Friday, February 10, 2012

Potpourri 2

More questions have popped up since the Potpourri entry. Some of the questions are new and others I forgot about. Yes, smack me with a wet noodle :-)

Here we go!

Can you discuss some of the technical aspects of your writing such as software you use, websites you refer to, web applications you use, etc.?
Wanna guess who asked this question? A 'puter person, that's right. I'm not a computer person, but I love 'em. They keep our lives running smoother. A big hand to them, please! Okay, now, I go basic but not TOO basic (I only use paper and pen for revisions). I use Microsoft Word for my main writing. I usually work at a relatively ancient PC that has the 2002 (or is it 2003?) version. Once in a while, I use a laptop that has the 2007 version. I don't do my covers, although I've been trying to get my cover gal to do a guest blog post or an interview. She does awesome covers. Maybe one day soon she'll join us here. Anyway, I used to print out my stories and write on the papers for corrections, but now I just use my Nook and write corrections on a separate piece of paper. For beta reads and edits, track changes are a godsend. For uploads, I primarily work with .doc and .epub. I upload to Barnes and Noble first and save that .epub. I use that .epub to make the .mobi. I've learned that if I try to upload .doc to Kindle, the formatting looks off. Not so with uploading .epub.

You have two characters named Helen in back-to-back books. You must like the name.
I guess I must! Let me explain how that came about. The Helen characters are in "All in the Family" and "Third." "All in the Family" is my first chronological book, although not my first published book. The Helen in "AITF" is Helen Vierow, a wealthy lawyer who gets into a relationship with Allison after Allison and Sam break up. The Helen in "Third" is very different. She's a Tudor historian who falls in love with Anne Boleyn (in the flesh). "AITF" Helen is half black, half Japanese and oozes sexiness. "Third" Helen is your good-looking blond girl (woman) next door with a few extra pounds. Really no chance of confusing these two.

Anyway, when I realized the issue, I knew I wouldn't be changing the name of "Third" Helen no matter what. "Third" was being written as a draft in progress and being posted on a couple of websites. Changing the name might alienate readers who bought the published version. Plus, she's HELEN to me. At the same time, Helen in "AITF" is Helen, too. I could've changed it to Helena or Helene, but in the end, I figured their characters were so different, I could let it go.

I had a bit of a similar situation with "Strange Bedfellows" (Elena) and "Waiting" (Lena). I worked on both books at the same time for about a year, so maybe there was some subconscious overlap. In any case, I am deaf, and I'd been pronouncing both names differently. I didn't realize they pretty much sounded the same. I did the same as I did with "AITF" and "Third" and just went with it. Before "AITF" and "Third" were published, my wife brought to my attention I like characters with names with a certain sound (Charlene, "The Odd Couple," Elena, "Strange Bedfellows and Lena, "Waiting"). I triumphantly told her, "Well, 'Third' won't have that problem." She kinda rolled her eyes and said: "Helen."

I was like: "What??? That has it too?"

Yep. Sure does.

So, when I was developing character profiles for "Switch," I told her: "Look! None of that name stuff." She grinned and pointed to Elaine. That's how the character Elaine Ellora Landry became Ellora Elaine Landry instead.

Which of your books is your favorite?
Asking an author this is like asking a mama which child is her favorite. Officially, I don't have favorite children. Unofficially (shh shh shh shh), I'd say probably a tie between "Third" and "Waiting."

How fast do you write?
I get this one so much I devoted an entire blog post to it a few months ago. Go here. Ooh, I just realized I should do a FAQs section for one of the main tabs. Yep, I'll do that. 

Why do you enter awards? They're pretty much worthless and cost too much money.
This is an issue that ignites lots of passion from some people, and I understand all sides. Bottom line, though, I think there's a place for awards.

If nothing else, awards help books find more buyers. Some books don't sell well, but they score big in awards. Readers hear about these books, and well-deserving books get a wider audience. Authors work long and hard and put up with scathing reviews and personal attacks all the time. People who are not authors may have a hard time understanding this. Awards are one way to recognize authors' hard work. Sales are another way, sure.

Competition is another motivator. Awards, I would expect, motivate some authors to write better than they would otherwise. 

As for awards fees, they help pay for the awards. Doesn't mean I LIKE them. My wallet cries every time I enter an award, but I understand that in most cases, fees are necessary.

Let me note here I am biased because I grew up winning awards. My parents entered me every year, and so I like being recognized by awards. I went indie in August 2011, and people said they would not buy my stuff. They automatically assumed my stuff was bad because I was indie. Winning two Rainbow Awards among a veritable sea of books with publishers minimized the complaints.

What do you think about what some people have said that "All in the Family" had two issues (not showing Sam at military school and Allison's alcohol problem being resolved too easily)?
They may have a point. Writers can't please everyone, that's for sure. "AITF" doesn't show any scenes of Allison at school, so I'm unsure why scenes from Sam at school would be needed. Maybe because military school is different from the norm, I don't know. Sam talks about military school a few times, and editors didn't bring that up as an issue. Not having scenes of Sam at military school was intentional, but it may have backfired. I wanted to show Sam's distance from the family (both emotional and physical).

As for Allison and alcohol, I firmly believe some people can, and do, quit addictions cold turkey, especially if the circumstances causing the addiction have changed. Allison was never addicted in the first place, anyway. Allison's life circumstances changed hugely when Helen came into the picture. I suppose after "Strange Bedfellows" (and any of my books, really, when I had characters who had to struggle to overcome issues, including alcohol), Allison's alcohol thing may've seemed too easy. I believe in generally looking forward (although looking back is important sometimes to learn from mistakes), but if I am ever bored with totally nothing to do, I may revise these parts of "AITF." (Add a few mil school scenes, have Allison tempted to drink maybe a couple of times, something like that.) My readers are smart people, so they may be onto something (although, of course, not all my readers think "AITF" is lacking. Plenty think it's fine as it is). Oh yeah, I should add here, I'm not a fan of substantially revising books after their publication, but if the circumstances are right, I'll do it. I'll also clearly note the book has been changed.

Why is "All in the Family" told from more points of view in the second half?
This is for a couple of reasons. The first half is mostly Allison's and Sam's POVs. Sam is gone for a big part of the second half, and I wanted readers to feel that distance from her, a distance Allison and other family members are also feeling. At the same time, Allison isn't feeling like herself, so I got out of her head more for distance as well.

The big reason, though: just look at the title, "All in the Family." This is a love story, sure, but it's also a family story. Having the parents' POVs, the brother's POV and the POV of the new girlfriend (Helen) emphasized the family part (Helen is part of Barry's (the father's) work family). The BIG love story is in the first half and at the end of the second half, and that's when Allison's and Sam's POVs dominate. The disintegration of their relationship is symbolized by having more POV characters. I'm not sure I explained that right, but when Sam comes back into the picture, POV is back to Allison and Sam only.

OK, off to get a frappy. Maybe tomorrow I'll cobble together a FAQs section.


Leigh Ann Britt said...

Wow! you really have some very clever and insightful readers.

Not so sure about that goofball that asked that 1st question though ;-)

Good Q/A blog post.

Q. Kelly said...

I also have a clever cover designer who needs to do a blog post or interview sometime. ;-)

Leigh Ann Britt said...

Yeh, she needs to get off her backside and do something about that.

Maybe I can convince her to quit gnawing on the furniture long enough to do it.

Doggy treats usually work pretty good :-)