Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Probably Should've Posted This Sooner, But

Hiatus! Yay! Two months and going strong!

I'm currently busy with editing my current novel - a delightful task which I am fairly certain you will all understand as just being so happily time-consuming that you will understand my sudden lack of posts to my blog. Editing is the current priority, and what with most of my beta readers not even getting past the first page and suddenly disappearing, it will take longer than I first expected. (Even with the beta reader who stuck in there, there are approximately 20 more chapters to review.)

Eventually I will resume blogging regularly (insofar as I post "regularly"), just not right now. I will leave this for anyone who somehow stumbles onto my half-invisible blog - if you do, feel free to read some of my other insignificant posts.

See you soon!
Hiroko

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Some literature is missing in school.

I live near a high school and recently got a glance at the reading options list for their advanced literature class.  The list spanned one page front and back, which leaves plenty for choosing. The problem I have with the list is that only one science fiction novel appeared on the list: 1984.


I have nothing against 1984. I have, in fact, been meaning to pick it up within the next couple of months, since I haven't read it. Is it, though, the only science fiction schools are picking up? I have seen more than one list of sci-fi/fantasy books of literary merit, but nobody in the teaching rounds seems to be looking. Why is this? Can we not learn from these genres as we do from literary and other no-as-imaginative groups? As far as I'm concerned, some science fiction I've read has had more merit than those one might see on these high school lists.

Of course, that is not to say we can include just every book with a theme--or need to. Take Dune: I own the book - it was a present - and it is not my cup of tea. I know it features on many, if not most/all, literary sci-fi lists. Neuromancer also features regularly on merited lists, and I'd much rather study that. Only, many teachers wouldn't consider either book; they might not have ever heard of them.

I remember posting about an instance of ignorance about how eloquent science fiction can be here. I can't imagine what provoked society into casting science fiction into the corner and saying, "Since things that happen within your walls are probable and not some sort of snapshot of real life today, we won't study you." If anything, we have more reason to study what is probable. Orwell wrote 1984 as a thought of what humanity could become; Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 with a similar line of thought. Why not? Why don't we share this more proactively with the next generation? (They're already steeped in technology.)

Poor fantasy follows in the same boat. Of course we have books like Alice in Wonderland and The Lord of the Rings trilogy to back against, but most fiction gets away with elements of magic, not motifs.

None of this rant is to say that we don't have sci-fi in school--I'm sure every pre-school, elementary, high, and university school has science fiction somewhere in its library. What I am not understanding is why it isn't studied. Sci-fi and fantasy alike can not only make for great, inspiring storytelling, but also for the same values and truths that we find elsewhere in fiction.

How this changes is people, student and teacher, looking further into the written imagination.

Did you study much science fiction or fantasy in school, or was it just me and most other people I have met?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Brand-Spreading: It's Like Branding

Hello, reader. I am not dead--what I am is inconsistent, which is not a good thing. As such, this post might turn into more of a lecture to myself than anyone else.

I am about to release a manuscript for betas/critiques, so one must figure that continuing to build on brand at this point would be second nature. Unfortunately, being the introvert I am, I'd rather be writing or anything else I find, ahem, enjoyable. I could do this more so had I chosen to take the traditional route (but don't think me ignorant; you STILL have to most of your own marketing regardless), but I want the rights to my own novels. Being lazy or fearful are not really options.

One would think it easy to start with blogging. Maintaining a blog is, after all, writing; much marketing online consists of writing, since we usually do not engage physical contact. For me, though, blogging is also not writing: it's not fiction, it's not something I do with largely myself considered, and it's not as fun. Not that I don't like any of you readers, of course; you're lovely. I merely find my novel more interesting. What writer doesn't?

I can only imagine how more stressful things may get when it comes to actual marketing: asking for reviews, spreading blurbs, etc. etc.

If any of you are having similar feelings, though, remember: It's for your writing. How else will anyone learn about it? What will make them want to read it? You book can't introduce itself to the Internet (i.e., everyone). You might find it painful, even, but it's for your book. If your book is your baby, you are the parent: you have to prepare it for going out into the world.

With that said, I remind myself that I have to blog at least once a week. Through me, people will know about what I write. I'll have to post excerpts sometime. Ciao.

Monday, June 11, 2012

It helps that I know Photoshop.

I do not think I would ever be inclined to pay for a cover for my book. I don't have a clear idea of how it'll look right now (which is not a surprise), but I have a sort of artsy background and the right tools. If anyone recalls, I made a working cover for a currently-trunked novel of mine and had it posted in the About Me page--it's not there anymore, so don't look for it. If anything, it worked for practice.

Not every author can come up with art for their novel/story/whatever, but every author has a creative spark. I don't think it's impossible for an author to come up with something themselves and, I don't know, fool around with an image editor. I think we authors just need to not think in terms of words for this--think in terms of one stand-still picture. If you wanted one instance to represent the whole book, work on that. Something scary? Mesmerizing? Artsy-fartsy? You understand where I'm going. Think of a cover you would want to stare at; think of any covers that caught your attention and think of how to get the same effect from something related to your book. It is not only graphic designers, painters, and sketchers that can make pictures seen through the eye.

Perhaps I speak a bit out of order, however. My father has been an artist - sketcher, painter, and even Photoshop-er now - for years. My teenaged sister, whenever she gets into trouble, suffers prohibition from drawing. It's basically in her blood. I am technically the only writer, but even I have some background in non-written art.

Then again, does that matter for anyone? It appears that non-writing artists usually have problems getting down what they see in their head due to lack of clarity, talent, etc. For making a cover, this shouldn't be too much of a problem: chances are a writer won't be drawing their own cover (unless they have the skill to make what they want), and the file needs to be digital anyway. I have been using Photoshop for some years now and know my way around it pretty well; yes, I'm sure stick figures will fit well on some book, but I'll keep to my computer art, thank you. Nobody has to be a great artist to make a striking cover in this business--it can help, but it's not necessary.

Now, on the point of paying for it, there are plenty of people who can make exceptional covers without charging or charging little. Look for them if you need them--they exist. I have seen them, but of course I haven't asked for anything. I guess one could always hit up a graphics site and see if anyone's willing to complete a request.

I am done rambling. If you will excuse me, and maybe go express yourself 'artistically,' I need to resume polishing my novel.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Walking Contradiction

Long time, no see, blog. Seems I've let my blogging go to the side against...life. Troublesome thing, life is. At any rate, I have something else to say.

I would describe myself as a walking contradiction. Is this a problem?

I like both the sciences (computer science and astronomy in particular are interesting), a field with rather strict rules, and the arts, a field with almost no rules. I think myself a kind of free bird but like knowing I am secure in many respects.

When it comes to writing, I usually don't like to plan out a whole book, story, or whatever it is I am working on; I go with the flow, and let the story take me where it will. I don't think I'm too out of line when I say that outlining every story will, for some writers, dull the process--part of being a creative agent is letting the juices flow, correct? Recently I tried outlining an upcoming book, however.
I finished the outline, or at least its draft. It is fairly concise; the chronology checks out. The problem is that I want to twist it up! You know, mix in new ingredients, throw out some of what's already down, almost allow myself to pretend I hadn't written it out.

This might sound weird to anyone else, but having the this so fleshed out already makes me want to throw in things to make it not set in stone. That outline is too rigid and almost makes itself the bad guy.

Do not take any of this to mean that writers need only let their creative sparks unleash their wildness onto paper or computer and let the readers enjoy it or not at their will. If anything, structure helps us "creative lot" get some balance: without all that editing, marketing planning, and other orderly actions, our writing couldn't go much of anywhere. The question is to the amount of structure.

I didn't plan much for my preceding book. I scribbled notes (as I probably mentioned before) for ideas I thought I might forget and left the rest the story to flesh itself out. There was a lack of foundation here, and it shows in its own way, though it probably isn't as important now: there were times I didn't know what the hell to write. I imagined later scenes without knowing what to add before those scenes. Had I maybe planned out further, those lapses would not have been so pronounced and bothersome. I do not mean that I needed to outline sections of the book at a time whenever I wanted - again, my inner free bird shudders at the idea! - but a little foresight might have been handy.

Thing is, I doubt I'll do too much to that end. I enjoy making up as I go too much. Perhaps it is after the actual first draft writing that structure really needs to come in - after all, it is in the editing process that you will want more order to come to your story. Do not plan too much while you're letting the words come out - you may choke them.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Well.

Maybe the fact that I am not a huge fan of Blogger's new interface is why I haven't posted recently. Forgive me.

On the other hand, my mind is a yacht, a small yacht in the Atlantic. Many ideas go through my head - my yacht gets swished around by the ocean around it. I have many ideas going through about what to do next, all of which can get bothersome. If you've ever had several ideas at once, all while other things are happening, you must understand.

No guarantees on what I will do...but I think I will be editing soon. Preparing for others to "test." I did say that already in an earlier post, though, right?


Monday, April 16, 2012

A Dreaded Trunk Novel

"Stolen" from anchorbuoy.blogspot.com

I posted a little cover art in the About Me section of my blog a month or so ago for the world to see. The world might have looked and said, "I don't like it," "I like it but am going to forget about it shortly," or even "I like it and want to know more about the book behind the cover." Perhaps the world did not look at all.

Now I look at the Word manuscript of my book. It's been scraped and sliced, a process spanning a few days. To create it, and build it up, took a year, over periods of I got nothings and Just imagine the finished products. I was younger then, and had not delved into much knowledge of publishing. Even today I do not consider myself an expert, since I haven't yet published a novel, but now I understand better concepts.

Where do I begin? My brain sees this book needing a full rewrite. My "inner muse" isn't gravitating toward this book, and hasn't in some time. Who is my muse to speak, however - I don't know that she has a face.

Most of my creative side gazes over to my other novel. There is want for this one; my brain almost welcomes the redraft; my invisible muse kind of wants to roll around in it. Elsewhere, something says to move forward.



I am considering trunking my first novel. As I explained above in that little prose I felt like writing down, Spark looks like it might need a complete rewrite, something no part of me wants to invite. I'd pick the book up as is in a bookstore, physical or virtual, for its premise, but the thing itself is not ready. Whether I can repair a very lackadaisical manuscript (which this is) will depend on a ton of re-outlining, more removing, adding, switching around, etc., and at this point I feel burnt out on this novel.

I know, I know. "But when you finish with this novel, people will actually PAY for it!"

This brings us to my other novel. I want to work on it. I want to get opinions on it. Hell, I want to polish it and  prepare to unleash it on the world. The world can only run from it or learn from it, after all. I kind of miss working on it, too; I got very consumed by its universe. I write about things I like, after all, and what interests me; any write who loves writing might know what I mean.

So now what? 

  • I decide whether to store away the unfinished second draft.
  • I let it sit away for a while and reopen it at my discretion. (I did this during the first draft writing process! Usually those spells lasted some weeks, though. Who knows how long this might take.)
  • I get my other novel ready for "testing," i.e. beta readers and critiques. 
The something that wants to move forward kind of likes this setup. In the meantime, that cover art will be tucked away safely.

If anyone else is starting to struggle with the same problem, here is a glimpse into my psyche. Maybe my thoughts will get yours going in the right direction.