Wednesday, December 12, 2012

3 am thoughts on writing

Okay, so most of you know I absolutely suck at keeping up with a blog. It's been months since I posted last and I am really bloody awful at keeping people up to date on what I'm doing. Except on Facebook. I'm pretty well addicted to it. I even go to a support group that meets on Facebook Mon-Sun every two hours. ;-)

I adore being an Indie author. However, I suck badly at the marketing aspect of it. I'm not one who can run around screaming 'BUY MY BOOK!' Nor am I the sort who will put up a sexy picture of myself partially clothed to sell books. Pimpin' ain't really my thing.

I figure if you like my writing you'll buy my books. I don't ever want to surround myself with ass kissing sycophants the way I see some authors (both traditionally pubbed and Indies) do. When you start listening to the people who like you for your status and not the people you trust then you start churning out crap books.

Your writing suffers because nobody wants to tell you the truth, they're too busy fawning over you. I've seen some famous authors putting their pictures out with them scantily clad and I watch as their sites and writing changes.

One of my favorite authors has gone from writing about a strong female investigator to essentially writing porn. The earlier books in a series that used to be my favorite had some erotica elements but now every other page is an orgy. Shes lost sight of the strength of the female lead and turned her into nothing more than a sex slave/toy that gets used by anyone in a fifty mile radius.

I stopped reading that series. I noticed as the books became more porn than police work that her fans started really stroking her ego. All they did was tell her how wonderful she was and if anyone pointed out any flaws in the books (including a major continuity error) the fans went postal on them and the author herself posted snide comments.

People like that will not be getting my hard earned money. Nope, these days if I want to read a good story I tend to look to the Indie world. So many Indies are so very much more talented than the traditionally published authors and they tend not to have egos the size of Arizona (for the most part.)

Speaking of egos, I've listened to editors tell me that they've lost friends because they've told an author the truth about their manuscript. In my mind if your editor isn't telling you "Wow, that line about 'sleeping like a baboon high on marijuana' is just plain bad writing." then you've got a bad editor. Editors shouldn't just fix punctuation and grammatical errors, they should be honest with their authors about the sort of problems they see in the book itself.

For instance in a novel I wrote, my beautiful beta reader pointed out to me that I have my character taking aspirin for a head wound and that would never happen because aspirin is a blood thinner. Not a huge problem, you're thinking. To me, it is. If a nurse is reading this book and she gets to this point she will be very disappointed because I have shattered the world I created for her with some stupid little fact that could easily be checked on Google. Shame on me for not checking into it. I'm really disappointed in myself for that.

I'm ashamed of myself because one of my least favorite things is to be reading a book and come along to something that could never possibly happen. I have stopped reading books and refused to take them up again because of such issues. I give a book three chances. If they badly screw up three facts I won't ever read the author again.

For instance there are a few things that made me stop watching CSI. They're pulling bullets outof walls with metal tweezers (this screws up the rifling on the bullet making identifying and matching weapon to slug more difficult, technically they should use a pair of plastic tweezers for bullet recovery.) They are constantly using Luminol with no protection (it's extremely toxic stuff and is meant to be worn with a Tyvek full body suit and a seriously heavy duty respirator) and they're using the Luminol in cases where it'd be better to use Leuco Crystal Violet (because Luminol degrades DNA.) The most disappointing aspect, to me anyway, is watching the police detectives bumble around while the lab techs do police work. Speak with any forensic technician and I would bet very few of them have ever talked to a suspect, let alone interrogated one.

Am I a cop or a forensic scientist? No, but I have read the textbooks for my own research with writing projects and I expect that the shows I am watching and the books I am reading offer me the courtesy not to dumb things down and assume the public are morons and will buy anything. Maybe this makes me an asshole, and I'm sorry if it does, but I expect the authors of the books I read to at least attempt some research. Don't set a story in the swamps and have the weather be arid and dry. That's impossible in an area full of water.

In an age where Indie authors are coming under more scrutiny than ever before; I beg of you, don't churn out crap to plump your shelves. Take the time to make sure the work you are publishing is the best you can do. Don't just assume your fans will buy it and continue to spend their hard earned money on poorly written drivel. Listen to the people you trust, make sure you read and reread your work several times. Self edit as much as you can until the book sings. Have good beta readers in place and don't just rely on your editor. While they should tell you if they see a ridiculous sentence it's your job to ensure that the writing is clean as possible. When you think you have it as pretty and flowing as it can be, give it to someone you trust to read it and tell you the truth. If they point out problems reread it and see if you agree or not.

The most important thing to remember is, as your work starts selling, as you start gaining fans and a following, don't let your ego get bigger than your talent. When you start paying more attention to what the strokers say and less to the honest folks who truly care about you, then you are signing the death warrant to your writing career. It won't happen overnight but believe me, when you stop caring about bettering your writing and start caring more about how good your author picture looks, your work will suffer.

Well, those're my thoughts for the night. I hope you are able to sleep and that your dreams are sweet and full of joy. Have a great day tomorrow, and thanks for sticking with me; friends and readers alike, I am very grateful for all of you. I wish you all the best this world has to offer. See you later, gators.

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