Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Why I'm not using Goodreads anymore...

There has been some... controversy in the authoring world over Goodreads, and I'm not going to get sucked into this bullying that has been going.

First off, you need to read something, from a lovely aspiring author named Lauren:
For those who want to understand what's happening with my book & Goodreads.

Long story short, I didn't understand the rating system on Goodreads and was confused how someone who didn't have my book had rated it 2 stars. My book is yet unreleased and this person did not have an advance copy. I asked about this on a Goodreads message board and it was explained to me that people can rate as a way of expressing their interest in the book. I was all too happy to move on then. 

However, I was then attacked by people for asking that question. People started to rate 1-star to prove "we can rate whatever the hell we want." 

My book was added to shelves named 'author should be sodomized' and 'should be raped in prison' and other violent offensive things, all for asking a simple question as a newcomer to the website. 

Goodreads can't do anything, because they allow this behaviour. No seriously, it is highlighted in their ACTUAL RULES that this behaviour is acceptable. Apparently readers can get as offensive and bully as much as they want because it's their freedom of speech.

My book rating is subsequently taking a serious hit and my book isn't even released. It's incredibly upsetting and disheartening that I'm being targeted for asking an innocent question. I've contacted Goodreads directly and nothing has been done because, again, this is acceptable behaviour.
And now, Lauren has decided to cancel her book release because of the bullying that is going on. And you know what? I can't blame her. I get ribbed for writing in "New Adult" because people think it's a gimmick, or that the genre is a flash in the pan. Fine. Ribbing is one thing; bullying? Totally different.

Goodreads was a brilliant idea when it started-- you could find books that your friends were reading and after so many of your own ratings it would start to make some suggestions for your books. Star ratings should not be allowed on a book that has not been released. Where is the logic in that? If you're interested in the book, shelve it. If not, move along.

Now, the worst part about this is that the terms and conditions on the site are absolutely contradictory. One one hand, you agree not to:
post User Content that: (i) may create a risk of harm, loss, physical or mental injury, emotional distress, death, disability, disfigurement, or physical or mental illness to you, to any other person, or to any animal; (ii) may create a risk of any other loss or damage to any person or property; (iii) seeks to harm or exploit children by exposing them to inappropriate content, asking for personally identifiable details or otherwise; (iv) may constitute or contribute to a crime or tort; (v) contains any information or content that we deem to be unlawful, harmful, abusive, racially or ethnically offensive, defamatory, infringing, invasive of personal privacy or publicity rights, harassing, humiliating to other people (publicly or otherwise), libelous, threatening, profane, or otherwise objectionable...
And then in the same TOS just a few paragraphs later, they state:
Goodreads is not responsible for any public display or misuse of your User Content. You understand and acknowledge that you may be exposed to User Content that is inaccurate, offensive, indecent, or objectionable, and you agree that Goodreads shall not be liable for any damages you allege to incur as a result of such User Content. Goodreads may provide tools for you to remove some User Content, but does not guarantee that all or any User Content will be removable. 
So? Which is it, guys?  Either you can or you can't. This is an enormously popular website; it has a lot of merit to it, being (ostensibly) unrelated to any of the big book stores. But did your admins just decide that they weren't going to police this website at all? No oversight, just hey whatever. What is going on here is libel and defamation of character. You can get sued for this stuff. Dragged into court and made to pay restitution. And you'll plead not guilty. Except you are. You allowed this to get out of control; can you imagine what if feels like to have your book-- your baby, the literary child you have nurtured from an idea into a fully formed and edited manuscript ready to share with the world- put on a shelf called 'author should be sodomized' and 'should be raped in prison'. Not just once, not twice, but over and over and over. 

There are smear campaigns run against Indie authors, yes. But the worst I have seen previous to this was to say that we were violating the Right to Free Speech and should all be erased. Well, fine, and you clearly don't understand Free Speech. And we really do expect people to hate our books. We all have different tastes, we all have different expectations, we can't please everyone.

But this... this goes beyond the pale.

I am sorry that no one out there will get to read Lauren's book. I don't even know her personally at all, and I want her to send me it so I can slather praise on it. Writing a book is not easy, and if nothing else-- if I hated it, if it was bad-- I would never wish ill upon her or her creation, and I would tell her, "We may have differing options on what is good in the written word, but you saw it through to the end. 
-- Well done.

Goodreads will be coming off of this page immediately, and I'm shuttering all connections to the website. If you've left me a review there, thank you. I will not be using Goodreads unless and/or until they figure out this bullying. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Words My Grandmother Would Never Know

I was wandering through CNN today, reading a few stories so that my brain doesn't turn into mush. Keep up on the old current events, eh what. I read about the young woman in California who was recently rescue from her captor and how she was on chatting anonymously with other users (unwisely, I should think), and put a selfie.

Next to selfie was the parenthetical - a picture that a person takes of themselves.

I giggled and moved on to a story about how American's seem to be moving towards pot legalization and how 4 in 10 American's had taken a toke in their lives.

I started to think about all the words I use in my every day language interactions that my Grandmother would not know. Selfies, Facebook, status, Instagram, PM, cloud, thumb drive/flash drive, terabyte, mobile, geocaching, geolocate, toke, eInk, ebooks, Obamacare, birther... which then leads to the phrases she wouldn't know. "Slow your roll", "Fail", "Whatevs," "Carbon Neutral", "LOL", "TMI"...

It's just amazing how quickly our language changes. Most of the words up there didn't exist 5, 6 years ago. You didn't know that you could post a selfie on facebook from the cloud so that you didn't have carry the thumb drive anymore, but it was cool that you could geolocate yourself. Grandma would NOT have understood what I just wrote there and she was no dummy.

I think it would be fun to keep a list of words that come into our language and go out. And how the meanings of some of them change. "Gay" is of course one of the famous ones. But there are others. "Fag" used to mean a bundle of kindling-- here in the US it's a derogatory term for a gay person; in the UK it means cigarette.

Words fascinate me.

Grandma had a phonograph, a record player, until the day she moved into the nursing home. And used it often. How many kids know what a phonograph is? If you call it a record player, they'll probably say, "Oh, yeah my parents have one of those. It plays those vinyl discs, rights?"

Seriously, kid. I'm not that old. I had a record player.

I guess I should wait to blow a kids mind some day when I tell them that I was born before the World Wide Web...

Friday, August 9, 2013

Explaining the Jenn-Brain

I was thinking today that people don't really understand my methodologies when it comes to writing. You might have had a clue when I went ape-shizz on aspiring writers a while back. But that was more about me frustrated than anything else.

Here's what's set me off today: I have discovered a few indie authors who like to set pub dates before they are done writing the books.

*jaw hits floor* 

Honest, I don't understand this. I really don't. For me a novel, writing for 4 to 6 hours a day will take 10 weeks to produce- if I'm lucky. There is no guarantee that life isn't going to come up to me and smack my ass into the ground. (It's wont to do that, FYI.) So we're usually talking 4 to 6 months to write a book.

On top of that, there's no guarantee that those will be consecutive months. I get writer's block and writer's boredom* a lot. I'll wander into another universe and start writing there. This usually happens twice in each book. Once about 1/3 to 1/2 way to done, and then about about 7/8th done. I have to think about how I want to wrap everything else up. And sometimes, it's a very long time before I can get back to the story, either literally or mentally. I have a story currently sitting about 2/3rds done, and I know what has to happen but... I just don't feel like writing the boring exposition that will get me over the hump. So I wandered out of LA and into Pittsburgh for a while. My record for this is 25 years. Yes, you read that right. I have a few others that I've been writing for 15 years, and they are in the same state.

And that only gets me what I like to call "vomit copy", where I spew the idea down on [virtual] paper. I also have a very firm belief that just because I'm done writing the book, it's not mature. Like a good beer or a fine wine, it has to ferment for a while. In the case of the book I'm now considering for publication, that would be 4, 5 years now. But even if it were something more recent, we'd still be talking about 3 months, no less than, before I touched it again after writing the words 'the end'. I put it in the drawer and walk away from it. Kind of like a souffle, don't open the over door! It's baking, and you'll ruin it!

I would say the fastest edit I've ever done was the one I just finished. It took me (and someone else) about 6 weeks to comb through and clean up. And that was rushed. Really, really rushed. The editor wanted more time! (Which, to his credit, we were under a very bizarre and sudden deadline.) For me alone, sometimes the editing takes six weeks alone, and still needs a spit and polish before I sent it to the beta readers. If the beta readers can get it back to me in four weeks, I'll have 4 more weeks of revision, minimum.

There there's formatting (which I do on my own because I used to do that for a living), that can take a week, and cover design. Thus far, I've done my own. So that alone is going to be a week-- if I have an idea. Otherwise it's a painful brainstorm session about a week long, as long as another week to gather the stuff for the cover (I usually use live photos) and then the week to put it together.

Let's put this Jenn-Brain in a graphic!

For the sake of this actually showing on a chart, I've minimized the maximum
to just 3 years. Otherwise, you can't see jack shit on the chart below. 

Not Pictured: Screwing around with Excel like she knows what she's doing... 

So, you can see that with the numbers above, we're talking about a minimum of 9 months for this process and, according to the chart, about 6.5 years otherwise. 

This is way I work. I've been writing my whole life, and this is the process that works for me. I think that of all the things that I do, the marination/fermentation process is the most important. You can't edit a book so quickly because you know what you meant to say, and that's what you're going to read. You have to get out of your own way. 

It's only when I get through that first edit that I can, in good conscience, start thinking about a pub date. Before that is no-woman's-land. Don't go there, don't ask me about a release date. It's not done, it's not in the barrel yet. Letting it settle and allowing me to get out of my own head about it makes the book that much better when I'm done.

So, I don't know how you all do it, but God love you. I don't think there's a force on earth that could me to release a book in less than 38 weeks from start to finish. 

Hey. It's kind of like having a baby. I guess if Mother Nature thinks 9 months is a good time frame, I'm in good company! 

*I made that up. Sometimes, I get sick of hanging out with my characters, especially after they've done something really stupid. I have to walk away just like I would in real life.  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Book Blather - The Elemental Mysteries


So, you should read these books. I don't even know where to start with the gushing. I do know that I needed a tissue in the third, and a half dozen tissues in the fourth. Really.

It's a rare book that makes me cry.

First, these are adult books. 18+; there is descriptive sex.
Now, let's address the books. 

They are the Elemental Mysteries by Elizabeth Hunter:
The Hidden Fire 
This Same Earth
The Force of Wind 
A Fall of Water 

They are worth every.stinking.penny. you have to spend on them.

The characters are stunning. Beatrice and Giovanni are magnificent and the way she developed them and their stories. Tensin is marvelous, Carwyn is fun and funny. The vampires are believable, and don't sparkle. Beatrice has fast become one of my favorite characters of all time; she's an ass kicker!

The story really does need the four books to develop-- if you do pick these up to read, please take your time. Keep track of the characters. It's all important. Every single character that Ms. Hunter uses. All the stories intertwine with each other, and no character is introduced that doesn't have a purpose.

Some ways I gauge how invested I am in the book is my reaction to the character's actions. I slammed the cover on my nook at one point and walked away screaming that Beatrice didn't deserve something (won't tell you what), and then I was crying at the end.

Honestly-- go get these books. They are amazing. I don't cry at just anything. The last thing I cried at was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows... that had to be 7 years ago!

Trust me, read these. They are amazing. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Good Bad News

Well. There has been a turn of events, ladies and gents. For those of you who were waiting for the release of Shadow in Glass on August 15th, I'm sadglad to say that I'm delaying the release indefinitely.

I made decision to withhold publication for now due to some new circumstance that may turn out to be all in our favor.

I am going to work on something else to whet your whistle, but you're going to have to give me sometime. I have a lot going on right now, and I need to edit whatever it is I am going to offer you. Which I will pick soon enough and announce the title.

Meanwhile, we are still working on Faction and you're more than welcome to join us over there.

If I sound a little less than enthusiastic, forgive me. It's been a rough few weeks, but I promise this news is not bad. Just keep your fingers crossed, m'kay?