Kudos to these top commenters!

In the golden age of personal blogging, each of my posts elicited numerous comments. Now, I’m happy to see three or four. I’ve fallen into that blog comment laziness myself, so I can’t complain. Today, because I appreciate their efforts immensely, I’m highlighting the three women who currently hold the top three comment totals on this blog.

Michelle D. Argyle#1 Michelle D. Argyle – Michelle is multi-talented. She’s the author of eight novels and one collection of short stories. Also, as Melissa Williams she’s a book cover artist and designed the beautiful cover for my novel The Brevity of Roses.

I appreciate Michelle for her support on this blog and privately, especially since often it seems we’re on the same wavelength and I know she really understands where I’m coming from.

Here’s Michelle’s author bio:

Michelle lives and writes in Utah, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. She adores cheese, chocolate, sushi, and lots of ethnic food, and loves to read and write books in the time she grabs between her sword-wielding husband and energetic daughter. She believes a simple life is the best life. Michelle writes contemporary Young Adult and New Adult fiction (and other genres when she feels up to it).

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Darlene Foster#2 Darlene Foster – I’m privileged to vicariously travel via Darlene’s photos of her adventures on Facebook and her blog. So I suppose it’s no surprise that her three children’s novels feature world-traveler Amanda. She has a fourth Amanda adventure due out soon, which is set in her own part of the world.

In addition to her comments on this blog, I appreciate Darlene for sharing her well described and photographed travels so I can feel as if I’ve left this valley once in a while and for her lovely smiles that add cheer to my Facebook feed.

Here’s Darlene’s author bio:

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13 year old grandson called her “super-mega-as-woman-supreme”. She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently lives on the west coast of Canada with her husband Paul and their black cat, Monkey.

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Christa Polkinhorn#3 Christa Polkinhorn – Christa frequently encourages me when I need it. Recently she reminded me that when she wrote her (wonderful) review of my first novel it was not out of friendship because she had no idea who I was then.

Beyond her comments here, I appreciate Christa for sharing her knowledge of self-publishing with me and for trusting me to beta-read her manuscripts. As you can tell from her bio, Christa also travels, so I appreciate her sharing her photos and narratives, too.

Here’s Christa’s author bio:

Born and raised in Switzerland, Christa Polkinhorn has always had a desire to explore the world outside of her beautiful but tiny country. As a young woman, she traveled through Europe, came to the United States on an exchange program, and ended up staying. Her travels led her to China and Japan as well as South America. She studied literature and linguistics in Zurich and California. Now, she lives and works as writer and translator in southern California and divides her time between the United States and her native Switzerland. The tension and excitement this “double life” creates informs her literary work. Most of her novels take place in several countries. Aside from writing and traveling, Christa is an avid reader, a lover of the arts and dark chocolate.

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And, of course, thank you to all who take the time to read this blog and comment. :-)

 

Linda

Garbage writing?

Several weeks ago, I felt myself slipping into melancholia. It’s my nature and I accept that, but I try not to give into it for long. This time, reading what I shouldn’t triggered my dark mood. I’d read a couple of blog posts that made ol’ low-confidence me want to remove my books from the market and disappear from the virtual world.

garbageOne of those posts advised indie writers not to subject readers to garbage work—and I agree with that. The problem was that they defined garbage work as any writing that hasn’t been professionally edited. The bottom line: if you can’t afford to hire a professional editor you don’t have the right to publish.

The other post advised publishing only professionally edited writing—with this stipulation: if you do have the audacity to publish work not professionally edited, you must make it permanently free. After all, how dare you expect someone to pay for what is undoubtedly garbage!

I hung my head.

I hadn’t hired a professional editor for my first two books, but I didn’t have the heart to take them completely off the market. They’re exclusive with Amazon, for the time being, so I couldn’t make them permanently free, but I considered lowering the ebook prices to 99-cents and withdrawing the print version.

For a while, I was sad, sad, sad.

And then I said, “Hold on. Who says?”

Unfortunately, I didn’t save the posts, but if I recall correctly, someone affiliated with traditional publishing wrote one of them, and a professional editor wrote the other. So, yeah, consider the source.

No matter how much self-confidence I lack, no matter how hard my perfectionist nature judges my writing, this I know: my writing is not garbage!

For reasons I’ve stated before, I don’t think traditional publishing is for me, so having access to a professional editor that way is out.

The other option is to spend my entire month’s income to hire a freelance professional editor. Unfortunately, I’m too fond of running water, electricity, and food to make that sacrifice.

So I won’t be hiring a professional editor for my next book—unless I find one willing to volunteer their services in exchange for a testimonial or a money miracle occurs (not holding my breath for either.)

Instead, as before, I’ll write, edit, revise, seek feedback from capable writer friends whose writing is strong where mine is weak, and then edit and revise again, as many times as it takes to assure the result won’t be garbage.

I guarantee: My books won’t change the world or likely ever bear the New York Times Best Seller banner or may not suit your particular reading taste, but they’ll never be garbage.

Linda

Could I hear your thoughts on author pseudonyms, please?

It’s been a long time since I blogged three times a week, but since my complete blog hiatus last December, my average was a new post once a week—until last month. In April, I blogged only once. I have a good excuse, though.

I’ve been busy writing. Almost every day. All day.  I finished revising one novel and sent it to an alpha reader. And then I returned to working on a novel in a far different genre. What genre would that be, you ask? Well, it used to be called chick-lit, but that term is passé. Let’s call it romantic comedy.

3apples

If you’ve read my other books, you know I don’t usually write light stories. And neither my recently revised novel nor the other one still in first drafting are anything close to humorous. So writing romantic comedy is an experiment for me.

I’ve been having a lot of fun writing it, but I knew that was no guarantee anyone else would have fun reading it. And because writing time is too precious to waste, I decided to test my comedy writing ability by asking for a little feedback. The verdict is a thumbs-up. Yay! Now, I’ll continue my fun project with more confidence.

But since the genres of the revised novel and this one are both different genres from my usual serious women’s fiction, I’m revisiting the idea of author branding. I want my brand to be good writing, of course. But for marketing purposes it’s said to be helpful if readers identify your author name with a particular genre. In my case, that would be three author names.

I wouldn’t try to be three completely different people. For instance, I wouldn’t use different bios and author photos (two not mine.) Though I expect I’d need some presence in social media under the two new names. Even so, that might be more problematic than I think. So …

QUESTION OF THE DAY:

Are any of you writing under two or more author names? If so, would you share your thoughts on the pros and cons of that, please?

 

Linda

Sanctioned Daydreaming

Whether you’re reading fiction or writing it, what you’re actually doing is daydreaming. I’ve always been a daydreamer. Fortunately, I was smart in school and very competitive, so I got my work done fast before letting my mind wander. I also had artistic talent, so I was allowed extra time to create. And though neither of my parents was a reader, they usually allowed me plenty of time for that–except at the dinner table.

girl_daydrmThen, from the ages of twelve to fourteen, I was sick and spent loads and loads of time alone—ideal daydream time. In fact, I suspect that isolation changed my personality from medium to deep introversion.

I’ve begun reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. It’s a book that Michelle D. Argyle brought to my attention in a blog post. I’m only a couple of chapters into the book, so I haven’t discovered what “power” I have, but I’m hoping to learn ways to make my introversion work for me.

Actually, I do know one advantage: the ability to go quiet, to go deep inside and create story.

I love being quiet. And to keep my energy level up, I require a lot of time alone. Alone and quiet is good for writing, but only if you don’t care to share your work with more than a few people. Like family and friends. If you have them. And if they happen to like reading the stuff you write. After all, no stranger is going to knock on my door and ask to read what I’ve written.

So I know a bit about the disadvantages of being an introvert in the writing and publishing world.

Yet, I’m obsessed with putting my daydreams down on paper. Maybe I’m doing it for myself. For when I lose my short-term memory and can pick up one of my own books and find it’s a brand new story to me. Or if dementia robs me of the ability to daydream, hopefully I will retain my ability to read the daydreams preserved in writing by myself and others.

May we daydream forever, one way or the other.

 

Linda

Did I Really Write That?

Once upon a time, I decided to finally keep the promise I’d made to myself many times in my life: I’d write a novel. The year was 1999. At that time, most of the books I read were written by Stephen King or Maeve Binchy, so I guess it’s logical that I set out to write a character-driven paranormal story. I started writing in September and finished in the spring of 2000.

Somewhere during those months, I joined RWA (Romance Writers of America) not because I was writing a romance, but because they were the only writing group I could find in my area. After that I did start calling it a paranormal romance and even entered the first three chapters in a national contest. The judges’ comments were unanimous: This is not a romance!

Okay then. I revised it to straight horror … or paranormal … or whatever you call a novel about reincarnation and an evil spirit.

And now, fourteen years later, I’m revising that novel again. In the intervening years, I pulled up that file and played at revision, but never got very far before real life called me away. So, when I pulled it up again this year, the beginning chapters seemed in pretty good shape. I even blogged at the beginning of this month that I’d looked through it and found the writing quality not as bad as I’d feared.

I just didn’t look far enough or read closely enough.

About halfway through, I hit the chapters that hadn’t been touched since 2000. Oh my, was I in love with dialogue tags back then. I used them for about sixty percent of the lines … in a conversation between only two people! And some of those tags were “telling” ones: “he growled” or “he huffed” or “she begged.” But even when I used plain old said, often I tacked on an adverb: “he said angrily” or “she said brightly” instead of making the dialogue and action do the work.

But the worst error, the one that really made me cringe, is in a love scene. No, I didn’t use silly euphemisms for body parts, though I did make the mistake of having the main character, a construction worker, use unlikely flowery language. But most egregious is the messy point of view. Though I’ve used three viewpoints in this novel, those are confined to one per scene or chapter (third person limited.) But in this love scene, the POV ping pongs from his to hers throughout (omniscient.)

Fortunately, I’d found only an occasional POV slip in all the previous chapters. But this scene … wow! Now, I have to decide from which character’s viewpoint the scene is best told and get to editing. The most rewarding thing about this revision is catching these mistakes. I’ve learned a lot about the craft in fourteen years … and I’m still learning.

When you look back at your older work, whatever that is, do you see progress—or were you great from the beginning?

 

Linda

Mélange à trois … encore!

Good things come in threes, right? Well, today I’m sharing three little good things in this short post because I’ve started about five other posts since I published the last one and abandoned them all for one reason or another. By the way, if you misread the title* of this post you’re going to be disappointed. ;-)

*The encore appears in the title because I used this silly bit of titillation once before.

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troisScrivener Update:  Recently, I blogged about my first week’s experience with using Scrivener to write and organize all the files associated with a novel. I still love it. I now have projects set up for three novels. It makes me laugh to remember that I didn’t care for the program the first time I tried it. And I expect I’ll be even more pleased with it after I learn all the ins and outs.

Download the free trial, for Mac or Windows, and try it for 30 days!

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Book Covers:  My books are printed by Createspace and, at the time they were published, a glossy cover was my only choice. Now, Createspace offers matte finish as an option. Since, in my opinion, glossy covers are more appropriate for non-fiction or children’s books, I switched to matte and ordered copies for myself. They arrived this past Saturday, and I’m very pleased. For the first time the colors are accurate.

I was never happy with the printed cover of The Brevity of Roses because it had a yellow tint, edging the pink letters of the title toward salmon. Apparently, that was caused by the glossy film overlay because the title appears in a true pink with the matte finish.

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Alpha, beta, critique:  Actually, the correct order is critique, alpha, beta, but it sounds better in A-B-C order. I’m talking about stages of feedback on your writing. One of the reasons I joined Women’s Fiction Writers Association was to find critique partners who write what I write. My first attempt didn’t work out. Of course, since the novel I was working on at that time is now waiting in line and the one I’m currently working on is not women’s fiction, I guess that failed attempt doesn’t matter.

So, again, I’m working without in-progress critique, which means the first person who reads “Forever” will be my alpha reader. I think I have one lined up—she’s a very busy lady, so her availability probably depends on when I have an alpha-ready draft completed. After the alpha edit, I’ll call for betas. But first, I’m writing, writing, writing.

Question of the day: Do you seek A-B-C feedback on your work?

Linda