Category Archives: Publishing

Writing good fiction is like baseball

DSC01376Writing good fiction has been compared to many things: creating great food from a recipe, a long, arduous journey, a trip to the circus.

I once compared writing to Family Court – The writing life is like family court only family court was more fun.

My favorite comparison is Vaughn Roycroft’s What building my house taught me about writing. A must read for every writer!

The struggle

I was struggling with a short story a while ago, while watching a baseball game (Go Phillies!).

And boing! I realized, “Hey, writing is like baseball!”

Consider the writer as the pitcher – the dude on the mound. But the pitcher is not the only player on the field.

Long fly ball or an infield outDSC01390

You pitch the ball and the batter hits it. It’s a long fly ball! The center fielder snags the ball, throws it to the cut-off man, the cut-off man throws it to the plate – runner out!

You pitch the ball. The batter hits it. The shortstop snags it, flips it to the second baseman, then the second baseman throws to the first baseman. Double play!

You may have started with the ball, but you weren’t the only player handling it.

YouDSC01382r pitching coach

Consider the expert editor. She/he tells you where the ball was dragging, where it was too high, where you lost control.

Your team

Is the pitcher the only player on the field? No sir!

Consider all the friends and associates who follow your Fan Page, your beta readers, your blog followers, the people who allow you to guest post. They give you feedback, they have ideas, they guide you and support you.DSC00732

Looking good on the mound

And don’t forget the uniform guys. The ones who make you look good when you go out on the field. Consider what a proofreader might do for you.

The Iron Horse

Lou Gehrig played for the Yanks until his stellar career was cut short by ALS, now commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Gehrig played from 1925 to 1939 and made it to the field for 2,130 consecutive games. This streak was considered unbreakable until Baltimore’s Cal Ripken, Jr., broke Gehrig’s record in 1995. Ripken went on to play 2,632 games.

Moral of the story…writing – and incredible baseball stats – are a long-haul sort of thing.

Don’t be an ass-terisk*DSC01375

A few players are listed in the baseball record books with an asterisk. Why? They cheated to achieve their monumental goals (remember the guy who paid a few thousand people to write awesome reviews for his book?).

So, let’s keep it simple – do not cheat.

See you at the Series

No player gets to the World Series by playing just one or two games. You have a long spring training and a long season ahead of you. And sometimes, you might have to wait several seasons to get the recognition you deserve.

So wind up, and keep pitching.

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Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Publishing

How I Got My Writing Groove Back, by Lara Schiffbauer

Lara Schiffbauer Finding MearaWhen I finally released my first novel, Finding Meara, out into the world, I thought I’d feel all kinds of wonderful, warm-fuzzy feelings, joy, exhilaration, excitement. Something!

The reality? I felt nothing. Not a darn thing – be it a good feeling or a bad feeling. I didn’t even feel relief that it was done.  This normally wouldn’t have been much of a concern, but I’d read that a self-published author needs to get lots of work out – fast – so I was feeling pressure to get my writing mojo back. The conundrum? I couldn’t even enjoy the fact that I’d actually published my first book. How on the earth could I get excited to start the second?

Upon the advice of fellow self-published authors, I decided to cut myself a break and not freak out (as I have a tendency to do) but, at the same time, not writing at all wasn’t an option for me either. I needed to find a way to ease myself back into finding the fun in creative writing.  I concluded a visit to my writing roots was in order.

While I’m not good at it, poetry is one form of writing I’ve always enjoyed. A Sunday or two ago, I found a poetry form called a Sevenling in Writer’s Digest and slipped into the life of a unicorn being chased by a hunter. While it’s not a very good poem, I had finished under an hour. I’d played with words and lost myself in another world. There are many poetry prompts on the web, but I like Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides from Writer’s Digest. My friend and poet, JoAnn J.A. Jordan, has daily prompts and photos on her blog which are fun to draw inspiration from as well.

I began my writing journey creating short stories, and moved into flash-fiction because you can complete an entire story in a short period of time. It’s actually hard to write a good flash-fiction story, and I just happened onto a couple of wonderful blog posts about how to write effective flash-fiction and short-stories around the same time I began drawing a story together. It must have been fate. The first is a three-part series called “How to Write a Sci-Fi Flash Fiction Story” by Lydia Netzer. Although it’s geared toward Sci-Fi, the information relates to any flash-fiction story you might want to write. Another article I found helpful, which I actually read long ago, is “Tripping the short fantastical: some tips for writing short fantasy and supernatural stories” by Sophie Masson on Writer Unboxed.

Finally, I read Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland, and became so excited to put the tips I’d learned into use that I started to have that itchy, get-writing feeling. Yay! So, that’s how I got my writing groove back. Tonight I’m going to work a little on the second of the Adven Realm Adventures. Now that my motivation is back, hopefully the muse will come for a little visit too!

Lara SchiffbauerLara Schiffbauer is a writer, licensed clinical social worker, mother of two, wife of one, and a stubborn optimist.  She loves Star Wars, Lego people, science, everyday magic and to laugh.  You can find Lara on several different social media sites, with all links listed on her website, laraschiffbauer.com. Her debut novel, Finding Meara, a contemporary fantasy, released in March and is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iTunes.

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A Brave New World, by Pamela S. Wight

the-cobbe-portrait-of-william-shakespeare-570x732[1]O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is!

O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.

William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act V, Scene I, ll. 203–205

Dare I quote Shakespeare while in the same sentence mention Indie Publishing, e-publishing, independent authors, self-published writers, Kindles, Nooks, I-pads, and more?

Darn right I dare.

Shakespeare was a daring writer, pushing convention, taunting enemies and hypocrites, creating love poems between lovers who should never ever be together.

Aldous Huxley used Shakespeare’s quote for his famous 1932 novel A Brave New World. Huxley was inspired by the novels of H.G. Wells (believe it or not, my favorite author when I was in middle school!) and Wells’ imaginings of the future, which tended to be positively gleeful of what was to come. Remember The Time Machine? War of the Worlds? The Invisible Man? Fabulous books for a young girl with an immense imagination.

Okay, yes, somehow I’m connecting the dots between Shakespeare, H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, and Pamela Wight, self-publisher.

See my rueful smile here?world_on_fire_600400[1]

But we are living in a Brave New World right now. A century from now, readers and writers and publishers (if there still are any) will cite the beginning of the 21st century as a landmark time of changes in the way we read. In the choices of how and who we read.

As of 3:03 the afternoon of Tuesday, January 8, 2013, I became a published writer.

I didn’t use an agent. Nor a publisher.

I created my own publishing company – Near. Perfect. Press. (The company is very NEAR, in my own computer; the idea of creating and sharing with the world in my own time and my own space is PERFECT). And when I PRESS the keyboard, I can create words and characters and worlds and then, press, send it out to you and you and you.

A Brave New World

That’s not to say it’s easy, self-publishing, pushing the boundaries of the way things always have been, always were ‘meant to be.’

I toiled for years on my just-published book, The Right Wrong Man. My main character Meredith developed over the page (printed and digital) through verbs and nouns and metaphors; through research on the police station in St. Thomas and the biting habits of the tarantula; through reading endless articles throughout the U.S. about drug cartels and the illegal trafficking of meth. Oh, and through draft 2 and draft 22.

And now I’m ready to share my novel, my work of inspiration and imagination, my years-long affair with Meredith and Parker and Gregory and the story of The Right Wrong Man.

Please join me in mythCAPA27HA

brave  

new  

world,

which has such wondrous and beauteous people in it.

***

pamela wight The Right Wrong Man coverThe Right Wrong Man, a novel of romantic suspense. The story follows Meredith Powers, who despite a sedate life in Boston, suddenly becomes entangled in drug trafficking, kidnappings, murder, and romance in the Caribbean. pamela wight

Pamela Wight is a published writer and editor.  Her writing transformed when she shifted from technical, medical articles to novels full of suspense and romance. She fulfills her need to write often and to write well by teaching creative writing classes in Boston as well as the San Francisco Bay area, and has written/edited/published a Zine of short stories and poems.  Belonging to the Women’s National Book Association/SF and the California Writers Club keeps her connected with other writers crazy for their craft. Her novels include The Right Wrong Man and (soon-to-be-published) Twin Desires, and in progress, Life After Kids and The Inn of No Regrets. Pamela highlights her passion for writing and living in her blog, Rough Wighting.

Connect with Pamela S. Wight on her blog, Rough Wighting, on Twitter, and on her Facebook page. See Pamela’s Poetry Week guest post, Snow Falls.

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Filed under E-books & E-publishing, Guest Writers & Bloggers, Publishing

What Do You Want to Know About Publishing? by Heather L. Reid

It’s Personal: What Do You Want to Know About Publishing?

by Heather L. Reid

When I asked Karen what she wanted me to tackle for my guest post today, she said, “Give me something that will help others.” That sounds easy enough, right?

I’ve been through the trenches and come out with a two-book publishing deal. I should have the answer. Sage advice should spring from my fingers and onto the page. I must possess some magic knowledge that will help others get from aspiring writer to professional, right?

It’s not that simple. My knowledge revolves around my experience, my journey, what worked for me. (You can read about how I landed my two-book deal here.)

Truth is, every bit of practical wisdom I thought to impart has been rehashed a million times by writers greater than me and would only help those who were seeking the answer to that particular question. There’s plenty of practical knowledge I could have chosen to blog about, but how do I know if any of it will help you? How do I know which bit of wisdom you need to hear today?

Each of you have different needs, different questions you want answered, personal to your journey and personal to you. What inspires you might be different than what inspires me. What’s helpful to one person might be repetitive for someone else.

Maybe you’re new to writing and have questions about basics. Or you might be in query hell, fed up with rejections and if one more person gives you query advice you might punch them in the nose. On the other hand, maybe you’re debating pros and cons of traditional publishing verses self-publishing. Maybe you’re struggling with revisions, characterization, plotting, time management, or wondering if you should give up on your dream. Maybe you need to hear a success story to give you hope.

So what do I have to offer today? Me, for what it’s worth. What would help you? What do you want to know about the process, about publishing, about my journey, or about me?

Have a question about queries?

Want to know what life is like post book deal?

How long it took me to get published?

What men wear under their kilts?

How to write great dialogue?

Want my recipe for stuffed peppers?

Where the idea for Pretty Dark Nothing came from?

How to balance a job and publishing deadlines?

Why I’m a Joss Whedon fan and still grieve over the cancellation of Firefly?

Don’t be shy. Ask me anything. Seriously. I’m not a vampire, I don’t bite.

***

Heather L. Reid eats mayonnaise on her fries, loves men in kilts, and met her husband playing Star Wars Galaxies online. This native Texan now lives with her Scottish hubby in South Ayrshire, Scotland, where she wanders the moors in search of William Wallace. She has been a guest blogger on Writer Unboxed and is founder of a new blog for writers Hugs and Chocolate. Her debut young adult Paranormal,PRETTY DARK NOTHING, will be released on April 23, 2013 by Month 9 Books. She loves to meet and help other writers and readers so feel free to say hello via her website, Twitter, FB, and Goodreads.

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Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Publishing

Creep Into the Mind of a Book Cover Designer, by Linda Boulanger

Thank you, Karen, for inviting me to your monthly event and allowing me to share how I go about creating great book covers – information that may help your blog readers design their own covers or know what information to pass on to a designer and why.

As an author and book cover/interior layout designer, I’ve designed covers across many genres, though the process always begins the same way.

1. Gather information about the story

2. Consider elements that grab

3. Search for images that might work

4. Design the cover

Information Gathering

One of the most important aspects of designing a cover is to truly capture the story. My “tag” is: Your Readers’ First Glimpse of What’s Inside. When an author contacts me I immediately start asking questions. There’s a whole list but the information that helps me the most:

-Do you have a synopsis/blurb?

-Do you already have a “vision” or idea in mind?

-Are there particular covers you’ve seen that you are fond of/prefer?

-Any particular point in the book that comes to mind that would make a reader say “aha!” when they read the book?

Without either sitting down to read your book or getting inside your head, I am never going to know your story as well as you do. And the reality of either of those two things happening before I design a cover are … well, one is impossible and the other is improbable. You decide which is which. Same goes for potential readers. They don’t know your story yet so your cover needs to convey what they need to become interested.

Elements That Grab

Next, think about elements that attract. With millions of books being offered at the press of a mouse button, your book needs an eye-catching cover (and notice how small they are when you first see them – hint: give your cover the postage stamp/thumbnail test to make sure it stands out little as well as big). One of the major elements often used are eyes. Why? They help convey emotion. Look at the six covers I’ve included and see what each one tells you about the stories, as well as where your eye goes first. Was it to the eye(s)? That’s why we use them. However, eyes are by no means the only attention grabbers so study other covers in your genre to see what they’re using and what you like.

Images

Where do the images come from? The best place to get images are stock images sites. I like the user agreements and ease of use provided by the following:

Dreamstime – Free and Royalty Free for a small fee

BigStockPhoto – Royalty Free for a small fee

Stock Free Images  – Offers truly FREE images

If you find an image someplace else, check for usage rights. Free and Royalty Free are not the same so don’t just grab something off the web and try to use it or you could find yourself paying hefty fines (that goes for blog posts and other internet usage as well). As a rule, you purchase the rights to use a royalty free image without having to pay each and every time you use it up to a certain number sold. That’s what it means on the sites I have listed and why I like to use them.

Also begin to look at images in different ways. Look at the Creepy Title covers shown. The one in the middle – using 100% FREE images from the Stock Free Images site – is a simple combination of the two pictures shown on the right. Would you have thought to put them together? Learn to rethink as well as considering additional elements that might be added. I took my girl and kitty images, added elements from some of the covers above, moved things around, and created something completely different. Does it work? Maybe. Maybe not. The key is not to be afraid to try.

Design a Great Cover

While I can’t teach you how to design, hopefully some of the things I do will either help you with your own design or when you seek out a designer. Regardless of who creates it, the end results should be the same:

-Arm yourself with a cover that will jump out at potential readers from the multitude of offerings.

-Provide a cover that shows the reader what they’ll find inside.

-Work for a cover you love and are proud to hold up and say “This is me! I wrote this story. Want to read it?”

If you have questions or need help, I’m never too far away from my laptop.

***

Linda Boulanger

Finding Linda:

Tell-Tale Book Covers – Cover Design Site

Author Site

Tell-Tale Book Covers on Facebook

Email: TellTaleBookCovers@gmail.com

FreeStockImages.com images used:

http://www.stockfreeimages.com/3890369/Gothic-make-up.html# © Dancer01 | Stock Free Images &Dreamstime Stock Photos

http://www.stockfreeimages.com/5250691/Scary-cat.html © Everyfinn | Stock Free Images &Dreamstime Stock Photos

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E-book Sales – Up and Up! By Vicki Lucas

Article by Vicki Lucas

It’s hard to give away something valuable. This is especially true when you are a self-published author. You believe you have created something out of sweat and tears that is going to bring you money. So, you boldly upload it to Kindle and wait for the whole world to buy.

But the book doesn’t “take off.” No one buys it. You’re happy for the $3.00 a month you’re making, but you need actual money to make a career out of it. You ask others for advice. The main thing people say is… “Give it away for free.” If you’re anything like me, you’ll resist the advice for several months. I have two words for you based on my experience.

Don’t resist.

Giving your book away for free goes against the grain. It’s difficult. There are all sorts of reasons not to give it away for free. Do any of these sound familiar? I spent two years working on Toxic. I deserve the money. It’s worth a whole more than I’m selling it for already. You’ve heard the excuses. You might have even made them.

On a whim, I decided to put it on Kindle for free for two days. Since it was a quick decision, I didn’t advertize it too much. I tweeted it. I put it on different places in Facebook. I contacted a handful of web pages that have sections for free e-books. That’s it. Looking back, I see so much more I could have done, but honestly I wasn’t expecting too much to happen with it. I thought I’d get about a thousand downloads and probably no sales.

Surprise!

No one was more surprised than I was when the tally rushed past 100 in the first hour! In fact, by the end of day two, I had 1,455 downloads! Yes, they are all free so that means I don’t get a penny (until they want the sequel, that is!). But something amazing happened after that. My sales have skyrocketed. I’ve gone from a very small trickle to a medium trickle. I am by no means rich, but I have enough earnings to buy a large pizza, and let me tell you, that pizza is going to taste awfully good. I’ve recently read that for every three you give away, you sell one. So be generous.

It’s been weeks since I offered Toxic for free, and the sales continue. They’ve slowed somewhat, but at least they are steady.

So, thank you so much to those who have supported Toxic and given it a try! I cannot say how much it means to me to see those numbers going up. God is good! I truly hope that you enjoy reading it. I’ll be watching the reviews to see what you have to say.

Oh, and another cool thing. I noticed that fifty-four of those copies went to people in the United Kingdom and four went to people in Germany. I am now an international author! And I’m dying to go for a book tour. If you’re interested in hosting me, email me and let’s chat!

Thanks again for the support. You guys are the best!

***

Have you given away an e-book? What was your experience with the give-away? How are sales now?

***

Vicki Lucas

I have always struggled with the question “What are you going to be when you grow up?” I received my Bachelor’s in Psychology…only to find myself with no desire to work in that field. I switched careers to Teaching English as a Second Language and obtained a Master’s from Seattle Pacific University. Thankfully, I found joy in the classroom. Teaching at universities and community colleges gave me eleven years of incredible experiences, remarkable coworkers, and unforgettable friends from many different countries. However, the distant mountains began to call, and I responded, not knowing where I was going or what my purpose was. After a year and a half of traveling through the quiet places that are left in the world, I settled in Montana with my husband and my dog. I have begun to write the stories I heard on the wind.

Connect with Vicki on her webpage, Facebook, Twitter, and on her blog.

Opening photo by Murray Conrad.

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May I quote you? Great writing quotes.

Anton Chekhov

Anton Chekhov: Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.*

E. L. Doctorow: Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury: You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

Elmore Leonard: I try to leave out the parts that people skip.

Toni Morrison: If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.

Sharon O’Brien: Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say.

Isaac Asimov: If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde: A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.

W. Somerset Maugham: There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

*Anton Chekhov’s quote about the glint of light on glass is one of my all time favorite quotes. I think about this quote every time I consider “show, don’t tell.”

Do you have a favorite writer’s quote?

How many of these authors have you read?  

Quotes taken from Brainy Quote and Quote Garden

Photos from Wikipedia

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