Names, Pseudonyms, and Porn Stars

Tami Tammy Tamie Tammie Tamy Who?

My name actually IS Tami Moore.

I thought it was a relatively uncommon name – particularly the spelling of “Tami.”

Turns out, I was wrong.

Google Alerts

Many authors use a tool called Google Alerts to find out when google crawls new information about them or their books. Curious about the process, I set up an alert for my own name.

You know, the name I’d planned on trying to publish books with.

Turns out, “Tami Moore” isn’t as rare a name as I’d hoped. As a matter of fact, it’s common enough that someone doing a google search for my name would find my website first on the list … but also a great many websites that aren’t obviously “not me”.

For All I Know, She Is A Perfectly Lovely Person

One person who shares my name (though thankfully not the exact spelling) has the sort of job title that I do not want people associating with me. Most especially with my Young Adult author goals.

My google analytics “common search terms” indicates that even with a different spelling, people searching for porn stars are still finding me.

For the record? That person is not me.

Pseudonyms

No less than FOUR of my writerly friends have chosen to introduce their internet selves under pseudonyms.

They all have valid reasons for doing so and I agree that in their cases, it is in their best interests to do so.

Two of them number “impossible-to-spell names” among their reasons, one wishes for real life anonymity, and two have somewhat accidentally built a strong internet following around their pseudonyms.

Contrast

My name is fairly easy to spell. I have yet to be burned badly enough to seek anonymity, and any strong internet following I’ve built has either been around obvious internet pseudonyms (The Egotistical Priest would certainly turn heads if printed on a dust jacket, but perhaps not in the way I would like) or around my real name.

I don’t have any of the typical reasons to seek a pseudonym.

CoAuthor

I can think of one reason to opt for a pseudonym, and that is because Mr. Moore is coauthor to my books in ways that I feel are belittled by putting my name alone on the cover. Ilona Andrews (a FANTASTIC author) is actually a husband/wife author team. They use a pseudonym because many people are leery of co-authored books.

Mr. Moore, on the other hand, has assured me that he doesn’t mind the books attributed to “Tami Moore” and he does so with enough frequency and fervor that I believe him*.

Back to the Beginning

Which means the only real impetus to consider a pseudonym is because there are an awful lot of Tami Moores running around the internet, and I want someone searching for ME to have no trouble finding ME. (And I’m sure people seeking THEM would like the same.)

It’s hardly as if I’m operating under the name John Smith or J.K. Rowling (both of which would be very good reasons to seek a pseudonym, methinks).

And yet, the question niggles at me, like a loose tooth.

The Question

Deciding WHICH pseudonym to use would be a minor question after deciding whether I should even seek one out.

So! As I so often do, I turn to you, my internet friends, to give your opinions on the subject.

Should I find a less common name to build my author brand around? Or should I stick with what I’ve got built already and keep Tami Moore?

* I believe him, but I’d be lying if I said any pseudonym I chose wouldn’t involve him.

Smallerfication and Impossible Physics

Moving Weekend

This past weekend, we changed residence.

The Parking Lot (all of our apartments earn a nickname after we move. It’s tradition.) was 1,200 square feet and sported two bedrooms and two full baths.

The New Place (they’re always The New Place until we discover the proper nickname) is about 740 square feet and is a loft/efficiency style apartment, which means stairs and no bedroom door.

Yes, you read that right. We nearly halved our square footage and we did it on purpose.

Sure, we could pretend that the only reasons we moved were for the cheaper rent and the drastically reduced drive to campus for Mr. Moore, but we were also deliberately seeking a smaller apartment.

Smallerfication

Our first apartment was a tiny one bedroom shoebox in Texas. We had a loveseat and a bed and everything fit just right.

Since then, we have moved repeatedly.

We moved several times while I was in college, once to Houston, and three times now in Wisconsin.

In all but this past weekend’s move, we’ve slowly crept up the square footage scale. It wasn’t until we had to make room for a houseguest (and then that houseguest leaving) that we thought “Holy cow! Our apartment is large enough for us to have a WHOLE NOTHER person living with us without too much trouble. Maybe our apartment is TOO BIG.”

Seriously. We looked in on the now-deserted second bedroom and wondered what the heck we were going to do with all that space.

How About A Nice End Table With A Potted Plant And A Few Dustables?

You know what we’ve done before? We’ve FILLED it.

With STUFF.

Right then and there, we got a wake up call. We thought we were doing fairly well keeping our home from clutter and unnecessary possessions – but we hadn’t. Granted, we weren’t in danger of an intervention but we certainly weren’t doing as well as we thought.

Every time we’ve moved, we’ve bought more STUFF to fill the extra space.

The realization did not make us happy.

Whaddya Gonna Do About it?

The first thing we did is assess our furniture.

The bedroom furniture was our first target. A massive chest of drawers, an equally massive dresser, and thick queen-sized headboards and footboards. Solid wood, expensive, very nice – and unnecessarily heavy and huge for our lifestyle.

We have turned down houses because we were afraid our bedroom furniture would not fit in them.

This is a problem.

It was gorgeous – and it was tying us down. We don’t NEED furniture that big. We struggled to find enough things to PUT in it.

The OTHER thing we did before moving was to drastically reduce our “library”. I went through and purged any book I knew for sure I was never going to read again, or that I replaced with eBook versions (Call of the Wild and White Fang are free eBooks, did you know that?)

SEVERAL heavy loads of books made their way to a local charity event.

We also got rid of every single VHS tape in our home. All of them.

Furthermore, we donated our TVs (yes, multiple) to my mom (hi, mom!) who told us we can’t have the big screen back. *grins* We intend to replace the tv with a smaller, slimmer alternative soon.

That immediate downsizing was Step 1.

Itty Bitty Living Space

Step 2 was to move into a tiny apartment.

You would be AMAZED at how glaringly obvious all of our possessions became when we had to find a place to put it – and no such place exists in the new apartment. We had an entire extra bedroom, closet, hall closet, bathroom, and laundry room in the old apartment to squirrel away stuff.

And squirrel away, we did. We unearthed things I’d forgotten we OWNED and found food in the kitchen cabinets that I’d replaced thrice over because I didn’t know I still had plenty.

We moved more than fifty boxes of stuff – and that does not include things that were too awkward to fit in boxes or furniture.

The oft-quoted line from Anchorman takes on new meaning when you’re actually asking yourself, “Do you REALLY love the lamp? Or are you just saying you love the lamp?”

Arranging our new living room area is remarkably like playing Tetris with blocks the size of couches. Making it all fit and look nice is an exercise in impossible physics. Concessions will have to be made if we intend to add a TV or projector to the room.

Step 3

Step 3 – I don’t know what Step 3 is yet. We’re still unboxing.

We think Step 3 involves getting a smaller desk for Mr. Moore and going through our STUFF to decide which stuff we love and which STUFF we interact with only to move it or dust it. (Or, um. Not dust it. As the case may be.)

This move was exhausting even with the help of my mom, the robot ninja spy, and his lovely wife.

Step 3 is NOT to put things away and then forget about them. We are going to move again, despite the fact that every single time we move, Mr. Moore and I flop to the floor, face each other, and say “We are never moving again. Ever.”

We have too much stuff, simple as that.

What I Want

I don’t want my stuff to define my life and hold me back. I want to live a simpler, less cluttered lifestyle.

I’m reminded of the movie Labyrinth, and the time the heroine almost lost her way in a trash heap made of all her stuff.

I also want to be comfortable, so I’m not in danger of donating everything I own to charity and seeking lodging in a nunnery – but surely there’s a comfortable medium to be found.

What YOU Want

Tell me, have any of you had similar experiences or wake up calls with regards to your possessions owning you? Any suggestions or advice?

July Arts

Oh, let’s see. What’s new (and scanned) since the last time I posted art? *dives into her art folder and starts digging*

My good friend Deb had a birthday recently, and we started a tradition of random sticky note doodles as birthday gifts. Here’s her Badkitteh, who is clearly unhappy at having to wear a pointy birthday hat.

Working on some gift art for Iris. Lyxes are SO much fun to draw. Also, finally found a style for butterflies that I’m pleased with!

Jodi Meadows held a contest on her blog for the word “butterfly”. I ended up entering a short story rather than this art, but I liked it enough to ink it anyway. =] (Also, I totally won! Sure, it was a random choice from a hat, but the Red Sox hat chose ME. And the five page critique that was rewarded was incredibly helpful. <3 )

Uncle Snake

Not Quite an Accent

Uncle Snake had a voice like wet gravel rolling around in a snuff box.

South Texas has a reputation for growing thick, syrupy accents. Combine that with Uncle Snake’s voice and I think most folks would need a translator or two just to turn his conversation to English. I’m convinced he knew it, too. There was a mischievous sparkle in his eyes roundabout the third time I’d ask him to repeat what he’d said, despite it seeming less and less intelligible each time.

Digging’s More Fun

He had a particular habit when it came to people that I’d never come across before. Most folks, if they tripped over an uncomfortable subject or accidentally tweaked a sensitive issue would back off, get quiet, or apologize. Not Snake. No, sir. That man was convinced there was only one solution if he found himself half-dug in a hole … keep digging. China’s down there somewhere. I can’t argue with success, either. He had me laughing so hard that I forgot what he originally said to make me blush.

Apache

Not many people nowadays know just how horse-crazy I was. Still am, truth be told, but back in high school, I was feverish with it. My first job was as a groom at a horse ranch, and nothing would satisfy me till I had four hooves and a velvet muzzle to call my own. Unfortunately, college campuses don’t exactly allow pets that size in the dorm rooms, so my hard-won paint horse had to stay behind when it came time for me to move away. For a time, he lived at Uncle Snake’s.

My horse was a sweet thing. I got him for a song from a harried-looking father whose little princess didn’t want a pony after all. He’d been a heading and heeling horse (that’s rodeo speak, for you cityfolk) and he was gentle as a lamb. Had a white barbed-wire scar wrapped around one hind leg and an ominous cloud growing over his eyes. He was half blind when I bought him, and mostly blind by the time I found a new home for him, and that was the state he met Uncle Snake.

Never saw such a thing. I’d come out on the odd weekend to visit and there’d be Uncle Snake. Thunder and Lightning at his heels (his dogs), wading through a knee-deep stream of feather-footed chickens, hollering out for my nearsighted horse to come see me. He looked like something out of an old tv show. Grizzly Adams, maybe, with that fierce beard of his.

Never took a dime from me for boarding my horse there, either. Refused every time I offered, then invited me in for dinner.

Nice to Meet You

One of my favorite stories about Uncle Snake isn’t mine, but I’ll tell it anyway.

As you might have guessed, Snake wasn’t his birth name. All of his brothers ended up saddled with a nickname, and they wore them so long most folks didn’t know them by any other. Snake’s birth name was Frank, an ironic name for a man who so loved to tease.

Snake also had a beard – a glorious thing, covered him from cheekbone to breastbone.

One day, he up and shaved the whole thing off.

Didn’t take him long to realize just how much fun he could have with the event. He started walking up to folks he’d been friends with for YEARS, introducing himself as “Frank.”

They’d chat a while, and once or twice the person on the other end of the conversation would ask if he knew a feller by the name of Snake. Good guy. Frank reminded them of him.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Snake didn’t drag out the conversation before finally letting them off the hook.

Uncle

I met Uncle Snake just before I went off to college. He’s Mr. Moore’s uncle, but I figure I can claim him as my own through marriage if affection alone isn’t enough.

I miss him.

Travel and eReaders

Travel

This past weekend found myself and Mr. Moore making an unexpected and last-minute trip down to Texas.

We spent about 24 hours (spread out over two days) on air travel, including multiple remarkably long layovers.

During that time, I came to the conclusion that if I traveled regularly (even twice a year) I would own an eReader. No questions, hesitations, or qualms.

Entertainment

We took several things to armor ourselves against the expected time delays – things which took up a great deal of room in our carry-on baggage.

Some items got used not at all (airports are, surprisingly, terrible places to try and plot stories or do networking homework).

Additionally, I brought along a single book (Patricia C. Wrede is rapidly becoming a favorite author), my laptop, and Bones (my iTouch).

Laptop

The laptop was only used at our destination. Even then, all we used her for was to check email, listen to music, and watch a few youtube videos (Dara Ó Briain, you absolutely crack me up. <3).

It was awfully heavy for such a tiny use, and I was constantly afraid it would break or be stolen. (Athena is my only computer, and she has all my writing. I DO have frequent backups to an external hard drive, but STILL).

The Book

The single paperback book didn’t take up TOO much space, but I still managed to squish and fold some of the pages, lose my place, and shove it in five or six different places trying to find a good home for it.

Also, I finished it just after our first flight, which meant I was carrying around a finished book all weekend. Oddly enough, it seemed to take up MORE space after I read it. *winks*

Bones

Bones was the highlight of the weekend.

Not only did we use him to listen to music (poor Athena, she’s just too bulky for easy music sharing), but we also played apps on him (Scramble supplied LOADS of entertainment for everyone in arm’s reach) and I had multiple eBooks* ready to read from three different eReader apps (Stanza, iBooks, and Kindle).

Furthermore, I pasted our itinerary on him and used him for note-keeping throughout the weekend.

Best of all, he took up far less space than any other entertainment item we brought.

eReaders

Looking around me, I saw many, MANY passengers with Kindles and other eReaders.

There’s no denying that the traveling masses have begun to embrace eReaders for their portability and convenience.

And I have to admit, if I traveled more often, I wouldn’t hesitate to snag one. Based on my experience on this trip, it would likely be an iPad. I could still use the other apps that proved to be so entertaining and useful this weekend, but on a larger screen. It would be easier to read eBooks, and easier for my friends to join in the app games with me.

I would have replaced most (if not all) of my other entertainment options with a single product.

That’s pretty sweet.

Why Not Now

If I’m so enamored of the eReader, why do I still not have one?

1) Cost of eReaders

eReaders are much more affordable than they used to be, but they’re still expensive and my current lifestyle doesn’t NEED one. I drive to work, don’t travel often, and spend most of my time at home, where I have my laptop. I have to balance cost with need. Even in my geeky inner heart, I know I don’t need one yet. (And my geeky heart has its sights set on the iPad, which is the most expensive of the eReader options)

2) Cost of Books

eBooks CAN be much cheaper than paper books … but the prices are still pretty steep for a girl who refers to Barnes and Noble as Full-Priced Bookstore. I DO like that most places let me preview a few chapters before I buy – that alone relieves a great deal of concern I have for wasting money on books I might not like.

3) DRM

One of my favorite benefits of paper books is my ability to share them with friends. The Nook has some capabilities built in, but I’d like to see both GIVING and SHARING of eBooks become a common feature. And yes, my expectation is that if I share a book with a friend, I don’t have a copy to read any more. I purchased one copy and if I loan it, I no longer have a copy. But maybe it has a “Property of Tami Moore” on it, along with a settable loan time which would remind the borrower to return the book. That would be awesome … and is totally unrealistic in an age where publishers are so terrified of people stealing eBooks that we have trouble moving our eBooks from device to computer.

I’m not going to go into a long, drawn-out speech on DRM. Many others have, and with more eloquency than I can muster. I point only to iTunes and beg for sanity.

4) Format Wars

Currently, I am afraid that if I buy a book on the Kindle and then later choose to purchase an iPad, I will LOSE all of my eBooks. I feel absolutely zero certainty that my purchase will be transferrable, that it will be readable by other eReaders, and that it won’t be lost forever if my eReader goes kaput.

If I spend $10 on an eBook, I want to KNOW that it is the only time I will be required to spend money to buy that eBook. If I want another copy or another version, that’s different.

Your Opinions

Do any of you have eReaders? What are your thoughts on them? Have things changed for you in the past year or so?

* For the curious, the eBooks I read were His Majesty’s Dragon, by Naomi Novik (Fun read and a superbly well-realized idea for battling a-dragon-back. Fans of historical fiction and battle will find this interesting, indeed.) and Call of the Wild (which is an old, old favorite and STILL makes me cry *sniffle*)

Quick Fix or Right Thing?

Some of you may already know that I have a keen interest in health. After losing a lot of extra weight, Mr. Moore and I got into a home workout and health program called P90X.

Their most recent newsletter had an article that really hit home for me, so I want to share it with you. Although p90X is a fitness regime, this particular article is broad enough that its hard-hitting wisdom can apply to any area of life where improvement is desired.

Two Excerpts:

We have become the United States of Quick Fixes.

Why are we so addicted to shortcuts, tricks, and magic potions? Far too many people in this country live in some kind of wannabe fantasyland. We’re trying to keep up with the Joneses without working as hard as they do. This bigger, badder, and faster world doesn’t give us an opportunity to stop and look at real and authentic ways to achieve greatness.

and

Why do we reach for drugs, alcohol, sex, food, lies, blame, anger, hate, guilt, and self-pity far more often than power, courage, discipline, forgiveness, wisdom, and self-reliance?

The Full Article

BeachBody P90X Newsletter #038

Wii Game Reviews

Mr. Moore and I have been contemplating the purchase of a Wii.

We bought an XBox360. Unfortunately, it seems that we bought it mostly for the playability of one or two games, as it spent more man-hours playing netflix instaqueue to us than it did as a video game machine.

We’re also aware of the Kinect for Xbox and its imminent arrival to the gaming landscape (seriously, have you SEEN Kinectimals? I’ve died twice from the cute already and I haven’t even played the game.).

Why buy a Wii when the Kinect is like a controllerless Wii?

Clearly, the answer is because we’re gluttons for punishment.

However, in the interests of avoiding buying yet ANOTHER gaming system for just one or two games, we decided to demo as many games as we could before deciding.

Behold!

Tami’s Tiny, Biased List Of Wii Game Reviews

based on limited play time and three adult gamers

Wii Sports Resort

4 out of 5 stars

With that many mini-games, there’s something in there for anyone. Even if you only like two or three of them, you’re still left with two or three incredibly fun games to play. My favorites were bowling, archery, and canoing. Great party game, and low-key enough for the whole family.

MarioKart

5 out of 5 stars

I’m a fan of the original MarioKart (yes, the REALLY old one) and this game reminds me of how much fun I had way back then. Unlocking new levels, modes, carts, and characters ensures that the completionists in the crowd won’t get bored with it after only an hour or so of gameplay.

RockBand

7 out of 5 stars

I haven’t actually played RockBand for Wii, but the Xbox360 version rocks my socks off. I have no reason to believe the Wii version would be any different.

Okami

? out of 5 stars

This one took so long for the backstory to let you play that we didn’t actually PLAY it much. What little we saw and played was incredible, though. Gorgeous graphics and fun controls. This one’s almost certainly going to be a win for us, but I’d feel bad starring it when we didn’t even finish the first level.

Deadly Creatures

5 out of 5 stars

I got this one on a lark, I’ll be honest. To my surprise, it was hellaciously fun. You trade off levels playing as a tarantula and a scorpion, and the control system was incredibly fun. You use both the wiimote and the nunchuck – and you REALLY use them. Every button and motion does something for this game, and it’s really beautifully done. I didn’t even care that Billy Bob Thornton did some of the voice acting for the human’s storyline – I was too busy eating grubs and killing crickets!

Tetris Party

5 out of 5 stars

This one, I’m rating on behalf of Mr. Moore and my mom, who spent a LONG time playing it. They loved it. I was busy playing Deadly Creatures at the time. *winks*

Cooking Mama

1 out of 5 stars (yes, these are actual ratings – the other games just happened to be awesome)

Slice, dice, peel, and cook your way to fantastic food. Unfortunately, the controls with the wiimote were incredibly difficult to actually maneuver and the instructions were so vague that we were often left flailing about, trying to figure out what the game wanted us to do. The idea is good, but I didn’t enjoy the game much at all.

Samba de Amigo

2 out of 5 stars

I’m giving this one the benefit of the doubt. We may have been standing too close to the sensor when we tried it, which would result in it not picking up the outer “maracas” motion. Even so, I managed to throw so much “arreeeba!” into my maraca swings that I hurt my elbows after only a few songs. It was fun and crazy, but I think it would get old fast.

Super Smash Brothers Brawl

2 out of 5 stars

That’s a pretty low rating for a game this fun and popular, but bear with me. When we started, none of us had a clue what we were doing. CHAOS. None of us really enjoyed it, though it was certainly flashy. As soon as one of us would learn a move or three, we’d totally annihilate the others. If everyone playing this game was adept at it, I think it would be fun. If anyone in the group is new at it, I think the fun flies right out the window.

Super Mario Brothers Wii

3 out of 5 stars

I may be rating this one too low. This is another where a less proficient player is going to be left behind in a hurry. I like that there are elements of working together, but there are also a LOT of ways to make sure the people you’re playing with aren’t having a good time – even if you don’t intend to. I don’t know how long it would take for this game to get boring.

Monster Hunter Tri

?? out of 5 stars

This is the game that Mr. Moore and I keep coming back to, thinking that maaaaaybe a wii would be worth a single game, if it was worth this one. Unfortunately, we were unable to try Monster Hunter Tri during our marathan playtime. We still hold out hope.

Summary

We still haven’t made a decision, although right now it looks promising.  There definitely appears to be more than one game we’d enjoy, though we’d still like to play Monster Hunter Tri before deciding.

Tech Lounge

If you’re anywhere near Steven’s Point, Wisconsin, I cannot recommend the Tech Lounge enough. They allow gaming on any system (and they have everything all the way back to atari!) based on an hourly, per-person cost. They’ve also got delicious, low-priced coffee drinks for those crazy folks taking advantage of their Friday Night 9-midnight special (like us!).

We were able to hang out, drink coffee, and play a ridiculous number of video games. I look forward to our future visits!

Close Third Person Point of View

As a writer, one of the most fundamental choices you need to make with regards to your projects is point of view.

The point of view (or PoV) that you write in can change the tone and readability of your writing drastically.

The PoV you choose is a lot like … deciding where to set up a Psychic Camera. You, the writer, are only allowed to write what your Psychic Camera can pick up.

Narrator

For convenience sake, I’m going to call the “person we are following around” the “narrator” for this post. Whoever is tied to your Psychic Camera is your Narrator.

Don’t Skull-Hop

Skull-hopping within a single scene is bad*, mmkay?

Skull hopping is when “the person we are following around” suddenly changes and we are treated to thoughts, feelings, or reactions that our narrator would have absolutely know way of knowing. In effect, we have multiple narrators.

“If it was such a simple request, why not do it yourself?” Melanie sank lower in the kitchen chair, setting her chin. She really hated it when her mother got all het up about nothing. She’d gone out and picked up the stupid milk, hadn’t she?

“I thought that since you had the afternoon off, it wouldn’t be too much to ask that you get a gallon of milk so I can make breakfast for you tomorrow.” Edith took another drag of her cigarette. Every day, she vowed to stop smoking, and every day, Melanie gave her plenty of reasons to pull out another cancer stick. That girl would be the death of her.

It’s jarring. Who should we care about? Melanie would know nothing about her mother’s vows to stop smoking and her mother wouldn’t consider her own behavior to be “het up about nothing”.

Back to our Psychic Camera – as a writer, we just detached the camera from Melanie’s shoulder and then slapped it on Edith’s shoulder in the middle of the scene. That’s bad mojo. Our readers need to be able to trust us, and they can’t do that if we keep changing the narrator on them all willy nilly.

First Person

A common choice for PoV is First Person.

“It’s just MILK, mother. What difference does it make?” I dropped the offending jug of the wrong percentage of cow drippings to the table.

“I,” declared my mother with fully dramatic lip-curling, “am on a diet! It matters!”

First person is written as though the narrator is actually the person telling the story.

The Psychic Camera is installed inside their head. At that range, it has full access to all of the person’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences. The emotions, thoughts, and experiences of OTHER people are all filtered through the Narrator’s eyes and biases. All the narrator can do is GUESS at the motivations of the bizarre behaviors of the people around them.

Much like we have to do in our own lives. =]

Third Person

Another common choice for PoV is Third Person. (What happened to Second Person? Don’t ask me, I’m not the one who numbered the things)

(EDIT : I know there’s actually a second person. My attempt at humor here clearly missed the mark, so I apologize if it was confusing. Second person is “You do this and then you do that.” I find it incredibly jarring and I can’t imagine enjoying a novel written that way).

Great. Now she was going to be treated to an hour long diatrabe on health, using the crap science her mother picked up from those giggling harpies she met with at the salon every week. Melanie had done her own research about health. Using actual science from actual scientific journals to back it up. For a brief moment, she was tempted to respond with a lesson on macro-nutrients and the difference between carbohydrates and protein, but the urge passed. Her mother never listened to her.

Instead, she stood. The sound of the chair legs grating against the linoleum floor silenced her mother just long enough for her to say, “I’ve decided to become a vegan.”

Third person is written as if the narrator is watching the scene. Instead of “I” “me” and “my”, Third Person has “she” “him” and “hers”.

Our Psychic camera is OUTSIDE the narrator’s head, floating near them like a balloon on a string.

How Long Is Your String?

The TRICK comes in when you realize that there are different depths even within the Third Person umbrella.

Very distant third person gives a piece a vastly different feel.

Little did Melanie know it, but those fateful words were the last ones her mother ever heard.

The most distant third person (the Psychic Camera Balloon is on a very, VERY long string) comes across feeling more like a voice over from an old TV show.

On the other end of the spectrum is my personal favorite, the CLOSE Third Person Point of View (see, your faith in my ability to title my blog posts has been rewarded!).

Her mother’s blue-shadowed eyelids widened and twitched. FINALLY! I’ve finally said something that made it through the thick layers of cigarette smoke, perfume, makeup, and drama to reach her!

Melanie’s smile faded when her mother’s right hand reached up to clutch at her chest, long vinyl fingernails looking more like talons than ever before.

“Mom?” Melanie stepped forward, alarm sending fingers of ice down her spine. “Mom, stop that! It isn’t funny!” She stepped forward and caught her mother just before she collapsed, the still-burning cigarette falling to land on Melanie’s arm. She didn’t even notice the pain, her eyes tracing her mother’s too-pale features as she lowered her to the floor.

Hands shaking, Melanie slid her cellphone from her pocket and dialed 9-1-1. Please, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Please be okay. I’ll get the right kind of milk, I swear, just be okay.

The string on this particular Psychic Camera Balloon is so short that it’s pretty much attached to the side of her skull. It has a lot of the ELEMENTS of first person, while still maintaining just a little bit of distance.

Why Third Person

If I like Close Third Person so much, why not just write in First Person?

With First Person, you should not skull hop between scenes, either.

The reader gets to know who “I” am. They associate the “I” in this book with that narrator.

With Third Person, the writer is allowed more freedom to have multiple narrators in a single book. Much less confusing to go from “he” to “she” than from “I” to “I”.

There are other, more subtle reasons as well, but they are less concrete. Sometimes, I find myself irritated with “I” narrators who think and feel in ways that are so different than my own. It’s almost as if there’s a tiny voice in the back of my head throwing popcorn at the screen of my mental image of the book, shouting, “No I don’t! I would never! Stop telling me what to think or feel!” Additionally, even close Third Person allows more leeway than first person with regards to things the writer can point out or take note of.

Dangers of Third Person

One of the biggest dangers of Third Person is a wild string.

You must control how far you allow your Psychic Camera to drift throughout every scene in the project. And by “control” I mean “staple that sucker down”. Don’t allow drift between Close and Distant Third Person. I know they’re both technically “Third Person”, but it’s dizzying and confusing for a reader to be batted around like a balloon on a string. Establish the depth of your Point of View early and stick to it.

A Trick

A trick for writing in Close Third Person is to first write the piece in FIRST person, and then go through and edit it. You may end up doing more than simple word replacement (“I” to “She”) but your end result will feel more consistent – you’ll have “stapled” your Psychic Camera Balloon to the side of your character’s head.

Sitting in that bland, plastic waiting room, all I could think about was that stupid milk. This was all the milk’s fault.

I knew that was stupid. It wasn’t really the milk’s fault, but it felt good to blame someone. Better by far than it would feel to think about what the doctor had just told me. Better still than to have to call others and let them know.

“I wish I’d never even bought that stupid milk! I’d give anything to take it back” I said, covering my eyes with my hands.

“Is that so?” purred a low voice.

I looked up, startled to find a tiny man, no larger than my hand, seated on my armrest. He wore a smart green suit with a green felt bowler hat, a tiny wooden pipe held in one hand.

“What…who?”

“I grant wishes, dearie, but only for a price.”  He grinned then, lifting the pipe to bite down on the stem with crooked, yellow teeth.

“What kind of price?” I asked.

turns into

Sitting in that bland, plastic waiting room, all Melanie could think about was that stupid milk. This is all the milk’s fault.

She knew that was stupid. It wasn’t really the milk’s fault, but it felt good to blame someone. Better by far than it would feel to think about what the doctor had just told her. Better still than to have to call others and let them know.

“I wish I’d never even bought that stupid milk! I’d give anything to take it back” she said, covering her eyes with her hands.

“Is that so?” purred a low voice.

Melanie looked up, startled to find a tiny man, no larger than her hand, seated on her armrest. He wore a smart green suit with a green felt bowler hat, a tiny wooden pipe held in one hand.

“What…who?”

“I grant wishes, dearie, but only for a price.”  He grinned then, lifting the pipe to bite down on the stem with crooked, yellow teeth.

“What kind of price?” she asked.

YMMV*

Everyone has their own preference, as a writer AND as a reader, for the PoV they enjoy.

What’s your favorite? (Either to write or to read)

* Skull Hopping CAN be acceptable if the Point of View chosen is a very distant one – an omniscient narrator might be able to “taste” each of the personalities in a scene and lift out knowledge of what’s happening. In my highly biased opinion, this is FAR less fun to read than when an author sticks to a single narrator per scene.

* Your Mileage May Vary

Rebel Tales

Holly Lisle is embarking on a new endeavor – an e-zine style publishing company called Rebel Tales.

What is Rebel Tales?

Rebel Tales will be a purchasable e-zine (not paper) that will deliver serialized content and short stories to the paying public (as well as having an elite back-stage pass version for those interested in seeing first drafts, interviews, maps, and the sort).

Why Did Holly Make Rebel Tales?

Holly took a look at the publishing industry as it currently stands and decided that it was flawed.

Moreover, she took that declaration a step further and is actively offering a solution.

For Writers

Holly is offering a clear, clean, open payment system for all accepted writing. Money flows to the writer based on sales. If someone buys a copy from two years ago that you wrote in, you still get paid.

Holly is treating published writers and unpublished writers as equals in this. If you’re struggling to get your name known, you have just as much chance of making into the pages of Rebel Tales as someone with five years of published novels under their belt.

For Readers

Holly is being VERY particular, not only in the editors that she’s hiring, but also in the specific details about the kinds and quality of writing she will allow into Rebel Tales. There’s no such thing as a guarantee when personal preference comes to play, but she seems to be taking pains to make sure that she delivers the best quality stories to her readers. This is no offramp for the slush pile rejects that publishers won’t touch. This is for all of the quality writers being pushed aside or abused by the current publishing system.

Status

Rebel Tales is not yet accepting author submissions. Holly is still looking for editors (so if you’re an editor looking for a paying gig, maybe take a peek) but she won’t open the floor for writers until she’s got a solid staff of editors.

That also means the first issue isn’t available for purchase, but it DOES mean that if you’re a writer (or editor) looking for a lifeline, this might be exactly what you’re looking for.

To Learn More

I HIGHLY recommend you read more on this. My post is only a high-level review. Holly goes into as much detail as your little heart could want … and then a little bit more. =]

New To Me

The idea is new to me, too – but as far as I can tell, it seems solid. It has Holly Lisle’s name behind it, which counts for a lot in my book. I have a great deal of respect for her, not only as a writer, but also as a TEACHER. She gives a lot of herself for other writers.

I only know what I’ve read, and what I read sounds honest.

I don’t have anything pre-prepared along the guidelines that she’s looking for … but I do have an idea for something I might focus on and submit. It certainly can’t hurt, right?