December 20, 2011

Sharpening the Saw: Knowing When to Take a Break

Total Read Time: 2 minutes

["them old tools" by christgr]

The Problem

I have a hard time letting go. Once I get started on something, I plug away at it day and night with almost complete tunnel vision, sometimes at the expense of things like sleep and personal hygiene. :P 

You’d think that once I finally finish a project I could take a break, but I’ve already launched into the next thing and have at least five other projects planned for after that.

It never ends.

December 13, 2011

The Lowdown on Copyrighting Your Book

Total Read Time: 3 minutes

["Gavel" by creationc]

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and should not be considered professional legal advice.)

Chances are if you’ve written a book, you’ve thought about whether you needed to copyright it. Technically, as soon as your book comes into existence in any tangible form, it’s already copyrighted, but if you ever get in a situation where you need to defend your rights in a court of law, you’ll need an official copyright. If you’re going with a traditional publisher, they should handle your copyright registration for you, but if you plan to self-publish, you’re on your own.

December 06, 2011

Creating a Coupon for Your Ebook on Smashwords

Total Read Time: 2 minutes

["tag icon set" by mrceviz]

Coupons are a great promotional tool. People always like to know they are getting a deal. Another benefit is creating a sense of urgency. Customers know they only have a limited time to cash in before the coupon expires.

With Smashwords, you can create your own coupons for your ebooks for any discount you like, including 100% off. This can be a handy way to give out free copies of your book without having to change the regular price. I’ve used coupons to give away copies of my books to newsletter subscribers and to create buzz around my work before I launched my debut novel, Soul Seeker.

Here's how to do it:

November 29, 2011

Taking the Plunge: When to use first-person narration

Total Read Time: 2 minutes

It was really high, ok?
Last week, I posted about first-person vs. third-person narration from a reader’s perspective. As a writer, first-person narration can be very intimidating. I remember my first attempt at it, years ago. Without all my supporting characters’ perspectives, I burned through my entire ‘epic’ plot in about 100 pages!

I steered clear of it for a long time after that, but after reading amazing first-person fantasy from authors like Jacqueline Carey and Robin Hobb, I’ve made a couple more attempts. One is a fantasy novel that’s probably the best work I’ve ever done, but I can’t seem to stick to writing it for more than a few weeks at a time because it feels so foreign. It calls me back every now and then and I hammer out a few more chapters…

Of course, this gets me thinking. What makes first-person narration really work? Based on Carey’s and Hobb’s books, I think I’ve come up with a few answers:

November 22, 2011

First-Person Reads: Are You a Fan?

Total Read Time: 2 minutes

I walked down the street.
The man walked down the street.
First-person narration in fantasy isn’t very common. Authors usually choose third person so they can follow different characters or groups throughout the story. (Lord of the Rings in first person would be a much shorter book!)

I never really thought about first person versus third person until I read Assassin Apprentice by Robin Hobb. It was the first fantasy book I ever encountered that was written in first person. Not only is the writing fantastic, but the narrative style really heightens the intrigue. The reader’s knowledge is limited to what the main character knows, so they are forced to puzzle things out alongside him. Jacqueline Carey’s Kusheline series is another example of how effective (and fabulous!) first-person narration can be.

November 08, 2011

How to Create a Goodreads Giveaway

Total Read Time: 2 minutes

["Stuffed Animals" by linder6580]

Last week, I posted a giveaway on Goodreads for a signed copy of my fantasy novel, Soul Seeker, and I thought I would share how I did it.

Running a Goodreads Giveaway can be a great way to get the word out about your book. First of all, Goodreads members are people who like to read, so it’s much easier to connect with your potential customers than trying to find potential readers on Twitter, for example. Second, people love getting stuff for free. There are lots of people who check the Giveaway section of Goodreads on a regular basis, looking for something in their genre.

Even people who don’t win will at least be looking at your book and potentially adding it to their to-read list. Also, giveaway winners are encouraged to post a review of the book they receive. Either way, you’re spreading the word about your work, so it’s win-win for the author.


November 01, 2011

Creating Your Own Language

Total Read Time: 2 minutes

I was really bored in high school. I spent a lot of my classroom time daydreaming or doodling. One of the quirkiest ideas I came up with was in my 10th grade science class, where I decided to invent my own foreign script.

I didn’t plan out any words or grammar structure, just what the alphabet would look like and what letters would be necessary. The result was a series of weird characters that only I could read, which one of my friends dubbed “Jacquelynese”.

The idea of a made-up language stuck with me, and I decided to take it even further when I was writing Soul Seeker to create foreign words and phrases. I really enjoyed the challenge. (I always love creating things from thin air.)

There is a long history of fantasy and sci-fi writers creating their own languages, which I discussed in this earlier post on If you’re one of those people who find that invented languages enhance the realism of an alternate realm, you’ve probably thought about creating your own.

Here are a few questions to keep in mind: