Gifts For Writers (an incomplete list)

Author Essentials
The things every author really needs but probably won’t mention.

Waterproof Keyboard by Logitech – I’ve had two of these so far (the keys are not kid-proof) and having a washable, waterproof, regular keyboard has been a lifesaver more than once. Authors eat at their desks. They type with sticky fingers. Sometimes they cry. This keyboard clicks and clacks like a normal keyboard, but is waterproof, tear-proof, sink-proof, alcohol-proof, and coffee-proof… it’ll survive rough drafts, late night edits, and award’s night. 

Folding Keyboard from Microsoft – Best. Present. Ever. My crit partner in Europe sent me my first folding keyboard as a gift and I wound up writing most of CONVERGENCE POINT and DECOHERENCE on it. Waterproof, durable, and almost full-sized this thing fits easily in a purse or (larger) pant’s pocket. The keys have a nice give to them which makes typing easy. And it hooks up to any screen via bluetooth so you can email chapters to yourself (or your crit partner). This is a Must Have for authors with long commutes or who spend a lot of time watching kids at practice. I keep one in my purse so I can write on the go, and one by my bed so I can write if I wake up in the middle of the night. I haven’t charged either of them in over two months and the batteries are still fine.

Post-It Notes – Not glamorous, but so good for plotting. Get a sticky plot unstuck with these stickies.

Pens – Every author has a favorite writing utensil and without fail it will go missing. I love the Pilot G2 pens (07), but check your author’s writing space to see what they use. Trust me, you can never go wrong with pens. If you want something a little bit fancier check out SpacePen.

Notebook – I keep a small notebook with me at all times, just in case. There are thousands of cute and amazing notebooks suitable for your author’s lifestyle, so go find one that reflects what they love! Evil Supply Co is a great place for the villains out there. Etsy also has an amazing collection of unique and personalized notebooks worthy of your attention.

 

Author Favorites
Curated from extensive polling of other authors these are the books that helped make the book you love great!

NO PLOT NO PROBLEM – This one is from Chris Baty of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) fame. This is the book for the person who says they want to write a novel but doesn’t have ideas, or any idea how to start, or really any clue what they’re doing. It’s for the author who needs to answer WHAT do I write?

2000 to 10,000 – This is based on Rachel’s original blog post HERE and is a great resource for authors who are figuring out HOW to write rather than WHAT to write. Perfect for the author in your life who worries that they’ll never get all their great ideas down on paper. Caveat! Tell your author not to worry about how many words they actual get. The goal here is to improve word count, not hit the magical 10k a day. You can be an amazing, published, award-winning author on a lot less.

THE EMOTION THESAURUS – You can buy the whole set of thesaurus(us/i/?) for around $45, but the Emotion Thesaurus is the one I use the most. This is the book you reach for when your editor says, “Show him being suspicious!” and you’re at a loss for words. 

DESCRIBER’S DICTIONARY – This is another book that I regularly reach for while editing. Whether you’re describing architecture, cloud types, or shapes of mountains this is a phenomenal resource for anyone who gets stuck going, “The mountain was pointy” and then crying for three hours. Save your author a headache and give them this handy resource!

BOOK OF POISONS – A Must Have for the crime writing set, this book has detailed lists of poisons, symptoms, and where you could find the poison. There are several books in this series, so surprise the mastermind in your life with books on forensics, crime scenes, and more! They’ll thank you later. Or kill you… Maybe play it safe and buy them a non-work present to go with this.

WHAT KINGS ATE AND WIZARDS DRANK – For the fantasy writers wondering what their ranger would actually eat while hacking through the bushes, this is your How-To guide for feeding people in a low-tech society. Krista did amazing research on this, cooked some of the recipes, and your fantasy author will thank you for this. HUSTLERS, HARLOTS, AND HEROES is a Regency/Steampunk reference guide by the same author.

WRITING FIGHT SCENES – Not everyone is a natural brawler and it’s sometimes hard to put Kick-kick-slash-scream-kick into words. Enter this highly recommended guide. This is the resource for the author who wants to write a fight and just doesn’t know how.

 

Author Encouragment
The little things matter. Keep your writer happy and fueled with these cute gifts that scream BUY MY BOOK!!!

I’M WRITING Sign – Let everyone know that the author is busy with this sign perfect for hanging on the office door, over the window, or off the desk.

 

Bookish Clothing – Out Of Print Clothing has amazing t-shirts, socks, mugs, and more with some of the best books ever written!

Litographs – A whole novel on a t-shirt is a bit of a novelty, but if your author is a fan of books they’ll be a fan of these too. They have everything from Shakespeare, to Maya Angelou, to Marissa Meyer’s CINDER. It’s one of the places where I walk in and say, “Yes, please, one of everything.”

 

Sweet Things– Showing a slight Chicago bias here, but Fannie May Trinidads are my favorite treat. (subtle-hints-r-us) Sweet treats for late-night writing sessions are always welcome.

 

 

Have a gift you think authors will love? Leave a link in the comments below!

 

These links are all affiliate-free. I don’t make anything from recommending them to you. If you’d like to support me by buying my books you can do that at your local indie book store or…
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo
Or you can support me on Patreon

Writing Romance… is it really that hard?

Here’s the thing… certain emotions are easy to evoke and others are very hard to master and write.

Anger. Hate. Rage. Fear. <– negative emotions are the easiest to write because they rely on primal instinct programmed into the human brain by thousands of years of evolution. Within cultures there are certain things that will always evoke rage (and this is why not all books translate well to other cultures). Certain fears are universal.

Every bestseller every written has a Universal Fear driving at least the opening act of the book if not the whole book itself. Most bestsellers use “I fear I am worthless.” or “I fear death.” as their driving focus. Everything from PRIDE AND PREJUDICE to HARRY POTTER has used this and it’s why it sells so well.

It’s also why Romance isn’t taken seriously at times.

Romance promises as a happy romantic ending. Which means the two most common universal fears are utterly erased by the genre requirements alone. No one is going to die. The characters are going to be loved and feel worthwhile by the end of the book.

Since readers are programmed by society to instinctively fear those things some people have trouble relating to a romance story where they must latch onto something other than fear to get through a book.

Joy. Humor. Laughter. Happiness.  <— positive emotions are really hard to write because they are complex emotions. There is nothing that makes people universally happy. I know, it’s shocking. Not kittens. Not puppies. Not a mother’s love. That thing you love, adore, and can’t live without? Yeah, someone hates it.

This is why writing satire or humor is so difficult. It’s why happy books are dismissed as fluffy or silly. They have a much narrower audience. The author has to reach into the reader’s head and manipulate their emotions so that they can feel soaring triumph. There isn’t a shortcut to writing happiness.

LOVE. <– Such a complex thing. Little understood. Hard to define. Ever roving about. Love, especially sexual and romantic love, are so individual that there will never be a One Size Fits All.

When an author sets out to write a romance they have to convince the reader not only to abandon fear but they have to write humans who are complex, convincing, and through storytelling explain the psychology of these individuals so the reader goes, “Yes, yes! I see it! I see why these two are perfect together and could never be with anyone else!”

It’s at once something many people have an innate talent for (hello, shippers!) and that many people don’t understand. Understanding love requires a very unselfish, un-egocentric view of the world. You have to think like someone else. And then, as the author, you have to create a way for a reader to easily step into the mind of someone else and understand this attraction without using shortcuts like “I saw her and got a boner. It’s love!” Because that isn’t.

It’s easy to write bad romance. It’s easy to use shortcuts and script the book like a film. But where films can rely on music and facial expressions to convey the complexity of emotion a writer only has words. There is no soundtrack for Chapter 7. There is no set of words in the English language that properly express the depth of feeling, the longing and desire, of seeing someone you treasure turn and smile at someone else and knowing from the depths of your soul that you would give up everything just to keep them smiling.

Writing a good romance means balancing internal and external conflict, knowing a person’s weaknesses and strengths, and pairing them with someone(s) who fill in their gaps, boost their strengths, and make them happy at the same time. And then, after all of that, you have to find readers who will understand and appreciate the characters you’ve written. You have to make the reader fall in love too.

Done well Romance is the most complex literary form.

Done poorly it’s just bad writing.

Heroes and Villains 4, Pirates, and Patreon… a lengthy post with math and magic

Sit down, kids, it’s time for some honest talk about life, the universe, and publishing as we know it.

A couple weeks ago I posted about the fact that I was seriously considering not writing or publishing any more Heroes and Villains books. And, like you probably know because half the regular blog readers emailed me, that didn’t go over with my Lovelies and Villains very well. You want Book 4. And probably Book 5 and 6 so all the kids get a book. For this to happen there are two major hurdles to overcome.

  1. Heroes and Villains needs to be a financially viable project that will not leave me hundreds of dollars in debt.
  2. Maria/Strike is an actual villain, not an anti-hero, and her story requires the kind of huge redemption arc reserved exclusively for male heroes in Western Literature

The second problem is a writing one I can solve. Maria made bad choices, she’s a true villain, she will have to face the consequences of her choices and she’ll have to really have the full redemption arc. Plenty of male heroes have had the same arc over the years. It can be done.

The first problem is something that needs to be addressed as a group.

To date, EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE is my most-pirated book. That’s an awful thing to say and it’s kind of vague so let me break down the numbers for you.

5000 sales on opening week <– this is enough to hit the NYT Bestseller List
3000 copies <– the average number of sales per title over its entire life span on the shelf
300 copies per year <– the average sales for a traditionally published book
300 copies ever <– the average number of sales for an indie/small press book
800 copies per month <– the average number of pirated copies of EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE every month

For a book that retails around $3.99/ebook (earning $2.79 per copy before taxes… after tax that’s $1.40), the lifetime earnings of a book don’t cover expenses.

Cost of publishing a book:
Author time – 4 months at minimum wage of $7.25/hr – $4000
Developmental edits – $200 for a novella
Line Edits – $500 – $800 is standard
Cover Art – $300 is the low end of the artist I’ve used for the other Heroes & Villains books

Just creating a book and publishing it costs money up front. The bigger the press, the more editors and artists to pay, and the more that cost goes up. When 800 copies a month are stolen, that hits the bottom line hard. It means that the Heroes & Villains already-released books aren’t selling enough copies to cover the expense of writing and publishing the future books.

That’s the goal with writing. The first book will probably be published at a large loss, the second a smaller loss, by books three and four the author wants to be earning a steady income from advances or royalties. If those earlier books aren’t earning enough to cover the bills, the author has to find another job. Most authors do. Almost every author I know works a day job. Most authors do. Almost every author I know works a day job for exactly this reason. So if we want more Heroes & Villains books, this is the Major Hurdle we have to tackle.

Enter Patreon.

This week, I’m setting up a Patreon account. You don’t have to sign up for years and years – there’s freedom to just sign up for a month or two and then drop. But if we want more Heroes & Villains books, this is the most viable way I can see to make it happen.

$200 per month will allow me 10 hrs of time to dedicate to writing super villains and superheroes.

$1 – Eternal Gratitude (and chapters of your favorite Villains!)
$2 – Copy of the final ebook in mobi, epub, and PDF (must back 3 chapters at this level)
$5 – Behind-the-scenes… plotting notes, deleted scenes, discussion of villain motivations – one extra post guaranteed per month – and you’ll get named in the acknowledgments at the back of the book.
$10 – Q & A posts …. ask questions and get answers for questions about writing, editing, life, the universe, and everything – 2 Q&A posts per month – plus all previous tiers
$20 – Print copy of the final book (signed and shipped internationally) plus all the previous tiers.
$100 – Stan Lee Cameo (hop in-hop out level) … most people do not have a few hundred to drop on an author every month, but for one chapter? Do that and I’ll sit down with you to design an original character that will have a cameo in the current book I’m posting. Become a minor superhero, a spy, a doctor, or just the fun side character running with an ice cream maker.

The goal will be to post 2 chapters per month from THE POLAR TERROR (the first few chapters will be open for everyone), HEROES AND VILLAINS 4, 5, and 6. And, if all goes well, THE POLAR TERROR will get additional stories set at the children’s hospital.

The Heroes and Villains stories are usually 40,000 words, which is about 80 hours of rough draft writing time + editing. It usually takes 9-12 months for these books to go from rough draft to final on-the-shelf version. The chapters will be lightly edited before going on Patreon (similar to BODIES IN MOTION during summer 2017). THE POLAR TERROR will probably be closer to the 20,000 word mark. Probably.

I know, asking for anything before you see a final, polished product is a leap of faith. I’m asking you to invest in me, my stories, my career. I’m asking you to take a chance on me.

 

Ready to get started? CLICK HERE to go to my Patreon page.

Writing, Apples, and the Alchemy of the Mind

Listen. Every authors hits a stage in their book where they question everything, where they doubt themselves, where they want to give up. It happens because you are comparing a working draft to finished manuscripts again. Which is a bit like asking why apples on the tree don’t taste like apple pie. There’s a relation to them, but apple pie does not grow on trees.
Finished manuscripts don’t have a final form until the cook in the reader’s head. You cannot produce apple pie with apples alone. You can’t produce the polished books like what you read elsewhere to a draft of anything you write.
Your drafts will always and only ever be apples.
Some of the stories are still seeds. Some are blossoms ready for the pollination (the work you put into writing the first rough draft), some of them are ripening in edits. Some of them are ready to harvest to go to the story-packing plant to be polished by beta readers and editors. Some of them are ready to get shipped to the store. But none of them become apple pie until someone buys the apple, takes it home, and does the work of reading the book. 
Don’t compare a still ripening apple to apple pie.
Don’t compare a manuscript in edits to a finished novel on the shelf.
They are not the same thing. And you’re hurting the end product by trying to rush the ripening process. Let it be. Let it grow. Let it develop naturally. Edit by edit. Line by line. This will get better and the book will get finished. Have some faith in yourself. First book for one hundred and first book, they all have a stage where you think they’re hopeless. They aren’t. They’re just growing. Be patient. 

Holiday editing slots now available for new clients!

Between today and November 25th I am accepting new editing clients to fill a limited number of holiday slots. These slots will have 2-3 week turn-around times (time needed depends on length of manuscript) and are reserved exclusively for new clients on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Also available between now and January 1, 2018 is the NaNoWriMo Editing Letter Special. For just $100 you get a synopsis-style editing letter and comprehensive editing plan to help you turn your rough NaNo draft into a polished manuscript at your own speed.
Add a 30-minute skype session for only $30 to any editing package (limited availability).

 

What genres will I edit?
Science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, romance, and crime fiction for any age group. If it goes boom, bang, or crash, I can help.

Why let me edit your work?
I started beta reading and critiquing in 2005. Prior to that I was a newspaper editor for a local paper. I’m a hybrid author with experience prepping books for Big 5 publishers, agents, small presses, and self-publication. I know what people are looking for right now and I know how to fix your manuscript.

Email me for samples of my editing style or referrals.

Why hire an editor?
There are no good writers, only good editors. And while every author should learn to edit themselves, we all need help on every book.

None of the books you love went unedited. There isn’t a single book on the bestseller list that wasn’t worked on by an editor. You can write a book alone, but you cannot prepare it for publication alone. A good editor won’t rewrite your book, but they will tell you what needs to be fixed, what needs to be cut, and what needs to be kept.

Every writer is at a different stage of development. All writers (including me) have trouble editing their own work. A fresh set of eyes can not only improve your writing, but can help you refine your style so you stand our in a crowd.

Do you have more questions?
You can always email me at liana.brooks1 @ gmail.com, subject- Editing Question, if you have a question that isn’t answered here.

FREE FALL Flies Free!

Free Fall Mood Board – all art copyrighted to respective artists

FREE FALL, my next SF adventure, has been in the works since late 2015 and is finally finished and out with the last line of critters. Ready for some writing stats?

Word Count: 80,000
Corpse Count: 2 named characters + random guards (RIP Guards)
Chapters: 9 (but they are long chapters with breaks)
Themes: Family, diaspora, identity, friendship
Subgenre: Space heist!
Inspiration: The Train Job/Firefly
Rep: One mixed race, two demisexuals, one bi-guy. (There are various POC but skin tone doesn’t factor into the story for the most part.)
For The Fans Of… If you like my writing, Ocean’s 11, Firefly, Dark Matter, or Killjoys you’ll probably get a kick out of this one.
Pub Date: There is no publication date or publisher attached to FREE FALL at the moment. When that changes I will let you know.
What’s Next? Tomorrow I’m going to sit down with the plot for LAWS OF ATTRACTION, the sequel to BODIES IN MOTION. I already have 11k written and I’m expecting to finish the first draft before February.

 

Breaking Radio Silence

I wish it were cancer.

That’s a cruel thing to say. Cancer is awful, the treatments are painful, the whole experience is a nightmare for the patient and their family. I know how stark and raw it feels listening to a love one be diagnosed. I know how cold the seats are in the oncology department when the doctor calls to tell you that it’s time to talk about the test results. I know the looks of sorrow on people’s faces when you arrive at oncology with a small child in tow to get another blood test done.

Been there. Done that. My mother is a cancer survivor; the last time she had a positive test result come back was the same day I got my first negative test result for cancer.

I understand how bleak it is.

But I wish it were cancer that were killing me.

Cancer has an ending. It has a time frame. It has a limit. You either get better or you die. Either way, it ends.

Cancer patients are fighters. They’re lauded and applauded. If a cancer patient says they’re too exhausted to move and that they just want to lay on the couch all week no one questions that. The cancer victim is given a fluffy pillow, a nice blanket, a light meal, a bowl to throw up in, and they watch a movie as they drift into an uneasy sleep. Sometimes you’ll see a cancer patient going to work, and everyone will talk about how heroic their efforts are. They’re held up as idols of humanity (which is a whole different rant).

When you have cancer there are ribbons, fundraisers, sympathy, and support.

When you have a chronic illness you get nothing.

No one cares that it’s hard to breathe and you’re so tired all you can do is cry. No one is going to tell you how tough you are for getting out of bed. If anyone remembers the most you’ll get is a curious look and a thoughtless statement.

I thought you were better.

Are you sick again?

Have you tried __________?

Just cheer up.

There is no end to chronic illness. That’s what makes it chronic. There aren’t limits. There aren’t sympathy cards. There is very little understanding. Sometimes there aren’t even treatments.

If cancer is a battle, chronic illness is a famine.

It’s exhausting just writing this, because what can I say? I have chronic anemia. It’s an aimless, almost blameless sort of condition. One that does nothing but suck the life out of me leaving my head foggy, my limbs achy, and my motivation gone. It’s like having the flu but it doesn’t get better. The doctors blamed my last pregnancy… that baby was born in 2012. It’s been nearly six years and my iron levels remain chronically low, frequently dipping so low that I spend eighteen hours a day asleep and the rest of the day in haze.

I really wish it were cancer.

Maybe if it were cancer the doctors would care. Maybe then they’d provide something other than an iron pill. Maybe they’d look for a cause instead of shrugging and telling me I just need to power through it. Because we all know human bodies don’t really need *that* much oxygen, so who cares if my iron levels drop? Maybe then it would be easier because I could count down until my last chemo treatment or my next blood test. There’d be markers, signs, indications that I was getting better or worse.

Wishing won’t make this easier. Hoping, praying, dreaming… I don’t have the energy.

In a few weeks I go back to the doctor. Again. For another battery of tests. Again. For another round of prescription iron pills. Again.

Maybe, if I cross my fingers and wish on a star, maybe this will be the last time. Maybe I’ll get better. Maybe I’ll feel like I used to before I was sick. Maybe.

For now? I’m going to curl up under a blanket, cheer on my writer friends, and watch a movie until I fall asleep. It’ll be okay… right? They say any day you aren’t dead is a good one. So being even half alive is a win I suppose. I’m not dead. I don’t have cancer. Doesn’t that make me one of the lucky ones?

For everyone out there whose trip to oncology wasn’t as good as mine, I’m sorry. You’re in my thoughts. Cancer is a battle that I don’t want you to lose.

For everyone in the famine lands of chronic illness, keep going. You never know when the rains will return and life will change. You just have to hold on until it does.

I love you.
– L

Piracy, Ebooks, and The Raven King

After reading Maggie Stiefvater’s openly honest essay about the piracy of her Raven Cycle books I have some thoughts. First, GO READ HER EXPERIENCE.

Second, for those wondering where book four of Heroes and Villains is or a new Sam Rose story, the answer is: there probably won’t be one because of this. There aren’t enough sales on H&V to make it worth my time to go back to the villains. The books I have in the series are my most-pirated work.

When EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE was first released I found it downloaded over 800 times from a pirate website. Eight hundred, on my first novella… the average book sells less than 1000 copies, and in the first month EVFiL was downloaded 800 times.

Heroes and Villains originally published with Breathless Press. They closed because of piracy. Because more of their ebooks wound up on pirate sites than going to paid readers. Fans were mad when promised books were taken now or a series never finished. But a majority of those fans hadn’t bought the books. They’d stolen them. And they were demanding more free work.

The Time & Shadows series saw a similar trend to Maggie’s series. The books sold well enough for the niche they were in. I didn’t have the marketing Maggie does, and I wasn’t writing YA, but I see the same trend of fewer ebook sales and more print sales. And it’s for the same reason. No matter what I do I can’t get all the pirate copies of my books offline.

Which means that instead of writing another book, I’m spending my time looking for a second job. Instead of writing another book in a series fans love, I’m trying to convince a publisher that despite past numbers my books can sell. The thing is… publishers don’t look at pirated books. They aren’t sales. A pirated book won’t pay the rent. A pirated book won’t cover the cost of cover art. A pirated book isn’t freed advertising or a null sale from someone who would never buy the book anyway.

A pirated book is a lost sale.

A pirated book is a lost year of writing.

A pirated book is a lost order from the library.

A pirated book is a death sentence for small presses, midlist authors, and everyone else trying to get by.

For every author, making the next book – writing, editing, publishing – all depends on having the current book sell. Sales mean money for rent, groceries, and bills. Sales mean visibility for the next book. Sales mean a career doing what we love.

If you want books from your favorite authors: BUY BOOKS.

 

Made It Monday: A Primary Color Wave

This weekend I tried a new-to-me project and did a 3 Color painting of a wave. It’s an interesting technique that relies on blending primary colors (red/yellow/blue) to create all the other colors needed. I enjoy painting because 1) I honestly suck at visual art like drawing and painting and want to improve so 2) I have to focus when painting and it becomes very meditative. Learning a new skill isn’t everyone’s cuppa tea, but I enjoy improving on something, and painting is a nice break from writing.

But, because I’m me and I like patterns, metaphors, and books I couldn’t help but let my mind wander over to how acrylic paintings  – which tend to be ugly up until the very last brush stroke – are so similar to book writing. Since NaNoWriMo is coming up in just a few short weeks I’m going to pull this all together in a quick mini-writing lesson. Because… why not?

If you’re interested in making this painting yourself check out the fabulous Cinnamon Cooney and her Art Sherpa youtube channel.

 

Phase 1: The Outline and Choosing your Colors
Before I could even paint my wave I had to pick which set of primary colors to use. There’s Primary Blue/Yellow/Magenta, or Magenta/Hansa Yellow/Pthalo Blue, or Cad Yellow/Cerulean Blue/Crimson… the different starting tones made different colors. You can see my test splotches in the top corners and the combinations further down.

Starting a story has a similar rhythm. First you need to decide what is going into the book. Are you writing a thriller or a romance? A Romantic thriller with a happy ending? A Thriller with romantic elements and a tragic end? Is your focus on one or two characters, or on the fates of thousands? Is the tone light or dark, somber or joyful, lively or a slow dirge into eternity? Knowing what you want helps you get the foundation of your story correct.

 

 

Phase 2: The Vague Outline of An Idea
The beginning. The end. Not middle visible? Ah, yes, that’s either this painting or anyone rough outline I’ve ever written. You should know where the book starts, and where you intend it to end, but the middle is always a murky mess when you begin. That’s fine. Draw in the ideas you know belong and figure out the rest as you go.

 

Phase 3: Color Blocking And The First Details
What do we have here? It’s a basic wave, you can see the shape of it now, and the middle has been filled with a purple blob that doesn’t really add much, but that’s okay. It’s there. This is the visual representation of a a rough draft. Everything is colored in. Technically, the wave has been painted. It’s not a blank canvas. You could probably sell this at a flea market for $5 and call it a day. It’s also painfully ugly and that ugliness makes too many people throw away their brushes (and their books) and give up in frustration. This looks nothing like the wave I envisioned! A rough draft doesn’t have the mental heft and weight of the book in my head! All is woe and sadness!

Okay, not really. This is a rough draft. The bones of a painting, or a story, are there. Now the fine details need to be added.

 

Phase 4: A Finished Work 
What changed? I added details. The foamy white crest splashing everywhere, reflections of light, more clouds, more color, more paint… And, again, this is a decent enough painting. It could be called done and hung on the wall. The equivalent of a book is one that has a couple rounds of edits and gets a nod. For most books, this is where they hit the query trenches or the publishing trenches. A lot of effort and time has been put into the project and the painter (me!) or the writer (you!) should feel justifiably proud of the effort.

 

Phase 5: The Polished Work
I’ll be 100% honest here… I could do more with this painting. I quit last night because I’d already gone over the 2 hours I’d set aside for painting and I needed to get some sleep. There are little details I’m not super happy with, things I’d still like to change, and I am seriously tempted to repaint this next week and do better

And, while I’m being honest, I can say I’ve felt that way about every book I’ve ever published. Most authors feel this way. There’s always something you think of at the last moment. There is an art to letting go, to knowing when any further effort and embellishment will only add noise, not improvement. It’s a hard skill to learn, and you only learn it if you are willing to take the risk of failing. If you can’t take that risk, can’t let yourself fall, then you’ll never find the point where you can fly.

Worth A Watch – Love O2O

Hello, my lovelies, I’ve found another show that earns a place as Worth A Watch. In keeping with the theme of finding non-American TV to enjoy this fantastically geeky show comes from China and has subtitles for English-speaking audiences on Drama Fever. There are actually two versions of this story, the movie (which I haven’t watched but enjoy the GIFs of) and the TV show that I’m actually going to talk about.

What’s the story? The adorable Wei Wei is a STEM lady working on her computer science degree at a university in Beijing and working as a math tutor on the side. She’s smart, funny, and super sweet. Literally the nicest person ever (which is shown again and again). She lives with three dorm mates in the nicest dorm you’ve ever seen, and in her free time (don’t even ask me how she finds it) she plays an online MMO where she’s the Red Bandit and one of the top ranked players on the server. Interestingly enough, in a refreshing change from most Geek Girl stories she doesn’t play a bard or healer, but an aggressive tanking character. When the story opens she has a crush on the university hottie and a virtual husband on the game (because there are couple-only quests). In the opening episode her online husband dumps her for a character named Enchantress, but she’s not single for long because the #1 player on the game ( a bard-class dude) proposes to her.

The story spans 30 episodes and 2 years as Wei Wei works on her degree, meets her online husband offline, helps him build a new gaming company, and they take over the world. Basically. In a nice way.

Who’s it for? This is for the gamers and romance fans. If you liked The Guild, or anything with Felicia Day, this is the show for you. It’s cute, it’s funny, the characters are (mostly) mature enough to make responsible choices, and there is enough plot to keep you watching for the whole 30 hours. If you love Meet Cute stories about people who find each other online, this is the show for you!

What’s the culture like? The major things that are going to jump out to an American audience are the use of the words Master, Junior, and Senior. In Chinese dramas it’s fairly common for the boss/leader of a group to be called Master (think apprentice/journeyman/master not slave/master). Junior and Senior are used to denote both age and seniority within a company. There’s a healthy bit of nepotism on the Bad Guy side of the spectrum, and some lingering Machismo. Chinese dramas haven’t fully broken away from the Domineering Male Knows Best point of view, but the male lead is fairly modern and fully respects Wei Wei’s opinions and her ability to handle her own problems.

Like Korean Dramas you’ll see more same-sex PDA between friends than between couples. Wei Wei and her friends are a close knit group and stay that way for the most part.

A fun cultural bonus is the Chinese poetry and history that gets slipped into the story. At one point the male lead tells Wei Wei “The flowers are blooming by the road. Enjoy them on your way home.” which sounds kind of weird without context. The context is that this is from am Emperor of China whose wife was visiting her mother, he didn’t want to order her back to the palace, but he missed her and this is what he wrote. The literally translation would be, “I love you and I miss you every day and I want you to come home but I respect your need to be with family and I’ll wait patiently until you’re ready to come back.”

Also, there’s a ton of basketball. I forgot how much Chinese liked the game until I watched this and remembered they do pretty well in the Olympics. They might not be Michael Jordan (but who is?), but they do like to dunk. It’s a better way to solve problems than the standard Boy Brawl, and I enjoyed it.

Bonuses? There’s no dramatic misunderstanding! The mainstay of the rom-com genre is done away because this is a nice couple who gets to be a couple for most the show. There’s also a m/m ship that is written and filmed as a romantic duo although we never see a kiss (only the main couple gets a kiss – sorry!). I found the pairing cute, although [name redacted] deserves a more mature hubby in my mind. Come for the cute warrior queen and stay for her adorable dad, her friends, and the bros.

Extra Bonus: There are some really awesome costumes in the fantasy game scenes. Enjoy!

What to watch out for? The sound dubbing in the first few episodes was a bit echo-y, especially in the dorm room scenes. Other than that, expect some bad behavior from the Jealous Dude who thinks Wei Wei should love him (because he has a crush – so obvs she’ll just adore him). There’s a minor redemption arc there, but not enough for me to forgive him.

How many seasons? Only one season, but it has 30 episodes each an hour long. Watch out, those last five minutes always result in a cliffhanger. If you need to go to bed stop at 50 minutes in and watch the last bit before going on to the next episode.