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IWSG – Futility

Published June 3, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

(The usual Words Crush Wednesday post is cancelled this week, because it’s the first Wednesday of the week, so it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.  I’ll be back to quoting the Iliad next week.  Or maybe I’ll switch it up and move to someone more recent, like Sophocles or Euripides.)

Lately, I’ve been feeling like there’s no point to working on polishing my writing.  Because the point of re-writing and polishing is trying to get it to out to the public, right?  But it’s clear to me that I’ll never get anything I’ve written to a point where anyone would want to read it.  My basic ideas are good, I’m sure of that, but my prose is childish, my characters are shallow, and any time I attempt a love story, it’s entirely unconvincing, because I’ve never been in a romantic relationship.  (That, of course, is why I decided that my heroic trio in my quasi-YA novels would not have any romantic relationships.  Well, except then I later established that the young man in the trio already had several unofficial fiancees (not of his own will) and a girl he’s in love with, but since all those conditions are pre-existing, it’s a very different type of unconvincing.)

On the NaNo forums towards the end of April’s Camp NaNo, or possibly in very early May, I was given a link to a private forum where I could get some feedback on Ilios, since it was already in bite-size chunks, so that I could re-publish it.  (Ilios is my Trojan War novel, telling the whole story of the war, as mythically accurate as possible, with each chapter being narrated in the first person by a different character.  (Which I thought was a unique approach, until recently at a used book store, when I found another novel that had done the same thing, as far as I could tell by glancing through it.  Took a very different approach, of course, and probably didn’t tell the whole war.  I might have picked it up, if the author had used Aias instead of Ajax, but he didn’t, so I didn’t.)  I had e-published it a while ago on LeanPub, but I officially “retired” it because I was so disgusted with how badly I had handled some of the chapters, particularly some of the key emotional chapters tied to the events of the Iliad.)

Anyway, I said I would go to those forums after turning my final paper in, mid-May.  I still have yet to do so.  Because…what’s the point?  The person who offered doesn’t understand how bad my writing is.  People always hear my ideas and say “that sounds great; let me read it and I’ll give you feedback!”  Then they read it and can’t find anything to say, because what needs to be said is “Don’t give up the day job.”  (Which is awkward, considering I don’t have one.)  Of course, there’s more to it than that; I’d be intruding on a forum where everyone else is already close friends, and what would I say when I got there?  I guess it’s partially my social phobia obstructing me even online.

But even though I intend to eventually re-write the abysmal chapters of Ilios, I don’t know if I’ll bother re-publishing it.  Even for free, it only got two downloads.  (Admittedly, that’s partially because LeanPub does not have a flourishing fiction section; it’s more a place for IT texts and other technical books.  But even if it was on Amazon or someplace, I don’t think it would have any more success, even for free.)

For at least fifteen years, every word of fiction I wrote was purely for myself.  In fact, most of it was fanfic.  Though it might seem like a waste of time and effort to write stories/novels/whatevers that I had no intention of ever showing to anyone else, it was comforting to know that it didn’t matter if it sucked, because no one else was going to see it.  It didn’t matter if someone was out of character for a while, because no one would know.  It was okay that the relationships were flat and unconvincing, because I was the only one who could read it.

But since telling myself that my fanfic days are over, I feel like I’m supposed to be writing towards the goal of publication, admittedly only the self-published kind.  But there’s no way anything I write can ever be suitable for the public.  As I said last month, I’m incapable of writing descriptions, because I don’t think visually:  I have no idea what my characters look like apart from a very few physical details that I do impart in the books (primarily concerned with height and hair color) and even if I did know what they looked like, I wouldn’t be able to describe them, because I don’t “get” descriptions of faces.  My ability to describe locations isn’t much better; my brain can’t grasp the geometry of the place, no matter how many descriptions I read of the region, or how many photos I see.  (Even if I went to Greece and Turkey to see the places for myself, I doubt I’d have any better luck trying to describe them.)

I think I’m about to sink into a re-run of last month’s post, so I should perhaps stop while I’m ahead.

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About my myth re-tellings

Published May 2, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

I thought I’d talk about what I’m hoping to do with them, eventually.  No, not hoping.  Planning.

Once I’ve told all the major myths, and the medium-sized ones, and at least a good chunk of the minor ones, I’m going to collect them all into a book.  (LeanPub has a way of pulling your blog posts for publication, which seems a handy way to start the process!)  Obviously, I’d edit them further, refine them, et cetera.  I don’t know if I’d be offering the book for free or charging for it; depends on a lot of factors.  (Especially depending on if anyone wants to illustrate it.  If that happens, then of course it wouldn’t be free.)

But that’s only step one of what I want to do.

When I was posting about Hyginus’ Fabulae recently, it occurred to me that the modern world really needed a truly comprehensive reference work on the Greek myths.  There are lots of reference books, of course, but how many tell you everything?

How many mention Patroclos’ Iphis in their entry on the name Iphis?  How many mention the fates met by Medea’s children before Euripides wrote his play Medea?  How many mention that there are three places named Thebes?  (Uh, counting the one in Egypt.)

So there needs to be a comprehensive reference work.  And I want to compile it.  And if my book of myths ends up being free (likely to be the case) then the work could cross-reference to it, so it wouldn’t have to try telling the full stories in such hyper-condensed chunks as the usual reference works.

Obviously, the reference work will take a long time to assemble, but writing the myth re-tellings is definitely helping the process, because although I’ve always loved the Greek myths, lately I’ve been so absorbed in the Trojan War that I’ve let its minutiae wipe out some of the details of the other myths.  (My brain has limited hard drive space.)

Of course, I’ll also have to read, like, absolutely everything.  And, realistically, I probably ought to also look at every single ancient work of art that has been recovered with a mythological theme, but…uh, yeah, that’s probably going too far; I’ll just use Gantz’s Early Greek Myth to get the artistic side.  (That is, after all, the purpose of reference works, to be referred to!  And mine is intended to be a reference work for non-scholars, not for scholars.  And it’s not like I wouldn’t give credit or something.)

I’ve tried to start reference books like this before, and always been swamped by the prospect when I’ve barely even started, so I have to be careful how I go about it this time.  But as long as I don’t let myself get overwhelmed, as long as I take it slow, it should probably be all right.

Maybe at first I should just start by making a little list, just jotting down what myths I’ve written, and what names are in each one, both places and people.

Anyone have any suggestions about how to proceed?  (Suggestions on how to improve the myth re-tellings are also always welcome, btw.)

A bit early, but…my NaNo plans.

Published October 25, 2014 by Iphis of Scyros

Given the daily format I promised myself I would stick to, I hadn’t planned to address NaNoWriMo until Halloween, or maybe the day before.  But because the new cat food is unbelievably stinky as well as exceptionally expensive (the smell probably comes from the fact that chicken liver is the primary ingredient, but it smells more like fetid refried beans to me) I’ve spent all day hiding from the stench.  So I spent most of the afternoon at my brother’s place playing video games, even though I haven’t done most of my reading for today yet.

Anyway, because of that, I don’t really have anything to say, unless I want to complain about how much trouble I had filling the cat’s prescription, or how freakin’ hard it is to get one cat to eat one food and the other another, without them then going and eating the other’s food as soon as I blink.  However, since I spent yesterday’s entry complaining about my cats, I thought I shouldn’t do that again today.  (Um, beyond what I’ve just done, that is…)

So instead I’m going to talk about NaNo.  (Talk?  Write?  Um….well, setting that aside…)

This will be my fourth year participating in the National Novel Writing Month.  My past results have been varied.

The first year, I finished the book several days early (even after going in and writing the afterword and character glossary and stuff) and it clocked in at about 142k.  (For those who don’t know, the point of NaNoWriMo is to challenge yourself to write a novel in a month.  The contest’s official definition of a novel is 50,000 words.  Even though that’s too short to be a novel in almost all genres.)  I was pretty proud of the book, but it’s taken me until about a month ago to finally get it polished up and ready for self-publication, and even still it’s only pre-publication, because I want feedback so that I can improve it.  (Obligatory shameless plug:  https://leanpub.com/ilios)

The second year, I broke 50k a day earlier than I had the first year, and finished the novel, which is a JRPG-inspired fantasy novel.  (Originally it was supposed to be fairly Final Fantasy, but it ended up being much more Suikoden.  Which is a good thing, because Suikoden kicks Final Fantasy’s ass.)  I finished the novel more or less on time (I think it was a day or two early still) and it clocked in at…actually, I forget.  About 160k, I think.  I felt that the novel was an unmitigated disaster, and I haven’t opened the file since.  (Someday, I probably ought to go back and read it and see if it’s as bad as I thought it was at the time.)

The third year, I tried to write something that I had initially thought of back when I was 18.  (Or was it 19?)  It turned out to be very short (about 56k, I think) but a couple of the characters had tried to take over the book for a while there, so I gave them their own spin-off/sequel.  That one came in at around 100k, and there was still a bit over a week left in November, so I wrote a prequel (as it were) to the first one, and that one was about 60k?  (I wrote all that stuff down, so I could look it  up if I really cared, but I don’t.)  The point is that I wrote something like 212k, and I was very confident in it; I thought it was awesome.  Then I let someone else read it, and learned that no, it wasn’t.  Unfortunately, I had made some comments about self-publishing on the message boards, and when I tried to retract them, people leapt down my throat, with the basic message of “even though we haven’t read the book and know nothing about it, we obviously know better than you, and we say that you can’t decide not to publish it!”  That arrogance–not to mention sticking their noses into something that was none of their business–pissed me off to the point that I decided that not only was I not going to try to self-publish it with the Lulu code for a free hardback copy as long as it was ready to go out by mid-February, I was never going to allow anyone to read the book ever again, come hell or high water.  Because if I ever let anyone see it–and especially if I ever publish it–then those jerks will have won.  And I have spent too much of my life letting people walk all over me; I’m not going do so again.  Not when it’s so easy to avoid it.

Anyway, the big difference between the last three years and this year is that now I’m trying–however futilely–to get a Master’s Degree.  And as I still have not regained (if I ever had it) the skill of reading quickly yet still retaining information, I don’t have a lot of time to spare to write.  So my word count is likely to be quite small this year.

On the other hand, this year’s novel is a science fiction piece with strong anime roots, featuring the reincarnations of most of the major figures of the Trojan War, their usual war suddenly cancelled by the arrival of an alien invasion fleet.  And although none of them (except poor Cassandra, who’s still perceived as insane) remember their past lives, their personalities are not much different from what they were then.  So I’m basically reusing the cast of Ilios, but with the bonus that I get to decide who lives and who dies, and how they live or die.  And I will, of course, be following Miss Prism’s definition of fiction:  “The good end happily, the bad unhappily.”  (Well, there may be some exceptions to that, but…for the most part.  It’s a light-hearted type of giant robot reincarnation sci-fi war novel.)

I think it’s the sort of thing that has a lot of potential appeal, and it’s decidedly more accessible than the rather weird Ilios, so I’m trying a serialization as I go thing on LeanPub.  We’ll see if it works.  (Or rather, I’ll see if anyone’s even the least bit interested.  If no one buys it at all, I can just take it down again.  The worry is what if someone buys it and then it turns out to be crap?)  Plus LeanPub lets you donate some (or all) of your proceeds to organizations, so I’ve got it set up to give half my profits to NaNoWriMo.  (Second obligatory shameless self-plug: https://leanpub.com/helenofspace)

Anyway, what I actually meant to talk about was the fact that since I don’t have a lot of time on my hands for writing (my gaming history of the past week or so not withstanding) I’m going to suspend my “post every single day” rule for the blog for the month of November, because I don’t want to waste any of that precious writing time on anything other than my novel.  I don’t feel like that’s breaking my promise to myself, because my novel has to come first, right?  Especially since I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while now…

‘Tis done!

Published September 27, 2014 by Iphis of Scyros

I’ve now officially taken the leap and self-published (half of) my first novel!

It’s kind of scary, y’know?

What if everyone who buys it hates it?

What if no one even buys it?

Et cetera….

My book covers the Trojan War from the marriage of Peleus and Thetis up until, well, for the half that’s out, it goes up to Achilles vowing to take vengeance on Hector for the death of Patroclos.  Book II will take it all the way up to the victorious Greek army preparing to sail away again.

That much is totally normal, nothing to worry about.

What worries me is that it’s written in sort of an experimental style.  Every chapter is in the first person, narrated by a different character.  Consequently, there’s a lot of inconsistency in the narrative style.  Some of them feel–to me, at least–much better than others.  That’s why I’ve been hoping for some reader feedback on LeanPub to improve any chapters that aren’t as good as the others.  (Hopefully I won’t be informed that none of them are any good…)

If only I knew how long it’s likely to take for anyone to potentially buy a copy!  But LeanPub doesn’t have very much fiction, so I don’t know what the general sales levels on fiction on the whole is…

Urgh…gotta stop worrying about this.

Anyway…I may as well self-advertise while I’m moaning, right?

https://leanpub.com/ilios

I wasn’t sure what to do about the price, so I left it at their suggested default of minimum $0.99, and “suggested” $4.99.  I probably should have reduced the suggested.  Yeah, I think I’ll go do that.  Since it’s a work in progress, and only half a novel and all…

Slow news day

Published September 26, 2014 by Iphis of Scyros

As it were.

I just have nothing to say.  I spent most of the day reading about the French Revolution.

Except a couple hours at my brother’s place, checking out Hyrule Warriors.  (Typical, right?  I have tons of reading to do, and just committed to getting a book out there ASAP, and I go over and waste time on a game.  But…it was really cool…)

I need to hurry up and get some of my book available; it doesn’t show up right now on LeanPub, ’cause it’s not published yet (though it would show up on my “Author Page” if I had any other books out there to direct people there) so I can’t get anyone interested in it, so what’s the point in it being listed at all yet?

Sigh.

I’m totally not sure what to charge, either.  I mean, part of me wants to say “don’t charge, since you’re admitting it’s still a WIP” and another part is saying “if you don’t charge at least a little then anyone who thinks they might be interested in the finished product would ‘buy’ it now while it’s free, without bothering to read it until it’s finished!”  And I’m not sure which one is right, y’know?

Ergh.

On top of that, I still have to finish running the spell check on the thing.  ‘Cause I turned off those hideous squiggly lines in Word, so it doesn’t point out all my typos, because if I didn’t turn off those hideous squiggly lines, then all my character names–and many place names–would have hideous squiggly lines under them, and that would get annoying fast.  But running the spell check is also annoying, because then I have to sit there saying things like “Yes, I’m sure Theseus is spelled correctly!  What’s the matter with you?!”  (Seriously, it didn’t know Theseus.  It knew Poseidon, it knew Achilles and Zeus, but it didn’t know Theseus.  What’s up with that?  Theseus is kinda a big deal hero, y’know?  And it’s not like there are alternate transliterations, either.  (After all, it didn’t know Menelaos and Patroclos, but it did know Menelaus and Patroclus.))  ‘Tis horribly annoying.  But I don’t want to put a book on the market with spelling errors.  (Oh, then there was the classic “Possible Word Choice Error” message, saying that I surely must have meant “flew” instead of “fled”…because it makes so much more sense for Thetis to fly to the sea instead of to flee there.  Right.)

Plus who knows how much fine-tuning it’s going to take once I feel ready to convert the text.  I totally shouldn’t be doing this right now, but…among other things, I kinda need the money.

Which I suppose means I really should charge at least a couple of bucks, even though it’s still a WIP.

At least that’s one answer.

But right now I need to look up the bibliography information I keep forgetting about, and then I need to get back to reading about the French Revolution.  I have two books to read by next week–and the usual assignment to complete, too!–and so I need to finish the first book today, and I’m still thirty pages short of that.  They’re small pages, though, so it shouldn’t be a big deal.  As long as I don’t spend too long messing about on-line.

Gonna do it

Published September 25, 2014 by Iphis of Scyros

I’m going to sign up to e-pub my book through LeanPub.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get some feedback and improve the state of the novel before I release it to other platforms.

Of course, now I have to somehow get the map done up.  I found several maps on Wikimedia Commons that should work as a basis, but they all need some work.  Or rather, one of them has no names, and the other has all too many names, many of them using different transliterations than I’m using.

I also came to a firm(ish) decision regarding my Master’s Thesis, but I’ll save that for a day when I have nothing else to write about.

should be cleaning my house right now, but I totally don’t want to.  Even though the trash goes out in the morning and there’s almost nothing in there right now other than a dead mouse.  I have to put it out to be picked up because of the mouse corpse, but I don’t want to clean up to put anything else in there, y’know?  Why did that poor little thing have to come out and get killed by my cats on Saturday night when my trash goes out on Friday?

Thinking about publishing…

Published September 23, 2014 by Iphis of Scyros

…via LeanPub.  It’ll probably be a hassle trying to get my book converted into their format, what with having a lot of chapters and stuff, not to mention who knows if the Greek text at the beginning will carry over…but I like the idea of being able to publish it and yet have it also be accepted as “in progress” so that if there are huge flaws then maybe someone will be able to point them out so I can fix them.

Of course, given my luck, no one will read it even if I post it for free…

Not sure what I’ll do if that happens.

Other than curl up in a corner and whimper.

But I’ll probably do that anyway.

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