Saturday, December 31, 2011

Emotion, Motivation, and Vampires [Caution for Explicitness]

I'm always delving into one research book or another. Last week it was a more recently published book, Werewolves by Jon Izzard. This week I'm reading a book on vampires. Vampires by Joules Taylor. I purchased both of these books several months back to add to my research shelf. Sadly, it was at the local Border's closing. But also I might add, I probably wouldn't have found these books if I hadn't been browsing at a local bookstore. I do love bookstores, and I did buy them on-site at the b&m. I didn't just buy these books because of the subject matter, they have a really nice heavy, glossy feel to the pages. Yeah, I'm into textures and dimensionality of things. Okay, that being said...

I've just come across a passage that seemed to resonate with something I wrote in Eternity. Here are two short passages from "Vampires" by Joules Taylor.

"... He feels drawn to life, to brightness, and to beauty and the human he pursues must be someone who is special, overflowing with a bright lively light..."
"...for a way to experience at second-hand the life he lost when he became a vampire..."
And here's the passage from Eternity that came to mind. I would caution this is an R-rated excerpt.

He cupped Andrea’s face and tilted it upward. Max’s cock popped out of Andrea’s mouth. Just at that moment Claudio swatted him again. More tears. Max leaned down to kiss Andrea, then licked across the path of tears, feeling his own tears wet his face in empathy.

He straightened away, and Andrea seemed to know exactly what Max would want. He sucked Max’s dick back into his mouth, fresh tears tracking down his cheeks.

Max felt the emotion of the human servicing him. He felt the pain, the pleasure, the extreme rapture of his submission to the two vampires. Max’s throat seemed to close up with the intensity that rushed through him like a fierce summer thunderstorm, flaying him with its passion.

Yes. This was why he took such pleasure in human contact. That blissful sharing of emotion, something that he had lost the ability to experience on his own. Oh, gods, yes.

This was his alone.

“Look at me,” he whispered. “Look into my eyes.”

When Andrea looked up at Max with his beautiful tear-filled blue eyes, it shot Max right over the edge.

Exploring the internal motivations of any character is an important part of the story for me, whether I'm writing it or reading it. Thus a number of the books on my craft shelf include "The Dream and the Underworld" by James Hillman, "Psychology for Screenwriters" by William Indick, "The Power of the Dark Side" by Pamela Jaye Smith, among others. I think motivations have the ability to humanize and to demonize, to bind us to them, make us love them or hate them. At the very least to dimensionalize characters.

I often have to really sit and "talk" with a character to get inside his or her head. They all have secrets, some darker than others, sometimes buried so deep they don't even know. I find the dark side to be wholly intriguing and I love exploring that love/hate, good/bad, evil/saint balance. But it's a scary place to visit, it's not for the weak of heart, yet totally worthwhile to really dig into your characters and find out what makes them do the things they do. What makes them "tick." And I love that aspect of storytelling. If it feels uncomfortable then you're getting there.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Creating the City of Quentopolis

The mind really does have a way of working in mysterious ways and I have to admit mine works pretty strangely at times. In creating Quentopolis, the city-state at the heart of my Humanotica series, and which sits at rather a rift of time and space, likened perhaps to a worm hole, known as the "Dimensional Borders," I started playing around with some photos I had taken of machinery parts.

Some people do their world building rather more logically perhaps, but I don't think I'm often accused of being logical. And I can't draw for beans. But I do love photography.

The first image I played around with was a close-up of railroad ties. I came up with this first image you see here. What drew my eye first was that little dot in the middle and I tagged it as being the Central Business District of Quentopolis, with the rest of the city spreading out from that nucleus. This is also where the financial district--the Tebit Square Exchangeable would be located. And it is the political seat of the Concilium-Politico Offices.

There is a darkness to this city. This first image looks rather like it came from a science fiction piece doesn't it? Maybe sort of like a timepiece that one wears on the wrist if you look at it just right. The image was founded from what I think of as a steam or steampunk-based image. That's sort of what this series tends to be--scifantasy--erotic scifantasy.

I played some more, with another image this time. I think this one came from a wheel of an old steam engine, but I can't remember. In this image I started to see the main quadrants of Quentopolis. There is the central quadrant at the center of the intersecting four other districts of the city. Then we have the Waterfront District, or Moondown Water District to the right or east, which includes the factory and workhouses, the wharves, where the working class reside. To the opposite side of the central business district, on the left or west, is the Elite District, a total opposite to the Moondown District, as noted by its name, and above the Central district to the north is the Midlands District, a relatively uninhabited, mountainous region. To the northeast of the Midlands District is where the Dimensional Borders and the transit stations are located. Extasia, an isolated district, is where the official home of the Dominatae nobility is located. That would be on the other side of a range of mountains at the northern borders of the Midlands District.

Creating this world isn't a simple process, and does have a way of continuing to morph and change as I discover more about the city and its inhabitants, and it's architecture. But this is how it started as I tried to visualize the layout of the city and who might live there.

I moved from this to actually creating a rough map with a software program, and if you're curious, you can find it at the Humanotica website.

Silver, the first book in the Humanotica series, is available at Samhain Publishing, or any other retailer of fine books. Haevyn, the second book in the series is schedule for release in early 2012.

And currently I now need to return to working on the third book in the series, tentatively titled, "Kestra." The outline is underway and I'm excited to find out what new surprises and adventures the characters have in store.

Monday, December 19, 2011

More on Perceived Ebook Price Fixing

Today The Guardian (via Publisher's Weekly) posted an article on Apple's struggle to Defeat Amazon. More on the big, bad Amazon and efforts to justify an agency model of price threshold to perhaps guarantee the survival of other heretofore giants in the publishing industry.

There seems to be nasty growing pains at the upper echelons of the publishing world. I sense much desperation to hold a place that tended to squeeze the availability of the printed word as in narrowing the choices available, attempting to define what sells, and creating boundaries that tended to squeeze out creative, more niche, talents, and went for the sure sales. I understand the need to stall monopoly. I understand the need that in order to survive, a company, even large corporations, need to show a profit and they don't want their books becoming loss leaders for a company such as Amazon, who has broadened its merchandise scope. Really, I do understand this.

But, the costs, long-ranging, in production of ebooks versus long-ranging in production of a mass market paperback, trade paperback, hard cover, is not the same. Once that ebook is produced, one does not have to revert to more print runs, one is not subject to returns, one is not subject to landfill for books that do not sell as well as anticipated.

The argument that Amazon's market share has been reduced as a direct result of this sort of agency model is...well, suspect. Let's see, the market is flooded with all brands and models of tablets, such as Kobo, B&N, Google, Asus, HP, etc., etc. It seems to me that new consumer/readers will be purchasing as a first choice using a company that provides the app that makes it easiest to purchase what they want. In many cases, that will include discounts and gift certificates for new owners of these devices. My daughter just purchased two Nook tablets for her household, where do you think she's going to buy her books? I can't seem to find a Nook app for my Android tablet, I had a seamless download of the Kindle app. If someone has a Sony reader, or a Kobo reader, where do you thing they're going to purchase? Oh yeah, then there's the iPad. Mustn't forget that one.

I tend to be a bit savvy about techie stuff, so I'll probably be purchasing from a large range of sources, often small publishers because I know the author makes more when I do that.

I doubt I'd put the fluctuation in market share down to the agency models. That justification doesn't hold water. To me, what I see is that the consumer is caught in the cross-hairs of this battle. They are the ones who will suffer and pay the price. Right along with the authors aligned with the major publishers, especially mid-list and new talent. High prices for books mean less purchases made by the average consumer. And again, I see this particularly when you're talking about an ebook, where there is likely not the same reprint and stocking issues associated with those sales. Who's really being affected here? What is really impacting the market fluctuation? Or is it just an "I've got more clout than you and I don't care who suffers, as long as you get your wings clipped"?

I read a lot, and as I've mentioned before, it's across mediums. I have one research book on my Kindle DX, I have one short story up on my Android tablet, and I have a hard cover from one of my favorite authors. Yup, I'm into reading a bit each day from all three.

But for readers out there who want a good read, perhaps you might check with my publishers, they're always giving good deals on books. Take a minute to check out Amber Quill Press and Samhain Publishing if you want good prices for ebooks, and great stories to read, and formats that will work well on pretty much any readers, with customer service departments that are on the ball, ready to help. I'll also recommend Loose Id. Some wicked great reads from these publishers.

And now I've got to get back to writing.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Prices on Ebooks Higher Than Paperback?

Will Publishers Kill Amazon's Golden Goose?

That's the headline of a recent article via Publisher's Weekly. I've actually witnessed the higher price for an ebook when I was browsing the other day. As a reader, what this means when I see a paperback is more costly than an ebook, I'm going to pick another book. I'm still going to buy, just not YOUR book. Honestly, I think this is going to backfire on the publishers who are attempting to do this. There are just too many good stories out there at reasonable prices in ebook format. To me this is shooting yourself in the foot, and shooting your authors, too.

Sad, very sad. Please get your head out of the sand and do what's right for your authors and your readership. Honestly, I'm not likely to pay the same price for an ebook that I am for a paperback. And I'm certainly not going to pay a higher price. I will go somewhere else. There are lots of other options. I know for a fact that there are smaller publishers, with some very fantastic writers, and I will be entertained elsewhere.

This is a different market, a very digital and global world, and we need to adapt to that changing environment and marketplace. This is the age of transition, and growing pains can be very achey. But the growing does not stop just because it hurts. Really, is this "feud" more important than your readership? As a reader and as a writer, I'm thrilled about the expansion of the industry.

As a writer, I would hope the publishers I work with continue to price my books reasonably, and responsibly, so readers won't hesitate to give my stories a try. Especially if they've not read one of my stories before. Anyone heard the term "competitive pricing"? That is just savvy marketing on all levels in my opinion.

Ereaders aren't going away, tablets aren't going away, ebooks aren't going away.

Please adjust.

Just saying...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dominoes - No, not the pizza company...

I was reading a totally unrelated research book the other day and there it was. I had a moment of epiphany or revelation regarding the third story in the Humanotica series, and suddenly it was like a row of dominoes, where you tip the first one and it starts a chain reaction. I get so excited when that happens.

It gives you this ahhh feeling, or maybe it's more of an ohhh sort of excitement. And you just lets the images keep flowing, trying to transcribe, jot them down, so you can remember for later. I stuff them into the folder, because really, I'm working on line edits for Haevyn right now and I can't get distracted by Kestra, although she's really looking for attention, but anyway. And let me just tell you, the cover for Haevyn is looking awesome. I've gotten a quick first glimpse of it. I'm so excited.

But rolling with the ideas, and letting a plot and the characters sort of marinate, and then, all of a sudden, one things leads to another, and to another, and suddenly the story and characters come to life, they begin to move, to relate, to dimensionalize.

I could say more about Kestra, but not right now. I'm going to reset those dominoes and let's see what else happens. A new pattern may just cause a chain reaction in a a whole other way I never even thought of. That's usually the way these things happen. And that's what I love above creating story. God, it's exciting!