Tag Archives: Noble Ark

Growing Community

Evan’s 1000th post yesterday made me nostalgic. When my son showed me the Superstars Seminar advert, I never imagined how much that event would affect my life.  But, of course, that could be said of quite a few events I’ve attended over the years.  And it all started by submitting a story.

Intrigued by the concept of FTL travel and the suspension of time, I wrote a short story about a planet with aliens who travel from one end of their speed-of-light-rotation planet to the other, in opposite directions. It was terrible. I submitted to the only short story market I’d heard of, Writers of the Future. The rejection letter from Joni Labaqui, though I’m sure it was a form rejection, is still the nicest rejection I’ve ever received. Somehow, WotF has managed to put together a letter that says no while still telling writers, “you’re great, what you’re doing is great, keep at it and you will get there.” That was my community seed.

If my piece could be rejected and me still feel good about writing then I should be able to handle the rejection of my local peers. Thus, I joined the local writer’s group. If they enjoyed my writing and supported me then I could find the courage to attend my first convention. Thus, I attended World Fantasy Convention. There, I met a wonderful published author and I realized that if she saw promise in my work and was willing to take time on me then I should take the opportunity to learn from other well-published authors. Thus, I ended up at Superstars Writing Seminar and we eventually formed The Fictorians.

With my Superstars/Fictorians support I branched out further, attending more seminars, workshops, conventions and eventually I started having my own launch parties and signing events. Recently, I released the third book, Mwalgi Justice, in my “Mankind’s Redemption” series. I’ve had the series compared to Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon’s work. I also released the first book, Fourteen, in “The Number Prophecy. “I couldn’t have done it without the wonderful community that has encouraged and helped me move forward. Of course, not every interaction has been good, but most have, and the journey has been worth it. I have fabulous friends.

I encourage all writers to take the time to reach out and grow their community. Even if you’re published and attending conventions, do you spend time with people or hole up in your room. People remember how you treat others and your community can grow or shrink and it’s not all about the quality of your work. Get brave or get humble, whichever is necessary, and reach out a hand. Because a community holding hands can create miracles.

Just another reminder: There are a lot of great books waiting to be taken to a loving home.  Just click on the buttons in the right sidebar and enter.  Tomorrow, come back and enter again. If you’d like to try out my new series, “The Number Prophecy,” Fourteen will be one of the prizes next week.  Happy Reading!

Second Person? Yes, You Can

SojournerOne of the infallible rules that I’ve always been told is that you can never write a good story in second person. First person stories let us see the character in depth from a single person’s point of view. Third person, while not quite as personal, allows us to easily switch viewpoint characters and see the world from multiple points of view. But second person? Who wants to read a fiction story that keeps taking the reader out of the story by insisting that they are the character. “You went to the store. You bought a gallon of milk. You chugged it down so fast you made yourself sick.” Nope. Doesn’t work. But can it?

There are two scenarios in which I think second person works beautifully. First, is the choose-your-own-story scenario. These are books, sometimes online and sometimes sold in stores, where the storyline can change according to the choices the reader makes. I haven’t read many of these. Okay, maybe only one, but I’ve seen calls for them. One online publisher in particular–I can’t remember the name–wanted stories for YA girls. It seems that many of these girls enjoyed a second-person story with a bit of romance and adventure, where they could decide how their story progressed and how it ended. I think there’s some value in this. Just as first person, present-tense, makes a story more immediate, second-person can make it more personal. There’s a unique opportunity to entertain while teaching about the inevitable consequences to our choices, especially if the story is done realistically well.

Another scenario, my current favorite, is writing for games. After struggling for over a year with the technicalities of creating a story for the board game, Sojourner Tales, I finished the module, The Hologames. It’s a take off my Mankind’s Redemption series, going back to the early years of one of the side characters, and introducing the inception of one of the series’ fun elements, the hologames and hololympics. The story modules are written in second person, present tense, and like a choose-your-own-story, the players select the direction in which the story proceeds. There are a lot of great reasons to present the story modules this way:Hologames (2)_smaller

Second person makes the game feel like a personal adventure. In A Knight’s Tale, you are the one trying to find the princess. Will you find the clues, get lost in a dungeon, eaten by a dragon…? In The Hologames, you’re trying to win prizes and glory along with your chosen partner. Will you pick human or alien, which species, what battle themes, and will you select the right environments to win? Second person increases the fun of the scenarios.

In a board game scenario, having the story in second person coordinates with moving tokens, having unexpected events, and the eventual closing chapter and game conclusion. They integrate well.

By putting a tell-your-own story with a board game, Tracy Hickman has brilliantly made a game that can be played multiple times for each story module and the players will have a slightly different game each time. It may not be strategy with the complexity of Twilight Imperium, but the inherent variety is an interesting twist on traditional board games. It’s a lot of fun.

So, never write in second person? Generally, no, but when given a chance to take a risk and step outside the box, I took it. It’s been a great ride.

Bio: Colette BlackAuthor Pic
Colette Black lives in the far outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona with her family, 2 dogs, a mischievous cat and the occasional unwanted scorpion.  She loves learning new things, vacations, and the color purple. She writes New Adult and Young Adult sci-fi and fantasy novels with kick-butt characters, lots of action, and always a touch of romance.

The Horrible, No-good, Launch Party part 1

IMG_0158I had the books in hand. They looked great. I even had a couple of reviews already. It was time for the launch party. Eager for success I started looking into bookstores, but nothing close to my budding community readership would allow new authors, especially self-published ones. After a ton of online research I decided to hold the launch at the local Paradise Bakery, close to my community and a place I’d often had get-togethers with fellow authors and artists. I screwed up my courage and asked the manager. That part went easier than I’d expected, and we set up a date, earlier than I’d originally intended. That’s when the gut-wrenching fear hit me.

What if I did a lousy job of advertising? What if I didn’t have enough of PB’s yummy little cookies for everyone? What if I had way too many? What if I spent too much money? What if I couldn’t get anyone to help me and I had to talk to people, do sales, and everything else all by myself? What if nobody came and it ended up a waste of time, money, and nerves?

Those are the kinds of questions that can keep a person up at night. When I found out we were talking about author fears this month, this was what came to mind. I was terrified for that launch party. It turned out that I did have too many cookies, but not so many that my family didn’t finish them off by the end of the next day. My community advertising didn’t do a whole lot, but my online fb invites, emails, and community word-of-mouth made up for it. People came, my family helped with sales, friends donated pens when mine came up missing, and I ended up with a non-stop crowd.

No matter what we fear, and even if it might completely flop, the only way to succeed is to face our fears. We may have to face them over and over again, we may stumble and fall a few times, but as long as we keep getting up and moving forward then we’re still taking steps toward success. Will my next launch go as well? I don’t know, but I’ll never know unless I go. More on that in part 2.


The Aliens Have Left the Building

NA cover_jimmy gibbs1I hope everyone had fun with our themes this month. “Two aliens walked into a bar…” has certainly turned out some interesting pieces. Same prompt, yet every single person wrote with different voice, pov, concepts, and the list goes on. The most wonderful thing about pov, in my opinion, is that every perspective is different. It’s those differences that keep the stories interesting.

I’ve been amazed  this month, as I’ve come down to the final wire with publishing my first novel, at how much my personal perspectives on publishing have changed. Formatting isn’t so hard, but formatting to the acceptance of multiple retailers is a near-nightmare. Kobo and Ingram Spark were easier than expected, while Smashwords and B&N had some unexpected curves in the road. Amazon was easiest, as expected. Getting a venue for a launch party…no sweat. Getting the word out and getting everything ready, way more time-consuming than I thought. I could go on, but you get the idea. Perspectives change in life and so should the perspectives of our characters. In my newly released novel, Noble Ark, the main protagonist hates all aliens, is head over heels for the handsome man in her life, and thinks she knows the goals that matter most. As circumstances challenge her beliefs, her perspective changes, and she grows as a person. We’ve all experienced this in some way, and we continue to do so on a daily/monthly/yearly basis. We must make sure our characters resonate with that same experience–a changing perspective.

We’ve received some great tips in that regard from our Fictorians as they covered topics like: multiple pov, YA, scene-setting, controlling characters, secondary charactersvoice, showing through pov, unfamiliar pov, extraordinary characters, fan etiquette, author-to-fan etiquette, and we’d like to welcome our newest Fictorians member, Kim May, and thank her for fabulous information about selling to small bookstores.

I’d like to also make a special shout out of thanks to our amazing guests this month. Such variety!

Randy McCharles runs some of the conventions we love: How do they choose their guests? Find out.

The librarian perspective was shared by Shelley Reddy.

How does a book review show up on NPR? Ann Cummins knows all about it.

Heidi Berthiaume and Victoria Morris joined forces to explain the essential role of the Book Babe.

Ever wondered about those elusive publishers and editors with the magazines?Joseph Thompson, publisher of Isotropic Fiction, talked to us about the editing, rejection, and acceptance process.

Author of the Ronan Trilogy, Travis Heermann, took us into the reasons to love all types and sources of literature.

The talented Suzanne Helmigh agreed to give us an inside look at the artist’s point of view, telling us,”An artist only needs three things.

And hanker up a down-home accent, y’all,  while you read Guy de Marco’s post about how to understand the crazy stuff we write (and when not to write it).

Now I will close by saying, all of the aliens, in all their varied states, have left the building. Time to shut down the glittering disco ball, turn off the lights, and go home for a good night’s sleep.  Join us next month (tomorrow) as Gregory D. Little introduces the hidden gems of the publishing world.