Choosing a Book Category

 

The First Step – Or So You Thought

What category have you chosen for the type of books you prefer to write?

So, at last your book is nearing completion. The proofreading will come to an end shortly and its time to take a serious look at listing and promotion. Each site, whether for sale or promotion, offers you a list of choices for listing your book under a category.

Now Comes a Question

The first thing is to decide where your book belongs. Of course you love your book and there are some obvious categories that can be discarded. But then comes some more difficult decisions. The largest category, with 70% of books, is romance. But where within this category does your beloved book belong. You may have an opinion, but the public may have a different opinion.

Making a Decision

With Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power I thought to put it under fantasy. Clearly mermaids were not exactly in the center of what we call the real world. And, of course, there was the involvement of our Earth Goddess, Gaia. So, initially I put it under fantasy. But there was one problem. Its setting was in the present day and the characters were living in a contemporary setting—mostly. So there was a reality orientation and what I learned quickly was that there were many fantasy fans who found it not nearly fantastic enough.

I looked at sci-fi but that didn’t work either. Gradually I had to refine my search and when I looked at each type of category I found that my view of the book and description was not necessarily a good fit.

A Strange Choice

At last I had to begin to focus on “fiction”. No kidding. Well, it definitely was fiction but so was anything else for sale—aside from nonfiction. So, I began to scan the offerings in various promotional sites. I found a rather large divergence of offerings which was not surprising. Often I came back to literary fiction. My initial reaction was that it was simply not appropriate. The word literary means to me something carefully composed which uses meaningful turn of phrase. My book did not fit that at all and besides I admire literature but don’t read it. I want an intriguing story that makes me think and consider such carefully constructed stories as composing a field over which I stumble.

What I Came To

In the end I had to select fiction. Sometimes just plain fiction and sometimes literary fiction. In literary fiction I found other books with which I was comfortable. And if it was offered, which it sometimes was not, I selected magical realism. My book had a modern day reality setting with a mythological underpinning. Given my belief as a psychologist that we humans live on the cusp of reality, it was a perfect fit. There are so many ways to discover and describe our personal and collective worlds that magical realism fit my preferences perfectly. Or I simply had to settle for fiction or literary fiction. After that it was up to me to describe and present it. Now I’m more comfortable and it seems I’m beginning to find the audience which works with the book. When writing fiction, this was not a set of choices I had expected.

How clear are you about the proper choice of category for the type of books you prefer or are writing.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Women in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy – Pt 1

 

Avery the Whiner

This post kind of comes down to the psychologist still learning about being a psychologist.

Avery is the lead character in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. She is a central focus throughout. Characters should come alive to the author if they are to be authentic. Avery certainly did that. But I had to learn a lesson and she had to get a grip.

Getting What You Wish For

It is hardly news that sometimes we have to tell someone they should be careful what they wish for. Avery had to learn that lesson and since I was the author it really was me who had to learn the lesson and get it across to her.

Avery had a pretty good life. She had been raised to do “good works” because her parents worked in third world health delivery systems. It was a challenging life and had its perils. They died in a car accident in the Middle East and Avery felt abandoned. Maybe that wasn’t quite fair of her because they had no intention of leaving her.

Then She Got a New Family

And later the family she got was not one she had known existed but suddenly they were very much in her life. Their arrival came with a large load of complications and threat. Here is where my problem began. In the first draft of the first book of the Gaia’s majesty Trilogy I finally had to face that Avery was whining a lot. Sure she got a grip at last but until then she could be really tiresome.

What I learned

At first I thought her reaction was perfectly understandable. Well, it was to me because, as a psychologist, I could feel her agony and her devastation and discomfort. You want a family but it didn’t have to be so complicated and even frightening. And you didn’t want to have people trying to kill you.

What I was doing was displaying my view of what was almost surely going on deep inside her. But what happens deep inside is often not what we display to the outside world. But consistently I got to see that side of people in my office and there were times when I had to encourage them to display their agonies. When someone comes for help it may be necessary for them to bring out all the nasty things they feel so we can together sort them out and help them come to terms with their burden.

In Avery’s case she hadn’t known she had a burden or perhaps it is better to say she didn’t have a burden until this strange, alien family showed up. What was she supposed to do with that? The more she learned, the more her agony increased.

What To Do

Avery could flee and take what was left of her former life with her or she could tough it out. Toughing it out was what she really had to do and in the life changes she had found a neat guy. Fleeing would have probably meant giving him up. So she hung in there and displayed her agony and feelings—whined.

My Turn

At last it was the turn of the author to get a grip. I had a picture of her agony and knew how she would almost surely feel inside. Fine! Nice for me to know but the reader did not have to endure her agony in that particular way. I had to serious revise what I had written and give her more strength, determination and composure. And her guy could help her.

Sometimes, in particular settings, it is not desirable to have truth and reality be writ too large.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Psychologist Looks at Characters

 

An Emerging Character

Internal Conflict

Something emerged as I was writing the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. It was a tug of war between a writer and a psychologist. One might think immediately that this conflict could be a real asset. The truth is much more complicated than that.

It seems likely that similar conflicts exist in other creative enterprises. My dissertation dealt with painters and how their personality might influence their work. In fact, using the personality typology of Carl Jung, it was clear it does influence their work. Is that information useful to the artist?

Might he or she step back and do a different kind of analysis of the painting taking shape? They might, but their art is not a cognitive enterprise. It seemed best for them to let their creative processes flow. I doubt the person considering their painting would really be interested in those kinds of contributions for something to hang on their wall.

A Different Kind of Challenge

The written word brings a different kind of challenge. Of course it is reflected in the particular form of that written word but a similar tug of war can take place. The very matter of plot and character interactions lends itself to construction and it is easy to slip into analysis which may affect content, direction and style. With characters we hope the reader will be attracted or repelled by them depending upon their role in the story.

As a psychologist there came a point where I had to deal with my own inclinations. In life I have to contain my analytical tendencies. In seeing friends or in social occasions doing dispassionate analyses of the people with whom you are interacting is not typically a good idea. In fact it gets in the way of life.

I have, from time to time, been told a person was disturbed by the feeling that I was analyzing them. Most of the time I was doing no such thing. That is, unless there were warning signals which indicated I needed to be on my guard for one reason or other. Sometimes you meet someone who seems intent on manipulating you and the situation. My inner psychologist kicks in at once.

Around the Edges

In developing characters there is an essential conflict. Spending too much time on the analysis can be stultifying for the story. Often there simply needs to be a flow. The character has to live within and emerge. At least that is what I’ve concluded. There may be other approaches.

A good example for me relates to my lead character in book 1 of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. Avery is a bright, dedicated young woman but in the background is the fact that she had lost her parents in an early part of her adulthood. She wanted them back and had felt abandoned.

When she finds that she has another kind of family I wrote her as doing a lot of whining. Such a reaction under the specific circumstances of this story is completely understandable at least to me. But most people would contain it inside which is what I was relating to. When it became clear it wasn’t working I had to reconstruct her. It worked a lot better. Sometimes reality in storytelling simply does not work.

The Bottom Line

This example is what I, as a psychologist, had to view. I’m sure many writers have things they have to face in their writing—things that are coming from inside of them. It was not a matter of my personality but reflected my training. Each form of art has its own pitfalls and I suspect that many writers of fiction have to wrestle with components coming from within themselves. In some instances it may enhance the work or it may yield flaws which must be dealt with.

In what ways does the “inner you” affect your vocation or art?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Honorable Mention Award

Honorable Mention Award

I’m pleased to announce that Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power has been awarded an honorable mention in the Wild Card category at the 2017 Hollywood Book Festival.

The category makes me smile because I’ve been wrestling with category choice. The book has a real world setting but with mermaids. So I often wonder if it’s fantasy or fiction. Then the series will take off into the future and dive deeper into mythology and fantasy elements. But in terms of fantasy it is not outlandish and there is a strong real world setting. Women are central but they have mystical and mythological elements. In the end Wild Card suits me just fine.

A Tragic Waste

 

What’s on your list of wrongs perpetrated against women?

Pervasive Efforts

A recent post presented the concept of the mysterium tremendum which relates to that which grips or stirs the soul. It is of interest because it is my belief that this sort of effect of women on men may well relate to the pervasive and eternal efforts by men to keep women from empowerment.

Daily we continue to see evidence of these efforts. Recently I turned on the television and saw an interview about the fight to get women who had piloted aircraft in World War II, Women Airforce Service Pilots or WASPs, the right to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery . These women had been granted veterans status in 1977 and burial rights at Arlington since 2002. Then, recently, they were deemed ineligible.

It is not necessary to go into greater detail. The subterfuges, the discrimination and callous attitudes regarding women are endless.

Truth From Leonardo

And then I ran across an interview with Leonardo DiCaprio regarding his recent movie The Revenant. At one point the interviewer asked, “Why is the role of women in the movie so small and the men so gruesome and dominating?” His answer was, “This represents the savagery of a lawless culture. Women have been the most persecuted people throughout all of recorded history, more than any race or religion.” He was not asked to elaborate or support his statement but I know what he meant.

And currently we have an ongoing war against women in the United States. And what I find is that the rationale is lacking in substance because of the pervasive nature of the war.

Inner Meaning Beyond Our Grasp

What is so interesting is that there is normally no in-depth discussion of this process. The battles are fought on specific issues but rarely focus on the extent of the discrimination and its inner meaning. It seems we don’t know the proper questions to ask and I believe in part it is because the real reasons are deeply buried in our psyches and we don’t know how to access the real process. Does the Mysterium Tremendum touch on the real reason ( See WordPress posts of 1/18/16 and 1/20/16)?

What does your intuition tell you?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Struggle Eternal

 

Do you view yourself as struggling?

Many Forms of Struggle

There are so many things to explore in life. Of course we go looking for things like friends and a mate. We hope for success and seek joy and happiness. What we often seem to miss is the basic fact that life, in one form or another, is a struggle.

Of course the struggle is not just a personal one. We struggle as groups, as countries. And our literature is full of struggle. Romance isn’t pure joy and fulfillment. There is generally a struggle of one form or another. The outcome of romance may be an enduring relationship and that involves risk and effort. Is this person really right for me?

Less Than Total Control

There are many guideposts. One thing we are often told is that if we fail in our struggle or the outcome is less than we might have hoped for it is surely our fault and we may even have intended it. After my decades as a psychologist my response is—balderdash! Yes, sometimes we sabotage ourselves, but we also cannot be entirely sure of the outcome of anything. There are chance factors. Maybe some people find it reassuring to think that if it goes badly that was our inner intention. Life is simply not like that. You did not construct the asteroid that is right now streaking toward your village.

Boredom Versus Enrichment

Struggle is inevitable. And, since we are animals, we participate in the quest for survival in all its forms. It is not without purpose. Wouldn’t it be dull to be stuck in the Garden of Eden. We sought knowledge and enriched our lives—at a price. Certainly there were risks for Adam and Eve but the struggle actually enriched the world of humankind and the enrichment goes beyond mere survival. Of course, other than for the basics, you don’t have to have high goals to find growth resulting from your struggle. You get to choose.

A Higher Purpose

One of the themes I address in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy is whether there may be a higher purpose for our struggle. As beings we have come a long way from the trees in Africa. Struggle was no doubt instrumental in our development, even our acquisition of language. In writing this trilogy, one of the things which came to mind is whether there is another purpose for our struggle. Will we one day reach some kind of a transformation?

Have you found yourself making sudden gains, if not a transformation?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Meaning and Entertainment

 

What are you seeking when you read?

Reading and Writing As Discovery

Roger the psychologist here. As I tread my way through the world of being a writer, I must confess that it stirs a lot of conflicted feelings and perceptions. I guess many of us may wonder why we write and may from time to time come up with some answers. I enjoy the process and find it one of discovery.

When it comes to reading, I’m not really there to pass time or just for entertainment. I have to be engaged and it has to stir something in me. And recently I had a curious discovery. A lengthy trip on a plane was coming up and I bought some books for my iPad. There was nothing to distract me on the flight.

From Out of the Past

The first book was Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I didn’t really know what it was about but I started reading. It turned out to be set in France during World War II. I was curious about the experiences of the people at the time and she drew me in and gave me their perspective. It was not a love story and was both difficult and engaging. And then something strange happened. I saw the face of a shop girl from when I was with my parents in France. I was ten years old at the time. She was in a bad mood but suddenly froze and looked off into the distance. The connection was instantaneous. As a ten year old I couldn’t understand that the Nazis had left only five years before. But something about that look stuck in my mind and then connected to the story I was reading.

Reflections of Our Personality

We harbor strange things in our brains. And in my brain, I search for connections. I’ve wrestled with a name for the genre I’m writing and have finally settled on choosing the term speculative fiction. I’m what’s called an intuitive personality type and the “what if” is always foremost for me. In Nightingale I think I was engaged with what ifs about how one endures such a terrible environment and then I found I had harbored someone else’s pain in the memory of a shopgirl’s face. I can’t prove that connection but we get stirred in interesting ways.

And There Was Meaning

In the end it was meaning and connection I sought. In Nightingale I found some elements of both. And, in my own writing, I am looking to understand why I chose to write the trilogy of Gaia’s Majesty. And recently I believe I’ve come to understand that it is about the empowerment of women. For decades, in my office, I listened to stories about people’s lives and one thing that came out again and again was the struggles women endured because they might be cherished on the one hand, but in other ways were pushed aside and told what they could not do. So, I chose to convey a story about talented women on an important mission. It was meaning I was seeking.

What are you discovering?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt