Monday, June 30, 2014

My Writing Process - Blog Tour

A special thanks to Keith Darrell for inviting me to participate in this blog tour! Be sure to check out his blog at: http://www.keithbdarrell.com/

On to the questions!

What am I working on?

Currently I'm working on wrapping up a young adult science fiction series.  Books 1-4 are out.  Number 5 is in the works!

The series is called the Uxel Herum Saga and it's a coming of age story that takes place in a science fiction universe I created called Muzik Chronicles.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I would say the main thing that makes the series stand out is the path to power my main character takes.  I'm a music teacher and a martial arts nerd.  I combined those two things and created "The Tuning System."  People who practice it learn to control their own natural vibrations and use it as a way of affecting their surroundings.

Why do I write what I do?

Because I love it.

Pretty simple.  But it's true.  The scifi that I write appeals to an extremely niche market of readers.  So it's certainly not for the purpose of making money.  Scifi sparks my imagination in a way that very few other genres do.  It makes me think outside the box.

How does my writing process work?

It's sadly boring.  My only real "rule" is that I have to write a minimum of 800 words every day.  How or when that gets accomplished seems to fluctuate depending on how much other crap I have going on that day.

I used to outline my story before I started writing but I found that everything went a lot smoother once I threw that out the window.  I jot down a few general concepts and then just go for it.  Too rigid of a structure makes it difficult for characters to do their thing. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Website Addiction Problems

It's not what you think.  I'm not addicted to websites.  I'm addicted to designing them.

I go through strange phases where I won't touch a website at all.  Years could go by.  And then I'll find a new website design program or a blog host will offer a new set of templates and then... Pandora's box.  It's simply no longer enough to have one website looking nice for one business.  Suddenly life would be drastically improved if they all were looking nice.

There's probably some sort of psychological analysis you could do here about latent control issues.  Especially considering that time and effort may be put into a site that gets zero traffic anyway... yikes.

But since I like to put a positive spin on things I will say that this has made me fairly internet savvy.  A good trait to have if one happens to be pursuing a career as an independently published author.  It's not a bad addiction to have.  I probably should just not stay up until 3am feeding it....

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Concept Behind "Glory: The Uxel Herum Saga" by Alain Gomez



So I'm going to try something new with these "concept" blog posts.  If you find out about the story through this post, mention it in an email and the first five people will receive a complementary copy from an e-store of their choice.

Anyway... the adventure continues with Uxel!  Uxel continues to realize her true character in being captured by the Imperium and forced to design a set of special tuned ships.  The task is way beyond her but her but in doing so she learns what she truly values.

Originally I planned on this story arc spanning five books and it still will be.  But I've really be liking how Uxel's character is developing.  So I'm thinking of continuing her "saga" by later making another five book story arc that takes place several years after this one.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Fiction Arcade

My name is Alan Shelton, and I am a newly minted publisher of online short stories. I hang my hat at a website called Fiction Arcade (www.fictionarcade.com), and - thanks to the kind indulgence of Alain - I'd like to make a shameless-but-brief plug for it.

Fiction Arcade is YouTube crossed with iTunes, but for the short story. We provide a convenient platform where anyone can upload their work for free (a la YouTube), and we allow them to sell it for less than a dollar (a la iTunes). These two elements didn't mesh well in the days before omnipresent social media and online micropayments, but now they work like gangbusters for video and music sites. So why not short fiction?

Fiction Arcade is based on two premises: 1) that traditional publishers don't price short stories correctly and 2) that great stories get recognized and rewarded through a positive word-of-mouth feedback cycle.

Regarding the first premise, even other online publishers typically won't go below 99 cents. That's fine for a novel or even a novella, but for a six page story? A lot of readers might balk at that. But what if the price was, say, 20 cents? Admittedly, that's 80 cents less per sale for the author, but it's also potentially a lot more sales.

As to the second premise, consider YouTube. Sure, 99% of its offerings are junk, but there are a lot of gems to be mined from that remaining 1%. Besides, one person's junk is another's treasure. You may not think Skifcha the dubstep cat (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMnasxSxfl8) is all that entertaining, but I find it to be the pinnacle of human achievement. And people share what they like. A few downloads become a few dozen become a few hundred and so on.

But just like with any publisher, Fiction Arcade can only succeed if it attracts quality stories which in turn attract readers. So in order to entice authors to 'invest' their stories in Fiction Arcade, we're running a series of monthly competitions between May and December with a total cash prize pool of $9,000.

Each month from May to November, the most popular author in that month's genre will receive $250 as will the most popular author on the site overall. In December, the most popular author in each genre will receive $250, while the three most popular authors on the site overall (from May to December) will receive $1,750, $1,250 and $750, respectively.

Popularity in this case means story downloads and ratings. This turns readers into judges who vote with their pocketbooks. Thus, regardless of whether an author wins any prize money, all story downloads translate directly into royalties for the authors. Furthermore, stories remain available for download as long as the author wishes. The idea is to ensure that all good stories provide a return to their authors.

We've already awarded our first $500 in prize money for May to an up-and-coming sci-fi writer named Jacob Aldrich. The June contest is now underway, and there are still six months more after that. Come and help us grow Fiction Arcade so that Fiction Arcade can help grow the market for short story authors!

In addition to our main site (www.fictionarcade.com), you can connect with us through our Facebook writers' group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/fictionarcade/), Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/fictionarcade) and on Twitter (https://twitter.com/FictionArcade).

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Review of "Counterpoint," a single story in a collection by Elizabeth Morris



Summary:
Fiction seeks the truth. What underlies conflict? What values can we relate to and what are the risks? And how, really, does the world work? Short fiction does the same, with closely-observed details, effortless dialogue, and familiarity

It’s the little things that make a short story into a big story. It’s the details and the intimacy. It’s the skillful knowing of the characters: their courage, obstinacy, fears, and resilience. In these stories we meet Josephine in Pal Jo and Linda in It’s a Long Time Pull, both holding to optimism like drowning sailors to flotsam. Amory, the man being robbed in an elevator in To Sketch a Thief is surprisingly and enchantingly thrilled by the encounter. The three bad boys in Lights Out are frightened into goodness by the 1965 Northeast Blackout, and Hank, the bicyclist in Down, Down, Down, Into the Valley of the Snake is startled by loneliness into clinging to his marriage.

Elizabeth Morris’s characters are sometimes racist or lonely or fat or confused or awesome, but always complex and both intuitively and authentically imagined. They are easily believable.

Many of these stories take place on or near the water. A child pokes among rockweed to find periwinkles; a New England divorcee concentrates on a limpet’s slime trail; ocean swells roil against cliffs on a Russian island in the Arctic Ocean; and off the coast of an island in the Aleutians in rough seas, a birdwatcher keeps his hand clamped to the gunwale of a small aluminum skiff.

Morris, a long-distance sailor, knows the sea and knows when to keep the foreground of her stories in the front and the background astern.

Review:
A sweet though not overly complex story about loss, acceptance and new love.  Morris has a gift for making believable characters in a very short space of time.  This particular story is about a woman traveling to a special location to spread her husband's ashes.  Within just a few paragraphs I felt a connection to the widow, an impressive feat.

The characters were created so carefully I couldn't help but feel like more should have been done with them.  The story should have either been more concise (developing a single moment) or longer (developing her life and experiences further).  As it stands, it leaves the reader in some strange limbo between the two.

Still, a promising author to keep an eye on.

3/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy this collection on Amazon.