Writing Progress: Week Ending April 28, 2012

Frankly, this was actually unexpected:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
  • First Draft Wordcount: 1,239 words

Grand Total: 1,239 words

I mean, for a regular week, that’s perhaps not a very exciting number for me to have finished in writing. But for this week past… I’m amazed at myself.

The Home Project Phase II got into full swing this past week, and most evenings were dedicated to getting work done on that.  And it has been exhausting.  There’s still more work to do this week on Phase II.

Despite that, I found time on two separate evenings this past week to focus on writing.  And so now I’m a good distance into the third chapter of the book.  I’m back in the main character’s POV, now, and I’ve hit some pretty emotionally difficult and complex terrain.  I’m basically digging through the main character’s backstory, as it were.  All of this contributes to who she is, why she acts the way she acts.  And it informs the direction of the plot from here.

Unlike the first two chapters, which were both single scenes over 4,000 words in length each, it’s looking like the third chapter is going to be two distinct scenes, or possibly three, of about 1,300 to 1,500 each.  Or at least, thefirst scene of the chapter is likely to be that long, as I’m nearly done with that scene.  It is perhaps still a bit premature to say how long the rest of the scenes in this chapter will go.

Incidentally… as this progresses, I’ll eventually be updating the progress bar out to the right.  I’m updating my progress as I go, of course.  But right now it’s based on my initial goal of 125,000 words.  It’s hard to say exactly how long the finished first draft will actually be.  But I think by the time I’m 5 chapters in, I’ll have a better sense of the length of the story I’m telling, so I’ll be updating it the draft length goal once I’ve put 5 chapters behind me.  I’ll probably update it again when I get to 10 chapters, and then maybe again at 20.  For now, it stays at 125,000.

Well… that was my week.  How was yours?

Logic Error

There’s a lot of bad logic out there.  In the debate between those advocating for digital self-publishing and those advocating for traditional publishing… there’s more than a fair share of bad logic. 

I was intrigued by this infographic on “Rhetological Fallacies” recently linked on a daily link roundup of one author I follow.  These are argument logic errors.  So, keep that in mind as a basis for where I’m going next.

I get around on the internet, occasionally.  I follow a lot of blogs – some more closely than others.  That’s background.  It is, therefore, that I happened upon a blog post by aspiring author Tom Simon.  I’d followed a few of his posts before, ostensibly because something he posted once interested me.  But this one, in particular, smacked me as… well… Keep that link on Rhetological Fallacies in mind, will you?

Mr. Simon does a lot of posts with short quotes from various things he finds interesting.  Often, he’ll indicate that some quote or another is, in his estimation,wise. 

The alleged wisdom in this recent post goes back to another comment on a recent Passive Voice blog post

On the subject of whether to publish traditionally or to digitally self-published, the quoted sage said this:

My attitude is to look at what happens if you make the wrong choice.

If you self-publish and you do something wrong, you can fix it. If the entire self-publishing industry implodes, you still have the rights to your work, so you can still go sell it to a traditional publisher.

If you go traditional and something goes wrong, you are completely screwed. You’ve signed away your rights, you don’t have control over how your work is marketed, etc., etc. If your publisher goes under, it’s going to take a long time and a lot of legal work for you to be able to re-sell that work, assuming you ever can. Is it worth to you to take that kind of risk in return for some editing and cover art?

If this is what passes for wisdom… I must weep.

Where do I begin?  Well… that’s easy enough: I’ll begin at the beginning.  And when I get to the end, I’ll stop. Continue reading

Apple, Amazon, Antitrust, and You: More Links to Chew On

Today’s post is really going to be a whirlwind tour and roundup of links.  I’ll have a few thoughts and commentary on a few of these links but mostly, at this point, I’m in learning mode.  The last few weeks have seen some major upheavals and changes in the publishing industry, and things are changing faster than you can blink: from the Department of Justice filing a lawsuit against 5 major publishers, to 3 of those publishers settling, to the sudden announcement by one imprint of one of the 2 remaining defendants that it will drop DRM… I don’t know everything about what’s going down in this case, I don’t know how this case is going to impact the future of books and ebooks, and I’m not even sure I can articulate what I think a best-case scenario looks like.  So, without further ado… More Links to Chew On, the Apple, Amazon, Antitrust, and You Edition:

  • Acclaimed Sci-Fi author Charlie Stross on “Understanding Amazon’s Strategy” is an excellent piece.  He hits a lot of points that I’ve tried to make here in the past, among them a fairly lucid and clear explanation of the Monopsony Problem.  The Monopsony problem is something that a lot of people don’t really understand – they don’t even know what it is much less how critical it is to understand it if one is to understand Amazon’s role in the current market.  Stross’s conclusion is also an interesting one, and the first time I’ve seen this idea articulated so clearly: the logical, strategic conclusion of the DOJ suit against Apple and various publishers is an end to ebook DRM.
  • Equally articulate and excellent is John Scalzi’s plea to people treating the ongoing battle between Amazon, Apple, Traditional Publishers, and the DOJ like a game of football: “Dear Consumers Who Apparently Think the Current Drama Surrounding eBooks is Like a Football Game“.  To those people he has a very truthful revelation to share: it’s not like a Football Game at all.  More to the point, none of these sides, really is your team and none of them is on your side.  They are all very much on their own sides, and sometimes that means screwing you, the consumer, over quite handily.
  • C. E. Petit of Scrivener’s Error has some really interesting analysis of various matters pending before the court and how they might impact the result of the DOJ lawsuit.  I won’t pretend I understanding everything he discusses there – legal matters can be pretty dense for the non-legal-professional.  I’m not positive I can tell you what I think Petit’s position on these matters is – but in keeping with Scalzi’s exhortation, Petit doesn’t seem to be on either “team”.  One important comment, I think: “Suffice it to say that nothing in this action [i.e. the DOJ suit against Apple et al.]  forecloses any action against [Amazon]…” This seems to suggest, I think, that Petit suspects the possibility that although Apple and the Publishers are currently in the DOJ’s sites, Amazon itself, having a history of abusing its monopoly position, may well find itself in those same sites soon…
  • The SFWA blog has a pretty clean run-down that gets you up-to-date on what’s going on, posted by Victoria Struass.  Her overview is sprinkled heavily with links, some of which may be of interest.
  • E-publishing Consultant, Author and Publisher Mike Shatzkin analyzes the DOJ suit and the impact on the industry in “After the DOJ Action, Where Do We Stand?”  In his analysis, he makes an interesting observation about how the impact of this litigation hurts digitally self-published authors.  His argument is basically this: as the big titles put out by traditionally publishers are aggressively discounted by Amazon after the Agency model goes away – as seems likely to happen if the remaining publishers battling the DOJ lawsuit fail – then the price for ebooks generally will fall.  This decrease in e-book pricing will erode the price advantage enjoyed by digitally self-published authors, who typically price at a discount to what a major publisher prices their ebooks.  This erosion in price advantage will hurt their long-term discoverability: that is, what’s the point in gambling on a no-name author without traditional publisher backing when you can get a polished, traditionally-published ebook without paying a price premium?  It’s an interesting argument, logically speaking.  There are other possible factors that might affect this, of course.  Give his article a read for further context.
  • A fellow named Baldur Bjarnason, who studied eBooks in his PhD, writes about “How to Beat Amazon“.  (Note that this is actually the subtitle to his article, which I use because the main title by itself is too oblique to be immediately useful.)  Baldur does an analysis of Amazon’s strengths and weaknesses, and what he thinks Publishers and others can do to take advantage of Amazon’s weaknesses and what Amazon can do to neutralize those weaknesses.  His conclusion is in many ways similar to Charlie Stross’s: the best competitive approach to Amazon’s current attempt at a Walled Garden is to embrace open standards and to avoid DRM (with a few other useful tactics).  But he swings it both ways: Amazon’s approach at a Walled Garden is rather doomed to failure (in part because they don’t do it nearly as well as Apple), and they can counter this by embracing openness and modularity early, themselves.
  • Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords (an “Indie” digital self-publishing aggregator) asks “Does Agency Pricing Lead to Higher Book Prices?”  He digs into some data, and finds the answer is “no”: in fact, prices have gone down under the Agency model.  The problem with his data?  It’s pretty much limited to what Smashwords sells, or in other words, prices of small-time digital self-publishers.  That doesn’t tell us much about what happens in the space where most people are actually reading: traditionally-published NYT-Bestselling-grade books.  But Coker’s analysis largely agrees with Mike Shatzkin’s: the end of agency pricing for traditional publishers targeted by the DOJ will hurt “Indie” publishers, for various reasons.  Primarily, Coker’s argument is in favor of agency pricing as a model, and not in relation to whether the publishers targeted by the DOJ were in collusion with Apple.  Notably, however, the DOJ suit does not implicate Agency Pricing per se as illegal.  Rather, it specifically targets the suspicious behavior of the publishers, as each entered these agreements with Apple in a rather lockstep fashion.
  • Coker follows up his blog piece on Smashwords with an opinion piece on CNN, where he mostly repeats many of the points he made in the longer Smashwords blog article.
  • I must admit, I don’t understand the antipathy Passive Guy has for traditional publishers, but he let’s that flag fly in his post critiquing a Seattle Times article: “Speculation Abounds That Amazon Triggered E-Book Lawsuit“.  There, he likens Amazon to the hapless victim of a crime and the DOJ suit to a criminal complaint – a spurious analogy at best (anti-trust actions are, first and foremost, supposed to be about consumer protections – and the consumer is the one who best ought to be likened to the victim).  His followers (in the comments) are even more aggressive in their hatred and antipathy for traditional publishers and their unmitigated support for Amazon.  I’m not sure why Passive Guy is so offended by the idea that the DOJ lawsuit had anything to do with Amazon.   I do want to comment on one quote from the Seattle Times piece that Passive Guy pulls out:

“If Amazon becomes more of a monopolist than it already is, and it tries to raise prices, then other people will enter the field,” he [i.e. Steve Berman, managing partner of Seattle law firm Hagens Berman, lead counsel in the separate antitrust lawsuit on behalf of e-book buyers] said. “There are market checks out there.”

  • Well… Methinks Mr. Berman of law firm Hagens Berman doesn’t know a thing about business, market forces, competition, and barriers to entry, now does he?  Either that… or he’s being intentionally disingenuous about it.  There’s a reason we have Anti-trust and anti-anticompetion laws: because “market checks” alone have historically been insufficient to ensure that a monopolist does not abuse their monopoly position.  That said, Passive Guy’s point – that Hagens Berman only happens to be located in Seattle in the same building as one of Amazon’s large offices is only coincidental – is… well, on the one hand it’s laughable ( coincidence you say? O RLY?)  On the other… given Amazon’s history of anti-competitive behavior, I should think Amazon likely wouldn’t want to draw the attention of the DOJ to itself, even as a complainant in a DOJ case targeting an Amazon competitor.  This gets back to Petit’s musings on possible future DOJ actions…
  • Author Chuck Wendig has some advice for authors worried about all of this in “Prepping for the Publishing Doomsday“.  His advice is… not to worry about it.  Whatever happens is what will happen, and as a writer you can’t do anything about it, really.  (True.)  And he has some assuaging words: “People always want stories.”  Of course, these reassuring words don’t really… um… reassure someone who’s worried about questions of long term discoverability, and how you achieve that in the changing marketplace.  But whatever.  He’s right about one thing: you can’t do much about it, anyway.  So worrying doesn’t really help.
  • GalleyCat disects some of the allegations against Apple and the Publishers in “Publishers Allegedly Deleted Emails ‘To Avoid Leaving a Paper Trail’ in Agency Model Discussions“, and they claim to have direct evidence of the conspiracy to collude.  Have to say: this looks rather damning for the Publishers.  To borrow a quote from the Passive Voice article linked above: “If Big Publishing didn’t want to be sued for price-fixing, the CEO’s of Big Publishing shouldn’t have gotten together over lovely little dinners to engage in price-fixing.”  As I suggested in my post when news of the DOJ action first surfaced: the facts on the case definitely look like collusion occurred – although the same outcome could theoretically be arrived at without collusion, that doesn’t look like what happened here.
  • What Does the DOJ EBook Pricing Lawsuit Mean for Readers Now” has some speculations and predictions about how the industry and market will change as a result of the DOJ lawsuit.
  • In “Why I Break DRM on EBooks: A Publishing Exec Speaks Out” an anonymous executive at a publishing company (which purportedly uses DRM on its books) explains why he has come to routinely break DRM on ebooks he purchases.  This story has echoes with Charlie Stross’s argument in the very first link above.
  • On top of that comes the announcement from Tom Doherty Associates/Tor/Forge that it will, in fact, be the first of the major publishing imprints (Tom Doherty/Tor Books is an imprint of one of the defenders of the DOJ lawsuit, Macmillan, which has not yet settled the dispute).  At this point, Charlie Stross is starting to look eerily prescient.
  • Then turning back to John Scalzi, he shares some of his thoughts on the news of Tor/Forge dropping DRM.
  • And finally, back once again to Charlie Stross, he reveals his own role in the announcement from Tor/Forge. (He was called in to to offer his argument on why publishers should drop DRM, which hints that the publisher in question was already mulling this decision over, and was exploring the limits of its reasoning.)

I’m still processing all of this.  As I’ve pointed out before, I’m not immediately impacted by any of this.  I don’t own an EReader, so I’m not directly impacted as a consumer.  I don’t have a book in the marketplace, so I’m not affected as a writer.  And I don’t even have a finished manuscript that I’m trying to position for publication (neither self- nor traditionally-), so it doesn’t impact me in that way, either.  At least, not for me in the present.  But all of this radically alters the future landscape of publishing.  I’ve also said before, and this bears repeating, that whatever the world of publishing is going to look like in the future, we’re not in the end-game yet.  The changes are going to keep coming.

Tidbits of Inspiration: Quantum Entanglement

I read this today.

Don’t worry if you don’t get it.  I’m no physicist.  I don’t really get it either.  My highest education in the field of physics came in my Undergrad career when I took the slightly-more-difficult and rigorous Calc-based Physics as my required Science class instead of the mushy, cake-walk Physics for Dummies class.  (I did well, by the way, getting As in both semesters.  But that was somewhere in the vicinity of a decade ago, or more, now.) 

Anyway, Quantum Entanglement was one of those high-class physics concepts that was mostly beyond the scope of the classes I took.  But it’s a pretty important concept for the development of future technology.  Basically, it means this: two particles can be “entangled”, which means that the state of one effects the state of the other, even if the two are separated by a great distance.  In effect, this can theoretically allow for faster-than-light transfer of information, because changing the state of one instantaneously changes the state of the other.  Or something like that.  I may be misstating this, so if this piques your interest, I suggest you educate yourself from someone who’s actually knowledgeable and an expert.

But what I read today?  It blows that idea out of the water and takes it further than I thought possible.  Basically… in this experiment, there were two pairs of entangled photons: Pair A and Pair B.  One of each of these pairs (one from Pair A and one from Pair B) was sent to separate machines (Machine A and Machine B) that measured the state of the photons.  Machine A and Machine B are independent and do not share information with each other.  The second photon from each entangled pair was at a later time sent to a third machine, Machine C, which decided either to entangle the the two or not to entangle them, and then measures them.  Of critical interest here: the decision made by Machine C to either entangle or not entangle is made after the measurements at each of Machine A and Machine B were made.  Also to note: if Machine C decides not to entangle then you have two independent pairs of entangled photons.  If Machine C instead decides to entangle the second photon of each pair, then you have a chain of four entangled photons: the first photon of pair A is entangled with the second of pair A which is entangled with the second of pair B which is entangled with the first of pair B. 

And the result?  When Machine C decides not to entangle, then there is no measurable correlation between the states of Pair A and Pair B.  But when C decides to entangle, the state of Pair A and Pair B are correlated.

In layman’s terms: the entanglement performed by Machine C extends backwards in time to affect the states of the first photon of each of the newly entangled pairs.  Or in other words: Machine C sent information into the past!  I am probably overstating things somewhat.  But still.  Into the past!

This is truly mind-boggling.

Back to the Future, anyone?

Writing Progress: Week Ending April 21, 2012

No one could possibly have foreseen this:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
  • First Draft Wordcount: 0 words

Grand Total: 0 words

What happened?  Well… there’s the “Home Project Phase II” I’ve been talking about.  That started happening this week past.  It took out a couple of evenings.  A couple more were consumed by Dear Wife and I alternately either playing board games together, watching TV together, and such (i.e. what I classify either as “Relationship Time” and “Family Time”).  And then there were the out-of-town guests who were visiting, such as my dear Grandmother and one of my aunts whom I haven’t seen in several years, and also my own parents (i.e. the Grandparents of little B.T.).  Stuff like that… it adds up.  When it was all added up last week… well… I never even turned on my computer for the purposes of writing.  I came close a couple of times… but it was late in the evening, and I figured when I deducted between 10-15 minutes for my laptop to load up and for me to open all of the relevant files and programs… then I’d have so little time left to write before I’d want to go to bed that it wasn’t worth the hassle of going through the start-up screens.  (May I just say: I love writing; I hate staring at my computer and waiting for it to let me do something productive with it.)  So at those times I just picked up a book instead.

This week coming up, I don’t have the out-of-town family visiting.  But I expect “Home Project Phase II” to ramp up into high-gear.  Because of that, too, there’s actually likely to beslightly less “Relationship & Family Time” of the sort I mentioned above (I’m not completely sure on that).  So we’ll see if that leaves open an evening where writing may happen.  But as of now, I’m fully expecting this week to land at another “0 words” or close there-to.  Best case scenario, writing-wise, is I get one free evening and manage to churn out maybe 600-750 words on the top-side.

So that’s where things are in my writing world right now.  How about yours?

Movie Adaptations

Dear Wife and I recently went out to see “The Hunger Games” movie, and since then I’ve been thinking a lot about my reaction to the movie, and about how it compares to my reaction to the book.  And this got me thinking about the movie adaptations of books more generally.

One word of warning: as I discuss my thoughts on this subject, I’m bound to offer some spoilers from the movies and books I touch on. 

With respect to “The Hunger Games”, there were things I enjoyed about the movie.  It was certainly, in my opinion, a good movie worth seeing and I’m actually eager to see it again when it’s available to watch at home.  There were elements of the movie that made it superior to reading the book.  But there were elements that definitely made it inferior to the book as well. 

For example: the additional scenes focusing on Seneca and President Snow and Haymitch add a lot to the story – a depth that you don’t get from the book alone.  The scene that shows the reaction of Rue’s father after her death in the Games, and the resulting riot in District 11, was much more powerful on an emotional level than the abstraction of Katniss receiving a baked loaf and realizing it came from District 11.  On the other hand, the use of “Shaky Cam” was so disruptive in the early scenes that viewers never really felt settled in this world.  Even more problematic, the movie treated the relationship between Katniss and Rue in such a cursory fashion that the viewer doesn’t have time to be impressed by that relationship before Rue’s death.  I imagine that the viewer that hasn’t read the books might be a tad perplexed as to why Katniss reacts so strongly: poor Rue only had maybe five or ten minutes of screen time, tops (and that’s being generous by counting scenes in which she appears in the background), before her tragic death.  You really only understand how important this relationship was by reading the book. 

As I contemplated this, I realized something. Continue reading

Writing Progress: Week Ending April 14, 2012

For various reasons, and for no reason at all, it wasn’t the best week ever for writing wordcount:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
  • First Draft Wordcount: 688 words

Grand Total: 688 words

It’s hard to put my finger on just what the driving reason was for the relatively low wordcount this past week.  This happens sometimes.  Howbeit, I expect it to happen significantly more in the next two to four weeks, give-or-take.  Dear Wife and I are now embarking on Home Project Phase II.  I’ve alluded to this impending project previously, and it’s finally upon us.  And now that it is, it’s become clear to me that there will in fact be a Home Project Phase III very likely within two months, which will be another two-to-four weeks, and the possibility of a Home Project Phase IV is not outside the realm of possibility.

On a strictly technical level, it’s hard to keep track of Phase This and Phase That, which is why I’m hemming and hawing here.  In reality, of course, Dear Wife and I don’t call it Phase Anything.  There’s simply the stuff we have to do, and that list of to-do stuff happens to accrete around a small number of discrete and overarching home-related goals.  I don’t go into specifics because the specifics are somewhat sensitive to our living situation.  Suffice to say that when the various Home Projects are complete, the present nature of the Casa Chez Watkins will be radically different.

Anyway… you’re not here to read my oblique references to stuff related to my home.  You’re here for writing progress.  Of which there was rather little this week.

But what I did do was pretty good.  I finished the second chapter of “Book of M”, and overall I’m pretty satisfied with how that turned out.  I haven’t yet started Chapter 3.  I’m thinking a lot more, right now, about codifying a timeline of events for the book.  Chapter 2 isn’t really a flashback, per se, but it is a step backward from what might be called the narrative present and into the narrative past.  It concerns the backstory of the book’s co-protagonist – it’s a scene from that character’s past, but it’s framed as that character’s present and takes the character from this past event up to a point very close to but still prior to the immediate narrative present. Chapter 3 gets the story back to that narrative present, and returns the POV back to the main character.

My point being, the timeline starts to look just a little bit complicated already by the time we’re on a little ways into the story.  And so the need for the timeline starts to feel more immediate.  I’ve been thinking about a basic structure for a timeline in a relatively simple Excel spreadsheet, and I’m likely to spend just a little time formalizing that and putting at least a few of the events from my outline into it.   I’ll probably work through the timeline not in one big chunk of time but slowly over time, adding events and details here and there.  Mostly, I just want to keep track of how much time passes between major events (in terms of either days, months, seasons, or years) and who’s involved in those events and where they occur – because a little later into the story there will be a bit more threadweaving of the timeline of events as they’re portrayed in the story.  (In other words, as is often the case in literature, the events in the novel do not occur in a strictly linear fashion, but occasionally hop back and forth between narrative past and present.  This is not an innovative thing, but I just need some way to help me keep track of the details.)

So anyway, that’s that for this week.  As per the above comments on Home Projects and Phases… I don’t expect the next several weeks to be particularly productive, if at all.

But enough about me.  How as your week?

Whence Writers of the Future? A Proposal…

So this is something I’ve been mulling over the past few weeks.  This post is more me thinking aloud, in a sense, because I don’t think I have any firm conclusions or answers.

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve submitted twice now to the Writers of the Future contest – going so far as to earn an Honorable Mention on the first of those two submissions.  I was and am pretty proud of that accomplishment. 

Writers of the Future, as you no doubt may be aware, is basically the premiere, most high-profile writing contest for new, upcoming, unpublished and undiscovered SF&F authors.  The contest is only open to writers who have published 3 or fewer short stories, and who have not published a work of novelette-length or greater.  The prizes are pretty lavish: 3 quarterly winners each year (with first, second, and third prizes of $1,000, $750, and $500, which alone are already pretty generous awards) – and from this pool of 12 quarterly winners a single annual winner is selected, with an additional cash prize of $5,000.  That’s a pretty incredible prize.  Heck, that’s the same as the median advance for a first-time SF&F novel contract: meaning that Writers of the Future winners are getting paid as well for their short stories as many first-time SF&F novel authors are getting paid for an entire book.  On top of this, the 12 quarterly winners are whisked off to a week-long workshop where they’ll learn from and hobnob with the various titans of the industry: established and recognized authors of SF&F.

All of this is unquestionably wonderful.  And because it’s open only to aspiring authors who have not yet made it, the contest makes for a great place to test one’s skill as a writer.  The entries are judged blind, so the only things in play are the relative merits of the stories that have been submitted and the relative tastes of the judges reviewing them.  There’s no personal favoritism.  Established and recognized authors aren’t going to get the publication slot simply because of their name recognition and because name recognition sells.  So I’ve seen it as a wonderful place to let my work sink or swim largely (although not entirely, as I’ve pointed out before) on its own merits. 

But there’s another side to this story, I am beginning to learn.

I’ve long known that the Writers of the Future contest is connected to Scientology. Continue reading

Writing Progress: Week Ending April 7, 2012

It was not a bad week, wordcount wise:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 401 words
  • First Draft Wordcount: 2,468 words

Grand Total: 2,869 words

This week I very nearly wrapped up the second chapter of “Book of M”.  The second chapter has been a lot of fun to write, so far.  It’s significantly more action-packed than the first chapter.  When I mentioned this to Dear Wife, she asked “shouldn’t your first chapter be just as exciting, to get the reader hooked?”  Well, yes, Dear Wife is right about getting the reader hooked.  Doing that is pretty important to setting the right tone for the story.  (I’ll note that as yet Dear Wife has only my word to go on; she hasn’t had the opportunity to read the first chapter.)  In fact, this is a worry of mine.

But I’ve resolved to let the reader feedback tell me whether this is in fact a problem.  I’m much to close to the moment, and I right now can only trust my own intuition.

My intuition has taken a strange direction on this particular issue.  What I’m now writing as Chapter 2, when I first started thinking about this book several years ago, I had originally envisioned as the prologue.  Chronologically speaking, Chapter 2 takes place before Chapter 1.  But it takes as its focus not the main character – that is, not my primary protagonist, Isa, – but the story’s “co-protagonist”, a young man who joins Isa on her journey and whose story intertwines with her own.  What I have now as Chapter 2 is, basically, the co-protagonist’s backstory (which intersects with some of the significant backstory of the world).  But the plot of the novel itself really begins when Isa and her co-protagonist first meet.  And so I made that the focus of the first chapter.  It felt right to start the story from Isa’s point-of-view, and to start by showing this initial meeting – because how Isa reacts to that meeting will inform her actions going forward.

Plus, I wanted to establish Isa’s character, and start hinting at some of her own backstory that is relevant to her immediate situation and motivates her to act the way she does.

That’s a lot of non-specific blather, I suppose.  Enough for one day.  Suffice to say: I feel like this is the right choice, artistically.  I hope that readers react to it well, and that they are interested in my protagonist and her plight as suggested in Chapter 1 sufficiently that they are motivated to keep reading her story, independent of the more action-oriented introduction of her co-conspirator in the story.  But until the story is ready for readers, I won’t know the answer for sure, either way.

Anyway, I’m excited to soon be finishing Chapter 2, and from there to return back to Isa and unfold her story a little further.  She’ll be spending the next several scenes away from her co-protagonist – from here on I haven’t really mapped the scenes solidly to chapters yet – and I’m eager to reveal the dirty details of her world.

So how about you?  What are you working on right now?  What challenges are you struggling with?  How was your week in writing?

More on Author Marketing

There’s a wise post here by author Robison Wells (the brother of author Dan Wells, one of the co-creators of the Writing Excuses podcast and BFF of Epic Fantasy superstar Brandon Sanderson) on the subject of Author Marketing, written in response to a post here that is basically a wave of authors getting rather vitriolic about doing anything that smacks of putting effort into their marketing.  And that second post was really just the comment stream for this post, wherein a few marketing types offer a few suggestions to writers on some basic things they can be doing to market their book.

Now, I’ve written about marketing before (here and here and here).  Unlike Robison, I have not worked on marketing or branding campaigns for major national product brands, nor have I ever worked directly in a marketing capacity.  (My business career took a turn in a decidedly number-crunching direction, and so some of my work has supported marketers but was not in itself marketing.)  So all of my education on the topic has been mostly theoretical – that is to say I took a fair number of classes on marketing throughout my business education, and made it one of my areas of focus in getting my MBA.  It’s not hands-on knowledge or experience, which is perhaps the best kind, but it’s still worth something.

The thing is… what’s missing from all of these posts and counter-posts and epic-whining on the subject of author marketing and author branding and so on and so forth is… well… there are two things missing. Continue reading