Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing: Capital vs. Control

It’s been two years since I posted one of my favorite articles. So, I decided to give it a bump. Enjoy!

Colleen

The Forgotten Wordsmith

I have had quite a few ask me whether or not self-publishing would be right for them, and my answer is always the same: it depends on what you want. Each one has its pros and cons from both the business and creative standpoints. It’s important to find one that matches your personality, and this article seeks to help you out.

Traditional Publishing

In the traditional publishing world, it’s pretty simple. Get your work into the hands of the right people. It’s an old game and one of rules. Lots of rules. But there’s a definite positive to working within “the system”, which is that it’s really straight forward. You write a query letter, send it in, and you get a “yes” or “no” in response. In most cases, it’s a “no”. Lots and lots of “no’s”. It’s hard, and it’s soul-crushing, but the point is that, for the most…

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Wingless Soundtrack

Hi guys,

A while ago, I posted soundtracks for Wingéd, Foiche Dé, and Dragon Wingéd. So, here are the songs that I listened to while writing Wingless. Some of them I did add later on, because they seemed to fit. If a certain song reminds me of a character, I put the name in parentheses next to it. Enjoy!

Radioactive – Pentatonix & Lindsey Stirling
Where I Stood – Missy Higgins (Emmy)
Skinny Love – Brooke Adee
Paralyzer – Finger Eleven (Kitane)
Shut Up and Dance – WALK THE MOON
Little Wonders – Rob Thomas (Logan)
Burning Gold – Christina Perri (Nora)
Little Lion Man – Mumford & Sons (Dmitri)
Breaking the Habit – Linkin Park
Life Without You (Duett Version) – Stanfour
Come With Me Now – KONGOS
Safe & Sound (feat. The Civil Wars) – Taylor Swift (Rin)
Broken (feat. Amy Lee) – Seether
Demons – Imagine Dragons (Cassius)
One Week – Barenaked Ladies (Daisuke)
I Can’t Stop Drinking About You – Bebe Rexha
Fall Behind Me – The Donnas
Let Her Go – Cole Vosbury
Say Something – A Great Big World
Makes Me Wonder – Maroon 5
Bury Me With My Guns On – Bobaflex
Bring Me to Life – Evanescence
Crystal – Stevie Nicks

Colleen

Wingless Now Available!

044c copy copy blurred moon

Wingless is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle!

 Check out the entire Wingéd series from the beginning today!

 CH. 1

Thousands of years ago, the witch, Victoria, attacked the Hall of Wingéd, turning the reigning Seraph into a Demon, resulting in the quick extinction of the Griffon Wingéd. Attempting to put a stop to the destruction, her twin sister, Margaret, sought to purify her and failed. This act created the foiche Dé, living humans marked with magic and doomed to be forever reincarnated. In her despair, Margaret begged three Dragons, against Wingéd law, to put an end to her life and continue the long battle in her stead. While they agreed, this was not without its consequences.

Cassius lost his wings, becoming the first to be named Wingless. He was saved by the second, Emmy, a Moth. She gave up her wings using forbidden magic to free a Demon from his pain, and in the most controversial verdict to have ever been given in the Hall, Seraph Lerion decreed that the Dragons, Daisuke and Gabriel, should join the ranks of Wingless as punishment for their aid of Cassius. Although it sought to put an end to the chaos, the verdict only added to the unrest. But what has been done cannot be undone.

 

Every night, it was the same. When Cassius closed his eyes, he was locked in an evil ritual, afflicted by visions of his worst fears come to pass. They would start out as variations of the past, but each one led him to the same place, a desolate field. The ground was in such a parched state that the grass crumbled under his step into a trail of dust. He was always running, searching. “Emmy?”

Then, he’d finally find her. She was sinking in a mixture of mud and blood, surrounded by a ring of black fire. “Emmy!” he would yell again, but she could not hear him over the whipping wind. Pieces of her soul ripped from her, burned in the fire, and the ashes flew off into the sky. And through the smoke came a voice. “She will Turn,” it would say. “You cannot stop it. She will Turn.”

The heavens would darken until the sun was no more than a ring of fire in the sky, and an ominous red star shined in its stead. “No! I won’t listen! Emmy!” He reached out to help her, but his feet were petrified, mercilessly holding him to the earth.

The thunder would drown out his words, and Emmy would look up, her eyes red and her soul barely visible, shrieking like a Demon. “She will devour them, Wingless,” the voice would say. “She will devour them all. And you will have to slay her.”

Cassius awakened, shaking from the fear of his nightmares until he realized it was morning again and time to start the day anew.

Snow fell upon the Hall of Wingéd, the soft and silent flakes blanketing the sleeping mountains in its cold embrace. It looked peaceful from the single-room house the Wingless now called home, a couple of miles from the Hall proper. Hours before the sun rose over the peaks, Cassius pretended to be asleep as Emmy snuck out of their modest dwelling and ran out into the white. After the door creaked shut, he rose from his mat on the floor and looked out the window. His palms rested on the sill as he sighed deeply and shook his head. “She said she wasn’t going to do this today.”

“Let her go, Cassius,” Daisuke grumbled from his mat and pulled the linen over his head. “She does the same thing every morning. We can’t stop her.”

“She’s not allowed out without one of us. What if one of the Phoenixes sees her?”

“If you’re so worried, why didn’t you stop her when you heard her creeping around?”

Cassius shoved his feet into his boots. The truth of the matter was it was much easier to get Emmy back from going out alone than it was to stop her from doing it. “She should have honored our agreement.”

In a few hours, the first Leap since the verdict was to take place, and Seraph Lerion had specifically requested the Wingless’ attendance at the event. This meant that Emmy wouldn’t be allowed her daily rituals to control the pain that overwhelmed her, and she had agreed to this. It was most important that the Wingless remain in the Seraph’s good graces as their fates still rested in his hands.

Everyone in the Hall now walked around on tiptoe, sensing the strong undercurrent Lerion’s decision had created. They’d become a people divided into those in favor of the verdict and those who believed it immoral. The dissent had started out as a whisper and evolved into a hum, but now, the Hall was buzzing with the angered voices of the Wingéd. So, Cassius needed Emmy back here as soon as possible.

He opened the door, but instead of being able to charge off into the snow, he stopped short at the presence of a skinny Bat Wingéd whose hands shook as he removed his hat. “Wingless Cassius? I am Bat Devram. I have a message from the Seraph. You are needed in the Hall.”

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Empathy: A Writer’s Greatest Tool

My creative writing professor once told me that you cannot be a fiction writer and hate people. It’s just not possible, because writing is people. The world is people. If you don’t like people, you cannot understand the world and cannot be a successful writer. It would be like trying to be a mathematician that hates numbers (or representations of numbers). It is paramount.

Now, I have been called a misanthrope most of my life. People bother me. You are chaotic and overwhelming, especially in large groups. I’m highly introverted and awkward in most social situations. I don’t understand the concept of “small talk” or how not talking about the weather makes me impolite or unfriendly. So, obviously, this meant that I was a horrible writer which led to another jaunt down insecurity lane, because at the time, I thought that he meant that I had to like people, like their personalities, and be a people person.

It took me a while to realize that I wasn’t listening to what he was saying. He was talking about empathy. Having empathy is one of the most important tools at an author’s disposal. There are two kinds of empathy: cognitive and affective.

Cognitive empathy means that you’re able to put yourself in the shoes of someone else. In terms of being an author, this would be your character. You must know likes, dislikes, fears, aspirations, experiences, and how the character feels about himself or herself. However, as an author, this needs to be taken a step further. It’s being able to see and understand how this character views the world around them, how they take in and process events and information, and what actions the character would take based on that view. At the same time, the author must also anticipate how these events and actions interact with the character’s preconceived notions and how the world view changes. It is a give and take that is constantly changing.

I liken it to this quote from Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. “In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them…. I destroy them.”

In order to make a character a whole person, the author must care. It’s loving a character as he or she would love him or herself. They’re like family. You don’t have to like them, but you have to love them. This is true for every character including your villain. That connection should be evident in everything that an author writes otherwise your characters will be flat and unbelievable. If the author doesn’t believe in or care about the character, why should the reader? Which brings us to affective empathy.

In the author/reader relationship, affective empathy is what you want from your reader. It is what occurs as a reader begins to care for your character. When a person sees another in distress, this causes distress (assuming you’re not, y’know, a sociopath or something). The reader isn’t going to care about the character in the same way that the author does, and we wouldn’t want them to. While the author is charged with putting themselves into their character’s shoes and expressing his or her point of view in words, the reader is under no such obligation.

How is this a tool for the author? Well, the reader’s affective empathy can be used to against them. The more that a reader cares for a character, the more easily they can be led. Readers are more forgiving of characters that they like or empathize with. In contrast, if you wanted to surprise your reader with a plot twist, such as a hidden villain, you can play with your readers’ emotions by making them care about a character before pulling the rug out from under them. (I’m sorry readers, but it’s all for your own good.) The bigger the reaction (other than one of “that’s totally unbelievable), the more successful you’ve been.

Oh, but I do have a word of caution though. An author must be careful when manipulating a reader’s empathy. Piss a reader off too much, and they might never pick up your novels again.

Keeping that in mind, what my professor said is true. If you don’t want to spend your time thinking about your characters or your reader, if you cannot empathize with them, there is no way that you can be a fiction writer.

In those terms, I actually enjoy people. From psychology to sociology or anthropology, history, art, and music, everything that humanity touches, I find fascinating. Humanity has a beauty and complexity that I just can’t stop exploring. Languages, landmarks, mythology, ethics, value systems: I can never get enough. It all stems from our relationships with others, just living. It’s magical.