Monday, June 25, 2012

How To Handle Pirating

DO contact the sites and ask them to take the content down:

After all, it takes a lot of work to write a novel and I don't blame anyone for being upset over their work being stolen from them. It's illegal and wrong.

DON'T rant in social media about it:

What many authors don't seem to realize is that by ranting about it over the internet, they're actually drawing attention to the problem. People who may have otherwise bought your book will be aware now that it's possible to find your book for free online. They might go searching for it.

I was a huge fan of Stephenie Meyer and the Twilight series. When she was writing Midnight Sun, I was waiting anxiously to receive it. Suddenly, there was an update on her site about how upset she was because the partial rough draft of her book had been leaked online. I asked everyone I knew if they had read this partial rough draft or had even seen it. All of them shook their heads. I'm pretty positive now that only a handful of people at most saw this and that her concerns were blown way out of proportion.

My friends and I all decided that we'd buy the book even if we could find it for free online, but she decided to stop writing it and post the partial manuscript on her site. I think she was trying to be passive aggressive or something. Punishing the fans (who didn't even do this) by refusing to write the rest. I downloaded it for free and she missed out on millions of dollars because she decided never to finish it.

I don't care for the Twilight series how I used to and if she finished her book now, I probably wouldn't purchase it. She missed out on me being a customer of hers because she let herself get too upset over her manuscript being leaked to a small amount of people online.

It wouldn't have made much of a difference and hardly anyone would have read it (who wants to read a partial novel anyway? I want the whole thing!) if she'd have just ignored it, but she decided to let it control her decisions.

It's okay for an author to be upset when someone steals their work. A lot of effort and tears were put into their creation. But to draw attention to the problem publicly is as counterproductive as ranting about a one-star rating on amazon. Most people won't notice if you don't draw attention to it.

DO try to educate your fans on the importance of supporting authors financially:

Some people only download this stuff because they assume that authors all write bestsellers and are wealthy. They don't think we'll feel the financial loss of it. If an author is honest with their customers about the amount of work they put in a novel and educate them on the true state of most author's finances, there are many (not all) who will change their mind and actually pay for the novels they downloaded illegally.

The key is to be positive and honest. Don't make it about yourself, make it about all writers everywhere and how they need this support. It keeps you from seeming greedy and selfish. Don't point out the fact that some of your novels might currently be on pirating sites. This keeps people from searching. Don't talk to readers as if they are the enemy trying to steal your work, but like they are friends. It'll make them think twice about it.

DON'T lose sleep over it:

In the end, if a book is popular enough it's going to get pirated sometimes regardless of what an author does.

Neil Gaiman's novels and comics have been pirated many times. He claims that in areas where more pirating happens that he sells more books. It's a type of free advertising. Everyone is not going to download your books, but the people that do might tell others how much they loved your book. Libraries have been giving people free reads before there was ever an internet. They'd purchase one book and then give it to hundreds to read for free, but in the end, instead of destroying authors it has helped them. In the same way, someone who pirates a book probably bought it and is letting a bunch of people read it for free as well.

I'm not saying pirating is okay. Many authors struggle for every sale they get, but don't automatically assume that because some people pirated a novel that sales for that novel are destroyed. If Neil Gaiman's theory is the truth, then it might actually help you in the end.

Either way, by letting it hurt you too much, you could let a pirate destroy your career by taking you down enough that it's hard to write. Don't let them have that kind of control.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ten Reasons Why Necromancers Are Awesome

I've told a few people that I've met outside of the internet that I like to write paranormal novels. Some of them have told me in response how much they love reading about vampires and werewolves, two types of paranormal novels that I've never written. When I talk about how one of my favorite things to write about is necromancers, they often have no idea what necromancers are or get bored by the idea. Necromancers are sorcerers who specialize in death magic. (Mine also practice life magic as well.) Here are a few reasons why they are awesome.

1. Vampires are strong. They suck blood. They have good hearing and are fast enough to kill a human before one of us blinks our eyes.

But do you know what vampires have no power over? Necromancers because necromancers are able to control, create, and destroy the dead.

Imagine someone being able to mind control and/or kill an army of vampires with just a wave of their wrists. I've never understood why the biggest enemy of vampires is usually werewolves, when necromancers would be more powerful against them.

2. Necromancers are real. They can't do all the things in real life that necromancers do in stories, but there are people out there who spend their time summoning ghosts and speaking to the dead. Whether you believe it's hokey or not is up to you, but many of them make a living off of helping people connect to dead loved ones. Seances are a real type of necromancy.

3. Necromancers are humans. With all the paranormal creatures out there, you'd think humans would be vulnerable. Not so. We have several types of powerful sorcerers on our side.

4. Necromancers talk to ghosts, which means they can help solve disputes over wills, find murderers, fulfill last wishes, and deliver messages. If policemen could employ a few of these in real life, a lot more of our crimes could be solved!

5. Immortality. You can't learn to control death without learning some tricks on how to avoid the act. Not only do necromancers have the potential to live forever, like vampires, but they could probably bottle immortality and sell it using the right ingredients.

6. Where other people see dead creatures and trash, necromancers see potential. They can raise anything from the dead and make a new creature out of it. They're inventors and creators. In some of my stories, they can even regenerate old, rotten food and make it as delicious as new. They recycle.

7. Necromancers are often the most powerful characters in stories because they can destroy a whole town by creating a plague and killing everyone. A quick death spell can shut up anyone who talks back. I'd hate to meet a necromancer terrorist. There would definitely be zombie bombs involved.

8. Zombie Apocalypse. All you need is one necromancer to either create or destroy an entire zombie apocalypse. Necromancers control entire armies of skeletons and zombies easily. No shotguns needed.

9. Necromancers are the center of the paranormal world, at least in my opinion. They are able to interact with ghosts, control vampires, kill werewolves with a spell, and create monsters. They'd be the best kind of bodyguard to have in a paranormal novel.

10. Necromancers are as pale as me. Well, they don't have to be, not like vampires, but I like the stereotype. They fit my appearance. (Pale skin, dark hair)


What are some of your favorite paranormal creatures and why?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Top Ten Favorite Fictional Couples

10. Tom and Lynette Scavo from Desperate Housewives

This couple is real. Lynette's naggy sometimes, she's exhausted most of the time. She was forced to quit her job to take care of her kids and sometimes she resents them.

Tom works a lot. He helps out and tries to be nice, but he can still be clueless or immature sometimes.

They fight. Sometimes Lynette is too tired to have sex. Sometimes she's covered in food from the kids. People often judge them and their parenting skills.

When I watch this couple I feel connected to them because they're real. There's no rippling muscles or cleavage. They don't spend their days swooning over one another. They struggle with things that lots of people struggle with and make me feel better about the unrealistic expectations many shows and books give me about what a real relationship is.

I've been taught that a wife and a girlfriend should be many things: always cooking and cleaning, humble and sweet, never nagging, able to satisfy a man, but I can never live up to all of it. It hurts sometimes and makes me insecure. Watching this couple has helped me.

9. Betty Suarez and Henry Grubstick from Ugly Betty

I have dark hair and wear glasses. I also wore braces during all of high school, so I could immediately relate to the character Betty Suarez when I first started to watch the show.

Henry is a very sweet guy. He wears glasses, which I've always thought looked sexy on men. He's intelligent and a hard worker. I really respect him as a character and thought the two of them made the cutest couple. I was rooting for them until their eventual break-up on the show. He's such a sweet guy and isn't one of those stereotypical ladies' men that make it to a lot of romance stories.

8. Carrie Bradshaw and Aidan Shaw from Sex and the City

I guess most people like Mr. Big better, but not me. I thought he was conceited and commitment phobic. He was one of those suave guys that gross me out whenever I meet them because they are too full of themselves and feel entitled because they have women falling all over them all the time, but I accepted that Carrie eventually married him. After all, I would hate to miss the movies just because I think she chose the wrong guy.

I loved Aiden. First of all, John Corbett is a sexy looking man. His character was kind and committed. He even asked Carrie to marry him without her having to pressure him. I'll never get why she was freaked out by that. She missed out on a good thing.

7. Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from Twilight

This one might get me into a bit of trouble.

I really like that Bella and Edward saved themselves for marriage. While I don't think that's necessary, I do think it's a good message to send teenagers who often pick up their morals from what they see in entertainment. I waited to lose my virginity until I was in my twenties and was glad it was with the man I gave it to. He cherished it and was gentle with me, but if I had rushed to lose my virginity just because my hormones were going crazy as a teenager, I wouldn't have made as good of a choice.

I thought their romance was sweet and swooned a few times over things Edward Cullen said to Bella. Was it realistic? Not really, but that's why I read books - to escape from reality.

Was their faults in the books? There are faults in most books. I'd rather not get into my opinion about it, but either way, I liked them as a couple.

6. Chloe and Derek from the Darkest Powers Trilogy

I love Kelley Armstrong. She's a psychology major and it shows in her deep and interesting portrayals of her characters. When you first get introduced to Derek, he's described as being overly sweaty, kind of smelly, and covered in pimples. Sounds nasty, right? But somehow, I fell in love with his character anyway by the end of the trilogy and they aren't even romance novels! I'm not the only one either. Google search Chloe and Derek, there are a lot of fans of the couple.

The Darkest Powers Trilogy is my favorite trilogy of all time. It's about necromancers and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves to read urban fantasy.

The slowly developing romance between the Derek and Chloe involves very little kissing, but it still has the power to melt hearts. It's rare to find an author that can pull something like this off. I, certainly, can't.

5. Rumplestiltskin and Belle from Once Upon A Time

I couldn't get these characters out of my head when Belle was first introduced. Their love was so sweet, but ended tragically in fairytale land.

It showed a whole new side to Rumplestiltskin that quickly established him as one of my favorite characters. I look forward to hearing more from this couple in the second season.

4. Angel and Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The slayer and the vampire with the soul. Together, they are one ass-kicking and hot couple. It excites the feminist in me.

3. Sooki Stackhouse, Eric Northman, and Bill Compton from True Blood

Sooki has some of the hottest sex I've ever seen on television with these two men. Their relationship keeps me on the edge of my seat wanting more vampire goodness week after week. I'm not even sure which of the two I'm cheering for to have her. I like her with both of them.

2. Edward and Kim from Edward Scissorhands

This couple was both creepy and sweet, which is something I have a weakness for.

As my Dad once put it,"You wouldn't think a movie about a man with scissors for hands would be any good, but it's one of the best movies of all time."

It really looks at the world and psychology, how we perceive people and sometimes as a society make them into the bad humans they become. He's such a naive individual and the love between them is so sweet, but because of his appearance the two of them can never truly be together. It really pulls at the heart strings.

1. Rhage and Mary from the Black Dagger Brotherhood

We all have aspects about ourselves that make us feel insecure, especially physically. They might be scars or stretch marks, being jiggly in certain areas or having too much hair in others. Mary's body has been destroyed by cancer. She's humiliated about it and won't let any man touch her, until Rhage the vampire comes along.

He, too, has a mark on him that he hates. A tattoo of a beast on his back that he turns into whenever he's enraged. He hurts people accidentally through it and hates himself for it.

They see each other's scars and don't see ugliness, but the strength of character they must have to bear them.
 They fall in love and it's beautiful.


What about you? Who are some of your favorite fictional couples?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Is Your Story Original?

Is your story original? It's a question many authors worry about.

Last year, I was thinking about Medusa. She was raped by Poseidon and punished for it by Athena (because it happened in her temple) who turned her into a monster that used to give me nightmares as a child. I remember stressing over whether or not Medusa was real. Someone could look at me and I'd be turned into stone instead of a regular corpse? I worried over whether or not I'd lose my soul along with my body. I was certain that Medusa's powers erased people from existence. Children's imaginations are a bit crazy.

Now, as an adult, my fear has turned into fascination. I feel that her curse was a horrible fate forced upon her, which causes her to be one of the most misunderstood characters of all time. I no longer see her as evil, but as a burdened woman. I wanted to write a story where everyone else would grow to care for her as well. I wanted to alleviate some of her pain by making her and Perseus fall in love.

I started to grow excited as I completed my outline. I searched for other stories that might have been published where Medusa was the good guy, the main character, and where she fell in love with Perseus. I found nothing. She's always been the villain. I was shocked. I wrote about necromancers in my first novel, but knew a ton of other people had done the same. Had I actually come up with an original idea? Was I special?

I had every chapter planned out in detail. The day I began writing, this guy added me on twitter. He had a picture of Medusa on his profile. I thought that was neat and decided to check him out. He had written one novel that he was seeking publication for. It was a novel where Medusa was the main character, and a good misunderstood person, and the story was about her and Perseus falling in love. My heart fell.

Of course, I thought he was a genius. I loved my own idea, so of course I was going to love his as well. But it still hurt. Someone else had written the same thing. I grew worried over whether or not people would think I copied him, even though I knew I hadn't. I had outlined every scene of my entire story and written character profiles long before I ever heard of this guy.

He had posted a query letter on his site, which I read to see how closely our stories resembled one another. His seemed to take place in an alternate universe. There was more action in it than mine had and it only resembled the original story because of the characters and their powers. Other than that, he seemed to deviate from the myth entirely. I started to relax. My story focuses on the romance. All the events of Medusa and Perseus' lives, including their deaths, happen the same. It's more of a behind the scenes look at the mythology, where you see what "really" happened and why the story we have today is the one that has been passed down. Our ideas were similar, but no, our stories were nothing like each other.

It's the same with everything else. Yes, people like to say that every vampire story is the same, but if that was true, then I wouldn't hate watching Vampire Diaries, while also being on the edge of my seat for every new episode of True Blood. They'd be interchangeable to me because they were both about a human girl falling in love with a vampire. But they each take the idea in different directions and have different characters with unique personalities. They have their own unique cultures and problems. So yes, they are similar, but they are both original.

It's always funny to me that people accuse a novel of ripping off another one just because their premises are similar. For instance, people love to say that the Hunger Games copied Battle Royale, even though the author had never seen or heard of it before. While at the same time we think of Fifty Shades of Grey as an original story, even though the author readily admits that she ripped the story off of Twilight because it was a fan-fic.

Chances are if you've written a novel, someone else has written something similar to you. It's not a horrible thing and it's not something we should be judging authors on. Even if I hadn't found that guy, it's not like I created the characters Perseus or Medusa. They had lived for a long time through mythology.

I still haven't read the novel written by that guy who had a similar idea to me, even though I've finished writing my own novel, so our ideas were developed totally independently of one another. I do hope one day that he will be published though and when that time comes, I plan to devour that novel and enjoy seeing where he took the idea.

Have you ever been disappointed to find that someone was writing a story similar to yours?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Critiquing in Person Versus Critiquing Online

I've met beta readers online that I've swapped stories with and also joined writers groups where we read our stories outloud and critiqued each other. I've found that swapping stories online gives me the best critiques and here's why.

There are some benefits to writer's groups in person. They keep you accountable. After all, you must have a new chapter each week to share with them or you could be kicked out of the group. But unfortunately, people are really bad at listening to others read stories outloud. They are all anxious to get their own stories read and will tune yours out or not pick up on all the information. I had another woman in the group read my stories for me outloud (because I'm shy) and she was the only one who understood all of it. Sometimes other people would say,"You left out this detail or that one." And she'd say for me,"No, she discussed all of that here." It really showed me week after week that no one listened to what I had to write and it wasn't just me they did this to. I'm pretty good at listening to stories and picking up on most of what is read, but even I didn't get everything either.

Not to mention that their critiques will never be as in depth as one online can be. They can't see your spelling mistakes and if they notice grammar problems or run-on sentences, they'll only be able to vaguely reference them because they don't have a copy of your manuscript in front of them. They don't get much time to state their opinions, so they'll often be vague. One time, for a chapter of my novel, the only feedback I got was: "You know, it's like, missing something." Maybe I agreed with the feedback, but it wasn't specific at all and didn't help me. All I knew was there was something wrong with my chapter, but not what that was. People will go into more detail if you swap stories with them online.

Of course, I've read that there are some writer's groups out there who print out their stories and swap them with another person once a month and then come back and give each other's manuscripts back. It sounds interesting and better than the other method I've seen employed.

How do your experiences differ from mine? Do you get most of your critiquing online or in person?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Why E-Books Are Great

I prefer e-books to print. Regardless of your opinions on the matter, here are some advantages of e-books. ***

 Reason #1: Your book collection takes up less space

I remember collecting books in high school. I used to have boxes upon boxes full of them. Every time I got a new book or wanted to read an old one, I'd have to take out my entire collection and rearrange them. I quickly ran out of space and was forced to throw away many of them. Now, I store them all on my tiny e-reader. It takes up hardly any space at all and allows me to bring my whole library with me wherever I go.

Reason #2: Built in Dictionaries

E-readers help me increase my vocabulary. It's easy to look up words, all I have to do is highlight them and I can retrieve the definition. I've come across many words that I didn't know the meaning of while I was reading books, but usually forget to look them up in the dictionary later. I'm too into a book to take the time to actually search my house for a dictionary and then sift through the giant collection of words in order to find the one I'm looking for. E-reader dictionaries only take a few seconds to use.

Reason #3: My books don't fall apart no matter how many times I read them.

I've been teased about this by people I know in person. I treat my books roughly. I've gotten brand new novels before and read them once only to have them fall apart by the end of my reading. I tried to avoid this by getting hard cover books, but they actually fall apart even quicker for me.

I've read my e-reader a million times. There is no destroyed spine or pages that are falling out of the book, no matter how many times I read any of the novels on it. I love it. It always made me nervous opening a book because I wanted it to look new forever. My e-reader looks the same all the time. And it saves me money because I no longer have to buy replacements.

Reason #4: The books cost less.

And allow me to buy and read more. Yay!

Reason #5: The books are easier to purchase.

I live in the middle of nowhere. We have a tiny bookstore where I live, but it doesn't have popular books like Hunger Games or Harry Potter or other books I might be looking for. In order to get those, I have to travel an hour away, which is something I have to do to purchase most things.

A trip out shopping for the day can be a lot of fun, but I can't do it often because of the long drive. I go shopping maybe once a month and have to jam pack everything together. It's exhausting.

With my e-reader, I can lay in bed, even when I am sick and tired and in my pajamas and easily purchase any books I like using the online store and my internet connection.

Reason #6: I can read in the dark without a flash light.

You have no idea how long I've wished to do this. I never have flash lights available nearby and most of the time I can only read after I've finished all my tasks for the day and my boyfriend is sleeping next to me (so the lights are off.) It's nice to have an e-reader. The light isn't annoying to the person sleeping, but bright enough for the reader to see.

Reason #7: It's easier for anyone to get published.

Before now, writers had to go through agents and publishing companies in order to publish their books. Now anyone can do it. Some people view this as a bad thing because poor literature will get published. I view it as a way to stop censorship. What a small group of people (publishers and agents) think we should all enjoy, isn't necessary what we all want to read. It allows readers to make decisions for themselves and find books that fit their preferences. It also allows people who aren't writing for trends, but may be writing a good book, to get their work out there.

There's nothing wrong with the books that go through agents and publishing houses, but it's nice to have more freedom.

Which do you prefer: e-readers or print books? Do you own an e-reader?


*** I own a kindle fire and based this article on my experiences with it. Not all e-readers have the features that a kindle fire does.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Napping Blogger Award

It appears my friend, Caterina Torres, thought I’d been working really hard lately and deserved the Napping Blogger Award – she wanted to remind me to take a break every now and again. This is how it works:
1. Link back to the person who gave the award -In this case, Caterina. Click her name to go to her blog.
2. Name something you do to take time for YOU - I get in my pajamas, lay on my bed with my laptop and watch a few episodes of whatever television show I am most interested at the time, which most recently, was the television show Dexter. Sometimes I munch on something while I watch, too.
3. Nominate five other bloggers-especially someone you think needs a break from their routine.

Eli Ashpence
Darke Conteur
Calista Taylor
 C.C. Cole
 Hellen Hollick