What I’ve Read: Wool by Hugh Howey

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This was completely out of my comfort zone. I have lurked in the YA fiction section for what feels like my whole life. Then, one day, I stepped out of that isle in Barnes & Noble and saw this beauty.

Why did I pick this book you may ask?

First, check out that beautiful cover. The colors pop. Then, I remembered hearing about this author and this book. He self-published, much like myself. Finally, this book is super hyped. At least it is on my Google+ page, anyway. So, I figured I’d hop on the hype train and see what it was all about for myself.

I’m so glad I did.

Wool is actually an omnibus of a series Howey wrote based in the walls of an underground silo – a single marker in the vast, desert landscape surrounding it. The people within are a memory of what humanity once was. These people live on separate floors of the silo, and each floor has its own purpose. There’s a floor for the hydroponic farms, a floor for maintenance, IT, ranching, butchering, etc. As one might imagine, there is also a hierarchy built within the confines of this silo. The middle floors would be considered middle class, the upper floors are higher class, and the bottom floors are- Well, you get the picture. Ultimately, everyone functions within the same guidelines everyday. If one doesn’t, he/she gets sent to do the cleaning.

The story starts by following a man who has elected himself as a cleaner. The cleaning is essentially someone leaving the silo and wiping off the cameras outside, which are covered in grime from never ending dust storms outside, so that the people in the silo can see the outside world on the giant wall screens on the top floor. People get anxious when there hasn’t been a cleaning in a while. They suit him up in a very astronaut-like garb and send him outside. However, when he makes it out, he sees that the world around him is lush, green, and very much alive, unlike what is projected to them through the cameras. The man, joyous with this discovery, cleans the cameras in sympathy for those who will never see the outside. Then, he makes a run for the hills. However, before he can reach the top, the screen in his suit goes black, his oxygen tank stops working, and the wind outside rips the very suit and skin from his bones. The world around him is dead.

And this is only the beginning of the story. The remainder follows a young mechanic named Juliette (or Jules, as she prefers). That is where the story really takes off as she discovers hidden truths within the confines of her silo.

This is a book I couldn’t put down. There was never a slow moment, and I couldn’t seem to turn the pages fast enough to see what happened next. Definitely one for the bookshelf.

Purchased? Oh yes.

What do you think? Will you be adding this to your TBR pile? Have you already read it? What did you think? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to review my books? Click here!

These posts are for book discussion and to express my overly-fangirly nature over certain books and series. Though I already have an extensive library with plenty of reading material, I’m always looking out for new or interesting titles. Not only is this for me, but for other writers! Often times, writers forget they started off as readers. Support your fellow authors and read!

WARNING: SELF-PROMO IS NOT ALLOWED IN THE COMMENTS
It will be considered spam and deleted immediately. However, if you would like me to buy and read your book, I’ll gladly take recommendations on this page. Fill out the contact sheet with a link to your book, and I will get to reading! While I will read most recommendations, I won’t review them all. If the book in question would probably get less than three stars, I’ll simply keep the review to myself and either email the author directly (if they themselves sent me a contact sheet), or just not discuss the book at all. I want to recommend books that I will read, and that I think others will enjoy. No need to embarrass someone in the name of reviewing.

Thank you for your understanding.

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What I’ve Read: Ico Castle in the Mist by Miyuki Miyabe

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As I’ve written before, Ico is one of my favorite video games of all time. Video games and books have taught me so much about myself and about writing, it would be foolish to try to separate one from the other. When I discovered that an author had been given the rights to write a book based on the story and world of Ico, you can imagine my excitement. My favorite video game in book form? What is there not to love?

Well, let me tell you, this book is nostalgia goodness. I felt like I was playing the game again. A lot of the puzzles showed up in here, and even the descriptions of the castle mimicked a lot of the stages of the video game. The lore she layered onto this world is an absolute treat for anyone who has played the game and wants to strengthen their immersion while playing.

For those who don’t know the general premise:

Ico Castle in the Mist (and Ico the video game) follows a young boy, born with horns, as he traverses the mysterious castle he has seemingly been sacrificed to. There, he meets a girl by the name of Yorda who is unable to speak to him. She has been trapped here in a giant metal bird cage, and, once freed, she is too weak to travel alone. Ico must take Yorda by the hand and lead her through the castle to save both himself and her. Fighting off shadow creatures with horns much like his and solving strange puzzles, Ico learns the secrets of the castle and of Yorda, all while trying to find his way home.

Will people enjoy this who have played it or who are playing it?

Absolutely.

Can people who have never played the game still enjoy it?

… meh? Is that a good answer? It’s hard for me to say since I have played the game. So, I read it from the perspective of a gamer playing a game. This isn’t like reading a walk-through, but it’s got a few moments where it feels like I should be playing while reading. There were moments where I thought the author might be playing as she was writing certain scenes. Those sections would probably drag to those who haven’t played the game. While it helped me immerse myself in the world again, and it tickled my giddy, nostalgic self, the stage descriptions and puzzles may seem trivial and unnecessary to newcomers.

I think you could enjoy it if you like high fantasy writing without the high fantasy elements. Otherwise, you may get bored.

Even so, this is definitely one that goes on my “favorites” shelf.

Worth the Purchase?  Most definitely.

What do you think? Based on this description, would you read it? Have you read it? Have you played the game? Let me know, and comment below.

Thanks for reading!

-Lissy

Want to review my books? Click here!

These posts are for book discussion and to express my overly-fangirly nature over certain books and series. Though I already have an extensive library with plenty of reading material, I’m always looking out for new or interesting titles. Not only is this for me, but for other writers! Often times, writers forget they started off as readers. Support your fellow authors and read!

WARNING: SELF-PROMO IS NOT ALLOWED IN THE COMMENTS
It will be considered spam and deleted immediately. However, if you would like me to buy and read your book, I’ll gladly take recommendations on this page. Fill out the contact sheet with a link to your book, and I will get to reading! While I will read most recommendations, I won’t review them all. If the book in question would probably get less than three stars, I’ll simply keep the review to myself and either email the author directly (if they themselves sent me a contact sheet), or just not discuss the book at all. I want to recommend books that I will read, and that I think others will enjoy. No need to embarrass or completely wreck someone in the name of reviewing.

Thank you for your understanding.

9 Things you need to know before you start to query.

The QueryShark badge

Not too long ago, I wrote a post on how to format a manuscript. Then, I wrote a post on things you need to know to traditionally publish.

Now it is time to learn how to actually go about getting published.

The number one thing you need to learn to land an agent or publishing deal is to query.

What is a query you might ask?

The simplest way I can think to explain it is to go to your bookshelf/book pile, pluck your favorite book off the top, and take a look at the back cover or the inside flap where the description of the book is.

This is essentially a query.

It is a brief description of your book that will entice readers (or agents, or publishers) to read pages. It is your marketing plan without actually saying, “Please, oh please, read me.”

Want to know how to write a back cover blurb? Click here to read my tips and tricks!

90% of what you need to put in a query is what you would want to put on the back of your book. Here is what you need to know before you start querying:

  1. READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES
    I can’t say this enough. There is an industry standard when it comes to querying, but that doesn’t mean every single agent will have the same exact guidelines. Like I’ve said before, the number one reason for rejection is not reading the guidelines and being auto-rejected because the agent feels you are wasting their time. If you couldn’t take the time to read the guidelines, how could you have taken the time to polish your manuscript? To polish the query you’re sending to them? Just do it. Those five minutes you spend reading guidelines could very well make the difference between a request for pages and a form rejection.
  2. YOU WILL BE QUERYING MORE AGENTS THAN PUBLISHING HOUSES
    That’s just how it is. Most publishers won’t take you on unless you are represented by an agent – someone who knows the business. They are the gatekeepers. So don’t be surprised when you go on the hunt for publishers and no one is taking unsolicited, unrepresented authors. It’s to protect them from the ever-growing slush pile agents are having to sift through. Plus, they don’t want to have any legal battles with an unrepresented author who may not understand certain contracts or conditions. It’s just the business.
  3. YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE PUBLISHING CREDITS
    You don’t. They’re nice, sure, but you don’t have to have them. Don’t make it out like it is a huge deal either. Just at the end of your query, before your closing, simply put (… this is my first novel.) Simple. You aren’t the focus in a query. Your manuscript is. Don’t get hung up on the finer details.
  4. EDIT YOUR QUERY AS MUCH AS YOU EDITED YOUR NOVEL
    A standard query should be one page long. No more. Granted, there are exceptions, but for the most part, you shouldn’t go past a page. You want to take your novel, strip it down to the bare, bare bones without giving away the ending and there is your query. It sounds easier than it actually is. You should have as many revisions of your query as you did your novel. If you haven’t even revised your novel, don’t write a query. Want tips on editing a query? Click here!
  5. DON’T QUERY UNTIL THE NOVEL IS DONE
    You’re querying for a deal. In exchange for this deal of representation, you provide a finished and polished novel.
  6. MOST QUERIES SHOULD BE IN THIRD PERSON
    Even if your novel is in first-person, most first person queries are seen as gimmicks. What is third person? He, she, it. He did this. She said this. It did such and such.
  7. FORMATTING (SOLELY FOR EMAILS. READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTION. SHOULD BE PASTED IN THE BODY OF THE EMAIL)
    Dear Agent Name,Ashley Judd insertdramaticvoiceandstunningrevelationsoftriumphloveandacceptance, yatta yatta, blah, blah, blah.

    THE DRAMATIC VOICE AND STUNNING REVELATIONS is a horror novel complete at 45,000 words. It is my debut novel.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Alyssa Hubbard

  8. DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR MANUSCRIPT, LINKS, OR ATTACHMENTS IF QUERYING BY EMAIL
    Certain spam filters hate links and attachments. Any and all queries, if requested by email, should be put into the body of the email. It shouldn’t be a wall of text. Make some white space. Don’t include anything that isn’t requested by the agent. Do not submit to an agent that just wants your full manuscript without prior query. That should be a red flag. A synopsis is fine, but only if it is in the guidelines.
  9. READ AS MANY QUERIES AS POSSIBLE
    The best way to learn how to write is to write and to read. The best way to learn to query is to read and write queries. My favorite query website is QueryShark. It’s a wonderful place to read bad queries, their revisions, and an actual agent’s feelings on queries. That blog is an extremely valuable tool that I visit quite often. You should, too.

How do you feel about these tips? Are you query ready? Have you queryed before? What has been your experience? Let me know, and comment below.

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! 
Don’t be shy!

Want to check out some books?
CLICK HERE

 

4 Things Catherine taught me about writing

WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

First a little background on the game Catherine, as described on the Catherine Wiki:

Catherine is an M-rated horror/romance/puzzle/adventure video game from Atlus USA, released on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The game is developed by the same team that created Persona 3 and Persona 4: Katsura Hashino as Director, Shigenori Soejima as Character Designer, and Shōji Meguro as Sound Composer.

It deals heavily with the themes of commitment, relationships, infidelity, maturity and love, while intertwining the horror and mystery of a rash of unexplained deaths of young men, rumored to be the “Women’s Wrath”: vengeance against the unfaithful.

The story revolves around Vincent, his long-term girlfriend Katherine, and his subsequent affair with Catherine. Following the affair, he is plunged into nightmares each time he sleeps, which makes up the puzzle/action part of the game. Each night within his dream, Vincent must push and pull blocks from a tower to create a path to the top, all the while racing against a time-limit or outrunning bosses which are manifestations of his real-life fears.

During the day, Vincent can freely explore and talk to his friends at the bar, listen to music at a jukebox, send and receive text messages, order drinks, play an arcade game, and experience the narrative of his struggle of choosing between Katherine and Catherine. There are 8 possible endings based on the various choices the player makes throughout the game.

As you can probably tell, this is one of the run-of-the-mill Japanese horror games with endings separated out between “Good” and “Bad” endings depending on which woman you decide to pursue a relationship with, as well as how you treat other NPCs in the game. I’m a sucker for anything reminiscent to my anime fanatic days, then throw in a puzzle? Plus romance and horror? I was hooked from the start.

I’ve written about other games like Minecraft, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, and Animal Crossing: New Leaf! Click the titles to see what I learned!

And of course, my writing life always intermingles with my gaming life, so here is what I learned from my time with the wonderful game Catherine:

  1. Your characters need motivation.
    They can’t just do things, just to do them. I mean, sure, I do some random crazy things, but most people don’t do that. So you have to give them a reason. Vincent is in love with Katherine, so why would he cheat on her? The creators had to give Katherine a bit of a controlling, pressuring side to push Vincent to seek a freer partner in Catherine. Otherwise, we would have no plot, or on the flip side, Vincent would just be a dumb asshole. Vincent is still a dumb asshole, but at least we can sympathize with him a little. He has a reason. It’s a crappy reason, but a reason.
  2. People should somewhat like your main character.
    They don’t have to necessarily love them, but they should at least be able to sympathize and root for them. Vincent is scum. I didn’t like him, but I felt bad because Katherine was somewhat mean to him… and I loved Katherine, so that was hard for me to admit in the end. I didn’t agree with what Vincent did, but there was a part of me that felt bad for him, too. Katherine made me want to like him. Which leads me to my next point:
  3. Side characters are important.
    The main character is Vincent. He is you, you are him. But Vincent’s story would be nothing without Catherine and Katherine, plus all of his friends. This is a very plot-driven game. You connect stories from the people you meet, and every decision you make interacting with these characters plays a role in what ending you get. If you ignore characters, they may die, which, in turn, will cause Vincent to miss out on an interaction. It makes a huge difference. Don’t forget those side characters.
  4. Your character’s decisions have consequences.
    They can’t do something bad and expect to get away without a scratch, unless of course they are master thieves, then I guess that could happen… but for our regular characters, there are scratches. Lots of them. Vincent is a cheater and depending on who you ultimately choose to be with, he doesn’t get away with the perfect girl with just a “Sorry, love ya.” Oh no, he has to go through hell to win her back – literally. Consequences create plot. Don’t be afraid to punish your babies.

This game was interesting, fun, and kept me going until the very end, and that’s how I want my books to feel. Have you played Catherine before? Think you will? How do you feel about these tips? Find them helpful? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading!

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! 
Don’t be shy!

Want to check out some books?
CLICK HERE

 

How to Write Female and Male Characters

When I am asked this question, I like to refer back to one of my favorite picture sets of all time:

Same goes for men.

But anyway, I know this is a serious question. I’ll give it a serious answer, but first let me reflect on something I’ve recently been toying with. Have you ever thought about writing something without any genders at all? Nothing at all. I’m not saying write a story about a genderless species or aliens (though that is always cool), I’m saying writing a story where even you don’t know the genders until the end. It’s very interesting to see what comes out.

If you’re having to ask this question, maybe this is something you can try. Create a personality, one without a gender or name associated with it. I often pick names of seasons or months just to identify different voices, then at the end go back and see how they feel. Maybe you can try this? See if you like it? Regardless, onward to the post:

  • Personalities aren’t the same as a gender.
    Not all women are feminine, not all men are masculine. Not all women want to be out of the house, some men want to be house-husbands. Not all women like dresses and Gossip Girl, not all men like cars and women, at least not exclusively. Make a personality, give the character likes and dislikes, make a person before you make a woman or a man. It’s much easier to write a character when they have a personality of their own. That way, gender isn’t the only thing that separates them from other characters. It’s easy to say, she’s a woman, he’s a man. It’s much better to say she’s a gamer who likes to read and make fart jokes, and he’s an outgoing socialite. See? Personality isn’t synonymous with gender.
  • Gender identifiers.
    If you have a character with a stunning personality, or shitty personality, whatever, and you still feel like your character’s gender isn’t “real,” then here is a short list of things often associated with men and women:
    This can differ depending on their jobs or personalities, so keep that in mind, too. Don’t sacrifice your character’s personality for these stereotypes. Not all of them apply to every woman or man, and these shouldn’t be considered 100% factual. A lot of these are plain wrong, but coming from beta readers, this has been my experience, which is unfortunately skewed.
    -In dialogue men tend to have shorter sentences, women tend to be more detail-oriented with their speech.
    -Men tend to “worry” less than women. A woman will often times have more nervous body language, men more relaxed.
    -Women are thought-oriented. If you have lengthy expositions of just thought, it is more likely to be considered a woman.
    -Women tend to multitask (i.e. listening to music while reading), while men are often found doing a single task.
    -Women have closed body language (arms crossed or held close to the body, legs crossed), men are more open (arms resting on their knees, legs spread).
    -Men are less likely to touch each other, women are a lot more personable and polite with one another (though neither may feel that way).

In short, just write the character. Everyone’s different, and there is no way you can encapsulate the entire gender within a single character. So, what do you think? Are you as disappointed with the gender stereotypes as I am? Do you agree that personality isn’t synonymous with gender? Anything you’d like to add? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading!

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! 
Don’t be shy!

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How to Format a Manuscript

There are plenty of guides on how to do this. Plenty to be found on the internet, but a lot of them, I have found, don’t have examples, which I will be sharing with you all today. If you didn’t already know, there is a general consensus on how to format a manuscript, and this has been done since typewriters, which explains why things are formatted a certain way.

First off, let me disclaimer: Not every publisher will follow these guidelines.

I feel like this is the main problem a lot of people have. They think everyone will follow the same format, but that is just not the case. The majority will use this format, but you should still read their guidelines before sending anything in.

The number one reason for rejection is disregard for the general submission guidelines! Remember that!

Anyway, on to the list and example (which will be at the end)!

First off, if you have Scrivener, a lot of this will be done for you and is set up as default, so you may not have to worry about this. For those of you who don’t, Courier (any of its varieties), is the most accepted font. Times New Roman, Arial, and Garamond are also very popular so make sure to check the submission guidelines. So,

  • FONT
    Most common: Courier (any varieties)
    Other possible: Garamond, Arial, Times New Roman
  • COVER PAGE
    Name (Real, unless otherwise specified)
    Address (Mailing preferred, billing may be requested later, unless otherwise specified)
    Email address
    Phone number
    Agent’s name (Omit when necessary)
    Agent’s address (Omit when necessary)
    Title (Formatting example at the end of post)
    by Name (Pseudonym here if applicable, formatting example at the end of post)
  • PAGE NUMBERING
    In the top right corner on the second page, put the following in formation in the format:
    LastName / StoryTitle / Page#
    This should appear in the header portion of the manuscript.
    Not every publisher will want this, as some prefer anonymous submissions to promote a fair review, so once again, check the submission guidelines before submitting. On the first page, in the same spot you placed the LastName / StoryTitle / Page#, you’ll put your approximate word count.
  • END PAGE
    At the very end of the manuscript, skip a line, then put: <<<< >>>>
    This will signify the end of the manuscript.

Now for the example PDF: This is an Example

I hope that helped! Did it? Is there something else you’d like to know? Anything that didn’t make sense or that you wish I had covered? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! 
Don’t be shy!

Want to check out some books?
CLICK HERE

 

Dealing with Rejections, and Knowing When to Quit

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I’d rather fail doing what I love, than succeeding at something I hate.

Call me an idiot, but I’m just telling you the truth.

Writing is a life of rejection. The moment you decide to start on the path of professional writing, you are setting yourself up for a certain amount of failure – some more than others, but there’s almost always failure somewhere along the way. I’ve learned a lot about rejection, and this isn’t the first time I’ve written about rejection. And I’ve always said to never quit, to keep trying, no matter what, to obtain your dream.

But sometimes, it is time to quit.

Now, when I say “quit,” I don’t mean to quit writing. I mean it may be time to move on, to quit pushing that story, that poem, or that manuscript. It’s time to move on to other things and to focus on something that may have a better chance out in the world. While I am a self-published author, I also go out and send out short stories and poems, which I’ve actually had published every once in a while. Self-publishing is wonderful and can be an amazing learning experience, but it leaves little room for learning that painful lesson of rejection. It’s intensely humbling, and can range from mild to intense depression, but there are lessons to be learned, and today I hope to share a few of these lessons with you today. Hopefully, after reading this, if you’re going through a rejection of any kind, you will feel sadness, but know it isn’t the last rejection. You are a creative mind. Keep writing, keep earning those rejections and wear them like badges upon your chest. Be proud of rejection. Some people fear it so much, they never even attempt to be published. If you are reading this and haven’t attempted contests, literary journals, or agents because you fear rejection, let me go ahead and tell you:

I’ve been rejected 104 times as of March 12, 2014. It will probably be even more by the time this post is published. And that’s okay. At least I have tried. That’s what is most important. Now, onward to the list!

  • Markets you may fit best in…
    One key factor in successfully publishing is knowing what market you fit in. Some are better at short stories, others poetry. Some can do fantasy, others can rock out some non-fiction. I’ve had more poems published than I have short stories, surprisingly enough, and I have never claimed to being good at writing poetry.
  • Where you can improve…
    Have you been rejected  in your chosen market? Have you received any feedback or critique? If you’re not making it in your chosen market, it might be time to line up some beta readers, or to read some books in your genre/form. Everyone can improve. J.K. Rowling was rejected PLENTY of times prior to her success in fantasy. Failure can be just as rewarding as success if you let it.
  • You (your work) may need to change…
    In the end, the hard truth may be that you’re not cut out for that market. That’s not to say you won’t ever be. But why focus so hard on one market when there are so many more out there? Not working out with poetry? Ok, while you’re still working out the kinks, try your hand at some short stories, work on a novel, or maybe even try a different poetry form. Blogging may also be your niche! You won’t get anywhere just by resubmitting the same piece over and over and over without working on it and even upping your cred by sending out other stuff. Who knows? You may find your calling.
  • Even if you thought it was perfect, you may need to edit it more…
    I’ve done this plenty of times, especially when I first started sending out manuscripts. When I thought I could edit all of my own stuff to perfection and that I could find every plot hole… Well guess what, I was wrong. Every piece needs work, and could be edited more. Even famous novels can still be found with little errors in them… The point isn’t perfection, it’s getting close enough that people can read your story without distraction. If you find your story still is getting rejected, you may need to take it back to the drawing board and get to editing.
  • Beta readers/Editors/Honest strangers can be your friends…
    Sometimes you need to listen to those you might have brushed off. Beta readers? Ha! What do they know? Except perhaps what they like and what they don’t like, which might be similar to what your audience and your markets like or dislike. This goes for editors and strangers, as well. No one wants to be mean. Unless they’re dicks, in which case that’s all they want to do. But being honest and being mean are completely different things. A good editor/friend/STRANGER will be honest and tell you when something just isn’t working and it might be time to move on.
  • There are always more stories…
    I haven’t heard of anyone who only ever had one story to tell. Life is made up of a bunch of different stories. If one doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean the next will be the same. However, wasting all your time on one piece isn’t getting you anywhere. It could actually be hindering you from finding that piece you actually publish.

In the end, just keep writing. Write until you can’t write anymore, even if you never publish a single thing. Writing is about the journey, about learning and growing as a writer, and in general just doing what you love. Write because you love it.

Love what you do.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know, and comment below.

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! 
Don’t be shy!

Want to check out some books?
CLICK HERE

 

Beta Readers – The Ultimate Guide for Writers

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  • What is a beta reader?
    A person who reads a work for context, plot, and continuity. Not to be confused with an EDITOR who looks for mechanical errors as well as context, plot, and continuity. Is usually not paid. Can be done for any piece of writing, including, but not limited to: blog posts, short stories, poems, novels, etc.

 

  • Where to find them?
    Google+, Twitter, pretty much any social media site you can think of. Local libraries may have info. Friends (the honest, brutal kind, preferably), family (also honest and brutal), local college campuses (plenty of brutality there). Take the time to ASK people! There’s no time to be shy when you might be published.

 

  • Are there bad ones?
    Yes.

 

  • Are there great ones?
    Yes.

 

  • How to tell the difference?
    Good give you concrete reasons why they didn’t like it.
    Good are honest.
    Good mark up your work.
    Good give you more than just: I hate/love it.
    Good give you reasons why they like it.
    Good read what you give them.
    Bad will promise to read it, then never will.
    Bad will give you butt pats and sugar coat everything.
    Bad will analyze you as a person, rather than the work.
    Bad will make changes, but won’t explain why.
    Bad will tell you its garbage and that you’re an idiot.
    Bad will comment on your work without reading the whole thing.
    Bad will usually start with, “No offense, but…”

 

  • How to be a good AUTHOR to beta readers?
    Know that you don’t have to use all their suggestions, but you should still listen to them
    Thank them even if they say they hate it. They took the time to read it.
    Never send them a rewrite unless you asked them beforehand. Don’t take advantage of their kindness.
    Don’t argue with them. They have an opinion. You asked for it. Take it, regardless if you use it or not.
    BE. HUMBLE. Stephen King started as garbage, you started as garbage, EVERYONE started as garbage. Your shit don’t smell like roses.
    EDIT before you send them work. Editors and beta readers are two separate things, though one person can be both. Don’t assume a beta reader is also an editor.

 

  • When do you seek a beta reader?
    When you’ve edited the piece to the point of near-publication readiness MECHANICALLY. Edit out typos and ensure grammar is near-perfection before seeking beta readers.

 

  • What’s the purpose of a beta reader?
    To be your pre-audience, audience. These are the people you let read your work before all of society has access to it. See what they say, take it to heart, and then decide what you need to do before publication or sending it off to a judge/final editor.

 

Once again, and I can’t stress this enough, beta readers are here to help you. You actively seek them out yourself and ask them to read it. They didn’t force you to let them read it. They aren’t forcing their opinions on you. It’s your work. You can do what you want, despite what they say, and that’s okay. But remember they are only trying to help (most of the time). Just thank them for their time and effort and move on. What do you think? Anything you agree or disagree with? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
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Self-Publishers Beware, Some Deals ARE Too Good.

With the rise in self-publishing, traditional publishers are scrambling to keep their side of the market afloat. They’re beginning to approach self-publishers, presenting them deals they may not have received otherwise. Self-publishing has opened doors for creative minds. With the addition of #pitmad and #askanagent on Twitter and G+, self-publishers and aspiring authors are able to pitch directly to the people in the business without forking over loads in travel costs and convention fees.

But writer beware, publishers and agents aren’t the only ones drifting through the waters.

There’s a separate sect of publishing known as:

Vanity Publishing
*cue hisses and dramatic music*

In the past, they’ve masqueraded themselves as traditional publishers, offering their services to every writer they come across. Now, with the increase of self-publishing, they’ve morphed into new and improved self-publishing facilities. They offer you professional-grade covers, editing, and even offer both paperback and eBook to all major retailers, all royalties earned included, but there’s a small catch.

There’s a nominal fee. And when they bring up that fee, you better turn tail and run. A fee is the key in distinguishing a real publisher or publishing house from a vanity publisher. Don’t let your excitement of FINALLY getting published cloud your judgement. And believe me, what they call a “nominal” fee turns out to be a small fortune. And while this may seem common sense, their new platform as “self-publishing service” costs much more than the average self-publishing platform. To put it in perspective, I’ve made a list, detailing the many differences between the three publishing options and how to spot the dreaded vanity publisher.

  • Real publishers get paid when YOU get paid
    Never. Never, never, never, never will a traditional publisher ask you to pay for their services. They take their money from your royalty payments. Same goes for self-publishing services. Use your best judgement. $100 for a cover design is one thing, $5000 for the whole pie before you even get to taste it sounds like a bad deal to me. Don’t confuse actual services with the over-inflated scam artists.
  • Self-Publishing services offer you services, you don’t pay for them immediately
    This goes along with the first point, but I feel it needs its own separate bullet. Createspace offers cover designers, formatters, and bells and whistles ALONGSIDE their free, do-it-yourself services. Never will a self-publishing service only allow you to pay for things you could do yourself. If the self-publishing service is asking you to pay for something and is unwilling to give you the chance to do it yourself, then that isn’t a self-publishing service. You’re being swindled into a vanity publisher.
  • Most vanity publishers will actively seek you out
    Most traditional publishers ask you to send things to them for consideration of publication AFTER you’ve already contacted them. Only special circumstances will dictate a traditional publisher contacting you without former inquiry on your end. If you haven’t been doing the #pitmads and you haven’t been shopping your work around for a while, but end up getting contacted by a “publisher,” a little red flag should go up. It’s not unheard of to be contacted if you have previously published before, but to have never been published, self or traditional, and you’re getting contacted, is something to be wary of.
  • A publisher won’t advertise to you
    If you are contacted and are given a whole list of pros and services if you choose to publish with them, then you’re probably looking at a vanity publisher trying to con you. A traditional publisher would give you the minimum of what they have available, such as:
    eBook publishing,
    Paper/Hardback
    And that’s basically the gist of it. You may also see awards and authors they have published. A traditional publisher will want to advertise their prestige to you, so that you may send your work in. A vanity publisher will tell you that you will get all your royalties and will have all these pretty shiny things given to you if you’ll just send your work to them. They will also guarantee publication to every manuscript sent in. You know why? Because they’re going to take your money first. It doesn’t matter if the book sells. You’ve already sent them $1,000+ to them. What do they care if it sells or not?
  • If it makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it
    Like I’ve said before, never let your excitement of being published cloud your judgement. If you notice certain things that make you question the integrity of a publisher, whether they’re vanity or not, don’t publish with them. You’ve worked too hard to just sell your work to a crap publisher.

Be careful with your work. Love what you do, keep trying to publish or publish yourself, but be smart.

Have you ever been in contact with a vanity publisher? Have you published with one? What are your thoughts? Let me know, and comment below.

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
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How to Map Your Plot

As we all know, I’m a huge proponent of outlines, lists, etc. including during the writing process. As such, I thought it would be cool to take it one step further and let you all in on a new process a friend of mine has for mapping out her stories.

Unlike me, she is a pantser, one who couldn’t give a crap about lists, especially when it comes to writing. She finds them stifling to the process, and would rather be shackled and chained than to be stifled by a list of plot points. However, she is like me in that she craves organization in her stories, and she’s actually quite good at keeping everything in line as she writes. As such, I asked her how she did it, and this is the “list” she gave me.

  • Write the chapter first
    Despite my need for outlines prior to writing, she demands letting creativity take its course however the characters see fit. Write it out chapter-by-chapter and let the natural plot and characters lead you.
  • Once you’ve completed a chapter, write a short synopsis
    This would be a great time to use my notecard method, especially considering what will be done with the notecards afterward. Once you’ve completed a chapter, write a synopsis for that particular chapter. Mark down every important event, any new characters and any information pertaining to plot movement. Write it down on a notecard, then move on to the next chapter. Do the same for every subsequent chapter.
  • Every time you finish a synopsis, tack it on the wall
    Wherever you do your writing, or if you have a place you come back to, to write your synopsis, go to that place and stick your notecards somewhere they are in plain sight. That way, you’ll have a visual representation of your book. Somewhat of a storyboard, if you will. This will help you visualize pace, plot devices, and major events you have going on and allow you to move forward in a way that follows the storyboard.
  • Use the storyboard for organization and plot editing
    Once you’ve finished writing the book, look at your synopsis wall. Maybe synopsis #2 (Chapter 2) would be better after synopsis #3 (Chapter 3), etc. It makes it much easier to just select notecards and move them about than digging through your document and deciding which should go where.

All-in-all, I think this is a great method for pantsers and planners alike. And while she didn’t want me to use her name, as modest and shy as she is, I will say that all these ideas came from her. I only take credit for my posting of them. Thank you so much, friend, and thank you so much reader for taking the time to read this. I hope it helps you just as much as it has helped me. Anything you see here that you’ve used before? Anything you plan on using? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
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Same goes to you! 
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