Wednesday, October 31, 2018


I am making progress on my edits.  Slow progress, but hey, it's progress. 

The sale is over.  Sleeping Ugly is back to $2.99.

I was thinking about something this morning.  I saw a book posted on FB with thousands of reviews and I was immediately suspicious.  It was an author I'd never heard of and a book I'd never seen before.  Thousands of reviews?  Umm, right.  Which is kind of sad.  Those could be perfectly legitimate reviews.  Then again, they could be hinky.  These days, you can't tell, though.  =o(

The other day, I took a paperback copy of Sleeping Ugly into the bank to show a friend of mine.  One of the other gals said 'Ooo, she looks mean', which immediately made me wonder if the mean look of Jeni is turning people off of what is actually a fun book.  I told the gal "She's not mean.  She's pissed because she's a model who's cursed to turn ugly every night.'  But I can't be out there to tell everyone why Jeni looks so mean. 

Over at the smoke shop, I gave a copy of Dying Embers to the manager.  I'd never given her a book before - oversight on my part.  I signed it with some lame comment thanking her for keeping me supplied with nicotine.  She laughed, so I guess it wasn't that lame.  Anyway, the new guy was working the cash register.  He looked seriously irritated I didn't give him a book, too.  I told him 'I don't know you well enough to give you a book yet' and flashed him my winning smile.  Not sure that helped.  The last time I talked to the dude, though, he said he only reads fantasy.  Big fan of RA Salvatore.  Can't help him there.  Fantasy is one of the few genres I don't write.  And hardcore fantasy readers don't do urban fantasy, I guess.  :shrug:

I really need to put together some new marketing materials.  I don't have any that show my last three books.  Derp.  I also have a huge amount of old, out of date, marketing materials lying around.  My spare room is like a defunct bookmark repository.  Ugh.

That's about it for me this morning.  Got anything to add?  Comments to make?  Talk to me.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Here's the Thing...

The other day a friend of mine posted a snippet on FB from one of her old stories.  I loved it when I first read it years ago and I love it today.  So, I did what I do and encouraged her to self-publish.  And afterwards, it occurred to me that she's been with me through all this, so I'm not exactly the poster child for a smooth and easy self-publishing experience.  Hell, pretty much everything about my experience would make any rational person run screaming from the idea.

But here's the thing...

Despite all of the woes and the headaches, I wouldn't change my decision to self-publish.  Sure, right now, I'm having a rough go of it.  My gumption tank is on E.  My sales are tanking.  Everything I wrote feels like crap to me right now.  Umm, what was I saying? 

Oh, yeah, this self-publishing thing is great.  Seriously. 

The trials I face aren't really that different from the stuff trad pub and hybrid authors are facing.  And I don't have to worry about whether my publisher will go belly up, or whether my editor will get fired or change houses, or whether the cover art they pick for my books will be wrong, or whether they'll just suddenly decide to drop me because my last book didn't perform to their expectations.  I also don't have to worry whether some person in their ivory tower thinks my book is suitable to be published.  I never have to query and get shot down.  I never have to change my book to meet someone else's standards. 

So, sales are down.  Well, duh.  And maybe if I had a 'publisher', they'd be better.  And the publisher would graciously give me 15% of each sale (which I would have to then split with an agent), so I might end up making the same amount of money.  I make 70% now (minus a small file-size fee... between 5c for Sleeping Ugly and 8c for Project Hermes).  It's not much, but it's mine.

So, my gumption sucks.  At least I don't have a publisher hanging over my shoulder, breathing down my neck.  Hell, even my editor isn't breathing down my neck.  And if she's busy with other clients by the time I finally get off my dead ass and send it to her, well, then the publication date will get pushed back a little and I'll deal with it.

The pluses outweigh the minuses here.  Complete control.  I say what, I say when, and I keep most of the moolah.  And the ultimate plus = people can read my books whenever they want to.  They're no longer wasting away on my harddrive, unread and unloved.  Even if only a few people read them, it's more than any would've read them if I hadn't self-published them.

So, yeah, I would still recommend self-publishing to my friend.  Even if she only ever publishes the books she's already written, because they're worthy stories and they deserve to be read.  

And now I really should get my buns in gear and get this 13th book finished so readers can read it.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Check, Check, and Recheck

For as much as I rail about proofreading your marketing copy BEFORE you send it out into the world, I screwed up this morning and posted copy that had a glaring error.  Good thing for me I noticed it.  Better thing is that FB allows you to edit posts.  So, the glaring error was only visible on three groups for about 20 minutes.

Somehow, I typed the same two words twice in a row.  Brainfart.  It's not fatal, but it's certainly unprofessional.

Unfortunately, there's a gal out there who has her title misspelled in her marketing copy and she's posting it all over FB.  I cringe every time I see it.  Lucky for her, it's spelled right on her cover art.  :shudder:

We all make mistakes.  And I am apparently not immune.  Most of the time, mistakes can be rectified.  If you catch them.  Which is why all of us should check, check, and recheck our marketing materials.  Before it goes up.  And after it goes up.  And later when our brains are distracted enough to actually see what we've written.

I was reading the paper yesterday.  There's a big ad for a Halloween party at one of the local organizations.  And there will be a COTUME contest.  Seriously.  Who let that go through?  And how many people along the marketing line should be thrashed for letting that go out to the readership of the paper?  Several people at the organization.  Several people at the newspaper.  It's too late to fix it once the papers have been delivered, doncha know.  Blerg.

Every time I receive hardcopies of my books, Hubs jokes "Well, at least they spelled your name right."  Which is funny because I'm the one who makes sure that happens.  Even funnier when you know my cover artist typoed my last name in an early draft of the cover.  I caught it, pointed it out, and we all laughed.  The important part was it got caught and fixed BEFORE it went out.

I screw stuff up all the time.  It happens.  The important part is to fix it before the world sees it.  Or as soon as I can when I find it.

Check, check, and recheck. 

Oh, and here's the marketing copy I'm using this morning to try and find sales on FB:

On sale now! 99c/99p

What would you do if you woke up cursed and ugly? If you're model Jeni Braxxon, you freak out. And then you try to find out what the hell happened, who did this to you, and why anyone would want to ruin your life. Which would all be less of a pain if you weren't suddenly a suspect in your asshole brother's disappearance.

Sleeping Ugly - the fun and snarky tale of a woman trying to get her life back to normal. If normal can ever be achieved for her again.


Thursday, October 25, 2018

On Sale. Finally.

Quick off-day post here. 

Okay, so Amazon fixed the burp.  Sleeping Ugly is now on sale for 99c in the US.  And 99p in the UK. 

I did have someone ask me yesterday whether it was on sale in Canada.  Unfortunately, no. Silly Amazon won't let us have Kindle Countdown Deals in any other countries besides the US and the UK.  I wish it could be different, but it isn't.  Sorry about that.

I wonder if I can just pick a day and discount the price in other countries while leaving it at $2.99 in the US/UK...  I'll research it and if it's possible, I'll give it a whirl.  I could always just drop the price across the board to 99c for a week or something.  Of course, if I do that, it won't be at the 70% royalty structure, which means I'll only get 35% of the prices.  :shrug:  Might be worth it to encourage readers in other countries.  A while back I had someone in Australia comment on not being able to pick up my book on sale, so there are people out there in the world who are hungry for some deals. 

Anyway, if you haven't picked up a copy of Sleeping Ugly, now's the time to do it.  It'll be on sale in the US/UK through Tuesday night.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Sale Burp

Well, fugg.  I had intended to post that Sleeping Ugly was on sale, but it seems that Amazon is having a brainfart.  The Kindle Countdown Deal shows 'In Progress' but the product page is still showing $2.99.  At least here in the US.  The UK sale started last night without a hitch.

I have contacted Amazon.  As soon as it's fixed, I'll let you know.  Thank goodness I don't have any advertising set up for this. 

:shrug:  One of life's little speed bumps, I guess.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Editing Block

Editing is hard.  I know that.  After all these years and twelve books out the door, how could I not?  But this manuscript is kicking my ass.

I'm not sure why editing is so hard this time around.  Usually I can look at the edits and the changes pop into my head, bing bang boom.  Now?  I look at the suggested edits and my brain just blanks out.  Which is making me totally not want to sit here struggling for more than a 15-20 minutes at a time.  And 15-20 minutes means like one paragraph.  Blerg.

Between Friday and Saturday, I got page one done.  Sure, the first page is the most important page, but come on.

Yesterday, I bribed myself.  Edit until I wanted to bash my head on the desk and then I was allowed to play one round of my online word game.  Then back to editing.  Do that until I couldn't stand either one, walk away and come back later.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Off and on, all day. 

And at the end of the day, I had eight pages done.  Out of an almost 300 page manuscript.

It's not the edits.  They're not really any harder than any other book.  There really isn't more pink ink on the pages.  (AWE edits in pink instead of red.  It's cheerier.)  It's totally me.  My brain is farting all over the place right now.  Maybe it's editing block. 

Okay, I admit that I hate editing.  And when I first got the edits, I really didn't want to do them.  But I changed that.  I really did want to edit over the weekend.  It was my plan and the clock is ticking.  I really do want this book to be the best that it can be and the only way to do that is to edit.  But there's some kind of disconnect between wanting to work and being capable of doing it.

So, yeah, I think it's editing block.  I mean, when you want to write but can't, it's called writer's block, so why can't there be editing block, too? 

Today, I will sit here until my eyes bleed.  Do the work, you big, whiny baby.  :whipcrack:  Screw editing block.  Screw the struggle.  Life's a struggle.  Get over it. 

And with that little, personal pep talk, I hope to get at least a couple chapters done today.  Two weeks left until my deadline.  Couple chapters a day should do it. 

What about you?  Ever get editing block?  How do you combat it?  Do you give yourself little 'drill sergeant' style pep talks?

Friday, October 19, 2018

Quotes About Writing

A long time ago, I collected quotes.  I keep them in a spreadsheet, indexed with keywords.  Yes, I am a geek.  Anyway, I thought today would be a good day to visit the quotes I have about writing.  I hope you find something in this rather long list to inspire you...

"Writers must fortify themselves with pride and egotism as best they can. The process is analogous to using sandbags and loose timbers to protect a house against flood. Writers are vulnerable creatures like anyone else. For what do they have in reality? Not sandbags, not timbers. Just a flimsy reputation and a name." - Brian Aldiss

"I think the first duty of all art, including fiction of any kind, is to entertain. That is to say, to hold interest. No matter how worthy the message of something, if it's dull, you're just not communicating." - Poul Anderson

"You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success - but only if you persist." - Isaac Asimov

"Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you're doomed." - Ray Bradbury

"Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer." - Ray Bradbury

"Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for." - Ray Bradbury

"With this book, I’m going to outrun the self-doubt. If I can’t? I’ll spear the monster dead." - Allison Brennan

"Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any." - Orson Scott Card

"The faster I write the better my output. If I'm going slow, I'm in trouble. It means I'm pushing the words instead of being pulled by them." - Raymond Chandler

"It is perfectly okay to write garbage – as long as you edit brilliantly." - CJ Cherryh

"The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes." - Agatha Christie

"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self." - Cyril Connolly

"After rejection—misery, then thoughts of revenge, and finally, oh well, another try elsewhere." - Mason Cooley

"Books aren't written, they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it…" - Michael Crichton

"There is no mistaking the dismay on the face of a writer who has just heard that his brain child is a deformed idiot." - L. Sprague de Camp

"This writing business. Pencils and what-not. Over-rated, if you ask me. Silly stuff. Nothing in it." - Eeyore

"I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within." - Gustave Flaubert

"Modern poets talk against business, poor things, but all of us write for money. Beginners are subjected to trial by market." - Robert Frost

"Write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter." - Neil Gaiman

"Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing." - Melinda Haynes

"Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up." Ernest Hemingway

"If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is just to write. Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow." - Louis L'Amour

"It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write." - Sinclair Lewis

"A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. " Thomas Mann

"I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter." - James Michener

"The reader has certain rights. He bought your story. Think of this as an implicit contract. He's entitled to be entertained, instructed, amused; maybe all three. If he quits in the middle, or puts the book down feeling his time has been wasted, you're in violation." - Larry Niven

"True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn’d to dance." - Alexander Pope

"There's no such thing as writer's block. That was invented by people in California who couldn't write." - Terry Pratchett

"Most writers enjoy two periods of happiness—when a glorious idea comes to mind and, secondly, when a last page has been written and you haven’t had time to know how much better it ought to be." - JB Priestley

"The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business." - John Steinbeck

"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning." - Mark Twain

"The hope and aim of a word-handler is that he may communicate a thought or an impression to his reader without the reader’s realizing that he has been dragged through a series of hazardous or grotesque syntactical situations. " - EB White

"You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist, you are learning your craft -- then you can add all the genius you like." - Phyllis Whitney

"If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it." - Tennessee Williams

Got any good writing quotes to add?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Write Whenever You Can

Just now on Facebook, I saw a quote from Leo Tolstoy that was something along the lines of 'writers should write first thing in the morning because that's when they're most creative'.  Or that's when their minds are most receptive to creativity.  Or something.  I didn't copy the quote and I'm not looking it up.

Umm... No.  Maybe Leo was his most creative first thing in the morning, but that might not necessarily hold true for other writers.  It sure as hell doesn't hold true for me.

I love how people make blanket statements like that, never thinking that a new writer might actually take them seriously and then assume there's something wrong with them because they can't do what some famous author said they had to do.


Good thing I never saw that quote when I was new.  I couldn't write in the morning.  When I first started writing, I had a full time job and a kid.  Mornings were for getting ready for work and getting her ready for school.  Then, after eight hours of work, getting dinner on the table, and putting her to bed, I could write.  Not long after I started writing, I got married, and I was a stay at home mom.  I wrote a bit in the mornings then.  It lasted about 9 months, which was when we pulled the Kid out of public school and I started homeschooling.  Once I started that, there was no writing during the day.  At all.  We'd get done with school, Hubs would come home from work, there'd be dinner to do, and THEN I could sit down to write. 

Now, when the Kid's an adult and the Hubs is retired and I can write whenever, my brain is still trained to write new words at night.  I can write other times, if I have to.  I guess.  But I don't like it.  And the words always need more editing afterward.  Nighttime is the best time - FOR ME.  

My point?  Write when you can.  Don't worry about someone else's schedule or their idea of what's the proper time for writing.  Go ahead and write in the morning, if that's what works for you.  Write during the day.  Write on your lunch break.  Write at midnight.  Do what works for you

Getting the words on the page is what's important not when you put them there. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Decision Made - Part Two

If you've been reading along, you know I had a couple decisions to make here.  The first one was whether I would keep stumping along with a book that I just wasn't feeling.  Made that one and stopped work on Ugly and the Beast.  The other decision was whether to keep my reserved spot with my cover artist and what to do with it if I did.

So, over the weekend, my cover artist announced that she's booked through December of 2019.  Which pretty much made the decision about what to do with my October spot for me.  I'm going ahead with the cover of Ugly and the Beast, even though it isn't finished.  It's either that or wait until my spring spot and then not have a spot reserved for Cinder Ugly.  And while I'm behind in writing this series, I do not want to have to wait until 2020 to have a cover.

Yesterday morning, I went through the photo site, picked several poses for the Jeni model, and then picked a couple of other things I'd like to see on the cover.  We'll see what she does with them.

Now I have until February (or was it March?) to figure out what the hell CU is going to be about so I have ideas to send to Jessica. 

Life was so much easier when she wasn't so popular.  I didn't have these scheduling problems when she did the Once Upon a Djinn series.  Ugh.

On the other hand, my cover artist is so good, she's in high demand.  Yay.

On the bright side, looking at photos for UatB kinda makes me want to start writing it again.  Too bad I have the edits for Unequal to focus on right now.  Maybe I'll make finishing the damn book my NaNoWriMo project. 


Friday, October 12, 2018

Writerly Depression

Always on the lookout for ways to boost sales, I read Amazon Decoded by David Gaughran this week.  If you're not familiar with Gaughran, he also wrote Let's Get Digital and Let's Get Visible - two books that were instrumental in my self-publishing decisions early on. 

Now, you can only get Amazon Decoded if you subscribe to his newsletter, but the newsletter is chock full of useful into, so it's a good idea anyway.  Plus you get this book.  I reviewed it on Goodreads.  If you're interested in that, you can see the review over there or you can wait and see it on my Reading Update over on The Writing Spectacle tomorrow.

It's a good book.  It was also depressing as hell for me.  Because I am not anywhere near where I want to be.  He's talking about sales way above anything I've ever gotten.  And ranks I don't know if I will ever hit.  And he's talking about them as if they were old hat.  Not for me, man. 

He's also talking about ads I am not in a position to pay for.  I mean, you gotta spend money to make money.  But you gotta HAVE money to spend money to make money.  Know what I mean?

I don't even want to think about how many spreadsheets I have to do to scrape together $500 for an ad.  One ad.  That may or may not pay for itself?  Ugh.  Not happening any time soon.

Still, the book gave me some ideas.  I'll give them a try and see how things go.  Maybe I'll be better prepared with Unequal launches in... well, whenever it launches later this year. 

I do have an ad going live today with Authors' Billboard.  I have low expectations.  But it's a $6 ad, so maybe I can break even.  Fingers crossed.

On a side note, I saw an author complaining that they only got 50 sales on launch day for their new book.  I kinda hated them a little right then.  Then I hated myself a little because I don't know what I'm doing wrong.  What can I say, it's been a week for the writerly depression to rear its ugly head.  Which is why I've been spending a lot of time in the gardens instead of at the keyboard.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Sales Sales Sales

I know my regular visitors have probably already read Project Hermes, but in case anyone else stops by, PH is on sale today through next Tuesday night.  99c or 99p, depending on which part of the world you're in.  That's a $4 savings here in the US, so get it while you can.

There will also be sales for Sleeping Ugly and Blink of an I in the near future.  SU will be on sale the 24th through Devil's Night (the 30th).  BOIA will be on sale November 7th thru the night of the 13th.  I'll post about it again when those times come around.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Project Hermes (used to be titled Blood Flow), it's a political suspense with a medical twist (or a medical suspense with a political twist).  Here's the blurb:

It's the little things that kill

The highest levels of the government believe Project Hermes is the best way to control America’s immigration problem. A simple microchip carrying a citizen’s information will allow officials to sort out who belongs—and who doesn’t. Harmless.

Unless the chip carries more than just information.

Agent Miranda Kruz of the Terrorism Task Force has reason to believe something is very wrong with Project Hermes. People are dying and the clues all point to a microchip implant. But Randi’s superiors don’t want anything or anyone interfering with their pet project. They’re threatening her job, her loved ones, and her life to keep her from revealing their secret. With the help of medical examiner, Vic Hammond, and electronics engineer, Jack Davis, Randi has to uncover the truth and make it public before anyone else is targeted for death.

Locating the madmen behind these executions will be hard enough—stopping them might just be impossible.

And here's the cover:

Feel free to share the sale around.  It's a meaty book, but from what I've been told, it's a fast read.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Cover Reveal

I've been working on the cover for Unequal on and off.  Saturday I made a concerted effort to get it done.  I'm pretty pleased with the results.  But we all know how I've been pleased with my covers before only to have them bomb. 

Anyway, here it is:

I'm not sure if it screams 'dystopian', but unless I think of something better, I'm running with it.  It's got Rue (the MC), a hospital bed, and a utilitarian structure. 

And I might change the cover of Blink of an I again to kind of be in keeping with this other dystopian.  Not sure about that yet.  I still kinda like the abstract indigo of Blink's cover.  :shrug:

Anyway, Unequal should be out by the end of November, early December at the latest.  :fingers crossed: 

Yes, I know.  'Unequal' isn't a word.  But it's a word they use to describe anyone who doesn't fit into the 'equal' mold in this future I've envisioned .  They label you Unequal, and you get disappeared.  Rue is Unequal.

I haven't done the blurb yet.  My brain space isn't ready to do that yet.  And besides, the assignment isn't due.  ;o)

Friday, October 5, 2018

I Suck At This

The other day I had someone ask me which of my books I'd recommend to someone who'd never read any of my books.  You know, which one should they start with?


I hate that question because I am really bad at answering it.  Which of my books would I recommend to a first time reader?  Gah.

I don't know.  I don't know what any given person would like to read. 

One would assume the easy answer would be Dying Embers, because it's my first book and why not have people start at the beginning, right?  Except I don't know if the person in question likes suspense.  Or revenge.  Or female MCs.  Or female villains.  What if I recommend a title and the person hates the premise behind that particular title?  Then it would be a total let down and my recommendation would be the cause.

If I'm out in public and face-to-face with the person, I can hand them a bookmark and we can talk about what they like to read.  If it's online, it's sort of... Gah.

This is why I was never any good at telemarketing.  If I can't show the product and put it in a customer's hands, demonstrate its awesomeness, I can't sell it.  I mean, I love all my books and I want everyone to read them all, but all readers are not eclectic like me.  I'll read any genre, pretty much.  But other people generally stick to one genre or two.  So how do I know which book to recommend?


My answer was ultimately to say 'it depends' and then offer them Dying Embers and list the other genres of the books I've written with a link to my author page so they could go check out the offerings for themselves.  Not sure what they did after that.  I hope I didn't chase them away with my waffling.

This was all so much easier when I sold screwdrivers.  Slotted or Philip's Head?  And how long?  And how skinny?  Magnetic?  Want the whole set?  They're ergonomic, doncha know.  How many can I put you down for? 

Even better when they were looking for resistors or capacitors.  They already knew all the parameters they needed.  All I had to do was show why mine were better than the competitor's and write the freakin' order.

Double ugh.

What do you do when someone asks you to recommend a book?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Decisions, Decisions

Okay, so it's now October and this book that I should've finished writing in June is giving me fits.  And I've got a decision I need to make pretty soon.

Do I keep plugging ahead with a book that obviously does not want to be written right now or do I set it aside and work on something else?

Which leads to a secondary question: Do I 1) use the spot I have with my cover artist for UatB anyway and hope I have something to publish early next year, 2) use the spot I have with my cover artist to let her do Unequal, or 3) do I let the spot slide?

Neither decision is an easy one.  I so don't want to disappoint readers who are expecting a sequel to Sleeping Ugly sooner rather than later.  Then again, I so don't want to disappoint readers by throwing out a piece of crap (which is what UatB is shaping up to be at the moment).  And I definitely don't want to lose my spot with my cover artist who has become highly sought after and therefore super busy.  I have another scheduled spot with her in February, but that's a long way off and what if UatB breaks free...  Argh.

But I'm also not inclined to spend money on something I don't need at the moment. 

Now, I'm not asking you to answer these questions for me.  I'm just throwing them out there to maybe help me make a decision.  Because sometimes writing stuff here does that.  And, you know, it's out here in case anyone else is in a similar quandary and is looking for a sense that they're not alone.  That sort of thing.

Of course, it doesn't help that SU is not the overnight sensation I'd hoped it would be which makes it harder for me to justify all this effort and expense on a sequel.  Blerg.  But having sequels helps sell the first book... or something...

Ah the life of a writer.  It's fun!  Yeah, yeah... fun... that's the ticket.

What are you having fun with right now?  Facing any big decisions? 

Monday, October 1, 2018

Dialogue Issues? Read It Out Loud

I started a book Saturday night.  As you know from Friday's post, I'd been looking for a suspense to read.  I thought I found one.  The premise was awesome, the few reviews it had were mostly five-star, and the live look in was pretty good, so I laid down my $2.99. 

I didn't 'look in' far enough.  When I started the book, everything was fine.  Then I got farther in where there was actual dialogue.  OMG, so bad. 

Ugh, I tried to recreate a sample of the bad dialogue this morning, but I couldn't do it.  It was so wooden, my brain was revolting against it.  And I refuse to copy the exact verbiage here.  Just trust me on it when I say it was bad.

Do the world a favor when you're writing dialogue, folks.  Read it out loud.  You should be able to hear whether it's the way people actually talk.  Think about conversations you've had.  And if you're a hermit, go somewhere public and listen to other people until you have an idea of how a conversation should flow.  Restaurants and coffee shops are awesome for this. 

Once you've done this, go back and read through the dialogue you've written.  Does it sound natural? 

Personally, I write a lot of my stuff - including this blog - in a conversational tone.  So I've got a lot of practice.  Plus, my thought processes are like a running conversation in my head.  And I still make mistakes.  That's what an editor is for.  She catches me when I've written crappy dialogue. 

And yes, there may be a time when you have a character who actually is wooden.  It could add flavor to the scene.  But they can't all be wooden.  And the wooden character cannot be your MC.  Bleh.

The dialogue had other flaws, as well.  I'm pretty sure the author didn't have a firm grasp on using the Enter key between sentences in the dialogue.  One character talks and then the other character talks and then the first character talks... all in one paragraph.  "Sort of like this," said Mary. "And it was really bad," said John. "But worse than this." "I can see what you mean," said Mary. "When it all jams together it's kind of hard to tell who's talking." "Exactly."

Gah.  Typing that hurt my brain.  Almost as much as reading it probably hurt yours.

Dialogue shouldn't be that hard - to write or to read.  Like I said, the key to it is reading it out loud.  And if you do and you're still not sure, read it out loud to another human being.  If at any point you find yourself thinking 'People don't talk that way', then you need to change it.

Now, you might find yourself wanting to argue, saying 'but I write Fantasy' or SF or historical or whatever.  The words of your world may be different, but the conversational flow should probably be about the same.  Because no matter what world you're writing, your readers are HERE.  Their brains will tell them whether the people of Ogreville or Epsilon Twelve or Jolly Ol' England are speaking naturally or coming off as wooden.  You don't want readers to decide your dialogue isn't worth slogging through.  Right?

Just my opinion, of course.  I know I put that book down and I won't be buying any more of that author's novels.  Which is really too bad.  Again, they all sound interesting, but I can't afford to waste any more of my money on the chance he fixed the problem in the other two.  (And this was his second book.  I can't imagine how bad his first book was.)

Do you read your dialogue out loud?  I used to do it all the time. Now, I only do it if I'm reading over a scene and it doesn't feel right.  Nine times out of ten, it doesn't feel right because the dialogue is off. 

But maybe that's just me.  What do you think?