This article examines a small, empathy-deficient subset of the writing community. However, the advice given can help anyone who wants to ensure that their characters possess depth and realism.

Have you ever read a book where the protagonist, no matter who he’s supposed to be, sounds like an old conservative white guy? And you think, Ok, he’s not very relatable. In fact, he’s kind of a jackass. But maybe this character’s going to learn something and grow into a better person as the story progresses.

Then you realize that the plucky young Latina sidekick also sounds like an old conservative guy. And so does the working-class Joe who helps them escape from the antagonist. And the down-on-her luck single mother at the diner who waits on them. And their cab driver… And you start to feel like, instead of writing a flawed protagonist, the author is maybe only capable of writing one type of character. And that character is very flawed indeed.

The problem is, the author doesn’t realize it because (surprise twist) he’s an old conservative white guy.

Continue reading “Creating Realistic Characters: Empathy Is Essential”

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Editor dictionary definition

Last week I explained why editing is essential to the publishing process and how to go about snagging your very own helpful editor. This week I’m going to explain some money-saving shortcuts you can take to reach a professional, polished final product without breaking the bank.

While you should never forgo professional editing entirely, there are plenty of things you can do to produce a cleaner manuscript that will require less professional help.

Continue reading “Editing On A Budget”

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Editor dictionary definition

Continuing from last week’s post, where I talked about the reason some writers are wary of editors, this week I’m going to explain how to find an editor of your own. (Or editors, if that’s how you roll.)

Editing is an essential part of preparing your work for publication, whether you write short stories, novellas, or full length novels. No matter how strong your-self editing game is, a manuscript can always benefit from a second, trained set of eyes.

Here’s why.

Continue reading “How to Catch an Editor And Why You Should”

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Editor dictionary definition

If you ask a random sampling of indie authors how they feel about editors, you’ll probably get a wide range of responses.

Some have worked with editors they loved from the start. Some had a few false leads before they found the right editor. And many have a notebook full of advice on what (and occasionally who) to avoid. (That advice can vary from author to author, especially on the subject of what an editor should charge.)

Lastly, especially among the unpublished and those who haven’t worked with an editor, you’ll probably find a surprising amount of distrust and dislike. Some people attribute this to fear of criticism. The thing is, it’s not that simple.

Continue reading “Editors: Trust, Confidentiality, and Mutual Respect”

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Context Matters. Understanding PTSD: Context Is Key

It’s common knowledge that for people with post traumatic stress, post traumatic stress disorder, or complex PTSD, common social situations can cause unexpected reactions. For example, most of us have known a veteran who religiously avoided crowds or went out of town around fireworks holidays.

Some people may see this as an illogical reaction to a harmless situation, but context is important. To you, the crack and boom of fireworks mean good times and excitement. For them, the sound of exploding shells may mean “Incoming! Take cover!!” A seemingly benign situation can have vastly different connotations in the context of our individual experiences– and none of those interpretations are necessarily wrong.

In this post I explain why– but first, a little background.

Continue reading “Understanding PTSD: Context Is Key”

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Missing Money: Ingram Spark, Royalty Payments, and Hidden Restriction

The first books I sold through Ingram Spark (Lightning Source’s independent author print-on-demand service) were purchased way back in early January of this year. After a phenomenally long 90 day holding period, I received notification that compensation for those sales would be paid out on May 1st, 2018.

Only it wasn’t.

It wasn’t a huge amount of money and I receive small payments from a wide array of sources each month, so it wasn’t until early June that I realized I’d never received any payment from Ingram Spark. After double-checking that my compensation information was complete and accurate, I contacted them. Here’s what happened and what I learned.

Continue reading “Ingram Spark, Compensation, and Unspoken Restrictions”

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Writing from a state of exhaustion

As a night owl and someone who typically requires nine hours of sleep, I’m well acquainted with exhaustion. It’s been a constant companion for most of my life.

In addition, exhaustion and depression go hand in hand for me. Exhaustion sucks the light out of life. The world becomes a grey, flat place where I can’t remember being happy. The future is a grey landscape, dull and pointless, stretching on without end. I can’t imagine enjoying anything, and I can’t imagine that changing.

You might scoff and assume that this is laughably easy to cure. In my case, you’d be wrong.

Continue reading “Writing From A State of Exhaustion”

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Conflict ahead sign

Let’s talk believable antagonists and realistic sources of conflict.

I’m not going to get into the four types of conflict, or six, or however many it is now. I am going to talk about creating a believable antagonistic force, rather than one of those cardboard caricature, source-of-all-evil bad guys.

The concept of a having one person be the source of all of a story’s conflict has always seemed overly simple to me. Either the antagonist has help, or the protagonist’s problems are going to be disappointingly simple to solve. A lone enemy, unaided, is easy to overcome.

Continue reading “Antagonistic Forces”

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No, not that kind.

I’m talking about the kind of book spam authors receive after they’ve gotten well enough known that spammers think the author might actually have some money, but might still be naive enough to fall for an obvious scam. Newsflash, scammers: I’ve never been that naive.

This post is inspired by an actual email I received this week.

Scammer fail

Maybe I’m just new to the world of scammy solicitations landing in my inbox, but holy scam alert Batman!! Does anyone actually fall for this?

Let’s review what this would-be marketing savant did wrong.

Continue reading “Book Spam!”

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Don't be one of many. Names matter.

Something came to a head recently that’s been bugging me for a long time: we (Westerners, especially those in the United States) need to get a lot more creative with our names.

Recently one of my employees pointed out the ridiculousness of creepy old men who demand to be on a first name basis with the people who work the front counter. In terms of accountability or identification, a first name means next to nothing. At my company alone, if you were helped by “Jessica” that could be Jessica in Cargo, Jessica in Fuels, Jessica in Accounting, or Jessica in Parts & Acquisitions.

This is a problem.

Continue reading “Names Matter”

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