At first I was a bit heartbroken to learn that the edits to my novel’s first chapter were lost in the recent hard drive failure. I have the original thanks to a colleague / beta reader. Then I moved into feelings of relief that the whole nonfiction manuscript wasn’t lost (one chapter’s edits didn’t seem so bad). Now I’m trying to look at it as a good thing.
It was taking me forever to do these edits. I clearly wasn’t feeling them or I would have plowed through. I don’t plan on editing every chapter as I write the novel. The first was an exception because it has a lot of influence over how I write the rest of the book.
That makes this mini-crisis a second chance to improve the first impression I’ll make on readers. And I’m thankful for that. Fiction writing will be a much bigger part of my work life in 2012, and I want to get off to a good start. At the same time, I’d rather learn a hard lesson about backups with one chapter’s edits than with half a manuscript sitting on the drive. Does that mean it’s a good thing I was lazy and putting this project off for other things? Nah. But it does mean I feel infinitely less guilty about it. You have to love a silver lining.Read More
In addition to finalizing the new theme for my social media blog which will soon rejoin the world of the living, I launched a new site today. This is an author website for the pseudonym I’ll be using for writing mystery fiction.
The new pen name is Aria Klein. You can check out the new site / blog at AriaKlein.com if you have an interest in reading or writing mysteries or if you want to learn more about the Murder Script series I’m working on.
In other news, two related sites (which you’ll see linked on the new author site) will launch soon:
- MurderScripts.com — The site for the Murder Script novel series and murder mystery party games that I’ll release later this summer
- QuickMystery.com — A mystery blog featuring rougher short stories and works-in-progress that might later be expanded and more professionally published
Be sure to stop by and say hi. And if you’re interested in keeping in touch on these topics, feel free to follow me on Twitter @AriaKlein.Read More
I’ve been struggling much more than expected with the opening of the first novel in my new series. Here’s the deal.
- I outlined the book assuming the 3rd person POV with three viewpoint characters.
- After outlining the book I’ve done more reading in the niche. The last three books all happened to be written in the 1st person POV.
- I found that the 1st person POV books seem to have better pacing — I get sucked in and care more about the characters. They’re from different authors by the way, so it’s not a case of one author simply writing well in the 1st person POV.
- Now I’m reconsidering my approach.
I could stick to the story as outlined. Or I could change it to a 1st person POV approach and drop the other two viewpoint characters (not completely — just rework those outlined scenes to be something from the protagonist’s POV).
Evelyn Lafont had a good suggestion: write the opening both ways and see which works best. So that’s what I’m working on this week as far as fiction writing goes. I’m going to come up with a 1st person POV version of the opening and then compare the two. And hopefully by the end of this week I’ll finally have a solid grip on my approach for the rest of the book so I can plow on through the draft. That’s where things stand. Cross your fingers for me and with a bit of luck and a lot of hard work I’ll finally make some real progress on this first draft.Read More
I’ve talked about challenges for indie authors using pen names before (namely DBA issues because you’re the business owner as opposed to the publisher playing that role). I’m about to face another one — developing a new author website.
I’m a big believer in having author websites, because author PR can be more important than book PR when it comes to long-term sustainable sales. That said, I’ll have both — an author site and a site for the first series. The series site is easy. The author site, not so much. Why? Because I can’t list any of my usual credentials under my pen name.
For nonfiction this isn’t an issue. I write under my real name. My platform is built. I have a decent-sized audience. I have educational and professional credentials to back up my books. That’s not the case for fiction. AK (what I’ll refer to my pen name as here for now) is like a brand new person. She doesn’t have my same credentials, and even if she did they wouldn’t help much when it comes to writing mystery novels.
I also don’t want to lie. When the author site is up, I won’t hide behind it. You’ll know the pen name. So I don’t want to lie and say AK has done x, y, and z, when really it was Jenn Mattern doing those things. You can’t verify it if you come to know me under the AK “brand.” And that makes building a credible author website just a little bit tougher.
I have a plan to get around it. I’ll have new products and sites launched to help AK build a following all her own. Then instead of saying I’ve been working as a writer since 1999, I can at least say that I run other mystery-related sites (like QuickMystery.com and eMurderMystery.com, both being developed under that pen name). On one hand I feel like I’m forced to start over. It’s tough, but I think it’s also good for me. I get to take all of the things I teach other new writers and put them to work for myself all over again. I get to do things a better way this time around. I get to avoid the mistakes I made the first time. And that all starts with this new author site.Read More
I talked to my mother recently about a novel series I loaned to her. She voiced a complaint that had occurred to me when I read the books too. There was too much repetition of the backstory from one novel in the series to the next.
I would be halfway through a novel and then out the blue the author decides to share the same few paragraphs of backstory that are in all of the other novels. She explains why the heroine is in her current situation. But if you’ve read the series from the start, you already know this. The worst part is that it frequently contains word-for-word copy from other books in the series. It drives me crazy. My eyes see certain telltale phrases and I automatically scan down a few paragraphs to resume the actual story.
Now I get why authors sometimes do this. If a reader were to start with a book other than your first, you want them to understand what’s going on. And if there is a long break between book releases when they first come out, readers might forget things. But I don’t think this is a great way to handle either of those situations.
Rather than feeling like you’re forcing me to reread the same material, insulting my intelligence and ability to comprehend the situation, keep the flow of the story going. Do you know where I think backstories are handled well? Television series. You get a quick recap at the beginning of a new show so you understand what’s to come. You can pay attention to that or you can skip ahead or use that time to grab a drink from the other room if you don’t need the refresher course on the storyline.
I wish more novel series operated like this — a skippable intro rehashing where the characters have been and how they ended up where they are now. I’m sure plenty do handle this in a better way. But it’s been an issue in a few murder mystery series I’ve tackled lately. And as a reader it drives me insane when I suddenly feel like the author is standing behind me, tapping me on the shoulder, and saying “oh, by the way….”
This is something I’ll have to keep in mind as I continue to work on my own mystery series. I’m sure there will be times where I feel like I have to repeat things. And I hope that I’ll catch that in my editing and find a better way to deal with it.
How do you feel as a reader when the author of a novel series keeps telling you the same backstory? Does it pull you out of the story, or do you feel like you really do need that refresher? If you write series, how do you prefer to handle information you consider important enough to repeat, either for new readers just jumping in or for those who might be returning to the series after a break?Read More