And … What’s Next?
Hey all! I thought I would touch base with an update on my writing progress, and a bit of a lay out on what to expect from Fair Crack for the rest of the year and moving onto next 😊
I’ve been re-thinking a lot lately regarding my business and where I want 2022 to go-I think we all do this at some point-and I’ve decided on some projects for this year and next. You would have all heard me talking about my Guide Edit and my writing projects, but now I’m going to lay out a road map so you all know what to expect!! Yay!! Until I change my mind again, that is lmao. Anyway, hold onto your hats cause here we go…
Editing is my life blood. I love it: working with great authors, a.k.a you guys, building upon worlds and characters, crafting and re-working words- all of it makes me excited to work! But I also would like to look at expanding my clientele, and am looking at some platforms to approach. I am very keen to try some collabs so if you have a blog or business then send me a message! Let’s see where it takes us!
Regarding editing, I also have my Guide Edit to release! This is my brain child! A great and easy PA support system for authors who are not yet ready for a comprehensive edit but need some help anyway! I intend to release some more info on my website and plenty more content for you to all see so stay tuned! If you have worked with me prior, you may receive an email outlining this edit, otherwise there will be a direct link on this website with more details. If all goes well, this should be released by end of month.
As for the rest of the year, I am also filling up quickly! So for the last couple December slots I am offering 20% off! And if you have a book planned for release New Year, then I can promise the first 50 pages edited free. Just send me a message letting me know you have seen the New Year Offer xP * Terms and cond. do apply regarding novel length ( I can’t edit 50 pages free on a 50 page book for example 😉 ) And don’t forget, if you’re still not ready to commit, I will provide you with a sample edit or some references.
Ahh, writing…I never seem to have enough time to get you done! But not anymore! I have plans for this one.
As some of you may already know, my main novel is an epic fantasy with some sci-fi elements featuring Gods and Goddesses, space travel and a war spanning millennia. We *hopefully* get to experience themes surrounding discovering trust and love, fighting for something you believe in and learning who you truly are. I plan to release this in 2022 but you will all get updates as I go 😊
But in the meantime, I need to get my tapping fingers on some juicy releases prior. Thanks to a great friend and author, Katie Epstein, I will be taking on the mantle of the Terra Vane Series! After working closely with Katie throughout the series with editing, she is ready to retire Terra and move on to other works with her up and coming Katie Epstein, Katie Darkwood and Katie Carys pen names. But she is relinquishing the crown of Terra to me! This is incredibly exciting for me since I felt that with her series, not only have I had the chance to work on a fantasy paranormal long-term, but I have also learnt so much as an editor and writer. I have already collaborated with Katie previously, writing a short novella ‘Diary of a Witch’ for her Portiside Diaries Collection. I loved it so much, and apparently I did alright, so I will be taking those amazing characters and creating a series of their own. My first step is Rosie, a great friend of Terra’s with a heart of gold, a love for a man who never seems to catch the hint and a mind that is as sharp as an axe. So come and join me on the ride. And in the meantime, check out the Terra series and the Portiside Diaries here: https://www.authorkatie.com/ This way you can check out my editing and writing prowess 😉 I hope to begin releasing these novels next year also, hopefully tying in with the final books in the Terra Vane Series.
I also have some budding plans for a Yokai YA series and some children’s storie. And a collab with the wonderful aforementioned Katie too involving Fae, monsters and some bad ass hunters, so stay tuned😉
Anyway, I hope this shows you a glimpse of Fair Crack of the Whip’s future! I can’t wait to see it all come together. Bring on 2022!!! What have you all go planned? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you all 😊
My Fantasy Grimoire: Part 2. Considering Audience.
So I’m back with Part 2 of my Fantasy Grimoire (cue the spooky music, or bard song, whatever floats your boat and gets you motivated). xP
Anyway, ahem, back to it … Last time we looked at why you should consider writing fantasy and what the fantasy genre actually is. We learnt that, in some way, you can include almost any genre under its banner, and that the possibilities are essentially endless. But that doesn’t mean your epic novel (or cozy paranormal mystery) should include every amazing idea you have in one go , or even at all. There are a couple things to consider before you make the next best seller 😉
CONSIDER YOUR AUDIENCE.
Although you can ‘technically’ include almost everything under the fantasy genre, that doesn’t mean you necessarily should. Like all projects, there needs to be a little planning. Wait!! Don’t abandon ship yet, pantsers! I’m talking the basics here. Namely, your intended audience.
A few basic questions to consider are:
- What age group do you intend to write for? You don’t need any uncomfortable questions regarding that YA book! lol
- Who will be your market audience, or your intended publishing house’s target audience? Again, age appropriate, people! 😊
- Do you plan to include violence and language, sex, or other R-rated details?
- Are you sticking to a specific genre? For example, cozy mystery needs to remain cozy, while paranormal romance should have a little spice to its pages? While it’s okay to merge some elements, don’t swerve too far away from your readers’ expectations unless you’re looking for a hard-sell.
- If self-publishing, are there any trends or popular genres being read at the moment? If you want to be a marketing pro, this may be something to look at, including key words in Amazon listings, etc.
I won’t get too much into the nitty and gritty, and certainly don’t claim to be an expert in the marketing area, but these are some points to consider. Even if you are looking at getting published traditionally, certain houses look for certain things, so if you have a particular goal in mind, study the ass out of it. It’s like applying to college or uni all over again lol
Once the background questions are answered and you are jumping into the drafting and writing stage, I usually suggest to just go for it. Write as it comes. But when you review sections or are stuck on your next course of action, consider your audience. You are writing your story for your readers, and you need to keep it relevant. I find this is a great way to proceed when you are stuck or uncertain about whether something is going the way you planned.
Your readers want something different, but they also need a book that matches the description. I would suggest writing down all the elements you want to include and to consider your natural writing style. Once listed, look it over and and list that too. Set that list aside and do some research (and keep following my blog posts 😉 to learn more about your favourite genres. See if what you listed fits into any of these sub-categories. You never know. It might just help you decide 😉
At the end of the day, don’t forget, your work should be edited, which will isolate any problem areas and trim it all up. But if you are stuck in the writing stage and really need some advice, look into my Guide Edit! It might be just what you need (all the deets are on the Service section of my page or please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.) 😊
Anyway, in my next Fantasy Section we’re going to look at some popular genres. So, stay tuned.
It’s probably about time to give you all a bit of an update on the happenings in the world of Fair Crack. 😊 Well, everything’s been a bit crazy trying to sort out my business plan, release my new mentoring edit and set up the advertising plan for the rest of the year. But it’s all been pretty exciting seeing it finally come together (although I still have more to do lol). I have a couple mentoring clients too, to kickstart my new writing service, The Guide Edit, and I can’t wait for you all to get to know more about it.
The Guide Edit is a brain child of mine, intended to give authors who are stuck or struggling in some way with their WIP a chance to reach out and gain some assistance in an easy, affordable process. If you want some more info on The Guide Edit, message me or jump on the Services section of my website here for the latest deets 😉
Anywho, back to the blog … spring is finally starting to peek its long-awaited head out of the clouds and personally I can’t wait for the warmer weather. I find spring and summer a lot more motivational, and after all the craziness of the last two years, I feel we need a little sunshine in our lives.
As I’m writing this now, I’m sitting by the window. The fire is on low, outside, a blue sky is splashed by puffy, fast-moving clouds, and the cats are all curled up in various locations, looking sweet but probably dreaming of ways to destroy me. It’s a day off, so no dreaded ‘other work’ to do for someone else. I have a list of editing and writing projects to pile under until the next full moon. But you know what? I’m happy. Because despite the list a mile long, the messy house, and the lack of coffee currently in my cup, I am doing something I love, talking (or typing 😉) to people I enjoy getting to know, and being the person I want to be. Fair Crack of the Whip still has a way to go before it is the business I dream it to become, but I am confident that it’s on the right path. I strongly believe you should never give up on your dreams. So keep writing, keep applying to publishers, self-marketing, or doing whatever else it is you are trying to achieve. And remember to enjoy the journey 😊
Take care and until next time,
Fair Crack of the Whip Proofreading and Editing.
Stuck in a Genre?!
Something I notice a lot lately in my readings of Twitter posts and FB feed is the number of authors wondering whether they should stick to one genre, and what they should do if their writing seems to cross the cobblestoned path of two or more genre types. I mean, let’s face it, we’ve all heard the usual advice of write what you know, and don’t get me wrong; it’s great advice. I mean I, for one, would not even try to write something about mining. Not a miner, not interested in mining, can’t see myself making any accurate assessments on the mining process. But the truth is, writers are human. And just like most of us don’t have the same hairstyle for life, many writers don’t want to be stuck writing the one genre with no full creative reign to try something new. This is where the question hits home.
Is it safe to try writing in an unfamiliar genre?
Right, so first things first. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with writing the one genre if that’s what you want to do. Nothing at all. But should you feel like you have to? I don’t believe so.
It’s true, if you’ve been successfully writing, let’s say mysteries, for the last 4 books and suddenly want to try writing a romance, I certainly can’t promise you will be as successful or even good at it. But why should you not try if it’s something you want to do? It might be you don’t sell many or never publish them. Or you might be even more successful with your romance novels than your mysteries. Writing is a creative job and with all those ideas scrambling for life, it would be a shame to lose track of what’s important. Get your stories out there. And see where it leads you! That is my creative, inspirational advice. Now for the bones …
Should I just give it a go?
Well, you can, but probably not. When you started writing, you more than likely just put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and started typing. But I’m betting at some stage you stopped and read at least one article, FB post or guide book on the writing craft. You probably researched something about your novel or character at one point. Didn’t you? Every genre has an unknown code of some sort even if, like everything when it comes to writing, the rules are vague and irritatingly subjective. For example, a fantasy should contain some kind of, well, fantasy element. And I’m pretty certain a romance needs a love interest, right? That’s the basics.
And I would suggest if you’re trying something different, at least make sure you look into some basic facts. Do your research. Have a look at the roots or elements of the genre you want to try writing. Never block out that creativity and by all means you don’t have to follow every rule ever written but get a feel for what you’re about to write so you don’t lose momentum or become lost half way through. This is especially true if you’re interested in traditional publishers. Look into what the publishing houses are after in that particular field so you have a solid lead.
How Can I Possibly Market This?
Good question, and this depends entirely on how you are marketing in the first place. If your writing falls in similar genres, there is probably nothing to worry about. I mean, fantasy for example has so many sub-categories, and if you have decided to take up, let’s say, paranormal romance, you can more than likely wack it under the same banner and market to similar audiences.
However, let’s say you decide to write murder mysteries and children’s stories, you really don’t want to get those two mixed up. And the audiences will be two completely different groups. Well, you’d want to hope so anyway! 🙂 In this case, I would consider using two different pen names. Many authors have done this, such as Emily Rodda and J.K Rowling. This will allow you to separate which publishers you approach or how you market if you’re a self-publisher. This may als, of course, mean you need two separate FB pages and websites, etc. But that will make your marketing strategies easier to manage and track.
Basically, you just need to consider what genres you are writing and for what audience then market for it appropriately. Don’t be afraid to try something off the scale or out of the ordinary though. Readers are not stupid and they will read what interests them, often giving other genres a go if they already like your writing style.
If you are thinking of getting traditionally published, this may require a little more research to see who you should submit to and what they are looking for, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
I’m Still Worried!!!?
Don’t be. Trying anything new can be intimidating. Trust me, I know. But you decided to write for a reason, whether it be for pure enjoyment, to share your amazing stories, or to see your name on print (there is no shame in that, by the way 😉) You took the first step. And this is like taking that step all over again. It’s worth it. To get those words on paper and see where it leads! The possibilities are endless. So don’t be tied down by restrictions or text book advice. In the end, even if a particular genre doesn’t turn out, you will have gained more experience, which will only strengthen your other work. So get out there and write. Do so smartly, but do it anyway!
Until next time all!
Fair Crack of the Whip Proofreading and Editing.
My Fantasy Grimoire: Part One.
As an editor I work on many different genres and enjoy helping to craft and hone a wide range of stories. But as a writer, I have a field day with fantasy. It is a genre that interests me for many reasons. And, I feel that with this genre there is so much to discuss, and so many nuances and complexities that it can be both a delight to edit and write and also a quicksand if you are caught in its traps.
So, in light of the fact that I love it so much, and since I revel in unravelling its many mysteries, welcome to my Fantasy Grimoire; a collection of blog posts I will be delivering that will hopefully shed some light on the delightful dance of fantasy writing.
First, let’s look at the big question.
WHY WRITE FANTASY?
There are so many reasons to write fantasy and one of my favourite to list is that the possibilities are literally endless! You can incorporate almost ANY genre into the fantasy scope; from paranormal romance, epic fantasy, sci-fi fantasy, dark fantasy, children’s YA, cozy mystery, the list goes on. You can write so any age group, for any time period, and feature any world. You can follow previously set tropes, or invent your own, craft languages, maps, cultures, races, anything you want to do is literally at your fingertips with the only limitation being your own imagination.
Setting the lovey dovey stuff aside though, there is another very solid reason to write fantasy: readers love it. There is a solid and proven audience for the fantasy trope. Books, comics, anime, tv series, movies, they all have their fair share of fantasy featured, from Harry Potter to Game of Thrones; from Good Omens to American Gods; from Narnia to The Dark Tower, countless authors have taken upon themselves the mantle of fantasy writer. And readers lap it up. They can invest in a new world, in gore and love and action and nostalgia in any one book. My point is, fantasy sells, and I can’t see it wrapping up anytime soon.
Another fantastic (yes, I did just do that) element of writing fantasy is in the themes it explores, the nuances and natures of human nature and our emotions. Fantasy can explore love, loss, vengeance, pain and hope. It can inspire or it can illicit fear or nostalgia. The subtle craft of writing about the slightest shades and understated actions of our characters can reveal so much about life in the here and now without ever making it seem obvious.
The best fantasy book is one where, when you close those final pages, you have learnt something, without ever having realised on what page it was you learnt it.
So What Exactly Are the Fantasy Sub-categories?
Woof! Now that’s a hard call, because the answer is A LOT!
Essentially nearly every other genre ever written can in some way become fantasy. But of course, the main element to remember is that fantasy must have some sort of ‘made up’ or ‘imaginary’ context. For a very detailed list of fantasy categories, I recommend reading this article from Reedsy: 50 Fantasy Subgenres and Their Must-Reads | Reedsy Discovery
Finally, I think it’s important to remember that categories are a guide only. The borders of fantasy is blurred, much like a lot of things in life, and cross-overs are common. So in the end, don’t get too caught up in sticking to one particular niche. However, it’s still important to consider your audience and the elements you wish to incorporate into your fantasy novel. This is something we will explore in Part 2 of My Fantasy Grimoire!
I hope this gives you some insight into the possibilities of the fantasy genre and why I and so many others enjoy writing and editing it!
I can’t wait to take you on this magical journey and explore the breakdown on writing and crafting this trope, which has inspired generations for so long! So jump on your magic carpet and let’s go for a ride 😉
Until next time!
Fair Crack of the Whip Proofreading and Editing.
The Idiocy Ball.
Recently I was reading an article on a TV show, I can’t even remember what it was or where exactly I read it, but I do remember the feature was a discussion on The Idiocy Ball. And, of course, my mind always being drawn back to writing and editing, it made me consider plot and the effect The Idiocy Ball has on a storyline and its characters.
But first, what is The Idiocy Ball, you ask?
Or maybe you don’t because you already know 😉 First coined by Hank Azaria on Herman’s Head, Azaria would ask the writing staff who was carrying The Idiocy Ball that week. The lucky carrier was not being complimented since it meant whoever it was would be more than likely acting out of character, either by misunderstanding some scenario that could be cleared up with a simple question, or doing something stupid that could be sorted with a simple action or response.
We all know those moments on our favourite show or in our most recently read book. That face palm, internal groan response where you just want to shout at the character to bloody well listen or to act on the obviously right course of action. But nooooo … They do everything they shouldn’t, to often disastrous results. (Let’s face it, we see this a lot in many romances and plenty of action flicks …)
Most times this is frustrating and sometimes it can even drop your rating of that particular character. But, occasionally, it is artfully done, crafted into the character’s personal development arc and, if done well, answering something we, as the audience or readers, may not have realised or fully understood to begin with. It may just get your plot from a to b without compromising its integrity. And this is where the cross roads is at.
So, how do we make The Idiocy Ball act in our favour?
The good news is, The Idiocy Ball is not always subpar stuff. In some genres especially, such as fantasy, it can be difficult to explain away all the details without sounding like a lecturer. Let’s take a crash course on your character’s magical abilities for example. The Dos, the Don’ts and the In-betweens. So maybe an unwitting character, completely out of his depth, asks a seemingly dumb question in the group or acts in a vague way, but it answers all the readers’ questions. Out loud we might scoff him but internally we’re grateful some idiot asked the question.
Of course, in a more complex way, there is the issue of a character arc double featuring as a plot point. You may be back at that a to b moment in your plot. And the only way to get there is with The Idiocy Ball. But you intended it this way. Because in the meantime your exceptionally capable MC who also suffers from, let’s say, extreme arrogance, refuses to do as everyone else tells them, acts out, fuels the plot and, in failing phenomenally, also learns a little humility. Well, that’s the cheesy 101 version anyway but you catch my drift.
And when should we never use it?
Well, when not to use it is a simple answer but probably harder to achieve in reality. In short, if it doesn’t serve the plot or character’s arc in any way, and you only really ended up using it because there was no other way to achieve your end goal, then you’re probably looking at what Deadpool would class as ‘lazy writing’. So, it’s back to the drawing board.
Every action and scene in your writing should, in some way, serve your purpose, and if you find you suddenly can’t go from a to b without compromising on your character’s intelligence, there’s an issue. Ideally, the reader should always empathise with the character and understand, even if they don’t agree, with their choice of actions. So if it’s a clear giveaway that your MC or significant other character is being dumb as a tooth cause that’s all you’ve got, then retrace your steps and see where your path veered onto a one way street. Perhaps an extra scene along the way or input from a secondary character will fix this issue. Or maybe the plot needs enhancing. Whatever the case, don’t let your character be the target here.
Friend or Foe?
The Idiocy Ball can be both a tool or a weakness. But if you wield it well, you can use it to your advantage and craft strong prose and superb character arcs. Like everything in writing though, don’t overuse it. Make it yours and create something unusual and engaging. And, if you want some help with it, then let me know. I’d be happy to have a chat about your plot in my Guide Edit mentoring service so why not message me here or email me on email@example.com
Until then, I hope you enjoyed this segment. Happy writing and until next time. 😊
Fair Crack of the Whip Proofreading and Editing.
A Moment to Reflect.
Well, here we are again. Half the year is almost up and over in Oz it’s winter (and very successfully so too; it’s freeing!!). I often feel like time is passing by so fast at the moment and maybe it’s because there is always so much going on?
In the span of 2 weeks, we have had a lot going on. We found a stray cat and kitty-sat for 2 weeks until a friend could adopt the boo. I have been asked to contribute with some re-writes on a book I am editing (a long-term client and friend of mine) and I am so excited!!! And I’ve realised I am happiest when I stress less and take more action on what I want to do. Maybe you’re like me, a stress-head, or maybe you’re more cool for cats 😉 Either way, I think we often try to spread ourselves too thin. And even though planning and scheduling is a necessary evil if we don’t want to end up a molten pile of pasta, let’s face it, there can be such a thing as too much. Life rolls by and we should enjoy what we have, and what we are achieving.
I’m often thinking of what I want to achieve I forget about my successes, however minor they may be (let’s face it, I ain’t no genius lol). But I am an editor, doing a job I love and heading in the right direction to make it full-time. I read books for a living! I mean how good can it get!? I am also writing my own novel, and have ideas for others. I have guest-written for Katie Carys. Been asked to co-write for my current author. Passed my courses in Proofreading and Editing and Advanced Copy Editing. And my fam and friends are my moon and stars! I’m a simple person wanting simple things; and I will definitely keep aiming for my dreams. But let’s all take a moment to simply appreciate what we have. And who we are. And for a minute, to simply breathe and enjoy the now!
Happy winter friends (or summer, if you are cruelly enjoying the warmth while I huddle by a fire ;P). Talk soon and be safe!
Catch Up With a Coffee.
I’ve been lucky to post a few Author Interviews here recently and I have some more amazing ones already written or lines up, but I thougt I would take this chance to catch up with you all. So grab yourself a coffee, or wine, or pop-up juice, whatever floats your boat, and let me fill you all in on what’s been happening in the land of Oz, in the home of a wacky editor :))
First of all, let me just say, I am soooooo glad to finally have my computer back. A small part had broken on it, which of course was apparently fundamental to the running of the entire computer (who knew??) and it was out of action for weeks. Let me tell you, using someone else’s computer sucks! Badly! lol But luckily a friend of my sister was awesome enough to get it back up and running and I am hitting the deck to catch up on some much-needed editing therapy and marketing 🙂
That aside, I have had some fun and exciting achievements to share. As many of you already probably know, I offer a wide range of services, including developmental edits, copy edits, proofreading and critiques. I am also finding a strong demand for blurb writing, nasty little suckers that they are. But I am FINALLY dipping my toes into some Mentoring Services. This mentoring is tailored to help BEFORE the book is complete and on the smaller concerns that may stop you from completing your novel. So if something is sticking a spanner in your literature works, this is the edit for you! I will definitely be filling you all in more over the next month, but in the meantime, if you’re interested in more info, why not drop me a message? (there will be some more content added to my webpage soon too!)
Moving on from there, I have successfully completed my course-Advanced Copy Editing through the Editorial Freelancer’s Association. I got so much out of this course and can really take my editing to the next level! So why not request a sample edit and check out my new skills 😉
I’m still writing my novel too, but it was sadly stalled during the Computer Apocalypse, so hopefully I will have some more news on the progress soon. But on a bright side, my good friend, Katie Carys, and I have started brainstorming for our co-write! We had a great hash out of ideas and are spending this week collecting some character profiles. And oh boy! Have we got some very intriguing characters to play with 😉 But I need a name! Why can’t I think of a name!?
On the notion of writing, I also wrote a poem! It’s been a long time and I am not admitting it’s good but I am thinking (at the suggestion of that Katie woman again lol) to submit it in a comp! And probably lose … But hey, at least I’ll give it a go! xP
Well, anyway, that’s probably an update on the days of me! I hope you are all making headway with your WIPs and having fun while doing it! Why not drop me a message so we can chat? Because after all, all work and no play is pretty damn boring :))
Till next time,
Interview with Greg Seeley.
Thank you so much for agreeing to this author interview. I have worked with you for many years now and your writing is always very rich in history and characters. I think from a historical view point you have a lot to offer while still maintaining an engaging fiction piece.
So, let’s start there. How did you get the idea for your series? And was it always intended to be a series or was this an idea that grew?
As a young man, I read and then typed a transcript of letters that my great grandfather, Ira Seeley, had written home to his wife, Martha, while serving with the 29th Iowa Infantry during the Civil War. Due to the difficulty of carrying them all around with him, he unfortunately had not saved the letters she sent to him. Many years later, after I retired, I thought of trying to re-create the letters that I imagined she would have written but I gave it up as too difficult. I had no way of knowing what dates she would have written her letters, what letters might have crossed in the mail, or which of his letters she might have received when writing her own. Instead, I decided to write a fictional novel set mostly just after the war with characters inspired by them. I determined that the novel would include a couple of fictional letters that he had written home during his service.
I placed the characters, Union army veteran Henry Hancock and his wife Emma (Em), in the town of Thayer, Minnesota, which I based on the town of Thayer, Iowa, a few miles from where I grew up. I needed a story line and an antagonist. Therefore, I created Darius Morgan, the son of a Georgia cotton planter who plots revenge on the North for the life he feels has been stolen from him by the “Yankee Invasion”.
Originally, the better part of the novel was to take place in Minnesota and focus on Darius’ plot and Henry’s efforts to thwart it. It was intended to be one novel with the Civil War limited to the first chapter used to set the stage for the conflict between the two men. As I began writing, my characters started telling me more about themselves and asking me to tell more of their stories about their trials and tribulations, hopes and fears, etc. Four hundred + pages later, the war came to an end and all of the original story remained to be told. That story required two more novels: Henry’s Land: A Broken Peace and Henry’s Promise: Reckonings.
You have a love of the country; that is very evident in your writing. Do you write about areas you know or have been to?
At the time I wrote the first two Henry novels, I had never visited any major Civil War battlefields or even the areas where most of the story take place. All of the descriptions came from online research, things I had learned while earning my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history, contemporaneous letters, magazines, and other publications. (i.e., Harpers Weekly, Atlanta Journal Constitution, etc.).
Only after completing the first two Henry novels did I visit Atlanta, Charleston, and Little Rock as well as restored antebellum plantations.
The Horse Lawyer and Other Poems, Tractor Bones and Rusted Trucks, and Christmas at the Heath Farm all take place in Iowa where I was born and raised (Horse Lawyer takes place on our family farm but at an earlier time than my own.)
My stories are meant to entertain as well as to enlighten. They are not documentaries. As such, I admittedly have taken some liberties with historical facts while keeping the significant facts intact. (i.e, I had no idea whether or not there was a Union Military hospital near the Baltimore Harbor or how much of Milledgeville GA General Sherman actually burned).
Main themes focus on the Civil War and The Depression as well as many issues surrounding this time such as a lack of employment, poor economy, racial tensions, prisoner of war camps, etc. Many of these topics can be difficult to bring into a book effectively. How do you incorporate such strong, historical facts and fictional pieces together?
With respect to the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, again I relied on my college studies as well as what I was told by my parents and grandparents who lived through those times. Re: Federal Prison Camp at Rock Island, I lived for a few years just up the hill from the site of the camp. Though I was far from writing Civil War novels at the time, I visited the island, the cemetery, and the museum and retained in later years much of what I had learned.
It seems odd but, to a large extent, I just listened to what my characters had to say and let them tell me their stories so that I could put them “on paper”.
Did you get any information/stories from people whose families lived during that era? And if so, can you tell us more about that?
With respect to the Civil War, obviously no. I relied on letters left behind. I found out only later that a maternal great-grandfather had fought with General Sherman’s army at Kennesaw Mountain, Peachtree Creek, Chickamauga. As a kid, I never thought to ask my grandfather if his father had ever talked about the war.
By the same token, it never occurred to me to ask my Grandfather Seeley if his own father had talked to him of the war (I was only ten years old when he passed away–innocent of such things).
In writing of horse-farming and the Great Depression, I relied largely on what my parents, maternal grandparents, and my Grandmother Seeley related to me as I grew old enough to understand. I also read hometown newspapers from the period. In their early married years in the 1930’s , my wife’s parents lived on a farm in eastern Iowa near the Rock Island Railroad tracks. My mother-in-law would feed hoboes who had been “riding the rails”. That was the inspiration for the character George in Christmas at the Heath Harm. My friend, Bob Myers, who was an elementary school classmate of my mother, related stories also.
I understand you have a lot of personal history in this era as well. Did you have to delve into this much or was it well-known, passed down through the family?
It was a combination of both. I remember Dad telling me of having to help neighbors burn another neighbor’s oat field due to a chinch bug infestation and then sharing their own oat crops with him. He also told of the time, when he was a child, of Klan members burning a cross across the road from their home since his dad had hired a black farm laborer.
Your characters are incredibly complex with some suffering PTSD and other symptoms resulting from the war. Did you find this difficult to portray? How did you go about doing this so accurately?
Though I never served in war, I have fought a long battle with depression and anxiety, which provided some insights. Yes, it was difficult to portray. Much of what I wrote came from reading clinical journals online and talking with mental health professionals. At the time of the Civil War, much of what we now call PTSD was undiagnosed, attributed largely and erroneously to insanity or mental derangement. The most common treatment was self-administered in the form of alcohol and/or drugs. Alcoholics were often placed in insane asylums with little or no real treatment provided to address the root causes.
What did you find was the most challenging aspect of your stories? And why so?
The most challenging part was to present a fictional story that was, at the same time, believable, entertaining, and yet educational and insightful. In my previous writing, I have always struggled to create dialogue that sounded realistic and not artificial or stilted. As I learned to let the characters speak for themselves, their conversations became more natural. I had to be careful not to use words or phrases that would not have been part of the lexicon of the period.
Do you have a favourite character and a most challenging character to write? Can you tell us a bit more about this?
Though the novels are nominally about Henry Hancock, I think I would choose his brother, Jonas, as my favorite. Jonas, who served as an artilleryman at the Battle of Shiloh, is permanently deafened by vibrations from an exploding shell. The experience leaves him with recurring nightmares triggered by thunderstorms that he can sense in his sleep. The trauma of the war also leaves him embittered toward the South and causes him to do and say things incompatible with his Christian values and normally jovial nature.
The mostly challenging was the villain, Darius Morgan. Being, myself, what I hope others see as tolerant, nonviolent, understanding, and compassionate, I had trouble getting into the mind of one so cruel and depraved as Darius. The plantation overseer, Hamilton Stark, presented similar challenges, being equally capable of cold and remorseless murder.
Some of your characters are quite evil; I think you know the one I’m talking about but I don’t want to give it away unless you do lol. What advice would you have on crafting a strong, and decidedly horrible, protagonist? 😊
As an author, you need to leave your box and be able to crawl into the mind of someone whose nature is totally opposite to your own. You need to learn what it’s like to be totally despicable without actually becoming so. At the end of the writing session, it’s important to be able to quickly and seamlessly return to “the real world”. When I see horrible crimes reported on the news, I think “how could anyone commit such an atrocious act?” yet, when I’m writing, I need to figuratively become that very person and then leave them behind.
In my opinion, there is not enough historical fiction! Do you feel you will be writing more in this genre or series, or have you ever thought about writing anything else?
The third Henry novel, written but yet to be published, wraps everything up. That said, I have considered another novel with the same characters but taking place some twenty-five or thirty years later. May or may not happen. I am currently working on a sequel to Christmas at the Heath Farm that take place the following summer–the brutally dry and hot summer of 1936.
I have some ideas for some short stories that don’t take a long time commitment to write and can be drafted in a matter of hours.
You also write poetry, many around the themes of your novels. Have you always written poetry?
I have written poetry ever since my early college days. Some I believe quite good and some I can’t believe I saved. Some were about observations of life in general, most of it more personal, written for my then girlfriend and later wife. These poems have never been, and won’t be, shared outside of the family.
After I retired but before I conceived Henry Hancock and his family, I began to think of my family heritage and the trials and tribulations they faced in sustaining the family farm. It occurred to me how many others of their generation faced the same circumstances such as war, the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl years, and farming without tractors or modern implements. I set out to present not only my own family’s struggle but also those of so many like them in a volume of free verse. I knew the presentation had to be sufficiently personal to honor my parents, grandparents, and their friends and neighbors but also generic enough to have wider appeal. I hope I achieved that with The Horse Lawyer and Other Poems.
My second book of poetry also includes a collection of essays and short stories (some real, some fictional) inspired by my own days growing up on an Iowa farm during the 1950’s and 1960’s. I tried in Tractor Bones and Rusted Trucks: Tales and Recollections of a Heartland Baby Boomer, to portray the innocence of those times but also display the perspective of many years of reflection.
What is the most important thing you have taken from your stories?
I have always been an avid student of history. I think it’s important to learn from both its successes and its dismal failures, such as slavery and racism. Only in such a way can we build on the successes and learn not to repeat the failures. In the Henry series, I have tried to portray both the worst in human nature and call it out but also to show how compassion, community, faith, and forgiveness can triumph over evil. Through one particular character, I try to demonstrate that even the most despicable among us can be redeemed through God’s grace if they are truly repentant.
I also believe that, regardless of the temptation, we cannot hold the behavior of people who lived centuries ago to the same standards by which we judge people living today. Enlightenment comes with time and the experience of history. For example, the ancient Romans were entertained by blood sport unthinkable in our modern world of football and baseball. That said, we cannot expect them to have played those same sports. People have simply learned over time that entertainment need not take the form of suffering and death of the participants.
How do you decide which topics to approach and which to leave out? Or do you just write what comes?
I mostly try to stick with historical themes and those topics of which I already have some knowledge due to my past studies. For example, while the Colonial and Revolutionary War period was an important part of my country’s history, I find the period of westward expansion accompanied by the Civil War and Reconstruction to be of more personal interest. The years of the Great Depression are of interest because of the people I have known who lived through those times.
I watch movies on the two World Wars but won’t watch the more graphic ones such as Band of Brothers or the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan. I cannot watch movies of the Vietnam War at all. Though I was fortunate that I was not called upon to participate, I had high school friends and classmates who died there and find the films too disturbing.
All of this said, I try to let my characters write the stories wherever it may take them. I see myself as an observer and reporter, recording what I see them do and hear them say.
Are there any hesitations you have when writing? And how do you overcome these?
Like most writers, I often wonder if my work is “good enough.” I find myself, in writing first drafts, trying to get everything right the first time instead of just getting the story outline “on paper” and fleshing out all of the details later. This tends to draw out the writing process and often causes me to (pardon the cliché) not see the forest for the trees. I have a friend who once started to write a western novel. I read the early portions and found them quite good. However, he reached a point where he could not decide what type of gun his protagonist would have used and his work was never finished.
I try to overcome my issues by sometimes just “writing through”. If I have trouble writing a particular passage or “scene”, I will often just make a few notes, work on another portion of the book, and come back to it later with a new perspective.
According to Ernest Hemingway, “the first draft is always s**t.”
Finally, can you share any thoughts or advice for others out there reading this?
I will share the advice of one of my college professors who read my newer works many years after I was his student. “Write what you know. If you have an idea but not the knowledge, do your “homework” first. If you don’t get all of the details right, don’t worry. Most readers will have less knowledge of the topic than you do. Those who do know, if your story is entertaining and well- written, will be quite willing to ignore some “poetic license”. Remember, you are writing historical fiction, not a research paper or a documentary.”
My own advice-write what you like, not what you think you should write. If you don’t, writing becomes a chore, and it will show in your work. Remember to write for yourself. There are very few Ernest Hemingways or Herman Wouks in the world. Read extensively and learn but don’t try to be them. You are you.
Thank you so much, Greg Seeley, for featuring on my blog! I am sure there are a lot of readers and writers out there interested in historical fiction, and I am certain they can find some inspiration here.
If you would like to read some of Greg’s work, why not start with Henry’s Pride. You can find more information on his books here Greg Seeley (Author of The Horse Lawyer and Other Poems) (goodreads.com) or follow him on Facebook here: (8) Greg Seeley | Facebook
Wow, so much has been happening and it’s crazy to believe I haven’t blogged in so long! Honestly, I wasn’t able to keep it consistent during the end of last year and I didn’t want to stop and start so I thought I would get through all the crazy before kicking off again. But here I am! And now I promise I will write more often. 🙂
So, how have we all been? Have you all made progress with your latest WIP? I sure hope so! I have been editing some amazing books lately – ones that feature vampires, speakeasies!, shifters, parallel worlds, coming-of-age storylines, clubs and shoot outs! And this is why I love my job lol! Who knows what else you all have waiting for me this year! I can’t wait, so if you’re thinking of getting an edit done soon, shoot me a message. I would love to do a sample edit for you!
I also changed day jobs last year – still working part-time but at a place that is more stable so I can focus on editing even more and blogging with you all again. I have some exciting things planned this year and I’m looking forward to everyone’s feedback. I also can’t wait to finish my novel. It’s still in its early stages but it’s coming along nicely. Hopefully, and I say this with trepidation, I can get it out to betas by the end of the year!! Eeek!
On the notion of editing, there is a particular issue I am coming across more and more lately; something I am sure all authors, heck, any freelancer, has experienced but which I have noticed more this year – the dreaded Imposter Syndrome!
You know the feeling; that terrible comparison to your peers, that feeling of not belonging, of trying to be something that maybe you just can’t be or will never be good enough for. We’ve all been there, after all, it’s not like we have a boss or mentor to tell us where our weaknesses are or, for that matter, when we are doing an amazing job. And social media is a hub for our peers to showcase their successes (and good on them!). Yet, despite our congratulation emojis and our likes on their posts we can’t help but feel a twang of creative fear. At no fault of our own! Which then leads to writer’s block, hesitation, and, perhaps in the end, surender.
There is nothing I can really say to stop you from experiencing these feelings. But hopefully, I can still help you get through it. Something to first realize is that EVERY one of us can experience this, and probably have already. Social media posts only reveal part of the picture. We all feel like we are not reaching our expectations at some point. But in the end, there is no comparison. Writing is an individual process, a drive, a story each writer has to share. And giving up before you tell that story is denying yourself that right. Because everyone can tell a story. And everyone should. They’re the currency of the world.
So before you stop writing and curl up into the fetal position on the couch, binging on Netflix and reading the latest trash mag, consider this: what is your favourite book? And what feelings does reading that book stir with you? Now, what if you never write your story? What if your book could become to someone, just one someone out there, what your favourite book is to you? You could change one single life with your story, create nostaligic memories that stay with that person for the rest of their life, stir someone’s emotions, bring them to laughter, or tears, and maybe, just maybe, they will be brave enough to create their own story. All because of you!
So forget your fellow authors, forget the social posts, the well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) advice, and think about that special person out there who is just waiting to read your book!
What are you waiting for? Get back to writing!
And I look forward to reading it someday soon :))))
CREATING BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS.
I’ve noticed on Twitter lately a few people have been curious about how to create believable characters in their writing. I think there is always an element of the world-building or plot that can be tricky to pull off, and it is different for every person. But today I thought I would write up some personal tips on how to create believable, 3-dimensional characters in your story.
Honestly, it sounds harder than it is. The most important thing to remember about your characters is that they’re not characters at all. At least not in the writing world. They’re people – plain and simple. Or aliens, monsters, demi-gods, or field mice, depending on the genre and story lol But for the sake of argument, they are real. So stop thinking of them as something and start thinking of them as someone. They’re the person you met at the store last week. They’re that annoying person you work with. Or that awesome person you chat to on the phone every week. They’re living, breathing beings. By picturing them in this way, it makes it easier to put pen to paper.
Now, the second thing to consider with your characters is at the fundamentals of everything. Back to the basics: Who, what, when, where, why and how. So let’s start there.
Who are they? Personally, I find it helps to have some background on your character, whether it’s written or taped, typed or drawn. Create a character profile and use it as a handy reference. You may never use some of the information, but if you can imagine your character then chances are so will your reader. So who is he or she? Look at family history, childhood, appearance, race, creed, species, job role, language, whether they have any pets, etc. This creates the basic shell and then this info can be used to expand on in the next sections.
What? What are they doing? What is their purpose? What are they going to give the story? These are important questions because realistically, every character in a story should contribute in some way. Even the cabbage farmer they meet down the street who let’s them shelter from the storm at his place is relevant. Why? Well, if it weren’t for him, your MC wouldn’t have learnt about those bad ass mercs chasing him down or hear about that snippet of gossip that leads him to his next location. No matter how subtle the details, every single character needs to deliver something.
When? When are they doing this? When are they appearing? This is a multilayered question because, firstly, you need to think about when in the story they are introduced. If it’s the MC then it pays to introduce them early on, otherwise the whole thing falls flat. But if it’s that merchant who teaches your young MC to help save the town, well it’s no good doing it too early when he just wants to have fun, or too late when he’s already learnt about humility (yes, I’m using stereotypes here lol ). It needs to be at the point of the story that works FOR the story.
The other layer to this is also about the character itself, especially important in the main leads. You need to know what experiences this character has been through that leads them to this point in the story. Have they had a difficult life, a terrible childhood, an easy, silver spoon life? The character’s past is just as important as their present. Another reason why a profile comes in handy 😊
Where? Well, this is quite simple really. Where are they? Where do they live? Think about your character’s surroundings, home, town, etc. Are they happy where they are? A person’s surroundings can describe a lot and add dimension to both your settings and the people themselves. Build on that and reveal it through the character’s eyes. This way your reader doesn’t learn about it, they experience it.
Why? Well, this one is a massive question but it essentially ties in with all the above. Why is your character doing what they are doing? If you’ve answered the above, this should all click into place. Maybe they had that rough upbringing and want to be certain no one else goes through what they did? Or they live in a town being controlled and yearn for freedom? These answers are already sitting there in your profile, now you just have to define them. Most importantly though, remember, if your character can’t answer this question, maybe they aren’t meant to be in the book. If they don’t serve a purpose then perhaps it’s time you let them go.
Finally, how? How do they do it all? This is found in their actions, both obvious and less so. Don’t forget, in real life, people talk, so dialogue is important. I’m not saying be over-wordy (that’s a different point altogether) but have you’re character say things. Have conversations around relevant aspects of the story and throw in some banter or accompany actions with words. Remember how they speak and their actions or way of saying things. For example, incorporate dialect, favourite sayings, idiosyncrasies, hand or body signals that they tend to do a lot and link these to your character profile. All these things are what makes us, us. So let them make your character as well. And don’t forget to give them strengths and weaknesses; flaws and virtues. No one wants to read about Mr Perfect, or Mrs Nasty for No Reason. It doesn’t matter whether they’re the antagonist, protagonist or that cabbage farmer we met earlier, they have pros and cons that make up who they are. This makes them believable and relatable, two things you’ll hear editors mention a lot! xP
Of course, this is all just some of my editing advice and maybe you have a hack or process that works best for you. Or perhaps you have a method or advice that’s not mentioned here to add? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Please let us know how you like to craft your characters.
In the end, your characters keep the readers engaged. I’ve read okay plot lines with amazing characters and kept turning those pages. I don’t read great plot lines with boring, unrelatable characters. Maybe that’s just me and I’m not saying plot isn’t important, but you get the idea. Readers want to know their characters, not just read about them. So go ahead, bring them to life 😊
EXCITING THINGS TO COME.
So it’s been a while since I’ve posted and I thought I’d send you all an update on what I’m up to lately. There are a LOT of changes going on with Fair Crack of the Whip at the moment and I am very excited with the progress. I’m actually accomplishing things lately and it feels awesome! But let’s face it, whether it’s writing, editing, or just life, there is always something to do and other things that get in the way. That’s why I was pretty happy to not only get plenty of editing done last week, but also some writing and website upgrades underway.
I don’t know if you’ve had time to browse my website lately, but I have added to my site, including a Writing Den and Portfolio (currently being constructed). I have also added some more details on my Services page, so hopefully everything is a little clearer and streamlined. I’m not quite finished but it’s getting there!! I hope you all like the changes but if you have any feedback, please let me know. I’m always happy to hear other people’s thoughts. 😊
You may notice I have also decided to include some pricing structure to the site. I have asked numerous people, and I think most prefer to know roughly what to expect when they’re budgeting for their edits. I work with a lot of new and long term authors and I understand the costs involved. In the end, I edit for the purpose of helping all authors to share their stories, so while we all need to pay the bills, my priority is in the edit itself, not in the paycheck. For that reason, I have attempted to keep my rates reasonable and hope to continue to do so.
As for my writing, it’s a lot of fun and a great way for me to get a little downtime. Apparently, it has a little bit of blood and horror in it? ( Thank you Sarah and Cinthia 😉 )But that’s not a bad thing, right? I mean, it’s just a little bit …?! xP Anyway, I’ve realized despite usually writing as it comes to me, I need to develop some character profiles for my novel. These characters keep fighting me for more page time, so let’s see what I can come up with! lol
Finally, my new editing service is about to debut!!! I can’t wait to release it and you will start to see some information on it popping up on my social media and here. This one is going to be so beneficial for anyone needing that little extra guidance or struggling with the details! *Just so you know, I’m currently rubbing my hands together in anticipation for this release!!!!!* So stay tuned!!!!
Other changes have taken a while in the coming, but hey, that’s life I guess and honestly, this year, a step forward is better than none. I think we beat ourselves up a lot over what we don’t manage to finish and forget what we’ve accomplished. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have goals or try to get things done, but there has to be a point when we stop and think, okay, so I didn’t cross absolutely EVERYTHING off my to do list, but look what I did do!!!
So here’s to crossing off that list, one little task at a time, and trying not to go insane in the meantime. Keep writing and until next time 😊
By Fantasy Romance Author, Katie Carys
So today, I would like to feature a guest blog post by fantasy romance author Katie Carys (previously Katie Epstein). I have been editing for Katie for many years and after her recent transition into her new brand, I thought she could shed some light on writing romance and fantasy and what the genre means to her.
Not only did Katie Carys write a blog, but she delivered in every way possible, shedding light on the romance genre in a way I haven’t considered before but a way that rings true!
So please have a read, let me know what you think, and maybe consider writing a novel or two on fantasy romance. You never know where it might take you! Just remember though, your standards may never be the same again xP.
Romance. Eye roll. Ugh. Scoff. Loses interest …
These are just some of the reactions romance authors often get from certain book snobs. Hell yeah, I’m calling them that. Why? Because to them, it doesn’t matter that it’s the best-selling genre of EVERYTHING, or that it has a multi-billion dollar turnover each year. If you’re a romance author then you’re everything that’s wrong with the world.
Okay. You’re not. But not everyone feels like that. There is a stigma in our society attached to romance. Ask a few people to define it and I’ll guarantee you’ll get a few say poems, chocolates, and roses. Or an eye roll. Ugh. And a scoff. But chocolates and roses?
- NO. NO.
See? This is the issue. The stereotype. Romance isn’t about the end goal. It’s about the intention behind our actions, our words, our behaviour. It’s about relationships, how we connect on an intimate level, and how we grow together through such a connection.
When writing romance, it’s important to make it realistic. It doesn’t matter if you’re creating a relationship between a vampire and a two-headed dragon, the connection needs to be something the reader can relate to. Relationships have hardships. But they also have, mostly, sex, deep conversations, and sometimes, sweet endearments such as poo bear or sweetie-pie face. However, to keep it realistic, as a writer of romance, I always like to go with balance. Not many readers are going to appreciate sickly sweet all the way through. Life isn’t like that. In my opinion, you need grit, sassiness, banter, arguments, and frustrations. But you also need care, attention, intensity, and connection. But not for the sake of it. We need to go on a journey with the characters of romance, just like we do any other story. So it’s important that their behaviour and reactions are valid to their true nature and what’s happening in the environment around them.
If romance is handled well, it can also happen early on in the book. If there is something I am growing tired of it’s the will they, won’t they until the end, when I get one chapter of them together. No. Not alright with that. Just … no … But you’ve got to keep it interesting. Put your characters and their relationship into the plot. Keep readers turning the page. Maintain that balance. Otherwise, it becomes repetitive. Like the third wheel of the ugly sisters with Cinderella and Prince Charming, no one wants to be privy to romance when it’s served its purpose. Same with a slow burn. I don’t mind a bit of build-up to a romance. The flirting. The jealousy. The wondering. But DO NOT drag it on and on and on and on and on and then put them together, then break them up so it goes on and on and on. Again, this is my opinion, but I need a well-paced relationship that keeps me interested and invested. If you want to throw in an alpha who isn’t threatened by a strong, independent female then I’m down with that too …
Cough. Cough. I digress …
I guess what I’m trying to say is that romance can be magical, fun, intense, sexy, funny, sad, frustrating, and satisfying in soooo many ways if you stay true to your characters. One of my favourite romance scenes to write is when they click on a deeper level and find out things about each other they never knew. Or having each other’s back. Or knowing what song they listened to back in ’91 when they saw a shooting star for the first time. No chocolates included.
Romance requires listening, thought, and selflessness. If we all had a bit of romance in our lives, both giving and taking, then the world would be a lot better place. Not the horror people think us romance writers bestow upon it.
I’m a romance hunter. I’m a romance writer. I’m proud to write about strong women and strong men who can work through the insecurities they trigger in one another to find common ground without losing themselves in the process.
Romance is a beautiful thing. Many a romance novel saved me from some disastrous relationships because it raised my standards of what I wanted. If that’s not worth writing romance for, then I don’t know what is. So go ahead … Write or read a romance. And if it has magic in it, then all the better, says me.
MY FIRST SHORT STORY!
Well, I can’t believe it! I am so excited right now. I always thought I was better suited to helping others with their stories rather than writing one myself. Sure, I tried starting a couple of novels many years ago, but it never really took off, and I had trouble finishing them.
As you all know, I started a new fantasy novel not long ago with the push of a couple of friends, and I am really enjoying writing during my downtime. But last month a great friend and author (and incidentally one of the friends who pushed me to write) asked me if I could contribute to her series. Katie Epstein writes awesome fantasy romance books and I’ve been editing one of her Terra Vane Series for many years now. In fact, this series taught me a lot in editing a long term series, and built my confidence as a developmental editor.
With each new book in the series, she also releases a short story written from the POV of one of the side characters. And she asked me if I could write the next one!!!! Better still, it was from the POV of one of my favourite characters, Mayra the Witch!! Without giving too much away, we get to see Mayra confronting her dark powers and ultimately realising her true calling.
This is my first completed book; the first time my name has been on a cover! And I can tell you now, it gives me goosebumps 😊 I would like to thank Katie Epstein for giving me this opportunity and for playing a big part in igniting in me the passion to write.
Feeling the emotions involved in actually crafting a story and in being a part of someone else’s story from the start, well, it is a unique experience and one I will always treasure! I hope you all get the chance to check out Diary of a Witch here: https://katieepstein.com/the-portiside-diaries-collection/
And in the meantime, I want to see your work, read about your characters and help edit your stories! So keep writing! And never think your stories don’t need telling. Because the world wants to read them. 😊
Nope, I haven’t spelt this incorrectly. I’m not talking about a cheque for a beautiful meal you could barely even see on an oversized plate that cost you your left arm. I’m talking about Grammar Check!!!!
Who has used Grammar Check at one stage of their writing? Who has found it or auto correct has saved their clumsy, over-worked fingers at some stage or another? Or maybe you’ve used it to sweep over a letter or report to highlight any problems?
Let’s be honest here, most people have used these services at one stage of their written work, whenever and whatever it may have been for. I know I have! So now for the million-dollar question. If I can use grammar check or auto type, a free service, why should I pay for an editor? Good question! And I know there are many articles and opinions out there but let’s see if I can answer it for you here. 😊
Let’s assume, firstly, for the sake of argument, that your work has already had a developmental edit. So there’s no re-writing, character building or plot holes to be finalised. We are now essentially looking at a copy edit stage. Well, the first thing to note here is a copy edit does more than just correct spelling. It corrects word choice, suggesting alternative, more accurate words to use; it may re-shuffle paragraphs in order to improve flow and structure; and even combine or shorten sentences among many other minor structural alterations. These are all things grammar check won’t correct.
But I only need a proofread, I hear you cry? Okay, sure. So grammar and spelling only, right? Wrong! You see, grammar check corrects things that are ‘technically’ incorrect, but it doesn’t look at context. So the word ‘their’ could have been used instead of ‘there’. Grammar Check doesn’t care. As far as it’s concerned, it will pass since the spelling is correct, but the way in which the word has been used is not. It doesn’t look at whether something makes sense, only if the word itself is spelt the right way. And it doesn’t take into account if a particular word is the best choice, conveying your intentions clearly.
Maybe Grammar Check has a place in this world, a quick breeze over a letter after you’ve already edited it perhaps? But until we live in a Star Trek universe where computer systems have human feelings and can make these decisions, I don’t believe any system is the equivalent of a personalised edit. That gentle, careful touch to polish and perfect the written word is what a warm, homecooked meal eaten with family and friends beside the wood fire is compared to a freeze-dried, microwavable meal eaten in a steel canteen.
In this fast-paced world it’s easy to forget the importance and far-reaching effect of the personal touch. But the end result speaks volumes! Never trust a machine to do a human’s job 😊
YOU SAY WHAT NOW?
Hey all, so I thought I might add a piece here on a topic close to my heart – my business name: Fair Crack of the Whip Proofreading and Editing. For those of you who don’t know, I live in the sunburnt land of Australia, and here we have three types of English: good English, bad English and Aussie slang!
Sadly, it’s true that slang isn’t used as much as it once was, although, apparently, many other countries can still pick me out as Aussie easily enough.
See, slang is a large part of our culture. It’s said that Aussie lingo was created by speaking through clenched teeth in order to avoid the blowflies. xP Yep, that sums us up here in OZ 😊 The easiest way to describe our slang is in how we shorten the words, like Good day to G’day, or of creating rhyming ones, for example, Tomato Sauce is Dead Horse, or basically a story within a saying, for example, ‘It’s better than nothing’ becomes ‘Better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick’. We’re definitely a colourful lot. But anyway, I’m nattering on. My point in this article is to explain my business name, one that is very familiar to me but which might not make a lick of sense to other people lol.
Fair Crack of the Whip is an Aussie saying meaning to give someone a chance.
When I chose my business name, I wanted something unique, meaningful and fundamentally me. After a lot of discussion with my family, probably driving them nuts in the meantime, we narrowed it down and my business was born. But for me, Fair Crack of the Whip is more than just a name. I have spoken to so many authors who, through cynical beta readers, poor feedback from friends, ill-meaning family, or some other form of outside criticism, have been told their writing is no good and that it’s time to throw in the towel. This, to me, is disgusting. So much hard work and passion is poured into an author’s novel! Months or years of hard work and devotion, determination and grit to both start and finish a story. And yes, sometimes the writing needs work, or maybe the author isn’t quite ready for publishing. Heck, maybe their talent isn’t in that genre or even in that style of writing, but I don’t think that gives any Tom, Dick or Harry reason to shoot someone down in flames with next to nothing in the way of constructive feedback.
I have edited for people who have been told they are no good at their craft, people who may have otherwise given up, and guess what, they are now published authors. Now I’m not giving myself the credit here. All I did was help edit the work. They wrote it, they created it and they had the guts to keep going. But I fully believe that anyone who has tried so damn hard and stuck at something for so long at least deserves a chance to shine. And for me, personally, there’s nothing that makes me happier than to see an author published and realising their dream.
So that’s why my business was created to give an author a fair go; a fair crack of the whip.
So keep writing and never give up! And I’ll be here if you need me! 😉
And for those interested in learning more Aussie slang, I’ve attached a fun read here 😊
See ya around, alligator 😉
YOUR AUTHOR VOICE AND WHY A GOOD EDITOR WON’T MAKE YOU CHANGE THAT.
First off, you may ask, what is Author’s Voice. Well, to sum it up, an author’s voice is you. It’s your personality, your innate style, your passion and emotion on a page. It’s not something you can measure or quantify. I’m not saying it’s a journal entry of how you’re feeling or a character created as a version of yourself b it’s how your work is definably, unarguably yours and yours alone.
Everyone has a distinct personality, a passion, rhythm, tone; a uniqueness that defines them. I think,in the real world, we tend to alter that sometimes to suit the situation, possibly not always being true to ourselves, but in writing there is never a need to do that! Perhaps there never is in the first place. Writing is a blank, white page. Literally! Writing is a chance to be yourself, to let the words pour out, to go with the flow, and of course to learn, grow and explore your writing and your personal voice. And as you write, like in a conversation, your own style emerges. Hence, your author’s voice.
While it is true, in writing, you allow our voice to take the wheel, after the MS is written or the novel completed it requires scrutinising to ensure that the reader can understand what you are writing and that it speaks to a general audience, especially when you are writing with the intention to please a wide audience and not just a select few. Some publishing houses may prefer a different voice or style and in the end it is entirely up to you whether you want to, shall we say, refine that to suit. However, as an editor, I would never seek to change your writer’s voice or author’s style. I may suggest alternative words, sentences or even suggest different scenarios. I may even offer insight into what audience your writing may currently appeal to or suggest other options if you wish to expand on that audience. But how you write, who you write as, is something that should NEVER be recreated. Because in the end, you are your words, and your words are you.
So keep writing 😊
Yep, that’s right! For all of you who didn’t know, I have F.I.N.A.L.L.Y become active on Instagram!!! I had been searching for some more social platforms to jump onto and everyone seemed to be hanging out at Instagram. But to be honest, I had no idea what Insta was all about. At the urging of a friend, I decided to give it a go last month and it’s great!!
I am happy to say I am meeting and talking to some amazing people, authors and editors alike! There is so much to be gained from sharing pics or information, or sometimes just laughing or facepalming with people who are interested and love the same thing that you do!
So if you’re interested in checking out my page, you can find me on https://www.instagram.com/faircrackofthewhipediting/
So what are you waiting for? Let’s connect! 🙂
INTRODUCING KATIE CARYS!!!!
Welcome back to another blog post!!!! And today I get to write something super exciting about my friend and awesome author Katie Epstein!!! Originally writing under this name, the Terra Vane Series is an awesome collection of paranormal fantasy that I had the pleasure of editing, packed full of action, magic, fantastical beings and kickass characters. And rest assured, for all of you who have been hooked on this series (and if you haven’t read them yet, you need to get on it!!) Terra isn’t going anywhere just yet.
But 2020 is a year of changes and now it is time to introduce a newer and truer version of Katie. I’m proud to introduce the awesome pseudonym Katie Carys!!! So let’s all get to know Katie Carys a little more in an awesome Q&A she has agreed to 😊
1. First of all, thank you Katie for participating in this Q&A!! It’s always exciting to create something new. So let’s start with what lead you to move on from Katie Epstein and begin writing as Katie Carys?
Thank you for having me!
I suppose the transition from Katie Epstein to Katie Carys came when I found myself drawn more to the paranormal romance genre. I do feel urban fantasy and PNR complement each other well, and I’ve written PNR under the name of Katie Epstein, but I wanted a fresh perspective where the chains can come off and I can write more freely.
2. Can you tell me more about Katie Carys and who she is to you? What can your readers expect from the new you? 😊
In regards to the name, I wanted to stay as Katie, but have the surname mean something to me on a deeper level. Carys is Welsh for love so it combines two of my favourite things: Romance and Wales. Wales is a beautiful place where magic still lingers, so for me that’s the perfect representation of paranormal romance where the supernatural take charge. The love/romance connection speaks for itself 😁
3. What led you to choose the pseudonym? Have you always wanted a pen name?
I began with a pen name, but moved away from that when I began publishing. With the pseudomym, I can be whoever I want to be. We often conform, even on a subconscious level, so I want to have the freedom of words I’m drawn to rather than trying to make them fit to a mould. With Katie Carys, I feel I can do that and more.
4. I’m sure you have some pretty exciting projects in the wind at the moment. Can you tell us what’s on the cards for Katie Carys this year?
I’m so excited for what Katie Carys is bringing to the table! More insta-connection, more heat, more prophecies and battles, and love stories. But I love how the tales I’ve written so far have created a triangle of identity that falls into the genres: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy Romance (with a branch off to urban fantasy romance), and Supernatural Cozy Mystery Romance. As you can see romance is key here 😂
5. Will you still be writing under Katie Epstein? Or will she be eventually be phased out?
I’m still torn on this, so I’m going to wait until the Terra Vane series and Prophecy Child series end before making the decision to phase her out completely. It’s both sad and exciting at the same time.
6. How do you feel you have changed as an author since starting out as Katie Epstein?
Confidence. Self-belief. Growth. Staying open to evolution. I started off thinking I operated at my best while doubting myself at the same time. But after facing my flaws and identifying the areas where I needed to improve, I feel I’m in a much better place to tell my stories to a wider audience, experience and knowledge eliminating the doubt. There’s always room for improvement, only no time for fear.
7. We hear a lot about Author’s Voice/Style. How would you define your own voice? And has it evolved over the years?
I tried for so long to emulate the voice of others, thinking mine as weak. But that soon changed after I received some wonderful advice: stay true to your voice and you’ll find your audience. It worked, and I have, no longer trying to change who I am.
8. Obviously, you have come a long way. What would you say were the most notable moments for you as an author in regards to how you have grown?
Getting an editor 😂 The amount I’ve learned from going through such a process is immense. But a lot comes from self-worth. I always thought confidence meant arrogance, but I was so wrong. Confidence comes from knowing your ability and being self aware of the steps you take along the way. Someone confident in their work will know it’s a forever evolving process, and be willing to do what it takes to grow along the way.
9. Can you share a piece of advice or a quote that defines your personal journey here?
Never, ever, ever compare yourself to another. There’s only one of you. There’s no one out there like you. Stay true to who you are and you’ll find your own way. As the saying goes, every story may have been told, but not by you. Or something like that 😂
10. Where can we find out more about Katie Carys?
At the moment, she’s only hanging out at Instagram. You can keep an eye for future projects at https://www.instagram.com/katiecarys/ or Instagram @katiecarys
Thanks for the great questions!
No problems at all, Katie, and thank you for letting me boast about you!!
I hope you will all check out Katie Carys on her Instagram and I speak personally when I wish her all the best on this new journey!
BOOKS To MOVIES – PERFECT ALIGNMENT OR NASTY FEUD?
The ultimate question really! So many AMAZING books have been made into movies, just look at Harry Potter for example! But the sad truth, in my opinion anyway, is that so many of them are done poorly or don’t meet expectations.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are many, many books-turned-movies that are beyond amazing. And I haven’t even scratched the surface of them all. But there are also many that just stray too far from the true grain of the story to impress or even make it satisfactory. So, I thought it might be a bit of fun to add on here an update every couple of weeks (or maybe more often if I get the chance) on my opinion for some of the hits and misses in the book/movie world.
And to start off with, in light of the exciting news that his production company, Narrativia, has signed on with Motive Pictures and Endeavor Content to develop the series, and to honour what would have been his 72nd Birthday on the 28th April, I would like to start with none other than Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather.
The Discworld for me has always been a source of wonder and uniqueness. I have been reading Terry Pratchett’s books for many years, my mum having collected and read many of his stories also. So they were essentially one of the first series of novels I began. They hold a special place in my heart and I think a movie adaption can always be one of apprehension as we wonder whether they will systematically turn one of our personal best experiences to one of utter disappointment.
I first watched Hogfather (the movie) around Christmas time, I think during the year it was released in Australia, although to be honest I can’t recall the exact date. And my first thought was AMAZING!!!! Not only does the movie follow step by step when compared to the book’s plot, but it also sets the tone, atmosphere and feel itself of a Pratchett novel. I could actually see the Discworld in all its mucky, beautiful, grimy, magical glory! The town was exactly how I imagined it. The lighting and music only adding to its appeal.
But what completes this movie is the cast!
In tune completely with the characters that live within Terry Pratchett’s own Hogsfather, David Jason and Michelle Dockery portray Albert and Susan (not to mention the Death of Rats) with character. And let’s not forget the bad guy, Jonathan Teatime! Played by Marc Warren, who made the character creepy beyond all reason, that man was the perfect villain with his sinister almost childish voice!!!
But I admit, my hat goes off to the combination of Ian Richardson and Marnix Van den Broeke (the voice and body of Death respectively). The portrayal of Death was the character I was most dubious about. One of my favourite Discworld characters, this is not an easy part to pull off! I mean it’s pretty awkward to act the part of a skeleton! But in complete harmony, these two actors brought life to Death, literally! I have rarely seen a book character created so vividly and realistically in a movie before and was completely blown away!!
And finally, let’s not forget the part of Terry Pratchett himself, who cameoed briefly as the toymaker. A small part I’m glad he played as it pays a wonderful tribute to the author.
Needless to say, this has to be one of my all time favourite movie adaptions! Just as Terry Pratchett, in my opinion, was a genius of his craft. He created a completely unique world and filled it with flawed, skilled and crazy characters that were incredibly different from our own world and people and yet terrifyingly relatable. He made our own worries, cares, passions and dreams shine and grime in the Discworld and he wrote with a creative flare, with such passion and wit, and such humour and gusto, that few could master. And he wasn’t afraid to break the norm in his writing style. And thankfully, in true Pratchett style, Hogsfather paid tribute to his world and wacky wisdom!
So in short, I have but one last word of comment to the subject.
Long live the king of the Discworld!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on this awesome book/movie. I’ll revisit this soon and, in the meantime, if you have any suggestions please let me know, or if you would like to be a part of this discussion, contact me and we’ll have some fun with this! 😊
THE DROUGHT HAS BROKEN!
So I thought I would touch base here and introduce you all to the newest and currently cutest member of our mad little tribe! 😊 Meet Rain, my sister’s 7mnth old Quarterhorse filly. My gentle old giant of a horse had been getting a lot slower and aging, and, apparently, she had been looking for a new young thing for riding and as company for our other horses. Sadly, my old man passed away late last year before that could happen, so we didn’t end up getting a new baby straight away.
But then she came across a website selling horses as a last resort before they were put down. This poor little baby wasn’t even weaned yet and my sister fell in love. So, without me knowing, despite whispers among her and my mum that I should have picked up on, she was purchased. Then the news was broken to me when she showed me a picture of a foal and asked me if I thought she was cute. ‘SURPRISE’ we are proud foal mummys lol To give credit though, the place she bought her from was amazing! They made sure she was properly weaned and cared for until a suitable age before organising delivery for us.
Things were touch and go for a while when the Covid 19 attacked OZ and we weren’t sure if she could still be delivered or not. So we spent the weekends reinforcing and building a great little enclosure, if I do say so myself, for her to be safe and sound in, where she could touch the other horses but not be over crowded by them, because she would be nervous, right? HA!
Well, the day came, delivery was a go, she was safely loaded on the truck and on her way to us! In my usual over-thinking way I was fretting. What if she gets too scared? What if the other horses hate her? What if there is some sort of three-horse massacre!!!! Yes, this is my brain! Trust me, you don’t want to visit my thoughts 😊 My biggest concern though was how the other horse and a half (we have a miniature) would react. I thought the delivery itself would go okay though. I mean truck pulls up, drops off horse, all good. Right? Nope.
She arrived, but the truck wouldn’t fit through the gates properly, so it had to back in from a different paddock into the yard NEXT to hers (you know, one of the biggest yards with the least amount of fencing or paddocks, yep, that one). Then they tried to halter her. She-who-had-never-been-haltered did not take too kindly to the experience and managed to create a bit of ruckus. Then my sister, who is the same height as the little horse and shaped like a bean pole, had to half walk, half tempt and half drag/be dragged from the truck to the paddock. And guess what? If she got away, we’d be chasing the little darling all around that big, ol’ paddock!!!
But no, with bated breath she finally got her safely to her enclosure. Whew! So next was the game of patience in order to get the halter off. Fights of stubbornness and wit went on as my sister and her foal established who was more of a mule. My sister won of course (never had any doubt 😉) But not before the wind started howling and the clouds came over dark and, oh yes, we had a massive thunderstorm and downpour the likes of which we hadn’t seen at our farm for years!! And no, this is not an exaggeration! Since this little thing stepped hoof on our farm, it hasn’t stopped raining! Our dams, nearing empty a month ago, are now full, our tanks brimming and grass growing! So, it seemed only suitable that from our shortlist of names, we chose Rain!
We spent the day with her and left her that night to her safe little enclosure complete with lucerne, hay, water and safety. So warm and snug. We thought Queen Rain would be happy. But no, this is not good enough, she says!
So next we see her, where is the little darling?!! That’s right. In with the other horses!!!!! She had decided she didn’t really like her brand new, hundreds-of-dollar, modern lay out of a paddock. Somehow, she had hightailed it out of there, over the horse sighter wire and into the other paddock with the adult horses to spend her time bossing them around. And did she care that one was massive in both height and girth compared to her tiny innocence (yeah, sure, innocence!)? Nope, not in the least. In fact, it seems she bosses him around, ordering him to do her bidding with little whinnies of demand. And he does, plodding along after her with an expression reminiscent of a grandparent looking after six screaming grandchildren under the age of ten. xP
But give credit where it’s due, despite living in the big yard she now shares with her friends, she is easy to get close to, we’ve all petted her, and my sister has managed to halter, lead her, brush her and even pick out her hooves! Not bad considering she had very little in the way of actual handling. She also deals with storms like a champ. And she seems to get along very well with the dogs. And the other horses love her to bits!! Our big boy takes good care of her, calling out to her when she’s lost and ensuring her and the little fella, TJ, don’t argue!
She is cheeky, sassy, spunky, kind and gentle all rolled into one! And she brings a little light in where it was much needed. I am very happy to say little Rain has found a forever home! Although if this rain doesn’t stop falling soon, we may have to build a boat! 😊
HAPPY HOLIDAY TIME!!!
Just a short one folks, to wish you all an amazing Easter time. And if you don’t celebrate Easter itself, please still enjoy this time with your family and loved ones. It’s difficult at the moment when we can’t necessarily be in the same room as the people we care about, or celebrate in our usual ways. But Easter is about love, faith and togetherness. And we can continue that in each of our own ways, regardless of where we are at the moment.
So please be safe, be happy, and have a lovely holiday wherever you are and whoever you may be!
Image by <a href=”https://pixabay.com/users/annca-1564471/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=3204589″>annca</a> from <a href=”https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=3204589″>Pixabay</a>
ISOLATION TIME OR TIME TO ISOLATE?
With so much going on in the world at the moment, it’s difficult not to get disheartened. We see so much negativity on the news, Facebook, Twitter, and sprawled all across the Internet. And in the end, despite the importance of keeping up with affairs, we need to find ourselves some downtime before we all go nuts. Or at least, I do.
But take out the horrible things happening in the world, and what we’re left with is a whole lot of time. Time at home, without the need (or the ability) to go out and about. No sport or gym, possibly no school or work, no going to the cinema or hanging with friends out and about. And despite how sombre that sounds, it actually has some benefits.
After all, how many of us have some project we have been trying to kick off and just never have the time? How many of us have a WIP we’re trying to get through while balancing life, family, and work? What about that sucker called marketing? Nobody ever gets enough of that done? Or maybe your WIP is done and ready for an editor?
Well, now you have the time! I have managed to edit, market my services, research my business and even started my first novel! So much in the last few days compared to what I would usually get done! It’s absolutely fantastic and such a great boost of motivation! Not to mention it gets my head out and away from the negativity and into something productive and exciting!
So why not take this opportunity to do what you love while we have the chance! Write, read, take on that short story competition, or design that world map or cover design that’s been plaguing your head for weeks!! Drop me a line if you’re interested in getting some editing underway, or if you have some questions and want to discuss the process? Need a free sample edit – let’s do this! Because we all need some time to do what we love. 😊
Tune in to the Always Awesome Diana Ferris!!
Okay, I have to put this out there, my good friend and awesome author Diana Ferris has recently performed a live reading on the Facebook group The New Romance Café Group of her book Finding Pride featured in The Weird and Wonderful Holiday Anthology!
I shared this on FB but think it deserves a bit more attention, and since we all have a bit of time while in lockdown, why not re-visit it and have a listen if you haven’t already, because this woman deserves a shout out!
So what is Finding Pride about? Well, one evening Louise meets a charming young woman at the bar she works at. Fernanda seems to be everything she’s not: confident, independent and self-assured. When fate allows them to grow closer, Louise soon finds herself falling deeper for this intriguing woman. But can Louise bring herself to trust in love? Can she finally trust in her own beliefs? Sometimes being yourself is harder than you think! Finding Pride is a thought-provoking story of self-discovery, originality, belief in yourself and in trusting in love.
This is only Diana Ferris’ second live recording and I think she gives it a bloody good go, so if you haven’t tuned in already, please jump on the link and check it out here https://www.facebook.com/groups/thenewromancecafe/permalink/669582387127622/ or give the book a go yourself and grab a copy for some self isolation time on the link below. Enjoy!!
PAINFUL EDITORS OR EDITING THE PAIN.
Editors: they’re vile, horrid creatures, aren’t they? Sadly, google, your publisher and/or reader tells you they are necessary, but we all know you don’t want to have to deal with one, don’t we? After all, they’ll slash your work, your beloved creation, telling you what is wrong with it, and worse still, how to change it!!!! Nobody wants that. They flounce around with their fancy words and stupid style manuals and change your writing voice! Don’t they?
Nope. We don’t. Well, some might, but I don’t. Sure, I have a style manual, and I do make suggestions, correct grammar and work with you on polishing your story, but I never attempt to alter your style or change your creation to anything other than yours. But I understand that every editor works differently. Some offer services you may have experienced that you enjoyed. Other methods may have not been to your liking. Possibly, there’s something you have thought of that you feel would be a great service if an editor offered it, but you haven’t come across it yet. Or a method that works best for you.
I’m constantly trying to make my editing process more enjoyable, smoother and an overall great experience. And what better way to know what authors prefer than to hear from authors? So I was hoping that anyone reading this may be willing to drop me a line. Share your thoughts or ideas for a different editing style perhaps. Let me know what you want from an editor! It doesn’t matter whether you need an edit now or not, I am interested in your ideas, thoughts and favourite editing styles.
Please message me here or privately on my Twitter or Facebook links.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
WRITING IS HARD WORK, PEOPLE!!!
I could sit here and say to you that being an editor means that I am an avid reader, a lover of words and how they work, and a talented writer. And I would be telling the truth … on two accounts, maybe even two and a half, if that’s possible. The thing is, when it comes to reading your work, suggesting alternative sentences and words, and co-writing extra scenes and paragraphs, I have no hesitations. I have no problems suggesting extra detail, helping you create three-dimensional characters and deepen dialogue. Yet, when it comes to writing my own book, I’m an absolute mess!!! Sure, suggesting, co-creating, adding details, checking grammar, for me, it’s a fun, smooth, entirely possible process. And yet here I am, tearing my hair out trying to get my story off the ground!!
I’ve always wanted to write my own book and even started a few when I was younger, but then editing took over, my thirst for the ‘how’ writing is done rather than the ‘writing’ itself more greedy in its hunger for my time. But, not long ago, I began to have these horrible things … IDEAS!!!!! I know, right? Scary!!! Then I talked to a couple of crazy friends about these ideas, and suddenly I got it in my head that I wanted to write a book and this time see it through to the end.
The first opening scene was easy! The main character was virtually developed; the idea clear in my mind. But then I decided to include mythology, and fantasy creatures, and magic!! Why do I do this to myself!?
And now … I’m stuck! Where to go from here? How to proceed? Why, for the life of me, can’t I figure this out when I help people with it every damn day?
The answer is clear. No matter who you are, or how good you are with words, grammar or writing (and there are plenty of people more talented than me) a book is hard work. It takes patience, time, tears and laughter, not necessarily in that order. And if, at any stage, you are stuck wondering where to go next, questioning your ability as a writer, just remember, every author out there no matter their talent has the same question on their lips at some time. Because writing doesn’t come with an instruction manual. It’s a creation. It doesn’t matter if at the end it is a best seller or a personal achievement. The only thing that matters is that you keep writing. Because without words, the world is one very dull place. 😊 In the meantime, I’ll keep you updated on my book, even if it is slow going. And you can let me know about yours! Talk Soon!!
The Art of Shifting Perspectives.
Apologies I didn’t get a chance to blog last week. I was feeling a bit off, but I’m back into it now! And I thought it might be worth writing about something I love most about books. Asides from the excitement of a plot, or the enjoyment of a character, I think one of the most amazing experiences a book can give is in allowing us to revisit the same story over again, and yet discover something different each time.
It’s interesting how our perspective can change; how our thoughts and opinions can shift. Lately, I’ve been reading a book I haven’t touched in years. Magic Kingdom For Sale. Sold! by Terry Brooks is a great fantasy read. The main character, Ben, is a middle-aged lawyer who lost his beloved wife some time ago. Stubborn, smart and essentially someone who thinks outside the box, he is outwardly successful. Yet, he is a loner, somewhat an outcast in his own world. Losing faith in his job and purpose, and still mourning the loss of his wife, he purchases a magical kingdom advertised for sale in a catalogue, never believing it to be the real deal. What follows is a series of adventures as he tries to rebuild the near-ruined kingdom, attempting to unite its people and fight off the dreaded Demon King and evil witch, Nightshade. The story itself is exciting, thought-provoking and engaging.
Yet, what strikes me most is how my own thoughts on the storyline and character have altered over the years. The first time I read it, my main emotion at the opening chapters was one of sadness. It struck me as romantically tear-jerking that Ben mourned the love of his life so much. That base emotion followed him, and me, throughout the story, acting as the guide to his character, for me at least. It was romantic, heart-breaking and sweet.
This time however, although these emotions were still with me, I instead found myself considering a different aspect of this character. Instead it was when I was reading about Ben speaking of his disillusions of his world (our world) and of his disappointment in life and his profession, of how everything had become more complicated and superficial, that I really listened. He felt an outsider because he never really fit in with the people around him, never thinking in the same way as the ‘norm’ due to his stubbornness and willingness to take on challenges where others would deem him crazy. I found myself pondering on this. In some ways, I can relate, I think in some way everyone could. And I understand Ben, as a character, on a deeper level than I felt I did before, following him on his path of self-discovery with more respect than previously held.
My point being that, no matter how many times you read something, life’s experiences allow us to perceive things differently than we may have before. Something that may have felt fundamentally important might be sidelined for some other element to take its place. Or perhaps as life goes on we have experienced a similar situation or emotion as a character that we hadn’t before.
Perhaps this is what I love so much about books. We can read the same story so many times and yet experience it differently each time. A book never gets old or boring. It only gets better!
So pick up a book you haven’t touched in years and have a read. Who knows! Maybe you’ll discover something you never even knew existed! 🙂
Author Q&A with Diana Ferris.
Hi Everyone! It’s always encouraging to hear from other writers; learning about the highs and lows they experience. So I thought this time we would kick off with an author Q&A. Introducing Diana Ferris, published author in the Weird and Wonderful Holiday Romance Anthology and Wrapped Up In Love!! An amazing author and friend who is as relatable as she is honest, we get a chance to hear why she became an author and what her advice may be to other up and coming writer’s out there. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!! 🙂
Question 1: Okay, so first up is a question many new authors struggle with. We know you have a pen name, but what made you decide to do this and how did you come to choose one?
Well to be honest, I never thought I needed a pen name but I did know that I didn’t want my personal life to be scrutinized and judged for every little decision I made. I wanted to separate my worlds so that’s why I decided to have a pen name. Who knows, the separation might not be successful but I can always say that I tried.
As for how I chose my name, well that was easy. I wanted a strong name that would be memorable, short, and easy to pronounce. I’ve always loved Princess Diana and Wonder Woman, also known as Diana Prince, so that’s how I came to the first name. The last name however, was pretty much chosen before I even knew I wanted to be a writer. My last name is actually my husband’s. I never changed my surname and I truly loved how my husband’s sounded and whereupon, I came up with the name Diana Ferris.
Question 2: Can you give us more information on why you chose to become a writer?
Whew, this is gonna be a long answer, but I’ll try to keep it short. I always knew I loved to read. I was about 15 when I started reading and searching for Harry Potter Fanfiction back when Mugglenet was still in its infancy. I found the stories to be fantastical yet realistic and so I started writing my own thinking no one would care for them, but I was wrong. That didn’t last very long though.
Through many life problems, depression and much, much growing up to do on my part, I stopped writing. I don’t know why but I felt like I was missing a part of myself so I was around 30 with a seven-year-old daughter when I started hearing a lot about the Hunger Games series. I picked up the books and devoured them in less than two weeks. That was the first time I created a tumblr page. Lord, was I super lost on that website, but I kept trying. Thankfully, I met wonderful people who instead of laughing at my little quirks actually found me interesting and even helped me by telling me where my mistakes were. It wasn’t much longer that I decided that writing made me infinitely happy.
Question 3: What is your favourite and least favourite part of writing?
Least favorite is definitely advertising. Gah, I hate it so much because I am not a patient person. I don’t mind social media but once a task is imposed on me then I find it to be more of a chore than a hobby.
Favorite would be plotting. I can go days and days plotting a story out. I love to see the skeleton of my story come alive with details.
Question 4: When you write, do you tend to have a certain routine or any quirks you like to maintain?
Ok, I will admit I am a pain in the ass! I cannot write when other things or people are around me. I have the attention span of an erratic squirrel, so I tend to write when I’m on my own which is usually in the middle of the night, which can be hard on my day to day life because I’m a cranky bitch if I don’t have at least six hours of sleep. I listen to instrumental or classical music to tune out the world. Hell, sometimes I create playlists to help guide the story in the right direction. If I do have to write in the mornings, I find coffee is a very good friend to me.
Question 5: What are your favourite genres to write and why?
Well romance is an obvious one, but I love to write comedy and drama. I know those are pretty much opposites but I just love to make people laugh or cry. I’m sorry to my readers, I will be torturing you at times. I do it for a good reason, I promise!
Question 6: Do your writing preferences vary from your reading ones?
HELL YES, like every good American, I love my cheese! Therefore, I tend to be interested by the cheesiest, trashiest, most eye-rolling romance stories in existence but I tend to veer toward the more realistic aspects of a story-telling when writing.
Question 7: Which authors inspired or influenced you?
There’s four authors who’ve made a huge impact on me.
The first would of course be, JK Rowling. I loved reading already but I never knew I could immerse myself in a book so deeply that I would forget all my problems, if at least for a short time.
The second would be Jude Devreux. She was my first romance writer and I couldn’t get enough of her book. (My Knight in Shining Armor). I must’ve read it at least 8 times.
The third would be Danielle Steel. I have never been touched or seen by an author so much as I did with her books.
And last but certainly not least, I love, no scratch that, I ADORE Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games trilogy was the reason I found myself again and started writing.
Question 8: Rejection of any form can sting but unfortunately it’s a part of life,especially in the writing world! So how do you handle rejection and maintaining your confidence?
If there’s anything that can be said about me is that I am unbelievably stubborn and a perfectionist to the nth degree. I get shaken and sad when someone doesn’t like what I’ve created but I try to remember that art is subjective and what I might find wonderful and interesting might not be so for others. That of course is how it is in all parts of life and rejection just gives me the drive to challenge myself, to prove to the naysayers that I have value and so does my work. It’s ok to feel but you also have to be able to see things with perspective.
I’ve had great criticism where it’s allowed me to grow as a writer but I’ve also had criticism where the sole purpose of the judge is to tear you down for the sake of feeling superior. A writer has and should learn to tell them apart and that’s when you can pick up the right sort of judgment from others that will make you stronger as opposed to focusing on the words of people who only want to make you feel less than your fabulous self.
Question 9: What are your thoughts on beta readers?
I don’t mind them. I reach out to them if I don’t feel too sure about the route that my story is going but I don’t really depend on them because they might not understand my intentions but it’s definitely good to have them if you want to have a feel for how potential readers might perceive your book. Do keep in mind though that each reaction is and will always be subjective, so it’s always good to have at least 3 different betas to get an accurate reaction to your story.
Question 10: Diana Ferris, we know you are a published author in Weird & Wonderful Holiday Romance Anthology and Wrapped Up In Love. So how did you become published?
Honestly it was sheer dumb luck. As I’ve said before, I’ve been lucky enough to have met such incredibly wonderful people in the writing world, one of them being Sera Taino. There was an anthology that she was supposed to be submitting to but because of schedules and a hectic life she was unable to have anything ready on time. That’s when she texted me and asked me if I wanted to take her spot.
I was more than a little surprised to say the least because I don’t think I was able to fully grasp what she was asking of me. I didn’t feel ready nor was I truly confident in my skills. I’ve only ever written for fanfiction at that point but Sera assured me that I was more than prepared to take her spot. I agreed mostly because my friend needed me and I had the time to submit something but oh my god, did I feel utterly inadequate for the task. I didn’t want to let her down so I spoke to the publisher she sent me to and gave her a slight idea of what my plans were for my short story and it seemed to work for her just fine.
This wasn’t easy though because I kept doubting myself and even sent a friend who was not exactly kind nor supportive about my work but then I met you through Layali Grimshaw and somehow you saw potential.
After much worries, fears, and doubts I wrote and wrote and edited until the letters became jumbles and my words became used and tired and submitted my work. I cannot even believe I’ve gotten this far and I’m so lucky to be surrounded by friends who see more in me than I see in myself.
Question 11: And do you have any advice for new authors out there who may be looking to become published?
This is gonna sound douchey but connections are important. I’m not saying that you should befriend people in your field of interest just because you need something from them but meeting and making true and honest connections with people is deeply important. If your aim is to further your career, then you’re gonna crash and burn because people don’t like to be used and they can smell a fake from miles away, but it’s more of I help you because I care and you can help me if you want to care.
I don’t think I would’ve gotten this far without the support of family, writer friends, editors, publishers, book artists and so on. There’s so much that goes into writing a book that you’re gonna need the support for each and every single page that you write. What better to do so with people who know your struggle, right?
Question 12: Many authors also manage their own marketing or social media/websites. Can you explain your marketing strategies further?
HAHAHA, my marketing and social media is a bit of a joke. I try, I try really hard but it’s such a pain to have to get out there on days where I’m tired because I’ve had to do 700 things in one afternoon. However when I’m not shitposting on my pages I either disappear or try to keep up and write something worth reading. I wish I had someone to manage or teach me to handle my social media because I suck and honestly, advertising feels like I’m shoving my work down your throat. I’m trying to be better and reevaluate my priorities but who knows what’ll happen, all I know is that I will make changes.
Question 13: What do you find works best for you on a marketing scale?
Marketing can be a nightmare for me but I find asking others for advice on what works for them is helpful. I also tend to excite my readers by posting self made banners and or pictures that have to do with the story.
Question 14: Okay, let’s allow the readers to get to know you further! What is one interesting talent or quirk you have?
I am disgustingly obsessed with foreign movies or shows. Specifically Bollywood and Kdramas. They’re deliciously cheesy!
Question 15: Last but not least, if you had to share one piece of knowledge or a life lesson, what would it be?
I guess the one thing I can say is to keep an open mind. Life is full of knowledge and there’s love and beauty to be found in even the simplest of gestures. You just have to keep your heart open because vulnerability is true strength in one’s self.
Thank you, Diana Ferris, for featuring on my blog and for giving us such honest and helpful answers. We look forward to the next story you write!!
Meanwhile, if you would like to learn more about Diana Ferris and her writing, be sure to visit her on her Twitter page here: @dianaferris86 or on Instagram: @dianaferris1986. Or catch up on her blog here: https://dailyshenanigansbuzz.wordpress.com/
Talk Soon!! xD
I had intended to post this earlier but, unfortunately, was sick all yesterday and basically spent Valentine’s Day in bed! 🙂 Still, I hope to wish you all a belated but happy Valentine’s Day!!!!
Hate it or love it, there is usually a big debate over Valentine’s Day. Some feel it is a romantic and lovely time spent between couples. For others, it is a frustrating time of singledom as the lonliness hits and we yearn for that connection and special person in our life. And for others still it is simply a day of commercialism and money making madness as people splurge on roses that are worth exhaustive amounts while raising their blood sugar on boxes of chocolates.
Maybe it is one of those things or maybe it is a combination of all of them. But whatever your stand on this time of year, I would like to point out something indisputable: Valentine’s Day is a day of love!
We are often so hard on ourselves, on our talents or abilities, judging ourselves and the others around us as the world has us struggling to keep up.
So perhaps, instead of worrying that we’re missing out on something, or about what present we’re going to buy our loved one, it is the day to simply love. Whether it be our partner, our family, our friends, or ourselves, maybe, just maybe, we should see the day as it’s meant to be.
Let’s not judge ourselves or the people we care about. Or, for that matter, our ability to do what we love. Valentine’s Day is a time to love what we are, what we do and who we care about, without letting the world tell us otherwise.
And so, I’m going to start celebrating my business by releasing my new edit this month! This is an edit I think a lot of you are going to really enjoy, especially if you are just starting your novel or if you are stuck on something in particular. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself and spoil the surprise for you . . . So stay tuned!!
And in the meantime, have a wonderful day, wherever you are! And remember the real meaning of Valentine’s Day! (But of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t have some chocolates, too!) :))
There’s no doubt that being a mum of any kind is tough. There’s the feeding, the education, the tantrums to deal with, the cuddles and the playing. And a cat mum’s job is no different. I was watching a show the other day on cat sensations; famous kitties taking the world by storm on YouTube, Instagram and through online merch. And this led me to think about my own fur baby.
My special little man is called Fish (I know, it’s an odd name, but trust me it suits him!). I received him as an early birthday present after he was apparently abandoned. He’s been my fur baby for 3 yrs now and I’m still learning his quirky little ways.
Fish is … complex. He is equal parts loving and standoffish, social yet aloof. He likes his own space and is prone to hissy fits (exactly what they sound like) if you pester him too much, yet most nights he climbs into bed with me, snuggles under my blankets and falls asleep in my arms. Every day he wakes with me and every evening as I return from the dreaded ‘outside world job’, aka my part time job, he is waiting by the door for me. In January I had a month off from work and was home with him a lot more than usual and we played and cuddled. Without the outside stresses or time crunch a job provided I can actually say we bonded more. And then the day arrived when I had to go back to work!!!! The first day wasn’t too bad, the second, mmm, by the third depression struck. He became more sombre and quieter.
So, like all relationships, the feline/human one is no different. So now everyday we have some ‘Fish time,’ having a little play and cuddle. I’m happy to say he is back to his happy self and I have to remind myself that I have to spend plenty of one on one time with him.
So maybe I’m a crazy cat lady, but I don’t really care. Because whether you think cat ladies are crazy or not, animals are definitely in tune with us. They need us as much, if not more, than we need them and when they are feeling lonely or blue sometimes we are all they have. He is my friend, my baby and my crazy little monkey. And I love him to bits!! So lets all make sure we spend plenty of time with our babies, whether they be cats, dogs, kids or maybe even turtles (after all, who knows, right?). 😊
A WELL LOVED PSYCHO!
Well, it’s time for an other blog post and so I thought I would take this opportunity as a shout out to a few good friends who, over the years, have made me a better editor. If you don’t recognize yourself here, don’t worry, because over the course of my blog entries I plan on featuring as many of you as possible. I just don’t have the ability to write you in all at once. 😊
The fact is that while I may have been able to study and edit, no journey is complete without the awesome people who teach us that little bit extra along the way. Luckily, an editor’s job has allowed me the opportunity to meet many amazing writers with some great stories to tell, many of whom I now class as friends. So I thought, where better to mention them than here!
The first call out is to a well-loved weirdo, Layali Grimshaw, author of Secret Phantom.
Layali is a talented author who has created a world of her own (in more ways than
one 😉) I’ve been editing her work for a number of years now and we’ve gotten to know each other’s crazy antics maybe a little too well LOL. I love editing her books packed full of action, kick-ass characters and hilarious banter. The world she has created is as intense and her villains wickedly evil. But behind the scenes, Layali is as kick-ass as her main heroine, often giving me the push I need in starting some personal project. I can sense her ‘look’ when I’m being an idiot and she’s never short of a witty not-so-sugar- coated reprimand if I am procrastinating too much (and trust me, she definitely has a look). 😊 Layali is also the person who dubbed the term EUI (Editing Under the Influence). In my case, under the influence of too much chocolate or coffee xP.
She makes me feel normal to be weird and I love her for it. So if you haven’t already, check out Layali Grimshaw’s books on her website or social media sites here:
And be warned!!
A FRIEND IN FANTASY!
To continue with the author friends who make my job great, I can’t forget one author /who has literally been with me and seen me progress from zero to … well, a little higher than zero 😊
Katie Epstein is a wonderful friend and author. Her paranormal romance series The Terra Vane Series is one of the reasons I came to love developmental editing so much. Her characters are so full of life and fun and watching them grow and expand has kept me hooked on the series as not just an editor but also as a reader.
Katie Epstein’s fantasy world is so rich and diverse, feeding me my fill of vampires, Shifters, Witches, Necromancers, Djinn and so much more. With elements of Steampunk and Fantasy competing with romance and action, what’s not to love! And the banter between the characters is hilarious! Armed with mystery and with a love triangle thrown in, who could resist. Katie balances it all with talent and creativity.
And through it all, Katie has become a close friend. She has supported my business, helping me in brainstorm ideas and promoting my work. There’s a good chance she doesn’t even realise how much she has helped me over the years and continues to do so and how appreciated she is!
So why not check out Katie Epstein’s Terra Vane Series and other work on her website https://katieepstein.com/
Or catch up with her here: https://www.facebook.com/authorkatieepstein/
You won’t regret it!
WELCOME TO AN EDITOR’S WORLD.
Okay, so welcome to my first blog post. I hope you are ready for a rambled and hopefully fun time. This will be the place I share my latest news and happenings, post weird and wonderful mentionings and discuss relevant topics and advice. Be warned though, there may be more than one cat or coffee themed discussion along the way. 🙂
But for now, back to business. Something I’ve noticed from many of the authors I have worked with is a firmly held belief that EDITS ARE EVIL.
Many of you may feel that we are armed with a nasty grin and a worn out delete button ready to inflict severe damage and alterations to your beloved story without any consideration to your style or voice, all the while laughing wickedly and rubbing our hands together with glee.
This is a myth!! EDITS ARE NOT EVIL!
I first looked into becoming an editor because I loved to read and, as I read more, grammar and writing structure interested me. I was more curious about how writers wrote than in actually writing myself (yes, I am a closet nerd). And so, my journey began.
We all get stuck sometimes, or make a spelling mistake; you should see my text messages (hey, I’m human too!). But being an editor, I am here for more than just a spell check. I aim to be your writing guide, a sounding board and advisor for your writing ideas because I actually care about your story and I want you to tell it!!! You don’t have to be responsible for picking up on almost every error, not when you’ve probably re-read your story a million times and are still tweaking it because you’re not convinced it’s perfect yet (yes Katie, I’m looking at you :P). That’s what I’m here for.
Editing doesn’t have to be a trek through the dark woods. It can be a catch up over a cup of coffee, even if we are separated by a few oceans. I want to discuss your book and make it shine, all while keeping it fundamentally yours. After all, even a diamond needs to be polished.
So let’s squash the myth that edits are evil once and for all. Although I know some of you may not let that saying go too easily. Yes, I’m looking at you, Sarah ;)./