The Aware Author – Relationships

Relationships

Relationships

Stories always are about relationships. They can be loving, hateful, dangerous or supporting – but a story rarely works without the main character having a relationship to someone or something.

Which makes it interesting for me to observe relationships, and look at the patterns I see in them. How do people express love? Or hate? What does a certain look mean, which words are code for something? It can be quite fascinating.

Right now, one of my neighbors is quite obviously expressing frustration and hate. Screaming, slamming doors, thumping things… unfortunately, it’s a pattern I have been observing for a while now.

It might find its way into a story eventually.

But his is a tragic story, and I don’t see a happy end for him at all.

That sadness is another pattern in a relationship…

An author’s mind can be a terrifying thing.

Veröffentlicht unter Musings | Verschlagwortet mit , , | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

Thoughts on Freedom

my way

My Way

I’m an indie author.

I choose what I want to write.

Sometimes, I aim for markt. Sometimes, I write for friends or fans.

And sometimes, I just write for fun.

This November, for NaNoWriMo, I wrote for fun.

Admittedly, I started out writing a story for fans. And got stuck in it. I know I’ll finish it eventually, the big plot lines are firmly established, and pantsing the small stuff makes the story fun to write. But I got stuck anyway, and decided to give my peeps time to reorganize themselves.

So now I’m putting words into another story that I enjoy very much. I wrote about it earlier because it’ll end up as two stories, eventually. (Recycling Story Ideas)

Being an indie author, I can do what I want, how I want it and when I want it. And I can have a dragon shifter romance with a strong female lead, I can have a war mare in it (although I still have to figure out how to take care of her in the end), and I can write that story exactly the way I want to read it.

Because I don’t have to please an editor.
Because I don’t have to please a marketing expert.
Because I don’t have to write to deadlines for a publisher.

This is total creative freedom, and I love it.

Readers, on the other hand, have the freedom to pick up exactly those books they want to read, too.

They can finally get as many Romance stories as they want to. With or without dragons.
They can look around and are no longer bound by book fashions.
They can read a series as fast or as slowly as they want to, because the second book will no longer be sold out.
They can pack their eReaders with as many books as they want, and read them wherever they want, without embarrasment.

Total reading freedom.

And I love it. This is how it should be.

Veröffentlicht unter English | Verschlagwortet mit , , , , , | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

Warum ich Bücher bei „der Amazone“ kaufe

Ein Buchhändler, mit dem ich ein wenig befreundet bin, hat sich vor Kurzem (wieder einmal) öffentlich darüber beschwert, dass Menschen bei Amazon einkaufen. Das ist nämlich schlecht, weil darunter doch die Kultur leidet. Und ein Buchhändler sowieso.

Und das hat bei mir einen Nerv getroffen.

Denn ich kaufe bei Amazon ein.

Ziemlich oft sogar. Und ziemlich oft sogar Bücher.

Und ich habe dafür verdammt gute Gründe, lieber Buchhändler. Hier sind sie:

Fremdsprachige Bücher

Ich lese nun einmal vorzugsweise Bücher auf Englisch. Die bekommt man in deutschen Buchhandlungen schlecht bis gar nicht. Und wenn man sie doch bestellen kann, dann dauert es sechs Wochen, und der Preis ist überteuert. Das liegt daran, dass in der Regel aus England importiert wird, wo Bücher deutlich teurer sind als in den USA.

Bei Amazon bekomme ich dieselben Bücher innerhalb von drei Tagen und im Durchschnitt zwei Drittel günstiger als im Buchhandel vor Ort. Das ist für Menschen mit niedrigem Einkommen durchaus ein Faktor. Und ich muss dafür nicht einmal aus dem Haus gehen.

Dumm gelaufen.

E-Bücher

Aus Platzgründen (wenig Einkommen, daher kleine Wohnung) lese ich vorzugweise auf meinem E-Reader. Das ist ein Kindle. Damals gab es den Tolino noch nicht. Außerdem kann ich für den Tolino nur eingeschränkt englisch-sprachige Bücher kaufen, und die Preise sind… ach egal. Siehe oben.

Und ich glaube kaum, dass dein kleiner, hübscher Buchladen in der Lage ist, mir unkompliziert E-Bücher für meinen Kindle zu verkaufen. Amazon kriegt das hin, und ich kann sofort loslesen.

Dumm gelaufen.

Indie-Autoren

Ich lese gerne Bücher von Indie-Autoren. Dafür gibt’s gleich zwei Gründe:

Erstens sind sie in der Regel deutlich billiger als Verlagsbücher, die ja gerade wieder E-Bücher teurer als Taschenbücher anbieten. Das ist Abzocke, die mich echt verärgert, denn die Produktions- und Bereitstellungskosten für E-Bücher liegen deutlich unter denen für Druckausgaben.

Zweitens verdienen Indie-Autoren an den Büchern, die sie über Amazon verkaufen, deutlich mehr als sie an Tantiemen von Verlagen erhalten würden. Das Geld kommt also direkt beim Autor an, beim Urheber. Und das ist mir durchaus nicht egal.

Aber Bücher von Indie-Autoren gibt’s sowieso nicht im Buchladen. Denn die sind in den Barsortimenten nicht vorgesehen, und deswegen halt nicht bei dir bestellbar. Über Amazon allerdings schon.

Dumm gelaufen.

Die Kultur-Arroganz

Ich finde die Arroganz, mit der viele Verlage und Buchhändler, Literaten und Medien auf Indie-Autoren herunterblicken, ganz und gar unerträglich.

Da wird behauptet, dass nur Verlage in der Lage sind, die Kultur zu schützen und dafür zu sorgen, dass die Bevölkerung mit angemessenem Lesematerial versorgt wird. Dagegen seien die Produkte von Indie-Autoren grundsätzlich Schund und natürlich in keinem Fall Kultur. Denn nur ein Verlag sei in der Lage, die Qualität eines Manuskripts wirklich einzuschätzen.

Und wieso gibt es dann den Bestseller „50 Shades of Gray“? Natürlich handelt es sich bei dem Buch eindeutig um ein Meisterwerk der neuesten amerikanischen Kultur. Großartige Kultur. Oder ging es vielleicht doch eher um’s Geld?

In meinen Augen darf Kultur von allen Menschen erbracht werden, ohne Auswahl nach Verlagsprogramm oder aktueller Wanderhurenmode. Amazon macht’s möglich, dass Leser das kaufen, was sie lesen wollen. Ohne Bevormundung von Verlagen.

Dumm gelaufen.

Autoren haben auch ohne Verlage gute Chancen

Die Verlage haben eine Heidenangst vor E-Büchern und Indie-Autoren. Aus einem ganz einfachen Grund: Indies brauchen vor allem dank der E-Bücher keine Verlage mehr. Sie können Lektorat, Formatierung, Coverbilder und Marketing ganz einfach selber machen oder bei professionellen Dienstleistern einkaufen. Und dann sind sie in der Lage, ihre Bücher ohne den Mittelsmann Verlag oder Buchladen an die Leser zu bringen.

Das alte Geschäftsmodell Verlag wird gerade von der Digitalisierung des Buchmarkts überrollt. Verlage und deren Lobby Börsenverein kämpfen also einen verzweifelten Abwehrkampf. Mit harten Bandagen und unfairen Mitteln, wie z.B. bei der Preisgestaltung von ISBNs, beim Zugang zu den Barsortimenten, und damit, Buchhandlungen möglichst eine Kooperation mit Indie-Autoren zu vermiesen.

Aber Indies verdienen inzwischen häufig mehr als Autoren mit Verlagsvertrag. Indies sind die Zukunft. Auch dank Amazon.

Dumm gelaufen.

ISBN-Abzocke

Ich finde die Preisgestaltung für ISBNs einfach eine Frechheit. Indies werden regelrecht abgezockt. Deswegen veröffentliche ich meine E-Bücher bei Amazon, wo ich keine ISBN benötige, und Print-Bücher bei CreateSpace, wo das ebenfalls der Fall ist. Natürlich könnte ich zumindest für die Druckausgabe eine deutsche ISBN verwenden. Da kommt allerdings die unfassbare Preisgestaltung für ISBNs hier in Deutschland zum Tragen:

Einzel-ISBN für Indie-Autoren: € 90,98 (keine andere Option)
1000 ISBN für Verlage (mit Gewerbeschein) bei Erstantrag: € 287,33

(Die Kosten für einen Verlag setzen sich wie folgt zusammen:
€ 94,- für die 1000 ISBN
€ 146,-  für die Ersteinrichtung der Verlagsnummer, entfällt bei Nachbestellungen
€ 1,45 Versandkosten, die Liste wird tatsächlich per Post verschickt
€  45,88 Mehrwertsteuer, die das Finanzamt erstattet)

Verlage zahlen also für 1000 ISBNs im Endeffekt weniger (nach Erstattung der Mehrwertsteuer), als ein Selbstverleger für 3 ISNBs. Und die nächsten 1000 ISBNs sind dann in etwa so teuer wie eine einzelne (!!) ISBN für einen Selbstverleger.

Das überrascht nicht wirklich, denn die Agentur für Buchmarktstandards, die in Deutschland für ISBNs zuständig ist, ist eine 100%ige GmbH des Börsenvereins, der wiederum Lobbyverband der Verlage in Deutschland ist.

Und dieser Lobbyverband mag natürlich keine Selbstverleger. Die brauchen nämlich dank Amazon und Co keine Verlage mehr. Ob der Börsenverein deswegen vielleicht auch Amazon so fürchtet?

Interessanterweise verweist die Seite der Agentur für Buchmarktstandards neuerdings auf Dienstleistungen für Selbstverleger auf „Expertenseiten des Börsenvereins“. Zusätzlich zur ISBN-Abzocke gibt’s also gleich noch mehr Chancen, den Indies das Geld aus der Tasche zu ziehen. Ein Narr, wer Böses dabei denkt.

In Kanada kosten ISBNs übrigens kein Geld. Sie werden von einer staatlichen Behörde an alle Autoren vergeben, die eine beantragen. Das ist wahre Kulturförderung. Funktioniert nur nicht in Deutschland.

Dumm gelaufen.

Also, lieber Buchhändler.

Du machst es ja echt gut. Du organisierst Lesungen, stellst Bücher vor und schreibst einen schönen Blog mit Buchbesprechungen von literarischen Werken. Du hast Veröffentlichungen im Börsenblatt. Das ist alles toll, lobenswert und sicherlich viel Arbeit. Und ich kann das anerkennen. Du kämpfst für deinen Laden, innovativ und mit viel Herzblut. Und ich mag dich wirklich. Du bist ein feiner Kerl.

Aber mich hast du heute endgültig verloren.

Weil dieses Amazonen-Dissen dumm und überheblich ist.

Weil du mir einfach nicht das bieten kannst, was ich gerne hätte.

Als Kundin.

Und als Autorin.

Schade.

Veröffentlicht unter Deutsch, Musings | Verschlagwortet mit , , , , , , | 6 Kommentare

Recycling Story Ideas

 

Twins

Twins

As authors, our stories are our assets. They are what brings in money, in the shape of published books that readers can buy.

Now, there are many ways to take a single „book“ and use it wisely, by selling limited licenses and being very careful about the rights listed in contracts. If you want to look into that, read Kris Rusch’s series on Estate Planning. She has many, many awesome tips on that.

Today, however, I want to talk about something else.

Recycling story ideas.

I first heard about this while chatting with a friend. She mentioned one of her author friends who takes a story and turns it into a full novel. Then she creates a short story, a love story and a zombie story, all of them from the same old idea. And sells them all to different markets. (These are not her examples, but you get the gist.)

Now, as you may know I’m in the process of branching out into another pen name that will publish explicit Romance stories. Yep, the smutty stuff. For reasons. Don’t judge.

And it’s also NaNo, and aside from another story (which is Hannah territory) I started writing a dragon shifter story that was *supposed* to be a Joanna tale. With the real stuff, hot dragon guy et cetera.

Except when this hot dragon guy started out doing the invesitation that brought him close to my heroine, it dragged out and became quite a focus, with the love stoy relegated to subplot. That’s okay, it’s fine for Hannah to create a fantasy adventure. And so I punted it over to her. That’s what you get when the heroine isn’t particularly fond of men. *sigh*

It just wasn’t what I had planned.

And then I figured out what the villain wants, and it’s very sly and underhanded, and it catapulted the story right back into Joanna territory: breeding his own army of dragon shifters, under his control from childhood and brainwashed into complete devotion to the villain. His way to power. His way to create a small empire of his own.

Writing went well for a while, but my mind was shocked. And then it remembered that conversation with my writing friend and her prolific author friend…

It seems that I’m raising Siamese twins during this NaNo season:

One story, two versions.

In the Hannah version, the villain has captured young dragon shifters and is in the process of breaking them when my hero arrives to foil his plans. Plain fantasy dragon adventure with a nice little love story as subplot.

The Joanna version will use the original villain plan, and offers many opportunities for hot stuff, since my hero will interview several women after getting nowhere with the men, and then will eventually be captured and used… before escaping and turning the tables on the villain, of course. With a love subplot, as well, that’ll usher in the happy ever after in the end.

Will this work?

Thing is, I believe the stories will be different enough to appeal to different readers, but they will use bascially the same idea and plot. The characters will get different names, and a different description, the action will be quite different, and yet… it’s the same basic story.

And there’s a part of me that tells me that’s cheating! It’s cheating!

It’s cheating my readers!

But is it, really?

I’m creating the two pen names precisely because I believe there will be two different audiences. The Hannah fans have told me repeatedly they are not fond of explicit scenes and that they won’t buy books with them. Which is fine – I’m very glad for the clarity! I love you all!

Which leaves the future Joanna fans who – I hope! – will love the hot stuff inside stories with a reasonable plot and adventure. Who don’t particularly care if it’s contemporary, SF or fantasy, because they want believable characters and an enjoyable story, plus the tantalizing scenes.

I believe there will be some overlap in the audiences. In fact,  I hope for it, because that’ll help Joanna become known. But the truth is, that overlap will likely be small.

And by „recycling“ a story idea and adapting it to the different audiences, I make my life easier. They each get a story they enjoy, and I can publish one faster. Maybe that is win-win, after all.

And the truth is, this will be a rare thing. Most of my stories are not easily adaptable to the other pen name. Usually, it’s quite clear what I’m writing and whose story it is.

And you know what? I blame NaNoWriMo!

NaNo made me write under pressure every evening, made me go with spontaneous ideas; and Hannah and Joanna merged in the rush. Kind of.

That’s my version, and I’ll stick to it. So there.

Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you and whether you believe this is a good idea or a reader rip-off.

Thanks!

Veröffentlicht unter Joanna, Musings | Verschlagwortet mit , , , , , | 2 Kommentare

Graphic Steps

I need to brag a little. Because I created something I’m quite proud of. And it wasn’t easy.

Well, it wasn’t really hard, either, just a bit complicated.

You see, I wanted to create an add for „Dorelle’s Journey“. My little book needs a bit of love, and I wanted something nice to post on social media. Something I can reuse, rather than a specific release or sale ad.

Here are the steps:

1. Background

I created the background with PicMonkey. That’s because I love their filters and extras, even the free ones. I made it 800×800 because that should work with most social media.

(Yes, I know, I probably should create pics in perfect size because resizing always introduces imperfections, but … I’m really not good with graphics. And I’m perfectionist. Not a good combo!)

I picked a color from the book cover, or as close as I could make it, and then played with the water filter of PicMonkey.

Here’s the result:

Background

Background

I saved it as such, and in a smaller version especially for FB so I could play with it. I’m trying to save every stage, giving me more options.

2. Cover

Then I took my cover image and added it to the background. Nothing special here, just resizing the file to fit. I may play with the sizes, but I really don’t want the cover to totally dominate the entire pic. It should be big enough for people to recognize it when they see it on Amazon – and big enough so they can read the title!

I did this in Fireworks, which is a very old Macromedia graphics program. I use it because somehow, it works best for my intuitive approach to computer work. Yes, it’s severely outdated. I don’t care. I *own* it.

So here are background and cover together:

Background and cover

Background and cover

Again, I saved it in this stage, because I know I’ll want to create different versions with different text in it. (The original is bigger than shown here.)

3. Text (Fireworks)

This step proved to be difficult. I added the text in my old, faithful Fireworks, and no matter what I did, it came out horribly pixely. Which I can’t explain since text is part of the vector stuff even Fireworks does. It may have happened because it didn’t like working with a jpg as background image…

Here’s a result. Yes, I’m showing it to you because it’s part of the process. (*shudder*)

Pixely text on background with cover

First try with added text.

The result of exporting it to jpg was gruesome. Notice the white line around the cover? And the pixels on the text? The distortion around the text? Yeah. Imagine that in full size on FB. Dreadful.

Did I mention I’m a perfectionist?

I gave up on that.

4. Text (GIMP)

Today, I felt relaxed enough for another go at GIMP. It’s a cool program, free, open-source and originally Linux based. Its name means „GNU Image Manipulation Program“, after all.

Loading the background image with the cover was easy peasy. Clicking on the text tool and adding the first paragraph, ditto. Then I tried to move the text field.

ARGH!

I’m used to a tool where you can grab an element and just drag it around in your image. I knew GIMP should have something like it. And yeah, it does. But every time I tried to grab the text and pull it around, GIMP moved my background instead.

I learned, eventually. And I did so without screaming, hitting my desk or gnashing my teeth. (*shoulderpats*) Of course, before I figured that out, I moved the borders of the text element for repositioning. Gah.

And GIMP is a bit clunky (might be my old version) when it comes to choosing a font. Basically, you have to know what you have and want, and type the name of the font into the tool box. No drop down menu. So I chose Bauhaus – which is a font I love, but it’s not necessarily suited for the pic. And there still is some distortion around the text. But it’s what I have for now. And I can live with it.

Without further ado, here’s the final version:

Final version

Final version (for now!)

Your Turn:

Thanks for reading! This one has been long.

I’ll definitely play some more with the text, both content and format. But I’d be grateful for comments, suggestions, and even tricks for handling GIMP. Because this is just the start.

So please comment.

Thank you.

Veröffentlicht unter The Cloud Lands Saga | Verschlagwortet mit , , , , | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

Subconscious Plotting

Dragon

Dragon

So yesterday, I was thinking about the big, bad showdown for the last book in The Cloud Lands Saga series. When I do that for any fight, I start seeing scenes in my mind, a bit like a private movie.

And then I look for plot holes.

Are the characters being logical? Or are they acting under stress and do illogical things, but it’s still realistic? I often freeze the frame to think of alternatives.

And this time, I saw Ferren ducking under a roof overhang because a dragon was hovering above him. So far so good. The dragon won’t flame the thatch roof, because he is protecting the village, not attacking it. So Ferren is safe for the moment to continue with his nefarious plan.

All right.

But Ferren is an aggressive, ruthless character with a terrible grudge. He’s there to kill the person he hates with insane intensity.

Would he just hide from a dragon?

Not really. As long as he has the time to do something about that dragon pointing him out, he will.

And so he did. Quickly and decisively.

Scene complete.

And the amazing beauty of this visual editing I did of that scene is that it solved another plot problem quite handsomly. I only realized that later in the day when thinking about the larger plot of the story.

The injured dragon won’t be able to fly back to the Western Kingdom until he heals. And that suits me very, very well. (Mwuahahahaha.)

I love my writing brain. And I love it when a plan comes together.

Veröffentlicht unter English, The Cloud Lands Saga | Verschlagwortet mit , , , , | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

Lost in transition

There is one place in my life where thinking about my stories is absolutely easy and fun.

Unfortunately, it’s not a place where I can actually write.

Because that place is curled up in bed.

When I get warm and comfy, where nothing else impinges – then my mind is free to fly to my story worlds and interact with my characters.

Problem is getting those thoughts, dialogues and vision into my computer file.

So much lost in transition.

So how do you do it?

Veröffentlicht unter English | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

Feeling the Pain

Empathy

Empathy

I haven’t been blogging lately. I just couldn’t.

It started with the massacre in Orlando. I made the mistake of looking at the faces of those killed. Boy, was that a bad idea. I probably could have loved each of them. They were killed by hate.

Baghdad. About 300 dead. Normal people. Shoppers. In the wrong place at the wrong time. In the wrong country. In the wrong story. Victims of hate.

It continued with the young man bleeding to death after being shot in his car. One too many. One that for some reason really hit me hard. This was a good guy. A really good guy. A guy many, many kids adored. And dead just like that. And yes, because someone was afraid of people with his color of skin. Someone had listened to the hate.

Then someone killing policemen. Targetting them at a protest, where people showed up to celebrate and honor life. More hate, and violence begetting violence.

I crawled away from the news. And I played a game, quite obsessively, to stop my mind from working, my heart from feeling.

But the world kept getting more bloody.

Nice. (Nizza, as we call it.) 80+ dead. Killed while celebrating a national day. Because someone hated too much, and chose a primitive, gruesome way to express the hate.

Coup in Turkey. Almost 300 dead. And the president“cleansing“ not just the military, but the universites, courts and press, even parliament. Looks like a dictatorship in making, with the attempted coup as a convenient reason. Driven by greed, fear and hate of all who are on the „wrong side“.

Hate rising all over the world. Party heads spewing ever more vicious ideas of violence to counter violence. As if that ever worked.

And I wonder what will happen next. Hate has been unleashed, on purpose and quite deliberately. And at the moment, all attempts to ease it, to lance it, and let it bleed away, are in vain.

I’m being compelled not to feel – and compelled to feel.

Because someone has to witness all that pain, all those tears, all the heartache. Someone need to call out the hate, and spread love.

I did that for three weeks. And I’m exhausted.

I may have to become a cynical recluse. And write Romance to get my mind to see something entirely different. I’m sure there will be plenty of readers who also just want to numb their pain, and feel safe with a story, at least. Here is love that doesn’t fail. Love that overcomes even hate…

It’s a sad world right now. Too sad for sad stories.

Veröffentlicht unter Musings | Verschlagwortet mit , , , , , | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

The Power of a Plotting Party

Plotting Party

Plotting Party

Yesterday, I had a plotting party with an author friend. And it was great fun.

And to be honest, it was also very, very useful.

It is funny how our brain can go into overdrive when we talk about something. New ideas suddenly sprout where there was an empty desert before. And that’s simply because someone else is willing to listen, and add some thoughts on their own, creating mental fireworks.

I discovered a lot more about my dragon world that way. For example, only men are allowed on fishing boats. But the women are very capable divers and develop that useful skill as girls. In fact… Dorelle has that skill.

And my plotting buddy went home with many ideas about her mystery short story. I was surprised how many ideas surfaced about a genre I don’t usually write in.

Maybe that’s because stories are stories, and they all need twists, believability and action.

What’s your best way of plotting?

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The Power of Stories over Simple Facts

Dragon

Dragon

I was just reading about a study that shows children learn better from stories than facts.

Duh.

There is a reason why story-telling has been the preferred teaching method for millenia in our species.

You see, our brain has what is called „mirror neurons“. They have only one function: They recreate what we see someone else do and feel, so we can feel it ourselves. To a degree, of course.

And even though I’m not sure it has ever been tested, I believe those mirror neurons do that very same thing when we read a story. They don’t do that when we learn a plain old fact since there is nothing to recreate.

And if those stories are fantastic and out of this world – even better! They are much more stimulating than a story that’s about boring, every day experiences.

So I count myself lucky (or maybe perceptive?) that I prefer fantasy and SF as genres for reading and writing. After all, this is where you can get stuff that’s out of this world!

And since I’m still a little bored, I’m looking for recommendations: What’s your favorite fantasy or SF story?

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