Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book Wordle!

A friend of mine on facebook just did this with her thesis and I thought it was so cool that I copied the entire MS of Safira into Wordle and made my own! How cool is that???


Monday, July 30, 2012

Pinterest as a Writing Tool

I read somewhere once that the majority of people are visual learners. I definitely remember visual stimuli best. That's why I can't watch horror movies, because I'll never forget them. But having clear visions of characters in mind while writing is very useful. Before I began using Pinterest, I would print pictures that reminded me of my characters and settings and tape them on the wall next to my desk.

When Pinterest came out, the first thing I thought when I saw a "board" was how useful that format would be for storing all of these images. Privacy was a slight concern. By creating a storyboard for my novel, I'm giving a lot of it away, exposing it to the unforgiving eyes of the internet. What if somebody steals my story? What if someone makes fun of it? The latter isn't so much a concern, but I do worry about copycats. However, right now I'm in the process of querying, and as fun as it is for me to see the images that inspired my book on a Pinterest board, it's also a way to explain my novel to agents. As soon as the board for Safira was finished, I started attaching the URL to the bottom of my query letters. I have no idea if any agent has glanced at it, but it seems worth the risk to give them a better idea of my story.

A screenshot of my Pinterest homepage
Speaking of copycats, one thing I was very careful of when making a public board for my book was choosing images that aren't protected by copyright. There are one or two illegals on there, but I'll probably cut them out soon or search for legal alternatives. The reason I'm concerned about copyright infringement is this post by an author who got sued for using a photograph on her blog without permission. She wasn't even making money off the blog, but the photographer wanted compensation, and I'm pretty sure she had to pay. It was a scary read. But she had useful suggestions.

For my public book board, I got most of my images from Wikipedia and Deviant Art. Wikipedia's images are always either public domain or under a creative commons license. And Deviant Art images have a "Pin It" button next to them if the artist is okay with their images being used on Pinterest. Other images on my board are straight from websites that sell the product in the image. In that case, I make sure the image links to a place where someone could buy the product. If none of these options worked, I went to flickr. I used their advanced search option and only searched for images under a creative commons license.

The whole copyright thing is scary, even though I've followed the rules better than 99.999% of Pinterest users. I figure it's more important that I don't use protected images here on my blog. That I haven't done once, and after reading that author's story about getting sued, I never will.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I've Made a Huge Tiny Mistake

Behold the most tragically cancelled show in history.
First of all, if you don't understand the title of this post, watch Arrested Development at your earliest convenience. All three seasons. Every episode. I promise you won't regret it.

Now on to my mistake. Like most of the mistakes I may or may not have made during the querying process, this mistake is speculation. Why? Because in spite of all the queries I have sent, I've gotten a negligible amount of feedback in return, which means I have to guess when it comes to what I do right and what I do wrong.

The thing I think I did wrong this time is write a prologue for my book. I don't call it a prologue in the MS. I call it Chapter 1, and when agents ask for the first few chapters, I include it as the first chapter. However, I realized this weekend that everything I talk about in the prologue is covered later on in the book. Thus, the prologue is unnecessary. I think this may have hurt me in terms of querying because my protagonist doesn't make an appearance until the first word of Chapter 3. Chapter 2 (what will now be my Chapter 1) is spent entirely on my villain. I don't regret that move. I like books and movies that explore the villain before the hero. After all, the villain is the one who complicates everything and puts the plot in motion. In my story, as in many stories, the heroine finds her opportunity to become a hero by reacting to the villain's villainy.

By scrapping the prologue, I now have a greater chance of sending the chapter that includes my protagonist off to agents. I hope that makes sense. Here's a summary:
  • My prologue is being scrapped
  • Chapter 2 (villain's chapter) is becoming Chapter 1
  • Chapter 3 (heroine's chapter) is becoming Chapter 2
It may be too late for this revelation, which is why I call this a mistake. But perhaps I should think about it instead as simply being a new strategy.