Wednesday, June 24, 2015

If You Gave A Mel An E-Book...

If you gave me an e-book at any point of this year, (the year being 2015) or the end of last year, (2014), for a review, I'm ashamed and horrified to admit I might not have gotten to it.

I know of at least three e-books I promised to review. My Kindle was not being cooperative. It would not show up on my computer when connected for me to take the downloaded .mobi files and put them on my Kindle.

It has been a source of frustration for me for some time, now. I try to keep my review requests in a separate folder, but for some reason, I dropped the ball. I've been searching my Inbox and found these three e-books from as far back as April. I feel like a fool.

I dropped the ball and it never bounced back up.



So I am here to offer up a humble apology, regardless of the excuses of faulty technology and the fact that time just seems to slip through my fingers some days. I. Screwed. Up.



I currently have three books on my Kindle that I KNOW I'm supposed to review. Those are the three I will be reading here in the next day or two. If, for some reason, you do not see a review from me in the next month and you know I promised you one, email me and chew me out!

Seriously, I'm giving you permission to go postal. I don't allow people to get on me like this, usually. Take advantage.

Aside from all that, I hope you are all having a good week.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Revisiting Old Ideas...

You know, when I was MUCH younger. I mean, we're talking a little over 20 years ago, I had a story idea that was paranormal. But I didn't know exactly what paranormal was at the time.

Paranormal has been popular over the last ten years, at least I think it has. I don't know exactly when paranormal became a genre in writing, but when I had that story idea, I don't think it was even a thought.

When you thought about writing about ghosts, vampires, werewolves, it was considered horror, not paranormal. Young Adult wasn't even really specified. It was teen novels. Things like that.

So when I had this story idea, I was trying to find a way to make it work. It's a good story, a good message and I was going to throw a lot of history into it. But I certainly didn't know how to classify it at the time when my friends asked what it was about.

"Uhhh, hard to explain..."

I bring this up, because I ran across the notebooks of this handwritten story. It needs work, it's almost complete, but I didn't finish it because I didn't know what to do with it at the time.

Now, well, psh! I can totally pull it off as a YA/Paranormal if I wanted to.

But isn't it funny how, when you're younger, you have all these ideas that seem so crazy and far-fetched at the time and you tuck it away because of that, instead of pursuing it and naming a new genre? Then you find it years later (or in my case, decades) and go, "Oh! I can totally make that work now!" and it will be acceptable.

So what do you have in your closet, drawer or in a box under your bed that you've hid from the light of day because no one, not even you, understood it yet? Share in the comments!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Author Tips: How to Review/Critique...

Okay, so last week I posted about the Bad Reviews. If you haven't seen it, or would like to recap, the link for that is here.

I decided, on the opposite side of that coin, to post a topic on how I do a review/critique.

Before we get going, I'll do the usual: This is just my opinion, take it or leave it, blah blah blah.



When I first started writing, I went over to Writing Dot Com (WDC) and created a portfolio. My user name over there is Caledonia Lass as well. I started reading stuff people posted up, looking for "honest reviews" of their work.

I'm blatantly honest, if I'm anything.



So I thought, "Sure, why the heck not. It'll get my work out there, people will critique my stuff" and so on.

Apparently I'm too honest. Or, at least, I was not being helpful. I had one person read my work and critique it to the point I was in tears. He was rude, he attacked me personally, calling me stupid and immature. I avoided WDC for months after that.

Then I went back. I read his review, again, of my work, and looked at the things he was pointing out. And then I messaged him back and thanked him, looked at one of his stories and critiqued the hell out of it. Never heard from him again, I can tell you.

Now don't get me wrong, I did NOT do it out of spite. At first I was going to, but then changed my mind and decided not to sink down to his level and tarnish the small reputation I acquired of being fair and helpful.

So here is my point to all of this. When you review someone's book/work or critique it, there are rules to follow. The first is the most important:

1. Don't. Be. A. Jackass.

2. Make notes as you go, either in a notebook or in a separate document. Don't wait until you've gone through it completely, because you may forget some very important things. Yes, this interrupts the flow of reading, but it keeps you focused on the task of critiquing.

On the other hand, if you are reading someone's book, well, how you do that is up to you. If it is a published book, I'll do an overall review once I'm finished. I take a day or two to soak it all in, then write my review.

3. Be. HONEST. If someone approaches you, asking for a critique or review, they're looking for honest, helpful feedback. So, remember Rule Number One. If you find an area in the story that is particularly troublesome, point it out and move to Rule Number Four:

4. Give constructive criticism. Don't be snide about it. Don't be condescending. Give some helpful advice to problems and issues you find. Unless of course it is a typo or grammatical error. In that case, just keep referring to Rule Number One. Don't put comments in there like, "Can't you effing spell?!?!?"

5. Following that line of thought, when you find a typo, give the correction. When you find a grammatical error, offer up suggestions. However, in the end, the author may just reconstruct the sentence and not use your suggestion. Don't sweat it.

In the end, the author is the creator. Their work is their baby, the physical representation of their imagination. Don't beat it to a bloody pulp and expect the author to be grateful. Don't breed resentment and hate.

As authors, we're all in this together. There are a lot out there who think that they don't need anyone's help except for the people they hire. Sorry, but they're wrong. The readers dictate success and if you're an arrogant ass hat (pardon my language), people are NOT going to read your work.

Among your fellow authors, if you're a jerk and ask for some reviews or critiques, no one will be willing to help you. Or, if you offer the review/critique and are a jerk, no one will ask you again. If you have an opinion about something, be honest without being brutal.

I've been told several times I have the tact of a brick wall, but even I manage tact when reviewing and critiquing.

Have anything to add to this? I'd love to hear what you have to say. Leave me a comment!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Almost There...

I'm so close to ending book two.


I know it has taken me a long time, I know you've all been patient. I do have to let my characters "speak to me" on a certain level and figure out the way the story is going to go.

This is my first story idea, adapted several times over because it just "wasn't right". I used to have a bad habit of scrapping everything I had and starting over and was trying to stop doing that, and due to certain companies that Shall Not Be Named, I did end up doing just that.

So, I had to make it right, make it where I would be happy with it and not throw my hands in the air and say, "Screw it!". And due to that fact, I was literally writing by the seat of my pants and not plotting anything out, so when it came to book two, and soon, book three, I found myself having to plan around something that didn't originally have a plan.

That's... difficult, to say the least. I don't know how many of you wrote a book by the seat of your pants, then had to plot out the rest. It's stress inducing, for sure.

If there is one thing I have learned from all of this, it would definitely be patience. When this story idea first popped into my head, I was so, so eager to share it with the world.

Scared as hell, but eager.

I couldn't wait to get it out there and see the reactions of others! I had stars in my eyes.

Now, after all has been said and done, after all the reviews, I'm a hell of a lot more cautious than I was that first time out. I'm trying to perfect the middle and ending of this story.

If I had the opportunity to go back in time, and retain the knowledge I have, I would definitely sit myself down and say,

"Hey. Don't be a moron. It's going to get published, even if you have to do it yourself. Which, will be possible. So don't rush it. Don't hack it to pieces and panic about it later. Just. Slow. Down."

I'm writing this now, because last night I had the end of book two come to me.

Prepare yourselves, it's going to be a cliffhanger, just like book one.


It's how I roll. I don't know what to tell you. Some people love 'em, some people hate 'em. I know there are quite a few people out there waiting for me to just finish the series before they read it all. I get that. I really do.


But these books have taught me to plan out a story now. So the next few ideas I have, well, they're all planned out, beginning to end. The characters are waiting in the shadows of my mind to be released onto the world. And with this planning, comes speed. I'll be able to hammer these out, get them edited while working on the next one, etc.

I see stories in my future.

So tell me. What has writing taught you?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Scrivener...

Okay first, before I start this post, I need to say

OH. MY. GAH!!!!!!

Okay, I think I'm done.

I just spent the last half an hour trying to find something in Scrivener and it has now prompted a blog post.

Seriously.

I ADORE Scrivener, truly, I do. But these last few weeks have been a complete nightmare with it.

First of all, if you are using Windows and having an issue with Scrivener (Not Responding), allow me to enlighten you.

Go to your C:\Program Files\Scrivener, or, C:\Program Files(x86)\Scrivener and find the .exe file.

Right click, select Properties.

Select the "Compatibility" tab and check the box "Run this application in compatibility mode for" and leave it for whatever is the default or already highlighted selection.

If this doesn't work, re-start you computer and try again. If it still doesn't work, select the compatibility mode until you get it to work properly.

Now that we're through there, let me just say I could not find my live word count bar to save my life. Each section used to show me a live word count and character count. I didn't know what happened, but when I finally got Scrivener to boot properly, my word count was gone.

*POOF!*

Disappeared. Like I said, I just spent a half hour trying to find it again, searching Google, getting warmer when I learned it was called a "live word count bar". This is something I need to have showing! I can't just stop and do an overall project statistics to find my word count or pause to hit Ctrl+whatever...

I got used to that little guy down there and I thought he was gone forever!

But I found it. So I'm sharing this information with you in case you run into a similar issue. Because my bar did just disappear when I finally got the program to launch.

It's in your Footer display. Which I did not know. I feel sort of silly, slightly stupid, but hey, it's all good now.

So if your live word count bar is gone from the bottom of your screen, select "View", go to "Layout" and make sure there is a check mark next to "Footer View".

Thank you, that is all.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Advice For Newbie Authors...

I read something over the weekend that prompted this post. I have to say, this is something that we, as writers and authors, are constantly having to deal with.

It's... The Bad Review.

Change 'company' to 'book'.

(Cue dramatic music...)

We've all had them, those darn Bad Reviews. I have quite a few on my debut novel, which I honestly expected. But I took those Bad Reviews and used them to help me in my writing. To help hone my craft.

Bad Reviews are going to happen, like breathing, whether we like it or not. They just come naturally because *GASP!* we can't force people to like our stuff.

::Looks around with shifty eyes::

If we forced people, that would be bad and we'd go to jail.

So what CAN you do about a bad review?

Weeeellll...

Not a damn thing. You can't take it down, you can't react to it, you can't ask the person who left it to remove it. It's like trying to censor their opinion.


The reviews aren't going to kill you. Well, unless they become solid and land on you... but that'll never happen.

Bad Reviews will:

~ Make you feel like hammered dog poo.

~Make you feel slightly nauseated. (Unless you're actually a pregnant female. Might want to go get that test now.)

~ Make you feel like a World Class Idiot.

~ Make you want to give up writing forever.

But that's okay! Yes, I said that in my most Chipper Voice Ever! And no, I'm not in need of a straight jacket, despite what my family thinks...

A Bad Review should:

~ Help you.

~ Motivate you to be a better writer.

~ Point out the weaknesses in your writing that you CAN correct.

~ Make your next book much better than your last.

You should NEVER:

~ Respond to a Bad Review.

~ Throw a fit, publicly (and by publicly I mean outside your house or on the internet...).

~ Ask the person to remove the review.

The only time you can honestly ask a review to be removed, is if the person is knowingly bashing you and harassing you and you've got proof that they are Out To Get You. I have to admit, I've got my book up on Goodreads and someone actually put on there, "Marked it as Not Going To Read". I think if they could have put, "EVER" on there, they would have. Don't know who the person was or if I ever pissed in their Wheaties, but whatever. What am I going to do? Force them to read it?


::Snorts::

No, that would be BAD.

But seriously. Don't be a troll about your book. Don't be a jerk. Roll with the punches and grow a thicker skin. We've all been there, we've all done that. We'll be doing it again with Every Book We Write. You can't escape the Bad Review, so let them come! Take your time off of work to deal with them. Eat some chocolate, curl up with some tea and a chick flick, and then move on.



It'll be fine and after awhile, you won't even know they exist.

We'll know, but you won't.

You'll develop blinders for them.

We'll still see them, but for you they will seem to disappear like a fine mist.

Okay,okay, I'll stop now.

Have a good rest of your week!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Kindle Scout...

I don't know how many of you know about Kindle Scout, if not, let me enlighten you. If you do already know, well, you'll get a refresher.

Kindle Scout allows you to submit a book, cover and excerpt. They review it, then let you know if it's been accepted or not. Once it is accepted, you have 30 days to gain nominations. After that, they'll review it once more. If your book is chosen to be published, you'll get an advance, plus marketing assistance and a higher percentage in royalties.

Not bad, huh? I learned about this from a fellow author who emailed me and asked for a nomination if I liked what I read. I went over to the site, checked out the excerpt and decided to nominate it. I'm hoping to submit a book over there, one of these days. I've got several in the works at the moment.

So why am I bringing this up, then? Well, my sister in law beat me to the punch. No worries, it's not a competition! I'm just super happy she's getting to try it out. She submitted a Young Adult, dystopian novel she's been working on. She had it all ready, with a cover and everything, when I told her about this program. So she submitted it and got accepted!

I'd like for anyone, who hasn't yet seen it, to go check it out. Read the excerpt and, if you're interested, nominate it. The readers are rewarded in this program, too. Anyone who nominates this book, if it gets published, gets a free copy of the book. So it's a win/win!

All right, so here is the link to her book. Again, go check it out, read the excerpt and then vote. If you don't like it, don't nominate it. Trust me, it's all good.

Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Late Friday Post...

I hope you all had a good week. So far, I have.

Lots going on around here, as usual. My week is full of baby sitting, school work (yes, I'm back in school), and trying to find time to write.

Of course, I try to do some gaming in all of that. But more often than not, I'm choosing to exercise over sitting in front of the computer all day and night. It kills my back and makes my body ache.

The beginning of the week was rainy, and of course it gets sunny over the weekend. I work weekends, dang it.

Ah well, what's a girl to do?

I mentioned I'm back in school. I'm taking Medical Transcription. Hopefully I can find a job soon after I'm done. Gotta find a way to pay the bills around here!

Adversarius has been free on Smashwords for some time, now. I'm just waiting for Amazon to catch up and do the same. Even though people have sent them notices, they just haven't adjusted the price.

Oh, well.

I also have my short story up on a new home. Quarter Reads. Just like the name implies. All submissions on their site must be under 2,000 words. And they're all a quarter. You pay $5.00 up front and get to read 20 stories. Which, let's face it, it's better to pay up front than to be continually charged a quarter every time you find something to read. 2,000 words goes quickly!

Be sure to tip your authors, that's another feature. I love it.

Anyway, the link to my short story is here. I removed it from Amazon, because I didn't think 99 cents was a fair price for so few words. I don't have enough short stories to compile, yet, but I'm working on that as well.

Book two is getting closer to being done, but then I have to figure out a cover. Yay. I've done a few on my own, maybe I will share them next week and let you all choose.

Have a great weekend everyone! I'll see you soon.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Conversation With My Younger Self...

I lay awake the other night, just sitting there, thinking. It's something I do often. Usually, I will think about my to do list for the next day, bills that have to get paid, shopping to get done and what the hell are we doing for dinner? Crap, I forgot to pull something out!

I can lie awake all night long thinking of the weirdest, random stuff that doesn't need to be considered right then and there, but my brain always says otherwise. My brain pushes these issues. A. Lot.

But the other night, I heard a, "Psst!" from some deep, dark corner of my mind. Trying to ignore it was futile, so I looked inward. Standing there in some of the most ridiculous 80's attire, was my younger self.

"Remember me?" she said. Yeah, sadly I do, kid.

"What happened to you?" she asked. I told her she had to be more specific.

When I was a kid, growing up in the midwest, I was a chunky little brat. When I was 11, we moved to Arizona. We lived with my aunt for awhile, in this retirement/family mobile home park. This place was huge. The center area/main entrance was large, circular and housed a playground, basketball court, two pools (one for adults, one for kids and kids could only go into the adult pool on Saturday between certain times), shuffleboard courts, offices and public bathrooms. There was probably more, but I can't recall right now. All I know is that was also where the bus stop was located during the school year.

I lived at the far end of the park, right up against a mountain that we called Cat's Back. I think, but I'm not certain, that we were about two and a half miles from the bus stop. We moved there near the end of summer and getting a ride to the bus stop was out. I was on my own and walking that far took awhile, so my aunt's neighbor gave me a bike. It was not the coolest, or the newest, but it was in good condition and I kept it that way for the longest time. So I rode that bike to the bus stop and back, every day. Five miles a day. On weekends, I rode it down to the pool, would go swimming and ride home. By the time school started, my chunkiness was a thing of the past and I looked like a reedy twig.

Where my aunt's house was, was at the top of a pretty steep hill. I would zoom down that sucker in the morning, pushing the bike to its limit, trying to hit a top speed until I reached the bottom and then see how long I could coast. That part was full of washes, so there were lots of uphill and downhill areas. By the time I hit the main road leading into the rest of the park, it was a gentle slope downward to the bus stop and I could coast the entire way. Going home, was literally all uphill. I had to work for it. At first, by the time I got to that last hill, just before home, I'd only make it up so far before hopping off the bike and walking the rest of the way. Later, I kept pushing myself to see how far I could ride the bike up before getting off. Eventually, I'd ride that sucker up to the driveway and coast into the carport. Victory!!

I never gave up. I kept pushing and pushing.

The pool was a different story. I had to take a swimming test to be allowed to swim by myself, without an adult present. Because I wanted to swim. All. The. Time. But I didn't know how to swim. So I bugged everyone to come to the pool with me. I was allowed to go with friends and their parents, but they didn't go as often. But I went as often as I could and I pretty much taught myself how to swim. I'd watch people, I'd watch swimming on the Olympics. I even taught myself how to dive. I finally worked so hard, took the test and passed on the first try!

Again, victory!!

That mountain behind the house? Yeah, I climbed to the top of it one day, sat up there enjoying the view, went down the other side and walked home. By myself. I think I caught hell for that one, but I can't remember.

I did a lot of stuff on my own back then. I really didn't have anybody to hang out with. I had a few friends, but they had siblings and families to do stuff. My aunt volunteered places, my mom was in school, my brother was working and doing his own thing. I was pretty much a loner. I explored a lot and had some fun in the short time we were there. Then we moved into town and it was so different.  My freedom pretty much went up in a puff of smoke. I still did stuff, but had to watch out for people, so I didn't do as much or anything like what I did at my aunt's house.

These were the things my younger self talked to me about that night. What happened? Why don't you push yourself anymore? Why do you give up? Why don't you explore like you used to?

You know what? I have no idea. Something to think about. If you were to have a conversation with your younger self, what do you think they'd ask?