My sincere thanks to Isis Sousa for this marvelous spotlight!
In a previous post I wrote about the lack of reviews on my two published books, at least on Amazon. I did get some reviews on Goodreads after a giveaway. Three were good; but one was a scathing one-star review that, as the following post describes, almost made me toss my laptop and my writing dream. This morning I came across this excellent article written by Kate M. Colby which appeared on Ryanlanz.com. It really puts book reviews–good, bad, and ugly–into perspective and reveals the benefits both good and bad can render, along with methods of dealing with any ugly reviews.
by Kate M. Colby
Book reviews are the lifeblood of books. A healthy rating encourages potential readers to buy, makes an author eligible for merchandising from retail sites, and improves a book’s overall ranking on those sites. However, if enough readers read your book, eventually you’re going to get a bad review (probably several). Those dreaded one-star ratings are the cost of exposure.
View original post 1,428 more words
“. . .you think I hold the people in bondage as mindless slaves. Not so; I unite them in a common purpose under one banner. Think back over the years, when each kingdom had its own king. They fought each other, not only between kingdoms, but within kingdoms. They had no unity, no peace! Every kingdom wanted something another kingdom had, and rather than share, they fought! There was greed! There was strife! There was war and there was death! That my hypocritical, judgmental friend, constitutes the highest form of slavery!” ~Ryadok, Barren-Fel’s last great sorcerer, Warrior Queen of Ha-Ran-Fel, Book 1 of the Dark Lords of Epthelion series.
Handsome. Cunning. Calculating. Seductive. Deceptive warmth covering an icy, heartless core. Ryadok, Anhuapta’s favorite, the last of Barren-Fel’s malignant sorcerer kings–and the most evil. He looked like an angel–blue-eyed, blond haired, slender, a benevolent expression lighting his fair face.
But beneath the facade lurked a steely demeanor as fearsome as the visages of the four serpents adorning his staff. Ryadok wanted it all and cared not how much blood he must spill to get it. By his late teens he had become skilled in the Black Arts and possessed a charm that captured people’s hears. For this reason he received more supernatural power from Anhuapta than the six sorcerers before him combined. Ryadok used these powers to full advantage. Unsatisfied with a mortal army, he conjured his own mutant host. Through his persuasive powers he enslaved minions, and even–it seemed–Anhuapta himself. Six kingdoms staggered under his oppressive regime, and the kingdom he chose as his crown jewel suffered the most.
Yet even tyrants reap what they sow, often at a terrible, terrible price.
© Everthedreamer, 2016 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.
Imagine yourself a girl of fifteen. You’ve just witnessed the slaughter of your parents, and your home overrun by ruffians. Your parents’ murderers drag and jostle you through the streets in the middle of the night as the city collapses in chaos, blood, and ashes, and you wish they would have killed you, too. Can anything good come out of this hellish nightmare?
Find out more on Amazon.com. From April 15 through April 22 I am offering Warrior Queen of Ha-Ran-Fel for .99 in the Kindle store. Enter a world of magic, mayhem, hope, and victory. Enter the world of the Warrior Queen of Ha-Ran-Fel.
These past three months I experienced a dry spell so devoid of creativity I almost removed that characteristic from my list of personal traits. Plots eluded me. My valiant heroes, once dashing and colorful, became boring and gray. Even worse, I could not even describe a setting decently. I reviewed my work and found my stage set with jaded, unimaginative cliches: Billowing white clouds; verdant green carpet (describing a meadow); brilliant sky of azure blue. <Yawn>. Why, I wondered, with scenes so vividly burned into my mind, could I not find the words to transform this dull page into cinematic brilliance? Increasingly frustrated, I finally pushed my writing aside and pulled a beloved but long unread classic off the bookshelf. As I began to read I realized anew why successful writers must also be passionate readers.
The book I read was Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte presented this story so powerfully and articulately that I saw, smelled, heard, and touched what Jane did. With her, I “trod a soft turf, mossy fine and emerald green, minutely enamelled with a tiny white flower, and spangled with a star-like yellow blossom.” Together we walked to the “first stragglers of the battalion of rocks, guarding a sort of pass, beyond which the beck rushed down a waterfall; and where, still a little farther, the mountain shook off turf and flower, had only heath for raiment and crag for gem–where it exaggerated the wild to the savage, and exchanged the fresh for the frowning–where it guarded the forlorn hope of solitude and a last refuge for silence.” In another place, Miss Bronte described the night sky: “A blue sea absolved from taint of cloud; the moon ascending it in solemn march; her orb seeming to look up as she left the hill-tops, from behind which she had come. . .and for those trembling stars that followed her course. . .” Powerful, picturesque, and poetic language, without a trace of blandness. (And assigning human characteristics to inanimate objects, something forgotten for a time, is back in my repertoire.)
Bronte’s character portrayals are equally well-defined; for example, Mr. Rochester: “Broad and jetty eyebrows, square forehead made squarer by the horizontal sweep of his black hair; decisive nose, more remarkable for character than for beauty; full nostrils, denoting choler; grim mouth, chin, and jaw; broad-chested and thin-flanked, though neither tall nor graceful.” She masterfully describes Jane’s character, thoughts, and emotions as the heroine deals with rejection and hostility from her aunt and cousins; her awakening love for Mr. Rochester and then the devastation of learning of his lunatic wife; and, finally, her return and marriage to Mr. Rochester.
Reading this book proved as good an education as any writing class, for it reminded me of the elements essential to excellent writing and reawakened my inspiration. Granted, our speech differs from that of nineteenth-century England, but the brilliant imagery and deep reflections of Bronte’s style enriches both the story and its readers–and this literary masterpiece has put me back on the road to completing my own novel!
Thank you, Miss Bronte. And thank you, Jane.
I have to confess that initially self-publishing was not my preferred route. Like most new authors, I hoped to land a contract with a major publishing house followed over time by a movie offer from Universal Studios or DreamWorks. I quickly discovered, however, how brutally competitive the market is–competitive and congested. Everyone has a story to tell; and who hasn’t dreamed of writing a book? But. . .what a challenge to compete with Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Frank Peretti, Joan Collins, Joyce Carol Oates, or John Grisham, to name a few! Only a superlative manuscript will escape the slush pile or attract any notice from seasoned editors who know the markets and what readers want.
I started attending writers’ conferences in 2004, making it a point to learn the industry in earnest. Meeting other writers and viewing their work proved humbling. My mind teemed with vivid non-stop cliffhanger images, but I failed to successfully transmit those images to the page where a reader could see them, too. And so, notes and critique sheets in hand, I went home and back to the drawing board. These new tidbits of information stayed with me, and seven years of ‘back to the drawing board’ finally produced a book that editors were willing to look at–although it still wasn’t ‘quite right’ for their lists. Undaunted, I kept writing.
More and more, editors at conferences encouraged writers to explore new options, namely those online. Around 2010 I heard presenters at the Idaho Writers’ Rendezvous talk about their experiences with Amazon. Overall, that option sounded feasible. Each presenter acknowledged their success took a lot of work and dedication, which applies to any pursuit. Most of them put in up to 60 hours per week. A few formatted their own files; others hired professionals. I noted during my own research that Amazon provides the needed information and tools–except for patience, a virtue woefully absent from my repertoire. I also wasn’t crazy about doing my own marketing; but when another presenter pointed out that even major publishers require marketing effort from their authors I decided Amazon was worth a try. Nevertheless, I mulled the matter for three more years before taking the plunge, during which time I proofread, edited, revised, and then proofread, edited, and revised again. My cover designer, Earthly Charms, produced a BEAUTIFUL cover. The Createspace team designed the book’s interior and also produced the Kindle file. I was very pleased with the result and had them handle my second book as well. They produced the files quickly and efficiently, and I considered the cost well worth not having to hassle with formatting and converting.
This past week, while writing a trivia question for Goodreads, I went back to one of my books to check out a detail and discovered an error I hadn’t caught before the file was finalized. Only one letter, but it irked me. I contacted both Kindle and Createspace to see if I could reload a corrected file. The hard copy didn’t concern me much but, because more readers buy Kindles and because Kindle files are supposed to be much easier to change, I wanted that one, at least, corrected. Blissfully ignorant of what lay ahead, I downloaded the MOBI file Kindle provided and immediately discovered I had no way to open, let alone modify it. Several sites offer free conversion tools but, having never attempted such things, I felt reluctant at first to try them. Finally I opened one and loaded the file, which the tool promptly rejected as being too large. A review for another site warned that even after more than an hour the tool had produced no result. Then I remembered I had the pdf from Createspace. Elated, I changed that and went to the Kindle site to upload it. An alert popped up warning that pdf’s do not convert well to the electronic format. Ah, but it shows Word as an accepted format! I converted the pdf to Word, but then found headers containing mixed upper and lower case combinations where none existed before. I corrected those and then scrolled through, looking for anything else amiss and then uploaded the file to Kindle.
A while later I checked the preview window. My heart nearly stopped. My table of contents had vanished and there were large gaps, not only between paragraphs, but within paragraphs. Some sentences had been chopped off in the middle, continuing again after several blank lines. Some pages were entirely blank. Dumbfounded, I rechecked my Word file. It looked perfect. No gaps. No truncated sentences. No blank pages. Everything spaced and positioned correctly. Still, the electronic file was a shambles. Fortunately, I still had the original MOBI file and reloaded that. I solved the formatting problem but still had the error. Amazon support informed me that, because Createspace had originally formatted the file, I needed to discuss the matter with them. Well, I reasoned, I can kill two birds with one stone and fix both the hard copy and the Kindle. Changing one letter shouldn’t cost too much, right?
Well, it costs more than I want to spend. I don’t know what is involved, but am pretty certain there is more to the procedure than Createspace simply opening a file and changing one letter. Back when I first published the book I was still working; a company restructure last summer, however, ended my employment. Regardless, I had already decided to try formatting my own files for the third novel, which I hope to release this spring–and while I’m at it, I might as well take another stab at correcting the first one.
At any rate, my publishing education continues. Since my little adventure through Kindle I discovered how I could (and should!) have verified the file before uploading it. Every new and unfamiliar venture requires taking time to read, study, and think things through. There are no shortcuts, as I have discovered many times. With much effort and dogged perseverance I will learn how to format electronic files. I may even acquire some patience. However. . .if you see a mushroom cloud boiling high into the skies above Montana. . .
© Everthedreamer, 2015 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.