Who Has Time for a Writing Group?

About.com offers some good advice for logistics in making times and places for writing groups, which could be an important part of any writer’s growth.

Writing Group LogisticsNow that you’ve found members for your writing group, it’s time to think about logistics. Restaurants, cafes, and living rooms provide great meeting places. For some groups, the meeting place… [About.com Literary News]

Does It Matter If Readers Can Pronounce Your Character’s Name?

Cheryl Anne Gardner at POD People says it doesn’t matter to her.

Personally — as a reader of a wide range of fiction and non-fiction — if a character name seems appropriate to the story, I don’t care if I can pronounce it or not. I wouldn’t meet someone for the first time and say, “I can’t pronounce your name, it seems odd to me, so, I don’t want to know you.” I don’t do that to fictional characters either. It’s the name the author gave them at birth, the name the author felt suited them, and so I generally respect the choice unless it seems utterly ridiculous for the language, the story, or the character, but in some cases a contradictory name can be important to the overall message, so I try not to pass judgement too hastily.

A Literary Agent Explores ‘Publishing as a Service’

Literary agent Nathan Bransford wonders whether authors of the future will actually need publishers. The publishing industry is, like many others, in the throes of major transformation.

My guess is that we’ll continue to see the mainstream publishing industry focus on the bestselling titles, and there will be a new crop of e-publishing services available for the rest. Some titles will rise up from the morass of author-published works and receive attention from the mainstream publishers, and some big authors will choose to take on the responsibilities of publishing themselves and bypass the publishers.

85,000 Words and Counting

It’s been a long road, and I still have a couple of miles to go. Last night, though, I achieved a milestone that is only 3,000 words shy of my original goal of an 88,000-word first draft novel. In the end, the first draft seems like it’s going to be significantly longer than I had anticipated.

Over time, of course, the story has changed. The characters have taken on lives of their own and have altered the path and meaning of their collective journey in ways I couldn’t have possibly conceived when I started this project in earnest a year and a half ago.

I have planned and outlined two final chapters for this draft, the first of which I will begin authoring tomorrow night. If all goes well, I hope to take the month of October as an opportunity to take a break from crafting this story–to get some fresh perspective–before the revision and editing process must begin.

The more I look back at this process and what it has wrought, the more excited I am about completing this phase. And the more excited I get about completing this phase of the novel, the more I anticipate the next phase. Truly, the act of novel writing is a joyful process of discovery for me.

Why did I wait so long to do it?

Only Just Begun

My wife and I like to joke that our solution to every problem we encounter is to buy a book about it. It’s not entirely true. As a tech, my first instinct is almost always to Google it. Nevertheless, today I am ordering a copy of Write Great Fiction: Revising and Self-editing, because I am now close enough to finishing the first draft of my novel that I feel I require it.

The first draft of a novel is called that for a reason: it is the first time you sit down and write out the story, all the way through to completion. By far, though, it is not the end of the process. I think that failing to recognize that writing the first draft is not the end of the authoring process may be one of the biggest pitfalls that those who self-publish encounter.

One problem with self-publishing and print-on-demand is often cited to be poor quality of work, whether in design or authorship. That is not to say that every self-published work is low quality. There are most certainly many high quality self-published works (and I hope to count my novel among them). The self-publishing industry as a whole, however, does currently suffer from a reputation for lack of quality. I am determined to turn out only quality products. To that end, I am researching every possible aspect of the process of writing my novel.

My work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, and on the web for years now. Although I have written columns, short stories, poetry, and other forms successfully, this is my first attempt at the long form of the novel. I’m looking forward to seeing it through.

Smashword Publishers Get Wider Distribution for eBooks

From Joe Wickert’s Publishing 2020:

If you thought the eBook market was hot before, it just went super nova with Smashwords newest distribution to "major online retailers, the first of which is Barnes & Noble and their various properties including Barnesandnoble.com, Fictionwise, and their eReader app."

Smashwords is an eBook publishing service that is free for authors and publishers. Readers can purchase eBooks contributed by authors and publishers through the Smashwords store.

Authors, Publishers Continue to Struggle With Google Books Settlement

I can’t proclaim any special significant knowledge of the legal system or whether Google’s plan to create a digital library from copyrighted material is a detriment to authors and publishers. The Writer Beware blog has a good account of one author who opted out of the now famous Google Books Search settlement and her reasons for doing so.

It’s not the display of bibliographic information, or even snippets, that I object to–it’s the possible uses the settlement empowers Google to make of my work down the road (including selling my books in electronic and POD form). If those uses were limited and clearly defined, I might not have a problem–but they aren’t, and I just can’t see allowing such a sweeping license to my work, where the implications of granting that license are so unclear.

Some more information about the Google Books settlement with the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild is available at The Guardian.

Making Time

I’m close. So close.

After writing just three more chapters, I will become one of the storied 8 percent of would-be novelists who ever actually completes a first draft. I do not know from where that figure comes, nor am I particularly inclined to research it just now. But it does feel good to think that I am almost to a place where I can count myself among those who have had the spark of inspiration for writing a novel, and then gone on to actually do the work of writing it.

The past week has been a particularly devastating one in terms of making time to sit down and type on a keyboard outside of work. Bad news, sad news, illness, accidents, and simply life in general can all step in front of a writer’s "me" time, which is the time he uses to physically put those thoughts and ideas that have been rolling around like boulders in his head all day into narrative form in a word processor. The past week, for me, has been a doozy.

Fortunately, we are still near the beginning of the long Labor Day weekend here in the United States. And, after building some shelves in my garage this afternoon and doing some other maintenance around the house, I plan to spend a great chunk of some "me" time working on my third-to-last chapter for the novel I started back in 2008 (or 2004, if you count the 1,500 words I initially wrote while on vacation for a week in Myrtle Beach).

I can’t wait to write the last chapter, so I can find out what happens.