Category Archives: advice

Voice

Here’s an excellent article by Kristine Kathryn Rusch regarding the blandness of writerly voices from those who ONLY write by the rules. The takeaway: follow all the rules all the time and you may write passable-to-good books–but never great ones.

No Bland writing

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The Smell of Cordite Hung in the Air

Woman with Smoking Gun by Clarence F. UnderwoodSo I’m reading away on the first in series of a new-to-me thriller author, enjoying the story line and the protagonist (tortured male assassin–one of my favorite kind of characters. Cliché, I know, but I still love ’em) and I come to the line “The smell of cordite hung heavy in the air” (or something like that).  As I’m sure you can tell by the title of this post, there just might be something wrong with that.

Well, yeah.

Back when I was a newbie to the crime genre, I read as many crime novels as I could find, and it didn’t matter what year they were published. Often, I’d come across the cordite reference and I wondered, “what the heck is cordite?” So I looked it up. Turns out, cordite was a propellant much like gunpowder, used mainly in the UK.

Notice the past tense.

That’s because cordite is no longer around and it hasn’t been used since WWII. Now, I’m not trying to be all snarky about accuracy in books, since I’ve made mistakes in my own fiction (like using the word clip for magazine. Got called on that one a couple of times.) But the author claims to have several experts read their work for accuracy and it makes me wonder how “expert” those folks really are. This author is independently published, but I’ve read a few books by traditionally published, well-known thriller authors who used the same reference in fairly recent books. Aren’t they supposed to have fact-checkers? Or at least a good editor?

Oh, well.

I’ve also read books where the character flipped the safety off on a Glock. A Glock doesn’t have an external safety . After reading the most recent book with that reference I gave the author the benefit of the doubt since guns weren’t their forte, and because it didn’t throw me too far out of the story. I do that with most of the books I read. Being an author myself, I realize how hard it is to make sure unfamiliar subjects are accurate, and the best you can do is research and try very hard to get it right. If the rest of the book is compelling, then a mistake here and there isn’t a deal breaker, at least for me.

The one thing that does make me throw the book across the room, though, and I’ve touched on this before, is when a male writer tries to write a female and either makes her a one-dimensional, convenient character, or puts lipstick on a dude and calls it good.

Ugh.

But, then again, being female is one subject where I have plenty of experience  🙂

How about you? Do you give authors the benefit of the doubt when you notice a mistake, or do you throw the book across the room? Better yet, do you tell them?


More From the Author Earnings Report

Thought I’d follow up that last post on Author Earnings with this one that includes both Kris Rusch’s and Passive Guy’s assessment of the data:

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/10/2015/kris-rusch-on-author-earnings/

Takeaway? Taking into consideration the obvious pro-indie bent of both Rusch and PG, the data apparently supports the idea that if you want the best possible chance of making a living as a writer, then Indie is the way to go.

…but we already knew that, didn’t we? 🙂


5 self-publishing truths few authors talk about

Here’s an excellent post for folks thinking about self-publishing (and a good read for those of us who have done so, but haven’t yet achieved fame and fortune 🙂 )

5 self-publishing truths few authors talk about.


The Body Market: Prepare to Launch

Cover for The Body Market

I’m ecstatic to announce that The Body Market is now available for pre-order on Amazon at the SPECIAL PRE-ORDER price of $ .99 (iBooks, BN, KOBO coming soon) After release day (January 8) the price goes up to $3.99, so get yours today 😀

You’re welcome.

Holy crap is getting a book ready for publication a LOT of work. Like anything painful, you forget in the interim how much hard work each book takes. Fun, yes, but a helluva lot of details. Not only do you have to keep track of the twisty plot and sub-plots, and all those pesky character details, but once all the writing’s done, there’s an effing checklist you have to go over (and over) in order to get your ducks in a row to publish.

Especially when you’re attempting a pre-order. As we all pretty well know by now, I am NOT a patient woman. Waiting for much of anything drives me to drink (short drive) and I will do anything, ANYTHING to keep from having to do so. The microwave is my best friend and I’m known for finishing dinner waaaay before anyone else at the table. (Okay, that may be a holdover from when I worked in the restaurant industry. There’s only so much time to take a break so you can stuff food into your mouth during a busy shift.) So why the hell did I decide to do a pre-order?

I have no idea. It sounded like fun at the time.

Ah, the halcyon days when I thought all I had to do to when I wrote The End was to make sure the book was edited, dream up a description and a suitable cover, format it so it would work in Smashword’s meatgrinder, do a couple of blog posts, and voila! Published book!

Now? Not so much. As they say, the more you know, the more you know.

Ack.

So now, in addition to stuff like work with my (awesome) editor, create a cover, write the description and tagline, and format the eBook, I get to:

  1. update the back matter in all of my other books with links to the new title–on Amazon, Smashwords, BN, etc.;
  2. re-format my other books because I’m doing things a little differently now, and want to be consistent (which I’m beginning to think is HIGHLY overrated);
  3. change covers in the series to more effectively ‘brand’ them (don’t you just hate the word brand? These are not steers, for crying out loud);
  4. get my newsletter ready and generate coupons, write copy, etc. (you too can participate in coupon therapy: join my newsletter and I’ll send you exclusive subscriber stuff, too! The next one’s due out Saturday…)
  5. work on blog posts and contact virtual book tour companies to set up something because, you know, I’m actually ahead of the game this time. Sort of… ;
  6. contact reviewers and send out Advance Reader Copies (ARC) for release day reviews. **Note: If you’re interested in reading and reviewing The Body Market by January 8 and will post your review on Amazon and/or any of the other sites on that same day, shoot me an email at dvb (at) dvberkom (dot) com and I’d be more than happy to send you an ARC in any e-format you’d like 🙂 ;
  7. create a print cover and interior files so the print version will be available around the release date;
  8. Do a GoodReads giveaway;
  9. update my website, blog, and a bunch of other places where I’ve listed my books;
  10. develop an advertising plan of attack–which I should have done last summer, apparently.File:Cinderella - Project Gutenberg etext 19993.jpg

I’m sure I’ve forgotten something incredibly important, but there’s the gist of it. I knew when I went indie that I’d be responsible for everything–in fact, that’s why I  became an indie. I love the whole hands-on aspect of self-publishing and I find the challenge invigorating.  But, there are days I wish my fairy godmother would come down out of the ether, whisk me away to some Zen-like retreat, and hand me a glass of wine as she murmurs in my ear, “There, there, Dear. Don’t you worry your little head. Leave the details to me…

If you’d like to pre-order The Body Market (Leine Basso Thriller #3), click here. I’d be ever so grateful. The description is below:

A retired assassin is called in when a celebration south of the border turns into a nightmare.

Former assassin Leine Basso is hired by a wealthy Beverly Hills power couple to find their missing daughter, Elise, who was last seen partying with her boyfriend at a club in Tijuana. At first, police believe the two teenagers are the victims of a carjacking. But when Leine finds their missing vehicle with the boyfriend’s mutilated body stuffed inside the trunk, and is then warned away by the local cartel, she knows if Elise isn’t already dead, she will be soon, or worse.

In the dangerous world of organized crime, there’s always a worse.

As time runs out, Leine races to uncover the real reason behind Elise Bennett’s disappearance and learns powerful interests are willing to go to great lengths to keep her from the truth.

***The Body Market is the 3rd book in the Leine Basso Thriller series, but can be read as a stand alone.

 

 

 

 

 


Awesome Authors–Yvonne Hertzberger

photo of the authorWelcome back to Awesome Authors! My guest today is the lovely epic fantasy author Yvonne Hertzberger. Yvonne and I met a couple of years back as minions of the inimitable death star blog known as Indies Unlimited. She shared her gruel with me which should tell you something about her–Yvonne has got to be the nicest person on the planet, bar none. I don’t think I’ve ever read a negative word from her about anyone. And THAT’S rare, especially online where people tend to hide behind their anonymity. Since I’m firmly in the “mean people suck” camp, knowing Yvonne has been quite a breath of fresh air. Here’s her bio:

(From the author): Yvonne Hertzberger lives in Stratford, Ontario with her spouse, Mark. She calls herself a late bloomer as she began writing at the ripe age of 56. Her Fantasy/ Magic Realism trilogy, ‘Earth’s Pendulum’ has been well received and she is working on a new novel not related to the trilogy. She loves to sing, garden and spend time with like-minded people and family.

 DV: Welcome, Yvonne! Thank you for being here today 🙂 Tell us a bit about yourself.

YH: I was born in Holland, a ten minute bike ride outside of Gouda – you know, where they make that famous cheese – at home in a house with a thatched roof. The property was across a narrow street from a canal. You can’t get much more Dutch than that. 😀 I was able to go back and see that house in 1974 and met the couple that bought it from my father in 1950 before we emigrated to Canada.

Now I live with my other half in a tiny brick cottage built in 1883, in Stratford, Ontario. He has his office at the back of the house and I have my writing nook at the front, because he likes music and I need silence to write. It’s perfect.

I love to sing and belong to the Stratford Concert Choir, which gets invited to sing in England and other venues in Europe. Unfortunately I can’t afford to go with them but I hope some of the luster rubs off on me anyway. I also love to garden and of course read.

“…my characters made it very plain they weren’t finished…”

DV: We have something in common–my heritage is Dutch, as well 😀 What made you decide to become a writer? Why did you choose epic fantasy as a genre?cover for Back from Chaos

YH: That was almost a fluke. I was seeing a therapist for a bit who wanted me to journal. When I told him that wasn’t really my cup of tea he challenged me to “Write anything. Just write”. I banged out a couple of short stories and began what I thought would be another. However my characters made it very plain they weren’t finished with it. It ended up becoming a trilogy and I ended up calling myself a writer.

DV: Your books are part of a series called Earth’s Pendulum—currently a trilogy (Back from Chaos, Through Kestrel’s Eyes, The Dreamt Child). Do you envision more books in the series or are you contemplating a different path?

YH: That’s an interesting question, mostly because I don’t know the answer. I have a couple of ideas that could expand the series, one of which is a prequel, but at the moment it isn’t calling to me. So, until it does I’ll follow my muse in a different direction.

DV: Tell us about your latest book, The Dreamt Child. What was your favorite part about writing it?

cover for The Dreamt ChildYH: The third book [The Dreamt Child] was both easier and harder to write. My world had already been created and some of the characters were back. But I knew this would complete the story and so I had to make sure that I didn’t go way off track.

One of the returning characters was Merrist. In the second book [Through Kestrel’s Eyes] he was less important but in this one he became a major protagonist, along with the seer Liannis. So he had to change and grow quite a bit. Characters are, I think, my strong point, so it was fun having him go from a devoted, immature hired man, loving Liannis but not expecting to be involved with her, to her equal and partner in all aspects. The boy had to become a man.

Merrist has one peg leg. He lost the leg as a result of a battle injury in the second book. So one of my favourite scenes deals with what happens when he is caught by the bad guys and they take away his wooden leg and throw him in a dungeon-like cell. They taunt him with it and hang it where he can see it but not reach it, making it swing and clack against the wall. His fear that they will break it and leave him helpless makes him even more endearing.

I still let my characters show me where they want to go but have a beginning, a few key scenes
and an end in mind.

DV: Do you outline or are you more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer? How long does it take you to finish a novel?

YH: When I began I was a total pantser. My characters led me around pretty much by the nose for the first book. With each book that became more balanced by a plan of where I needed to go. I still let my characters show me where they want to go but have a beginning, a few key scenes and an end in mind. Each book seems to become more planned and less spontaneous.

DV: Interesting. I’ve found that to be true, as well. What are you working on now?

YH: The story I am presently working on is quite different from the trilogy. The setting is much more primitive. It has fewer characters and looks like it will be a stand-alone. The idea for it came to me in a dream. That’s quite unusual for someone who rarely remembers her dreams. Since I remember it so vividly I decided there must be a reason. It will be a grittier story but still a cross between Magic Realism and Fantasy, just as the trilogy is, depending on how you define those. Because I want to stay somewhat close to the dream, and also want to make it even better than my previous work, it is proving to be challenging.

“Recent changes lead me to believe that self-published authors will gain respectability, and that the largest trad publishing houses, in contrast, will lose it.”

DV: Ooh. That sounds intriguing! Dream books are such a gift.
Give us a ‘day in the life’ of author Yvonne Hertzberger.

YH: Oh, boy. It’s not terribly exciting, I’m afraid. My books are much more interesting than I am. After shower, coffee and a bite to eat I spend most of the morning catching up on e-mails and networking. I love the friends I’ve made on-line and the way we support each other on this writing journey. It’s also nice to see some personal tidbits, too. On the days that I get some real writing done it usually happens in the afternoon. I don’t sit for hours at a time but tend to take frequent breaks, getting a coffee, looking for a snack, picking beans in my garden. But I still view these things, not so much as diversions or distractions, as thinking time. Mark and I watch the news over dinner and most evenings are spent watching TV, spending time with a few close friends, or, if I’m lucky, playing with my sixteen month old grandson. When he’s around nothing else gets done and I don’t care. He lights up my life.

DV: I like the frequent breaks thing and calling it thinking time. I’d have to agree. In light of the huge changes in traditional as well as self-publishing, where do you see the industry heading?cover for Through Kestrel's Eyes

YH: I am much more optimistic about this than I used to be. Recent changes lead me to believe that self-published authors will gain respectability, and that the largest trad publishing houses, in contrast, will lose it. The result will be a greater balance. We will begin to see more Indie books reviewed by major publications. The other part of this is that Indie writers will find themselves under pressure to get their work properly edited and formatted before publishing, so that the dross that has contributed to the stigma against self-publishing will drastically diminish. I have no idea if that will help me, personally, but it is good for the industry in general.

“Knowing what I know now I have no desire to be trad published.”

DV: 🙂 What made you decide to go indie rather than traditional?

YH: When I was close to finishing my first book I researched what it takes to become published. I learned that I would have more chance of winning a major lottery. Someone suggested I look into self-publishing “companies”. In spite of my research I still got caught by a vanity “assisted publisher”. While I will never see the return of the money they got from me it was still a good learning experience. Since I had never studied creative writing this was where I learned much of my craft. Since then I have reclaimed my rights and self-published. Knowing what I know now I have no desire to be trad published. I am a bit of a control freak. There is no way I will give that up when I will still be expected to do all of the “other” work myself anyway, such as editing, promoting and marketing. I may never become a “best seller” but I know that what I put out there is true to what it ought to be and is the best I am capable of.

DV: Good for you! (I also find painful/expensive learning experiences particularly effective…) What was the worst advice you ever received about writing? Best?

YH: The worst advice was given to me twice, by two separate, well-respected trad published authors. They told me my dialogue ought to be written the way we speak today. My story takes place in a pseudo-medieval society. I chose to make my dialogue more formal and a little old-fashioned sounding. I believe that it will work fifty or a hundred years from now as it stands. Had I taken that advice it would be obsolete in less than twenty as speech patterns evolve and change so quickly.

The best advice was by one of those same authors. He told me to rewrite the section he had read and critiqued in the first person. I think that was a good strategy for the second book.

DV: What advice would you give to new writers?

“Join support and information sites such as Indies Unlimited and The Book Designer.”

YH: Read voraciously, both in your chosen genre and in other genres. Learn all the “rules” so that you can choose when and how to break them and can do so with awareness and intent. Join support and information sites such as Indies Unlimited and The Book Designer. They are chock full of information and can become a wonderful place to receive support and make friends.

DV: If you could time travel (backward or forward), where would you go and why?

YH: Assuming that I will know then what I know now I would begin singing much sooner – say forty years sooner. My father told me I couldn’t sing worth a lick and it undermined my confidence to the point it paralyzed me. I love it so much and have discovered, to my joy, that he was wrong, so very wrong. Had I pursued it at that time I believe I’d be singing on stage on a regular basis.

DV: I’m so sorry, Yvonne. Parents can have such a huge impact on us—young or old. I’m glad you’ve found your voice 🙂 . Thank you for stopping by today–I enjoyed our talk!

YH: Thank you so much for inviting me for this chat. Each time I do one I find out something I hadn’t thought of before. They can be revealing in ways you’d never expect.

DV: And now for an excerpt from The Dreamt Child

BEGIN EXCERPT:

Still, he was a healer and could not let the man die. And he might need the man’s assistance later if he wanted to escape. By the time he had thought all this through he had already begun sending healing energy into the man’s leg to remove the festering and the pain. When he sensed that the wound was clean, and the man pain-free, he forced himself to stop. But he knew that, given time and energy, he could heal the man completely and help him walk again. Just not yet. He needed to rest.

The man groaned and opened his eyes before Merrist finally removed his hands. “Wha?”

Merrist reached for the bucket and held it so the man could drink, which he did with great gulps until Merrist pulled the bucket away and took another long draught himself, noting when he stopped that there was not much left. “Can you eat?” Merrist pulled the bowl within the man’s reach. “I’ll help you.” He broke off a chunk of bread and dipped it into the water to soften it. “Here.”

The man managed three bites, then lowered his head to the floor and tuned away. “No more.”

“Are you in pain?”

At that the man turned back to him, a slow look of surprise crossing his face. “Nah, it be gone.”

“Good, I have healed the wound and removed the pain. You will regain your strength, now.”

The look of surprise turned to awe, then puzzlement and lastly, disbelief. “Tha’ be na’ possible.”

“Yet, it is so.” Merrist waited for that to sink in then added, “I am a healer. I have examined your wound and I can restore your leg so you will walk again.”

The man roused himself so that he could reach his wound and began to probe it with great care, sending Merrist suspicious glances several times as he did so. “Where be th’ cut?”

“I healed it.”

The man pulled up the blood crusted leg of his trousers so that he could examine his leg more closely. Finding no cut and not even a scab he lowered himself back down, his energy spent, and gave Merrist a long, probing look. “You ha’ done this?”

“Yes.”

“An’ ye say ye c’n make me walk?”

“I can, though it will be difficult.”

“Wha’ sort o’ magic be this? Be it ev’l?”

“No, it is a gift from Earth. She has made me a healer.”

The man looked at Merrist again, as though trying to make up his mind. After several moments he said, “Then make me walk. If ye’ be false I lose nought.”

“I will, but I must ask something in return.”

When the man did not answer, his face darkening again with suspicion, Merrist added. “When I heal it weakens me. I need food and drink. Will you make certain that I drink the rest of the water and eat some of that bread and cheese?”

The man looked at the bowl. “I c’n do tha’.”

END EXCERPT

You can find out more about Yvonne by clicking on the links below:

Smashwords
Twitter
Facebook Author page
Amazon author page
Amazon. UK
Goodreads
Website/blog
LinkedIn


10 Beliefs that can block success in self publishing

Number tenA little late, but here’s a link to a great post on 10 obsolete beliefs that can block self-publishing success by Anne R. Allen.

http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2014/08/10-obsolete-beliefs-that-can-block-self.html


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