October 28, 2011

Love may make the world go 'round...
but Conflict makes a novel go 'round

Now that Where You Are is out, and the description of Good For You is done, I've been asked several times whether or not I plan on taking a reader-favorite couple forward. The short answer is: no. But I'm not much of a short-answer girl, so the longer answer is below, with references! (Well, a reference.)

I love to read, and I've always been capable of getting so involved with characters that they feel real to me. So believe me when I say that I understand the concept of wanting to know what happens to those characters after the novel ends. Truthfully, though, it's never occurred to me to want an author to take a couple beyond their HEA. Maybe that's because inherently, I'm a writer - so I know what taking a couple further means. It means something crappy happens to them.

So when I get to the end of, say, a Sarah Dessen novel, and two people finally get their issues sorted out and get together... I'm good with it. The only reason I decided to write Where You Are is because when I asked myself if the couple in question had been through enough... the answer was no. At the end of Where You Are, the answer is yes.

Here's what another one of my favorite YA authors, Gayle Forman, had to say when asked the same thing about a third book for Adam and Mia (If I Stay and Where She Went):

"I am so flattered that you ask. Am so flattered that you want to spend more time with the characters. But think about the ways books work. They operate on conflict."

If there's no conflict, there's no story. I'm so sure of this that I dare you to produce the name of a good novel that has no conflict either between or surrounding the main characters. Go ahead, I'll wait. (Lemme just get iTunes started up, because we may be here a while...)

Yes, I'm aware that Real Life has conflict threaded all the way through it. But that doesn't mean I want to watch Adam and Mia, or Wes and Macy, (or Darcy and Elizabeth) go through every disagreement about where to live or whether to get a dog or a cat or how to fold the towels or who to invite to the wedding or whether or not her mother should be banned from visiting for longer than three days. I want to leave them there - just ahead of "The End" - with their declarations and the last (sometimes also the first) kiss they share that I get to witness. I want to imagine that they're happy. And I want to leave them and go to the next story.

Good For You is about the character I wanted to write about when I left Between the Lines. To be honest, I'm not sure if I'm completely done with him. I'm going to let it sit awhile. I'm going to see if the story still rattles, and if so, how much. It takes a lot of questions to require an entire book to answer them. I promise to keep you posted, though.

For now, I'm starting work on something new - a story that's been nagging at me for over a year. I'm excited about writing it, because to me, writing is like telling myself a story. I hope I'll be able to share it with you soon.

*** Here's the whole blog post of what Gayle had to say about Adam and Mia and a third book.

October 25, 2011

Back to Scribbling

I took my notebook full of notes (and scraps of paper onto which I've jotted notes, which are shoved in between the legitimate pages) to work today. I've released the second book into the wild, and the third only needs one last revision, then copy-editing, then programming...

But in the meantime, it's finally time to write again. First up: brainstorming. How much time I spend in this phase varies. In some ways, I'm brainstorming until I'm done with a first draft - sometimes beyond. I have a general sense of the story arc this time, and weirdly enough, a title - one I actually liked immediately (trust me, that never happens). And no, I'm not telling what it is. :)

I'm gathering my characters and figuring them out. I'll be writing character sheets on them as I go - assigning birthdates (and yes, that means astrological signs, which is actually something I always do), physical traits, personality traits, family history. Dog or cat person? Coffee drinker? Smoker? Analytical, artistic, musical, sarcastic? Family secrets? Dysfunctional family? No family? Ah, so much to do... all fun.

October 23, 2011

When Is Book Piracy Not Stealing?

I'm aware that file-sharing of copyrighted materials is unavoidable, and unscrupulous people will find a way to steal copyrighted content no matter what efforts are taken to prevent it. People are so up-in-arms about being told how to use content they purchase the use of that they see nothing wrong with stripping the DRM from the file (assuming the author/publisher puts that encryption in place, which is useless) with one of a multitude of software choices available for doing so, and then uploading said content onto a "free digital books" site - allowing hundreds - or thousands - of people to download it.

Reality Check: According to statistics from the sites from which I could gather download numbers, Between the Lines has been downloaded illegally more times than it has been sold. A lot more. My second book was released two days ago. It, also, has been downloaded more than it's been sold. That sorta makes me want to cry. Or hit something.

My books are $2.99, people. Not $20.99. $2.99.

I pay for the cover photo, the copy editing, and the copyright, all before making any sales at all. Yes, my programming cost is "free" because my IT Department (Paul) is literally in-house... but he used 24 vacation hours to do that work for me this week. Believe me, both of us consider that something we paid for.

I spend hundreds of hours writing and revising these books. Just because it's work I like to do doesn't make it "not work." Rather than spending 20-60 hours a week at my laptop writing, researching, or editing, I could work full-time instead of part-time and increase my salary, or I could sit on my ass, reading (my favorite pastime), watching television or sleeping. I could actually use a few hundred hours of make-up sleep.

I do not have a problem with someone buying my book and then lending, giving or selling it to someone else, in the same way they could lend, give or sell a paper-based book they'd purchased. I think these things should be allowed, in fact. However, that doesn't mean it's ever okay to upload a file with a few clicks and let hundreds of people download something you paid for ONE TIME.

C'mon people. This is not rocket science. This is, in fact, very, very basic ethics.

Here's the deal. If you upload or read a copyrighted work that you got from a "free" document site, make no mistake about it, you're stealing from that author and you're breaking the law. Period. Not to mention the Karma points you are seriously piling up in the wrong category.

To answer the title of this post: never. Book piracy is never not stealing. If you "share" my book (or someone else's) on a website, or if you read my book (or someone else's) by downloading it from a file-sharing site, you are an asshat and a thief - not a fan.

October 22, 2011

Where You Are update #3:

We uploaded on Friday Morning and it was up by Friday night!

Where You Are is now available for the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook.

Don't forget to read the three-chapter sneak-peek of Good For You at the end!

October 21, 2011

Where You Are update #2:

Where You Are has been uploaded to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Both say it will take "24-72 hours" for it to be live and for sale. Reminder for anyone who's a quick reader, pleeeease no spoilers for those who haven't read it!

October 19, 2011

Where You Are update:

We are in programming mode! In fact, I've got the first draft on my Kindle and I'm checking the content and formatting now. (Well, not right now. Right now, I'm blogging about checking the formatting -- but I'll get right back to it when I'm done, I promise!)

My IT Department* is set to begin work on the Nook version tomorrow morning, assuming no major issues arise with the Kindle version.

We aren't just on track. We're ahead! (Uh-oh. I shouldn't have thought that... Knocking on the table, BRB!)

I've been asked by a few people why Where You Are isn't showing up for pre-order. (I love that people asked me this!!) That's because of my indie status. As far as Amazon and Barnes & Noble are concerned, I don't have a book for sale until it's completely uploaded to their respective sites. I can understand where they're coming from on this one. Imagine if someone says, "My book will be out October 24!" but then it's not... and meanwhile Amazon  and B&N have collected money from people.

I'll announce here and on Twitter and Facebook when it's been uploaded. And then... we all wait to see how long it takes them to go LIVE.

*Thaaaaat would be Paul, resident geeky and adorable husband.