The Grand Patreon Experiment

Patreon.jpgIn the arena of things I’m trying to do to get my readership/constituency up and to put out more stories/ebooks, I’ve established a Patreon.

Now, if you don’t know what a Patreon is, imagine your favorite writer as Public Radio. Instead of trying to get $300,000, they’re trying to reach $300. A little different, but in the same vein. We ask for money from contributor to help defray our costs. Patreon’s a little like Public Radio’s ‘sustaining membership’, except that you can start at $1 or less per month.

Why would I consider this? Because I’m in the middle of trying to revamp my current ebooks and put out a handful more.

It costs money. While I could spend a couple of months and learn to format ebooks myself, I won’t get any writing done. I could shell out for a copy of Photoshop and take a couple of classes on design, or I could hire someone to make covers for me (which are surprisingly full of requirements and rules and stuff on how to get everything to fit on the bookseller and that.)  I don’t think I actually have any design skills, so classes would only take me so far.

And therefore, I’m hiring people to do it. And that costs a lot of money. I’m still firmly in the red on The Seer’s Choice, even though it’s been out there for almost 4 months now.

So I’ve decided to try using Patreon to help defray those costs.

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To figure out the best way to pitch this, I turned to the Public Radio playbook. (There are a few online, btw.)

Here’s my favorite: (shortened a bit because of TL:DR issues)

BREAK #6: The Meaning of “Member Supported” Radio Patron Supported Writing

The theme for our spring membership drive is , “PSW, your renewable resource.”

Like all renewable resources, PSW is there for you every day, 365 days out of year, powering you through your day with great music, local and international news  writing. But like all renewable resources, it takes wise use and careful stewardship of that resource to keep it flowing.

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Okay, I honestly shortened that a lot. But you’ve heard the pitches, and there’s nothing particularly new I can say.  I’m not great at sales. I couldn’t sell you a used car if I tried.

But I can write fiction. I won’t send you a coffee cup or a sweatshirt of a copy of Downton Abbey Season 28 (subtitled: Everyone Gets Old), but I can provide content that will go to the Patreon supporters first.

So if you’re interested in supporting writers (I’m -not- the only one with a Patreon these days!), then go over to their site and look around.

Here’s my link, J. Kathleen Cheney is creating Fiction. (It’s also at the top of the sidebar.)

Thanks!

#SFWAPro

 

 

 

Writers and their Beasts: Coral Moore

Today my guest is Coral Moore, here to talk about her most recent book and some of the furry companions in her life.

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(EROTICA) Mirabel Soto disconnected herself from the many people and places that triggered memories of her husband following his death. She’s avoided everything that might remind her of him for three years and never looked back. Until the owner of Midnight, the BDSM club they frequented, calls her for a favor and she finds what she was missing in the form of a very large, very troubled former marine. Carson Brewer returned from the service broken. Discovering the source of his trauma may be the key to helping him cope with post-military life, but he shuts down whenever he’s confronted about what happened. Only pain brings him peace.

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But what Coral is here to talk about is her DOGS!

So without further ado:

1) Let’s start with the obvious: Tell us about your pets.

Currently I am the caretaker to two canines. The old lady is Shiva, a mixed breed rescue dog who will be 14 in February. (Shiva is the black and white one pictured trying to climb into my strawberry patch.)

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The young pup is Clementine, a three-year-old Catahoula Leopard Dog. (Clem is the silly girl wearing one of my hoodies.)

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(This, by the way, gets my vote for one of the cutest shots I’ve had on here so far!!!)

I am aquariumless for the moment, but I hope to change that in the near future.

2) How do they help/hinder your writing?

Before I got Clementine in April I would have said that my writing was unaffected, but having a two-year-old dog bred for hunting and herding has changed my outlook on that a little. She’s very smart, and super active, so she demands quite a lot of my attention.

(As the blog owner, I’m posting this one to show that there are occasional down times!)

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3) Do they appear in any of your works?

So far neither of them have. I’m working on a fantasy story now that has an animal who has a personality a bit like Clementine’s though it’s more a fox-like animal than a dog. I think that suits Clem’s personality though, she’s very canny and has an obvious sense of humor.

4) How does being a pet owner affect your writing (philosophically?)

I think it does. Animals are treated pretty kindly in my works. I’m not sure I could ever write a story where an animal, especially a dog, is mistreated or dies.

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518-0rHSdEL._UX250_Coral Moore writes character-driven fiction, mostly of the speculative variety. She loves aquariums, rides a motorcycle, and thinks there is little better in life than a good cup of coffee. She has had fiction published by Vitality Magazine, Dreamspinner Press, and Evernight Press. You can find her at her website (http://www.coralmoore.com/) or on Twitter @coralm.
You can find Coral at:

Webpage Twitter Facebook Tumblr

 

 

Writers and their Beasts: Michelle Muenzler

 

Today I have a guest visiting to talk about the relationship between herself and her beasts: Michelle Muenzler. To be fair, when I asked for potential names for this series, she suggested the title: By the Paw and the Pen. Although I chose not to change over to that title, feel free to mentally think of her post as one of those.

Michelle is, BTW, one of the writers with whom I meet regularly, both as a member of Future Classics and as a group that meets bi-weekly at a local coffee shop. She’s a great sounding board for me, and you might just spot her name on the Acknowledgements page of my upcoming novel, Dreaming Death. 

So without further ado, here’s Michelle Muenzler!

1. Tell us about your pets.
Despite my husband’s allergy to cats, we have found ourselves adopted by four of them. Smokey is an old soul, a touch diabetic now in his dotage, and prone to licking sweat from my husband’s beard. Nin believes herself to be half cat, half bird, half baby seal and in no way a deadly ninja secretly plotting to kill us.
Nin
The ever-fretsome Persephone used to love long walks around the outside of our house meowing at us through every window until we agreed to adopt her (and her growing belly) but now prefers to laze about inside unless I am exercising, at which point she is quite convinced I should exercise my hands to pet her instead.
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And her son, the lithe kitten Vibur–whom I must point out is several years past official kittendom now–spends most of his time spooning with Smokey and making some of the most pathetic mewing noises you have ever heard. He also loves destroying toilet paper, but oddly only if the toilet lid is left up.
Smokey and Vibur, cuddling (2)

2. How do they help/hinder your writing?

So long as it isn’t too close to their feeding times, my goons generally sleep peacefully about their various claimed territories in the house. Come feeding time, though, they excel in monitor blocking techniques and dragging the router off the desk. Occasionally, Smokey lets it be known that he intends to own my lap, and no amount of dissuading him will work, so I try to make do. Less do is made when he and Vibur are spooning in my writing chair–sure I feel guilty disrupting their cuddle time, but a woman has to write…and they can spoon in my husband’s chair just as well as they can in mine.

3. Do they appear in any of your works?

Out of sheer terror, I almost said no to this question, but then I remembered that my cats are illiterate, so it is safe to share information that might not otherwise be shared. While none of my cats are specifically named in any of my works, it would be remiss of me to not point out one of my recent publications, “The Cats’ Game”, over at Daily Science Fiction. If that doesn’t summarize all cats, I’m not sure what does.

4. How does being a pet owner affect your writing (philosophically)?

I find writing to be much like cleaning out the litter box. It can be challenging to convince myself to do it every day, but life is much less stinky when I keep up with it.

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MichelleMuenzler-FenCon2011 (2)Michelle Muenzler, also known at local conventions as “The Cookie Lady”, writes fiction both dark and strange to counterbalance the sweetness of her baking. Her fiction and poetry have been published in magazines such as Star*Line, Daily Science Fiction, and Apex Magazine, and she takes immense joy in crinkling words like little foil puppets. You can find her at: https://www.facebook.com/michelle.muenzler

The Non-Exclusivity of Ideas…

I’ve posted about this before. Ideas come to multiple people, often in fairly close configuration. This week, I got my most recent demonstration of that.

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Yes, I’ve been watching Dark Matter. Yes, it’s a series chock-full of tropes. I’m still enjoying it….but it was episode four that really got my attention!

In episode four, we’re introduced to a concept in passing (via a video commercial in the clinic) that shows a futuristic alternative to travel: faxing yourself somewhere else, and then uploading the memories acquired by that copy before that short-term body expires.

Uh…that’s pretty much the back drop for my 2008 story Taking a Mile. (Click over to the FREE FICTION header on the navigation bar, and you’ll find it there.)

That story appeared in an well-known anthology, so it did get around Hollywood, I suspect. Is it possible that someone read my story and incorporated the idea into the TV series? Sure, it’s possible.

But it’s not too likely that if it happened, I could ever prove it.

I am, however, very curious to find out whether the double who’s appeared in the TV series turns out to be, like my story’s heroine, a copy who refuses to die as scheduled. It will be interesting to watch the remainder of season one and find out.

However, this is part of creative life. People have similar ideas. I actually mentioned in the anthology’s intro for that story that a lot of my ideas for it were formed by reading the works of Ansen Dibell, who wrote a series of novels where multiple copies of the same person were made (although not at the same time). Her series shaped a lot of my personal perceptions of consciousness, and therefore, she might have looked at my work and wondered if I’d copied her…

#SFWAPro

(I would love to know how many other people have found their ideas reflected in someone else’s work…)

 

 

Dreaming Death Release Date: February 2016

I now have a release date for my fourth book, Dreaming Death.  It is currently scheduled to hit bookshelves (physical and virtual) on February 2, 2016.

Release dates are somewhat fluid, so this might change, but I do hope we’re on schedule for that release.  I can’t show you the cover yet, either, but I’ll tell you that it’s quite different from the Golden City novels, as Dreaming Death is the first book in a new series.

(Psst…I’ll show you a tiny tiny bit….I don’t think that will be too premature…It’s BLUE!)

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Here’s my description from Amazon:

In the Novels of the Golden City, J. Kathleen Cheney created a “mesmerizing” (Publishers Weekly) realm where magic, history, and intrigue combine. Now, she presents a new world ruled by psychic talents and fatal magic…
 
Shironne Anjir’s status as a sensitive is both a gift and a curse. Her augmented senses allow her to discover and feel things others can’t, but her talents come with a price: a constant assault of emotions and sensations has left her blind. Determined to use her abilities as best she can, Shironne works tirelessly as an investigator for the Larossan army.
 
A member of the royal family’s guard, Mikael Lee also possesses an overwhelming power—he dreams of the deaths of others, sometimes in vivid, shocking detail, and sometimes in cryptic fragments and half-remembered images.
 
But then a killer brings a reign of terror to the city, snuffing out his victims with an arcane and deadly blood magic. Only Shironne can sense and interpret Mikael’s dim, dark dreams of the murders. And what they find together will lead them into a nightmare…

The book will be coming out in Trade Paperback and Ebook versions at the same time, with a mass market to follow later (I assume.)

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Also, I have to say here that this is my mom’s favorite of my novels.  So that means it’s good. ;o)

There’s a pre-order link on the upper right sidebar, so if you’d like to help out and keep a writer in paper, you can order the book now!  Thanks a million if you do!

#SFWAPro

The Social Stigma of Writing Romance Literature

I’ve followed the blog Teach Me Tonight for years now, ever since I accidentally found out they’d cited one of my stories on an academic blog. (Still surprised at that.) It’s a blog primarily dedicated to academic studies of Romance fiction, although there have been some spirited discussions there in the past.

Earlier this week, a summation was published of a study done about the social stigma of writing Romance literature.  This kind of study has been done about Romance Readers before, but this concerns the writer, and that inevitable moment of “Oh, you write…Ro-mance….”

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Source: Getty Images

I have been dinged on the romantic elements in my work.  I’m up front about them. Most, although not all, of my published fiction involves a romance of some sort. I like that stuff, and I refuse to cut it out just because some people look down on it.

It’s what I love to write.

But it was interesting to me to see how universal the tendency to either leer or sneer at Romance Writers is.

It’s not going to change any time soon.

E-readers have really freed up the reader from being seen with the lurid covers that people have wanted to hide in the past, but for the writers, it’s still there. When I tells someone I write ‘Romantic Fantasy’, I often follow that up with an explanation that it’s not X.  Or Y.  Because, you know, X and Y are….oh, I guess I do it too.

I’ll have to work on that…

#SFWAPro

How (Not) to Talk to a Writer # 13 (Memory)

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but for the last few days, I’ve been reading some of my older work.  (I uploaded the old word files to my kindle.)

There are scenes in there I don’t remember.  121228_PANDEMIC_ScaredReader.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-large

I found myself going….oh, yeah…I think I remember what the plot does now….

Therefore:

When you approach your favorite writer, if you ask them, “Hey, in that book you wrote twelve years ago, on page 37, why did ____________________?”

They may not have an answer for you. They’re not being coy. They’re not being evasive. They may not remember.

If you look at the publication date of their book and then shift back a couple of years, that’s probably when they wrote it. Maybe even before that.

Since that time, they’ve written a million other words, some good, some bad. Some are more beloved that others. Some get edited once, and thus have appeared fewer times before the writer’s eyes.

It was interesting to me to go back and visit the world of The King’s Daughter and The White Queen (the two oldnovels I was reading through.) I have written other things in this ‘world’ since then, an entire novel set 50 years later, and I’ve outlined several others.  This ‘world’ is my writing passion.  I love these people with a white hot fire.

Going back, it was interesting to consider what I would actually change to make these two novels fit better with what I’m currently looking at.  I was surprised how little would change.  No, I wouldn’t be willing to publish these two as is.  TWQ is actually a first draft, the ending left off. (I’m -sure- I wrote it, but it didn’t make it into this file. I just have to find it.)

But it’s reassuring that my writing wasn’t too bad a decade ago.

And it’s amazing to me how much I’ve forgotten….

#SFWAPro

Tropes in Genre Fiction: Beyond the Beards – Deciphering the Surly Dwarf! by Josh Vogt

My guest today is Josh Vogt, novelist with Pathfinder Tales.  His new novel will be released June 9th, and is available for preorder just about everywhere. (click on the cover to go to Amazon.)

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But today, he’s here to talk about something he knows all too well…dwarves!

So take it away, Josh!

Tropes in Genre Fiction

Beyond the Beards – Deciphering the Surly Dwarf!

What could be more of a fantasy trope than angry, violence-prone dwarves? Even people who aren’t into fantasy at all can name familiar elements that define dwarves in our cultural mindset. These often include “short and stout,” “love of gold/mining,” “lots of ale,” beards, beards, and more beards,” and “never toss one.” Oh, and their penchant for swinging axes in the thick of battle.

In Forge of Ashes, my Pathfinder Tales sword and sorcery adventure set in the world of Golarion, my main character is Akina, a dwarven barbarian. While she lacks the beard, she definitely has the “battletude” dwarves are famous for, preferring to solve problems with a good whack of her maulaxe or laying into foes with her fists. On the surface, she exhibits a lot of the traditional dwarven characteristics (aside from the beard). However, one of my goals in the story was to dig deeper with her and discover what really drove her unique passions and what it really means to be a dwarf in this world.

Akina has a bit of a different perspective because, as the adventure begins, she’s just returning home from fighting abroad for a decade. She’s lost touch with her cultural identity to a degree and is wanting to reconnect with her family and rediscover a sense of purpose beyond just fighting to live beyond the next battle. Unfortunately, things hardly go as planned and she’s plunged into a quest to save those she cares about from a terrible fate.

And that’s the thing. She truly does care about others, though she certainly shows it in odd ways. In fact, one of the quickest ways to rouse her fury is to malign or threaten her companions or family. She’s willing to step into the breach for their sakes, even if they aren’t able or willing to return the gesture. Why? Because, while Akina might not say it outright, she sees other lives as holding inherent value. They’re worth protecting at all costs. She fights to defy all that’s wicked and vile, to preserve the rich legacy of her people, and to make the world just a little bit safer for those who aren’t always able to defend themselves.

This is where things go beyond “a dwarf fights because she’s a dwarf and dwarves fight…” It’s more than mercenary work, where it’s just a job with the promise of gold at the end. The dwarves of Golarion are a proud people, with a vibrant culture and infinite variety in their pursuits and passions. I enjoyed writing Forge of Ashes because I got to explore more unique facets of dwarven identity and culture, questioning the stereotypes while finding fresher approaches to how they’re represented. I got to write about dwarves as priests, as explorers, as lovers, as villains, as heroes, as artists, and more.

Yes, the axes and mugs of ale are still there but, once readers finish the story, my hope is they come away with a better understanding of how dwarves can remain relevant and fascinating despite how much they’ve been boxed-in over the years. There’s always new layers to uncover; we just have to be willing to delve deeper.

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Josh Vogt has been published in dozens of genre markets with work ranging from flash fiction to short stories to doorstopper novels that cover fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, pulp, and more. His debut fantasy novel, Forge of Ashes, adds to the RPG Pathfinder Tales tie-in line. WordFire Press is also launching his urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, with Enter the Janitor (2015) and The Maids of Wrath (2016). You can find him at JRVogt.com or on Twitter @JRVogt. He’s a member of SFWA as well as the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers

Thanks for visiting, Josh!

#SFWAPro

Outside my area of expertise…

I have, in the past few months, been approached by 3 different people who want to write a book that is semi-biographical. In two cases, they wanted to know how to find a ghost writer to write it for them. All three  also wanted to ask about the legal ramifications of writing about real people they know, even when posed as fiction.

Sadly, I’m no help here.  I don’t know anyone who does ghostwriting, and have no idea how to find such a person.  Nor do I know anything about the literary/biographical fiction market and the legal ramifications of those people’s suggested stories.

I told my husband that although, yes, I’m a writer…I’m the wrong kind of writer to help those people.

It’s a bit like asking your Obstetrician to answer questions about your grandmother’s rheumatoid arthritis.

Sorry, folks.

If you want to talk about writing Speculative Fiction, then I can answer questions.  And I have some knowledge about Romance Fiction as well.  But pretty much everything else is outside my purview, and the only answers I can give you will be unsatisfactory.

#SFWApro

Things my Copy Editor Taught Me (or tried to)

Due to/Because of

The Copy Editor’s JOB is to correct my grammar (so I won’t look like an idiot in front of the readers), and thus they’re generally far more cognizant of what correct grammar should look like. Therefore, when one of them dings me on something, I try to figure out what I’m doing wrong so we won’t have to go through it again on the next book.

But this one?

I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone correct my use of ‘due to’ before.  I had no idea that it mattered, but according to a few sites I’ve visited, I do use the word pair incorrectly.

I had no clue.

It comes down to this: due to is only to be used as an adjective, not a preposition.  So it modifies a noun.

Grammar Girl explains it here:

The traditional view is that you should use “due to” only as an adjective, usually following the verb “to be” (1). For example, if you say, “The cancelation was due to rain,” the words “due to” modify “cancelation.” 

In other words, if you don’t have a was directly before it, you’re probably not supposed to use ‘due to’.

KU explains the traditionalist opinion here.  There’s even a little quiz at the end of the lesson.  (I got them all correct, simply by using the tip above.)

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The most interesting thing about this is that the two copy editors -before- this one never noticed that error.  In fact, on her second page, Grammar Girl pretty much says that this one is fading away.  But that tells me that because of/due to is one of this most recent copy editor’s particular bugaboos.

I have those, too, BTW.  Want me to throw your book across the room? Use further when you should be using farther. Further/Farther really bugs me. Also, I grit my teeth if you use prodigal incorrectly.  That word does not mean what you think it means….

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Definition of prodigal (Vocabulary.com)

recklessly wasteful, “prodigal in their expenditures”

Synonyms:
extravagant, profligate, spendthrift
wasteful

tending to squander and waste
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Nowhere there do you find the definition being “someone who goes away and comes back”.  So the “prodigal son” you’re talking about had to have wasted a lot of money before you use that adjective on him.  (Noun usage is a bit different, BTW.)

Yes, it irritates me…

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I’ve said all that because yesterday I posted an interesting correction wherein the copy editor who dinged me on my improper use of ‘due to‘ failed to notice that I use ‘different than.

Now you will see in this explanation that ‘different from’ is preferred over ‘different than‘.  (If you want to see real grammar sniping, btw, read the comments!)

Here’s a nice bit from the Oxford dictionary people where they shrug about the whole thing, but add different to to the equation (a usage apparently used more by the Brits.)

One of my previous copy editors -did- call me out on this one, yet had no objection to my ‘due to’ usage.

Basically, I think this is the same situation as my further aversion. Every copy editor will have the thing that annoys them, and they will notice every time you do that thing.  But what bugs one doesn’t bug the next, so it’s a challenge to try to write well enough to make them all happy.  A never-ending quest…

 

#SFWAPro

 

 

ETA: Also, improper use of the word enormity bothers me.