Monthly Archives: March 2011

Becoming real

There is a(n exquisite) passage from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams that I had my childhood friend read at my wedding (yes, it made people cry). I find that something about it is apropriate for my current change of life, and the realizations I’m having about becoming public, and making my books “real.”

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

~*~

So, my book is not-quite-out-there now, but it is announced. It’s got a presence in the real world, and a tentative launch date. It is becoming, and that is a process we all know well. I am becoming along with it- we are all, always, becoming- but I am also already real, to a degree. And my book, my baby, the fruit of my soul, is about to become real as well.

Suddenly I can imagine what it must be like for a parent to leave their first-born at school for the first time, and then college, and then life after that… I want the best for my baby. I want her to meet the people that will love her for who she is, and who will take all the love she has to give. And really, I think I need to foster that same attitude. Like a parent must learn to accept that their own child (though they have put much of themselve into her) is not a reflection of them or who they are, so an author needs to be able to do the same.

There will be many authors who disagree with me, but this is how I tell stories: when I write, I don’t write to express myself or who I am; I don’t write to impress; I don’t write to teach, or express an opinion. I write because a story has come to me, and I feel compelled to do my best to translate that idea into text, and to shape it into something that will most closely resemble the original thought and feeling of the story. But the story is there before I write it.

So, in a way, the resulting book doesn’t even belong to me.

Yeah, I did the hard work, and I crafted the words. I shaped the worlds and characters and events. I interpreted the idea. There is a lot of me that goes into everything I write, whether fiction or non. But I can’t say that the story itself is mine- it belongs to us all.

This story- The Poppet and the Lune– is about to go out into the world. It’s about to be loved, hated, seen as something worn out and ugly, and seen as something striking and beautiful. It’s about to leave the nest, and become real. For more people than just myself and those of you who read her as a fledgling web serial.

And that’s… kind of amazing. Kind of terrifying, too. But amazing.

 

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And the winner is….!

Akvalier font

#1!

It was close at first, but towards the end #1 won by a landslide. You guys rock, thanks for all your help and your votes!

Now with that out of the way… if you’d like, you can go to Goodreads.com and add The Poppet and the Lune to your to-read list! Or, rate it if you were one of the awesome few who read it while it was still a wee baby web-serial.  I would of course be ever so grateful. *batts eyelashes* Also, I’ve got a fan page on Facebook now/again (Search for Madeline Claire Franklin), so if you’d like you can “like” the page and receive updates about my self-publishing adventure that way :)

More to come! Also, less self-promotion. Promise!

Final round, TPaL Book Cover HALP

Okay I lied, I’m posting it today! Help me choose between these two covers! Tell me which one you like best, and anything you can suggest to make it better (click on the images to enlarge):

Akvalier font

 

OR

 

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Shiny newness!

Welcome all to my new official website: madelineclairefranklin.com! Yay! You might notice it looks a lot like my blog. In fact, it now *is* my blog. My awesome brother helped me set it up, and I’m hoping to make some improvements over the week to flesh out the site and give it some personality.

In other news, I’ve got two covers designed and almost ready for your final vote. The lovely and amazing Sarah E. Diemer showed me the excellence that is Flickr‘s photo editing program, and I pretty much took that cover from here (*down low*) to here (*up high*). Yeah baby! You will see the outcome soon ;D After that, I’ll still need to develop a template cover for the print version, but I think that will be a bit quicker to do.

In other funny news, my long-lost half-brother (Sierra Colt) apparently wrote a book on how to make lots of money as a tattoo artist! I sense this is something that runs in the family, “this” being an entreprneur/writer thing. I’ve got good genes, what can I say? Anyway, I read most of it yesterday while I was at the ‘rents, and there’s a lot of good info in there, for artists of all kinds. And for once, it didn’t make me feel dirty to read something that encouraged me to pimp myself. (Hello World, buy a piece of my imagination, won’t you?)

That is all for today. Tomorrow, expect book covers!

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HALP! TPaL Book Cover Poll

People of the world, I need your help. I’ve got my cover art from the lovely Plamena Doycheva, and I’ve got some fonts I’ll have to get licensing for. I’ve made 4 potential coverts for The Poppet and the Lune (TPaL), and I’d love your feedback. Tell me which one you like best, or which one you would like best if I did something to it (also tell me what you think I should do to it).

(the images are actually very clean/not pixelated. They just look weird shrunken down for the slideshow)

Thanks for your help!

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Labels, genres, and other things that limit you

When I was much younger, just beginning to become aware of myself in relationship to the rest of the world, I realized three very important things that determined much of the person I’ve become- 1) that there is an immense amount of pressure for you to “fit in;” 2) that depending on who you fit in with, people will try to label you; and 3) that I wanted nothing to do with any of that, thankyouverymuch.

It was a hard road to follow. Did I find people I fit in with? More or less. We respected an appreciated each other, and while we did have many things in common we were not the same people. We were individuals, with very different things to offer to the world. People tried to label us, “goth” or “punk” or “freaks,” but when it came down to it we were just doing what we wanted, regardless of labels, regardless of what each other was doing.

In my writing, I’ve come to find that the same principles apply. I’ve let myself become bogged down on one level or another by the marketing aspect of publishing. I’ve mistaken craft for industry, and those are two very different things. Yes, you should write an opening sentence that pulls the reader in- but no, you should not write your entire novel based around what’s going to sell the most copies. So when it comes to writing for an audience, it gets tricky. The main reason to write for an audience is because you want to sell the book to them, which is fine. But is that why you’re writing to begin with?

If it is, then read no further. This entry will only piss you off. Because for me, writing is something I do because I must- I must tell stories, I must craft worlds, I must get to know characters and witness their struggles and triumphs. I write stories because I love to write, and yes I do want to sell them and have them be read, and ideally make a living from my passion. But what I’ve come to realize recently is that it can be very tempting to sacrifice a story in the name of securing an audience. Often, audiences come packaged under something I’ve come to really dislike, the labels known as “genres.”

Genres are just another form of labeling. They limit your creativity tremendously, lock you in, stifle the flow of your story. For instance, if you decide to write for young adults because that seems to be where the market is thriving- but wait, one of your main characters is an adult… Do not even for an instant consider changing that character based on the fact that it makes your story not fit into that genre. For the story to really shine you have to be true to it, from beginning to end. The soul of the story, that thing that burrows into the reader’s heart and makes a home there, it can only be found when the author tries to recreate the story given to them to tell in it’s most pure and, in many ways, divine form.

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You can see that I look at writing as more of a spiritual experience than anything else– I hope that’s been apparent for some time now. I’m a spiritual person– my spirituality (read: NOT RELIGION) is one of the most important things about my existence. Writing is not terribly separate from that. And there are a lot of people who would disagree with me about this, that to sell we must conform, to make our story the most accessible and widely read we must change it because the experts say so. But I have a whole lot of faith in the story– about as much as I have in the audience to be able to appreciate what it’s worth. Call me naive if you want, but I would rather have high hopes than low expectations. Being a writer–indeed, an artist of any kind–is about trusting in your own ability to create something beautiful.

Do you find genres to be helpful or hindering as a writer? What about as a reader?

That oft-used metaphor called “road”

So in my life I’ve gone through various phases in regards to my relationship with writing and publishing. At one point, I just wrote stories and had no reason other than compulsion and joy. And then I wrote because I wanted to be a Writer. And then I thought I would never be a Writer because I wasn’t good enough. Then I realized I was a writer, no matter what. But I still wanted to be a Writer, and even though I didn’t admit it, I believed there was a difference. A Writer was Published. I wasn’t, not really. So I was just a writer. (Following me?)

Then, a few months ago, I said DAMN IT I am a writer, and there is no such THING as a Writer. And I believed it, mostly. And I said I was going to self-publish The Poppet and the Lune. And I even went so far as to commision artwork for the cover (see the background of this blog?). But something was still off- that part of me that didn’t want to budge about the difference between a writer, and a Writer. A Writer wasn’t just Published, but it was validated by Official Writer Validators, who decide if your book is Good Enough to Publish.

Then, what I really, really realized is that… those “official” people who decide these things about your book? They have no power. Not really. They decide what they can sell, not what’s good. (*ahem*Twilight*ahem*)

Those are very different things. That’s like Hallmark deciding what’s a “good” sentiment to have on an occasion. It’s not real- their decisions hold no real weight.

I write, still, because I am compelled to. I write because I have stories to tell, that sing through me until I have fleshed them out completely on the page. Do I want to make a living from doing the things that I love? Of course. But do I write to create something that will sell? No.

Will my books sell if I write the best story I can, truest to my heart, and take the best care I can to edit, format, and design the book, and then publish it myself?

I believe so.

To emphasize my commitment to this understanding (deep in my bones and screaming through my blood): unless I’m offered an AMAZING contract and an agent I think is one of my plutonic soul mates here on earth, as soon as I get a confirmed pass or whatever on the networking happening on my behalf at the moment in NYC I’m going to get going on self publishing The Poppet and the Lune. Because putting it out into the world under my own terms is better than waiting for someone else to decide that they can use it for their own success, and waiting for other people to tell me when I can begin my career as a Published author… when really the only difference between a *Published author and a published author is that the former has a lot more hoops to jump through. And frankly I’ve never been able to hula hoop, let alone jump through hoops. (joke? eh? haha?)

And then, I’m going to fix up The Hierophant and put that out there too. You see where I’m going with this?

Basically, I’m taking back my power. In the immortal words of Sarah to David Bowie/Jareth: “You have no power over me.” And boy oh boy, is that refreshing.

*disclaimer: I have nothing against traditionally published authors. More power to them. But if I’ve written books that “just aren’t a match” for the agents who read them, even though they love them… then I’m not waiting for them. I’m going straight to the public.

Testing

Just testing my new phone app. That’s right, I’m hip to the times finally- got mah self a smurt phone!