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Venessa

Super exciting news about Jivaja! Cover Reveal! Woo!

Book news, Writing

I hope you’re enjoying Free Fiction Friday! A couple weeks ago, I posted about the novel’s name change from Soul Cavern to Jivaja. This came about for two reasons.

First, the novel has been named Soul Cavern since I completed it for my grad program at Seton Hill University many, many years ago (yes, it’s been done for a long time). But as anyone who knows me knows very well, I suck at titles. Like, I really suck at titles. I get one good title idea a year, if I’m lucky. And I was never able to win the lottery on that book’s title.

Several publishing pros, from award-winning authors to senior acquisition editors at well-known publishers, over the years have told me in conversation that the title didn’t pop enough, just wasn’t good enough to catch their attention.

So I knew that it wasn’t good enough. I just couldn’t find anything better.

Because I suck at titles.
(Anyone want to be my title generator?)

Secondly, and a bit more simply, the title felt too big for the cover. It took up too much room. I didn’t really realize this was an issue until we did the switch from Soul Cavern to Jivaja. The new title fits the cover perfectly.

And speaking of covers… want to see it?

If you follow me on social media, you got a preview of the cover when the proof copies came in. I was so excited, I posted a pic of me (sans makeup! You know I was excited to post my face au natural! lol) with the book. So you might not be surprised with this reveal. But maybe you will be!

Ready?
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Set!
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Go!!

 

Isn’t she gorgeous?! 😍😍😍

About the artist: My cover artist is an amazing woman named Sophia Fedderson, also known as the Book Brander. She first hit my radar when I was listening to back list editions of The Creative Penn Podcast and she was a guest. I really liked what she had to say about covers and her entire philosophy about them. Also, she’s an author herself, so she understood both sides of the equation, which was also a plus to me. So I bookmarked her site way back then and now, probably 3 or 4 years later, she’s my cover artist!

I think you’ll agree with me that she does incredible work! So if you’re looking for a cover, definitely check her out.

The book will officially be for sale on October 15th, in case you don’t want to wait for each scene to be posted on #FreeFictionFriday!

So tell me… what do you think of the Jivaja cover?

News: #FreeFictionFriday Gets a Little Change!

Book news, Free Fiction Friday

A couple weeks ago, I launched #FreeFictionFriday with my novel Soul Cavern. Go have a peek if you haven’t read it yet! 🙂

Ever since I finished the book a couple years ago, I’ve tried to wrangle a good title. Soul Cavern is fine, as it directly references a metaphysical place in the book. But, as more than one publishing pro has told me in the past, it doesn’t really grab you. (My mentor at SHU wants me to call it Leechers. It will never be called Leechers. 😉 )

Anyway, during my final pass of the book, which I admit, had been sitting for quite awhile, unread, I came across the word that should have been the title all along! The main character’s people have a name. They are called Jivaja (though the main character doesn’t know this and won’t find out herself til book 2). And so, we have a new title!

Jivaja

Over the next week or so, I’ll be changing all the various references to Soul Cavern and bringing everything in line with the new title. Bear with me on that 😉

Also, the cover is just about done! So I’ll be sharing that in a couple weeks too! ALL THE EXCITE!

Thanks for reading along on Fridays! I’m so glad to have you 🙂

Con Season on a Budget: Being a Great Volunteer

Conferences

I’ve decided to republish the series of posts about conventions and convention life that were originally published over at Speculative Chic, the collaborative blog that I write for which is all about speculative fiction of every sort. Go check it out! 🙂

Welcome to Part 2 of Con Season on a Budget. This post is about being a great volunteer so your favorite con will welcome you back, year after year. If you missed it, be sure to check out Part 1: How to Volunteer at Your Favorite Convention. I also wrote about surviving your first convention in Conventions 101!

Okay, so you’ve done all the legwork and gotten a sweet volunteer position at the convention you’ve been wanting to go to for ages! Now what? You definitely want them to like you enough to allow you to continue to volunteer. Even if, in the future, you decide to go as a paying attendee, it’s never a bad thing to have convention directors like you!

So let’s talk a bit about how to be a great volunteer.

Before your shift

You should get your volunteer schedule in advance of the convention itself, which is great, because then you know when you’ll be working. Within your schedule should also be information on where your volunteer shift will be. You may also get the name of the person you report to, though not always. You should know your department head’s name, at the least.

I always try to do a little legwork before my shift, especially if it’s a new place to me. It’s a great idea to scope out the event space, in general, so that you know where you’re going. This is especially important at larger conventions, where things are more spread out and perhaps a little more difficult to find.

Dress appropriately. If you’re doing load in or load out (which is helping to set the convention up or breaking things down), you don’t want to wear a costume to your shift. Or, really, nice clothes at all. Because you’ll likely be hauling stuff around and getting all sweaty. (I guess you could cosplay as Rocky or something!) Conversely, if you’re working the Hospitality Suite or Guest Relations, you’re the face of the convention for a lot of people. So don’t show up in raggedy clothes without having showered. (Ewww.)

Before you head out for your shift, think about what you’ll be doing and how long your shift is. You might want to bring a snack if you’ll be working for more than a couple hours or if your shift will require a lot of physical energy. Definitely bring a water bottle. Most conventions have stations in the hall with either water pitchers or water coolers, so you can refill. But it’s always good to have your own container for your drink.

Working your shift

This should be common sense, but arrive on time. Five or ten minutes early is even better. Give yourself enough time to get to where you need to go. Remember that you’ll likely be moving through larger convention crowds than you did when you were scouting out the location. So factor the extra people into your travel time for when you head over.

When you’re given instructions on what your responsibilities are, pay attention. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. You won’t look stupid if you ask questions. You’ll look like you care about your job, which is very important to those who are in charge.

Once you know what your job is, do it well. This isn’t the time for you to hang out and goof around at the convention. You’re working, not playing. Your department is relying on your to do the tasks you’ve been assigned. If you don’t do them, or don’t do them correctly, that means someone else who was assigned a different task that also needs to be accomplished will have to come around and do the things you were supposed to. That is a surefire way not to be welcomed back at all.

Don’t forget to be friendly! Be friendly with the other volunteers on your shift — after all, these are people you want to work with in the future. If you’re in a forward-facing role that interacts directly with guests or attendees, be friendly and professional. Again, you are representing the convention itself for these people.

And on the topic of guests — people who are on panels or giving classes — you might be in contact with celebrities. It can be a little overwhelming and you might be tempted to fangirl/boy all over your favorite author/actor/artist. Don’t do it. You’re working with them in a professional capacity, so act professional. You absolutely can let them know that you love their work. I think you should! But leave it at that, then do your job. In my experience, these folks really appreciate you treating them as people rather than stars, and they will remember you for that, particularly if they’re a regular guest at that convention.

Don’t be that guy.

Also, if you are in a position, such as security, where you have some power over attendees, be very aware of how you exert that power. Don’t be a douche. I was recently at a convention where one of the security people seemed to have it in for a friend I was there with. Every time he saw her, he told her that she was doing something wrong. And it wasn’t even the correction that was the problem. It was the attitude he had of condescension while doing the correcting. He was power-tripping. In a conversation later with higher ups at the convention (I was a guest), I mentioned it and they conveyed that there had been other issues along those lines and that he likely would not be asked to work security again. Attitude matters.

After the convention

Whew! You made it! Great job!

There are no real requirements for after the convention. But I do have some suggestions.

Keep in touch with people you worked with. You’ll likely have made some friends on your shift(s), so don’t let the opportunity to have convention friends slip. Exchange emails or phone numbers and reach out a few days after the convention. It never hurts to keep in contact, especially if you want to work in that department again.

You should also take some time to ask yourself a few questions. Did you enjoy the work? Did you like the people you worked with? Were there other perks that are beneficial to you? And, most importantly, are you interested in working in this department again?

Volunteering can be hard, but it should also be fun. And the overall feel for your shift should be a positive one. If it isn’t, then you might consider volunteering for a different department. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad volunteer or that you were in a bad department. It likely just means that department isn’t a fit for your particular personality. It may take shifts in a couple departments to figure out which you like best. That’s completely okay!

What do you think? Ready to go out and snag a volunteer shift?

Do you already volunteer at conventions? Any additional tips for newbies?

Let’s keep writing! 🙂
 

 

 

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.
Also, links in this blog post may be affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something, I will get a small percentage of it, though it does not increase your cost in any way. I appreciate you using my links 🙂

Tool Time Tuesday: ProWritingAid

Tool Time Tuesday

Every other Tuesday, we talk about the different tools available for writers to make life easier (theoretically 😉 ).

Today’s Tool: ProWritingAid

Platform: Browser, Windows, Mac, pretty much everything

Cost: Free web version; Premium version available ($50/yr, price breaks available for multiple years; $175/lifetime; discounts for edu folks & bulk purchasing)

What it does: Wow. When I found this a couple years ago, I was astounded and fell in love all at the same time! While it can’t tell you whether your story is a good story, it can tell you how to improve your actual craft.

This is what Word’s Grammar check aspires to be! I use this on all my work before it goes to a professional editor (or acquisitions editor/agent if I’m submitting). I cannot accurately convey the depth of my love for this little program!

Okay, Venessa, enough praise. Show me!

So you can choose to use the free web version and do a section of your work at a time. If you can’t afford the premium version, this is a perfectly good way to do it. It will take longer, because you’ll be doing a lot of copying and pasting, but you’ll get the full functionality of the program, just a piece at a time.

If you upgrade, you can download the software to your computer (there’s even a 2-week free trial!). But here’s the brilliant part: you can use the software with the program you write in, whether it’s Word, Google Docs, Open Office. I use Scrivener for Windows. Here’s what ProWritingAid looks like when I open my novel, Soul Cavern, in it:

ProWritingAid

Sorry, you don’t get to see the text! Check out FreeFictionFriday later this week, if you want to read it 🙂

As you can see, it shows me all of my writing, in the Scrivener structure, and lets me work on it piece by piece. I use this for every story I write.

Check out all the features across the top. Style, Grammar, Overused words (it’s worth the price for just these three things alone!), Readability, Cliches, Sticky sentences (these are unnecessary words/sentences that slow your reader down), Diction, Repeats, Echoes, and Sentence lengths. The More tab has a dozen other tools like Thesaurus, Pacing, Pronouns, and, of course, more.

This month's #ToolTimeTuesday, featuring @ProWritingAid: It shows me all of my writing, in the Scrivener structure, and lets me work on it piece by piece. I use this for every story I write. Click To Tweet

 

You can also choose, on the Tools option at the menu on the top, what sort of writing you’re doing: academic, creative, business, etc, so that the suggestions are geared toward your particular work.

Photo courtesy of ProWritingAid.

I wouldn’t recommend solely relying on any digital tool for final editing, but I 100% recommend using ProWritingAid before sending any work to an editor. If you’re working with a professional freelance editor (like me!), running your manuscript through ProWritingAid will likely cut down on the cost of your edits, as it can help you make your manuscript much cleaner for your human editor. This will allow her or him more time and effort to focus on the story itself and less on the mechanics of the writing.

Also, a program like this is a great learning tool as well. ProWritingAid not only suggests corrections, but will often explain why the thing needs to be corrected. This is a fantastic way for newer writers to learn.

Where to get it:

Writing Improvement Software

I really do strongly recommend this software. I probably put it as #2 right after Scrivener out of all the Tool Time Tuesdays I’ve done.

Have you tried ProWritingAid? How has it helped with your writing?

Do you have a writing tool that you absolutely can’t live without? Drop a line to me down below and tell me about it!

Let’s keep writing! 🙂
 

 

 

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.
Also, links in this blog post may be affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something, I will get a small percentage of it, though it does not increase your cost in any way. I appreciate you using my links 🙂

Announcement: Free Fiction Friday featuring Soul Cavern!

Book news, Free Fiction Friday, Writing

One thing I’m noticing about this entire Indie Publishing thing is that stuff takes longer than I anticipated. Part of that is me — I’m inherently lazy 😉 Part of that is just the process and learning how long things take.

Anyway, I mentioned in this post that I was planning on starting a Free Fiction Friday segment in April. Well, here it is July and that stuff hasn’t happened yet. It’s mainly because the pen name stuff has taken a lot longer than I was planning and I still haven’t gotten the second book out yet. So I’m putting that on hold for a month or two so I can do things here. Because you guys have been waiting FOREVER! 🙂

Free Fiction Friday, featuring Soul Cavern!

My new feature, Free Fiction Friday, will begin on August 3. Many authors do this and often post short stories. I thought I might try something a little different. I will be posting an entire book. (That gives you a reason to come back each week!)

What’s Soul Cavern about?

Soul Cavern is a vampire story without vampires. At least, in the traditional sense. The Visci, a species that subsists on human blood, are not undead. They’re not human. And they never were.

Close kin to humans, the Visci pass within our society easily, and over millennia, have wedged their way into positions of power. Long-lived, they are also very difficult to kill. However, they have an evolutionary flaw. While they do not die easily, they also do not reproduce easily.

But they can mate with humans — and have, giving rise to a population of human-Visci hybrids, called half-bloods by those of pure Visci lineage. For centuries, they lived and worked together, these half-bloods and pure bloods. But tensions have risen and civil war is looming.

We will discover the Visci alongside Mecca Trenow, a seemingly normal Atlanta college student, who is heir to a family Gift which allows her to manipulate human energy. She hates her gift and has refused to learn anything beyond how to control it so she does no harm. That is, until a rogue pure blood attacks her and she reacts instinctively, draining his life — the life he’s stolen from another — out of him in moments.

When word gets back to the Visci of someone who can kill one of their kind with just a touch, the race is on to acquire Mecca as a weapon in the upcoming war. As she learns about this shadowy underground group, she also discovers her father’s dark past and the secret he has kept from her all of her life. Reeling from this discovery and unable to trust the one person she has always counted on, Mecca is isolated from everything she once knew, all the while being hunted by dangerous creatures bent on using her Gift for their own bloody purposes.

How It Works

Interested?

On August 3, I will post the opening scene from Soul Cavern. To get us ramped up and into the story full-swing, I’ll post another scene (possibly two) each day throughout that weekend. But once Monday rolls around, we’ll be on our regular schedule of one or two scenes (depending on length) each and every Friday, until the book is done!

As we go, I will create a Table of Contents so that you can easily catch up if you fall behind.

What About a Real Book?

Everyone wants to be a real boy!

Everyone wants to be a real boy!

The plan is to have both an ebook edition and a print edition of Soul Cavern available for sale by the end of August. I really want to have it ready for Dragon Con!

I’d like to offer a book for sale for those who prefer not to wait for the entire story to be posted (some of us are impatient!). And also for those who are interested in supporting the author (me!).

Supporting Authors

Speaking of supporting authors, you know the best way to support your favorite authors, aside from purchasing their books, is to leave reviews on sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, right? Even if you choose not to purchase a copy of Soul Cavern when they’re available and just continue to read for free on the site, leaving a review on Amazon especially would be really appreciated.

It’s a great way to give back to the authors who share their stories with you!

Back to work!

All right, now I’ve got a bunch of work to do, so I’m gonna get back to it! Remember to check in on August 3rd for the first installment of Soul Cavern!

In the meantime, feel free to leave me a comment below telling me what you think about Soul Cavern and/or Free Fiction Friday!

 

 

 

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.
Also, links in this blog post may be affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something, I will get a small percentage of it, though it does not increase your cost in any way. I appreciate you using my links 🙂

Con Season on a Budget: How to Volunteer at Your Favorite Convention

Conferences, Travel

I’ve decided to republish the series of posts about conventions and convention life that were originally published over at Speculative Chic. This particular post was published on March 9, 2017. You can find the original here!


Con season is in full swing! Looking to connect with your spec fic tribe? Conventions are the way to go!

If you’ve never been to a con before, they are amazing fun but can be daunting. Check out my Conventions 101, or How Not to Get Killed by Cons post for some info on how to prep for and “survive” conventions if you’ve never been. But right now, we’re going to talk about how to get a volunteering gig at your favorite convention. This is Part One of a two-part series. In Part Two we’ll talk about how to actually work the convention as a volunteer.

Most conventions offer compensation for volunteering in the form of free or discounted admission. And most cons always need volunteers! So it’s not too difficult to score a position, though it may not be in the department you want initially. There’s seniority among convention volunteers in most cases too. Let’s get into how to actually do it.

1. Research what you might want to do at the convention

Most conventions have a ton of areas where they need volunteers, ranging from registration workers, to volunteers for specific tracks, to security folks and a bunch of areas in between. Before you reach out to throw yourself into the volunteering fray, figure out what areas you’d enjoy working in or which could utilize your strengths. For instance, if you like meeting people, working a registration table or an information desk might be something you’d enjoy. If you’re strong and don’t mind breaking a sweat, you’d want to look into load in/load out positions (the advantage of which is all your volunteer hours are before and after the con, so you get to enjoy every minute of the actual convention to yourself!).

The Con Suite can be a great place to volunteer. You meet people without having to figure out a topic to talk about. “Would you like some noms?”

You can often find information about the volunteer areas on a convention’s website. Look for a page that lists what tracks the convention has — writing track, gaming track, etc. Most tracks need volunteers of some sort.

Beyond the tracks themselves, there are infrastructure departments as well. Common departments include:

  • Registration
  • Guest Relations
  • Security
  • Information
  • Hospitality
  • Vendor Room

All of these departments need people to help them. So explore what department volunteer opportunities might be available at the convention you want to attend, then write down two or three departments you’d like to help out on. In some cases you might need additional qualifications or training (such as for Security or for Guest Relations), which the con will often provide. Most conventions will place you in the department or track you request if there’s a spot available.

2. Make contact

The “how” depends entirely on the convention, but most cons post pretty clearly how to apply for a volunteer position. Some larger cons will have staff meetings (or volunteer meetings) some time before the convention that prospective volunteers can attend to meet department heads/track directors. This would be where the heads can announce what’s open in their department.

Dragon Con does this. They have three staff meetings in the Spring and Summer where the
track directors explain what their track does and announce how many volunteer spots they have open. Then interested people approach the director after the meeting to discuss the opportunities.

Some conventions have a central volunteer coordinator whose responsibility is to gather the info for all volunteers and assign them to various departments. This can be helpful because the volunteers have a single point of contact and there is a certain uniformity to the initial volunteering sign up.

Conventions will often announce a call for volunteers on social media, their website, and/or their mailing list, so it’s beneficial to make sure you’re following them on some channel. They might have an online form to fill or simply an e-mail address to reach out through to offer your services.

Other conventions don’t announce volunteer opportunities, but put a note on their website to e-mail the department heads/track directors for information. Generally speaking, all conventions will have some sort of information on how to volunteer posted on their website or Facebook page.

3. The ask

Like anything else, first impressions are important. You certainly don’t need to dress up if you’re meeting in person, but do remember that how you present yourself will have at least some bearing on your success.

In person: If you’re meeting the director or other volunteer-coordinating person, introduce yourself and let them know you’re interested in volunteering. If you don’t know whether they have positions, ask now. Definitely show your enthusiasm, but don’t go overboard. No one wants to work with a fanatic. 😉 If you have specific skills that would be useful, mention them once you’ve got confirmation that there are positions open. If they seem agreeable, ask what the next step would be. Often there’s a registration process. Get their e-mail address and follow up right after the meeting.

Sometimes asking for things like this is daunting. We go through an entire litany of questions ranging from “Will they like me?” all the way to “What makes me think I’ll have anything to offer them that they would want?” We can’t always stop those gross thoughts from surfacing, but you can decide how to handle them. My take is that I say to those voices, “Okay, thanks for your input. I’m doing this thing anyway. If I fall on my face, you can laugh at me then.”

Remember, if you did Step 1 above, you identified a place where you can be useful and where you do have skills that will benefit the convention. So just keep that top of mind when you’re doing the ask, whether in person or not. You have the skills necessary to fill the position you’re requesting.

Via e-mail: If you’ve met them already and ironed out preliminary details, make sure that you introduce yourself in your e-mail and remind them of where you spoke and briefly of the conversation you had. Then let them know you’re following up for the next steps in the process. If you didn’t get a firm “yes” at the meeting, then simply let them know you’re still very interested and you’re looking forward to hearing back from them. Also, address them by name, so make sure you’ve noted their name when you met them!

If this is a cold e-mail, say from looking up the director or volunteer coordinator online, then introduce yourself and tell them that you’re interested in volunteering for their track. Ask them if they have any positions available and what you’d need to do to work with them. If you’re e-mailing a volunteer coordinator rather than a specific director, then mention what departments you’d be interested in volunteering for. Limit it to your top three, in preferential order. For example:

Dear Ms. Volunteer Coordinator,

My name is Venessa Giunta and I’d love to help out with AwesomeCon this year! I’m especially interested in working with the Writers Track since that’s what I do, but I’d also be a good fit for Registration or Hospitality if there are no positions available with the Writers Track. Would you let me know what I need to do to get on your volunteer team?

Much thanks!
Venessa

If you’re unsure what volunteer opportunities there are, that’s okay too. Just ask what’s available.

And that’s how it’s done! Stay tuned for Part Two of the volunteering series next month! We’ll be talking about how to be a great volunteer so you’re welcomed back again and again.

Do you volunteer at conventions? How did you get started?

Do you plan to volunteer at any conventions this year? Which one(s)?

Let me know down below!

 

As mentioned, this post was first published on Speculative Chic. There’s an entire category of Convention posts from several contributors. Also, if you’d like to read a lot of great content about everything under the speculative fiction umbrella (from books to games to anime to television and movies to lots more), check us out!

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.

Quick Edits: A Look at “Show Don’t Tell”

Craft of Writing, Quick Edits, Writing

Quick Edits is a short feature where I give quick editing advice on how to handle common problems in fiction writing.

Show Don’t Tell

In my capacity as an editor, I’ve written “This is telling. I want to experience this with the character, not be told about it,” countless times. And the soundbite is “Show, don’t tell.” We’ve all heard it.

But the problem with soundbites is they’re meant to be short, so if we embrace them as rules, rather than guidelines, we lose the nuance.

“Never use adverbs.”
“Don’t use passive verbs.”
“Don’t use exclamation points.”

All of those items that are verboten by soundbites are valid, useful parts of speech. The issue the soundbite is trying to address is that they’re all overused, so the general guideline is not to use them at all. The guideline is really to keep us from overusing them (or using them wrongly, which is usually the case with adverbs) and to make us think about the instances when we do choose to use them.

“Show don’t tell,” is similar. Authors should mostly show. But it doesn’t mean authors should never tell. The “show don’t tell” soundbite drops all the nuance and all the reasoning of why authors should show, rather than tell. And because of this skipped nuance, many authors, particularly novices, adhere to the soundbite as if it is set in stone.

It isn’t.

Below is a list of instances where telling could be appropriate, where you can and sometimes should violate “show don’t tell.” Note that you don’t always have to tell in these instances, and sometimes shouldn’t. As writers improve, they learn when each is appropriate. Generally guideline is still: if you’re unsure, go with showing.

When to Tell

  • when transitioning from one scene to another – often Telling can happen at the beginning of a chapter or a scene when setting up for the action to come
  • when the action doesn’t matter – if your character is traveling from one place to another and nothing happens during the travel, the reader doesn’t need to know every turn and stop the character makes
  • when there is repetition – if a character has to tell another character about something the reader has already heard or experienced, Telling the reader that the character conveys the story is better than rehashing everything the reader already knows (an exception to this is if the character is misrepresenting or misunderstood what happened; that can be important for the reader to know)
  • when time passes – similar to above, if time is passing and nothing important happens, you don’t need to Show us that
  • in short stories – because short stories have a word limit, Telling is often necessary to summarize events that may not be as important to the plot as others.

There are also some instances in which you should rarely Tell. Obviously things that are the opposite of the list above. For example, any time the action does matter, it should be Shown and not Told. Another instance is action scenes. Action scenes should always be shown.

So there you go! A quick guide on when not to use Show Don’t Tell. Can you think of other times when you should Tell rather than Show?

Are there any editing issues you run into that you’d like covered in the Quick Edits series? Drop a comment below!

Keep writing,

Quick Edits: Don’t Blink

Craft of Writing, Quick Edits, Writing

Quick Edits is a short feature where I give quick editing advice on how to handle common problems in fiction writing.

Don’t Blink

We’ve all read it. Some of us have probably written it.

Some surprising thing happens. And, in response, a character blinks.

This is a problem. Why?

Because blinking is not an indicator of surprise. If it were, we would be indicating surprise more than twenty five thousand times in a day. Blinking is a mostly involuntary bodily action. It happens all the time.

In face-to-face life, it isn’t blinking that shows a person’s surprise. It can be wide eyes, a shocked expression, raised eyebrows, a flinch, a mouth agape. There are any number of things that actually show surprise. Blinking is never one of them — unless it’s a melodramatic blink for effect. And even then, I’d argue that’s deliberate, not as a result of a surprise.

Blinking, like breathing, is a natural thing that the body does over and over again each day. In order to justify mentioning it on the page, there should be something special about that particular blink. So I find blinking to be acceptable when there’s something in the character’s, eye or when he’s trying to hold back tears.

As an editor, I see the use of blinking as an indicator of surprise to be a wasted opportunity. There is so much more that could be described to really push the surprise across to the reader to make it vividly drawn in her mind. Using blinking seems lazy.

So don’t blink.

Are there any editing issues you run into that you’d like covered in the Quick Edits series? Drop a comment below!

Keep writing,

Diving Into Indie Publishing

Publishing, What I've Learned

So I write smut under a pen name. It’s a loosely guarded secret. But my secret isn’t why I’m telling you, Lovely Reader.

I want to talk this week about indie publishing. The book I’d published under my pen name was originally done by a medium-sized ebook publisher that has recently closed its doors, so the rights reverted back to me. Rather than looking for another company, I decided to self-publish the old book, along with a new short story and a second book in the series once it’s complete (hopefully, by late May).

As of this blog post, I’ve managed to get the ebook up on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. I’m now working on the print version, which is more challenging than I expected.

Some interesting struggles I’ve had with indie publishing

I uploaded to Amazon manually, because I knew that’s the best way to go about it. But for the other online ebook retailers, I’d decided to go with Draft2Digital, which I’ve heard good things about for years. I didn’t mind giving up a small percentage of my profits for the convenience of having combined accounting for many retailers and for the ability to upload to all the retailers at once.

I broke D2D.

My pen name is a single name (like Madonna or Cher). And apparently the D2D system cannot handle such an irregularity. After wrangling with their customer service for more than a week and explaining to them that, no, this isn’t an issue with the retailers, but with D2D’s systems, I eventually ended up uploading to B&N and Kobo individually – and the single-name pen name proved to be a non-issue. (I haven’t tackled iBooks yet.) I knew for a fact ahead of time that the retailers could handle a single name author because my books had already been up on them via the original publisher.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not dissing D2D. I did use them for other, smaller and overseas retailers once they got their stuff sorted out. And I will most likely use them when I am indie publishing under my real name (likely also end of May, beginning of June) since it’s a traditional first name/last name. I’m just outlining all of this because I want to document the struggles I’ve had with indie publishing, even though I’m still very committed to it.

Once I got the ebook squared away (except iBooks, which I admit to being kinda scared of 😉 ), it’s time to tackle the print version. There are a LOT of pieces to doing a print version.

  1. I had to take out all the handy links that were in the ebook. I kept the URLs, but leaving the links would have caused them to be underlined on the printed page. And I don’t know about you, but I’m a little judgy when I see that. I don’t know why, but it’s bothersome to me, so I don’t want it in my books.
  2. In order to commission the print flat of the cover, you need a page count for the book. Once the cover artist asked me for the page count, I totally understood why it was needed (along with the book size, it dictates the thickness of the spine), but prior to him asking me that, it hadn’t even occurred to me.
  3. What #2 above means is that the book needs to be formatted before commissioning the print flat. Formatting requires changing margins in Word, making sure the “inside” margins are wider than the outside margins to allow for binding. I have no idea how that all works. I gave it to my husband to figure out! Lol
  4. Once the print flat and the manuscript are ready, I’ll be ordering a proof copy.
  5. If the proof copy is good, then the book can go on sale.

I’m still on step 3 currently, though by the time this post goes live, I will likely be on step 4, perhaps even 5.

Photo by Syd Wachs on Unsplash

Here’s the kicker though. I am going to need to go through those steps twice. I will be using Amazon’s new KDP Print service, which is similar to CreateSpace, but I will only be using that for Amazon. For other distribution, I will be using Ingram Spark. I am not one who likes to have all my eggs in one basket, not to mention that Ingram has more distribution channels, particularly into indie bookstores.

So that is what is going on for me. Once I get through this initial book, later books will be easier because I will streamline the indie publishing process for myself. So once get to Soul Cavern, I should be a veteran!

Do you have experience with indie publishing? How has it been for you?

 

 

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