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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Rise of the Ebook Equals the Fall of the Print Book?

I’ve been studying the literary markets by reading magazines to see which ones my stories would fit in. I’m still considering self-publishing my book but I want to put some of my stories in magazines too since that’s how authors get their larger works exposed. Publishing both big and small can be very beneficial.

Fortunately, many of the sources I want to submit to are online magazines and so most of their fiction is free. If I had to purchase the paper magazines it would get really expensive as much as I prefer reading the paper ones. So far this summer, I’ve only bought one print science fiction magazine, issue 103 of Clarkesworld. The stories and articles looked so great that I wanted to read everything in hardcopy without having to print them up on my printer. Printing them on the printer can eventually add up to colourless clutter of papers that are held together by nothing more than staples.

The Nightmare of a World Without Print

This reminds me of an interview I saw on a re-run of a TV-hosted horror movie show called Cinema Insomnia. Even though this show mostly features cheaply-made horror and sci fi films that it basically makes fun of, the host, Mr. Lobo, interviews another horror movie host, John Stanley of the San Francisco area, about a book (The Gang that Shot Up Hollywood) he released at the time, which was 2012. They talk about how the internet and digital media was apparently (and still is) making print obsolete. They discuss the physical experience that a reader gets from reading a print book that he/she won’t get reading a digital version
.
For book nerds like myself, the ebook permanently bumping off the print one is a nightmare no horror movie can match. In the interview, Mr. Lobo himself puts it similarly when he says to Mr. Stanley: “We are living in a world where bookstores are closing and media is all breaking apart and consolidating and changing, and it must be a nightmare taking on [a project] such as putting out a book in this day and age.” To which Stanley responds: “It is. This might be the last book in a print paper format. . . . If I write another book two or three years from now, what is going to exist out there? What is the world going to be like? Is a paper book still acceptable?”

To that last question, three years after that interview, I respond: Yes, Mr. Stanley, I’m happy to say it still is. Although the majority may be turning to their devices to read their books, there is still a crowd of readers, especially of the speculative genres, that likes to read and collect printed books and that crowd will probably continue to be around for a long time.

Books are Like Music Albums


As much as I make my work available in ebook format as well as print, it doesn’t mean print versions have to or will disappear. Similar to many music lovers, especially of vintage music, who continue to collect vinyl records, and have been doing so since vinyl went out of popularity 20 years ago or so, there is a crowd of us that sees the printed book not just as a medium to convey story but as an art within itself. Reading for us is not just a mental engagement but a physical one. It’s a physical one that involves holding the material the story is printed on. This engagement is most intimate when the story from the book is represented on the front cover by wonderful art, as are a lot of science fiction and fantasy stories. Sadly, unlike years ago, much of that art is produced by digital means and so is too photographic, missing the interpretive aspect of the illustrator that freehand art often conveys. However, it is still part of the larger art of book printing and binding.  So we like to touch this art as much as we like to read and view it.

It’s About Collecting Things

Also, as sci fi and fantasy geeks, and as literary geeks in general, we like to collect things. Can you collect pixels and shelve them on your book case? Of course not. Pixels are only with you when you conjure them up at the press of a button on your hand-held device, similar to the way Aladdin conjures up the genie from its lamp. Then when we don’t want to read any more, also at the press of a button, we make the pixels disappear into some cyber netherworld. Hell, even the damn button in many cases nowadays is made of nothing more than pixels!


Comic book cover depicting a giant genie rising from a lamp and a young Arabic man and woman looking up at him.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons



We as speculative fiction fans, like to collect the tangible versions of what we see in movies, on TV and read about in books. We like Star Wars and Star Trek but can’t just stop with the movies and TV episodes. We want Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Capt. Kirk or Lt. Uhura in our lives. We want the aliens, no matter how weird or inhuman-looking (for me the more inhuman the better!), with us in our physical lives. So we collect things like the action figures of these characters, the posters for the movies and TV shows and the models of spaceships from them. Similar is true for our love of fantasy movies and TV such as Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones or Universal’s classic horror flicks.

The same goes with our books about imaginary events such as space battles, epic fantasy battles and dead people seeking vengeance. Many of us want the hardcopy books that convey these events of other worlds, and not just want to see them on a device’s screen where the book is going to be replaced by something totally unrelated.

So as long as there will be avid readers who are in love with the art of the medium the story is told on, there will be printed books. So what if demand for the printed book is small? That only means that much more money the author and publisher will make off of that million dollar best- seller. Every little bit counts, doesn’t it? If not, why not? If you think us small niche of hardcopy book lovers will become extinct with the hardcopy books themselves, why? Feel free to leave your answers in the box below.

Until next time . . . 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

4 ‘Fantastic Finds’ for Writing Fiction and Marketing It

Two aliens: one with one huge eye with a globe for a pupil, the other with two globes for eyes.
Photo Credit: OpenClipart.org



A very busy week, made even busier when you don’t have a car which is my situation. Even though I prefer public transportation and walking, sometimes those two things aren’t practical. So when I do have a car I try to reduce driving it as much as possible. I believe in taking care of our planet. Who knows when we’ll be able to find and settle on another inhabitable one. Even though scientists are discovering them already, traveling to them is a long ways off. I found this out when I was researching for the world-building of my recent short story that I talked about last time

I was researching interstellar space travel and the sources I looked at indicated that traveling to other solar systems, where many inhabitable planets are, won’t happen that soon. According to these sources, it probably won’t be possible until after AI has dominated the planet which probably won’t be for another 100 to 200 years. Keep in mind, this is all speculation, but speculation based on scientifically plausible theories and so is not scientific fact yet. So it looks like I’ll be setting my space opera in the pretty distant future since it’s set on planets outside our own solar system. Here’s a couple of the sources I used for my research:


And now for some . . .

Far Out Fantastic Finds

I found these four Far Out Fantastic Finds to be really informing about other authors’ writing processes, including marketing and promotion such as the one on book trailers. Also there’s a good one by Auden Johnson of Dark Treasury about using keywords to market your books. Speaking of world-building, Johnson is an expert on the subject and so if you want to know more about it then I strongly suggest you check out her blog. Now for the Finds:

“Keywords are important in getting your book found online. . .”
From Dark Treasury

“I’ve talked about it off and on in interviews and the like, but I cannot stress how big of an influence libraries have had on me. I still remember going into my first one as a kid. It was built into a former residence in a small Illinois town, the librarian still lived above it, and it was magic. . . ”
From Come Selahway With Me


“So, I've had people ask me, ‘What do you think about doing a book trailer for Thorn or Murder?’ . . . Here's the problem: . . . it wouldn't be a trailer for the books.  It would be a trailer for an interpretation of the books. . .”
From Marshall Ryan Maresca


“. . . All this chaos also slowed down my writing considerably. . . I was having a really hard time trying to decide where to take the next scene in the story.  I had several options but none of them were really going anywhere.  They seemed more like unnecessary side streets that did not lend enough to the main story. 
Finally I did the one thing I keep reminding everyone else to do...”
From Musings of a Creative Mind


That’s all for this week.


Until next time . . .

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

World-building: How to name your alien or fantasy world

Sorry for being so late with this post, again. Last week was kind of a bad one because I was having back problems and have been out of a car, so that slowed me down quite a bit. Also, some writer’s block may had added to it. Authors get writers’ block at different stages of their writing. Some get it at the rough draft stage, some in the revision stage. Some writers even get it outside of the draft itself, such as in the characterization and world-building stages and I’m one of those writers. Right now I’m working on a new short story and so I’m on the world-building part which is where I got the writer’s block on Saturday. It was when I was sketching out a world for an alien race in my story which is a kind of space opera-horror. So I’ll tell you how I got over that block in a little bit, but first a couple updates:


Updates

My Author Interview



If you haven’t seen it yet, my interview at HorrorAddicts.net is up. David Watson who’s on the Horror Addict’s staff interviewed me about my interest in horror and how I live “the horror life.” This second one is in light of Horror Addict’s new anthology, TheHorror Addicts’ Guide to Life, in which two of my articles were published in. So please check it out.


Photo Credit: HorrorAddicts.net

Last Week’s Post

I made a slight update to my post for last week. For those of you who had already read the post, you may had noticed that the text ran outside of the column, making it hard to read. I apologise for that. I missed that error completely because I was trying to make the photo of the concept sketch for the cover illustration for my upcoming book, The Hidden, large enough so the details could be seen. So I reduced the size which moved the text into the column.

World-building

A cover from the 1954 science fiction magazine "If" depicting astronauts climbing rocks on an alien planet.
Photo Credit: Kenneth Fagg/Wikimedia Commons


Well, back to developing the setting of my new sci fi-horror short. Particularly, I had been having problems naming one of the alien races’ planet. I tried thinking of a name based on the planet’s geography and the aliens’ overall institutions and customs. I looked to real-life myth first since I was thinking in terms of the race’s religious beliefs, in which being made up of warring city-states each state holds its own religion. But these aliens are imperialising, particularly when it comes to discovering new planets with rich resources (the ill rationale for just about all imperialism) . I didn’t want to reflect too much of our own world’s myths in the planet’s name so I turned to various languages. Unlike the world-building I did for my other story back in March, the world-building for this one involves naming a totally made up planet even though the setting is in our own Milky Way Galaxy. This is precisely how I came up with the planet’s name and how you can too for your alien or fantasy world . . .

1. Create a geography: Although this doesn’t necessarily have to be done first, this is how I did it and it helped me. I imagined what the planet’s terrain would be made up of. Since the story calls for a conquering race of aliens, I created a rocky, mountainous, relatively cold planet where mountains separate the societies and because the terrain is not very fertile, there is fierce competition between the societies.

 2. Create a language: Anthropology says that geography shapes a society’s culture and that goes for language too. So I needed to name my alien race’s planet, but in order to do that I needed to create a language for them. Because the race lives in an environment that has lead to harsh competition, their language system would be made up of hard sounds that are choppy and fast in tone. What cultures on our own planet have such hard-sounding language, all morals of the cultures aside? The Germanic cultures, and believe it or not, this includes our own English language (regardless of our ancestral cultures). 

So I took two words that represented the rocky, mountainous planet and those words were, as you might’ve guessed, “rock” and “mountain” and used Google’s translator tool to translate them into several Germanic languages. But unlike I did for my last story that I used the translator for, I didn’t simply translate the words. I combined different parts of the them to come up with a satisfying name that reflected the aliens’ language system. The translated words I came up with were the German word for rock which is “felsen”, the Finnish word for mountain which is “vouri” and the Norwegian one which is “fjell”. I tried several combinations of the above translated words until I came up with one that sounded harshest and most alien, and that was “Felvuric”. So, at least for now, I named my alien planet Felvuric. 

What emotions does “Felvuric” convey to you in its sounds? Does it convey fear, anger, aggression? For the fellow authors out there, what techniques have worked for you in naming the worlds in your stories? Please feel free to leave your answers in the box below.



Until next time . . .

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Concept Sketch for the Cover of My New and Upcoming Book

(Updated 7/11/15)

Happy Fourth of July, everybody!

Since it's a day to celebrate freedom and independence, including the freedom and independence to be the artists and art lovers that we want and also write and read what we want, I'm going to keep this post a little shorter than usual. However, I did say a while back that I would share concept art for the cover to my next book of short stories, tentatively titled The Hidden. So here it is (Click on it to enlarge).



Pencil sketch depicting silhouettes of a girl holding a club and a man walking down an infinite-appearing alley.
Photo Credit: Steven Rose, Jr.

I'm thinking about using red and black as the main colours. However, because the wall that the girl is standing against is supposed to be shadowed, I may make that blue in a tone that complements the red or mediates between the red and black. I'm not sure if I want to leave the club in her hand or give her a knife instead. I'm strongly considering the knife since it's more iconic of the horror genre which several of the stories in this book will be of to at least some extent. There will also be some science fiction, which is why I made the flying saucer-shaped eyes in the sky above. I'm also considering making the tops and far "ends" of the walls gradient to give them the effect of disappearing into the darkness. Please let me know what you think (e.g. any changes you think should be made, additions, etc.) in the box below.
Also, find out how much closer we are to science fiction becoming science fact in my article I published early this morning at Examiner.com. You may be surprised that we're a lot closer than you originally thought. 

Have a safe and fun Fourth of July!

Until next time . . .