Much like the Not Ready for Primetime Players, there is a group of amazingly talented authors on the cusp of stardom. They gather here at the Not so Famous Author's Blog to tell you all about writing and smashing your head on a desk. No just the writing part. .


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Spotlight on Only Love Survives



Amidst an epidemic ravaging the world, all Megan Fletcher's hopes for the future lie in getting to Las Vegas where newscasts reported scientists were gathering to search for a cure for the modern plague. After rescuing her from a rooftop surrounded by Zombies, Sam Woods appoints himself her escort. While he knows she is determined to get to Vegas no matter the cost, he doesn't know her secret. And with his hatred of all things Zombie, she doesn’t dare tell him the truth. The more he kisses her, the harder it is for Megan to hide her growing feelings…and the bite-shaped scar.

But Vegas is not the haven it was promised to be, and when Megan’s immunity to the disease is discovered, she realizes her future and her heart belong to Sam, if he will trust her. An idealistic school teacher and ex-corporate mogul manage to find love despite a looming worldwide catastrophe. Can their love survive while everything around them is dying? Will they learn that when facing the end of the world, Only Love Survives?

Available now!

EXCERPT: A storm that spelled danger flashed across Sam’s face. He advanced on Megan so fast, she backed up against the side of the Suburban. Planting a hand firmly on each side of her, he pinned her with his arms as well as his gaze.

“What I want? Are you so hard headed you can’t tell what I want?” He covered her mouth with his lips and crushed her clever comeback with an assault on her senses.

Megan pushed him, but he didn’t budge. Instead, he continued to kiss her until her heart raced and cheeks flushed with need. All resistance melted and she succumbed to the warmth of his embrace. Her arms wound around his neck of their own accord pulling him closer while her tongue sought his in a passionate dance, completely ignoring what her heart wanted.

When he finally broke away leaving Megan breathless and wanting so much more, Sam put his forehead to hers and watched her mouth like a drunk watches amber liquid poured into a glass. “You,” he rasped. “I’ve wanted you since I found you hanging from that damn roof, and all our little encounter in the river did was add fuel to the fire.”

Bio: Author, Renee Charles believes all love is legendary. Being the only female in a house full of giants (husband and two teenage boys) she tends to lean toward the strange and unusual, but inevitably the softer side shines through.

Whether life leads her to a snow covered mountain top, sun dappled forest, or the bottom of a ravine (yes, ditches happen) she always has a pen and note pad ready so wherever the next adventure takes her, she can take notes.

Her own romance began in an insane asylum. Luckily, both she and her husband only worked there. But it makes sense her romance novels have strange beginnings that lead to passionate endings. Romance with a dark twist.

In the face of zombies, werewolves, and big foot she always seems to find a happily ever after to leave you with a sigh at the end.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Online Presence Mentors

Modeling Your Online Presence

You might be wondering why I chose these two celebrities. There are a plethora of reasons, but the most important aspect is how they interact with fans. Anne Rice might be best known for her vampire novels, but she handles herself wonderfully on Facebook. She is courteous, posts about personal things and substantive issues in publishing, and she responds to fans despite the fact that she is a world-renowned novelist.

George Takei might have the funniest posts on Facebook and he is simply a wonderful human being. Again, he is personal, courteous, and responds to fans despite his notoriety and busy schedule. I am slightly partial to both of them because they both took the time out of their days to respond to me: Anne Rice responded to one of my emails and George Takei replied to a message on Facebook. Needless to say, as a fan, it was the highlight of my day. As a writer, I took notice of their commitment to their fan base.

If you can’t take the time to post about the process, interesting tidbits you have found around the web, and things that your fans might be interested in reading (ask them if you don’t know what to post), then you might want to rethink being on social media in the first place.

The take-home message is simple: interact.

Don’t react and auto-post. Be a real person as often as you can be. The best way to sell books is to connect to the people who you want to read your book. The greatest way to do this is to interact with them early and often.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Importance of Self-Editing

A Primer On Self-Editing

The importance of self-editing cannot be understated. This should not replace seeking out a professional to make sure your work is the best possible version before you release it to the public. If your goal is to submit to trade journals, magazines, or any other kind of serial publication, then you will want to take the time to polish your work––and self-editing is a good way to help get it ready.

The process of self-editing is not as difficult as it seems. While you are far too close to your work to accurately assess persistent and intrinsic errors, you are more than likely capable of catching simple things that can make an editor’s job that much easier.

I thought it might be useful to offer some very common errors that can be corrected before you begin shopping your book, or decide to send it off to an editor with the intention of publishing it yourself. As we move thorough this section, we will look at the correct usage of commonly misused words––as well as examine some other simple grammatical solutions. The goal of professional writing is to be clear and succinct, terse and pithy. Here are some simple things to remember:

  • Less is more.
  • If you are unsure of how to use a word, then do not use it.
  • If you are uncertain whether or not to use a comma, then do not use it.
  • Grammar conventions can be tricky. Use what you know.

Here is a list of some words that we have all tripped over. Fixing these types of errors in your writing can often mean the difference between going into the trash and getting a second look:

  • Advice/advise
    • The difference between the two words is whether you are using it as a noun or a verb.
      • A fellow Cylon asked for my advice about how to find the Galactica. (noun)
      • I will advise Gaius Baltar on the best way to deal with experiencing hallucinations. (verb)
  • Allusion/illusion
    • Both of these words are nouns, but differ in terms of context.
      • Your allusion that I might be a Cylon is incorrect.
      • The illusion that Cylons can be defeated is quite false.
  • Cite/site/sight
    • The difference here is whether it is being used as a noun or a verb.
      • I cited many prestigious researchers in my thesis. (verb)
      • Room 211 is the site of my thesis defense. (noun)
      • It was quite a sight to see how happy I was to have received my Master’s degree. (noun)
  • Conscience/conscious
    • One is a noun and one is an adjective
      • It was a conscious choice to join the Empire. (adjective)
      • My conscience would not allow me to abandon my post despite an alien invasion. (noun)
  • Council/counsel
    • Both of these words can be used as nouns, but only one can be used as a verb.
      • The council was tasked with deciding whether or not to attack the rebel base. (noun)
      • I gave counsel to a good friend. (noun)
      • I counseled a friend about how to cope with the knowledge that she is a Cylon. (verb)
  • Data/datum
    • The difference is one is plural and one is singular.
      • The data in the scouting report was compelling.
      • A single piece of datum made the attack on the Galactica a failure.
  • Elicit/illicit
    • One is a verb and the other is an adjective.
      • During interrogations, the lieutenant asked open-ended questions to elicit an emotional response. (verb)
      • Cheating on an exam or plagiarizing someone else’s work is considered an illicit activity by the university. (adjective)
  • Lay/lie
    • Both can be used as verbs, but only one can be used as a noun
      • I lay my keys down on the table when I get home from the office. (verb)
      • I lie on my couch when I watch football on Sundays. (verb)
      • I told a terrible lie when I said this class does not count toward your GPA. (noun)
  • Personal/personnel
    • The difference is whether or not is used as an adjective or a noun.
      • I do not talk about my personal life in professional situations. (adjective)
      • I do not have the personnel necessary to attack Romulus. (noun)
  • Precede/proceed
    • Both can be used as a verb, but only one of them can be used as a noun.
      • Kirk precedes Picard in the Star Trek universe. (verb)
      • The Cylons proceeded to decimate the planet to demonstrate their superiority. (verb)
      • All of the proceeds from the event went to charity. (noun)
  • Principal/principle
    • Both can be used as nouns, but only one can be used as an adjective.
      • The principal on the project was Ms. Jane. (noun)
      • The principal advantage of jogging is being able to outrun zombies. (adjective)
      • The most important principle of writing is to write. (noun)
  • Respectfully/respectively
    • Both of the words are adverbs.
      • Respectfully, I must disagree.
      • I find you and John to be fun and irritating, respectively.

That was pretty cut and dry, as it should be. The lesson is pretty obvious: Paying careful attention to word usage can be the difference between a profound series of events and a reader becoming confused and disinterested with the story you are trying to tell. Let’s talk about subject-verb agreement next:

  • Add an s to the verb if the subject is a singular noun (a word that names a person, place, or thing).
    • A well-conceived idea becomes a book.
    • Becoming a competent writer takes time and practice.
  • Add an s to the verb if the subject is any one of the third-person singular pronouns: he, she, it, this, that.
    • This book makes some very good points.
  • Do not add an s to the verb if the subject is the pronoun I, you, we, or they.
    • I work seventy hours a week.
  • Do not add an s to the verb if two subjects are joined by an and.
    • Mary and Brian both write well.
    • Japan and Germany both pay less per student than the US.
  • Everybody is singular and uses a singular verb (as do anybody, no one, somebody, nobody, each, and neither).
    • No one fails this class.
    • Everybody passes this class.
    • Each of the previous sentences is an example of subject-verb agreement.
Again, it is not important that you have a degree in English Literature to be a competent writer. What matters is the determination to be the very best at your craft, and to make the highest quality product possible.

How about the difference between active and passive voice? Do you think you have a strong grasp? Going through your work and reducing the number of times you use the word was can be a very useful and productive exercise. A little trick I like to use when determining whether or not a sentence is written in passive voice is to add the phrase by zombies at the end of the sentence. If you can read the sentence intelligibly with by zombies, then I have bad news for you. Here is a brief overview:

  • Active voice is subject-object-verb.
    • This sentence structure gives credit to who performs the action.
    • Indicates clear and vigorous writing
      • I walked to the store.
      • I studied for the exam.
      • She aced the test.
      • We watched the Super Bowl.
  • Passive voice is generally receiver-verb-performer.
    • This emphasizes the receiver of the action and not the subject performing the action.
    • Adds confusion in professional writing
      • The zoo was visited by zombies.
      • The exam was postponed by the professor.
      • The plane was flown by a pilot.

If this feels like a lot of information, don’t stress out. We are not in a classroom, so you can revisit these ideas and examples to your heart’s content.

An editor will pour over your manuscript and look for similar issues; the more basic errors you can eliminate, the more substantive errors your editor can catch. Do you remember diagramming sentences in elementary school? I don’t know about you, but I loved doing that. I can still see the sentence broken apart on the chalk board with little branches going this way and that. With that in mind, let’s dissect a sentence:

  • Subject
    • This is the part of the sentence about which is being written.
  • Predicate
    • This is what we say about the subject of the sentence. The main word in the predicate is the verb.
  • Phrase
    • It is a sentence fragment that would not exist as a sentence by itself.
  • Clause
    • An independent clause is part of a larger sentence that could stand on its own as a complete sentence. A subordinate clause cannot stand on its own as a sentence because the clause begins with a qualifier, such as because or when.
  • Object
    • This is the part of the sentence that receives the action of the verb.

You might be wondering why I am bothering with the language lesson. There are a variety of personal and practical reasons, but I think it is the pragmatic reasons that are of the most use. When speaking with your editor, fellow authors, or a stranger, it is important to understand not only that something is incorrect, but what it is precisely that went wrong. Let’s tackle one more remedial topic before we finish up some more mistakes to avoid: parts of speech.

  • Noun
    • People, places, things, events, or ideas
    • Typically the subject or object of a sentence
    • Proper nouns start with a capital letter
  • Pronoun
    • Replaces a noun to avoid repetition
    • Singular and plural
    • Rules differ depending on whether the pronoun is being used as a…
    • Subject
      • She, he, they, who
    • Object
      • Her, him, them, whom
  • Adjective
    • Describes or qualifies a noun or pronoun
    • Can be found before a noun
    • Attributive adjective
      • The well-known researcher published another paper.
    • Or after a verb that follows a noun being described
    • Predicative adjective
      • The exam is difficult.
  • Article
    • Special adjectives called demonstrative adjectives
    • Definite article
      • Points out something specific or already introduced
    • Indefinite article
      • Introduces something unspecific or something mentioned for the first time
  • Verb
    • Typically describes the action within a sentence
    • Many different kinds of verbs
    • Change forms depending on…
      • Subject (singular or plural)
      • Tense
      • Voice (active or passive)
      • Verb form (regular or irregular)
  • Adverb
    • Used to modify or qualify a verb, an adjective, another adverb, or clause
      • Participants completed the survey quickly.
      • Study 1 successfully demonstrated the phi phenomenon; moreover, Study 1 replicated previous research.
    • Moreover is an example of a conjunctive adverb; if a clause begins with a conjunctive adverb, it is preceded by a semi-colon.
  • Preposition
    • Combine with nouns or pronouns to provide connections between two words or clauses
    • Examples:
      • About
      • Among
      • Around
      • At
  • Conjunction
    • Used to join words, phrases, or clauses
    • Coordinate conjunctions
      • And, but, for, or, nor, so, yet
    • Subordinate conjunctions
      • That, as, after, before, if, since, when, where, unless
  • Interjection
    • Words, phrases, or sentences that express emotion; often, interjections end with an exclamation point or a question mark.

Let’s round out this section with some more common mistakes to avoid:

  • Your/You’re
    • One is a contraction and one is a possessive pronoun.
      • You’re going to be happy when you finish reading this book. (contraction)
      • Your lack of enthusiasm is killing me. (possessive pronoun)
  • i.e./e.g.
    • Should only be used in a parenthetical phrase and will always be followed by a comma.
      • Id est––“that is”
      • Exempli Gratia––“for example” or “such as”
  • That/Which
    • That is used as restrictive clause (introduces important information).
    • not normally preceded by a comma
    • Which is generally used as a nonrestrictive clause (introduces superfluous information).
      • A sentence that appropriately uses a restrictive clause is one that uses the word “that.”
      • This sentence uses a nonrestrictive clause correctly, which is to say I used the word “which.”
  • Could of, Would of/Could have, Would have
    • One of these exists in the English language, one does not.
      • I could have used a different example, but I did not.
      • I would have used a different example, but I could not think of one.
  • No comma after an introductory element
    • Incorrect
      • Well it wasn’t really true.
    • Correct
      • Well, it wasn’t really true.
  • No comma in a compound sentence
    • Incorrect
      • I like to eat but I hate to gain weight.
    • Correct
      • I like to eat, but I hate to gain weight.
  • Missing comma(s) with a nonrestrictive element
    • Incorrect
      • The writers who had unsuccessfully concealed their participation in the prank were reprimanded.
    • Correct
      • The writers, who had unsuccessfully concealed their participation in the prank, were reprimanded.
  • Comma Splice
    • Incorrect
      • Mary liked the cat, however, she was allergic to it.
    • Correct
      • Mary liked the cat; however, she was allergic to it.
  • Unnecessary shift in pronoun
    • Incorrect
      • When one is tired, you should sleep.
    • Correct
      • When you are tired, you should sleep.
  • Missing a comma in a series
    • Incorrect
      • Students eat, sleep and do homework.
    • Correct
      • Students eat, sleep, and do homework.
  • Lack of agreement between pronoun and antecedent
    • Incorrect
      • When someone plagiarizes from material on a website, they are likely to get caught.
    • Correct
      • When you plagiarize from material on a website, you are likely to get caught.
  • Run-on or fused sentence
    • Incorrect
      • He loved the movie he even loved the trailers.
    • Correct
      • He loved the movie; he even loved the trailers.

Hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you make your drafts more readable to editors. Another great way to hone your manuscript is utilizing beta readers, which you can use at any stage of the process. A beta reader is a wonderful person who takes time out of his or her day to read your unpublished manuscript and offer feedback. If you can find people who are willing to be beta readers for your book, then consider yourself fortunate indeed. Once your book is published, I would suggest making sure you have a few sets of eyes look over your work before publishing or submitting. If you are putting together your own book for publication, then the following sections will be very useful to you. On the other hand, if you are planning on submitting to trade publications or a magazine, then the minutia of formatting a document, creating a cover, and a brief explanation of professional services might be less useful to you.

Friday, November 8, 2013

You're an Indie, Now Let's Get to Work

So, you have penned the great novel, short story or novella and now you wonder what comes next. With social media at your fingertips, it is easier to self publish and gain some form of payment for your work. However, there are many steps to becoming published and many ways to fowl up if you don't follow them properly.

1.  Editing - Friends and family are ok, but a good quality editor will go a long way. The technical aspects of writing can be very tricky and these waters must be sailed by a knowledgeable editor. This person can not only catch your faux pas, they can help you learn what is acceptable in the writing field. In addition, hiring an editor shows that you are serious about your writing and what you produce for the reader.

2.  Book Covers - Another important aspect of writing is the book cover. Finding a graphic artists that is experienced in creating, formatting and preparing your cover is the next big step. Remember, the cover is the first introduction to your book and it needs to attract the reader long before your words are read. Good cover artists can charge as little as $65 and increase exponentially based on their experience and their product. Keeping this in mind, shop around.

3.  Publishers - Thanks to the birth of self publishing, indies have a variety of publishers from which to choose. And yes, you can submit to traditional publishers as well. In both cases, you will need to research what is required in order to submit and what genres they prefer. Also, research and study the publishing company of your choice. Find out their history, review their BBB report, make sure you are not falling for a scam.

4.  Contract- Read the lines carefully, make sure you understand what is expected of you and you are expecting from the publisher. It is always good to have another pair of eyes on these documents. Lawyers, other authors, whomever you trust, take your time and review the print.

5.  Work It!!- As an indie, landing the contract is 50%. The other 50% is marketing and in the indie world that means a lot of social media, book signings, radio promos, advertising in newspaper and whatever it takes. Now for your next question, yes you are doing this yourself. In the indie world, there are no big budgets for marketing or promotions. In most cases, the indie publisher works with various bloggers to promote the author and their work. Get ready to put in some serious time to make the dream a reality.

6.  Write, write, write - enough said