Tag Archives: books

Coming up for air

I just finished round three edits of Nancy Marie Segovia’s Come Hell or High Water and Jody Kessler’s A Witch’s Fate. Wonderful books, wonderful authors, and both well worth the read – and you really can’t go wrong poking about in their backlist of books on Amazon for extras to read, either.

The fact that it’s five in the morning does not actually escape me. The feeling that my eyelids are made of coarse-grit sandpaper tells me the time better than the clock does.

I’m honestly wracking my brain for ways to promote Smuggler’s Justice, because I absolutely swear I have no idea how to market a book to save my life. I think it’s a great story, but trying to explain it in ad copy just to share in Facebook groups is much harder than it looks! I was just looking at ads on Amazon, and wouldn’t it just show to go ya? The smallest budget they’ll allow is $100. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a spare $100 laying around. Try as I might, I didn’t make that much in royalties in all of 2016. Glamorous jet-setting business this authoring is, ain’t it?

My Patreon is still at 2 patrons – I adore my patrons, both of them! I’ll be adding a short story just for them within the next week or so, once I’ve finished writing Siren’s Call. If you’d like to get in on the patron-exclusive stories becoming a patron is easy, and I’m offering some fun perks, too.

Speaking of Siren’s Call, I’m considering whether or not Madeleine’s beau-to-be should be a lion shifter, considering that she’s holding a small grudge against all lion shifters because her douche canoe ex-boyfriend was one.

sirens_call

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Getting Organized

I love software. I have more programs and apps to organize myself and my writing than any human being actually needs. I have so many programs that I may need a program to organize my programs.

That said, I like Scapple better than MindMap, even though I was highly unappreciative of having to pay for software. I haven’t used it to its full potential yet, and I do still have plenty of use for MindMap so I can’t possibly get rid of that, but I do like the way Scapple doesn’t limit you on the number of ideas that you can associate with a central idea.

I like Scrivener for almost all of my own writing. Now, considering that I like both Scapple and Scrivener you’ll likely think that I’m a Literature and Latte addict, but that’s not quite so. I also use Snowflake Pro and I can’t think of anything better for expanding a core idea into a full-blown outline. Word, on the other hand, is what I use for editing because I haven’t found anything else fairly universally used with a decent ‘track changes’ feature. Even with all that said, I still wind up using NotePad to jot down any number of things, and Excel instead of an address book like a normal person.

No matter how easy Scrivener is to use for organizing a single project, I haven’t found it to be all that great at organizing series, particularly when you’ll have dozens of books in a series and you need a ‘Bible’ to keep the series world facts organized so you don’t break your own canon by accident. I just started using PBworks to organize the ‘Bibles’ for my three series and several stand-alone books. It’s just easier to keep it all in one place. Considering that The Arcane Line series and Murphy’s Law series both take place in the same ‘universe’ – though at very different times – I definitely needed somewhere to ‘world build’. Smuggler at Large (yes, that series finally got a name for the series as a whole) takes place over extremely long periods of time and vast distances, so it’s probably a good idea to keep all those details in one place too. I’m not sure how PBworks will help with my stand-alone novels, but having all my notes in one place certainly can’t hurt.

Now if only I could get the rest of my life organized… That would be nice.

 

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Igor and the Editor

I was recently involved in a Facebook group thread in which someone asked how much editors generally charge. I replied that the Editorial Freelancers Association‘s website lists the ‘going’ rate for editing at between $30-$40 per hour, but that many editors of my acquaintance charge per page – anywhere from $1 per page (I still have NO idea how) to $5 per page.

One author seemed to be of the opinion that editors charge much too much for the work they do, considering that the author him/herself works oftentimes for a year or more to write the book, has to cover all of the costs of producing that book (as a self-published author) or all the costs of obtaining an agent or publisher, and may never actually see any profit at all from their book. As an author myself, knowing how much each separate service (editing, formatting, cover art, cover design, etc.) costs, I sympathize, but that doesn’t mean that I can afford to give away my services as an editor. I’m sure that there are editors out there who are in comfortable enough financial circumstances that they can, and I certainly wouldn’t cast aspersions on their work. However, I can, as an editor, grumble about editors who do so and undercut everyone else in the field who is trying to earn a living. I like to think of it like grumbling about jobs being shipped overseas to countries where the ‘minimum wage’ is $1.40 or so an hour.

Here’s another perspective – say this is all about some other set of professions…

Let’s go with Mad Scientists, because they’re just FUN. Igor is a hobbyist. He puts together a monster and he thinks it’s awesome, but he can’t get it to work. He goes to Dr. Frankenstein and wants *his* professional (with training) help to make his monster work.

Well, Dr. Frankenstein has to remove the third arm from the middle of the monster’s forehead, re-route more than 40% of the monster’s circulatory system, and directly supervise Igor installing a heart because he hadn’t realized that his monster needed one to pump blood.

While Igor bore the expense of finding all the parts and of the equipment to actually bring the monster to life, the monster would be a useless lump of flesh without Dr. Frankenstein.

Now, should Igor expect Dr. Frankenstein to do all that for free? Maybe for the “exposure” and naming the monster after the good doctor? Sure, yes, Igor sank a lot of time and effort into the monster, but it doesn’t work.

If Igor could put together a monster that worked without Dr. Frankenstein, and every last one of his hobbyist friends commented on how well the monster was up, jumping around, terrorizing random villagers, etc. I could see Igor refusing to use Dr. Frankenstein’s services. Sure, it could work better and be more efficient, maybe not rely on frightening villagers with its third arm, and the Doc could probably make the monster better, but Igor can get by without him.

I guess that’s the question to ask yourself. Does your book work well, or does it need professional help?

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Alternative Booker Awards

Seumas Gallacher went and did it again – he has graciously honored me by tagging me for an Alternative Booker Award. Personally, I think this is a ploy to get a peep at my personal bookshelves, but… at least as far as books go, I’m a bit of an exhibitionist, so he’s in luck. The idea is to mention five of your favorite books – preferably without going all literati and pretentious – and then tag 5 other bloggers with this delightful award. Now, choosing only five books is going to be completely impossible for me, so bear with me, you’ll just have to cope with several series!

My newest favorite series on my ‘keepers’ list is by Sean T. Poindexter, and because it’s new and I haven’t mentioned it before I’m going to natter on about it, because I tend to be a little enthusiastic about finding a new favorite. The Dragon’s Blood Chronicles – thus far I’ve read books 1 and 2 – The Shadow of Tiamat and The Will of the Darkest  respectively, are simply wonderful. I would seriously go all fan girl on this poor fellow, so it’s probably good that he’s far, far away. No, I don’t go in for going fan girl because an author is ‘cute’ (although… he is kinda cute), I go fan girl for authors who can write a damned good story. Nothing’s sexier than brains, good vocabulary, and creativity. I’ve already started pestering the poor man about when book 3 is coming out and was treated to the news that there’s a spin-off series coming along as well, which delights the hell out of me. Brains, vocabulary, creativity, and productivity too? What? Oh. You want to know what the books are about? Silly you.

The books center around Megan, a young woman who is entirely average – which I love. She’s fairly pretty but not fall-all-over-yourself gorgeous. She’s got a job she cares about that she’s actually qualified to hold… That’s a pet peeve of mine – characters with jobs their degree wouldn’t qualify them to get. She’s not rich. She doesn’t drive a faboo car. She has realistic insecurities about her appearance but doesn’t hate herself. She thinks her roommate is prettier – or at least hotter – than she is. She’s had past relationships that were lousy, and past experiences that were awful, but she’s not completely destroyed by them. She has a boss she thinks is cute but she hasn’t asked him out. She has a friend who is a complete bitch (oh, come on, we all have at least one). In short, she’s ordinary. I love that because that lets the reader identify with the character even when she’s thrown into extraordinary circumstances.

One of those extraordinary circumstances is hitting a motorcyclist with her car. She’s banged up, but he ought to be dead – and isn’t harmed in the least. He’s rich as Croesus, tall, dark, handsome… and a dragon. What I love about Garrett is that for all those wonderful things he isn’t the least bit charming. He isn’t ‘smooth’ with words, and he doesn’t know how to express his feelings. For me, that’s just about perfect – I, for one, can’t stand a hero who is “perfect” and romantic and all that. Love, in my opinion, isn’t about smooth talk, flowers, candlelight, and dancing. I find “romance” a silly thing for the most part. Love is about how you really feel – and how you continue to feel – when ‘the chips are down’. If your love doesn’t survive all hell breaking loose in your lives it wasn’t really love to start with.

Now, I’m not going to spoil the story for you, except to say that loving a dragon may very well be the definition of all hell breaking loose. Meg is targeted by vampires, as is Garrett, and Meg’s considerably more special than she appears to be. I will say that the plot is exceptionally well done; the ‘minor’ characters and their sub-plots are absolutely essential to the story and Mr. Poindexter develops their characters extremely well. The sex scenes are hot without being disgusting and tawdry or heavily laden with purple prose and ridiculous euphemisms. Better yet, they’re accurate for sex with a… um… well-endowed fellow. I’m sorry, folks, this may be blush-inducing, but unrealistic sex scenes in which the man is well-endowed and they go ‘all night’ are insanely stupid – there’s some wear and tear involved and you’re going to be walking funny and sore as hell the next day, plainly put. The fight scenes are dead-on accurate in choreography and physics (given that there are dragons involved, of course). That’s another pet peeve of mine – fight scenes that just couldn’t possibly work that way make me skim and roll my eyes at an author’s lack of research.

Next on my list is David Eddings’ Belgariad and Mallorean  series. I adore epic fantasy and these series are an excellent example of how it should be done.  Of course, Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series is also exceptionally well-done epic fantasy.  For both authors, however, I really only like these series and I’ve never been able to get “into” their other work.

I love funny fantasy, so competing for the ‘funny’ slot are Piers Anthony’s Xanth series and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Of the two series, Discworld is considerably cleaner – I begin to worry that Mr. Anthony’s just a touch pervy. Mr. Anthony has, of course, produced several other series, most of which are even more ‘questionable’ than Xanth;  sex is fine by me, pedophilia isn’t, so I’m not going to recommend any of his other series.

I love science fiction, particularly space opera, and again I have competing favorite series. Lois McMaster-Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga and Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s Liaden Universe are my picks, and both have gotten Hugo nominations for the 2012 installments of their series – at least on my ballot. Yes, I get to vote on the Hugos this year. Much as I love Lois’s Vorkosigans, I really can’t get into her other books like Spirit Ring; they’re just not as well done and not as engaging.

My last category of absolute keepers are “my” authors. I’m probably biased, but I think that Justin Macumber (A Minor Magic), Lindsey Loucks (Grave Winner), Shawna Romkey (Speak of the Devil), Cindy Young-Turner (Thief of Hope and Journey to Hope), Jody A. Kessler (Death Lies Between Us), Diane M. Haynes (Rift Healer and Sirocco), Rusty Fischer (Reanimation Reform School among others), Denna Holm (Soul of a Warrior), and Wendy Russo (January Black) are putting out some of the best new books out there. Better yet, most of those books are either going to be series or already part of a series, which means there’s more to read! 🙂 Now, you may over-rate my bias here and think that I love them just because I’ve edited some of their work, but the truth of the matter is – that makes me that much more certain that these are really good books! Think about it; I’ve read these books several times over and I absolutely adore them and will read them again and again. That says something, right?

And, because it’s my blog, I’m also going to mention that I adore Neil Gaiman, David Weber, Larry Correia, and Eric Flint. Just because I can. 🙂 I read a lot, okay?

The five people I’m tagging with Alternative Booker Awards of their own – mostly because I want a peep at their bookshelves:

Shawna Romkey

Lindsey Loucks

Wendy Russo

Jody A. Kessler

Cindy Young-Turner

Just can’t wait to see their favorite books!

 

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Submitting the Novel

On the Writing Front:

I don’t know if it’s an adrenaline rush or a hot flash. Some people get an adrenaline rush from base jumping, high diving, driving very fast, or running away from angry police officers. I’ve only done one of those, none of them today, and no, I’m not going to tell you which one. Today I submitted Smuggler’s Justice to Snow Books – the folks who brought us the Burton and Swinburne books that I adore. Just a few days ago I submitted Smuggler’s Justice to TOR UK during their open submission period. That’s three publishers to which I’ve submitted ‘my baby’. Considering I went straight to self-publishing for my first two books, I think that’s commendable bravery.

For me, it honestly takes less bravery to submit to a publisher than it does to submit to an agent. I have no idea why that would be. I’ve quite deliberately decided not to go to two writer’s conferences that I could, with some stretching, afford to go to simply because three-quarters of the point of these gatherings seems to be gaining the attention of an agent. I don’t know why, but agents terrify me. That, and they want, what, 15% of what little I might earn in royalties?  Nuh-uh. Money is my money… if I ever get any.

In other writing matters, I’ve been ogling male models on facebook (Milly is a bad influence!) and thinking of who might fit the bill for Eddie Williams in F.A.E.: Bitten , the first book in the F.A.E. series. Please note that I’m completely remiss in not looking for Mahrial DiSilva, but I’m fairly unrepentant. Eye candy is a good thing.  Of course, that led to an internal debate as to the suitability of David Faustino or Seth Green for Sophocles. My casting efforts are wavering! Terrible stuff.

I’ve sent off interview questions to the redoubtable Seumas Gallacher, and I’m waiting to hear back from him. In his defense, there were rather a lot of questions! I plan on posting that interview from my “virtual kitchen” as soon as possible. Seumas is a hoot!

On the Editing Front:

I’m still working on Denna Holm’s Soul of a Warrior. I’m loving the book, I just want to make sure I’ve got 99% of the typos along with the broad sweeps that way there are fewer passes back and forth – no sense harassing the author, right? She might be busy writing the next book… Seriously, Denna, I hope you’re writing the next book because I want it. I’m also working with the charming author of Pet Shop (still a working title, it may change) on somewhat more radical changes to expand the plot and the length of the book.

Other hobbies:

As if I didn’t have enough already, right? I’ve actually recorded a couple of songs to start putting together a CD of songs for Little Man to listen to at bedtime when I have to work. ‘What’ll I Do’ and ‘Amazing Grace’ are up on Soundcloud if anyone’s actually curious. I got Avid and a really good microphone and I have quite a list of songs (with lyrics all printed out) that Little Man loves. He’s a little freaked out by the ‘two Mommies’ effect of ‘Amazing Grace’, mind you, but so far he likes the music quite a bit.

On the home front:

Himself’s blood pressure is down quite nicely now, so I’m not constantly worried about that. Teenager is ‘enjoying being single’. Yeah, like I’m enjoying being fat. I think, like my lamentable circumference, he finds changing his status to be too much work. He did join that MeetMe thing, which posts on his facebook timeline – and therefore I get to see the girls he’s attempting to flirt with. Strange, but at least he’s doing something in the direction of not becoming the Forever Alone meme. Little Man is in terrible distress. Very Best Friend didn’t go to the farm with him on Wednesday, and didn’t come to school at all today. Why two days, and not even full days, of being separated from his Very Best Friend (who may or may not be his ‘Princess’ eventually) would be such an enormous deal I’m not sure – he manages the weekends all right, after all. Of course, she’s got the ‘flu, poor dear, so it may be that he heard someone say she’s sick and he’s worried about her.  Personally, I’m a bit worried because there’s a monster storm headed for New England and it’s supposed to be getting particularly nasty at just about the time I need to be commuting to work. sigh It’s a good thing I have good snow tires, but I’m still going to have to leave early.

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On a New Manuscript High

I’ve just finished my first read-through of Denna Holm’s Soul of a Warrior, and I’m working on the first round of editing. I have to say that Ms. Holm has done an excellent job with the story. No, no spoilers, I promise, I’m not that cruel. However, I will say that it’s quite a good speculative fiction romance and Ms. Holm is a talented writer. I’m also working on the  temporarily named Pet Shop for another author who expects to use a yet-to-be selected pen name. Being busy makes me happy, so I’m quite delighted with myself.

I also just finished having a good time with Wendy S. Russo’s author interview for her January Black release blog tour. I had actually forgotten how much fun interviews can be. I’ll definitely be doing more of them; I’ve actually got one scheduled for April 7th with Shawna Romkey for her Speak of the Devil release blog tour. I’ll have to see if I can do more, though. No sense not doing something I find enjoyable, right? I’ll have to pester author friends – though I can’t imagine very much pestering will be required. All publicity is good publicity, right?

On the writing front –

I’m still working on Smuggler’s Pursuit plotting. I’ve got everything down to brass tacks except for the last… call it two chapters. I may just start writing already and let the denouement happen as it most naturally ‘wants’ to. I find that I don’t care to do that, though. I really enjoyed writing Smuggler’s Justice knowing most of what would need to happen on the way to getting the ending to fall together as it should.

On the home front –

Himself has had his beard officially trimmed before heading back to work after the Winter break over at the college. Little Man has decided that night is day and vice versa just when I have Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights off and could sleep at night. Yeah. That went well. Of course, I’m officially The Meanest Mommy Ever because I gave him a shower. I swear, you’d think he was auditioning for the role of the Wicked Witch of the West the way he squalls over getting (gasp) water put on him, then I added insult to injury by adding (oh the shuddering horror) soap, then I compounded it all by putting more water on him! Yes, there is much bathing melodrama with Little Man. Teenager is still single…  I will go all Yenta on him if he doesn’t find himself a girlfriend soon. Seriously.

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Smuggler’s Justice

Yep. I posted it again. I like the way that red ‘winner’ shines so pretty. :c)

Smuggler’s Justice’ is finished and I’ve done the first round of editing on it. Since I wrote the first two chapters in first-person and then switched to third it really needed the work even before going into Beta reading. Right now Himself is Beta reading it. He’s not a big science fiction fan, but he does like political intrigue and political scandal, so I’m holding out hope that he’ll actually like it. That said, I am planning to seek out other Beta readers who are more familiar with commercial science fiction on the market to get a better idea of how the book stacks up.  In the meantime, the next 3 books in the series are organizing themselves into plot ideas I’ll need to churn through Snowflake Pro (which I have decided is possibly the best thing in the world for the outline-haters, like myself, among us).

Of course, I’m going to have to list my handicapped son’s chickens in my acknowledgements for their help with writing the book…  Yes, my little boy thinks that the sounds I make while typing are similar to the sounds of chickens pecking, and he happens to love the farm more that just about anything. He has a rich imagination (as you would expect from a deaf-blind child) and his imaginary friends include a flock of eleven (his favorite number) Rhode Island Red chickens the size of domestic turkeys. He insists that he asked his chickens to help me, and he’s been rooting for me all month long, so the chickens clearly must be thanked!

I’ve been looking at agent listings on WritersMarket.com and market listings as well and I’m really not altogether sure that’s even the route I want to take. I’ll admit that some of my hesitation is financial, but that’s playing second fiddle to my fear of rejection. When it comes to people judging my writing, I’m just as neurotic as any other author, maybe more so considering the great neurosis-free authors I’ve worked with as an editor. Who knows? Of course, despite my fear I’ve drawn up a list of possible agents and once the novel’s through Beta reading I’ll send off my queries if only to say that I didn’t chicken out! That said, I may decide to self-publish entirely in order to get ‘Smuggler’s Justice’ and the rest of the Smuggler’s series out there the way I want them out there without being concerned about print run quantities and the like. On the other hand, that puts all the hard work of finding a cover artist and the like in my lap! I enjoy art, and I’m fairly decent at painting and using Adobe Illustrator, but I’m pretty sure I’m not up to producing the cover I want on my own, and I’m not sure if I can find a cover artist locally who’ll be able to do so either. That means a fairly arduous search for Mister – or Miss – Artistically Right.

For hitting the 50,000 word mark I treated myself to a makeover and a couple of new hairpieces from wiggoddess.com, plus I’ve ordered another one that I liked the look of that she didn’t have in stock in my baby blonde – Clare’s store is down in Berlin, VT. She does all sorts of glamour photography too, so when I need my author photo I’m very likely going to have Clare do it.  It’s an investment because a photo shoot with her isn’t cheap, but I can use the right photo for my author picture on any number of books without ever having to acknowledge that I’m getting any older than that, so it’s all good in my opinion!

Yesterday we drove down to the Vermont Country Store’s store in Rockingham, VT. Of course, on the way there we got a flat tire and had to drive the rest of the way on the ‘doughnut’ spare tire and then all the way back on the back roads at 40mph or less, but considering that it was snowing and the roads were icy I don’t see that as a huge slow down.  While we were there I got lovely soaps (rose, hyacinth, and lavender), nail polish that’s supposed to thicken the nail (which I need because I have paper-thin nails), Tangee blush and lipstick, and two shades of Taboo lipstick. The last time I even saw Taboo lipstick I was eight, and it was the last dregs of my grandmother’s prized hot pink lipstick. After that she switched to something from Avon and was never as happy with it as she had been with her Taboo. I personally got two shades of red lipstick because I tend more towards the ‘vamp/seductress’ when it comes to lipstick than the ‘cheerleader’. The Tangee lipstick and blush changes color to suit your coloring, but I’m still not altogether sure about it since it seems to want to be hot pink on me, and I’m really not a fan of hot pink! Beyond all that I got my little boy a Squawking Chicken. He likes squeaky type toys, so it seemed to be a good fit and so far he seems to like it beyond insisting that it’s definitely not as nice as his imaginary chickens.  I have to admit it’s not as helpful with my writing!

When we got home I gave my son’s friend (his girlfriend’s best friend I think – or at least one of that ‘crowd’) a haircut which she seems to like quite a lot, so that’s nice. I tend to do all the haircutting around here. No, I don’t charge, so you licensed hair dressers don’t come after poor little me! My mother was a licensed beautician for 12 years (1961 – 1973), so I learned the basics from her. Yes, despite a great deal of animosity between the two of us I have to admit that she did teach me some things. I refuse, however, to ever give anyone a ‘shag’ haircut for any reason. The shuddering horror!

In other news, I’ve got a new book to edit for Crescent Moon Press – Wendy S. Russo’s ‘January Black’. I love it to bits after my initial read-through, and I have to say that Ms. Russo did an excellent job with both the subject matter and the prose itself, so I don’t think it’s going to be a terribly long and drawn-out process.  It’s quite a good story, and I’m really enjoying the themes Ms. Russo weaves into her work.

Some of the first books I edited for Crescent Moon Press are being released in December – the novellas ‘A Journey to Hope’ by Cindy Young-Turner, and ‘Sirocco’ by Diane M. Haynes are coming out December 3rd /4th (not sure of the exact dates on those), and the novel ‘A Minor Magic’ by Justin R Macumber is coming out on December 15th. Naturally I’ll be buying a copy of each for my own portfolio – and enjoyment! I’ve also heard that Shawna Romkey’s ‘Speak of the Devil‘ will be released in March 2013, and Lindsey Louck’s ‘Grave Winner‘ will be released in May 2013, but the covers haven’t been released yet nor do I have dates more exact than that.

All in all a very busy month, what with writing a 90,321 word book.  I’ve had some vehicular “fun” and lots of girly-girl stuff to do, and now I’ve got a new book to edit before I can go nuts with nothing to do. Oh! And I have jury duty December 5th. How that’s going to work out if I get the job I think I have a good chance of getting I don’t know.

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