Posts Tagged With: japan

Wisdoms from my writers society meeting …

I just got back from my monthly London Writers Society meeting, and there were a lot of interesting thoughts and opinions floating around tonight, so I thought I’d share some of them. Now, I don’t necessarily agree with some of these — in fact, several of them I think are totally wrong — but I figured I’d share the full spectrum, and then you guys can take or leave whatever you want!

In no particular order … wisdoms from my writers society meeting:

  • Great writers should aim to write 1,000 words a day
  • Great writers should treat writing like a full time job, and work at least seven hours a day, six days a week
  • It’s more effective to write for a set period of time than write toward a specific word count goal
  • Great writers should “blueprint” their books before they ever set fingers to keyboard
  • Great writers should write first, and research later
  • Great writers should research first, and write second
  • Great writers should write only what they know

Lots of interesting ideas presented … and I’m not sure where I stand on a lot of them. I definitely disagree with the “write first, research later” mantra. What if I’ve decided to write a story about 18th century pirates in the South Pacific? I don’t know anything about 18th century pirates. I don’t know anything about the South Pacific. I don’t even know if there were 18th century South Pacific pirates. For all I know, the 18th century South Pacific seas were ruled by a cabal of hyper-intelligent octopoids. I’ll never know unless I research!

 

Unrelated media of the day:

Speaking of not knowing what the heck you’re talking about …

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Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Why everyone should read Battle Royale

Warning: This post isn’t quite as chipper as some of my previous posts. You’ve been warned!

If you’ve never heard of Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale, think Hunger Games set in a futuristic, dystopian Japan, on steroids (this is obviously a huge oversimplification, but just go with it). There’s been a lot of controversy recently about whether or not Suzanne Collins ripped off Battle Royale, but that’s not the point of this post. In this post, I’m going to explain why I think everyone should read Battle Royale at least once, because despite it not being the best-written book in the world, it has some really important ideas that I think more people should be exposed to.

Reason #1: It makes you take a hard look at yourself

When we read books, we usually end up putting ourselves in the shoes of one of the characters. It’s hard to connect to a story if you don’t do that. But in Battle Royale, the characters are average junior high students trapped on an island, given random weapons, and informed that they have to kill each other or else the collars locked around their necks will explode. Not quite as fun slipping into those shoes, is it?

Battle Royale forces you to put yourself in the position of these teenagers and ask yourself: What would I do in this situation? And it’s such a hard question to answer, because there is no easy answer. My initial response when I started reading the book was that I would hide, try to avoid confrontation, and only shoot to kill in self-defense. Okay, great. Now skip ahead 24 hours, and it’s only you and your best friend alive. One of you has to kill the other, or you both die. What do you do now? Do you trust your best friend not to turn on you? Are you willing to die to let them live? Are you willing to live with the knowledge that you killed them?

It’s a really morbid story, and very depressing to think about. But self-reflection is never a bad thing — how else do we learn about ourselves and try to improve?

Reason #2: It drives home how senseless and tragic violence is

Battle Royale is a heart-wrenching book, and not just because 40 teenagers die for no good reason. The worst part isn’t that they die, but how they die. Two young lovers throw themselves off a cliff because they’re unwilling to even consider harming their classmates. One boy spends the entire game trying to find his best friend and the girl he likes, only to have one die in his arms, and the other panic and shoot him. Another boy comes up with a brilliant plan to tear apart the game and get them all free, but is killed right before he can set his plan in motion.

When you read Battle Royale, there’s a certain part of you that cheers for the two crazy killers who go around riddling their fellow students with machine gun rounds — survival of the fittest and all that. But the rest of you comes away feeling profoundly sad and disillusioned with the glory that the media places on violence and killing, and I think that’s something that everyone needs to feel.

I have many more reasons, but those are the main two. The one I didn’t mention is that Battle Royale is just a really, really good story in general. Again, not terribly well written, but it’s pretty much impossible to put down. So, go forth, read, weep, and enjoy!

Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Just entered my first book contest! (IPPY Awards — deadline March 16th)

Just popping in to share some super exciting news — I’ve officially entered Imminent Danger into the 2013 IPPY Awards (Independent Publisher Book Awards). Preliminary research indicates that this is a legit contest — and if it isn’t, don’t tell me now, because I already entered and it’s a little too late for second guessing.

Because the deadline is in two days, the entry fee is $95. Yikes. But you know what, why not? I think I’ve produced a pretty darn cool book, and I’m hoping the IPPY peeps will think the same.

Anyway, if you’ve got $95 lying around and feel like entering your book in what is purportedly the “World’s largest international and regional book awards competition”, this is pretty much your last chance! Deadline is March 16th, so get over to their site and enter! For anyone interested, I used the online entry form, which just involves filling in a few fields, entering your credit card info, and then printing out the resulting page and sticking it in the front cover of your book and sending it off to the address they helpfully provide.

I predict great success and imminent victory for Imminent Danger. Should I not win this prestigious award, I shall do something JAW-DROPPINGLY TERRIBLE!!! — probably along the lines of drowning my sorrows in ice cream and then writhing on the floor in pain because I’m lactose intolerant. The future is bright, my friends. The future is bright.

Unrelated media of the day:

Some English guy in Japan moved into a new apartment and got this note from his neighbour:

 

Semi-related reminder of the day:

Enter my Goodreads giveaway so I can send you my book, dang it.

Categories: My Works | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 45 Comments

Purchasing My Own Book — The Smart Way, and the iUniverse Way

As I promised yesterday, today I bring you the latest silliness from iUniverse. You’re actually very lucky, because I have not one, but two bits of silliness to share with you today. Ready?

Silliness #1: Incorrect Genre Classification

This one is probably a clerical error, but it’s a very silly, uniquely iUniverse error. Imminent Danger is a YA sci-fi book. That’s not a particularly difficult genre to remember, right? And yet, the vast majority of online retailers do not have it listed as YA sci-fi. It’s either children’s lit, or fantasy, or … God, I don’t even know.

This is a direct result of iUniverse mis-reporting the genre when they initially sent out my book back in January. As I find these incorrect genres, I send iUniverse a note asking them to fix it. And they’re happy to do it … with a 6-8 week processing time for the changes to take effect. Really? 6-8 weeks? I’m fairly confident that if I had direct control over my book, I could just pop onto the Amazon site, change the genre setting, and have it resolved within ten minutes.

So silliness #1 is iUniverse failing to submit my book under the correct genre, and then taking forever and a day to fix it. Sigh.

Update March 4, 2013: I just got a call from iUniverse, asking if my genre classification issue had been resolved. I explained the situation, and the lady was very helpful. She said that she would look into the problem and make sure that all the retailers have the correct genre information. So yay to iUniverse for following through!

Silliness #2: Overpriced Author-Discounted Books

When you publish a book, you want physical copies in hand to be able to hawk to passersby. iUniverse offers authors special discounts on buying books, which is basically the list price minus your author royalties, with a higher percentage off the list price based on how many copies you buy at a time. That last sentence probably made no sense. Here’s the table I whipped up to figure out how much my hardcover books will cost, per unit, purchased from iUniverse:

hardcover pricingI wanted about 50 hardcover to start off with. 50 hardcover, as you can see, works out to $20.77 per unit. Bear with me.

Chapters.Indigo.ca recently put out a 10% discount coupon for their site. The hardcover of Imminent Danger is listed at $23.72 — $22.53 with my member discount card. ((Note that the book cover is still not shown on this site — this will also take 6-8 weeks for iUniverse to “fix”)).

Now, I get approximately $3 per hardcover sold in royalties. So. 50 books from iUniverse at $20.77 + shipping = $1181.19. 50 books from Chapters.Indigo.ca at $22.53 (plus 10% discount), minus ~150 for royalties I’ll get back, plus free shipping, plus tax = ~$995 (give or take).

That’s about $200 in savings by ordering books from Chapters.Indigo.ca instead of the company that’s producing the darn things. 

Plus there’s the weird side effect that those sales will actually count towards Imminent Danger’s sales ranking on Chapters.Indigo.ca. Not what I intended, but … I guess a higher ranking isn’t something to complain about, right?

Now, to be fair, I did contact iUniverse to see if my calculations were correct, because I couldn’t believe that such a thing would be possible. The very nice gentleman I spoke with ran through the calculations with me, and concluded that, yes, it would be cheaper to buy them from a third-party source. He offered to give me a slightly higher discount, but with the cost of shipping, Chapters.Indigo.ca still worked out as being cheaper.

Silly, iUniverse. Very silly.

The only reason I can think they wouldn’t bend over backward to convince authors to buy directly from them is if they make the same amount of money off each book regardless of where the book is bought from. That seems like a strange business plan to me — buying direct from the source should always be cheaper, shouldn’t it? And it is cheaper if, as you’ll see in the above chart, you buy 250+ books. But who has that kind of money? I certainly don’t.

In conclusion …

iUniverse continues to be delightfully silly. I’m not too miffed with them, because I don’t think the incorrectly filed genre is going to hurt me too much over the next few weeks (hopefully), and I did find a way around their bizarre pricing scheme. I’ve actually started to really enjoy seeing what silliness they come up with next.

The next step in fulfilling my contract is getting my book into a local Chapters store for 8 weeks. I’m sure there’ll be lots of silliness involved with that. Stay tuned!

Unrelated video of the day:

Get ready for the crazy.

In Japan, there is a pop star named Hatsune Miku who is entirely computer generated — voice, appearance, everything. And she’s insanely popular. Here’s the wikipedia page on her. Here’s a video of her live, in concert … despite her not actually being alive. I believe holograms are involved.

Categories: iUniverse, Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

Super Awesome News!

Before we get to the super awesome news, I want you to do two things for me:

  1. Find the latest version of your current WIP.
  2. Email it to yourself.

I ask this because I just read this post, in which my blogger friend explains that she lost her manuscript. Lost, as in, her computer crashed, the files have mysteriously disappeared from her flash drive, and the only hard copy she has is about ten revisions back from where she is now. That SUCKS. Seriously. Drop by her blog and wish her luck, because as you can imagine, she’s not exactly thrilled at the moment.

And now … the SUPER AWESOME NEWS!

Well, I think it’s super awesome — and it’s my blog, my rules, so get on the excitement train or get left behind in the dusty wastelands of … not excitement …

Anyway. Remember how I was all psyched and stuff because Imminent Danger won the Editor’s Choice award? Remember how I mentioned that the next award up for grabs is Rising Star? Well …

I WON IT! WOOOOOO!

But Michelle, you ask, what is Rising Star? To which I reply: beats the potatoes out of me. Let me look it up.

Aha! Click here for details.

Basically, I get a swanky cover design, they give me some sort of marketing direction, I get to stick the Rising Star award sticker on the back of my book, and — here’s the best part — the iUniverse reps will present my books to major retailers. Now, I’m not sure what this entails. I imagine the reps go to book fairs, shove my book into various people’s hands, and say “Look! Book!”. Presumably they will be more eloquent than that (although points to them for rhyming).

So this means they can finally get the book cover design going. I got my friend Paul to do up a cover for me back in May, which I sent to iUniverse. According to my “Publishing Services Associate (PSA)”, they really like the design, but will be basically re-making it with stock photography and something something something I don’t remember.

Anyway, I’m really psyched. So close to publication! Ahhh!

Unrelated videos of the day:

Japan, why you so crazy?

Categories: iUniverse, Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

I broke 100,000 words! Happy day!

It’s official — Imminent Danger and How to Fly Straight into It is now under 100,000 words. I believe it’s sitting nicely at 99,300-ish, and we’re not even done editing yet.

We’re on chapter 32 of 44, so I’m guessing the final word count will be somewhere around 95k. That’s still a very decent length for a YA novel, and the writing is getting much better and tighter as a result, so I’m really happy that we decided to do this final round of editing.

At the current editing pace, we (my editor/mother and I) should be done the shortening/revisions by the end of September. Then I’ll send out the new and improved book to a handful of select readers (aka people who can promise to read the book in a week), fix whatever (hopefully!) minor issues they find, and then send it off for copy-editing.

The other upside of getting the book under 100k words is that the copy editing will cost less. 100k words = $2200. 95k words = $2090. That’s about a hundred dollars in savings, which is good by me! I’m all for saving money. Then again, who isn’t?

In other news, I have a stack of self-published novels on my hard drive that I need to read and review. I keep meaning to get started on them, but I always seem to get distracted. Last week I had a legitimate excuse — I was temping for a telecommunications company — but now I don’t really have any reason not to get started on the reading/reviewing.

My next hurdle will be to decide which book to read first. Should I go by the date each book was sent to me, or by how much I want to read the book? Hmm …

In other, other news, I’m headed to Washington with my mother this week for a mini-vacation before winter starts. That’s the nice thing about having a flex-time job — vacation is very easy to book, since I don’t have to request time off or reschedule shifts. On the downside, I’m really bad at flex-time work, because I procrastinate like nobody’s business. Ah well. Anyway, I’m really excited for Washington. I’ve been once before, when I was about twelve or thirteen, and I remember that it was really awesome. I’m probably going to hit up the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, etc.

I’ll try to take pictures, but no promises.

Random picture of the day:

True love, Japan style
source: http://i.imgur.com/yA7Up.jpg

Categories: Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

What music do you listen to when you write?

Sometimes when I’m trying to write a particularly emotional scene (sad, happy, romantic, exciting, etc.), I have trouble putting myself in that particular emotional mindset. One of the best ways I’ve found to counter this type of writer’s block is by listening to a song (usually put on endless repeat) that embodies the particular emotion I’m trying to convey.

I’m going to share some of my current favourite emotion-inducing songs with you here, so grab some headphones and enjoy!

Happy

“I Am (Record Version” is from the anime Inuyasha. It’s light, cheery, has lots of xylophone and flute, and just makes me smile every time I hear it.

Angry

“Let’s Start a Riot” is loud, raucous, and makes me want to riot every time I hear it. Warning: don’t talk to anyone for at least a few minutes after listening to this song. You will feel very pumped up and confrontational, so cool down a bit first.

Romantic

“First Love” is a Japanese song reminiscing about a girl’s first love. I actually prefer listening to songs in different languages when I’m writing, because lyrics often distract me from what I’m writing. If the lyrics are in a different language, however, it’s much harder to get distracted by them!

Melancholy

“Safe and Sound” is from the Hunger Games soundtrack. Every time I listen to this, I picture a girl sitting alone in an empty room, nostalgically remembering a simpler, happier time.

What about you?

What songs do you listen to when you write? I’m always looking for new music, so please share!!!

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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