arc there (of redemption and peace, I feel).

In here, you DO know the book ended, but it's depressing -- the character didn't fulfill his/her personal goal.

-- Basically, an unfinished character arc would be something like: "Mr. Bob was to get over his addiction to microwaves, but at the end, he buys all the microwaves in the world." This basically lends to a feeling of almost anger towards the protagonist -- even hopelessness. BUT, there is a line between failed character arcs and unfinished ones. More on that below.


We have all read those agonizing books where you go "NO, NO, YOU CANNOT END LIKE THAT!" not because you don't like how it ended, but because it didn't end. This is the unfinished story arc.

Have you read the books where the character doesn't develop? (I'm thinking of Feed by MT Anderson but I'm unsure even what the character arc was in that book... I'm not sure it existed even.) I can't think of anything, but if you can, comment away :) It's basically where a character is ALL on the way to overcoming his/her personal situation, but he/she doesn't. It just falls away. THE CHARACTER ARC EXISTS -- it is just not completed.

Which do YOU think is more important to complete?

This will be a Discussion for You :) I'll post my take on it Monday!

Have fun!

Monday, September 10, 2012

When You Just Can't Write

It's been so depressing, almost. For about... what, three days now? Probably more. I just haven't been writing. Not even a word (except the random stuff, of course).

I think it's because I ended at this scene (really, a letter) which the entire first third of my book led up to. I had been dreaming and hoping, "YES, once I write that part, the rest of the book will be a roller-coaster and I'll write it all so so fast." That didn't happen.

I've written the scene, and now I'm just... I don't know. Maybe I don't know where to go from here? But I do know -- I have several scenes in my head. Scenes I've been dying to write.

Maybe it's because this scene is so big, and it's the turning point of the whole novel. Everything changes after that, and I don't know.... It's as if this is so new, so changed, that it's scary to go into. Everyone fears change, and I don't want my characters' lives to change. But, it's necessary.

And the kicker? I know that once I write that first sentence, all this nervousness will vanish. But I just can't get myself to write that first sentence. I go blank when I think about it, and I'm almost too scared to open that notebook. But if I open it, it will all be better!

Maybe I should just wait until this wears off and I have time to write; when I'm ready to write. I'm probably just kidding myself. Ugh. This sucks.

I WANT TO WRITE!!! But I don't have that first sentence in my mind. It's like trying to write the opening sentence of a new novel; there is so much in your mind for the book, but that dratted first sentence... you just can't get past it. UGHH!

Ok. I have to write. Maybe tomorrow. I might take a few days to settle down and itch to write again, but I don't know. I should get writing! :(

Here is some advice I'll give out but I might not follow till tomorrow or something.

Just write it.

It doesn't matter that it might suck; edit it later. Just write something horrible for that first sentence, or even that first scene, and write the amazing stuff that comes after. THEN, rewrite the crappy. Just write. Face your fear and nervousness and just write.

Even use something like this: "David freaks out in this here" AND THAT WILL BE ALL! End scene! Don't write anything else. This way, you've "written" it already and it's all done. It's good for chronological writers. Later, come back and "rewrite" it. This would work great :) I heard it at LeakyCon Lit 2012.

Now someone, please, tell repeat this to me as well? I think I'm finally feeling up to writing now.... Blogging does wonders for this kind of stuff.

Have you ever faced this?

ETA: The night after I wrote this blog post, I settled in bed, decided to get my notebook out, and I wrote about 1,000 words :) It has ended!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Rose died in "Titanic" -- Whisper Storytelling

James Cameron has always been one for tragedy. I mean Avatar? TITANIC?! He loves his tragedy. That's why I got a tingly when I heard this from Jack:

I don't own this picture. Obviously.
"You’re going to get out of’re going to go on and you’re going to make babies and watch them grow and you’re going to die an old lady, warm in your bed. Not here...Not this night. Do you understand me?"

And then, I saw this scene in the closing credits:

(Go to 0:00 on that video above. You'll see what I mean.)

Now, read Jack's quote below again.

 "’re going to die an old lady, warm in your bed."
Did your jaw drop yet? Mine did.

I Googled a bit and realized that there were a lot of people who already thought of this and I might have been the one left out. (Did you guys know?) Also, according to the ever-reliable Wiki Answers, James Cameron left Rose's death up to the viewer's decision.

 This is BRILLIANT storytelling.

JK Rowling did this with Dumbledore's sexuality -- the whisper of an idea is present in the material, and conclusions can be made FROM them, but never be truly conclusive. Much like: who killed Ariana Dumbledore? Or what happened to Holden Caulfield's sister? These things would be awesome to know, but knowing them does not change the literal story.

Don't be afraid to leave things up to the readers! It creates much more interest, but do this with caution. Don't make the last sentence of a stand-alone book be a bullet coming towards the protagonist (unless you are going for something literary). This bullet "leave it up to the reader" is not a whisper of uncertainty. That's plain dumb -- it breaks the author-reader contract.

The character arcs should be fulfilled; if it is, and if your book is more literary, then you can have the last part be the bullet. The story should feel complete though, so it's tough. If the story arc and (more importantly) the character arc is fulfilled, use all the whispers you want :) (With restraint. Maybe. I don't know. Just have fun :) )

This is why I think Rose did die. It is a bittersweet addition (totally Cameron's style) and it completes Rose's character/story arc. Jack taught her how to enjoy life; now, she's lived wonderfully, and it's time to call it a day.
Titanic is my epitome of tragedy. (Maybe tied with A Tale of Two Cities. More on this in a later post.)

Do you enjoy whisper storytelling? Do YOU think Rose died?

Monday, September 3, 2012

No More Blaming the Publishing Industry



a. you seem a bit arrogant (even if you aren't)
b. if you do it publicly, you might be blacklisted (agents -- if interested -- do look at your blog and/or Twitter)
c. the complaints are just excuses covering up a bigger problem
d. you don't gain anything from it

And, the Industry has its rules for a reason.

(By the way, by Industry I mean everything from the query to the agent to the editor to the bookstore.)

The Industry doesn't just decide, "Hey, let's put a bunch of rules out there." The Industry is NOT like this. They want the next great book as much as we want to write it. But,they want it to sell. The Industry sets its 'rules' based on the trends of the public.

The Industry rules are nothing more or less than the demands of the readers.

Why, do you ask, are there word count limits? And why, do you ask, only big published authors get to break this rule? Because most readers don't see a big book and say, "Darn, I'd LOVE to spend some time with that!" They need an incentive to read this book, and a big author is an incentive.

Even JK Rowling herself isn't free from this rule! The biggest complaint I've heard of people not reading Harry Potter is that the books are too long. Now imagine if Philosopher's Stone was as big as Order of the Phoenix. It'd be tough selling that. The Readers wouldn't want that.

The Readers ARE the Industry.

Now do you see why there is no point about griping about the state of publishing? The query trenches are nothing compared to what the readers will dollop on you, no matter how great your novel is. The Industry gently (even if it doesn't feel like it) prepares you for the real world.

The Readers want a certain level of quality, and the Industry has to meet it. Frankly, I think this is a good thing, no matter how much I have to revise (and revise, and revise, and maybe revise once more). I'd rather write a good book than publish a bad one. I would hate to disappoint readers.

The Readers are the kings, the queens, and everything in between. We writers, and the Industry, try to meet their demands; how can we blame someone on the same side as us?

Think about it this way: Would you rather have the Industry reject your not-so-great book, or would you have your not-so-pretty book go all the way to the bookshelf, and then get blacklisted and scorned by readers? Would you rather publish a good book, or a bad book?

The Industry, I truly believe, wants readers to read good books. That is their goal, and just like we both care for the readers, they also care for us writers. All that's left is that we give them a good book :)

Good luck guys, and I hope I helped! Off to writing now (I hope). And Happy Labor Day!

What do you guys think? ARE the Readers the Industry?