IWSG and What’s Up Wednesday

My Horny Hump Day post is here.

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group convenes the first Wednesday of every month, and gives participants an opportunity to vent, share struggles and triumphs, and just commiserate in general. I’ve decided to start indie publishing this year, and I’d like to lead with Jakob’s story, in large part because it’s so short by my standards, and in past tense. Then I can put out my much-longer, present tense books.

I started using present tense in 1993, YEARS before it was trendy or common, but I have a lingering fear that some people will write me off as an amateur mindlessly following a trend. Most of my writing is in past tense, and using present for those specific books was a carefully considered decision. It’s a huge compliment when someone says s/he only belatedly realised those stories are in present tense, and no wonder s/he felt so immediately pulled in with such emotional intensity.

What do you think of the latest font I changed the title page to? It’s called Wellingborough Flourish, and is part of a six-font family I downloaded from MyFonts. Wellingborough fonts are all free through 5 February, an amazing savings of over $50.

Jaap title

It’s really special that this year is the 50th anniversary of the song “Rag Doll,” whose story was the inspiration for Little Ragdoll. That was such an amazing experience, this story just effortlessly spilling out of me after 16.5 years of keeping it in my head and heart.

I have to finish Appendix D (information about the toys and games which appear) and see about copyright. Most of my quotes are public domain—The Velveteen Rabbit, The Divine Comedy, an intertitle from Moran of the Lady Letty, Candide, Siddhartha, Ovid’s Amorum, The Tao Te Ching, and an intertitle from The Sheik.

I think I’d need permission to use lyrics from the George Harrison songs “Crackerbox Palace” and “Be Here Now,” and the Simon and Garfunkel song “Blessed.” I also quote from “Benedictus,” but the lyrics are nothing more than the line “Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini” from the Latin Mass. Old prayers aren’t copyrighted.

I also quote from George’s song “If Not for You” at the start of my Russian novel, so if I find contact information for whomever owns the copyright to his songs, I’d need to ask permission for all three.

Do I have any volunteers to critique or beta my work? Have you ever dealt with copyright issues? Should I be concerned about negative reception because of how I use (third-person) present tense outside of the genre where it’s most commonly found? Is it the best decision to indie publish rather than start trying again with the querying rat race and contest circuit? Why are long, serious historicals no longer the norm in traditional publishing?

WUW Winter

What I’m Reading

One of my library books is H.G. Adler’s Panorama, a stream-of-consciousness, autographical novel starting in WWI-era Bohemia and ending after the Shoah. Finally, a serious historical with meat on its bones. It was written in 1968, but only translated from German in 2010. I was looking at Lisa See’s Chinese historicals too, but quickly realised they wouldn’t be my cup of tea. Reading negative reviews later confirmed my initial impression. Bland, immature writing, glossing over important events, too much telling, wrong POV for historical, too short, not enough depth or complexity.

What I’m Writing

I’m at about the 590,000-word mark in my WIP, still Chapter 76. Most of the past week I’ve spent researching, assembling, and writing my posts for the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge. I hope my readers like my theme and the posts as much as I’m enjoying preparing them!

I think it would be best to leave a little gap between Chapter 77, “Journey to England,” and Chapter 78, “Day of All Days,” instead of coming up with unplanned filler chapters. There might be 5-6 more chapters left in Part III from 78 on, and the drama and intensity will come thick and fast. Still not looking forward to one of my two Marines losing his arm at Saipan!

What Inspires Me

The awesomeness of the pro-vaccination community, and how tirelessly my intelligent, science-minded friends work to combat misinformation, scare tactic propaganda, strawman arguments, and all the other nonsense constantly spewed by the vaccine-denialist cult.

What Else I’m Up To

I finally belatedly added a lot of grave pictures and interments from 2008 to Find A Grave. They were from Montefiore Cemetery in Queens and West Cemetery in Amherst, MA. Some of the West Cemetery graves had already been entered, but a few were missing pictures, which I happily provided. I also was excited to provide headstone pictures (both original and modern replacement) for Zephaniah Swift Moore, the first president of Amherst College. It’s pretty cool to get to add a photo to a famous interment. I’ve also written 75 famous biographies, including Curly and Moe Howard, Lon Chaney, Sr., Niels Bohr, John Entwistle, Paul Klee, and Fritz Lang.

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17 thoughts on “IWSG and What’s Up Wednesday

  1. My aunt is a pretty accomplished geneaologist (hope I spelled that right) and she is such a fan of Find a Grave. She said it’s helped her solve a few of her mysteries since more people are using the site and things like ancestry.com. It’s hard to imagine how people used to do family history, especially 100+ years ago. My aunt has original letters from an ancestor from the early 1900s. They are handwritten letters the man spent 30 years corresponding to collect a volume of history. Amazing.

    I’ve read at least one Lisa See book, but it was before I started studying writing. I’m not sure how I’d feel about it now, though I liked it at the time. After I read David MacCollough’s 1776 last year (non-fic) and was itching for more historical stuff, I stumbled upon a lot of fluff. 1776 was not a total labor to get through, but it’s dense at times. Not a light read, but readable. I think so many history books are trying to reach a wider audience, it can come at the expense of depth.

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  2. I’ve just finished writing a book in present tense and it was a lot of fun to write. Never force yourself to conform to someone else’s point of view!

    Okay, I have to know – how many pages is a 590k book?

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    • I have no idea how many pages it is so far, since I break it up by chapter files. (I learnt a serious lesson about making one master document for an entire book after several mishaps 20 years ago.) The closest length I can find on the Wikipedia list of longest novels is A Suitable Boy, which is 593,674 words and 1,368 pages. I’m really hoping my WIP doesn’t top out over 700,000! A few of the longer books in the list actually have shorter page counts, so it all depends upon font, ledding, and page size.

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  3. If your book is compelling and well-written, I don’t think anyone will have an issue with the tense. I never notice it myself unless a writer draws attention to it – which usually means it’s written a little clumsily. Don’t worry about it, if you can, and just craft the best story!

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  4. Looks like you have a lot of work ahead of you, but nothing you can’t accomplish. Even with having a publisher, I obtained the copyright myself, and it’s no trouble at all! Good luck with going indie 🙂

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  5. Oh, and present/past tense…I have no problem with either, as long as the book is well-written. I just finished “The Kingmaker’s Daughter” by Phillipa Gregory. Amazing book. I think it was first person present, which is unusual for that author.

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  6. I love to write in present tense! The WiP I’m working on now is actually the first story I’ve written in past tense. Have you already shared your theme for the A-Z Challenge? I’m so curious!

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    • I’m planning on revealing my theme sometime in March. This year I have two blogs to write posts for, this main blog and my new names blog. At least the posts on the names blog will be pretty short and easier to put together, without any photographs.

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  7. I don’t look forward to doing horrible things to my characters either. For the sake of writing realistically and creating conflict, it’s necessary, but to me it feels like being mean to my imaginary friends lol. Good luck putting together all your A-Z posts and with the writing this week!

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  8. I have always written in past-tense but I’m starting to wish that my current WIP was in present tense. I always wrote it in third person and then had to change it to first person. This WIP might kill me!

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  9. If third present is what feels right for the story, then stay with it. You can’t worry that anyone will write you off because of the tense—not that some people won’t, but it’s impossible to predict how they’ll feel. You just may end up starting the trend in your genre. 😉

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