Monday, January 25, 2016

9 Ways to Improve Character Relationships

So last September I attended the annual League of Utah Writers Conference where I met Author Amy Jarecki, a romance writer who is most successful. I did some posts back then about what I learned from her, but one thing she suggested I do was read a particular book.

It's entitled Are You My Type, Am I Yours? by Renee Baron & Elizabeth Wagele

I've picked it up several times since then but only finally got around to reading it recently. Basically this book talks about the 9 types of personality, how they interact, what their motivations are, and what types get along vs. what types don't. So you can use them in friendships of course, but it also shows what personality type each type usually chooses in a partner, and what they value vs. what annoys them in each of the other types. So you can use this to write realistic personalities for each individual character, but then can also contrast various personalities to come up with realistic personality clashes. (How many of us could do that off the top of our heads?)

This book is incredibly useful and fun to read on many levels. Not only will you find yourself figuring out what type all the people in your life are, but you'll also start assigning types to various characters, whether they're the ones you've written or just others in your favorite books and TV shows. 

The book also has a section on the 16 MBTI personality types, and then shows an intersection between that and the 9 named in the Enneagram.

So I'll go over these briefly, but to get a truly rounded picture, I would highly recommend reading (and buying so you can refer back to it as you write various characters) the book for yourself.

*Abbrieviations: WoT = Wheel of Time, TWD = The Walking Dead, AToTC = A Tale of Two Cities, GoT = Game of Thrones, LOTR = Lord of the Rings. (Sorry if you don't know the references. I stuck to people and characters that first jumped to mind when I read the book, or were put forth by the book itself. :D)*

Personality Types:            Motivated by:                                       Examples:

1. The Perfectionist     The need to improve themselves     Nynaeve al'Meara (WoT)
                                              and live the right way.                        Javere (Les Miserables)

2. The Helper                  The need to be loved and valued      Mother Theresa
                                              and express their love for others      Beth Greene (TWD)

3. The Achiever              The need to be well-regarded,          Steve Jobs
                                               successful, productive, efficient.      Perrin Aybarra (WoT)
                                                                                                               Tyrion Lannister (GoT)

4. The Romantic             The need to understand their          MANY writers, actors, &
                                               feelings, search for what is               artists fall into this 
                                               missing, what life means, and         category.
                                               avoid being ordinary.

5. The Observer               The need to know & understand,   Daryl Dixon (TWD)
                                                be self-sufficient, and not feel         Sydney Carton (AToTC)
                                                engulfed or invaded. 

6. The Questioner           The need for security. (Asks            Anna Karenina
                                                what-if questions, often negative   Sansa Stark (GoT)
                                                ones ie. what if something goes 

7. The Adventurer          The need to be happy, contribute   Arya Stark (GoT)
                                                to the world, and avoid pain.           Matrim Cauthon (WoT)

8. The Asserter                The need to be self-reliant,              Will Smith
                                                strong, and make an impact            JD Rockefeller
                                                on the world.

9.The Peacemaker         The need to live in harmony, to       Jimmy Stewart, Abe Lincoln
                                                merge with others and avoid            Samwise Gamgee (LOTR)
                                                conflict.                                                 Loial (WoT)

So this is really just an overview. If you want to create REALLY realistic interactions between all of your characters, I highly recommend studying this book. I already have big plans for what I've learned.

How do you take on the challenge of creating realistic personalities for your characters?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Funnies #11

Welcome to Friday Funnies! Because everyone needs a good laugh on Friday.

                                               Gotta have some sarcasm:
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For Game of Thrones fans:
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For Walking Dead fans (you 
remember my obsession, right? :D)
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For Star Wars fans (what did everyone think of the new film, btw? I actually thoroughly enjoyed it):
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Just Cuz:
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Hope one of those gave you a laugh. (Which was your favorite?) Everyone have a great weekend! :D

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Industry Topics: E-Book Subscription Services

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 So one topic that's hot right now is the issue of creating subscription services for ebooks, similar to what Netflix is for films. Many people think it ought to work the same way (pay a flat monthly fee and have access to hundreds of thousands of books every month) but so far none of the subscription services have been successful.

And why is that? Well, there are a few reasons behind it:

1. The transition to digital film and music has happened faster than the transition to ebooks. While ebooks are making up a huge percentage of book sales these days, that generally comes from voracious readers who buy exponentially more titles than the average person anyway. Not all average people have switched over to ebooks, while pretty much everyone in first world countries have switched to digital entertainment where film/TV and music are concerned. As more people convert to ebooks, this issue will become more prevalent, but we're not quite there yet.

2. Books are consumed more slowly than film or music. That's just the nature of the thing. People can watch a 2-hour movie every night if they want, and more on weekends or days off. They can listen to dozens of songs every day. But few people read a book in less than a week. So it doesn't seem as good a deal to them to pay, say $15/month to read four books, versus $15/month to watch twenty or thirty films. Or listen to hundreds of songs. While the basic subscription model for books will be similar to other media, it definitely won't be exactly the same. Concessions will have to be made for readers to find the subscription deal worthwhile.

3. Traditional and Self-Publishing still hasn't entirely meshed yet. Few traditional publishing houses have yet made their titles available to subscription services. Trad publishing houses are still trying to get $10+ for their ebook titles and don't like the idea of both them and their authors receiving less than the list price by making them available to subscription services. Indie authors are much more amenable to it, so their works are receiving a great deal of exposure this way. But many people buy a subscription service and find that titles they've heard a lot about in the media aren't available through that service. In terms of customer service, it's a disaster. People unsubscribe. So until traditional publishing can find ways to make mesh with subscription services, many less-voracious readers will be opposed to subscription services.

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How will this affect authors?

As I mentioned above, indie authors are much more amenable to submitting their work to subscription services and receiving less than full price per read. That's because it gets their work into more hands, which can create fans, and they're still making some money on it. Most of us know that traditional publishers are falling behind the times when it comes to ebook production and pricing. So for right now, I would advocate such services for up and coming authors, so long as they aren't accompanied by contracts that are too limiting. Of course this is a personal choice for each author. But eventually, it will be like anything else. We'll submit our work to subscription services and receive money based on how many reads or downloads we get. And just like Netflix, that may end up being the greatest exposure for our books.

As with all aspects of the changing publishing industry and new technologies, it's nothing to be afraid of. Successful authors roll with the changes and find ways to come out on top.

My thoughts for the future of Subscription:

Myself, I think they need to play with models closer to audible or Amazon's Unlimited program. Pay by page or by title. $5/month for 5 books, $10/mo for 20 books, etc. And there are some companies playing with different models and trying to figure it out. But so far, none have managed to turn much of a profit. 

So is the subscription model for ebooks doomed? 

Of course not. It's a problem that just hasn't been figured out yet. The publishing industry of the future, the further saturation of ebooks, and the demands of customers are factors that will eventually solve this problem. I'm sure Amazon is on it as we speak. For us authors, we just have to sit back and see how it all pans out.

What's your take on ebook subscription services? Do you think they'll start to work anytime soon?

Monday, January 18, 2016

5 Tips for Writing Interrogation Scenes that Pop

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Good Monday Morning, Everyone! How is everyone today? Today I'm going to go over some tips to help write interrogation scenes. First let me say that I did not come up with these. Rather I'm posting them because they were actually tremendously helpful to me.

While working on my WIP, I had an interrogation scene to write, and I had no idea where to begin. I actually skipped over it when writing the first draft, because I knew I needed to do some thinking about it. But when I went back after that, I still didn't know what to write. Now, I DID do an interrogation scene in The Botanist, but it wasn't a conventional scene. It was more of a talking-to-person-of-interest-with-psychological-problems sort of scene, rather than a get-a-confession-out-of-a-perp scene. And it was rather tragic, which most interrogation scenes aren't. So I was still stuck when trying to write my more conventional interrogation scene. 

Then I discovered a blog post with tips on writing interrogation scenes. Just what I needed! So I decided to share them. These original tips came from author Chrys Fey and the original post can be found HERE.

For your interrogation scene, you basically need to decide who is going to play what role:

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 Has Arrived!!!

Phew! I am looking at my posting history for this blog in 2015, and I am NOT happy with what I see! I completely let it get away from me the final quarter of the year. Well, I'm trying to get back into it now. I think I need to be more organized and have more of a plan. No matter what I do, I always seem to take on more, which means I need to budget my time more efficiently to get it all done! 

And I will!

I said last year that I wanted to focus this blog more on writing, and I still intend to do that, but it's hard to come up with tons of stuff about writing constantly. 

So what I've decided to do is try to do at least two posts a week: 

  1. one on the craft of writing, and 
  2. one on current issues in the publishing industry. 

I'm sure there will be plenty of weeks that those will be the only two posts I get written. Of course if I have review, just-for-fun posts, or news about my own books, I'll publish those as well, but that will be mostly filler for when I have extra time. 

Goals for 2016:

1. Publish 6 books. I know that's a lot, but I'd like to put one out every other month. I don't know if it's very realistic for me, but I only get four or five out in the year, well, that's more than I managed in 2015. Shooting for the stars over here!

2. Sell 100,000 copies of my books. I've had that goal before but was unsure how to actually reach it (and so I haven't, if we're being honest. I haven't even come close). But I'm working through a training program that focuses on building your email list and it's geared specifically toward authors. I'm actually really excited about it (building my email list is one area I've had tons of trouble in) and the numbers it boasts are very promising. So I'll blog about my efforts and experiments and how it goes. But overall I'm very optimistic that my book sales will be up this year. 

3. Read more. Last year I made a goal to read more than 2014, and I think I did, but only by a smidge. I love me my books. I need to make them a high (not highest but still high) priority. So my goal is to read 100 books this year. Doesn't matter what kind--fiction, nonfiction,etc. I just want to get some more knowledge under my belt. 

4. More Author Events. I've been slacking this past couple of years and only doing one or two events annually. Part of the problem is the time and expense it takes to make these things happen, but again, if I can just plan and budget a little more strictly, I'm sure I had hit at least half a dozen a year. :D

5. I've focused on followers and page view goals in the past, but I've become less worried about that now. I prefer genuine interaction to electronic analytics. I've learned that from starting my Instagram accounts (yes plural) and meeting some truly extraordinary people that way. 

6. Have more fun. I genuinely just want to find more enjoyment both in my writing and my online networking. When life gets busy, these things can start to feel like chores, and none of us write when it's no fun, do we?

Well, that's pretty much it for me for goals. Pretty general, but don't worry. I have very detailed plans to make them all happen. :D

Let's make 2016 the greatest year in writing and blogging yet! :D