The Top 5 Things I’m Looking Out For Whilst Editing

Editing on Cerulean Bound has officially started! As I plow through 142k words, I’ve made a short list of things to keep in mind. You know, not anything overly specific (i.e. delete extraneous references to Grashk’s “flickering tri-forked tongue”), just things in general to be aware of while revising. As these are common writing problems that many other writers probably deal with, I thought I’d share my list here. Thus, without further ado:

Top 5 Things I’m Looking Out For Whilst Editing

  1. Less thinking, more doing! I like to put my characters’ thoughts in italics to give readers a snapshot into their minds. However, I have a tendency to rely too much on thoughts, and not enough on action. Even just having the character speak their thought aloud, or putting it in the narration, can punch up the scene.
  2. Combine description with action. Like many writers, I will sometimes get lazy with my descriptions and basically just write a list of characteristics–i.e., “the big, brown, beautiful bear.” But if I combine the description with action, it flows much more naturally–i.e. “The big bear strolls past me, its shaggy brown coat ruffling in the summer breeze.”
  3. Cut out adverbs. Now, to be clear, I like adverbs. I think a well-placed adverb can add a lot to a scene. But I’ve been told by reputable sources that I am overly fond of adverbs, to the point that one member of my critique group started listing off all the adverbs I used in one chapter and wouldn’t stop until I’d promised not to use them so much. So, chopping time!
  4. Avoid epithets. For anyone who doesn’t know, an epithet is a descriptor you’d put in place of a proper noun, i.e. instead of writing “Harry Potter”, you’d write “the Chosen One” or “the bespectacled Gryffindor” or “the green-eyed boy”. As with #3, I quite like epithets, but have been told I use them to the point of excess.
  5. Avoid filter words. I wrote a post about this a while back, but essentially a filter word is something like “felt” or “saw” — a word that puts a layer of separation between the reader and the story, i.e. writing “Bob’s heart beat faster in his chest” vs. “Bob felt his heart beat faster in his chest”. Both are fine sentences, but why add that extra layer of “Bob felt” when his heart could just beat without interruption? I like the occasional filter word, and I think sentences can read better with them included, but they’re often unnecessary and those are the ones I’m looking to cut out.

Thus, my list! Hopefully it will prove useful to someone. And now I’m off to resume my own editorial adventures. Huzzah!

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The First Draft of Cerulean Bound is FINALLY DONE!!!

That’s right! After approximately three years of writing and deleting and rewriting and general noodling around, I have achieved something which many thought to be impossible — I’ve finished the first draft of Imminent Danger #3, Cerulean Bound!

Wooooooooooo!

Now, before anyone gets too excited and starts throwing their clothing out the window, please calm down — I still have to edit the damn thing. It’s also a teensy bit too long, by which I mean it’s currently sitting at 142,000 words. Yikes. Seeing as the previous two books clocked in around the 90k mark, I have a lot of chopping to do.

But all that can wait for another day, because I’M DONE!!!!!

Wooooooooooo!

So, next steps? First up, I have to gather the pile of notes I’ve been collecting from my critique group, who have been steadfastly plodding their way through the B plot over the past six months. Lots of things to change in there. And I also acquired many helpful comments from my editor regarding the first handful of chapters, so that’s all going to change drastically as well.

Once those obvious changes are made, I’ll step away for a couple of days, then reread the entire thing, revising as necessary. I don’t think I’ll start making massive cuts right away, but even now, looking back, I can think of at least one character I can cut out entirely (and/or merge with another character). That should save me a couple thousand words. But I expect the bulk of the trimming to be done by my editor (a.k.a. my mother), which should be happening over the winter. She’s ordered me to get a viable draft to her before she wanders off on vacation next month, so I’m working under a bit of a time crunch here.

In other news, the tourist season is winding down (I work at a B&B in Nova Scotia), which means today was my first official “day off”. I celebrated with BBQ ribs and carrot cake, which I’m happy to report were delicious. Tomorrow is another day off (GASP), which I will hopefully spend getting some of those aforementioned edits done.

Moving into the off-season, I’m hoping to have a lot more free time — not only to work on my book, but to get back into blogging. So keep your eyes peeled — hopefully you’ll be seeing at least a little more of me in the upcoming months!

SHWOOP.

Categories: Random | 16 Comments

Imminent Danger Now Permanently 99 Cents!

In an attempt to create more interest in my books, I’ve dropped the price of Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight Into It down to 99 cents. Hopefully this will encourage people to give it a shot, since I know that I’m much more likely to buy a self-published book if it’s cheaper, especially when I don’t know the author.

It really grates my cheese that books have become so devalued, but at the same time, I get it. I’m a consumer as well as a writer, and it’s a real gamble to spend money on something with unknown quality. Especially in self-publishing. For every excellent book I buy, read, and love (*cough*Catskinner’sBook*cough*) there are three more that turn out to be real duds. So I’m way more likely to risk 99 cents on a possibly-great book rather than $2.99+.

I’ve kept Chasing Nonconformity at $2.99. I figure that if someone reads the first book and loves it, they’ll be willing to pay a price for the sequel that’s a teensy bit closer to the price books should actually be set at. When I think back to the years of writing and re-writing and revising and editing that went into both of my books … yeesh. But then, that’s the life of a self-published author. And, honestly, I love it. I just wish it was slightly more lucrative!

In conclusion, this is my desperate gambit to attract new readers. If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions on my ploy, by all means, share your wisdom!

 

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Here’s a happy song to help get you through Monday!

Categories: Self Publishing | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

Re-Blog (Nicholas Rossis): Don’t Advertise With Amazon Until You’ve Read This

Source: Don’t Advertise With Amazon Until You’ve Read This

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My Experience with Amazon Marketing Services

In my continued desperate attempts to get people to read my books, I decided to try out Amazon Marketing Services. For anyone who doesn’t know what that means, it’s basically a marketing service run by Amazon where you create an ad that will show up when people browse related products. You set a CPC bid (i.e. how much you pay when someone clicks the ad), along with a max budget. Then you sit back and hope the people who click your ad are willing to take the next step and purchase your book!

 

My marketing adventure …

I set up the ad for my first book, Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It, back in January of 2017. The CPC bid I chose was $0.35 — as in, every time someone clicks the ad, I pay Amazon 35 cents. I tried a cheaper CPC bid (25 cents) but it wasn’t getting any views, so I had to up it a bit to make it worth Amazon’s time to actually show my ad.

My max budget was $200 although, SPOILER ALERT, I totally did not run through all that money. Hahaha, can you imagine? That would mean people would actually have to click the ad.

Sarcasm aside, I did see a tiny bit of return for my investment, although definitely not nearly as much as I put in. Here’s the stats on my campaign, which I ran for about 4 months starting in January of 2017:

amazon marketing services results may 2017

 

Let’s break those numbers down …

17,990 impressions: # of people who saw the ad (or the ad showed up while they were browsing Amazon and they ignored it)

199 clicks: # of people who clicked the ad (costing me 35 cents per click)

1.106% CTR: the ratio of clicks to impressions

199 DPV: same concept as “clicks” (not sure why this is a different stat)

$69.65 Spend: amount of money I spent to get people to click the ad

$0.35 ACPC: average cost per click (because I could raise or lower the click price if I found it wasn’t getting enough views)

6 estimated orders: # of sales they’re pretty sure happened because the customer clicked the ad

$15.94 Estimated Total Sales: the amount of royalties I made off selling those 6 ebooks (which doesn’t make sense because I know for a fact I make less than $2.66 per ebook sold …)

 

So what does this mean?

I spent approximately $70 to sell $16 worth of books. It’s possible some people clicked the ad, saw the book, decided to buy it later, and therefore their sales didn’t register with the “estimated total sales” measurement — but my sales have been fairly pitiful, so I doubt that. All in all, an interesting experiment, but a failed one in my opinion. I wish it had turned out better, but ultimately the point was to see if the system worked — and for me, it definitely didn’t.

I think this sort of “cost per click” system would work a lot better if the product being sold had a higher sell price — as in, you’re paying Amazon, say, $1 per click, but you make $20 if the product sells. That would make the initial payout worth it. For a $2.99 book, however, I just can’t see how this kind of marketing makes financial sense unless the purchase rate is much, much higher.

 

Anyone else have experience with Amazon Marketing Services, or something similar? I’d love to hear about it!

Categories: Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Another Cerulean Bound Update

The general dreariness of winter in Nova Scotia has forced me indoors, where I can usually be found wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket on the sofa wearing fingerless mittens because my hands are aggressively attempting to become popsicles. The upside of this is that I have had time to work on Cerulean Bound, which means I can now announce that I have reached the 3/4 point of the novel! Huzzah!

It’s looking to be roughly around the same length as Chasing Nonconformity at the moment, so probably about 40 chapters in total. Now, as of right now it’s pushing 125k words, but expect that to drop significantly once my mother sits down with her blue pen and starts slashing. I say that like it’s a terrifying thing, and it kind of is, but at the same time it’s completely necessary because I tend to ramble. And YA books aren’t known for their rambling. Unless it’s something like Twilight, with endless pages of Bella rhapsodizing over how amazing Edward is. But Eris can only get out a few lines of rhapsodizing about Varrin before someone tries to abduct her, so short and snappy it is.

In slightly awkward news, I haven’t actually figured out how the book is going to end. I mean, I have a fairly good idea, but the specifics are totally up in the air. And right now I’m planning on the series being either 4 or 5 books long, which means I need to tie the end of Cerulean Bound into book 4. Of course, I have no idea what’s happening in book 4 yet (other than that it’s the “Rakor book”), so I may end up completely changing the ending once I decide that. I really envy people who can sit down and plot out their entire book, then stick to it. I couldn’t follow an outline if someone held a striker to my head.

What else can I tell you about Cerulean Bound … So I just finished writing Chapter 30, except it’s actually now Chapter 31 because it was in the wrong place so I had to move it. The plot will follow two POV characters — Eris and Miguri — so I need to switch between them and sometimes one plotline will affect the other so I have to make sure they’re slotted into the correct places in the narrative. It’s a real headache, let me tell you. And I already experienced that headache while writing Chasing Nonconformity, so I’m not entirely sure why I’ve done it again in Cerulean Bound. And I’m almost definitely going to repeat the feat in book 4. Maybe I just like tormenting myself. It would explain why I keep eating pizza, feeling sick, vowing to never eat pizza again, and then wind up eating pizza like three days later.

I think that’s it for now. I hit up the farmer’s market this morning, and the chocolate tart I bought is calling me. Which is a bit alarming, considering most baked goods don’t generally speak. Maybe this one’s a mutant? I should call Professor X.

It’s possible I need more sleep.

Until next time!

SHWOOP.

 

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Categories: Random | 8 Comments

New Imminent Danger Fan Art!

Today’s fan art comes to us from my wonderful friend Denise Gow-Morse, who painted me this gorgeous painting of Eris floating dramatically in space for my birthday. Check it out!

20170206_152624-2

Thanks so much, Denise! Tragically my super-slanted bedroom walls don’t offer any space to hang art, but as soon as I get my hands on some flat walls, this painting is going in a place of honor!

 

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I’m going to be a bit cryptic here and tell you that this is the song I was listening to while writing a certain scene from Cerulean Bound. Make of this what you will!

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Check out my new short story!

51wmn-ncklExciting news! A while back I wrote a short story for the Arcane Arts Anthology, and today it was officially published on Amazon! Woo! Click here to check it out.

I had the privilege of proofreading the collection, and I had a blast reading all the fantasy/sci-fi shorts. One of my particular favorites is The Dark Siren by Danielle E. Shipley and Tirzah Duncan, about a cigar-loving skeleton lady tele-marketer who gets dragged into saving the world.

My own contribution, Escape!, is about Rhapsody Swansong, a teenage bard-in-training who has to take her end-of-year exam at the Ascalon Academy of Arcane Arts and Adventuring in the form of an “escape room”. Unfortunately, her group members are an atheist cleric, a clumsy rogue, and a mage who can’t control her magic–and Rhapsody herself is a bard without an instrument. Battles are fought, friendships are formed, lessons are learned, and hilarity–of course!–ensues.

The anthologist, Kai Herbertz, is hard at work on the print version, as well as a German language edition.

Anyway, just thought I’d share the awesome news! If you’d care to grab yourself a copy, we would be eternally grateful for your support of the anthology. Or if you have a spare moment to share the anthology on your social media, that would be much appreciated as well.

Hope everyone’s having an excellent week! #SHWOOP

Categories: My Works | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cerulean Bound Draft #1 Breaks 100k Words Mark!

I’m psyched to announce that I have officially passed the 100k word mark on Cerulean Bound! Now, don’t start celebrating in the streets yet — I still have at least ten more chapters to write, and a whole ton of other stuff in the first half of the book to fix up and make, well, not awful. But 100k is still a big deal! Woo!

Since my usual first drafts end up being around 120k words, I can expect to tap out at least another 20k before the story reaches its natural conclusion. Then we go into several rounds of editing and dramatic cuts, with the eventual goal of getting the manuscript down to somewhere in the 90k-95k words range. Cutting 25k words sounds a bit drastic, and honestly the idea is freaking me out a little bit, but I’ve managed it twice now so I have faith I can make it happen a third time.

No news on the “finding an agent” front. I’m compiling a list of possible agents to look into, mostly gleaned through this awesome lady on Facebook who posts about new agents looking for clients. My current plan is to focus my efforts on finishing the first draft of Cerulean Bound, then turn my attention to sending out my query letter. If anyone has tips on acquiring an agent, by all means send them my way!

That’s all from me. Have an excellent weekend!

 

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New Year, New Cerulean Bound Update!

Happy 2017, everyone! As one of my New Year resolutions is to blog more often, here comes the first post (of many). And since most of you are here because you’re fans of writing and/or Imminent Danger, let’s kick this post off with an Cerulean Bound update:

I have officially written the epilogue!

Now, granted, I haven’t actually finished writing the book yet. But I’m getting there! After a very productive holiday spent back in Ontario with my brother and father, and several long walks in the woods working out plot details, I now know how the book will end. It’s going to be epic! All that remains is to get the words down on paper.

My current goal is to get the first draft written by the end of January. Yes, that gives me roughly two weeks to finish the book–which is approximately 75% written, with 50% of that needing a re-write to conform with the directional switch I made to the ending. But the re-writing shouldn’t be too extreme, and I do finally know how the last 25% will go, so I’m feeling hopeful I’ll make the deadline.

In other news, I’ve been toying around with the idea of finding an agent and trying to get Imminent Danger published by one of the big publishing houses. I gave it a shot back in … gosh, 2010, I think? … without success. But now I’ve got two books under my belt, and I think they’re pretty darn good, so hopefully it will work out.

On a related note, I had an “angel card reading” done yesterday (one of our B&B guests does it for a living and offered to do a reading for me) and apparently I just need to visualize the perfect agent, and write down what I’m looking for, and put my positive emotions out there, and success will come. I have a feeling sending out some query letters might help as well, but a little positive energy never hurt anyone, right?

So, that’s the update! Potential first draft done by the end of January, and the beginning of an agent hunt. If things go unbelievably well with Cerulean Bound I may be able to get it out by the summer, but considering the editing for book 2 took a full year, I’m thinking that might be an unrealistic goal. Nevertheless, fingers crossed, everyone!

 

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Categories: My Works, Writing | 9 Comments

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