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Messages - Puddleduck

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The character is of Athabascan/Athabaskan yes, a people (11 tribes) that stretches from the Yukon into the Alaskan interior and down to the coast (lifelong Alaskan here). In Alaska we say 'Alaska Native' but in Canada they are called First Nation, is my understanding.

Ah, okay. I always think it's ideal to use the actual tribe name (or tribal group), but unfortunately, one so rarely actually knows it, and it doesn't work if you're actually wanting to encompass all the North American tribes.

I have a Native American character in one of my books, and I've tried to narrow it down to which tribe he's from, but I haven't been able to find enough info to make me feel comfortable assigning one to him.

Writers' Cafe / Re: So frustrated I almost returned 2 books today
« on: May 18, 2018, 02:32:28 PM »
What I did when I was still reading a lot (before I started writing), even if I were buying the print book instead of the audio version--I checked the running length on Audible. I like books that are at least 9 or 10 hours long, which left most romance out. I don't enjoy category-style romance, but if you look at the audio length, they're easy to identify as being 4-6 hours long. (For the record, an hour is about 11,000 words, give or take. A 4-to-6-hr audiobook will be about 45-65K.)

That's a good point. While there is some variation in the speed at which different narrators read, it's a lot more consistent than paperback page length.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Best Indie Book Award
« on: May 18, 2018, 02:31:07 PM »
Why anonymous judges, though? That in itself seems sketchy. What can an award possibly be worth when no one knows who's judging it? "A random group of who-knows-who thinks my book is better than the others they read." If that random group is a bunch of editors who've been editing bestsellers for a decade or authors who've made millions from book sales, that means something. If that group is made up of out-of-work non-publishing, non-reader, non-author people who didn't have anything better to do and it was either judge this contest or watch Judge Judy, that means a lot less. If you don't disclose who the judges are, is there any reason we shouldn't assume it's the latter group?


I have never heard of this word. Is it a specific tribe, or is it actually a term for all Native Americans (which is still the most current word I'm aware of)?

Writers' Cafe / Re: So frustrated I almost returned 2 books today
« on: May 18, 2018, 02:15:02 PM »
So wait, now we're expecting every reader to be able to convert word count to pages?

Seriously, guys?

We have authors in this very thread (authors!!!) who don't know what the word "novella" means, some who don't know the difference between page count and KENPC pages, and at least one author who thinks it's hunky dory if you buy a 2-hr movie ticket and only get a 1-hr movie as long as that movie isn't total dog poo.

And now we think readers are going to be able to convert word count to pages????


Not "convert word count to pages" but "understand how word count relates to length of story in lieu of page count". The difference is the same difference between kind of knowing a language, where everything is slower because you're mentally translating it in your head before you can understand it, and being fluent, where you can converse at the same rate as your native language because you have an understanding of what the words actually mean. Which I think is reasonable. Word count is a truer measure of length than page count. If every book listed the word count, readers would have a better understanding of how long books are and be less frequently surprised by books that look longer than they are but are disappointingly short because of formatting shenanigans.

The real hurdle to this is that tradpub books don't list the word count, and most people relate to tradpub books. It's very hard to find word counts on tradpub books, which means it's hard for readers to even get a starting point to understanding what word count means. All we can do to combat this ignorance is list word count on our books and hope that as many other authors/publishers as possible do the same. But I think it's worth trying to get there, for both writers' and readers' sakes.

It isn't always as simple as people in a certain period all thought "x, y and z".

For example, I am working on a novel set in Oregon early in WWII. Oregon at the time (this has changed radically by the way) was extremely racist. There were "exclusion laws" that shaped the Pacific Northwest, banning black people from coming to Oregon. The now notoriously liberal city of Portland was at the time a bastion of white supremacism that put the South to 'shame' in a racism contest. However, Oregon's huge ship building industry was essential to the war effort, so that changed rapidly after the start of WWII since black workers were absolutely necessary to meet construction goals.

My main character, from the East, is taken aback at the attitudes he meets in Oregon because although there was ample racism there, it was not of that extreme. Since someone of his class would normally use the term 'colored' that is what he uses, but I don't edit what the people around him use. Many were not happy to see the exclusion of blacks end.

I was at a conference a few years ago where a black lady from Portland talked about this. Definitely not something you'd necessarily know about from living in the area now, unless you ran in certain communities or made an effort to find out. As I recall, there weren't necessarily laws saying that black people couldn't enter Oregon, but there were other laws that basically made that the effect. So I could definitely understand how someone from the east would find it odd.

OTOH, sometimes we tend to think of the historical 'good guys' a bit inaccurately. Just as the 'bad guys' weren't all pure evil, the 'good guys' (in this case, people in the North) weren't as enlightened as a lot of modern people tend to assume. Though I suppose that kind of thing is all relative for the time.

A couple of ? Will you be repeating the experience? If so, would you do anything different?

Probably not. This time happened only because of outside circumstances which are unlikely to recur. Although, if similar circumstances did happen again, and I found myself in an extended stay somewhere outside of home without having to go to my day job, I probably would take the opportunity to really focus on writing like this.

Would I do anything different? Hmm ... I would probably make an effort to stay somewhere that had a hotel gym that I could use. I ended up not working out at all for the whole time, which wasn't great. And I would probably bring even fewer possible distractions. I'd try to bring only audio/visual entertainment which helped get me in the right frame of mind or inspire me for whatever project I was working on, so it would help me get back into the writing rather than tempting me to veer away from it, mentally. The two things I brought which ended up working best were a video game that I could simply grind a little bit (leveling up characters) to give me a mental break, but not getting me sucked in, so I could play for 10 or 20 minutes and then get back to writing, and my e-reader, which I used to read a book at night after I was done writing (and it was a book that kept me interested enough to read it, but didn't try to suck me entirely in and not put it down).

Writing for an hour or two at a time and then taking a 15-30 minute break when I felt like I came to a good stopping point worked pretty well for me.

I tend to think that people who read books set in different times should expect that the characters act in ways consistent with those times, not the reader's.

Personally, whenever I read something set in the past, and the MC (or other character we're supposed to find sympathetic) is the only one with the "correct" (read: modern) sensibilities, that annoys me. Racial slurs are things that are were often not even questioned in the time they were used. There are a lot of things (slurs, attitudes toward certain types of people, etc.) which were part of the normal, everyday way the world worked. That doesn't mean that people who did them were all bad people, only that they were products of their time/place. Your characters should have facets, and it's okay for them to be "unenlightened" about things, as we would think of it today, if it means they were perfectly normal for their own time.

I do think that it could be okay to have maybe one character (preferably not the MC but a side character) who is around to point out that certain things that are normal about their society (like racism or misogyny) are maybe not okay and should be thought about a little more. This would give a "modern" voice in the story (showing that you, the author, are aware of these things) without really barging into the realism of the setting and trying to say that all people "back when" were evil/racist/whatever. This should be done with a light hand, though.

Trying too hard to make your historical characters politically correct by modern standards is going to annoy a lot of people. You don't have to go full-bore on the racism/misogyny/etc. to be historically accurate, either. I'd say include the bare minimum that's necessary for your book to be believably historically accurate without doing contortions to make it more palatable for sensitive modern readers, and if you think that even that is too much and will be off-putting to modern readers, have a single character (not every character we're meant to see as a "good guy") there to quietly point out those things on occasion as they come up--preferably, pointing them out to the other characters, not just the reader, and give the other characters to respond to whatever this character says, even if it's to constantly call him a woman or something (which underlines the point and keeps it within the setting). Make it an element of the story (a small one), not just do it in the character's thoughts because that feels like you're wink-wink-nudge-nudging the reader about how "enlightened" your hero is vs. everyone else who lived during this time period.

And if you're just talking about insults, it's also worth looking around to see if there were lesser-known insults that were used during the time period and have faded in usage to the point that most modern readers would understand by context that they're race-based insults but wouldn't have enough knowledge of the word to be insulted or put off by it themselves.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Scribd
« on: May 18, 2018, 11:01:00 AM »
This is reassuring to hear. I'm glad they're doing well. Scribd is the only subscription service I have any of my books in. Considering some of the not-so-great news we're hearing from B&N's corner, it's nice to see that other retailers (or whatever we call Scribd) are doing better.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is this plagiarism?
« on: May 18, 2018, 10:55:17 AM »
So it is. Guessing that bump was a spambot selling plagiarism solutions?

Heh, I was gonna respond to the overall discussion until I saw that. Might be nice if the forum had some way of highlighting the last post date on really old threads, so we could see when this has happened before launching into a discussion that's so old. Though I guess sometimes old discussions are worth getting into again. *shrug*

Writers' Cafe / Re: iStock sale
« on: May 17, 2018, 11:52:59 AM »
Ah, sadly I always seem to need a Signature image. (I think I've gotten at least 5 photos from iStock--mostly when the cover designer I was working with couldn't find what I needed at Shutterstock--and I think at least 3 of those were Signature.) It's a good deal for people who write enough shorter stories to need more images, especially if those stories can use more generic artwork. I like iStock because I've found "just right" images there when I couldn't find any at Shutterstock, but those tend to be the more expensive ones for good reason.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Story lengths
« on: May 17, 2018, 09:22:15 AM »
I've noticed some publishers putting word caps on submissions, suggesting a move towards shorter novels. Have you seen different?

Based on what I saw when I was still looking into trad publishing, a few years or so ago, they definitely seem to be more concerned with books being too long rather than too short, unless in extreme cases like a 50,000 word fantasy novel (in which case, they'd assume there wasn't enough space for both worldbuilding and a good plot). If we see shorter books on the indie side, I suspect it's because of the "publish a book every month" mentality rather than because tradpub is trying to force authors to artificially inflate the length of their books.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Story lengths
« on: May 16, 2018, 09:19:38 PM »
The most commonly used wordcount breakdown is as follows:

under 1000: flash fiction
up to 7500: short story
7500 to 17500: novelette
17500 to 40000: novella
above 40000: novel

Mind you, this chart dates from a time when novels were much shorter than today. And indeed, works of 45000 or 46000 words are often sold as novellas these days, even if they are technically novels and count as such for the purpose of the Hugo and Nebula Awards and others.

That said, I'd classify 50000 to 60000 words as a novel, albeit a short one. And when I publish a novel in the 50000 or 60000 word range, I tend to call it a short novel.

This is what I go by when I speak in technical terms. Based on what normal length is these days and my personal feelings about book length, I usually call anything from 40-60k a short novel, and just say 'novel' for anything longer than that. I feel like in that range, it's shorter than what most people expect a novel to be even though it's technically a novel according to those old (and, AFAIK, current) guidelines. I would probably say "short novel" somewhere in the description if I published a book in that range.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Kickstarter experiment
« on: May 16, 2018, 09:16:34 PM »
Unfortunately, there is nothing here that makes your Kickstarter stand out from the countless others looking for someone else to finance their project so they don't have to. For $14, I get a copy of the ebook. An ebook that will probably sell for below $5. So by supporting you early, I get the privilege of paying 2.5 times more for the book. The premise of the book sounds interesting, but not so interesting that I am willing to fork over 2.5 times the cost of the product just so you don't have to pay for your own editing.

I've only backed, I think 3 Kickstarter projects, 2 of them for books related to other books I'd previously enjoyed (liked but not loved) by the same authors of those previous books. One of them (which actually ended up being two books because of stretch goals) worked out well enough that I didn't actively regret doing it. I think I ended up getting 2 ebooks plus a bonus ebook for, like, a $5 donation. The other author Kickstarter I contributed to, however, put me off of ever doing another one (unless it's an author I love so much I really want to support them and know I'll love the book), in part because of what you mention here. I paid for a hardcover of the book, which I think was $30. (Well above what the hardcover actually sells for or even lists for.) There was an expectation that backers would get the book well before the general public (so we were paying a premium to at least get it early), and this didn't really happen. The author seemed to think so little of his backers that he was giving out free copies to bloggers before he'd even sent the paid rewards to backers. To make matters worse, nearly all information he gave during the Kickstarter campaign about what the book would be about was totally changed because he decided to re-do everything after the entire Kickstarter had run and everyone had paid.

And these were for authors I'd previously read and enjoyed.

They say that Kickstarter campaigns are risky to support, and that's so true. I wasted money and irritation on that worst one I mentioned, when I would have been much happier simply waiting until it released and buying it. I would have paid less, not waited any longer, and possibly had the option to return it to the store when I discovered how disappointing it was (I couldn't even finish it).

Personally, I just don't think Kickstarters for books make any sense at all. (I say that as a reader, not as an author, as I've never tried it myself, nor do I ever intend to.)

In Joanna Penn's email today she had a link to a new post/video about making large print editions of her books.

Here's a link:

I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but she's always got great information/insight so I'm sure it's worth checking out.

Oh, neat, thanks!

Fiction has never shied away from 'tough' subjects.  Suicide, sexual abuse, child or spousal abuse, drug addictions....  and yes, school (or other) shootings.  Go ahead and write the series.  You never know, it might even help someone, somewhere, get over some tragedy.

This is my thinking, too.

It sounds like you've got a good approach (not politicizing it, not focusing on the shooting itself). I might suggest it could be more marketable if you made sure there are least some moments of humor to balance out the misery, though. There's a market for sad romances, I guess, but probably not as big as the market for angsty, dramatic romances that have enough moments of humor (and other positive things) to balance it out.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Kindle Worlds closing down?
« on: May 16, 2018, 06:23:35 PM »
The problem is that, like Rowling, they can potentially make a lot more money licensing their IP themselves than doing it through Amazon.

I wasn't suggesting they actually do it through Amazon, but rather that they came up with their own website.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Kindle Worlds closing down?
« on: May 16, 2018, 03:41:34 PM »
I would have liked to do something in a Kindle World.  But most of them are 'worlds' I've never heard of, and the rest are either worlds/genres I'm not interested in, or couldn't bring myself to write.  Or both.

Overall, though, I think KW is a very good concept.  I imagine some of the worlds are very specialized and niche-y, though.

I kinda like the idea of it and had considered I might try it sometimes, but I have the same problem that almost all of them are ones I've never even heard of. The only one that was even a maybe for me was Vampire Diaries, and that was still way down my list.

There's potential in the idea, but I think first, the people running it have to understand fanfic--especially what drives people to write it and read it. (Because that's really all Kindle Worlds is.) From what I saw with KW, they don't, so it doesn't surprise me this ended up failing for them. One of the major things they needed and didn't have were a handful of serious big-time, popular fandoms, and they didn't. JK Rowling, for example, could probably buy a country if she could tap into all the fanfic people want to write about her world, without constraining them so much that no one wants to bother with her. If TV studios could ever show a small amount of sense, they could tap into all those cult classics they own but aren't doing anything with and do something like KW for all these shows that have been cancelled for decades but still have big fan bases.

Writers' Cafe / Re: GDPR
« on: May 16, 2018, 03:31:28 PM »
I have to wonder what the danger is that any given author will actually have a problem from any government on this issue. If it's a law meant to target big companies, and even the biggest indie authors are tiny in comparison, then what's the risk that a government will actually waste the resources in trying to pursue a case on this issue against an indie author, especially one who is not an EU citizen or resident? I totally agree that the fact that the law is so vague and such and that it could be used to hit an indie author (or artist, or whatever other self-employed person) is a problem. But it's a problem we can't really do anything about. Given how vague and muddled the law is created to be, I get the feeling that there's nothing we can do to be 100% sure we're in the right (much like many types of laws), and hence it's probably not worth expending serious energy worrying about.

The stock photo issue is more of a concern, I think, since most of us tend to use stock photos on our covers, and if we hire a cover designer, usually don't even have any info on the particular stock photo used. The idea that a stock photo we have on our cover could suddenly become unusable is a nuisance (and an expense), but if that one individual model decides to take issue with your one book and come after you because they retracted permission for this shot and you never got the memo, that could become a serious legal headache. I tend not to worry too much that a government across the planet will decide to take issue with me because there's nothing about me that would make it interesting to them to do so, but once you bring it to an individual person, that's a whole other ball game. I fully believe that there are individuals out there who would create expensive, time-consuming legal battles for other people just because they feel like doing so or have gotten their emotions wound up or generally hate the world and want someone to take it out on.

Both of my Starlight Investigation books are available in OpenDyslexic font. I have not made any on-line sales, (I have not advertised either) but have made quite a few sales of paperbacks to readers myself. Some fans who do not have dyslexia have said they find the OpenDyslexic font easier to read than the guaramond and purchase the dyslexic edition.

When I began publishing, the research I conducted indicated 10% of the population have been diagnosed with dyslexia. When I ordered my first set of books to sell, I purchased 10 dyslexic editions and 50 with guaramond font.  I require 25 dyslexic editions for every 50 regular editions sold.

OpenDyslexic font is available for commercial use and can be downloaded from their website

For some readers, it makes the difficult process of reading more enjoyable.

Very interesting. I've downloaded that font. I've read that some dyslexic people prefer Comic Sans even over OpenDyslexic, which makes things a little complicated, because do you just pick one or try both? Is it a case where one of those is better than regular font, even if it's not as good as the other one?

Hi, everyone! So, I'm back. It went pretty well.

First, I should clarify that I did this because unrelated circumstances were such that I needed to be out of the house and I didn't want to go in to work, so I was going to take it off anyway. What I expected out of this is probably less than someone who takes all that time off only to do this, for no other reason.

Here's the run-down on my wordcount (somewhat rounded):
Day 1: 1,600
Day 2: 2,900
Day 3: 3,400
Day 4: 5,000
Day 5: 6,200
Day 6: 5,600
Day 7: 5,200
Day 8: 5,600
Day 9: 5,200
Day 10: 5,100
Day 11: 5,300 (finished story)
Day 12: 0 words, full edit
Total words written: 51,500

(It ended up only being 12 full days there.)

The first day, I didn't even start writing until late evening because I was still doing "settling in" stuff and, as I realized later, simply procrastinating.
Day two was a bit better, but I still didn't spend much time writing.
About half-way through day three, I realized that I was actively looking for things to distract myself with. Fortunately, I had not brought many such things, so I'd already burned through most of them. I had made the mistake (it seems to have been) of trying to be strict about my diet as well, and I think my self-discipline couldn't handle so many things at once. I gave myself permission to eat/drink somewhat unhealthily, and my mind was no longer focused on all the food I wanted to have and let me focus on my writing. I still need to deal with the diet thing, but it seems like this will better be handled one thing at a time.

This was a great learning experience. Particularly these points:
1. I can easily achieve 5,000 words a day, given no other demands on my time.
2. When I hit a snag and a scene isn't coming for me, it will not magically be solved by not working on it. I have to actively think through the problem until I find a solution. Usually, it's fiddling around with ideas until I hit one that I know immediately is correct, which allows me to continue on with writing until I hit the next snag. Writing feels a bit like my creative side is a teenager in the driver's seat, happily going along, but sometimes comes to a mysterious dead-end or mechanical problem, and my logical side is a patient adult that has to take the wheel just long enough to get free of the problem, then give it back to my creative side.
3. The process that seems to work best for me is to pre-write to build background on my characters/world, and have at least some idea of what the story's about, then start the book without trying to outline or know too much about where I'm going. Then, after 10k words or so, I have enough written that I can start fleshing in more of the later parts of the story, building as I go. I sometimes also need to write a quick scene summary to figure out the points of a scene before writing it, especially fight scenes. But it's totally doable for me to sit down at the computer and only know "this is the scene where character X discovers secret Y" and get started. There is no excuse in letting myself avoid writing because I don't know exactly how it's all going to go before I sit down.
4. At this point in my writing, I write very clean. I mean, I write what I want the first time. I lean heavily on my intuition, so if a scene or development doesn't "feel" right, I know it immediately and correct it, so I don't end up doing very heavy editing at all. (This also requires the pre-writing I mentioned. I don't learn about characters as I write the story. I pre-write about them so that by the time I start the story, I know them well enough, from the beginning, to know what they'd do or how they'd feel in any situation. (Though it also helps that I outline as I go, doing more outlining the farther into the story I am, so that helps keep the whole thing cohesive.)
5. It was a lot easy for me to stay focused when I didn't have any other stories in my mind, like other books, shows, etc. I'll need to try to save any such activities for the end of the day, after I've done my writing, unless maybe it's a story that isn't very interesting to me. The more I enjoy someone else's story, the harder it is to focus on my own because my mind wants to go linger in that other world.

The final book ended up being a little over 60k (I'd had some done already), which had sounded like a fine length when I look at the number, but after reading the book, it still feels a little short for me, so I'll probably try to aim at my more usual 100k for most books in the future.

Okay, let's try this.

ETA: Didn't work. I used the IMG tag with the image link. Is that not how you do it?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Stuck in the stone ages
« on: May 01, 2018, 08:20:11 PM »
You can spoil your pleasure in anything with a simple recipe. "Just add hurry."

There are many successful trad authors earning millions, and these are likely the trad authors you go to cons to meet.  Whatever you may think of their craft, they didn't get there by responding to emails 10 minutes later.  Spending time thinking, pondering, and sleeping on it are all valid choices. If  time is a luxury indies can't afford-- and I agree with you that it is-- that isn't a good thing about being an indie. That's one of the drawbacks.

I was thinking more like something I read recently about how if you get an agent you should expect them to take four weeks to get back to you about whatever you're trying to discuss. Your own agent. Most businesses would consider 24 to 48 hours a reasonable response time. Four weeks for someone who's supposedly working for you? That's just silly.

As for the actual publishing time, I constantly encounter tradpub books which, despite having taken multiple years to get from draft to book, are still full of plot holes, logic problems, inconsistent characterization, dangling threads, etc. I just read one. I don't buy this "fast and sloppy or slow and good" dichotomy.

Do it however works for you. I finish books in hotels or the like a lot. I can do 20k in 5 days or so that way, but it is because I already know the book so well by then. I probably write about 500 words an hour at the very most. I can do 7000 words at the very end of the book, but I am working 14 hours a day to do that. I revise and edit extensively as I go. No sprinting. But when it is done it is done. Everybody has a process.

That actually sounds a lot like the way I work. I tend to work better when I have a long period of time to really focus, more so than in sprints, and I write clean. The messy first draft thing doesn't really work for me. If I'm writing and I know it's wrong or boring or just not good, I have to stop and figure out what the problem is. For me, having the wrong words out there is worse than having no words because now those words are stuck in my head and it's harder to find the right words.

I do tend to do 100k-ish for a novel, but this one I'm planning to do I'm looking at more like 60k as my goal. Unless it gets away from me. Which it might. (Well, not really get away from me as much as I'm just absolutely terrible at estimating. I estimated my last novel at 100k and, even though I was going along with it according to plan, it ended up being 140k.)

Thanks for all the tips and ideas, everyone! This should be an exciting experiment.

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