Saturday, September 28, 2013

Character Flaws

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Okay, let's not bury the lead here -- we're beginning to suspect we must be shallow people. And the title for this post may be a triple-entendre. Let's just see...
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But first, yes, this is the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop, hosted by our incomparable Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh (thanks, Cap'n!), postings shared on the first Wednesday of every month by a host of conspiratorial scribblers:

"Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!"
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Now, back to the topic at hand -- character flaws.

We're currently reading through the comments and corrections submitted by valiant readers whom we solicited to read the beta draft of the latest in our Silverville Saga series, The Magicke Outhouse, forthcoming next month from our publisher, if all goes well.

Fortunately for us, our beta readers are telling us what we need -- rather than what we want -- to hear. They better have; that's what they're being paid to do. (Okay, not in cash but in gratitude or favors or dinner or their own masochistic self-fulfillment.)

Their comments remind us how we always seem to fall for broken people and broken characters. Ironically, we always begin by trying to tell the story of an admirable protagonist, someone with substance and worth, but we always end by becoming seduced by the ones who need the most help. We can't help it -- their character flaws are more interesting and more fun to write about.

In the first book in the series, Little Greed Men,  Billy Noble, who's anything but, emerges as our protagonist: a con man who fears commitment but becomes trapped into helping a town he doesn't care about. The second book, All Plucked Up, centers on the story of Pleasance Pantiwycke, a deliciously unscrupulous little gal who can't seem to trust the right people. And now the third book is on the verge of deadlines and, yep, we fell in love with April Schauers, an early twentysomething with wild tales and wilder ways who overcompensates because she fears no one will take her seriously otherwise. 

In each of these scenarios, our major characters enter relationships that have the potential to help them overcome their flaws and reach toward a new level of maturity and responsibility. And for every book, our beta readers have urged us to develop these characters in ways that let them grow and overcome their basic (and we think, endearing) natures.

The problem is that we like them the way they are. We don't want them to outgrow their flaws! Maybe it's our own co-writerly character flaw shining through the gauze of fiction. (Remember when we said we thought we may be shallow people?)

We're beginning to suspect we gravitate to writing comedies the way some folks try to laugh off the occasional and inevitable faux pas (or is that just us?) It's a marvelous strategy to keep a little distance even between friends.

Yes, yes, we always take our beta readers' advice and go back and develop their relationships, redeem them, let them outgrow us -- well, just a little. And we'll no doubt do the same for quirky, odd little April & company before the next book hits the streets.

But c'mon -- is it really a character flaw to like flawed characters, or are the characters we write just flawed?

(See, we told you there might be a triple-entendre hiding in there.)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Gearing up for Silverville Saga, #3!

So, we've finished the third book in the Silverville Saga series -- at least a draft we like -- but now the real
work begins: Getting ready for its release.

In about a month, we'll reveal the cover, and looks like we'll likely meet our publisher's schedule for an intended street date sometime before Thanksgiving. In the meantime, we're lining up reading gigs, blog stops, and promos.

And we've sent the ms out to reviewers for blurbs and also placed it in the hands of beta readers. (The residual typos and missing words have long since become invisible to us.) It's up to all these folks to find the gaps that creeped in when we revised, tightened, or expanded the flow of the story.

In the meantime, we want to share with fans and friends the names and backgrounds of those who have agreed turn turn critical eyes on our paranormal comedy.

In alphabetical order, here are our editorial heroes:

SF author Alex J. Cavanaugh (the beloved Ninja Captain in the blog-o-sphere), Amazon bestselling author of the trilogy CassaStar, CassaFire, and the newly released CassaStorm. A guitarist, Web designer, and technical editor, Alex worked for years in adult literacy. But we like him because he’s a totally cool guy – and because he shares our love of all things Preston and Child.

Charlie Craig, a long-time television writer and executive producer, who's served as showrunner on six network and cable primetime dramas, including Eureka (Syfi) and Traveler (ABC), a writer and supervising producer for Fox’s The X-Files, and a writer/producer for ABC’s Invasion and ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars. He is currently supervising a pilot for MTV and teaching television writing at the UCLA Extension Writers' Program.

Stacia Deutsch, who's made the New York Times Best Seller list for the movie novelizations of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The Smurfs. Her newest releases are Mean Ghouls from Scholastic and Batman: The Dark Knight Legend Movie Novel from Harper Collins. She’s the author of more than fifty children's books and the eight-book, award-winning chapter book series Blast to the Past. Her resume includes Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew and The Boxcar Children.

 T.L. Livermore, an extraordinary copy editor and former journalist whom we've relied upon for years, and a beta reader for the first book in the Silverville Saga, Little Greed Men (we've only just recovered from his relentless and exacting comments. :) )

Julie Luek, blogger extraordinaire, a prolific freelance writer, a  regular contributor to the nationally popular column, She Writes, and co-editor of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' blog. Julie is also our fab friend and blog-o-sphere mentor!

Zac Thompson, a clever and talented writer and musician who did a super job as one of the beta readers for Silverville Saga #2, All Plucked Up. He's also fiction co-editor for the edgy and excellent online lit journal BloodLotus. 

We're also fortunate to have a strong copyeditor in our publisher, Larry Meredith who, for years, operated a media and publicity business before going on to become head of public relations for Western State Colorado University and then a district library director. Now, he directs the graduate Certificate in Publishing program for the university and at the same time wrangles a head-strong herd of authors for his own small-press house, Rapsberry Creek Books.

We also got an offer from one of Mark's former students (one of his best, he says), Arkadea Krabacher, to give the ms a close line-edit. (Now we'll see how good Mark is at teaching those skills!) 

We may write in the thick of many things ourselves, but we only get along with help from our friends, to whom we're so grateful that they'd be willing to take time away from their own busy pursuits to lend us valuable time and critical eyes!

Thank you all!

And so the next stage of the writing/publishing journey begins...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Hardest Book to Sell

To visit other IWSG postings, click here
Welcome to the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop, hosted by our incomparable Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh (thanks, Cap'n!), postings shared on the first Wednesday of every month: And by the way, today is the second anniversary of this hop!

"Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!"
                                      * * *

A couple of weeks ago, we finished writing the third book in our Silverville Saga series, The Magicke Outhouse. Or rather, we finished a draft we finally like.

We're giving it one more proof (although we don't know why we bother -- the remaining typos, errors, and missing words are all invisible to us by now) before we send it out to trusted beta readers, those trusted folks who'll tell us the truth about what can make this a better book.

But the pieces are falling into place: the cover design is getting close, the blurbs are coming in over the next six weeks, our publisher has a release date, we're starting to set up readings, blog tours, and, and ... we'll soon be thinking about the next project.

And that's where we're having a bit of a crisis. No, not because we don't have a next project (for starters, the Silverville Saga has at least two more tales to tell), but because we may have a chance to write a nonfiction book that might actually make some money.

It started as an off-hand comment to our publisher over dinner a few weeks back, when we mentioned a nonfiction idea we'd considered writing but had never pursued. The next day, the publisher contacted us and said he'd like to do that book. In fact, perhaps before the next Silverville installment.

Can't say we blame him -- after all, we're sure he wouldn't mind a book with wider appeal than our normal paranormal adventure-comedies. The notion shouldn't give us pause either: We both began as newspaper and magazine writers and later branched out to the more lucrative field of service journalism (read: promo and PR masquerading as legit news. Yep, sold out our souls long ago.)

Still, it's a step backwards from literary (okay, okay, quasi-literary) writing. Maybe our horses have gotten too high, and this is the chance to get closer to the ground again. Maybe it's just pre-press jitters as we prepare to set another story loose on the world.

A good friend of ours -- one who's sold to the Big Five and who's hit the NYT bestseller's list -- once told us he thought the hardest book to sell was always the next one.

We're not really complaining because there's been plenty of times when we didn't know if our writing would even find a next publisher. These days, that side of the business is coming easier (hope we didn't just jinx ourselves!) So maybe the real sales pitch isn't to the publisher.

This time, the hardest book to sell may be to ourselves.