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Posts Tagged ‘How To Be A Writer’

An Epic Journey Figuring Out Why My Shared Word Document on OneDrive is Read Only. But Why? It is NOT a read only file on the computer. I Want to Edit It On My Phone!

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

If you know me, you know my technological literacy is spotty and incomplete. Some things I learned; others are as mystifying as the vastness of the Netherworld.

I also have an annoying habit of having to figure it out when I don’t know something. Who is that actor who seems so familiar and what did I see them in? Well, put that movie or show on pause because I have to know. (Nope, that guy in the episode of Yellowstone has a resemblance sort of, and voice that we thought sounded like him, but was not the actor who played Face on the A-Team). That nagging feeling something in a story I’m working on doesn’t mesh with something? I’m going to prove it to myself, even if it looks like it’s just a weird unprovable déjà vu because I can’t find it. I still won’t just drop it, though, because that nagging sense will still be there.

Why can’t I edit my file on One Drive? I have to know!

Jump to the answer! Or read on through all this rambling drivel.

Or; here is the quick answer if you don’t want to waste time reading anything else here:

In the document open on your phone Word app, just click the three dots in the menu (…) and “Save” (not Save As!) and “Save” again. Save in the identical file location of the existing file and click “Replace” when that popup message appears. Wait for it to save and update. It will convert your “read only” Compatibility Mode old version of Word file to the new version and make it editable and syncing across all open files on different devices.

In my efforts to get back to writing and editing with some reasonableness of frequency (aka not not writing and editing), I tried saving a few WIPs in Microsoft Word with the AutoSave to OneDrive feature. The idea being that I can edit the same file whether I’m on my laptop or on my phone in another room, or perhaps laying in bed awake at 3am with insomnia.

I’ve been very hesitant to embrace cloud saving of any kind. I’ve also been accustomed for years to working on anything personal (aka not the pay-the-bills-job) as much in places where I have no Wi-Fi as I do at home with Wi-Fi, including on my lunch breaks at that job for years before Covid sent us to work from home. No Wi-Fi in that lunchroom. Thus the learned extreme hesitancy of using any sort of cloud-based storage where I wouldn’t be able to access anything stored there half the time. One of my favorite places to write before we had to sell it was at the camper, in the peaceful  relaxing slower pace away from home and happens to be far from any sort of working Wi-Fi.

So this attempt at cloud-based file sharing with myself is both an unutilized technology and behavior to be learned.

I tried it with one WIP file and it was pretty cool. The idea of being able to edit the same file with real-time live updates on both devices was fun. I sat there typing on the laptop and watching the words appear on my phone. Then I did it the other way around just because I could. Yeah, I know. I’m lame.

My second file attempt – The Woods, a novel I have been so painfully close to completion for so long and promising to finish and have published, and actually think might in many ways be one of my, if not ‘The’, best – did not go so well.

I’ve clicked the AutoSave in Microsoft Word to save it to OneDrive cloud-based storage, deleted that OneDrive file, and re-clicked it a number of times. I just cannot get it to open in the Microsoft Word app on my phone as an editable file like the other one. It will only open as a read only file.

So what am I doing wrong?

The first thing I found on the issue was a Microsoft issues chat from 2014 where all the answers suggested the *fix* of just downloading and saving the file as a new file to edit. Sounds easy right? As long as you have no intention of going back and forth between devices or have multiple people co-working on the document. As the original poster of the question commented, this is not a fix, but rather a workaround. It also means you essentially end up with more than one file document you now have to be on top of constantly making sure to either upload, download, and save as every time you are going to work on it, or will later have the laboriously time intensive task of using Microsoft Word’s compare files feature to try to combine all the revised file copies into one revision copy.

I’ve actually done that with files and it’s a great feature when you have the need for it. It’s nice when you find yourself with multiple rough WIPs of something and don’t know which is better or what changes were made on which and why. But I would not choose to do it unnecessarily because you are going through every single space, character, word, sentence, paragraph, and formatting change made on the two versions through the entire document. And repeating if for every extra revision copy you need to combine. You then have to go through and thoroughly edit the whole thing because you may or may not have remembered right and clicked yes or no to changes correctly throughout the entire document.

So, nix that non-fix.

Next try:

I tried opening the OneDrive folder and checking that the file folder within it and the WIP file both have the sync symbol showing sync is turned on. I don’t think you can actually turn that off? Here are three status symbols that show up:

  • The cloud one is a video of my itty bitty teen punching out another girl sparring at boxing. (She’s pretty good!)
  • “Shroud Eaters” is a horror in early stages and my first attempt at file sharing between the laptop and phone. That’s the one I could open and edit no problem with it revising the file for both devices in real time. This was my NaNoWriMo 2021 challenge to continue working on, which I did not get far on.
  • “The Woods 2021” is the newest save (thus the “2021”) version, keeping the previous save intact as an unrevised just-in-case backup. This is the file that will only open as a read only file on my phone with the Word app.

What do these symbols mean? I had to look it up. This is what I found:

  • The cloud – this file is available only online and cannot be opened without some form of internet connection. This file takes no space on your device.
  • Green checkmark in a circle – “When you open an online-only file, it downloads to your device and becomes a locally available file. You can open a locally available file anytime, even without Internet access.” In other words, this file when opened will download to your device, take up file space, can be edited with or without internet, and should automatically save back to the cloud location to sync and update with revisions made to the shared file on other devices. Sweet.
  • The circling arrows – means that a sync is in progress. If it shows this with a “processing changes” message, you may have a problem. Processing changes is okay because that means it’s actively syncing, but if it doesn’t go away your sync is stuck. When I hover the mouse over the file line with the circling arrows in the folder it does show “Availability status: Sync pending”.

(P.s. as noted below, closing the file on the laptop turned these to green checkmarks – so sync pending was not actually stuck or anything. However it apparently can get stuck. In this case it was just letting me know the file was open somewhere and waiting to sync when I start typing in it.)

I tested by editing “Shroud Eaters” on my phone while watching the OneDrive file folder on the laptop. The green checkmark didn’t even blink. The file is open on both the laptop and phone. I tried typing in each while watching the file on the other device, and the watching it change on the other screen in real-time didn’t happen this time. Weird.

So, I closed OneDrive and clicked the app on the phone to open the file folder and saw this:

This actually doesn’t surprise me because I’ve already encountered the problem I have yet to resolve of somehow ending up with multiple OneDrive files for the same file. That’s why you see the “Shroud Eaters (3)” file.

So now I have the added issue of which of these is the most recent and current file with the hours of work added? Bugger. And why when both the phone and laptop open files should be the same file syncing on both devices did the changes not sync? It also shows one updated a half hour prior, not both just now, which would answer why the two devices show the revisions from each other.

I figured out the most recent revisions file and deleted all the extra “Shroud Eater” files from OneDrive via the laptop. I got the warning that deleting the files will delete them everywhere.

Now, in the OneDrive folder on the laptop the one Shroud Eaters file shows the same circling arrows that when I hover over them is shows “Availability status: Sync pending”. Great. Now both files are broken and not syncing. Good job.

The weird thing is the rest of the files are gone from the OneDrive folder on the computer, but not from that same folder on the phone. “Shroud Eaters (3)” vanished, but the others are all still there.

After about ten or fifteen minutes the warning that deleting the files will delete them everywhere came up again for another file and I clicked okay through it again and the extra files vanished from the phone folder a few minutes later. So, a major delayed reaction which might be a clue to the non-syncing issue. Or not.

I don’t always think of trying things in the most logical order, so thinking my sync pending is stuck, now I try closing the files in Word. Magic. Sync pending circling arrows is gone and they are green check marks. That’s not the problem apparently.

I opened Shroud Eaters and testing it again, typing on the laptop and it did not change in real-time on the phone document like it did the first time I tested out doing it. But closing and reopening the file on the phone synced the changes. It also made the typing in either device make real-time changes on the screen of the other again. Cool. It also showed them as markup changes – aka the text added on the phone and deleted on the laptop showed as strikethrough text on the phone and flagged a revision spot on the laptop file saying I cannot revise it until I finish revising it on the phone to avoid conflicts.

This hasn’t happened before. And the phone gave me the option to accept or reject the change. Clicking accept brought a notification that I can use the feature if I buy Microsoft 360. Um, no. Not right now. But maybe that’s why the navigation isn’t on the phone like it is on the laptop Word program? It’s something to think about when I maybe need to buy the personal or family plan by the end of the school year. Closing and re-opening the file on the phone again made the updates happen, so no worries there. It will update eventually and lose the markups.

So, back to trying to open The Woods on the phone. Nope, it’s still a read only file. Why? Hell if I know.

I deleted The Woods from the OneDrive file, opened the file on my hard drive, and re-saved it again on OneDrive. I opened it on my phone with the Word app, and it’s still a read only file. Crap. Why? Why does this technology hate me?

I found this curious and completely useless for my problem conversation about this issue. Except with their issue they discovered it opened as read only when saved in Google Drive and opened fine as an editable file when saved in OneDrive. My files are saved in OneDrive automatically by the Word app and one file works while the other only opens as read only in the Word app on the phone. So mine should work!

One commenter said whether a file worked on their phone (Andriod like mine) depended on how they opened the file. But I’m opening both files exactly the same way and one opens as editable and one as read only.

Both files are Word documents with .docx file extensions.

I tried opening “Blood And Canvas” on my phone. It too opens as a read only file. I have a new clue! What do “Blood And Canvas” and “The Woods” have in common that “Shroud Eaters” does not?

All three are Word documents created on my laptop and have .docx file extensions.

They were all three each started and the files created originally at different times years apart using different versions of Microsoft Word, and different laptops as one died and was replaced with another, so that it something none have in common.

“AND BINGO IS HIS NAME-O”!

Under the “File” tab at the top of your Word document on the computer click the “Info” option to view the information on your file. How to do this might be different on older versions of Word.

Both Blood And Canvas and The Woods show “Compatibility Mode”. Shroud Eaters does not! So now I know what the two files that open as read only on my phone have in common that’s different from the one that works.

Compatibility Mode is how Word allows a file created in an older version of Word to be opened and used in a newer version of Word. I found this: “As long as a document is showing [Compatibility Mode], new or changed Word features that were not included in the earlier version will be disabled.

Good thinking. I’m talking like really old versions of Word each these files would have been created it, even though they are saved with the .docx file extension.

Then I found this on the types of file extensions that are supported by Word:

This tells me that all three files were created using versions of Word from anywhere between 2007 and 2019. If they were .doc files, they would be from even older Word versions. With that and reading that link about how Compatibility Mode disables  features that were not available in the Word version the document was originally created in, I think Compatibility Mode is stopping the files from being editable on the phone – a phone app and OneDrive cloud storage that was created AFTER newer versions of Word replaced those older outdated ones.

THE BIG TWO SECOND FIX THAT TOOK ME WAY TOO LONG TO FIGURE OUT!

If your Word document is in Compatibility Mode, that is likely blocking it from opening as an editable file from OneDrive on your other device. You need to get rid of Compatibility Mode by have Word convert it to the new Word format.

In the document open on the computer, I clicked the “Convert” button in the document information screen and clicked “OK” through this popup warning message to let Word convert, clicked the Save/Sync button to make sure it saves the converted file to OneDrive, closed the file on the computer, then tried to open it on the phone. I had a little gray line at the top that opened to a message giving me the option to refresh to the new file. I did. And IT WORKED! The files saved on OneDrive now open on the phone Word app as perfectly editable files.

Now I’m asking myself, what if I did not have the laptop handy to fix it? What if I was somewhere else with just my phone and want to be able to edit and have the file sync when I open it later on the computer?

How do I fix a “Compatibility Mode” problem through the Word app on the phone?

I deleted the OneDrive “The Woods” file and re-saved aka clicked the Auto-Save to OneDrive on the hard drive document that is still in Compatibility Mode to test this.

  • Save the file using your phone: In the file opened with the Word app on the phone (this was using Android) Click those three dots to open “File actions” and click “Save”, not “Save As”. Click “Save” again, chose the save location, and save it.
  • Here’s the trick: Make sure you are saving it in the exact same OneDrive file location, including whether it is in a sub-file. You want the “Replace file?” popup message. If you don’t get that message you are just saving it as a second file instead of replacing the existing file. Click “Replace” and your Word doc file saves as the newer version of Word.
  • The good thing is the new file is in the new format and does not open in “Compatibility Mode” on the computer, and you didn’t just create a secondary file to figure out later. When you or whoever else opens OneDrive to work on that file with another device, it’s fixed just the same as if you fixed it with the Conversion option on the computer.

Now, what if someone is using the file, say on the laptop while I do that trick with my phone?

Hint: this is totally awesome!

Do the exact same thing! It worked!

I deleted the OneDrive file and did the re-AutoSave to OneDrive again with the Compatibility Mode file to test it. I added some gobbledygook nonsense typing to it on the Laptop. Yup, when I opened the file on the phone it was read only and the added gobbledygook nonsense typing was there. This is definitely the same file and not some weird other file that somehow exists.

With “The Woods” Compatibility Mode document in OneDrive still open on the laptop…

On “The Woods” read only file open on my phone I did the … and “Save” (not Save As!) and “Save” again. I made sure it was the identical file location of the existing file. I even clicked on the existing file for good measure, although it’s totally not necessary. I clicked “Replace” when that popup message appeared. Waited for it to save and update.

Magic! My file is now editable and not read only, updated to the new file type.

I typed some more gobbledygook nonsense typing in the file on my phone and watched it magically appear in real-time in the still open document on my laptop – a document that also now just like that was also the newer version of Word and no longer in Compatibility Mode.

Easy frigging peasy fix! (How the heck do you even spell “peasy”?)

My final question is why can I never come up with the right and very fast and simple answer first without wasting a lot of time searching for and answer that apparently exists NOWHERE in the whole World Wide Web, experimenting, and finally getting it after so much wasted time?

From my online searches, apparently I’m not alone. I could not find any answer anywhere that simply says, “In the document open on your phone Word app, just click the three dots (…) and “Save” (not Save As!) and “Save” again. Save in the identical file location of the existing file and click “Replace” when that popup message appears. Wait for it to save and update. It will convert your “read only” Compatibility Mode old version of Word file to the new version and make it editable and syncing across all open files on different devices. I can’t guarantee if more than one are actively typing in the shared document it will pick up all synced changes at the moment it saves over that file, but hopefully it will. After all, the document stayed open and unchanged on my laptop, other than losing the Compatibility Mode until I started editing the file on the phone – which updated the other file in real-time sync. I’m not talented enough to type in both the document on the computer simultaneously without pause while saving it on the phone to test it. That would take the help of another person to do one part while I do the other to test that fully.

Keep writing my friends.

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It’s the age old question. Just how the heck do you write with an 80 Lb dog in your lap?

Maybe you are on a deadline. It might be self-imposed. Or it’s the one moment in days you can carve out of your busy schedule for ‘you’ time, aka writing. It’s a rare moment. It’s that early morning you woke up despite your best intentions to sleep in on the one and only day you can all week, but your mind or body has other plans and you are up, wide awake, but OMG the house is quiet with everyone else sleeping, so you can actually WRITE. It’s the perfect time for it. Maybe it’s simply that the creative juices are flowing or your muse just bitch-slapped you with an idea that you absolutely must get down right now before you forget it.

And, naturally, at that very moment your dog decides life cannot go on without climbing in your lap, on your desk, on your keyboard, in your face, trying to force play time, squirming and wriggling and won’t take ‘No’ for an answer.

Maybe it’s not an 80 Lb dog. Cat? Baby, toddler, kid, teenager, or partner. Your squawking bird, hamster, pot bellied pig, or other pet. They all have the same goal, to have your 5000% undivided attention.

So, what’s a writer to do? Give them a few minutes of total attention and hope they are happy. Deflection. Here’s a toy, someone else to play with, cookie, boozy latte with extra whipped cream (please only try this with adult humans), send your dog outside in the back yard to, “Go find your rabbit” (just don’t tell them it only exists in the world outside the front living room window).

Meow at them or squeak the squeaky toy until they go mad.

Give them a craft, project, job, or anything you can grasp that might get their attention for five minutes or more.

It’s frustrating, yes. But ultimately you have to realize they are bugging you because they love you and are yearning for your attention like a puppy full of energy and starved for playtime.

In the case of the oversized purse-dog, I find the best solution is to exhaust her with attention. Give her some time of hard play, love, petting, tricks for a cookie, rabbit seeking, and ultimately hope it’s not the super hyper loud frantically playing with the loudest squeaky toy in the house while shrieking and riling the dog up under your feet and impossible to string a single thought together because of the hyper loudness kid who takes her attention next.

And, sometimes, you just have to resolve to having to try to single finger type around an 80 Lb dog in your lap because she really does think she’s the size of her head.

 

Above all else….

Keep writing, my friends.

 

L. V. Gaudet Books:

Vivian Munnoch Books (and Roxy photobomb):

Roxy aka The Big Dumb Bunny

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Photo by Rajiv Bajaj on Unsplash

While waiting in the car the other day, I watched an incredible display of nature.

The seemingly mundane and commonplace pigeon.

Not so special, right? Rats with wings, some unlovingly call them.

This particular flock of pigeons were hanging out in the upper tier of a two-level store roof. The decorative section. I’ve seen other birds do the same thing I am about to describe, but never particularly paid attention to pigeons before to witness it.

With some signal I was oblivious to, sometimes cued by a few taking flight from the far side out of my view, they repeatedly took flight in group, falling naturally into their predetermined places like a choreographed dance troupe. In perfect unison they swooped and dodged through the air, a single unit without any bird losing its place. They rose in an upward arc, cut a hard turn, swooped down, arced around again, always in a tight unfaltering formation.

The Snowbirds (the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, an aerobatics air show demonstration team) would have envied their maneuvers.

Photo by Zac Ong on Unsplash

I had to marvel at the ability of (seemingly mere) birds to perform such a dramatic aerial synchronized acrobatic display. Does this somehow come naturally? How do they just know when to dive, dip, swoon, swoop, loop, arc, all in perfect unison? Is there some communication we are not privy to? Some telepathic communication? A joined hive brain?

Zoologist Wayne Potts’s (who published in the journal Nature in 1984) research suggests they anticipate sudden changes in the flock’s direction of motion.

Or do they spend hours training for this? Note: I did witness one bird appear to give another hell for getting a hair off their perfect formation when they all flew back onto their rooftop roost before taking off for another run. But, that interaction could have been for any reason. I watched for a good ten minutes while they repeatedly flew off into their routine and landed to take off and do it again over and over and over.

Observations like this can be turned into inspirations in building your literary world. Strangely luminous dust motes behaving in a very uncharacteristic way, mimicking these feathered air dances in an ethereal moment of bizarre clarity as a precursor to a discovery of something beyond this realm. A creature in your world taking on a behavior not natural to it, or one you created for your world that simply does this for reasons unknown to your characters.

Watching the world around is like foraging for story enrichments.

Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

Observing people, how they dress and move, their interactions and speech. How they band together, or in the new days of Covid-19 ‘socially distance’ (I don’t like that term. It sounds so… socially isolating.). Like moms clustering on a Facebook group to revel over the awesomeness of each others’ offspring when one of them shares their achievements. Cliques that form in every organization, workplace, and extended group. It is also watching traffic and housing trends. Shopping and dining habits. Social media and news also give insights into how you can twist things in your fictional stories or reveal them in any genre.

It’s more than people watching. It’s observing with a clinical eye.

Nature is rich, too, in suggestions and inspirations for your writing. From watching dogs in the dog park, how the squirrel, rabbits, and birds interact with each other at your bird feeder, to wildlife clips and documentaries. The strange behaviors of birds like the flock of pigeons, or the infamous false Tweets of pelicans ‘cooling off’ by throwing their spines outside their mouths. (Actually, it’s just a yawn and that is their long neck, not their spine). Do, however, research these odd things before using them and deciding how much fact vs. fictional artistic license you want to take in creating your world.

 

 

The world everywhere around you is full of ideas you can twist and form into enriching your stories.

Keep writing, my friends.

 

L. V. Gaudet Books:

 

Vivian Munnoch Books (and Roxy photobomb):

Roxy aka The Big Dumb Bunny

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Photo by Anthony Cantin on Unsplash

A writer friend and published author once told me of how she learned about the power of three. Three times repetition. No more and no less. If something is important for the reader to remember, you should repeat it. Somewhere throughout the story, bring it to reader three times.

And there, I did. In the above paragraph, as an example, I repeated telling your reader three times. (This makes four and breaks the rule, so you can now forget with impunity that I ever said it .) Although doing it all so close together is highly not recommended in your story.

In teaching and learning, repetition again stands out. From teaching toddlers to learning yourself as an adult, remembering comes easier with repetition. Tell me your name once, and you can bet on my forgetting it. (It’s not you, it’s me. I’m atrocious for my inability to remember names, and no, I do not think people are unremarkable or unworthy of remembering. Quite the opposite. It’s just something I’ve always been very bad at.)

And as a parent, who has not found themselves repeating repeating repeating? And then perhaps secretly or unknowingly repeating again while talking to yourself? Seriously, it can feel like no one hears you otherwise in the hubbub of a household.

 

While your thrice said story development spread across your book can help lure the reader into that aha moment when the pieces begin to fall into place at the end of the narrative, revealing that what may have seemed irrelevant now seems obvious, repetition can also harm your story.

 

This is something I’m guilty of. Particularly in my earlier writing. It is also something another writer friend and published author pointed out in a review of one of my earlier books, which was a reminder I need to always be vigilant about it while writing and editing.

That thing is committing the blunder of bad repetition. Even in writing this piece, I catch myself repeating the same words in the same paragraph, and even in the same sentence. It is a terrible habit, and one that can be hard to break. I do it when speaking to people, repeating my words over and over (After years of having only small children to talk to all day?). I do it without even knowing as the words flow from my head through my fingers to the keyboard.

 

Regardless of the cause, and regardless of your actual efforts, It comes across as lazy writing, poor editing, and an oversimplification of the story.

See? In the above paragraph, ‘regardless’ shows its face twice in the same sentence. It might make sense coming out of your head, but on editing, this should be revised. You may mean the same thing, but change your wording, if only a single word.

Regardless of the cause, and in spite of your actual efforts, It comes across as lazy writing, poor editing, and an oversimplification of the story.

Marginally better.

 

The lesson here? If it’s important for the reader to remember, tell them three times over your 5,000 to 150,000 writing piece, and be ever vigilant of your word choices. (I way over-spoke the power of three references in this article. Yes.) Analyze every sentence, every paragraph, every scene and story bit for poor wording, less than ideal word choices, unnecessary and damaging repetitions, and the whole host of other writing pitfalls that can harm your work.

 

 

Keep writing, my friends.

 

 

L. V. Gaudet Books:

Do you know #WhereTheBodiesAre?
Disturbing psychological thriller

Learn the secret behind the bodies.
Take a step back in time to meet the boy who will create the killer.

Everyone is looking for Michael Underwood. HMU picks up where the Bodies left off, bringing in the characters from The McAllister Farm.

Sometimes the only way to stop a monster is to kill it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden Grove project is a hotbed for trouble. Who wants to stop the development?

They should have let her sleep. 1952: the end of the paddlewheel riverboat era. Two men decided to rebuild The Gypsy Queen.

12 years ago four kids found something in the woods up the old Mill Road. Now someone found it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivian Munnoch Books (and Roxy the photobomb):

 

They heard noises in the basement.

They thought it was over. Then Willie Gordon disappeared.

It started with a walk in the woods … on a stupid boring no electronics and thank you very much for ruining my life camping trip. Madelaine’s life will never be the same.

Roxy aka The Big Dumb Bunny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo by Perchek Industrie on Unsplash

When is your story ‘enough’ of whatever it needs to be? When is it sci-fi enough? Fantasy enough? Enough romance, gun slinging, drama, steampunk; whatever the genre is?

 

On the surface the answer might seem easy. Toss your characters a few hundred or thousand years into the future and imagine a world with tech we don’t have now. Throw in some extraterrestrial planets and beings for good measure. Maybe push them back into the past in a historical setting complete with the lack of tech and medicine, period clothes and speech, and some historical drama. Invent a world with magic and mythological creatures and, wham bam thank you Ma’am, you have a fantasy story. Monsters, be they vampires and werewolves or other imagined monstrosities; seemingly impossible monsters or the all too real ones that thrive in some humans’ black souls, and you have a horror or thriller. Throw in a few more cogs, spaceships, dragons, kisses, gun fights, romantic drama, or car chases.

 

But it takes more than a future setting and space tech to make a science fiction story. More than dragons, magic, and various Fae Folk to have a compelling fantasy. Romantic moments and unrequited love alone do not make a romance the reader wants to read.

 

While the make or break of the story is and always will be a compelling storyline filled with rich characters, diverging strings of narratives woven throughout, and the roller coaster ups and downs of drama; that is not the complete picture. Science tech, fantastical creatures, love and romance, those are the things that categorize your genre.

 

But what actually makes the genre, and the story?

 

A good start is to get your head into it. Fully and completely; head, heart, and soul; into both the genre and the story. Weave that insidious web of treachery around your unsuspecting, or fully cognizant suspecting, characters. Push your characters to the brink, draw them back to safety, then push them a little further until they surely must break.

 

Even then, when do you know it is <insert genre> ‘enough’?

 

Is there truly an answer to this question?

 

Readers and writers alike of any given genre may feel they have the answer. I don’t. I struggle with the same question too.

 

I write dark fiction. Horror, thriller, things that don’t just go bump in the night, but may be the very stirrings of the nightmares that keep some awake in the dark. But is it enough? Is it thriller enough? Horror enough? Scary or gross enough?

 

Dark fiction is an encompassing realm that embraces all things dark and sinister. Twisted and deviant. It runs the gamut from shock and grossness to subtle whispers of fear. Fantastical or fanatical monsters imagined and real. Supernatural and remarkably, or unremarkably, all-too scarily human. It subverts all genres it infests into its peculiar twists of blackened souls and fears.

 

But is it enough? Is the story dark and twisted, terrible and traumatic enough? Is it too much? Who decides if it is dark enough? Thriller or horror enough?

 

I have yet to write something that scares me. So, is it ‘enough’? Will it, or can it, ever be?

 

 

Keep writing, my friends.

 

 

L. V. Gaudet Books:

Do you know #WhereTheBodiesAre?
Disturbing psychological thriller

Learn the secret behind the bodies.
Take a step back in time to meet the boy who will create the killer.

Everyone is looking for Michael Underwood. HMU picks up where the Bodies left off, bringing in the characters from The McAllister Farm.

Sometimes the only way to stop a monster is to kill it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden Grove project is a hotbed for trouble. Who wants to stop the development?

They should have let her sleep. 1952: the end of the paddlewheel riverboat era. Two men decided to rebuild The Gypsy Queen.

12 years ago four kids found something in the woods up the old Mill Road. Now someone found it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivian Munnoch Books (and Roxy the photobomb):

 

They heard noises in the basement.

They thought it was over. Then Willie Gordon disappeared.

It started with a walk in the woods … on a stupid boring no electronics and thank you very much for ruining my life camping trip. Madelaine’s life will never be the same.

Roxy aka The Big Dumb Bunny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

If you look inside the front matter of any published book you will find an ISBN number. If you don’t know, ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number.

 

The ISBN has nothing to do with copyrights. It simply is a catalogue number. If you are looking for a particular book, you can search it by its ISBN (catalogue) number.

 

An ISSN – International Standard Serial Number is the same thing as the ISBN, but is for periodical publications (ongoing series), such as magazines or a book series. You didn’t know you needed that for your book series? That’s okay. Not all books start with the intent of making them a series. With the wonders of technology, some sites will still link your series as belonging together. Just fill out that “series” box.

 

Now, if you’ve self-published with Amazon KDP, you might find they assigned you an ASIN instead of an ISBN. Oh, the horror. What have they done?

 

The ASIN (Amazon standard Identification Number) is the same thing as an ISBN, a catalogue number, only it is specific to Amazon. So, it only shows up in Amazon’s market. If you are publishing both a print and eBook at the same time, they will likely give the eBook an ASIN that is the same as the ISBN. Still, only the print book version with the ISBN will show up in ISBN searches outside of Amazon’s marketplace.

 

The EAN (European Article Number) should not be confused with an ISBN, ISSN, or ISIN. The EAN is a barcode. Think of it as the same thing as the others, but for products that are not books.

 

 

 

Breaking Down An ISBN – International Standard Book Number

The ISBN is broken down into parts.

 

  • EAN – Bookland country code. Apparently books live in a world of their own separate from ours called “Bookland”.  In the land of books, this identifies what country the book comes from.  Luckily for us non-book beings, the numbers also coincide with the countries of our own world.

 

  • Group – identifies the language the book is written in

 

  • Publisher – identifies the publisher of the book (aka the person or business who filed the ISBN number for the book)

 

* oddly enough, it seems that when a publisher exhausts its block of ISBNs, instead of receiving an additional block with the same publisher identifying number, they are given a new identifying number for the new block of ISBNs.

 

  • Title – identifies the book title

 

  • Check Digit – this is akin to a spell check for the people assigning ISBNs. If this number is not what they are looking for, then an error was made.

 

 

If you are being published with a publisher, they will look after your ISBN needs. However, if you are self-publishing, you need to do this yourself. And, you will probably need multiple ISBNs for each book.

 

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Why do you need multiple ISBNs for one book?

Because each format is a separate catalogue item. Every place you upload your book to sell, every print on demand printer, every eBook distribution, is a separate catalogue listing. Every ‘version’, i.e. trim size, paperback vs. hardcover vs. eBook, vs. audio book, is a separate catalogue listing. Every change that affects the description and quality of the product, like trim size or doing revisions to the book beyond fixing a few typos, creates a new catalogue item.

 

Think of it this way, each of these is a different catalogue item:

  • Print book on Amazon KDP
  • eBook on Amazon Kindle
  • Print book on Lulu
  • McNally Robinson pod printer
  • IngramSpark/Lightning Source
  • Kobo books

 

Also, each of these is a different format; therefore each is also a different catalogue item:

  • Paperback book
  • Hard cover book
  • Audio book
  • eBook mobi
  • eBook epub
  • Other eBook formats
  • Large print book
  • You uploaded your book in a new trim size
  • You uploaded a new edition (2nd edition, 3rd, etc)

 

 

 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Getting an ISBN is not difficult. And, depending where you live, you might have to pay for it.

 

If you live in the United States, you have to buy your ISBN. ISBN’s are sold by a commercial company.  (They are cheaper in bulk!) After getting your ISBN, it is up to you to have it registered with RR Bowker, the US database for the ISBN agency.  www.bowkerlink.com

 

One of the things many large US based self-publishing companies like Draft 2 Digital, Smashwords, and Amazon KDP does to encourage authors to publish with them is they buy up mass volumes of bulk ISBNs and provide them free to authors and publishers publishing with them. Of course, that only applies to the book listed on their service. You still need ISBNs for anywhere else you upload your book to.

 

Photo by Ryan on Unsplash

The wonderful thing about being in Canada is that FREE ISBNs is one of the little ways the Canadian government supports the arts.

 

To get your ISBN visit the Library and Archives Canada website and create an ISBN Canada Account.

Once you have your ISBN Canada Account you simply login to request and update ISBNs. There is no cost for this service.

 

Once you have your ISBN and have published your book, it is recommended you submit copies of your books to the Legal deposit program with Library and Archives Canada (read the article on that for more information).

 

L. V. Gaudet Books:

Do you know #WhereTheBodiesAre?
Disturbing psychological thriller

Learn the secret behind the bodies.
Take a step back in time to meet the boy who will create the killer.

Everyone is looking for Michael Underwood. HMU picks up where the Bodies left off, bringing in the characters from The McAllister Farm.

Sometimes the only way to stop a monster is to kill it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden Grove project is a hotbed for trouble. Who wants to stop the development?

They should have let her sleep. 1952: the end of the paddlewheel riverboat era. Two men decided to rebuild The Gypsy Queen.

12 years ago four kids found something in the woods up the old Mill Road. Now someone found it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivian Munnoch Books (and Roxy the photobomb):

 

They heard noises in the basement.

They thought it was over. Then Willie Gordon disappeared.

It started with a walk in the woods … on a stupid boring no electronics and thank you very much for ruining my life camping trip. Madelaine’s life will never be the same.

Roxy aka The Big Dumb Bunny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Registration Deadline: 1 May 2020

Sign up for the program or register new titles and editions. Registration runs Feb 15th to May 1st.

 

The Public Lending Right (PLR) Program sends payments annually to creators whose works are in Canada’s public libraries. Check out their website for more information on eligibility, payments, and to register: https://publiclendingright.ca/

 

 

The Dry on the PLR:

The PLR (Public Lending Right) Commission was established under the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) in 1986 to oversee the PLR program.

 

The PLR Commission is an elected body of writers, translators, librarians and publishers working together with non-voting representatives from the Canada Council for the Arts, Department of Canadian Heritage, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, and Library and Archives Canada. (Read the article on ISBNs to learn more about what Library and Archives Canada does).

 

‘Public Lending Right’ is your right as an author to be paid for free public use of your works in libraries. The basis of payment varies, but more than 30 countries around the world have PLR programs. In Canada, an annual survey is done one titles in public library catalogues. Payments to authors are based on the presence of their title(s) in the survey results.

 

 

Photo by Chris Spiegl on Unsplash

The Juicy News on the PLR:

As a writer, you worked hard on what you’ve had published. It’s only right to want fair compensation for that work. Libraries that stock your writing, whether it is in print or eBook, are lending it out free to multiple users who don’t need to buy it to read it. That translates to lost sales for you in the name of providing free public access to hundreds of potential readers.

 

 

This is what is behind the US libraries’ boycott of Macmillan Publisher’s new eBook releases. Basically, because more library lending equals more readers who do not have to buy the book to read it, Macmillan sought to boost initial sales of new eBook releases by limiting the number of copies libraries can buy and lend out in the first 8 weeks after a new eBook is released. Now that was a mouthful. Macmillan has been trolled and vilified for what boils down to an economic business decision. The nerve of them wanting to make sales revenue on their investment to the detriment of faster access to that new release to all those readers not paying for it.

 

I get both sides of that argument. If I want it, if I’m excited about it, I want it now. I don’t want to wait 8 weeks to get on a waiting list to get it. And if I don’t have to pay for it, I win. Heck, most of my adult life I couldn’t afford to buy books new. I still can’t afford to fill my reading needs with the prices publishers charge. I live on books I can read free (leaving a review is an excellent way to give back to the author for that!), reduced price books, and used books. At the same time, taking a risk on that book, on that author, and publishing a book is a substantial investment for publishers. Just because it’s an eBook does not make their costs inconsequential. And it is a business. They are not producing books out of the kindness of their hearts. They have overhead and staff wages to pay. And their investors want to earn money on their investment. And, that’s not even including compensation for the author’s time. Okay, let’s get back on topic…

 

 

This is where the Public Lending Right (PLR) Program comes in.

Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

You write the book. Whatever means you take, it gets published. Libraries buy it, or maybe you donate it to a library. All those people borrowing it from the library, reading it without paying for it, are sales that won’t happen. They probably wouldn’t have bought it anyway, but they are getting to enjoy your book and you get no compensation for that.

 

Wrong. The PLR is another small way our government supports the arts. You sign up, and if your book(s) comes back in their annual library survey, you get paid compensation for the potential loss of sales from those library books.

 

Registering is not a guarantee. And they need to verify your book(s) eligibility. Libraries need to actually stock it and then it has to be picked up in the annual survey. Then you get paid.

 

It might not be enough to cover all potential lost sales earnings, but it’s something. And in today’s book market, there are no guarantees on how those sales will go.

 

 

 

 

L. V. Gaudet Books:

Do you know #WhereTheBodiesAre?
Disturbing psychological thriller

Learn the secret behind the bodies.
Take a step back in time to meet the boy who will create the killer.

Everyone is looking for Michael Underwood. HMU picks up where the Bodies left off, bringing in the characters from The McAllister Farm.

Sometimes the only way to stop a monster is to kill it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden Grove project is a hotbed for trouble. Who wants to stop the development?

They should have let her sleep. 1952: the end of the paddlewheel riverboat era. Two men decided to rebuild The Gypsy Queen.

12 years ago four kids found something in the woods up the old Mill Road. Now someone found it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivian Munnoch Books (and Roxy the photobomb):

 

They heard noises in the basement.

They thought it was over. Then Willie Gordon disappeared.

It started with a walk in the woods … on a stupid boring no electronics and thank you very much for ruining my life camping trip. Madelaine’s life will never be the same.

Roxy aka The Big Dumb Bunny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

What do you do when you just don’t know what to write?

 

It happens to all of us. Okay, maybe not to Stephen King (but it probably has at some point even if he won’t admit it), however it happens to the rest of us. You sit down to write and . . . your mind is blank. That’s where I came up with the idea for this subject. I couldn’t think of anything, so I decided to write about that.

 

But if you really wanted to write, you would just sit down and write. Right? If only it were that simple. The reasons for the blank mind syndrome are as varied as we writers trying to write are.

 

 

Perhaps the biggest culprit is self-doubt. Who hasn’t faced off to that one at some point? You might not even recognize this is the problem because self-doubt can be a sneaky thing. It is the anti-muse of a thousand wicked faces. You don’t know if you can do it. You question how to start, what to write. Will it be garbage? Will anyone like it or are you wasting your time? And those are only a few easily recognized symptoms of self-doubt.

 

No one is going to want to read it. No one will like it. Will even you like it? You doubt you’ll ever be published anyway, or find that ever elusive agent you need to get your work considered by the big publishing houses. You can give yourself any of thousands of excuses that all boil down to one simple thing . . . self-doubt.

 

 

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Time is not on your side. We all get that. Life is busy. How many things are you juggling in your daily life? Full time or part time work; maybe both with two jobs. School, maybe both school and working; homework, studying, meetings, and volunteering. Family, extended family, friends, and pets. Household and life chores, running errands, and meeting your own basic needs.

 

Before you know it day after day has been sucked away and you haven’t had a chance to even think about writing. And, we all still need a little downtime to catch that favorite show, read a book, and just have a little bit of fun and time to unwind from the hectic everyday.

 

In the constant whirlwind of life it’s too often the just for you things like writing that get pushed back and left behind.

 

 

The story has stumped you. Fiction or nonfiction, prose, essay, short or long, whatever it is, sometimes it just stops us dead and can’t move forward. You can stare blankly at it all you want, but that inspiration just won’t come. Maybe you feel something is off, but cannot pinpoint what.

 

I always find that for me if it feels like something is off, then it turns out something is off. Maybe I need to delete the entire beginning, or it might work better moved much later in the story. Something somewhere is off track so the pieces just aren’t fitting together right like trying to force in puzzle pieces that don’t go there. Scenes need to be moved or removed, details expanded on, and bridge scenes created to fill in gaps in the story.

 

Twice I have taken the drastic step of actually tearing up and deleting an entire story, scrapping it completely because it was going nowhere. They still haunt me.

 

 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

You’ve been away from writing for too long. It can be hard to get back into it after not writing for a while. You’ve been hit by the lack of time, and now it’s compounded with self-doubt. Or maybe life just got in the way and you sidelined writing. Whatever the reason you took an extended break, you feel like you haven’t written in so long that you forgot how.

 

Or maybe writing has been that dream you wanted to do, but just have not managed to actually start yet. Does that mean you are not a writer? No. In the dry technical term of the definition, you do actually have to write something to have written. But self identity is a powerful thing and is what drives you to be a writer. Think of the age old saga of the chicken and egg. The chicken must lay the egg to birth the chicken, but the chicken came from an egg laid by a chicken, so. . . Are you a writer because you felt like a writer and were driven to write? Or because you wrote, which you would not have done had you not been driven to it?

 

 

Regardless if you are having an extended dry spell, have yet to dip your toes into your dream of writing, or are facing off against the inability to make the words flow, the result is the same . . . you are not writing. So how do you get back into it? Or start in the first place? Let’s explore some tips.

Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash

Getting back into writing can be like riding a bike. You never really forget how, but you can feel pretty rusty at it and need to get back that sense of balance and relearn the comfort zone. That takes time and practice.

 

It doesn’t have to be good. Not everyone can write a carefully thought out perfectly planned and executed word by word draft of perfection. If they did, odds are pretty good they actually wrote and rewrote it over and over in their head before committing it to the proverbial paper. The magic of editing fixes all . . . later.

 

 

There is power in small. This is one of my favorite project tools. It’s the same trick I used when overdue schoolwork snowballed out of control for my kid in grade school, or when one of my kids is overwhelmed by the size of a large project. I also use it when I just can’t think what to write when trying to work on a novel, although it probably works better if you actually outline first. I write mostly long fiction. The whole project can be daunting.

 

It is also an effective tool to combat writer’s block in all its forms. Where to start? Start small.

 

Pick a scene. If you have to number scenes and draw a number from a hat, then do it. If it’s something more epic those numbered scenes can be a mix of scenes, locations, characters, peoples or creatures; or anything else. Whatever you picked you must write. Block out everything else to do with the story, write it and own it. Put everything you have into it and make it the best little piece of writing you can. If it doesn’t fit, you can fix that later with editing. You know you’ll be editing and revising it anyway.

Photo by Soragrit Wongsa on Unsplash

 

You don’t have to write chronologically. So what if you can’t think of what to write in the next scene? Is it better to not write and mope over the next scene or keep writing? If you can write something, anything, then do it. Maybe you are on chapter two and the only inspiration is chapter 32. Go write that chapter 32 scene. The rest will fall into place in its time.

 

 

My favorite rule in writing is ‘break all the rules’. There is an overabundance of so-called ‘writing rules’. From the ‘proper’ writing rules of formal writing handed down by the generations before our time to new rules being invented on the fly, rules are everywhere. The one thing they all have in common is that in writing no rule fits every single situation.

 

Sometimes it’s our own perception of what the rules we are supposed to follow are that holds us back from writing. That ingrained fear of breaking a rule. What would our grade five English Language Arts teacher think of us? What would our mothers think? Oh, the horror.

 

Be a rebel. Get reckless. Break the rules. You are not writing a business letter to the CEO of your company or formal fifth grade essay on a book you don’t understand. You are creating literature art. Feel it and let the rules go. Nobody even has to know or read it. It can be our dark little secret. You decide when you are ready to let someone read it.

 

 

Schedule time to write. Ten minutes here, fifteen there, or multi-task it during waiting time. Everything else you do daily has at least a loosely planned schedule. You get up at a certain time to go to work or school. Meals are eaten around a certain time. Maybe you don’t really have anything to do during a spare or coffee or lunch break. Do it while you are waiting for the bus or during the bus ride. When I’m waiting for an hour during my kid’s boxing class, I’m sitting there writing or editing. Maybe you decide lunch on Tuesdays will be your writing block. Once you schedule it, stick to it. It becomes easier when it is habit.

 

 

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Use writing prompts. They are useful when you want to write but don’t have a specific project. A prompt is a tool to get the writing juices flowing. There are scores of writing prompt tools online; everything from random title generators to first lines to subjects or pictures to write about.

 

The point of a writing prompt is to make you write something, anything, about something random. If you can’t get going, start by describing it in great detail, down to every last scuff, scratch, and imagined imperfections that may be hidden beneath the surface. How it must feel in the hand, its heft and balance. How it smells. How it makes you feel to look at it. Imagine who might have conspired to create such a thing; what might have motivated them. Who might have labored to build it? Who would buy it? For themselves or someone else? For pure purposes or mischief? How did it come to be right there in that spot, in that condition, perhaps abandoned or lost, or intentional?

 

 

Edit your work. So what if you haven’t finished writing it? Who cares how long it has ‘collected dust’? Just pick it up and start working through editing it. You have to anyway. Research any little thing. This gets your head back in the game and on the story or poem, or whatever you are writing. This trick doesn’t always work for me the first time I sit down to edit. It might be the third or fourth time, but inevitably the new story ideas start to flow.

 

 

Write something else. If you really are stuck, move on. Work on writing something else and keep that writing momentum going. Your nagging sub-conscious will probably be worrying at that other piece in the background. Go back and revisit the work you are stuck on. I have multiple WIPs going all the time.

 

 

L. V. Gaudet writing hat

Create a writing trigger.  You are entering dangerous territory. Really, you are. Call it a writing trigger, focal object, behavior modifier, your process or routine; or your ‘writing hat’. Anything that works goes, within reason. Let’s keep it legal. The point is finding something that flips that writing switch on, naturally or trained. Like a bedtime routine for toddlers, it switches your brain into writing mode.

 

Maybe it’s going through certain steps to settle in to write, using a particular object, or a certain place you write. Learning to flip that switch will turn on the writer’s brain and its creative juices on command.

 

The problem with this is dependency on an object, routine, or place. Whatever you trained yourself on, if you make yourself too reliant on it, you risk being unable to write without it. Like George Stark’s Berol Black Beauty pencil (Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Half’). Thad Beaumont was an anxious writer, so he invented the pen name George Stark and the writing switch (and Stark’s author ‘thing’ to make him famous), the Berol Black Beauty pencil. Without that very specific pencil, he could not be Stark and could not write like Stark. Unfortunately, because it is a Stephen King story, the fictional Stark became real and sought to terrorize and murder his creator, Thad. Hopefully your writing trigger doesn’t do the same. Fortunately, the Berol Black Beauty pencil does not exist today.

 

 

Get an accountability buddy. Also called a ‘nag’. I’m my own best and worst nag. It could be as simple as marking a deadline on a calendar or making a phone alert; it could be posting promises on your social media, or someone who will regularly ask you about your writing progress. The point is having that niggling in your head droning on at you, “Write . . . write . . . write.” How embarrassing to always have to say, “yeah, sorry. I didn’t write again this week.”

 

Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

Just write. There is one tried and tested way to get out of that blank mind no writing funk. You have to find a way to write. It doesn’t matter how or when. It doesn’t have to be good. Just. Write.

 

Force yourself to sit down and write something. Anything. The more you make yourself write, the easier it will come. By making yourself write you can spur ideas. I started with *(blank)*, literally. I banged my head on the desk a few times (figuratively), tried to force an idea, and finally settled on, “Fine, I’ll right about not being able to write anything.”

 

I started writing that and as I did, ideas for other things came to me. Reasons for the mind block beget ideas. Thinking of how to break the cycle of being stuck beget more ideas. And now I have a list of other possible future topics. And whatever you are writing, when that other inspiration strikes note it down for later.

 

 

L. V. Gaudet Books:

Do you know #WhereTheBodiesAre?
Disturbing psychological thriller

Learn the secret behind the bodies.
Take a step back in time to meet the boy who will create the killer.

Everyone is looking for Michael Underwood. HMU picks up where the Bodies left off, bringing in the characters from The McAllister Farm.

Sometimes the only way to stop a monster is to kill it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden Grove project is a hotbed for trouble. Who wants to stop the development?

They should have let her sleep. 1952: the end of the paddlewheel riverboat era. Two men decided to rebuild The Gypsy Queen.

12 years ago four kids found something in the woods up the old Mill Road. Now someone found it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivian Munnoch Books (and Roxy the photobomb):

 

They heard noises in the basement.

They thought it was over. Then Willie Gordon disappeared.

It started with a walk in the woods … on a stupid boring no electronics and thank you very much for ruining my life camping trip. Madelaine’s life will never be the same.

Roxy aka The Big Dumb Bunny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Photo by Jonathan Harrison on Unsplash

Photo by Jonathan Harrison on Unsplash

In the real world, the smart thing to do is to avoid conflict. Run away, go the other way; say no to indulging it and lead a peaceful conflict free life. Okay, pick yourself off the floor and stop laughing. We all know that too often human nature is to go against what is the smart thing to do.

 

 

 

Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash

Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash

 

 

Whether you are in grade school, high school, adulting at work, a news media, social media butterfly, or an author writing a story, what makes tongues wag is conflict, drama. The bigger the conflict, more intense the drama, the harder people dig themselves into its destructive black heart with a twisted glee or foreshadowing sense of impending doom. Why? You’ve got me. I have no idea. It seems kind of sick, really. But, people are inexplicably drawn to the tragedy of others. They mourn for others’ torment, fear they themselves could have been the victims, and are filled with a sick relief to have been spared. Perhaps it is born of an instinct for self-preservation. To protect yourself from an enemy, be it living or circumstance, you must know of its existence and understand it in order to protect yourself from it. Like knowing that crawling into a ceramics kiln might be your best chance to survive a raging fire (a guy actually did that in the 2019/20 Australia bush fires), how to avoid getting sucked down with a sinking ship (i.e. the dude from Titanic, although I don’t know if that would work in real life), going to ground in a culvert during a tornado, silver works against werewolves, and that fear of a deity more powerful than themselves may save you from a vampire.

 

 

Photo by Deva Darshan on Unsplash

Photo by Deva Darshan on Unsplash

 

As writers, we must embrace conflict. Seek it out, find insidious ways to secretly feed it, nurture it, and set it loose on our characters’ lives. It is what drives people and stories forward.

 

The challenge in creating conflict and building drama in your story is making it believable and fit with the story and characters. For that, you need to understand it. You also need to give it a purpose.

 

In both writing and real life conflict comes in different forms, within and outside of our control. At is basest level conflict is the struggle between two opposing forces; your character and what they want against an obstacle that is in their way.

 

 

Conflict creates tension, drives the story forward, and can be used to reveal weaknesses, motivations, and deeper meanings behind your characters’ actions. It can be internal (‘You’ – Joe Goldberg’s conflict with his own inner self wanting to be a better person vs. the inability to stop himself from stalking and killing again) or external (‘Alien’ – Ellen Ripley battling the queen bee alien to save herself and the little girl).

 

Although some will argue there are six or seven types of conflict, I have no doubt we as writers can collectively come up with well more than that. More as society and technology continues to progress. Here are some common types of conflict.

 

Types of Conflict:

Character vs. character

Character vs. extraterrestrial

Character vs. fate

Character vs. gods

Character vs. nature

Character vs. self

Character vs. society

Character vs. supernatural

Character vs. technology

Character vs. unknown

 

Your story will invariably involve one of these conflicts. It will probably have more than one woven together. Your main character may be torn by their own internal conflict, fighting their own inner demons while also pitting their beliefs in their god against their society they find themselves at odds with as they disagree with the people in their lives after learning of new technologies and sciences with the discovery of an extraterrestrial life that changes everything they thought they knew and threatens to bring destruction to the planet.

 

There, we have inner and outer conflict; character vs. self, character vs. god, character vs. society,

character vs. character, character vs. technology, character vs. extraterrestrial, and potentially character vs. unknown. With multiple main and secondary characters, protagonists vs. antagonists, you can have competing conflicts between various characters.

 

 

Photo by John T on Unsplash

Photo by John T on Unsplash

How do you keep all these conflicts straight? Your story needs to flow, one conflict feeding the next, complimenting with and clashing against each other without leaving the reader scratching their heads in confusion and wondering if you forgot what story you were writing. Like creating character profile worksheets, you can create conflict worksheets. There is no rule on the right or wrong way to set one up. Create it to meet your needs.

 

Conflict worksheets can help you keep multiple conflicts straight and with brainstorming how to make them happen.

 

If you are keeping your conflicts simpler, you probably have no problem keeping them on track without a worksheet. However, if you are going Game of Thrones epic complicated, you may need help keeping track of who has what conflict with who/what, when, how they intertwine, and where/how they will climax and resolve.

 

Creating a Conflict Worksheet:

Like building a Character profile, I would start with the basics of the conflict. The more complex the conflict is, the more complicated the details will be. Think of your 5 W’s from grade school English Language Arts: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and that oddball How.

 

  • Primary Character: Who is having the conflict
  • Conflict Antagonist: Who or what are they up against
  • Type of Conflict: What is the conflict
  • Conflict Location: where and when does the conflict happen
  • Secondary Characters: Who else is involved in the conflict

 

Build up the reasoning behind the conflict and the cause and effects.

  • Protagonist Motivation: What motivates the character to resolve the conflict
  • Antagonist Motivation: What motives the character/other to cause the conflict

* Fun note: the protagonists/antagonists of the story can be switched up in their roles in a conflict, the protagonist (hero) of the story being the antagonist in the conflict.

  • Character Strengths/Flaws: How does this drive or affect the conflict and its resolution
  • Internal Conflict: How is the character(s) affected internally, how they respond
  • External Conflict: How is the character(s) affected externally, how they respond
  • Character Development: How does the conflict change/develop the character(s)
  • Story Development: How does the conflict change/develop the storyline

 

With every great conflict comes a great resolution. How are you going to resolve it?

  • Who will resolve the conflict
  • How and when they will resolve the conflict
  • Character Affects: How resolving the conflict changes/affects the character(s)
  • Story Affects: How resolving the conflict changes/affects the story
  • Lead in: Does it lead to another conflict
  • Fallout: No good conflict is truly resolved. What are the lasting after-effects? This can also give you a lead in to new conflicts that drive the story forward.

 

Conflicts need to be fed. With the rise and fall of a story arc, your conflicts have their own arc. They start, build, climax, ease, build to a larger climax, and finally are resolved, devolving into the fallout and picking up of the pieces. You want to build up the readers’ expectations and give them a sense of resolution without leaving a lot of loose ends. This means you need to create a little chaos and order. Come up with ways you can compound and resolve the conflict. Make a list and jot down the details.

 

 

  • Action
  • Advice
  • Apologies
  • Complaints
  • Conversations
  • Death
  • Deflection
  • Departure
  • Discovery
  • Dishonesty
  • Empathy
  • Error
  • Honesty
  • Inaction
  • Inattention
  • Incentives
  • Information
  • Orders
  • Outside Help
  • Persuasion
  • Punishment
  • Questions
  • Reflection
  • Requests
  • Supplication
  • Threats
  • Urgency
  • Violence

 

 

If you have all of this, you are ready to go forth and work your conflicts into your outline. Or, if you write by the seat of your pants like me, you may be developing this worksheet as your story progresses as a reference to keep your details straight.

 

 

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What is Lulu?

Lulu Press, Inc. (Lulu.com) is a U.S. based print on demand printer and book distributor for electronic books, print books, and calendars. It is used by self-published authors and small presses.

 

Is it a ‘vanity press’? No. Lulu press, Inc. is a legitimate provider of services to small presses and self-published authors.

 

Is it cost effective to publish with Lulu? That depends. Their pricing model is based on the size of the book and volume of the order. Like other PODs, the printing cost per book is calculated on a minimum base rate plus a cost per page. So, with equal trim sizes, a 325 page book will cost more to print than a 300 page book. As the author/publisher, you can order copies for yourself to slog around stores and book events with to sell face-to-face. Like Amazon KDP, they charge a reduced publisher rate to you. You are not paying the retail rate you set for copies of your own book. Lulu does have bulk order discounts. They are more expensive than Amazon KDP for your printing cost per book if you are ordering smaller  print runs, but the good news is a search of those fabulous online click-bait coupon sites will probably produce a coupon code to reduce the cost. Comparing costs of Amazon KDP to Lulu, I only order books through Lulu if I have a coupon code. Otherwise, with shipping, the higher cost would eat up most of my small profit margin on face-to-face sales. (I use Couponfollow.com).

 

What does it cost to upload my book to Lulu?  Nothing. Like other POD and distribution companies, they do have service packages you can buy if you want someone to do the work for you. I’ve seen mixed reviews on these. But if you do the work yourself, there is no cost to upload your books to Lulu.

 

But I want to buy Canadian and/or publish Canadian. Lulu is a U.S. company. However, being in Canada you would be going through the Lulu Canada store. Those books are printed in a facility in Ontario, Canada.

 

Does Lulu distribute the books to brick and mortar stores? Yes and no. Your book (eBook or POD print) must meet all of the distribution requirements in order to be available for sale beyond the Lulu online marketplace. This includes being one of the eligible trim sizes. If it’s available only on the Lulu marketplace then people can buy your book only through the Lulu site.

 

Why is my Lulu book only available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and not in any brick and mortar book stores? Because, under Lulu’s globalREACH program, you met the distribution requirements for those two online stores. Maybe you did not meet all the requirements for the global distribution program, leaving you with limited distribution. Also, globalREACH creates a listing with the Ingram Book Company, making it available to book stores to order it. But then it’s up to the book stores to actually order it. There is no guarantee they will and Ingram’s catalog is massive.

 

Photo by Webaroo.com.au on Unsplash

Photo by Webaroo.com.au on Unsplash

Do I need an ISBN to publish with Lulu? Yes. Lucky for us, ISBNs are free in Canada and easy to get. You also need a different ISBN for each copy of your book. I.e.) you need a different ISBN for the book published through Lulu from the book uploaded and published through Amazon KDP (Amazon will provide ISBNs, Lulu does not).

 

Can I just upload my Amazon KDP book and cover files to Lulu?  No. While your trim size and page count don’t change, the dimensions of your book spine will. You will need to redo the cover. This is because Lulu uses a lighter weight gauge of paper (thinner paper), so trim and page count being the same, your book will be thinner.

 

How is the quality of Lulu print books?  I’ve heard mixed reviews. As with any POD printer, there can be variations from batch to batch. After all, they are completely resetting the printer for every print batch run for every customer. Some swear by their quality. Some have reported issues with the spine glue in the heat. I found covers that are lighter with more colors work better, but mostly black glossy covers did not hold up to minimal handling. The cover finish on black glossy covers rubbed off, marked easily, and chipped just transporting them carefully packed to and from book events, leaving the books unsellable. Amazon KDP books stand up better to transporting them to sales with the dark glossy covers.

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