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Posts Tagged ‘novel’

This book starts with a group of men heading out on a fishing vessel, wistful of escaping from under the oppressive thumb of the Empire. The decision to board a frigate floating dead in the water, its presence given away by the smoke rising from it,  results in the two friends Nisiris and Vared being taken prisoner and forced to fight each other to the death in a sacrificial duel or both be sold as slaves. One will escape.

The story, however, follows another man, Koth, in a humble village far removed from the influence of the Empire, out hunting with his twin brother.

Koth seems an unlikely and imperfect hero, my favorite kind of hero. Not identical twins, he is the lesser of the two brothers in all ways. He knows nothing of the world beyond his small village realm and doesn’t seem to be a very good hunter. His fellow villagers don’t seem to think he’s good at much of anything.

Koth and his brother, Bizen, do have a special ability. They can communicate telepathically with each other. But of the two, only Koth has the ability to heal others.

Koth’s life was decided for him since before he was born, for his ability to heal wounds by touch is rare even among his people. When an attempted kidnapping turns to sacrificial murder, he embraces vengeance and the sword. As he journeys far from his small, isolated village in the north, he learns the truth as to why his bloodline is targeted by strange magic, in a world still rebuilding from a time when dark sorcerers didn’t bother with secrecy.

Koth thinks his quest is straightforward enough: find the men responsible and kill them—and any who aid them. He will soon learn that those who have both privilege and power, there are few things they lack—and in the pursuit of godhood, their allies can prove even more sinister as mere mortals seek to advent empires and dynasties.

Witchslayer’s Scion by L. T. Getty is a third person narrative of events that befall our imperfect hero, Koth, after the murder of his brother and attempted kidnapping of Bizen’s betrothed.

Travelling with his aunt, Una, in the name of vengeance, he will discover the world is much larger and stranger than he imagined, and that revenge isn’t always what you imagine.

While every chapter does not focus on our hero, as new characters emerge to take the center stage, Getty does a good job of using a variety of characters to drive the story forward and introduce new revelations about this world, leading back to Koth’s story.

 For me, Koth’s imperfections and naive failings make him all the more likable as a character.

 If you are into swords and sorcery that lies heavier on the storyline and less focused on the magic itself, you will enjoy L. T. Getty’s Witchslayer’s Scion. This book does not distract from the characters and events of the story with overemphasis on the magic, keeping your attention and focus where it belongs, within this imaginary world.

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What you learn about this narcissistic vampire … you have to read L. T. Getty’s lovely story.

 

 

Marie is a loner and something of a self described self-exiled outcast who, centuries later, is still mourning the loss of the love of her life. The story doesn’t tell the why and how of this. That is a story set before this one. Was she always like this? Or was she driven to it? Her one friend, Rosa, follows her through the events shaping her, always at her side in her own shallow personality as the, ‘Let’s party and have fun,’ girl.

 

One question in my mind through this book was whether all the vampires are truly as vain, shallow, and self-centered as Marie says they are, or is that a construct of her own depths of those attributes which she must deflect on others in her need to feel she fits in.

 

I had reservations about the cover at first, it gave me a strong ‘romance’ vibe, but found it surprisingly suiting to the main character.

 

 

Dreams of Mariposa by L. T. Getty is a first person account of a vampire telling her story.

Taken unwillingly from her plans to relocate when Raoul shows up to tell her she is summoned by the Council with no option to refuse, Marie is thrust into their scheme without knowing the depth of their intentions.

 

As a vampire who is so ancient and powerful that even the sun cannot touch her, allowing her to walk in daylight, and who easily fits into the social circles of mortals, the Council needs her help in uncovering a mystery hiding powers possibly much older than their own order’s beginnings.

 

The events after that can best be described as leading her down into the madness in the darkness of her vampiric soul and which she chose to be blind to because perfection is to be sane and adored by all. As her world unravels at the end of her narrative, the truth of some of her tale is revealed, and the lies she told herself to keep her shield of perfection in place.

 

I found the main character, Marie, to be entirely unlikable. That doesn’t mean you won’t like her, only that I failed to see any redeeming qualities in her personality. I rather liked L. T. Getty’s portrayal of Marie as being flawed by her own perfection. It gives Marie more personality than if she were simply evilly and immortally perfect. Her view of the world she lives in revolves around her need for everyone including herself to be fully immersed in the glory of her self-perceived flawlessness. As I read, I hoped more than once that she would be staked.

 

As a vampire, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to character development. If anything, it made her more real to me. This narcissistic view of herself is entirely fitting, considering she is immortal on an almost godlike level compared even to her nearly immortal brethren. Centuries of seeing yourself as being superior far above all mortal, and even most immortal, creatures would turn more than a few to narcissism, I would think.

 

Marie sees the other senior vampires as being similarly shallow and self-absorbed narcissists incapable of caring for anyone. Is that merely a reflection of herself? You will need to read L. T. Getty’s lovely story and decide for yourself.

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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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Photo by Zulfa Nazer on Unsplash

Photo by Zulfa Nazer on Unsplash

I can’t count how many times over the years I’ve had to *fix* the formatting on a document that made me cringe, usually a work manual, formatted by a predecessor.

 

When you are formatting a book manuscript, simplicity and consistency are your best friends. Especially if you will be still writing and editing it. I recommend starting with the use of proper formatting. It will save you a lot of time later. And, if you are paying someone to format your completed manuscript, it will save them a lot of time and you a lot of money. The more time it takes them to format it, the more they will charge you. If you already started or finished the manuscript, you can still fix it.

 

First, work with only one manuscript. Don’t have one for each eBook and print version. You can do easy fixes to format for them for each later and do not want to have to do every edit fix on every manuscript copy.

 

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Let’s start with a few basic ‘Do Not’s. All instructions are based on using Microsoft Word because that’s what I know how to use.

 

Spaces instead of tabs. Do you hit the space bar five times instead of using a tab to indent? Don’t do this. If you are doing this, I want you to go into your ‘Home’ tab at the top left of your Word document. Click ‘Replace’ in the top right. In the ‘Find what’ box type your five spaces. The ‘Replace With’ box should be empty. Click the ‘Replace All’ button. If it asks you if you are sure you want to replace all, yes you are sure.

 

Tab key to indent sentences. Don’t do this either. Especially if you plan to later format this manuscript for eBook.  Most eBook formatting conversions do not like tabs and it could look ugly in the book on the eReader. Do the same thing you did to remove all those unwanted spaces, only with your cursor in the ‘Find what’ box (after deleting those spaces), click ‘More’ and then ‘Special’. Select ‘Tab Character’. ‘Find what’ will fill in this: ^t. Leave ‘Replace with’ blank and click ‘Replace All’. If you used double or triple tabs to move things, you will need to run this replace all multiple times.

 

Extra line spaces at the top of the page. Maybe you want your chapter header to not cling to the top of the page. Print books often have them a few lines down. If you added extra ‘Return’ (Enter) blank lines at the top of your page to push your text down, this will be a problem converting to eBook later. Electronic book readers hate this. It looks weird and you might end up with random blank pages in the eBook. Go ahead and remove all of those the same way you did the tabs, using the replace all special multiple ‘Return’ characters with nothing. NOTE: don’t do this with only a single paragraph character in the ‘Find what’ box. It will remove all your paragraph returns for every paragraph. The ‘Undo’ button is magical if you accidentally do this.

 

Hyphenating non-hyphenated words. You wanted it to look professional with the too long words breaking at the right margin and carrying down to the next line with a hyphenation word break. So, you manually hit the hyphen and enter throughout your manuscript. You don’t want this. This is the thing that dwells in a manuscript formatter’s darkest nightmares. It’s old school from the days of manual typewriters before computers were a thing. Today’s word processors adjust spacing to accommodate the text without this, and, forcing end of line hyphenations is messy and not something you want to have to go line by line fixing throughout and entire manuscript. Regardless of manuscript perfection, if your document is not the right trim size for the published book, this will have to be fixed through the entire text.

 

Hard returns. It’s the difference of hitting the Return (Enter) key and holding down Shift button while hitting Return. They can cause issues with formatting, particularly if you are using justification and in some eBook conversions. Behind the formatting they look like this:

Return (Enter): ¶

Shift+Return: 8

 

Photo by Drahomír Posteby-Mach on Unsplash

Photo by Drahomír Posteby-Mach on Unsplash

 

 

Now, what should you do?

 

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Formatting With Style. In other words, using Microsoft Word’s ‘Styles’. This is a cleaner and more reliable way of formatting your manuscript, and making global format changes to it.

 

If you are writing multiple books, inevitably you will have to reformat an entire book. Every chapter, paragraph, and line. Maybe you need to change the font type or size, or the size of the indented paragraphs. What you want is the ability to do a mass manuscript reformat with minimal effort, which means minimal errors. Ideally, you will be doing this anyway to convert your print book manuscript to eBook format – after the print book manuscript is perfected in writing, editing, proofing, and formatting, and is ready to publish. For this, you want to use Word’s ‘Styles’ to essentially hard code the typeset styles into your manuscript.

 

You are also less likely to run into strange formatting occurrences if you format using Styles instead of hitting the formatting buttons at the top of the ‘Home’ tab group.

 

Using Word’s ‘Styles’, you will want to set up a few basic styles for each section of your manuscript: interior chapter first paragraph justified, and rest of the chapter text first line indent; chapter headers, front matter centered, and title page.

 

I’ll list some basic formatting below. First, take a look inside some books produced by the big publishers at how they do it. In particular, look at books in the same genre as yours.

 

 

Chapter formatting. The whole chapter can be formatted in two blocks: the first paragraph, and the rest.

 

To create a new ‘Style’, select your ‘Home’ tab in the top left of your Word document. Then click the little downward angled arrow in the ‘Styles’. Or hold down Alt + Ctrl + Shift + S buttons.

 

Select the ‘A+’ (new style) button. Set your font type, size, justification, and other settings here. You want it justified and to use a font type and size common with printed books of your genre. Since you are initially formatting for a printed book you want to choose a very dark black font color, not automatic. (Note: you need automatic for eBook). If ‘automatically update’ is checked off, all revisions to one paragraph formatted to this style will automatically change all paragraphs in the same style in the manuscript.

 

Be sure to name your new styles something you will remember what they are for, like ‘Chapter First Paragraph’. You will need to make a few new styles.

 

Select ‘Format’, then ‘Paragraph’, and ‘Indents and Spacing’.

 

 

The first paragraph is generally justified across the page with neat margins and no first line indent, but not always, because there are no hard written rules in publishing. There is often a slightly wider line space after the end of the first paragraph to set it apart from the rest of the chapter. Again, there is no hard rule that it has to be this way. I use these settings:

 

Alignment: Justified

Outline level: body

Indentation – Left: 0”

Indentation – Right: 0”

Special: None      By: (blank)

Spacing – Before: 0 pt

Spacing – After: 8 pt

Sine spacing: Single

 

 

The rest of the chapter paragraphs will take a minor tweak to the settings when you create a new style for them. Here, I removed the space after the paragraphs. Leaving it would spread your manuscript over too many pages. I also added an automatic first line indent. This is what I changed:

 

Special: First Line      By: 0.2”

Spacing – After: 0 pt

 

 

The chapter header style can be set up with a larger font size, centered, and changing the spacing before and after. Adjust the spacing before and after to set the chapter header where you want it. Do not use added blank lines in the document (That can mess up your eBook formatting later). I use these settings:

 

Alignment: Centered

Outline level: Level 2 *

* if you are using parts as well as chapters, each ‘Part’ would be level 1 and the chapters level 2

Indentation – Left: 0”

Indentation – Right: 0”

Special: None      By: (blank)

Spacing – Before: 42 pt

Spacing – After: 40 pt

Sine spacing: Single

* Outline level is an extremely useful Word tool. Level 1 is the top level, then 2, 3, etc; and each number layers the levels down. It can help you navigate to a particular chapter (select ‘View’ at the top and check off ‘Navigation Pane’ to open a click-and-go table of contents on the side). It can aid creating an auto-created and updated table of contents in your front matter. And, you can move and rearrange entire sections (parts or chapters) by clicking and dragging them in the navigation pane on the left.

 

 

Front and back matter. The fewer styles used, the cleaner your manuscript looks, but some front matter is typically centered and some isn’t. Your title page, for example, may have a larger font than anywhere else, be centered, and spaced lower on the page, so will probably have its own ‘Style’. The title page is also probably the only place you might want to use a different font type. Beyond this, I use the first chapter paragraph justified style for justified text like the copyright ‘do not copy this’ blurb. I have a similar style set with the text centered instead of justified for the rest of the copyright information, and if I want a centered spacer (***) between scenes in a chapter. The about author and other back matter blurbs, I treat like another chapter.

 

 

Headers and footers should be used for the page numbers at the bottom and the alternating book title and author name at the top. Use the same font as the book text. Insert a section break before chapter/part 1 to separate the front matter from the rest to not have the headers and footers appear in the front matter. When you create your headers and footers in page one of the first chapter check off ‘different from previous section’, and check off ‘different odd/even pages’ in the header to have your name on one side and the book title on the other.

 

 

Editing Styles is not hard. Open the Styles panel. Select the paragraph text you want to edit. In the Styles box it should highlight the selected style. Hover over the Paragraph mark next to it and it becomes a downward triangle. Click it. Let’s say I want to change all ‘Normal’ text to my ‘Paragraph text’ style. I click ‘Select all’ under the normal style and wait for it to select all. It can take a while if there is a lot. Then click the ‘Paragraph text’ style. It should change all selected text to that style.

 

The ‘Modify’ button opens up the panel to modify the style if you want to tweak your style. If ‘Automatically update’ is checked off, it will automatically change all text in the document with that text style.

 

 

Photo by Aliis Sinisalu on Unsplash

Photo by Aliis Sinisalu on Unsplash

 

Formatting Styles for eBooks later will be simple if you followed these styles consistently. First, re-save the document to be safe. Remove all headers and footers. They don’t work in eBooks. Change your entire document page size to 8.5” x 11” (letter) with 1 inch margins all around.

 

 

 

Change all styles to:

– Remove the before and after paragraph spaces. At least minimize it to no more than 12 pt. in chapter headers and the title page.

– All fonts should be Times New Roman 12 point. You can get away with the title page and chapter headers being a slightly larger font size.

– All font color MUST be ‘Automatic’.

 

The other formatting fixes to convert to eBook are a little more work. They are finicky creatures, those eBook readers.

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Photo by Olivier Guillard on Unsplash

For some reason, NaNoWriMo entirely aside, November seems to be the busiest month every year for me. It’s the season of winter craft sales for those doing that circuit. If anything goes sideways at work it is always November (for me, at least). At home it’s the beginning of Christmas planning, decorating, gift lists, baking, and trying to figure out how to make that Christmas budget stretch farther than humanly possible. Even notwithstanding that, November just seems busier at work, home, and everywhere.

 

And then, just to make a busy month more so, we have NaNoWriMo. I hope you fared better than me. With working Monday to Friday at the ‘pays the bills’ job, my commitments to the Manitoba Writer’s Guild, and working doing book events and playing catch-up on the weekends, my NaNo time amounted to a random hour or so, dwindling to that in a week if I’m lucky.

 

Yet we writers persevere and push on, counting those words and plugging in five minutes here and ten minutes there of writing. The stress builds as our word counts rise, perhaps falling above or below the curve of 1667 words per day of the NaNo arc.

 

By November 30th you feel like you need to decompress or your will implode, or maybe explode, with that self-imposed pressure. It can be hard to put it down after obsessing over that project for thirty straight days. So, how do you do that?

 

As a general rule, I don’t let myself look at or even think about that NaNo book for two months. (This year will be different since I split it between multiple works in progress and essentially had to give up the ghost mid-November and accept failure). But this does not mean I take a months long break from writing.

 

 

Photo by Nicholas Green on Unsplash

First, breath! It’s over. You did it! You survived National Novel Writing Month. Let yourself take a well-deserved breather. Take a bubble bath with a glass of wine or binge watch something cringe-worthy. Whatever your go to relaxation method is, you deserve it.

 

Focus on another writing project. Whether it is outlining a new project, editing a finished one, working on an existing one, poetry, short or flash fiction, articles, it does not matter. While you are backing off the manic pace of NaNovember, put some of that drive and habit you gained into keeping a writing routine going.

 

Accept that your NaNo project may be junk and move on. It’s okay to feel like you wrote trash and you won’t be alone in that feeling. Heck, a lot of first drafts will incite that even with meticulous time and care put into them. And that is exactly what it is, a first draft. Do not dwell on it (yet). It’s not a waste of time or of writing. Editing fixes all (usually).

 

Think on what you learned through NaNoWriMo. What did you discover about yourself and your writing strengths and weaknesses? What will make next year’s challenge more survivable? How can you use it to improve your daily life and writing?

 

Through December put that compulsive drive into family and the holidays. After all, it is the season and a very busy month too, and you probably neglected them just a little through NaNovember.

 

January is the month of … Exactly! You will have made your New Years resolutions and maybe even meant it when you said them. You are probably already thinking of how you will get out of them, am I right? Keep that writing routine going. Life marches on.

 

Photo by Kristijan Arsov on Unsplash

 

March is when I traditionally revisit my NaNoStory. This is when I finally let myself look at it. First with an editing savagery that would do my Celtic/Viking ancestors proud. No sentence is safe. Over time that will work into the more finely detailed edits of spiffing the story up all pretty and cultured from developmental and structural edits to copyediting, line editing, and proofreading. Whether March comes in and out like a lion or a lamb, it’s editing madness month! Why do I wait two full months? For the same reason I will put a manuscript aside for months or longer – to come at it with a fresh eye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Online articles for writers:

https://thewritepractice.com/after-nanowrimo/

https://prowritingaid.com/art/294/Life-After-NaNoWriMo%3a-Facing-the-Technical-Edit-Like-a-Pro.aspx

https://thewritepractice.com/nanowrimo-over/

https://justwriterlythings.com/blog/a-writers-guide-to-life-after-nanowrimo/

 

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“Travis blinks. He rubs his eyes and closes them, silently praying for the world to come back to him. A part of him deep inside is afraid that admitting that fear will make it true that the world is gone.” -The Gypsy Queen

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Hello NaNonites.

 

I met a few of you at the kick off.

I’m Lori.  I write dark fiction and Halloween is my favourite flavour of holiday decoration.  I don’t get online every day, busy life and all.

You can find me on NaNoWriMo under my published name: LV Gaudet

https://nanowrimo.org

 

Are you ready for thirty days of obsessive writing?  One of the tools I like to use is mocking up a book cover for inspiration.  A visual of the literary feel of the story.

 

For those who don’t know what it is, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.  For the month of November you pledge to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  Yeah, we’re nuts.  We are writers.  There is a wine that goes nicely with that.

 

I had to look back on my Nano books to figure out this is my 8th year.  Oops, I was a year off tonight.  I won three of those years.

Here are my NaNo creations in chronological order:

Garden Grove Cover - Amazon ebook - front cover

 

Garden Grove – Self published.

 

NaNoWriMo 2011 Cover

 

Untitled – I will come back to it.

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm (winner!) – Published by Indigo Sea Press, a small indie press in the US.

Blood cover

 

Blood (winner!) –  Based on the short story.  I will finish it, but it’s getting weird.

 

thumb

Butterflies in the Garden (winner!) – Needs a do over and I vote this worst ever mock cover.  This will eventually be published under my alter ego to frighten the middle years/teens.

 

Old Mill Road cover idea

 

Old Mill Road – Still a work in progress. On the back burner.  I’m still looking for the old Mill Road monster.

Nathan copy-NaNoNathan – Yeah, and then there is Nathan.  Nathan was born in Hunting Michael Underwood.  But, he wouldn’t stay there.  I only made 9000+ words and gave up.  But, the voices in Nathan’s head are still there.  They will get out.  Run.

Killing David McAllister

And this year’s Nano is Killing David McAllister.  Fourth book in the McAllister Series and it will be the final.  Hunting Michael Underwood was supposed to be the last, but the story was not done.  Well, except for the spin off.  White Van.  That was not a NaNo book.  I will get back to it.

 

If you find me on Twitter (@lvgaudet), you will probably see random posts about the #BigDumbBunny.  The name is self-explanatory.  She’s big.  She’s dumb.  And she looks like a big dumb bunny with those ears and the bunny hop.

 

Feel free to check out one of my blogs.

The Intangible World of the Literary Mind (lvgwriting.wordpress.com) is my first blog.  It’s a blog about writing and being a writer for writers.  I haven’t been as active as I would like to be.  Life and stuff.  Writing.  You get it.  I’ve posted stories, tips on writing, editing, creating platform, and promoting yourself and your writing.  I post my own tips as well as hitting the reblog button to share the advice of others.  I share (reblog) the odd book review and write my own book reviews when I have time to finish and review a book.  I have a lot of reviews I am behind on writing.  I post some random stuff too.

LV Gaudet, author (lvgaudet.wordpress.com) is a fan blog.  It’s all about the reader.  I share weird and creepy news stuff.  Sometimes podcasts by some other people who like dark stories.  And I post my own stories here.  I am working on being more sharing.

Vivian Munnoch, author (vivianmunnoch.wordpress.com) is a nom de plume.  An alias.  My sometimes alter ego.  I use this name for the child friendly stories.  This is where I would post anything to do with the younger realm of darkness.

 

 

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Inspiration is one of the great tools of the author.  Without it, we would be, well, a reader.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with being a reader.  It’s an important part of being an author and books are magic.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” –Stephen King

 

Inspiration is as varied as the writers being inspired.  It can take on any form.  Music, taste, scents, the things you surrounding yourself with.

 

As a kid, I imagined having a Ray Bradbury Theater inspired writing office, filled with an eclectic collection of inspirational prompts.

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The adult reality: I’m lucky I now have a small desk crammed in the corner of the living room, where I am working in the midst of family life going on around me and dogs trying to wrestle under my feet.

 

We also can’t rely entirely on waiting for that inspiration to come.  We have to make it.  And when we can’t, we have to just plug away and work through it.

 

When you just can’t feel it, when the writing just won’t come, and you are sitting there telling yourself you suck, your writing stinks, why are you even doing this…

 

There is only one cure.  Just write.  Shut up. Stop imagining the criticism you think others would heap on you and just write.

 

Your writing won’t be perfect.  It won’t be spectacular.  Nobody would expect it to be.  That’s what the editing monster is for.  You can’t take that rough gem and make it shine if you don’t first dig it out of your imagination.

 

Here is why it is important to write even if you aren’t feeling it, even if the story won’t come and your mind is blank: by making yourself write, you are teaching yourself to write.  You are teaching yourself to be able to write whether or not you have that special pencil (ie George Stark’s (Stephen King’s the Dark Half) Berol Black Beauty pencil), the right location, the right mood, etc.  You are teaching yourself to take the inspiration from the act of writing and from the story itself.

 

What inspires?

I found my best, most inspiring moments of feeling inspired in one particular place and time:  At the camper, in the fall, waking up before everyone else including the dogs.  It’s quiet.  I sit at the kitchen table, the blinds open, and my view the array of fall leaves outside the window.  A cup of coffee.  Peaceful.

Unfortunately, that amounts to a handful of mornings each year that I can count on two hands or less and all in the span of those few short weeks.

 

When I can’t get the mood, I just write.

 

And if that fails, I edit.  I’d rather be writing, but just going back and editing can bring new ideas.  Edit your current work or something else that you put on the back burner.

 

If you are stuck and don’t know what to write, skip it.  Yes, just pass that scene over.  Leave a marker, whatever notes you need to remember what you were thinking and move on.  You can always come back to it and if it never comes then maybe the scene does not move the story forward and should killed.

 

Give them purpose and depth.

If a character is not inspiring, then make them be inspiring.  If they can’t drive your interest, they won’t drive the readers’ either.  Give them more depth.  More purpose.  Write a back story separate to the story if you must.

The same applies to the plot.  If the story itself is not enough to drive your inspiration, then something is probably missing.

 

If all else fails, add a Nathan.

Yes, Nathan.  You don’t want to meet Nathan.  Nathan is special.

Hunting_Michael_Unde_Cover_for_KindleIn writing Hunting Michael Underwood, I was in that very un-special place where I just did not know where to go next.  I knew what needed to happen to drive the story on, and I knew what I was leading up to.

I needed a catalyst.  Something to make the story implode.  Something that sucks the story into itself like a sinister entity in a B horror flick; that adds a new level of drama.  A sucker punch that neither the readers nor characters see coming.

 

I assumed I would edit it out on editing.

And thus Nathan came to be.  Nathan is unpredictable by nature. That makes the story unpredictable.

Nathan took a life of his own, added a whole new dynamic of drama I did not see coming, and pushed the story over the brink.  It was supposed to end there.  But Nathan spurred so many ideas that the story did not end.  Now I have to write another book in the series to reach that new conclusion, and it is not even about Nathan.

Nathan copy-NaNo

But Nathan does live on.  The voices are still whispering to him.  The monsters are still trying to get out of Nathan’s head.  And now I have to write Nathan’s story too.

Don’t be surprised if Nathan shows up randomly in other stories too.  After

 

all, Nathan is Nathan.  Nathan is unpredictable.

 

What inspires you?  What drives the writing urge, making the words fly through you to the page or screen?

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Download your copy soon! Garden Grove is free on Kobo until the end of February 2016.  Download your copy today.

Includes bonus content: Old Mill Road (short story). Warning: this is only the beginning to the Old Mill Road story. There were too many questions down the old Mill Road to leave it here.

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/garden-grove-2

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Garden Grove is supposed to be an idyllic new housing development in a cozy bedroom community just outside the city.

Someone is trying to stop the development. Vandalism and sabotage slow construction. The work crew is poisoned. And someone is messing with the blueprints. An old man plants human remains on the site.

Is the whole town trying to shut them down? What the hell is going on here? Some things should remain buried.

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GARDEN GROVE EXCERPT:

7 – Rusty Plowshare’s Scheme

“So, the skull wasn’t good enough, huh?!  Oh, I’ve got something better than that, much better,” Rusty Plowshare muttered bitterly.

The old man nodded to himself.  His chin, white with unshaven whisker stubble, caught and held a piece of loose straw in the stubble when he came away from the stacked bales of hay he was digging between.  The straw bales were sagging with rot and greyed with age, their fibres breaking down over the years they had sat idle.

He turned away, rummaging through one pile and then moving on to another.  Rusty moved with arthritic slowness, the skin on his thin arms sagging from age and loss of the underlying muscle mass of youth.  His face, leathery from decades of working in the sun and wrinkled with age, gave him a crazy old man in the mountains look instead of wizened with age.

He was in the old barn, its interior packed with an amazing amount of clutter of every description.  It is unbelievable the old man can even move around in there, much less search the place.  The old packrat collected anything.

There are cats everywhere too, cats of every age and description, some looking very unhealthy, all feral strays that had made this barn their home.

“Now, where’d I put it?” he muttered to himself.

It wasn’t in the narrow space of a double wall between two stalls.  He moved on to search somewhere else.

“Maybe behind the loose board in the wall?”  He pried the board off and looked.

“Ah, I know, under the floorboard!”  He moved and stooped over a floorboard, pulling it up to look beneath.  Most of the barn floor is an open dirt floor.  However, one end of the barn, for reasons known only to the old man and his predecessors, has a rough floor of old two by fours that are now soggy with rot.  One part of this section, in the dark shadowed recesses of the corner, hides a small makeshift cellar dug into the ground beneath the floor, the rest of it covering part of the dirt floor that makes up most of the barn floor.  This particular floorboard covered a gouged out section of dirt just deep enough to hold its small treasures wrapped in rotting cheesecloth.

But what he is looking for is not there.

“Damn!”

“I know it’s here somewhere,” Rusty grumbled.

Noticing the carelessly dumped loose soil marking the spot where the skull had been dug up from, the old man reminded himself, “Got to stamp that down some, won’t do to have anyone finding it.”

The old skull had been buried in the barn for a very long time.  Of course, the rest of the body was there too, along with the tool used to kill the man.

It’s very possible the man buried so many years ago in the dirt of the barn was old Rusty Plowshare’s great great grandfather.

He did not really know for sure.  There was more than one body buried beneath the old barn through the generations of his family that lived here.

His great great grandmother’s husband, the man whose family name he carried, did not really know for sure either when he bludgeoned the young man to death in a jealous rage in that year after the then young couple was married.

If the rumours spread that day so long ago by a group of busybody old women making trouble where they had no business putting their noses were true, rumours of the wife’s alleged infidelity and possibly questionable pregnancy, then those were the remains of his murdered great great grandfather.

Or, the young man may have been an innocent victim of a husband’s jealousy and a bunch of busybodies making trouble where there wasn’t any.

Only his great great grandmother knew the truth.

She was buried beneath the woodshed some years later, after failing to provide her husband with an offspring that was undeniably his in his mind.  She had given birth to more children after that first boy, but her husband could not let go of his suspicions.

There are many dark secrets in his family’s history, and Rusty Plowshare knows where each one of them was buried.

It also could have been someone else.  Rusty had heard stories passed down about his great great grandfather’s violent temper.

“Ahh, there you are!” he cooed.  “Beautiful.”  He pulled out a round wrapped bundle and held it up as if presenting it to the watching eyes of the dozens of felines witnessing his moment of triumph.

“I know just what to do with you.  If you don’t stop them from digging out those woods, nothing will,” he said.

“I know just what to do with you,” he repeated happily.

GARDEN GROVE EXCERPT:

19 – Observer

I see you old man, watching the workers again.

What kind of trouble are you up to now?

I know you hate me and my kind. You hate them too, the newcomers who have not been here for generations.

What is going through your mind old man?

You look like you are waiting for something.

Ah, it looks like they found something.  You look happy, downright giddy about it even.

Oh, what have you done?  Just what are those old bones you planted?

Ah, yes, the child.

I know the child.

I know the child well.

What is your trick old man?

What are you trying to do, planting those old bones?  The child?

OLD MILL ROAD EXCERPT:

The four kids stood around looking down at it.

     “I don’t think we should tell anyone,” David said.  He was the oldest of the group, a virtual adult at ten.

     “We have to,” his brother Ian insisted.

     “They’ll think we did it,” he warned.  “We could go to jail.”

     The third boy, Nick, youngest of the children, whimpered.  He didn’t want to go to jail.  That was where they put bad people like Uncle Harvey.  Uncle Harvey scared him, a lot.  He didn’t want to go live in jail with Uncle Harvey.  He started to bawl.

     Felicia just stood there next to her little brother Nick, her face ashen, shivering although it was quite warm and sticky with the humidity left by the waning hot day.

     The sky grew darker, the sun lowering on the horizon, as they stood there mutely staring like worshipers at a grisly shrine.  Finally, they nodded their wordless agreement, turned, and melted into the fast darkening woods, looking more like specters than living children.  This would be their secret.

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How can you support your favorite authors?

The best way is simple, rate or review their books on your favorite retail sites. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, and that friendly person you just met about them.  Blog about them, share them on social media. Crow, rant, and rave about them. Tell people, “You’ve got go buy that book!”

Authors love to know that somebody liked their book.

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