Thursday, December 27, 2012

Goals for the Year of 2013

The new year is around the corner (Already?!), and the time has come to set goals, goals we hope to accomplish for the upcoming year.

I'm a writer and a reader, so here are some of mine:

As a reader, I want to finally read Tuesday Next series (Friends whose opinions I trust keep telling me the series is such that I'll likely love it), to finish Dracula (Yes, I write vampire fiction, and I've never finished reading Dracula), and to read more frequently in Spanish. (I realized my Spanish isn't half bad when I can read a technical article on em dashes and understand what I'm reading, although I don't know all the jargon yet.)

As a writer, I'm looking on my huge list of to-do projects and forcing myself to take deep breaths while I pick what's to to worked on now, leaving the rest to be tabled for later.

Projects I aim to finish in 2013 (with "finish" meaning "write, edit, and publish"):

  • Know Thy Frienemy
  • A Fistful of Water
  • A Fistful of Air
  • Lost Her Magic, Hates to Dance
  • the short stories I've already planned out for Nirmoh and Wight
  • two more collections featuring Lyn Burgess (and doing a better cover for that one…)
  • the two planned sequels to “The Nymph and the Goblin”
  • the short stories I've already planned out for Emris and Ember (I really love those "E", "M", and "R" sounds, don't I?)

I'm hoping to also finish the story of Manal and Conláed (The Cripple and the Hawk), but that list already contains a good 300k words, so I don't want to plan too much and overwhelm myself. I suspect that if I plan small enough, I'll be able to finish all the aforementioned goals within a year.

But here's the thing about me being a self-publishing author with a blog:

I'm going to let your requests influence my story queue.

Know Thy Frienemy (sequel to Destiny's Kiss) almost has the first draft done, and the way that one's written, I don't see much revision being needed. Most of the delay before publication will likely come from the detail checks—anybody fluent in modern Greek?—but it's going to betas soon.

Once that e-mail's sent, I'll be working on A Fistful of Water.

But after that… I'm not sure, thanks to the popcorn kittens.

I so I put it to you: What story or stories—either that you've read or seen me mention—do you most want to see or see continued?

And, more importantly:

Do you have any reading/writing goals for the upcoming year?


Thursday, December 20, 2012

On Christmas and Other Holidays

I don't celebrate Christmas.

Now, I don't mind if you do. I don't think there's anything innately wrong with celebrating Christmas, exactly. I don't care for it's often celebrated—hey, let's be obligated to give everyone presents so I'm harried and stressed and don't want to mess with giving them anything when it isn't Christmas—but I don't think there's anything wrong with it.

My reason for not celebrating stems from the details that 1. There's no command in Scripture to celebrate Christ's birth (which, as a Christian, is really the cincher for why I'm free to not celebrate) and 2. The holiday as commonly celebrated is just an excuse to not do nice things for folks at other times—because, yanno, you already got them something—that or you're having to get started on next Christmas.

I actually have times when my friends refuse to accept things I've gotten for them, because I've already given them so much that [time period]. (But as a pertinent note: I'm perfectly capable of putting my foot down if someone tries taking advantage of me.)

As a result, the holidays get awkward. Everyone asks, "Are you ready for the holidays?" or "Get all your gifts yet?" or "Looking forward to Christmas?"

My options:

  1. Get in a short (and not always appropriate at the time) conversation mentioning that I don't celebrate (and risking the other person thinking me offended).
  2. Give a demure, polite answer that lets them assume I celebrate (and possibly coming across as a goody-goody, because who says yes, they're ready for the holidays?) and strikes me as uncomfortably close to a lie?

Add in the detail that I'm Christian, and I not infrequently get "O.O You don't celebrate?" even from fellow Christians.

And then there's the risk in getting folks all riled up about how I should be celebrating Christmas, and it's wrong of me to not celebrate Christ's birth. >_> That one happens sometimes, too.

Now, Easter—that I celebrate. As in, I celebrate Christ's resurrection and avoid the eggs and chicks and bunnies of the pagan fertility celebrations.

But that's my choice of what holidays I celebrate and how. You have your own choices.

We all have a right to celebrate the holidays we want, the way we want to, and to not celebrate other holidays.

And those choices need not reflect common cultural stereotypes.

Not for me. Not for you. Not for our friends. Not for our characters (for those of us who write fiction).

Believe it or not, your choice need not even reflect that of your family. My extended family all celebrates Christmas and other holidays I don't.

Some friends and family know I don't celebrate and they still feel obligated to give me a gift. I suspect that rather illustrates how twisted this holiday is. It's presumably a celebration of family or of Christ's birth, so why should anyone feel obligated to give gifts? It doesn't make sense to me.

But that's me. I regularly break social taboos because they don't make sense to me and therefore can never remember them until after I break them. (•Never tell how much a gift cost! —Er, not even when it's something the recipient'll want to buy more of for themselves? •Never tell someone her hair's a mess! —Er, but I'd want them to tell me… •Never talk about how much you make. —Er, what if you're in a pertinent conversation with folks who have business sense and therefore understand that increased responsibility and stress should equal greater pay?)

So I suspect I'm breaking some other social taboos (at least for some folks, since politeness is relative) when I tell such self-obligated friends: "You can give me something if you want, but I won't be giving you a Christmas present back."

And then I don't.

And funny thing I've noticed: Most of the folks who feel obligated to give me something lose that feeling after a few years of unreciprocated gift-giving. Makes me wonder if selfishness is what's at the heart of all the "obligatory" gift-giving, because if you get things for a bunch of folks, then a bunch of folks should return the favor.

Now, some folks just like giving gifts and use Christmas for an excuse for that. As long as those folks aren't hurting their own bank accounts to do so—which some of them do—that's different from the "obligatory" gift-giving.

At any rate, it illustrates that not all of us celebrate (or neglect to celebrate) holidays for the same reasons.

What do you think of the idea of not celebrating Christmas? Are there any culturally popular holidays that you don't celebrate? Do folks try to make you feel guilty


P.S. "Of Her Own", a short story covering how Lallie met Silva, has a new cover and a new price (at least, in those places where I was able to drop it). Feel free to check it out!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Some Updates for December 2012

First, A Fistful of Fire and A Fistful of Earth now each cost $6.99 for the e-book.

Second, I'm having website issues with Wordpress (on my main site—this blog is Blogger), and those issues are bad enough that I will probably be abandoning WordPress once I get a few spare days to write a new site layout. It's eating sections that displayed perfectly fine previously, and I can't seem to get the rollback to take. *sighs* WP just updated, though, so maybe that'll fix it.

Third, I should be getting a response soon from the latest magazine where I submitted "Kill Jill". If it's rejected, I'll be self-publishing it. It's even prepped and ready to go, so watch for that.

Fourth, I've self-published a dark fantasy novelette. This is dark, disturbing, not for kids. If the "Donkeyskin" fairy tale bothers you, avoid this novelette. Otherwise, you might like this slaughtering of "Beauty and the Beast" of about 11,600 words / 65 pages, available in electronic and print format.

Electronic Format: $2.99 US
Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | ES | IT | JP | CA | BR
Barnes and Noble
All Romance Ebooks | Omnilit
DriveThru Fiction
Print Format: $6.99 US
CreateSpace (I get a larger % if you buy direct from there.)
Amazon (Might suit you better if you're seeking Christmas gifts.)

Fifth, Captain Morgan's spiced rum is pretty good, but I think I like coconut rum better. (Couldn't resist an alcohol comment on that one.)

Sixth, did I mention I hate WordPress and will probably be redoing my site from scratch?

Seventh, I'm hoping to soon finish a companion story to "A Blackmail and a Birthday"—namely, what exactly happened a year before that when some werewolves tried to eat Ember. I'm hoping that finishing that story will assuage my subconscious's desire to explore a particular related one that's a good twenty-five years (story timeline) down the road… (Lord willing, I'll get to writing it eventually. Likely not for a few years, though.)

Eighth, I need some funny but morbid music, along the lines of "Oh, Michelle" or "Mad Science Love Song" by Seanan McGuire, or "None Too Ladylike" by ApologetiX. Anyone have any specific recs?

Ninth, I need that music because all my major projects on my to-write list are at emotional low points. Usually, I can bounce between a happy moment and a downer one. But right now… I have one narrator who's borderline suicidal, and another who's angry, bitter, and shortsightedly dumb enough to ruin multiple lives along with her own.

I may take a break to write something about someone who's, yanno, emotionally healthy. Or maybe I'll get on a "Let's hang out with the loonies!" kick and knock most of it all out at once. We'll see.

Tenth, I'm seriously considering a side business of making allergy-safe lip balm. It's fun to make, and most lip balm contains things that aren't good for you or that aren't good for me. (Anything ending in –paraben isn't good for your skin. It makes the item feel nice, but it's bad for your skin.) I can easily make my own, but recipes produce along the lines of 5–50 tubes at a time, so it wouldn't take much before I would be swimming in lip balm, so starting the business would really be just setting up something I do anyway so I could make money instead of losing it.

If I did start the aforementioned business, I'd publicly post my recipes so that anyone who wanted to could make the lip balm, themselves. I'd also want to offer customability—for example, if you're allergic to apricot, I could whip up a batch with something like olive oil, instead of apricot kernel oil—but with unshared plastic equipment. Metal and glass can get allergens cleaned off. Plastic…not so much. So I'd either need my lip balm fill trays marked with specific things they're for—and that's if I didn't just fill tubes by hand. (It's doable, although a bit messy.)

You have any particular plans or news or goings-on you'd like to share? Or do you have any particular reaction to any of the above points? Or perhaps a question or something you'd like me to address in a future post? ^_^


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Should a Blogger Be Discreet or Discrete?

Stretching only a little with the literal definitions of the two homophones involved, bloggers can be discreet about their controversial opinions—keeping quiet about them—or bloggers can be discrete about their controversial opinions—using those opinions to separate them from other bloggers.

And I say that as someone who adheres to some mighty controversial opinions.

Most of them, I'm discreet about. You can identify at least some of them if you find me on some specific sites online, but I don't use my blog as a pedestal and proclaim to the world that I'm a six-day creationist. (Er, oops.)

Okay, so I don't use my blog to proclaim or explain why I'm a six-day creationist.

But some opinions, like my thoughts on how to price your writing and my belief that there are no bad words—those opinions, I announce, proclaim, and explain.

Why am I obvious about those, but not about others?

Any time a blogger gives an opinion, they're giving some readers an excuse to stop reading.

And any time an author gives an opinion, they're giving some readers an excuse to avoid their writing, be it fiction or non-fiction.

This blog is entitled "Another Author's 2 Pence", making obvious from the get-go that it's an author's blog. I therefore have no qualms about admitting writing-related opinions, because authors write. That's what we do. So duh, we'll have opinions on it.

(Frankly, when an author has a blog and never so much as mentions writing, it bewilders me. Even the so-hilarious-her-books-are-on-my-to-buy-list-and-I've-not-yet-read-one Twitter feed by Kiersten White sometimes mentions writing. Often facetiously, because it's mostly intended for her YA-reading fans. Lindsay Buroker's often-O.O-worthy Twitter feed is more chatty, but it still mentions writing at times.)

Authors/writers write.

And we have therefore opinions on the process.

Other things, like my my allergies, my hobbies—I really need to finish knitting that garment, because if it works, it'll save me a good $250—my faith, my beliefs about the world… Those color my writing, so there's a sense in which they're pertinent.

I mean, Zoe Winters is a Buddist. Her paranormal romance world features reincarnation. Those two things are kinda related.

Zoe Winters even comes from a Christian background—possibly Southern Baptist if not fundamentalist, from what she's mentioned on her blog—so when she explains a point of view on her blog, the line of reasoning she sets out makes sense to me. I won't exactly agree, but I can at least follow what she's thinking.

Her novels and blog aren't preachy. Her beliefs are…there, and she doesn't hide them, but she doesn't prosthelytize, either.

Some folks believe that such presentation of personal beliefs is unprofessional.

By that argument, the only "professional" way to write is as an effectual agnostic.

That type of writing has its place. (Example: Press releases.) But agnostics generally believe people are basically good. That produces an entirely different way of looking at the world from someone who believes people are basically bad—a perspective that colors opinions, story worlds, character development…

See the problem?

Your beliefs affect what you write, be it a story or a college essay.

So let's step back and bring up the detail I mentioned about being a six-day creationist. That's actually very pertinent to my writing.

Say what?

Standard evolutionary thought is that mankind is getting smarter through the generations, better, as mutations improve the human race with each generation. I doubt that's news to any of my readers.

Due to how mutations have only been demonstrated to delete or rearrange already-existing information (never creating information), six-day creationists believe mankind is actually losing ability and intelligence with each generation.

That's a fundamental detail that influences the development my characters and story worlds.

For example, due to the belief that genetics are getting progressively worse, my Darkworld stories feature a world wherein originally, everyone could do multiple types of magic, like Destiny Walker of Destiny's Kiss. But by the twenty-first century, she's a freak rather than the norm. Most folks can't do magic. (And that world's scientific community attributes that change to bottleneck effect.)

I'm sure some of you readers are intrigued by that detail—you might not agree with me, but you might like the peek into how another person views the world.

And I'm every bit as sure that some of you readers will now refuse to read anything more that I write.

Will the number of readers who like my forthrightness outnumber the readers who dislike it?

I don't know.

I can't know.

And therein lay the danger of being discrete as a blogger.

Being discreet offends no one, while being forthright about opinions will offend someone.

There's a marketer whose e-mail list I stay on for the sole reason that he's unapologetically Christian. I get a kick out of analyzing his writing, which combines intentionally low-brow grammar and unabashed declarations that "Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life"…

So unprofessional, if you ask most experts.

But he gets attention. (Mine, anyway. ^_^)

Discretion is one tactic; forthrightness is another.

I think every blogger should evaluate the potential gains and losses before picking which to be.

And I think it's rude of folks to pitch fits when others don't adhere to some ideal view of "professionalism". Everyone's opinions and worldviews are different.

What's rude to one person is polite for another. And vice versa.

Unfortunately, a lot of folks are stuck on one definition for "polite" and get indignant over others' presumed idiocy when they demonstrate other perspectives.

Do you prefer when a blogger is discreet about their opinions or when they let their opinions make them discrete from other bloggers?


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