A Condom for Your Words

Vintage "Akron Tourist Tubes" Tin

Vintage “Akron Tourist Tubes” Tin

Requests to check out more of Phreak Show have necessitated a means to that end.

Authonomy is my cure.

With my first two novels, I played the rankings game over there: chat & spam & and claw for 1 of the 5 coveted spots “on the desk”. Translation: work your ass off, burn a ridiculous amount of hours, harass the other members, needlessly obsess over rankings. And all to be listed in the -Top 5- on the last day of the month. The prize: a review from an Editor—apparently only quasi-helpful and arriving 6 months later. Authors who fight for and snag that golden ring end up  a little disappointed, it seems.

It’s a shiny carrot which isn’t worth chasing. Thankfully, there is a lot more to the site than that single aspect.

If you get caught up in the rankings and campaigning, you’ll miss the beauty of Authonomy. That beauty flashes in three facets: an amazing writing community, thoughtful feedback, and a public forum to steer interested readers to your work.

Virtual Betas & CP’s are awesome. I have gleaned some of the most useful, insightful feedback from amazing folks I’ve never met face-to-face. But it phreaks me out a little to email my manuscript to someone I don’t know. Not because I fear they’ll hate it or say heart-wrenching things. I’m cool with that. What scares me is that they have ALL MY WORDS. A stranger—one who may or may not be the same in real life as online—can enjoy my words, or gank them. Steal them.

These are the things I worry about: A ‘find-and-replace’ could instantly change out the characters’ names. Phineas becomes Barnum, Tera becomes Rachel. A quick re-titling, and my creation could be self-pubbed, online, in minutes. Phreak Show becomes Sideshow Nightmare. And I would have no idea. It’s akin to a kidnapping, dying the kid’s hair, moving her to a new city, and calling her Juniper Smith  instead of Erica.

I believe most people are honest in their cores. Generally, I trust strangers. I’m the weirdo who talks to people in elevators. I pick up hitchhikers. I couchsurf and sleep in strangers’ homes. But there is a part of me that understands that some folks smile while fingering the dagger in their pocket.

As creators, we must protect what is ours.

Thus, Authonomy.

I’m sure there are conniving, magical ways around it, but [CTRL C] doesn’t work on Authonomy. Also, I only post portions of my novels. NEVER the whole thing. This is my solution for minimizing the risk while engaging in risky behavior. It’s like a condom for your words. Is it failsafe? Of course not. Is it 99.98% effective? I hope so.

Gosh, this post sounds like I’m all paranoid and shit. I’m not really. It’s just that, you see, I invest all of me into my art. And the possibility of having that outpouring abused makes me want to guard the youngling like a tiny child clueless of the dangers all around him. Maybe I’m an overprotective parent. That doesn’t bother me one bit, because I want my kid to play and make friends, but I don’t want his naivety to get him hurt. You know, like a good Daddy.

So, guaranteed ALIVE AND BREATHING, on display for all to see, the first 7 chapters of Phreak Show.
[Update: Due to some overhauling edits,  the excerpt is in timeout.]

Please enjoy. Comment. Or don’t. Love it. Hate it. Cringe, cry, smile, wonder, giggle, dream, root, scream, lust, beg for more. Any or all of those things. Just know, a mindful, cautious Daddy’s is sitting over there on that bench making sure you play nice.

Dang it was difficult for me to decide on an accompanying image for this post. Do you know how many AMAZING risque pics I could have selected? Oodles. Ah, but to push things a little without going too far… Welcome to the world of self-editing an online presence, Lucas.

FREEBORN: Authonomy Ranking

I am crazy-swamped with a combo of writing and preparation for a huge antique show in Brimfield, MA next week. Nevertheless, I wanted to drop in a quick post regarding FREEBORN’s status on Authonomy.

It has been gaining backers at a good pace–better than Capritare managed in its early days. Being a fan of spreadsheets and graphs, this shows FREEBORN’s progress so far:


The trendline shows that it will hit the number one spot on 5/5. Yeah right! Apparently Excel has no idea that its projection algorithm has nothing to do with the reality of Authonomy’s ranking melee.

Yesterday, it was rated as the 13th hottest book of the week. Not too shabby.

Check out the first 14 Chapters of Freeborn here: http://www.authonomy.com/books/43469/freeborn/ And if you’re game, sign up for a !FREE! account, and put FREEBORN on your virtual shelf. Katia, Adam, Aeiou, and I would surely appreciate it.

The cake is a lie. I remember when I spent HOURS each day reading & critting on Authonomy. None of it was selfless. The hope was that the ‘favor’ would be returned. Yes, the feedback was helpful; but the ultimate goal was to move up in the rankings and ‘make the desk’. How fucking lame. The promise of a sorry-excuse-for-a-review for all the groveling, scratching, and climbing? What a timesuck. I rarely go on there now. Just once in a while to check in on my firends in the AWB forum. Beyond that, I have Twitter as my preferred method of timesuck. 😉 

Beta Comments: FREEBORN

Holy FREEBORN, Batman!

Apologies for neglecting the blog posting over the last couple days. I have been churning out a chapter a day on FREEBORN. So far, I have been receiving amazing feedback from my betas. There have been a few minor issues I have corrected, but no major flaws.

Tonight, I received this as portion of some feedback from Tamara Hickman  http://tamarahickman.wordpress.com/ based on the first seven chapters. Of course, I took out the few ‘suggestions’ and just left in the positives for public consumption. 🙂

HOLY CRAP, MAN! Where is the rest? I need it!

I was sucked in, and couldn’t stop reading. There are large sections with no notes, and those are probably the places where I was completely enthralled by the story. If something jarred me out of the story, I noted it.

All of my preconceptions about this story are gone. I didn’t think that I could enjoy the story as much as I did. I love the characters, and their interactions with each other are fluid. The dialogue is sharp, and I can see distinct personalities in almost all of your characters. The introduction of the infected candystriper is genius, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

Your story is extremely dynamic, and there is never a moment where the friction/action/conflict stops. There is always something going on, driving the story, and I could tell that right away when it forced me to stay up until 1:04am, reading to the very last word. And then I wanted to cry when there was no more. =)

Holy Handgrenades, Bat Man! Hurry up and finish this book so I can get my claws on it!

Capritare: Discovery – New Cover

I am so stoked about the new cover for Capritare.

Credit for all the hard work goes to Carrie McRae whom I met on Authonomy.
Her Photobucket profile, along with draft 3 of her image can be found HERE.

We went through three rounds of back-and-forth to move the original idea closer to my vision.
To see the progression, check out this album on my Facebook.

Being a writer & an artist, I had to tweak it. (I just had to…)
Using good ol’ Gimp2, I masculinized the figure, corrected a little anatomy, tweaked some shadow/highlighting issues, and gave the image a more ‘painterly’ feel.

Much thanks to Carrie!

[Author’s Note: At some point over the last couple days I decided to change the Subtitle!]

Two Cents

There is a great line from a Jay Brannan song that says:I should have million of dollars, ’cause every asshole’s put two cents in.

I have been receiving a lot of useful feedback from the authors & readers at Authonomy. Most of the comments have been helpful in pointing out issues that my myopic view of the story won’t allow me to see. These suggestions have helped me further polish the narrative to a lustrous sheen.

As with opinions on any topic, many can be disregarded outright. This has become most apparent when receiveing reviews from readers who don’t normally delve into the fantasy genre. One issue that has been noted, is that the storia begins in media res. The stage is set, the characters are already in place, and the reader is allowed to sit around a campfire-of-sorts and join a conversation which has already begun. The backstory unfolds for the reader as the characters discover the truths for themselves.

I feel strongly about dropping the reader into the midst of the opening scene where they begin to learn about the world from the characters’ viewpoint. Having just been “reborn” in a sense, the characters are beginning their journey, and we are taken along for the ride. I found an interview of literary agent Laurie McLean by Stacey O’Neale here . Laurie addresses this issue in one of her responses.

Q: With fiction partials, what makes you stop reading and start skimming-or stop reading altogether?
A: The usual suspects. Grammatical errors, misspellings, too much exposition, too little character revelation, using too many words to say something, passive verbs, too little or too much world building, slow pacing, backstory, etc. In this modern age, and especially with fantasy, you need to pack as much power into your opening scene as possible. Your world should be front and center, but not so much that you slow the pacing of the action to a crawl. Banish backstory in this scene. Instead feather it throughout the manuscript-exactly what is needed exactly when the reader needs to know it, not before. And make your characters compelling. If the reader doesn’t like the character enough to want to take the journey of a story with them, you’ve lost me.

I may very well be using this excerpt as a proof-text to prove that my instinct is correct. That’s okay. I can bend a little on providing a bit more explanation up front if needed. CAPRITARE: The Cycles Begin doesn’t currently have a “Prologue”, so I can always add a lead-in if need be. But, I am going to hold out and wait for that recommendation to come from an agent, not a non-fantasy-reading-reviewer.

I’m with Jay. I ought to be a millionaire.

A New Addiction

Authonomy is addictive.

I am a goal-oriented chap. Authonomy is a like crack to an overachiever like me. The site dangles the huge, yummy carrot of making it to the Editor’s Desk in front of hopeful authors. And we claw after it.

When the month ends, the top five books on the site make it to the ED, and recieve a review from Harper Collins. That’s it. While a professional review is a good thing, biting into Authonomy’s Holy Grail is not a promise of publication. I read in one of the forums that only four of the past ED books have been picked up by Harper Collins.

Still, we strive.

That striving takes on many forms; forum participation, shameless email pleading, promises of read-swaps, the targeting of both newbies and high-ranking members, etc. My personal efforts have been mainly offering thorough, honest critiques of authors’ first two or three chapters. I enjoy the analysis, and it keeps my editorial eye keen.

At this point, after signing up thirteen days ago, I have read more than ninety chapters. Unless the writing is completely indecipherable–or utterly boring–I provide specific feedback on both the contents and mechanics. About 75% of the authors have responded with their own comments on my novel.

So, as far as addictions go, Authonomy doesn’t have a lot of noticeable side-effects. It does, however, have some positive ones:

  • The more I read others’ writing, the better I am becoming at weighing the merit of my own
  • While the many of the resulting comments offer platitudes, a few contain solid feedback i have already implemented to hone my manuscript
  • The process definitely tightens up the self-marketing skills–which will be helpful once my novel is actually in print & e-reader format (YES! It will happen.)
  • There are some amazing, quirky authors on Authonomy, and it’s great to connect with like minds

[Disclaimer: These are probably just the ramblings of an addict trying to justify his addiction…]

Comments, feedback, a six-star rating, and placing my book on your Authonomy shelf are all welcome.

[Damnnit! There I go again.]

We’re Moving On Up…

Authonomy has a ranking system where other authors can back an unpublished book. The higher the novel climbs in the ranking, the more eyes look at it. If it makes it to–and stays in–the Top 5 for a while, it magically gets transported to an Editor’s Desk at Harper Collins.

Beginning as a brand-spanking-newbie two days ago, CAPRITARE: The Cycles Begin started at position 5,334. So far, it has inched up 233 notches, and is currently ranked 5,101.

Here’s to celebrating small achievements, and working our way to the top!

::: raises glass :::