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Month: November 2016

Barreling down to the finish

Posted in Characters, On a Crooked Track, Plot, and The Chained Adept

I'm rolling down the home stretch for On a Crooked Track, just a couple of chapters from the end. Not only is the book almost finished, but it's the fourth and final book of The Chained Adept series, so it's been more of a marathon than a sprint. (Or, at least, it's a bigger dog than the others on the track).

The first book of the series was published in February, 2016, and the fourth and last will be published in early January, 2017. That's four books in one year, and a new “first” for me. (And if I'd been more focused over the summer and early fall, maybe I could have squeezed one more in.)

All four entries were written without outlines. In other words, instead of taking the “plotter” approach (outlining), like my first series The Hounds of Annwn, I went for the “pantser” approach (seat of my pants). Practically speaking, I knew what the major high-points in each book would entail when I started, more or less, but everything along the way was as much of a discovery for me as it is for my readers. I kept track of my structure to keep things moving along, so that the books would be well-formed, and was surprised how easy that was considering I didn't know where the plot was going until I got there.

pantserplotterYou see, I find what happens is that your subconscious knows what it wants. This may be only my eighth novel in the Fantasy genre, but I've read thousands of them, and my subconscious knows what makes a good one work.

The difference in day-to-day writing is subtle. Let's say you have a character to kill. If you were outlining, you might decide how to kill him, and then go back and plant the murder weapon in a room that you described in an earlier chapter so that it will be handy in the chapter where he dies. In other words, you come up with a rational plot element and make sure the story supports it.

But when you're “writing into the dark” (another term for “pantsing”), you end up writing a room description with various objects that make sense in the context of that scene, and then later on, when it's time to kill the character and you don't know how you're going to do it, the little reader in your head says… “but, but, I remember this clue… I bet it was that alien artifact with a curious design that was described a few chapters ago,” and your creative mind says, “hey, that's not a bad idea. I should make that the weapon instead of what I was vaguely thinking of.” Or you might even say, “wait, not the alien artifact — that's too obvious. But what about the seemingly innocuous case that was built to hold it? Wouldn't that be even better? That would let me add all sorts of misdirection.”

Metadata for ebooks

Posted in Just for Writers

justmetadataI was talking to a colleague about missing metadata in an ebook file and discovered that she didn't fully understand what I was talking about.

I'm sure she's not alone.

So here's a little overview about where it comes from and how it's used. As they say, the devil's in the details.

What metadata is visible to retailers?

Here’s an entry for one of my books at a random retailer I’ve never heard of. Since it seems to be in Romania, it probably got there via distributor PublishDrive. (Many retailers are worse, even those whose local language is English.)

Produs publicat in 2012 la Perkunas Press
Data aparitiei: Octombrie 2012
Colectia The Hounds of Annwn
ISBN EPUB: 9780963538413
Formate: ePub (Adobe DRM)
Drepturi utilizare: 6
Compatibil cu: PC/Mac, iPad/iPhone, Android, Nook, Sony, Trekstor (afla mai multe)
Clasament bestseller:
#11005 in Carti digitale
#4 in eBooksCarte strainaEN – FICTIONFantasy – Contemporary

PublishDrive asks all sorts of metadata information, just like Amazon KDP does, and this site seems to understand that the book is part of a series (The Hounds of Annwn), though its link to a series page points somewhere else in error.

Colectia The Hounds of Annwn

Understandably, it doesn’t note which entry in the series it is (should be #1) since it doesn’t have a field for it on the screen.

categoriesI am fascinated to discover that the book is #4 in its category (especially since I have no known sales here), though less so when I realize (clicking on “Fantasy – Contemporary”) that my books are the ONLY books in that category, no doubt because it’s an English-language category.

#4 in eBooksCarte strainaEN – FICTIONFantasy – Contemporary

In this case, note how few English fiction (EN – FICTION) books there are, and how Fantasy is displayed.

Constraints and remedies

Retailers can only display data they've planned for. If they haven’t planned for non-English categories, then they can’t use them (and won’t translate them on the fly or try to match them up to the local language). If they don’t have a field for series order (or sometimes for series name), then they won’t display it.

Even the best and most detail-oriented of modern distributors can’t shove fields (like series order) into retailer sites that don’t use them.

Helpful tips for new writers: 1

Posted in Just for Writers, and Tips for New Writers

At the request of a colleague, I'm spending some time talking to some writers far, far away that she's working with, and I thought it would be useful to collect the presentation in a blog post for them, and for anyone else who might be interested. You can find all the posts in this series here.

First step, install Skype.
First step, install Skype.

I can't possibly touch on more than a handful of topics in a single session, so I'll just mention a few that I think are important:

* Writer Psychology
* Meeting Reader Expectations
* Organizing Your Completed Materials

As question/answers are added during the talk, I'll update this.


I'm Karen Myers, and I've been a writer of fantasy and science fiction books for four years. I came to this late, after an official career building computer software and services companies that lasted four decades.

This is not the only time I've taken on serious work in the arts. I picked up a violin for the first time in my 30s, and a camera in my 50s, so I know what it's like to go from nothing to reasonably competent. I'm finding it's no different for writing fiction, now that I'm a few years into it. You can see some of my other interests here.

Just about all the best advice I've ever gotten came to me from people just a little further along on the same path, and I'm grateful to have the opportunity to do the same in my turn.