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A guide to YA fiction: Hunger Games Edition

With Spoilers

Do: Create a fairly complex alternative or future earth society featuring amazing technology and an significant technology and wealth gap between those with the most and those with the least.

Do not: Fail to build a culture of the larger society that jibes with the smaller.

Do: Cast your entire story with entirely unlikeable flat characters, so long as there are one or two minor characters who are endearing, but equally as flat, to keep the reader interested.

Do not: Kill and or dismiss those characters early in the story.

Do not: Fail to really flesh those characters out beyond the most basic “good and pure” archetypes.

Do Not: Make hunting so easy! Even if you’re really really good at it, sometimes you can’t just go out and catch two rabbits and a fat squirrel just because you’re that awesome.

Do: Put your characters into grueling, fight-for-their-life situations where everything seems impossible and there seems to be no way out.

Do not: Bring that situation to an incredible climax with your heroes standing on top of a giant thanksgiving cornucopia surrounded by werewolf clones of their previously defeated enemies. I mean, really?

Do: End the story with a dramatic self-sacrifice on the part of one or both of the major characters.

Do not: Fail to pull the trigger on that self-sacrifice.

Do not: Suddenly turn your heroic bad-ass into a sniveling love-sick puppy dog.

Do: End on a cliffhanger so I have to read the next book, even though, really, who cares?

It's hard work, this content creation biz.

It's hard work, this blogging.
It's a lot of work, this content creation thing. I think that creators tend to under-estimate the amount of work that goes into producing quality content-- even publishing stories where the bulk of the content creation has been done for you is a lot of work.
Case in point, I just published an article over at Ocono.com that has been on my plate since July 9. Today is July 27th. Holy crap. It's not exactly a pulitzer candidate, but it's an example of decent blog content, you know? More than a Link, less than a full blown article. It took me 2 hours to write it today.
Granted, I had some formatting troubles that slowed me down-- Evernote text cuts and pastes kind of weird-- and I was sloppy with my HTML-- but that's not the point. the point is that a small but quality article for a blog takes about two hours to produce. This is a lot of time to give away for free.
Fortunately, I don't feel like I'm not getting anything back for my investment-- so don't worry Pete, I'm not going to ask for a raise. With Ocono.com, I get value back in two parts: 1. I have a venue to put thoughts about Oconomowoc, Wisconsin-- old habits die hard that way. 2: I enjoy supporting Publisher Pete's efforts in suburban Blogging. I think, and I am admittedly biased,' Ocono.com is Oconomowoc's best online news and lifestyle magazine-- If the folks at Oconomowocfocus.com knew what they were doing online, they could take the cake, but they don't so they haven't. I enjoy that.
But free content don't come cheaply. It's a sacrifice I'm happy to make, but I feel badly that I just can't put the love and attention into Ocono.com that really needs to be put into it. Maybe it's time to expand the staff?

Rejected Query Letters

Here's a query letter that I just opted not to send. I'm posting it here for you to enjoy.

Please consider publishing my "appreciation" of Terry Brook's Sword of Shannara. I pitch Brooks' work as a suitable alternative to those looking to fill the hole left behind when they finished Lord of the Rings. Chris Tolkien can re-write his dad's works all he wants, Terry Brooks does a lot better job of doing what Tolkien does -- only without all the fucking elves.

Frankly, there are too elves in Shannara. At least, one unfortunate elf. But she's really only in the Scions series, and she's not so much an elf as a pointy-eared lady-man.

Tor Book Program a nice taste of freedom

Today's free TOR book is "Farthing." Go, click on that link and sign up and get a copy right now. You won't regret it. It's a great book.
I read it about 10 months ago at the recommendation of Boing Boing.
It's an alternative history story wherein peaceful terms between Hitler and Great Brittan were agreed-- but it's way sexier than that. It was one of those books where I ended up staying up to 3 a.m. reading so I could finish the night before I had to return it to the library. It's that good.

Anyway, TOR's free books thing is really cool. It's aways nice to get a copy of a free, DRM free book to have a look at and play with, however, Patrick Nielson Hayden pulled back hard on the emergency lever of the speculation train that Tor might be releasing it's whole catalog as such.

... the munificence of this offer (Slashdotted twice on its first weekend), combined with our vagueness in describing the actual site for which the offer is merely a build-up, has caused a lot of people to jump to the conclusion that the new site will be all about selling and/or giving away digital books. This isn’t the case... "

Frankly, this stinks of the kind of PR Blunder the likes of Harley Davidson's Secret 100th anniversary headliner.

Oh, ok. Maybe not that bad. But still bad. Look, Tor, you can't put the Genie back in the bottle. You've given us a taste of free, awesome, award winning books. Don't stop. Keep it going. Make it bigger. Offer your free, awesome award winning books under more and better terms. Add a creative-commons blessing. Let your fans enjoy your work. There is evidence that authors can make careers out of giving away free books. I believe publishers can to.

Search Terms on "Origins of Shame"

insert snot blowing noise hereOne of the great cool things about outsourcing webhosting to third parties the way I do is that when my own hosting takes a dump, as happened to me in December, you don't necessarily lose all your organic web presence because the original, 3rd-party host service that I was using still maintains it's data.

And Since most, if not all, of my 3-rd party hosting services have a social component, they also generate referrals. (Up until my old blog died, Scribd was like my No. 4 referrer.)

Scribd, the document storage hand hosting social network, also includes a fantastic amount of meta data with it's hosting services.

My "Origins of Shame" story, the one about Super-anti-hero Gordy McPharpenstien, has been up there since March 24, 2007, and has quietly been garnering a rather entertaining collection of organic search results, which I've listed here behind the cut.

I mean, if some of these hits don't make you want to read the story, I don't know what will.