Thursday, December 19, 2013

Down in Front: Movie Night with P.K. Gallagher

So I went to the doctor a while ago, and she told me my blood pressure was abnormally high for someone of my age and suggested that stress was the cause. She told me that I should react a bit more and take some time off from work.

But she’s just a doctor; what does she know. I have novels to deliver to you guys! Regardless, I would hate to have a heart attack or something, so I’ve decided that perhaps a compromise is in order—I should find an activity to do that is both relaxing yet still yields something I can pass on that my readers might enjoy. This is what I came up with: a movie night with P.K. Gallagher!

I’ve always liked the idea of writing movie reviews. That said, I’m too lazy for that, so I’ve come up with something a little different. I’m one of those movie-goers who shares my strongly opinionated commentary with the screen, to the delight to my comrades and the annoyance to everyone else. So, in lieu of reviewing movies, I’m going to share that unfiltered commentary in a digested format. It’s not as cohesive as a review, but it has its own charm and will just as easily tell you my verdict. Aside from today, this will be a Friday-night thing, and at the end of each DiF post, I’ll name next week’s movie (in this case, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters) which will viewed at 8pm sharp. I will update the post real-time, so you all can watch it with me and share your own thoughts in the comments section, or you can read the entire thing while watching later. I’m also open to movie suggestions.

All that out of the way, today’s movie was The Mortal Instrument’s: City of Bones, which is based off of the novel by Cassandra Clare about a girl who discovers after her mom has been kidnapped that they both belong to a race of half-angel, half-human demon hunters.

Leggo! Thinly veiled spoilers ahead!

_ _

2:46 Oh my god, legit question: is that Cersei from Game of Thrones? She sure loves her books turned movies/TV shows.

6:25 Why is everyone in this club wearing so much eyeliner?

7:20 Am I the only one who finds Jace’s forehead really distracting?

11:00 Also the fact that he’s acting like a total creeper.

11:24 Well that escalated quickly.

16:01 EEEEEEEWWWWWWWWW! That is repulsive D:

23:06 At the risk of sounding like a huge nerd, that was a Ghostbusters reference. But in Ghostbusters, the gatekeeper and keymaster had to have sex. I think we just discovered validation for all those Jimon fanfictions…

24:38 Did Clary really just let Jace order Simon to stand in the rain? This movie should just be called The Desolation of Simon.

26:34 With a mini-episode of Random Guy Humps Luke’s Leg? I am so uncomfortable right now.

31:38 Is Jace’s hair always wet? Or does he just need to wash it?

33:22 Wait, Alec and Isabelle grew up in Brooklyn. There is no excuse for their British accents.

37:31 Wow, talk about exposition. This is everything you learn about Valentine in books 1, 2, and 3 all condensed into a five minute span…

39:17 The Silent Brothers look like castrated dementors OAO

46:48 Ooh, yay, I love Magnus!

46:48:30 Wait, where are his pants?

46:48:45 Wait, where’s all his glitter?!

53:29 Why is this Du Mort scene so different? Was there even a need for all these changes? Though I’ll admit, I’m totally okay with seeing Simon without his shirt on.

01:06:27 This hand thing is really creepy, I don’t care what the romantic string instruments in the background are saying.

01:10:04 Whoa… This is not a YA kiss… O.O

01:10:08 Really, sprinkler system? Really? >.>

01:11:39 Wow, on a scale of like 1 to 10, I give a 3 about Jace and Clary’s relationship right now. Jace is so prone to assholery, and I can’t forgive him because he looks like an alien, his eyes aren’t even golden like they’re supposed to be, and Simon is such a sweetheart! D;

01:21:29 This battle was much cooler in the book…

01:24:53 WHY THE HELL DOES VALENTINE HAVE DREADLOCKS?!?!?! And isn’t he supposed to be blond?

01:31:53 Wow, way for Hodge to disarm one of the biggest twists in the book… >.>

01:40:30 Did any of this happen in the book?

01:44:35 Wait, why don’t they just kill the demons now instead of sneaking by so the demons can attack them from behind later?

01:56:09 Shouldn’t he be floating in limbo? How did he just do that?

1:56:25 How did she just do that? They just don’t make portals the way they used to…

2:03:-00 This was dumb…

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How to Have Your Book Featured on the Kindle Daily Deal

#kindledailydeal #indieauthors

Hello, my lovelies. For the readers of my stories, I love you all and will treasure you always, but I’m afraid this particular post is not for you. It’s for the inquiring minds of a few indie authors who I’ve heard pose the above question.
Thanks for dropping by anyway, though. Here—have this picture of
an adorable baby hedgehog as a thank-you gift. 
I was feeling industrious the day I last heard this question and decided to do a little digging. Google was unhelpful (a sign of the apocalypse?) so I contacted Amazon about it. The response I got wasn't very encouraging—kind of bureaucratic really—but I figured I'd share the response I got anyway:

"I checked our records and it appears you don't have a KDP account with titles published. For KDP titles, I'm sorry, we're unable to add books into the Kindle Daily Deal section of our website. We'll be sure to consider your interest for this feature as we plan further improvements.

On searching our website, I noticed you have two Kindle titles, "Mermaids and Butterflies" and "Cerberus: Book 1 of Parish: A City of Solace Book." However, it appears that these titles were published by your publisher through a different channel than Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Please contact your publisher directly for assistance for any issues concerning these titles."

So that's that. Authors who have published e-books with Amazon cannot at this time be featured as a daily deal. If you've published elsewhere, though, your publisher may be able to negotiate something with them.

I hope that helped at least a bit. KDP authors may want to send their own inquiries on the topic. Maybe a bit more “interest for this feature” will further influence their plans for improvement.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Extra! Extra!

Hey you! Yeah you—the one reading the blog! I’ve got announcements to make!

First off, I’m not dead, though my prolonged absence may have suggested otherwise. This time, though, I have a completely legitimate excuse, one that ties in to announcement #2: Cerberus is now on sale!

I'm probably more shocked than you are.
That’s right, the wait is over. I spent the last few weeks going back and forth with my editor about revisions, making design calls for the cover, drafting blurbs, and just in general working to bring you—yes, you reading the blog—a book worth seeing. It’s been kind of crazy getting to this point, but I’m thrilled to be able to present you with a finished product.

I’d like to say that I’ll be more diligent about the blog now that it’s over, but finishing the book is actually just the beginning. Pretty soon I’ll be getting started on an aggressive marketing campaign (courtesy of my distributor BookRix) that I think is going to be very time consuming, plus I start school again this month. I will, however, do my best to be communicative and keep you all abreast of what’s going on.

So, until next time, my lovelies. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cooking with Clichés

So I spend a lot of time on writing forums (it’s nice to be around people who are the same brand of crazy I am), and lately I’ve noticed a lot of people asking questions about avoiding clichés in things from characters to backstories to endings to plot points. It’s to be expected, I suppose. Use of clichés is more or less considered a cardinal sin of writing in the community—use them too freely, and an author can expect to be condemned and have his or her reputation burned at the stake.

Well, at least it won't be molested by dirty old men beforehand.

Regardless, I still found myself handing out the same piece of advice: don’t worry about it.

Now hold on a minute before you take up your torches and pitchforks and let me explain. I hate the “I-am-your-fathers” and the “it-all-turned-out-to-be-a-dreams” as much as the next person, but most of these people weren’t inquiring about such obvious situations. One writer wanted a backstory for her shapeshifters but couldn’t come up with something that hadn’t been done. Another wanted to know if it was too cliché to have her heroine fall for a supernatural being in her para-romance novel. These are not clichés. The former is mythology, and the latter is the basic foundation of a genre.

There is a widespread misconception about what a cliché is, and therein lies the reason for my advice. A cliché is defined as any “phrase, motif, trope, or other element within an artistic work that has become common enough to be seen as predictable, tired, overused, and generally unfavorable”—in short, it weakens the work.

“Weakens” is the keyword here. Have love triangles been done before? More times than a Las Vegas prostitute, I assure you. Does that mean that the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale is cliché? Not at all. At the very least, I’ve never read another book about children fighting to the death for the entertainment of the aristocracy and a girl having to pretend to fall for a guy to please the crowd but then actually falling for him though she is developing feelings for her childhood friend. Just saying.

Plus there's that twist at the end where it turns out the entire thing
was a commercial for Verizon Wireless — more bars in more places.

My point is that it doesn’t matter if an element of your story has been done before. These are just tropes, or any plot, character, setting, device, or pattern that we recognize as such. Clichés are just tropes that are done badly. Tropes themselves are actually often pleasant to encounter in literature, like meeting an old friend. In fact, tropes play a large role in determining our literary preferences.

A character getting stuck in a videogame and having to play their way out is a trope. It also happens to be one of my favorite plot foundations (yes, I’m lame like that), and I’ve read a ton of them and can truthfully tell you that they’re not all the same. There are so many ways to make a story different, so many more elements than just the one or two that you’re worried about. Cornbread and cake both require eggs, but the end result is very different. The same is true of using tropes. There are wonderful things you can do with them — you just have to do them well.

And that is what writers need to focus on. If a story is good, if the writing is sound, if the action is well paced, if the characters are compelling, if the twists are indeed twists, who cares if the story involves a love triangle or a teenager being the only one who can save the world. At the end of the day, people just want a good story that’s not a carbon copy of the others they’ve read. So grab your eggs and whatever other ingredients you come up with and get to work whipping up something tasty for the masses.

In the fabricated words of Queen Marie-Antoinette, let them eat cake—and cornbread, and cookies, and fried rice, and omelets.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Don't be a Toole

So I totally failed at getting in two posts last week.

Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.

I wish I had some sort of grand excuse to give you—caught in the throes of writing ecstasy (true, if by “throes” you mean “grip” and by “writing ecstasy” you mean “sleep”); meeting with a slew of literary agents (don’t I wish); abducted by fiction-hating aliens (it could happen)—but I don’t have one. I wrote some. I worked my day job. I dreamed dreams that sound like they’ll make great story ideas until I start writing them down and have to ask myself if techno music constitutes a compelling villain (I’ve had this dream). The point is, I failed you, and for that I apologize.

But let’s talk failures for a moment, shall we?

Have you ever heard of John Kennedy Toole? If not, you can go ahead and consider yourself part of the reason he’s dead.

Toole is the author of acclaimed novel A Confederacy of Dunces. That acclaim, however, did not come until after his death. In fact, it was in large part because of the book’s “failure” during Toole’s lifetime—a failure measured in endless letters between Toole and a publisher that eventually led to nothing but disappointment—that he killed himself in 1969 at the age of 31.

I heard about Mr. Toole only recently, but his story is one I’ve been familiar with for a while, or at least the sentiments thereof. With 12 rejection letters in my inbox right now (and a countless number of queries that have gone unresponded to), how could I not be?

I have been asked what the hardest part of writing a book is, and my answer is the business side of writing. 

This is the part where you take your novel, the child you have groomed and loved and sacrificed for, and give it to agents and editors who are more like as not going to sneer at it and say “No, I don’t want this; it’s not good enough.”

It feels like a slap in the face, and instead of the metallic taste of blood, you taste the bitter tang of failure.

The thing is, you can’t really measure failure in rejection letters in the publishing industry. This may seem a little counterintuitive, but at the end of the day, a book is a product, and just because a certain consumer or store has no need for a product, that doesn’t mean the product is subpar.

Had someone told Mr. Toole this, he might have lived to see his book’s success.

I write this all to say in the most roundabout way possible that you should forgive me my failure and not wallow in your own. As the old adage goes, you’re only a failure once you’ve stopped trying. I will continue to try to get two posts a week, and you should keep trying to achieve whatever goal you’re currently pursuing.

Keep calm, and don’t be a Toole (even though his writing is splendid).

If any of you want to share how you deal with rejections (of any kind), feel free to do so in the comments. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Please allow me to introduce myself...

Photo courtesy of Shaun Burn
I'd say I'm a man of wealth and taste, but that would be an outright lie considering I've got two X chromosomes and -$44 in my bank account. I do have pretty good tastes, however, especially regarding new and young adult fiction. Or at least, as a writer of both these genres, I hope I do.

I am P.K. Gallagher, author of the Solace book series, vociferous reader of speculative fiction, lover of all things literary, sucker for things that go bump in the night.

This is where I will blog about all of the above, and whatever else strikes my fancy. I know that's a little vague, but this is my blog, and I can be vague if I want to. I promise, however, to do my best to make sure everything I post here is interesting and that you are sufficiently entertained. I will admit, I am a bit of a space cadet, but I will do my best to post at least twice a week both here and on the Solace series blog.

I'll see you then.