Pulling Weeds

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I used to think of the internet as a lovely garden. You could wander down intriguing paths and find all sorts of lovely sites. Sometimes, you might even luck out and find a place offering something for free. And who doesn’t love to get something free.

Unfortunately, the other day I followed some signs claiming to have freebies, but  when I got there, I found nothing but weeds.

I’m talking about scamming sites, phishing sites. Sites that offer you something for nothing…and not just any something, my something. These places were offering my book for free. The sites claim that all you need to do is give them some personal information and you can get a free copy of my book. But the truth of it is, I didn’t authorize a giveaway of my book, and they don’t have copies of my book. What they have is a way to lure you into giving them your personal information and you get nothing, except hurt feelings and maybe some anger at me, the author, for not following through.

So far, my husband and I have come across these seven (7) web sites offering to let you download my book, The Starstone, for free, but there may be others that we haven’t found (yet):

  • Mortgage Magic System
  • Elka Acne Storage
  • Zippy Share
  • Media Fire
  • Deposit Files
  • Freak Share
  • GET.TT

The site listings appear like this in a Google or Yahoo search:

beware2_circledbeware_circled

My spouse and I are reporting these sites to the Federal Trade Commission; however, I doubt that it will keep them (or ones like them) from popping up under some other name. Sites like these are like weeds, even when you kill one patch, they pop up in another cluster somewhere else.

Do not give any of these sites your information…in fact, don’t give any site that isn’t secured any personal information. A secured site is one that starts with an https:// (The ‘S’ at the end of the http indicates that it is secured.) Also, please feel that you can ask me whether I’m hosting free books at some site other than say, Amazon, my blog (here), or some other recognized book selling site.

For fellow authors, be sure to check your own books to ensure that scammers aren’t using them to phish with. The last thing any of us wants is for our names, brands, and books to be tarnished by someone else’s flagrant misuse of them.

If any of you find any phishing sites of any type, be sure to report them to the FTC (at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/) and to the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (at phishing-report@us-cert.gov). Perhaps if we all remain efficient gardeners, we might eventually keep the weeds from polluting our lovely garden of books.

Give a weed an inch and it'll take a yard.
Give a weed an inch and it’ll take a yard.

Just in Time for Summer Reading Enjoyment

GOS Front Cover - 6x9 - 150 PPI

 

Wow…the cover is done! I think it’s spectacular, but then DL-Designs and Digital Art has never let me down yet. If anything, the design process took a bit longer only because I couldn’t make up my mind. I absolutely drove the poor man batty with my “…try this over here…” or “…can we add some of that…” nonsense. But he put up with me, and the cover is wonderful.

I’ve placed the book with CreateSpace (for those who prefer paper), and I’ve got it out with Amazon and Kindle. However, I’ve brought in help to conquer the confusing and obtuse world of epub. I’ve waded through the instructions for publishing with Smashwords (oh, but those people need a competent techwriter to help them out with their guides) and still can’t seem to make it through their maze of rules without getting pinged somewhere along the way, so now I have help. I figure once it gets through Smashwords, Draft2Digital should be a breeze.

So, with any luck, and lots of manpower and technical help, I should have all e-formats covered by the end of the week. This leaves plenty of time for people to order a copy for their summer reading pleasure.

 

 

 

 

My Review of “Elephants Never Forgotten”

I had the privilege of reading “Elephants Never Forgotten” by Ellis Nelson and quite enjoyed it. In fact, my greatest disappointment in the book was that it ended too soon. I wanted more.

The story flows around two young adults, Nigella and Kepler. After receiving some micro-elephants, Nigella becomes convinced that perhaps some true-sized elephants might still exist, and she enlists her best friend, Kepler, to help her find them. They travel to different points of the globe in search of information, while being helped along by several adult mentors.

The story was entertaining and informative. (I knew very little about elephants before starting this book, but am now so intrigued, that I have begun researching these large, gentle giants.) I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants a mild adventure, some intriguing information on elephants, and an interesting take on a possible future Earth.

 

How Far Should You Go?

Starstone_Front_Cover_Only - 1As a reader and author what do you consider too sexy? I have to admit that as a reader, I’m prone to skimming. That means, while I appreciate the good, steamy build up, I don’t really care to read about the consummation of the act. (I’m an adult, I get how the mechanics work. So, unless it’s a sex-how-to manual or an x-rated adult book, the mechanics only slow the story down for me). Therefore, as an author, I tend to write the steamy build ups and the glowing aftermaths; but, I leave the actual act to the reader’s imagination.

I suppose I could include all the details and let the reader decide for him- or herself whether to read it or skim past it, and I know there are plenty of authors who do just that. Yet, I can’t help thinking of all the interesting books and hunky/sexy characters that leave the reader at the other side of the bedroom door—such as Dirk Pitt, Stephanie Plum, or Rachel Morgan—and still manage to let us know that they are anything but celibate.

But, as a reader, I’ve encountered too many books where the story practically dies just so the author can throw in some gratuitous sex scenes. If I’m reading a murder mystery, I’m looking for clues so I can figure out who done it. Throwing in a hot, steamy roll-in-the-hay (while nice), is probably not providing any clues. Instead, it’s akin to flipping channels between an action/adventure movie and a chick-flick. Your reader is left going, Huh?

I also think a lot of how the scenes are written depend on the author’s motivation for including the scenes in the first place. After all, sex sells—we’ve all witnessed that in various forms and mediums. Yet, for me, I include sex scenes in my books only when they are intrinsic to the story and not because I want to sell more books. (Although, I suppose I might reconsider my position, if including more sex in my books might translate into the kind of sales that E.L. James had.) But even if adding more sex to my stories might help my sales, I’m still not sure that I would include the actual deed.

So, how about you? Do you include sex scenes in your book? And, if so, how far do you go?

 

Coming Soon…The Globe of Souls

The plotting, drafting, writing, rewriting, and editing are all done for book 2 of my Darkwind of Danaria series – “The Globe of Souls.” Now, I’m waiting for the final design of the book cover from my designers.

I’ve seen several concept covers (which I’ve shared here in this post), and am waiting on pins and needles for their final design.

I can’t wait to see what they have for me…and, of course, once it’s ready, the book will hit the shelves (so to speak).

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Editing: it’s not just proofing

There are a multitude of articles bemoaning the lack of editing that goes into independently published books. (In fact, I wrote one myself.) However, I think the point that is missed in these articles is to identify the types of editing that are needed.

Book editing requires more than just having someone go through and check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. To ensure that your book is truly the best it can be, you should also have structural, developmental, and content edits done. These types of edits ensure that your book and your story have a smooth flow, good pacing, no plot breaks or inconsistencies, consistent POV (point of view) or recognizable POV breaks, clarity, believability, and above all, readability.

That’s a lot to ask of one person, which is why you usually need several editors to go through your manuscript. Structural editing for fiction and non-fiction is a talent and a skill, honed by years of practice and a lot of knowledge about what makes a good story and a great book. These types of editors can identify where the plot drags or goes off course, explain why, and then give you suggestions as to how to fix it. It might be that you introduced a character that is flat or you took your story on a side-trip that was completely unnecessary. But unless someone points this out to you, you may never see it; because this is your ‘baby.’

Most authors fail to see the need for trimming storylines, eliminating characters, or swapping out chapters, and that’s why structural editors are so necessary and so helpful. Authors, like most artists, tend to be very protective of their creations, and the last thing we want to hear is that we need to “fix” it or change it. To us, our creations are perfect, and having someone point out the flaws in our creations hurts.

As an author of both fiction and non-fiction, I have to admit that I’ve seen my share of red and blue pencil marks on my manuscripts, and while it hurts, it hurts a lot less than having a reader tell me that they didn’t like my book, or that they liked it until page 110, where it rambled and the story got lost. I would definitely rather have an editor help me fix my manuscript than lose a reader because I didn’t want to change my perfect creation.

Once you have the structure and content set, then you need to bring someone in to check the spelling, grammar, and punctuation. And don’t think that running your system spell- and grammar-checker are enough to get you through. I can’t tell you how many times the spell- and grammar-checker has told me my manuscript was perfect, when, in fact, it had numerous egregious errors (such as homonyms or homophones that would, and should, be caught via context and content). Spell- and grammar-checkers are notoriously unreliable. While they might catch the double “the” that you accidently typed, they rarely seem to be able to use the content to determine correct word or punctuation choices.

So, if you want to ensure that your readers have an enjoyable time, you need to give them the best product you can. For most of us, that includes trading or paying for the services of a book editor who can help us perfect our creations.

Every Author Needs an Editor…not just independents

Starstone_Front_Cover_Only - 1I see so many posts admonishing independent authors to make sure they get their manuscripts edited. And while, I agree that editing is very important (probably as important as the story writing itself), I take offense at the implication that it is only independent authors who are lax about this step.

I just read the first two books in a 22-book series by a well-known author who is published by a well-known house (Harper Collins), and I have encountered approximately one misspelling or misused word per every ten to twelve pages. Now, I didn’t go into these books expecting errors, nor did I start reading them with the intention of keeping track of every little mistake I came across. But, I have to admit that after the first mistake interrupted the story rhythm, it sort of primed my instincts to be wary of others. (For instance, the character was fighting the urge to vomit, which was described as “…keeping her gore from rising…” when the term is gorge.)

As I continued with the story (which is really quite excellent and I do thank my friend for recommending the series), I found myself stumbling over other such instances of misplaced, misused, or misspelled words. With every stumble, I couldn’t help but wonder what the editors at this publishing house were thinking. These errors were obvious and easy to spot, so why didn’t they? While I can’t answer the question as to why the professionals didn’t catch the errors in this particular series , I can commiserate with them.

My bread-and-butter job is as a technical writer/editor and, trust me, when deadlines loom, and you’re working 50 or 60 hours, dead tired, and going at top speed, things can get overlooked…even obvious things (like gore for gorge). Is it right? No. Is it easy to fix…sometimes. Is it inevitable? Maybe…unless you’re Super Editor:  Able to scan 1000 pages a minute, edit 20,000 pages with a single blue pencil, and juggle ten manuscripts in a single night. However, since I don’t know any super heroes called Super Editor, I’m going with the assumption that most authors, writers, and editors are human beings, and human beings (unfortunately) make mistakes.

So, while I have no intention of publishing any of my books with mistakes, and I (and my editors) go over them several times for spelling, grammar, context, and content, I would still be surprised if someone reading through them didn’t find some flaw; some misspelled, misused, or just plain missing word. I’m human. My editors are human. And my readers are human (or at least most of them are).

Therefore, whether you’re an independent author or an author from a well-known publishing house, you need to understand that flaws happen. The key to getting and keeping readers despite the flaws is to ensure that 1) flaws don’t happen very often, and 2) the story is so good that your readers are willing to forgive the rare flaw.

(Coming soon:  “The Globe of Souls”  Book 2 of the Darkwind of Danaria series.)GOS Front Cover - 6x9 - 150 PPI