Me 2012

The Moon Etherium Cover & Poll Part 2

Sunday's poll was overwhelmingly in favor of the silhouette-style cover, on both LJ and Twitter. I got some good suggestions on the theme of "make it more fantasy"*, however, so I poked at a couple of new versions. Which means it's time for POLL PART 2.

I will probably tweak whichever one I go with.

I am doing both best/worst questions because I can easily see a three-way tie for "which do you find most compelling" and still have a clear "this one is least compelling".

Moon Etherium Cover Art Comparison

Lettering is still a placeholder! Final layout will be different.
Poll #2054202 Cover Art Deathmatch!

Which of these would you be MOST likely to click on?

1 (Figures-only) is the strongest
2 (Bird above) is the strongest
3 (Bird in the moon) is the strongest

Which of these would you be LEAST likely to click on?

1 (Figures-only) is the weakest
2 (Bird above) is the weakest
3 (Bird in the moon) is the weakest

* Special thanks to terrycloth and archangelbeth for suggestions!
Me 2012

The Moon Etherium Cover Art & Poll

I set a release date for The Moon Etherium, my magic-rich fantasy romance: September 26!

That means it's time to freak out about the cover some more!

So I spent like 20 hours working on a painting for the cover several weeks ago. I have become increasingly less happy with it.  I tweaked a few things about it  that particularly bothered me, and I'm okay with it now. But I'm not sure it's the best possible choice.

I fiddled with some alternates a couple of weeks ago, and while my quick Twitter poll favored one of them, I kind of hated it. I decided to do some more variants on the same general theme. I actually did five total, but I'm only showing the one I like best here. And a poll, of course.  Because poll.

The lettering is a placeholder, so don't worry about that part. alinsa will be doing the actual text layout. I just threw some words on so it would look cover-ish.

The Moon Etherium comparison
Poll #2054073 The Moon Etherium Cover
This poll is closed.

Which of these would you be more likely to click on?

Painted (bust-only)
Silhouette (figures)

If I use the pose from the silhouette, should I leave it as stylized silhouettes, or paint it in the style of the busts?

Leave it stylized
Paint it

Am I over-thinking this?

Oh heavens yes
Please stop screwing around with covers and write the next book

Authors Are Not Entitled to Readers, Either

There's been commentary circulating on Twitter for some months now about how important it is to authors that readers buy the early books in an incomplete series. Things to the effect of 'If you refuse to buy book 2 before book 3 is out, the publisher will cancel the contract and book 3 will never come out and it will be ALL YOUR FAULT'.

Every time I see this, I think of Neil Gaiman's famous blog post about George R. R. Martin, the one where he discusses how entitled it is for readers to expect authors to dedicate every working moment to producing the next book of an incomplete series.

I do not dispute either point. Publishers do cancel series when the early books don't sell well, regardless of whether or not the series is complete. It is futile at best and counterproductive at worst to browbeat an author because they are not Writing Fast Enough.

But I would like to submit it is also futile to browbeat readers who do not like the format in which you package your product. Envision the conversation like this:

Seller: Buy my chocolate!
Consumer: Oh, sorry, I don't like chocolate. More a vanilla person.
S: Well, in a few years I plan to stock vanilla!
C: Yay! I will buy your vanilla once you start selling it.
C: [... quietly leaves to buy vanilla from someone else]

Does this really seem like an effective strategy?

Yes, I am aware that it's easier for authors of epics to support themselves if they can sell their epics one book at a time and live on the proceeds from the last book while they write the next. However, "it is easier if" <> "the thousand-page epic will go away if this mode of publishing stops". J.R.R. Tolkien had finished all of The Lord of the Rings before any of it was published. Conversely, Charles Dickens wrote and published most of his novel as serials before they were published as single books. The fact that we currently have "unfinished epic" as a healthy publishing category while "unfinished novel" is only just starting to make a comeback has not stopped the latter from being written.

A market only works because it benefits both buyer and seller. There are lots of readers who don't have a problem with reading books in an unfinished series. If you are publishing Book [X] of [Y], those readers are your target market.  The readers who only want to read complete stories are not. Complaining about the latter group because they aren't supporting you RIGHT NOW doesn't change that RIGHT NOW you're not actually selling something they want.

You have several markteing options here!  You can:

(a) Sell standalone books
(b) Sell books in a series as each one is finished and rely on the support of people who like that format
(c) Release the series all at once at completion for readers who like binging
(d) Try to lure in the people who like completion as well as those who like series by having a quick publishing schedule
(e) Talk about how great incomplete series are! Seriously, books that end in cliffhangers are arguably the most successful book marketing strategy. Obviously many readers love them. If you want to convert the folks who don't, tell them why they should. Talk about how you savor the time between installments as a chance to fantasize about possible resolutions, or a way to connect with other readers and discuss the characters' current predicaments, or a way to get your fix in unintimidating bite-sized chunks, or whatever else it is that makes you love this style of storytelling.
(f) Whinge at potential readers about how the publisher is holding Book X+1 hostage unless they buy Book X RIGHT NOW.

Y'all can probably tell which strategy I would not recommend. -_-
Me 2012

August in Review

... I wasn't really paying attention. I think I did a bit less biking than usual, but still 30+ miles a week so it's not like I've given up on exercise.

I want to have eaten less junk food, but not badly enough to actually y'know, eat less junk food. Spinach needs to taste as good as chocolate.

I did some of this! I finished Birthright! Looks like that was about 19,000 words. Then I finished the outline for The Sun Etherium and started writing that: about 2000 words.

The draft for Birthright, incidentally, is 120,000 words. Part of why I finished sooner than I thought I would is not only that I was writing faster, but that I had expected it to be closer to the length of the first book, which was over 200,000 words. I am not complaining about this! 120k is already longer than the typical fantasy novel. I suspect that it will get longer in edits, as I was more likely to skip or skim with this manuscript, where in the past I tended to over-write and pad.

The Business of Writing
Uhhh. I forget if I did anything business-ish this month. I poked at the blurb for The Moon Etherium? It is not much improved from the blurb I started with.

I discovered that there's a category of elevator pitches which goes "[Popular work] but with [other popular work or concept]." It lets you pitch your book in five or six words. I kind of hate them. I met an author at WorldCon whose four-word elevator pitch made me less interested in his book. Like, he'd been talking about it and it sounded cool and then he mentioned what the pitch was and I thought "well ... nope. Maybe I'll try your next series." I do want a short description of my books that I can remember, so when people go "what's it about?" in person I can just rattle it off and the conversation can move on. But I'm not sure I want to go the @nerdgarbagebot route. I guess RA's pitch of that format would be "Pride and Prejudice with magic and polyamory".

... yup, still hate it. Maybe "fantasy of manners with polyamory & bi characters".

Still need one for The Moon Etherium, though.

I beta-read Cantor for Pearls for haikujaguar, which I like even better than Thief of Songs. \o/ I look forward to reading it again after release. ♥

Did a handful of doodles. Nothing I put much effort into. This was the cutest:

I went to WorldCon! I wrote up a con report, even, which I proceeded to never post because "oh, I should add one more thing first". I should stop pretending I'm going to add anything else and post it.

Pretty good month. I enjoyed WorldCon, though it was tiring, and it felt good to finish a draft of Birthright after all these years.

Goals for coming month
Publish The Moon Etherium.

I expect I'll do more writing of The Sun Etherium -- I've already written 6000 words this month -- but I don't want to set a goal for that because kicking The Moon Etherium out the door finally is more important. And I kind of want to try doing a different cover for it, though I don't know.

I am tempted to try to hire an artist to do the cover for The Sun Etherium now, because cover art requires a lot of lead time if you're hiring someone. Meh.

Drafting Done! Also, Call for Players

I finished the first draft of Birthright today! \o/

It needs All The Editing still: this is the roughest draft I've ever finished. But I told myself that I would take a break from this book once I finished the draft, so I do not plan to begin editing it for at least a month or so.

I talked to Bard about its book series, Mating Flight, and it struck me that an astral dragon mating flight might make for a fun RP setting. For those not familiar with the setting (available at Amazon! First book here! also serialized on sythyry), a "mating flight" consists of 9 dragons: 3 females, 6 males.  The females compete for the right to choose first for a husband among the males, and the males compete to be the first dragon chosen.  The dragons have vast magical and physical powers, and are stereotypically interested in hoarding rare and valuable items, in controlling territory (which only mated pairs may do), and in amassing honor (more-or-less defined as "demonstrating one's physical prowess" and "respecting the rules of draconic society".)  The mating flights stereotypically compete based on physical and sexual prowess.

If I ran this as a game, players would make up some of the dragons on the flight, and NPCs would fill out the rest.
I will see how much interest there is and then decide if I want to run it, and talk to the players about how they want the game structured. Some possible options:

  • Mating flight entanglements and competition: PCs compete with other dragons of the same sex for the highest position in the flight and the highest-quality mate.

  • Mating flight trainwreck from within: for whatever reasons, the PCs and/or NPCs are unfit for a standard competition. Dragons try to hide their faults and make a show of it, and the story is mostly about "will they succeed in disguising their weaknesses or will they have to find a way to make the life they want work?"

  • Mating flight trainwreck from without: External forces derail the mating flight, forcing the dragons to deal with the petty  problems of other people, instead of their own petty problems.

Other possibilities also open!

Note: while the mating flights do compete on sex, I would not expect the game to have explicit sex any more than the books do. It'd be about relationships and character choices, not erotica.

I backed the Kickstarter for Storium ages ago, and never gave the site a try. So I might try running a game there. Use of the site is free, though I think there's some advantages to having a paid account. If Storium looks too awkward to use, I'll use a Google group for it, as I've done in the past. In either case, it'll be a play-by-post game, and I'd expect players to post once or more per day.Past experience has been that my games run with great enthusiasm for a few weeks and then peter out before the story arc is complete. So think of it as about the journey, not the destination. O:)
If you'd be interested in playing an astral dragon, leave a comment! Or you can email me (my Gmail account is LadyRowyn) or tweet me on Twitter, or whatever's convenient.

July in Review

I set a goal for July's Camp Nano of 20,000 words, and beat it handily, with 26,700 words on Birthright. \o/

The Business of Writing
After meeting my Camp Nano goal and taking a month off from The Moon Etherium, I went back to finish up the edits. It's now in alinsa's hands for layout. We're shooting for a late September/early October release

I painted the cover for The Moon Etherium. I am pretty sure I did some other doodles and sketches, but I'm writing this on my phone and don't feel like looking it up. To be honest, "I painted a cover" is a lot of art for me for one month anyway.

Since I returned from my vacation near the end of June, the following things have happened:

* My air conditioner died during a weekend of 95+ temperatures and I had to call for emergency repairs.
* I had a tooth extracted
* Half the ceiling in my den collapsed and no contractor wanted to touch it because the job was "too small" to be worth their time
* After two weeks and contacting six different contractors, I called a friend who used to work in construction. He agreed to do it.
* Lut and I moved everything in the den out of the den. Our computers and the reclining loveseat we use in front of them is currently set up in living room. The set up is basically functional. I have to clamber over the couch to get to my side, the light switch is hard enough to reach that we just leave it on, and the front door has gone from "hard to use" to "what front door?"
* While trying to move the loveseat, I strained a muscle in my back.
* While attempting to repair the hole, we discovered that the rest of the ceiling was also unstable.
* My friends pulled the entire ceiling down.

It's now halfway through August. I have a ceiling in the den again! It is aaaalmost finished: it needs one more coat of paint.

Then we can move everything back into it oh heaven help me. x_x


I mean, I keep thinking "ugh work on this book is going so slowly compared to The Moon Etherium" but. Still. I wrote almost a thousand words a day and that's not counting the 15-20 hours I spent on editing TME. Or the cover, which took another 15 hours or so. Girl. You are not slacking. Quit it.

Goals for coming month

I ... think I'm going to finish the first draft of Birthright? I've written, I don't know, another 14,000 words or so thus far this month. I think I have four-six scenes left. Even if that balloons out (and my scene count skill has vastly improved since I started joking about it last year), and even with WorldCon and an anticipated Zero Productivity Zone for the next five days, I don't think this is gonna take more than ten days to finish.

And then I will have a first draft of Birthright.


Granted, it needs ALL THE EDITING and it's pretty broken in places. And the book that preceeds it also needs lot of editing so the two work together better. But. Still. This is the book I have started and quit writing a half dozen times in the last decade. The prospect of having a finished draft, no matter how messy, is weird. Attractive! But weird.

These last few scenes aren't gonna write themselves, though. Back to the word mines!

Oh Right: WorldCon!

I will be at WorldCon this year! As I've mentioned a couple of times before, and probably should've mentioned again before the day it starts. Oops.

I'm on two panels:

Love And Trophies: Friday evening 7-8PM
Austen and Shelley: Sunday afternoon 1:2PM

Other than that, I'll be wandering around doing usual con things, starting this evening. (I will not be staying late into the night at the con tonight or tomorrow, but might be on Friday and/or Saturday)  If you'll be there and would like to meet up with me, you can message me here or on Twitter -- I'll have my phone with me and will check in regularly, I'm sure (I get notifications on it and am as likely to see them as phone calls or texts.)

Hope to see some of you there!

Home Contractors Never to Contact Again: Crestwood Painting

So, since my ceiling collapsed, I've contacted six different contractors.  I have thus far gotten exactly zero estimates. Response has been:

  • Two contractors who called me on 7/7 and said they would call back to make an appointment. Never heard from them again.

  • Two contractors that I left messages for and never heard from.

  • One contractor that made an appointment, showed up on time, told Lut how he'd recommend fixing it, and did not give Lut a price. He said he would write up an estimate for me and send it.  That was a week ago. Never heard from him again.

And then there's Crestwood Painting, whom I'm going to call out because I am especially unimpressed by them.  On Thursday morning, 7/7, I used their web form to make an appointment.

Yesterday, I got a confirmation email from them that they would be out, to remind me to be home for the appointment at 1:30PM.

Today, three hours before the appointment, I got an emai saying "oh, your job is too small for us. We're cancelling the appointment."

Because at no point in the last 11 days could anyone look at my message and see what my request said.  Bear in mind that they didn't get any new information from me: they are responding to my original request for an appointment.

Also, PRO TIP: do not have your system send reminder for appointments you're not going to keep. >_<

In the meantime: I have no freakin' idea how to get my ceiling fixed, since "contacting firms that say they do ceiling repair" is obviously not the way.

I'm gonna try my friend who used to work in construction.  Maybe he can tell me. Oh, I could try calling my insurance agent, too.  (I have a high deductible so I doubt insurance will pay for anything, but perhaps they'll know people who don't just say they do repairs but, y'know, ACTUALLY DO THEM.)

Right now, Terry's suggestion of "just never look up" is looking better all the time.

Every Day

"Camp NaNo" takes place in April and July; it's a variation on Nanowrimo where writers set their own goals.  Because some of my acquaintences do it, and because I'm writing a book anyway, I set a goal for July.  I haven't been nearly as industrious on Birthright as I was on The Moon Etherium, so I set a modest, easily-achievable goal of 20,000 words.  I made that goal yesterday.

My brain, this month, has been measuring my productivity by the day.  If I write a thousand words or more in a day, then I've done enough for that day. If I don't write at least that much, then I'm a failure. There is no carryover; writing more on the previous day makes the previous day more successful, but today I still have to write a thousand words anyway. I begin every day as a failure and end every day as a success. The "it's 8AM why haven't you written anything yet FAILURE" train of thought is weird.

Everything about this is weird. I keep flashing back to 2002, where I'd struggle and whinge about how hard it was to write 500 words in a day.

In one way, it's easier to write faster. I can look at the draft and think "I'll be done with this in a few months".  When the end point is years away because I'm only writing a few hundred words a day, it's harder to get motivated to write even those few hundred words.  "What difference does it make? It's going to take forever to finish anyway."

I've written a couple hundred words of Birthright this morning, so now I'm going to slack off and play with dragons or somesuch. I'll write a hundred words later, and then another couple hundred, and eventually I'll get to a thousand or more and be SUCCESSFUL!

Until tomorrow, when it starts over again.


I didn't try to get Pokemon Go when it came out, but as more and more people on my Twitter feed talked about it, I decided to take a look.

It turns out I can't run it on my phone: my model is too outdated.  This is not a huge shock: I first got this phone three or four years ago, and the model was first released in June 2010. It'd be silly to upgrade just to play Pokemon Go, but it has struck me that my phone is no longer particularly good at doing the things I have always done on it. Twitter "upgraded" its native app to a version that runs so slowly on my phone that most of my Twitter usage from the phone now is "replying to direct messages".  The app can handle this. It can't really cope with reading my feed any more.  No client Twitter apps will run on my phone.  Evernote runs but loads slowly.  Google Docs is even worse. The browser is painful to use, too. I don't even like to read books on it any more. I did a factory reset a few months ago and only reinstalled the things I use all the time, but it didn't help. Everything is slow and crash-prone.

So I did a cursory web-search for my primary and inflexible requirement of a smartphone: a side-slide keyboard. One article dated June 2016 turned up
ten "current" models, and I was briefly heartened.

Then shaterri pointed out that only one of those was more recent than 2013. The one that's from 2015?  Has a physical keyboard, but it's a vertical slide, not sideways.

A less-cursory search did not turn anything more recent up.

I type at 45 wpm on my smartphone. I write books on my smartphone. I have tried using virtual keyboards and found them painfully, horrifically slow.  Maybe if I practiced with Swype or something I could get up to a reasonable speed? Because 10-15 wpm is not a reasonable speed.  That is a give-up-and-do-something-else speed.

But it's kind of horrifying to think that a signficant part of my work process is dependent on a style of device that's fallen so far out of favor it may never be manufactured again. I guess, in a year or two when my smartphone's performance goes from "bad" to "unusable", I will have to learn to get really really good with Swype or tote a laptop everywhere or something.

But I can't use a laptop while waiting in line at the store or taking a walk or using my exercise bike.

Ugh. -_-
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