Nora Roberts and Plagiarizing Books Rant – Word Theft

The story about Christiane Serruya broke last week or the week before. I’ve been ignoring most of it, getting the gist of it and carrying on because February is a busy writing and editing month for me. However, I read a post by Nora Roberts a few days ago and another yesterday which made me stop and think about this whole writing thing and word theft.

Below are my thoughts on the matter. They won’t be what others think, but these are mine. Take them for what they are worth. When it comes to the written word, the one word that screams at me is integrity.

I can’t remember the first time or the first book I read by Nora Roberts. It was long ago. I’ve read several and while I’m impressed with the stories, what impresses me most about this woman is her ability to churn out stories. She is a writing machine I wish to emulate.

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The Value of Entertainers in Our Lives

Thank YouI don’t remember a time when strangers singing songs or acting out a story were not part of my life. As a kid in the 70s, I had already formed an attachment to some and called them my favourites.

K. C. and the Sunshine Band, Donna Fargo and Marty Robbins brightened my days with their music, and I sang along with every song. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Linda Carter (Wonder Woman) and  Lindsay Wagner (Bionic Woman) entertained me on the small and big screen, bringing stories to life and enhancing my dreams. The Waltons felt like watching family as there were so many of us and so many of them, and I had always felt like Elizabeth Walton.

The 80s delivered artists such as Bryan Adams, Alabama and John Cougar to my ears. I was in Heaven listening to my Mountain Music and when told to turn off the radio, I’d say, “I Ain’t Even Done with the Night.” I was a teenage, eager to run and see where life would take me, but I also had my down times, and songs like Lonely Ol’ Night and Missing You got me through rough days when my engines revved so high I thought I could jump the moon but couldn’t because I was only 17, and days my heart ached so bad I thought it would break wide open and bleed out.

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Ready, Set, Write: Insane November Challenge NaNoWriMo

I’m tempted to answer a challenge I’ve never had before: to write 102,000 in 30 days. That’s 52,000 words more than called for in the NaNoWriMo challenge. My personal goal had been 60,000 words in the month of November.

Regardless of the goal I choose, I will post my word count daily in the right margin, and I’ll post a weekly round up every Saturday.

Since October 17th, I’ve written a total of 28,223 words. That includes

  • 11,827 for Project M
  • 16,396 for Revelation Stones

That’s an average of 1,882 words a day. I need to up that to 2,000 words a day to reach 60,000 words and 3,400 words to reach 102,000 words in November.

Participating in this challenge means I won’t be able to do any other writing except that which is vital to my writing career. This means my Monday post will be on hold until December.

Good luck to everyone who is participating in NaNoWriMo. The clock starts ticking…now!

NaNoMoWri is Fast Approaching

Here we write again. NOVELmber is almost here, which means thousands—maybe millions—of writers across the world will challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Are you onboard? Are you up for the challenge?

The last time I participated was in 2015. Since then, my schedule hadn’t aligned with the challenge but this year, it does. I’m working towards finishing the 3rd book in the Castle Keepers series, Revelation Stones. As of last night, it was 43,334 words complete. I have about another 90,000 to go.

I’m also writing Project M, which is turning out to be a full fantasy novel, not the short story I expected. I’m debating on where it will fit in with the Castle Keepers series. Technically, it is book 4, but I’m leaning towards it being the first book in another series. It intertwines with The Land of Ath-o’Lea but can lead to additional stories not related. Time will reveal its purpose. So far, 10,183 words have been written.

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Don’t Muddy Your Brand

Thought for the dayMy teen-aged son loves to attend truck pulls at exhibitions. He only has his beginners, but he’s itching to get behind the wheel and has created elaborate schemes that would see him get there before he has his full driver’s licence. He has yet to successfully carry out a scheme, but his mind is always working on it.

The videos he captures at these truck pulls are mashed together and posted to his YouTube channel. After a big pull at the end of August, I told him I’d share his link on my Twitter feed, thinking I’d be helping him spread the word so he’d have more subscribers and more views.

“You can’t do that,” he said. “You’d muddy my brand.”

For a guy who has no problem getting muddy on his four-wheeler, he had a real problem with mud on ‘his brand’. He knows little about marketing – or does he?

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A Hard Lesson Learned

Hard Lessons LearnedAlthough it’s tough to admit it, six years ago, I made a horrible mistake in my publishing journey. After publishing the first book in my Castle Keepers fantasy series, Shadows in the Stone, I should have buckled down and completed the draft to the second book in the series, Scattered Stones.

However, feeling the pressure to get more books on my publishing shelf, I wrote a few short stories that were not in the fantasy genre. They were quick writes, quickly edited by my editor and quickly published. I soon had four books on my shelf. It looked impressive.

I was following the advice of those who believed the more books on a shelf, the more a writer gets noticed because they have a larger footprint.

However, those giving advice didn’t stress the vital fact that the books written should all be in one genre. Readers sometimes stick to one genre, so those who loved my fantasy novel might not like my contemporary stories about death, domestic abuse or a cranky neighbour.

Sigh.

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Writers Who Chose to Live Full Time in RVs

RV LivingAs I mentioned in my previous post, one item on my bucket list is to travel across Canada for a year in an RV. That will probably include a trip to Alaska and into the mid-west area of the United States. This won’t be until all my children have graduated high school.

Like many writers do, before I embark on a journey, I research like crazy. Whether I’m learning the parts of a castle, how heavy a sword weighs or what it’s like to live in an RV, I seek out books, websites and videos to help me get a firm grasp on the subject.

As a writer who wants to live on the road, my research took me to those who were already doing it. Turns out, there are many who travel across the globe and write. The wonderful thing about being a writer is that as long as you have an Internet connection, you can upload your work to publish it or submit it to newspapers and magazines.

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KDP Print Now Provides Proof and Author Copies

KDP Print ProofA welcomed message arrived in my inbox this evening. Amazon’s KDP Print will now provide self-published authors with the option of purchasing a proof of their book before it goes on sale for the public. The message also stated writers could purchase author copies.

In my post, dated April 17, 2017 (read Amazon’s New KDP Print Feature is Bad News for CreateSpace Users), one of the major drawbacks of KDP Print over CreateSpace was the inability to order proofs and author copies.

CreateSpace marked its proofs with a large “PROOF” across the last page. KDP Print will take this one step further and “have a ‘Not for Resale’ watermark on the cover and a unique barcode but no ISBN”.

I’m not sure why the extra security is needed since proof copies were the same price as author copies and if a proof was good enough, more copies could be purchased. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

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Let the Dialogue Do the Talking

Dialogue. It’s one way our characters use to communicate to one another. Sometimes it’s short and sweet, while other times it’s a lengthy rant. When written correctly, it reads smoothly, drawing readers into the moment, encouraging them to imagine the expression on the characters’ faces as they proclaim such things as, “I’m going to save the castle!” or “Pass me the dragon wand.”

When characters speak, we can—or should in most instances be able to—imagine how the dialogue was spoken. For example, “Run! The house is on fire.” I can see a character shouting this and encouraging others to get out of the burning building. In the context of the story, more would be revealed.

Sally took the milk from the fridge and set it on the counter. “What’s that smell?”

Peter shrugged. “Maybe it’s the new furnace.”

“Can you check?” She watched him leave the kitchen as she poured a glass of milk for Little Stevie. When she heard quick footsteps approach, she looked to where Peter had gone and watched him race into the room.

“Run! The house is on fire!”

In this instance, there is no need to add a dialogue tag but if one was added, it could be something like…

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HalCon Review – Author Panels

On Saturday November 5th, I attended HalCon, the biggest, geekiest sci-fi convention in Atlantic Canada. There were many wonderful demonstrations, vendors and author displays. There was also author signings, autograph sessions and endless streams of characters.

Shortly after I arrived, I sought out the room for the Editing and Formatting panel session. The speakers for the event included

The description of the session stated: To Oxford Comma, Or Not.  This and other questions about editing formatting will be answered.  If you’ve ever wondered about cutting parts, proper structure or when not using proper grammar is okay, then this may be the panel for you. Continue reading

Scattered Stones Cover Release and Proof Order

The novel I conceived in the second half of 2009 is now in the birthing canal.

Yesterday I placed an order for a proof copy of Scattered Stones. After I hit the CONFIRM button, I sat back and thought about the journey to give me a better perspective of what I had done.

In May 2010, I had written the last 60,000 words in a rush to reach the end. Then the manuscript went through multiple edits, being read and sporadically edited by beta readers. I edited and revised when I found time, often between stints of working outside the home. For six months in 2014, I barely had a chance to look at it because I worked six to seven days a week, putting in ten-hour days at a garden centre. This sort of schedule doesn’t leave much time to eat, sleep and say hello to the kids, let alone hours bellied-up to a computer to edit a novel.

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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.

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Writing Tip: Giving Characters Their Distinct Voice

Writing TipHow many times have you heard, all the characters sound the same? Probably more than once. One of my exercises the past few months is reading reviews on Amazon. I don’t bother reading the four and five stars. They don’t tell me what I want to know: what a story lacks.

One of the pet peeves of readers I see often is lack of distinct character voice. One reviewer went as far as to give an example of how characters can make themselves individuals and sound more distinct.

Using his example as a guide, I created my own example:

If I stubbed my toe, I’d say damn. If my teenage daughter did the same, she’d say crap. We are different generations—which certainly sets us apart—but we are also different people who grew up in different neighbourhoods.
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Simple Tips to Make Your Book Description Standout on Amazon

Lessons in Self-publishingConfession: When I uploaded my first book to Kindle many moons ago, dozens of things ran through my mind…

  • Is anyone going to read it?
  • Is anyone going to like it?
  • Will the interior formatting pass Kindle’s inspection?
  • Will the cover be the right size and quality?
  • Did I miss something that will make it not appear on the website?
  • Is the ISBN correct?
  • Am I spelling my name right? (Yes, I worried about this too)
  • Am I choosing the right key words?
  • Is my description good enough?
  • Are there spelling mistakes in the description?
  • Will the power go out before I complete the publishing? (Okay, that’s my worry today because of the blizzard outside.)

Publishing for the first time can be overwhelming. The goal is get the book uploaded and to not get bogged down by unimportant details. Worrying about all these things I listed gave me no mindset to focus on individual aspects of the eBook publishing process.

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Kindle Spell Check and Preview Your Book While in the Publishing Stage

Lessons in Self-publishingLast week—while discussing Amazon’s warning about spelling mistakes and bad formatting for eBooks published on their site—I realised not everyone is completing all the steps necessary to upload and publish a book.

Book title, author’s name, tags, description and the other items on the Kindle publishing page are important, but the two check points before you hit “Publish” are equally important.

These check points are Kindle Spell Check and Preview Your Book.

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