Saturday, May 23, 2015

Getting into the Groove

It's hard to get into the groove. Lately all I seem to want to do is read. Of course editing is a perfect opportunity to do that, as long as I don't let my desire to read get in the way of the editing process. Lately, that's been kind of hard cause the stories really were very good.

Getting back into my own story has been really hard lately. At this point I can't tell if it's just because I'm so far behind on it, or if I'm getting tired of it. Both issues are very frustrating; add to that the fact that I go back to work in a week, which is another delay, makes it kinda hard to pick up the groove. The last couple days has been the hardest of all. I don't seem to be in the mood for anything - not even Facebook. Aaaahhh

Anyway - I think I'm due for a break. This blog will take a summer vacation, unless I rally by next week. Don't worry. Nothing holds me down for long. At best, I'll be back next week like usual. At worst, I'll be back by September. I certainly won't be off for long. I remember before I started blogging - I didn't have a clue what I'd write about. I've grown to love it, even if only a handful of people ever stop by. This, and my other blogs have all become something of a chronicle of my writing journey as well as my life.

So - no worries. I'll be back. I have more books to publish.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Do you communicate with your readers?

Do you communicate with your readers? Those who are other than Facebook friends that is?

I remember when I was a kid, I'd read some book and there was an address in the back. As I recall, it was something like 'you can contact the author through the publisher'. Being impressed I guess, I fired off a letter. I don't even remember what I wrote - probably some kind of gushy fan thing. Anyway, I have no idea if the letter ever got through - I never got any kind of reply. For all I know, the publisher chucked it in the trash.

When I first got internet out here, I put some thought into what kind of online presence I wanted. Since we got internet primarily so I could make a stab at marketing my own book, my goal was to promote myself as a writer/author. And since I fully believe in helping other writers like me, I went to great lengths to find and share important writing tips and tricks. I also vowed to be as communicative with my readers and fans as I possibly could.

I have always believed that honesty really is the best policy, and I put a good deal of effort into trying to be diplomatic about it. I won't blurt out the truth, knowing it will hurt someone's feelings. However, I learned early on that telling a writer their work had mistakes, hurt some feelings. I also learned early on - it is big advice out there - that a writer needs to grow a thick skin for that very reason. Their baby just might not be the gem they envisioned it being - not yet anyway.

Not long ago, I got an email from a writer, asking me to read and review their book. Early on, it sounded like the main characters were gradeschoolers, but I suspect someone told him that he would sell more books if the characters were older. So, pretty much the only change he made to the book was the age of his characters. He made a few more changes that were age-appropriate like one of the characters could drive. The biggest mistake he made with this story was not changing any of the behavior of his characters. Ten-year-olds just act different - like kids, and where twenty-year-olds might make some of the same decisions - a few might even act like they were still ten, but on the whole, they have outgrown the adolescent behavior. Not so with these characters. The story read like he'd made a quick alteration and then threw the book out there. Needless to say, I sent him an email saying as much long before I was even half way through - I mean, really, the book was very annoying, though really there didn't seem to be anything wrong with the story premise.

Did I hear back from him? Not a peep. Were his feelings hurt? Probably. But it was better he hear this from me in an email rather than have me post what would have been a rather scathing review, not that I would have listed a bunch of details, but like I said, I believe in the truth - I would have said as much.

Most recently, I contacted two different authors to inform them of mistakes I'd found in their kindle edition books. One was an entire scene repeat of two or three pages, as if the scene had been copied twice in a row. The other was a hyphenated word that happened to fall at the end of a page and the second half was just gone. I didn't know if the word was the end of the paragraph or not, and I wasn't sure what the whole word was - for this one, I went to Amazon and looked inside the sample available there. It was the last word of the paragraph too, and apparently it didn't occur in the paperback edition.

Just so you know, if you ever spot a mistake in one of my books - LET ME KNOW. I want to go fix it as fast as at all possible. Frankly, I'm surprised no one ever contacted me about anything in my first book, though I did get one review that told me the writing was rather rough - Thanks for that. When I read back through it, I could only cringe - I'd learned a thing or two since publishing that book, mostly since we got internet here.

Over the years, I've gotten a handful of emails concerning my books. So far, those notes have all been good, and to show that I am approachable, I replied to every one. I fully intend to continue in that vein. You will get an honest review from me, and if it's going to be a bad review, I'll let you know in an email, or if I can't do that, I won't post anything. I have no desire to hurt another writer's sales. I also generally don't review a book that already has hundreds of review. What's the point?

What do you do? Do you talk to your readers? Do you hear from any?


Sunday, May 10, 2015

My Next Book

Sorry this is late - I found myself distracted by Facebook yesterday. It happens sometimes. When the TV is on, thinking kind of takes a hiatus and time slips away while my finger surf through my game on Facebook. Bad me, bad me.

Anyway, this week I planned to tell you all about my next book. I won't even mess with it until next fall after I'm done with work. 12-hour day-7-day weeks tend to suck me pretty dry in no time at all.

By popular vote (only 3), my next book will be Lord of the Land. You can read a detailed accounting here. Anyway, a trio of young men, more boys really, passing as soldiers, enter an inn to escape the weather and recover a little from some battle they'd endured a short time before. One of them can't go any farther, and there's a chance that he will never go any farther anywhere, but he's lucky. In the mean time, his two friends hurry on in an effort to warn the king, who is the father of one of them, of an impending coup. They don't make it.

With father and son displayed over the gate, everyone is confident that the tyranny is over, only it isn't really. You see, the son displayed beside his father was the second son born to the king, but no one knew of the first born, he'd been sent away and his existence expunged by the queen.

As the country crumbles under the factions squabbling with each other over the throne, our young prince seeks to earn his keep, but he can't stay at the inn forever. The old innkeeper won't let him. He sends for another old friend who takes the prince under his wing and tries to teach him how to be a knight and a prince, hoping that one day he will take his rightful place on the throne and put order to the chaos.

However, their plan didn't work out quite like they planned. The prince fell in love and settled down to raise cattle and a family. He was quite happy, until his past came knocking on his door when he wasn't home. Not that his past knew whose door they knocked on, but the result was the same. After burying his family, he went after revenge, but the one man wasn't enough. An entire web of revenge surfaced and it needed tending to.

Along the way, he learned a lot about his true roots and the tattoo on his chest. It's quite a journey. Along the way, he discovered a deep attachment to the land, one that superseded his efforts to rule his country and to raise another family, but there was no choice. The magic pulled - He was the first Lord of the Land in generations, and it wasn't just his country he was committed to look after. He was compelled to protect all of the land. That didn't stop him from returning home frequently, and as a result his bloodline was more than certain, and his legacy was too.


There are places in this book that always brings me to tears, no matter how many times I read it. I really tortured this poor guy, but he so blossomed. I'm curious what will happen under a rewrite. You'll know when it gets there. If you'd like to beta-read, let me know. I can send a copy now or later after the rewrite. I really do love the feedback, no matter what it is. Heck, you might even have a good idea for a cover.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Slang, you say?

A friend of mine from across the pond asked me a while back if he should change the spelling of his book in order to market it here in America. I told him I wouldn't worry so much about the spelling - it's not really all that different - only the occasional extra u here and there. No, I told him that the biggest issue I had with reading books from around the world is the area-specific slang.

Language is such a melting pot, and it's very likely that English is the biggest melting pot of them all. Of course, I don't really have much experience with many other languages. I know that the Swiss language, spoken, is very region specific, being a mix of German to the north, French to the west. Russian to the northeast, Austrian to the east, and Italian to the south. The Swiss language, written, is German. At least that's how I understand it. I can't speak it. I took German when I was in college, but I could never remember the vocabulary. But I also took a class on Old English, which I found fascinating, but which I also failed.

At any rate, regardless of my ineptitude at languages, I love listening to them, and because I'm good at listening, I can hear similarities between them. As we (humans) mixed and moved around over the centuries, our words also left their mark wherever we went, and as an end result slang took different forms in different regions. I read (or tried to read) a book once where the slang was so unfamiliar and so liberally used, that I lost the content of the story from time to time. As I recall, that writer was somewhere in the south of Ireland, I think.

It's not that slang is a bad thing. Quite the contrary. It adds a flavor and it adds character to one or more characters. You just have to be careful to make sure all your readers can understand it. If you have someone who is from the out back of Timbuktu whose slang is so stiff it's nearly another language, you might want to add in a new friend from somewhere very proper (and yet within reach). That way you can have someone constantly asking for clarification. Might add a little comedy too if misunderstandings can abound. If it's just the odd word, make sure the surrounding content adds definition.

At any rate, don't lose your reader to slang.