Sympatico

For the last couple of days I’ve been watching Wanted (yeah, it’s a KDrama—what of it?). Mostly by the end it was a hot mess (flyaway story threads that were never quite resolved, inconsistent characterisation, inconsistant and shifting morals/application of those morals) but it had so many good things about it and was so riveting to watch that it wasn’t until the end that I found too much annoyance to ignore.

But the one thing that really jumped out at me as being exceedingly excellent was the single characteristic that I want to discuss today. The two MCs in Wanted are Hye-In—a mother trying to find her kidnapped son—and Seung-In—the police officer who is helping her. These characters don’t meet until the second episode, but as soon as they do…

Let me describe it this way.

In one of their first scenes together, Hye-In and Seung-In are both at the bedside of a kidnapped child who has been rescued. The mother and father arrive on the scene; mother first, then father. The child clings to his mother fervently and she to him…and then the father walks in. At first you don’t notice too much difference. Then you slowly notice that the child, still clinging to his mother, has begun to move just a little bit…then a little bit more, until he is almost behind her.

Hye-In, watching, looks instinctively at Seung-In to confirm her first thought. He, sharp-eyed, catches her gaze and holds it. There’s a moment of unspoken communication—honestly, one of the greatest highlights of this entire drama—and each of them from this point on knows that there’s something they have to do before all the main players leave the room.

For Hye-In, the reason for helping this abused mother and her child is divided and skewed mainly toward her son. For Seung-In, the reason is whole and unbroken. But they each know they have each other’s backs, and they trust each other to do what needs to be done.

From that point onward, if Hye-In needs him for anything, Seung-In is already there. If Seung-In comes to a conclusion about the case, there Hye-In is, right beside him, having come to the same conclusion. They work like a well-oiled, well-connected whole. Sympatico, pure and simple, adding a layer of emotional depth that the drama might not otherwise have had, since it lacked a romantic plot-line.

Sympatico is one of the things I look for most in characters; one of the things that will cause me to irrevocably love or hate a book/tv show/movie. It doesn’t have to be romantic—though it can be, and is one of my favourite ways to grow romance—and it’s just as effective in building lasting friendships that I LOVE. And there are so many ways you can express it! Visual cues taken up flawlessly, verbal cues followed without a blink; even the simple support of a hand when it’s most needed.

So simple, yet so difficult to produce, so beautiful when done right, sympatico between characters is one of my favourite things. Hye-In and Seung-In are two of my favourites; tell me some of yours!

Audiobooks, Ho!

Some of you might have seen the tweets and fb statuses that I’ve been making about trying to decide which book of mine should go audio first. After much thought and input, I’ve decided to go with the first Two Monarchies book, Spindle.

Right?

Not so much. Because now I have to find the perfect narrator. Which is something rather difficult for me, given that I don’t actually listen to audiobooks, don’t like listening to audiobooks, and don’t really know what I’m looking for.

So if you guys have a favourite narrator, a personal recommendation, or anything similar—chuck it at me. Over the next month or two I’ll be gathering samples and auditions, and at the end of that time, I’ll post ’em here on the blog and through my newsletter for you guys to pick which one you like the best.

I’m really excited about this, even if I’m not an audiobook person, and I can’t wait to see how Spindle comes out!

Treat Yo Self!

Right. Today, I’m gonna talk about something that is both very important and very applicable.

Wait, that’s the wrong pic.

I want to talk about looking after myself—yourselves, ourselves, etc. In that vein, here, have the correct gif:

As some context for this seemingly out-of-the-blue post, here’s a look at the last two weeks of my life…

I’ve always had back trouble. Lower back, upper back, shoulders, neck, hips, regular sciatica—basically, you name it, I get it. Sometimes it’s a murmur in the background, sometimes a sharp stab when I least expect it. There aren’t many days that go by without some form of pain, but for the most part it’s not crippling, overwhelming, or unbearable. Every now and then things change drastically, and I get constant, high levels of pain (usually neck or hips).

Two weeks ago, it changed.  Suddenly, I had constant, mid-to-high level pain at the top of my neck and the bases of my ears; pain bad enough and constant enough to make every shift at the day job an exercise in endurance and mental strength. I kept going for a week, because that’s what I do. I just keep going, because one day it will be better again. I get used to the new level of pain, prepare myself for it, and just keep working.

That particular method didn’t work this time.

I knew after the first week that I’d have to do something about it. The pain was so bad that I had to leave early from my last shift of the week at the day job, and I had become so mentally weary from the pain that I was finding it hard to do more than 1k words on my WiP. It occurred to me, vaguely, that a massage might be a good idea, but I wasn’t sure it was affordable or worthwhile, and it sounded kinda…you know, extravagant. And what if it didn’t help?

By the start of the next week I was in too much pain to do anything but try to find somewhere to get a massage. Monday was a public holiday, so no joy. Tuesday, there were no female massagers available (and one masseuse completely booked out until July). Wednesday—today—I went to the appointment I was able to make for myself yesterday. I wasn’t particularly hopeful; in my limited experience, there isn’t much that takes away that kind of back pain.

I’m so happy I was wrong. I walked in stiff and sore, and walked out with about half the amount of pain. Half. The massage therapist told me that it had been bad for so long that it would take more than one session to fix it all, which means I have another two hour-long sessions over the next couple of weeks.

So. Quick recap for those of you following at home: I just spent nearly two weeks in constant pain because it didn’t occur to me that it was worthwhile trying to do something about it.

I got used to the pain. I got used to the limitations. There is stuff that has been literally fixable for years, and I haven’t gone to get it fixed because—what? I thought it was extravagant. I thought a massage was a luxury, not a treatment. And even if it was a luxury—so what? Sometimes that’s what you need. There are enough health problems that come with being a writer without adding constant pain and stress to that pile.

Don’t be like me. Treat Yo Self. Maybe you’ll find it was something you should have done years ago.

The Perils of Learning a Second Language

Okay, that’s a bit sensationalist.

It’s not perilous, exactly—unless you consider feeling like an idiot roughly 2-5 times per lesson a peril, that is—but there is a steep learning curve associated with it, and certain pitfalls that come with that. At the moment, I study at home, go to a lesson with the lovely Kara, and on the same day spend an hour or two speaking an English/Korean hybrid with another girl who is learning English as I’m learning Korean.

This week, I went to my English conversation appointment feeling buoyed and eager.

Why, you ask? Well, Ko-Eun (the girl I am speaking English with) had suggested we each write a series of sentences in the language we were trying to learn. She would write hers in English, and I would write mine in Korean. I had put in about three hour’s work on my sentences, and I was feeling pretty good about them.

I mean, I even checked ’em in Word! (Did you blokes know you can get Hangul grammar and spelling checked in Word? You do now!) No squiggly lines, and it all looked correct.

Then Ko-Eun looked at them.

I was expecting some notes and changes—minor spelling issues or slight grammar fixes, yanno, nothing dramatic. So when she assured me that my sentences were very cute, that was my first warning sign that my sentences were not as solid as I’d assumed.

You can see the picture below if you want to snicker at the distinctly imperfect sentences I had actually turned in.

And I thought having my English language writing edited was bad…

The bright side of all this—aka, my cheerful feeling of competency that I’d made good sentences being dashed by an equally cheerful Ko-Eun wielding a pencil—is that I learned a huge amount during the slashing of my hard-won sentences.

Also, I have a really cute drawing of a crab, which is a pun about 게 (it both denotes place, and is the noun ‘crab’: if used in the wrong place, there are seven crabs in my house and not seven places for books). So there’s that.

Obviously, my next sentences will achieve the perfection at which I have, this time, failed.

아! 실패다! 아쉽다!

다음 번에….

English Version below, for those who care/can compare/want to laugh, mock, or generally giggle at my Korean translation.

I live in a house with a green door. Some of the walls are yellow, and some are blue. The curtains are colourful, too. At first, I didn’t like it.

In my house there are seven bookcases. I like to read a lot. But I like writing better than reading, so there is a special place where I can write, too.

When I write, I drink tea from a blue teacup with a yellow sunflower on the side. I like bright teacups. My house is as colourful as my teacups.

I live in a house with a green door. Some of the walls are yellow, and some are blue. At first, I didn’t like it.

Now, I like it a lot.

 

It’s Raining Books!

Well, not quite…but swiftly following the publication of BLACKFOOT and the paperback thereof– Kindle Press has made a preorder page for LADY OF DREAMS, my Korean-based fantasy.

In case you didn’t already catch it on my FB and Twitter feeds, LADY OF DREAMS will be released on June 6th, and can be preordered HERE!

Eeek! Such excite!

Confined to her couch, Clovis Sohn spends her days and nights dreaming, drifting further away from the outside world with each passing day. But Clovis’s dreams are also real, giving her a glimpse into the lives of those around her…

When Clovis begins to dream of publishing assistant Ae-jung’s complicated life, it brings a momentary interest to her pale existane between dream and waking. Mistress of many secrets, Ae-jung is dedicated, hard-working, and beset by three very different suitors: famous writer Hyun-jun, well-known composer Yong-hwa, and Clovis’ half-brother Jessamy.

When a moment of unthinking sympathy twines Clovis’s dreams with the bored, playful Yong-hwa, she must decide whether to keep dreaming in the comfort of her chaise lounge, or to awaken into a reality that is by no means so sure or familiar as her dreams.

Wait, I’m One of the Adults?

Last week was a particularly busy one. I was working on the business side of writing, which meant arranging promotions, updating files and payments methods, etc, and fiddling with Createspace (I count that with the business stuff because I hate formatting and business stuff almost equally).

I was also busy following a particularly nasty story that had just emerged. I’d seen it coming since last year, when I’d noticed this particular business owner behaving in a very unprofessional way on Facebook and around the internet in general. At the time, I distanced myself by leaving the FB group she’d added me to and generally avoided her services, since although I found her to be a person I didn’t want to have anything to do with, I didn’t know her business practises were also suspect. I just knew that I didn’t like drama, bullying, and people being sent to one-star the books of perceived enemies. I also didn’t care for the upvoting of bad reviews and the downvoting of good ones.

Fastforward to this week when I saw the story explode on KBoards, (monster thread, but worth reading if you want to know the particulars of bad business and what to avoid when it comes to boxed sets) Passive Voice, and Inside Indie (a little more gleeful than I care for, but the screenshots are there).

So many people were popping up anonymously (and some bravely under their own names) to speak up about abuses and business practises that were against Amazon and Paypal TOS (most particularly, being told to pay with the Friends & Family option for a business transaction to dodge fees). There were also a truly startling amount who began to speak up about the bullying, threats, and general nastiness that had been directed at them, sometimes for something so simple as just asking a question. Indies who have been in the business for years were being PM’d by people too scared to speak out.

In one of the groups that had nothing to do with this promoter, some of her followers had come in to post glowing adverts for her services that were then jumped on by other followers who cheered for her and raved about her services. All without mentioning any of the controversy. All to a group where debut authors and inexperienced writers were looking for advice and help along the way. I made my feelings known, explained that I didn’t want to be a part of a group where such services were advertised to susceptible authors, and left.

And then I found that I had a message in my own inbox.

My first instinct was to run. I mean, I’ve only been doing this three years. I’M NOT ONE OF THE ADULTS. It was the way I first felt when someone came up and asked my advice about something. Let me get you an adult…I mean…wait…I’M an adult. Oh dear.

But when it comes to Indie Publishing, by three years you’re starting to get a grip on things. You’re starting to notice trends, and changes, and the way the world repeats itself in the same way, but a little bit differently. People are starting to come to you for advice. You’re one of the adults.

So in that spirit, I’ve decided to be one of the adults. I’m talking to all you newbies out there: the scared, the inexperienced, the debut authors. The ones who ask questions because they don’t know how to do the Stuff themselves.

Keep asking questions. Ask them in public spaces like KBoards so that you can get a wide variety of experiences and reviews, and make up your own mind. Keep your eye on Writer Beware. Follow people like Victoria Strauss, Patty Jansen, and Lindsay Buroker. They’ve got a good eye on the publishing world in general, and you’ll not be led astray following their advice.

And avoid promoters like GenreCrave, Hungry Author, and Books Butterfly. They could go great for you, or they could go very poorly. And when they go very poorly, it’s not just your money that’s at risk, because the way they do their business is a way that could get you into a lot of trouble with Amazon.

This blog post isn’t here to discuss the merits or lack thereof when it comes to the case against Genre Crave, Rebecca Hamilton, and Hungry Author. First and foremost, I want to warn newbie authors and other impressionable Indies that there are certain things you should look out for when you are hiring a service to promote or advertise your book. That goes for courses that will cost you $1-$2k, and boxed set buy-ins that are $500-$2k.

Warning signs being: the Promoter won’t tell you how they achieve their results (aka, secret sauce results); the promoter says no refunds (refunds are a part of doing business); the Promoter telling you to pay via Friends & Family on Paypal (against Paypal TOS and makes it so that you can’t get a refund through Paypal); the Promoter asks for payment up front, even before a contract is signed; there are numerous controversies already when you google the Promoter’s name; the Promoter is listed on Writer Beware, or has a negative thread on KBoards.

For those looking to join boxed sets, despite all the kerfuffle in the threads linked to above, I would like to point out, very clearly, that not all box sets are a scam, nor are they all trying to slip beneath Amazon’s TOS. Not even most of them are. I’m going to be joining one at the end of the year, in fact. What you need to watch out for are the boxed sets that break TOS, are making lists by huge amounts of gifted books, and are doing other dodgy things like offering incentives to preorder the set for the purposes of making a list dishonestly. It’s not worth being caught up in that, because when Amazon swings its hammer, it obliterates all the tiny players like us, and leaves the scammers/shady business owners/slippery salesmen free to skip away and start over again. It’s really hard to come back from a nuked account at Amazon, even if they finally acknowledge that you weren’t at fault.

Be aware. Be safe. Try to do things like boxed sets via recommendations from trusted sources. Even some of the most experienced authors in the Indie world have been scammed. Even the most experienced Indies have found themselves running afoul of Amazon’s TOS due to a slippery promoter. So do your homework. Ask questions. Look at a Promoter from several different sources before you say yes to using them.

(Also, if you have an opinion and comment, that’s okay, but this blog isn’t for a rehash of what’s happening at KBoards, and bad language won’t be approved in comments. So be nice).

Rainy Monday

As you may have guessed from the title of my blog post, today is Monday. Also, it’s rainy.

You’re always gonna get the truth from me, you blokes.

On this particular rainy Monday, I’m feeling very cosy and relaxed. Part of that is because of the rain: there’s nothing better than curling up beneath my mum-made patchwork blanket and watching the rain make a watercolour painting through my window-frame. Well, it’s always better if there’s a book, and tea, and you know what? I’ve got both.

Another facet to my contentment is the fact that Blackfoot is–more or less–done, and I now have a week off.

Last week, when I was writing the last few bits and patches to join other bits and patches together, I was feeling insanely fed up with the whole book. Being the second book in the series, it was flamin’ hard to write, and by the end, I felt as though it was complete and utter rubbish. I was disheartened, and depressed, and could only think about all those preorders going out to a general reception of “Oh my word, what is this rubbish? I’ve been waiting for this for 6 months now and it’s garbage!”

I honestly couldn’t believe the amount of work it was going to take to bring Blackfoot into publishable condition–in only two weeks! It didn’t feel possible, and mostly I just wanted to sit in the shower and cry.

I didn’t do that because a.) there’s a mushroom growing in there and I seriously don’t want to get near it, cos I read a horror story about that years ago, and b.) we would run out of hot water before I ran out of depression, and if you think being depressed in a hot shower is bad, try being depressed in a cold shower.

It’s adorable and hilarious and cringe-worthy, all at the same time…

Instead, I took a day off between writing those last words and doing my quick, pre-printed-MS run-over to catch glaring inconsistencies. I watched the latest episodes of 힘쎈 여자 도봉순 (Strong Woman Do Bong Soon)–hilarious, by the way–started to read The Eyre Affair–also excellent, though in a completely different way–and watched an insane amount of Gag Concert and Would I Lie to You?

After the last two weeks of writing 2k-5k words per day, I felt as light as a butterfly.

And I’m SO GLAD I did it, because when I went to do the pre-print run-over today, I found that Blackfoot wasn’t actually the huge train-wreck I was convinced it was. In fact, it wasn’t too bad. Maybe even good. The pacing was consistent, there were no glaring plot holes, and everything seemed to flow well, unlike the patchwork thing I’d imagined it to be.

Thus, my contentment is complete.

Also, I have tea and sticky buns and biscuits…

We’ll see how contented I am when I start final edits for Blackfoot next week, and how contented I am when I start the edits for Lady of Dreams a week or two after that…

Hybrid: Isn’t that some sort of car…?

I’m not actually going to talk about cars. I mean, this is a writing blog, not a car blog, and what do I know about cars anyway?

So when I say hybrid, I am, of course, referring to hybrid authors: those who both self-publish, and traditonally-publish.

Or, more specifically, myself.

That’s right. As of today, I am a hybrid author.

Which is a very roundabout way of telling you guys that I got The Email today, informing me that Lady of Dreams had been chosen for a publication contract with Kindle Press.

Eeek! Such excite!

Stop the presses!

No, wait, don’t.

I’m a bit confused. Also, I’m still in the death throes of Blackfoot, so I’m not making much sense either way. Next week, when I’ve finished Blackfoot, collected my thoughts, and started making sure LoD is as pretty as it can possibly be, I’ll write a proper blog post.

But in the meantime, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR NOMINATING LADY OF DREAMS!