Sunday, July 31, 2011

Formatting is like baking

For the record, I would just like to state I love baking. It was my job for a while and it was great. There is nothing better than being paid to make cookies. That said, I do not like formatting.

I've been making a lot of baking comparisons to writing. I think they are true. Easy as pie, but pie's not always that easy is it? It depends on the recipe you're using. Same for writing. Formatting very much so.

In baking, you need to be precise with your ingredients. You don't want too much baking soda in or too little. You want your yeast to rise just right. About the only ingredient you don't have to be precise is flour and even then, if you are going to err, more is better than less. (Adding more flour tends to make the doughs of cookies, cakes and crusts hold together. Less makes them fall apart. If you have ever wondered why your cookies are so flat, try adding a little more flour.)

Formatting, you have to be just as precise. It's not insanely difficult, but you have to follow the step by step instruction to the T less risk having your book look like a blind five year old did it. (Of course with formatting less is more so you have to flip flop the flour.) It's very tedious too. You can't throw it together in a few seconds. You have to slow down, read each step, do the step, and then read the step again to make sure you got it right. Double check the recipe.

It takes time but once it's done baking, you have a beautiful masterpiece. It looks, oh so, delicious! Worth every ounce of sweat and every second it took. And people are going (hopefully) devour it! Man, I want some cookies now.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Follow Friday

Last week, my writing partner in crime did this and the topic was one I had wish I had known because I would have loved to do it. This week, the question is equally interesting and I'm not missing out on it. Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Hop on over to their blog and join the fun.

This week's question is:

Q. Let's step away from books for a second and get personal. What T-Shirt slogan best describes you?

Hmm, let me think. And while I'm thinking, how about a story? When I was in college, I was trying to think up something funny to put on a t-shirt. I came up with The Voices Told me To and I wrote it down and put it on my dresser. At the time, my roommates and I were having a rocky moment. Rommates saw the piece of paper that said The Voices Told Me To. Roommates thought I was trying to tell them something. If I had known what head desking was I would have done it. Multiple times. Instead, and this was while talking with some counselor to solve our problems -even though I had no idea there were problems, I looked at roommates and asked, "Wouldn't you buy a shirt that said that?"

I think there is no t-shirt slogan that really describes me because I'm the one trying to write them. =D (That answer is totally not cheating either =P)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Easy as Pie... but pie's not that easy

They say that a writer is never really done with a story. There's always more that can be done but at some point you just have to stop. But holy crap, stopping is hard! I think I figured out formatting, converted Being Human so I can read it on my desktop with Kindle and still I find little things to tweak. Oh that sentence will flow better if I switch this around. That dialogue tag needs to go. Ouch, three sentences/paragraphs in a row that start with the same word. A few times I've forced myself not to go to the word file and change something. I'm supposed to be reading through, making sure it's formatted right. But a few tweaks won't hurt?


Umm, if by tweak you mean an impromptu chapter cut? Yup, I did that. Was reading and realized one chapter pretty much rehashed what was said and would be said so I chopped it. That's the only big thing I've found, the rest have been what I've stated above. Little tweaks that should make the story flow better.

Still, it makes me wonder. Am I jumping the gun? Am I really ready to be published if I'm still tweaking? My opinion flip flops. Sometimes I think no and other times yes. But like I said, an author could go on forever tweaking and editing a story. At some point, the author has to stop. I'm going to have to stop. There is such a thing as too much editing after all.

I still have plenty of time. My goal is to finish this read through (that feels like it is taking forever!) then let it sit a few days and read through again one more time and try not to edit. Will I succeed? Hell if I know. Might have to cuff my hands behind my back and use my chin to click to the next page. I just know I can't hit published until I feel satisfied and the reality may be I'll never truly be satisfied. I'll just end up compromising. This is good enough. It's time.

As of today, I have finished my one read through, let it sit, and then read through again. This last time had very few tweaks. Changed a few repetitious words in a paragraph, found a couple extra words or missing words, but all in all, I am very happy with how it read. I think... well, I think maybe I should read through once more just to be sure, but really, I think I can move on and get this baby uploaded.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mark your calender!

I am 99.99% sure that by August 30th I will be able to publish Being Human. There's a small bit of worry that I won't, but honestly, all I have to do is read through it again and preview it in Smashwords (already looked at it on Kindle and it looks good!) I am still a little wishy washy about how soon to do a print version. I have that formatted too and accounts with both Lulu and Createspace. It's just a question of any errors that slipped through and what site to use. (Opinions people?)

Oh, and money. If I put out the paperback version (using the ISBN the site provides) and an error is found, I'll have to buy another ISBN if I want to do a corrected paperback version. That is not cheap. You can buy a ISBN from Lulu for $99. You can also get them at the ISBN site. Either way, it's a cost I'd like to avoid. Maybe I'll release the paperback around Christmas. Just rest assured, if you love paperback books, mine will be available in paperback. After all, I have this:

So mark your calenders for August 30th 2011. That's the day, P day! Oh, and maybe clear out some time the week before. I've contacted some writer friends for a  blog tour and I think I'll plan a giveaway as well. (Was going to do one on GoodReads but they don't do giveaways for ebooks.) A bit more info can be found on my goodreads page. (RSVP today!) I will tweet both events until you are annoyed. I have to make sure you don't forget.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lessons learned about indie publishing

A few posts ago I listed questions I had about self publishing and the answers and help I got were amazing. I thought I'd recap some of the answers or directions I was pointed in for those who read the post before the comments were made.

First lesson learned: I don't need to buy an ISBN, most sites will provide some form of ID for the books. Createspace will provide a free ISBN for the printed version. BUT, I also learned you need an ID for each version so if you have a printed book and find errors, fix it and resubmit a new edition, you need a new ISBN for each paperback edition. Canada does ISBNs for free. Lucky Canucks.

Second lesson learned: Formatting for print and ebooks are different. But you should use some of the same steps to find spaces at the beginning and ending of paragraphs that aren't supposed to be there. Also, if you plan on having a paperback version of your novel, you need to get a back and spine designed for it as well.

Third lesson: Forming a publishing company is optional. You might want to get a DBA (Doing Business As) I looked into that when I started my jewelry business and since I was using my name I didn't have to but if you're not using your name in some part of the business name it was recommended so other people in the state can't use the same name. I imagine it might be a good idea to look into it if you use a pen name. In Michigan, getting a DBA was only $10. DBAs are registered only in the state you live in.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sparkling inspiration

If the title doesn't give it away, then I'm about to. This post is going to be about Twilight. Now, before the haters get their torches and pitchforks out, let me just say it's not THAT kind of post. I am not going to sing its praises. In all reality, my fandom I felt when I first discovered the books has died a bloody death. Which is why I'm talking about the books. But this is by no way a post bashing S. Meyer.

My all-time favorite author, Heather Brewer may be the person I look up to in terms of writing. I may love everything she writes. Even if it's about demon dog poo. But the reality of my story, Being Human, is if not for Twilight, I might not have come up with it.

How? you ask.

Simply put, Edward is a pussy. Yes, you heard me right. While I have a special place in my heart for Twilight for getting me back into reading, after a while I got a little discouraged with it. The vampires are just... lame. There is no biting or blood sucking (or fangs! Although, I have learned to deal with that.) The vampires in Twilight are good, they don't kill humans and constantly berate themselves for the ones that they did. Any vampires that do kill humans are usually bad. Except in Breaking Dawn, there were good vampires that killed humans but still, you felt like you had to look down on them for it. They shouldn't be doing that.

It wasn't just Twilight that did that either but it felt like every other vampire book did as well. The vampire moaned and whined about being undead, held pity parties for himself over all the humans he killed when he was younger and out of control. He strove to make amends for that, to be human again.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Buy my book in the next ten minutes

Promotion, I can tell you without a doubt that will be my biggest challenge. It's not that I don't know how to do it. It's more, I don't want to come off as annoying. I'm not saying that because I've read a ton of articles talking about how a person shouldn't just promote or how a billion tweets a day saying, "Buy my book in the next ten minutes and get a cyber cookie for free!!" is annoying. My reasoning is because I already knew those tactics are annoying. I've been annoyed by those tactics.

And I don't want to be like that.

Publishing a book doesn't mean that I'll turn into that sort of person. I will still be tweeting the same inane babbling I do or the same links I find interesting or helpful. My blog will still have the same kind of content. Already that makes me not that person. I guess my worries stem from wondering how much is too much?

The answers to that varies from a few times a day to every once in a while. After all, if I get no new followers then I'm just hawking my book to people who have already seen the link and possibly bought it. Then again, hawking the link at the right time might remind the person, who already saw it and was pinching pennies at the time, that they have the spare cash to buy it.

I need to find the fine line between aggressive marketing and not enough marketing. Too bad no one knows where that line is. Promotion is one of those things you have to play with. Try this, if it doesn't work, try something new. Have a tactic do great for a while then have it drop off into nothing. I guess one could say, it's very much like writing. You have to tweak and edit to find the right words to make it work. Which of course brings up another fear: How much is promotion and marketing going to cut into my writing. I think I'll save that for another time though. Right now, I have a book to finish preparing!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Am I a real writer?

Am I a real writer? It's something every writer asks themselves at one point. We wonder what is the defining moment that signifies we are no longer aspiring but are full blown writers. I've wondered that, more so now that I'm getting close to self publishing my first story.

Am I a real writer?

People are telling me yes I am. I'm a real author too... or will be once I hit publish. Still, some small part of my brain keeps a seed of doubt. Am I really a real writer and author if I indie publish? I want to say yes but I know not everyone agrees with that. The other day, I saw a goodreads review on one of Amanda Hocking's books. The person said they wondered if the book would have been better if a decent editor had helped Miss Hocking. The person also said she picked up the book to see what the hype was and if an indie book could be as good as a traditionally published book. The over all impression I got was this particular person doesn't think indie authors are on the same level as traditional. They aren't real authors. (Note: this person did admit they got sucked into the story and enjoyed it. Also that was an impression I got, I have no idea what that person's real view on indie authors is.)

I know there will be people that believe indie authors aren't real authors. There will be people who won't buy my book because I published myself. And that small seed of doubt, that's what it believes. It thinks I should have gone the traditional route, queried for an agent or submitted to publishers. Can I really call myself a real author if I don't have the approval of some publisher? I didn't even query for an agent or send a submission to a single publisher. When I started looking into publishing I was going to. I had a whole file of possible agents to query. Then the publishing world started to change and as I researched, indie looked more appealing, the better route for me to take.

So I made my decision. Now I have a book cover, I hired a real editor to proofread my story and find errors. I'm slogging through formatting, wondering if I should just hire someone. I'm shining my story up myself, doing all the work an agent and publisher would do. I am enjoying every, terrifying second. I am going to be a published author, a real writer. Whether my stories are loved or hated, I am the real deal.

Because that's what I believe.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fortune Cookie Coincidence

I have two real posts but this is just to coincidental not to share.

The other day, hubby, Kel, and I went out to eat at a new Chinese buffet with his co-worker, Brian. It was busy, the food wasn't bad and I tried a few new things. At the end of dinner, our waiter (poor guy was running like a chicken with his head cut off!) gave us four fortune cookies. Brian and Kel grabbed one each. I don't know who took the fourth but Kel pocketed mine because I was full. Today, Kel decided I needed to eat it and pushed it into my hand. So I cracked it open. This is a picture of my fortune.

I am not even kidding! It's like a frikken sign! I started laughing. Kel said I should take a picture and put it on twitter. Guess I one upped him. I am saving this little bugger! If Being Human takes off, it's becoming my lucky charm.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

People want to read MY book

People want to read my book. That hit me hard last night, the realization that people want to read something I wrote. It's a bit (translate: a lot) terrifying. My heart stutters and nerves buzz. People want to read my story and it makes me want to run and hide.

It's not even like no one has seen what I've written either. People read this blog, my tweets, my facebook. I've put samples up and I've given Being Human to almost complete strangers to beta read. That's different though. When I send my MS out to a beta reader, I'm expecting them to find mistakes. Even if I hate all the red, I know it's coming.

Publishing is different. My story will be out there as is. If someone doesn't like it, there's nothing to be done about it. There is little I can do. I can't ask them to send it back, marking in red errors they found or make notes on parts they think need improvement. The story is published and that means no more red.

I guess my problem is I can't quite stomp out the fear that I'll disappoint the people who have told me they are excited to read my story. The excitement that built up is doused in disappointment.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It has the same name!

Number one thing I hear when I tell people the title of my book, Being Human: There's a TV show already called that. Are you sure you can use the same title? At first I wasn't sure but I've been doing a little digging and have discovered an answer.


Titles, I have discovered, can't be copyrighted. When you copyright something, you copyright the work, not the title. A title of a book usually isn't trademarked either, series are more often the thing trademarked. Like Harry Potter. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone isn't trademarked but Harry Potter as a series is. Both trademark and copyrighting aren't required for authors. They are just added legal protection - something possibly useful in terms of people stealing your work and profiting from it. I found this article to be very helpful: Can you trademark your book title?

I also found this on Yahoo answers about different medias with the same title. As you can see, it doesn't matter if there is a TV show called Being Human. I can still use that as my title and since I have no plans on making Being Human the name of a series, trademarking it would be pointless as well. If I understand correctly (meaning not 100% sure but pretty confident I do understand,) by not doing those things, I'm making it clear for others to use Being Human as a title as well. I trademark something then I take that option away from another.

And if you search Amazon, you find books with the same title. I did a search for Enclave and as you can see there's multiple books with the exact same title. The only downside is it might confuse the reader. If they don't know the author's name, they might grab the wrong book! So it's still a good idea to do a search on your title, see if anyone else uses it as well. Doesn't mean you have to change it but I think it's a good thing to be aware of. Just do your research, find the answers to those tricky legal questions and make sure you don't set yourself up for heartbreak later.

Friday, July 8, 2011

It's like I'm a real author... almost

I have to admit, it annoys the crap out of me when writers on twitter say "I have big news... but I can't share it yet." Makes me want to get personal with my desk every time. Why are you saying anything? Don't you realize how torturous that statement is? Why not just keep quiet until the moment you can tell your loyal readers? Then go "OMGBBQ! L@@K!!!!!!"

But now I kind of know what it's like... well, not really. I have had something I want to unveil but I haven't tweeted the evil "I have big news but that's all I can say." tweet. Instead I've been either silent or mentioned that I have my book cover to unveil and I'm going to do it soon. Of course, I'm not getting a slew of tweets from my followers about it. I'm nobody to get excited over if I say I have a book cover I'm going to show for the first time.

I do have a book cover to show though and I'm finally going to reveal it. Now, I thought long and hard (not really) about when to do it. I racked my brain trying to think of a special date in July. (And of course, now that I think about it, my nephew's birthday was yesterday. Not that he'd care about my book cover. That's beside the point.) I was left with one choice: Pick a date. I chose this weekend.

*Steps up to the mic.*

Ladies and gents! Boys and girls of all ages! Come see the book cover that will blow your mind. (Okay, so maybe only my mind was blown away. OMG when I saw it, I squeed. I was jumping for joy going, "It's so beautiful!" And that was just the rough mock up. The finished product... Excuse me while I go jump so more.) The cover was done by Keary Taylor. She rocks. She rocks so hard I can't even form coherent thoughts. Especially when looking at my book cover (which is my desktop background. This may not be good for my writing.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gratitude, pass it on

I'm getting to the end of my betas. The last ones are trickling in, bit by bit and agonizingly slow. Don't get me wrong, that's not a complaint. That's just a fact of writing life. Beta readers are volunteers, they aren't obligated to read anything I write.

Sometimes, as writers, we forget the positive. We get lost marking up a WIP in red, in pointing out flaws and when we receive our own back, we get caught up going through all the red. We forget to say thank you. Which is kind of odd because on twitter, I see a lot of thank yous going on. Thanks for RTing this. Thanks for mentioning me.

But what sort of thank you is adequate? How do I thank a beta reader I've never met and probably never meet? My book when it's released is one idea. I kind of cringe at that. They're going to see what suggestions I took and the ones I ignored. Yes, I know that is not a big deal but still, I have a paranoid streak and that streak worries about insignificant things like that. A gift card to amazon? Could work but what's the appropriate amount? Another idea is simply a shout out. Spread the word on twitter and my blog that my beta readers are awesome people with awesome skills. Or put it in my book as part of the thank yous or dedication.

All this isn't necessary but I want to do something, show my gratitude for ripping into my baby, making me want to scream and cry, for the sake of making my story better. I had to cut parts I loved and rewrite others. All at the suggestions of my beta readers. And my story is better for all this, my story shines brighter and hopefully when I release it into the world, others will love it as much as I do. So thanks to all my beta readers. Erin, CJ, MaryBeth, Marni, Dan, Brad and Cynthia. You guys rock.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's not your fault

An author I really love, Adrian Phoenix, recently sent an email to her fans about her Hoodoo series. She has been warned that if her sales numbers don't increase, her publisher won't pick up the rest of the series. In the email, she linked to a close friend who had a very long blog post about things she had been hearing from other writers. And frankly, it disturbed me. (**What follows is my opinion so don't get your pants twisted up if it differs from yours.**)

From the post You are not alone by Kristine Kathryn Rusch: "One writer said that on her bad days, she wonders if she needs a tinfoil hat to confirm her craziness.  Another wrote on a blog that the despair from all of the changing facts made her contemplate suicide.  Still a third took all of the blame herself, and started writing vampire romances even though she hates them, thinking that her award-winning, bestselling romantic suspense novels had somehow gone horribly downhill and she hadn’t realized it."

Another excerpt: "And of course, of course, it’s the writer’s fault.  The writer misread the numbers, wrote down the wrong amount in the initial phone call with the editor on the laydown.  Oh, it wasn’t a phone call, but an e-mail? My bad, the editor says.  It was a typo.  I didn’t mean 50,000.  I meant 5,000."

Friday, July 1, 2011

This review is Exiled from my mind

I am probably at risk of being the only person who thinks this post's title is funny. Anyways, on to the topic at hand. I forget how long ago but someone I follow on Twitter, MR Merrick, posted an excerpt of his novel, Exiled. Curious, I went to his blog and checked out. By the end of the excerpt I was distraught there wasn't more. But in the world of indie publishing, one of the perks is you don't always have to wait as long for a story to be published and today Exiled was published. Almost instantly I downloaded it. (I had errands to run so I couldn't do it ASAP but I was pretty close.) Then I read it in my usual not-doing-anything-else-until-I-finish-this-book way. Which according to MR Merrick was about six hours after I bought it.

So here's my thoughts. When's the next book come out? I want to know what happens to Chase and Rayna. I really enjoyed Chase, he was such a 17-almost-18 year old young man. Impulsive yet when those impulsive actions led to others being hurt, he would do his best to make amends. He was cocky but it was mostly with Rayna and she hit back (sometimes literally) with sass.

Oh, guess I could tell you a little more about them. Chase is a hunter... kinda. He and his mother were exiled from the Circle - an order of humans with elemental abilities that protect the human race from demons. Demons range from vampires to shifters to witches and more. What gets Chase and his mom kicked out is pretty much his father who let's face it, he's an asshole, because Chase doesn't develop any elemental skills. Rayna is half demon and I really don't want to give too much away because her status as a half demon is a big part of the plot. Other characters are Chase's parents, Tessa and Riley and another hunter named Marcus. Marcus I can tell you a little more. He's annoyingly secretive and it totally wore on me the same way it did Chase.