Show Don’t Tell

In the world of writing one phrase is used more often than any other when one author is giving advice on how to write: Show, Don’t Tell.

There are so many posts and blogs about this topic that it staggers the mind. And look, I just added to the pile! I digress. Somone just posted a question on how to “show, don’t tell” on Reddit. I rolled my eyes. Why? A ten second Google effort would answer the question, but clearly, this Redditor is looking for Karma. Nonetheless, I clicked and went to the post. Why? I wanted to see what humorous comments I would find. One of those comments had a link. I hovered, wondering if this was going to be a risky click, and clicked.

I was taken to perhaps the best description of Show Don’t Tell I have ever read. Here’s the link (not risky at all, trust me): Nuts and Bolts: “Thought” Verbs.  Still not sure you want to click it? What if I told you the essay on that page was written by Chuck Palahniuk, author of the novel Fight Club? I’ll wait here until you get back.

Back? See? What did I tell you? Brilliant.

By the way, if that has you excited about writing I encourage you to go read Passive vs Active Voice articles. And if that excites you, then I challenge you to go through anything you’ve written and delete the word “that” out of your sentences. Try it. It will improve your writing quite noticeably. Sometimes you can’t remove it. Like in this paragraph.

All-in-all a wonderful essay by Mr. Palahniuk. So happy I read this just before I started the second draft of Freamhaigh.

Ciao.

Change Is A Good Thing

“Strange fascinations fascinate me
Ah, changes are takin’
The pace I’m goin’ through.”

David Bowie from “Changes”

So, I announced my retirement from the Royal Canadian Navy. I am changing my life, once again. I am transitioning to a civilian life but still working for the RCN. I couldn’t be happier. Change is merely a transition.

I have also transitioned as an author. It’s a subtle thing but the more you write the better you get and at points you can look back and wonder how you managed to get to the next plateau. I read posts from new authors, each struggling to find their way, and remember with a shudder going through those same pains and tribulations. I’m on a new plateau at the moment and it’s a wonderful view.

Then I look up and see all the other plateaus above me. It’s such a climb. But it’s worth it. The view gets better.

Musing: I’m not sure how many people see an author and think “that person is an artist.” Do they instead only think of musicians, painters, and sculptors as artists? Well, I think of myself as an artist. I always have, whether I was writing software or writing novels. Or even playing on my piano.

Writing is such a joy and expression of creativity. I marvel at the wonder of putting words together that illicit a stirring of emotion. You can write a sentence a hundred ways, much like you can paint a flower a hundred ways. It is writing that sentence until it is just right that brings joy to a writer. At least for me. Words are power. This civilisation of ours is a thin veneer of laws and beliefs that protect us from the underlying chaos. Some words make us stronger while others try to tear us down. Choose your words carefully. Try and make the world a better place.

“Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
There’s gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time.”

David Bowie from “Changes”.

Quick Update

So I have stopped my review request campaign. Turns out that this is rather rude. It’s like telemarketing. Luckily, one of the first people I sent an email to is an author who has a rather acerbic wit. She led me to her website that deals with authors who would spam others. It had excellent advice and I am in the process of implementing the advice.

On a more positive note, I have now included a widget on my website. It’s on the right-hand side and it is a graphic from Pacemaker that shows how many words I have written in my novel Stoc. I need to write about 50,000 words to finish the novel. I finished Part One yesterday at around 48,000 words. That will bring the novel to around 100K words which is the right number of words for my novels, I think. 120K words is a little too much.

Anyway, now you can track my progress!

Ciao.

Indie Author and Mainstream Publishing

Support Indie Authors

I’m biased. I am an Independent Author (AKA Indie Author) and so I will gravitate more toward Indie Authors than mainstream authors. I want to say that up front. This is an opinion post. Not well researched and completely anecdotal.

I remember when paperback prices started to rise back in the 80s and 90s. There was anger by the readers and articles were written about it. The rationale of the big publishing houses? It cost more to produce a paperback or hardcover novel. The cost of paper, ink, binding, etc. all had increased and so did the cost of the novel. Many people, including me, didn’t believe it but had no choice but to accept that argument. I have tried to find articles on this but failed to find any – it was in the early days of the internet and I am pretty sure it was in an Ottawa Citizen newspaper article. I remember the gist of it though. Back then I paid for those paperbacks myself over at the House of Speculative Fiction on Fourth Avenue in Ottawa. [I miss that store, by the way. I still have those books downstairs on many bookshelves.]

When paperback prices started to rise, I was angry and couldn’t understand why, but when it was explained by the publishing houses I had little choice but to accept but I never forgot their explanation – even today. Thankfully along comes the eBook, and I rejoiced. The arguments I was fed for the high price of paperbacks no longer applied! I was happy (and yet deeply saddened at the loss of holding a book in your hands for an e-reader).

Indie Author; Bored?Fast forward to today. An author I follow, Patricia Briggs, a New York Times Bestseller who writes Urban Fantasy published the latest in her Mercy Thompson series and is charging $12.67 USD ($14.99 CAD) for the Kindle version of that novel as of today. I am flabbergasted. What justifies that cost? Can it be the cost of producing the novel that raised the price so high? I hardly think so. Ebooks are frakking EASY to put together. Writing is the hard part – formatting is easy. A child could do it. Takes about a day to do it right. So what is it? Greed? The cost for the most amazing and perfect editing job ever seen on Earth? Gimme a break.

$14.99? For an ebook? That is far too much, IMHO. We are starting to see more and more established authors charging more and more for their work. I wonder what the next A Song of Ice and Fire novel will cost? Probably more than $14.99 CAD. Shameful.

In comparison, another author I favour, Faith Hunter, also published a new novel in her Jane Yellowrock series. Faith is another New York Times Bestseller but her novel is only $7.60 USD ($8.99 CAD) on Amazon. While I find that a little high in price it is acceptable for someone who has made it “big” and can start to demand more for her work.

This is not hypocrisy on my part. I suppose everyone has a price that is their line in the sand. Everyone has a threshold for what they can accept. Mine is less than $10 CAD for an established author. Note that I can buy two of Faith’s books for one of Patricia’s. So, guess where my money goes?

What’s the difference? Who is the better author? They are both New York Times bestsellers. Yet one is pricing her novel at almost twice the cost of the other author. Does this mean that Patricia Briggs is twice the quality of Faith Hunter? I wouldn’t say so. They both have strengths. I personally prefer Jane Yellowrock over Mercy Thompson but that is a personal preference.

Who chooses what to sell the ebook at? I believe that is the publishing house that represents the author. So who published each novel? Penguin Group USA. The same company for both authors. Interesting, no? So, like the sailor I am, I boil away the water and see two piles of salt. One is larger than the other and is wrapped in dollar signs.

The good news: People will see those prices and say “fuck that” and go buy a reasonably priced Indie author’s novel(s). Yay, me. Publishing companies are shooting themselves in the foot, IMHO.

Segue: Some bloggers have been arguing that Amazon has been intentionally driving the price of ebooks down to corner the market. Others are saying that publishing companies are increasing the costs of ebooks to drive out the market. I don’t know what to believe. This anecdotal evidence seems to support both these arguments. I just know as an Indie Author I scramble to make the small amount of change I make off the sale of my novels. These prices frighten me and anger me because I buy all my novels. I have since I was a kid.

Will I crank my price up to $14.99 when I become famous? Not if I have any say in the matter. I want the 14-year-old kid of today to be able to click my novel and pay for it with their own pocket money and not have to take out a line of credit to do so.

Sorry to rant but wow, what a piss off to see ebooks gouging people like this.

Ciao.

Here are a couple of interesting articles I found after about 10 seconds of Googling:

Have Publishers Shot Themselves in the Foot with Costly Ebooks? by Caleb Mason (January 19, 2016)

Publishers Initiate Predatory Pricing on e-Books to Destroy the Market by Michael Kozlowski (September 26, 2015)