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Showing posts from November, 2011

Kindle and Smashwords Quirks

I've been back in the fray again these past weeks, formatting my books for electronic media. The last time I ventured into self-publishing was with Killer Career , which I published in print via Lightning Source and also electronically. I confess to cheating on that one and paying someone to do the kindle version, but I did tackle and conquer the Smashwords edition back then. This time, I decided to try doing both when I re-released my romantic comedy, Girl of My Dreams , for which I regained my rights during the summer. Now that I've successfully published Girl of My Dreams on Kindle and Smashwords, I'd like to share a few observations about each, which may save you some trouble. VERY IMPORTANT:  Be sure to save your original manuscript first. Then, for each format, do a Save As and give it a new file name. My Observations: When I read from my own kindle, long paragraphs seem boring. The shorter ones zip along much better. Since the preferred style is not blocked,

Thank You

Dear Readers, It's a lovely thing to be able to write a thank you note and have it reach thousands of people in an instant. No matter how long I use the Internet, I don't think I'll ever quite get used to this amazing tool and the freedom it represents to me. When I first starting writing, I used a pencil. I was a child. In my teen years, I learned to type... on a manual typewriter, and it was a miracle indeed when I got my first electric typewriter with an auto-correct ribbon. Years later, I can't begin to tell you how rich I felt to have my own computer with printer and copier. But the online communications with my computer... that is what I'm most grateful for and for many reasons. Half a dozen years ago, my husband and I had an opportunity to move to a small rural town, and I decided then and there, I would focus on my writing. I have always written my way through life, but in a secondary way to my art career. I would leave the brushes for a time, and focu

Gratitude for My Writing Addiction

Hi, my name is Shon Bacon, and I'm addicted to writing. It's been about 29 years since I picked up a pen and thought, I think I would like to write stories for people to read. Since then, I have found it quite difficult to stop. I don't want to stop. I can't stop. My blood is the ink to which I write life stories. My writing courses through my veins. There have been several times when I tried to stop cold turkey, but I just couldn't. I could last a few days, even a week; one time, I lasted a whole month; however, words continued to churn in my brain and meld into sentences that grew into paragraphs that birthed stories. I will admit, wholeheartedly, that in the teen years of my writing addiction, my work sucked. I loved baseball and I loved love, so as I teenager, I wrote a lot of suck-ass screenplays about chicks who somehow became owners of baseball teams and fell in love with the star player. As I grew, my writing did, too, but not by leaps and boun

Gratitude for the Simple Things

The Thanksgiving holiday is a special time of year when we pause in our whirlwind lives to remember what we are grateful for. I do try to think of each day with gratitude, but sometimes we do get caught up in the hurried way we live our lives and we start to see only the negative things that happen. Sometimes the simplest things are what give me pause, bring me to tears: • A spectacular sunset • The full moon in a clear sky • A day of sunshine in the cloudy Pacific Northwest • My cat sleeping in my lap I consider myself lucky (maybe that’s the wrong word, maybe it’s the recipient of great gifts) for bigger things in my life too: • The parents who inspired me to be self-sufficient and independent • My close family, including my “in-laws” who I think of as sisters • The wonderful teachers who encouraged me to develop my interest in reading and writing • My dear husband who has supported my writing dreams without question And even though we have been going through a very r

Thanksgiving Memories

Thanksgiving is traditionally the time to gather with family and share good times. That works well when family is close, but not so well when they live 1,200 miles away. When we first moved to Texas, it wasn’t feasible for us to travel to Michigan when the kids just had a short break from school, and most of our relatives preferred to stay home. So it was always a treat when one of the Grandmas would join us for the holiday. It was nice to have someone with whom to share that special spirit of Thanksgiving, and the kids appreciated having a Grandma all to themselves. No other cousins around clamoring for attention. I appreciated having a Grandma all to myself, too. There's nothing like an extra hand in the kitchen to make one feel like she can conquer anything, including a twenty-five pound turkey. One year when Mom Miller came for the holiday, the kitchen sharing was a little awkward at first, due to the fact that we didn’t cook together very often. Once every three or four

The Gift of Gratitude

At this time of year, we often contemplate gifts of the harvest—whether they come from the garden, grocery store, or perhaps a job after a long period of unemployment. Economic difficulties may make gifts more difficult to recognize, or they sometimes make them more apparent. When we look at what we really need to survive, we learn to appreciate the value of gifts. Translate that into the writing and editing business—often a feast or famine industry, with famine outweighing the feast. What is there to be grateful for in this arrangement? As an editor, I can think of several gifts that have kept me going when economic hard times make writers think twice about spending their precious dollars on editing. Authors can be a trying lot. (I’m sure they think the same about editors.) However, the vast majority of the ones I’ve worked with appreciate my efforts in their behalf and say repeatedly how much they’ve learned from working with me. And they come back with their next books. For these I


As we start the week heading toward Thanksgiving, it made me think about the time I got all philosophical and used my newspaper column to ask if we don’t use the Thanksgiving holiday as an unconscious excuse not to be thankful the other 364 days of the year. Or at least not be aware of all the things we have to be thankful for. So I decided to make a concentrated effort to search my soul and come up with something to be thankful for every day. Here is the list I made that year: I'm thankful for the cold weather that chills my bones and helps me to appreciate the heat of summer. (Next August you're free to remind me I said this.) I'm thankful for the puppy that comes in my office to chew on my toes and remind me there's more to life than just work. I'm thankful for mail delivery because I know it will draw me out of the house at least once a day.  I'm thankful for the kid who will bail me out and cook dinner when I'm working on a deadline, even though

Grateful for My Dream Clients

Today I would like to express my gratitude to the writers I’ve worked with who understand that writing a long story (novel or narrative nonfiction) isn’t easy. Until recently my dream clients have: read and written a lot in their lives, for pleasure or work or school undertaken a writing education, whether in a formal MFA program, during on-the-job journalism training, or by attending workshops, continuing education classes, and writing conferences. realized that their writing education is never complete, and that each project will present its own challenges. networked with other writers farther down the publication road so they have a realistic view of what they’re in for and the effort involved. improved on earlier drafts of their project after sharing with a critique group or other trusted advance readers. hired a developmental writer for the express purpose of identifying problems and suggesting solutions, so will not get angry or lose heart when she does so. As you can

Be My Guest Jodie Renner

HYPHENS, ELLIPSES, DASHES Ellipses vs. Dashes; Hyphen, Em Dash and En Dash  A.   Ellipsis (…) or Dash (—)? In fiction, An ellipsis (…) is used to show hesitation : “What I meant is…I don’t know how to begin…”  (Also indicates the omission of words in a quoted text.) A dash (—) , also called em dash, is used to show an interruption in speech: “But I—” “But nothing! I don’t want to hear your excuses!” or a sudden break in thought or sentence structure: “Will he—can he—find out the truth?” The dash is used for amplifying or explaining , for setting off information within a sentence, kind of like parentheses or commas can do: “My friends—I mean, my former friends—ganged up on me.” B.   Hyphen vs. En Dash vs. Em Dash: The en dash is longer than the hyphen but shorter than the em dash (the regular dash) A hyphen (-) is used within a word . It separates the parts of a compound word: bare-handed, close-up, die-hard, half-baked, jet-lagged, low-key, never-ending, no-brainer, pitch

Be My Guest - Susan Malone

FOR THE LOVE OF BOOKS This is the time of year we all count our blessings, and like you, I’m grateful for oh, about a hundred things!  But since this is a site about writing and editing, we’ll keep it to that. It’s funny; a decade ago, when my brother (a renowned psychiatrist) and I wrote our first book together, Five Keys for Understanding Men ,  we were in NYC promoting it via the network broadcast stations.  Gary looked at me and said, “This isn’t going to work for you as a career path—it’s too risky.” Now, I know my brother loves me, and has my best interests at heart. And from the outside looking in, it’s very difficult to dispute his reasoning. Publishing is the iffiest of businesses in the world. I could go into all of the depressing facts about getting a book published, actually making a living at it (and how few folks do so), and all of the other nightmares included herein. But what I’ve learned over the many, many years I’ve been involved in it, is that fabulous things

Be My Guest: Robin Spano

The Write Tools There's nothing more exciting than finding a new tool to help you with the craft you love. My husband loves leaving Home Depot with a new saw or power drill. My agent's face lights up when she talks about her iPad – and all the cool work things she can do with it. My photographer friend goes nuts over a new lens that can help him shoot a specific light or angle. I get this excitement from learning new writing tools – tangible skills that help me attack my trade with more expertise. While writing fiction is a creative endeavor first, editing – shaping the story into something enjoyable and interesting to read – is a science. The more tools I pick up, the more able I feel to tell the story I want to tell – to confidently take readers along on a fun and exciting journey. Reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers   by Renni Browne and Dave King, I felt like a kid at Christmas. They give you twelve of these new tools. My brain was on fire while I read – I'd

Cues from the Coach: 3-D Writing Revisited

Last month's post on writing in 3-D drew some great feedback. Neither cited example struck a chord with all those who commented, so clarification of the term as I intended it seems in order. As a reminder, here are the examples: 1.) Lisa looked up at the azure summer sky, and the bright noonday sun made her squint. Cotton candy clouds dotted the horizon. Birds sang on the power lines at the back of the property, and squirrels chased one another up and down the tree trunks. She let her chilly body soak up the warmth before she went back inside the air-conditioned building. It might be a long time before she could feel the sun again because, by now, someone must have discovered that she was no longer in the ward. Whoever left the door unlocked would no doubt be fired . 2.) Lisa squinted. The bright noonday sun almost blinded her, but she refused to move under the giant oak tree, where the squirrels chased one another up and down the trunk. Bird songs coming from the power lines

I'm Thankful

November is the month of giving thanks, so I thought I’d tell you all what I’m thankful for. I’m thankful I didn’t kill someone. Two and a half months ago, my computer black-screened. I turned it on and got nothing. So I took it into a tech guy. He spent a day checking it out and then said he could save all my data, clean up the computer, and put the data back on – or, since my computer would probably die within a year, he could get me a new laptop and put everything on it. I opted for the new computer. During that time, I called him during office hours several times and he didn’t pick up. I left messages and he never called me back. He called me one time. The only way I could get him to talk to me was to show up in his office and stand in front of his desk. I’m thankful I didn’t go kung-fu on his behind. (And am thinking I should possibly learn some kung-fu.) He loaded some, but not all of my data. He put Palm on my computer, but none of the years of info I had input. And now

10 Questions Every Writer Asks (I Hope)

10. Why is it so much easier to write about writing than to actually write?  I think every blogger must wonder this at some point. 9. Why is my writing in my head so much better than the writing on the page?  Annoying, but true. Usually. 8. How does time seem to fly by when I'm writing well, but yet crawl when I'm struggling to write one decent sentence?  Unfair, but true . 7. Do I have too many characters? Too few?  Only your plot knows for sure .  Or your editor . 6. How did I manage to forget that subplot that I began on page 20 and appears to have vanished without a trace?  I refuse to admit if this has actually happened to me . 5. Good grief. How many more editing passes is this manuscript going to need?  The answer always seems to be (for me) one more than I originally thought. 4. When will I ever consider myself a success? (o n non-JK Rowling-terms ) 3. Will anyone really want to buy this book?  The question that niggles at the edges of your brain as you near the

Leave a Tip Today at The Blood-Red Pencil And Make Someone Thankful

In this month of thankfulness, leave a tip, and someone will be grateful for your kindness. Today, as on most second Tuesdays of the month, we're inviting you to share your writing tip at The Blood-Red Pencil. Make it simple, or complicated. Maybe it's something you recently picked up, or something you learned ages ago, and forgot you knew it until now. Or, it could be something you figured out all by yourself and you're feeling generous and would like to share. We welcome tips about any aspect of writing, publishing, or editing, and about any format or venue, traditional, indie, self-publishing. Make someone truly grateful for your generosity. Leave your tip in our comment section. Don't forget to also include one website or blogspot link while you're at it, so readers can learn more about you. If you wish, we'd appreciate your also mentioning where you've heard of us, but it's not a requirement. Here's my tip: Don't forget the holida

Writing in 140: Writers Feel

It’s pretty impossible to be an effective creative writer if you don’t feel. Our ability to emote, to go from joy to despair, to have experienced first-hand situations that move us across the spectrum of emotions, or to have experienced those emotions via second-hand situations through loved ones and those we just meet as we pass by through life enables us to explore those feelings and emotions in our writing. Readers often come to our stories in the hopes of connecting with the stories—seeing themselves in the characters we develop, seeing their current situation played out in our words. If our readers laugh and cry, experience joy and pain, shouldn’t our characters? And for our characters to realistically convey those emotions to the reader, shouldn’t we as writers be just as in tune with our emotions and feelings? Robert Plutchik’s wheel of emotion, created in 1980 List of Emotions – via Wikipedia [ LINK ] ----- Writing in 140 is my attempt to say something somewhat relevan

Whisky or Whiskey? I Need a Drink!

First, thank you to the Blood Red Pencil for hosting me for this stop on my two-week-long virtual tour for Mercury’s Rise , the latest book in my Silver Rush historical mystery series. Truly, I have to thank BRP for more than that, because it was BRP’s Dani Greer who helped me out of a tight spot regarding word usage in Mercury’s Rise . It all began with whiskey. And whisky. I had taken great pains to determine under what circumstances my protagonist Inez Stannert would use which term. After all, Inez runs a high-class saloon in 1880s Leadville, Colorado, so she would certainly know the difference. My conundrum began when the line editor at my publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, noted that some places in the manuscript were “whiskey” and others read “whisky.” Which is correct? she asked. I sent her a long reply (with links!) noting that they weren’t the same. (New York Times weighed in here and The Boozin’ Blog had a discussion here .) But I began to worry that switching between the

Busted!—Tatiana de Rosnay Caught Doing Something Right

I've been known to irreverently refer to the early work of untrained writers as “an amazing number of black marks on a white page.” I'm not without compassion; we all must start somewhere, and I applaud anyone who sits still long enough to try to bring a literary vision to fruition. As a developmental editor, I enjoy helping shape such work. But it's immediately apparent, in many manuscripts I see, that the writer has concentrated too hard on the black marks without giving the white page its due. In overwriting, the author has created a wall of words and feelings and facts and actions and descriptions and stage directions that virtually shut out the reader. That conscientious effort to tell every aspect of a story ends up being a misstep. The reader wants to bring her life experience and intellect and observation skills to what she reads. Add things up. Make educated guesses. Feel smart. Fill in the blanks. To that end, you need some blanks. What you don’t say can be of

Adding Conflict to Your Story

If your manuscript has come back from your editor noting a lack of conflict , don’t despair. Adding conflict in retrospect is easier than you might think. If your editor has marked passages she believes would benefit from added conflict, you can tick off a third of the job already. The next steps are planning and writing the extra scenes. Change Something A very easy way to insert conflict in a scene is to create a major change in the protagonist’s knowledge, expectations, perspective, relationships, etc. For example, the protagonist could expect one outcome but be forced to deal with another , or learn something that changes her perspective and sets her on a different path. Anything that makes a major, plot-related difference at the end of the scene compared to the beginning is a conflict within the scene itself. This is also a good way to test your chapters and scenes: if nothing changes plot-wise within a chapter, it is incomplete. Inner Conflict The protagonist’s thoughts