Summer Writing Projects

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I’ve gotten a bit behind on my writing projects of late, which makes me a bit sad. Apart from being a writer, I’m also a student trying to get into Grad School. That’s going well for the moment, so I’m returning to writing projects I need to get done. I’ve included a couple of pictures of my hometown in the post, just so you have an idea of what type of place I’m writing in.

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Top of UNBC hill in Prince George

 

  1. My cyberpunk novel is actually finished being written, revised, and beta-read! It took almost forever, and right now I’m on the editing stage. As you know, I find editing tedious but necessary to the final project. The novel is at 58K words right now, and I will be submitting it as soon as I finish my editing rounds. As I’ve discovered, I really like putting unnecessary words like “started to” and “began to” at the beginning of sentences and have to take them out. It is time-consuming, but I’m hoping to be done editing by mid-May.
  2. My ace dragon story is already outlined at over 40k words, and these types of things have a tendency to get away from me. So I’m guessing that it will probably end up around 50-60k words by the time I finish. As I’m hoping to get a lot of writing done this summer, I’m hoping to have the writing bit finished by the end of July.
  3. I keep saying I’m going to write for collection and anthology calls, but the things I write end up being longer than expected. So I’m going to try and fit in a short story for the Bisexual anthology call Enchanted Soles with Less Than Three Press. I find short stories the most difficult to write, so hopefully I won’t get carried away!
The road at the bottom of UNBC hill

The road at the bottom of UNBC hill

As usual, I have plot bunnies running around breeding profusely inside my head as well as projects I put on the back burner. I’ll try and stick to my guns and get everything finished. Summer writing projects are fun. Two summers ago, I was in Vancouver, and I managed to finish off Hakusan Angel while writing in posh cafes. Prince George is slightly less posh, but hopefully, that won’t curtail the writing flow!

Hakusan Angel sale!

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Vector Graphic Design Button and Labels Template. Color paint spAs you may know, Less Than Three Press is turning six this month! So there are all sorts of prizes and sales going on to celebrate! There are three things you should know:

  1. All purchases for the month of April mean you are automatically entered into a draw to win a prize
  2. All books are 20% off for the month of April
  3. Every single day of April, a different book will be on sale for 50% off

Today, Hakusan Angel is on sale! 50% off my book all day today (April 26th)! Go check it out!

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Writer’s Block

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All writers commence groaning.

Writer’s block: a sort of strange and terrible phenomenon in which all creativity and motivation abandon the writer’s brain and leave for parts unknown.

How do we beat it? There are tons of different suggestions out there. Some of them work, and some of them don’t. Sometimes, it just seems best to sit down and do something else other than writing because of this problem.

I have a secret for you: being a good writer doesn’t come from momentary inspiration.

As much as you may doubt yourself and your writing ability when you don’t feel the writing vibe, you don’t just start being a terrible writer just because you aren’t feeling it right at that moment. Sometimes, you just have to push on through and keep writing, even though you don’t want to. Some of us don’t really have a choice, thanks to looming deadlines.

The thing is, your writing is still going to be good, even if you think that it’s boring when you’re writing. Sometimes, you don’t know what you’re going to write next, and that’s where the block is coming from. This is where you actually have to think about the mechanics of your work, and not just about the creative juices. I did mention in a past post that some people outline and some people don’t, and either is fine. But that doesn’t mean that you garden-growers out there can stop thinking about where your story is going and what kind of message you want to send. That means that in order to move your story along, you need to figure out where it goes next, and what kind of scene will take it there.

For outliners, this is the easy bit. What did you plan to write next? Do it now.

Now for the hard part. Write it. Whatever scene you’ve decided you need, get it down on paper, or on your computer, or wherever you write. Because the thing is, even if you don’t think it’s going to work, or is boring, or that it’s bad, it’s actually not. Once you’re done, set it aside for a bit and come back to it later, or add onto it again, when you’re thinking creatively again. I can almost guarantee you that if you look at your work later, you can’t tell the difference between scenes you wrote while feeling creative and inspired and scenes you wrote while feeling bored and stuck in a rut.

The problem? Most writer’s block stems from being bored. Well guess what? Writing is actually work sometimes, and sometimes work can be boring. Suck it up and get writing. After all, the only thing that suffers from you slacking off is you and your story.

Now that we’re done with that semi-inspiring speech, I’ve got some work to do on my own projects.

Nothing Like Author Copies

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I just received my author copies for the Damsels in Distress collection!

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This is always one of the most exciting parts of getting published, at least for me. I just like having the physical manifestation of my work. There are lots of things one can do with author copies, especially since the writer usually receives at least two copies.

I don’t know what I will do with the extra copy I received. I have a shelf dedicated to my author copies, although there are only six so far. Those ones are mine, and I sort of collect them in a dragon-esque way, like a hoard.

The fun thing about writing for a collection is that you get a physical copy of your work, and OTHER people’s work as well. I’m already anticipating reading everyone else’s stories.

I have received five different anthologies of work so far. I find a different thing to do with all of them.

Three of them are in a library of queer books in Vancouver, because I donated them. If you live in Vancouver, QMUNITY has them.

One of them is at a friend’s house, because they wanted to read all the trans and genderqueer stories in the Geek Out collection.

To be honest, that’s probably what will happen to the second one too. That’s the fun thing about being a queer author of queer books with queer friends: everyone wants to read your stuff.

Anyway, that was just me gloating over my author copies. Sorry about that, but it’s the one thing I don’t mind showing off.

On Not Giving Up

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Okay, so your submission to a publisher came back with a rejection. Not only does it happen to the best of us, it happens to all of us. The vast majority of writers have publishers reject one of their works at some point or another.

It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad writer, necessarily. There are many reasons for a publisher to reject work.

One of them is that the work that you’ve submitted isn’t exactly what that publisher is looking for right at that instant. Sometimes it’s harder to figure out what a publisher is looking for when they have a general call out. Try again. Just because that publisher rejected it, it doesn’t mean every publisher will.

It could be that the publisher has limited space, and that they can’t publish everything that comes their way, even if it is good. It might be just that they’ve decided to go with authors that they are already familiar with, or that your work is similar to another author’s, so they went with the other one. It happens.

And I know you dread to hear it, but sometimes it is because of the writing.

So, I have a couple of questions for you, if you suspect that this is the case.

How long have you been a writer, and how much are you practicing? I’ve been a writer since I actually could write, and I get feedback from fellow writers at regular intervals. Are you taking any writing courses or following any writing blogs? Getting advice from others who can give you critical feedback?

The only way to get better at writing is actually writing. I’ve looked at some of my old work, and it’s just horrendous. But that’s looking at it from now. You can only get better with practice. That, and reading. Please read as much as you possibly can, because that’s how you can tell if you’re improving.

Don’t give up on writing because you got one rejection letter.

Other questions to ask yourself:

  • is my story predictable or typical? What can I do to change it up a bit, to make it different from all the other stories?
  • did I revise my story? How is the pacing, are there unnecessary scenes, or did you leave any out?
  • how’s your opening chapter? Do you have a good hook? What kind of scene do you open with? A lot of editors judge a book by its first chapter, and if that doesn’t impress them, they won’t read any further.
  • did you edit properly? Remember when I said editors can tell if you didn’t edit it? Yeah, they really really can, and dislike it immensely.

Any way you look at it, you shouldn’t take a rejection letter as a cue to throw in the towel. It is not a sign of failure unless you give up afterward.

Never think that writers are born. Writers create themselves.

Submission to a Publisher

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Okay, this is it. My post on submitting to a publisher.

Since I’ve actually only submitted to one publisher, Less Than Three Press, that’s what my post will mostly draw on for experience. Make note: my publisher is chiefly an online publisher and receives everything by email. Some big publishers require an actual, physical copy of your manuscript, a cover letter, an agent, and any number of annoying things.

Okay, so you’ve finished actually writing your story. You’ve gotten it checked over by beta readers, you’ve done revisions and several rounds of editing.

If you haven’t done all these steps, then don’t bloody submit it yet. It’s not actually done if you haven’t done these things yet. And don’t come to me and say that you’re good enough that you don’t have to do one of these steps. This is your work of art that you want other people to read and enjoy. You want to do everything that you can to make this work as best as it can possibly be. Especially do not skip editing it, because editors can tell, and they will hate you.

Okay, so now you are definitely sure that you are ready to submit it.

Right, now the first thing you do is go to the publisher’s website and make sure that you’re following all of their guidelines. If you are submitting to a collection, anthology, or a specific submission call of any sort, you should have already been here to make sure you were following thematic guidelines. If you are submitting to a romance publisher, some of them have guidelines on content. Less Than Three Press in particular does not allow any rape/non con, bestiality, tragic endings, and underage sex, etc. Make doubly sure that you have not included any of these things in your story.

Next, make sure you have the correct formatting guidelines down. These are usually very basic and easy to follow. Some of these formatting rules might require you to do yet another round of quick editing. Most changes will require nothing more than a quick “find and replace,” adding or taking out an indent, paragraphing, font change, or something equally simple.

Now you actually have to submit the thing.

Some publishers absolutely require you to have an agent. I haven’t had to use an agent for my work so far, but if the publisher says in their submission guidelines that you need one, then they’re pretty serious about it.

Okay, this is the part where you have to actually talk to the editor that is going to look over your manuscript and decide if they like your work. I know. This is the hard part. Please bring back the boring formatting, because this is terrifying.

Usually, you have to include your name, pen name (if you have one), your contact info, a summary of your work, word count, and a completed manuscript. Make sure you know the name of the person you’re sending it to, and their email. For Less Than Three Press, depending on if you’re submitting to a general call, a collection call or an anthology call, you might be sending it to a different editor.

Things you should not send to an editor because they are busy people and it will enrage them:

  1. an uncompleted manuscript
  2. an unedited manuscript
  3. ideas for a manuscript
  4. a manuscript that is already on submission to another publisher (unless the submission guidelines say that it’s okay)

┬áDouble and triple check that you have included all the information that the submission guidelines require and that you’re sending it to the right place.

Press send.

Wait. Be patient, because the wait length for finding out if you’ve been accepted can be anywhere from weeks to months. Some publishers will send you an automated message to assure you that they received your submission.

Don’t give up! Whatever the outcome is, you made it to this step, which means you’ve come pretty far, in terms of writing.

Geek Out Sale!

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Vector Graphic Design Button and Labels Template. Color paint sp

Just a quick announcement so that you all know!

Less Than Three Press is turning six this month, and as a reward to all of their loyal readers, there are sales going on all month!

As you can see by the banner, there is going to be a raffle and prizes and all sorts of sales. All books are on sale for 20% off! And every single day of April, there will be a different book on sale for 50%!

Pretty awesome, eh?

Today is the Geek Out Collection‘s turn to be 50% off! All day today (April 8th), the ebook copy of Love Rampage will be 50% off! Go check it out!

geekout400Love Rampage - cover2-01

If you buy any book during April, you will be entered into the raffle for a chance to win!

Choosing Your Publisher

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This is certainly a process, and is not done lightly.

I found my publisher, Less Than Three Press, because my good friend of ten years, J.K. Pendragon, recommended them to me.

However, I did not chose my publisher based on hearsay. I made sure that the publisher I had found was the publisher that I really wanted. There are a few specific things that I made sure to look for when I checked out their website.

Content: I am a writer of LGBTQ fiction and romance. I wanted to make sure that the publisher that I chose was aligned with my views on that. I’ve heard horror stories of other publishers that straight-washed good queer stories, or rejected stories based on queer content. Luckily, LT3 is actually an LGBT romance publisher, and is actively trying to expand their repertoire to include many different minority groups including trans and genderqueer stories, asexual and aromantic stories, and bisexual stories, not just gay and lesbian. LT3 also accepts many different sub-genres, which makes it easy for me to write fantasy and science fiction works with LGBTQ characters.

Royalties: I checked to make sure the publisher has a good royalty system in place. This makes certain that I am paid properly for my works. Make sure that you know the market before you decide on a publisher. Are they paying the standard royalties? How are they paying? Based on percentage, by the word, on a one-time payment/lump sum deal? Don’t settle on a publisher if you’re unsure of what you will be paid and how. Make sure you know how they mean to pay you as well.

Contract: A contract protects both the author and the publisher by ensuring that all the bases are covered. That includes making sure that there is a promise to publish your work, that you will do all the work required to have it published, and that your rights will revert to you after a certain period of time. This will include the royalty rates, deadlines, when your work will be published, when you will be paid (ie quarterly, monthly, etc). Read this very carefully, as you will have to ensure that you are protected in all circumstances. If you are unsure for any reason, get someone with a legal background to check it over for you.

Marketing: I always check to see how publishers are marketing their books. The one thing that I always check is to see how their website is run. If it’s accessible, easy to use, if I like how they’ve presented their books. How easy it is to make a purchase, if it’s easy to contact them. If they have any promotions or sales on, how interesting I find their collection and anthology calls. I also check to see which social media sites they use for marketing. Are they going to events, conventions or conferences? Check all these things out, because if you sign a contract with them and you want to be successful, you will have to be able to market efficiently, and it’s easier if your publisher also knows how to market their work.

Those are the main reasons that I went with my publisher, and I intend to stick by them. Not all small publishers are built the same, so choose wisely.

Title Creation

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Now, to talk about yet another part of writing that I really suck at. You guessed it! Making up a title. I really really have problems with coming up with a snazzy title because I’m always paranoid that it sounds dumb.

I cheat a little with titles. I always make my friends and fellow writers help me out.

I have six publications out so far, and all six titles were hard for me to come up with.

“Across Borders” was my very first title, and I have to admit, I was playing it safe with that one. I can’t claim that it’s a very inspiring title. It’s very straight forward and to the point. The story is literally about two lovers from opposing nations, so it really is, as it says, “across borders.” Very simple. At least it’s not ridiculous.

“Insanity Girls” was my next title. It shares its name with the name of the punk rock band that one of my characters is in. I liked the name “Insanity Girls” for a band name, I wasn’t so sure if it fit with the title of a story. I couldn’t really think up a different name, however, so that’s the one I stuck with.

“Rangers over Regulus” was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to come up with. I made a mind map chart to try and figure out what kind of name would be good for this story. I asked friends. I banged my head against the wall. One of my friends suggested “Libby on the Range” as a joke, which I found funny because the acronym was LOTR (like Lord of the Rings. Sorry if that isn’t as hilarious to you as it was to me). That’s what Rangers was called for the first three months of its life. I finally did pick a name, and there are still a few people who don’t like the title.

Next up was Hakusan Angel. That one was slightly easier, because I was basing it off of a Japanese-type naming system. With names like “Gunslinger Girl,” “Sailor Moon,” “Boys Over Flowers,” and “Marmalade Boy” to go off of, “Hakusan Angel” wasn’t such a weird title.

"Love Rampage" mind map

“Love Rampage” mind map

Next came “Love Rampage,” which I actually turned into my publisher with the title “Unicorn story” because I couldn’t come up with a title before the deadline. Luckily for me, Less Than Three Press doesn’t require authors to come up with a title immediately and will even help you out with one if you need it. Not that you should be lazy and just let them make up all your titles, but if you’re seriously stumped, it’s not absolutely necessary to have one when you’re submitting your story. I think I came up with “Love Rampage” in a fever dream.

“Sky Knights” was the easiest title ever, for some reason. Obviously, since my characters are aviators, the “sky” part was easy. I wanted the title to convey that my characters are guarding their homeland, and to express their bravery. So I just mashed them together, and it turned out to be a title that said what I meant.

So there are all my stories for title creation. I think I might have made a post before about mind maps, but in case you’re interested, I’ll explain what that entails.

Cyberpunk novel mind map

Cyberpunk novel mind map

Basically, it’s a word association type map. You write down the themes of your story in bubbles and then make little off-shoots of words that are associated with that theme. If I were to make a mind map for “Sky Knights,” I would have put “aviator” in one bubble and “sky” would be one of the off-shoots. Then you look at all the words you can come up with and try to combine them to make a title. Sometimes it doesn’t work, as in the case of “Rangers over Regulus.”