Authors' Chat

Copy-Editor- do we need one?

By Award Winning Author Elisabeth Marrion-B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree You finished your latest masterpiece. Ready to press the publish button? No, wait, hold it there, just for a minute. Have you read and re-read? Did you do so on your computer, or did you print a copy? Printing out a copy is always a good idea, if you can do that. It really is easier to spot mistakes on a printed sheet. Have you been lucky, or brave enough, to have it beta read? Most of us have written more than one book. Do we, by now, have an inkling as to what will be best for our work to shine above the rest? Cost, as always, will be a factor. Proofreading is a must and can be costly. I, at one time, received some really bad advice on how to save on proofreading costs. A mistake I will not repeat. But do we need the extra expense of having the manuscript copy-edited? And bear in mind, that your copy-editor might suggest some changes. Or, worse still, suggest to delete certain sections altogether. This is your work, every word thought about, and the story carefully crafted. And now? A total stranger…

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Getting out there …

By G.J. Reilly-B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree  Usually, I’d start a piece on marketing with “So, you’ve got a brand new, shiny book to sell”, or something of that ilk. But today, it really isn’t working. I could also begin with “Have you ever watched an hour of TV and noticed how many times we get blasted with the same old garbage?” and I’m sure that would probably ring a few bells too. The truth is, if you’re reading this blog, or have any connection at all to Indie BRAG, you’ve done your research and are already marketing your books in some way. So, there’s little point in my spouting analogies at you, or selling you a marketing solution that only works for a small minority of people. So you have a brand new, shiny book to sell. If you’re an author who sells through Amazon, then all you have to do is find your listing to see just how many others are doing the same. The question is: why is it that X many books are higher in the chart than yours (even if you’re in the enviable position of only having 2 or 3 above you)? Okay, here’s a quick…

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The One that Got Away

By Annie Whitehead B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree It’s the time of year when students go off to college/university, and I’m casting my mind back to my own student days ... The Anglo-Saxon world which I studied was rather testosterone-fueled: kings whacking seven bells out of each other, male priests sermonising and occasionally fighting, and of course, those marauding invaders. No matter - I loved the subject when I was an undergraduate, and I still do. As much as I enjoyed my studies, I’d had a yearning to be a writer, and during those lectures, plans were forming. Some names and characters interested me more than others, and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to write about them. But one name really stood out. And this person had no testosterone. We were studying one of the first pieces of propaganda; a document designed to show off its subject in the best possible light - a real piece of spin. It was commissioned by this same high-ranking person and the rewards of studying it lie in what it glosses over or hides as much as in what it reveals. Queen Emma:  married to not one, but two kings. Mother to not one,…

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Three Axioms

Martha Kennedy Award winning Author of BragMedallion Honorees, Martin of Gfenn and Savior As a writer, I’ve learned a few pretty obvious lessons, but, as I have the learning style of a crash test dummy, I had to discover them for myself. It comes down to three axioms. Axiom 1 — Give your ardor time to cool before submitting your work. While it’s cooling… Axiom 2 — Get help with proofreading, solicit comments and help from friends, then hire a professional editor. Axiom 3 — Stay true to your work. ********** Axiom 1 — Submit in haste, repent at leisure.  OR…Don’t do anything with your manuscript while you’re in love with it. Love is blind. In 2005, when I finished (and proofread [see Axiom 2]) the initial, complete 500 manuscript pages of Martin of Gfenn, I was so INFATUATED with it that I couldn’t see that it was an overwritten, error-riddled, repetitive nightmare. Four years later, looking at it with clearer eyes, I saw the full horror of my prose. Unfortunately, I’d already queried every possible agent. I decided (as the revised book was exponentially better than the unrevised book) to query them again. Yes, this is the biggest “NO!…

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How to Wrap Your Mind around Selling Books Without Warping It

A Marketing Paradigm By Jo Sparkes -B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Being an indie author means freedom to explore, try new things. It means being uncoupled from editor notes and publisher calendars. It also means book sales are your responsibility. So I developed – in the school of hard knocks – my own grasp of marketing. It’s remarkably naïve, possibly dim-witted. But it does keep me focused on the forest after tripping over tree roots. First, I learned to drop any emotions that the word ‘marketing’ stirs. Fears of rejection, failure, and that evil nemesis self-doubt. Honestly, they’re useless here. So if any of these worries sneak up on you, just think of all the truly awful stuff shamelessly hawked at us every day. You know what I mean. Rondo knives, vaginal douches. Superman versus Batman. Now, with emotions gone, let’s define this marketing thing as a three step process. Our goal: tons of people rush to buy our book, avidly read it and then race to tell everyone how wonderful it was. The word of mouth is so powerful that nothing else matters. Sweet, huh? Achieving this nirvana depends on three things. Let’s continue working backwards – which ought to warn…

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Writing what you love to write – and read… by Anna Belfrage

Sometimes, people ask me why I write historical fiction. “Why such a difficult genre?” they ask, which in itself makes me a tad irritated, as historical fiction, IMO, is not a genre – it’s an umbrella under which all other genres coexist. In essence, the “historical” in historical fiction merely indicates that the story is set in a non-contemporary time. It says nothing about the content as such, albeit that many people seem to think historical fiction is defined by blood and gore and thousands upon thousands dying in one battle or other. Yes, that stuff happens in historical novels. It also happens in contemporary novels – it happens in real life around us on a daily basis. There are historical novels that are essentially love stories, there are others that are coming-of-age stories, yet another author delivers a well-crafted thriller set in distant times, and quite a few produce so called cosy mysteries a la Miss Marple. As long as all these very different books are set in the past, they end up labelled as historical fiction – and considered comparable. Obviously, they are not. I write books set in the past because I am something of a history…

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Writing Across Genres: How Boldly Following Your Inspiration Can Change Your Destiny

By Sheri Fink A few years ago, a reporter asked me what I’m working on next and I revealed for the first time that I was writing a draft of a romance novel. Seeing that was known only as a children’s author, she followed up with, “Have you ever seen anyone successfully transition beyond the children’s box into women’s fiction?” I paused for a moment and then responded that I didn’t understand the question because I didn’t believe in her “box.” I guess I’ve never believed in the “box.” Instead, I’m something of a free spirit when it comes to writing. I believe in writing from the heart. That means being willing to join your characters on wild and unpredictable adventures. I’m a “pantser” when it comes to writing and I’m often amazed at where they take me, especially when my latest characters took me into the world of romance. I guess readers might have been wondering, “What does a children’s author know about romance?” What does anyone know about romance? I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I’m a hopeful romantic with a vivid imagination for writing a fictional romance. It would be easier to choose the comfort…

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Mozambique’s typical food & Amani’s River

Foodie Lit: A genre of novel and memoirs filled with food stories and recipes Each month, I'll share the magic of a good Foodie Lit read and one of its recipes.  Cooking and recipes in novels or memoirs take us into the mind of the character or narrator and brings us into the book's kitchen to see, smell and share the lives within. Here's to cooking and reading together! Susan Amani's River and Collard Greens! In Amani’s River, an intense well-written historical novel by David Hartness, we are taken inside the mind of Aderito, a 10-year old American who travels with his father and mother to Mozambique. Aderito's father wants to help his family, caught in the brutal violence of the  Mozambique civil war, which raged from 1977-1992. Aderito becomes an unwilling child soldier in this civil war. A quiet studious child, Aderito is transformed into a murderer after his kidnapping by the Renamo rebel forces, fighting against a repressive government forces.  Both forces were accused later of war crimes. Beaten, starved and drugged, Aderito thinks, “This felt as if it were the end.”  But it was not. Memories of his former life fade. “Mixed with emotions, I felt the moral thing to do was tospare his life... However, the thing expected of me was to show my manhood and kill him for…

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Scribbler on the Roof…my journey as an Indie-author.

I don’t need a time machine, a tarot reading or a Pan American flight manifest to map out how I came to be an Indie author. When asked to share a few thoughts on what I learned about writing, publishing and marketing, I was raring to go and happy to take this opportunity to do what authors like to do best- ‘Kvel’ and ‘Kvetch’. Kvelling, a quintessential Yiddish word, conjures up images of beaming parents, proudly boasting about their offspring. While I do my fair share of maternal boasting, today I’m kvelling about another sort of offspring- my books! I wrote a Creative Non-fiction in August 2012 entitled, ‘With Love, The Argentina Family- Memories of Tango and Kugel, Mate with Knishes.’ A Spanish-speaking, blue-eyed, Jewish girl named Mirta who outgrew five passports by the time she was twenty-one and survived a whirlwind romance during one of Argentina’s darkest periods had plenty of writing material! This first book was written to honor my parents, my heritage and my rather unique upbringing as a ‘Pan Am brat.’ More recently, I published a Historical Fiction/Fantasy that incorporated my love of period drama with Judaica. Talk about fantasy… ‘Becoming Malka’ literally came to me…

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Non-Fiction and The Brothers Path

Martha Kennedy Author of indieBRAG Medallion Honorees, Martin of Gfenn and Savior It’s estimated that as many as 20,000 Swiss emigrated to America before 1820, bringing not only their hard-working, flesh-and blood-selves, but religious and political philosophies that influenced what this nation became. I knew nothing about any of this until, at the suggestion of a Swiss reader of Martin of Gfenn, I began researching my own family tree. There I met the Schneebelis. At the time, I was in the midst of writing Savior, the story of a 13th century Swiss family, very minor nobility, living in a castle-fort near Affoltern am Albis in the Canton of Zürich. I based the setting of my story on a hillside and castle ruin I’d seen on a hike with a friend. I was dumbfounded when, in the midst of “finding my roots,” I found that my own ancestors had lived on that very hillside and in that very castle-fort. Even more creepy, the people in my family had the same names I’d given the characters in my story. OK, it’s true that there were not many names used in those places in the 13th century (boys were usually Rudolf, Hugo, Conrad,…

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