Tag Archives: novel

Writing a Novel isn’t so Novel

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Novel – and inventive prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals with human experience through a connected sequences of events. New and not resembling something formerly known or used; original or striking especially in conception or style.

Writing a novel used to be just that — original. Now it seems everyone talks about writing a novel, everyone wants to write a novel, and a select few have actually written a novel. There’s nothing novel about writing a novel anymore. Everyone is doing it. It really is true that there is nothing new under the sun. If you can dream it, the chances are, it’s already been done. Your only hope is to come up with an innovative way to make it sound (or I guess I should say read) more appealing than the last person.

If writing a novel is your dream, your goal in life, your wish, your secret desire, do it. Write it. Don’t talk about it, just do it. Don’t ever give up. Don’t listen to what other people tell you. If your heart is in it, do it. You will write that novel.

If publishing that novel is your dream, your goal in life, your wish, your secret desire, do it. But before you publish it, do your homework. Research the markets of where the genre you write will fit best. Do not go with the first offer that comes along. Research and know what is available out there.

If you cannot find a publisher that meets your dream, your goal in life, your wish, or your secret desire, you can always self-publish. This is one way a lot of unknown authors get their name out there. Just keep in mind that self-publishing also mean self-promotion. If you don’t have time to self-promote hopefully you have a huge following of friends and family that will buy your book, and help promote it.

Don’t take reviews personally. Not everyone likes the kind of reading material you like, and therefore not everyone is going to like the material you write. Someone may read your novel with the hopes of one thing happening, and they become disappointed because it did not meet their expectations. This causes them to write a bad review. That doesn’t mean your story is bad, it just means that person was not satisfied with something they were expecting to read. Same is true with positive reviews. Don’t let these go to your head. Sometimes a five-star review comes from an obligatory read.

Finally, know what your goal is before you set out to write the “All-American-Best-Seller” that’s going to be on the New York Times Best Seller List. Is that the goal? Is the goal to just write the novel? Is the goal to be published? Is the goal to make a lot of money? (If that’s the goal, you better stop right now). Truly, it doesn’t matter what your goal is, just as long as you set one, so that you know what you are working toward in the long run.

So, what are you waiting for? Get your butt in gear and write that novel!

Be sure to check out some of the other great bloggers taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge.

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Asking for Help

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So I’ve decided to try something new. I’ve never actually done this before so it will be a new experience for me. Next week my husband begins a new adventure and will on a four-week course. (That’s all I’m going to say about it because this is not about him, although feel free to pray for Gods will to be done for him while he is on this life changing course.)

While he is completing his goal, I have one myself that I want to complete. I want to finish my novel The Salt-Water Killings, and I need your help. In the midst of completing my novel, I’ve also signed up for the Blogging A-Z challenge, which is writing a blog on a daily basis for the month of April. There is still time to sign up if you haven’t.  OH and I’m a little bit of a twit on that note, because when I signed up I did it twice. (Pay attention to the instructions!) The first time I forgot to add the code at the end so people would know what my blog is about. I meant to put in WR for writing and storytelling, but somehow I got AC for adult content. I should apologize here because there will be no adult content unless you consider an occasional swear word adult content. Sorry for the confusion. And let’s not forget to mention my daily chores and tasks that go along with keeping a household in order that need to be completed.

My sister once said, “Your need for attention has no limit.” She is correct, it has no limit. The only thing that makes me different from ninety percent of the rest of the world is I can admit it. We all want and crave attention.

Why do we have Facebook? Don’t give me that horse shit answer “to stay in touch with distant relatives.” Write a letter! The reason people have Facebook is because they want to be in everybody’s face to tell them what is important in their life. Why do we blog? To share our opinions. Why do we write books? Because we have so much inside us if we don’t write it, it will make us explode.

For the next four weeks I need your help. I need support and encouragement. I want people to ask me how I’m doing. “How many words did you write today?” and “How many chapters were you able to edit?” or “Did you get that chapter tweaked that needed to be changed?” I want people to encourage me every single day. “Hey, I have a great idea for the letter ‘G’ if you don’t have a topic.” Even just a simple, “Hope your book editing is going good today.”

It is so true that writing is a sad and lonely career. Too many people think it’s a hobby. Trust me, if I were choosing a hobby, it wouldn’t be sitting around pulling my hair out trying to come up with just the right words to tell a story so that it is meaningful and interesting. I’d be socializing and drinking and playing golf at some fancy-schmancy country club.

So help me out, help me reach my goal by being encouraging, motivational, supportive. You might even pray for me if you are so inclined. I know it is a lot to ask of people because you have your own lives and your own goals and desires. But I figured I might as well ask. The worst thing that can happen is nothing happens and I go it alone, just like I always have.

Red Flags

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Red Flags

So you are ready to publish your book that you’ve work hard on. You are ready to make that dream become a reality. Let me share with you some of the things I learned with getting my first book published. They have been hard lessons to digest. For someone who has had the dream of becoming a published author for the last 35 years or more, when the contract came via email you can imagine the excitement I felt. Even though I posed very articulated questions and received vague responses, I just figured it would work itself out in the end. It didn’t matter that all of my questions weren’t answered. No big deal, the biggest thing was getting that book published. That is what every author wants when we first set out.

About Editing:

So the process began. First the book went to an editor. She sent it back to me for my approval three days later. Her comments were indistinct, and I really had no idea what I was supposed to be looking for. I asked. She responded with ‘click on the check mark if you agree. If you don’t, add a comment and we will discuss’. She also pointed out that the edits weren’t that much, mostly compound words. I wrote the book, the publisher liked it so much they wanted to publish it, what could possibly be wrong with it? Not to mention that the editor told me the edits ‘weren’t that much’. That being said, I approved what the editor changed and posed that needed to be changed. I signed off and it was forwarded back to the publisher.

So the process continued.

About Publishing:

The publisher found some serious errors that she would have expected to be corrected in editing.

{Out of curiosity, I asked what was expected of the editor. I had never been through this before, I didn’t know.}

This was the publisher’s response:

What we expect of our editors is this:
1. Manuscript review and recommendations to ensure logical development of content.
2. Substantive editing to determine what should be added, developed, or deleted to enhance the structure, completeness, and tone of the manuscript. If there had been major revisions required, your editor would have to have contacted me before those could proceed.
3. Copy-editing to eliminate incorrect or unclear grammar, word choice, factual inconsistencies, syntax, and inconsistent style.
4. Editors are necessary to making sure a book is the best that it can be. You certainly don’t want the embarrassment of a reviewer pointing out the bad grammar, misspellings, and missing punctuation. So, don’t argue with the editor. Don’t tell them that they don’t know their job and have to listen to you.

She asked for my feedback on how the editing went with the editor. And she wanted me to be honest. What was I supposed to say? I wrote the perfect book. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it.  She pointed out a whole list of things she saw while proofreading my book to give the reasons why. Normally, she doesn’t proofread books, but her proofreaders were all busy, and she doesn’t like to see books sitting around, so she was doing that until they were free.

What to expect from the proofreader.

Once the editor is done. Proofreaders are vitally important, to catch the things your editor missed. They are very good at what they do. So, give your proofreader the time to painstakingly read your book, word by word and then line by line. You’d be amazed at all the little things they catch.

After she finished with all that she found wrong and corrected, she attached a copy of my manuscript for my final review. I needed to take my time going through the book, correcting anything I found wrong, paying particular attention to the items that she mentioned. One reason is these kinds of errors can get bad reviews and lose you readers and fans. So she told me. The second reason is that the publisher recently implemented a new policy regarding making changes or correcting errors to books once they’re published. They no longer do this due to abuse by a few authors in the past. If something is missed, which by should have been caught in editing and proofreading plus your final review, we can do nothing about that.

{Pointed out to me after the contract was signed. Red flag!}

Again, I will mention I wrote the book, the publisher liked it so much they wanted to publish it, what could possibly be wrong with it? She said she finished with all that she found wrong (...proofreaders are vitally important, to catch the things your editor missed) and corrected, and attached a final copy. What else could possibly be wrong?

There was plenty. I found several mistakes and corrections that were said to have been made that were not made. If you take the time to read my book, Blackhorse 2015, I can assure you if you are looking, and even if you are not, you will find several errors that were missed in the steps that were supposed to have been taken. {My fault?}

About Promotion:
What kind of marketing/promotion will the publishing company do?

The publishing company promotes the work of our authors on Facebook and Twitter daily/weekly. Not every author is promoted every day.

{Would you like to know how many times my book has been promoted by the publisher on Facebook since it released on June 9th? Once. I found Twitter to be a waste of time so I deleted my account so I don’t know if it gets promoted there. Quite frankly I believe this publisher leaves all of the promoting up to the author unless for some reason it’s going to promote their company. Red flag?}

About Royalties:

Our statements are done on the 20th of the month. {I didn’t get my statement until the 29th of the month. Red flag.}

I questioned the report.

10% of what we were paid was the $-.– that was put in your statement.

The contract I signed:

Print Books: “Ten percent (10%) of the retail selling price of each copy sold. Books are not guaranteed to go into Print”
“20% for sales up to 300 books”

{I know … very misleading…is it 10% or is it 20% for the first 300? Red flag}

“We drafted new contracts in April to make that all more clear. If you would like a new contract we would be happy to send you one.” {Really? After I already signed the first one? Red flag}

“Your book is listed at $–.–, which is set by (blank company). We can’t raise or lower that price.”
{I recently self-published a couple of books with (blank company) and found this statement very misleading. Red flag.}

“Either you trust us, or you don’t. We aren’t here to screw you over. But, if you feel we are, you are welcome to request your rights back.”

“The only way to guarantee you know exactly how many have sold is if you had access to the accounts. For obvious reasons, we do not allow this for our authors…”

{If a bank can do it with millions of customers, why can’t a publisher do it for a few hundred authors? BIG ASS RED FLAG!}

“If you still don’t understand, email me. This is not something we will discuss further in group.”

“That’s the cold hard truth. If you can’t let go and trust your publisher then you need to put your stories on a blog or try self-publishing.”

“The only place in the contract where it states retail sales is with print books. While that is a typographical error, we will honor it.” {It was their typographical error shouldn’t they honor it?}

I don’t mean this to be a “bash the publisher” post. I am telling it like it is. The trust issue was pointed out to me more times that I care to mention. {Red, red, red flag!} I wish I took the time to read things more clearly and wasn’t so gun-ho to hurry up and get my book published. It is just a warning to you: the writer, the author, the next New York Times best seller. Be aware of what you are signing on to. If it’s not black and white ask. If it’s still not clear, ask again. Don’t make the mistakes I made. I’m sharing this with you because I know there are people out there wanting to publish their books. There are people out there who will take advantage of your naivety and inexperience. Publishers are out there to make money, not to make you the next best seller. They don’t care that you have busted your butt for the last two years on writing your book. They want to make money. Heed the warnings. Research everything you can, and most importantly, listen to your heart. If it sounds too good to be true, chances are, it probably is.

1. What would you do?
2. Has this ever happened to you?
3. How would or did you react?
4. Do you have any other suggestions for future authors?

I would love to hear your comments.

10 Lessons

10 Lessons I Learned After Getting Published

Improve your writing. I won’t lie to you. It has been a long road for me. That was what I thought I was going to do when I joined F-Story, a place for writers to improve their writing technique. I can’t argue the fact that I did improve my vocabulary in the four short months I spent on F-Story. I learned some punctuation and verb usage as well, but nothing that E.B. White or an English book couldn’t teach me.

What is the draw? Post a piece of writing and immediately get writing critique from other members. This is good, because isn’t that what all writers want? We want honest feedback about our writing. Is it good or is it bad? Could I really get an honest opinion with suggestions on how to make my writing better? I was hooked, and for less than ten bucks a month I could post two pieces of writing a day and get at least two or three reviews and comments about my work.

Within three weeks of being a member on the site, I had an exploding profile, and I was rising within the ranks. The excellent rating was awesome, and the five, and often six stars fit real well with my exploding status, as well as stroking my oversensitive ego. I was on top of the world, and my writing was outstanding.

Do I need to mention what a fool idiot I was? It didn’t take long to find out that everyone on the site who would put the time and effort into reading to make the F-Story monopoly money to promote their work would share the same exploding status as me. It all depended on how much time and effort you wanted to put into writing reviews.

It didn’t take me long to realize after I gave a meticulous review most people didn’t really want my recommendations and balked at the thought of receiving anything less than five stars. I wanted to give the writers good, honest feedback about the piece that I was reading. I found that I was spending six to eight hours, and sometimes even more than that, a day to read poems and stories for fellow writers to give my honest detailed review. This cut way into my writing time. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I fell into that 5-star rating for a spell, too. Please don’t tell me my piece of work is anything less than excellent.

I met some people, just like the ones anyone meets in social network forums. A lot of nice friendly people and even bonded and formed personal relationships, so I thought. The thing that I was trying not to do was to treat F-Story – a serious writing forum  like every other social network where everyone wants to be your friend. I tried to treat it like a job. My bad.

I don’t care what anyone tells you and what anyone says about internet forums and social networks. We are people and it is our inherent nature to care about ourselves and what we ourselves want to accomplish in life. People will tell you they are your friend and how great you are and suddenly you fall under the Machiavellian of people, which I did. I believed what people told me, and I trusted people I had never met in person.

After four months of playing the game of rising in the ranks of F-Story, letting my housework, bills, and physical relationships slide, and not really doing any writing, I finally realized it was a bad addiction. A very bad addiction. Almost like a drug addiction. The whole thing came to light when I read a poem of a concept I had shared with one of my F-Story friends who took the idea and wrote it in their own words, and rose higher in the ranks than me.

So here I am again, playing with social media and sharing with friends. Forgetting the lessons I learned at F-Story. But the big difference is I’m published. I can now say I have published a novel and I am an author. It has been my life long goal and a huge accomplishment for me because it has been my dream forever. As with any goals being accomplished, the time is right for new goals to be set.

These are some of the things I have learned and I would like to share them with you who are trying to become published. These are important things to keep in mind when you are setting your goals. So important that I’m going to remember them while I’m setting my new goals.

Top ten things I learned from getting my first novel published.

1. Do not let people tell you what is best for you and your book. Only you know this.

2. Take your time and proof, proof, proof. Have friends, relatives, and co-workers read your book for typos and context errors. No matter how many times you try to proof the book on your own, YOU will miss mistakes.

3. Research, research, research. There is a boat-load of information out there and no one is going to give it to you for free. But if you look hard enough, you can find it for free.

4. Be patient.

5. Promote yourself as well as your book. Don’t expect that just because you have a lot of friends and family they are going to promote you and your book for you. They are not.

6. If you make a mistake, brush it off, learn from it, don’t do it again.

7. Just because someone else has more experience in the world of publishing and writing than you do doesn’t mean they are better than you. Anyone can write a book, and anyone can publish a book. But only good story tellers can write a book well.

8. Have confidence in yourself and in your writing. If you are you are writing because you enjoy writing, it will show in your work. If you are doing it to make money, get over yourself.

9. Set a schedule and stick to it. Write every day. The only way to make yourself better at something is to do it. (Perfect practice makes perfect.)

10. Do not become enthralled with social media. Use it to promote yourself and your book and leave it at that.

Above all like what you do, like yourself and don’t let others try to tell you how you can do it better. If they’re so smart tell them to write their own book.

My new novel The Salt-Water Killings is in the works.

Salt Water Red

Went Fishing

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Update to Promotional Criticism

I really don’t know what to say about the hoop-la other than ‘wow’. The bait worked well. This subject really struck a nerve with too many people in the café. Last time I checked there were still more comments being added to the stream. The forum sort of reminded me of another forum I used to be involved with. It’s a place where you stroke the forum leader’s ego, and as long as you do that, all is well. Cross that person and you are voted off the island. I’ve been in too many places like that. I don’t stroke egos, and I don’t expect mine to be stroked either. I write what I write the way I write it. Like it, love it, hate it, or don’t read it.

I don’t mean to sound like I can’t take criticism and maybe I come across that way. But the original question I posed was if the description was not clear.  She decided to take it and turn it into something more than it was. It was her who first offered her opinion about the images. I do appreciate all of the insight and wisdom that others shared regarding my book description and the image that the forum leader picked to have a problem with, and shared on her forum. Not sure if the other members actually went to the FB Fan page to see for themselves, or just took for granted that their leader knew what she was talking about and trusted her.  You do know what happened with the Koresh followers, right?

I have worked very hard on this book for over two years.  My opinion is if I were to take others suggestions, and let them tell me how to do things differently, I give up. Then it’s not my work, it’s what someone told me to do.  I want to see how well the book does based on what I have done with it. Not because I made a change that someone I don’t even know suggested. I know what’s in the damn book, and I am not one to deceive people with things that are not there. Funny how one picture of provocative women caused such a stir in the writing forum.

I mentioned I was going to read The Bell Curve, and actually started it. It was on the bookshelf collecting dust, waiting to be read. After 20 pages I have decided it probably will go back to the bookshelf. It is a little intimidating and it bothers me that social class plays into how people are treated. It did help clarify my feeling of being an idiot savant in the writing forum.

Most people who dole out their list of credentials, letters after their names, achievements, awards, certificates, degrees, etc. annoy me. There is a certain condescending air to them. Does it mean they are more experienced in what they do, than someone without the list of accolades? Not really, it just means they are paying a lot more student loans back.

I believe if you are going to do something, do it well to the best of your ability, and keep doing it.  Perfect practice makes perfect. Listen to what people have to say. But that’s all. Trust your own judgment. You are the one who put your blood, sweat and tears into your project. Only you know if it’s good or if it needs work. What’s that old saying? We are our own worst critics.