Browsing Tag

writing

MultiverseCon 2019

MultiverseCon

Ready for the first ever MultiverseCon? I am so excited for this convention! From the MultiverseCon website:

Every fan has a story. Together, our stories make up MULTIVERSE, the multi-genre literary con for everyone. Panels, Gaming, Cosplay, Shopping, Art Show, Book Signings, Parties, and more!

I am heading up the Writers Track and we’re going to have a bunch of great programming for you! Have I mentioned how excited I am? 🙂 Check out our Featured Guests of Honor:

Author Guest of Honor: SEANAN MCGUIRE

Artist Guest of Honor: JOHN PICACIO

Industry Guest of Honor: CAT RAMBO

And that’s just the beginning! 🙂

MultiverseCon memberships are now on sale. If you purchase before March 1, 2019, you can get an entire weekend pass for under $60!

Get your membership here!

JordanCon! Free Stories! Tribes! (ALL THE THINGS)

Book news, Conferences, Craft of Writing
JordanCon

Happy December!

Just a quick update about a couple things.

First, it’s official! I’m a Featured Guest at JordanCon! I’m really excited. You can find me at the very bottom of the list right here! (They’re alphabetizing by first name. If they’d sorted by last name, I’d be just before Faith Hunter! lol)

JordanCon runs from 26 April 2019 to 28 April 2019 right here in lovely Atlanta! That’s a great time of year too, because it’s not too hot and not too cold (usually… you can never really be sure here 😉 ).

I’ll be selling print copies of Jivaja at my author table and my plan is to release the sequel around 15 April, so I should (hopefully) have copies of that as well! Super exciting!

I’ll have some other awesome convention news for you in a couple weeks too, so stay tuned.

Free short story!

I’m in the second-to-last round of edits for the new Soul Cavern short story (tentatively titled Blue-Edged Soul) that is a companion to Jivaja. I plan to have it ready for release mid-January. It will be up on Amazon as a .99 read, but folks who’ve read Jivaja already can sign up right here to get their free copy when it’s released!

Sign up so you know when it’s ready 🙂

Are you a writer?

Ready for 2019?

Right now, over in The Writing Tribe, I’m doing a series of videos about planning for 2019. The Writing Tribe is a small group of authors who are dedicated to improving (or creating) their professional writing career. We have a lot of newer writers and quite a few successful veterans.

If you’re a writer who’s serious about doing this for real, drop in and join us! (Please make sure you answer the questions when you request to join. Otherwise, your application will be rejected.)

Stay tuned for more Quick Edits and Tool Time Tuesdays in 2019! I’m planning to do more updates so you really know what I’m working on.

Okay, that’s it for now!

Wishing you a lovely holiday season,

 

 

JordanCon image courtesy of JordanCon.org

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 🙂

 

NaNoWriMo Winner!

Writing

Wooo! I did it! I won NaNoWriMo! Yeah, it took me the weekend to recouperate enough to write this post, but there it is! Lol (Okay, in truth, my mom in law is also in town, so that’s my excuse!)

What is NaNoWriMo?

For those who don’t know, National Novel Writing Month happens every November and it is a personal challenge to write 50,000 words (usually on a novel, not always) in 30 days. Kinda crazy, yeah. But a lot of fun and incredibly productive.

It’s not always easy. It means writing an average of 1667 words each day. That may sound daunting, but it isn’t. Not really. Sit down with a 15 minute timer and write. Don’t allow yourself to stop for more than 5 seconds at a time. Don’t sit, staring at the screen, thinking about what you’re going to write. Actually write. For fifteen full minutes. Then count your words.

I’ve discovered that if I’m really in the zone, I can kick out 700 words in 15 minutes. But that’s not a usual 15 minute sprint. The absolute minimum I get is 400 words. But that’s not a usual 15 minute sprint either. A usual 15 minute sprint is about 550 words.

With 550 words every 15 minutes, I can write 2200 words in an hour. (You can probably get somewhere in the ballpark too. I’ve noticed that most writers can get at least 1500 words in an hour.)

So it’s not the number of words that’s the challenge. It’s the consistency of doing it every day.

And then there are the non NaNoWriMo events

In addition to NaNoWriMo and the usual Thanksgiving holiday, I also had an out of state wedding in the first part of November. And when I got home, my mother in law came over from Europe for a visit. We picked her up at the airport 4 days after we got back into town and she was here… Well, she’s still here. 😉

Since I knew I was going to have a lot of distractions this year, I front-loaded my writing. I wrote at least 2500 words almost every day for the first week. Don’t get me wrong. I was still behind by day 20, but I wasn’t nearly as behind as I would have been.

And I pulled it out in the end, so go me! 😀

What I used

Scrivener for Windows (of course!)

Write or Die 2 (Gaaaah! There’s a version 3!!!)

Jamie Raintree’s Writing & Revision Tracker (new one’s coming out soon! Squee!)

Writing sprints with my Tribe (if you haven’t joined The Writing Tribe, why not?)

What I worked on

I was a bit of a rebel this year and did two different projects. First, I did a short story (about 11k words) that will be a bridge between Jivaja and Book 2 (which is, as yet, title-less). And then, I wrote the remaining words on Book 2. So that is more than halfway done!

The short story is already with my beta readers and once I figure out the title of that, I’ll have a cover. I’m looking to release it in January. But if you’ve read Jivaja (or plan to read Jivaja) and want a free copy, drop your email address in this form and I’ll let you know when it’s available! It’s my little way of saying

As a note, it isn’t a stand-alone story. You will definitely want to have read Jivaja first.

All very exciting! Stay tuned for more cool news coming up!

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 🙂

Official Jivaja Release! Get Your Copy Now!

Book news, Writing

Today is the big day! Jivaja is officially launched! Woooo!!

So you can find links to Amazon and B&N, as well as Goodreads on my website page for Jivaja. Oh, and as a note, I enrolled Jivaja in Kindle Unlimited, so if you’re a bit short on cash right now, but subscribe, please feel free to borrow from KU!

This has been a weird book publishing experience, because I wanted to have some advance copies available for Dragon Con (because a million people go there). But that meant I had to upload it to Amazon early, to get copies (because you can’t order copies without it being live), so it’s actually been up there for awhile. But having copies out that early just made the entire experience weird!

But anyway…

Marketing is not my forte anyway and so I’m sort of flying by the seat of my pants! lol I’ve got a few random things going on this week.

There will be an interview out at Speculative Chic this afternoon at 4pm. If you click the link and get a 404, check the time. It’s probably not 4 yet 🙂

I’ll be doing an Ask Me Anything FB Live on my Author Page on Wednesday around 8pm EDT. So feel free to come over, pop in, and ask me all the burning questions you have about Jivaja or writing or when I’m going to have the sequel done!

I’m sure I’ll do other things this week, but those are the big ones. I’ll also be spamming your feeds all over social media, so there’s that too! Keep an eye out on Facebook and Twitter for other happenings!

 

 

 

 

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 🙂

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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.
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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?

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!

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 🙂

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?

 

 

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 🙂