Are you Ready to Self Publish

As my little house takes off and more people are sending in manuscripts I find myself drawn to books on formatting and how to publish using the print on demand services. I stumbled across this guide “A detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and other Online Booksellers, Volume 1”
If you are just starting out this book is full of formatting tips, choosing a publisher, creating book covers and publishing both print and ebooks. There are two volumes to this book but I believe that they could both be combined in one volume.
I have several issues with this book. The biggest on is that they are in love with Amazon to the detriment of the other opportunities out there. They only briefly mentioned Lightning Source, which is the only print on demand printer that will take back returns.
The printed word is actually growing, and who knows where the ebook will go. Despite the favor among smart phones and tablets, many people still prefer an ereader the epaper and eink is much easier to read than the glare of the screens of tables and smart phones.
There are so many more opportunities out there. For that reason, though he has many great tips I have to give it three stars. If it was more general or talked about other publishers more it would have gotten more stars, but for me, I am rooting for the little guy. The indie bookstore, the small press, we need to take back our books from Amazon. Therefore books on self publishing or starting your own imprint should embrace more than createspace and kdp.
Just my two cents worth.

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Do you want to increase your word count? This book will help you out.

2,000to 10,000 How to write faster, write better, and write more of what you love.
This handy little book instructs and informs about how to write more. If you are serious about being an author you need to address this as a profession. She builds it on a triangle. !st plot or outline. If you know where you are going then you know where you will write. This cuts out dead ends and strange meanderings. The second leg of the triangle is record you time. By keeping records of how much work you do you can track your efficiency. The third leg is enthusiasm, if you are looking forward to the scene and your task for the day you will naturally fall into the flow.
With so many books out on the market and the boom of self publishing you must embrace the old notion. Publish or perish. I am an avid user of the pomodoro technique to track my writing and the amount of time I spend revising, writing, outlining, or proof reading. This has allowed me to get a whole lot more work done.
I give this little book 4 stars. It is chock full of information and handy tips. The writer leads you to believe that you can indeed write 10k words a day, and have them be the best words you can write.

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What happened Easter Weekend

I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks. I was at Norwescon the biggest scifi convention in the Pacific Northwest. It is an awesome affair with 2500 scifi fans and nerds from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia.
I ran into many old friends some of whom I met at the con in the 80’s, I know I know I am really dating myself. I attended several panels on writing, finding an agent, outline or fly by the seat of your pants, and about running a publishing house.
It was all very awesome. I learned a lot reinforced the things that I already new and got some new ideas. The thing I noticed most though was how late I stayed up.
In the 80’s and 90’s I would stay up until 3 am dancing, partying, socializing, hanging out in the hospitality suite. Now I look at my watch and it say 9 PM and I want to head for bed.
The con has aged, there are some octogenarians, some teen agers, many parents brought their kids. Now a child that was born during the first masquerade I went to has children of his own.
It is remarkable that such diversity exists. That there is something for everyone at the convention, I am still open to learning and meeting new people. Not it is from 8 am to 9 PM but that is ok. People need a place to unleash their passions, for me and my friend Rachael it is the conventions. I will have more thoughts as I travel to Dragoncon this year where hopefully I will make more friends.

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Is Writing in the Stars?

Astrology for Writers by Corrine Kenner had me intrigued. I thoroughly enjoyed and found inspiration in her book “Tarot for Writer.” This one, not so much.

She starts by defining the planets and the sun, giving their mythological history. She moves on to help you create an astrological chart for your character and asking pointed questions about how a character would act if Jupiter was in Aries.

I think that astrology is too static. With tarot cards you looked at the cards saw pictures and that inspired you to write, even if you didn’t know what the card represented traditionally. Plus she used layouts to define a character and to progress the plot. Even if you got nothing out of the book but layouts to help you define a story but looking at pretty pictures that was enough.

Astrology doesn’t provide visual clues. If you were very into astrology perhaps making a characters chart would help you define your character. But a good book on character traits, or a workbook on questions to ask your character would yield more defining results.

In my Epic Fantasy Series the characters worship the stars, and five elder stars in particular. These elder stars are actually planets, so I do sort of makeup star charts in my series. I am rather partial to worshiping stars, so I was intriqued about how to use astrology to deepen your writing.

I am giving the book 3 stars because it is a great primer for understanding astrology, it just isn’t in the stars for me to crow about.


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What do you do when you can’t outline and can’t be organic

“Write your Novel from the Middle. A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers, and Everyone in Between.” By James Scott Bell.

I love to collect books on writing that will help me create a cohesive story. This one is probably good for some, and I got some good suggestions, but it truly shines if you happen to be a pantser.

Many people can’t start a book until you know how it ends. I am that way, but I use an outline program called outline 4d and I vaguely know what I want to accomplish at the end and build my books chapter by chapter.

I have seen many a pantser struggle, firmly committed to the idea that good writers don’t need an outline. I would suggest this book to you, not because I think you need to outline, but to give you an ideal place to start then you can work backwards.

James Scott Bell puts out a clear and succinct argument about starting in the middle. He states that if you know where you book is going the beginning is easy. This approach can work for people who are stuck on beginnings and want to use the method to understand the outcome of their characters actions.

He postulates that by knowing what is going to happen in the middle or end of the book before you start the beginning will allow an organic flow of action and give you something in which to build tension.

I applaud this book for trying to get that age old question, to outline or not to outline, to be looked at from a different view point. He has many good suggestions especially for pantsers. However, it was just an average book for someone that works from outlines. Read it, gather a few nuggets of wisdom, it is worth the money, as this little book is very affordable. But understand that this is just an average book with average new information.


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The Snowflake Method is Interesting

The Snowflake Method could work.

Today I talk about a small book called “How to write a novel using the Snowflake Method” by Randy Ingermanson. This presents a combination of outlining and organic writing.

He uses the metaphor of Goldilocks at a writers conference to present his ideas. Goldlilocks always wanted to be a writer, but she was trapped in the practical career, the caring for her children, and in general following the good advice people gave to her about her jobs and careers.

She goes to a writers conference and with baby bear finds a style just right for her.

The method is using a mathematical system that starts out with a big picture and putting in more and more detail until you have a rich tapestry of deep characters, complex plots with lots of twists and a finished book.

I have recommended this book to several of my friends who are failed organic writers as a means to add structure and form to their story. Those that are hard core outliner will find this book too organic.

The book presents some interesting thoughts, and exercises, and the use of children’s story book characters makes it very friendly. However, it is just another writing book, it didn’t make me go wow, nor did I want to throw it across the room. If you are wanting something to help you structure you writing but you don’t want to embrace an outline then possibly this book is for you. It is not a bad book, it is a book with some interesting theories.


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Larry Brooks does it again

Though I usually write reviews for less well known books, look for “Astrology for Writers” in the upcoming weeks. This week I am going to review a Writer’s Digest book. I had the privilege of meeting the author at Willamette Writers Conference. He proved to be a dynamic speaker, and broke down the three act structure to digestible bite size pieces.

This week I look at Larry Brooks “Story Fix, Transform your Novel from Broken to Brilliant.” This is a follow up book to his well know “Story Engineering,” and “Story Physics.”

I despair at the organic writers. They let their vision take them to strange places that doesn’t propel their plot forward. Well story fix is a revision book that everyone should read, from pantsers to plotters. You need to get your story into a classical structure, and this book will help you do it through a series of hard line, yet humorous, instructions.

Many of you have heard me despair over my friend that is a diehard organic writer. I want to help her, I truly do, but she seems to reject the work that she must do. The other week she mentioned that because she read so much she instinctively wrote in the classic story structure. The problem is, she didn’t. She has been working on her book for 10 years and still hasn’t finished it. What is she going to do when an editor, who might be interested in her book, asks how long it takes her to write one? The can be devastating to a career where publishing houses expect at the minimum 1 book a year.

I have recommended to her Larry Brook’s books, just so she can learn structure. I recommend this book to you. Whether you are an organic writer or not you will benefit from a cold hard clinical look at your novel and see where you need to tighten it up.

He deals with situation like where to actually start your book, hint it is not at the beginning. How to identify each of the plot points for you novel and how and when to strengthen them, and how to give you reader a bit of a break.

Finally he uses case studies from his own business as examples of conversation that the person must have with themselves.

I give this book five stars because it doesn’t pull any punches and will make you look at your work with a critical eye.

Good luck and I hope to see you al next week.

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Story Structure book by K. M. Weiland

“Structuring you Novel” by K. M. Weiland is well worth a gander. I am a big advocate of outlines. I am mystified by people who say “I can’t outline my characters don’t let me.” They are figments of your imagination you tell them what to do. However, even the most diehard organic writer would benefit with a clear and concise structural basis for their novels. What is a crisis? Where should the first plot point be? What is an inciting incident, and do I need one? Is there a difference between crisis and climax?

The three act structure has been around since the beginning of written history, and probably even during spoken history. Start with a bang, build up tension, and end with a satisfying conclusion that makes the audience want to go out and read you next book.

Reading this book on structure, if you are bound and determined to write organically, will not change your mind. But maybe, if you understand how the three act structure works, you will put these principles into play.

I found this book and the accompanying workbook to concisely explain the structure and how to apply it to your own work. If you are an organic writer, you will benefit from the suggestions as you look down that long hall of revision. If you are an outliner you will be able to intentionally put in the points as you need to in your outline to make your work more cohesive.

I give this work 5 stars because the world needs more practical books on structure and plotting and this will be the guidebook that you need.

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Tarot Cards to help you Write

In my on going quest to ferret out obscure writing books, today I am going to review “Tarot for Writers” by Corrine Kenner.

Writers have long used tarot cards as writing prompts. Even the famous Stephen King uses them. The imagery on the cards, the pictures and the symbolism sparks a deep chord.

Though almost any deck with varied pictures for inspiration can work, the tarroka by whitewolf for the Ravenloft supplements was specifically created to inspire character and plot development in a Dungeons and Dragons game. This book deals and interprets the Universal Tarot.

In this book are not only description of the cards and what they stand for but also layouts for story development character development, and time lines.

I find the layouts and interpreting the hero’s journey through the book to be especially helpful. This book inspired me to acquire several decks, each one to match my mood or the kind of character I am writing about. Light fuzzy cards for good guys and dark brooding cards for antagonists.

If you are looking for a way to infinitely be inspired for your plot lines. Maybe you have an old deck from your teenage days when you thought love revolved around a turn of the cards. You should look into this book.

I would give it five stars, but the card descriptions sometimes veered off writing topics and hit a metaphysical note. However, the layouts are a great guide, and one you shouldn’t miss out on.

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A handy little books with some useful advice.

In my on going desire to promote writers books, I am critiquing a small book by Rayne Hall called “The Word-Loss Diet: Professional Self-Editing Techniques for Authors.”

The little book is packed full of really useful tips. You find yourself with too many thats or looks. Well using her simple techniques of applying your word processer’s highlighting and find and replace you will see how many of your trouble words are in your manuscript.

I find myself with a lot of nods and looks. Two of my biggest foibles, but when I use the techniques described in the book, all of the words that cause problems get highlighted.

She also provides a list of common overly used words. Words to look out for, and increases your awareness of your mistakes in your manuscript when you are in revision.

A very handy little book one that you should get for your kindle or even in print form.


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