Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Doom Loop Barometer

First, a big happy birthday to Mom!

I'm gradually getting better, and having the cough syrup really helped. But I didn't realize that Robitussin was a controlled substance. When it rang up, the cashier had to enter my date of birth (she said she didn't need to see my ID because, as she put it, I was obviously old -- I wasn't insulted because English wasn't her first language and I could tell she didn't mean it that way, and apparently the restriction was you had to be 18 to buy it, and I don't even want to look 18 these days). It seems like kids use this stuff to get high. Obviously, I'm doing something wrong because all I ever notice is that it stops me coughing, and when I've been coughing, I suppose that feels good enough to count as a "high." Otherwise, I've got nothing. You probably have to mix it with something or snort it or smoke it, or generally go to the kind of effort that makes me think that if they devoted that time and effort to actually doing something fun, they might feel even better and not harm themselves. I would say that proves I'm old, but I felt that way even as a teenager when I couldn't quite understand what was so "fun" about hanging out in someone's pasture, drinking beer until you threw up. Reading a good book sounded like much more fun to me.

Speaking of books, thanks for the recommendation of The Thief. It did take a while to get into it, then it really picked up, and then, wow, the last bit got kind of mindblowing. I love a good unreliable narrator. Now I need to read the rest of the series.

I realized that last week when I was talking about how publishing trends work, I forgot to mention my personal barometer for when a publishing trend has peaked: Harlequin will launch a specialty category line related to it. When the first wave of paranormal romance was hitting, they started up a soft horror/modern gothic line, and paranormal tanked. When those single-title contemporary romantic comedies were big, they started up a few different romantic comedy lines. Soon, that trend tanked. When they started a category line that was essentially chick lit in category romance, chick lit died about a year after those books hit the shelf. They've recently launched an urban fantasy/paranormal romance line, so we'll see if the pattern holds true or if there's an exception. Mind you, these are all category lines as opposed to imprints from the parent company, which are often ahead of the trends -- Red Dress Ink was a big driver of chick lit in the US and Luna had a lot to do with establishing female-centered urban fantasy. But they usually dream up the related category lines when something is already hot in the market instead of leading the market, and then by the time they get books bought and then published, the trend is already well established, and about a year after the line is launched the trend will be showing signs of fading. I have learned that when Harlequin announces a new category line that's related to what I'm writing, I need to start making a transition to something else. If I had discovered this rule earlier, I might have pushed to sell Enchanted, Inc. as fantasy instead of chick lit, considering I first discussed it with an editor at the event that was the pre-launch party for Harlequin's chick-lit-like category line, and the fantasy imprint being launched at the same event had just started considering contemporary fantasy. Ah, 20/20 hindsight. But at the time I didn't have quite enough data points to see the pattern. And I did send it to Luna (the editor I was talking to asking to see it was what spurred me to write it in the first place), which rejected it with a form letter.

Incidentally, they're also starting to do a young adult line, but I think it's more of a sub imprint rather than a category line. Still, I'm hearing that YA is not quite as hot as it was a year or so ago ... I'm not sure if the inspirational romances count for or against the pattern, in that they did start with category romances and inspirational books have taken off quite well since then, but the category romances were launched under a new imprint that now also does other kinds of inspirational books. Looking at it strictly as category, it breaks the pattern, but it was part of a new imprint, which verifies the pattern.

And now I am determined to get some writing done today. After getting errands and other projects taken care of yesterday, I had no energy left to write, but I did re-read where I left off to try to get my brain back in the game. I don't have anything pressing to deal with the rest of the day. I'm still wavering about ballet class tonight. It's the first class with our substitute teacher while our regular teacher is on maternity leave, and we don't have class next week, so I don't want to miss, but I'm not sure I'm physically up to it, and I'd probably make an even worse impression if I go but am a slacker. Not that it should matter what impression I make, but this teacher is supposedly the "tough" teacher and the reason that some of the people in our class are still taking the beginner class instead of his intermediate adult class, and I am an overachiever.


Carradee said...

I found a neat online tool for helping you write faster. Using it on its gentlest mode, I wrote 1800 words in an hour. I hadn't known it was possible for me to do that.

We'll see how much I keep using the tool once I'm enough distant from the work I'm using it for to judge those words' quality. (The content's pretty bad, but that's because my NaNo doesn't have a plot.)

Unfortunately, you can't format in the tool. But typing {em} works as something you can find later when you need to italicize something, and there's "Find... Replace" for all the block paragraphs to add the tabs, assuming you use tabbed paragraphs with tabs and not with an automatic indent.

Re: cough syrup, doesn't it have alcohol in it or something?

sexy said...
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