Catch in the Flesh (so to speak)

My beloved friend Megan is a graphic design major at CSU Chico. Now, I’ve seen some of the things that graphic design majors have to do–my friend Ryan Wunn, with whom I’m collaborating on FRaHGRttS, was one, and I’ve seen some of his school projects.

One of the projects Megan had to do was to design a book. Ryan had to do this also, but I believe he just made the cover design. Megan’s class had do pretty much everything associated with constructing a book, apart from actually writing the content. I’ve seen the workshop. I’m talking cover design, pressing, and even gluing and sewing the damned thing together. Ryan did an excellent design for Bram Stoker’s Dracula (I guess using books that are in public domain is the norm).

Megan, Goddess that she is, asked if she could use Catch.

It’s funny that she asked. Did she expect that there was any possibility I’d say no?

I know that many authors have printed versions of their self-published works, and that’s nice. But this is one of only two hand-crafted hardcovers of Catch. They’re the only two that will ever be made with this particular format.

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SciFi?

I have a dilemma, and anyone’s opinion on the matter is valuable. The short version of my question is:

Is my story SciFi?

Here’s the problem:

When I think “SciFi,” I think space. I think aliens. These stereotypes are leftovers from being raised with Star Trek as the very definition of SciFi. Well, yesteryear I had a brilliant idea for a story. Basically, everybody over the age of twenty is killed by a disease. (NOTE: I looked up other stories of a similar nature after the fact, and realized that this sort of thing has been done. Mine’s unique, though. So there.) I thought, Okay, my story falls into the category of post-apocalyptic. Post-apocalyptic, it turns out, is a sub-genre of SciFi. Cool. No problem.

Except, when I think “Post-apocalyptic,” I think mayhem. I think the world just after it ended. Well, my story isn’t about the aftermath of the end of the world. It’s about the after-aftermath. The post-post-apocalypse, if you will. It’s set approximately one hundred years into the future–and again, “future” conjures up thoughts of SciFi–and the main character, Iris, has no idea that people used to live to be older than twenty. To Iris, twenty years is a lifetime. Living beyond that is unfathomable. A boy named Kaleb arrives in Iris’s town and says that he’s on a journey to find a cure for the disease that kills everyone at age twenty–a disease that Iris didn’t even know was a disease. So, curious mind that she is, she decides to go with him. The story is their journey to find the cure. It’s about how they bond. It’s about the journey to attempt to conquer death as they know it.

The thing is, although it’s in the future, there’s nothing technologically advanced at all.

The thing is, even though it’s after the apocalypse, it doesn’t seem very post-apocalypse-ish.

The thing is, even though it’s fiction based on science (the disease), it doesn’t seem very science fiction-y.

Honestly, I’ve read very few SciFi books. I would have read more if I’d known that one of my own story ideas would end up in that category. For all I know, there are a bunch of stories out there in the SciFi community that are similar enough to definitively put my book into the SciFi category. So what do you guys think? Do I have science fiction here, or do I have something else?

More Style Stuff–Speech Tags

Style!

You may recall that I put up a post a while back about style. I addressed participles and appositives, and I mentioned that I got the idea for the post from reading self-published books with a critical eye. I considered making a thing out of commenting on style issues I notice in self-pubs, but since then I haven’t had the privilege of reading very many self-published works.

The main reason I haven’t been reading many self-pubbed books lately is that my own work, The Tiger, is in heavy editing right now and I’ve been committing every spare minute to it. Because of this, I’ve decided to do something better than criticizing others’ works–I’m going to criticize my own! There are a few things worth mentioning that I’ve noticed during my edits and that I’d like to point out and warn others against. They are: Speech Tag Abuse, Unnecessary Descriptions, and General Weak Writing Through Half-Actions.

Today’s topic is:

Speech Tag Abuse

I’m a fan of my dialogue. I think it’s one of my strong suits. I spend a lot of time eavesdropping–er–that is–accidentally overhearing conversations that make for high quality character studies–and I’ve become adept at creating solid, realistic conversations. One point where I dropped the ball, however, was in the general area of speech tags. I had waaaay too many of the damn things, and they muddled up the conversations to the point of making my dialogue less enjoyable.

You don’t need a speech tag every time somebody talks. My advice to you, based upon examination of my own shortcomings, is to use a speech tag only when the reader may be confused about who is speaking. If I were to make a general rule and say that any given paragraph is “about” one person in particular, then the speech tag is unnecessary. Observe:

Iris opened the jar and looked inside. “How many of these things do we have?” she asked.

The fact that Iris is the sole occupant of this paragraph, if you will, reasonably makes her the person who is speaking. The “she asked” is rendered useless, and can muddle up the flow.

And remember: it’s all about flow.

Like all style suggestions, I recommend that you not take this to the extreme. Cut back on your speech tags if you need to, but don’t forget that we still need to know who’s talking. Nobody likes to reread a section of a book to find out who’s saying what.

Tune in next time for Unnecessary Descriptions!

The Poisoned Scorpion

This is, I believe, the first story I ever wrote. I don’t vividly remember writing it. I think it must have been an assignment in kindergarten or first grade or something. At any rate, I was extremely young when I wrote it. It’s too bad my scanner isn’t working, because there are some pretty terrible crayon illustrations that go with it, and I love them. Maybe I’ll get a chance to photograph them sometime so I can put them up.

Either way, here’s the story:

The poisoned scorpion by Scott W.

Once upon a time there was a scientist.

He made a potion that can make poison go away.

Then a scorpion walked into the lab. Then he accidently poisoned himself with the end of his tail!

Then the scientist accidently dropped the potion on the scorpion. And the scorpion felt better. [The illustration here is the scientist dropping the potion and saying, “oops,” and the scorpion saying, “ah mutch better.”]

Then the scorpion walked out of the lab. [The illustration here is the scientist saying, “That was my best experament.” Except I drew the speech bubble before writing the words and it didn’t end up being big enough, so I had to extend it. Twice.]

I admire that my younger self, while unable to spell accidentally, much, or experiment, was able to spell scientist and scorpion.

Too long!

Sorry about, you know, not being around for a while. I’ve more or less dropped everything in my life for the moment so that I can participate in a race to read all of the Harry Potter books without distraction. I have a short story in the works and another all up in my head. I have a pile of editing still left to do on Iris/The Tiger/I Don’t Actually Have A Real Title Yet.

Anyhoo, I’ve discovered that I have another talent. You know how people claim to be able to read the future in tea leaves? Well I can read the present in the ring of dried coffee at the bottom of my cup. Here goes:

Okay. It says…it says I’m typing. And…And I’m eyeing my shoes because I’m about to go on a nightwalk. And…yes. Yes, I’m definitely seeing some more coffee coming my way.

Thanks for reading.

Thoughts on a Kindle

I bought a Kindle. I had a little extra money and I thought, I have a Nook, but maybe I’d like to do some side-by-side comparing of my own and see which one I like better. Turns out that’s the Kindle. Check this out:

Joe Konrath recently said in this blog post that he thinks ereaders and ebooks are going to consist of all this fancypants gadgetry in the near future. Some of what he said sounds like it would be fantastic, but much of it was over the top. Consistent updates to one book based on reader feedback? Admittedly, this sounds AWESOME in theory, but you’d be hard-pressed to find an author right now with that kind of spare time. Go on. Try to. Right now. Okay, that’s what I thought.

Anyway, here’s the strongest, most condensed point of what Konrath said, and I think it’s a good one: With coming (and already available!) technology, readers will be able to connect even MORE easily with one another about a book they love, and the author will be able to join in and play a part in that connection.

Okay, so check this out:

Amazon already has a way for readers to share their highlights and annotations with other readers. I was reading I Wish… by Wren Emerson on my brand new Kindle and I found that every time I highlighted something or typed in a note, it saved it to my very own web page at kindle.amazon.com. Apparently (in higher volume books, at least) Amazon keeps track of passages that are highlighted or annotated often. Apart from that you can follow your friends on it and see what they’re highlighting. The update system makes it appear as though Amazon has taken a turn for the Goodreads here, and that’s a good thing!

I’ve got to do some more messing around with it to become super familiar, but I’m thinking that this could be the gateway into the Author Interaction stage of where ereaders and ebooks are headed. If anyone can go and put annotations into a book, why not get them from the author? Just little notes here and there–where an idea came from, stuff like that. The time required for something like that would be minimal, but the result would be invaluable. It would be like watching a movie with director commentary.

Click here for my Kindle public notes page if you wanna keep track of what I’m highlighting.

Here I Am

I have crossed over into the land of Self-Published e-Book Authors.

Check out Catch at Amazon or Barnes, download the sample, see if it’s what you’re into.

By the way, Barnes has yet to make my cover art available–I read on the forums that they’re “backed up” in that department, so we’ll see how that goes. It isn’t my fault.

By the way, the synopsis on Amazon has a typo. I know this. I saw it riiiight after I pushed the “Go For It, You Can’t Change Anything For A Few Days Now” button. It’s my fault. I’ll fix it as soon as they let me.

=D