Sunday, May 15, 2011

Your Character’s Mind

I attended a Herman's Hermits concert this evening. They were my all-time favorite band in the 60s, but I never got to see them in person. Now that I have, I think I begin to understand why young teen girls screamed and fainted during such events, though no one did that tonight.

I feel it's important for me to not only analyze those feelings, but to carefully file them away. How can I adequately describe them otherwise?

I might need to describe that exact emotion in one of my characters some day. Before tonight, I wouldn't have attempted it. My imagination isn't that good. If I had a character in a concert audience, she probably would have found it noisy and bewildering. Her friends might scream and jump up and down, but my character wouldn't understand their excitement, even though she might try to fit in by screaming and jumping also. I had never experienced the kind of emotion that those other teens felt. I only have a glimmer of what made those other girls scream, jump and faint, but at least now I have a glimmer.

When I was very young, people confused me; I had no idea what went on in their minds. Eventually, I discovered that people had the same set of emotions that I had, and that gave me a starting place. At some point, I realized that other people's emotions were not necessarily triggered by the same things that triggered mine. Kind of mind-boggling, but I worked to get my head wrapped around it.

Now I see people - and characters - as a jigsaw puzzle. They have the same emotions (pieces), but each emotion/piece is a different shape, different size, and goes in a different place. If you don't figure out how to make the pieces fit together in different ways, all your characters come out the same. In other words, you have to peek inside your characters' minds and make sure there isn't just a mirror in there.

I'd like to go to another concert. It was thrilling, exciting and made me happy. Maybe I will write about a star-struck young girl. But I think I'll skip writing about psychopathic killers. Or at least, I won't be doing research to figure out what goes on in their minds.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Learning Curve

When Tommee proposed she start a publishing company by putting some of my stories on, it sounded simple. She had an article where another author said smashwords had step-by-step instructions, and that it was a simple process. She pointed out that I knew several genre artists from attending sf conventions, so covers shouldn't be a problem.

There were things she didn't mention, but I should have anticipated. When she said her budget was 'a shoestring, to start', I should have realized she meant, 'practically non-existent'. The genre artists I know expect to be paid for their art, and rightly so. We found new artists, who didn't think they were ready for covers. (I've seen their work ... they don't need an official degree in art.) But they do need time.

Tommee can get impatient when she isn't moving forward. She asked me to write an 'introduction story' to the Atlan universe, for her website. As we worked through my rough draft, 2nd draft... Half-way through my third draft, she decided, "Let's make this our first offering." I argued that our artists were working on a cover for "The Cave", but she felt a cover could be done in photoshop in a few minutes, and showed me the concept she had already worked up ... using Word! I asked my son for a favor, and showed him the concept. He didn't want to do it, but his girl friend sent us a beautiful cover that evening.

After a final polish, we opened the instructions to prepare the file for smashwords ... and four hours later, we saved our work and called it a day, our brains fried. Most of our time was spent trying to find the path to the menu item that would let us do the formatting we needed to do, although we did spend time on the internet, figuring out how to get an ISBN. As soon as Tommee gets that – in a day or two – we can finish up this manuscript and get it listed on smashwords.

Everything new has a learning curve. We anticipated there might be some 'bumps' to work through. The next time we're ready to prep a manuscript for smashwords, it won't take us so long. And eventually, it won't take both of us.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Demi Con 2011

We spent the weekend in Des Moines, Iowa, at the science fiction convention, Demicon. I had a good time, although I did not attend a lot of panels. Strangely, it seemed that nearly every panel I wanted to attend was canceled. My husband thinks I must have been miserable all weekend, because I spent so much time in our hotel room.

He just doesn't get that I'm not a people person. I can do okay one-on-one, but the trick is to get that conversation going so I can ignore the other 45 people in the room. And at a place like this – a convention I've attended for several years – there are lots of people who look familiar, but (my mind is getting old and feeble so) I can't remember where I met them, what their interests are, or even what their name is. So I wandered out of our room a few times a day, sauntered through the art show, browsed through the dealer's room, and chatted with people, even if I couldn't remember their name. Happily, nobody caught on that I was having memory lapses.

When I got tired of that, I went back to our room and polished a short I've been working on, did some background on another universe I've been plotting out. I tried to reach a happy medium between what others expected from me and my own desires.

I had a good time, between the real people at the convention and the imaginary people in my computer in our room.