E-Book Self-Publishing—It’s a Minefield Out There

Self-publishing an e-book is relatively quick and easy nowadays, which is why so many authors are taking that route. If you’re one of them, you might want to read this article:

Indie Authors are being Preyed Upon

This excerpt from the article will give you a good idea of what it’s about:

When it comes to publishing a digital book yourself, there are a myriad of daunting barriers. How exactly do you formulate a proper table of contents? How do you convert your book from Word to EPUB or to a Kindle friendly format? What is the industry standard for line spacing, font types or margins? What is the average cover art size for Apple iBooks, or Barnes and Noble? Aside from just writing your book, you could spend months formatting it correctly to self-publish, if you never had to do it before. Not willing to learn, or to cut corners is prompting predatory behavior from publishing companies, vanity presses and unscrupulous review companies.

The Writer’s Toolbox: Dialogue – Part 3

One of my clients, a man who hopes to become a successful novelist, recently told me that his favorite writers are Pat Conroy, Cormac McCarthy, Stephen King, and Nelson DeMille.

I was glad to hear it. Those four authors cover a wide range of writing styles. During the conversation with my client, it became clear that he not only reads novels by these authors, but he thinks about the novels and the writing techniques that have made these authors so successful.

You should be doing this, too. By exposing yourself to variety in your reading habits, and by paying attention to how successful authors work their craft, you’ll be able to find your own writing voice and, hopefully, your own success.

Speaking of successful authors . . .

Block vs. Burke

In my recent blog posts about dialogue, I mentioned one of my favorite writers, Lawrence Block. I especially like Block’s Matthew Scudder series. Scudder is a private investigator who also happens to be a recovering alcoholic. He usually has serious personal problems to resolve while tracking down murderers, kidnappers, and other appropriately evil antagonists. The dialogue in these novels is typically quick back-and-forth lines that give the reader little in terms of physical setting and visual hits on the characters as they interact.

Another author I like is James Lee Burke. Like Lawrence Block, Burke has written a series about a private investigator. This man’s name is Dave Robicheaux, and he lives and works in the New Orleans area. There are a lot of similarities between Block’s character Matthew Scudder and Burke’s character Dave Robicheaux. Both are private investigators. Both are ex-cops. Both are recovering alcoholics. Both are intelligent and introspective. Both often have relationship problems. Both are good at solving murders.

With all those similarities in their stories and main characters, you might think that Burke and Block would naturally adapt similar styles in how they use dialogue.


Read more . . .

Take a Bow

Guest post by Tarra Gordon, author of Confessions of the Crow.

Here is what I’ve learned about the challenge of writing: There are lots of ups and downs. One moment we’re flying high, convinced we’ve created the next Harry Potter, and the next moment we’re ready to bury the monstrosity we’ve created in the backyard.

But we move forward.

We experience the thrill of completing our novel, to learn the struggle of revisions. We send it off to an editor and learn that we must revise further. We hunker down, complete the revisions, and submit our masterpiece to literary agents, only to face the agony of rejection. We have the mind blowing, screaming moment of completion of our novel only to experience the crippling panic of writing the next novel, terrified we will never again be able to write something worth reading.

And sometimes we forget. We forget how far we’ve come. We forget how amazing we are.

My good friend told me something over the holidays that I’ll never forget. I had let her know that I’d put my book online. Amidst all the congratulations and joy, she said (and I’ll paraphrase), “You know what? You’re amazing! Think about it. Nobody stood over your shoulder and told you to write every day. You made that decision. You made it happen. That was all you, working hard and determined to reach your dream. You did it. Take a bow!”

Every writer in the world is the same in a way. Whether published, self-published, or unpublished, we are astounding examples of tenacious hard workers, dreamers who are unstoppable, making our dreams come true. Remember that, because we oftentimes forget. Instead, we focus on what we haven’t yet accomplished—that we don’t have an agent, or a book deal, or a number one slot on Amazon. We forget that there was a time when we didn’t write at all—in fact, we couldn’t conceive of such a thing! We forget that the mere thought of writing a book seemed completely unrealistic . . . too hard . . . impossible! After all, we were too busy, or we just hadn’t ever thought about doing something so mind-boggling as attempting to communicate our souls through 300 pages of words.

Try not to forget. Wherever you are in your pursuit of your dream, remind yourself that you did it through your own determination. It makes you one of the rarest and most amazing people in the world! Be proud! Like my friend said to me: Stand up . . . take a bow!

The Writer’s Toolbox: Dialogue – Part 2

In my blog post of February 10, 2014 (The Writer’s Toolbox: Dialogue – Part 1), I included an excerpt from Lawrence Block’s mystery novel A Long Line of Dead Men. Block depends heavily on dialogue to drive the story lines in his novels, yet his narrative rarely steps outside the dialogue to give the reader details of physical setting, and he rarely shows how the characters are reacting to one another as they talk. There aren’t many smiles or shrugs or hand gestures in Block’s dialogue scenes. Instead, he depends on the dialogue itself and the reader’s imagination to flesh out the scenes. Check the February 10 post for a good example of Lawrence Block’s technique in writing dialogue.

Block is a successful, award-winning author. Does that mean you should follow his example as you craft scenes of dialogue in your own novel?

Read more . . .

The Writer’s Toolbox: Dialogue – Part 1

I hope you’ve been keeping your toolbox close at hand, and that you reach into it whenever you need a tool to help you breathe life into a character, build tension into a dramatic confrontation, pick up the pace of your story, or give the reader important background information. If you write novels or narrative nonfiction books, characterization, drama, pace, and backstory are all important tools.

I talked about the writer’s toolbox in my January 14, 2014 blog post. My point was that instead of looking at things like characterization and plot as elements in a story, you should view them as tools to be used in crafting your story. It’s more than semantics. When a carpenter arrives at a worksite, he has his own toolbox with things like hammers, saws, and drills. He doesn’t tote these tools around because he wants people to know he’s a carpenter, and he doesn’t wait for the tools to hop out of the toolbox and assert themselves. The carpenter is in charge. He selects the tool he needs for a particular job, and he uses it in the best way to accomplish what he needs to accomplish.

Think of your writer’s toolbox in the same way, as something you reach for when you need to accomplish a particular task.

Read more . . .