Indie Author-Publishers: Talent Unbound! (Part 1).

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You don’t need anything fancy to get your Literary or Fusion Fiction novel into print. Here’s the “low budget” way to do it:

IRISH FIREBRANDS: A Novel ~ and Other Works by Christine Plouvier, Indie Author

A Quick Prep Guide for the Absolute Beginner.

I am by no means an “expert” on independent publishing, but I want new writers to know that it can be done with run-of-the-mill hardware and software.

We’ll be talking about basic need-to-know issues for first-time publishers using a print-on-demand (POD) provider who offers free setup services.

To get your book setup for free, you have to perform all the roles of traditional publishing, including proofreading, content editing, copy editing, and setting type. Figure on its taking 9-18 months after you finish the rough draft to get to publication. It looks like a lot of work, and it is, but don’t let how it looks scare you off. It’s like learning to drive a standard transmission vehicle: itemized on paper, the steps look harder than they really are.

But first things first: getting the story out of your head and onto virtual…

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Do You Like Reading Bountiful Books? Welcome!

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Masterpiece Marketplace

We’re glad to meet you here. We’re a band of people who read bountiful books – and write them, too!

If you’re like us, you’ve been frustrated by how hard it is to find the kind of reading material you like: bigger-than-life books in the grand tradition of the Literary Fiction classics, and ambitious Fusion Fiction that pushes the envelope of modern publishing by crossing several genre lines.

We all love reading language that paints pictures inside our heads, and we’re not bothered if we occasionally have to pick up a thesaurus or dictionary, to learn some new vocabulary we found in a great book.

We want to read stories that make us think and feel: to laugh, cry, get mad, have hope, be happy, surprised, satisfied.

We’ve often been so disappointed by modern fiction, that we’ve thought, “I could write better than that!”

And many of us felt driven to do so – but you don’t…

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New Free Cooperative Book Listing Site.

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IRISH FIREBRANDS: A Novel ~ and Other Works by Christine Plouvier, Indie Author

Announcing MasterpieceMarketplace, dedicated to serving the writers and readers of Literary Fiction and Fusion Fiction.

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Genre or Commercial Fiction doesn’t need much help getting seen and getting sold; that’s why it’s the bread-and-butter book for many authors to write. However, some authors also yearn to find an audience for their magnum opus: the lavish Literary or Fusion Fiction (multi-genre) novel they spent many loving years writing, but which may be hard to classify, and thus can’t be located amid the torrent of novellas and novelettes that flood the modern market.

There are also many readers who search for stories in which they can lose themselves for longer than a weekend afternoon. They’re the big-book fans of historical novels, family sagas, and multi-genre works that paint pictures inside their heads while portraying the intricacies of the human condition, in the literary classic writing style that can be hard to find on the virtual shelves of online retailers.

Masterpiece Marketplace exists to help bring together these writers and readers. It’s…

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Once upon a time…

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Choosing a book from library stacks or bookstore shelves used to be a simple and satisfying voyage of discovery. The options were Fiction or Nonfiction. If the reader’s choice was Nonfiction, there was the Dewey Decimal System to help locate a topic. If the choice was Fiction, there was the division between Adult and Juvenile. Within these categories, authors were ranged alphabetically, enabling readers to browse without borders. If readers wanted fiction subject guidance, Dewey could help with that, too.

Photo by Stuart Cale, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Stuart Cale, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Many readers seem to have lost faith in their ability to find fiction they’d like to read, at the level of meaning that’s important to them. Responsibility for this sad state lies with the BISAC marketing category codes, which were invented over lunch at a trade show in the 1970s, by a few marketing people who didn’t like the Dewey Decimal System. The people who wrote the BISAC acknowledge that any number of codes could be assigned to a book, but they recommend using no more than three. CreateSpace print-on-demand permits only one, and Smashwords e-book aggregator allows two.

This conveys to readers two unfortunate misunderstandings: first, that fiction can only be “about” one thing (meaning, it can be written in only one genre); and second, that a novel which strays from a single topic or genre is not a well-written book. In addition, when a BISAC marketing category is discontinued (an arbitrary decision based on fluctuating sales trends), the books that are tagged with that category also disappear (unless their authors become aware of the change and re-categorize the books).

Indiana State Library system catalog entry for Irish Firebrands. Click image to view full entry.

All of these factors make good books hard to find, as well as constituting  a stranglehold on creativity, as writers strive to make their works conform to unrealistic, ephemeral marketing expectations. Dewey Decimal System classifications are also retired as the system is refined, but the affected books migrate into new, related classifications, thus remaining findable; and because Dewey classification is made after publication by people who are educated in library science (not by an author, nor by a traditional publisher’s marketing department), it does not adversely affect the creative process.

Helping Readers Find FUSION FICTION

Life is not lived in only one genre. Works that cross genre lines tend to stand the test of time, because of their broader applicability to the human condition. This makes FUSION FICTION the category of classic literature. Modern digital technology also makes it possible for books never to go out of print. Writers need to build reader recognition for the unique and lasting value of stories that synthesize multiple genres.

It’s important for independent author-publishers to mention the category of FUSION FICTION in synopses, blurbs and other promotional materials, in addition to picking from several applicable genres, when classifying their cross-genre works.

If you write FUSION FICTION, please sign up to join this blog. See menu for details.

Fusion Fiction and the Romance Genre.

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The meaning of the writing term “Romance” has evolved over the centuries and in different literary locales. We’ll use the word in the current “genre” sense: that of a love story which ends Happily Ever After (HEA) or Happy For Now (HFN).

While pondering the path of a fictional romantic journey, it occurred to me that the story arc of a romance aptly resembles the shape of what’s called “normal sinus rhythm,” as it’s traced on an electrocardiogram (ECG). (This is not surprising, because I’m a retired Registered Nurse.) Perhaps you’ve had an ECG done, as part of a physical exam, or to prepare for surgery. In brief, this is how it works:

The ECG electrodes detect and the readout depicts the wave of electrical energy that’s generated by the heart, and results in the “lub-dub” of a heartbeat. The letters P, Q, R, S, and T are used to label the events of a heartbeat. Measurements of the size and shape of each part of the waveform, and the time intervals between them, are used to calculate whether or not there is an arrhythmia that may indicate a problem with the anatomy or physiology of the heart.

Because falling in love seems to affect the short-term behavior of a person’s heart, we’ll co-opt an ECG and its alphabetical labels to illustrate and explain the Romance Story Arc:

The Romance Story Arc

P: Provocation. This event interrupts the characters’ prior routines: Something happens to provoke the attention of another person, so that neither of the characters can go back to the way they lived before they met.

Q: Questioning. Not long after Fate throws these people under the Boy-Meets-Girl Bus, they begin to feel the bruises. Because they’re not always getting along well, one or both inwardly question the friendship, but neither one feels like walking away from the relationship.

R: Realization / Rapture. Eventually the blinkers come off, and these individuals figure out that they should be – or, in the case of rapturous consummation, they have become – an “item.” 

S: Separation / Sadness. Something happens to keep the lovebirds apart. This situation is often associated with “The Black Moment,” when all seems lost, and that there is no future for the relationship, after all.

T: Togetherness. At last, there’s a breakthrough, and the characters can form the couple they were meant to be: HEA or HFN.

The Traditional Story Arc.

PlotmountainThe simple “category” romance story arc causes critics to charge the genre with its being a trite, clichéd, formulaic trope. There are thousands of romance novels, including dual-genre romances; plus Literary Fiction, with its many romantic subplots. The expectation that each be as unique as a snowflake seems to have the odds of a snowball in Hades. 

Irish Firebrands : A Fusion Fiction Romance.

Romance: There is no “save the” or “solve the” plot. A developing romantic relationship is the primary focus. 

Boomer-Lit / Aging: Instead of the classic “young love,” the Love Interest and her two Heartthrobs are middle-aged.

Psychological Fiction: Because they are people who have had plenty of time to develop the ingrained habits of their personalities, there are ample opportunities for them to rub each other the wrong way.

Multicultural and Social Controversy Melodrama: They also each have various personal and cultural reasons not to come clean with their real, romantic feelings for one another, until it seems as if it’s too late for them to do anything about it.

Paranormal or Occult / Supernatural: There’s something that’s not quite … right … going on, throughout the story.

The Fusion Fiction Advantage.

ECG-P+QRSkomplex+TFusion Fiction, in which romance is only one of several ways to read a particular book, encourages us to look at the arc as if it were an ECG instead of a bell-shaped curve. It shows that the solution to every critical objection is not to sweat blood over coming up with something new, but just to give the trope a plausible twist. The combination of genres between the covers of a Fusion Fiction novel are what make this flexibility possible.

If you write Fusion Fiction, please sign up to form a community of Authors with a vision for their art.

The Plot Thickens….

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Readers who are familiar with the Irish Firebrands blog know that I’m an organic, or pantser writer: I don’t pick a plot and then plan a story around it. My stories come to me spontaneously, and are written that way, too, supplemented by research forays that happen when I discover a knowledge deficit that must be remedied, in order for me to plausibly develop a character or scene. I write in a non-linear way, and I generally know the end of the story before I know how it’s going to get there. The discovery of a plot comes after the fact, meaning that most of the book has been written, and I’m filling in gaps.

The writing process of plotting and outlining may be a consequence of elementary and secondary school composition lessons that were based on the reading and teacher-guided deconstructing of finished works of literature. Nobody knew the author’s writing process, but because the story was read from beginning to end, it was assumed that it had been written that way. Moreover, the requirements to come up with a topic, and then to pre-write an assignment by outlining it, were internalized by students who became convinced that these were unalterable rules for writing behavior that must be followed. 

A great many commercially successful works are produced in this way, and it may be the origin of much good single-genre fiction. But detailed planning and outlining also encourage plot-driven writing, which is inherently limiting, because the pressure to produce may lead to writing according to a formula or template: a predictable product, finished fast. 

Some writing theorists believe that these templates can be identified by a limited number of basic plots. Here is one famous list:

  1. Overcoming the Monster
  2. Rags to Riches
  3. The Quest
  4. Voyage and Return
  5. Comedy
  6. Tragedy
  7. Rebirth  

I believe it’s even simpler, and that there are only three basic plots: The Little Tailor, Boy Meets Girl, and Sadder But Wiser (sometimes called Gains the World but Loses Own Soul). Most of the seven suggested plots are just topics that fall under the three fundamental plots:

  • The Little Tailor encompasses numbers 1-4 and 7.
  • Number 5 is just an approach to storytelling, it’s not a story in itself: any tale but a tragedy can be told in a humorous way, and even tragedies will often inject some comic relief.
  • Number 6 is Sadder But Wiser. Some tragedies also incorporate a small degree of number 7 at the very end, but it’s usually a deathbed kind of thing for the tragic character: “too little, too late.”
  • Number 7 also falls under Boy Meets Girl.

A case can also be made for there being only one plot: Transformation. This is because the protagonist of every novel must undergo some degree of change to personality and/or motivation. In this respect, Boy Meets Girl is the most purely transformative tale, which is why love story subplots show up in novels of all genres. Falling in love provides a character with just enough change to keep readers interested. 

The fewer “plot” options there are, the more opportunities there are for change, because the writer is freer to incorporate innovative developments in characterization and action. The story can encompass a broader range of human experience, which is critical to the plausibility that maintains the reader’s suspension of disbelief. This flexibility is the foundation of Fusion Fiction.

Contrast this to the BISAC concept of “genre” classification: a multitude of book categories, each of which, although officially undefined, prescribe single-topic plot concepts that closely circumscribe allowable setting, character and action options, in conformance with artificially imposed limits on the expectations and imaginations of readers. No wonder the authors of Fusion Fiction find it difficult to select a BISAC category that can accurately describe their works. 

If a work of fiction cannot be accurately described by current marketing categories, then its author cannot reasonably expect it to be found by readers. If it does happen to be discovered, its author can hope that readers will be pleasantly surprised by its uniqueness, and because it delivers much more than what the deceptively simple genre code represented; nevertheless, it also risks rejection because it doesn’t “conform.”

If you write Fusion Fiction, act now to begin improving the accurate discoverability of your works: register with this website. Your text, graphics, and trailers will receive free promotion, and you will help build a community of like-minded talent, whose voices can be united to make the marketing of our Art more effective and successful. 

Vote for Your Favorite Fusion Fiction Logo.

Fusion Fiction, Uncategorized

Use the contact form (below) to cast your vote.

A.Slide3    B.Slide2    C.Slide5  D.Slide4

E. I have a great idea for a logo! How do I get it on the ballot?

 

A Public Service Announcement:

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Slide1Piracy and plagiarism have always been with us: one of the earliest cases is said to have been adjudicated by the 6th-century Irish High King Diarmait mac Cearbhaill, who pronounced, “To every cow its calf, and to every book its copy.” This started a war that resulted in the exile of the culprit, who repented for causing so many deaths, turned over a new leaf, and became Saint Columba.

There are writers out there who are on the record dismissing the importance of book piracy, and likening it to “free publicity.” But why encourage criminals? Others have compared piracy to borrowing books from a public library. This opinion is mistaken. Libraries purchase their inventory from reputable sources, so authors have been paid for each book libraries acquire. Libraries then lend their own property to their registered patrons. This is fair use. Readers may later purchase books that they borrowed from a library. I have often done so.

Piracy undoubtedly is exacerbated by the reluctance of many Indie Authors to obtain copyright registration. What should thieves fear, when their victims will have difficulty proving ownership without legal documentation of copyright? In the USA, copyright registration is easy, inexpensive, and should not be omitted.

A retailer giveaway may boost an author’s “sales ranking,” but such figures are deceptive: something that is given for free has not been sold. Assertions of popularity that are based on such misrepresentations destroy an author’s credibility. These promotionals benefit only retailers, who make claims to have “best-selling” authors in their stables. Participating authors may be disappointed when such promos neither improve nor maintain their incomes.

The distribution of free e-books also has made it simple and cost-effective for criminals to steal intellectual property. I believe that the pirates who advertise new paper books “in stock” are lying about their inventory. If they do get an order, they can easily download a cheap or free e-book and print from that copy. It’s not hard to reverse-engineer most digital documents, especially those which lack DRM.

It’s sad that so few people have read Irish Firebrands, but sometimes it helps to have published a sleeper, because I can account for every known legal copy:

  • Only one e-book was sold (at $9.99 USD), and that was almost 2 years ago. I do not know who bought it, although it’s possible it could have been an investment made by a pirate who then made back the cost by selling copies to two of the three persons who left star-ratings (but no written reviews) at Goodreads. (I know the third person, who owns a paperback.)
  • Only once did I do an e-book promotion for $1.99 USD, but none sold.
  • I have never done a promotional giveaway.
  • More than 100 people have downloaded the 51% e-book preview.
  • I’ve given one ARC to a reviewer, and it was a PDF of a special edition that’s easily identifiable if it shows up elsewhere. The POD sold one print copy before I took it off the market, and I know who bought it.
  • I have exchanged paperbacks with two authors.
  • I have given two paperbacks as charitable donations to registered facilities.
  • The POD has sold very few paperbacks. One was purchased via library distribution, and I know who all of the other buyers were. No paperback sales were made outside the USA. It has been more than a year since the last paperback sale.
  • I sent an e-copy of the manuscript to a small publisher in the UK, who declined publication.
  • I sent one paperback to a self-published author competition, so that one may be in circulation as a used book.
  • About half of the chapters of the audiobook Beta edition are in the hands of a half-dozen identified listeners. Beta listener feedback is resulting in changes to the recording, so any recordings made from the Beta chapters would be pirate copies, and I’d know who did it. The audiobook text is also different to any of the others, so any e-book or paper copy that turns up and matches the audiobook text would be a stolen copy, taken from audiobook “dictation.”

My copyright was officially registered from the beginning of my book’s publication. I’ve seen my book on one of those dodgy “free e-book” distribution sites, but it’s accompanied by a copyright warning. If people are buying and reading pirate copies, nobody is reviewing the book anywhere (not even trolls).

I commend Indie Authors who register their copyrights. In addition, I encourage all to end free e-book distribution, and to set prices for their works that are commensurate with their value. Feel free to add the CAP IT! Badge to your blog’s sidebar or footer.

 Slide2

If you are one of those who have downloaded the 51% preview of Irish Firebrands, be aware that the Smashwords e-book price returned to the original publication price of $9.99 on March 1. Amazon runs its own sales on the paperback (the latest was discounted 19%).

Strange Bedfellows.

Fusion Fiction, Uncategorized

eyes-under-bedWhen you consider the tonnage of the tomes under which our planet groans, there doesn’t seem to be any new ground left to cover in the BISAC Subject Heading Codes for marketing books. But pigeonholing Irish Firebrands stumped me, because of its unexpected combination of Boomer-lit, contemporary romantic beach-read, supernatural-paranormal, social-political-historical exposé, psychopathology, and religious elements.

Unexpected? How can that be? you may ask. After all, you wrote it – almost 500 pages of it.

Well, it’s like this: The book wrote itself. All I did was write it down. Very little conscious decision-making went into it: mainly that of plugging scenes into their proper places in the story’s calendar. I had no idea that I was going to write about strange bedfellows like religion and politics.

Ah, but it had to be somebody’s fault. Whose fault was it?
His career had been based on finding answers to questions like that – but looking into Lana’s eyes, he wondered if it really mattered, now…. “Sorry. I think I got out of line, there.”
“That’s okay. Everybody’s entitled to his own opinions.”
“I guess that’s why they say, never discuss religion or politics.”
“Kind of tough to do. I’m a religious person.”
“And I’m a political journalist.”
Her gaze was so grave, he was stricken with apprehension– Don’t let this be goodbye! Then the corners of her eyes crinkled in that way that made him catch his breath in unexpected excitement.
“Sounds like the beginning of an interesting friendship,” she said.
(Irish Firebrands, Chapter 6)

Most of the writing experience was of the lightbulb-over-the-head variety: a political, historical or social controversy would abruptly leap off the page of a book, or out of the Irish newspaper in the browser on the screen, suggesting a fictional situation that previously I’d had no clue existed. This led to some “cringe and whinge” days, when I groused to the Muse, “You want me to write about that? You’ve got to be kidding.” But the answer was always, “Nope. That’s what happened.” All I could do then was quibble over semantics.

Popular fiction has often examined the spiritual struggles of those who profess the world’s creeds. Anglicans, Amish, monks, Muslims, priests, Puritans, nuns, Nonconformists, Buddhists, Biblical reinventions: all have been found on my bookshelves. It should have been no surprise that Irish Firebrands would hale Mormons out of their traditional cozy-inspirational niche in the Intermountain West, to weather the storms of a mainstream, multi-genre, multi-cultural melodrama about people with maladaptive coping strategies. (One early reader remarked that the book reminded her of works by Graham Greene – whom I’ve never read – who apparently wrote in a similar way about troubled Catholics.)

To have a marketing category choice like Fusion Fiction would have saved me the Sturm und Drang of picking through dozens of marketing categories, none of which accurately described what I’d written. As a genre, Fusion Fiction is how writing shows the hybrid vigor it inherited from the strange-bedfellow meeting of Art and Life. 

Now I’m wading through the mud and the blood of early twentieth-century history to write a novel in a genre that’s different to that of my first book. I’m still just the scribe, but I do feel better prepared meet the the strange bedfellows that may lurk between the covers.

audiobook logoSeeking Visually Disabled Beta Readers for Irish Firebrands text-to-speech (TTS) audiobook testing. Click HERE for Details.