|Posted on December 9, 2013 at 4:30 PM||comments (0)|
Time to talk a little author shop. Readers, this will bore the crap out of you. Authors, especially those using Smashwords, read on.
It's standard practice when submitting an e-book to a retailer to not include links to competing retailers in the content. Doing so will likely mean the title is rejected. That's a reasonable and standard practice.
What isn't reasonable is how iTunes is now rejecting titles submitted through Smashwords. Starting in early December, Apple writes "tickets" to Smashwords authors not in compliance with its retailing rules. One of those rules is having links to other retailers on the author's website.
That's right. Not in the author's e-book. On the author's website.
Sound a little overreaching? That's because it is. Apple isn't just looking for competing links in the e-book itself. It's going all the way to authors' websites.
I received a "ticket" myself via Smashwords. My crime? Having links to Amazon on my personal website.
Sorry, iTunes, but you're not winning this round. I like Apple products a lot, but I'm not re-tooling my entire website to suit your business model. My website it my exclusive corner of the Web, where I rule as benign dictator of all I behold. And while I appreciate Apple employees taking the time to check out CrimeFictionBook.com, it's just a little creepy. If you're going to stop in, at least buy a book.
Hopefully, this issue is addressed soon. It's preventing one of my titles from reaching the iTunes store, 6 Funny Detective Stories - Maynard Soloman Smokes the World's Problems. (Yeah, that's an Amazon link right there, jerks.)
Until then, I think I'll make an apple pie just out of spite. And because they're delicious.
|Posted on December 8, 2013 at 3:50 PM||comments (0)|
Ugly Christmas sweaters, meet photo editing software. Merry Christmas, everyone.
|Posted on November 3, 2013 at 9:20 PM||comments (0)|
November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Although I'll be spending my month working on the non-fiction Writer's Digest book, I still offer my full support to NaNoWriMo participants. Exhibit A is this snarky, NaNoWriMo-inspired T-shirt recently added to the CafePress store.
Click here to get it to remind yourself that "funemployment" can be another word for NaNoWriMo.
|Posted on June 13, 2013 at 8:30 AM||comments (0)|
It was a bizarre coincidence that I was reading Vince Zandri's Pathological crime fiction e-book last night when I noticed this post by crime author/criminologist Jennifer Chase. Chase explains the differences, criminally speaking, between psychopaths and sociopaths.
These are two words that come up quite a bit in crime fiction, but as this recent post on Do Some Damage points out, there's little understanding of what those mental health conditions mean. I admit that I've faltered in this area myself, having portrayed both a psychopath and an addict in my crime thriller novel, Cleansing Eden: The Celebrity Murders, without doing a ton of research on either.
With how hard I am sometimes on inaccurate depictions of firearms and knives in crime fiction (I'm even writing a guide to crime fiction weapons for Writer's Digest) I run the risk of sounding hypocritical. Research is important, but I certainly cut some corners with Cleansing Eden. That's not really fair to the reader.
The crime fiction community is coming to the same conclusion. To quote the Do Some Damage post:
We read and write about mental health issues in very narrow terms in our field. It's a gimmick. An excuse. We want some death and some interesting mayhem, and a way to get there is with these impossible magical characters that we create, and then we throw in a suggestion of childhood trauma as if that is "paying the taxes" of examining cause and effect.
We like sociopaths as long as they serve plots, we like addicts as short-hand for failure, and people with extreme temper problems are good for sudden bursts of action. We like the moody protagonist with a fractured psyche. We like the killer who can live double lives. We like the self-loathing copper who is trying hard to self destruct.
Every writer is welcome to type outside the confines of reality - it is fiction, after all. But if the risk of inaccuracy isn't enough of a reason to re-examine these shortcuts, maybe the fact they've become cliche will be.
I'll do my part going forward. One of the characters in my next crime novel witnessed the gruesome death of a family member. This caused the character to develop post-traumatic stress disorder, and a key piece of the novel's plot hinges on finding this person help to deal with that. That the character lives in a rural area complicates matters. Every trait is backed up by research.
Posts like the one from criminologist Jennifer Chase and on Do Some Damage are waking me up to mental health issues in crime fiction. Writers, are you experiencing the same thing? Readers, do these things even matter to you? Let me know in the comments.
|Posted on June 5, 2013 at 8:50 AM||comments (4)|
"You Keep Using that Word. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means."
Unless you have everything bookmarked, you've probably noticed the huge influx of short stories, novelettes and novellas on the major e-book retailer sites. This is due in part to short attention spans of both writers and readers, as well as an "anything goes" attitude toward publishing fiction e-books.
This isn't a post critical of those things. As my old journalism school instructors would say, "How long should a story be? Until it's done."
Some stories don't fit neatly into the confines of the novel or short story. So writers fudge the word counts and call it a "novella" or "novelette."
That said, there's a lack of understanding of what a novella is supposed to be.
It's Not a Word Count Thing, It's a Plot Structure Thing...But Still a Word Count Thing
Yes, a characteristic of a novella is its word count. It's either a short novel or a long short story, depending on how you want to think about it.
But that's secondary to the plot structure. A novella is a snapshot of a single event. It's the meat of the action. Everything else is tossed in front of a moving train, scraped off the tracks, dehydrated and snorted in short lines for writerly inspiration.
That means the usual story arcs, sub plots, character development and even the satisfying ending are removed. Only the action remains.
"But That's Inconceivable!"
If this sounds like a bare bones, minimalist approach to a story, then you're on the right track.
Let's say a plot hinges on a bank robbery. A bunch of bad muthas decide to knock off a bank so they can pay a coyote to smuggle heroin across the U.S.-Mexico border in order to clear a debt with a drug lord who loaned them money to get one of the bad mutha's sister's a black market kidney from a prisoner who tried to rape her in high school. It's a revenge story, because the prisoner only had one kidney to begin with - before the forced organ donation in the prison shower.
Lots of moving parts in that story, right?
In a novella, the action would focus just on the bank robbery, or some other single event from that mess. It wouldn't be a revenge story necessarily, because the reader wouldn't see all those moving parts.
In a novel, all the moving parts could be included, complete with all the bells and whistles. It could be the revenge story.
In a short story, the rules aren't so clear cut, especially now that the format has experienced a creative renaissance with the rise of e-books and online magazines. If I was writing the example above, I'd keep the action on the bank robbery but flash back to the other events for context. It could be the revenge story. Or a bank robbery story. It would only have to be brief.
While waiting for a delayed flight earlier this week, I got to reading up the stories I've neglected on my phone's Kindle app.
One of them was The Becoming by Allan Leverone. It's the perfect example of the novella format done the right way. A tragedy at a mine unleashes a creature from the backwaters of hell. Hilarity ensues. (Just kidding, it's a creature-feature horror tale, and it's a lot of fun if you have a high gross factor tolerance.) It spurred this post.
On the crime fiction side, an indie author who knows the format in and out is Paul Brazill. I read a piece by him called The Gumshoe a while back, and I thought it was a brilliant example of a novella. I don't know if he ever got around to publishing it, though. Brazill's known more for his short stories, but if you spot a novella by him, be sure to check it out.
Can't I Just Call it What I Want to Call It?
Yes. You want subplots, arcs and the lot in your novella? Go ahead. This post was just explaning what a novella is supposed to be historically.
But don't rhyme "call it" with "call it." That's not a good rhyme. This is a good rhyme:
|Posted on May 25, 2013 at 12:00 PM||comments (0)|
Exhibit A above is a purse made out of my crime thriller novel, Cleansing Eden. An uber-reader had this commissioned through a service called The Pocket-Book.
The panels of the purse are made from the covers and spine of the print book. The handles are made from the pages.
I'd never heard of such a thing before seeing this, but I hear book-purses (burses? pooks?) are pretty popular on Etsy.com. Here are a few others from over there.
Those examples were all hardcovers, but the Cleansing Eden burse (I've settled on burse) from the top is a softcover. So I suppose you could turn any book of yours into a purse. You just need to find the time, tools and talent to make it happen.
What other ways are books being hacked? Leave a note in the comments, I'm curious to know. (And, no, tinder doesn't count as a hack.)
|Posted on February 4, 2013 at 8:05 PM||comments (0)|
The Pulp-o-Mizer lets you design a pulpy book cover. It's the greatest thing since sliced...bagels. Here's one of mine. What kind of demeted covers can you create?
|Posted on December 11, 2012 at 7:00 PM||comments (0)|
I got a call for help with a flat tire this morning. In the winter. In Minnesota. After a snowstorm. The experience shed some light on changing tires in the winter. I thought I'd share it here.
Five Tips for Changing a Tire in the Winter
1) You already know the jacks that come with cars suck, but they REALLY suck in 12-degree weather. Buy a small hydraulic jack. It's worth it.
2) Get the hell off the road. Fortunately, the car was in a parking lot. Changing a tire means being on your stomach a lot. Being spread out like that makes it easier to get hit.
3) Put this in your winter car kit right now: Something to lay on while changing a tire. I used a spare jacket. It kept me dry, which means I stayed warmer. You get wet in 12-degree weather, you're going to be miserable.
4) Nothing beats a great pair of gloves, a solid set of boots and a tough winter jacket.
5) Fix-a-Flat does not work when it's frozen. If you have a can in your trunk, put it in the cab to keep it warm.
Also, it was hard enough to hike it in a foot of snow as an able-bodied twentysomething. Made me have a whole new appreciation for anyone in a wheelchair or crutches.
|Posted on November 21, 2012 at 6:00 PM||comments (0)|
Here's a bit of humor to lighten the mood before diving into the dark times ahead: The holidays. These are courtesy of Someecards.com. It lets people like me throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks. Feel free to share if you find these amusing. Or leave a comment with a better caption.
|Posted on November 20, 2012 at 8:00 AM||comments (0)|
Where plenty of thinking about writing takes place.