Friday Update

Friday Update: Writing Progress, Another Giveaway, and Weekend Plans

Welp, we made it through the first full week of 2021. And what a week. 2020 is sitting on the bench, holding this year’s beer and looking impressed.

Anyhow, I managed to keep going all week despite all of the distractions, a feat for which I’m giving myself a pat on the back. I finished two freelance articles, kept my commitment to blog every day, and also managed to add a few thousand words to the novel. All that while managing to keep our house in decent order, along with help from Mr. B. The only thing I slacked off on this week was exercise, mainly because it’s been cold and dark and that triggers my instinct to cocoon inside blankets and move as little as possible. We did get out and rake leaves on Tuesday, though, so I wasn’t a total sloth.

Aside from all of the political craziness and managing to be consistent with my writing all week, the highlight of this week was getting a big bouquet of roses and a sympathy note from Chewy.com, which you can read more about over at my pet blog. Oh! And before I forget, you can grab a free copy of Desolation, the first book in my Dominion trilogy, in the January Book Bash over on My Book Cave. While you’re there, enter to win a $30 ebook gift card!

As for Revolution 2, I’m still on that big chapter I mentioned in Monday’s post, but I’m making decent progress on it. Once my article writing is out of the way for a while, I’ll be able to work on it for more than twenty minutes a day. I’ve still got to squeeze in today’s sprint, but after that I’m done for the weekend. This has been an exhausting week already, and I need a break. Tomorrow I’m planning to stay offline, ignore the news, and spend a lot of time with my Bible, praying for this country. Last weekend we started marathoning the Hobbit trilogy, but didn’t have time to finish, so hopefully tomorrow’s agenda also includes watching the rest of Five Armies, which I have never seen.

What are you up to this weekend? Tell me in the comments!

 

Revolution: Dominion of the Damned by Jean Marie Bauhaus

Revolution Part one is Now Available, and Other Writing & Publishing Updates – October 16, 2020

It’s been a busy week, y’all.

First up, Revolution Part One: Survival of the Fittest is finally available on Amazon! And to celebrate, Book One in the series, Desolation, is FREE from now until Tuesday. And in case I forget to mention it when it happens, Book Two, Evolution, will be free for five days starting next Wednesday.

With that out of the way, it’s time to spill the beans. I’m actually pretty trustworthy about keeping other people secrets. But when it’s my own, especially when it’s something I’m excited about, I’m terrible at it. I’ve been blabbing all over Instagram about my new pen name, and I just told all my mailing list subscribers, so I might as well open up about it here, too, because that chicken has flown the coop.

And I happen to have experience chasing chickens and getting them back in the coop. It’s not an experience I wish to repeat.

So that thing I’ve been being all secretive and cagey about the last couple of weeks here on the blog? I’ve started writing a clean Christian romance novel, and I’ve launched a new pen name for it. That new pen name is Jeanie Nicholson.

As I’ve alluded to, the reason I (badly) attempted secrecy is because I need to keep these brands separate so Amazon’s algorithms don’t get confused if my horror fans start buying my sweet Christian romance novels, or vice versa. That sort of thing can really mess up their recommendation ‘bot. Which is why, if Christian romance isn’t your usual thing, I’m asking you NOT to sign up for any of my lists or pages or buy this new book, just to be supportive. This will also help me more accurately track and identify my target demographic.

At any rate, if Christian romance IS your thing, you can learn more about it at these links:

And with THAT out of the way, now I can also tell you that Jeanie Nicholson is participating in a multi-author, multi-genre giveaway at StoryOrigin. Head here to load up on e-book freebies from now through November 12th!

This week has mostly been focused on building and launching a platform for my new pen name so I can start building hype for this new novel. That, and launching my new Dominion book. So I haven’t done any writing or editing this week. But now that that’s all pretty much done and things are set on autopilot, after a break this weekend (which will surely involve more pre-Halloween movie watching and candy snacking), I’ll get back to business as usual.

But for now, I’m kind of wiped and ready for the weekend. I hope you have a good one.

 

You’re Invited!

rs-launch-event-banner

If you’re on Facebook, join me and special guests A.J. Cattapan (author of the award-winning YA novel Angelhood, D.K. Christi (author of Ghost Orchid) and Hannah Gray Gordon (author of The Vu and The Gathering: Vu 2) on Tuesday, November 1st for my virtual Restless Spirits launch party! Festivities kick off at 5 PM Central, when each guest will take turns taking over the feed to run their own promotions and giveaways before I take over for the rest of the night, capping off the event with a grand prize giveaway package that includes a SIGNED paperback proof of Restless Spirits!

The event ends at 8:00, so don’t worry about being kept up too late on a work/school night. To participate, just click through to the event page and let Facebook know you’re going. Then on November 1st simply open the event page in your browser at 5 PM Central to join the party! Feel free to come and go as you please.

Hope to see you there!

And the Winners Are…

Last night I participated in my first Facebook book launch event to celebrate my friend Hannah Gray Gordon’s new book, Vu: The Gathering. It was a lot of fun, and if you were there, you got to enter to win one of two electronic copies each of my novel, Dominion of the Damned, and my new novellette, Weather Witch. If you weren’t there, well, you won’t make that mistake again now, will you?

Anyway, on to the winners!

Using the tried and true method of selecting random entrants via Random.org, the 2 WINNERS of e-book versions of Dominion of the Damned are . . .

Scott Carruba

and

Kari Record

AND! The 2 WINNERS of Weather Witch are . . .

Staci Rice

and

Lori Brockman

If you won and you’re seeing this and I have NOT already gotten in touch with you via Facebook, email me to let me know whether you prefer the Kindle or epub version, and I’ll get it sent to you ASAP!

Congratulations to all the winners, and to everyone who won something during last night’s event (myself included — I won a copy of The Esoteric Design by A. R. Crebs and I can’t wait to get to it)!

Halloween Horror Book Giveaway! Enter to Win TWO Spook-tastic Horror Collections!

Who’s up for some free books? I hope you are, because author Scott Roche and I have teamed up to give away not one, but TWO collections of frightening tales to not one, but THREE lucky winners for Halloween!

From Scott Roche, you’ll be getting the horror anthology Dead Ends, featuring Scott along with six other horror authors:

Dead Ends Horror AnthologyFor this anthology I’ve assembled seven bloody, stark horror stories by myself and six other talented writers of horror and suspense. A sinister power in “In The Deep Dark” by Justin R. Macumber is overtaking men at the bottom of a West Virginia coal mine. A golden liquid sur-rounds a boy’s treehouse in Edward Lorn’s “Morning Dew” and its taste for human flesh is standing between the boys and safety. Reggie in Scott Roche’s “Power in the Blood” discovers that his thirst for blood can give him strength, but may cost him his soul. Philip Carroll brings us a tale of “Getting Even” where the wealthy Mr. Hasbrook must pay for his sins of greed and murder. Paul E. Cooley’s “Breakers” remove the broken ‘cogs’ from society’s machinery as ruth-lessly as possible. In J.R. Murdock’s “Breakup”, Ruby wants to leave her boyfriend Victor, but he wants eternity or nothing. Finally, Jake Bible reminds us in “Blister” that going to the doctor early is a good idea, particularly if your affliction makes you a happy little psychopath.

And if you missed out on getting my horror collection Midnight Snacks for only .99 cents during last week’s sale, now’s your chance to win a free copy!

Midnight Snacks by Jean Marie BauhausFrom the author of Dominion of the Damned and Restless Spirits come four bite-sized tales of terror. Jean Marie Bauhaus spins a mesmerizing and haunting world in which monsters roam the post-apocalyptic streets of New York, scavenging for their next meal, vengeance finds room for compassion in surprising places, and even the vending machine down the hall begins acting shifty.
Also features the novelette Eucha Falls, a spellbinding tale of Lovecraftian horror. It’s been a year since Melanie Fisher’s little brother Scottie disappeared without a trace, and investigators are no closer to learning what happened to him. Determined to get answers, Melanie and her boyfriend, Shane Campbell, journey to the site where Scottie’s car was found abandoned and burned — a strip of gravel road leading to the long abandoned theme park once known as Eucha Falls.
Melanie and Shane’s explorations lead them to a lost video camera. What they find on the camera is shocking evidence that not only was Scottie there, but that he had succumbed to some sort of inexplicable madness. As Melanie and Shane dig deeper, they find that the madness is catching. But is it really madness, or evidence of something much more real, and much more sinister than they ever could have imagined?

To enter, just leave a comment on this post to grab two entries and unlock opportunities for NINE MORE entries on the Rafflecopter widget below! Thanks for spreading the word and GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Editing the Heck Out of your Indie Novel – Part 4: Q&A

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In the course of my series on editing your indie novel (in case you missed it, you can find it here: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3), I had an excellent question asked by commenter Tam Francis:

How do you know when to stop?

There comes a point where you have to just call it done and let it go, and acknowledge that no book is perfect. No book ever makes it to publication 100% free of problems or errors, no matter which route to publication it takes. Your book will have imperfections. Some of those imperfections are what make up your style and voice. If you over-edit, which you can do, you run the risk of editing yourself–your voice and style, the thing that makes this book uniquely YOU–right out of your story.

So how do you know when you’re there? One way to know is when your beta readers stop sending your manuscript back with notes pointing out things that need work and start telling you how great it is instead. But sometimes, beta readers can be nitpicky, and you have to learn to trust your gut about whether the problems they point out are indeed actual problems, or if they’re simply difficult to please. If you feel it’s the latter–especially if nobody else seems to have a problem with whatever it is they’re pointing out–you’ve got to accept that you can’t please everybody, and move on.

Basically, you want to make sure you’ve done the best you can in these areas:

– You’ve fixed glaring plot holes, and addressed the not-so-glaring ones in some way, whether that’s by plugging them up, offering some kind of hand-wavy explanation, or hanging a lantern on it–that is, having a character comment on the fact that it makes no darn sense. Generally, it’s best to plug up even the minor holes if you can, but sometimes you just have to resort to one of the other two techniques and move on. These are best reserved for things that qualify as fridge logic.

– You’ve fixed continuity errors and anything else that might pull the reader out of the story.

– You’ve cut boring scenes and tightened the pace (here’s a tip: if you get bored writing a scene, your readers will get bored reading it. It can go).

– You’ve fixed grammatical errors, or made sure that any grammar rules you’ve broken were broken artfully and on purpose.

– You’ve gone through and nuked words you tend to overuse (i.e., like, that, just), or gestures you repeat too often (he shrugged, she sighed, he shook his head), and converted passive tense to active.

– You’ve read your dialogue out loud to make sure it’s not stilted or awkward.

– You’ve corrected every typo, spelling mistake and formatting error that both you and your beta readers have been able to find.

If you’ve done all of those things, and the majority of your beta readers are giving you the green light, then you’re done. Slap your cover on it, upload it to your publishing sites and have yourself another beverage before moving on to your next book.

And the winner is…

I had a few good entries for my pro bono developmental edit giveaway, and it was really hard to choose between them. In the end, it came down to a gut feeling about which one I feel will benefit the most from my help. After a lot of deliberating, I decided to give the pro bono edit to…

Christy and her manuscript Picture Perfect Lies.

The runner up — and it’s a close second — is Tam Francis and The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress. Tam will be getting a certificate for 50% off of my standard rate.

Congratulations to our winner! And I’d still love to hear from the rest of my readers. If you have any more questions on editing for indies, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments. Same goes for if you have any advice to ad!

Editing the Heck Out of Your Indie Novel – Part Three: 3rd Draft to Print

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This is part three in what’s shaping up to be a four-part series. If you missed part one, which mainly covers WHY you should take extra pains in editing your indie novel, you can read it here. Part two, covering initial revisions and rounding up good first readers, is here.

 

 

Step Five

Send it to your beta readers. This group should look for both story problems AND technical problems. While you wait for feedback from this group, round up yet another group of beta readers. This last group should contain your eagle-eyed grammar cop friends, because they’ll be focusing mainly on looking for technical errors. These last two groups might sound redundant, but believe me, the interim group is necessary. They’ll catch things the first readers missed as far as story problems, and also get you well under way to a clean and polished fourth draft.

Step Six

Repeat Step Four with the latest round of feedback. This time, as you read through your manuscript and make edits, you’ll want to go through the whole thing, sentence by sentence. Start by doing a blanket find & delete of words you know you tend to overuse. Read every sentence and paragraph and justify every word, every dialogue attribution, every piece of punctuation, every chapter break and paragraph break and scene break. Read it aloud to yourself — especially the dialogue — to make sure nothing is stilted or awkwardly written.

Once you’re satisfied, or you just can’t stand to look at it anymore, celebrate completing your fourth draft and send it to the last group of beta readers.

Step Seven

Protip: don’t send it to this entire group at once. Send it to the majority, but hold off on sending it to the most trusted and eagle-eyed members of the group. Once you get the initial feedback, go through the manuscript again, formatting it for publication and fixing any errors they pointed out as you go.

Now that it’s all formatted and proofed, send it to the last of your beta readers. If possible, send it to them in its final format. Send one an e-book file and send the other a paperback proof copy. Have them look for formatting errors as well as typos and grammar & spelling errors. This is important, as these things WILL come back to bite you when people start leaving reviews.

If they find errors, fix them. Order another proof and check that the errors are indeed fixed in the print edition.

Congratulations. You have completed your fifth and final draft. NOW you are ready to unleash your masterpiece on the world. Upgrade your beverage to a glass of champagne and toast yourself as you upload your novel files to your various publishing platforms, confident in the knowledge that you did everything humanly possible to make it professional and legit.

Now to recap: that’s SEVEN steps involving FIVE drafts and FOUR different groups of readers. That’s what it takes to bring your novel up to a professional, publishable, ready-for-primetime level “by yourself.” If indeed you want your readers to regard you as a professional and take you seriously, don’t take any shortcuts that don’t involve simply hiring a professional editor to do most of this for you. And if you can afford to do that? Then just do it. You’ll be glad you did.

Do you have any questions for me about the editing process? If so, leave it in a comment. If it’s not already addressed in the next two parts of this series, I’ll do a follow-up Q&A post at the end. Also, I’d LOVE to hear any editing tips you have to offer.

Ready for the Q&A? You can read it here.

Editing the Heck Out of Your Indie Novel – Part Two: Getting to 3rd Draft

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This is part two in what’s shaping up to be a four-part series. If you missed part one, which mainly covers WHY you should take extra pains in editing your indie novel, you can read it here.

In this post, we get down to the nitty-gritty. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Step One

Well, technically step one is to write the book. But for our purposes today we’re assuming you’ve already got a rough draft ready to go. If so, then put it away. Don’t look at it for at least a month. Spend this time recruiting first readers. Don’t worry about roping in the eagle-eyed grammar cops at this point. Look for people who have good instincts about storytelling and pacing, and people who are good at spotting plot holes and continuity glitches and things that just make no damn sense, and people who have a good ear for dialogue. Look for people who read a lot of fiction and/or watch a lot of episodic television.

Where do you find these people? This is where a good critique group can come in handy, but I usually put out a call for volunteers in my personal and social networks, stating what I’m looking for, what things I’m going to be focusing on this round, my time frame, etc.

Step Two

When you’re month is up, take out your rough draft and do the first pass. Fix the problems that you can identify all by yourself. I’m not really concerned with which method you use; just do what works for you. Chuck Wendig’s got some great advice on how to revise a manuscriptSo does Holly Lisle, and hers is 100% less profanity-laden.

After you’ve made your first developmental pass, do your first copy-edit pass. At this point you can go ahead and take the lazy route and use an automated grammar editor like Grammerly. Your purpose at this point isn’t to make it perfect — it’s simply to clean it up as much as possible to minimize errors that might distract your first readers.

Step Three

Now congratulate yourself on completing your second draft. Have a beer or your beverage of choice and fire it off to your first readers. Explain to them that it’s too early in the process for them to bother pointing out typos or grammar snafus, because there’s still a good chance that whatever scene contains such errors will get extensively rewritten or cut altogether.

These first readers should focus on developmental feedback. Does the dialogue ring true? Is characterization consistent? Are there any plot holes, or anything that confuses them or pulls them out of the story? Ask them to refrain from telling you what to fix or how to fix it — that’s your job to figure out. They just need to point out any such problems, and to be honest, even brutally so if necessary.

While you wait to hear back from them, start recruiting your next group of beta readers.

Step Four

Read the feedback as it comes in. Don’t do anything with it yet. Let your subconscious digest it (and give any hurt feelings or irritation a chance to subside). Once you’ve heard back from everyone (and given your emotions time to settle), open up your manuscript and go through it again, looking at the problematic parts and making story repairs according to the feedback.

This, for me, is the hardest part. It’s not really a good idea to just automatically change anything that’s been pointed out as problematic. You need to analyze it, and analyze the feedback and who’s giving it. Are they savvy about the genre? If not, is their confusion simply because they’re unfamiliar with the genre shorthand you used? If that’s the case, should you maybe not resort to genre shorthand, or should you trust your audience to know what you’re doing there without dumbing it down for them? This can be a hard balance to strike. Basically, I look for agreement, and lack thereof. If only one of my first readers doesn’t get my Doctor Who reference, for instance, I’m going to leave it in there for the other four who did. But I’m also going to take a second look at that reference to make sure it actually ads to the story. Whether you make a change based on feedback or not, be sure you justify every decision.

Finish your changes, run it through spellcheck and Grammerly again, and have another beverage. You just finished the third draft.

Do you have any questions for me about the editing process? If so, leave it in a comment. If it’s not already addressed in the next two parts of this series, I’ll do a follow-up Q&A post at the end. Also, I’d LOVE to hear any editing tips you have to offer.

Ready for Part Three? Read it here.

Editing the Heck out of Your Indie Novel – Part One: The Extra Mile

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If there is one professional service that indie authors should be spending their money on prior to publishing their books, it’s editing. Unfortunately, many (too many) self-published authors don’t do this. Some think they don’t need to. But many of them, especially in the beginning, simply can’t afford to.

If you fall into the latter camp, does that mean you shouldn’t publish your book? No. But it does mean that you shouldn’t publish your book until you’ve gone the extra mile (or five) in the editing process. It means you shouldn’t be in a such rush to share your story with the world that you neglect these steps, and it means you should NEVER shrug off manuscript problems thinking that if the story is good enough nobody will care. Because let me tell you something about mistakes in indie books:

PEOPLE CARE.

Sure, I have yet to read a book from a major publishing house that didn’t have its fair share of typos or other errors. I also have yet to read a review of any of these books that mentions said errors. But for some reason, reviewers tend to hold self-published books to a higher standard, and no matter how much they love your story, they will mention errors in their reviews. Some will even deduct points, or those coveted stars, because of them. A bad edit, or no edit at all, can hurt sales and harm your reputation as a writer.

Worse yet, it contributes to the perception that indies are basically one big slush pile unleashed on the masses and that only books that have been vetted by a major New York publishing house are truly worthy. So please: do us all a favor and GET YOUR BOOK EDITED.

So back to what to do if you can’t afford a professional edit. I’ve been there with both of my novels, so I’ve got some experience in this — and overall it’s been a good experience. Not to say that either of my books were perfect the first time I put them on the market, but what errors were pointed out in reviews were few enough and minor enough that I’m pretty confident my self-editing method is about as effective as it gets (oh, and as soon as I notice a reviewer point out an error, I immediately FIX it, then republished the book — that’s not something traditionally published authors get to do). Hopefully, by sharing my method here we’ll have fewer barely-edited and rushed-to-publication books winding up on the market.

There is a lot of great advice out there already about how to edit your manuscript. The thing is, most of it is by established authors, most of whom either are or have been traditionally published. They are primarily concerned with getting your manuscript to a point that an agent or editor will want to read it, presuming that if it gets accepted by one or both of those then it’s going to go through another round of editing (or several) with the publisher.

But as an indie author, you ARE the publisher. That means that you’ve got to go through the whole process as a writer–and then go through it all AGAIN as a publisher.

This means a lot of drafts. It takes a lot of time and there’s going to come a point where your eyes feel like they’re going to melt and leak out of their sockets if you have to look at that blasted manuscript one more time. But stick with it, because I promise, it will be worth the extra effort.

This is turning into a monster of a post, so I’m going to stop here and split it into three parts. Next week, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty as I start going step by step through my editing process.

Do you have any questions for me about the editing process? If so, leave it in a comment. If it’s not already addressed in the next two parts of this series, I’ll do a follow-up Q&A post at the end. Also, I’d LOVE to hear any editing tips you have to offer.

Ready to start editing? Proceed to Part Two.