Multi-passionate writer, author and solo-preneur

Month: August 2011

Fright Night

Today we went out to the movies for my husband’s birthday. I’m pretty sure this was the first time we’ve actually gone to the theater to see a movie since Avatar (together, anyway — I have seen a a few movies with other people since then). We’ve been talking all summer long about wanting to see Captain America and Cowboys & Aliens and Super 8, so I was a little surprised when he told me the other day that he wanted to see Fright Night, although
he’s a bit of a Colin Farrell fan, so I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me that much.

I had pretty much written it off as yet another unnecessary remake of a beloved movie from my youth from the moment I heard that they were making it, so I didn’t bother to watch trailers or keep up with the development or anything. I knew David Tennant was going to be in it, so I figured at least I’d get to see my Doctor. Otherwise, I had pretty low expectations going in.

I liked it. It was much better than I expected. Of course, I had no idea it was written by Marti Noxon. I still have mixed feelings about her work on Buffy, but regardless, you could definitely detect a Buffy-esque sense of humor running through the movie, which made it fun. I liked Colin Farrell’s blue collar version of Jerry. At first I was irritated that they turned Peter Vincent into, basically, Chris Angel, but he turned out to be pretty funny, and also hot, and David Tennant really does need to be in all the movies from now on. Especially if he’s going to wear leather pants. Rawr.

So did I like it better than the original? No. Is that because the original was a better movie, or because I’m an old fogey looking at it through nostalgia-colored glasses? I really can’t say for sure. But the new Fright Night is respectful of the original and pays it homage in fun ways, while updating it and adding enough original material that it doesn’t feel like a retread of the same old story. As far as remakes of ’80s horror movies go, this is by far the best one I’ve seen.

Author Interview: Jolea M. Harrison

The IWU Blog Tour rolls on, and my guest author this week is Jolea M. Harrison, author of Chosen, the first in her Guardians of the Word series. Jolea lives in Virginia with her family in a 200-year-old farmhouse. She collects historical artifacts from the Civil War period. On a recent fact finding mission about the house, she discovered the name of a young Civil War soldier who died there while being cared for by a field doctor. She has two children who firmly believe in ghosts.

JWG: What first motivated you to become an indie author?

Jolea: Complete frustration with trying to go the ‘traditional’ route. Sent out to agents, over and over, got nothing back. It really makes you feel like you’ve written a terrible story or something. I started getting positive beta reader feedback, heard about the Indie explosion from a friend, and decided it was time to stop waiting around.

JWG: What has been the biggest challenge for you when it comes to self-publishing?

Jolea: The initial learning curve was a bit steep for me. I’m not a tech wizard and you do have to know some stuff about these programs to get them to format properly. I finally gave up and paid someone to format for me, but now that I know what it’s supposed to look like, I think I can do it myself, next time out. Maybe.

JWG: Has any aspect turned out to be easier than you expected?

Jolea: Promoting has gotten easier as time’s gone on. I’ve gotten over the tooting my own horn part of it, and I’m starting to look at it as providing a service to people – they get a good story for my efforts in letting them know about the book.

JWG:  That's a great way to look at it. I admit, I'm still having trouble getting over the "tooting my own horn" feeling, myself.

Do you take a strictly DIY approach, or do you hire help with things like editing, cover art, etc?

Jolea: I did everything myself except the formatting and editing. I had a pretty clean copy, but there were still several typos that got by everyone!

JWG: How has the decision to go indie turned out for you? Overall, are you happy with the choice?

Jolea: I’ve very happy with it. I wanted a specific look for the cover and even trying to get other artists to go along with that was difficult so, I ended up making it myself. I’m glad I have the artistic control over the entire product. If it’s a mess, it’s mine. If it’s great, it’s mine.

JWG: Are there any stand-out lessons you've learned about self-publishing that you'd like to share with my readers?

Jolea: It’s easy to get swept up in ‘publish fever’, especially once the formatting is done, you think, oooh everything is ready to go now! That’s when you should set the whole thing aside for at least two weeks. Give it a rest, then give it one more, painstaking look before hitting the send button. Get opinions on your cover. Don’t get married to a title. Google everything – even your name, before you publish. If your title is already out there a quadrillion times over, you don’t want to use it. There’s a J. M. Harrison – already a published author, so I ended up changing to my full name instead of the initials because of that. You want to be unique because you want Google to find you. If you don’t have a unique name, consider a pen name. We’re writers! We make stuff up for a living, so be creative with everything!

For everyone else in the world, getting stabbed in the heart means instant death. All it does for Dynan Telaerin is send him to hell.

In Chosen, Jolea M. Harrison transports us to a world on the cusp of destruction, caught in a thousand year cycle of ever-repeating time, trapped between the warring Gods and the demon, Belial, with one young hero chosen to save not just the world, but the Gods themselves.

Dynan finds himself on a corpse-strewn hillside, uncertain if he's dead or alive, charged with saving the soul of his ancestor, the most powerful telepath to ever exist. Dynan has telepathic powers of his own, only he doesn’t know how to use them. With monsters and minions trying to eat his soul, the demon’s lair isn’t a place conducive to learning anything, except how to run and how to hide.

Can Dynan find his ancestor before the fabric of time is torn beyond repair? Will courage alone be enough to face the greatest evil to exist? Will he lose his soul to save everyone else?

The running starts, and doesn't stop to the end of this action packed adventure of a young man coming to terms with his life while he's barely a spirit, through horrors he thought existed only in dreams.

Chosen is the first book of a 7 book series, entitled The Guardians of the Word.

Buy Chosen on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

You can visit Jolea at her blog, friend her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by, Jolea!

“Official” Web Site, And a Snippet

I've been lagging behind on LJ lately, but that's because I've had my head down making myself a shiny new web site at JeanMarieBauhaus.com. It has a lot of bells and whistles and is primarily designed to make my portfolio look good, but it's worth mentioning here because it also serves as my "official" author site. If you take a look, you'll see that I figured out a way to incorporate this here blog into the site without having to switch to WordPress or some other self-hosted blogging platform. So I get to stay here at LJ and have the best of both worlds. Hooray!

In case you're wondering if all this focus on my new site has interfered with Dominion, fear not, it's still coming along. It currently stands at just short (about 90 words) of 65K. I skipped ahead again and have spent the last couple days working on a future scene. Note to self: if you get so bored in the middle of writing a scene that you need to skip ahead to the part of the story where all the action happens in order to keep writing, then maybe it's time to re-evaluate whether that scene even belongs in the book.

Sixty Thou and a Snippet

I passed the 60K mark on Dominion this morning, and I’m still muddling through the middle. Um, I think it’s safe to say that I’m not going to finish this thing up by mid-August like I’d planned. Too soon to tell whether this means I won’t be able to publish by Halloween, since I’m likely to pick up momentum once I hit the ramp up to the climax and then sail through to the end. But right now, I’m only averaging about 700 words a day, which is one scene every two days (and breaks from writing on the weekends), and I’ve got about five more scenes to go before I hit that ramp.

At any rate, it’s coming along. Here’s a snippet from today’s session:

The smell of rotting meat assaulted them, making Hannah’s stomach churn. She had to swallow against her gag reflex as she followed Zach into the tiny cell. Inside, strapped to a gurney, lay Bob. Except he didn’t lie there so much as writhe and squirm. The sight of him made her want to gag some more. His skin showed visible signs of decay, and it had mostly sloughed off where the restraints came in contact with it. His lips were missing, and as he strained toward them and gnashed his teeth, she saw that his tongue was gone, too. The flesh on the bottom half of his face had mostly rotted away.

Zach pulled a pair of gloves out of one pocket and put them on. From the other pocket he drew a scalpel and forceps, along with an empty vial that he handed to Hannah. “This’ll just take a sec’,” he said as he leaned over Bob and began carving out a small chunk of his thigh. If the pathetic thing on the gurney felt the scalpel cutting into him, it was impossible to tell. Zach grasped the sample with the forceps and turned back to Hannah. She tucked the gun under her arm and opened the vial so he could drop it in. She secured the lid and handed it back to Zach, who put everything back in his pockets and stripped off his gloves. “That’s it.”

A hand grabbed Zach’s sleeve. He let out a high pitched scream as it yanked him back, and as Bob pulled him down his other hand, or what was left of it, slipped free of its restraint. It grabbed Zach around the back of the neck and tried to pull him down toward those gnashing teeth. Hannah pointed the gun and fired. Bob’s head exploded like a melon, and his hands went limp. Zach fell backward on his rear and scrambled back against the wall, breathing hard. “Shit!”

Hannah brandished the gun. “Thought you said I wouldn’t need this.”

He pointed accusingly at Bob. “That’s never happened before!”

“That’s no reason not to expect it.” She reached down to help him up. After a few deep, calming breaths, he examined the corpse. Raw flesh and gray skin coated the wrist restraints and lay globbed up on the gurney. This time Hannah had to swallow the bile that rose in the back of her throat.

Zach’s face had gone pale. “He just slipped his hands off, like they were gloves.”

Author Interview: Melissa A. Smith

The perpetual IWU Blog Tour continues apace. This week, you can find a reciprocal interview with me by former guest-of-the-blog, Arshad Ahsanuddin, at his Pact Arcanum blog. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, help me give a warm welcome to this week’s guest, paranormal romance and YA fantasy author Melissa A. Smith:

JWG: Welcome, Melissa! To get started, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

Melissa: I live in the midwest with my husband and two teenaged sons. When I’m not writing I’m reading. During the day I work as a Preschool ParaEducator ie: sneeze catcher, substitute facial tissue, and play mate.

JWG: And what are you working on?

Melissa: I currently have two books out. The first is Cloud Nine of the Guardians of Man. And the other is of The Waiting Throne series, The Heir Apparent.

JWG: What first motivated you to become an indie author?

Melissa: I would have to say it was all the wonderful form rejection letters. After one of them I came across an article in Writers Beware talking about Self-Publishing and thought, what the hell? What have I got to lose? The answer was nothing, so I did it and I havent looked back since!

JWG: What has been the biggest challenge for you when it comes to self-publishing?

Melissa: Waiting on the editor. She has a life too and sometimes it interferes with her working with me (she does it out of the kindness of her heart so I hate to nag her with "are you done yet?")

JWG: Has any aspect turned out to be easier than you expected?

Melissa: Telling people about my book. I used to sell Mary Kay and was always terrified of handing out business cards or talking to them about it. With my book? I pass out bookmarks (my version of a business card) like they’re contagious! I hand them out to everyone! My boys think I’m nuts because I always have them on hand.

JWG: Do you take a strictly DIY approach, or do you hire help with things like editing, cover art, etc.

Melissa: The only thing I send out is the editing. I’m not completly computer illeterate so I do everything else. I’ve even helped out a couple of friends with cover art and formatting of their ebook files.

JWG: How has the decision to go indie turned out for you? Overall, are you happy with the choice?

Melissa: I love it! While I wish there were an easier way to market to a wider population, I’m very happy with my decision to ‘go indie’! 😀

JWG: Are there any stand-out lessons you’ve learned about self-publishing that you’d like to share with my readers?

Melissa: Join a support group like Indie Writers Unite! Such a great group of people there with so much helping up and none of the tearing down.

Thanks, Melissa!

You can find Melissa’s books on Amazon. You can also follow her on Twitter, and be sure to check out her blog!

Guest Post: Editing for Indie Authors

Karin CoxSelf-publishing has always suffered a bad reputation when it comes to quality, but guest blogger, author and freelance editor Karin Cox is now starting to see independent writers taking real pride in their work and ensuring it is as polished as possible before they publish—even paying an editor, a cover designer, and, in some cases, a publicist. As a result, the old stigma of self-publishing as a vanity exercise is fading as some successful independent authors, such as Mark Edwards and Lousie Voss, J Carson Black, and Amanda Hocking, are snapped up by agents and publishing houses.

Despite having worked in the trade publishing industry for more than 14 years, and being published by traditional publishers for children’s fiction and non-fiction, Karin’s forays into editing for self-publishers have inspired her to self-publish some of her own work. Her poetry anthology, Growth, and ebook of short stories, Cage Life, were published in July. Here’s what she has to say about editing for the self-publishing market.

Cage LifeI’m the first person to admit that a subjecting a book to an edit can be daunting, but as an editor and an author, I also know that the editorial process is necessary. Many people skimp on editing because they think it is too expensive (and it can be), but in reality, most freelance editors don’t charge for all of the hours they actually put into a manuscript. Why? Because writers would simply baulk at the cost, and, as in all markets, you’re only worth what people are willing to pay. For a long time it seemed the amount most self-publishers were willing to pay was nothing. And that has adversely affected the perception of quality in self-publishing.

That indie authors were reluctant to pay for editing was probably a result of them having to set aside a huge wad of cash to have their books printed. Nowadays, that cost has vanished. Using print-on-demand services for print books, or publishing e-books, has removed those costs, allowing authors to put their hard-earned dollars into professional editing and cover design instead, which are, in my opinion, much more important to the overall success of a story than what ‘container’ the words come in.

I think self-published authors are also far more aware of industry standards, largely thanks to the internet and to really helpful networks of independent authors, agents and editors willing to share information.

Growth: PoemsIn the past, many self-publishers thought editing was simply proofreading—picking up spelling errors or typos—rather than about dissecting a manuscript to see if it worked on many levels. There was a tendency to think, “Mum’s good at English, I’ll get her to do it.” But, usually, even the most literate mum or aunt, or even journalist friend, isn’t up-to-the minute on grammatical practices or preferred word usage in the book publishing industry. Even what I was taught at school is no longer common practice in some editorial styles. I’m seeing more and more independent authors with good grammatical knowledge and writing skills (and I’d urge all authors to invest in a style guide of their choice and really study their craft), but even so, an editor’s eye is objective in the way an author’s eye can never be.

Although every author, and every novel, is different, many of the writing errors I see are the same—showing instead of telling, overwriting, poorly punctuated or unauthentic dialogue, adjective and adverb overload, dangling modifiers, plot issues and loopholes, and characters that lack dimension or the relevant motivation to play their “role” in the plot. Even from genre to genre, the issues vary only slightly. As a result, I rarely do straight proofreading or copyediting jobs, and tend to see myself as a freelance book doctor, focussing on a range of issues and offering a complete substantive and copyediting service for self-published authors, which means doing several reads through a manuscript and editing in track changes mode in Microsoft Word.

I know that there will always be authors out there who can’t afford to pay for a full edit, so I also offer manuscript appraisals, which are more affordable but far less comprehensive. Ideally, I’d love for all self-published authors to be able to afford the luxury of an edit, but I know that’s not always possible. It hurts to see a manuscript with so much potential crippled by flabby prose, or an overcomplicated plot, or battling on with characters whose actions are inconsistent or implausible. Thankfully, the more I work with the indie community, the fewer such books I’m seeing. My advice to indie authors would be: do what you can yourself and self-edit your book as carefully as you can, and then seek editorial advice. Also, remember to look at editing as an investment not a “cost.” It’s an investment in your writing skills and it’s an investment on behalf of your readers. Not paying for an edit could well cost you an audience.

You can read more of what Karin has to say about the publishing industry, editing and writing at
karincox.wordpress.com or www.editorandauthor.com, follow her on Facebook, or follow her on twitter.

Signal Boost: Return of the DDoS

Originally posted by at Signal Boost: Return of the DDoS

For those wanting to know more about the recent DDoS attacks, yes, it looks like it was the Russian government trying to shut down the dissidents again.

As I said last time, while it’s frustrating not to have access, LJ is a lot more than a social network platform. From the article:

“LiveJournal isn’t just a social network. It’s also a platform for organizing civic action. Dozens of network projects and groups mobilize people to solve specific problems — from defending the rights of political prisoners to saving endangered historic architecture in Moscow.”

So while I know many are considering the move over to Dreamwidth and other such sites, supporting LJ is a way we can help support those who use it for more than a writing/roleplaying/social venue.

Also, as a FYI, LJ is giving paid users effected by the outage two weeks of paid time as compensation.

Dominion Snippet

I’ve been wanting to post snippets and sneak peeks as I work on Dominion, but I haven’t because, mainly, I’m never sure how to walk that line between enticing the reader and spoiling what happens. But here’s a bit I wrote today that I’m pretty happy with, that I don’t think is too spoilery:

The conference room doors opened. As they broke apart Hannah tried to stifle her smile. The red-headed vampire stepped out and said, “They’re ready for you.” When they both stood up, she glanced at Hannah and looked pointedly at Alek. “Just you.” She went back inside.

Alek looked at her apologetically. “This probably won’t take long.”

“I’ll be fine out here.” She smoothed out his jacket and straightened his tie. “Here,” she said, wiping a smudge of lip gloss off his face with her thumb. “Okay.”

He smiled at her, a smile that said everything in his life really was okay, at least in that moment. Then he went inside and closed the door.

Free! Awesome! Fiction! Cornucopia!

I’ve got several short stories by awesome authors open in my browser, some of which have been sitting there for weeks waiting for George R. R. Martin to give me back my brain so I can make time to read other people’s stuff for a change (yesterday I finally finished Storm of Swords and started Feast for Crows, so I’m over the halfway mark; meanwhile, husband is reading Dance With Dragons and managing to neither gloat (…much) nor spoil me).

I have actually read two of them, so let’s start with those:

The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman

A Sudden Absence of Bees by Nick Mamatas (aka )

The others are all by Catherynne M. Valente (aka ) and I haven’t read them yet mainly because her writing is so rich and I’m saving them for a rainy afternoon when I can curl up with them along with my knitting and a cup of tea:

The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland — For a Little While

The Wolves of Brooklyn

White Lines on a Green Field

None of these are indie. They’re just awesome.

Oh, and there’s also this, which is not a short story, but is making me giggle endlessly today (via dooce).

And now I can close some tabs.

New Review for Restless Spirits

One of the Municipal Liaisons for my local NaNoWriMo chapter was kind enough to not only take time out of her Camp Nano frenzy to read Restless Spirits, but also to post a review of it in her blog.

(…squee!)

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