Like all prolific readers, I've lost count of the number of science fiction and fantasy books I've read over the years. If there's a slightly lower number of worlds and settings for those books, it's only because I prefer to read books in series, especially when the setting is good. If the story has captured me, I like giving it time to take over my imagination completely. It's a kind of magic, a way to turn two dimensions into three over time. Sentences spring off the page and begin erecting the set in my imagination, and if the wiz - erm, I mean author - is any good at his craft, I'm sucked in to his world, heart and soul.
The books I consider "sticky," the ones that I read and reread and remember are the ones that let me sink into their settings as I turn the pages, losing contact with my real life for hours of escapist bliss. I want a setting that's rich in detail but doesn't bog down the pace of the story. Sketch it in with a few deft phrases or an aggregation of sentences and paragraphs. Immerse me in a time and place that are not my own.
Turns out, it's a lot to ask.
This morning, I was treated to an article on Amy Gahran's "Contentious.com" blog about how e-books are promoting reading habits among American adults. The article itself is here:"E-books spur reading among Americans, survey shows."
It's an amazing summation of the Pew Foundation's research into the Internet and American literacy. Despite some doom-and-gloom prophecies decrying the demise of books and literature in this country especially, it seems that our literacy is evolving to adapt - and expand - into an electronic, wireless world.
It seems to be the issue that won't go away. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of new titles are being uploaded to Amazon every day. Books and shorts that never would have seen the light of day under the ‘old regime’ can now be tossed up on the web, virtually for free, by anyone who thinks they're the next Mark Twain. Just this morning I read a new article from a part time author who was observing that:
Now everyone really can publish a book. Okay, not everyone—those without access to the Internet face a pretty deep challenge. But that's about it. Everyone else can have at it.
The Guardian Paladins believe she is out to destroy marriage, because Urilians give no consideration to gender in marriage, nor are they usually monogamous. The Valïans believe she promotes avarice because her followers are (mostly) merchants, bankers, investors, and lawyers. The B’nachians believe she is a slut and a whore because she is the patron of courtesans, and the clerical raiment of her priestesses, all beautiful women, reveals more than it hides. Criminals fear her wrath because they must stand before her judges as they pronounce their doom. It is said that none who have seen her have ever seen the same deity, for her beauty is beyond imagining, and each supplicant has their own image of unimaginable beauty. It is also said that she is vain, and claiming any earthly beauty to be equal to her deific handsomeness is sure to incite a jealous rage.
As surely as ebook readers such as the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iPad have revolutionized how we consume almost everything literary, so too has the Internet had a profound effect on how fiction actually gets written. "Fanfic" sites, where those devoted to popular television shows, movies, and video games supply their own stories about the characters they've come to love and hate, are popping up every day. Unable to publish their works in any official sense due to copyright laws, they stick with forums, blogs and other community sites where they can share their inspirations with others who share their addiction.
Taking one step out from that are smaller groups of writers who are fusing the structures in role playing games with fiction writing. Abandoning the chaos (and sometimes abuse) in the open chat-room style of gaming popular in the last decade, collaborating teams of writers/gamers are using the Internet and 21st century technology to recreate both role playing games and fiction -- and have one heck of a lot of fun while they're doing it.
It's the part of the self-publishing process that has caused me to tear my hair out, on more than one occasion: That drop-down menu with the innocuous word Category? on it, staring back at me somewhat accusingly.
It's the first thing I'm always asked, when I mention I've (co-)written a book, right after I say it's fantasy erotica. "Oh? What's it about?" -- the supposition being that there's something other than sex involved, thank you.
I know it's not just me. Other authors struggle with this too. How do you categorize a book? How do you synopsize it in 25 words or less? It's enough to make me wish I could write boilerplate romances, just so I could avoid having to answer!
Today is International Women's Day, and in response to the veritable "war on women" that some parties seem to be waging against my half of the world's population, I'd like to take a moment to highlight a few of the strong women at the heart of the stories we're writing these days.
It's difficult to do this without being spoilery, but I'll do my best. Here goes!
Okay, so I have a confession to make: I used to be an avid Rush Limbaugh listener. Yeah I know, right? Don't hate me. In my defense I have to say that it was very early in his career on the national stage, and to this day some—and I repeat some—of what he said in those earlier years still makes sense to me today. But that was then and this is now. And while I fully admit that, yeah my world view has changed as I've gotten older, I can't exactly say that about Rush. In fact, when he starts calling women ‘sluts’ and ‘prostitutes’ on national radio, I would have to say it looks like he's come completely unhinged. Here at MetPub we like sex and write about sex and women who enjoy sex and their sexuality—a lot! If Rush has a problem with that, I know a handful of Urilian Priestesses who would just love to set him straight about quite a few things. Birth control being just one.
But I digress.
So, if you’ve been reading Raven’s Tears, you’ve probably seen the odd dates. Chapter 1 opens with a date line of ‘15 Amerian 580,’ for instance, and you’ve probably been wondering what the heck that is all about. Well, here’s the answer:
There was a wonderful article published on CNET this morning asking a question that's on the minds of e-book readers and publishers alike—but especially we ‘indie’ publishers. What's the fair price of an ebook? After all, e-readers, as author Charlie Cooper (@coopydoop) points out, “were supposed to save book buyers [money]? It was among the big reasons why 20 million Americans decided to take the plunge.”