Does "darkness deserves lyrical expression"? In this episode, we shine the light on the good, talk about the books pretend to read, and cover how we keep track of our ideas. We also talk about what you need to have on your author website and how to get started with WordPress.
Works in Progress
[00:00:43] Mike worked on nothing, as he was on vacation for his 5th wedding anniversary. Mike came up with an idea, he wants to write a "booze" blog. He and his wife were in Vegas, and John surmised that all the writing he did had to stay there.
[00:01:27] John's working on second drafts of things. Dispossessed and Stonelair. 677 words of Stonelair were promptly lost while using Penflip. He's still a little bitter about that. Mike suggested using Google Drive for raw writing just to keep it autosaving as he writes.
Besides the autosave issue, John found that you can't rename files through the Penflip interface. Once you name something, it has to stay that name. That's a problem when you write a scene that is different than what you started with. Eric also experienced that same problem.
[00:03:34] Eric is making some good headway with the Don't Wake Up rewrite. He got past the depressing hump he hit a week ago. Up to chapter 4 and a pre-read by his wife was good. He also wrote the second part of chapter 1 of Faith, Love and Rust. He submitted it to the #saturdayScenes on Google Plus. He got some nice comments and reviews there. He created an account at ghost.io to use Ghost as a platform for this story. Ghost is a nice simple, markup-based blog format.
[00:04:26] An agent in New York wanted to read the full manuscript of the Prince of Pigeon Hill. It's very exciting and surreal for Eric.
"You're a total stranger and you want to read this. It's pretty cool, and I'm tickled. It's just not the mindset I'm used to.
What's happening online
11 Books You should Read before Writing your Military Science Fiction Novel
John came across an article on Io9 11 History Books You Should Read Before Writing Your Military SF Novel. Military science fiction is something he'd be interested in writing, but having never served in any armed forces (or anything close), John's experience is lacking. Even Dispossessed could be considered Military SciFi, even though its in an existing universe. These books give an idea of what its like being in combat as well as the technologies in present and future armies.
Eric recommended some number of additional books:
Storm of Steel by Ernst Jünger is a memoir by a German World War I soldier that describes the depravity and horror of that war.
Spies for Hire by Tim Shorrock discusses the outsourcing of military intelligence after 9/11.
- Territory of Lies by Wolf Blitzer is the story of Jonathan Jay Pollard, an American who spied on his country for Israel and how he was betrayed. This is a great spy book.
BlackWater by Jeremy Scahill is an expose on the world's most powerful mercenary army (now called Academi). This covers how private operators work in the Middle East.
10 Science Fiction You Pretend to Have Read
Does Darkness Deserve Lyrical Expression?
In a Wall Street Journal interview with author Adam Johnson Pulitzer Winner Adam Johnson on His New Book, ‘Fortune Smiles’ Eric was haunted by a line from Johnson's book as read by the interviewer.
There’s an incredibly vivid image in “The Orphan Master’s Son”: A sailor cuts off the fin of a shark (for shark fin soup, a delicacy in Asia) “and then rolled the shark back into the water, where, unable to maneuver, it would race nowhere but down, disappearing into the blackness, leaving only a thin contrail of blood behind.”
Johnson questions whether or not darkness deserves lyrical expression. On the Three Guys with Beards podcast, the hosts say they write horror because they can "shine light on the good".
Darkness has its place, but exploitative and over-the-top darkness isn't really necessary. The darkness can stick with you longer as a reader as you consider and digest what has happened in the story.
The Poisonwood Bible
Eric is still reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Fold by Peter Clines
John read The Fold by Peter Clines
Tech Focus - Author Websites
An author's website is the best place to connect with readers. Your author site should focus not on the details of writing, but as a community of readers of your work. Your website is your "home base" for all of your marketing efforts.
For an author website, you will want to get your own domain name. If you can get your actual name (e.g. JohnUhri.com that would be best, but it may not be available. You should try for the .com address, but others like .me or .ninja might be available as well.
Some of the things your site should include:
About Page with a headshot and a bio
Make sure to list any in a series together
Text list and one with the covers.
Each book should go to a landing page for that book.
An Excerpt of your work, either short stories or chapter excerpts
Calls to action - links to purchase the book or to sign up for your mailing list
Your next book
Clear easy to read text
Email list signup
Events page (book signings, conferences or speaking schedule)
Blog (posting at least once a week)
Author and teacher Bob Mayer talked about finding your mavens, the fifty or so people who are willing to go out of their way to support your work. Your author website should really cater to them.
The Tech of Author Websites
You can host your website on a number of different platforms and tools. Free setups are available on sites like Github, Ghost or Wordpress, but the biggest drawback is the technical know-how to set up the different options. Wordpress is so well-supported and so well-used that it does what people need it to do. Nearly 25% of the web is powered by Wordpress. One of the strengths of Wordpress is that there are so many themes available that give you the look-and-feel of your site. Making sure to get a theme from a reputable developer is important, because some themes aren't well developed.
It's important to own your own site. If you're building your online presence based on Facebook or Goodreads, you're really digital sharecropping. You don't own the space you're creating your content on, and the sites themselves (like Facebook) can change how your information is shown to your readers.
Wordpress also has plugins which are extra bits of code that can do a lot of useful things and add functionality to your site. The Genesis Author Pro plugin, for example, has a lot of useful functions for authors.
Mike mentioned a book called The Underwriting by Michelle Miller that was written as a web serial where it was free for the first 24 hours, then each chapter had to be purchased after that.
- 10 Things Every Author's Website Should Contain
- How to Build the Ultimate Author Website in 1 Hour
- What Readers Want from your Author Website
- What Every Author's Website Should Contain
- Author Website Elements
Can you multitask stories? All of us seem to have multiple projects that we're working on, and what do you do when you have a new idea and start working on that instead.
John's problem is that he sits down to write, does a few stream-of-consciousness things to get the pump primed, fingers limbered, and getting rid of the dreaded blank page. But then he'll come up with a random piece of a story that isn't a work in progress scene. Should he stop doing that?
Eric contents that it may not be possible to stop.
Mike has a swipe file he uses to put story ideas into, but after a time, he no longer remembers the genesis of the idea.
John has a swipe file as well, but that he puts things into to marinade.
Eric, on the other hand, has pages and pages of first lines. The first line is where he has his biggest struggles.
Writing that Pays
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