Name my book!

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:

Diamond Spheres

Diamond Splinters

Diamond Scars

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.

John

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!

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Books 1 and 2 in the Embodied trilogy.

A single-minded bookstore

According to this article in The Guardian just before Christmas, there’s a bookshop in Japan that only stocks one book at a time – some classics, some contemporary works.

Owner Yoshiyuki Morioka explains how he came up with the concept: “Before opening this bookstore in Ginza, I had been running another one in Kayabacho for 10 years. There, I had around 200 books as stock, and used to organise several book launches per year. During such events, a lot of people visited the store for the sake of a single book. As I experienced this for some time, I started to believe that perhaps with only one book, a bookstore could be managed.”

This is pretty much as close to being the anti-Amazon as it gets!

Neil Gaiman demystifies writer’s block

Who hasn’t been there? The blank page. The blinking cursor. The author’s horrifically empty torture chamber: writer’s block.

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman  in a snuggly sweater

Well, according to Neil Gaiman, best-selling author of the Sandman comic book series, Coraline and many more super-imaginative works of fiction, writer’s block is just as much a fiction as anything else that pours out of an author’s mind. In this fascinating interview on the Goodreads website, he talks about how his ambition as a writer has evolved over the years and offers these pearls of wisdom about the dreaded you-know-what (shhhh… don’t say it out loud or it might come true!):

Writer’s block is this thing that is sent from the gods—you’ve offended them. You’ve trod on a crack on the pavement, and you’re through. The gods have decided. It’s not true. What is really true is you can have a bad day. You can have a bad week. You can get stuck. But what I learned when I was under deadline is that if you write on the bad days, even if you’re sure everything you’ve written is terrible, when you come to it tomorrow and you reread it, most of it’s fixable. It may not be the greatest thing you’ve ever written, but you fix it, and actually it’s a lot better than you remember it being. And the weird thing is a year later when you’re copyediting and reading the galleys through for the first time in months, you can remember that some of it was written on bad days. And you can remember that some of it was written on terrific days. But it all reads like you. Fantastic stuff doesn’t necessarily read better than the stuff written on the bad days. Writers have to be like sharks. We keep moving forward, or we die.

So on that note, here’s a toast to all the other authors out there: have lots of fun over the holiday season and then sit at your desk and work. Cheers!

Photo credit: Lvovsky via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Rejection dejection!

Are you an aspiring author who is feeling down about the number of rejections you’ve received? Instead of engaging in some retail therapy this Black Friday, take five minutes out of your writing schedule to peruse this incredible collection of rejection snippets.

Future best-selling author.

Future best-selling author.

Here are a few good ones:

Despite 14 consecutive agency rejections Stephenie Meyer‘s Twilight goes on to sell 17 million copies and spends 91 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.

“An absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.” Rejection letter sent to William Golding for The Lord Of The Flies. 15 million sales.

“You have no business being a writer and should give up.” Zane Grey ignores the advice. There are believed to be over 250 million copies of his books in print.

Apparently, continual rejection may even be a sign of future success, so hang in there!

Photo credit: KatLevPhoto / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Underwriting can be deadly to any story

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.

Nope, not this kind of underwriting.

Photo credit: free pictures of money / Foter.com / CC BY

Where do you get your ideas?

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:

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