I’m thoroughly enjoying my blog book tour (watch out for my mythical creatures Top 10 list next week!) and today’s stop is at Urban Fantasy Investigations, where I have an interview and book giveaway contest.
Check out my interview here.
In the interview, you’ll discover things like what I do in my down time, which character in the Embodied trilogy was my favourite to write, and where I keep my piece of the Berlin Wall.
First off, I had no idea when I moved to North America 29 years ago this month that there would be so many finicky differences to negotiate in the English language. Sure, I understood that trousers were pants and the pavement was a sidewalk, because everyone in England knows that. I also understood that after going through labor, American moms put their babies in diapers, while British mums go through labour and put their babies in nappies. But once I became a writer, I discovered all kinds of nuances and subtleties I hadn’t anticipated. Apart from every single part of a car (auto… hood/bonnet, turn signals/indicators, trunk/boot, gun compartment/glove compartment, gas/petrol, windshield/windscreen, wreck/crash… hmmm… that’s a story in itself!), there are adverbs like toward, backward, forward and such like, which I always thought could only be towards, backwards, and forwards. That meant I had to go backward(s) through the first draft of Silent Symmetry fixing them all.
So… while I’m on the subject of backward, I should really have announced my book launch on the day it was actually published (yesterday) instead of writing about my book tour and new website. I guess that’s why I’m a writer and not a publicist (although many of them are great writers, so I’ll just hang my head in shame and feel inadequate).
Therefore… reverse drum roll, please… out yesterday!… the Embodied trilogy special edition ebook collection. Preview it by clicking right here or on the link on the right. Not only does it contain all three books in the series, but a new author foreword, deleted scenes from the end of Diamond Splinters, and a treasure hunt/quiz to see how much readers know about the Embodied and their world.
And while we’re on the theme of yesterday, here’s one of my favourite songs. And it’s a song about favourite songs!
This is pretty awesome. Also awesomely pretty. Now you can see what books look like with all the words removed and only the punctuation marks remaining. The author of this article compares different works by famous authors, with some astonishing results.
Who hasn’t been there? The blank page. The blinking cursor. The author’s horrifically empty torture chamber: writer’s block.
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
This short article in yesterday’s Guardian about the spelling of the word Spectre in the most recent James Bond title is an interesting delve into a perceived cultural battle between American and British spelling. The title of the article, How James Bond rescued filmgoers from the Spectre of Americanisation, contains three Britishisms itself: “filmgoers” (which would be “moviegoers” in North America), “spectre”, and, ironically, “Americanisation” (which would be spelled “Americanization” in the US).
Does Spectre’s left hand know what its right hand is doing?
The writer of the article says that, “The Commonwealth is home to more than 2 billion people, America roughly 318 million. Understandably, speakers of other languages tend to be more familiar with British English than with its younger counterpart, except in places like the Philippines, where American influence has held sway.” However the cultural influence of American English is proportionately far greater than those numbers would suggest. Movie making, just like publishing, is an industry, and ultimately it’s the size of the market (its spending power) that counts.
Of course there’s no right or wrong when it comes to spelling variations across cultures, although Brits do tend to get very touchy about these things. As a kid in England, I can remember my mother not allowing me and my sister to watch Sesame Street because she didn’t want me to grow up “talking American”, which is a bit strange, since American kids who watch Harry Potter don’t end up sounding like posh Brits!
And I should know how bizarre these discussions can get because I now live in Canada, where there are three different accepted spellings of the word yogurt. Or is that yogourt? Or yoghurt? Either way, I’ll take mine shaken, not stirred.
Photo credit: Tamsin Slater / Foter.com / CC BY-SA
No, that title doesn’t contain a typo. The New York Times has just used the newly coined honorific Mx. that identifies neither marital status nor gender.
Maybe Mx. could also be useful for sci-fi and fantasy authors when writing politely about aliens or supernatural beings of indeterminate sex? Should Time Lords/Ladies like Doctor Who henceforth be called Mx. Who? Or Missy be called Mx. Master? No, that sounds like a kitchen blender. I’ve been thinking about this for far too long, as you can see…
Mx. Master and the Blender Men
Photo credit: BBC
Author Elliott Katz details how he went about selling the foreign language rights to his book and then leveraged those agreements to produce promotional fuel like this back home: “Translated into 24 languages by publishers in Europe, Asia and Latin America.”
The series of dreadpunk novellas I’m currently working on is set in nineteenth century Montreal, so it would make perfect sense for me to sell the rights for a French translation (at minimum) when the time comes. I’ll definitely refer back to Elliott’s success story.
Any followers of this blog had experience with foreign-language rights sales? Let me know down below!
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