Seven Links 10/5/19
1. https://killzoneblog.com/2019/09/rookie-mistakes-indie-writers-make.html “Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the Kindle made it’s appearance nearly twelve years ago. It ushered in the greatest boon to writers since Gutenberg—independent publishing. Not only did this sea change give new writers a way to get their work out to the world instantly; it also saved the careers of many midlist writers who were let go by their publishers due to lack of sales.
In those heady, early years a veritable Sargasso of sloppy mistakes were made by over-anxious newbies. Everything from lousy formatting to horrific covers (“But my daughter designed the cover for me, and by golly, I’m going to use it!”)
As the years rolled on, and blogs and books on indie publishing proliferated, quality issues slowly improved. That still did not guarantee huge sales numbers. You still had to write a good book! But we’ve now reached a point in indie publishing that I would call the “mature phase.”
Still, however, rookie mistakes are made by new writers. I’d like to point out three, and then turn the conversation over to you.”
2. https://megdowell.com/2019/09/28/12-keys-to-successfully-returning-from-a-writing-hiatus/ “1. Remind yourself why you started writing in the first place and why you took a break. Ask yourself why you’re ready to return and how to know when it will be time to take another hiatus in the future.
2. Choose one project you want to start working on when you get back. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with too many possibilities, especially if you’re not even close to starting yet.
3. Set a return date. Instead of saying “I’ll start writing again next week,” pick a date that you can mark on your calendar. That is your first day back “in the office.” Stick to it.
4. On that date, show up and write. You can show up in your sweatpants. You can show up with messy hair. You can show up with an incomplete idea. You can show up uncertain. All that matters is that you show up.”
3. https://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/botched-communication/ “I want to tell you about an incident at a writers’ conference that was sort of heartbreaking for me. We agents have a lot invested in these conferences, just like the writers do, and sometimes we have disappointments too.
I met with a writer who pitched me a couple of projects. She seemed like someone whose writing was progressing toward possibly ready for publication. I particularly liked one of her projects, and didn’t see as much potential for the other, and I told her so. But I said I’d love to hear from her after the conference, would love her to send me the manuscript so I could read it, and we could discuss the possibility of representation.
The last morning of the conference, she found me and told me that she’d had another agent meeting, the agent had offered representation, and she’d accepted. She said that I’d been her first choice as an agent (although she may have been being kind) but based on the fact that I’d spoken to her about a “one-book contract,” she’d said yes to the other agent who was interested in representing all of her work.
She said (and I’m paraphrasing), “I don’t want an agent to represent just one project, I really want an agent who is interested in representing me as an author. Since you only talked about a single book, I went ahead and accepted representation from the other agent.”
4. https://www.livewritethrive.com/2019/09/30/10807/ “The protagonist’s transformational journey is highlighted in countless stories, whether novels, movies, or plays. If you take time to examine some of your favorite stories, you should be able to identify key scenes or moments in which this transformation gradually takes place. It’s the events that transpire that erode the persona and emphasize to the character that living in that identity isn’t working.
People don’t change overnight; it’s a process. And when we write a story, we want that process to be believable. While there are six stages in the process, you might have a dozen or more scenes in which your character’s beliefs, opinions, and biases are challenged, one bit at a time.”
5. https://killzoneblog.com/2019/09/toxic-romance.html “My mother-in-law forwarded me an interesting article on the toxicity of many of the romances depicted in YA novels and it got me thinking about how writers tackle the whole romance thing, especially in an age where many protagonists (in mysteries, thrillers as well as YA) are often ‘bad boy’ (or ‘bad girl’) heroes/anti-heroes.
The article in the Melbourne newspaper The Age (link here), is an interview with Kasey Edwards, an Australian writer, about the often abusive, stalkerish, and horrible relationships depicted in some YA novels (most notably, the Twilight series) where girls fall for the ‘bad boy’ who thinks ‘no’ just means ‘try harder’ when it comes to winning their affection. And it’s not just YA – you have books like the Fifty Shades of Grey series which translate this behavior in a decidedly adult way where girls/women fall in love with someone who is more powerful, controlling and possibly abusive (I confess I haven’t read the Fifty Shades of Grey books so I can’t really comment!).
I do think there is a broader issue at play in terms of the way relationships and romances are depicted, irrespective of gender or genre. I know I’ve certainly fallen into the trap of creating emotionally distant male characters who don’t treat their female counterparts with the respect that I certainly would demand in real life. But then fiction isn’t real life and nice, kind, pleasant people don’t necessarily make the most compelling characters!”
6. https://megdowell.com/2019/09/29/i-accidentally-created-an-alter-ego-to-help-me-stay-positive-about-my-writing-struggles/ “I can pretty much guarantee that exactly one person on this planet remembers my evil twin Greg, and that one person is — yep, you guessed it — me.
Back in 2009, I pretty much used this blog to not only talk about my writing life and provide some form of public accountability for myself, but also to — and I’m being completely open and honest here — completely mess around and find my “voice” as an aspiring writer.
This involved plenty of weird things, which you can still technically find here if you go all the way back to the beginning of this blog in the archives. (I’m not sure if you actually can, but I can, and these posts are still very much public, and I am very much not ashamed of them.)
One of the very strange — but surprisingly extremely effective — products of this time in my blogging history was the creation of Greg.
Greg was my alter ego — I called him my Evil Twin. Greg tended to show up, often in the middle of blog posts, and give negative, mean-spirited, or bad writing or life advice to anyone who happened to be reading. Sometimes he would even “post on the blog without my permission” as what I thought at the time was an oh so clever way to showcase what not to think or believe about writing.”
7. https://ryanlanz.com/2019/09/29/why-we-should-dare-to-write-terribly/ “Every once in a while, you’ll write something you wish you could erase. And hey, with just a few frustrated pinky jabs into your delete key, that wish is easily self-granted if it’s just you and your word processor. If you’ve written something terrible and posted to social media, I can’t help you.
There’s nothing wrong with you if you think you’ve written something awful. I mean it. There’s not. I do it all the time, and I’m completely normal. Okay, I’m not. But if everyone just admitted to being weird already, weird could become the new normal and we wouldn’t have to keep worrying about it so much.
Everyone, no matter how good you are at writing, writes terrible things. I’m not talking about dark things, taboo things, or cliché things. Terrible writing. Disappointing sentence structure, plots with holes, bad dialogue, any kind of bad writing. That’s what this post is about.
I don’t think it’s a terrible thing … to write terribly. We should all dare to do it. Obviously, I have a few good reasons why.”
Research & Some Fun Bits:
3. https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2019/09/30/wordpress-reader-lists/ “In August, I began a more robust blogging schedule. For much of the past year, I pretty much neglected my blog – posting only on rare occasions. I knew I needed to do something different, so I came up with an idea for a regular Monday post. One thing led to another and now I have categories for five days a week and so far have posted every weekday (save one) in August and September.
I have the bulk of October’s posts scheduled as well as a few for November. With a full-time job, keeping up with a blog in addition to writing fiction is time-consuming. Add to that, I like to read and visit other bloggers. Not only do I want to support fellow authors, it’s a great way to form new friendships.
With my increased online activity, I’ve been looking at ways to save time and simplify life in general. One thing is to cut down on the number of emails I receive. (Don’t laugh, I have three email addresses—personal, one for my website, and another for my job.)”
5. https://writersinthestormblog.com/2019/10/get-a-clue-youve-got-to-stop-over-using-this-word/ “Thanks for indulging me. And for finding today’s target word twice in the first sentence. “Get” and it’s multi-tense derivative “got” could be nominated for one of the words everyone, not just writers, uses loosely for coming into possession of.
You could probably list a dozen or more words describing how you can come into possession of something. Some, like “obtain,” are definitely too writerly to be used in general cases. “Acquire”—think acquisition— works, but can have a somewhat negative connotation as to how you’ve acquired something.
“Procure” or “gain” can imply that others helped or that what you got was a for personal use that could be a bit shady. (Think of procuring a prostitute.) “Secure” shows the difficulty in getting something, while “attain” is usually reserved for a commendable, difficult goal.
Our job as writers is to find the right, the best, word for every description, every bit of dialogue, and every scene. As easy substitute for get or got doesn’t always work.”
6. https://megdowell.com/2019/10/01/writers-your-day-job-doesnt-have-to-rule-your-life/ “You might think it does. But it doesn’t.
Growing up, the vast majority of us were probably told that getting an education, finding a stable, well-paying job, and starting a family were the most important things we could do for ourselves.
It’s not that these things don’t or can’t have value. The problem is that some people — such as creative people who would rather tell stories on paper than climb the corporate ladder or whatever — don’t always end up with a stable job they stick with for years on end.
When a full-time job becomes a “day job” — something you do while the sun is up so you can afford to eat and stay warm in the winter and buy more books, you know, all the priorities — there comes a point when you have to decide how much of your energy you can dedicate to that job and how much you have to reserve for your side projects.
You might genuinely care about your day job and want to do good work. There is no rule that says you can’t excel as an employee and work toward building a successful writing career when you clock out and go home.”
So you’re an introvert and you have a book coming out—DON’T PANIC! If you’re anything like me, you’re excited about launch parties and author signings—but you’re also TERRIFIED. That is quite all right. I’m here to tell you How To Survive Your Debut Year As An Introvert.
(Caveat: I know that not all introverts are petrified at the idea of public speaking, or too self-conscious to be properly alive, or would literally rather sit in a dark closet and rock back and forth moaning softly instead of marching up to a bookseller and introducing themselves as an author. To you I say WOW GOOD FOR YOU I AM IN AWE TELL ME YOUR SECRETS. For the rest of you, I have compiled a hopefully helpful but definitely tongue-in-cheek list.)”
Some Things More Serious:
1. https://scvincent.com/2019/09/29/rites-of-passage-going-deeper/ “We had only a field to cross before we reached or final planned destination of the day. Doll Tor is a secluded little circle, now set within a wooded grove, a little off the beaten track. Following the unofficial addition of stones to the circle in the 90s, by well-meaning but misguided visitors, archaeologists carefully restored the site to its original layout, removing extraneous stones and it now looks much as it would have done when it was first built in the Bronze Age.
Thankfully, the site had been well documented. The circle is around twenty feet in diameter and consists of six standing stones which were once connected by drystone walling, traces of which still remain. The design reminded us of Barbrook II, though here the connecting walls take a back seat and may be missed by those concentrating on the standing stones. As we had seen at Nine Maidens, and on previous trips to Barbrook I, there is a cairn close to the circle, this time, though, instead of being at a small distance away, it is right beside it. Almost connected to it. Given the nature of the finds unearthed here, it could be seen perhaps as a mortuary temple… or perhaps its purpose was to forge a strong connection with the ancestors.”
4. https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2019/10/02/writing-tips-using-visual-inspiration-for-your-stories/ “Writing Tips: Using Visual Inspiration For Your Stories
If you haven’t heard of a muse board, don’t worry, you are not alone. Today’s guest blogger, Jill Hedgecock, developed the time-saving tool and her older daughter named it.
At some point, every writer has probably paused and wondered what the hair color of their antagonist is or perhaps the shape of the nose of an ancillary character.
What if instead of searching through files looking for a character profile or rifling back through chapters, all you had to do was look up? That is the just one example of the brilliance of creating a muse board.
So what exactly is this marvelous time-saving tool?
A muse board is a visual aid designed to create mood, inform plot, assist in character development, and inspire descriptive prose.”
5. http://booksbywomen.org/writing-for-small-markets-gives-you-power/ “When you pitch your writing, or manuscripts, and you’re told “You’re a niche market. Ethnic topics are a hard sell,” don’t be discouraged. Do not feel like you are the small fish in a big pond. There is an advantage to being a writer in a niche market.
A niche market is a small but well-defined segment of the population requiring specific goods or services, according to business dictionaries. My skill-set is writing about Filipino food, culture, stories of personalities in America or abroad. And my niche market? Fans of Filipino food, and culture.
Determine your product or specialty.
Writing is my specialty. I was born and raised in the Philippines. I grew up in a rural town called Tarlac, 60+ miles from Manila. My father was a farmer and an agricultural businessman. He planted fruits and vegetables in our farm. He raised cattle, had a poultry and a piggery. My mother cooked daily meals with the vegetables and fruits my father harvested. As a child, I was brought to the farm and into the kitchen to learn my mother’s cooking.”
6. https://www.suecoletta.com/23-physical-abnormalities-of-serial-killers/ “Part of my research for my true crime project includes reading studies about serial killers—both male and female murderers, even though I’m concentrating on the latter—and much of the information I’ve uncovered won’t make it into the book. In one such study, Joel Norris PhD points to 23 physical abnormalities of serial killers.
To add validity to his research, Joel Norris includes case studies in his book, Serial Killers.
Although numerous expert opinions can vary, predicting whether someone will or will not take the plunge into serial killing isn’t a black-and-white issue. We need to consider numerous factors, such as psychological, neurological, environmental, social, frontal lobe/prefrontal cortex damage, and/or chemical imbalances in the brain.
Keep in mind, our actions aren’t defined by physicality alone. The following 23 physical abnormalities of serial killers are one small piece of a greater overall puzzle. The totality of which supports the foundation for the emergence of a multiple murderer.”
Teaser Fiction & Poetry:
Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:
1. https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2019/09/29/bookreview-telling-sonny-by-elizabeth-gauffreau/ “Forty-six-year-old FABY GAUTHIER keeps an abandoned family photograph album in her bottom bureau drawer. Also abandoned is a composition book of vaudeville show reviews, which she wrote when she was nineteen and Slim White, America’s self-proclaimed Favorite Hoofer (given name, LOUIS KITTELL), decided to take her along when he played the Small Time before thinking better of it four months later and sending her back home to Vermont on the train. Two weeks before the son she had with Louis is to be married, Faby learns that Louis has been killed in a single-car accident, an apparent suicide. Her first thought is that here is one more broken promise: Louis accepted SONNY’s invitation to the wedding readily, even enthusiastically, giving every assurance that he would be there, and now he wouldn’t be coming. An even”
3. https://teripolen.com/2019/10/01/badmoonrising-lv48-cassie-tam-files-3-by-matt-doyle-thriller-lgbt-paranormal/ “Welcome to the first day of Bad Moon Rising! If you love reading creepy, spine-tingling tales that make your heart race and have you looking over your shoulder, you’ve come to the right place. A different indie author will be featured here every day throughout the month of October, so make sure to check back daily – sharing is appreciated!
Although I haven’t gotten to this book yet (in spite of having a copy for several months), I’ve read the first two books in the Cassie Tam Files series, and Cassie is one intelligent, confident, and snarky protagonist. Trust me when I say she finds herself in some life-threatening situations. Welcome Matt Doyle!
Would you rather be abducted by aliens or a serial killer?”