Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Making A Stand: With Kittencorn!

Recently, I've found two "published" authors online that act as though they have some sort of superior knowledge about writing and being "published" because they are "published".
I keep using the quotation marks around published because these two fiends are published on This is a site which allows you to take whatever drivel you came up with on a late Saturday afternoon and publish it - without any person who has any authority/experience/knowledge to okay your novel. It's like me, saying I'm an artist without ever having artwork in a gallery, wait, I've done that. Okay, it's like me saying I'm a singer without ever making a CD, wait, I've done that too. It's like me saying I'm a published author without having someone with credentials want to actually publish my work, and then having them follow through with those inclinations by publishing it with a credible publisher.
Long story short, Lulu Press is:

She’s half a kitten and half a unicorn!
She’s full of hugs, kisses, rainbows, clovers and blue moons!
Not a freak, just a replicator’s mistake!
Or was it planned by the angels to bring us such a sweetheart?
It’s Kittencorn!

To learn more about kittencorn please read future blogs and check out for a future blog featuring our favorite furry friend: Kittencorn!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Language People!

Let's consider, for a moment, that you have a space cadet who speaks like he's from Elizabethan era England. Does this pose a problem for your story? Not, if he happens to be Shakespeare and he has been transported through time, into space and has decided to join a spaceship team to someday be a ship captain. Most likely, though, you've chosen the wrong dialect for your:
1. Time
2. Setting
3. Character
4. All of the above

(Shakespeare in Space)
Often, readers lose interest and authors lose credibility when a character misspeaks. Vocabulary is something that must be considered when traveling to other times. Age is also something to be considered, I've heard that a rather famous book series contains teenage characters that speak like 30 year olds - now I've heard of old souls, but you'll lose my interest if it's obvious that the character is saying something the 30 yr old author would say, not what a 17 yr old character would say. It's lazy writing.
So, to make your characters and worlds believable remember to keep the language believable.
As Shakespeare in space would say: "Keep it real, bawcocks*!"
*Bawcock - A fine fellow; - a term of endearment

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Getting Published

After a series of failed ideas, and the pressure of keeping a deadline (that only I really care about), I decided to jump ahead 12 subjects and discuss publishing.

This will be brief, but I wanted to give some insight into the world of Fantasy Book Publishing, or at least what little I've experienced.

When it came time to publish my first novel, I knew I had three options.

1. Get an Agent - let them do the work ;p

2. Bother big time publishers - most of which only want already published authors or authors represented by an agent.

3. Bother smaller presses/publishers - people who still have a lot of work to do but take the time to give you attention.

I chose to follow option 3. Upon making this choice I realized that not only did I have to work on a cover letter, a synopsis for my novel, and formatting my manuscript appropriately, I also had to find publishers interested in my work. While fantasy is a popular genre, there still aren't that many publishers who will publish fantasy as there are publishers for other genres. So knowing the pool was already small, I found it was limited more by the different types of fantasy that publishers were looking for (some only wanted contemporary fantasy, some only wanted strong romantic fantasy). So after a long search, I found about 1 dozen publishers that I could pursue. There may be more out there, and I may find them yet, but in 1 year I've found about 12 I can harass about my book. I have found a few publishers which have changed their policies because they have received too many novels to process in a quick enough time so they either stop allowing submissions (for a period of time, sometimes this period is upwards of a year) or they move to an "open submission" period, and if you miss it you have to wait months to catch it again. The funny thing though, is with so many people trying to get their fantasy novel published, the amount of fantasy publishers isn't really growing. But I digress.

Okay, so I had found some publishers, primarily by using the Internet - google searches and this great site:

I went through the list looking for the ones I wanted to harass first. These, for me, were publishers that were primarily print publishers (not e-publishers, I want an actual copy of my first book not an e-copy). I wasn't too concerned about contract and payment (not for my first book, I just want it on the shelf somewhere), but I was concerned about length of time that they would be considering my novel. So I picked through and ordered my choices based on those criteria. The publisher that came up as number one was Juno books. I really love this publisher because of what they are trying to publish (books with strong female lead characters) and because of their artwork - cover art is also important to me to some degree. I sent my novel out and got back a rejection - which is fine because it came with a personalized response - which was helpful and encouraging. Then I sent my novel to Mundania Press LLC I enjoy this publisher because their books are available through Baker and Taylor (a book lease company which many libraries subscribe to) and because their website was very thorough and helpful when it came to knowing what to provide them with and what the entire publishing process was like (as seen on their submission process FAQs page). They too, declined from publishing my book - which is fine because I received a personalized response - which was helpful and encouraging. Then I decided to go with Leucrota Press This press specializes in fantasy and science fiction and had a quick response time. Recently, I was passed by this press too, but I was not discouraged because they gave me the most specific feedback to date, which will help me to edit my novel once more and hopefully make it stronger and more appealing to the next publisher.

Long story short, as a fantasy writer, there are many publishing options out there. You can even pay to publish your work yourself. Hopefully by glimpsing at my publishing adventures you have found a few publishers to try out and you are not discouraged from your own attempts at publication.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Poverty - A Writer's Perspective

The “haves” and the “have-nots”. We see these groups play out in stories, time and again. Fantasy is no different. Consider Aladdin, an exploration of poverty - Disney style. Aladdin had no monies, he had to steal, people threatened to eat him and he had a monkey to share adventures with; ultimately he broke free from his poverty and became King of the world (or his whole new world (w/e)). In reality these things rarely happen (when I was poor we didn’t have a monkey and I’m still sad about it, if you can’t tell L) and only children’s stories usually end up with a happy ending. Fantasy has tried over the years to explore poverty in many different ways, by showing the poor and suffering, by showing those that prey on the impoverished, by showing those that overcome their situation and those that revel in it. Even in fantastical worlds, we see scenes of poverty which resemble those in our own world. By writing about poverty, authors inform their readers about a real problem in our world. It’s hard to know the depths of human despair when you are financially secure, but when we pick up a book and create bonds with characters, when we explore their worlds through their eyes we become sympathetic travelers, we gain new insight and learn empathy for all of life’s tragedies.

In 2007, 37.3 million people in the U.S. were in poverty. The numbers are much worse when we look across the world, especially when considering children. 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, and 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (or roughly 29,000 children per day).
Poverty creates more than just a lack of food or a lack of clothing. It helps spread disease because people can not buy medicine; it helps spread viruses because people cannot drink clean water. Poverty limits children's ability for education, which limits their ability to be able to ensure financial security as they join the work force. Growing up impoverished can lead to a life of crime.

Knowing about a problem is half the battle, what you do with that information can help so many lives.

What you can do:
Join online groups such as:
Contact local, State and Federal Governments on these issues
Donate time (habitat for humanity, food bank, soup kitchen)
Donate money
Play Free Rice Online to help the UN World Food Program to help end hunger

Help end world hunger

I know from personal experience what it’s like to be in poverty (it’s not all singing and dancing and having a monkey for a best friend). If it wasn’t for WIC and welfare, I wouldn’t have the life I have today. Please continue to support these systems, even if you feel like some people abuse the support, there are those that truly need it and lead successful lives because of the aid provided by the U.S. government.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Animals Are My Friends

The other day I was thinking to myself: "Who put these animal crackers in my soup?!?! This is disgusting, my soup is ruined! I hate people; but I do love animals - let's do a blog post on animals." End quote.

Animals are a common element in fantasy. Animals can be comical, mystical or evil but most animals hold a special significance in a story.
Example: A Pig can represent gluttony, filth, loyalty or intelligence.
If a character loves pigs, has a pig deity it worships or befriends this creature it may represent more than future bacon.
As a reader of fantasy, it is interesting to explore these meanings and gain a deeper understanding of literature.

Also, when considering the significance of an animal in fantasy, we must take into effect the culture where the story takes place. A horse utilized in an America-esk world, would have a different meaning than a horse utilized in a Russia-esk world.

Some animals also have universal meanings.
Here is a short list:
Rabbits - known to represent fertility
Dove - known to represent peace
Coyote - known as a trickster
Butterfly - known for metamorphosis
Fox - known to be cunning
Although the butterfly has a universal meaning it also has a culturally specific meaning of love in China.

Writers will often share the significance of the animals in their work but it's good to explore hidden meanings on your own. As a writer, I chose some animals for my last book and at the time they were practical choices but after doing some research I found that they were significant choices too. Squirrels can denote change and both times they appeared in my novel was a time of change. This deeper meaning will not be shared in the novel, but if my readers look into hidden meanings they will find that these squirrels represent something more than cute, fuzzy creatures and ultimately they may find more of an appreciation for the novel and any novel they explore more fully.