I write like
Jack London

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

More Analysis on the Marvel Situation

About a month ago, I talked about how the promo tricks Marvel had been using for the last twenty years were truly starting to backfire on them and were destroying their sales. Two days later, YouTube geek sensation ComicGirl19 posted a similar rant to mine, naming several of the same reasons that Marvel sales were dropping that had nothing to do with diversity.

Then last night, an article from The Atlantic popped up in one of my feeds. And guess what it was about? Yep, Marvel's problems were their sales gimmicks, not their diversity. I highly recommend reading the article because the article lists a few more issues I was barely aware of, such as the antagonism of editors and writers toward fans, not just the sexism they and their fellows exhibited towards their female co-workers.

Marvel seriously needs to get their shit together before it's too late. Besides, how is Disney going to get new material? Or are they going to do what Sony did and kill Uncle Ben over and over ad nauseam?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Other Writers and Fan-girly Squeals

Once upon a time, I had the privilege of meeting George Takei at a Star Trek convention. I was so nervous I literally couldn't talk. Uncle George was terribly sweet, but he gave me an odd look. As in, "Is she just shy, or should I call security?"

I managed to say "Nice to meet you" or "Thank you". Seriously, I was that nervous, I don't remember what I said. I do remember my voice sounded like Beaker's from the Muppets.

I don't always act that shell-shocked around someone I admire. Well, except for last Saturday night. My friend Jo introduced me to someone whose work I admire very much, and I squealed like a little girl. I'm pretty sure I embarrassed the hell out of the writer, too, not just myself.

*sigh*

So why am I bringing this all up?

I've had the opportunity to watch professional writers interact with their readers over the years, and I've noted four typical reactions in writers. Three of these reactions will lose you readers, but there are ways to compensate.

First of all, if you EVER feel in danger from a fan, get help! Grab a friend, get security at an event, or call the police. Trust that little niggle in your hindbrain. There's a big difference between that feeling and butterflies in your stomach.

Now on to the types...

1) The Cold Fish
It's never easy meeting total strangers. Even the most gregarious person has a little trepidation in a new situation. These writers fail to make eye contact with their readers much less say hello. This behavior can come across as being too good to talk to the hoi polloi when in fact, it's the opposite problem.

I'll tell you a secret. The best at the meet-and-greet are simply better at hiding their fear. Stand up, walk around that signing table, and be pleasant and polite. It will make the encounter easier for both of you. Something to remember is that your readers are probably more nervous about meeting you than vice versa, too.


2) The Hot Potato
The opposite of The Cold Fish, these writers not only come out from behind their tables, they attack people in the aisles and try to force their books on the public. Few people like the hard sell. (And if you know one, I'd like to meet him or her.)

Coming across as a crazy used car salesperson will only get you shunned and rejected. Take a step back, tone down the sales pitch, and take an interest in the person, not the sales prospect.


3) The Negative Nellie
These writers don't feel they deserve their success, or their fragile self-esteem can't handle criticism, so they try to beat you to the punch with self-flagellation. This behavior can turn off a potential reader. If the writer doesn't think their book is good enough, then why would the reader want to take a chance on it? And if the reader already read your work, it sounds to them like the writer is criticizing the reader's choices.

If adulation throws you for a loop, stick with simple phrases. "I hope you enjoy it." "Thank you." "I appreciate your comments."

On the other hand, those phrases work pretty damn good if a psycho reader slams you, too.


4) The Best Response
The writers I've seen handle the public best are Sherrilyn Kenyon and the late L.A. Banks. Both ladies come across genuinely interested in fans. They say how glad they are to meet you. These writers are comfortable with themselves and love the career they've chosen.

It's damn hard to achieve that level of confidence in yourself and in your work. Part of it is knowing your own comfort level with the public. For example, Sherrilyn's a touchy-feely person. She grabs a reader's hand and acts like they are her favorite cousin that she hasn't seen in forever. For her, this is a genuine response.

I know I'm not a touchy-feely person. Sherrilyn's way wouldn't work for me. Heck, even getting an e-mail from reader makes me freak out.

But my own issues don't mean I can't behave myself, be pleasant and say "Thanks!" Yep, that's right. I take elements from the solutions for The Cold Fish and The Negative Nellies. I remind myself that my writing affected a person enough for them to reach out.

And in the end, that's all I really want. To entertain someone for a little while and let them forget their problems.

The least I can do when a reader reaches out to me is to reach back with a heartfelt, "Thanks for reading my work."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Movie Mania - The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. came out while the niece was living with us, so for various reasons, we didn't make it to the theater in 2015. I wasn't into the series back in the day, so I wasn't too disappointed. So when it popped up on the HBO/Cinemark free weekend, we decided what the hell.

Once again, I'm not posting my usual SPOILERS warning since this movie came out two years ago.

This is one of those movies that was much better than what many of our friends said. Maybe it was because I'm not a hardcore fan of the series, but I loved it.

Armie Hammer totally redeemed himself from The Lone Ranger. As I said in that review, I didn't blame Hammer for the piss-poor writing, but this flick allowed him to real show his acting chops.

On the other hand, Henry Cavill sounds like Clark Kent through the first half of the movie. I don't know if he jumped into this job right after Man of Steel wrapped, but you can definitely tell what scenes were filmed first. And honestly, that's the only real gripe I have about the movie.

The script expands on Solo and Kuryakin's pasts in order to flesh out their characters and give motivation for how they ended up in the CIA and KGB respectively. Since this is essentially an origin story, the writers focus on the interactions between the two far more than they do the case they are forced to work on jointly. The chemistry between Hammer and Cavill was probably the best thing about the movie.

The movie captures the tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, but not as well as it captures the style and fashion of that time period.

Overall, I give The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 8.5 stars out of 10.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The "Why Isn't Suzan Posting" Post

It's been a busy week here at Casa Harden.

Last week of classes at public school coincided with the last week of classes at driving school. Instead of going home after dropping Genius Kid off at driving school, I went to Panera's to write. Over 8K words written this week so far, and I should hit 10K by Saturday night. Yay!

Seriously, I'm closing in on finishing Sacrificed. If the first draft isn't done this week, it will be next week.

Yes, that offsets the sheer terror any parent feels when their teen is about to get their driver license.

In the meantime, I sold "Unexpected" to Sword and Sorceress 32. The latest volume of the long-running anthology will be released around the first of November. I'll let you know the specific date down the road.

Then I REALLY need to review the proof copies of the paperbacks done so far and get them launched.

I'm also considering whether or not to do a local author event. Dealing with total strangers in public sets off my anxiety, but Darling Husband has offered to be my bodyguard. Not sure what I'll do yet, but I definitely need something to sell if I'm going, i.e. finish proofing those paperbacks!

Overall, it feels great to be in the writing groove again!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Monday Movie Mania - Pitch Black

Yeah, I know Pitch Black came out in 2000. DH and I had planned to see it because we were huge Farscape and Claudia Black fans. Morning sickness had other plans. So by the time I stopped worshipping the porcelain god, the movie was long gone from theaters.

Over the years, I caught bits and pieces on cable. Every time we rented videos, there was always something else someone else wanted to watch, and being a mom at this point, I gave in. So when Pitch Black was on during the recent HBO/Cinemax weekend, I recorded it, and FINALLY I watched it uncut all the way through.

Note: Yes, I saw The Chronicles of Riddick and Riddick long before  I saw Pitch Black.

And since it's been seventeen years, I'm not giving my standard SPOILERS alert.

Pitch Black has a few trope tweaks, but for the most part, it's standard sci-fi horror. The criminal is the hero, the lawman is a junkie, and the holy man actually survives though the pilgrims traveling with him don't.

Unfortunately, the first Vin Diesel flick I saw was The Pacifier, and I've seen the entire Fast & Furious series plus the other Riddick films. I really couldn't get into Riddick as a bad guy. Dangerous, yes, but not evil. Both the pilot and the bounty hunter would qualify more as "evil" in their desire to sacrifice innocents for their own survival than the so-called murderer.

Overall, it's a solid, fun, B sci-fi/horror flick. It would be nice if the series could continue because I want to know more about the character Riddick.

I give Pitch Black an 8 out of 10 stars.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Friday, May 12, 2017

When a Fan Wants to Mash-up Your Series

A couple of weeks ago, a non-writing reader asked me what would happened if Sam Ridgeway ever met Justice Anthea.

Ummm...

Don't get me wrong. I'll be the first one to admit I love me some fan fiction. Heck, I've posted links to some good stuff here. Fanfic lets you experiment with the story and try new things. In fact, one of my favorite episodes of Supernatural is when the Winchesters find out about Chuck Shurley's novels. Then to Dean's eternal WTF, he discovers fan fiction about himself.

Dean: There's Sam girls and Dean girls. And what's a slash fan? 
Sam: As in... Sam slash Dean. Together.  
Dean: Like... together together?  
Sam: Yeah.  
Dean: They do know we're brothers, right?  
Sam: Doesn't seem to matter.  
Dean: Ah, come on. That... that's just sick.

*sigh* At least my reader wasn't suggesting girl-on-girl or incest action with my heroines because the subject matter doesn't quite mesh with my Suzan books.

But his question did get me thinking. What would happen if for some reason the two met?

I think Anthea would smack Sam upside her head for being a dumbass.

So what do you call it if you write fanfic about your own characters?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Nothing New Under the Sun Except Some Kind Words

I'm really not sure what to say at this point about the state of publishing. Things have quieted down in a way that has nothing to do with the usual summer lull.

No major publishers have crashed and burned. Many small publishers have quietly closed their doors. More people are indie publishing while others have walked away from it for various reasons.

Personally, I've been limiting my time on social media. I poke my head up once and a while to check my accounts. I e-mail with a couple of writer friends on a regular basis, but many of the folks I'd like to talk to are just as busy as me.

And you know something--that's okay. I know that some of my problems over the winter were SAD, some were hormone-related crap that needed maintenance drug adjustments, and some were the constant barrage of negativity through both the writers' grapevine and the news. Once the weather warmed and the new drug cocktail was developed, I realized how much the other stuff affected me.

And I decided to walk away from a lot of it.

Instead, I took last week off to write and submit a story for this year's Sword and Sorceress anthology. (I'll let you know if it gets accepted.)

In the meantime, everything clicked in my head for how Sacrificed will play out. (I've always known how it will end, but the middle part was foggy for the longest time.) My cover artist Elaina did a wonderful job of capturing the essence of what Tiffany and Sam go through in this story. As I write this post, I'm closing in on the 60K mark.

Probably the best things over the last week were people asking when's the next book coming out for both Bloodlines and Justice, as well as Alter Ego readers asking about her next book.

With the way things have gone in my life, I don't want to promise specific dates. Last year, I was a month late on Zombie Goddess from my own mistake, only to have my mother-in-law end up in the hospital again after another fall.

I can say I'm doing fairly good about sticking to the plan I laid out a couple of weeks ago. My dedicated writing laptop has made a difference in keeping my attention on the story. I just need to keep a steady pace over the summer.

As I told a friend nearly thirty years ago, happiness is a fleeting, ephemeral thing. I'm much more satisfied with my life when I'm content.