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     The beauty of writing fiction is that it is not real.  You can create a world as similar to or as far from reality as you please.  You can defy the laws of gravity and science and no one can tell you you are wrong.  Or can they?
     I have been following an interesting discussion on, where Twilight readers (I don’t think I can really call them all fans), have been discussing Stephanie Meyers’ approach to explaining how it was possible for Renesmee to be born.  For those of you that have never read any of the Twilight books or seen any of the movies, Renesmee is a vampire/human hybrid born to Edward (a vampire) and Bella (his human wife).  Despite what you might think, the discussion doesn’t focus on the idea that a vampire baby in general is impossible, but rather the inconsistencies in Meyers’ explanation of how Renesmee’s existence is even possible.

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     The thread is particularly interesting to me, because I am writing a series where the main character is a single mother, who also happens to be a vampire.  I was interested to find out the general opinion on vampires having the ability to procreate.  My beta readers didn’t even seem to bat an eye at the idea and one reader even mentioned that they appreciated this factor.  If there are readers that feel contrary, I’d like to hear their reasons why and see how those opinions compare to my work.  Of course, you can’t please everyone, but why intentionally put people off if it can be avoided without changing the integrity of the story.

    Why is this even an issue, you might ask.  Well, it seems that the readers are having difficulty with the fact that Meyers tried to use real world science to explain how Renesmee came to be and in doing so, went against the “rules” of the world she had created.  In the discussion thread, the readers express (in quite an entertaining fashion) how Meyers’ own rules contradict each other, making Renesmee’s existence impossible and hard to swallow.  One particular participant, who goes by the name of Rel8tivity, wrote

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If she had stuck with magic and some kind of vampire mojo that made babies, it would have been fine. But she started going into how many chromasomes a vampire had, so we’re stuck with Mendelian genetics, and she didn’t make it work in that regard. You can’t have it both ways.”  When challenged by other participants, who stated that the story is a work of fiction and thereby the author has the right to do or say whatever she wants, Rel8tivity counters that the label of fiction or even fantasy, does not give the author a “blank check” to contradict their own rules whenever convenient.

     While many people feel the discussion is examining the story far too deeply, it brings up a very valid point.  When we create a world where

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the impossible is possible, is everything possible?  A world without rules leads to chaos, so as an author, it is up to us to define what is possible and what is not.  But when our own rules make a particular plot point impossible, do we have the right to defy those rules and force the reader to accept that this impossible thing, even by our own standards, is happening just because we say so, waving the flag of fiction as our free pass to do so?

     When I began writing my series, I added the element of vampire children from the very beginning.  I knew that this is something that would be questioned and offered an “explanation” of how it is possible.  It’s funny, but prior to reading the goodreads thread, I worried that readers might find my “vampire mojo” explanation to be a cop out.  Guess I can stop worrying about that now.

     In school, we learn that in order to descriptively modify a verb, we add an adverb.  The adverb is used to modify a verb, adjective or other adverb to answer one of the following questions; how? how often? where? when? or in what way?  Most adverbs can easily be identified by their -ly ending, although not every adverb ends in -ly.

     In The Adverb Is Not Your Friend: Stephen King on Simplicity of Style, Maria Popova gives us some insight into Stephen King’s view on adverbs.  “Adverbs, like the passive voice, seem to have been created with the timid writer in mind…With adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she is afraid he/she isn’t expressing himself/herself clearly, that he or she is not getting the point or picture across.”  If you don’t use an adverb to get your point across, how does the reader know things like the frequency or manner in which the action is carried out?  Simple.  The reader should be able to decipher this information for themselves from the prose leading up to the event.  If the preceding prose paints the proper picture, then the use of the adverb is redundant.

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     Stephen King likens adverbs to dandelions.  “If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique  If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day…fifty the day after that…and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely and profligately covered with dandelions.”  When trying to determine if or when to use an adverb, keep in mind, that simple is best and you want to use them sparingly.  “I insist that you use the adverb in dialogue attribution only in the rarest and most special of occasions…and not even then, if you can avoid it.”
     As writer’s we have to give our readers the benefit of the doubt that they will be able to figure out what we are trying to tell them without pointing it out.  “Fear is at the root of most bad writing.”  Don’t let your fear ruin your style.

     Last year in April, I took part in Script Frenzy for the first time.  Unlike NaNoWriMo, I found the whole experience easy and actually had fun doing it, while managing to not only meet, but exceed the goal for the month.  This year however, the Office of Letters and Light, has decided not to host Script Frenzy and are instead offering another session of Camp NaNoWriMo.

     Last year was also the first year that I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo.  I thought that joining a “cabin” would offer me the motivation I needed to meet my daily targets and thus, the target for the month.  If I was sharing the experience with others and saw their numbers growing, that would push me to keep up or maybe even try to do better.  Unfortunately, the experience didn’t quite pan out the way I had expected.  Maybe it was the luck (or unluck) of the draw that found me in a camp with people that seemed even less motivated than I usually am.  How I managed to write far more than any of the other “campers” and still have my worst NaNo performance in the two and a half years that I had been participating, is beyond me, but their numbers barely budged and after the first few days, no one was even talking.  I’m not typically one that looks to chat with strangers, so normally, I would welcome the silence.  In this case however, I felt like it sucked some of the motivation right out of me.

Half Empty or Half Full?
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     Given that experience, can you blame me for being hesitant about joining again this year?  Add to that, the fact that I haven’t really written or even edited anything in over a month and that I am in the midst of a huge project at work, which is sapping my energy and I can’t help but see it as a recipe for disaster.  Is it being realistic or just plain old pessimistic?  Either way, I only have about two weeks left to decide what I’m going to do.

To camp or not to camp, that is the question.

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     Following a survey of Goodreads members, CEO Otis Chandler shares useful tips on ways authors can sell more books.  In an article by Jonathan Gunson (Goodreads CEO Reveals A Remarkably Easy Way To Sell More Books) the Goodreads CEO shares the results of the survey that asks readers “What do you want to do when you get to the end of a book?”

     An astounding 83% of readers surveyed say they want to find out what else the author has written.  To take advantage of the momentum built up after reading your book, Chandler suggests including a link to your next ebook or adding a book blurb.  The link should connect readers to a store where they can purchase other books that you have written, (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc…)  Adding an eye catching visual, such as the cover for another book(s) offers another form of advertising.  Surprisingly, Chandler advises that rather than offering a sample chapter, a blurb is much more affective.  The reason; having just read your book, readers are already familiar with your writing style and a blurb offers them a snapshot of the entire story, yet leaves them wanting more.

     In addition to these tactics, online resources are also essential.  Author pages and book pages on sites like Amazon and Goodreads can offer valuable information that readers will use when determining whether or not to buy your book(s).  Keeping these pages updated and accurate are extremely important.

To find out more about how you can use these techniques or to see the results of the survey, read Gunson’s full article here.