Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pen Names: Good Idea or Bad?

I've been toying with the idea of creating different pen names for different genres of stories I write (or intend to write). It seems like it might function as a way to keep things organized. I'm the type of person who has folders and subfolders for organizing email or documents on my computer. And yet, in real life, I'm pretty messy. Go figure.

There are my Veronica books, and I'd probably include Broken Ones in the same genre. Modern day, involves ghosts. Those have been around for a year, with "Sophia Martin" as the author name.
As a writer, you wear many hats. :)

Then there's The City Darkens, my current WiP, which is a serialized novel and in the genre of decopunk, sci fi/fantasy. So... I could put my same name on it, or something like S. D. Martin, or M. R. Tinn (= Martin, get it?) or something else. The idea isn't to disguise who I am at all. I'll be posting all about the book here and putting it in the margin with the other books, etc.

And I've been thinking about writing some Georgian or Victorian romances, because there just aren't enough Jane Austen novels, you know? I love them. A lot of people love them. So why not attempt to approach the brilliance of Austen--ha! good luck, Sophia--or at least capture some of what makes those stories so wonderful? Anyway, it seems incongruous for Sophia Martin to write ghost stories, sci fi, and Georgian romances. So some other pen name for that.

The problem is, would using pen names destroy any value my platform on Twitter, Facebook, etc. provides to Sophia Martin? Ultimately, I'm not really convinced those do all that much for my book sales anyway, but what do you think about it? If I'm not going to hide that all the pen names are one person, does that make a difference? Do you think using pen names would be useful or frivolous?

I'm really curious. I hope you'll comment.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Two hours a day to be productive

The title just about says it all. Luke-Andre is a sweet baby who, we've discovered, loves pureed green beans (who would have seen that coming?), but he's not big on naps. Most days--not all--he takes one 2 hour nap and a few 30 minute ones. The 30 minutes ones I use for taking a shower and eating. The 2 hour nap has become the one period in the day when I can be productive.

And I can get a fair amount of writing done in 2 hours. The trouble is, I have a lot of other irons in the fire:
  • homework for my MA in history
  • blogging here and the recipe blog
  • knitting a blanky out of the yarn my aunt used to make a sweater he won't sleep without--so far, in a week, I've knit about 3/4 of an inch
  • reading the signed copy of Naamah's Blessing Jacqueline Carey sent me herself to review (SO EXCITED)
  • and, most recently, designing my covers for the serial.

I had hoped to employ a friend of Jeff's for the covers, but he's a professional artist and I just don't make the kind of money he charges, even with the hefty discount he offered.

It's ironic because the part of the cover I thought would be hard--the background--I've already finished, and now I'm struggling with the rest. The background will stay the same for every cover, to provide continuity. It's a deco skyline, with the palace and temple in the story at the center. In the foreground I intend to have a close-up of the main character, and when I paint and draw, I'm usually all about portraits. And I'm finding this really hard for some reason. I've been toying with trying to do the portrait kind of deco-style. I can't decide if I like it or not. I voted on another blog when the author posted two possible covers--that was fun, so maybe I'll do something similar here.

More than the design questions, however, I'm running into technical problems: if I want the background the same, it makes sense to scan it and add each different foreground in a design program. Except 1) I don't own a design program anymore--I used to have PaintShopPro a long time ago but that died with the computer it was on; and 2) that means creating the portrait on paper I can cut to be able to place it over the background manually, as I don't think I'm skilled enough to do a proper cutting job on the pc. And doing it on paper means using pencils or pastels, not paint, and I intend to paint the background--I've already got it all drawn out on a flat canvas.So the two may not look good together unless I can work some sort of magic with the design program I don't have.

There are probably some nifty programs that do really useful things like make it possible to scan an image that isn't rectangular without filling in the negative space with white, but the learning curve for me on anything like that is bound to be steep. And I only have 2 hours a day to do it. And I'm still writing (I'm midway through part 4--I think there will be 8 parts, although I'm still not positive). So I really could use more hours in the day.

...And he's awake. After 30 minutes. Looks like today will be one of those exceptions where there is no 2 hour nap at all.