Posted in authors, ebook, fiction, Revenants Abroad, self-publishing, writing

I Do It My Way

writer at deskI try to write the best books I possibly can, and with my limited free time to devote to writing, it should be no surprise that it takes me a while to finish even a first draft. Once that’s done, the revisions and rewrites begin before I allow beta readers to see it. This flies in the face of some of the advice to indie authors these days that you should be putting out several books a year. It simply can’t be done, or at least not done well. I take writing very seriously, and rather than toss out a sloppily written novel I try to put out the best product I can. Why should I expect anyone to pay money and spend time on anything less? I do aspire to be a better writer and I’m always looking to improve.

As a writer I love to discuss the craft of writing with other writers. To that end, I participated (briefly) in an online writer’s chat on Twitter the other day. It turned out to be more of a coffee klatsch than writing talk. Questions were things like “What’s the best review you’ve ever received?” Being at work while the chat was going I was only able to participate in the first question which was “Where are you in your writing process?” Most of the rest of the participants (not all) mentioned several projects that are in various stages of writing or revision. I answered that I’m working on the sequel to my first novel. I do have other stories started, but I’m focusing most of my time on the sequel. The moderator (who has apparently heard me discussing this before) said, “Still? How long have you been working on that?” I replied that if I didn’t have a day-job, it might go faster. The mod does not have a day-job. Yes, it’s taking me a while, and I’m sorry for that to those of you who are waiting for the sequel but I have to keep the day-job as I have bills to pay and I’m not a kept woman. Add in everything that needs to be done around the house on weekends and it leaves very little time to write.

That question rankled. It’s no wonder the market is flooded with poorly written books and indies have such a terrible reputation. People are cranking out multiple books a year, but how much time and attention are they giving to any of them? Could my own book have been better? Of course, and I wish I had the money to hire a professional editor to go over it. I may yet release a revised version, now that I’ve discovered ProWritingAid. I’m dying to run the whole book through it and make it better. I can already see things I’d like to change and tighten after using that program for just a couple weeks. I expect Revenants Within to be a much stronger book.

Before self-publishing became an option, it was the norm for a writer to take six months to write a book. Now, if you don’t publish six books a year, you’re pretty much told you’re slacking. I will never be able to write at that pace. If you can, godspeed. But don’t denigrate others who don’t.

And if you’re a slow writer like me, you’re not doing it wrong. You’re doing it at your own pace, which is exactly how you should.

Posted in ebooks, Publishing, self-publishing, writing

Info Sharing — Editing for Indies

This is just an “info sharing” post. Indie authors (meaning self-published) have long had a very bad reputation for poorly written and poorly edited books. This is why it’s next to impossible to get brick-n-mortar bookstores to stock indie titles.  In my quest to improve my own writing I’ve discovered a couple of free editing tools that can help polish your manuscript. Professional editing costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, a cost most indie authors just plain can’t afford. These are the costs publishers absorb if you’re lucky enough to land a book deal, but for indie authors the whole cost is on us for editing, cover art, marketing, and so on. Even if you’re not going to self-publish, before you fling that thing into the cosmos with hopes of landing an agent, it still needs to be as shiny and pretty as possible. The less work it needs the better your chances of acceptance.

So herewith, two online tools that can help improve your writing. There’s nothing to download.

The first one I encountered was EditMinion. Editminion ss

Welcome! EditMinion is a robotic copy editor to help you refine your writing by finding common mistakes. To get started, paste a chapter of writing into the box above and click Edit! Don’t paste too much or the script will stop responding. This is still very much in Beta and I”ll be adding features as I come up with them. If you have suggestions, tweet @DrWicked or email Thanks!


Below that it shows the text with mark-up, highlighting the potential problems.

It’s a pretty good tool for what it does. It is in beta still, and I don’t know if the developer is actively working on it, I haven’t seen any changes to it recently. It can be a good quick check for certain issues, including ‘frequently used words’ which is a problem of mine. I tend to overuse certain words and don’t even notice. I was thrilled with this thing’s ability to help me find those. It’s entirely free, and as we all know, free is a very good price.

Next, I recently heard about  ProWritingAid via a comment on Anne R. Allen‘s blog. This one has both free and paid versions. If you really can’t afford to pay anything, it’s still a pretty robust tool that can help dramatically. The one-year subscription option is listed as $40, then $30/yr for a 2-year subscription, and on up to and a lifetime option for $100. I initially signed up for a free account, intending at some point to subscribe because I like to have all the bells and whistles,  but within just a few days of creating the free account, I received an email with the special offer for $30/yr. I came really close to paying that, but then I saw a little graphic on the left side of the email offering it for $25/yr. See the box on the left? Almost missed it. No guarantee it’ll be offered again, but if you check out the free version, wait for the email with free ebook of “20 Editing Tips from Professional Writers.” The special offers were tacked on at the bottom. Needless to say, I took them up on the $25/yr offer.

PWA ss1

Here’s the same sample analysis that I ran through EditMinion of a short story I’ve been working on:


You can see the analysis is much more detailed and thorough.  You click each heading on the left to see the areas of the text it dinged you on. I’ve found most of the suggestions very good, and have cleaned up and tightened flabby prose by taking its advice, but sometimes it’s just a stylistic difference and I can’t remove all the occurrences of “had” it thinks I should. There’s a lot to this thing, I haven’t even had a chance to check out all the features yet. The Word and Google Docs add-ins are only available if you pay for a subscription. I haven’t added the Word add-in, and I don’t use Google Docs so I won’t be bothering with that one. But you get most of the other features even with the free version.  You can save the document on their servers, export to Word or RTF format. There’s so much to this thing but I don’t want to go into more detail here and make this post even longer. Frankly I find it addictive. I love editing and cleaning up my writing and making it better. I’ve also found that when I seem to have a case of writer’s block, editing a bit can get the ideas flowing again.

Anyway, just a couple of options for those of us indies who want to make our writing the best it can be without taking out a second mortgage. And don’t get me wrong, working with a live editor who knows their schtuff is great, and they totally earn their money, but if we can’t afford it we can’t afford it. No amount of wishing is going to make that money materialize.

Posted in Tarot, Vampires, writing

Weekly Card – Four of Swords (Robin Wood)

Four of SwordsHmm, pulled the Four of Swords back in June, too. This week I’m using The Robin Wood Tarot, one of my all-time favorites and what I consider my work-horse deck. I still remember the first time I saw the images of the cards,  in particular the High Priestess, I fell in love with it and had to have it.

The Four of Swords tells us it’s time to step back and disengage, remove yourself from the fray. It signifies a period of rest after troubles and worries, going into seclusion, or convalescence. Withdrawing from the world.

Oh how I wish I could.

Things haven’t really sorted themselves out, but I did make a bit of progress on the vampire novel this weekend. Hopefully I can wrangle some beta readers soon and get this thing wrapped up. I’m getting antsy to move on to the next one.

I did have a small amount of concern lifted on Friday the 13th, so no triskaidekaphobia here 😉

Have a good week, and take some time for yourselves if you can.

Posted in writing

Going Down in Flames

Better than half-way through November, and I am now trailing in NaNoWriMo by oh, a little over 11,000 words. I think it’s a pretty safe bet I’m not going to hit 50K by the 30th, but I’m ok with that.

I started out with the usual enthusiasm, thinking I’d be able to steal some time at work to write, and that worked out pretty well for the first couple of days, but then it quickly became impossible to maintain. This is no great tragedy, apart from not accomplishing much writing. Since I never intended this project to become a novel, just filling in the background blanks on another character that I want to introduce into the vampire novel (which I’m still referring to as ‘Revenants Abroad’ for lack of a more inspired title). I figure it’s not lost time or effort, however much I get done.

And then a funny thing happened.

I decided I really like this character, and she’s ending up in some pretty interesting situations and developing quite a history. I’m taking her in directions I haven’t gone before, some of which are frankly a challenge for me. But that’s good. I decided weeks ago that no one was ever going to see any of it, basically freeing myself to write anything I wanted without the fear of being judged or people looking at me askance and wondering what was wrong with me. Even still, I’m having a hard time with some of it.

Somewhere along the way I started thinking in terms of maybe using some of this in the novel, or even a separate novel about this character, and maybe that’s what put the brakes on my free-wheeling attitude. When I write with the idea of someone other than me reading it I self-censor far too much. I don’t know how to get past that. It’s not even anything particularly edgy or weird, but it’s new territory for me. I think what I most fear is that I’m not doing it well, that it’s all cliched and trite and not evoking what it’s supposed to. I don’t know.

I guess I’ll keep going and see what happens, even if I crash and burn.

Posted in books, fantasy, horror, science fiction, Vampires, writing

Out, Out, Damned Words!

UPDATE: I’ve put up a new page with the chapter in question. You can find it under the Fiction tab, labeled “Revenants Abroad.”

After consulting with my beta reader/editor (aka GypsyScarlett)  I’m cutting the first two chapters from the vampire novel and going back to the original opener, which had become Chapter Three. I feel much better. The two lately deceased chapters were mostly backstory that I can fill in in bits and pieces later when, and if, necessary. This shaves something like 5000 words off the book, which is good as it was getting a little long. I’ve saved them to a separate file, so I’ve got it to fall back on if I need something for consistency. But I discovered it’s a whole lot less painful to cut chunks out than I thought it would be.

Chapter One had some kind of fun bits to it, but Chapter Two was particularly weak. I think my problem (ok, ONE problem) is transitions. I write a lot of crap to fill in the timeline in my mind, but the story doesn’t actually need all of it.  I’m wondering if I should toss Chapter One up on the site here, ’cause I really did like some of it. I dunno, maybe I’ll fiddle with it a little more.

Posted in Publishing, writing

Robots Will Edit Your Text

Via Galleycat, I was introduced to a new online text editor, EditMinion. According to EditMinion, it is a “robotic copy editor to help you refine your writing by finding common mistakes.” So, how good is it? I took a chunk of text out of my vampire novel and ran it through to see what it might find that I missed. Bear in mind, this is still rough text, and desperately in need of revision.

“I need an assistant, someone to take care of things during the day for me.” He started walking again, and without thinking about it Melanie followed.
“Are you kidding?” she said.
“No, not at all. My last assistant retired.”
“Retired?” she repeated sarcastically, almost trotting to keep up with him. His longer legs caused her to have to take two steps for every one of his.
“Yes. He was with me for a long time, but he decided to leave and start a small shop, something that wouldn’t keep him on the move so much.”
“So he’s still alive? I thought you meant…”
He grinned. “No, I didn’t kill him.”

It found no cliches, 1 adverb, 1 weak word, 0 ‘said’ replacements, and one passive voice construction.

Relatively good news, although granted this is very small sample. Its capabilities are somewhat limited yet, it can’t do much more than a paragraph at a time so it would be hard to do an entire novel manuscript this way. For now it seems better suited to randomly checking yourself. It does seem far more helpful than a word processor’s grammar checker (which are notoriously bad). It’s kind of fun to run some text through and see what it comes up with.

Posted in Uncategorized, writing




by: William Blake (1757-1827)

THOU with dewy locks, who lookest down
Through the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!

The hills tell one another, and the listening
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turn’d
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth
And let thy holy feet visit our clime!

Come o’er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumèd garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our lovesick land that mourns for thee.

O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
Thy golden crown upon her languish’d head,
Whose modest tresses are bound up for thee.

At last, first day of spring! Not that it seems any different – it’s gray, cloudy, rainy, although warmer which means the humidity is way up. If you could see my hair…

Anyway, there have been a number of discussions on various blogs I read lately about editing and revising, who likes it, who doesn’t, writing crappy first drafts and so on. On that subject, here’s a quote I rather like, it gives me some small measure of hope:

It is perfectly okay to write garbage–as long as you edit brilliantly.
– C. J. Cherryh

Ha, now if only I could be assured of the brilliant revision in my future. My problem has always been to ignore how badly things come out at first (the proverbial shitty first draft) and just press on with getting the story down. I’m actually looking forward to starting the revising segment. I say this now, before I’ve actually started it. I may be singing a different tune when I get there.