Help Me Choose a Cover for my Epic Fantasy Novel

Scattered Stones 03Over the past few months, I’ve been toying with the cover for my next book: Scattered Stones. I’m usually not an indecisive person but with covers, I’m starting to flip flop.

A cover is vital to a book’s success. Almost everyone at some point in their life has judged a book by its cover. It doesn’t matter if the story is awesome or cruddy; the cover alone can sell a book. The goal, however, is to catch the readers’ attention long enough that they give you a second look to see if they want to buy your book.

I’ve learned a lot about how to make covers, but I know there is a large room for improvement. I also don’t have the programs designers use, so I use what I can. And I keep my ears and eyes open for tips.

Continue reading “Help Me Choose a Cover for my Epic Fantasy Novel”

Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 15

Dust, UnsettledThis is a series of posts appearing each Saturday morning, sharing the story and the editing of Dust, Unsettled, a western romance written in the 1980s by the teenage version of myself. To learn more about this exercise, check out the original post.

This story takes place in the late 1980s. I’ve decided to keep it there instead of updating it to 2016.

The first section is the original writing. It’s filled with poor dialogue tags, unnecessary words and poor story telling. In the brackets [ ] I’ll point out issues with the writing. I won’t point out every issue, only three or four per Saturday.

Word Count Comparison

Original: 421

Edited: 347

Difference: 74

Continue reading “Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 15”

The Controversy Between Shined and Shone

Writing TipThe English language is always evolving. Just when I feel I’m confident in a rule or spelling, something pops up to make me question my sanity—I mean my writing.

Two scenarios—when discovered—that cause me confusion with rules

  1. An old rule I didn’t know about because I had been originally taught the new rule (one developed in the past few decades).
  2. A new rule brought in by popular demand I didn’t know about because I used the old rule.

In the case of shined vs shone, I was using a rule that was relatively new. I didn’t know another existed. But it does and in some circles, it is still used.

Continue reading “The Controversy Between Shined and Shone”

Register Now: Online Indie Author Fringe Event April 15th

The first online Indie Author Fringe Event of 2016 kicks off at 10:00 am on Friday April 15th. This is London, England time, so in Nova Scotia, that’s 6:00 am (fours in the difference).

There’s an amazing line-up and many will recognise some of the names from the self-publishing industry:

  • Mark Coker (of Smashwords)
  • David Gaughran
  • Joanna Penn
  • Jane Friedman
  • Bob Mayer
  • Roz Morris

Continue reading “Register Now: Online Indie Author Fringe Event April 15th”

Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 14

Dust, UnsettledThis is a series of posts appearing each Saturday morning, sharing the story and the editing of Dust, Unsettled, a western romance written in the 1980s by the teenage version of myself. To learn more about this exercise, check out the original post.

This story takes place in the late 1980s. I’ve decided to keep it there instead of updating it to 2016.

The first section is the original writing. It’s filled with poor dialogue tags, unnecessary words and poor story telling. In the brackets [ ] I’ll point out issues with the writing. I won’t point out every issue, only three or four per Saturday.

Word Count Comparison

Original: 420

Edited: 319

Difference: 101

Continue reading “Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 14”

Writing a Book Acknowledgement

MOCK 01 Front Cover Scattered StonesThere are many sections to a book. The two important parts that need the most attention are the story and the cover (in that order). For the past several months, I have focussed on these two things; without a doubt, I want them to be as close to perfect as humanly possible.

As launch day approaches for Scattered Stones, book 2 in The Castle Keepers series, I need to start playing with the other parts that go into a printed novel, the little details that occupy the spaces between the front cover and the story, and the back cover and the story. Playing is the exact word I want to use.

This time around, I want to be less formal and allow a slither of my silly side to lighten and brighten these little details. I love fun, funny and silly. And I love putting a twist into things that readers don’t expect. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

I have never written an acknowledgement for any of my books, but I’ve seen many books that include them. In essence, it is a few words to thank the people who provided a helping hand to bring the book to life. This might be direct or indirect help.

Continue reading “Writing a Book Acknowledgement”

Update on Editing Epic Fantasy Novel Scattered Stones

EditingLate last week, I completed the first serious edit on Scattered Stones, the second book in The Castle Keepers series.

First, let me define serious. The dozen or so edits that occurred before focussed on over-all story, aligning the characters and the plots, and removing unnecessary material that would never play into future books. I edited large sections at a time, but never from start to finish, and I didn’t focus on each particular sentence. Non-serious edits are quicker. I can do a page every five minutes or so.

My serious edit focussed on each sentence individually and at times, it took an hour to do a page. It looked at every verb and weighed it to see if it was the right one, the strongest one for the situation. If there were two verbs in a sentence, I evaluated them both to see if they were necessary. The weaker one—if unneeded—was removed, shortening and tightening the sentence.

Continue reading “Update on Editing Epic Fantasy Novel Scattered Stones”

Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 13

Dust, UnsettledThis is a series of posts appearing each Saturday morning, sharing the story and the editing of Dust, Unsettled, a western romance written in the 1980s by the teenage version of myself. To learn more about this exercise, check out the original post.

This story takes place in the late 1980s. I’ve decided to keep it there instead of updating it to 2016.

The first section is the original writing. It’s filled with poor dialogue tags, unnecessary words and poor story telling. In the brackets [ ] I’ll point out issues with the writing. I won’t point out every issue, only three or four per Saturday.

Word Count Comparison

Original: 411

Edited: 261

Difference: 150

Continue reading “Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 13”

How to write a killer book description to attract readers

Lessons in Self-publishingDuring my Sunday morning reading, I came upon a podcast by Libbie Hawker posted by Johnny Walker at Author Alliance. Hawker spoke about writing book descriptions.

I loved the way Hawker broke down the process into five easy questions. I recall a similar discussion on promoting books last year by someone else. It’s so simple anyone can do it.

At the moment, I’m writing, revising, tweaking, second-guessing and editing the book description for my next novel, Scattered Stones. It’s an epic fantasy story, so I have to have an epic description.

Continue reading “How to write a killer book description to attract readers”

Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 12

Dust, UnsettledThis is a series of posts appearing each Saturday morning, sharing the story and the editing of Dust, Unsettled, a western romance written in the 1980s by the teenage version of myself. To learn more about this exercise, check out the original post.

This story takes place in the late 1980s. I’ve decided to keep it there instead of updating it to 2016.

The first section is the original writing. It’s filled with poor dialogue tags, unnecessary words and poor story telling. In the brackets [ ] I’ll point out issues with the writing. I won’t point out every issue, only three or four per Saturday.

Word Count Comparison

Original: 426

Edited: 310

Difference: 116

Continue reading “Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 12”

Do Writers Need Protection from their Failures and Successes to Continue to Write?

I recently watched a TED Talk video by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert. It was called Your Elusive Creative Genius.

Gilbert discussed the impossible expectations placed on artists, particularly authors. She admits, her greatest accomplishment—the Eat, Pray, Love novel—is probably behind her, so how is she to go forward and continue to write?

She takes us on a trip back in history, when the people of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome believed spirits who lived within their walls visited artistic people. These invisible spirits assisted the writer, so the writer could not take full credit or all the criticism for the completed work.

Continue reading “Do Writers Need Protection from their Failures and Successes to Continue to Write?”

Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 11

Dust, UnsettledThis is a series of posts appearing each Saturday morning, sharing the story and the editing of Dust, Unsettled, a western romance written in the 1980s by the teenage version of myself. To learn more about this exercise, check out the original post.

This story takes place in the late 1980s. I’ve decided to keep it there instead of updating it to 2016.

The first section is the original writing. It’s filled with poor dialogue tags, unnecessary words and poor story telling. In the brackets [ ] I’ll point out issues with the writing. I won’t point out every issue, only three or four per Saturday.

Word Count Comparison

Original: 408

Edited: 335

Difference: 73

Continue reading “Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 11”

Readers, help us solve a few mysteries about your reading habits.

Recently, I confessed to not reading prologues. I’m not sure when I stopped reading them, but I believe it was in my late teens. Why? From what I can remember, I thought they were boring and unnecessary to the story. In my mind, they kept me from getting to the story, stalled my progress, and that was something I was unwilling to do, particular if I really wanted to read the book.

It’s been so long since I read a prologue, that I truly can’t remember if those books in the 70s and 80s had boring prologues. In some cases, they were merely information dumps, something the author couldn’t creatively inject into the story.

Or perhaps it was the books I was reading, not the period. Maybe the books were written in the 60s or 50s or before then. I can’t say.

Continue reading “Readers, help us solve a few mysteries about your reading habits.”

Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 10

Dust, UnsettledThis is a series of posts appearing each Saturday morning, sharing the story and the editing of Dust, Unsettled, a western romance written in the 1980s by the teenage version of myself. To learn more about this exercise, check out the original post.

This story takes place in the late 1980s. I’ve decided to keep it there instead of updating it to 2016.

The first section is the original writing. It’s filled with poor dialogue tags, unnecessary words and poor story telling. In the brackets [ ] I’ll point out issues with the writing. I won’t point out every issue, only three or four per Saturday.

Continue reading “Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 10”

Books with Table of Contents in the back of eBooks targeted by Amazon

New FlashAmazon is an extremely innovative company – and usually quite responsive to self-publisher’s concerns – but sometimes it gets things very wrong too.

Today is one of those times.

I’ve received several reports from writers threatened with having books removed from sale, and heard even more worrying stories from others who had their titles actually removed from the Kindle Store without notice.

What were these authors guilty of? What crime did they commit for Amazon to adopt such heavy handed treatment? Something completely innocuous: the Table of Contents was at the rear of their books instead of at the front.

Continue reading “Books with Table of Contents in the back of eBooks targeted by Amazon”

Marketing: Results from Paid Promotion of 99 cent-eBook

Lessons in Self-publishingFor one week, my epic fantasy eBook Shadows in the Stone was reduced from $3.99 to $0.99. To help promote it, I added the book to Betty Book Freak’s mailing list. I didn’t put it on any other site because I wanted to gauge the results of the paid ad.

Readers of this blog will remember I’m working on my marketing skills, running experiments and testing promotional ideas. The two posts I previously wrote about on this subject are:

Marketing Results

Like all marketing campaigns, many things influence results—day of the week, day of the year, number of subscribers to mailing lists, full moons, a horrible book, a terrible blurb, Trump stealing the spotlight, ghastly book covers, vacations, hens laying…you get the picture—so what did or didn’t work one time might be completely opposite the next time.

Continue reading “Marketing: Results from Paid Promotion of 99 cent-eBook”

Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 09

Dust, UnsettledThis is a series of posts appearing each Saturday morning, sharing the story and the editing of Dust, Unsettled, a western romance written in the 1980s by the teenage version of myself. To learn more about this exercise, check out the original post.

The first section is the original writing. It’s filled with poor dialogue tags, unnecessary words and poor story telling. In the brackets [ ] I’ll point out issues with the writing. I won’t point out every issue, only three or four per Saturday.

Word Count Comparison

Original: 428

Edited: 331

Difference: 97

Continue reading “Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 09”

Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 08

Dust, UnsettledThis is a series of posts appearing each Saturday morning, sharing the story and the editing of Dust, Unsettled, a western romance written in the 1980s by the teenage version of myself. To learn more about this exercise, check out the original post.

The first section is the original writing. It’s filled with poor dialogue tags, unnecessary words and poor story telling. In the brackets [ ] I’ll point out issues with the writing. I won’t point out every issue, only three or four per Saturday.

Before We Get Started

There’s a heap of swearing in this segment—lots of F-bombs. This word is a billion-dollar word for me now because I know overuse of it weakens it.

This fact was proven when I read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott; the first time she used it, it caught me off guard, and it was so funny I laughed out loud. The second time wasn’t so funny. After the third time, I wondered why she stooped so low…you get the picture.

Writing feeds the SoulBy the way, I don’t recommend the book to writers with fragile minds unless they want to die a miserable death by writing after anguishing for decades. Her version of writing is comparable to suffering from syphilis in the late 1400s.

I feel the complete opposite about writing. It’s a joy, it breathes life and I love it. If I was Lamott’s therapist, I’d tell her to work at Tim Hortons instead; less stress on her brain.

I considered removing the F-bombs from the original version to save innocent eyes, but then I wouldn’t be true to this exercise. So bear with me.

Continue reading “Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 08”

Writing Tip: How to Make any Story Good

Writing TipLast week while I was cooking supper, my thirteen-year-old son walked into the kitchen and asked, “Do you know what makes a movie good?”

I looked up from peeling potatoes, and the expression on his face told me it was a rhetorical question. He didn’t want to know what I thought; he wanted to tell me what he thought made a movie good.

My son is a Marvel fanatic. He’s watched them all: Captain America, Hulk, Thor and, his favourite, Iron Man. He’s also seen Guardians of the Galaxy multiple times. He’s analysed them, critiqued them and guessed at the story line. Immediately after watching a movie or Agents of Shield (the TV show connecting with the movies), we know to expect his mind—travelling at light speed—to start churning ideas, and his mouth—also travelling at light speed—to start sharing them.

Continue reading “Writing Tip: How to Make any Story Good”