The Turtle Will Write

The Turtle Will Write

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Writing Process Blog Hop

Jill Domschot tagged me to take part in this weeks ago. I completely spaced out/ dropped the ball/ moved on with my life/ dissed the honor. It wasn't quite my fault because since getting my blog URL issues solved, I created the unintended issue of "losing" all my Blogs I Follow. I would normally be reminded of such a tagging when Jill's blog changed places on my blog, but that didn't happen. Hopefully, I've fixed that, too, as of tonight.

The only reason I'm remembering to do this tonight is because I seriously don't want to edit the next chapter in my soon-to-be published book Daughter of Anasca. I wrote it years ago, it needs some tweaking, but I wove the whole thing so tight I'm afraid if I pull on any bits, it will unravel into a complete mess, and I just don't have the mental energy to deal with that this evening. 

Where was I?

Right. Four questions.

1) What am I working on?

Daughter of Anasca. A YA fantasy coming of age story of two sisters. Idea conceived 20+ years ago, written five or six years ago, and finally about to see the light of day. My non-writing beta readers liked it better than Star of Justice. I worked really hard to keep it at a PG rating so homeschoolers would have a chance to read it before their parents picked it up and freaked out at the first chapter. I promise, it gets better and worse if you keep going, but I believe you'll be pleasantly surprised at the end.

2) How does it differ from others in its genre?

It's a little more complicated than the YA I've read, which isn't much, let me tell ya. I like "coming of age" stories, but I hate stories about tweens and teens grappling with hormone issues. My girls are growing up fast, and it has nothing to do with who takes whom to the prom, although, being me, I had to throw some romance in there. It's fairly brutal, but The Flash's favorite series at 12 was about a girl with a meth head boyfriend, so... Is it worse? You be the judge. The adults aren't idiots. Coming of age is about entrance into the adult world. You wouldn't want that if everybody there is a drooling moron.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I write what I want to read. I like good vs. evil stories, but I'm old enough to know "good" and "evil" aren't always easy to recognize. I like "princess and bodyguard" stories, and, boy, will it show the more I produce. I like in-your-face fight scenes, both physical and emotional, and those are easier to justify in fantasy. I like consistency in world creation, and stretching "reality" without breaking it. I like knowing a book will end well, and I only really know that when I've written it.

4) How does my writing process work?

I wish I knew. It used to be obsessive. Then it was passive-aggressive. Currently, it's thwarted by cats. I'm going to have to train myself to write in the hour between putting them to bed and myself to bed, like I did with this post. For once, the dog left me alone, too.

I might have just enough brain power to go stare at that chapter some more, so I'll end here.

Look for Daughter of Anasca, coming soon. If the cats cooperate. 


Monday, August 18, 2014

Bias

I was recently asked how a fiction author avoids bias. The simple answer: she doesn't.

The questioner, who reads political spy thrillers, was irritated with a certain author because the author appeared to have an agenda in some books.

We all know authors write from their own worldviews. We all know authors write about topics that interest them (unless they have a specific reason that they can't, like "need money now so must accept boring freelance work"). Unless the author is a journalist devoted to giving just the facts (and how many journalists are encouraged to do that, nowadays?), bias will be present. I would argue bias is present even for the journalist, based on what facts are presented and in what order.

For the reader, it's not a question of avoiding bias. It's a question of which biases agree with your worldview, or, which biases stretch your worldview. I suspect a reader's favorite authors will demonstrate a close approximation of how the reader views the world, and, contrarywise, his least favorite authors will clash with his worldview in a manner too disconcerting to accept. 

For the author, the question could be "will this presentation of the universe as I understand it enthrall or disgust a reader?" Or, in Christian fiction, "will the CBA/ God/ secular worldview" be OK with my story? You know. The old "who's my audience" question.

Biases will present themselves on paper. A variety of good beta readers will help illuminate them. One or two reviews will illustrate them immediately, if you can stomach reading reviews. The best advice I can give to an author who wants to consistently sell her writing is "know your audience," write to their biases and don't worry about the rest of the world.

Happy Monday, dear readers. New week, fresh start. Enjoy.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Turtle in GIMPland

Grace has been and gone a week now, and the Turtle household has settled back into its regularly scheduled programming. With one difference. GIMP has joined the family.

Part of the Turtle's plan for this visit was instruction in GIMP, a free photoshop-like design program. Grace and Iguana use this program with great success on a regular basis. I should be able to do the same, correct?

I used to think so, but the program has other ideas.

GIMP is like a four story house with a basement, attic and wraparound porch, planned by a dozen culturally diverse architects and one alien who never spoke to each other, built by blind hermit crabs. All the cupboards, closets and drawers are mislabeled, upside down or actually dimensional portals to another universe. I do not exaggerate.

Grace says she thinks the GIMP designers went out of their way to avoid imitating Photoshop to avoid lawsuits. I don't know Photoshop, but I guess they succeeded. I don't know what the heck is going on half the time, and the other half I'm sitting there, paralyzed like Alice, thinking "It should be able to do this. Do I drink the potion or eat the mushroom to make it work?"

Grace also says sometimes the program really does go a little insane for whatever reason and refuses to do things it normally does. Good to know.

I have made some progress. This is the current cover, and perfectly OK to be the final cover, but I want to try to add some glowing eyes to the hoard in the back.



This is the current imprint and publishing name. I googled a lot of names I liked, but they were all taken. I'm still partial to "Grave Snapper Books," but I got voted down.


GIMP and I will continue to circle each other like feral cats, but we've found an uneasy truce for the moment that may blossom into consensual apathy.

Happy Thursday, dear readers. Watch your step. Never know where the next GIMP portal will open.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Grace Is Coming

Doesn't have quite the auditory impact as "Dawn is coming" from the season four finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but the potential is there.

A few things came home to me this week. I wrote Daughter of Anasca six years ago. That's when Caleb walked into my life, and became a character in that book. Six years. I've had a completed book (for the most part) sitting on my hard drive for six years. That's the time it takes a human to be born and start school.

That is waaaaay too long to do nothing with a finished manuscript.

If I remember correctly, and that's a big if considering six years have passed between then and now, I planned to produce a book every two years. I'm OK with slow and steady, but I've passed into imperceptible as far as movement goes. Part of me knew this, but seeing it there in black and white on the vet appt. reminder card put it all in perspective.

Time to get moving. Past time.

Grace knows things I want to learn. She seems amenable to teaching me. I have seven days to absorb how to format print and ebooks, the basics of GIMP and cover design, where and how to choose fonts, and how to make a book through CreateSpace. Oh, and how to hook my url to this blog so www.robynntolbert.com starts working again.

I doubt I can learn everything in that amount of time and still get some fun things in, like visiting cemeteries and hellmouths -mwahahahahahahaha!- but I intend to try.

Once Daughter of Anasca is out of the way, according to Orson Scott Card, I will have removed the primary block to writing my next book, Dangling Participles. We'll see.

Yes, I talk big. I've talked big in the past. But I've hit that "fish or cut bait" moment where I really do have to write...or stop. I don't believe I want to stop. That means I have to write.

Happy Wednesday, dear readers. Take a moment to review. Grace is coming.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Covers, Fonts and Pen Names

I've flailed around for a cover idea for Daughter of Anasca for years. I have only one experience with cover creation, but it had me in tears and nearly puking on a regular basis. Praise God it lasted no longer than a typical bout of flu, or I would have died of dehydration.

No offense, Grace and Iguana. I blame myself for overreacting. I'm sure I couldn't plan a wedding, either.

As of yesterday, I have a solid cover idea to pursue. I may need to snap some pics of my own to make it work, but I'll do it.

Rick Copple shared an interesting (to me) post about how indie authors shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to cover design. I don't know who Dean Wesley Smith is, but he makes some sense, so I'm taking his advice seriously, including the part about using a different name.

Daughter of Anasca is YA. I deliberately kept it at a PG rating. I had no such restraints in Star of Justice because I wrote it for adults. Younger people read it at their own risk (not that I wrote anything you couldn't see on basic cable after 5 PM). The blog author, Dean Wesley Smith, points out that folks who like one of my books may be startled or turned off by reading something of mine in a different style or genre. Worse, a younger reader may like Daughter of Anasca and pick up Star of Justice or its potentially rougher sequels (once they're written) and freak out the parents.

I don't like the idea of a pen name, but I am thinking of using initials: R.C. Tolbert. That, plus a different cover style, which must happen because I don't have the same skill as Newsome Creative, will help differentiate my YA from my adult. Of course, since I'm thinking of publishing as Graveyard Publications, I don't know why I'm bothering to differentiate anything. You read the Turtle, you get the Turtle, guts and all.

Happy Tuesday, dear readers. Enjoy the weather. It won't last.