Can I be honest about your writing? (Part 3 – What Camp Are You In?)

Want to go camping? If you’re self-pubbed, you already are

Part 1 – Oh, the Vanity of it all! of this multi-post arc dealt with some folks I knew who vanity published their books back when we called vanity publishers “vanity publishers”.
Part 2 – Vanity/Self-Publishing provided an overview of Vanity and Self publishing.

I’ve talked with lots of self-published authors. They basically fall into four camps:

  1. Their plan A is to approach some set number of publishers/agents and, if everyone passes, plan B is to self-publish.
  2. They went straight to self-publishing and never approached a publisher.
  3. They were traditionally published, things changed (new editor(s), different production demands, change in publisher’s business model/plan, collapse in market, …) and they went the self-publishing route.
  4. They haven’t found a publisher who’ll take their work and gave up the traditional publishing route.

Note that camps 1 and 4 are not the same. Camp 1 is a plan of attack, camp 4 is an unplanned retreat. There’s one other camp and, so far as I know, I’m the only person in it. I’m sure there are others in here with me, I haven’t found them yet (big camp, few campers).
Continue reading “Can I be honest about your writing? (Part 3 – What Camp Are You In?)”

Ritchie&Phyl (A Celebration of Life) Chapter 5 – Sisters

If you can’t confide in your sister, who can you confide in?

“How’s Ol’ Elevator Butt?”

“We kissed.”

“Oh my god. Where?”

“For christssakes, Sandy. On the lips, of course.”

“You kissed your cat on the lips?”

“Goddamn it, Sandy. No. Ritchie. I kissed Ritchie on the lips.”

“Oh my god, Phyl. Where?”

“I just told you, on the lips.”

“No, I mean where?”

“Burger Bob’s.”

“Is this a joke? Your first date was to a burger joint with screaming kids and yelling parents? Some hot date, sis. Burger Bob’s. Whoa. Did you frolic on the jungle gym when you were through swallowing each other’s tongues?”

“I can’t tell you anything, you know that?”

“Details, Little Sister. I want details.”


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Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Part 2 -What Makes a Great Opening Line?)

Well crafted prose doesn’t necessarily create great opening lines

This post is the second in a series on what makes any story’s – flash through novel – opening line great. Part 1 provided some background and why opinions only matter if you know enough about a subject to make an informed decision.
Let me know what you think are great opening lines and I’ll include them in the series provided you explain what makes them great.

Where an elegantly crafted sentence doesn’t matter (as much) is with the first, opening line of a story (any length, any genre, fiction). Nancy Ann Dibble (writing as Ansen Dibell) wrote in Plot “…every effective beginning needs to do three things”:

  1. Get the story going and show what kind of story it’s going to be.
  2. Introduce and characterize the protagonist.
  3. Engage the reader’s interest in reading on.

Get past the technical and a great opening line must take the reader into the mythic, specifically the story’s mythic; its setting, plot, characters and so on. At best it’ll propel the reader into the story’s mythic, at the least it’ll invite the reader into the story’s mythic and anything combining those two is over the top good.

A great opening line offers the reader no room for escape, no chance for egress, no opportunity to back away. I state it simply as “You’re either in or you’re out.” A good opening line should either put the reader firmly in the story or leave them at the door, wishing them well, hoping they catch the next train and leaving them to other, more enjoyable journeys.

For them.

Again, subjectivity wins.
Continue reading “Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Part 2 -What Makes a Great Opening Line?)”

Can I be honest about your writing? (Part 2 – Vanity/Self-Publishing)

I believe in calling a spade “a sturdy hand shovel that can be pushed into the earth with the foot”.

Part 1 – Oh, the Vanity of it all! of this multi-post arc dealt with some folks I knew who vanity published their books back when we called vanity publishers “vanity publishers”.

Vanity publishing was great in its heyday. Heck, it still is. The vanity house had no skin in the game. You paid them to publish your book. They did their best to upsell you on marketing, cover design, hard v soft cover, an ISBN, paper quality, print quality, print size, editing, proofing, copy editing, …

Again I ask, any of this sounding familiar?

What they couldn’t do is put your book on bookstore shelves. The book industry has buyback policies that no other industry (that I know of) has; If your book doesn’t sell, the bookstore can return it to the publisher and get their money back. Such a policy requires the publisher have a staff in place to handle returns and a warehouse to house returns. Vanity publishers didn’t have that.

Umm…neither does self-publishing. That’s why you can order your self-published book at a bookstore but can’t find it on the shelves.
Continue reading “Can I be honest about your writing? (Part 2 – Vanity/Self-Publishing)”

Ritchie&Phyl (A Celebration of Life) Chapter 4 – The Date

The Look of Love was in his eyes

“This is not a date, understand?”

Ritchie smiled.

“What’s so funny?”

“Nothing. I understand that this is not a date. I am not to buy you a milkshake, a coffee or a burger. I am not to offer to you any of my fries.”

“Good. We understand each other.”

“I am not to look at you or talk to you. I do not know you. My heart is not to pound when my gaze falls upon you. I am not to fantasize about holding you in my arms.”

She stared at him through aviator sunglasses. Her right hand twitched by her holster, the fingers of her left tapped the top of her nightstick. “You can stop that kind of talk right now, understand?”

His smile never faltered. “Officer Ladd, you called me, remember? I did what you asked. I did what you wanted. I did what you told me.”

“I know.”

“I did not pursue you.”

“I said I know.”

“I sat on my couch in my sad little hovel, staring at the phone, cold cup of coffee in my hand, holding my breath and hoping each ring would be you.”

“This is a stupid idea.”


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