geta-beta.com – my new (for-writers) web project!

After a great many design revisions, programming crash courses, and yet another critique group that didn’t quite meet my expectations, I’m pleased to announce that development on Geta-Beta.com is officially underway!

Geta-Beta— a bad pun based on the term ‘beta-reader’.

After trying a good number of writer’s critique circles and websites, I have to say that I’ve had my share of disappointments. Hobby writers clashing with determined professionals, fantasy die-hards trying to read cozy mysteries, groups of older women with loudly stated political views that… well, don’t quite match up to your taste.

The online critique circles have their failings, too. You have a bigger community pool… but how do you really know who is giving you feedback? And if you miss a week’s queue, you miss a chapter. Great for short stories, but terrible for novelists.

The main theory behind Geta-Beta.com is that the authors ought to be the ones directing who gets to see their stories. A user on the site will be able to browse projects, all of which are publicly displayed in query letter format– description, credentials, notes, and the first three pages. Find something that you enjoy, request to be a beta reader. The author will receive notice and decide whether to give you access.

Write some thoughtful critiques, earn credits for posting your own stories and chapters. If you want to focus on plot and not style in the first draft, great. Go browse the user directory and find some plot junkies who like your genre. Need a grammar sweep? Say so in your notes.

It won’t be a fair system. Better writers will get more attention. The site won’t be right for everyone. But I need something like this for my work, and I hope others agree.

I’ll post news when I get closer to finishing. I’ll need some test readers and writers to try out Geta-Beta-beta, and while I know html and css, my design’s not quite inspired. Anyone interested?

row80 – april update

Daily writing output

Wordcount graph
Powered by WritersDB.com

So, my writing really suffered when my computer died mid-month. Bad Eliza. No cookie. But as I’ve been writing one thousand words a day or so since Norwescon, maybe that can make up for it?

In other news, I’ve finally gotten back the reins on my plot, I’ve broken 100k words (which means it’s much too long, but we’ll cut that down later), and I can see my planned climax coming over my metaphorical hill.

Huzzah! Victory!

Anyone interested in beta-reading a rough-draft YA Steampunk Fantasy? The end is in sight.

advice i got at norwescon

Hey guys! My computer is down, sortof dead, so my posts will be few and far between. My apologies.

In any case, Norwescon was amazing. I didn’t know beforehand that Heather Dale was going to be there, which made an already incredible weekend rave-worthy. Those of you who don’t know Heather Dale, go to youtube. Listen to her song Joan or Mordred’s Lullaby. Then go to heatherdale.com and buy her cds. She sings like an angel, and she’s a complete sweetheart on top of it. Oh, and she does tons of songs on King Arthur.

In any case, Norwescon was full of writers and published authors. I dressed in a corset, I went to tons of writing panels, I found a writer’s social and found out that there’s a writing workshop that I need to sign up for next year, I got inspired and wrote a lot. And I got some neat advice that I’ll write here for you.

– To read: 10% Solution, by Ken Rand
Apparently, this is a very good book on writing craft. I have not seen it yet, but I will try it out.

– “You do not have to sell your books in the order that they were written.”
As I’m still debating on what to do with Blue Crystal when I’m on a Artificer’s Angels, this made me feel better.

– “Have two different problems going on, so at the end they solve each other.”
This was mostly applicable to short stories, but something to keep in mind nonetheless.

And last, but not least… and something I’ve never thought of…
– “Follow the money.”
Now, context is important on this one. This refers to world building, not audience-pleasing. Where are the money capitals in your world, and what the hell are they doing? Figure that out, even if it’s not part of the story.

In light of my dead computer, The week before I hardly wrote, and this week I’m overshooting my ROW80 vows. I’ll post a graph or something later. Until then!

winning by losing (row80)

Just a quick update on my novel, and ROW80.

My goal: 250 words/day, 5 days/week.

Thus far,
Monday: 742/250
Tuesday: 389/250
Wednesday: 416/250

It’s a tiny goal, yes, but it makes what I actually do look impressive.

I’ve noticed something about one of my characters. He’s perhaps the most brilliant badass character I’ve ever written. Huge, strong, smart, skilled, good coordination, good reflexes. … And he’s never yet won a fight in this story. I’m starting to think that he’s not going to. (For those of you who’ve seen pieces of my book, yes, I’m talking about Uriel.)

And yet, in each case he comes out ahead. I’m not sure why, or how, or what it is he does to manage this. He escapes at opportune times while pulling switches, lets himself get hit where he’s protected… he even lets himself get gunned down once.

How is it that his escapes, his deflections, his clever tricks and his patient ‘play dead’ schemes earn him more– and more reader admiration– than if he simply was a fighter to match his build? Why is this more effective?

We’ve seen this before. This is the story of the clever tailor who sewed ‘seven in one blow’ on his clothes and began ridding the land of giants. It’s purely a traditional protagonist trait… but my character being something of a noble trickster-villain, it’s taking a very odd turn.

round of words signup

A round of words in 80 days: A writing event where you set your own goals.

It starts tomorrow, so I’m volunteering last minute. I crashed on NaNoWriMo 2010, and since this event is a little more forgiving, I’m back at it.

So, my goal for the next eighty days is this: 250 words per day or more, five days a week.

It’s not much, so I won’t drive myself crazy on the days it just won’t come, and I get days off. And, if I get inspired, I can make much better progress.

Wish me luck!

writer link – the writer’s database

So, I’m back to (slowly) working on The Artificer’s Angels again (huzzah!).

And I thought to myself tonight, “You know what I really need while I’m avoiding this paragraph? A nifty online word-per-day word count tool that’s available online. But not a word count widget. More of a graph-thing… that remembers your project…”

So I waste yet more time searching the internet for a writer-toy. Yes, I’m a very focused person. But I did find a small website dedicated to managing your projects’ word count, the markets you write to, and where you’ve submitted your work.

Alright, sure, you could use Excel, too, but I thought this was highly nifty.

http://www.writersdb.com/

the artificer’s angels– chapter fourteen sample

A short sample I thought amusing enough to share. The composition is a bit awkward, but despite its flaws, it still makes me laugh.

Mister Abraham Gennyson sent several letters.

One letter he sent to Mister Pennyrose in Height’s Falls, a rather rich city that two old artificers had retired in (while they still had the chance).

The first of these was Master Artificer Albert Sickle. Mister Sickle was more metal than flesh after being blown apart, melted in acid, gnawed on by his pet goat-wolf, and finally subjected to his own granddaughter’s attempts at poetry. Her mother– his daughter– had watched him with a shark’s smile that forbid him from giving anything but the highest praise.

Despite all this, Mister Sickle had taken less damage than his retired counterpart, who had to cart pieces of his own anatomy behind him in attractive-yet-cumbersome glass jars. His name was Mister Eustace Violet, and though he and Mister Sickle had long been the greatest of enemies, their rivalry had simmered down over the years to grandiose monologues over a weekly chess match, all under the stern gazes of Mister Sickle’s daughter and Mister Violet’s nurse.

Unbeknownst to the other, Mister Violet also had an ambitious scheme to seize control over the surrounding thousand miles, pinning blame on Mister Sickle in the process, and setting all who opposed him on fire, but that is another story entirely and shall be told on another occasion. Mister Gennyson’s letter to Mister Pennyrose, who was only a banker, may have been the catalyst that doomed the region, but it did not help Mister Gennyson find his nephew, and so is of little consequence to this story.

the hero’s journey – meeting the mentor

The fourth step of the anatomy of plot: Meeting the Mentor.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

  1. The Ordinary World
  2. Call to Adventure
  3. Refusal of the Call
  4. Meeting the Mentor
  5. Crossing the First Threshold
  6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies
  7. Approach
  8. The Supreme Ordeal
  9. Reward
  10. The Road Back
  11. Resurrection
  12. Return with the ‘Elixir’

Galdalf. Albus Dumbledore. Obi Wan Kenobi. Wise old men, war veterans, teachers, parents, older brothers or sisters. People who have lived through enough to cast some information on the path ahead.

This step is another often minimized or left out. Cliche mentors often get killed to provide the hero with the will to leap at enemies they used to shy away from, but not always. And in some ways, killing the mentor is a rather weak character development tree. It strikes of the reluctant, and in some ways, weak-spirited persona following the emotional path of least resistance, though physical dangers present themselves. How much stronger is the character who comes to a decision and gets to his feet on his own, after the ‘mentor’ figure has brought something to his attention?

How the personalities of the characters react to these obstacles placed in their path– and the nature of what will motivate them– determines the shape of the mentor. The mentor could even be the villain by the story’s end. Or maybe something as simple as a passage in a book, or the map guiding the character through his journey.

Or there may not be a mentor at all. That depends if you want the hero wandering around, blind and alone. It’s a hard thing to pull off– the audience empathizes with the protagonist, and they need guidance, too. Even ‘The Princess Bride’ (movie) had a mentor in The Dread Pirate Roberts, though we never saw him, and his involvement was summarized briefly enough.

Any good plots out there that come to mind without a mentor? What was the effect? And how did the writers get around that?

the artificer’s angels – chapter thirteen sample

For Write Anything‘s Spoken Sunday exercise.

The Artificer’s Angels, chapter thirteen, part one. Steampunk fantasy.

This is the start of my novel’s chapter thirteen. Miss Merrily Soarin and Miss Polly Owens are traveling in each other’s company aboard a steam tram, continuing their search for young Leo Gallows.

Somehow, their tram ride ends in Merrily protesting loudly that she is not violent, seeking medical attention for a pair of thieves, and getting their snapshot in the newspaper for discovering the body of a murdered lady from a prominent family. But then, that comes in later in the chapter.

The Artificer’s Angels, chapter thirteen sample (audio)

smug writer pride

Last September, I told a man I worked with about NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month). This is normal. I am easily provoked into gushing about my writing projects. This man’s wife heard about it from him. She’d always wanted to write a book. So she joined up. And she wrote her 50k. And then she wrote another thirty-thousand after November, and started revisions.

My co-worker came to me yesterday, and announced that I’d created a monster. His wife has spent the last four months working tirelessly on her book, reading things aloud to him, making him listen to ideas, incarnations, drafts. She now has a near-polished complete novel, and is working on her query letter.

Smug writer pride. I has it.