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Topics - MonkeyScribe

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1
Writers' Cafe / Hurricane Relief Charity Bundle
« on: December 02, 2017, 05:35:28 AM »
I hope the mods will grant me a little bit of leeway with this post.

I wanted to highlight the charity bundle organized by a couple of standup indie good guys consisting of twenty-five novels. 100% of royalties are being donated to ONE AMERICA APPEAL, the joint fundraising effort of five former U.S. Presidents for hurricane relief in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

We've already raised more than $8,000 and counting, and a good number of ad sites, including Ereader News Today, Book Goodies, Book Doggy, Free Kindle Books & Tips, ReadFree.ly, Ebookhounds, Written Word Media (NewInBooks), and BookSends are providing complimentary mentions in the days ahead. On the blogger side, Big Al's Books & Pals and Sherry Fundin blogging at fundinmental.com are giving us mentions.

I hope you'll consider supporting the effort by posting and supporting in other ways. Some of the areas affected by this year's brutal hurricane season are still struggling to get back on their feet, and a relatively small effort on our part can make a big difference in the lives of others.

Here is the bundle: https://www.amazon.com/25-One-Charity-Bundle-Hurricane-ebook/dp/B077GZWVR1

Full disclosure: I'm not the organizer of this, but I have a book included in the bundle, and, like all of the authors, am donating my royalties to the cause.

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Writers' Cafe / Web Site Design Recommendation
« on: September 05, 2017, 02:16:37 PM »
Does anyone have a recommendation for a person to design/overhaul a web page using WordPress for a reasonable sum? Must be able to put together a professional-looking site.

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Writers' Cafe / Quick Productivity Tips--Mine and Yours
« on: April 17, 2017, 03:47:00 AM »
I wrote seven books last year, and ended up with some burnout, so I consciously took it easy this first part of the year. I just finished the first novel of the year, but really have to ramp up production from here on out. I'm trying to get motivated, and am asking for some advice on productivity from the hive mind.

Here is one from me:

Write every single day on first drafts. Set a word count target and then hit it consistently, even if it's only 1,000 words, although you can motor through a first draft pretty quickly at 2,000/day. Do this on holidays, birthdays, vacation, etc. When a first draft drags on and on it's because I took a day off here, then a day off there, and pretty soon the calendar is littered with failed writing days.

4
Writers' Cafe / A Writing Book Recommendation
« on: March 16, 2015, 03:57:34 AM »
Libbie Hawker, who posts here as ElHawk, has a great new writing book out that I highly recommend, Take Off Your Pants!: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing. I've written a gazillion books by now, and one would think that I've either learned all of the applicable lessons or I'm simply incapable of picking them up. But I definitely snagged some useful tips, and if you're a newer writer, this book is gold. Cheap gold, too! $2.99 as of this post.

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Writers' Cafe / Help for Cover - Lettering Only Needed
« on: July 16, 2014, 04:19:14 AM »
I'm working on a new space opera trilogy and have contracted for some high quality original art this time instead of going with photo manip. The only problem is that I'm now in need of someone who can do high quality lettering work. I've never separated the lettering work from the art, and am unusure how much I could expect to pay. Also, does anyone have any recommendations?

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Writers' Cafe / New Service for Writers: Professionally Read Reviews
« on: April 19, 2014, 10:02:18 AM »
Okay, not really, but imagine how awesome it would be to hire this guy to read some of your book reviews, both good and bad.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEdXhH97Z7E" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEdXhH97Z7E</a>

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Writers' Cafe / Time Will Pass: Encouragement for our Lurkers and Noobies
« on: February 06, 2014, 07:03:02 AM »
I've noticed several people lately who have jumped in to talk about their writing plans and their struggles/efforts to publish their first book. For every one who has spoken up, there are probably a dozen who feel too shy to join the conversation, feeling they have nothing to contribute.

The first book is the hardest. In addition to learning about the craft, you face for the first time the painful realization that the story in your head emerges imperfectly in the telling. What's more, you haven't yet figured out how to manage the scheduling, the stamina, and all of the other things necessary to do the actual labor of the writing.

I want to offer encouragement. You are a writer, you can do this. It's hard, yes, but more rewarding than anything else I know. Go order yourself a coffee mug that proudly says writer. Start thinking of yourself as a writer and writing as something that you do every day. Find some modest pace you can stick with: 250 words per day (only one page!), 500, or 1,000. Then do it.

One year from today it will be February 6, 2015. You will be one year older regardless of anything else you do. At that time you will either have a book finished and for sale, or you won't. And if you don't, chances are you'll look back on the previous year with some regrets. Don't let that happen.

You can do this!

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Writers' Cafe / Help With Strange Problem re: "look inside" on Amazon
« on: February 02, 2014, 10:23:48 AM »
I'm having a strange problem, and KDP support is not responding. The "look inside" feature for several of my books seems to have broken, and shows everything in all italics. These are books that have been for sale for months or even years and the samples and actual books look fine when they are purchased/downloaded. In addition, when I check the .mobi files in both KDP and an offline viewer they looks fine. It is only in that "look inside" feature that they look wrong. Obviously, this makes it look to casual browsers as if there is something wrong with the formatting of the books.

The only thing these books have in common is that they were fairly recently updated with back matter changes and the like. I use Calibre to convert an Open Office file to mobi, but this is not a new procedure for me, either. So why is this happening now?

Here are the books in question. The first one is free, if you want to see what it looks like on your device. Or, you can sample any of them, which seems to have the same result.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0068O8MPC
http://www.amazon.com/The-Wolves-of-Paris-ebook/dp/B00FC7O8UY
www.amazon.com/Free-Kingdoms-book-Citadel-ebook/dp/B0068NDLXQ
www.amazon.com/The-Devils-Deep-ebook/dp/B004K1F0E6
www.amazon.com/dp/B005FCCDO4
http://www.amazon.com/The-Devils-Cauldron-Deep-ebook/dp/B00DWYZMZ4

Any help is greatly appreciated. I'm at wit's end. :(

9
Writers' Cafe / Craft: Don't Neglect the Wide Angle
« on: January 25, 2014, 06:36:09 AM »
I get a fair number of compliments from readers about my scene settings, and my agent and editor both seem to flag those descriptions that describe the larger landscape. I always wondered about this, as I don't feel that I do it particularly well, but lately, paying attention to some of my reading, I've noticed that most writers neglect to pull back the camera to show the wider landscape. They do great on the tight focus--the smells, sounds, and sights close at hand--but rarely pull back to show the reader the view of the whole city or the entire marketplace, with its bustle.

You can stand out simply by showing up, but make sure it's not just description. It works only if it also shows something about the character or the larger theme. Here is an example from my WIP, where an agent of the king has arrived in the Bay Colony from England in 1676, in the aftermath of a brutal war against the native tribes.

Quote
Once he was next to the window, he turned his back to her, partly to get away from her prying gaze, but also to get as much light as possible coming through. Their breath had frozen on the pane, so he scraped it away with his fingernails so as to admit more light.
   The road was emerging from a marshy stretch that might be impassable in spring, but was flat and hard at the moment. A forest of bony, leafless trees rose beyond, with hills rising behind them, and even taller hills—almost mountains—beyond that. It was a strange and terrifying landscape.
   This wasn’t the pastures and fields of England or France, with their neat stone walls and hedges, every inch measured and owned for centuries. This was wild, the realm of wolves and savages. Never tamed, never cleared, never manured. Never brought under the civilizing influence of plow or ax.
   A few score miles deeper into New England and even the scattered roads and towns would disappear. What lay beyond these huddled communities clinging to the edge of a vast, impenetrable wilderness? Could be anything. For hundreds upon hundreds of miles. The very thought made James want to leap from the coach and run toward Boston.

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The Book Corner / The Luminaries
« on: January 22, 2014, 06:57:58 AM »
I'm reading The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, and it was not what I expected. The first couple of pages were challenging, and it has a curious, often circuitous route to move its plot. But the characters are fascinating, the historical depth (the gold fields of N.Z. in the mid-19th century) is amazing, and it has proven to be an incredibly immersive experience. The deeper into it I get, the better I like it, and I'm generally a very plot driven reader and writer, so I don't have a lot of patience for literary gimmicks.

It's a long book, about 850 pages, and not for people who want a rapid-fire reading experience, but if you enjoy a big, meaty read that will keep you engaged for many evenings, I highly recommend it.

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Writers' Cafe / Boskone, anyone?
« on: January 05, 2014, 10:20:31 AM »
Last year at Boskone I was sitting at a table chatting with someone when we both realized we were fellow KBers. I started to wonder if maybe there weren't some other KBers at the convention. There was certainly enough talk about indie publishing that there must have been.

Are there any science fiction and fantasy writers in the New England area who will be at Boskone next month? It would be fun to meet at the bar or something.

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Writers' Cafe / How Many Novelists Are At Work?
« on: January 04, 2014, 06:41:47 AM »
Here is an interesting article about the sheer number of writers, books, etc. The stats at the top don't look entirely reliable, but the article itself has some interesting stuff.

Quote
That a novelist is nothing like a small business entrepreneur is rather obvious. For one thing, novelists typically don’t assess the market to see if there’s a demand for their labor of love before they begin production. If anything, the decision to write a novel is driven by a kind of secular faith. The process requires enormous amounts of time, energy, and heartache, with no guaranteed return on investment. Like belief in a higher power, the will to publish a novel ignores all the atheistic arguments and the cold hard numbers. Sure, there are some outliers and windfalls. But would anyone start the small business Novel-in-Progress if they knew that the average book in the U.S. sells less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime? Actually, yes, many of them would.

That every novelist occupies a magical realist mindset is worth considering. Annually, there are laments about the death of the novel or at least the death of the good and interesting and innovative novel. From what I can tell, though, there are a few hundred thousand American novelists who pay no attention to this cultural distress call. How many exactly?


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Writers' Cafe / Share Your 2014 Goals Here
« on: January 03, 2014, 06:45:17 AM »
My main goal this year is to write four new books. I did this last year, after writing three novels in each of 2011 and 2012, and adding that fourth was challenging. However, I did pull it off and want to do the same thing in 2014. I would also like to get one of my indie books up as an audio book.

Personally, I don't like to make sales or money goals since these things are not really in my control. However, I would like to make some progress with iTunes and Kobo, and since I've put little to no effort into them in the past, think it should be easily attainable to do better in 2014 than 2013 in these two stores.

How about you? Any goals that may inspire or encourage the rest of us?

ETA: Oops! I missed that someone else had already started this same topic. Carry on, KBers.

14
This is stunning. I'm so jealous right now. :)

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1W8f4-5Rua8" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1W8f4-5Rua8</a>

And part two(!):

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiYacikItoQ" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiYacikItoQ</a>

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Writers' Cafe / David Gaughran in the Italian Press
« on: September 28, 2013, 05:00:47 AM »
Our own guru of indie publishing has a write up in an Italian newspaper. He's apparently teaching at a conference in Italy this week. Note, "The Famous British Writer." ;)

https://twitter.com/lucauxx/status/383876391105986560/photo/1

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Writers' Cafe / Blurb Too Wordy?
« on: September 20, 2013, 07:06:53 AM »
I'm getting ready to release my new novel, The Wolves of Paris, and am trying to come up with a blurb. I think the book is as strong as anything I've written and am happy with my cover, but the blurb is giving me a headache. What else is new? It reads to me like an interesting book, but I'm wondering if I should just boil it down to something like, "Wolves in 1450 Paris. Lots of bloody action with a side dish of romantic intrigue. Enjoy!"

Also, the book is based on a true event where wolves infiltrated the city walls of Paris during the winter of 1450 and killed roughly 40 people before they were put down by an angry mob on the steps of Notre Dame. Should I include this?

Thoughts?

When Lorenzo Boccaccio travels to Paris with his brother Marco on a trading mission, he discovers the city in a panic from a pack of ravenous wolves that have infiltrated the city walls. Lorenzo is summoned by an uncompromising Dominican inquisitor who claims that their business agent is tied to the sorcery behind the wolf attacks. The inquisitor has already burned two accused witches, gibbeted two men accused of changing into wolves, and now demands that the brothers help him root out the rest of the evil.

Rivals within the family business, and in love with the same woman, the brothers make for a reluctant partnership, but they are confident the wolves are a natural phenomenon, and not men or demons traveling in wolf form. All they must do is track the animals to their daylight hiding place where they will be easily destroyed.

But as Lorenzo and Marco follow the bloody path through the city, they are forced to confront the most frightening possibility of all, that the monks and peasants are right and these are no ordinary wolves. The leader of the pack is none other than the terrifying loup-garou, a shape shifting, demonic creature. And if they don’t defeat him, the city’s filthy alleys will be cleansed with blood.




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Writers' Cafe / Interview on the Creative Penn
« on: July 12, 2013, 11:44:42 AM »
Joanna Penn posted a video interview with me that you may find interesting. We mainly talked about The Righteous series, but also a little bit about my background, the writing process, and various subjects of interest to writers and readers.

You should also check out her other interviews. She has featured many other authors as well. Lots of fascinating stuff.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opL_id46-ek" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opL_id46-ek</a>

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Writers' Cafe / Joss Whedon on Being Prolific
« on: July 12, 2013, 06:17:30 AM »
I don't see this article anywhere here, so if you haven't seen this it's well worth a read.

Quote
“I read The Killer Angels. It’s a very detailed, extraordinarily compelling account of the Battle of Gettysburg from the point of view of various people in it and it’s historical. It’s historically completely accurate, and the moment I put it down I created Firefly, because I was like, ‘I need to tell this story. I need to feel this immediacy. I so connect with that era, the Western and how tactile everything is and how every decision is life or death, and how hard it is and how just rich it is, and how all the characters are just so fascinating.’ But so I should be on the Millennium Falcon. Now, if I only watched sci-fi I would have just had the Millennium Falcon part, which has already been done, but finding that historical texture, it literally, I put the book down and started writing Firefly. And that was my vacation from Buffy, which was two weeks. I got two weeks every year, and in that vacation I read, in 14 days, 10 books. My wife and I saw like nine plays, and that’s all we did. We just filled the tanks.

http://www.fastcocreate.com/1683167/how-to-be-prolific-guidelines-for-getting-it-done-from-joss-whedon

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Writers' Cafe / Never Read Your Reviews? How Do You Do It?
« on: June 13, 2013, 10:37:23 AM »
I've seen a few people around here say they never read their reviews. I would really like to do that. Like most writers I have readers who love my stuff, readers who enjoy it, but don't really seek out new books, and people who seem to hate my books with the fury of a thousand suns. Naturally, one of the latter reviews burns out the pleasant memories of a dozen positive reviews. Worse, it makes me want to change my writing to suit people who are not naturally inclined to like my stuff.

So I would like to stop checking my reviews. Simply never look at them ever again. But how do I manage that? Checking reviews is only ever a click or two away and you have to go to your book pages periodically to check on everything from promo pricing to ranking. How can you not notice that there are new reviews? And when you do, how does one possibly have the discipline not to read them?

This sounds tongue in cheek, but I'd really like to stop reading reviews.

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Writers' Cafe / My Recommendation for Suspense/Thriller Covers
« on: May 30, 2013, 07:19:07 AM »
I spread my business around to various formatters, artists, and the like, but have recently been very happy with the work done for me by Damonza. In addition to providing excellent work, he is responsive, and willing to tweak things as requested. A professional experience, which is very important for me. This is an unsolicited recommendation. Here are the two covers:


 

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Writers' Cafe / Has Anyone Used Damonza for their Covers?
« on: March 04, 2013, 11:38:36 AM »
I'm thinking about giving them a try with one of my new covers. I haven't used them before, but I like to vary things a little bit and it's always good to have a few options when you produce a fair amount of work like I do. But there have been so many horror stories that I'm being even more cautious these days than I used to be when I try someone new.

My initial research shows some great work and I haven't turned up anything negative, but I also have not spoken with someone personally who has used them before. I would appreciate any feedback you can offer or a PM if you feel that would be more appropriate.

Thanks!

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Writers' Cafe / Huge News for One of our KB Authors
« on: February 15, 2013, 06:58:38 AM »
David Dalglish just signed six (!) books in his Shadowdance fantasy series to Orbit. I've read the first four and they're great books.

Quote
NEW YORK, NY (February 15, 2013) – Today Orbit US & UK announced the international acquisition of the Shadowdance novels – an epic fantasy series by self-publishing success David Dalglish. The author has already digitally published the first four books in the series, all of which have been e-book bestsellers.

Link

A win for indie writers everywhere. ;)

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I'm trying to run an ad for a newly created box set later this month, but my art keeps falling through. The person who did my Sword and Steel collection is a friend and writer and is simply too busy. I had sent an email to someone else, but she can't get to it for a few weeks, and my always reliable go-to guy simply needs more lead time than I have. I suddenly realized I only have something like three days or it will be too late for this month.

If someone here is an artist or knows someone who can get to this by the weekend, please let me know.

The books are The Devil's Deep, The Devil's Peak, and Implant from my signature. I already have the existing art, so I need some quick and dirty photo manip. This is my other box set to give you an idea what I'm looking for:

Sword and Steel.

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Writers' Cafe / If I Don't Do This, I'll Never Do Anything
« on: August 20, 2012, 05:54:53 AM »
Last night I read a slim volume called "If I Don't Do This, I'll Never Do Anything: The Journal of a Self-Publishing Writer." It was written in the 70s, by a GED instructor named Chuck Herring who self-published his GED study books. From the stamp in the front of the book, it came from the alternative high school where my father used to teach, including night classes for adult ed students. I'm not sure how it traveled with me across the decades and various moves across the country, especially since I used to disdain self publishing and had never read it before. I suppose I couldn't throw away anything writing related.

The journal entries are rather whiny and mopy at first as this guy struggles to finish his novel, gets form rejects from publishers, etc, and picks up in mood as he finds success with his first non-fiction volume. The whole process sounds awful, from typing and retyping manuscripts to get them perfect for publication, to finding printers, to figuring out how to distribute the darn things. So many more tools exist now that allow.

However, there are some things that remain exactly the same, including his correspondence with editors and agents, the attitude of the gatekeepers to what he is doing, and the people who got scammed by the Publish America outfits of the day. There is also this observation from October 16, 1976:

Quote
Craziness is writing for 2000 hours and getting a postcard-size form rejection notice two months later in return mail: "Does not meet our current needs. Good luck."

But how can they do anything else? A personal response would add to the overhead. The higher the overhead the more copies a publisher would have to sell to break even on each publication. The more copies needed to reach the break-even point, then the fewer unpublished writers will get published. The fewer the unpublished writers that get published, then the less motivation for people to get excited about writing.

There must be some way to break up this chain.

An answer popped in: A re-birth of self-publishing. Rookie writers need to self-publish. This is the alternative to the craziness of submitting to New York publishers.

Change a word here or there and that could have been written by someone on this board.

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Writers' Cafe / Milestones with Big Round Numbers
« on: July 14, 2012, 05:49:18 AM »
It appears that this month I have crossed a couple of milestones on my journey. The first is that my indie sales have now topped 100,000 books and my overall sales, including the Thomas & Mercer releases of The Righteous series, have now crossed 300,000 sales. Considering I had sold exactly zero books a little over a year and a half ago this feels pretty amazing. I don't think I'm a naturally gifted writer so much as hard working and persistent. Here is an interview with Joanna Penn about how persistence paid off for me.

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