Uncategorized

Darkness Falling: Soldiers and Slaves Updated

A new version of Darkness Falling: Soldiers and Slaves is now available on Amazon. After receiving feedback through reviews that there were some typos and formatting errors, I re-edited the book and updated both the Kindle and paperback versions.

I also reworked the cover to be a darker. You can see the difference below.

 

Now that I’ve done this with Book One, I’m going to go ahead and do the same for Book Two. I haven’t received any feedback on Book Two yet, but I figure it’s just for good measure.

The nice thing about being an indie author is that we can take feedback and use it to improve our books. An example of this is how Andy Weir, author of The Martian, listened to the feedback of his readers and improved the story by making the science realistic. Because of that, he was able to reach his target audience, and eventually the world. If he had just said, “Yeah, well, this is just science fiction, so what if the chemistry is a little off? Most people won’t know,” things could have turned out very different.

Even if we do not achieve that type of success in our own writing, we can all use constructive feedback and turn it into a positive result. The goal is to always be improving. None of us are masters at our craft.

Thank you for reading and if you have anything to add, please feel free to in the comments.

Darkness Falling: Soldiers and Slaves

US

UK

CA

AU

Advertisements
Writing News

Autumn 2016: Writing Update

autumn-994897_640

 

Summer is finally over! I know some people love summer but it’s too hot for me. Now for my favorite season: Fall!

With my favorite television shows starting, I’m looking to once again discuss storytelling in the mass media by blogging on some of my favorite shows. I’m hoping to do this for The Walking Dead and maybe even Jane the Virgin to look at things from a different perspective. I’ll also be continuing with my serialized story The Hunted and more world building, characterization, and storytelling techniques as I go.

As for my books, Darkness Falling: Soldiers and Slaves is nearing the end of more edits after feedback received. I’ll be announcing the completion and relaunch once it’s completed. Once that’s done, Shadow of the Seeker will receive a similar process just for good measure. Book three of the trilogy should still be expected in 2017, but the exact time is going into To Be Announced mode for now.

I’ll also be doing book reviews again once I’m able.

I’ll see you next week!

Health and Wellness, Writing News, Writing Tips

Writing Break

lines-636983_640

Every once in a while my brain needs a break.

Writer’s block is one thing but then there is the stress of editing, rewriting, and publishing. The process is both exciting and anticlimactic. It’s also overwhelming.

For the past month after releasing Book Two I’ve been pushing through. Over the past few days it’s all caught up with me and I’m taking a writing break.

There’s a lot of advice out there to write every day. While this is good advice to get you into the habit of writing, it isn’t always the best advice for creating. Being a creative person means we need to recharge our batteries. There is a delicate balance to art and the rest of life, and when one or the other is overwhelming, it’s time to step back.

Recharging can be different for everyone. Taking a break to absorb inspiration and energy for writing is a personal thing. Visiting family or friends, spending time in meditation, watching movies, reading books, going into nature – there are many ways to recharge. The main thing is not feeling guilty for needing a break. Self-care means you will be working at your best.

That’s why I’ve been taking a break for the past few days. My brain is tired. If I don’t recharge I won’t be functioning at my best. If I’m not functioning at my best it will only cause frustration and further distress. It’s a cycle.

Next week is the one year anniversary of my publishing journey and this blog. Thank you all for following along. If you have anything to add about taking a break, please feel free in the comments.

Writing Tips

Types of Editing

sign-697220_960_720

Editing.

That’s always a fun word. A lot of times, editing is seen as fixing errors. This is true, but that is only one part of editing. It is through proper editing that storytelling should be strengthened.

Too many errors in spelling and grammar and can ruin a story, but they are only one piece of the puzzle. Good editing also focuses on the content of a story. Writing can be perfectly clear of typos and formatting errors, yet still be diminished by poor storytelling. If a story is drowning in contrivances, caricatures, plot holes, repetition, info dumps, clichés, and pacing the story will suffer just as much from problems in these areas than if it were full of mistakes

Understanding that proofreading and content editing are two different things will help you grow as a writer. Both are important and both require practice. I consider myself a good content editor, but I hate proofreading. I miss things. Being good at both content editing and proofreading is a goal.

Proofreading

A lot of times we see people (including myself) say things like “with more editing the errors can be cleaned up.” I think because of this, many people come to believe that editing is proofreading and nothing more. This way of thinking and talking about editing does a disservice to a lot of people who are publishing their books.

Proofreading is a skill. It’s a difficult job to read thousands of words and clean up all of the typos. Similar to math, not everyone is good at proofreading and some people have a natural aptitude. Practice is always key but some people will always be better at finding mistakes.

How do you practice proofreading? Watching what others write for errors is one way. Picking up errors, whether you point them out or not, will help you. Another way to proofread is to change your format. If you always work on the computer, print out a chapter and read it on paper. Change the margins and look at small chunks at a time. It takes time and effort.

Studying language also helps your proofreading. Learning the rules for commas, dialogue, paragraphs, sentences, and other punctuation will strengthen your writing. If you feel shaky in any of these areas there are many resources online to help you.

Content Editing

Editing content is where you look at the story itself and try to make it better. It requires you to look at your work from different angles. One type of content editing is the commonly talked about word count. Using as few words as possible to tell your story helps with the pacing.

Pacing is a key element to storytelling and is what helps your reader follow along with the narrative and stay interested. With the wrong pacing your story moves either too fast or too slow. The reader either feels they are being dragged along without having a chance to catch their breath, or they are drowning in muck as they try to push through to the end.

Cutting is another type of content editing. Content editors are the ones who rip your heart out of your chest with phrases like “this scene needs to be cut” and “this character servers no purpose to the plot.” Cutting also helps with pacing. Bogging your reader down with too much, repetitive, or irrelevant information leaves the reader feeling bored and confused with the direction of a story.

A content editor should also be able to point out a contrivance or a caricature; both of which make stories unbelievable and result in a loss of emotional investment. Stories require emotional investment to be enjoyable. If a reader can’t feel emotionally and intellectually attached to the characters and their situations, they give up and stop reading

Suggesting changes to these types of situations are not meant to be hurtful, but are to help the author create the best story they can.

Hiring an Editor

For financial reasons, I do not hire an editor. This is my choice and, good or bad, I understand the consequences.

If (or when) I ever hire an editor, it will be important to interview editors the same way I would interview a potential employee for a company. Asking what type of editing they offer is key. Will there be content editing or just proofreading? This is important knowledge before giving someone your money.

You may think you’ve hired an excellent editor, but they only proofread. Alternately, your editor may help you with content but (like me) not be the best at proofreading. If they only do one type of editing, it’s good to know that in advance. If you only need one type, this might not be an issue. If you need both, then that might mean more cost to you, and you might want an editor that does both. Finding out if they recommend someone else to do the proofreading or content editing is also important, or you may need to find another editor on your own.

I would also want to see other works by an editor before I hired them. If I pick up a book and read it only to find it’s a mess, that’s a bad sign. If an editor won’t tell you what they’ve worked on, then that’s also a bad sign.

Beta Readers

Beta readers are an excellent tool for helping you gauge where your story is at, but they can also be a pitfall. They are not editors and should not be treated as such. Sometimes a beta reader might offer to proofread. Perhaps they enjoy doing this, but it should never be an expected service.

The point of the beta reader is to give you a general idea of audience response. If the only person you give your work to is your Aunt Mildred and she loves everything you do, this is not really a beta reader. It can be hard to find people who will read and give you the feedback you need. I have very nice beta readers and they give me good audience style feedback, but ultimately they do not give me in depth feedback that I would get from another writer or editor, even when I ask them direct questions.

This is why you can’t rely on beta readers to know, for a fact, that your story is well edited. The only way is to find readers who are also writers or editors, too, or people who take beta reading seriously rather than just doing it as a favor.

Creative Partner

A creative partner is another writer that reads your work and you read their work. You give each other feedback. Having a solid creative partner is a good way to gauge your writing through constructive criticism, which can include pointing out errors or problems with the content. You still need to be aware that not every writer is good at both. Knowing your creative partner’s strengths and weaknesses is just as important as when you hire an editor.

I didn’t have a creative partner for Darkness Falling, but having a creative partner is something I wouldn’t shy away from. It is important to find the right person or people to ensure collaboration is beneficial for everyone in the group.

You Can Always Fix Things 

One of the bonuses to being self-published is that you can always go back and fix things when you do receive feedback. For example, I’ve received some feedback that Book One has typos and I’m doing another round of proofreading to find them.

Even professionally published works have errors at times, but traditional publishing means rounds of books are printed with errors and they cannot be changed. This is one perk to being self-published over going the more traditional route.

As self-published authors we all need to strive to make our product the best it can be, because we already face stigma. Being aware of your own pitfalls is a good first step to improving your work. With that in mind keep writing, keep practicing, and don’t give up!

Thank you for reading and if you have anything to add please do so in the comments!

Writing News

Excerpt for Darkness Falling: Shadow of the Seeker

With the launch of Book Two of the Darkness Falling Trilogy only two weeks away, today I’m posting an excerpt! Please enjoy and if you haven’t read book one, it’s only .99 cents on Amazon. (Shameless Plugging) 

Be aware, this could be a spoiler for Book One!

B2FinalCoverFront1

After a moment of silence, Brosen nodded. “The sword. You said that the old man made it. What do you mean?”

“I don’t know the details, but he uses energy. He used to be Ka Elta’s advisor, but Ka Harn banished him thinking he was involved in his father’s death. After that he went to Gillinera and made his own army of Enforcer types.”

“Did he take Enforcers with him?” Brosen asked.

“I don’t know. All I know is that those Mutilators are like us but different.”

“That woman. She’s powerful.”

“Yeah, and not friendly. Her name is Lethel Jilorn.” The mere mention of her caused Treve’s muscles to tense.

Brosen was quiet again, eyes distant. “I’ve been thinking about my fight with her, but now I have more questions. If they’re like us and they have power like that, then shouldn’t we have power, too?”

It wasn’t something Treve had considered. “What do you mean?”

Brosen ran his hand through his hair, and in that moment he was his normal self. “I mean; we’re not just soldiers. In training, we’re told we have heightened abilities over regular people. We can run faster, jump higher, see better in the dark, and are stronger than people without Enforcer blood. But we’re never given any training in those skills beyond what is necessary to police the population. After fighting that woman and traveling with Impyra, I think we all have a lot of untapped potential.”

Treve felt uneasy at the idea. “We’re not like the Mutilators. We are, but we’re not.”

“You said Garinsith trained an army of them, right?”

Treve nodded slowly.

“That means there are more than three soldiers. Why does he need an army?”

It was a question Treve never asked himself.

“A better question is; why does he need an army that far better understands their abilities than the Enforcers?”

“And he calls them Mutilators.”

“Doesn’t sound like a friendly name to me.”

“I wonder if Ka Harn has thought about that,” Treve mused.

“Maybe, but my confidence in our Emperor’s ability to reason things through isn’t that high.”

_________________________________________________________________

That’s all for today! Next week I’ll be posting my edit for the Silly Editing Challenge.

Darkness Falling: Shadow of the Seeker will be available June 18.

Musings, Publishing Tips

Publishing is a Journey, not a Destination

book-1012275_640

I published Book One of Darkness Falling six months ago. It was an exciting time. After 19 years of on again, off again writing and editing I was finally able to put some shine on my story and send it out into the world. As I hit the publish button in the middle of the night, only my husband stood beside me, hugging me at that moment I had dreamed of since I was thirteen years old.

There were no fireworks, torrents of confetti, or bottles of champagne. I didn’t make the circuit of talk shows. Conan and Ellen weren’t calling for exclusive interviews. It was just another book set adrift in a sea of obscurity.

That magical moment was anticlimactic at best. Despite that, within a few hours I had my first sale. There was a rush of joy at the idea that someone out in the world was able to read my words, but that sale was one of only a few in the following days. Announcements on Twitter did nothing. My inability to pay for marketing, or even to fully understand how it worked, was evident.

In the first month of my first book launch, November 2015, I sold five books. Two people borrowed my book and read it through to the end, which I know thanks to the page counter on the Kindle Direct Publishing report. I didn’t receive my first review until December 26th, almost two months after the release date on October 31.

By the end of 2015 8 eBooks were sold, 3 paperbacks, and 30 eBooks were given away for free. Adding in the two borrowed books, that was 48 books.

Expectations vs. Reality

Before publishing, I read  many blogs by successful self-published writers. It gave me a spark of hope that perhaps there was some money to be made. Let’s be honest, all writers would love to live off of their words. During that first month after publication I kept thinking to myself “What did I do wrong? Those other writers made it sound so easy.” Over time I tried some things in the hopes of boosting sales. I lowered the price of my book, I had some free days, and I tried posting little ads on Twitter.

At first I was disheartened. I knew what was wrong, advertising. I knew there wasn’t much I could do about it, and slowly stopped hurrying to check my KDP report each day, knowing what I would find.

Each month I keep a spreadsheet of all my sales. I’ve always had a thing for spreadsheets and data despite being horrible at math. It’s one of my quirky organized disorginizational things. Near the beginning of March I realized that I had sold or given away 98 books.

Does that make me an Amazon Best Selling Author? No! Not even close. It does mean that 98 people in the world have my book.

That’s 98 people who never would have had my book if I never tried. Maybe they’re reading the book. Maybe they’re waiting until they run out of magazines to look at while they wait for the dentist. Maybe, just maybe, some of them are quietly out there waiting for Book Two.

New Perspective

As of right now, 102 books are out in the world. I get a couple of sales a few times per month. I’ve made peace with that, and continue to look into options for marketing. I have 3 reviews, and all three are positive in their own way. I know of two people who are wondering when Book Two will be ready. That’s amazing! It’s something I didn’t have before, and I’m grateful for it every day.

The New York Times doesn’t know I exist and maybe they never will. At the end of the day, that’s not the point. I’m doing what I always dreamed, and publishing Book One was not the end of the story. It was just another step in my life’s work; to be an author creating worlds and giving people the opportunity to experience new adventures with my characters.

Thank you to all of my readers! I appreciate you.

 

Musings

Why Self Publish?

sunset-485016_640

As we all know, the world of publishing has changed. For writers like myself and many others, the changes have opened doors that once seemed permanently locked and barred. Over the past few months of my publishing journey, I’ve taken note that some people think these changes are for the worse, which I found surprising. Isn’t a place with more books a better place?

Apparently some people don’t agree.

A new author has a 1-2% chance of being picked up by a traditional publisher. In 2002, 81% of Americans surveyed wanted to be an author.  This was before the advent of simple self-publishing on the internet. Back in 2002 it cost upwards of $2000.00 to self-publish a physical book. I know because I looked into it. It was a daunting amount of money, and still is for many people.

In 2008, 5,000 books crossed publishers’ desks every year, which means approximately 50 of those books were chosen. In 2013 over 450,000 books were self-published. Think about that for a minute. 450,000 is really close to half a million people wanting to get their books out there, and is a much bigger number than 5,000. That shows how many people were not querying or who gave up completely after multiple rejections. It didn’t include every person who wanted to publish, either, just those who were early to the game.

I know writers get annoyed when talking to random stranger who say “I’m a writer, too!” It’s funny when you think about it.  I’m doubtful that accountants are annoyed when someone says “I’m an accountant too! I’m all about accounts payable.” (I don’t know if accountants say things like that. I’ve never been to one of their parties.)

The reality is, there’s a very good chance that a person is gushing because their mom loved their stories from elementary school. They could be saying it because they think writing a book is easy, or that person could legitimately be a writer.

Think about your own writing. That 450,000 people is only a sample of the how many writers are really out in the world, all of them wanting to get published. They may or may not query. Imagine an agent’s desk drowning in a sea of books.

The reality is this: Rejection is Subjective, (and they almost rhyme, so that should tell you something.)

Proof of this can be found in best sellers. You can Google “how many times was my favorite best selling novel rejected,” and you can feel uplifted by what you read. You can say “Stephen King’s Carrie was rejected 30 times before it was published!” But think about what you’re really saying; 30 times an agent or publisher looked at it and said: “This is crap.”

A publisher is not an all knowing being in the clouds who can magically pick a masterpiece out at first glance. They’re human beings forced to make a choice out of an overwhelming number of selections.

Rejection doesn’t necessarily mean anything other than your book was dropped into the wrong hands. That’s why when I hear someone act as if a traditionally published author is somehow more magical and sparkly than a self-published author. I disagree. The only difference is that one won the lottery and the other didn’t. It’s the same as playing the PowerBall except the “ticket holders” have some skill and understanding on how to choose their numbers.

When the world of publishing eBooks became free, the flood gates were opened. Today anyone can jump out and publish a book. You can choose to do it poorly or you can choose to work hard and try to get it right. You can hire help with things or do your best to learn for yourself. The gatekeepers still stand at their gates, but those gates are no longer the only way into the palace.

Yes, there are a lot of books in that 450,000 which are poorly done, that’s true. I’ve seen some comments about how you can’t purchase an indie book because there’s a good chance that it’s bad. These less than stellar books are gumming up the system. They make the good indie authors look bad.

I hate to say this, but those books were already making writers look bad in traditional publishing. Remember the agent digging through 450,000 queries? How many times did that agent look at a horrible book only to then move on to another book with similar themes, plot, or characters to think: “Not another one of these rabbit zombie apocalypse stories! Ugh!” and throw it directly into the trash?

Agents are human. Wrong time and wrong place, grumpiness due to a bad day, and pre-conceived notions can all play a factor in their choices. I’ve seen agents on Twitter listing things that they don’t look for in an attempt to cut down the number of submissions they receive.

Now instead of one agent you have thousands of customers. You’re still in a pile of 450,000 books. The only thing that has changed  Nothing has changed, except that now your book is floating around available to be read by millions of people instead of hoping just one will look at it.

The point of writing a book is to have it read, right? Even if the audience is small and you’re not a best seller, the goal is to reach at least one person.

I don’t self-publish for fortune.

I’ve made less than $30 in four months. Except for those “lottery winners,” both traditionally and self-published, it’s not easy to live solely off of your writing. Just because you have a traditionally published book with a marketing team doesn’t mean  you’ll be successful.

I don’t self-publish for fame.

I’ve sold or given away 90 books. I’m still a big giant nobody.

Even if you’re a New Your Times Best Seller it doesn’t make you a household name. Authors like Stephen King and J K Rowling are exceptions to the rule. I’d guess that if I grabbed a random person off the street, they’d know the title Game of Thrones before they knew the name George R. R. Martin. (I give it a 50/50 chance, anyway.)

I self-publish because being published is my dream.

I wanted to be a author since the third grade. I’m guessing for most writers it’s a similar story. I just want a chance to tell my story. Maybe how I’m doing this isn’t perfect enough for some people. Maybe my lack of funding for an editor or graphic designer will cause people to turn their nose up at me, but oh well. If my story can reach a few people who truly enjoyed it, then it’s better than sitting down in the mud and giving up.

I’m also teaching my kids that you can make your dreams come true even if you have to get up and go to another job every morning. It takes hard work and dedication reach your goals. The Blue Fairy isn’t going to come down and smack you with her wand.  I want them to see that nobody should tell you “you shouldn’t do this because of xyz reason.”

Even if your dream doesn’t turn out perfectly or the way you planned, reaching your goals is what makes life worth living.

Thanks for reading and I hope all of your dreams come true! Let me know your thoughts in the comments.