Archive for category About Writing

Pen Names

So the other night I looked at the Permanent Editor and said, “I’m going to write under an new pen name.”

He looked at me as though I had lost my mind.

So, here is the story.

Circa 2001 I started writing some freelance books for White Wolf Games. I did not have the foresight then to know that I would become Lynn Perretta, so I wrote as Lynn Davis. Fast forward to the future and connecting my work as Lynn Davis to Lynn Perretta is not that easy. Which is a shame because Mage, the game I wrote for, still has fans and with the resurgence in the Classic World of Darkness, I hold out hope that people will seek it out again.

So, you will probably notice if you pay attention that I have Harbin & Klai now under Lynn Davis and not Lynn Perretta. Yes, it is a pen-name thing, not marital changes. Sorry, not sorry, to all of my crushes.

So, I have a pen name for erotica.

I have Lynn Davis for paranormal and fantasy-type things.

Lynn Perretta I am going to save for “normal” things – that is stories that don’t involve vampires of varying types, angels, ghosts, and Nephilim.

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Indies, the World, and Anxiety

So, I love independent publishing. When it comes to publishing short works, I find it to be ideal. I like anthologies and magazines, and for any writer they certainly have their value. Both are exposure to a wider market and a way to test the mettle of your work. Will someone else find it worthy?

In the 21st Century, that does not have to be the only avenue of an author wanting to get short works into the hands of readers. It is one of the things I love about independent publishing.

That said … I noticed that the last month or so, I have had modest but steady sales. It has been nice to see and has left me wondering how to turn modest and steady into moderate and steady. Marketing and exposure, obviously, but finding the right way to go about that … affordable, of course, to an indie still coming into her own.

Then the last few days happened and anxiety sets in. The problem with being an indie, I don’t have a marketing arm looking at figures and the market and interpreting what they see so that I understand what is happening.

I can only play guessing games.

UK sales had been strong for me the past month or so. I am wondering with the current events on that side of the pond, if that is affecting my sales at all. I hope not. E-books are not very expensive. I think the highest price book that has been going recently is $1.99. If it is recent happenings in the UK driving sales down – I know how tough things are for me if I am not willing to spend a dollar or two on things.

As anxious as I am about sales, I can’t ignore the news that comes across my feed. Things are turbulent and insecure, maybe more than I had realized.

Everything surrounding Brexit is complex and convoluted. It is also heated and I don’t think it is going to be resolved quickly. In discussing it on this side of the pond, we look at geo-political impacts and lessons we can take as an electorate with our own upcoming election. As with the UK, in the US we have a lot of disillusioned voters. Polls may point one way, but in this environment that is no guarantee of outcome.

In all of that, though, I hope that we don’t forget that for all of the politicians, elections, trades, and regulations, that there is a human element to this. People’s lives are being affected by this in ways we cannot even see.

We can only guess at them through a dashboard.

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Word Count

I started a conversation in a Writer’s Group that I participate in on Facebook. I don’t think, however, that I quite got across the point of what I was asking about.

Here is what I posted to the group:

Why is there a word-count competition?

We talk about word count a lot, as though it is a competition to get books as large as possible.

I have written everything from flash fiction (about 1k) to short stories (anything from 2k – 15k), novellas, and novels (my longest being about 130k words or so).

The storytelling style, the story development, even the enjoyment of the story itself varies between flash-fiction, short stories, novellas, and novels. Even with novels, the style of storytelling is going to vary if your book is 80k, 130k, 180k, the Stand, etc.

So, what do you think happened to the appreciation of both writing and reading the different types of stories?

Is there a way to fix this?

Now, people immediately decided to defend the need for things like:

  • authors monitoring word count
  • word count as a way to differentiate between types of stories
  • complaints against authors who list a 5k story as a “novel”

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The perils of being a writer

I keep hearing these voices while I am working. They say things like “I’m hungry,” “meow,” and “spend time with me.”

I turned around today and realized, there are people living in this house. A man, a child, and two cats. They keep looking at me like they expect something from me.

I still haven’t worked out the swollen belly I seem to have acquired. I keep feeling motions inside.

Could be an Alien.

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Getting Images for Cover Art

Copy of 2010 03-06 utc 037“Do you know how to find free images that you can use online?”

I see this discussed in groups a lot. Let’s face it. When you are a self-published author, especially if you are a new author, you cannot always afford to pay for artwork. Maybe you can save up for a once-a-year cover for your novel. What if you are a short story or novella author needing artwork on a monthly or even weekly basis? Chances are your art budget is going to outstrip what you bring in from your writing – at first anyway.

There are ways to get free images that you can adapt to photos. You just need a photo-editing program, a little skill, lots of practice, and some knowledge.

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The Elipses – When to Use Them and When Not to Use Them

You know what the ellipses is, the [ … ].

Do you know what it is used for?

Often in blogs (including here sometimes) it is used to indicate a trailing off of thought or a pause, in a way that a comma or semi-colon might be used. This is an informal usage of the ellipses and is fine for informal settings, like many blogs.

When you are writing a book – whether fiction or non fiction – such informal use of the ellipses is a bad mistake, and one that I see many authors make.

How do authors often use the ellipses?

Authors often use the ellipses to indicate a pause, an insecurity, or to indicate that the thought or prose has trailed off or a character has been interrupted.

Examples:

A Pause.

She was entrancing … beautiful … sultry … and everything he wanted in a woman.

An Insecurity

Amanda did not know what to think. She was … confused. Why was this happening now? She knew she did not deserve this … did she?

Trailing off or interrupted.

He was on his way to the store. He needed chips, beer, and some kind of dip. He entered the store when she appeared, drawing his attention from his shopping list …

Each of these are examples of ways that I see [ … ] used a lot in fiction writing, and every single one of them is wrong.

How should the ellipses be used?

The ellipses in formal writing (this includes fiction writing) should only be used to indicate omitted text.

Example:

Full text.

John went to the store today to buy fruits and vegetables when he was struck by a car.

With omission.

John went to the store today … when he was struck by a car.

What is important to note is that the meaning is not changed. If you are relaying information you were told about John going to the store and being struck by a car, it is not important to know that he was going to buy fruits and vegetables. When relaying it in print, we indicate the [ … ] to tell our reader that some information is missing, but it is not important to what we are talking about. You never omit key details with the [ … ] as this is dishonest writing.

But in the examples above, the author could have been omitting thoughts when using the [ … ].

This is true. This is also a very bad thing to do in writing. The [ … ] is not a time for you to be lazy as a writer. If you are struggling with what your character is thinking as he talks about his ideal woman or she wrestles with her insecurities, then step back and think. You are probably struggling with it because your character is struggling with it. Think about what that struggle looks like and feels like. The way it feels to you is probably the way it feels you your character. Give detail instead of [ … ]. Why? Because you are omitting important details and crippling your storytelling.

In the case of ending an interrupted or trailed off thought/scene – well. In the case of an interruption, simply use a [ – ]. You will notice that programs like Word like to elongate the [ – ], but if you are interrupting dialogue, this can become messy. What I do is this:

He said, “I am so angry – a”

WordPress does not do this, but if you were in Word, when you space after the [ – ] and type the “a” you see the [ – ] elongate. End the quotation after the “a” as normal. Then simply back space to remove the “a” and the extra space so that your statement looks like this:

He said, “I am so angry -” (with Word leaving the [ – ] all elongated and pretty.)

In the case of a thought or scene trailing off. Sometimes it is fine to simply end the sentence with a [ – ] and no period. Other times, it is best to actually show the character’s thoughts and attention shifting away from what he or she was doing and onto something else. It depends on context. Generally, if a sudden thought, action, or dialogue is to follow the trailing off, then a [ – ] is fine. If you are going to move on to new descriptions with no sudden action, then you should describe the shift in words.

Now you know why you are probably using the [ … ] wrong.

Stop doing it. Write what you mean to write, use proper punctuation, and happy writing everyone.

 

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From the Editor

I’m starting a new category on the blog: From the Editor.

This will cover things that I discover as an editor while I am working. These are mistakes that I see frequently in writing that authors simply should not do.

It isn’t that I don’t want to do my job as an editor.

It is that you should, if you are going to be a writer, learn the craft of writing. That means learning basic rules of grammar and punctuation. It also means learning when to use adverbs and adjectives, and understanding why they should and should not be used in certain situations.

That being said, first post coming up soon about ellipses.

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On Editing w/pro-tips – Quotations

So I’m editing now.

Stuff other than my own work!

As I have been working, I have noticed a few habits writers sometimes have.

I’ve lived in my own little bubble of my own writing for a long time, so I’m really only able to talk about this now.

First, understand that as you write, you will have spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. That is acceptable as no one is perfect. Amazingly enough, some of those errors will remain even after a professional editor gone over your work.

Again, no one is perfect. My child loves taking time out of her work to point out typos in her workbook. This is her school work, the thing that is supposed to help her learn, and it is full of typos.

So, you get the idea. Your work will probably never be completely free of errors. That is just how it goes.

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My Thought on Key Words

As a freelance writer, I do a lot of work for blogs and websites, helping to add or update content. One of the key things that clients need, and rightfully so, are key words. Key words are an organic way to help ensure your site is found by search engines when users look for things. The idea is to incorporate the search terms that people most commonly use when searching for your product, service, or cause.

For example, if you are an author of paranormal romance books and have a blog about writing, you would want to include in your blog key words based on search terms readers would normally look for. I will admit to being bad about key word usage on my own site. I have plans to get them done. Really, I do.

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