This After-Writing Special Brought to You By….

There are so many stages to writing and publishing a book, it’s enough to boggle the mind. Not only do you have to write the thing in the first place, but there is the book’s description, and the cover, and editing, and rewriting, and sending it out to beta readers, and editing again, and tweaking the cover, and formatting, and giving it one last edit, and formatting, and marketing, and… and… 800px-Accueil_scribe

Wait. I think I missed something.

Proofreading.

It’s one of the last steps that needs to be done. Once the story is completely finished, once the characters are all doing the things they’re supposed to do in the manner they’re supposed to do them, there is one final pass that must be made to catch all of those little items. The dotted “i”s. The crossed “t”s. The “teh”s that should have been “the”s.

When you’re in the thick of writing, cackling madly as you pull the strings that give your creation life… LIFE!… you don’t always notice the tiny mistakes. The sentence missing an “a.” That time you wrote a word twice. That scene where you deleted a line, wrote in something else, but left something of that first line behind. And sometimes, even editors will not catch it. So you need to give your story that final “proofing” to make sure that every little mark is exactly where it should be.

I’ve read books that contained small errors. Hardbacks and paperbacks put out by big publishing houses that had a small typo here or a missing word there. Little things. But often only one or two mistakes in an entire 400-page tome. Nothing to pull me out of the story and force me to read the line again.

But I’ve read other books that held more than one or two tiny blotches over the course of their several-hundred-page lifespan. Books that had mistakes on nearly every other page. At first, I try to be forgiving. Oh, it’s just one mistake. That’s fine. Formatting can make things wonky, or perhaps that was the ONE MISTAKE that slipped through everyone’s edits. And then, when they continue, I become irritated. At what, I’m not exactly certain. The author? The editor? Myself for being too picky? The reviewers for not pointing out the multiple mistakes in their comments?

Probably a bit of all of that, if I’m going to be honest. But to continue on with the truth-telling, a book that contains dozens (or more) of errors is a book by an author whose work I will not be picking up again. It is a book I will not recommend to other people. It is a book that, if I review it, will lose points because of those mistakes.

Yes, you could argue that as long as the writing behind those errors is strong, those little things don’t matter. But they do. It’s like going to a restaurant, ordering a steak and potatoes for dinner, and being told not to complain if the potatoes were lousy since the steak was so awesome. No, it doesn’t work like that. It shouldn’t work like that.

When I buy a book, whether it’s traditionally published, indie published, or self published, I want it to be the best thing the author and their team (no matter how big or small a team it may be) are able to give me. I’m not demanding perfection. There is no such thing. But I hope that the author will respect me—their reader, their customer, their potential fan—enough to present their greatest effort. And I also hope they will respect themselves enough to want to produce only the finest work of which they’re capable, that anything less, anything riddled with mistakes that could have been fixed, would be a bruise on their pride.

As an author, I want my finished product to be as finished as possible. Just when I think my manuscript is complete, it gets one more read-through. It doesn’t matter how much time I put into building my world or striving for great dialogue if my work is rendered mediocre by a hundred typos.

So please—PLEASE—as both an avid reader and an author, polish that manuscript. Because it may bring a writer a swift flash of success to produce stories as quickly as possible to gain fans and earn money. But if you want to be respected, if you want to endure, then quadruple-check your spelling and mind your p’s and q’s. In an era when texting and disregard for grammar seems to be shaping the English language into something that more closely resembles Newspeak, the next generation of readers will surely thank you for your trouble.

 

The Firstborn is here! … now I have to tidy up.

.It’s release day! The Firstborn is born, a bouncing new book, ready to be read and enjoyed!

(To help matters along, I’ll just get all the links and such out of the way.)

Want to buy the ebook? (Ignore the fact that I sound like I’m selling knock-off watches from the trunk of my car): http://amzn.to/2puCT2i

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Sophia has sacrificed everything for her younger sister, Lucy. She has removed them from the only home they ever knew, taken on the care of Lucy’s illegitimate son, George, and even assumed the role of a widow and mother in order to erase all hint of scandal from the boy’s birth. But rumor continues to follow them like the darkest of clouds, and Sophia must adapt to her new existence as a false widow with no prospects beyond the doors of her small cottage.

Lord Haughton will stop at nothing to prevent the slightest whiff of disgrace from tainting his family’s name. When he learns of his younger brother’s latest indiscretion-one that leaves a bastard child in his wake-Haughton rushes across the country to offer the boy’s mother a comfortable living in exchange for her silence about the child’s true parentage. But he arrives only to have his generous offer thrown back in his face by Sophia Brixton, a sharp-tongued and sharper-witted woman who proceeds to toss him out of her house. But just because he is banished from her home does not mean he is so easily banished from her life.

Yes, you want to buy this book. Why? So that I can afford to hire someone to come in and clean my house while I’m busy writing, editing, marketing, cooking, homeschooling my kids, changing diapers, and occasionally bathing. (I am an occasional bather. It’s an occupational hazard of being a parent.)

This is my livingroom: 001

The youngest is down for a nap. The older three are watching Wild Kratts (that’s educational, right?) I stood on a chair despite my horrible fear of small heights (Long story short: I can stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon and not be scared. Stick me on a stool to change a lightbulb? I’m going to die) to bring this picture to you. And then I turned around and snapped a picture of my kitchen sink.

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Equally gorgeous. (At least this is proof that I feed my children.)

Sometimes, people refer to me as some kind of supermom. I make costumes for my kids to wear to the movies (Ola wants to be Wonder Woman for the movie’s release next month), I bake all the time, I crochet things, I sew stuff, I take the family to the park and we learn about nature and commune with unicorns.

But this is the reality. While snatching minutes here and there for writing and teaching my kids about Charles I (yes, they love the stories about the rulers who end up meeting a ghastly end) and eating all the cookies I baked, this is what happens to the house. (And before someone chimes in to tell me that I need to create a chore wheel for my kids: My kids do chores. They clean bathroom sinks and bathroom floors and put away dishes and pick up toys and make their beds. But last week, they were sniffly, and we were all just too almost-sick and exhausted to care.)

So I’ve written a book. My fourth full-length book! I’m happy and proud and ecstatic and many other words from a thesaurus. And I’m also hungry, my hair needs brushed, and I really do need to load the dishwasher.

Happy Tuesday. 🙂

“Romance is Easy to Write”: Hold up, I’m Going to Need Some Coffee

Excerpt #4

I rolled my eyes when I read that. I can’t remember where it was, but it was a throwaway line in someone’s comment about writing fiction. That of all the genres, romance was the easiest. Because mystery has the mystery to write about and fantasy has the politics and the world building and literary fiction is Important (with a big, fat, capital “I”) so romance (whether YA or adult) is the microwave TV dinner of fiction. Just throw two people together, make ’em hate each other for awhile, make ’em kiss, VOILA! You have a book.

*deep breath*

Okay, I’m not even going to start some kind of war about which genre is the easiest to write or research or anything like that. I’m just not. It’s Monday, I haven’t consumed anything caffeinated yet, I already had to trudge everyone down to the doctor’s for my youngest’s regular check-up, and so anything borderline controversial or drama-creating is not going to happen here.

But I’ll give you my experience writing in a few different genres, and you can chime in with your thoughts at the end, if you feel so inclined.

I’ve written historical, romance and mystery and gaslamp fantasy. I’ve written dystopian. I’ve written more straight-up fantasy. I’ve written YA. I’ve written contemporary romance. I’ve written sci-fi. I’ve probably dipped my toe into other genres I can’t even recall right now (no coffee yet, remember?) and do you want to know which was the most difficult, the most taxing mentally?

All of them.

Yeeeaaaah, I said it.

You could look at that as a cop-out answer, but it truly isn’t. They were all difficult. Because here’s the thing: No matter your backdrop, no matter if you’re setting up a whole new world from your imagination or your characters are casting spells or searching for a murderer or pondering the meaning of life or falling in love (or out of it), you still have to write real, believable characters for all of these points to revolve around. Just because I’m writing a story where two people fall in love at the end (or at the beginning, but with a sufficient amount of roadblocks in the way) doesn’t mean that particular tale was the easy one to write.

Romance still means research, even if it’s not historical. What sort of jobs do my characters have? Where do they live? Have they suffered some major loss or abuse before we meet them? Can I make the reader even bother to give a crap whether or not these knuckleheads manage to end up together at the end? Can I keep it from turning into pure maudlin drivel?

These are not easy things to pull off, they’re just not. And yes, you could say that writing these same characters (who may or may not fall in love) and then dropping them into a historical world or a steampunk world or a world where everyone talks in Hemingway dialogue or a world where they have to fight a dragon suddenly raises the level of difficulty ten times over. But I’m not completely certain that it does.

We’ve all read bad books. We’ve all read books with cardboard characters, lifeless dialogue, ones that were riddled with typos and grammatical mistakes, with staccato pacing. (And I’m not talking one single genre here, either.) Making all of those things come together smoothly is no mean feat. It is hard *insert expletive of your choice* work. No matter the genre. So if you look down on certain genres because they’re silly or romantic or “kid’s stuff”, I’m giving you the side eye. I’m also giving you the side-eye if you’re writing a certain genre because you think it’s easier than all the others.

If it is, then you’re probably doing it wrong.

***

Getting to Know You, or an Excerpt from The Firstborn

Today marks six days until my next book is released. That means I’m out of my mind with Stuff To Do, grabbing reviews, marketing, sharing the pre-order link, wearing a giant placard and pacing street corners while begging people to buy my book PLEASE buy my book because people expect money as payment for bills and not, say, baked goods or my eternal gratitude. Glaspalast_München_1889_098

So here’s today’s street corner placard dance. I bring you a snippet of The Firstborn, one of my favorites actually, when my heroine Sophia Brixton faces off against Lord Haughton, uncle to her nephew (and pompous meddler).

***

Finnian shifted his weight from one foot to the other. Up to this point, nothing had transpired in the way he’d imagined it would. And as for Sophia, she was too blunt, and too intelligent. And that was what worried him most.

He gestured towards the recently vacated table. “Will you be seated?”

Her shoulders pressed back. “I’ll stand, thank you.”

He cleared his throat. She was not going to make this easy for him. A point for her, since he doubted she had any idea what had brought him all this way. “The child—”

“George,” she said, interrupting him. “His name is George, after our father.”

“Of course.”

“No,” she spoke again, while his next words still danced on the tip of his tongue. “Not ‘of course’. Such a phrase denotes your being aware that our father’s name was George, or knowing what type of man he was and why we would choose to honor him in such a way. But here you are, darkening my doorstep nine months after his birth. A fact which proves to me that either you didn’t know about him before now, or you simply didn’t care.”

He inclined his head, yet dared not take his eyes off of her, not for a second. “My apologies. I assure you it was the former, and as soon as I discovered that my brother had a son—”

“And where is your brother? And why are you here in his stead?”

Finnian could feel his temper beginning to rise. Never before had he allowed himself to show anger in front of a woman, and yet she was the most infuriating creature he’d ever encountered. “He is in London. I assume.”

“You assume?” To his surprise, her mouth broke into a smile and a soft laugh emanated from the back of her throat. “In other words, you have about as much sway over the life of your brother as I have over my sister.”

“I’m not here to discuss my family,” he said, his voice taking on a note of warning he hadn’t even intended to be there.

“Oh, but I’m sure you’re here with the sole purpose of discussing mine. Or am I wrong?” A flash in her eyes countered the steel in his voice. “The mere fact that you’ve arrived today with a prior knowledge of not only both our names, our location, George’s existence, and no doubt a myriad other trivial items concerning our past and present life tells me that you’ve gone to great lengths to find out all you could before traveling here from…” She waved her right hand in a vague circle. “… wherever you call home. Which means, no doubt, that you wanted the upper hand in this discussion. Which also means that I will most likely not care for whatever it is you’ve come to tell me.”

Finnian fumed in silence. If the baby’s mother was even half as maddening as the woman standing before him, he wondered how David had survived with his manhood and his sanity intact. “I had come here with the intention of speaking to the mother of my brother’s child,” he ground out between clenched teeth.

“But she is not here,” she said, delivering the confession with the precision of a wielded weapon. “And she is not like to be anytime soon. And since your appearance here is most likely connected with George, then you will have to make do with speaking to me.”

“Very well.” He sighed. His confidence drained away from him, and the surety he’d experienced upon arriving here that the matter of the child’s welfare would be swiftly dealt with—and in his favor—had been skillfully chipped away by every word to come out of Sophia’s mouth. “Shall we?” He inclined his head towards the chairs that flanked the table.

“Of course,” she said, and slipped gracefully into the seat that he pulled out for her.

***

I’m a Writer: A Guest Post from Sheri Williams

I’m a writer. Just saying that gives me a little tingle. It’s a good tingle though. female_angel_praca_dos_restauradores_2

As a writer, I sometimes hear and see memes/posts/pinterest pins all about how a writer is a tortured soul and a writer must write to set free the demons inside them..there’s a few other variations but you get my drift right? I am not one of those writers. I’m not saying they don’t exist, but it’s not me. And as someone who uses words for a living (barely a living, but hey that’s not the point) I tend to go searching for ways to use those words to describe my version of “writer.” This is what I found, and hey, if you relate to some of these, you might be a writer too!

If you dream so vividly that you wake up gasping and NEEDING  to write it down, you might be a writer.

If your brain likes to go off with the fairies (day dreaming) and imagine that the pretty green dragonfly you saw by the creek is on a mission for the goblin king, you might be a writer.

If you have this insatiable need to know why people used to bury their dead and then put iron cages over their graves, you might be a writer.

If your google history would make the FBI director squirm, you might be a writer.

If you keep writing despite several setbacks, you might be a writer.

If it really isn’t about the money (though a few sales might be nice), you might be a writer.

If your house is littered with pieces of paper with half a thought on them, you might be a writer. (this also goes for the notebook app on your phone)

If you collect notebooks, pens, fancy pencils, but don’t use the cause you’re waiting for the right story idea, you might be a writer.

So what do you think? Might you be a writer too?

Bio –

Sheri Williams is a writer who can’t pick a genre. A writer who worries there isn’t enough time in three lifetimes to write all her ideas. A writer who procrastinates to the point of danger. A writer who has decided giving up is not an option. She is also a wife, a mom and a nerd.

You can find links to her books on her website http://www.thesheriwilliams.com/  as well as news about upcoming work.

You can also follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AuthorSheri

Just a Quickie…

It has been hectic around here of late. But April is sliding away and a new month is dawning tomorrow. So there are things! Of which I will mention! In an excited-like manner!

First up, a phenomenal author and close friend of mine was recently interviewed on Wattpad and it is just a terrific interview all around. (And if you think what she writes is your jam, PLEASE check out her work. Or wait until June 13th when her next book(s) comes out!

Secondly, my next novel, The Firstborn, is now available for pre-order! AND! If I hit my pre-order goal before it goes life, I will be setting up a giveaway for five signed copies of the paperback version. Love Speaks #1

So thanks to all in advance, and also apologies in advance for all of the blathering I’ll be doing about The Firstborn in anticipation of its release.

 

Music in its Roar – A Short Story

I intended to have this finished nearly two weeks ago. I also intended this to be a short-short story, maybe 2k words or less. And then it grew, and grew, and grew, and finally just tipped its toe past 6k words and here we are.

If you’ve read any of my earlier short stories (Dust and Silver, Sleet and Shadow, Pale for Weariness) set in this world of werewolves and corsets and proper speech, then this is a prequel to those (though there’s no particular order in which any of them needs to be read). And if you’ve been curious as to how Mr. Callum Muir took on the curse of a werewolf, well then this is the tale for you…

Music in its Roar

Music in its Roar 

He wasn’t entirely certain of the day. Morning, perhaps. But, no. The light was all wrong. Despite the mist that clung to everything, mingling with the fog that hovered several feet above the ground, there was a quality to it; a glow that spoke of a sun completing its journey towards the horizon, of stars springing back to light in an unseen sky.

He could’ve moved if he’d wanted, away from the questionable puddle by his right hand. The stench would still be there, but at least he would find a safe remove from its source. Instead, he flexed the fingers of that same hand, one at a time, wincing as he reached the third finger, the one he suspected was broken. The pain was fresh and raw, still throbbing as he took to turning his wrist once, and then again. Another thing broken. He recognized that feeling, along with the ache in his ribs, the grinding of fractured bone every time he drew in another breath of the foul, cloying air.

There were windows, though less resembling their namesake than existing as mere apertures in a crumbling wall. Even the door was gone, ripped free of its hinges some time before, enough years passed since its removal that ivy grew thick around the frame, as if it would reclaim the building along with himself, should he lie there much longer. And if he could roll onto his side, or at least turn his head, he knew that she would be there, too.

Continue reading “Music in its Roar – A Short Story”