Seeking Equality for Independent Authors – A Call to Action

YRejvCcfNHqLcRq-556x313-noPadThe two minutes of your time that this will take, will benefit you! Orna Ross, from the Alliance of Independent Authors, has created this petition highlighting the need for Independent Authors to be treated with the same equality as traditionally published authors. This is one petition which we all need to sign. The letter is below.

Please Sign Here


To:
Libraries
Booksellers Associations of Australia & New Zealand, Canada, Europe, India, UK & USA
Book Reviewers & Review Outlets
Literary Organisations
Literary & Publishing Events Organisers
Library Associations Associations of Australia & New Zealand, Canada, Europe, India, UK & USA,
I, and the Alliance of Independent Authors, urge you to find ways to include self-publishing writers as a matter of priority.

As you know, more and more writers are turning to self-publishing and many such authors are producing work of proven value to readers.

While recognising that there are challenges in incorporating such writers, it has become a necessity, if book stores, libraries, literary events and reviewers are to be inclusive, and fully serve readers and writers.

I trust you will give this matter the attention it deserves.


Great Reasons for Signing

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That One Rogue Sentence… Lessons from Best Selling Authors

ancientfutureThere is never a good enough reason to be inactive as a writer. The last few months have been chaos here, but time well spent. While I have been dealing with chronic pain problems and haven’t spent time on my blog, or social media, I have been sitting at the feet of many literary masters and learning from their handiwork. I have been delving into the depths of J R R Tolkien, George R R Martin, Stephen Lawhead, Mary Stewart, Raymond E Feist, Melanie Rawn, J K Rowling, Traci Harding and have read more Terry Pratchett than is probably decent.

It’s superfluous to say that I have learnt a lot. Here are the lessons which have stood out to me the most.

  • A book can be completely perfect in structure, punctuation, grammar, spelling and plot: however, I am noticing that most of these authors have that one rogue sentence which gives away information in an inappropriate place, is completely confusing or messes up the flow of what they are writing. It’s normally in the first three chapters.
  • If you are writing in a manner which describes an accent, or is old world language (such as Shakespearian speech,) you are making your life incredibly hard if you only use it for certain characters. It is too easy to slip out of that voice and it stands out like a sore thumb to the reader.
  • The legends break all the rules. Tolkien writes sentences which are so long, they become confusing. If I wrote like that, my writing mentors would slap me. But, it does add to the flow, so who is right and who is wrong?
  • Ebook formatting seems to have no standards, rules or quality control. Some formats are easier to read than others, thanks to the use of white space. (I have a post coming out on that in September. The blog officially restarts on September 1st.)
  • Using foreign speech alongside a lot of unfamiliar names which have crazy spelling (for example, Welsh) breaks your brain. If you cannot get your head around a character’s name, reading can become hard work and easy to abandon.
  • I know all the arguments about prologues, but they are worth reading! Books make more sense if you don’t skip them.
  • I’ve read two books where I have come to hate the main character. Everything works too easily for them and they became so cut-throat ambitious, I turned against them and will never read any more books in that series.
  • I know it can be wise to kill your darlings, but if you start a series with ‘the good guys,’ then you slowly kill them all off over several books, the reader is left alone and wondering who to cheer on. All that is left is the bad guys. You can overdo it.
  • Never write a massive series that you may not be able to finish. It may be wiser to leave all books as complete, with a teaser to get the reader to pick up the next one. That way, if chaos intervenes, you won’t get stoned for not writing that last tome.

As I said above, the blog will be back in action, posting two days a week from September first. I am still very unwell and have become a lab rat, as the pain management doctors try a variety of potions to see if they can make me more comfortable… however, I have no choice but to go back to work.

Posts scheduled look at the writing process, resources for character writing, writing sites which are godsends, plot building, publishing and more. Comments are off in some posts and on in others, so I don’t overwork. I am going to be on social media far less than in the past as well. Balance has to be maintained.

Thank you to all of you for your good wishes and understanding. I hope my health does improve over the next few months and that I can get back to visiting your blogs and being more supportive.

Hiding Behind the Teacup: Authors and Personal Security Online

artioscommavatarEvery piece of advice I read about using social media, insists that you include a photo of yourself as your avatar. It personalises the experience, because social media is just that: social. I agree. Nastiness can hide behind logos and I would much rather see what my friends look like. However, the world is not always a safe place and it’s easy to forget that.

Everywhere I go online, you will find my pink teacup and book stack logo. People tell me they like it, because it’s different and stands out, but there is a reason behind it. I have been cyber-stalked twice and I also have a psychotic family member who is violent, bitter (thanks to their delusions) and untreated. Currently they don’t know where I am. Because of that, my number doesn’t appear in any phone books and I am a silent voter on the electoral roll, here in Australia. So why would I be nuts enough to put my face online? With services such as Tin Eye, the beloved family member can upload an old family photo of me and on the basis of image similarity, I can be identified.

No freaking way!

2014-06-09_14-21-25In the sea of faces online, photos of individuals often don’t stand out anyway. Simple logos do. One element which always draws my attention is the colour red. Have a look at this image and see how fast you find my friend Lauren. (Who has a downright awesome blog for writers, by the way.)

There is a reason why the Where’s Wally publishers use red.

Not everyone needs my degree of personal protection and please don’t take your lovely face away out of paranoia. It’s good to see you! However, it pays to be aware of the criminal activity which is out there. Can your image be printed and used in identity theft? How many same old, same old, photo images lifted from accounts, are used by spammers on Twitter? It bears consideration.

I have no desire to make the world impersonal, but… think first and I am sorry, I don’t care how carefully you hide exactly where you live or your child’s name, when I see pictures of people’s children on blogs which have no privacy control, or Facebook where they haven’t used the privacy control, I am genuinely scared for them. You are an adult acting on their behalf. For a start, later in life they may resent you parading them online. Right now, protect them. (My husband would be furious if I placed a photo of him on my Facebook page.)

Just below is the photo that resulted in me being tracked and harassed (cyber-stalked) by two men. I have been online since 1997, so they are far from the only weirdos I have met, but they are the worst. It is an iStockphoto and no, I do not use it anymore. This is how little it takes to set off a sick imagination. See why it freaks me out when I see people’s kids online?

Here is a basic introduction to cyber-stalking and how you can take care of yourself. Please DO take very good care of yourself and your family.

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REBLOGS WELCOMED



My teacup avatar, is a purchased iStockphoto.com image which has been photoshopped. If you like the image, you are legally obliged to buy it from the same source, or iStockphoto.com has the right to take legal action against you for theft. The same applies for the bottom eye and hair avatar. Just saying…

This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

Alternative Words to Said and Physical Characteristic Descriptions ~ Resource List

Finding alternatives to words like said, replied, answered and all the usual cliches has become my current life’s work… as has writing effective place and character descriptions. I have trolled the Internet for inspiration and while these goodies are in my head, I will share them with you.

Alternatives to said:

  • frdgtge3438fwefhSPW books has a great list in a table form and also
    links to other useful materials in the side navigation bar.
    Raid the list at: http://www.spwickstrom.com/said/

I seem to be writing in waves, adding in layers over the plot and characterisation. Right now I am into description, including body language. Some of the most helpful resources found are listed below. There are also dozens on my Pinterest board for all genres of writers, so I’ll place that link here as well.


Physical characteristic descriptions:

  • Angela Ackerman’s blog also has brilliant information on skills and talents and why your character needs them. http://writershelpingwriters.net/author/angela/ Her books, The Emotional Thesaurus, The Positive Traits Thesaurus and the Negative Traits Thesaurus are a goldmine for authors. I have never heard a negative word about them. Angela’s work is well written and researched. (No, she hasn’t asked me to say a word, I’m just a fan.)

Please add your suggestions in the comments. I highly recommend chasing resources like this down, they have blossomed out my word count! After too many years writing non-fiction, I have learnt to write too tight. This new venture is doing me good.

Happy hunting!

REBLOGS WELCOMED


This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

All clipart used here is from Openclipart.com

Writer Beware

Gold class sites

 

http://www.accrispin.blogspot.com.au

“Writer Beware® is the public face of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s Committee on Writing Scams. We also receive sponsorship from the Mystery Writers of America. Like many genre-focused writers’ groups, SFWA and MWA are concerned not just with issues that affect professional authors, but with the problems and pitfalls that face aspiring writers. Writer Beware, founded in 1998, reflects that concern.

Although SFWA and MWA are US-based organizations of professional fiction authors, Writer Beware’s efforts aren’t limited by country, genre, or publication history. The Writer Beware website and blog can be used by any writer, new or established, regardless of subject, style, genre, or nationality.”


REBLOGS WELCOMED

This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

Eye Strain Reducing Editing for Writers – #amediting #amwriting

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The amount of time we spend hunched over computers, tablet devices and ebook readers isn’t good for our eyes, necks, shoulders or wrists, but it’s essential. I have noticed a steady increase in the number of migraine sufferers I have met, who are writers. I am wondering if this is an occupational hazard, rather than an accident.

In writing and editing the first drafts of The Dragon Tree, while trying to cope with my frequent migraines, I stumbled across a few tips which may also help you, whether electronic screens give you headaches or not. These methods have given me much more writing time.

The biggest problem is the harsh contrast between black text and a white page. Of course, turning down screen brightness helps, but that is not enough. I found that a soft green or a blue text colour, was much easier on my vision. Also, changing colours between drafts gave my brain a shock. I was able to pick up many hidden errors, such as ‘or’ not ‘of’, ‘become’ not ‘became’… all those things that the spell checker misses. For more information on tricking your brain into helping you edit  efficiently, see this post: The Best Kept Editing Secret.

The examples shown here are deliberately fuzzy as this is my WIP, but you can see how the colours affect your own eyes. When you are staring at text for hours, a simple select all and font colour change can help you enormously.

format edit exampleI got to a point where I had messed up my formatting with so many edits, that I needed to turn on the dreaded show all characters. I have always found this savage on my sight. I needed just the markers, not text and on experimenting, found that changing the text colour so the contrast was high, made the character marks pop out. One less headache… yes!

Another hint I picked up from a web site was to never edit with justified text. The extra spaces between the words make proof reading impossibly hard. Double spacing is critical for proof reading, or you wind up reading one sentence on top of the other! For a great post on the difference between proofreading and editing, please visit the Writers in the Storm blog.

For ease, I began writing on my iPad, as I was able to get hold of a word processor app with a darker background. It helped, but the sheer number of spelling mistakes generated lost me masses of time in needless correction. This is all the space I had to work with and it drove me crazy. Most tablet word processors are similar, so in the end, I abandoned their use, except on the worst days.

Update: thanks to Patricia de Hemricourt ( @epublishabook)  for sending me to this post on Computer Vision Syndrome. It’s exceptionally helpful.

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Textkraft EN is available through iTunes.

 

 

REBLOGS WELCOMED


Creative Commons License
This work, created and Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Word Count Meters and Tight Writing Resources

2014-06-03_10-15-03A few people have been asking me where I source my pretty word count meter from. They are available in multiple colours and come from this blog: http://svenjaliv.com/resources/wordmeter/ Svenja also has themed, word count spreadsheets you can download, which cover all of 2014. She’s a talented lady! Each year, she updates her spreadsheets, so her site is always bookmarked.

Thank you to everyone who weighed in on the word count debate. It’s been interesting to see that nearly everyone said, “do it your way,” or “when it’s finished, it’s finished.” I have nearly hit the 71,000 word mark, which was quite unexpected. On rewriting, I had one of those moments that is more a flash of lightning hitting me, than a lightbulb moment.

Over the years I have worked as a freelance feature writer, course writer and editor. It was drummed into me with each one: write tight. Do not waffle, remove absolutely every extraneous word or sentence and cut everything back to the bone; to the marrow if you can. I can cut and slash pieces written, to get them down to a word limit with cold, hard malice. (Resources on how to do that are below.) The ebooks which I currently sell are very brief. They get straight to the point, because that is how I have been told to write. My blog posts come in under the recommended work limit. Essentially, I have boxed myself in out of habit and I am now learning to be free.

2014-06-03_10-33-42Over the last week I have been reading Victoria Grefer’s book, Writing for You. I have followed Victoria’s blog for a long time and have been enjoying the relaxed, conversational style of her book. It is nothing like mine. All my writing ebooks are quick-read, start from any chapter, writer’s companions. Standing next to other books in their category, they may look anorexic, but they are designed to save the reader time. You can put your finger on the topic: task accomplished! That is beneficial for some, but it is not the best way to write a novel. While we need to write with excellence, dot point detail novels are not good reads.

There is definitely a place for writing tight, by this I mean corset strength tight, not just writing well. To be able to edit your work down to the wire and say what needs saying in a succinct, precise form is a valuable skill, however, don’t let it limit you as I did. I love Kristen Lamb’s Warrior Writers blog posts, they break every blog rule on length, but I don’t care how long they are. They make me feel good and strengthen my craft. If something is worth reading, regardless of how long or short it is, it will be read and appreciated.

This has been a great lesson in breaking free of my self-imposed boxes. I didn’t even know I was in them. I’m enthusiastic about seeing what old habits I can break out of next.



3hi91daojioResources on how to write tight and cut out word, or phrase, redundancies:

 



Quick-read, writer’s companions.

These ebooks are available at the lowest prices I was able to set. You can purchase them through my web site as a .pdf or through Amazon Kindle. Please click on the cover for contents and ordering information.

conflict_in_fiction.html    Building Emotionally Realistic Characters Cover    conquering_writing_stress.html        

You don’t have to own a Kindle device to enjoy Amazon’s Kindle e-books. Here are the Support and Download links for the free Kindle Readers for a range of devices: Windows PCs, Windows Phone, Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Andoid Tablet, Android Phone, and Blackberry.

Full-length course titles.

creative_spirit.html     prayer_journal.html

 


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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

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