July 21, 2012 in Dag

The greatest story ever told

Okay, I have to admit it. My little experiment failed. My attempt to trick people into thinking I was grumpy when really I was cheerful didn’t fool anyone. I guess all you people out in bloggerland are much cleverer than even I anticipated.

So, given the foolhardiness of trying to do something tricksy again, I’m just going to be upfront and say it. This is going to be another one of my not-grumpy posts. And if that means you people aren’t going to read it, then I guess I’ll have to live with that, and hang on until I can be properly grumpy again.

Mind you, I could be just a little bit grumpy today. I’ll try to explain. As a writer, I like to set my ambitions high. I like to try and write the greatest story I could possibly write. Hell, no, I want to do better than that. I want to write the greatest story ever written. Only problem is, it’s already been done. By a Danish writer, back in 1837.

The writer is Hans Christian Andersen, and the story is The Emperor’s New Clothes

I love that story. It says so much about people and behaviour and society and all that heavy stuff, in such a clean and simple and playful way. Often, when I listen to people speaking, I think of that story. Whether it’s a politician trying to pull the wool over our eyes, or some economics expert trying to confound us with jargonistic gobbledygook, or any other “specialist” who wants us to believe they are somehow privy to knowledge beyond the understanding of us simple folk, I’ll think of those two clever tailors attempting to convince the Emperor that they are making him a suit out of nothing. And I’ll smile.

Even though I can now never write the greatest story ever, I can still take inspiration from this story. I want to be like the little boy who calls out, “He’s not wearing any clothes.” I try to write stories that are just as fun and simple and playful, but which hopefully will make people see things as they are.

I’m not sure I always manage to do it. After all, we’re all going to have a different idea of how things are. But I can sure as hell have fun trying, and that’s the best bit of all.

July 14, 2012 in Dag

Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy, grumpy

All right, maybe I’m not that grumpy.
I just thought I might try a little experiment.

I’ve mentioned before how I’ve discovered that the posts where I gripe and groan and whinge and complain seem to get more views than the posts where I’m happy and cheerful. Only problem is, this week I’m actually not feeling quite so bad and I’m struggling to find things to complain about.

But, just because I’m not feeling so bad, I don’t want my number of hits for the week to suffer. So I thought, what if I pretend that I’m grumpy, just to get people interested, but then I write a not-so-grumpy post anyway. Will people be annoyed? Will they see it as a dirty, lowdown trick to try to get more readers? Or will they just get over it and read the post? I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

Anyway, you’re probably wondering what it is that’s made me so not-grumpy today (assuming you’ve read this far).Well, the good news is I’m actually making progress on my “long-forgotten” novel. The one I started over four years ago and got more than halfway through (in one of those bursts of enthusiasm I’m prone to get) before it fell by the wayside (in one of those even longer bursts of apathy I’m even more prone to).

With the great responses I’ve been getting to the books I’ve published over the last 18 months, I figured it was time to get back to it. Reading through what I’ve written so far, I’m thinking that maybe it’s not too bad, and has a bit of potential. It’s different from the other things I’ve written. It’s more clearly YA/MG than the others, with a teenage protagonist. Also, it’s a female protagonist, which is a big departure for me. I like her a lot. She’s probably the most interesting and complex main character I’ve done so far.

Of course, in a lot of ways, it’s also a lot like other things I’ve written. It’s set in a world that’s very different from ours, though also similar in unexpected ways, and it has lots of strange made up words.

I’ve actually managed to write two new chapters in the last two weeks which I’m quite excited about. And I’ve set myself some deadlines. A first draft by the end of the year and publication by the end of next. I want to push myself, but I also want to take the time to make sure I get it just right.

Discover Fantasy Update

I can’t finish this off without a mention of week three of the Discover Fantasy tour. The first two weeks have been great fun. In week three, I’ll be popping over to see Karen Pokras Toz and Vixie’s Stories.

Check out the schedule for full details of where you can catch me, Dave and Jeremy. And don’t forget to enter the prize draw to win a $100 Amazon gift card.

July 8, 2012 in Dag

I’m going to be somebody else today

I’ve just made a really cool discovery.
I think I’ve figured out why writing these blog posts is so difficult.
I think it’s all because I’ve gotten a little bit bored with myself.

Here’s the problem. Every week, usually about now, I sit down at my computer and say to myself, “ok, time to write something.” Then I try to focus a bit and think, “what’s an interesting thing to write about?”

Because, of course, a blog post has to be interesting. What’s the point of writing it if it isn’t? Who would want to read it if it wasn’t?

That’s when the hard bit begins. What can I say that might be of interest to all those readers out there? What do I think? Where have I been? What have I done? To be honest, most of the time the answers really aren’t that interesting.

So today I’m not going to bore you with mundane stuff. I’m going to be someone completely different. Someone exciting and glamorous. Someone who has been to interesting places and done all sorts of exciting things.

For a start, I’m probably extremely good-looking. You’ve probably seen my face plastered all over the TV and magazines. I might even have been in a movie, or had a hit pop record or something. I think I’ve climbed to the top of Mt Everest, and I’ve also swam down to the bottom of the deepest, darkest oceans. And did I mention that I’ve wrestled with lions and polar bears? Not at the same time, mind you, but that’s still pretty darned interesting in my book.

Ok, I’m starting to warm up now. What else would you like to know about me.I’m really great at sport. I might even be playing in the Wimbledon final this weekend, in the middle of my warm-ups for the Olympic games. I’m the coolest, grooviest dancer you might ever see. And I have tremendous charisma. You should see people’s faces when I start to talk. Whoo boy do I know how to attract people’s attention.

Is that enough about me? I’d hate to look like I was really self-obsessed. And besides, I think people are always more interesting when you don’t know too much about them – it makes them seem like a bit of a mystery.

So there you go. How interesting has this post been? The best one over in my humble opinion. This being someone else gig is so great, I think I might try it again next week.

I wonder who I’ll be.

Discover Fantasy Update

Even though I’m definitely still not me, I just want to remind you about the extremely interesting Discover Fantasy tour featuring the totally exciting David M. Brown and the truly fascinating Jeremy Rodden. There will be more great posts so do check the schedule of events.

And wanna hear something even more interesting? There’s a $100 Amazon gift card to be won – check out the giveaway details.

July 4, 2012 in Dag

Druids, Vampires, Shapeshifters and International Finance – Guest post by Karen Victoria Smith

I’m really excited about the guest I have at Dag-Lit Central today. Karen Victoria Smith was one of the very first friends I made when I began my writing and publishing adventure, back in the days when the talk on Twitter was all about writing and drinking and the #pubwrite tag hadn’t been overtaken by spammers.

Today Karen is here, talking about her writing and publishing journey, and her new release, Dark Dealings.

And as an added bonus, Karen is offering 1 free paperback or 2 free ecopies of Dark Dealings. Just go to the Indie Exchange in order to enter the draw.

 

Druids, Vampires, Shapeshifters and International Finance

Jonathan Gould has asked me to talk about how my novel, Dark Dealings, differs from others on the genre.

Let’s get the easy ones out of the way:

  • My vampires do not sparkle or walk around in the daylight.
  • The world does not recognize their existence or the existence of shapeshifters and Druids with real power.
  • No one lives in a remote swamp, where I think the food supply is more limited than in cities.

I write urban fantasy based in a somewhat more traditional post-Nosferatu vein. Don’t get me wrong there is a strong romance element, but because my main character, Micaela, doesn’t get a Happily-Ever-After (HEA) it is not technically a paranormal romance. I had a small press publisher ask me to re-write the ending to make it a HEA, but this is just the beginning of Micaela’s journey and she is just not there yet.

I also bring to Dark Dealings my own personal experiences.  I was raised in an urban environment in an Irish Catholic family. We lived in a four-family apartment building where all four apartments were occupied by a family member or in-laws relative.  My grandfather died when I was three leaving the building to my grandmother. She had been born in Athlone, Ireland and came to the United States just in time for the Great Depression. She was a great storyteller with a wicked sense of humor, and would tell me stories of her life in Ireland of family and fairy rings. She tried to teach me Irish, a skill I am still trying to master.

And so I took my Irish city kid self to an Ivy League school and then to Wall Street.  I spent 10 years there and then moved on to a major national bank when jumping on planes four days a week got very old.  I learned a lot in those years about people, finance and, in writing and editing legal documents and board presentations about the power of choosing the right words.

During that time the world went digital and 24-hour.

One night, I sat with a glass of wine under a moonlit sky and it all came together.  How easy it would be for the good old-fashioned vampire to hide and flourish in plain sight.  As a Wall Street refugee, I realized that for much of the globe everywhere it was night it was day for a trading desk somewhere else. And while rich, powerful vampires lend themselves to more plot opportunities, the next time you stop in an all night deli or highway gas station wonder why some of these folks LIKE to work nights. 

Then Micaela started to speak to me. She was highly logical, analytical and rational. The classic Wall Street type. Too analytical, she was hiding something.  She had a past and a history and demanded I tell it.  What is it? Well you’ll have to read Dark Dealings to learn more.

In writing Dark Dealings, I studied for years the craft of writing and for much of that time this novel was my homework project. Along the way, I discovered Joseph Campbell and The Hero with a Thousand Faces and his thematic progeny, Christopher Vogler, the man who changed Disney’s approach to films and has applied it to the novel. 

Perhaps one of the ways I am different from some of the fellow indie writers is that we are also the same. We are the sum and substance of our knowledge and experience.  My experience has been a bit more eclectic than most and so I find is easier to meld Druids, vampires, shapeshifters and Wall Street into a great ride.  I understand and cherish the power of the word and thanks to my Irish grandmother the power of a well-told story.

About Karen Victoria Smith

Karen Victoria Smith grew up with an Irish grandmother who tried to teach her the old ways and watched horror movies with her in the dark.  From there she moved on the wider world of college and career. After 25 years in financial services working on Wall Street and for major national banks, she discovered her passion in writing.  In Dark Dealings, she has found a way to bring the old ways together with the modern world.

Karen lives in New Jersey with her family who patiently allow her to believe that in a 24-hour world the monsters are real.

Her blog:  Storyteller’s Grove   http://kvictoriasmith.blogspot.com/

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5830445.Karen_Victoria_Smith

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/KVictoriaSmith

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/116156670429771791626/posts

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/karen.k.smith.37

Pinterest:  http://pinterest.com/kvictoriasmith/ 

Links for Dark Dealings

Amazon page:  http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Dealings-ebook/dp/B007Z9DEEI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie;=UTF8&qid;=1339463063&sr;=1-1

Barnes and Noble page:   http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-dealings-karen-victoria-smith/1110689732?ean=2940014403795

Smashwords (for other formats) http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/157380

Available in print through Amazon.

Also in print at CreateSpace eStore: https://www.createspace.com/3868445

And don’t forget – got to The Indie Exchange to enter the draw for a free copy.

June 30, 2012 in Dag

July is Discover Fantasy month

Welcome to July.

Ok, we’re not quite there yet, but I’m quite excited about it so I couldn’t help myself.

You’re probably asking what’s so special about July. For my friends up north it’s probably stinking hot, while for me down south, it’s miserable, cold and wet.But July is exciting for me because July is now officially Discover Fantasy month.

So what is Discover Fantasy? (geez he asks a lot of questions). Discover Fantasy is a terrific new event set up to raise peoples’ awareness of fantasy as a genre, and demonstrate how broad it can be. We want to show you that fantasy is not just about wizards and elves and magic – there are lots of different types of stories, lots of different moods and styles, which can all be considered to be fantasy.

Joining me in this event are two other fantastic writers:

  • David M. Brown – who writes broad, sweeping dramatic fantasy, with nary a witch or dwarf to be seen
  • Jeremy Rodden – who takes you into the world of Toonopolis, where Saturday morning cartoons become real.

I really hope you’ll join us in this fabulous event, organised by the amazing Donna Brown. Please check out the Discover Fantasy Website for details on the event, the authors involved, and the schedule.