Tag Archives: Support

Live readers are rare for hermit writers

Hiker on beautiful mountaintop, looking toward a far horizon. Test: For perspective, talk to one of your readers. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

THERE’S A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING

And over the last week, I’ve had an experience you would have thought had happened many times before: I had a conversation with a live reader. In person.

Two, in fact. Both at my new abode.

One woman, one man.

The fun part? They’re in the same walking group here (no, I am not in it), and have been talking about me. Or my book, which is highly correlated. I wish I could listen in!

Different perspectives from each of them

One liked it, and has no clue where it’s going, but has decided what cannot be allowed to happen. Huh.

The other liked it, and seemed to connect – and asked me how I made Andrew’s Irishness work. I told her: hours of listening to radio from County Galway, and piles of notes – and a very light hand.

That last bit, a light hand, is critical for so many things in writing.

Yes, there is a lot of research in a novel like mine.

Yes, there is an entire version of 2005/2006 where you’d swear (I hope) that this actually happened.

Yes, like many writers I’m writing about things I haven’t experienced in person, and places I may not have been.

But that’s my job, and my other job is not letting the reader see it.

It can’t be in the story. Readers can’t find themselves in the middle of exposition: the info dump.

That last part is important to me. I want a reader to acquire the story without having to work at it – and I seem to have succeeded reasonably well: I could tell by the questions of both that there were no rough edges they had cut themselves on. Phew!

As I explained, I have not allowed myself the luxury of having a character conveniently think – at a time he or she would never do it – some piece of information that the reader needs. You won’t necessarily get, while reading, what some of those pieces of thought  are for, but you should understand what triggered the thought, and file it away automatically, because. I will connect the dots for you later.

Structure

And I got to say a few words to my new friends about a subject dear to my heart: plotting.

Because fiction is not real life. Even in memoir writing, the memoirist has to be highly selective – space limitations. And pity for the boredom of a reader if given everything.

And fiction has a purpose – which real life has, but not in neat chunks.

I used my skyscraper metaphor: if you aim to build high, and expect people to be able to live in an aerie with a gorgeous view, you have to plan the plumbing from the ground up to the very top: water and waste management cannot be added where convenient, as you go. Those pipes gotta connect.

And how having a solid structure in place – knowing characters, plot, setting, and timeframe, and especially why – allows me, an extreme plotter, the freedom of figuring out how. And the fun.

Conclusion: my notes are useless

I thought I’d get a pile of reactions and write them down for pondering later – so I brought a notebook and four pens (believe it or not, the first three didn’t work).

And scribbled as we went.

And found out later that I had written nothing of value.

Because the interaction itself, the pleasure of being allowed to talk about my work (while being very conscious of what I looked for when homeschooling my kids: the glazed-over eyes), the pleasure of letting someone else talk about my work interfered with coherent note-taking.

As, on reflection, it should.

The hard parts

Not talking too much.

Not correcting a reader’s perception.

Not letting out clues about where a topic will lead.

Not telling what I’m eventually going to show.

Stopping.

And still not having the right to use my own mental energy to get back into the fray, because I have to be patient a bit longer, and get the basics of life tidied up (and new things keep coming along – that’s not going to stop)…

Soon. Very soon.


A nice extra: explaining in person how important review are.


And… it’s time for our wonderful organizer to be here.

Peace out.

Question for discussion: the in-person connection between writer and reader. It is rarer than you think. Have you had it?


PS The ebook of Pride’s Children: PURGATORY is on sale for $0.99 until I’m solidly back to writing. Encourage the writer.

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Where do liebjabberings visitors come from?

Visitors Feb. 18, 2019, to my blog liebjabberings came from US, Canada, India, South Africa. Australia, Malaysia, France, UK, and the Philippines (graphic shows country flags from my stats page) New countries to blog 2:19:19

Mar 3 new countries

SOME DAY THIS WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE

And meanwhile, visitors are welcome from anywhere!

Stop and say hello – comments welcome. I’m going to steal the following from a fellow blogger: I like to have the last word, so you’ll always get an answer. If you don’t, know that I still read your comment – and decided to let you have the last word on the subject (at the end of an exchange, usually).

Things are getting a little less crazy around here.

We went to visit our kids in Boulder, Colorado, and had a lovely long weekend.

Then we came home, and I had an old friend visit for two evenings – she arranged her life to be able to visit, and it was so good to see her again. We go back 50 years+!

And then came the visit to the new, nice dentist – except that he had an emergency, and the total time dedicated to an appointment which was literally across the road came to over four hours – and I get wiped out by long out-of-the-house events.

I don’t care – all these were desirable (I love dentists who don’t find anything needing doing, even when a bit of a porcelain crown cover came off) – and much appreciated visits with loved ones.

I’m getting to the new stuff.

One of the residents here, of the several who have read Pride’s Children: PURGATORY, chatted with me this afternoon about her reactions to it – and has offered to connect me to her book club. Book clubs are wonderful ways to get word of mouth out to serious readers, and I look forward to maybe even visiting some of the many in our new city.

I get so few opportunities to just talk and answer questions about my writing (one tries not to be a pushy author) that it was a real pleasure, as well as good for the soul. She got so many things about the work.

One of my main questions – because it’s a trilogy – is always whether readers were unsatisfied at the end of what is known to be the first volume, and feel cheated in any way. She said no – but she can’t wait for the next one – which is balm to my senses.

She also said she had trouble putting it down, and for someone whose nightly habit is to read a bit with her doggie settled in her lap, and then go to bed, I find it cheering to be unputdownable.

I ordered and received a proof copy from Amazon. Createspace has closed, and the automatic transfer to being printed on demand by KDP (?) has to be checked out. The cover looks fine (except that it says ‘proof’ on it, right through the middle of Kary’s head), but I need to compare the paging, and look for the few errors that have been corrected, and make sure they are using the latest file. Due diligence. Then I’ll see about ordering some replacement copies to have as my pre-move supply has all been given out at our new community.

And the usual small problems.

My .mobi electronic ARC has NOT worked for the last two people I sent it to, which means Kindle changed something, and I need to re-create the file to send out for reviewers. There are few things worse than getting someone to read and review for you, and to send them a file they can’t open!

It is irritating to have to spend energy on something that was working fine. And it means going a long way back, and worrying about the version of Scrivener (I have v3, and haven’t updated to it yet), and figuring out a bunch of things such as Compile for ebooks…

I just found my writing books – I used to have them at my right hand while writing, but haven’t since everything was packed and shipped: what have I missed and will it show in the new scenes?

I still haven’t recovered from last July’s crash.

I can’t remember where I was on so many little details of life. And writing.

But this is the last move

before I finish the trilogy – if I have anything to say about it. And the good Lord gives me life and brain.

Things can only get better – I’m excited at the possibilities, and cheered by finding readers here.

I will get my software, computer, and backups under control. I’ll keep writing, and make the progress I had hoped for from the new digs.

And go swimming.

It was always about the pools.


Does your future have pools?


 

Reading unfinished work, knowing the end

HERE IS A NEW INDIE MARKETING QUESTION:

I’m pondering whether the reason many people don’t try a trilogy is because it isn’t finished.

I’m exploring a concept that would provide the reader with story protection, and get the writer a safe space to write and some moral support.

Suppose you:

  1. were considering reading something long, like Game of Thrones
  2. liked the first book in the story trilogy (or at least the beginning in the Look Inside! feature on Amazon)
  3. were worried the author might check out before finishing, leaving you forever curious about how the story ends – and whether it makes sense
  4. knew there is a planned end, and you think you will probably be happy with it (the prologue gives hints)
  5. knew the author is slow, but patient and dedicated, and will finish if is it at al physically possible to her
  6. knew the author was extremely good at following a plan/outline/rough draft – so the story itself is finished, but the execution (the actual words) hasn’t happened yet
  7. wanted to read it now
  8. were willing to take a chance on an ebook version that could be regularly updated as the final draft slowly dribbles out, one scene/chapter at a time
  9. MOST IMPORTANTLY, had the rough draft included in your current ebook so if the author doesn’t make it, you still know how the story ENDS.

Then, would you buy it now, to get what is already there, and wait for the notification that the next update was available and download the whole again from Amazon?

In other words, buy unpolished work full price so as to get the polished pieces (plus the end) faster than waiting for the whole?

Just curious.

It would be very different from a subscription service, or a planned serial, because you would HAVE the end.

You’d have to decide if you WANTED to read that extremely rough version of the end, or just have it in case the author couldn’t finish it. You should choose NOT to read it; the rest of the story in rough format would be your insurance.


The intent of this post is to start a discussion about whether such a model would work to finish the planned Pride’s Children trilogy in a total of around a half-million words.

I haven’t seen it before, but this is indie, folks, and we can do anything we want.

Amazon already allows writers to update their manuscripts.

 

Encouraging new writers: on the edge and without a net

YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW FAR A SMALL KINDNESS CAN GO

Two things before I go into this post:

Thing the first: Today is the last day of the Kindle Countdown Deal for Pride’s Children.

Thing the second: There is the story of the violinist who approached the master, asked that the master listen to him play and tell him if he had talent. The master nodded his head wisely for a time, and then told the violinist, “I’m sorry, but you have no talent. Do something else with your life.”

Years later, the violinist again approached the master. He said, “I am so grateful for what you told me. I focused on other things. I am happily married, have two beautiful children, and have had success as an accountant. My life has been good. But I have always wanted to ask you how you knew back then that I had no talent.”

The master looked at him. “I didn’t listen. I tell everyone who asks that question the same thing. But the ones who have talent never pay any attention to my answer.”

Blast from the past

I found this among my many notes to myself, abortive attempts at blog posts, ideas captured when they happened.

I’m glad now I never listened.

*********

FROM NOVEMBER 18, 2013 – [a thank you to my readers-along]

Before you finish your first salable novel and publish it, almost everyone you know will think you’re a few chocolate bunnies short of an Easter basket. Why? Because of statistics (which I’m too lazy to look up, and wouldn’t trust anyway) that say that many novels are started, few actually finished.

And most people never start that book they say they want to write.

‘Salable’ has changed dramatically in the last five years. It now means ‘finished enough for me to throw up on Amazon etc., and good enough to sell a few copies.’ Even given how easy the ‘publish’ step is now, relatively few people actually get to that point, because the requirement to finish a longish and complicated story is the dream-killer.

Once you are published, traditionally or self-, you are on a different track. Your work is out there, in public, and people can actually buy a copy with money. People can leave reviews, and argue about your plot points over at Goodreads, and comment on Amazon about your characters and themes.

Before that is the point I’d like to address: the novel is started; maybe outlined, plotted, and first-drafted to the point that you’re pretty sure you know where you’re going [or, for pantsers, that you’ve already gotten there because that’s how pantsers know they’re within sight of the finish line]. Now comes the hard part: finishing the writing, editing the manuscript, and getting it ready for market.

The question to be answered first has to be: why bother to nourish new writers? Aren’t there already too many writers and too many books out there? Well, yes, and most people would find enough reading materials out there to read continuously for the rest of their lives even if every writer out there stopped producing anything new immediately.

So, then, why encourage writers? It has to be because you are still looking for something new, because readers can read far more than most writers can produce, and are still out there clamoring for more. If you like mysteries, and read Sue Grafton’s novels of Kinsey Milhone, you can read far more than she could ever produce. If you like Travis McGee novels (I love them), John D. MacDonald isn’t around to produce any more – the best you’re going to do there is find a new writer who reminds you of the flavor of Travis – and who is still writing new stuff. Otherwise, your only option is to back and reread Bright Orange for the Shroud. Again.

So we encourage new writers.

Someplace along this line from conception to novel birth out of the Amazon river is the Temple of Lost Hopes. You know where you’re going, but finishing seems like the impossible dream. No one is giving you stars on Amazon because there is nothing there to praise or deride, and your feedback supply comes from whatever you’ve cobbled up in the form of readers – alpha, beta, familial, and friendly. You stop at the Temple to find a guru. You are desperate. The burden of finishing on your own has gotten gigantic. Nobody cares. Nobody knows what you’re going through.

For writers who are writing and editing live, as I am, this is the point at which a little encouragement from those following along (if any) has an effect far disproportionate to its size. The beta reader stands in for a hoped-for host of future readers; I have gotten to the point where I write ‘to torture Rachel,’ because if Rachel reacts correctly to a scene, I have written it correctly. I KNOW ahead of time I’ve written it as well as possible, because Beta Reader isn’t being given crap (in this way my beta reader is more like a focus group for a movie than a critiquer or a proofreader or a writing partner), but the confirmation comes from getting somewhere near the desired effect.

There are readers – or at least people who click as far as the novel’s text on your website/blog (this is all the information you get from WordPress – it’s called ‘views’). If those readers seem to come back – and an occasional ‘Like’ is registered by the statistics division of WordPress, and an even more occasional actual Comment is left behind as proof they were not ghosts – the effect on the writer is transformational.

I can live for days (writing days, finishing this thing we are pursuing together) on one of those tidbits.

So, if you are nurturing a writer along, what can you do? Not much if you are not exposed to the process – and this is the state of most writers: they write privately until it’s good enough to publish, and then market like crazy when it’s available for sale.

You’re already doing the hardest part: reading the THING as it goes up, live, in pieces, every week. This is enormously valuable.

*********

Couldn’t have done it without you guys.

From my tribe to yours:

Merry Christmas to all, and happy holidays to those with other traditions. Peace on Earth, goodwill to humankind, is real and possible.