Categories
Reviews

5 Books on My Reading List

Here are some books I’ll be reading/reviewing soon. These are in no particular order, so stay with me.

1. Warrior of the Wild

Warrior of the Wild by [Tricia Levenseller]

I read this one a night ago and will be doing a review of it on Youtube here soon. I didn’t put it down after I started it. Can’t wait to tell you all what I think. It was great, it was stellar. Simple, compelling, and easy to read.

2. Somnium

SOMNIUM Beyond the Darkness by [A.D. Sterling]

I saw this one on my twitter feed and I’m interested to see what’s in it. It looks like it might be dark fantasy? It really have no idea based on the book blurb. There’s no genre indicators there so it might be entirely mundane, horror, surreal, or fantasy. Not sure, but interested to find out.

3. Gideon The Ninth

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 1) by [Tamsyn Muir]

I heard this one described to me as lesbian necromancers in space. I was of course like bring it on. So, I’m interested to see where this one will go. I’m a few chapters in at the moment and I’m dying to finish (pun intended).

4. Heart of Obsidian

Heart of Obsidian: A Psy-Changeling Novel by [Nalini Singh]

This one looks like it’s going to be thoroughly problematic. I’m excited to see if it proves to be just as troublesome as it looks. It’s supposedly a villain-falls-in-love-with-protag story and I’m expecting I’ll be disappointed, but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. That’s half the fun, now isn’t it?

5. Save the Cat! Writes a Novel

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing You'll Ever Need by [Jessica Brody]

It’s the book that has everyone in the writing industry chatting like crazy. So, I guess I will succumb to their whims and partake in this event. But more seriously, I expect that I’ll read this one piecemeal and since it is a technical books I suspect that I’ll be reviewing it in chunks.

An Offer of Review

Are you a self-published or traditionally-published author that wants some more reviews? Message me on Twitter and I’ll put it on my next reading list. Trust me, it doesn’t take me long to read through something if I’m having fun.

Categories
Reviews writing

Beta Readers: Work Shouldn’t Be Free

Ah, as a writer I know things are tight for all of us. We aren’t paid nearly enough for the work we do and it wrecks me to know that I’ll make so little return for my sweat and tears. But you know what else irks me? The stigma against paying good and honest workers. So, let’s talk about Beta readers and why their work shouldn’t be free.

Beta Readers, A Debate

Beta reading is a passion, but it’s also a job. This post by Nat Russo is enough to prove that. The post is 4 Things Every Writer Should Know About Beta Readers and I was quite enjoying what the article had to say about Beta reading. Yes, you need to be specific with your beta readers. Check. Yes, you need to look for good beta readers and develop a relationship with them.

But then I stopped dead in my tracks.

“Under NO circumstances should you agree to pay a beta reader. That’s simply not how it’s done. If someone approaches you to beta read your work and tells you they’ll do so for a fee, run in the opposite direction.”

Nat Russo

I reread it.

I mean, I know that this has been a charged topic for a while in the industry. But here, in an article with such a business-like and driven tone, to see this blatant disregard for paying people for their labor I was taken aback.

If you’re sending your document to a Beta reader you’ve done everything you can possibly do in your own power to make it better and now you need someone (I agree with Russo in that is should be a fellow writer if possible) to go over it with unbiased eyes. You need a beta reader. And if they’re expected to take hours out of their day to read over and break down your work, how is that not a job worth paying for?

The Policy Of Not Paying Passion

Wouldn’t it be worth paying someone for that kind of time? They’re giving you their time and, if they really are a fellow writer, they’re giving you time they could have spent on their own projects. I don’t wanna hear the they should do it for the skill they’ll gain or that they’re paid in the pleasure they get from their work arguments. That justification is the very thing that keeps creators from getting paid in real wages. Somehow people think that satisfaction will pay the bills. If only, if only.

Don’t believe me? Don’t believe that people try this stunt all. the. time? Watch this comical but mildly horrifying skit by a pianist. Yes, things really are like this in the creative industry. And no, it’s not okay. And what’s worse, in not paying Beta readers we are merely perpetuating the issue in our own industry.

Paying People, A Good Way To Live

I see signs that the “paying Beta readers” stigma is going away, albeit slowly. In this article is says that most Beta readers are charging 10$ per 10,000 words. Honestly, that’s pretty fair because Beta readers are supposed to be less skilled than editors, they are supposed to be pre-production. So, charging .001 cents a words seems reasonable.

For more articles about paying Beta readers, check out this post Should beta readers get paid?

I’d like to see a day when creators are paid for the work they do, and so let’s start with the things we can control. We can do an exchange for the work our Beta readers do. We have control over that.

But, I don’t have money either!

I’m a writer and we also get paid so little for the work we do. If you really don’t have money, but your fellow beta reader is a writer as well, then perhaps you could exchange manuscripts? Perhaps you could work something out where you don’t have to pay the whole amount all at once? Perhaps, perhaps. There are options, but it’s really best to, if you can, pay them in money.

After all, that’s how you would like to be paid as well.

What do you think? Do you think beta readers should work out of the goodness of their hearts? Or do you agree that they should be getting some compensation for what they do? I’d love to hear your perspective in the comments below.

Categories
writing

Don’t Worry, But I Do

Worry. I do it a lot and maybe you do as well. My worries are that I’ll not be financially stable enough to continue pursuing writing, that I’ll have to plunge myself so hard into my job that I’ll never have enough time or energy to write a whole book as it should be written. I recently read an article about not worrying. The article was All the Good Worry Accomplishes by Cynthia Rutchi. This article did, much to my delight, give a few tips on how to overcome worry, but here today I’d like to present a few more ways to kick worry to the curb.

Challenge Your Worries

The article How to Stop Worrying on Helpguide.org has many insights about worry and how to handle it. The section that stood out to me the most, however, was about challenging worrying. I once had a working partner who saw how stressed and worried I would get when things weren’t panning out the way we’d hoped. One day she finally sat down with me and said (this is translated to English, she spoke in Portuguese):

If you can fix it, don’t worry, because there’s something you can do to change it.

If you can’t fix it, don’t worry, because there’s nothing you can do to change it.

-anonymous

There are so many things that are outside of our control and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. However, it’s important to embrace what you can change over what you cannot. What you can change is what to take action on.

But, don’t forget, you can’t write a book faster than you write a book. So, I say this to myself and others, stop stressing. You’re working hard and learning along the way. When it’s ready, it’ll be ready, and all you can do is write and edit that thing.

Not Everything Is Cause And Effect

We like answers and reason. People want to know that their lives are within their control and that if they do A and B they will get C. It gives us a sense of security to know this. However, when things don’t go our way, it leads to the sense that we’ve done something wrong and we’ve failed.

But, not everything is cause and effect.

Timing, personal preference, there are so many things that lead to success and failure, especially in an industry that focuses on the arts and human understanding. And so, we sometimes have to accept that things are not within our control.

While poking around, I have noticed on the internet that many people talk about “embracing a higher power” to overcome worry. People like a being who, makes sense of nonsense, makes good things from bad experiences, and puts order to disorder. Hey, there’s nothing shameful in needing extra help in our lives. If you are overwhelmed by anxiety and you simply can’t overcome it, perhaps there is something to be said for embracing the unknown.

There is nonsense in life, nonsense out of our control, and we have to grow comfortable with that idea before we’ll really be able to let go of worry.

Learning To Suffer Only Once

Now, I know worrying is bad! I wholeheartedly agree that worry is more trouble than good. In fact, Newt Scamander’s line in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them was on the nose.

Worrying means you suffer twice.

– Newt Scamander

I agree wholeheartedly, Newt. I really do. But that doesn’t mean I know how to stop worrying! Knowing something is bad, and not doing it, are two entirely different things. If additions to harmful drugs aren’t enough to show us that, I don’t know what is. So, hopefully the suggestions in this article will help you overcome your worries and only suffer once moving forward.

What do you do to stop worrying? Drop comments in the section below to share how you beat the heat of mental pressures.

Categories
writing

Writing Romance: As Easy As Math?

Last year, I went to LTUE and attended several days’ worth of panels. It was both enlightening and inspiring but one of my favorite panels was called “Writing a Romance is like Writing a Math Proof.” The panelist mainly discussed LOTR and one of the romances that didn’t make it into the movie (and how much of a shame that was). However, they made some very important points, some of which I would like to talk about today.

I’m going to say up front, that this article is subjective. Perhaps you won’t agree with the points that were originally made or my expansions of those ideas. I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below. 😉

You Have To Prove No One Else Would Work

One of the most important things about writing romance is proving that no other character would work with this particular character. You want to show your readers, through empirical evidence, that this person is right for them while others simply aren’t. This falls under the rule of realistic attraction. There can be various reasons for love to blossom (which we’ll get into in a moment) but this is the key. Provide moments of proof. Not hypotheses, not suggestions, concrete evidence.

This also falls under show don’t tell. We don’t want to hear why one person is meant for another, we want to see it.

I will admit, this sometimes does set up an unrealistic expectation. Especially since, in real life, there isn’t always one person. Perhaps you disagree with this all together and think that there should be many characters a person can be with. However. Be aware that the more time you spend proving that your character could be with anyone is less time you can spend building the relationship between characters A and B.

It leads to a weaker plot overall.

These Characters Work For Healthy Reasons

Now, it is fun to see two characters who are entirely toxic for one another—for examples of toxic characters check out 19 Toxic Male Characters From Romantic Comedies To Stop Lusting Over by Olivia Truffaut-Wong. Also, it’s not only men that are toxic in relationships. Women can be just as bad. It goes both ways.

Anyhow, toxic characters are interesting and they definitely have their place in media. However, that’s not what we’re looking for in the genre of romance, now is it? We want to see that character A should be with character B because they bring out the best in each other. They build each other up, not tear each other down. They contribute to each other’s lives and goals in ways other than just physical.

And no, having sex is not what builds love. It can be the direct result of it, a desire born out of learning about another person, but it’s not what creates that love in the first place. Please, stop. Don’t do it.

It is alright to have a foil for your MCs. A third, and totally toxic person. But, please don’t play this off as a love triangle (this is a personal preference, but…). Especially in a genre more represented by female leads than others, it would be nice to see two genuinely good people but one of them just doesn’t work with the POV character. One of them doesn’t have to be abusive and jerkish to prove that they are not right. They could just be, not right.

An Example

This example is by no means perfect. But take a look at this romantic short.

In this short we see that 1. there is some empirical evidence as to why the first relationship doesn’t work. Everything started out fine. But, in the long run, they couldn’t see eye to eye and, ultimately, one of the partners was holding back. At times the one character does do mean things, but for the most part they are a regular person.

And thus, 2. we get a healthy solution from someone not willing to give all of themselves to another, but willing to share.

So, maybe writing romance isn’t math, maybe it’s more of a science? What do you think? If you haven’t already, go ahead and subscribe. And, don’t forget to share your thoughts below.

Categories
Novel writing

WIP Update

Finished with Arc 2 of my WIP? Maybe. It’s about the same length as it was before and I really wanted it to be longer than that. I suppose that the overall work being longer is satisfying. The overall work is sitting at 57,000 words right now so that means we’ve got a ways to go. For now, here’s what I’ve done.

Combined Characters

Sometimes you have too many side characters. This was the case with an old seer woman that the MC and group meet along the way. So, I wrote out the old woman and gave her lines to one of the other people in the group. This made things way simpler and meant that we got more time with the scenes that were important. I love the way this also gives Laima (the character who got the old woman’s lines) more personality and really affirms her religiousness. I hope she keeps developing in a good way over the course of the novel.

More Time With The BBEG

The BBEG (big bad evil gal) is very personable and, under different circumstances, might have been an ally. I really wanted to drive that idea home in this section. Although the reader met the BBEG in the beginning of the story, it wasn’t clear that she was the opposition. So, in the middle section I really wanted to explore what could have been. And build up how tragic a relationship she has with the MC.

Changes Yet To Come

It’s amazing how, even while writing, you think of things that need changed. I have a doc on the side in which I have written important things I need to change. I need to talk more about magic, and a spear, and get the character’s voices distinct. There’s a lot of work yet to go. But this is going from dirty draft, to draft one. So the main point right now is to expand things out to the proper length. Even though we’re at almost 60,000 we still gotta get closer to 80,000.

So, wish me luck and let me know how your own WIPs are going. Don’t forget to like and comment. What do you struggle with most on your drafts?