Tag Archives: Star Wars

Finding demographics is not finding Nemo

My New Year’s resolution this year is to identify who I am writing for, and tailor my marketing strategy to that segment of the population.

I should have picked something simple, like losing weight, or bringing about world peace.

I would be lying if I said I write for one particular type of person–although Huw the Bard falls into the not-for-children category. I like to think my books can be enjoyed by both men and women.

Who are youIt’s just that I write whatever I’m in the mood to read, and I read everything, Fantasy first, sci-fi second, then mystery, historical, paranormal, books of political intrigue, books filled with naughty vampires. Romance, YA, hard sci-fi, epic fantasy–I read it all. This makes it difficult to categorize myself .

Looking in the mirror doesn’t help.

At IHop, I am a 55+, getting discounts and a special old people’s menu. I am a senior, according to AARP, and am entitled certain discounts when I produce that all-important AARP card.

These things tell me I am an older person, as does the mirror.

However, these visible signs don’t show the woman with mad kick-ball-skills, who plays Lego Star Wars until the grandchild says she’s had enough games for one day, and he’d like to play outside now. They don’t shed any light on me. the person who will read and reread a book until it is nothing but shreds–if I fell in love with it. The gray hair, the slightly less-than-svelte physique–these clues don’t offer a hint about my obsession with Final Fantasy XII.

And that is the problem.

I write for me, and I don’t know who I am.

The Creative Penn offers 5 tips to assist me in this process:

1. First we must isolate what types and/or groups of people the content of the book would interest.

Well-that is just the problem, isn’t it…but they do give an idea on how to approach that:

 "Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA 3.0

“Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA 3.0

“Example: If your book is about an archaeologist who uses Stone Henge to travel into the future, your book would probably interest history buffs as well as fans of speculative fiction/sci-fi.  If that hero happens to be a former Marine, your book might also interest military personnel and/or the families.” (It’s a direct quote, so I am ignoring the terrible itch to edit out the misspelling of Stonehenge.)

Okay–I think I can do this. My book details the adventures of a bard who is forced to  flee his comfortable existence and who finds himself running from one disaster to another with death-defying regularity.

2. Second, we must: identify other books that are comparable to your book and look at the profiles of those books’ main buyers/readers.

They also explain that concept a little further “The target audience isn’t always who the book was written for, but rather, who it ends up appealing to.  Twilight draws in tween and teenage girls with its premise involving a normal, everyday girl falling into a romance with an young, attractive male (the bread and butter of many young girls’ dreams), but it’s appeal stretched to the cross-section of middle-age female readers who love romance and enjoyed Anne Rice in her heyday.”  

Alrighty then–I was heavily drawn, as a reader, to David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, Tad Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien, P.D. James, Carl Sagan, Agatha Christie, Piers Anthony, and Fritz Lieber–so I suppose my books reflects a certain amount of their (rather jumbled) influence.

Oh, and don’t forget Roger Zelazney. And Mercedes Lackey.

Well that has narrowed it down quite a bit! (Sarcasm–I know, it’s a nasty habit.) I could have included Tolstoy, James Joyce, Horace Walpole, and Louisa May Alcott, but I didn’t have time.

330px-Pin-artsy3. You are next encouraged to pinpoint what is special about your book.

Again, the Creative Penn offers us some insights on how to go about this: “If you tell someone you’re writing a book about a witch who uses her power of communing with animals to rescue a lost dog from an evil dog-napper, then A. Wow, you have an interesting imagination!  B. You may or may not have taken in 101 Dalmatians too much as a child and C. With such a premise, chances are, your story is more light-hearted than scary, so your target readers to which the mystery aspect of your story will entice are more cozy-type mystery consumers.” So what are the few key words, the hook I can use to sell Huw the Bard? How do I boil the plot down to a few key words? This could take a while, but I’m sure I can do it.

Honest.

4. Now we need to determine some demographics.

That’s the problem–I am the demographic, and I don’t know who I am. Mature Audiences, definitely. There is some graphic sex, although it doesn’t devolve into a porn-fest, There is violence, a witnessed rape, and murder. These are all there because they are watershed moments in Huw’s life, things that change his view of the world. There are also a haunted village and a bisexual knight who talks to his horse, so there is humor midst the misery.

chekhov's gun5. Finally, the Creative Penn suggests we feed the previous four tips into each other to gain even more insight and narrow down who our target audience/s is/are.

Just give me Chekhov’s gunnow. I need to shoot something.

Several times.

Seriously–the article I’ve drawn these suggestions from is a good article, and it goes on to discuss how to use your target audience, which I did find somewhat illuminating.

At this point, if I can get even ONE concrete idea that works, I am feeling good about it. After all, it’s January! I’ve got a whole year to get this down, before I have to admit that this New Year’s resolution has gone the way of my weight-loss dreams and visions of world peace.

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Analog, I revile thee, or how The Martian redeemed my faith in science fiction

The MArtian Andy WeirI’m a book addict. Each time I crack open a book, whether in hard copy or on my Kindle, I’m hoping to be blown away by the imagery the author presents, hoping for that amazing high that comes from living a true classic. Lately I have been reading wide of my usual slot, not abandoning fantasy, but going back and seeing what I loved the most about the genre that was my first introduction to reading for pleasure. I recently had the experience of being completely and utterly blown away by a science fiction novel, The Martian, by Andy Weir.

It’s one of the best science fiction stories to come out of the last 20 years.  A real adventure story from the get-go, this story of an astronaut inadvertently left behind is gripping from page one. As a main character, Mark Watney is hilarious. He is the sort of man who gets through life by finding something positive in every disaster, and mocking the hell out of everything that is negative.

A horrendous storm destroys much of their base, and his team is forced to abort their mission.  During the emergency evacuation of the Ares 3 landing site, he is severely injured in an accident that appears to have killed him. His body is unretrievable, and unaware that he is still alive, he is left behind. His companions begin the long journey back to Earth, grief-stricken at his sudden death. THIS is an awesome, gripping, and hilarious story.

300px-Astound5006I’ve been a subscriber to a well-known science fiction magazine, Analog,  for many years. I am actually considering letting my subscription lapse, because for the last five years or so I have struggled to find something enjoyable in their magazine.  I no longer enjoy the work they are publishing and they no longer seem to care. While there are occasional nuggets, the majority of work they publish is frequently harsh, lifeless, depressing, and incomprehensible. The fact is, perhaps they have forgotten what real science fiction is about, what the average reader wants. Perhaps I am no longer smart enough for their publication–and I hate paying to be sneered at.

Despite the efforts of the publishing community, the genre of science fiction is not dead. Andy Weir ‘s brilliant work on The Martian proves that there are writers out there with exactly the sort of stories I am looking for.  And guess what–he published it in 2012 AS AN INDIE.  This is a really telling thing, that the watershed books are no longer being put out there by the Big Six, until they have proven their worth in the Indie market. Hugh Howey, A.G.Riddle, Rachel Thompson–INDIES, all of them.

In my sci-fi, I want human frailties, drama, adventure, intense life and survival against great odds, set against a backdrop of understandable and realistic science.

I want a Space Opera.  Andy Weir gave that to me.

It is that high drama that made the Star Trek empire what it is. High drama set in exotic places made George Lucas’s Star Wars series of movies the poster child for space operas. Those two series translated the intensity of feeling that the great authors of science fiction all brought to their work.

Over the years, I have written many short space operas for my own consumption. However, this fall I am embarking on the real test–putting my writing skill where my mouth is.  It just so happens that off and on for the last  3 years, I’ve been outlining a science fiction story.  Originally, I began this project  in preparation for NaNoWriMo 2013, but this will be the year to implement it, so in November this will be my work.

As a devoted fangirl of many well-known physicists, I’ve been doing  research for the last three years, and feel sure my science will hold up, which, in sci-fi, is key to the longevity of a tale. I have great characters, and a really plausible plot. I just have to spend 30 days stream-of-conscious writing to the prompts I have set forth and…well, that is the trick, isn’t it? But even if I fail to write anything worth publishing, I will have had a good time, and that is what this gig is all about: enjoying the ride.

 

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National Pot-pie Month

We’re approaching November once more.  November is the month where for 30 days, people all over the world from all walks of life will spend their free moments writing a novel. All over the world, families will dine on microwaved pot-pies as people steal minutes from their day to get 1650 words written, to keep up their word-count.

They will strive to get their word-count of 50,000 words in total, or more, and will hopefully have a novel with a beginning, a middle and an ending by the time November 30th arrives.

Leah in Las VegasThis year is really special for me. My oldest daughter, Leah, is participating for the first time, and she will be writing in the area of contemporary women’s fiction.  As you can see from her picture she is lovely and glamorous–nothing like her frumpy old mama.  Leah is passionate about her characters and is fully committed to developing the story that has been rolling around her head for years. It’s a fun and hilarious story, one that so many young women will identify with.

What Leah really wants to do is write a screenplay, and once she has the story written, she will be able to turn her book into a screenplay with no problems.  After all, great movies begin with great stories.

I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of having a child who wants to follow in your footsteps, who wants to work at the craft you love so much. It is a mixture of pride, amazement and mystification–and by that I do mean mystification.

It’s a lonely job, one others find interesting in theory, but rather useless. It pays little or nothing for years, usually. On vacations she will be as determined as I am to get those precious writing moments in and others will think she is being selfish and ignoring them. Her chosen path is not an easy one, but Leah has the backbone and the balls to do this crazy thing, and to make it work.

I have begun writing my story descriptions, and have created the basic synopsis for my NaNoWriMo novel this year.  The working title for the book is “UNDERGROUNDERS”.

It is a hard science fiction novel and grew out of a short-story I wrote called “Alpharse Run.” That tale is an old-fashioned Gene Roddenberry type of  “Space-Opera.”  I began researching the physics for this project in 2010 for Alpharse Run.  My science is all based on current theories, and all my technology is physically possible according to current physics.

We humans could do all this now–we just haven’t got the hardware or the funding to do this monumental an undertaking at this time in our history. Getting the hardware right is the most critical thing, for people living in an alien environment. I’ve spent a great deal of time designing the technology that will make or break my tale.

Short Synopsis for UNDERGROUNDERS:

A retired fighter pilot and leading researcher in the field of terraforming and adapting earth-type plants to alien environments, Professor Elena Brend has been invited to continue her work at the University on the distant colony-world of Alpharse.

But all is not as serene as she had been told–the ecology of Alpharse is both fragile and dangerous. Handsome shuttle-pilot, Braden Langley wants more of Elena’s life than she is willing to give and she will have to make a decision that could break two hearts.

Two factions within the community now fight for dominance as Alpharse is cut off from the rest of the human worlds.

Can Elena survive in this new world of power, politics and brinkmanship?

????????????????????????????????????????One of the first things I found myself doing this time was creating a possible book cover for the book, before it is even written.  I’ve never done that sort of thing before, and,  of course, I messed up on the word “Dream.” But there is something about having made a cover (bad though it may be) that forces you make the interior.

This is not the final cover, but is a mock-up pointing in the general direction of what I envision the completed book to look like, something to keep my mind on the right path.

I’ve been creating bios and descriptions for all the characters, and building the world.  I’ve a great story in my mind, and it takes place in a completely alien environment so I have been asking myself questions.

1. What is their new world really like? What is the composition, the atmosphere, the indigenous life, microbial and complex? Can the colonists live on the surface or must they live in special habitats?

alien-worlds from NightTransmissions.com copyrighted material private use only2. What have they had to do to adapt to this new world? What sort of monumental task was it to get to the point where they have a university at all? How far out of the pioneering phase is their society?

3. Who is Elena Brend and what made her that person?

4. Who is Braden Langley and what makes him tick?

5. How does my protagonist fit into her new society? Who are her friends, and who feels threatened by her? Who resents her intrusion into their closed community, and why?

6. What is the problem? Why is this a problem?

7. Who profits from the situation as it currently exists?

8. Who stands to lose if this problem is resolved, and what will they lose? To what lengths are they willing to go to ensure they don’t lose this battle?

I will have everything ready to go by November 1st so I can pound out this new tale, of wonder and new worlds.  The great thing about this for me is the knowledge my daughter Leah is doing the same thing, preparing and educating herself about the people and their environment, the problems and the triumphs they will go through. Her book takes place in  a truly alien environment–Las Vegas. I’m excited about her story. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!

 

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Fabulous Fibs

The BoyAs I write this, my grandson–The Boy–is holding an action figure of Mr. Freeze and a whole scenario is being played out:

Mr. Freeze and Spider-Man have teamed up.  They’re off to rescue Darth Vader, who has been kidnapped. Much screaming, and the sounds of bullets ring through the dining room.  The Boy leaps onto his scooter and races to the play-room, desperate to save Luke’s father.

My daughter’s house is being remodeled, and once the new floors are in, there will be no more scooter or skateboard in the house.  Frankly, I can live with that, but on the other hand, scootering about the place does keep him busy when it’s too cold and rainy to play outside.  June in Snohomish can be quite chilly and damp.

Early_razor_scooterEven so, I just find myself cringing as The Boy flies by the cherry-wood dining room table perfectly avoiding nailing a chair, cutting the angle fine. He narrowly misses every obstacle in as professional a manner as any pro athlete.

You would think the furniture would be a scarred and wretched mess, but it’s not. The Boy has talent.  I’ve gotten to the point it only bothers me when he sails too close to the dog. Neko glares at him, but for the most part she tolerates it too.

Darth_VaderThe whole point of this mental meandering on my part is how amazing I think his imagination is.  The Boy’s creativity is non-stop, and it never ceases to amaze me. He tells me fabulous fibs and swears they’re the truth, then admits it’s a story he would like to write. “Or maybe I’ll make it a movie. Like Star Wars or something.”

That makes Grandma happy!

If only Grandma had that sort of imagination!

Here I am, with four heroes about to embark into the snowy north, and I’ve no idea what to do with them.  They’re too smart to get frostbite, and that’s really not so glamorous to write about.

Handsome Hero limped, wincing with each step. His frost-bitten toes were swollen and painful. He worried that gangrene would set in, and he’d have to amputate his own foot. 

Meh.

Although…an occasional amputation could liven things up a bit.

Sharpen your sword, Handsome.

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The End is Nigh

party onI should be in a party mood, but I’m not.

I’m now writing the final chapter of Mountains of the Moon. The final battle is over, the aftermath is a memory. Now all I have left to write is the ending. Party On!!!

Good grief, this is difficult.

Do I just say “And they lived happily ever after?”

No–this is Neveyah…happily for a few years is about it…but they do get home, at least some of them, right? Soooo….

How freaking boring is that?  Now what?

Lets see…maybe a bit of a fight…no I’m trying to end this and that’s just asking for 10,000 more words…but what if they just happened to…no.

No. No. No.

Just END the bloody book!  They went home! They were happy!  End of book!  How the hell hard is that?

*Author makes rude noise at computer screen and takes a teensy coffee break. Characters languish in limbo for two hours.*

Okay, where was I? Right, the best part of the story is over, and there’s nothing left to talk about, but I have to gracefully end this ordeal. This sucks honking wongas….

Did you know that you can go out to YouTube and there is a channel with more than 80 videos of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow?  Oohh… Stargazer…my favorite!

So, do they come home in coffins or  what? WHAAAT!!! Help me Obi Wan Kenobi! You’re my only hope!

Obi Wan.

lego-star-wars-the-game desk top wall paperOoohh, that reminds me! I just got an old version of Lego’s Star Wars for the PS3 for the grandkids.

Heh heh.

*Keys rapidly* “And they all lived happily ever after.”

Gotta go now.

Luuuuuke, I am your Grandma….

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Oh, the Agony

The Aspirin Shop © 2012 Connie J Jasperson All Rights Reserved

The Aspirin Shop © 2012 cjjasp All Rights Reserved

Yes, we now find ourselves in the deepest depths of January. The days are short and dark, and my desk is piled high with the visions and revisions of my current works-in-progress. I stare at the mountain of work that demands my attention and my mind is consumed with solving that eternal paradox,  “Who gave me this damned cold? Which little germ-factory that I call a grandchild is the culprit?”

Alas, the responsible party is most likely sitting in his kindergarten class having a snack and discussing tactics for beating “Lego Star Wars”  with his mates while Grandma suffers the agonies of the damned.

In the meantime, cold or no cold, I must somehow wind up the tale before me. My characters have already been through quite a lot, and they aren’t in tip-top condition. Still, they have a job to do and they are going to do it or die in the process.

At this juncture my characters are lurking high in the  branches of fir trees outside the stone walls of a mountain keep, observing the small village surrounding the castle they need to enter. They need to decide how to enter the haunted castle, and they need to make a plan for getting to the rogue-mage and eliminating him.  Once he is dead, the spells he’s layered over his guards will be broken and my team should be able to leave safely.

Once inside the keep, they will have to make their way through the halls, killing off the bespelled guards as they come to them until they have finally met the mage they have been sent to kill.

They’ve already fought a dragon and been caught in an avalanche. They’ve fought many other elemental creatures and each other.

Now here they are, poised on the edge of finishing this adventure and Grandma’s too stoned on NyQuil to concentrate long enough to get them to where they can kill the evil bad dude.

This could take a while.

It’s just so much wo-o-o-ork…..

Actually this game looks fun. I think I’ll just rest in the play-room for a moment….

lego-star-wars-the-game desk top wall paper

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