Hey everyone – here’s an opportunity you don’t get every day. I’m going to spend a week or two asking people what I should call the final volume of the Embodied trilogy. Books 1 and 2 are titled Silent Symmetry and Starley’s Rust, and I’m polling friends and fans to choose one of three options for book 3:
If you haven’t read any of the other books in the trilogy, no problem! I need a title that will appeal to casual browsers in the Amazon store. Yes, I have a personal fave, but I thought it would be fun to collect some other opinions. And as we all know in this social media age, everyone has an opinion.
So either write your choice of title in the comments below or click on this link to use the online poll I just set up (it’s one click, takes about 5 seconds).
I really appreciate your help with this. By all means share this post or the link to the poll.
PS – The book is in the editing process right now and should be out by spring, followed by a compendium version of all three books!
Books 1 and 2 in the Embodied trilogy.
Great advice from Rachel Starr Thompson about the pitfalls of underwriting. No, that’s not the insurance industry kind of underwriting, it’s when an author tries too hard to show without telling and then skips the interesting stuff going on in the characters’ heads that actually makes any story compelling.
Nope, not this kind of underwriting.
Photo credit: free pictures of money / Foter.com / CC BY
Nice little post about the pain and ultimate pleasure of the editing process, written by fellow Montreal author Alice Zorn. This is something I’ll be facing very shortly…
An environmentally conscious editor on the way to work.
Photo credit: Bill Gracey / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
This is a question that authors get asked a lot. I’ve thought about my own creative process before and produced unsatisfactory answers like, “They just come to me,” “When I’m in the shower,” or “I dreamed up my second book. Seriously, it literally came to me in a dream.”
But today an idea popped into my head as I was making my lunch. So that just proves that I have ideas because I’m hungry. No wait, that’s not it. This idea was about having ideas. And what I realized was that ideas come from reading a lot of non-fiction, be it news articles, books, scientific studies or bathroom graffiti:
Thought-provoking bathroom graffiti.
Here’s why non-fiction can provide the inspiration for fiction: it’s because the human brain is wired to make connections and produce those sought-after eureka moments. That’s why human beings are so successful; our evolutionary advantage is that we can create solutions to problems. Of course “divine inspiration” is the non-scientific explanation for this phenomenon…
Even invertebrate animals come up with ideas based on their surroundings, so people definitely can (even those who lack backbones). The key thing is the fuel. Reading fiction might produce ideas – and it’s definitely important to read a wide range of fiction to learn about craft and style – but it’s all-to-easy to consciously or subconsciously fall in love with another author’s idea and simply reproduce it with a twist. Truly original creation comes from the juxtaposition of unrelated information that sparks something new.
Reading extensively is essential for any author, whatever their level of experience, but I would argue that while immersion in the very best fiction can provide stylistic inspiration, unique ideas are sparked by non-fiction. Maybe even by blog posts…
Photo credit: Chris Blakeley / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
This article about using single or double quotes is from last year. But the rules are still the same!
Novelists can learn a lot about crafting stories from the structures and character arcs that play out across many of the stunningly successful non-network TV series that have been produced over the last fifteen years. I’m talking about shows like Mad Men, Sopranos, The Wire, House of Cards, True Detective, and Breaking Bad. Therese Walsh of the great Writer Unboxed website has written a very insightful article about the latter and delved into how Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan managed to turn mild-mannered chemistry professor Walter White into a scheming drug lord over the course of six seasons and still keep the audience rooting for him.
The article ends with this golden piece of advice:
- Persevere. Considering Breaking Bad’s incredible success, you’d think it was in a Hollywood bidding war or something, right? Nope. The show was famously turned down by many before AMC picked it up. Sometimes different is scary to the Establishment. Don’t let that stop you from creating innovative works or pursuing publication.
Using examples from Hemingway, author Ron MacLean has written a wonderfully concise post on the Grub Street website demolishing the oft-taught maxim that narrative distance should remain constant over the course of a piece of writing.
Narrative distance is analogous to shot choices in movie making, such as close-ups, POV, wide shots, birds-eye view, etc. There is absolutely no reason (other than a desire to be ridiculously pedantic) for maintaining a single distance over an entire novel or story any more than using the same shots throughout a movie. Thanks for the insight, Ron!
Photo credit: katerha / Foter.com / CC BY
An article in the Economist this week on how Romania’s rich and powerful are becoming authors to get out of prison early. Kind of hilarious if it wasn’t also depressing.
Read about the amazing success story of Romanian author Eugen Chirovici (EO Chirovici) who published 10 novels in his native country with some success, then moved to Britain with his family three years ago and is now likely to earn seven figures from his first English-language novel.
The article I’ve linked to makes it sound like Chirovici’s success is out of the blue, but a little research shows this to be far from the truth. His non-fiction works have already been published in the US, he’s a member of the Romanian Academy of Sciences and holds three (!) honorary PhDs in Economics, Communication and History.
I’m a big fan of Vladimir Nabokov (be sure to read the Alfred Appel annotated version of Lolita first), and Chirovici is another Eastern European author who also goes to prove that English doesn’t even need to be your first language if you have imagination, storytelling ability and, oh yeah, maybe a touch of genius.
On July 20th I posted a photo on my professional Facebook page. It was a screenshot showing the words “The End… of the Embodied trilogy book 3”. And then I went on vacation with my girlfriend to Romania (which is a wonderful place to visit, by the way).
I had hoped to finish that draft of my latest novel before heading across the Atlantic and I actually managed it just under the wire (pats self on back) even though it ended up being longer than books one and two. Now for the editing and rewriting. In my opinion, the only way to do that properly is to step away from the manuscript, unhook my brain from all thoughts of Kari Marriner and her adventures with the Embodied, and come at it with fresh eyes and a sharpened blue pencil. I’ll give it another week on top of the vacation time…
Kind of like a scribbled architect’s blueprint.
This morning I took down book 3’s scene cards from the wall where they’ve been looming over my desk since I started writing book 2, Starley’s Rust, eighteen months ago. I think I’ll fill the space with photos of my kids or maybe draw a target on the wall that I can aim at with the crumpled opening pages from my next book as I yank them angrily out of the typewriter. That, by the way, is a fiction. It’s what I do, see?
This is an exciting and scary time for any writer because tackling a rewrite means finding out whether what you’ve written is great or crap (or most likely somewhere in the middle). I had a great time writing this book, and with a bit of luck the excitement I felt will have translated itself onto the page in an entertaining and interesting way. With a bit of luck.
One thing this novel is still lacking is a title. Or, rather, it has too many titles. From around twenty options, I’ve whittled it down to ten and I’m waiting on (ten)terhooks for my editor and beta readers to finish the draft so I can share the list and see what they think.
In the meantime I’ve already started researching my next novel. And it won’t be for young adults…